A Word to the Wiseguy - Part 2 - A Craven Danger Mystery
Betty Fletcher buckled Craven into his seat.
“Just calm down, Mr. Danger,” said Betty. “Why didn’t ya tell me ya never flew in a plane before?”
“It never came up!” said Craven. “Ya mean ta tell me that this things gonna lift off the ground like a bird and flap its wings all the way ta Miami?”
“It don’t flap it’s wings, see?” said Boris. “It’s got propellers. They do all the flappin’, see?”
“I know it don’t flap its wings,” said Craven. “It was just a figure a speech. But I’d feel a heck of a lot better if it did flap its wings. That would make a lot more sense.”
“Is everything all right, m’am?” said the stewardess.
“Yeah,” said Betty. “Mr. Jelly Belly here ain’t never flew in a plane before, and he’s shakin’ harder than my Uncle Lou before his first toot in the mornin’”
“I ain’t shakin’,” said Craven. “I just need some fresh air is all. Could ya please open a window, Miss?”
“Sorry, sir, we’re in a plane,” said the stewardess. “The windows don’t open. Now please sit back and relax. We’re about to take off.”
“What kinda windows don’t open?” said Craven. “What if I gotta spit or somethin’?”
“Ya don’t never spit, see?” said Boris. “And if I catch ya spittin’ in an ashtray or somethin’ I’ll make the window open, and give ya a first class seat on the wing, see?”
“I see plenty,” said Craven. “Like my life flushin’ before my eyes as the plane goes down in flames.”
“Flashin’,” said Betty.
“Whatever,” said Craven. “But when this planes goin’ down in flames you’re goin’ be seein’ some serious spittin’! And where’s this sister of yours by the way? She’s gonna miss the plane.”
“I’m right behind you, Danger,” said Judy. “If I were an apple in a tree, I would have fallen on your head twenty minutes ago. Some detective.”
“Then how come I didn’t see ya come in?” said Craven.
“That’s because you were too busy having a nervous breakdown, Danger,” said Judy. “And my mother told me never to interrupt a man when he’s doing what he does best."
“Very funny,” said Craven. “Now I got me two Betty’s. Only you don’t talk so funny. What gives?”
“Four years at the New York School of Drama,” said Judy. “I majored in not talking funny. How am I doing?”
“This is going to be a long flight,” said Craven.
“Not that long,” said Boris. “Three hours tops,
“Again, Boris,” said Craven. “A figure a speech.”
“Well, I never been no good at figurin’, see.” said Boris.
“Speakin’ about havin’ a hard time figurin’,” said Craven. “How’d you two happen ta meet?”
“I don’t see what’s so hard to figure out,” said Judy. “Boris and I were studying drama at the same school. We met when we both landed the leads in the campus production of Hamlet.”
”Hamlet?” said Craven. ”Boris was Hamlet?”
”Ta be or not ta be, see?” said Boris.
“Oh, cut it out, Boris,” said Judy. “Boris is currently in an off-off Broadway drama called Meet Boris Buttinski. He has a hard time dropping out of character.”
“Ya mean ta tell me he don’t really talk like that?” said Craven.
“No,” said Judy. “Boris also majored in not talking funny.”
“Then Boris Buttinski is not his real name?” said Craven.
“No,” said Judy. “His real name is Boris Jones. ‘Meet Boris Buttinski’ is a self-penned one-man drama about a down-on-his- luck travel agent who dreams of being an actor in gangster movies. Boris, why don’t you give Betty and Danger here a taste of your opening monologue?”
“Sure,” said Boris. “Curtin rises, see? The stage is bare. Suddenly ya hear the sound a police sirens, screechin’ tires and gun fire, see? Then the spotlight shines on center stage, see? And there I am, decked out in my long coat and slouched hat, see? My smokin’ Tommy gun at my side. Then I raise my head and commence ta talkin’.
“‘Youse don’t know me, but I’m a pretty tough mug, see? Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m really only a travel agent who’s havin’ a hard time payin’ the rent and keepin’ his wife happy, but all my life I been wantin’ ta be in da movies, see? Cagney and Bogart are sheepherders compared ta what this lone wolf could pull off. I could roll up the two of them and stuff ‘em in my back pocket and still have room for my wallet and Edward G. Robinson, see? Those squirts ain‘t nothin‘.”
“‘I know what’s what and I don’t take no lip from no punks what tells me I don’t, see? You? Yeah, you in da front row. You ain’t lookin’ scared enough. So I’m gonna wipe that smirk right of your crummy puss!’
“Ya see," said Boris. “I got these actors planted in the audience, see? And every once in a while I get to shoot one of ‘em, see? Scares the pants off the real audience. Especially when the tomato sauce starts flyin’ every which way, see?”
“Hey!” said Craven. “Now I remember where I heard it before!”
“Heard what?” said Boris.
“See!" said Craven. “That’s somethin’ Edward G. Robinson used ta say in a couple of his pictures. Like, ‘No flat footed coppers gonna put the screws ta Rico, see!’ Or some such thing. But he never said it but a couple a times. He never had the habit, like you got it, Boris.”
“Now why would you want to do something like that?” said Boris.
“Do what?” said Craven.
“You broke him out of character,” said Judy. “It’s taken him forever to get it just right. Now you went and spoiled it all. If he don’t get back into character, the show’s over.”
“I see,” said Craven.
“Don’t ever say that word in my presence again,” said Boris. “I forbid it.”
“Attention passengers,” said the stewardess. “Would you kindly buckle your seat belts. The plane is about to take off.
“O, woe is me!” said Boris. “To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!”
I wish I had a parachute about right now, thought Craven. This bunch is nuts.