Sunday, July 23, 2006

One with the Road

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The phone rang. It startled me because I was profoundly drunk and just as sure that it had been disconnected months ago for non-payment. I stared at it half-hoping the ringing was just the recurrence of a war injury to my left ear. A dame reached out and touched me. Twice. She liked to play rough. The first time I hit her back. The second time I cried. It really, really hurt. Every once in a while I would hear that ring, more over the last few months than ever. Maybe she was thinking about me. Or maybe the phone had never been disconnected. Damn. I wonder how many jobs I missed. My name is Clyde. I’m a private detective, a private eye, a dick. I run Fryde Clyde Investigations.

The call came in at 1352 on July 21. Hit-and-run at the corner of Third and Washington. Or Assunta and Washington. I don’t remember. Couldn’t read my notes. So I went to both. I stopped on the way and picked up Photo JoeNat. I was going to need pictures and he was the best. I also needed a driver. My 14’ wide driveway seemed to vary in width from a goat path to an eight-lane highway as my mind swam in and out of focus. I sat on my stairs for 30 minutes waiting for traffic to clear only to realize I had been staring at my car. It didn’t matter if Photo Joe was just 11 years old. His feet could reach the pedals. I think. After tossing him the keys, I tossed my cookies and we were on our way.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The crime scene came into view. We were lucky. Some lady and her kid were standing there. Maybe she could drive me home. Gotta love Photo Joe, but he sucked at driving. I told him to take pictures as I threw up clutching the front tire. The warm rubber felt comforting against my gums. See that spot in the road? That was our H&R victim. Gruesome. I was suddenly very glad my stomach was empty. It was going to be a tough job. I made a mental note to increase my fee and promptly forgot what I was thinking about.

I walked up to the victim to assess the damage. Maybe get a feel for the basics –tire marks, degree of flatness, placement of displaced body parts, spew. I would later combine these observations into a Fryde Clyde Splatometer© and calculate direction and speed, and perhaps infer intent and last thoughts.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The victim was thought to be one Rabbit, Peter J. Reported missing several days ago under suspicious circumstances. I approach these matters assuming wrongful death. My inclinations were rewarded at first glance: no cottontail. The puff was sure to show up at Rabbit’s home wrapped in newspaper. A clear sign of a professional hit: Peter sleeps with the sheep. The hair on the back of my neck stood straight as I pictured the murderers cutting off the tail. It didn’t matter if Peter J. was alive or dead at the time. Either act was horrifying. Thinking about cutting off rabbit tails always made me puke. I was on my knees in an instant. The warmth of the pavement against my face was soothing. Time to crawl to my feet and focus.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPhoto Joe showed me his work so far. We were sitting in the car with the air conditioning on. Although it was only 70 degrees outside, it was the only way I could sit up and even conceive of focusing. Photo Joe fired up his pics on the laptop. The first image will forever be printed on the inside of my eyelids. There were two hits. A rear hit that caused a forward spew, followed by a front side hit that ensured the head was flat. Notice the dashed line of spew at the bottom of the pic – a clear sign that something round had driven through the wet spew. Each complete cycle of dry and wet added up to the circumference of the wheel. Small. Maybe clowns and tricycles involved. Somehow, Peter J. Rabbit may have run afoul of the Clown Mafia. Few lived to repeat such a mistake.

Equally obvious was that the vehicle was traveling on the wrong side of the road for the initial hit. “Remember that picture of the lady and kid with the victim?” Photo Joe asked me. “From that angle, you were looking right up Peter’s butt.” I tried to digest this information; bile rose in my throat.

I asked Photo Joe if he had any pics on the degree of flatness. “Oh yeah,” he said with a broad grin. He dialed up flatness personified, butt first.

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“What do you think,” I asked, “half an inch?”

“Tops out at 3/8’s” Photo Joe said, “except the ear. Maybe he was listening to something?”


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting “Yeah, check this out.” He flipped through his pics and zoomed in. “Looks like he was catching a few words. Would’ve been better for him if he listened less and hopped more, eh?”

Photo Joe was always a wise guy at murder scenes. I turned to the window and projectile vomited. I forgot the window was up. It splashed back in my face. “Hopped more, yes,” I said through vomit bubbles.

I needed to use my flip-flops and canvas the area for witnesses. But first I needed a nap. I gave Photo Joe a few quarters and told him to find a candy store. I crawled into the back seat, assumed the fetal position, and rocked myself into unconsciousness.

I woke up after only 15 minutes. I had a cold sweat covering me and my hands were shaking. A quick mirror check confirmed my pasty-white complexion. I figured a good cry would help, so I started blubbering and wailing loudly. Hassidic sounds were coming from me. People walked by but didn’t bother me. Supposed prayer and strangers is like an apple and a doctor.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting I looked across the street from the crime scene. A row of houses with backyards and lots of windows. Witness central. I crossed the street and started knocking on doors.

The first stop went well. They thought I was homeless and gave me a nice meal. They were of no use to the case however. The second house, the brown one, had an amazing arsenal that the owner offered to demonstrate to me if I didn’t leave his porch by the count of five. My head already hurt and listening to guns did not sound appealing. With the door slamming, I heard Mr. Gun-nut murmur, “it’s the shot you don’t hear that you have to worry about.” I was compelled to stop after the third stop. Dog. Just an amazing animal. I thought it was a water buffalo at first, which explains my initial lack of a response as it charged at me.

