BAT SHIT IN BURNT CORN ALABAMA – PART 1

 

Max Fly, Private Eye
President & CEO of
Max Fly Private & Nefarious Investigations & Pest Control
Liz Tureen, Cub Crime Reporter – Burnt Corn Daily Gazette

This is another episode from the files of Max Fly, Private Eye, President and CEO of Max Fly Private & Nefarious Investigations & Pest Control Services located in downtown Burnt Corn, Alabama, where we have been protecting the innocent people of Burnt Corn from murder, narcotics distribution, robbery, extortion, loansharking and other nasty mafia behavior as well as rodents for over ten years.

Our corporate meeting, where we discussed bringing in a line of ultraviolet equipment to sell to augment our work in case we experienced a downturn in our business, ended with a 3-1 nay vote. Tommy Sneakers Corona was still on an extended leave of absence in Costa Rica so he didn’t vote. The only one voting in favor was Luigi Lips Licavoli, our V. P. of Operations whose uncle was the sole owner of the ultraviolet equipment distributorship out of Cleveland, Ohio.
Chico Zippy Doo Rodriguez was picking up the empty lunch cartons and disposing of the leftover Pork Brains stewed in Camel’s Milk and Sundried Texas Armadillo Tenders lathered in Opossum Gravy that was delivered from the Soon Fatt Chinese Take Away Restaurant.
I poured a plastic snifter half full of Napolean brandy as I was close to wrapping everything up for the day. I began to clip off the end of my Cohiba when Wanda Winchester, the head of our Reconciliation Department, who was staring at the parts lying on her desk from the unassembled oscillating fan that had stopped oscillating, yelled out, “Max, I think this is a lost cause. There is so much cigar smoke and dust in this motor it can’t breathe, let alone oscillate. I think we ought to get a new one.”
Wanda, who grew up in a rough neighborhood, claimed she had gunpowder with her porridge while she clung to her mother’s skirt ducking incoming rounds every morning. When she was sober, which usually occurred between Tuesdays and Thursdays, she was in charge of our firearms safety courses.
The phone rang and Wanda yelled out again, “Max, line one is for you.”
“Wanda, we only have one line. Who is it?”
“It’s that new lady at the Burnt Corn Daily Gazette, Liz Tureen.”
“If she’s a reporter, she’s no lady, Wanda” I replied.
I knew who Liz Tureen was. I met her last month at the Burnt Corn Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Golden Stool Bar and Night Club, whose owner, Mike Rotch, reserved a back room the first Wednesday of every month for the chamber meetings. Mayor Sam Manella introduced the new members and Liz Tureen was in the group. She was cute as a button but her brassiness left a bad taste in my mouth.
I sighed as I picked up the phone. “This is Max Fly, how may I help you?”
“Mr. Fly, this is Liz Tureen. I’m the new crime reporter for the Burnt Corn Daily Gazette and I am working on what may be one of the biggest scoops I ever had and I may need your help.”
“I’m doing fine, Miss Tureen. Thank you for asking.”
“I am sorry for my poor manners, Mr. Fly, it’s just that I am so excited. What do you know about that guy who was at last weeks chamber luncheon? The one who is renting that run-down warehouse on Choctawhatchee Boulevard where he plans to start a fertilizer plant.”
“Who, Harry Verderici?”
Yes, that’s the guy, Harry Verderici. His assistant is a fellow named Willie R. “Billy Dick” Romano.”
“That chamber meeting is the only time I met Harry Verderici and I have never met Billy Dick. Why do you ask?”
“Something smells in there, Mr. Fly.”
“You do know fertilizer is supposed to smell, don’t you, Miss Tureen?” I replied.
“Yes, I know but this fertilizer smells different and I’m afraid it might be something very bad.
“Like what?” I enquired.
“I can’t say over the phone. Would you be available to meet me for dinner tonight at the Six Feet Under Pub and Fish House on Saugahatchee Creek Road? I have a table reserved, table 13, my lucky number.”
“Of course I know where that is, what time?”
“Sixish, if that is okay with you.”
“Sixish? What’s sixish?”
“You know, six, six-fifteen, six-thirty; goodbye Mr. Fly.” She hung up.
The Six Feet Under Pub and Fish House table number 13. It was located in the back of the restaurant near the pastry cart which was filled with glazed and frosted petit-fours and donuts.
I arrived at 5:55 p.m. to avoid any confusion. The dining room was separated from the bar by a long planter filled with fake greenery, plastic philodendrons rising nearly to the ceiling, purchased from the Burnt Corn Nursery, Plants, and Cemetery Lots run by Clay and Helen Earth. The sales tags were still visible.
I had a nervous stomach so I went first into the kitchen to pay my respects to Nick the cook and smell the fish and then I went to the men’s room to relieve myself before coming back and taking a seat across from Crime Reporter, Liz Tureen. She was sitting on the other side of the roundtable, where she could see anyone entering the dining room. She reminded me of a nervous little bird. I guess fertilizer can do that to you.
Dr. Kent C. Strait, proprietor of Burnt Corn Optometry And Glassworks, who was blind in one eye already and the other one didn’t work too well either, was sitting at the end of the bar trying to read the fine print on that most important publication, the Racing Form, and his well-endowed fiancé, Emma Royds, who I had a history with, was next to him applying a foundation to her Botox injected cheeks. He saw me looking at her and nodded.
I returned the nod.
“My editor recommends this place. Have you eaten here before, Mr. Fly?” Liz Tureen said, bringing me back to the present.
“I have. Many times and please, it’s Max.”
“Okay, Max, what do you suggest?”
“I highly recommend the Slimehead. It is delicious. They serve it over a bed of rice with candied baby carrots, Baked Mushrooms, Potatoes with Spinach and artichokes.”
“Slimeheads?”
“Most places refer to it as Orange Roughy, which I think is a dull, uninspired name that captures nothing of the grandeur of the defining characteristic of these deep-sea fishes. They take up to 30 years to reach maturity you know.”
“Wow, what I do know is why other restaurants have it on the menu as Orange Roughy. It’s a bit more appetizing.”
“Miss Tureen, you will find out folks here in Burnt Corn are a bit different than people from other parts of the country.”
“Please call me Liz. Why do they call them slimeheads?”
“Okay, Liz it is; but they don’t call the folks in Burnt Corn slimeheads, it’s the fish. They possess a system of sensory organs that run the length of the fish’s body and detect minute changes in pressure. The lateral line allows the fish to detect nearby vibrations and movement. It also consists of a concentrated array of mucus filled canals in the head. These canals are the inspiration for the moniker slimehead. Beyond inspiring a pretty sweet name, these canals can sense low-frequency sound. This makes slimeheads very good at avoiding predators and helps explain how such a tasty fish can survive for more than 100 years.”
“Wow, that’s very impressive, Max, probably more than I care to know. Why do you know so much about this fish?”
“An old girlfriend grew up in Mobile and her old man was a deep sea fisherman. He knew just about every kind of fish that swam in the gulf. He also claims to have had an on again off again relationship with a mermaid before he got married.”
After we finished our main course of the Slimehead plate grilled and a slice of raspberry cheesecake we got down to the business at hand, fertilizer.
“What exactly has you so worked up about fertilizer?” I asked.
“I think they have dead bodies,” Liz Tureen exclaimed.
“Dead Bodies?”
“Yes, when they first moved in, they brought in four tractor-trailers and parked them in the back of the warehouse where it is really dark.
I drove there later that day to look around and nobody was there, just some big guy doing pushups in the office. The place stunk like rotten meat. I looked in one of the trailers and there were a bunch of black plastic bags stacked up in the trailer. They looked like bags a mortician puts dead bodies in and I think it was dead bodies.”
“Dead bodies? Why dead bodies?”
“I dunno, what else could it be?”
” I’m not sure. Where would they get two truckloads of dead bodies?”
“Chicago.:
“Chicago? Why Chicago?”
“Do you know how many people are killed in Chicago every week?”
“No, I don’t.”
“No? Well, I’ll tell you, dozens, that’s how many; dozens. Where else do you hear of a bunch of dead bodies lying around? Nowhere, not even Detroit. They are killing about 60 people a week. That’s a truckload of dead bodies every month. Plus I saw the bill of lading on the front seat in the cab. It said its origination was Chicago. They picked the bodies up there and are hiding them down here in Burnt Corn. I’m sure of it.”
“Why would they bring them to Burnt Corn Alabama?”
“Where do you think they can dispose of all those bodies in Chicago, huh? Nowhere. The cemeteries must be running out of room so they have to find someplace else to take them and, I am pretty sure, Mr. Fly, I mean Max, it’s Burnt Corn, Burnt Corn Alabama, that’s where.”
“Well, Ben Dover’s God’s Garden is in receivership, and I don’t mean that they are receiving bodies, they are looking for a new buyer so nothing is being planted out there. Where would they be burying them?”
“Maybe they aren’t going to bury them. Have you heard of dog food, Max?”
“Of course I’ve heard of dog food. Are you implying they are going to grind up human bodies and make dog food out of them? You must be out of your mind.”
“Okay, what about bombs? They use fertilizer in making bombs. Perhaps they are planning to overthrow our government. You can’t dismiss something like that when you are dealing with the mob. Remember JFK? He was assassinated, you know and some people think the mob was involved in that murder.”
“Have you gone to Sheriff Wyatt Hertz and discussed this with him?”
“I tried to but all I get is his answering machine. What’s with that by the way?”
“I don’t know, you’ll have to ask the mayor, Sam Manella, he’s the sheriff’s cousin.”
“Well, I was told Sheriff Hertz is in Tuscaloosa with his fiance, Lacy Shortz. The National Gun and Knife show is up there and he had Deputy Hiram Firam drive them; evidently, Sheriff Hertz doesn’t like to drive on Interstate highways.”
“Miss Tureen, I mean Liz, in all honesty, by any stretch of the imagination, believing that a plot to overthrow our federal government is being hatched here in little Burnt Corn Alabama is a bit too much.”
“I am telling you, Mr. Fly, I mean Max, size doesn’t matter. It could happen anywhere.”
“I agree with you, Liz, size doesn’t matter, but Burnt Corn? So, what is it you want me to do?”
“I want to hire you, Mr. Fly, you have a stellar reputation and come highly recommended by Mr. Frank Ferter, Head of Security over at the Burnt Corn Walmart. I have been allotted some money in my budget by my editor to hire you so I can get to the bottom of this, this, this deep state attempt to overthrow our Federal Government. I believe we must do something to protect and preserve our constitutionally elected government. This could be worse than Watergate. Are you in or out, Max?”
I stared at her for a few moments before answering. “How much did you say you were paying?”

