It was sultry in Macon, Georgia. Which is kinda irrelevant because our story takes place in Poway. I hope mentioning their town squares things with the Macon city council.
Anyway, ruggedly handsome Matt Pallamary looked down the smoking barrel of his Saturday Night Special. He’d been the head weatherman for Channel 3, The Voice of Greater Poway, for thirteen years. He hadn’t learned a darn thing about meteorology, climatology, chinoiserie, or whatever. It really didn’t matter, every day in Poway since the flood of Genesis had been cloud free. Poway had been, and still is, light during the day and dark at night.
Oh dear, I’ve totally forgotten about the sultry Susan Conner who lay dead on the floor with a bullet hole the size of Rhode Island in her head. Matt surveyed her one more time, no doubt Poway’s finest would soon show. After all, Winchell’s DoughnutsTM always had Channel 3 on.
“Nice gams,” said Matt. “Too bad her cats kept predicting a major flood. Destroyed all credibility for the program.” Ms. Conner didn’t mind Matt’s nor the author’s intrusions and dilly dallying. She was dead and had learned patience.
Suddenly, the scene was cut short as Sergeant Mavvy Vasquez and rookie Mary Barker burst in. Sgt. Vasquez drew her VerasceTM .45 silencer and plugged Matt in the throat. Matt slumped to the floor. Even in death he wasn’t in a hurry. His last words were, “Ow! I mean ow!”
Barker asked, “Land of Goshen! Why’d ya kill him? He was ruggedly handsome, ya know.”
Vasquez sneered. “Rookie, rookie, rookie. Have you learned nothing from me? Less paper work from killing a suspect than bringing him. And besides, Real Economists of Los Angeles comes on just after my shift is over. Not missing that for anything.
“Shouldn’t Real Economists of Los Angeles be in quotes and not in italics,” said Barker, whose hearing was very good.
“Pow! Pow!” said Vasquez as she pointed her finger. Finger guns have never worked, not even for the imaginative kid. It didn’t work now. So she used her silencer. Down went the rookie. The sergeant knew she was wrong to murder Barker and also quite possibly wrong about italicizing the TV show as well. However, she was doomed if this charge was true. Sheriff Leona Pence was strict about grammar, particularly after a murder of a policewoman.
Sheriff Pence was herself a murderer. Normally, that would be a resume stain for anyone seeking a career in law enforcement. However, Ms. Pence successfully ran for sheriff, sheriff spelled correctly, on the slogan, or with the slogan as the case may be, of, “It takes a murderer to catch a murderer.”
Murder made Sergeant Vasquez hungry. Murder always does that. You’d know that if you murdered . . . Anyway, so hungry, so hungry for a maple doughnut that she cut in line of Shirley Wetzel who was kindness itself.
Except when it came to her doughnuts. No one got between her and a doughnut. A doughnutless Wetzel was a hangry Wetzel. (Notice, I’m using people last names mostly. It’s because I’m respectful. Manners matter even in murder.)
Anyway, still at the doughnut shop, Wetzel yelled, “Hey, no cutting in line.”
“Oh go eat lutefisk,” replied the law.
A severely sugar deficient Wetzel pulled her trusty Jay Martin knife and severed Sergeant Vasquez’s jugular. Blood splashed Wetzel’s white blouse. “My blouse is ruined! Just ruined!”
“No, it isn’t” said Shelley Caldwell, who normally took the doughnut orders, but hadn’t done so recently because of all the murders and stuff, “just smear blood over yourself. You’ll just be wearing a shiny red blouse, that’s all.”
Wetzel sniffled. “I suppose so.”
“And not only that,” said Caldwell, “the police will be looking for a murderer with blood stains on her. They won’t be able to see individual spots in a completely stained blouse.”
Wetzel brightened. Smiled even. “Thank you. You’ve been most helpful to a murderous stranger.”
Caldwell waved her hand. “It’s nothing, honey. My grandmother told me to be useful as well as ornamental.”
