Lethal Purse, 1
I could tell there was a dame in the waiting room, while I was still halfway up the stairs. I could sense she was young, beautiful and blond. I could tell a lot, if only I could get my door opened, holding a 48 ounce cup of decaf, 3 egg McBarfs and a 20 pound sack of kitty litter, for Butch. Of that assortment of necessities, the most critical was the last. I could do without the coffee, and I probably should do without the barfburgers, but Butch needed that cat litter real bad. My nostrils put out the call.
As I fought with that stubborn door handle, the door was suddenly jerked open from the inside, and I came face to chest, with a middle-aged, heavy-weight, brunette, with an attitude. Her attitude was so bad, it made mine stay outside on the landing, leaving me to deal with Big Mama on my own.
Her perfume was as pungent as a wet dog by a hot fire, and about as inviting. I took heed of my initial impressions and did a quick about face, to get the hell out of there, but she was too quick, and snagged me by my Giants hoodie, the first time that baby ever let a dame get the best of me. Damn, bad timing for a first time. But she had me in a vice-grip, so I turned around, and bowed, managing to dump half my coffee at her feet, splashing up those trunk-like legs. I ducked under her back-hand, but splashed the rest of that coffee at the same time, all over her leather moo-moo.
She clobbered me upside the left ear with her purse, leaving my head ringing. Reaching for the phone, I announced, “Sylvester StillDumm, there’s still no job so dumb for Stilldumm.” After a discreet pause, I replaced the phone in its cradle, and turned back face to Mrs. Horatio P. Plitterpuss, she of the pungency and the formidable purse. That ringing was still problematic, but I had traced it beyond the phone, so I could now get down to business, by looking up at Mrs. Plitterpuss.
“Madam, you have the pleasure of addressing Sylvester Stilldumm, investigative engineer, have gun, till done. May I be of some assistance?”
“You sure can, Half-Pint. Get this coffee off me, and do it now. I hope you aren’t as dumb as your name suggests.”
I jumped on the opportunity to be helpful, only to have her beat me off of her, with her purse. I heaved myself off of her, swearing she had a brick in that purse. “Look, I need you to check that purse at the door, Mrs. Plutterpiss.”
“That’s Plitterpuss, and I”ll thank you to keep your hands off of me, you pervert. I know your type.” She sneered at me, or was that a leer? Looking up at her, the way I had to, made for a poor angle.
“Oh, you don’t have to thank me. I’m happy to keep my hands off of you. Is there some reason why you are here, Mrs. Plusterpist? Besides beating me senseless with your purse?” I respected that purse, so I kept one eye on it at all times.
“I can’t beat someone with no sense, senseless, so get over yourself in a hurry, Runt. Yeah, you can help me out. I need to have my husband killed, and then buried somewhere.” She looked expectantly at me.
“Excuse me? Did I hear you correctly? You want me to commit murder, instead of solving it? What do you think I am, as dumb as my name?”
“Look, let’s leave the obvious aside for now, and take a look at my situation. You see, I figure with all of your experience solving crime, you ought to be able to pull one off. My husband is a runt too, just like you, so he shouldn’t be a problem. I am willing to pay ten thousand dollars for the job, one-fourth to be delivered up front, one fourth after he’s dead, and the other fourth to be delivered after the pipsqueak is buried. Any questions?” She flashed that jeer at me again, and my hackles bristled.
I’ve always wanted my hackles to bristle, but I had to set that aside, and deal with the towering nutcase in front of me. Was I supposed to take her offer seriously? Why didn’t she just try lambasting him with that purse? What am I going to say to get her out of here?
“Madame, that is only three of the four fourths, coming forth. What about the fourth fourth? Stilldumm was not born yesterday.”
“No but Stilldumm dumped coffee all over my gown, and that is going to cost. What about my proposition?” She was counting out Ben Franklins, and I was looking up the phone number of my buddy on the police force. I thought maybe we could work out a mutually beneficial arrangement.
“Fine. I’ll take the ten thousand, without the cleaning fee being included, you get that tent you’re wearing fumigated, and we’ll call it macaroni. Now make like the wind, and blow.”
I never did take any guff off of a dame, especially one who outweighed me double. The bigger they are, the louder they squawk, when they realize that they have dealt with Sylvester Stilldumm, investigative engineer.
I kept those ten thousand clams that Mrs. P. delivered to me, even though she had half the New Jersey police force out scouring the block for me. Luckily, I don’t do scour any more, especially after her husband and I agreed to set her up, and split the ten large. He’s not a bad fellow; in fact, he wants to go into business together. He says two halves make a whole, and I say that makes a whole lot of sense. Since I started out senseless, and now make sense, I can let Mrs. P. go to enjoy her stay at San Quentin Hilton, where there are no purses allowed, lethal or otherwise.