To be continued…

Sergeant Belch And Detective Smallberries – Burnt Corn Police Department

 

Homicide Sergeant, Crispian Belicheri, a twelve year veteran of the Burnt Corn Police Department, known as Belch to everyone in Burnt Corn, and his partner, Detective Ivan Smallberries, were sitting in their unmarked patrol car. Belicheri was reading the Burnt Corn Daily Gazette’s sports page, wondering how the Burnt Corn Hornets could have blown a 24 point lead at halftime and lose to the Monroeville Zephyrs in a double overtime, while Ivan picked his nails with a small, red Swiss Army Knife.
The sun was just beginning to crack the horizon on that chilly Saturday morning with a hint of dampness in the air when their police radio squawked, “Hey, Sarge, we caught another one, out in Golden. A dead body lying in the driveway of one of them old shotgun houses they built in the ’40’s and ’50’s. I’m headin’ that way now. Do you have Smallberries with you?”
“Yeah, we’ll be there in five,” he replied, folding up the paper and tossing it in the back seat to join a pile of empty coffee cups and fast food bags along with some dirty gym shorts and tennis shoes.
Detective Smallberries tripped the blue light and siren as Belch pulled away from the curb.
The area called Golden is located on the North side of Burnt Corn and got its name from the old sock factory that used to be there, Golden Hosiery Mills. It was once the largest employer in Burnt Corn before all the jobs went out of the country leaving the residents of Burnt Corn, like most of the South’s small towns, without employment. Now all that’s left around the area of the dilapidated mill, standing in disrepair, are the old clapboard houses, that once provided homes for Golden Mills’ employees. They are now occupied by people on welfare and food stamps and an occasional retiree or two, attempting to live on their meager social security checks and Medicare.
“You think Burnt Corn has a serial killer on its hands? This is the second murder this month. Before that the last murder in Burnt Corn was in 2007, the year before I joined the force,” Detective Smallberries said as he unwrapped a piece of Juicy Fruit gum and jabbed it in his mouth.
“I don’t think so. Two don’t make a serial,” Belch replied.
By the time they arrived on the scene, Patrol Officers, Howitt Fiehls was taping off the area around the house with yellow crime scene tape and his partner, Natalie Klad, was bending over a body that was lying in the driveway.
“Who is it, Natalie Klad?” Belch asked as he bent down to get a closer view. The victim was wearing a stained white sleeveless t-shirt and dark navy pants sans a belt. Tattoos filled both arms. He was thinner than gruel and his skin was as gray as a cold winter day, probably due to the loss of blood. He was sporting a third eye high up on his forehead.
Natalie Klad looked up and replied, “The vic is John McCubbin, a cook at Lloyd’s Diner. He was ex-army with a couple of assault charges and no appreciable skills. He was enrolled at Snead State Community College for a couple of weeks until he found out he was supposed to attend classes. He dropped out and bounced around the country for a while, going from one job to the next, abandoning a wife and several girlfriends before landing back here after his mother died and he inherited this house. As far as we know, he has kept his nose clean since he returned.”
“Did you find anything on the body?”
“Nothing but that bullet hole between his eyes. His wallet was emptied of everything except his driver’s license and insurance card. Any cash he might have had is missing.
Lloyd said he pays him in cash every Friday so he should have been flush. McCubbin works the night shift. Everyone in Golden knew it was payday. Anyone living in this burg could have offed him. Every Friday they are like rats, eyeing a piece of cheese. Looks like somebody was waiting for him when he got in this morning. The front door was opened about three inches when we got here but it appears McCubbin never made it inside.”
“You go in it, the house, I mean?”
“Yeah, just to make sure nobody was in it. We cleared it and Fiehls started stringing tape.”
Belch stood up, placing his hands on the small of his back, he stretched out his lean six-foot frame. “Make sure you keep everyone out, especially that dick wad Max Fly character and any of his cohorts if they happen to come by. Everyone has the right to be stupid but Max Fly is abusing the privilege.”
“Will do, Sarge,” Officer Klad replied.
Belch looked around, getting a lay of the neighborhood. It looked pretty seedy.
“Who lives here?” he said, pointing at a freshly painted house next door, sporting an immaculate lawn and a freshly poured driveway.
“A lady named Lilly Jablomey and we think her boy Haywood. But nobody is home.”
“Nice clean place. What do you know about her?”
“From what we know, she retired from working at the Hairy Arms Apartments doing maintenance work or something like that. She cleaned the apartments when tenants moved out. She is one of those hard-used blue-collar women who have neither the energy, the disposition, nor the brains to plan and carry out a successful murder like this.”
“Okay, we’ll go talk to her,”
“She isn’t home. We checked.”
“Okay, we’ll wait,” Belch said, walking back to his squad car and opening the trunk. He turned to Smallberries. “Hey, help me get this out.”
“Is that a net?”
“Yes, take this,” he replied, handing Smallberries a can of tennis balls.
“Tennis balls? What are they for?”
“Tennis of course.”
“No, I mean what are we going to use them for?”
“To play tennis.”
“To play tennis?”
“That’s what I said. Listen, if you are going to repeat everything I say, I’m going to put Duct tape over that pie hole of yours. Follow me and tie that end of the net to the pole leading to the electric meter on the side of the Jablomey house and I’ll tie the other end on the tree on the other side of the driveway. There we go. Now grab that racket.”
“Are we really going to play tennis?”
“That’s right. This driveway is perfect for us to volley. Whoever poured it did a great job.”
“But, I don’t know how to play tennis.”
“It’s easy. Here, shake my hand,” Belch said, holding out his hand and grasping Smallberries right hand. “This is how you hold the racket like you are shaking hands with it. Now get over on the other side of the net and let’s get some exercise.”
“Why don’t we get some lunch at Finn & Hattie Frye’s Fish ’N Chips Restaurant and just sit in the car drinking coffee and eating like other cops do?”
“Look at those love handles on you, Smallberries. Tennis is good for working on your obliques.”
A short while later a car came to a stop in front of the Jablomey’s house as Belch slammed a backhand past a diving, perspiring, and gasping Smallberries.
The lady in the car was staring directly at them. Shortly she got out and walked over to where they were playing tennis.
“What in the hell are you two doing?”
“Waiting for you to get home. “Thought we would get a little exercise while we waited.” Belch replied. “Are you Lilly Jablomey?”
“Yes I am,” she replied, sternly.
Belch reached into his pocket and removed his badge and ID. “Who poured your driveway, by the way?”
“Who poured my driveway? Are you nuts? Why are you here?” She yelled as she stared at his gold shield.
“Belicheri, are you Polish?”
“Italian. You can call me Belch. Everyone does except my wife. I don’t think it’s necessary to tell you what she calls me.”
“I can imagine. Now, what is it you want?”
“You have a nice driveway. Great pitch, should give you good drainage and very smooth. Was it someone from Burnt Corn who put it in for you?”
“What? Yes, yes, um Billy Watamaniak. Billy lives out near Monroeville off Highway 84. He and his brother, Tommy poured it.”
“That’s good, they did a great job. I’ll have to keep them in mind. Now, how well do you know your neighbor, John McCubbin?”
“I don’t know him. He only moved into his mama’s place about a year ago. I know what he looks like and that he is as mean as an ol’ junkyard dog. He wasn’t here much but when he was, all he did was complain about this and complain about that. All I gave him was my middle finger. That’s all he deserves.”
“Well, somebody gave him more than their middle finger, he was found shot this morning. That’s him lying in his driveway over there, you know anything about it?”
“Shot? Heck no. Why would I know anything about that? I don’t know nuthin’.”
“You sure?”
“Yes I’m sure and I don’t give a damn either. As I said, I ain’t no fan of his. If anybody needs to be jerked to Jesus, it’s that boy, John McCubbin.”
“Well, I don’t know if he is with Jesus or not, but he ain’t here no more. Who’s that sitting in your car?”
“What difference is it to you?”
“We’ll want to speak with him. Does he live with you?”
She glared at Belicheri for a moment.
“’No, it’s my boy; he’s just visiting.”
“He doesn’t live here?”
“No.”
What’s his name?”
“Haywood.”
“Haywood Jablomey?”
“Yes.”
“Okay, thank you. Ask him to get out of the car, please.”
A tall lanky young man, sporting gold ear studs with an acne-scarred round face got out of the car and casually loped up the driveway with his fists clenched. There wasn’t much to him. He didn’t look hard. In fact, he didn’t look like much. He was already bristling.
.“What the heck you doin’ in our driveway?” he yelled.
“ Calm down, now. I’m just teaching him how to play tennis. Is it your driveway? Your mother said you don’t live here.”
“I don’t.”
“Well, then you don’t have anything to say about it, do you?”
“Well, it ain’t a city park. What are you doing here?”
“Your neighbor, that guy living next door? He was shot and killed and we would like to know if you know anything about it?”
“Hell no. Why’d I know anything about it?”
“That’s what we are asking you. Where were you between nine p.m. last night and five this morning?”
“I was here with my momma all night.”
“Did you hear anything that sounded like it might have been a gunshot?”
“Hell, what night don’t we hear gunshots? Something is going down in this neighborhood about every night.”
Belch noticed Officer Natalie Klad walking over and he left to go meet her.
“What is it, Officer Klad?”
“One of the neighbors just informed us that McCubbin was actively involved with a group out of Monroeville that operated a chop shop. Do you think he might have got crosswise with those boys and they took him out?”
“It’s possible. A chop shop, huh? What do you know about this chop shop?”
“Nothing much. We did a joint sweep of the place a few months ago with the Monroeville Police Department but didn’t find anything. Monroeville thought they might have been tipped off by someone before we got there.”
“Okay, give Smallberries their address and all the names you have associated with it. We will head over there after we finish here. Oh, and tell Smallberries to get over here. We have to finish our tennis match.”
“Okay, Belch.”
After Belch and Smallberries finished playing tennis in the Jablomey’s driveway, they took down the tennis net and put it in the trunk of their squad car along with the racquets and balls and crawled in the front seat. Belch grabbed a can of Right Guard and handed it to Smallberries. “Here, use this. You sure sweat a lot, even for a fat guy. We’re going to Monroeville and talk to some boys about a chop shop.”
“Do you want me to switch on the lights?” Smallberries asked, tucking in his shirt after spraying his armpits with deodorant and handing back the Right Guard to Belch.
“No,” Belch replied, pulling out his shirt and giving a short pump of Right Guard to each armpit, “No point showing our hand if there’s no need. That’s being poker savvy, something else you probably never played.”
“No, I’ve played poker. My wife and I play liars poker with her folks every Friday night when I am not on duty.”
“Liars poker, yeah, that’s good. Liar’s poker. Geez.”
The faded red and white wooden sign nailed over the door of the alleged chop shop read, Rench Exhaust Repair – Alan Rench Proprietor. “I’m surprised he knew how to spell proprietor,” Belch said as he got out of the squad car.
“Hey, look, Belch, isn’t that Max Fly’s car, the Fly Mobile? Do you think they heisted it and are gonna chop it up?”
“Are you kidding?” There isn’t a market for ’58 Oldsmobile parts, except in Cuba. I got me a bad feeling about this, Smallberries. Whenever anything concerning Max Fly pops up, things don’t seem to turn out in my best interest,” Belch said slipping his Colt from its holster and easing up the walkway, staying to the side of the doorway with Smallberries staying close behind him.
Belch pushed the door with the toe of his boot, and it swung open on well-oiled hinges. He took a deep breath and slipped quietly through the doorway and into the office with Smallberries in lockstep behind him. Belch thumbed the safety off his .45 and peered around the door facing the work bay area.
“Oh shit,” Belch exclaimed, holstering his .45.
“What is it?” Smallberries asked?
“Come on, it’s that damned Fly. Max, what in the hell is going on here?”
Max Fly and his assistant, Chico “Zippy Doo” Rodriguez, were standing over three greasy mechanics, trussed up with their hands tied behind their backs.
Max Fly looked up and put down the phone, “Oh, Belch, how are you? Hey, Smallberries, how have you and that pretty little wife of yours been doing?”
“Pretty good, Max. Our third anniversary is next week. You ought to…”
“Shut up, Smallberries,” Belch yelled. “I asked you a question, Fly.”
“Belch, I was just calling your office to let you know we broke up the chop shop that’s been operating out of this place. I know you and the Monroeville Police have been trying to get the goods on these guys for a long time now. We have it all on tape right here,” he said, holding up a small tape recorder. Where they got the cars and where they were selling them. Zippy Doo and I were operating our own sting on these guys. The Monroeville Police are on their way over here now.”
“You son of a bitch, Fly, you got your damn nose in my business way too much and it’s going to get blown off one of these days.”
“Now don’t get yourself too worked up, Belch. We also have them on tape confessing to a murder last night. Evidently, they killed some guy over in the Golden district of Burnt Corn by the name of McCubbin. You hear about any murder over there?”