Wetzel stepped outside, walked to intersection and pressed the button. When the light at the other side of the street flashed “walk,” she walked put not before looking to the left for aholes turning right into the crosswalk. If only she’d had looked up as well. But no she didn’t. A comet hit her and carried her off into space. Right now, Wetzel is speeding out on an orbit that will take her out past Pluto, still a planet in my book, and into the Oort cloud. Wetzel’s comet is scheduled to return in the year 2375.
Anyway, the comet’s commotion kinda grabbed everyone’s attention, so no one noticed when Steve Barber, a Chihuahua, robbed the nearby First Really First National Bank. I tell you, no one ever suspects Chihuahua of any crime at all. It’s truly an invitation to canine robbery, which Barber had just done. And with an AKC-47. The C stands for Chihuahua sized. It’d be unrealistic to have a tiny dog, toting around a real assault rifle, for goodness sake.
Unfortunately for Barber, a Chihuahua’s legs are tiny, making a quick getaway impossible. Too bad he’d never gotten a license. He could have booked it out of there in a Smart Car.TM
Anyway, Sergeant Bob Brouilette used the author intrusion and the doggie’s slowness to catch the canine criminal. “Oh ho,” said Brouilette, “I’ve got you know.”
“‘Now’ is spelled, ‘now,’ not ‘know,’ copper,” woofed Barber.
“It’s not my fault, ‘know’ was a typo,” said Brouilette. “And, it’s a homonym.”
“No, it isnt,” woofed the dog. “and you have to let me go.”
“You used a gun in a robbery,” said the sergeant.
“It’s my Second Amendment right to bear arms,” woofed Barber.
“That only applies to people,” said Brouilette.
An interesting Supreme Court ruling loomed. But then fifty-two cats pounced on Barber, grabbed him by their paws and kicked him to death with their hind legs. “Eat fur balls, Chihuahuas,” purred the kittenish Susan Conner who wasn’t as dead as she seemed in paragraph two. She probably takes lots of vitamins, “Time to make America feline again,” said Conner.
And now we’ll pause a moment while I correct a comma into a period. There. Done.
“We don’t murder with cats in Poway,” said the bystander Paul Higgins who had a body any zombie would kill for, four limbs and everything. And at that, Higgins put a whistle to his lips and blew.
Conner sneered. “Like any cats going to follow that.”
“I know,” said Higgins, smarter than a herd of amoebas. “But this whistle will attract the attention of the police.”
“Oh drat,” said Conner, “I didn’t figure on that.”
“Into the library,” said the dapper Woodrow Wilkins, who despite all wearing spiffy clothes, loved cats to the extent that he never minded cat fur all over his ensembles. Well, he really preferred cat fur that coordinated nicely with his suits. But the point has been made, he loved cats and their cat masters.
Conner led her herd to the library. Before entering, she turned back to glimpse at her knight in shining armor. “Thank you,” said. “I will always remember your kindness.”
The ever modest Wilkins tipped his hat. “It’s nothing.” He then vanished into obscurity, which was quite a good thing given the fatality rate of this Powegian day.
Conner and her cute as buttons cats stampeded into the library.
“Whoa!” yelled the head librarian, Shellie Fiore, in her sternest whisper. “This is a library, not a barn. We don’t stampede here.”
Properly embarrassed the cats said down and began licking themselves. Conner, too.
Fiore took this respite in action to drink in the attention of hundreds of male admirers. Ravishingly beautiful, if she had been alive in the time of Homer, she’d have been the stunning knockout that launched a thousand ships against Troy.
Fiore knew it too. Indeed, she’d walk the sidewalk in front of the library every now and again. Male drivers would turn their heads to drink her in. For too long. Too often. Eyes off the road, driver after driver would crash into car after car. Often with fatal results. The she devil reveled in her fatal attractiveness.
But not in the library, where she never killed anyone. But she’d give you such a look if you tried to argue your way out of a fine.
