It all started when I had to take a leak and saw some dry rose bushes. From there I followed the dotted line over the map to the X which landed me here: sitting at the head of a big table waiting to name a murderer or two over dinner.
When the second to last of the pitiful party arrived, griping as the others did, I started.
“People,” I said a few times trying to quiet them. “The reason we are all gathered here at the Big Toe’s Diner is because no other place would take a motley murder party like our own on such short notice. And of course, because I’m gonna solve the murder of Mr. Flipper.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” said an older woman with a nose that pointed up even when she was looking down. “That tart killed my husband, everybody knows.”
“Well,” I said, “I don’t think so. And like I was saying if you don’t remember me or your mind’s too feeble, I’m private detective Lou Lickendilly.”
“I don’t have to sit here,” the old woman said before making her way to the door like an old cheetah with too much Botox.
Detective Dud, who’s head could double as a stone step, blocked her way saying, “sit, Widow Flipper.” She sat.
“Now, that the Widow Flipper’s popped a squat we can continue… or do you guys wanna order first? I’ve already ordered so I’m good.”
There were a few murmurs around the table. The Widow Flipper leaned over the senile old bag of a mother next to her, the one she accidentally forgot about during her walk out, and asked if she wanted anything. The response was, “no socks on the dog, he loses them.”
Finally, detective Dud said, “just start already.”
I lit a cigarette, hacked a lung then started. “Monday night, Mr. Flipper was shot twice, this put a damper on his evening.”
“I’d say,” said a voice at the other end of the table.
In a flick of a toad’s eyelid I knew who it was. “Marsha Lynn: child tuba prodigy, occasional drug addict and overall smartass, is there a reason your speaking up?”
“Yeah, I don’t want to be here.”
“Who does? But you have to be.”
“Because, toenail face maybe you killed Mr. Flipper. You could of went to him looking for money to put more shit in your veins and when he didn’t cough up the cash you plugged him. We already know you sold your tuba to support your habit.”
“I didn’t,” yelled Marsha Lynn, “I didn’t do it.”
“Did she Lickendilly,” Dud said, “did she do it?”
I squinted my eyes and looked at them both. “Maybe, maybe not. Or maybe it was Phillip Jr. We know Junior was in the house that night sleeping off a day of watching the soaps and drinking whiskey. Easy enough to whack his old man and hop back upstairs.”
“Absurd,” Junior said, “I loved my father; I wouldn’t want him dead.”
“Yeah and an orangutan and a giraffe are both animals but neither drink light beer on Wednesdays.”
“What? What does that mean?”
“It means love don’t mean nothin’ in this crazy business. And you can say about anything. Maybe you offed him because the old geezer wouldn’t play catch no more or tuck you in at night and read to you Biff the Dragon That Wet His Bed.”
“I’m 44 years old!”
“Well, I’ve seen kinkier things in this case sonny boy. Ain’t that right, Edmund?”
Edmund gave me a side eye glare that could turn crackers into crumbs.
If I had to look at someone and tell if they did it or not Edmund would be the murderer. He looks like he just crawled out from under a snail’s ass, killed his mother, and then put on a flannel sports jacket.
“You see, first I thought Edmund was blackmailing Flipper, but then I figured out it was the other way around. All to do with a pair of socks and a woman declared Miss Tomato 1999.”
“No, Widow Flipper the names Lickendilly, and I’m surprised you decided to part those inflated lips. After all you have more motive than anyone.”
She shifted in her seat and said, “I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.”
“You trying to tell me you didn’t know your aged husband was doing the four-legged limbo with his secretary. I find that hard to believe; it was on his calendar for crise sakes.”
“So are his dentist appointments. Should I be concerned with every time he gets something pulled.”
It was at this time that two badges decided to drag in the mistress. She looked like you figured she would. She had big breasts, courtesy of Mr. Flipper’s money, nestled under something revealing and expensive.
“Thanks for joining us.”
“Why am I here?” She whined.
“Because I’m gonna prove your innocence.”
“Speaking of that,” Detective Dud boomed letting me know he had a double cheese with extra onions and a side of curly fries for lunch. “Let’s stop playin’ guess who the psycho is and tell us who did in old man Flipper.”
“Fine,” I said lighting another ciggy, “well, first of all an old coot don’t start cheatin’ at seventy. He keeps cheatin’. So, I looked into old mistresses just to see what would come up because I knew he had more than just the one that supposedly shot him dead.”
“I could have supplied a list,” said Widow Flipper.
“I found quite a few but none that would wanna do him in. However, somethin’ did come up, two had kids only months after things ended with Flipper. These two also got a check from Flipper for many years. One had a girl, one had a boy,” I pointed down the table, “one had a maid and one had a gardener.”
There were some gasps around the table, but not as much as I assumed there would be.
“I couldn’t figure out if Flipper knew he had hired his own kids or not. This is what I did figure out: the maid and the gardener, Jane and Gabe, killed their old man together. Gabe bought the gun, Jane got the bullets. They did it together even being each other’s alibi’s that night saying they were both out back of the house.
“He obviously got the gun on the street. For a candy bar and two dimes I could get a revolver on most street corners. The box of bullets, same caliber, six missing are on her bookshelf in her apartment. I was there the other night after I took her out. The tacos didn’t sit well with her so when she went to the can I looked around. One thing I can’t figure is why now? The two of them had been working there over a year.”
My burger had been served while I was talking so when I took a breath, I popped a fry in my mouth. At the same time Jane got up pulling a gun from her purse, as everyone else sat still I dropped under the table.
“Why?” Jane said, “why? Because he got her pregnant too, his latest tramp. It was gonna happen again and again. I did future castaway children a service.” She shot at me getting my burger in the bun and the badges seized her and her brother.
I stood up and detective Dud said, “Sorry about your burger, Lou.”
“That’s okay it’s all apart of this dirty game.”