 

THE ASSASSINS! – MAX FLY U977

“I really have the intention to gather Germanic blood from all over the world, to plunder and steal it where I can.”
– Heinrich Himmler

ONE OF THE ASSASSINS!
He glanced at his watch. It was 11:45 pm and the street was still deserted. He had been standing there for fifteen minutes. It was a Sunday night and the buildings were dark. A lone streetlight cast shadows across the street and sidewalk and he watched the mist as the wind blew it across the yellow beam put forth by the light. It was remarkably quiet. Not a sound. Nothing!
Earlier that evening, the fog moved in and soon after the heavy mist began to fall. The tall thin-faced man pulled the collar of his trench coat up around his neck and pulled down the brim of his hat to keep the dampness out. Nothing about him drew attention. He kept an eye on the phone booth down the street. It was still empty. He reached into his breast pocket and removed a package of Chesterfield cigarettes. He tapped the package on the back of his hand and bent down and removed a stick with his teeth. He replaced the package in his pocket and removed his lighter. He spun the wheel, igniting the flint and a flame shot up momentarily illuminating his lined and haggard face. He hadn’t slept in two days. He snapped the lid shut and returned it to his pocket. The smoke he exhaled was lost in the thick fog that enveloped him.
He looked around. He didn’t see anything, but he felt it. He didn’t like the feeling. He stuck to the plan to make sure he wasn’t followed, but you just never knew. From experience, he knew he couldn’t trust anyone and it was one helluva way to live your life.
He glanced at his watch once more. It was 11:53. He took one last drag of his cigarette and flipped it in a nearby puddle. He listened to the brief hiss before the butt was extinguished.
He inhaled deeply and looked to his right and left once again to make sure nobody was around before he moved out. Hurriedly, he crossed the street to the phone booth. He stepped in and closed the door. A light went on. He wrapped his hand in his handkerchief and smashed the light, enveloping him in darkness. He lifted the receiver and dropped in a dime. He knew the number by heart and had dialed it many times in the dark. The phone rang once before it was picked up. There was complete silence on the other end.
The tall man said, “7-1-1-3-4. I’ve been burned.”
“Where are you?”
“Zone three, drop one.”
“Stay there.”
The line went dead.
He hung up the phone and took a deep breath. He lit up another cigarette and hungrily sucked in the smoke. His throat was raw. He had been smoking too many of these things. He opened the door and tossed it across the sidewalk. He reached under his coat and removed his gun, a 9mm Beretta. He chambered a round and put his hand and gun in his outside right coat pocket. Even though he dry cleaned the area he could never be too careful.
Quickly he walked to the corner and turned left heading toward an alley behind an old warehouse. He stepped into the shadows and waited. His mind wandered to his earlier conversation with Serena and he couldn’t erase it from his mind.
“Jack, she said, “I have the bona fides, documents that prove the CIA along with a German expat, one of those Paperclip Nazi’s, named DeMohrenschildt, a Dallas oil geologist and close friend of Lee Harvey Oswald’s was in on the plot to kill John F. Kennedy and it goes higher than we thought. Jack, this makes me sick.”
It had been so long since anyone called him Jack, he had to pause for a moment to gather his thoughts. “Okay, put it together and meet…”
Was that a click on his phone, or hers? “Selena, did you hear that?”
“Yes, I have to go. I’ll meet you…”
Those were her last words. He heard her scream and a moment later an unknown voice came on the line.
“You’re next Jack. We know where you are.”
The line went dead.
It wasn’t long before a black Lincoln limousine pulled around the corner and slowed down in front of the alley. The back door opened as it leisurely rolled by. Paul jumped in, closing the door behind him.
When he caught his breath he said, “We lost our Asset, Selena. They got to her this morning and they outed me. They called me by name.”
As they drove away his handler looked at him and gave him a scotch. “We are going to have to bring you in, Jack.”
“Why? I am about to tie this whole thing up. We got ‘em right where we want them. What we gathered isn’t chicken feed. It’s some serious stuff.”
“No, we don’t.”
“What?”
“Your swallow was killed last night. She was beaten and raped and dumped in the East River. They found her body this morning. She is currently at the morgue. Her apartment was trashed and her camera, typewriter, and files are all gone. Nothing.”
Jack was quiet for a moment, taking this all in. If this was true, all the work he put together for the past year was ruined, compromised. Without supporting documentation, all he had was his word and he would be going up against some of the most formidable men in the world, not just the CIA but the President of the United States himself.
Jack threw back the scotch and looked over at his handler and found himself looking down the barrel of a .22 caliber revolver with a silencer.
“I’m sorry Jack.”
Bam! The sound of aBeretta resonated in the limousine. The slug entered the center of his handler’s chest. His handler died instantly.
The driver pulled his gun and opened the divider between the front and back seat and fired. Jack dropped to the floor and fired, emptying his magazine. He pushed the release button dropping the empty magazine and he quickly slapped in another. He chambered a round and moved so he would be directly behind the driver. He fired off three quick rounds. The car swerved and went up over a curb and hit the side of a brownstone apartment building. Jack stayed low and crawled to the other side of the car. His breathing was coming rapidly. Slowly he peered into the front seat. There he saw the body of the driver slumped over the steering wheel with blood oozing out of a wound in the back of his neck. One of Jack’s rounds hit its mark.
Jack retrieved his empty magazine and expended shells and pocketed them before he opened the door. Looking around to make sure no one was in the vicinity, he ran down the alley.