The investigation was getting nowhere. I decided to return to the scene of the crime and look in the other direction. It sounded like a plan. And if anyone asked, I’d tell them that I was proud to be a part of it. Come to think of it, I must’ve beaten the press to the scene. I had better get all my pics in and start thinking about a statement.

I ran back to the scene ahead of the African bison. Photo Joe was sitting on the curb eating candy.

“I’m expecting the press to be here any minute. Let’s get our pics done. How many you take so far?”


“OK. That sounds like enough. Did you get …” and I pointed down the road.


“Did you get …” and I pointed in and around and through everything in site.

“Yep.” “Yep.” “Yep.” “Yep.” Constantly, “Yep.”

Then I pointed at the sky.

“Uh, no. I didn’t take a picture of the sky.”

“Well, get on it. You’ll never have a chance to photo-document something after you leave the scene.” Geez. These photo jockeys think they know everything. There’s still a trick or two us grey-hairs can teach.

I continued my investigation as Photo Joe took pictures of passing clouds. I thought wishfully, “if only I had a plane and clouds could talk …” I made a mental note to price airplane rides.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The view directly opposite the former-Peter-J.-now-spot-on-the-road was a hedge.

In fact, the hedge ran for quite a distance. No possibility of casual observers. The killers chose well. Perhaps the neighbors across the street are in on it? Maybe that is why they were so nasty? They are hiding something. All except the first family, the ones that fed me. Maybe the food was poisoned? I should throw up just to be sure. That shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll just look a little to my left and see the road kil--, the road k--, the ro--, oh my god, I’m gonna yammy!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting I regained my composure and looked closely at the hedges. See that dark opening on the right? I think it leads some where. A-ha! Now we are getting somewhere! A yard lies behind the hedge. I called over Photo Joe. “Yep,” he said without me asking. I had to think fast. “Yep? Well, I would hope so! Even a green horn would know to shoot that. I just wanted to explain the significance to you. We are re-creating the victim’s last moments. It is entirely probable Photobucket - Video and Image Hostingthat the victim was eating grass from this field. Just like this.” I demonstrated the manner in which genus sylvilagus: floridanus consumed its food. Photo Joe’s eyes widened as he observed the intensity with which I approached the case.

I continued. “Then, with the murderers on the other side of the hedge, the accomplices herded the victim to and through that hole!” I ended the explanation with a flourish.

“OK,” was all that Photo Joe could muster. I think the denseness of the moment silenced him. The grass was beginning to churn in my stomach. I knew if I didn’t heave it, then I could expect an incredibly painful bowel movement as it passed through my colon. I gave Photo Joe some more quarters for candy, and hurled as soon as he was out of site.

The case was starting to come into focus. But I had to be overlooking something. That one crucial piece of evidence that caused everything else to make sense. I returned to the scene proper.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting I found that lady and asked her if she had any paper currency on her. I told her I needed it to assist in the investigation. She opened her wallet. I saw a couple of ones, a five, and a twenty. I told her it had to be the twenty. I explained to her that it wasn’t the size of the bill that was important – it was the head that mattered. She seemed skeptical. I noted the reluctance to get involved. Did she have something to hide? She handed me the twenty.

I saw Photo Joe walking back. I told him to drop his candy and grab his camera. I started to explain to him the shot I wanted, but kept constant track of the lady. She was starting to take an interest and I wanted to know why. We took a second shot with the bill, this one of the flatness. I got close to Photo Joe so that we couldn’t be overheard.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting “That lady is hanging around a crime scene. You’re a pretty good read of character, PJ. What’s your read on her?”

“Um, she’s nice. I like her. She’s my mom. And the kid with her is my little brother, Joshua.”

I couldn’t help myself. As I digested the words, I immediately burst into explosive flatulence. I had been squatting; the force of the rear-end discharge propelled me forward and I landed on my head. My left ear stated to ring.

I righted my position. Instead of talking, I just nodded. So, my investigation had been compromised from the start. I should have known. Photo JoeNat just looked at me, wrinkled his nose, and giggled. I decided to press the issue.

“Excuse me, Ma’am! Can you come here for a moment?” My words were interspersed with more farts. She walked slowly towards me. Her accomplice held onto her leg tighter and tighter as they got closer. I knew I was onto something.

“Ever see roadkill like this, Ma’am?”

“No. No, I haven’t. It isn’t very pleasant. Do they always smell this bad?”

“Let's stay focused, Ma'am. It isn't pleasant. Got that right. Think he had any family, Ma’am?” I wanted to get under her skin. Make her crack.

“I never thought of that.” Her voice trailed off.

“Never thought it, when Ma’am? When did you never think of it?” She looked at me like a criminal caught. This dame was easy. “When you ran him over, Ma’am?!? Is THAT when you never thought of it? Your little boy there looks frightened - he got any affiliations with clowns?

“Are you retarded?” That was all she could say. I had her. Then she looked at Photo Joe. “C’mon, Joseph, we need to go.”

“Um, my mom says I got to go. See you around.”

“OK. Don't forget your candy,” I said as evenly as I could. I stared at the little boy called Joshua. Yep, he had the killer instinct. I could see it in his eyes.

And off they went. Did she confess? I saw it in every fiber of her being. And she left in such a fright that she never collected the $20 bill I had palmed after the last shot. The true sign of a criminal caught. Another case solved.

I took my car to the Salvation Army Thrift Store and used their hose out back to clean it up. I rummaged through the bags of donations that they hadn’t processed yet, found a shirt and pants, even a new pair of flip-flops, and crossed the street to the bar. I had a brand new $20 bill to liquidate.

It was a good day.

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