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A Didge' And A Tear Part 1
Call me William. Better yet, don’t call me. My name is William Schmidt-Private Eye. I received an article in Detective Weekly last year after busting a counterfeit penny scheme. This fame was short lived, as I haven’t solved a case since. But I sense something big. There’s crime in these streets, these sultry streets of downtown Minneapolis. Something big is going down; I can feel it in my bones. It might even be a counterfeit nickel scheme.
I looked up from my typewriter; there was a knock at my door. I instinctively reached for my revolver. A part of me knew the gun would offer little or no protection from the evils of counterfeit pocket change, but it had become a reflex after receiving many angry, personal fan letters from the public library. I duck behind my typewriter, and trouble lets herself in.
Trouble was a tall brunette, as it almost always was. Trouble was the kind of woman who could rip your heart out-literally. She walked up to my desk, peering at me through curious, almond-shaped eyes. She watched the little, shrunken man curled behind his typewriter and clutching a gun, with her own brand of amused scrutiny.
“Hello William,” she says, “Writing your memoirs again?”
I didn’t answer, and instead quietly lit a cigarette. I thought this ambiguity added a sort of noir quality to the ubiquitous humdrum of my everyday life. I am now, however, painfully aware that it really just made me seem thoroughly lame. Trouble seemed to derive something from this message, or lack thereof, and continued her monologue.
“I have a case for you, Will.”
Trouble’s name wasn’t trouble. Her name was Sara. She was a reporter for Detective Weekly, a magazine that, in fact, did not sell very well. She had an odd habit of calling me up to solve cases that, for the most part, were entirely fictional. It always made a good article, I guess, and as my detecting propensities was doomed to failure, nobody really bothered to read about them. I began to suspect these “cases” of hers were little more than an elaborate plot to drive me insane. Or perhaps this was h*ll, and her cases were my eternal punishment. I again failed to answer, and she again seemed to take this as a sign to keep talking.
She outlined another case that bordered on the lines of parody. Jonas Smith Jr., the owner of an alternate flower and music shop in the seedy underbelly of Minneapolis. Apparently, there was word of him selling cannabis in the bodies of soprano ukuleles. Supposedly there was much suspicion, but for each bust he simply moved the pot to another instrument. Incidentally, a favorite hiding place of his was a rack of tubas in the back of the shop. And so it was my job to, for Detective Weekly, to catch him in the act.
It was a cold, rainy fog on the night I scheduled the bust. The stars were hidden by a cloud of smog as I slunk through the sordid streets of Minneapolis. I had a cheap soprano ukulele hidden under my coat. I carried a portable typewriter with me. Suddenly, a cold voice rose from a nearby alley.
“C’mere, sonny boy,” it said.
I chose to do anything possible to prolong the bust. I slipped into the alley and quickly found the owner of the voice. He was a tall, dark soul, with long, white hair, and a shaggy beard that reached the ground. He was wrapped in a tie-dye robe. Whatever eyes hid between his dark sunglasses stared deep into my soul as he played a riveting solo on the didgeridoo.
At length, his song ended, and he spoke.
“Child, it has been a long, long, winter,” he thought aloud.
“It has indeed,” I said for some reason.
He spoke no more.
After what seemed like hours, I finally got up to leave. As I had departed the alley, what felt suspiciously like the didge’ struck me in the cranium. I hit the street, simultaneously breaking both the ukulele and the typewriter. Darkness sunk in as rain peddled over me. I was in a stirring, sickening darkness, in a sort of palpable terror. And during all of this one thought was sickeningly clear: the hippie was in with Jonas’s business, and Jonas was in with Sara. If I wanted to make the bust, I had to go for Sara herself.
…If I survived.
I awoke after what seemed like a year. It was a long, long winter. I was in a pool of blood, and beside me lay a smashed ukulele, a broken typewriter, and a basket of assorted fruits with a letter detailing a sincere apology. I didn’t read it. I knew what had to be done.
I gathered myself and began the long walk to the publishing department of Detective Weekly. I was lightheaded and dizzy. In my stupor I collapsed into a hotdog stand.
“Hey Mac, you look like h*ll. Have a dog’, on the house, man.”
I found myself staring into the eyes of a morbidly obese hot dog dealer. He was Mexican. His name was El Guardo. Not that it mattered.
“Screw you,” I said.
I stumbled onward leaving a confused and obese Mexican behind. I was a man on a mission.
To Be Continued…