MAX FLY – GENTLE DENTAL FILL ‘EM AND DRILL ‘EM

 

Wanda Winchester
Reconciliation Expert
Zippy Doo, Head Of our Displaced Persons & Pest Control Divisions

My name is Max Fly, I’m a private eye and a damned good one. It was a Tuesday afternoon and it was raining cats and dogs and I just returned from the offices of the Burnt Corn Hippogryph, Burnt Corn Alabama’s weekly newspaper, where I dropped off a press release stating that our firm, Max Fly Private & Nefarious Investigations and Pest Control Services, was just named as Burn Corn’s largest, and only law firm, Dewey, Cheatam, & Howe, LLC, as their in-house investigators. I was dripping wet.

I hung up my dark brown oilcloth duster and white Stetson hat and unbuckled my rigging that held my Smith and Wesson .357 revolver and threw it next to my partner, Zippy Doo’s, that was hanging on the coat tree behind the door as I dropped down heavily into my chair. I was exhausted. I was wearing my Dan Post cowboy boots, my tight skinny Wrangler stretch jeans,  my bucking bronc belt buckle, and my yellow Snead State Community College sweatshirt. I lit a Cohiba and I grabbed a PBR out of the cooler sitting on the floor between my desk and Zippy’s.

Chico “Zippy Doo” Rodriguez, a sort of illegal green card carrying Hispanic from Matamoros, Mexico (his green card is a forgery), who heads up our displaced persons and pest control divisions, was seated next to me finishing a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer. He let out a loud belch as he stacked his third empty on top of a pyramid of cans on the edge of his desk which he had started building last week. We were in the middle of discussing the recent and untimely death of Alabama’s longtime State Senator who was from Burnt Corn, Miss Dixie Normous, who was struck and killed by a transit bus driven by Van Ryder, one of the proprietors of the Burnt Corn Shuttle Service and Transmission Shop which is located off State Highway 84 on the outskirts of Burnt Corn, Alabama when the phone rang.

We both reached for it. Zippy was faster and he got there first.

“Max Fly, Private & Nefarious Investigations, and Pest Control Services. What do you want?”

I made a mental note to work on Zippy’s phone etiquette.

“Yeah, okay. How much do I owe you? What, $6.95? That’s highway robbery. I ought to turn you into Sheriff Wyatt Hertz for price gauging,” Zippy yelled as he slammed down the receiver.

“Who was that?” I asked.

“That little Chinese guy, Sum Tsing Wong, who owns that new Chinese Restaurant,  Soon Fatt Chinese Take Away. Wanda and I are sharing a plate of Shitake Fried Rice with Water Chestnuts. Sum Tsing Wong is on his way over with the delivery.”

Wanda is Wanda Winchester who is our Reconciliation Expert and also serves as our firearms instructor when she’s sober.

“Are you paying for it out of petty cash?” I asked.

“Yep. I’ll give him a buck tip, even though he is overcharging for that stuff. I know how much rice you can get for $6.95. Hell, when I was in Viet Nam an entire village could eat rice for a month on that kind of money.”

“You were never in Viet Nam, Zip. Since you are paying for that out of petty cash, I’ll take a little plate of it to see how it tastes.”

“Help yourself. You know she wants to be cremated, don’t you Max?”

“Who wants to be cremated?”

“Dixie Normous. I think she’s doing it because she realized that her last hope to have a smoking hot body is to be cremated. Claire Voyant, the personal secretary for Hugh Cheatam, called and said that Mr. Cheatam would appreciate it if we showed up for Dixie Normous’ celebration of life.”

“Where is it going to be held?”

“They took the body to the Barry M. Stiff Funeral Home in Monroeville. The celebration is at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow.

The door swung open, almost toppling the coat tree that stood behind it that was holding our Smith and Wesson .357’s, coats and other paraphernalia, and in strutted this little bald Chinese man, Sum Tsing Wong, carrying a small white bag that, I have to admit, gave off a tantalizing aroma.

Zip grabbed the bag from him and said, “What’s this? This can’t be the entire order. Not for $6.95.” Zip opened the bag and looked up at Sum Tsing Wong and yelled, “Something’s wrong, there’s no fortune cookie in here? What kinda Chinese joint doesn’t serve fortune cookies?”

“I sorry, but Hymie Horowitz’ Food Service truck it break down this morning and no make delivery. So no fortune cookie. Now you pay.”

“You get your food from a Jewish food service? I can’t believe this. Not much in here,” Zip said, still peering into the bottom of the small white bag.

“Horowitz truck have rice too. This all you get today. Call again and you might get more. Now you pay.”

After Sum Tsing Wong left, muttering under his breath because he couldn’t convince Zip to cough up the $1.00 tip, Wanda walked in and sat down and opened the lower drawer of her desk and pulled out her bottle of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey and an empty jelly jar, pouring in a couple of fingers of the brown liquid. We shared what little there was of the Shitake Fried Rice with Water Chestnuts and we each cracked open another PBR when the phone rang again.

Thankfully Wanda got it before Zip did.

“Good afternoon, Max Fly Private & Nefarious Investigations and Pest Control Services, how may I help you?”

“Oh hi, Evelyn, how are you?”

“Good, I am glad to hear that. Really? When? Okay, I’ll pass that on to Max. He’s sitting right next to me. We are finishing our lunch. Shitake Fried Rice with Water Chestnuts.”

“From that new Chinese restaurant that just opened up in Burnt Corn, Soon Fatt Chinese Take Away. The little owner is so cute. His name is Sum Tsing Wong. Isn’t that funny?”

“I know.”

“Yes, yes, a three bedroom and two baths; that’s right as long as it’s not too far out of town. Okay, I’ll tell him. I’ll see you then, goodbye.”

Wanda hung up and grabbed her can of PBR. It was empty.

“Zip, would you mind grabbing me another Blue Ribbon?” she asked.

“On its way,” Zippy replied.

“Well, aren’t you going to tell us who that was on the phone and what the call was about?” I asked.

“Oh, I’m sorry, that was Evelyn Sackryder, from Sax Real Estate Brokerage over in Monroeville. She has been looking for a house for me and she thinks she found one that is pretty close to the office here in Burnt Corn.”

“Okay, but you said ‘I’ll pass that on to Max’ so what will you pass on to me?”

“Oh, she said something fishy is going on over at the Gentle Dental Drill ‘Em and Fill ‘Em Family Practice on Payne Avenue. The front entrance was open when she drove past it and it was still open about thirty minutes later when she returned. She thought you might want to go over and see if everything is okay.”

“Why didn’t she call Sheriff Wyatt Hertz or his deputy, Hiram Firam?”

“She said she did, but nobody answered the phone.”

“That’s not surprising, nobody is ever there,” Zippy burped, “I don’t know why us taxpayers even bother providing an office for those two clowns.”

“You don’t pay taxes, Zip,” Wanda, who also doubles as our bookkeeper, said.

Zippy ignored her. “Did she call over to Patty Mae’s All Night Bar and Pool Hall? They’re usually there getting comped for something.”

“She did and Patty said she thinks they are over in Monroeville looking at Dixie Normous’ body before they set it on fire.”

“Okay, finish that PBR and grab your shootin’ iron, Zippy. It looks like we got us another situation here. Wanda, you try to reach Sheriff Hertz over at Barry M. Stiff’s Funeral Home in Monroeville and see if he can break away and get over here.”