Poway’s library collected a lot of late-book fines and talking-ones as well. To such an extent, in fact, that the place was lit not with over head lighting, but with ornate Italian candlesticks.
The reference librarian, Chrissie Ann, AKA the Enforcer, gripped one such candlestick. She lovingly referred to it as Rita Tobey Cloud. Ann was also snarling. A patron, Susan Clark Voorhis, wanted to use the computer. It was her time. Had been for ten minutes. She’d demurely asked the selfish oaf if she’d might sit down instead. The miscreant, Rodney Dodig, didn’t even look up. He really was a bad egg.
So Voorhis, walked timidly toward Ann and told her tale of woe. “Is that so? Well not, in my domain.” Ann the Enforcer glanced toward Conner and her cats, you could never tell what they might do. But they were sleeping. She was free to administer justice.
In three steps Ann bounded over to where Dodig surfed the net for intense articles on cross-grape pollination in the Andes. Naturally, he didn’t want to be disturbed by the outside world. So when Ann tapped him on the shoulder, saying, “Now, see here!” he waxed belligerent. His face took on the anger of someone expecting a cream-filled chocolate egg only to find that he’d bitten into a chocolate-covered Brussels sprout.
“Take off, reference Nazi.” And worse, he’d yelled this. In a library. To a reference librarian. To a Powegian reference librarian.
Smack, smack, Ann’s candlestick, Cloud, came down on his head. Smack, smack, Ann’s silver candlestick made sure he was dead. Voorhis thought briefly turning Ann into the law, but she really did need to get on the computer. She really needed to complete her research. Her term paper was due tomorrow and her laptop wasn’t doing anything. If only she’d listened to her friends and not installed Internet Explorer. She merely mouthed thanks to Ann and sat down at her terminal.
The blissful silence of the library shattered when Conner spontaneously busted. So Conner didn’t remember Wilkins’ kindness well long after all, did she?
Anyway, Ann the Enforcer strode toward the cats. “Now see here!” she yelled. “We do not combust in this library.” Pointing her finger to the door she said, “Scat, shoo, now!”
The cats ignored her, so Ann brought a big bucket, some soap, and some water. It’s amazing how often those things are useful to a reference librarian. “Now cats, who want’s a bath!”
None of them did. They stampeded the exit and collided with great momentum into the Great Steve Kramer’s stilts. Kramer’s stilts were thirty-feet long. Kramer was walking with them. Down went Kramer. Down went Kramer’s skull. Not the way Kramer had wanted to die, he’d always fancied he’d get shot down in a gunfight on Front Street in Dodge City against the somehow revived Matt Dillon. Before that he wanted to parlay his earnings from exotic stilt walking at the Rhino’s Horn club into graduating with a major in Alligator Husbandry at Tampa A&M. Bummer, Kramer.
But death isn’t always bad. No! For Kramer’s hat fell off when he fell. Underneath it had been a lottery ticket. The ticket fluttered to the ground. It’s movement caught the eye of Julie Fletcher who had come to see the sights of Poway, tourist destination of the West. Fletcher had always been raised to make the best of any situation, including deaths of alligator-husbandry wishing, thirty-foot stilt walking entertainers.
So Fletcher pounced on the lottery ticket. As incredibly contrived fiction would have it, the ticket won her eighty millions dollars. She immediately bough a BushnellTM 303 sonic obliterator. She bought a spanking new Rolls RoyceTM drove back to her home town and murdered everyone who had been mean to her. I’m hoping the elimination of all the negativity in her life, will give her a fresh start. I mean, after all, she should be able to bribe any number of juries. Any way, good luck, Fletcher.
Not all onlookers were made happy by Kramer’s death. Not Ted Mouser. The ever dashing hit man had just bumped off Santa Claus. Old Saint Nick had banged Mouser’s roof one too many times. The neighboring kids blamed him a lot for ruining Christmas. They even called him, “meanie.” That hurt. Only one thing could cheer Mouser up, stilt walking. Powegian stilt walking. And now Poway’s very best stilt walker was gone. And soon would be Mouser as well.
