The Nutty Detective V - Craven's Moriarty Complex - A Craven Danger Mystery
Betty, where the heck is Sidney? You said he’d give us a ride to the bowlin’ alley? And now it’s rainin’ all over my fedora!”
“Stop grumblin’, Mr. Danger. He’s pullin’ up now.”
Sidney Green pulled up to the curb and stuck his out of the window.
“Sorry I’m late, folks,” said Sidney. “I had a busy mornin’. We just got back from our weekly Baker Street Irregulars meeting. Hop in.”
“Whaddaya mean we?”
“Betty said you might need some help putting Myles, aka Professor Moriarty, out of business at the bowlin’ alley. So I asked the Baker Street boys to come along. Betty, you sit up front with me. Mr. Danger, you can sit in one of the little fold-up jump seats in the back. Get in and say hello to the fellas.”
The backseat of Sidney’s taxi was filled to the brim with cheerful grown men ready to play at being boys again. There was Joe, the East End butcher. Wiggins the dentist/part-time custodian/insurance salesman, and an unidentified man dressed in a tattered peacoat and sailor’s cap.
“I hate the fold up seat!” said Craven. “Especially the fold-up seat in a movin’ vehicle! Ya gotta hang on for dear life with both hands, else-wise ya get tossed around like a bingo ball! An’ the last thing I wanna see as I’m flung head first out the back window is three grown men giggling like school boys as I get run over by a school bus! But since I truly am a fun guy at heart, I’ll put up with the whole charade!”
No worries, Guv.” said Joe. “I’ll catch ya before ever hit the window. Done a bit a goal-keeping in me school days.”
Joe wiped his hands on his bloodied apron and extended his massive set of digits to Craven.
“Nuffin’ gets by these links, my dear Mr. Danger.”
“Yikes!” said Craven. “I bet ya could juggle pigs with those things.”
“Turkeys, yes. Nay on the pigs.” said Joe. “I’m only human, ya know.”
“Ya wouldn’t know it by the handshake, Joe. An’ many thanks for crackin’ my knuckles.”
“Don’t mention it,” said Joe. “You’ll get some feelin’ back in that hand in a day or two.”
Craven Danger stole a glance at Wiggins, and groaned.
“That cap an’ scarf are gettin’ a bit threadbare, ain’t they Wiggins. Much like this motley bunch a play actors ya call irregulars.”
“No need for insults,” said the unidentified man. “You should thank the good lord that lovely gentlemen such as ourselves have your back, Mr. Danger. Like the good book says, ‘God bless us, everyone!’”
Oh, for cripes sake!” said Craven. “The good book don’t say no such thing! Don’t you lugs know anything from Sherlock Holmes? I don’t even read, but I do go to the movies an’ pay attention! ‘The game is afoot!’ ‘Elementary!’ ‘They were the footprints of a gigantic hound!’
“And a bah humbug to you, too, Mr. Danger” said the gentleman. “You need to get in the spirit of the day! The chase is on and we’re the chasers. Ready to rid the town of a villainous fiend! I think we should all bow our heads and pray.”
“Yeah,” said Betty. “Ya need to be on the same team, Mr. Danger. Sometimes ya just gotta step outta the rut and put on the party hat. What seems ta be yer problem?”
“I know what is,” said Joe. “Meat, ma’am, meat. You’ve over-fed him! You've raised an artificial soul an’ spirit in him, ma’am, unbecomin’ a person of his condition.”
Ah, cut that out, Joe!” said Craven. “An’ you with the prayer offering. I’d recognize that voice anywhere. Ain’t you Father Mulligan from the confession booth?”
“You best be kind to me, Mr. Danger,” said the priest. “I know all your dirty secrets. And I’ve nothing to hide from my fellow Baker Street boys. Or from Betty.”
“Someone, please, open a window!” said Craven. “I need ta do some jumpin’!”
“If ya do jump,” said Sidney. “I’d take a floatation device with ya. It’s pouring rain out there. ‘Comin’ down in sheets, and I can’t even see past the windshield. We’ll have to stay put till it clears.”
Moments later, when the rain let up a bit, Sidney Green shifted the car into first gear and hit the gas.
“That’s strange,” said Sidney. “The engine’s revving, but we ain’t movin’. I better get out and check.”
The passengers followed Sidney’s every movement as he made his way around the big yellow taxi.
“He’s sure doin’ an awful lot a chin scratchin’ out there,” said Craven. “An’ I don’t think it’s mosquito season.”
Sidney got back in the driver’s seat and let out a slow whistle.
“I have to say,” said Sidney, “Moriarty’s pin monkeys from the bowling alley can move awful darn quick. They must of got word we were coming.”
“What makes ya think that?” said Craven.
“Because I don’t remember driving here on milk crates. Which is what we seem to be sitting on, Mr. Danger. Anyone here got four tires, or correct change for the bus?”