Crime Funny

Detective Richard Pettibone stood at the head of the dining room table, looking as impeccable as usual in his black tuxedo with the satin lapels. His jet-black hair was slicked back and looking shiny. He had just gotten out of the shower when his guests started arriving and so it was still wet.

Trying to hide his nervousness, he stuck his hands in his pockets, only to find that his pistol wasn't where he thought it was. What he really wanted was a stick of gum, but he knew it would hurt his appetite. He scanned his dinner guests from left to right, as though he was reading them like a book.

On his immediate left, was Skimmers, the dead man's accountant. He looked like he must have picked his profession based on his appearance. Skimmers was a small, thin, balding man who, at the age of 42, should have been able to grow a better, fuller mustache than this. Because he felt he had nothing to hide, he flaunted his nervousness like a cheap suit.

On his left was Mamie Lefthem, the deceased's wife. She was his trophy wife and she had everything out on display, mostly in front of her. With enough pancake powder on to feed a lumberjack, she was trying to hide her age. Her pearl pink lipstick pouted seductively, as though her feelings were being hurt, lined up here with all these crooks.

Next to her was her 14 year-old son, Delbert. Seriously myopic, he wore spectacles so think he'd probably never be able to wear contacts. He was dressed in his Sunday best, although Pettibone suspected he was no alter boy.

The left of the table was finished off by Lieutenant Danderflex. He was the only one Richard was pretty sure hadn't done it. The lieutenant was looking nervous enough, mainly because some of his boys were acting as the night's waiters and were doing a terrible job of it. The suave detective, with just one slightly raised eyebrow was able to communicate to him that he needed to take his hat off at the table. Pettibone had to wonder if Danderflex usually wore a baseball hat when wearing a suit.

At the far end was Pettibone's wife, Dora, looking marvelous as always. She had on a black crepe number with an open back that showed off the full extent of various vertebrae. Richard had given her the seat farthest from him as possible, hoping she'd be out of the line of fire. Although her hair looked brown in black and white photography, it was actually red.

On Dora's left sat Polly Lefthem, Mamie's daughter and Delbert's sister. She was looking all blond and blue-eyed, sitting pretty in a pink dress. Pettibone gave her a suspicious look. In his experience, the innocent-looking ones usually did it.

Next to her was her boyfriend, James Standish. Perpetually unemployed, he would have loved to marry into the dead man's dough. He had on a gray sports coat and non-matching gray pants, both of which looked like he'd just picked them out from the nearest thrift store. His strawberry-blond hair was plastered into place with mousse.

Then there was Mamie's current boyfriend, a dashing duplicate of a slightly younger Caesar Romero, from before he died. He had wavy black and silver hair that made him look much more sophisticated than he really was. He was the only other one in a tux, which the detective suspected Mamie had paid for.

Last but certainly not the least suspicious was Pugsy Paylone, Mamie's former boyfriend, the one she'd had before she'd landed the late Mr. Lefthem. He had on an ill-fitting suit that looked slightly better after one of the waiters emptied his shoulder holster. A derby hat tried to hide his thinning hair. Pugsy looked rather uneasy without his iron, rolling his massive shoulders and cracking his swollen knuckles.

As the waiters brought in the soup, careful not to drop too much into any one person's lap, Detective Pettibone started in with his narration. "You all know why you were invited here tonight," he began, "and it wasn't for your scintillating conversation. Each of you have the opportunity to gain off of Mr. Hiram Lefthem's death. One of you committed the murder."

At that, multiple guests managed to drop their silverware on the floor. The waiters started to help with the retrieval, but their host headed them off. "No need to worry, boys," Richard pronounced. "The floor is carpeted, so they can't do much damage. And don't worry folks," he beamed a smile around that took in all the guests, "the floor was shampooed a year ago last Shrove Tuesday, so it's reasonably clean.

"Now, where was I?" He took a gulp from his champagne glass of pale amber beer. "Ah, yes -- one of you murdered the dead man." Delbert dropped his spoon again and dived under the table. "Really, Delbert, if you can't handle a spoon, we can probably pour your soup into a sippy cup."

The boy hit his head on the table coming back up, causing most of his soup to splash out of the bowl. The awkward adolescent blushed a most delicate shade of red.

"Skimmer!" Pettibone called out, causing the accountant to drop his spoon in his empty bowl with an echoing clatter.

"Really, Dickie," Dora drawled from the far end. "You're going to have to stop scaring all our guests. At this rate, we'll have to buy a whole new set of china."

"Thank you for the advice, Dora darling," replied her hubby. "Can I get you another shoe of beer?"

"No thank you, darling," she replied. "The stiletto on this one makes for divine tipping." She demonstrated.

"And now I know why you love to go shopping for shoes."

"Dickie," the accountant stammered out. "You know I didn't do it. I've been on the level since I got out of the pen."

