by Ruth Draves
For the Intentionally Bad Story Contest. The continuing misadventures of Detective Flint
|The night could have been stormy. Lightning could have licked the skies like a dog bathing its master's face if the owner fell asleep after eating peanut butter and didn't wash his face, especially if that guy was dead drunk. And then, you'd have to wonder -- would a guy like that deserve a dog, especially one that loved his slob of an owner enough to make sure his face was clean of crumbs? Would the dog be offended by the dude's breath? A total falling down drunk who didn't brush his teeth after a night of cheap beer and off-brand peanut butter would have halitosis bad enough to knock a buzzard off its feet. Not that dogs are picky. They "clean" their own behinds with the same tongue they'd use to lick the peanut butter off a sot's gob. Even beer and peanut breath can't be as bad as butt. And I've seen dogs roll in sun-ripened dead skunk. No tidal wave of tomato juice gets that stink off. The dog just has to stay outside -- night and day, rain or shine -- until that smell finally fades, like a pair of jeans washed too many times in hot water. Add a little bleach, and it just goes faster. But you can't bleach a dog.
But I would never know the weather that night unless I took a gander at my weather app, the more accurate one, not the one that insulted me with things like, "It's sunny and you're an idiot" or "No matter how awful the day is, you still suck more as a person." Not that I could check either app, or Facebook or Twitter, or even my email. Because I had left my phone in my other pants.
That it was dark was a given. It was night. Duh.
All I know is, it was night, I couldn't tell you what the weather was but it was a fair bet it was dark, and my phone was happily ensconced in another pair of pockets. Which was a shame because I really, really wanted to take pictures of my fellow stuck passengers for Instagram.
I had been on my way up to visit the Pooles when the Otis box gave a shudder and stopped. Since trouble is my game, and elevators are my forte, I went into action. I pressed all the buttons, made the alarm ring, and stared hard at the panel. It was beyond me.
We had been stuck between the twelfth and thirteenth floors for a while when curiosity finally killed the cat. Not literally, because that would be animal cruelty, just like bleaching dogs.
"So, what are you lot up to?" I growled.
The Rastafarian wearing an old TV cabinet for a hat grinned at my general direction. "We be heading up to the 17th floor for a party, mon," she drawled.
"It is a costume party," the Arnold Schwarzenegger stunt double in the powdered wig and aviator sunglasses said in a lilting monotone.
"A Baroque Halloween party," whispered the unseen guy crouched behind me.
"Ignore that," hissed the guy dressed in a garbage bag covered in those fake trees you can buy in model train stores. "We don't listen to Classical."
"Ain't nothing wrong with Haydn," I said. "Besides, aren't you all supposed to be well-tempered?"
The Rastafarian grinned. "We be getting ourselves a music geek in a cheap suit, mon."
"Good guess, Telemann," I grinned back. "I didn't flunk out of Advanced Counterpoint for nothing. And the suit isn't as cheap as it looks."
"You be the mon, mon," the Rastafarian high-fived me. "I didn't think anybody would get the telly-mon bit."
The garbage bag sneered. "You'll never guess me."
"Really, Mr. Obviously Monteverdi?" I said. "You're not even that good a green mountain."
The blonde in the bell-shaped suitcase stopped making goo-goo eyes at the guy in a black vest and a laptop in his low-slung holster she had cornered in a corner. "Those were the easy ones," she teased. "What about us?"
"Pachelbel and Handel," I teased back.
The guy in the vest gave me a roguish smirk. "I've got a bad feeling about this."
"Too late with the cultural reference," I said. "The Pachelbel was easy -- pack-a-bell. Thank you for not dressing like a taco."
"I did not want to be too obvious or too esoteric," she purred.
"Your friend there, he's clever. Note the costume: the iconic black vest, off-white shirt, and low-slung holster. Even before he added the Star Wars reference, I knew it had to be Han Solo. The laptop is a Dell. Han Solo. Dell computer. Han Dell. Handel."
"I could have been a doorknob, but I ain't got the knockers," Handel drawled.
"And me?" the Terminator droned.
"You'd be Bach," I droned back.
He hung his powdered head. "I vas too obvious," he wailed.
"Naw, mon, he be good at this," Telemann patted Bach's leather-clad arm.
"You could always use an effected British accent and say you're Johann Christian Bach, the London Bach," I suggested.
The big dude brightened. "Oh, tally ho there!" he cried.
The Rastafarian leaned against the fake wood paneling on the wall of the elevator and grinned. "So, where are you not going to mon?"
I sighed, blowing air out in a sad manner. "I was going to the penthouse when this elevator stopped," I growled.
The bell startled. "The Poole Penthouse?" she shrieked. "But, everyone knows there trouble when it comes to Pooles in River City!"
Monteverdi sniffed. "That's show tunes," he sneered.
"I say, old chap, you should be careful," the now British Terminator said. "The Pooles, late of London, are a terrible lot. I hear they are just awful blokes."
"It's the job, the paycheck, the raison d'etre," I growled. "I'm a private eye. Trouble is my business, and the Pooles are trouble."
"You growl an awful lot," sniffed the snob in the garbage bag.
"I have a cold," I growled. "The barking cough is next. And elevators are not supposed to get stuck like this. They're supposed to wonderful modes of intra-space transportation."
"Unless they have 'silage' or 'grain' as part of their names," whispered Haydn.
"Has anyone tried the emergency phone?" The belle in the bell asked.
"Of course I have," I sighed, this time in frustration. "It ain't working. Neither is the alarm."
"Of course it isn't," The Rastafarian stood up straight, removed her television cabinet and wig. "You will never make it to the Penthouse if I have anything to do with it."
"Oh my goodness, it's a Poole!" squealed Bach in a rather girly manner.
"Not just any Poole," I said. "That's Deepinda Poole, the half-Indian daughter of Doughboy himself."
"Why, Mr. Flint, I'm flattered you know me by at least my reputation," she said while producing a rather large gun. "I knew about the costume party and thought it would be a great disguise. My plan was to sneak into the elevator with you, shoot you, then make my escape through the crowd at the party. I couldn't stop these others from getting onto the elevator with you. So I rigged the elevator to stop between floors, and made sure the alarm and phone didn't work."
"Thanks for the summary of your plan, even before I asked," I said. "What about these guys? Killing them in the elevator at your father's home will be pretty obvious, more so than your costume."
"I was going to frame you somehow," she retorted.
"This won't make a pretty picture for you," I retorted back.
"I'm a Poole. I'm used to blood," she retorted back again.
"Not my guy's blood, you don't!" Haydn screamed while straightening up, pushing me aside, and shooting Deepinda in the chest.
"Oh my God, she's dead!" screamed Monteverdi.
"I'm all rung out!" cried Pachelbel.
"I told you I had a bad feeling about this," said Handel.
"I say! Nice shooting!" squealed Bach.
"Why, thank you, my favorite secretary," I gathered her in my arms to give her a big wet one on the lips.
"Haydn is your secretary!" shrieked Monteverdi.
My honey jerked her blonde mass of curls towards the snob in the garbage bag. "Can I put a couple of holes in the obvious old bag's bag?" she asked.
"Nah, Toots, not this time," I said. "You got to shoot a Poole. Maybe next time."