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Weekly Column by Brian Codagnone

September 10, 2012

The Harryhausen Owl

A Spike Slammer Mystery

Part 3: Strange Bedfellows

I waited until they went inside, then I walked around the corner to the back alley and into the building through the service entrance. There was a Chinese restaurant on the first floor that I helped by keeping out the protection racket boys, so they always looked the other way. I learned a long time ago to always have a way in or out that won't tip your hand. And judging by the look of the limo driver I'd say he'd broken a lot of hands along the way.

I had left my office door unlocked so they'd let themselves in. Easier to control the situation that way, everyone sitting down and accounted for, with little chance of anyone hiding behind the door waiting to douse your Edisons with a sap.

I looked through the hidden peephole I had drilled in the wall and saw that Mr. and Mrs. Packard were sitting down, der Biggers was pacing nervously and Putrescine was standing as stiff as a shark on a gaff. I figured he never sat down. I eased the door open.

"Well, I'm glad everyone could make it," I said, "Here's where everybody comes clean."

"I didn't want to do it, Spike!" der Biggers cried. Packard slipped out a Luger and calmly shot him.

"He's right, Slammer. He was just a patsy."

"I get it now. There was no affair; it was all a set up." I could have shot Packard now and call it justified, but I was curious.

"That's right. I had my wife and Mr. Putrescine convince you that she was suspicious of me and handed over a considerable sum of money. Thus distracted, you'd be willing to help Mr. der Biggers, who had a bigger problem than a dalliance with my wife. You see, he did owe me a lot of money, so to pay me back I asked him to switch the Harryhausen Owl with a fake and give me the real one. It was an excellent forgery, and as the museum's director he could control access to the bird. You were the original officer on the case and so one of the few people who'd held the original."

"Beat some Montenegrins to death with it to be exact. Three, maybe four if you're counting."

"I realize you know as much about fine art as a cocker spaniel knows about plane geometry, but we couldn't risk even a thug like yourself spotting the fake and ruining the plan."

"So you needed to get rid of anyone who could get wise to your little game? Why, Packard? A guy with your scratch could buy a whole museum."

"Where would be the sport in that?" Without lowering his Luger he drew a case from his jacket pocket and pulled out a gold tipped cigarette. Mrs. Packard reached over and lit it with a silver Dunhill lighter that probably cost more than my DeSoto. She was a full partner, all right. Now that I knew the game it was time to act.

"What about Putrescine?" Can you trust him?"

"He was useful." Packard turned slightly in his chair and shot Putrescine just as calmly as he had der Biggers. As he collapsed to the floor Putrescine showed as much emotion as someone opening a can of soup.

"I pulled out a pack of Lucky Strikes and fired one up with my Zippo. Taking a deep drag I said, "Was that guy even a lawyer?"

"Does it matter?"

"Not really", I replied, "Just keeping the conversation going."

"I should think that would be the least of your worries, Mr. Slammer. At least when they find you dead there will be a motive; you shot two men who shot you, then bled out. There will be nothing to connect Mrs. Packard or myself to the case. Mr. der Biggers DID hire you after all, and Mr. Putrescine was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time." Everything tied up in a nice neat package".

I could tell things were beginning to wrap up. Luckily, I had a plan in place. I stepped off to the side and lit my Zippo again. As I did a shot rang out, blowing a neat hole in Packard's forehead. Unlike Putrescine, he seemed genuinely startled as he slipped off his chair. Mrs. Packard began screaming as Breeks came into the office.

"Spike tipped us off that you were coming. We had a sniper on the roof across the street. Glad you left the window open, Spike. Flying glass can be dangerous!"

Breeks cuffed Mrs. Packard and led her away. The meat wagon would be here soon to collect the stiffs, so I sat down at my desk and poured a shot of whiskey. And thought about Lola.






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©2012 Brian Codagnone
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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