Click, click. Click, click. The sounds of the steel nails on Mrs. Claus’ tall boots. She removed her sunglasses and gazed at Mouser. “So you killed my husband.”
“Santa Claus, he was a good man. He stayed at home with me, every night but one. And man, I love a guy with a belly and a beard.”
Mouser raised his left eyebrow. “Mrs. Claus. Is it that so? I seem to remember you having a different name. A very different name.”
Mrs. Claus spat at the ground. “That’s right, I was Bettie Turner, fan dancer at the Naked Armadillo down San Anton way. The best fan dancer you ever saw. And don’t you forget it.”
Mouser wouldn’t forget Turner, wouldn’t raise his right eyebrow for her either. Everything in moderation was his motto. Mrs. Old Saint Nick, reached inside her trench coat and withdrew a Kit KatTM bar.
Mouser laughed. “Give me a break.”
But Turner wouldn’t. She reached again inside her trench coat and came out with a Sunday Morning Special and put a bullet neatly between Mouser’s eyes. She looked at her smoking gun. “‘Bout time all that target practice with the elves paid off.”
Then Kathryn Minicozzi killed Turner with a slingshot. As always, competition to be Santa’s wife was fierce. “Finally, I’ll be Mrs. Chubby.” A limo pulled up. Vivian Pattee jumped out and ran toward Turner. The chauffeur knew that murderers always appreciated a quick getaway. Big tippers too. “Where to?”
“To the North Pole,” said Minicozzi. “I’m going to get married.”
“Very good, madam.” It was at times like this that the driver was glad she’d invested in a hover-limo.”
Stefanie Kneer cursed her luck. She didn’t have a limo. Didn’t even have a car. Not even a Honda FitTM. You’d think that someone blessed with the looks of a film goddess could have gotten any man to do anything she wanted. And they did. Hundreds of wealthy hunks threw entire fortunes at her. Too bad she always lost the money in rigged tic-tac-toe matches. Would she ever learn?
No. She’s going down. Wrapped up in her problems, she stepped out into the street without looking even one way. Hopping mad a few seconds earlier, she was soon beside herself when she stepped on a land mine and exploded into bits. Indeed, a fortuitously stiff wind blew Kneer chunks onto the clothes of the passersby. Poway’s dry cleaning stores would do a booming business.
Crossing guard Kate Domsic, vigilant and dedicated as Barney Fife had even been, watched with grim satisfaction. “We enforce the law here. Damned scoff laws.” Domsic flicked off a bit of Kneer from her shoulder.
Fashion model Christee Gabour Atwood shrieked. That Kneer chunk had landed on her ChanelTM black dress. And there were long lines outside all the cleaners. She had to get home fast. Her car, get to her car. But no she had forgotten where she parked it.
Then along came Marilynne Smith pogoing down the sidewalk. Atwood’s arm shot out, clotheslining Smith. Atwood addressed the sprawling pogoer, “Sorry, but my need is greater.” Atwood pogoed with the alacrity that comes with being fashion model rushing to her place on the runway.
Smith sat up and surveyed her scrapes. “That just tears it. My man is buying me a car.” But it was a good thing she lost her pogo stick, for a UFO locked onto the nearest pogoer, Atwood. The tractor beam pulled the fashion model up to the mother ship. If only the aliens had remember to leave a door open for her.
It’s difficult to say whether the collision with the spacecraft did Atwood in or was it the plummeting fall that did her in. It is clear, however, that her landing on Jack Brantley Lightfoot killed him. Which was kind of good thing as was on his way to have his license renewed and he did so hate waiting in line at the DMV.
