Joey 'Meatball' and stolen mob money attract attention from an unlikely pair of detectives
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Cardston Devonshire III carefully set his Canon EOS IDX on the desk, settled his vast bulk comfortably in his custom-built office chair, arranged his V-neck cream silk mumu, slipped off his Jimmy Choo high heels, and admired his sky-blue toenails. He picked up the camera and took a careful shot of his toes. "I do love those shoes," he said to his partner, Kelly-Anne Corvalis, "but I sure do love to take them off."
They regarded each other with mutual distaste: she a tall, scrawny thirtyish blonde with enough tattoos to set up an art gallery and enough piercings to stock a hardware store; he an aging sixty, saggy, bald, and carrying enough lard to cook a shipload of french fries. But there was also mutual grudging respect: she was a talented assassin with powerful mob connections; he was a noted photographer with smarts and strong ties to the underworld of stolen and forged art.
"Well now, what, Kelly darling, have we on our plate today?"
"What we got, your Fatness, is a bit of business from Graziano 'Fang' Trombetta --may he catch his balls in a meat grinder. Joey Brawn, who they call 'Meatball' on account of he's got that many brains, has disappeared, along with twenty grand of mob money. It's a piddling amount, but naturally, this is both a crime and an insult to the Family. Fang wants us to find the Meatball, recover the money, and lose the Meatball. I look forward to that last part, as the creep always has a hand on my butt."
"Any problem if some of the money sticks to our fingers on the way?"
"A finder's fee is an accepted part of doing business. Fang just expects the fee to be reasonable."
"Say, forty percent?"
"Take forty percent and you'll lose forty pounds of ugly fat: Fang will have your head."
"For Thirty percent, you might lose just a hand. Or you might find your balls in a meat grinder."
Devonshire sighed. "You do have a one-track mind where men are concerned. Twenty-five percent it is."
"So, how do we crack this case? Fang has asked around; nobody knows where Meatball is."
"Am I not a genius in drag?"
"No. You're fat tub of lard in a mumu. You look like a cow in a tent. If I could find them, I'd stuff your balls in a meat grinder."
"Ah, you're so affectionate, Kelly." He picked up his camera and scrolled through the display. "But I am indeed a genius. Look, see." She snatched the camera from his hand and peered at the screen.
"Holy crap, that's Meatball. When was this taken? What's this place he's going into?"
"That is The Spaghetti Factory on 97th Street. The most obvious place to seek out a meatball. It was taken fifteen minutes ago, when I was on my way here. Joey is probably still there, slurping up pasta."
"Well, dang, let's go get him."
"No. I am comfortable, and by the time I lever myself up and squeeze into those gorgeous Jimmy Choos, the meatball will have rolled away. Let's YOU go get him."
"What?" Corvalis shrieked, hooking her talons as though to rip out his eyes. "You figure just because you're a man, you get to sit around and make the woman do all the work? You overweight cretin, I'll stuff your balls in a meat grinder starting at your little blue toesies!"
"Kelly, you're a mercenary, a soldier for hire. You are hired by the mob on permanent contract. In this case, your job is search and seizure. Go forth, search for a meatball, seize the money, and return. Bring Joey." Because he preferred to keep his testicles intact, he waited until she had stormed out of the room before adding, "That's a good girl."
Fifteen minutes later, the office door was banged open and a squealing Joey Meatball tumbled into the room. He landed in a crumpled heap and promptly curled up into a fetal ball in front of Cardston Devonshire III, who looked down and said politely, "Hello, Joey. Thank you for coming. Do your balls hurt? I hope you still have them."
He looked up at Corvalis, who had sauntered in after Meatball, brushing off her hands. She closed the door behind her.
"The money?" Devonshire asked.
She dug in her pockets and tossed two thin stacks of bills onto the desk. "Stupid moron was trying to pay for his meal with a hundred. The restaurant saw the stack and called the cops. I gave the maitre d' a twenty and hustled the Meatball outa the joint. He was givin' me a hard time, but gosh, whaddya know, his balls fell onto my knee a coupla times on the way here, which settled him right down. Stupid man."
Devonshire ignored both the moaning Meatball and his chortling partner, and counted the money. A couple of hundreds missing; he hoped Joey had had a good time with those, the last good time of his life. He counted off twenty-five hundreds and tucked them in a desk drawer, then slipped the rest into an envelope and sealed it.
"Now, Fatso, our job was to find the Meatball, get the money, and lose the Meatball. Two down, one to go. I'll go get the meat grinder." She gave Joey a kick on her way to the kitchen.
"Aaaaahh! No, please, man, not the meat grinder," wailed Joey Brawn, who clearly knew which way the woman's mind ran.
Corvalis returned and clamped the meat grinder to the desk. Brawn wailed even louder and crawled over to wrap his arms around the tree-trunks of Devonshire's legs.
"It's okay, Joey," said Devonshire kindly, patting the man's back, "I'm sure she'll kill you first."
"Like hell, I will," grinned Corvalis.