“I’ll get the Fly Mobile,” Zippy yelled as he strapped on his rigging while checking the chambers of his Smith and Wesson .357 to make sure it was loaded.

Dr. Ken Hurt opened the Gentle Dental Drill ‘Em and Fill ‘Em Family Dental Practice in May at 100 Payne Avenue in downtown Burnt Corn and has seen a steady growth in business ever since. Most of the residents of Burnt Corn had been driving the fifteen miles to Monroeville to get drilled and filled at Dr. Henry Drewel’s Dental Office who on numerous occasions was heard saying, “When I’m in doubt, I pull ‘em out.”

Burnt Corn folks find it more convenient to be able to walk downtown in Burnt Corn and be sitting in Dr. Hurt’s chair within five minutes and still be able to make it back in time to enjoy the various activities available in Burnt Corn, like hearing local author, Rhoda Book, recite her poetry or Clay Earth, proprietor of the Burnt Corn Nursery and Cemetery and his wife, Helen Earth, sing the famous aria Glück das mir verblieb from the 1920 opera Die tote Stadt (The Dead City), in acapella in the Burnt Corn City Park.

When Zippy and I arrived at the Gentle Dental office, the front door was still wide open and we both drew our .357’s as we entered the building.

The lights were on and soft soothing music was coming from the speakers in the ceiling but no one was around.

I turned to Zip and motioned for him to follow me. “Stay close, in case someone decides to shoot. It will give them someone else to aim at.”

We looked in both procedure rooms and the chairs were empty as was the doctor’s private office. While there, we heard a noise coming from behind a locked door across the hall. The sign on the door said “Storage Room.”

We tried the door but it was locked, we would have to kick it in. Normally, Tommy “Sneakers” Corona, head of our Wire Fraud and Money Laundering Division, did the kicking in of doors for us because he had his black belt in karate but he was unavailable; he was vacationing in Cosa Rica.

“You want the honors of kicking in the door, Zip?” I asked.

Before he could respond, we heard a muffled voice in the storage room say, “Please, don’t kick it in, a spare key is in the middle desk drawer in the lobby.”

Zippy found the key and we were able to open the door and untie the doctor and his young assistant, the lovely Ginger Vitus.

About this time, Deputy Sheriff Hiram Firam drove up in his Chevy Caprice with his blue lights flashing and his siren blasting. He entered the office with his service revolver drawn, a Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum.

After we brought him up to date on the information we had, he sat down with Ms. Vitus and Dr. Hurt to fill out his report.

“So, do you know who did this to you?”

Ivan Oder, Number 3 on Burnt Corn’s Most Wanted List

“Yes we do, Dr. Hurt said. “It was Ivan Oder. He came in for a cleaning but his teeth were so bad I told him we couldn’t clean them that he would be better off having them extracted. He misunderstood me and thought it would only be one or two teeth, but we had to extract almost all of them.

“When he saw how many teeth were gone he went crazy, saying we made him look unattractive and he would have a difficult time dating anyone. When presented with the bill he refused to pay and pulled out a gun demanding his teeth back before forcing us into the storage room. Before he left, he took all five tanks of laughing gas.”

“He took what?” Deputy Firam asked.

“Nitrous Oxide; it’s a controlled substance and can easily be overdosed. We mix it with oxygen. I think I heard him say something about using it to fill balloons. If he doesn’t know what he is doing, he could die.

“Maybe we should get the Drug Enforcement Agency in on this since it’s a controlled substance?” Zippy interjected.

“I can handle this,” Deputy Hiram Firam spat at Zippy before looking in the direction of the cowering Ms. Ginger Vitus.

“Usually it’s high school kids around graduation time who steal laughing gas. We never had an adult steal it,” Dr. Hurst said.

“Can you give me a description of this Ivan Oder?” Deputy Firam asked.

“I can do better than that. We have his picture. It’s on the Happy Face Wall along with all of our happy patients. We were going to take it down anyway. Some of the mother’s of the children said their kids were scared of it. I told Ginger we should only have children’s pictures up there anyway.”

“Do you think you can catch him, Deputy Firam?” Ginger Vitus asked, batting her eyes coyly at the portly officer.

“He can run, but if he does, he’ll only be going to jail tired ‘cause we’ll catch him, little darlin’. That you can bet your teeth on.”

“We are sure fortunate to have you around, deputy. I feel safer already.”

Zippy turned to me and stuck his finger in this mouth and rolled his eyes.

After Deputy Firam finished up and left, taking Ivan Oder’s picture with him along with Miss Ginger Vitus’ telephone number, I approached Dr. Hurt and suggested that he contact Burnt Corn Good Humor Alarm and Security Systems, that we monitored them 24/7. If he had, we could have been here much sooner and most likely have apprehended the perp.

“I think I will call them tomorrow. Thank you, Mr. Fly. Would you care for a cleaning?”

MAX FLY, FROM BURNT CORN TO BURNING BUSH

Max Fly, Private Eye
President & CEO of
Max Fly Private & Nefarious Investigations & Pest Control

 

FROM THE UPCOMING NOVEL MAX FLY, U977

 

There is a place out there that lies on the fringe of the law. A world of people who cross borders, lose themselves in a crowd. A world that knows where illegal papers can be found, visas, licenses, whatever is needed to move about.
They are easy to find if one mingles with the right kind of people, those who live on that fringe. There are ways to cross borders, avoid checkpoints, and to exist away from the eyes of law enforcement officials. You learn where places are where you can go to meet people with similar interests. People who deal in guns and ammunition, some in information, and others in smuggling of goods or people. These are the people who comprise the underbelly of society. This is the world I know, the one I am most comfortable moving around in and this is why people hire me, to find people in this seedy underworld of humanity.
My name is Max Fly. I’m a private investigator and my firm is located in Burnt Corn Alabama where we specialize in finding errant husbands, outing people who file fraudulent insurance claims, and the occasional people who jump bail. What we don’t do is deal with drug and weapons dealers. That is until the day I received a call from an old friend in Atlanta requesting that I speak to an associate of his whose son recently died from multiple gunshot wounds while in downtown Atlanta. Apparently, he was making a crack cocaine purchase. As I mentioned, we normally stay away from drug-related cases due to the danger associated with it. But, I owed my friend a favor and he turned in the chit, so…
Two days later I left my friend’s office, located on the tenth floor in the Federal Building on Peachtree Street, with a dossier about two inches thick on the guy he wanted me to find.
My next stop was at the Atlanta Police Department, the Homicide Division, where I got as much information as I could squeeze out of an Atlanta Homicide Sergeant, a Loretta Lincoln, who was heading up the investigation. She was a cute little thing, about five foot nothing, but I could tell we wouldn’t be the best of friends when she told me she didn’t appreciate me monkeying around in her business. Luckily my client possessed some leverage with the mayor of Atlanta and was able to pry loose a meager amount of information from the lovely sergeant. Enough to get me started, anyway – a name.
From reading over the files, I found out the main suspect, a Cletus Cooper Morgan, was born and raised in northwest Georgia in a small town called Burning Bush. Up to this point, I thought the burning bush was in Midian near Egypt.
I filled up the Fly Mobile, a 1958 Oldsmobile 98 with its powerful Rocket V8 engine, with twenty gallons of high test gasoline and pointed her north.
I pulled into downtown Burning Bush around three in the afternoon and found a parking space in front of an old weathered building that looked like it once housed some sort of hosiery or sewing mill, one of the countless textile plants you could find throughout the southern states into the ’90’s that used to provide a living for many of the women in the rural south before President William Jefferson Clinton decided to hurry the process of sending all the manual labor jobs to Mexico and points south by pushing through that damned North American Free Trade Act.
The building was painted a bright yellow with brown trim around the windows and doors to match the brown and yellow sheriff’s badge that was painted on a sign hanging over the front door, declaring it was the home of the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office, Bodean Johnson, Sheriff. I did a little background check on this unincorporated community prior to leaving Atlanta. Burning Bush is located in the northwest corner of the state near Chattanooga, Tennessee and was named after the nearby Burning Bush Baptist Church. It is so small that the population isn’t given but there are 1095 members of the Baptist church listed, so I assumed the population of the town would be pretty close to that of Burnt Corn, Alabama, somewhere around 100-300 close-knit residents. I also figured that would make it easier for me to find the man I was looking for. Evidently, he had roots in the community. His great-grandfather owned a farm between Burning Bush and Fort Oglethorpe.
By the time I arrived, I had been driving about three hours and found myself a little road weary. As I stepped out of the Fly Mobile onto the cracked and heaving sidewalk, I noticed an attractive and very shapely redheaded woman standing across the street, staring at me.
“What’s your name, handsome?” she asked.
It was apparent her eyesight was 20/20. “Max,” I replied. “What’s yours?”
Della Daisey. Della Daisey Morgan. You got a last name?”
“It’s Fly, Max Fly. Did you say your last name is Morgan?”
“Yes, I did. Why do you ask?”
“No reason, just curious.”
“What kind of car is that?” she asked pointing at the Fly Mobile.
“It’s a 1958 Oldsmobile 98. You are just full of questions, aren’t you? Are you a cop?”
“Ha, ha, no I’m not. What you doin’ in front of Sheriff Floyd-William Floyd’s Office? Lookin’ for someone?”
“Yes, I’m looking for someone. I’m a private investigator.”
“Well, good luck Mr. Max Fly, Private Investigator. If you’re looking for something good to eat, stop by and see me. I can be found down the street at the Della Diner and Dance Studio. Maybe you can show me your private investigator’s badge?”
“Did you say, ‘and dance studio’?”
“I did. We provide live entertainment after 6:00 p.m. on the weekends and Thursday nights,” she replied as she walked away.
I watched her bottom twitch left to right as she walked away, wondering how she did that so provocatively.
After cooling my heels for the obligatory twenty minutes, a burly deputy whose name tag told me his last name was Johnson, ushered me into the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff was a thin, balding older man, at least in his mid-sixties. I was informed that the sheriff held the post for the past thirty-five years and is as well established in Burning Bush as any elected official could expect to be.
He stood and grasped my hand. His hand was warm and his shake was firm.
“Name’s Floyd-William Floyd, you can call me Will. Everybody does.”
“The sign says, Sheriff Bodean Johnson.”
“That was the previous sheriff. I just ain’t got around to changing it yet.”
“How long you have you been sheriff here?”
“Going on thirty-five years, I guess.” He was looking at the card I gave to the burly deputy in the front of the office.
“Max Fly from Burnt Corn, Alabama now visiting me at Burning Bush, Georgia, such irony. What can I help you with, Max Fly, Private Investigator from Burnt Corn, Alabama?”
“I’m looking for someone, Sheriff. He goes by the name of Cletus Cooper Morgan. Here’s a picture of him it’s about ten years old, but it’s the best I could find. I have been hired by a firm to try and find this guy. He is a former boxer who boxed under the name of Kid Morgan, small-time but he got far enough to get into the ring with Danny Cyclone Ciorrocco but that was as far as he got. Cyclone knocked the last nut out of his grill and Cletus quietly faded away until he showed up in South America, dealing in illegal weapons, portable rocket systems, and high tech devices such as night vision scopes, radio sensors and certain explosive detectors. He participated in different types of security operations with foreign governments. Basically, he was doing things he wouldn’t want his mother to know about.”
“You don’t know his mamma.”
“No, I don’t. He was involved with the killing of hundreds of peasants in remote villages and left the bodies for the families to find. He was serving many clients down there. It didn’t matter what their political persuasion as long as their money was green.
He became a partner in a bean processing factory in Jamaica and went on the CIA payroll. Now they are trying to keep a lid on it but it is hard, considering the activities Cletus participates in.
They said he’s into kidnapping, extortion, and robbery, and engaged in the bombing of an El Salvador civilian airlines and hijackings as means of raising money for political upheavals in South American countries-upheavals in which the CIA played an active role.