Cynthia Drew, however, was waiting at the DMV. Was she even a bit closer to the front of the line? No, the Earth’s plates had shifted twelve times since she got in line. Just then the woman in front of her, Liz Husebye Hartman, collapsed, dying from dehydration and malnutrition. This is why the DMV plasters posters inside its buildings signs that read, “Did you remember to bring food and water?” Of course, the waiting people never did bring food and water. They also never wanted to go home for those items because that would mean losing their place in line. So hundreds of people die each day at their DMVs from starvation and thirstation.
But as always, there was a silver lining to this. Hartman’s demise meant Drew could move up one place in the line. Synapses fired in Drew’s brain. If she killed all the people in front of her, she could go right to the front and get that form 4F3B. Fortunately, she had an AK-47 slung across her back. Sure, Drew had meant to use the gun on terrorists and intruders to her home, but her keen mind adapted to this situation. “Don’t whine, do,” her parents had always said. So Drew gunned down the people in the line and strode ahead, smiling all the way.
“Form 4F3B, please,” said Drew.
“Sorry,” said Christine Olewiler, “this is the line for form 4F3C. You want the line to the left.”
But the line to the left stretched so far that the curvature of the Earth prevented Drew from seeing the end. Her heart soared like a rock. “I’m going to kill myself.”
Olewiler sneezed. She coughed hard enough to separate her ribs. Snot flowed freely down her otherwise alabaster cheeks. “Please, kill me first. I’m ever so sick.”
Drew, ever the good Samaritan, emptied her assault rifle into the DMV clerk’s head. Drew could have complained that she now had no bullets to use on herself. Instead she displayed the can-do spirit that made America great and simply pulled her head off.
Meanwhile, it was eventful day on Happy Valley Street. D Lynn Frazier, had just killed her neighbor and bridge partner, Mandy Ward, by shoving sixty pounds of guacamole down the throat. And just for a flourish, Frazier stabbed Ward.
Roxe Anne Peacock, of the other bridge pair, took offense. It was her guacamole that Frazier had used. Her prize-winning guacamole! Frazier could kill her guests all she wanted, sure, Peacock had a live and let live attitude, but messing around with her guacamole brought instant death. Well not instant, Frazier did resist getting hit over the head with a frozen corned-beef brisket. Then it took a while for the petite Peacock to manhandle Frazier into the meat locker. And wouldn’t you know it, it took all night for Frazier to freeze properly.
Naturally enough Frazier had trouble getting up the next morning. Not so with Peacock. She took the stiff out of the locker and started to take it out to the curb for trash pickup. But as she did, she spied the washing machine. Horrors! She had wet clothes in there from the previous night. They would get stinking and moldy if not dried right away. She stood up Frazier a few feet away and started transferring clothes to the dryer. Unfortunately, in doing so, she bumped into Frazier. Down went the rock-hard frozen Frazier on Peacock’s neck, snapping it two. So, sad to say, the clothes got moldy and icky.
Two days later, Cheryl Christensen of the Neighborhood Mold Watch Committee knocked on Peacock’s door. Nothing. She came back the next day. Knocked. Again. Nothing. Christensen contemplated leaving another blistering anti-mold note before bursting into laughter. The mold maker would pay. Peacock would be tickled until she cried uncle.
Christensen picked the front door’s lock and headed to the reeking smell in the laundry room. She flexed her fingers. Justice would be served. But wahdu, Peacock was dead. Frazier was dead. The neighborhood would be blame her. Thinking quickly, Christensen stuffed each body into a sock. Into the dryer the dead ones went. Christensen closed the dryer door and set the buttons. Sure enough, Peacock and Frazier, being in orphan socks, disappeared.
Alex Butcher of the FBI came by to investigate, but her investigation proved no more fruitful than did any of the Bureau’s dead-bodies-stuffed-inside-orphan-socks investigation.
A week later, Linda Fierstein came back from a vacation at the sun-soaked beaches of Tahiti. She asked her neighbor, “Did anything happen while I was away?”
“Nothing to speak of,” said Kathy Carroll.
My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with 180 wonderful recipes is available on amazon.com. My newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, is also available on amazon.com