A Touch of Lavender - Part 5 - A Craven Danger Mystery
“Hello, I’m Craven Danger.”
“Hello, Mr. Danger,” said the lady in the wheelchair. “I’m Hortense Rosenthal.”
”Pleased ta know ya,” said Craven.
“Why don’t you follow us to my train, Mr. Danger. “I can explain along the way."
As the lady with the lavender lips wheeled Miss Rosenthal, Craven Danger followed a step behind to get a good look at the shapely one with all the good smells.
Yowser! thought Craven. That’s the best walkin’ away skirt I ever laid my eyes on.
“This is my daughter Miss Della Swanson, Mr. Craven. She was just a child when all of this horrible business started.”
“What horrible business?” said Craven.
“It was 1931," said Miss Rosenthal. "I was a concert pianist and police officer Herbert Sampson was assigned to watch my dressing room at Carnegie Hall. You’d be amazed at the loonies who try to get into the dressing room of a concert pianist. You’d have thought I was Caruso. Unfortunately, one of those loonies turned out to be a man I would eventually seduce. Police officer Herbert Sampson. He would pamper me. Showering my dressing room with lavender flowers. So much so that the press dubbed me the 'Lavender Lady'.
”Officer Sampson had been a fan of mine for some years. Starting in 1923 when I gave my premiere concert at Carnegie Hall. And, although I was not to meet him until 1931, for the next eight years he was to attend every one of my New York concerts. Then he’d go off and kill each one my husbands.
“Starting with the drowning of Herbert Rosenthal, my gardener. Followed two years later with the poisoning of Winston O’Reilly, my personal chef, and ending with the deadly automobile accident of Horace Swanson, my chauffer, and Della’s father.”
“OK, Mr. Danger,” said Della Swanson. “Out with it. You’ve got that look on your face.”
“What look?” said Craven.
“The look that says you think my mom’s a loon. The woman who goes off and marries her gardener, chef and chauffer. I know what you’re thinking. Was the butler too good for her? Believe me, we’ve heard all the jokes before.”
“I don’t judge,” said Craven. “Betty always tells me, 'never judge a crook by his cover.’”
“This Betty sounds charming,” said Della.
“She’s a peach,” said Craven. ”Whaddaya sayin‘?”
“Please, Della," said Miss Rosenthal. "The thing is, Mr, Danger, I wanted to marry him. I wanted him to be my protector. Then he tried to kill me when I discovered his dirty little secret. Fortunately, his gun misfired and I ran. But I didn’t run fast enough, because he fired again. And I’ve been in this chair ever since. He told them it was self-defense. And he was a cop. His word against mine. He told them I made a bedroom confession. But it was him who had made the bedroom confession.”
“You musta been some kisser,” said Craven.
“Very funny, Mr. Danger,” said Della. “Maybe you‘re not the man for the job, after all. I had my doubts about you when I realized you’re the same man who runs from the chipmunks.”
“They had teeth big as railroad spikes,” said Craven. ”And who told you anyways? You been talkin’ to Betty? Sidney?”
“Enough of that," said Miss Rosenthal. “My daughter has all ready given you a cash advance for expenses, but here’s another envelope detailing the whereabouts of Herbert Sampson. He’s retired now. But I’m certain he’ll want me dead once he finds out I’m out of prison. I need someone on the outside to keep track of Mr. Sampson. A professional sleuth like you, Mr. Craven. What was it your advertisement said?”
“Have mercy on those who try to run,” said Della Swanson, “from the man who carries the biggest gun. But have you ever shot anything bigger than a chipmunk, Mr. Danger?”
”Yeah,” said Craven. ”Pigeons. Loads of ‘em. Just try ta find a pigeon outside my window, sister.”
“We’ll have no more of that,” said Miss Rosenthal, “You’ll do fine, for now, Mr. Danger.”
“All right, then," said Craven. “I’ll call you tomorrow and let you know when I’m on his tail feathers."
“Tomorrow?” said Miss Rosenthal. “No, Mr. Danger, tomorrow’s not good. You see, I’m to be married tomorrow. To Roland, my butler. But please save your chuckles until I’m gone.”
As Craven Danger walked away, he wondered if he’d ever go on a honeymoon of his own. Someplace without chipmunks, he thought. And definitely some place with out nuts.