Apparently, he is heavy into the shipment of drugs and gun running that started while he was down in Buenos Aires, Argentina, training with their military, which is one of the most brutal and are considered pariahs in other parts of South America. The feds found a canceled plane ticket with his name on it showing he flew out of Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires last week. His destination was Atlanta.
“That sounds like something our Cletus would get involved in. Why are you needing to find him, Mr. Max Fly, Private Investigator from Burnt Corn, Alabama? I’ve never been to Burnt Corn. Is it a nice place?”
“It is. A bit larger than Burning Bush, but still nice. My client’s son got mixed up with Morgan about five years ago and ended up dying at the end of a Mac10. My client was told by a former agent with the DEA that Morgan was pushing about 20 kilos of cocaine into Atlanta every month and they believe he was supplying someone near Chattanooga. Then come to find out, ol’ Cletus has family in these parts, Burning Bush, to be exact.”
“I know Cletus. I haven’t seen him in years. He left to play football down at Valdosta State back in ’63, I think. That didn’t last long. I figured it wouldn’t. As soon as they asked him to read something he was beyond his pay grade if you know what I mean. He ended up in the United States Army and served in Southeast Asia for a couple of years. He came out more screwed up then he was when he went in.”
“If he was to be around these parts, where would you guess he could be found?”
“The Morgans got a homestead ‘bout five miles north of here.”
“How would I get there?”
“Mr. Fly, the Morgans have a reputation around here and it ain’t a good one. If you have no need to, then don’t go near their place. They’re a mean bunch if there ever was one. Ol’ Pa Morgan was known to run shine out of the hills behind his farm and then his oldest boy started growing’ that funny tobacco that all them hippies like to smoke. I was with the ATF and the DEA a few years ago when we arrested the oldest boy, Duane Dale Morgan. We burned down a few acres of his weed. The feds didn’t keep him very long. When he came back he was into something entirely different. He was cookin’ up some of that methamphetamine that seems to be the elixir of choice for all the big city folk nowadays. We had to go up there again and now they throwed his butt into the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. Still there, as far as I know.
If you just feel you have a need to stir up a hornet’s nest, then, by all means, go on up. It’s pretty easy to find. You just head north outta town on Burning Bush Road toward the Burning Bush Baptist church. When you get out about five miles, turn right on Poplar Springs Road and go about a half mile and turn right once again on Peggy Sue Drive. About a mile down you’ll see a small dirt road going off to your left into the woods. There ain’t no mailbox or nuthin’ markin’ the place. You just have to take my word for it. Turn down that dirt road and you won’t have to worry, one of the Morgans will find you.”
Sheriff, Meth is no longer the drug of choice, it’s crack cocaine and it’s taking this country by storm. It’s easy to make. It’s cheap and it’s highly addictive. They say one hit is one too many and a million hits are not enough.”
“I just met a Della Daisy Morgan. She doesn’t happen to be related to the Morgan family we have been talking about, is she?”
“I believe she is a cousin. Probably a kissin’ cousin. Up here in these parts that could mean anything. But that red hair gives her away. Ain’t no way you can hide that.”
Well, now the feds are gathering string on Cletus hoping they can put him away. They have to find him first and that’s where I come in.

 

MAX FLY PRIVATE EYE AND THE PHAT HO CAPER

This is another episode from the files of Max Fly, Private Eye, President and CEO of Max Fly Private & Nefarious Investigations & Pest Control Services located in downtown Burnt Corn, Alabama, where we have been protecting the innocent people of Burnt Corn from murder, narcotics distribution, robbery, extortion, loansharking and other nasty mafia behavior as well as rodents for over ten years

Max Fly, Private Eye
President & CEO of
Max Fly Private & Nefarious Investigations & Pest Control
Zippy Doo, Head Of our Displaced Persons & Pest Control Divisions

My name is Max Fly, Private Eye and I am a damned good one at that. The night in question was a hot Friday in July, the office was thick and heavy with cigar smoke in spite of the oscillating fan that was blowing in humid air from downtown Burnt Corn Alabama. The flashing red neon lights from Patty Mae’s All Night Bar and Pool Hall, located across the street next to the Burnt Corn All Night Diner and Laundromat, were dancing eerily on the office wall as Wanda Winchester, who heads up our reconciliation division, walked in with two large five cheese pizzas, a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, a box of Cohiba Cigars, and a quart of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey.

Wanda Winchester
Luigi Licavoli, V. P. Operations

The pizza was from We Serve It Hot Pizza Parlor located next to the Burnt Corn General Store which is next to the Mockingbird Inn out on Alabama Highway 84. Normally their driver, Freda Livery, would bring the pizza to us but she has been experiencing some personal problems lately and we found it to be quicker just to drive out and pick it up ourselves. I was sitting around the card table with Chico “Zippy Doo” Rodriguez, head of our Displaced Persons & Pest Control Divisions, Tommy “Sneakers” Corona, head of our Wire Fraud and Money Laundering Division, and Luigi Licavoli, V. P. Operations. We were playing a game of Canasta, a card game I learned while on an assignment in Uruguay a few years ago, and which I taught to my staff upon my return. I was wearing my brown freshly polished Dan Post cowboy boots, my tight skinny Wrangler stretch jeans, sporting my bucking bronc belt buckle, a blue Snead State Community College sweatshirt, and my new white Stetson hat, which was cocked back on my head. I looked really good.

