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Weekly Column by Brian Codagnone

September 4, 2012

The Harryhausen Owl

A Spike Slammer Mystery

Part 2: A Second Client

I was trying to figure out the dame's angle when there was another knock on the door. Busy day, maybe my luck was turning around.

"Come in", I said, slipping my .45 out of its holster. You can't be too careful, you never know if the next person you see will be a client, a cop, a delivery boy or someone with a twelve gauge out to redecorate the room. It was a slight man, well dressed with horn rimmed glasses and a nervous manner. I recognized him as Philo der Biggers. When I was a detective on the police force my partner Breeks and I helped him recover the Harryhausen Owl, a priceless antique jeweled statuette. A Gang of Montenegrin art thieves had stolen it from the museum where der Biggers was director. We tracked them to Union Station where they planned to blow town and sell it on the international black market. I'm not much on art, but I don't like crooks stealing in my city, especially foreign ones. So, when Breeks and I cornered them in a sleeping car bound for the coast, let's just say they didn't use that car again for a long time, not until they hosed it out and reupholstered it, anyway. It was after cracking a high profile case like that that Breeks got promoted to Lieutenant and I decided to strike out on my own rather than break in a new partner. I never liked regulations anyway.

"What can I do for you, Philo?"

"Spike, I'm in trouble. I assume you've heard of Pierce Packard."

This was too close to be a coincidence, but I didn't let on that I was wise.

"Too often, lately. I know he has some colorful friends. Are you into the leg breakers for some scratch?"

"It's not that. You see, he discovered I've been having an affair with his wife."

"A looker with gams like an angel and hair like honey hooking up with a poindexter like you? Nothing personal, Philo, but that seems far-fetched. Besides, having an affair with the wife of someone like Packard is as dangerous as taunting a hungry pit bull with pork chop in a locked steamer trunk. By my account you should be dead already."

"I don't know what I was thinking!" he practically gasped. I knew what he was thinking and it was a lot of guys' undoing. It was a revenge affair, where the wronged wife will latch onto any warm body to get payback on her cheating husband. The problem was that it only worked if the husband found out. Then it was too late for the poor sap who, in the wrong circumstances, soon became a cold body. This was one of those circumstances. Poor der Biggers, he didn't know that he'd been played like a Stradivarius. That's what comes from trusting a dame.

"I've been in hiding ever since he found out. I need to disappear. Spike, you know every yegg, dip, grifter, dropper, queer paper hanger and gonif in town. I need someone to set me up with false documents and get me out of Los Angeles alive."

I set two shot glasses on the desk and poured us some whiskey.

"I could, but the problem is I like breathing. I can set you up with a forger to get you a new ID, maybe a cold roscoe, but that's it."

"It will have to do. Thank you, Spike!" With that he got up, shook my hand and left. Poor guy; I'm sure he'd be fish food before long. Too bad I didn't ask for my fee up front.

The next day I decided to pay a visit to Putrescine's office. I went to the address on the card. I shouldn't have been surprised when it turned out to be a bakery.

I found a pay phone and called the number. A woman answered, "The Law Office of Smerling Putrescine. How may I help you?"

"My name is Baxter Grayle. I'd like to hire Mr. Putrescine for a case."

"I'm sorry; Mr. Putrescine isn't taking on any new clients. Good day." And with that she hung up.

I tried a different approach and called up using my own name. This time the doll was more talkative. "Oh, yes, Mr. Slammer. We've been expecting your call. May Mr. Putrescine and his client call at your office?" I told her that I'd be there in an hour. I went to the diner across the street from my office and ordered some pie and a cup of joe. In exactly an hour a limo pulled up. Out of it stepped Putrescine, Mrs. Packard and, to my surprise, Pierce Packard and Philo der Biggers. Things were getting interesting.

Next: Strange Bedfellows.






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Surf Our Site

Home ... Misfits . Rafferty .. . S1019 .. . Star Crossed....
. .
Ginger & Shadow. ..Embrace the Pun.. ..Cool Links . ..More Cool Links .
Oddities ..Link To Us... Guest Comics .. ..Books for Sale . Online Store..
The Cartoonists ..In The Zone . .Emotional Chaos . .Number 9