A Sucker Seduced - Part X - A Conclusion - A Craven Danger Mystery
Betty Fletcher tossed a Christmas snow globe from one hand to the next before deciding to give it a prominent place on a short stack of Movie Star magazines.
In the globe, a lone soldier was seated in the snow, beside a scrawny Christmas tree, a Red-Cross package in his lap. Betty recognized the package from a movie she had seen about prisoner’s of war. She even knew it would contain things like chewing gum,chocolate, canned beef and cigarettes.
I’ll Be Home for Christmas was the caption painted in a tiny red scrawl on a banner at the soldiers feet. A popular song during World War II, Betty started to hum, then to sing some of its lyrics.
"I'm dreamin' tonight of a place I love
Even more then I usually do
And although I know it's a long road back
I promise you . . ."
“Betty!” came the voice over the intercom. “Can’t you sing something else? Your depressing me into a coma! And get me a glass full of ice!”
“What for?” said Betty.
Craven Danger was a draftee who was rejected from military service for being physically unfit for duty. A 4F deferment they called it. Because of his fallen arches.
“Never mind, what for,” said Craven. “Just hurry! I need it bad!”
“It better not be for what I’m thinkin’," said Betty. “I’m tired of scraping your sorry behind off the carpet every time you don’t feel so good about not being in the war. The war’s been over six months already! Get over it! So you won’t have no war stories to tell the grandkids. No scars to show the boys down at the beer hall. You know what you’ll have?"
“What?" said Craven.
“You’ll have detective stories to tell ‘em,” said Betty. “That is, if you ever get yourself another case.”
“Whaddaya mean if?” said Craven.
“Well, Mr. Danger,” said Betty, “this last case wasn’t exactly in your flavor.”
“That’s favor,” said Craven. “And who says so?”
“The mornin’ paper says so,” said Betty. “Look at the headlines.”
“I’d be more than happy to,” said Craven. “If I had a paper to read.”
“Sorry,” said Betty. “But if I read another one of them movie magazines, I’d be squirtin’ popcorn outta my nose. I thought I’d read the paper to keep myself in the know.”
“It sounds like a grand idea, Betty,” said Craven. “But about that glass of ice and the newspaper?”
“What about them?” said Betty.
“Are ya bringin’ them or not?” said Craven. “The suspense is makin’ my eye lids flutter!”
“All right, all ready!” said Betty. “I’m comin’!”
Well, thought Betty, maybe I shouldn’t get so worked up over nothin’. Sometimes a thing is just what it is and it ain’t no more. If the man wants a glass of ice, maybe that’s all the man wants. And that’s what the man’s gonna get. But he just gotta start mindin’ his teas and peas!
The teas and peas is something Betty learned from her grandma, ‘Drink your tea and eat your peas, and make darn sure you say thanks and please.’
“Oh, you’re a doll, Betty,” said Craven, as she walked through the door. “A regular Shirley Temple. Just hand over that glass of ice!”
“You’ll get the glass,” said Betty, “when that mouth of yours starts spillin’ some teas and peas!”
“Oh, for gosh sakes!” said Craven. “I’ll even curtsey for ya! Only, puhleeze let me have my glass of ice!”
“Sure!” said Betty. “Here ya go.”
Betty put the tall glass of ice down in front of Crave Danger and watched as he pulled off his socks and stuff each one with ice. Then he put them back on and sat back in his seat with his feet planted firmly on the ground.
“Ah!” he said. “My arches are killin’ me!”
“You’re a sight, you are,” said Betty. “And here’s your morning paper.”
“Thanks,” said Craven. “Let’s see, ‘Mystery of Worthington Scandal Solved,’story on page three. Ah, here we are,” said Craven.
“‘It’s been three months since the September third arrest of Miss Suzy Tanner on conspiracy to murder charges. The district attorney has decided to drop all charges against the accused after Jonathan T. Worthington, who survived the attempt on his life, produced a reel of film, shot from behind a two-way mirror adjoining Mr. Worhington’s bedroom.
“‘I never leave my bedroom without turning the camera on,' said Mr. Worthington. ‘Ever since the night I found the dead rattle snake in my sock drawer. The poor bugger choked to death on a pair of my finest silks.’
“‘In the film, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Morgan - Mr. Worthington’s sole heirs - are witnessed placing a fisherman’s net over the bedroom door and filling the net with several bowling balls. After securing a laundry cord around the door knob, which would then cause the net to come free once the door is opened, the Morgan’s walk out of the frame for a moment and are then seen running back in a panic for the bedroom door, which they open, only to reveal Mr. Worthington and his butler, Randolph Higgins trying to gain access.
“‘As the bowling balls come tumbling from the sky, Randolph, who is donning his World War I army helmet - a precaution he has learned to take ever since the 'icicle incident’ of which little is known - hovers over Mr. Worthington, thus saving the celebrated financier from a sure death. Mr. Higgins suffered some head trauma, but is recuperating at the Worthington estate and is expected to return back to wok in time for the Christmas holiday.
“‘The Morgan’s, not having the foresight to wear any sort of protection, were killed instantly. Miss Tanner, a suspect at the time, was arrested a few days later, after a search of her apartment turned up several reels of film belonging to Mr. Worthington. The contents of which were not revealed to the press. At the time it was thought that Miss Tanner had blackmail on her mind, as well as murder.
“‘Mr. Worthington assured the police that Miss Tanner was simply - per his instructions - keeping the reels of film out the hands of the greedy and murderous Morgans.
“‘Miss Tanner is expected to return to work as Mr. Worthington’s part-time nurse and secretary after they return from their honeymoon. Having been married immediately after her release.’”
“Wait a rotten pickin’ moment!” said Betty.
“That’s cotten,” said Craven.
“I know rotten when I see it,” said Betty. “You mean ta tell me he goes and marries her anyways. Knowing what a double-crossing money hungry floozy she is?
“Well,” said Craven. “You know the old sayin’, ‘Keep your friends close and you enemies closer. But my first case is solved and I‘m satisfied.”
”Yeah,” said Betty. ”Your first case is solved, but you didn‘t do no solvin‘. That was all done by the bulls. All you did was provide an escort for that Tanner dame. So I don‘t even think you had a case. You were a paid escort.”
“I have another old sayin’,” said craven.
“What is it?”
“‘Give me a brake!’” said Craven.
“That’s ‘break’,” said Betty.
”What?” said Craven
“Never mind,” said Betty. “Let’s go for a walk in the park. I’ll even buy ya bag a peanuts.
“You’re on sister," said Craven.
And as the sun set low on a snowy Manhattan skyline, the future seemed full of bright possibilities as a note was slipped under Craven Danger’s darkened office door.
But that’s a case for another day. For now, we’ll just bid you all a good night.