Tommy “Sneakers” Corona, Heads our Wire Fraud and Money Laundering Division

Zippy was about to deal the cards when the buzzing began. It was coming from the alarm monitoring panel we had installed when we contracted with the Burnt Corn Good Humor Alarm and Security Systems to monitor the alarms installed in the businesses and private residents in Burnt Corn, Alabama.
Wanda dropped the pizzas, cigars, and PBR in the middle of the table, scattering plastic chips in all directions, she kept the Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey clutched to her ample bosom, and walked over to the panel where lights were flashing and the buzzing continued indicating a break-in was in progress somewhere. She flipped a switch and the noise stopped.
“The alarm has been tripped at Phat Ho’s Curly Que Hair/Nail Salon and Massage Parlor. Do you think it’s a false alarm?”
“Most likely,” Luigi Licavoli uttered as he gathered some of Zippy Doo’s plastic chips, stuffing them in his jacket pocket. “Who in their right mind would break into Phat Ho’s place?”
“I saw that Luigi,” Zippy yelled reaching out and grabbing Luigi’s arm. “Give ‘em back.”
“I’m going to give her a call and let her know,” Wanda announced. “Should we bother to call Sheriff Wyatt Hertz to get him to go over there? It’s Friday night and he usually can’t be found until morning unless he is spending the night with Lacie Shorts but she is on that weekend cruise down the Saugahatchee Creek she won in that drawing at Patty Mae’s last month.”
“I will call the sheriff as soon as Luigi coughs up my chips,” Zippy screamed.
“Oh, all right,” Luigi yelled, slapping the plastic chips down on the table in front of Zippy.
“Do we have any clean glasses in here, Max?” Wanda asked looking around the room while she unscrewed the cap on the Fireball bottle.
“In the lower lefthand drawer of my desk,” I replied.
Wanda pulled out the drawer and took out a glass. “Hey, ain’t this the one where the clothes disappear on the girl as you add the liquid?”
“Yeah, don’t use that one it’s my favorite. Use one of the other ones with the PBR logo that Sneaker’s took from Patty Mae’s place.”
One of the many services that we provide the residents of the lovely metropolis of Burnt Corn Alabama is residential as well as business alarm monitoring and we were busy at work fulfilling our duty.
After Zippy confirmed that Sheriff Wyatt Hertz and his deputy, Hiram Firam, were nowhere to be found, we went into action.
“Okay, listen up everyone,” I bellowed, “it appears we are on our own. Everyone grab your rigging and Smith and Wesson .357’s. Make sure they are loaded and you only have five in the box. I don’t want any unwarranted shootings. Zippy, you and Luigi will cover the back entrance of the Phat Ho’s shop. Sneakers, you come with me and Wanda, fill the cooler with some PBR and bring some pizza in case we are in a standoff.”
“You got it, boss,” she replied as she threw back what was left of the Fireball in her PBR glass.
“I’ll bring around the Fly Mobile,” Zippy hollered as he ran to the door.
“Zip, we don’t need the Fly Mobile.The Phat Ho’s place is next door,” I responded, shaking my head.
“Okay, boys, and girl, let’s git ‘er done.”
Once I was sure everyone was in place I nodded at Tommy “Sneaker’s, who had a black belt in Karate, to bust down the door.
Sneaker’s lifted his left leg and spun around, sending a mighty kick aimed directly at the lock below the door handle.
“Holy shit,” Sneaker’s yelled, grasping his knee and falling to the ground. “I think I busted it.”
“The door?” I asked.
“No, my knee.”
I looked over and noticed the door was still shut and appeared not to have been damaged at all from Sneaker’s roundhouse kick when Wanda walked up to the door with the cooler filled with PBR and the box of five cheese pizza in her hands.
“You should know that Phat Ho never locks her door, Max,” she said as she turned the handle and the door opened.
“Can you walk, Sneaker’s?” I asked.
“I think so,” he replied.
“All right then, grab your iron and stay close to me. If someone is in here, it will give them someone else to shoot at.”
We noticed a faint light in the back of the shop and as we approached we could see someone sitting in the chair while another person was bent over opening a cabinet drawer.
“Damn,” Sneaker’s whispered, ‘that’s Ronnie Blokkenbak, that former Auburn University football player who just moved here from Monroeville.
Ronnie Blokkenbak was sitting in a chair with curlers in his hair and a big hair drying bonnet over his head, reading the National Enquirer while his girlfriend, Sue Flay, a part-time cook at the Waffle House out on Highway 84 was holding a bottle of Dippity Doo hair gel and rummaging through a drawer next to the chair where Blokkenbak was seated.

Ronnie Blokkenbak Former Auburn Football Star
Sue Flay

I hollered, “Freeze, you mothers and get down on the floor.”
I looked over at Tommy Sneaker’s Corona who was laid out flat on the floor with his hands over his head. “What are you doing, Sneaker’s, I’m talking to them, not you.”
About that time the back door swung open and in came Zippy Doo and Luigi Licavoli with their .357’s pointing at Sue Flay and Ronnie Blokkenbak.
Ronnie’s eyes got as big as they did when he was about to be hit by that big Alabama defensive lineman in the Iron Bowl up in Birmingham back in ’72. The one that ended his football playing days for good.
Then Wanda Winchester came in chewing on a piece of the five cheese pizza when she recognized Sue Flay.
“What in cornbread hell are you doin’ in here, Suzie and who is that thing with them metal things in his hair?”
“Why, Wanda, that’s my new beau, Ronnie. You know, the one I told you about, the football hero from Auburn?”
“He played football?”
“He sure did and now he is going to be a big shot attorney, as soon as he gets accepted in law school somewhere.”
I had enough of all the girl talk and broke into their conversation, “You do realize, Sue Flay, that breaking and entering will most likely keep Ronnie Blokkenbak from becoming a lawyer just like the lickin’ he got from that big ol’ Bama boy back in ’72 ended his football playing days.”
“What breakin’ and enterin’ you talkin’ about, Max? That Phat Ho said I could come in here after hours and use her facilities whenever I needed to. We do what they call bartering. I get her some free cheese eggs and grits and a side of hash browns, which she likes scattered, smothered, covered, and chunked, and in turn, I get free use of her facilities. That way we don’t have to pay taxes.”
We holstered our irons and confirmed with the Phat Ho that Sue Flay was telling the truth and they actually were in a business bartering group.
We made amends for interrupting and scaring Sue Flay and Ronnie Blokkenbak by sharing our PBR and five cheese pizza with them while Ronnie’s hair finished drying.
Later that night, after picking up empty cans of PBR and disposing of leftover pizza, I wrote my report to the Burnt Corn Good Humor Alarm and Security Systems, informing them of our fast response time to what turned out to be a false alarm at the Phat Ho’s Curly Que Hair/Nail Salon and Massage Parlor.
I am one lucky man. I get to do what I like to do best, protect the good people of Burnt Corn, Alabama and I get paid well to do it.

MAX FLY AND THE WALMART CAPER

Max Fly, Private Eye
President & CEO of
Max Fly Private & Nefarious Investigations & Pest Control

The name is Max Fly and I am a private eye, a damn good one too! I was sitting at my desk staring out the window at the Burnt Corn All Night Diner and Laundromat watching a well-endowed waitress by the name of Bea Heine, serve up an order of cheese grits and scrambled eggs with a side of hash browns smothered and covered,  to Wayne Dwopps, our local TV weatherman, and wondering why the phone hadn’t rung in over a week.

My desk is located next to my partner’s, Chico “Zippy Doo” Rodriguez, a sort of illegal green card carrying Hispanic from Matamoros, Mexico, a small town a few miles across the Rio Grande River from El Paso, Texas. Zippy heads up our displaced persons and pest control divisions.

Zippy Doo, Head Of our Displaced Persons & Pest Control Divisions

“You all right, Max?” Zippy asked. “You look like one of them dummies at the Burnt Corn General Store.”

“I don’t know, Zip, a little down I guess. Today is kinda slow. Nothing on the docket. Actually, the whole damn week is kinda slow. Okay, it’s been a slow year. The last case we had was when Alan Skidmore contacted us and told us that someone had broken into his trailer and stole five pounds of bacon out of his refrigerator.”

“Wasn’t that when his wife got up for a midnight snack and was afraid to admit it.”

“Yeah, it was. Luckily, I took along Wanda Winchester, our reconciliation expert and she detected a faint bacon scent on the breath of Skidmore’s wife and she finally confessed.”

The phone rang. Both Zippy and I reached for it. Zippy was faster.

“Max Fly, Private & Nefarious Investigations & Pest Control. Who is this?”

“This is Freda, Freda Livery, what’s your address there?” Freda is lacking in social graces and is the delivery girl for the “We Serve It Hot Pizza Parlor” located in downtown Burnt Corn where she works to pay for her tuition at the Burnt Corn Automotive and Bus Mechanics College, an online technical school.

“Freda,” Zippy began, “there are only 300 people in Burnt Corn and you have made deliveries here before how can you be lost? Aren’t you part Muskogee Indian? I thought Indians were supposed to be great trackers.”

“My people were great trackers until the white man civilized us.”

“Where is Gilroy doesn’t he usually ride with you?” Zippy asked.

Gilroy is Gilroy Skindancer another local Musgokee Indian and Freda’s boyfriend.

“Gilroy’s in jail. Sheriff Hertz pulled him in on an outstanding drunk and disorderly warrant.”

Sheriff Hertz is Wyatt Hertz, Burnt Corn’s ersatz Sheriff the main reason people refer clients to us. He and his deputy, Hiram Firam, are about as incompetent a pair of law enforcement officers as a pair can be.

Freda walked in with our pizza within five minutes after Zippy got her straightened away.

“That’ll be $7.95.”

Zippy paid her out of our petty cash fund, which was beginning to dwindle pretty fast, along with a $1.00 tip.

“Hey, hold up there, Freda,” Zippy yelled. “This pizza is cold. What’s up with that?”

