A Touch of Lavender - Part 12 - A Craven Danger Mystery
Betty Fletcher settled herself in the back of the cab, then suddenly turned and planted a firm one on Craven’s chin.
“Hey!” said Craven. “Whaddaya mean sluggin’ me? That wasn’t even funny. Not that it hurt or nothin’.”
“But I bet it didn’t tickle, neither,” said Sidney. ”You want I should run you to the hospital to make sure you ain‘t broke nothin‘? Like your head maybe.”
”No, I don‘t want you should run me to the hospital,” said Craven. ”I want you should drive and mind your own bees wax.”
”Bees wax?” said Sidney. ”Ain‘t that quaint. I thought that sayin‘ jumped overboard on the Titanic.”
”Just drive,” said Craven. ”And leave the wise-cracks to Betty. I can only take one of ya at a time. And where did you learn to crack a jaw like that, Betty? I was kiddin‘ when I said it didn‘t hurt. It hurt like the Dickens.”
”Dickens?” said Sidney. ”That‘s another one what hit an iceberg and froze itself ta death.”
“If I gotta put cotton in those big ears of yours, Sidney, I will,” said Craven. “If ya gonna be my chauffer, ya gotta learn ta ignore the goings on in the backseat. This is private between two people.”
“Ya mean like a tete-a-tete?” said Sidney.
“A what?” said Craven.
“A tete-a-tete,” said Sidney. “That’s where one person takes their tete and puts it with the other person’s tete. Then they add ‘em both up, and before ya know it, ya got two tetes. I learned that from a drunken Frenchman who had many a tete-a-tete with the ladies in the back of my cab. Only he never got slugged in the jaw like you.”
“Hope I didn’t rattle ya too much, Mr. Danger,” said Betty.
”Only my teeth,” said Craven. ”That was some left hook.”
“Darn straight it was,” said Betty. “I learned how ta throw a good one when I was a kid. I didn’t have no daddy around to protect me, so my momma would hang a sack of sand over the bathtub. And she told me that every time I got really mad at someone who was puttin’ a hurt on me, I was to clobber the heck out of that sack till I came up with enough muscle to take care of any monkey that laid a sorry hand on me.”
“Why over the bathtub?” said Craven.
“She figured if I was anything like my sister Judy, I’d be knockin’ the stuffin’ outta that sand bag in no time. And I did, too.”
“Sorry ya had such a hard time,” said Craven. “But why’d ya sock me?”
“‘Cause you’re a dope and you need to learn a few things,” said Betty. “Like payin’ attention to the things that are right under your nose. You’d be surprised at the nice things ya might find under that big sniffer of yours.”
“Oh, it ain’t that big,” said Craven. “You’re exasperatin’.”
“Exaggeratin’,” said Betty.
“No,” said Craven. “I know exasperatin’ when I hear it.”
Betty thought about socking him again, but decided, instead, to go in for a kiss. Except that her aim wasn’t true and she poked herself in the eye with Craven’s nose.
“Oh, you’re a fine pair, you are,” said Sidney. “You want I should swing around to the drug store and load up some bandages for the car ride home?”
“Very funny,” said Betty. “But, no. We’re going back to Herbert Sampson’s place. It bein’ so close ta Halloween we’re gonna bring us some dead ashes ta life and scare the pants off a murderous mug. Only we’re gonna have ta stop and get us some sheets. And with any luck ol’ Herb will be hauntin’ his own house before the clock strikes twelve. I heard that in a movie once. Only I never thought I’d get the chance to say it.”
“I don’t know what’s gotten into you, Betty,” said Craven. “But I’m startin’ like it.”
“Stick around, Mr. Danger,” said Betty. “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
Sidney Green whistled himself a graveyard tune and sped off in search of some ghostly duds.