"Save it for the jury," snapped the detective. "We found the second set of books. Where's that ten percent off the top go, Skimmer?"

The small man looked sheepish as the mutton with green mint jelly was set before him. "I gave all that to Ms. Mamie, Dickie. That Mr. Lefthem was a real miser. Why, poor Mamie hardly had enough to buy a decent faux fur."

"That's very noble of you," Pettibone allowed. "What of it, Mamie? Wasn't the faux fox fur good enough for you? Or did you bump the old guy off to get all his cash?"

"Why...why...I loved the man, Dick!" Mamie protested. "My love for him went beyond his wealth!"

Dickie Pettibone, private detective, sneered. "Tell that to the press, Sister. Maybe they'll buy it."

She pouted prettily as she carved into her mutton.

"What about you, Junior?" Dickie turned on Delbert. "Wouldn't Daddy keep you well enough in stock with books? No..." Pettibone mused, "I just can't see you stabbing the man, strangling him and then shooting him at twenty paces."

"Well," mused the teen, "I do have a science project due next week. But I respected Papa for the huge amount of money he made. I'd never do all that to him!"

"Maybe not," the detective admitted. "But in the meantime, watch where your eyes roam. If my Mrs. catches you looking down her frock, she's likely to put a fork in your hand."

"Well, into something," Dora mumbled into her shoe.

"I love you when you're vindictive, Dear. Now, Polly..."

"Who me?" she squealed.

"Yes, you," replied our Dickie. "If you come into a small fortune, that might make your young flame more eager to finally pop the question. How many years have you two been dating?"

"Too many, if you ask me! But I didn't do it! My eyesight is worse than Delbert's! If I'd tried to shoot Daddy, I would have missed at even two feet!"

"Well, I'm sure our lieutenant here can check that story out with your ophthalmologist. Can't you, Danderflex?" The policeman nodded his head enthusiastically, his mouth stuffed with dressing.

"I know I'm next, Mr. Pettibone, but I didn't do it either!" James Standish blurted out. His boyish cowlick now stood up like a hackle.

"Really, son?" asked Dickie. "Why, I know many a man who would kill to get into that pair of panties!"

"Don't believe him, deary," Dora stage-whispered to Polly. "What my husband really wanted to get his hand in was my savings account. I've got a 401k that's killer!"

"Now, now, Dora, behave," Dickie admonished his wife. "You're the one who wanted to see me work. But if you'd rather, you can go into the kitchen and pop the cork on that magnum of champagne. Then you'll really see some fireworks!"

Dora muzzled herself, playfully snapping at her Dickie through the leather straps.

"You certainly can't suspect me, Detective," purred the gigolo, Mamie's back-door man. Pettibone was a little put off by what to call him. The man had a list of aliases almost as long as his rap sheet.

"I'm not sure what name your working on now," Dickie admitted, "but Lt. Danderflex did some flatfooted leg work and found out that your name at birth was Ricardo Montebanc. You've been clever up to now, Ricky, and haven't done any time. But I'm sure the only reason you're still hanging around Mamie is because she's got you on a short leash, financially speaking. With her new found wealth, you're much more likely to get away with grifting her for big bucks."

The detective turned his attention towards the suspected gangster. Instinctively the man reached into his coat, forgetting that his holster was empty. Feeling frustrated, the former boxer reached into a pants' pocket to fondle his blackjack.

"Youse ain't got nothing on me, copper," Pugsy growled.

"That's a double negative, Pug," Pettibone corrected him. "But you may be right. Although, strong-arming your former moll into taking you back certainly isn't beyond your personality type."

"So, like, I'm all confused," Delbert admitted. "Did we all kill the old man?"

Pettibone slumped down in his seat. "I'm confused too, Junior. Usually by now someone either confesses or starts shooting up the place. Anyone want to volunteer?"

"Sheesh!" This was from Dora.

"I beg your pardon, darling?"

"Well, you should. I go to all this trouble to set up a crime for you to solve and you can't finger a single French fry!"

"Say, that's a mighty impressive looking piece you've just pulled out of your garter belt," Dickie pointed out. "What is it, a Glock 17L?"

"That's right, Dickie, with the long slide. Now, you all stay real still or I blow the lieutenant's brains out." She pointed the pistol at the officer's head.

"You're going to have to aim a lot lower than that, if you want to do any real damage," Dickie suggested. "Are you suggesting, my little pumpkin, that you killed old man Lefthem?"

"How is it you couldn't figure that out, Dickie?" Dora asked with tears beginning to form in her big brown doe-shaped eyes. "And you call yourself a detective!"

the end

December 18, 2020 02:02

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Rick Bramhall
18:36 Dec 26, 2020

Thank you, Tim! That's high praise indeed!


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Tim Law
10:34 Dec 26, 2020

Wow!! What a twist! Just like an Agatha Christie 👍❤️


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