Sunday, March 20, 2005
A Hot Night in Bedrock
It was a hot night in Bedrock. Sweat was pouring down my back and the monkey that pedaled the fan motor decided to take a banana break. When you’re a private investigator, you sometimes have to burn the midnight oil, and this was one of those nights.
It had been a long day and I was just about to mosey down to the local watering hole for a tall glass of pterodactyl juice on the rocks before heading home to watch the match between the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. Bugs, my bookie, had given me a tip that tonight the bird was gonna lose . . . and lose big. I’d bet 100 clams on the coyote. The odds were high, but if Bugs knew what he was talking about, I’d be swimming in oysters for a month.
I grabbed my hat and walked toward the door when a dame walked in. Dames are a dime a dozen in Bedrock, but this one stood out like a cherry on a vanilla cone. She was tall, slender, and her red hair was pinned on top of her head with a little dinosaur bone. Her sexy white dress looped over a shapely shoulder and a single strand of pearls enhanced the curve of her neck. I could tell she was nervous and a little flustered.
“Are you Rocky Feldspar? Private Eye?”
“That depends on who wants to know.”
“My name is Flintstone. Wilma Flintstone.”
Flintstone . . . Flintstone . . . the name was familiar. I knew a Reuben Flintstone who worked out of Jellystone Park undercover as a bear, staking out picnic basket thieves. I’d also heard of a Seymore Flintstone, an informer that had testified in the Bullwinkle Moose trial and was now in the witness protection program. But one look at Wilma’s baby browns told me I was sniffing around the wrong fire hydrant.
“Have a seat,” I said, and offered her a chair next to my desk. She crossed her legs and her skirt slid up a few inches, but she quickly pulled it down over her dimpled knees.
“So, what’s your story,” I asked.
“I think my husband is trying to kill me.”
“What do you mean?”
She started to tear up and unsnapped her turtle purse, pulling out a handkerchief to wipe her eyes.
“Fred’s a foreman at the Rockhead Quarry. He’s not much in the brains department … or looks either, for that matter . . . but he’s a good provider.”
“He’s a simple man. A member of the Royal Order of Water Buffalos. He goes bowling on Friday nights. And all he wants from me is a rack of barbequed spare ribs ready for him when he comes home.”
“Sounds like a great guy.”
She picked up on my sarcasm right away and a smile played at the corner of her mouth. “Yeah,” she said. “Fred’s one in a million.”
“Then why do you think he wants you dead?”
She unsnapped her purse again and pulled out an envelope, which she passed on to me. “I found this in his bowling bag. An insurance policy worth 500,000 big ones.”
I opened the envelope. The policy was legit, all right. Looked like Flintstone was in like flint . . . if he could pull it off. But something in my gut told me there was more to the story. I looked up and Wilma was standing next to me. She took the bone out of her hair and auburn tresses cascaded down her back.
“I’m pretty sure Fred is having an affair,” she said in a sultry voice.
I’d been down this road before. A dame finds out her husband has a lover, so she goes after the first guy she finds to prove she’s still desirable. I’d learned that lesson the hard way with Jane Jetson. Her husband George came after me one night with a loaded forty-five. Lucky for me his aim was lousy and he just riddled the wall behind me full of holes. What do you expect from a guy who walks his dog on a treadmill.
“Look, sweetheart,” I growled, grabbing her by the shoulders and pushing her back into the chair. “I’m not gonna play your reindeer games.” She looked hurt, but got over it faster than you could say “yabba dabba doo.” She pinned her hair back up with the dinosaur bone and smiled.
“No games, Feldspar. I just thought it would help the case if you knew what Fred was up to in his spare time. Not that I care. Our marriage has been dead for years. We’re only staying together for the sake of Pebbles.”
“Fruity Pebbles? The cereal?”
“No. Our baby daughter.”
“So who’s the dame?”
I wrote the name down, but it was just for show. I knew Betty. A slinky brunette with big brown eyes and legs that wouldn’t quit. Fred didn’t know what he was getting in to, the poor sap.
“How do you know he’s having an affair?”
“He comes home late from work with lipstick on his collar. And I found some pink panties in his pocket. Not mine.”
“Maybe they’re his.”
“Not a chance. They were monogrammed ‘B.R.’ I know they belonged to Betty.” She showed about as much emotion as an accountant reciting the tax code at an IRS conference.
Like I said, I knew Betty very well. But I also knew about her dopey husband Barney and the double life he led. Those panties were his or my name wasn’t Rocky Feldspar.
“Can you help me, Feldspar? I heard you were the best P.I. in Bedrock.”
I couldn’t argue with her there. I was proud of my record. If it wasn’t for me, Mr. Magoo would still be jaywalking. And thanks to my efforts, Speedy Gonzales was locked up in the slammer without parole for running guns in Mexico. In fact, because of my deft detective skills, Boris and Natasha were nabbed for trying to skip the country with that nuclear warhead. Now they were waiting their turn at the gas chamber instead of knocking back vodka shots in Minsk.
I walked over to Wilma and put my arms around her. She didn’t resist. Despite her cavalier air, I knew she was in pain. I don’t usually get personally involved with my clients, but there was something about her that aroused my inner caveman.
“Sure angel, I’ll take the case.”
“Can I call you Rocky?”
“Call me whatever you like.” I turned off the desk lamp and we embraced in the moonlight. Tomorrow I would get to work, but first I had a bone to pick with Wilma Flintstone.