“Oh, I had to stop at the laundromat and put my clothes in the dryer before they began to stink. Gilroy was supposed to do that, but you know what happened to him. Don’t you have a microwave in this dump?”

“If we had a microwave, we wouldn’t have had to call you for a HOT pizza!” Zippy yelled.

“Whatever,” she replied slamming the door behind her.

“Damn, Max, what are these fishy looking things? I didn’t order fish on this pizza. It’s supposed to be a five cheese pizza.”

“They look like anchovies, I think. Just pick ‘em off. I’m not hungry anyway.”

The phone rang. Zippy was slamming the first piece of pizza sans anchovies, in his mouth so I beat him to it.

“Max Fly, Private & Nefarious Investigations & Pest Control, how may I help you?”

“Mr. Fly?”

I knew I didn’t know who this person was as nobody who knows me calls me mister.

“Yeah, who is this?” I replied.

“This is Frank, Frank Ferter. I am the security guard at the Walmart out on the by-pass.”

Frank didn’t need to tell me where the Walmart was as Burnt Corn only encompasses about five square miles and it isn’t really a bypass, it’s Alabama Highway 84 and there is only one Walmart. The next nearest one is in Monroeville about fifteen miles to the east.

“What can I do for you, Mr. Ferter?”

“Well, it appears we have a situation here and we can’t reach Sheriff Wyatt Hertz nor that worthless deputy of his, Hiram Firam. Nobody is answering the phone at the Sheriff’s office. My boss, Ms. Derry Yare, suggested that I call you.”

“Did you try reaching the sheriff at Patty Mae’s All Night Bar and Pool Hall?”

“Yeah, and Patty Mae said she ain’t seen them either. Can you come on out? Ms. Derry Yare said she would pay your fee if you can help us here.”

I looked over at Zippy. There was a pile of anchovies sitting next to the box of pizza. He had already consumed half the pizza and was guzzling down a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer.

“Well, my assistant and I are in the middle of our dinner. Can’t this wait?”

“Not really, Mr. Fly, I’m afraid it can’t. We have a situation here. There is total chaos and I am the only security personnel in here. The rest are female Walmart clerks and in spite of what all the wimmen are claiming these days, they just ain’t up to handling the altercation that I have on my hands now.”

“Tell me what’s going on, Mr. Ferter.”

“You don’t have to call me mister, mister, you can call me Frank. We got a Miss Josseleen Elida Sanchez here. She was driving a motorized shopping cart, without a drivers license I might add, through our Walmart while gorging herself on five-finger-discount grub and guzzling down some of our finest discount wine. I caught her grabbing a package of our week old fresh sushi, eat a piece, and then return it to the shelf.

Miss Josseleen Elida Sanchez

Next on her menu were mini muffins and cinnamon rolls. The damn woman consumed them in the same fashion as the sushi and, are you ready for this, Mr. Fly? For the main course, she ate a whole damn rotisserie chicken. By the end of the meal, she had drained two bottles of wine. All told, Ms. Derry Yare said she consumed $32.36 in food and drink, without even leaving a tip.

When I asked Sanchez why she did it she said that she was hungry and did not want to take any of the items outside of the store, but did consume everything she could while inside the store.”

“Where is she now, Frank?”

“She broke loose and jumped on the motorized shopping cart and is now riding around our parking lot. She has already rammed it into a Toyota Yaris and it looks like the Yaris is totaled. That damn Yaris is smaller than our motorized shopping carts. I didn’t know we had any tree huggers living in Burnt Corn who would buy one of them things. They must be visiting or passin’ through.

How soon can you get here, Mr. Fly?”

I glanced over at Zippy again and noticed that the only thing left to eat were the anchovies.

“You can call me Max,” I said. “We can be there in five minutes, but we have a hasty response fee of ten dollars that we charge when responding to situations without prior notice.”

“I’m sure Ms. Derry Yare will be inclined to pay your hasty response charge.”

“We are on our way.”

I hung up and grabbed my hat and my Smith and Wesson .357 that was located in my rigging hanging over the back of my chair.

“Finish that Pabst Blue Ribbon and grab your shootin’ iron, Zippy. We got us a situation.”

I filled Zippy in on what was happening as he slid behind the wheel of the Fly Mobile and headed toward Alabama Highway 84 that Frank Ferter referred to as the Burnt Corn By-Pass.

When we pulled into the Burnt Corn Walmart we noticed a large crowd of people milling around in front of the store, staring out at the parking lot where a diminutive Hispanic woman was driving erratically with a portly uniformed guard, who we assumed was Mr. Frank Ferter, in hot pursuit on foot.

Zippy pulled in next to him and asked him if that was the suspect he was chasing.

Mr. Ferter bent over at the waist and placed his hands on his thighs as he wheezed, “What in the hell do you think? Of course, it is. Do you think I’m out here running a freakin’ 10K road race?”

“No need for the sarcasm, Mr. Ferter,” I replied. “Hop in the back we’ll give you a ride.”

“Head east,” he gasped, “she’s heading to the store. We can cut her off. Damn, the battery on that cart should be about dead by now. She’s been riding around for a good forty-five minutes. I feel like I sweated off at least five pounds.”

“Which way is east,” Zippy asked.

Mr. Frank Ferter looked at him and said while pointing to his left, “If you don’t know directions, how in the hell did you ever get out of Mexico?”

Zippy looked at him with disgust and replied, “That’s why we hire coyotes. They know where they are going and none of them are fat.”

When we turned the corner around the back of the store the suspect almost ran head-on into the Fly Mobile. She yanked the wheel to the right and jumped out, doing a perfect jump and roll, making me wonder if she was a former airborne ranger, and proceeded to run up a hill on foot.

“I can’t run anymore,” Frank Ferter snorted, “I’m plumb worn out. One of you has to go get her.”

I looked over at Zippy and he said, “Hell, Max, I’m driving.”

“The car’s stopped, Zip. You can get her.”

“Let’s settle this with Paper, Scissors, and rock,” Zippy replied.

“Dammit, both of you guys go. I think she grabbed some Ding Dongs on her way out the store. We are paying you your hasty response fee, so respond.”

The fact that we hadn’t had a case for quite awhile and we needed the money, we both jumped out of the Fly Mobile, Zippy took the keys before we headed up the hill in pursuit of Ms. Sanchez.

Since Zippy was a heavy smoker, he petered out about halfway up so when I crested the top of the ridge, I realized I was on my own and I was wheezing myself.

I looked down and I spotted the suspect sitting behind a rather large boulder eating her package of Ding Dongs and washing it down with a bottle of Thunderbird wine. I hoped that wasn’t the wine Mr. Frank Ferter was referring to when he said she was consuming some of their finest discount wine.

I pulled out my Smith and Wesson .357 as I approached.

“Excuse me, Miss,” I panted, “but I am going to have to ask you to come with me.”

She looked up at me and smiled, “Why don’t you sit down and join me for a little refreshment. I have another package of Ding Dongs and there is more than enough of this Thunderbird wine left for both of us,” she said, thrusting out the bottle in my direction.

I never was a big fan of Thunderbird. I preferred Ripple in my day, but I grabbed the bottle anyway and placed it down on the ground behind me.

“Why don’t you come back with me?” I responded, holding out my hand.

She grabbed it and I helped her up, surprised at how tiny she was.

When we got back to Walmart, Sheriff Wyatt Hertz and his deputy, Hiram Firam were there talking to a woman who I assumed was Ms. Derry Yare. The lights were rotating on the top of their Chevrolet Caprice squad car, casting a blue brilliance off the back wall of the building. Zippy and Frank Ferter were over to the side arguing about Coyotes and illegal immigrants.

I handed over Ms. Sanchez to Sheriff Hertz.

“Mr. Fly? I’m Ms. Derry Yare, the store manager. I wish to thank you for your help when there was none to be found anywhere,” she said, her eyes blazing at Sheriff Hertz.

Fly Mobile

“Please follow me and I’ll get you your money. I like your car. What kind is it?”

“It’s a 1958 Oldsmobile 98. We call it the Fly Mobile.”

“Nice. Here you go and I have included two Walmart gift cards as a bonus.”

“That’s mighty nice of you, Ms. Derry Yare, thank you.”

“That’s quite all right. By the way, are you married Mr. Fly?”

Max Fly And The Foul Smelling Caper

Max Fly, Private Eye
President & CEO of
Max Fly Private & Nefarious Investigations & Pest Control

Max Fly Private & Nefarious Investigations & Pest Control located in downtown Burnt Corn, Alabama,  where we have been protecting the innocent people of Burnt Corn from murder, narcotics distribution, robbery, extortion, loansharking and other nasty mafia behavior for over ten years. We are also licensed as pest control agents.

Zippy Doo, Head Of our Displaced Persons & Pest Control Divisions

It was a balmy January night. We had removed our shirts and were sitting at our desks in our undershirts with the window open and an oscillating fan turned on high, blowing Zippy Doo’s cigarette smoke around the room. Our rigging, holding our Smith and Wesson .357 revolvers, was hanging over the back of our chairs. For most of the evening, we were watching the comings and goings at the Burnt Corn All-night Diner and Laundromat but I was currently mesmerized by the dark sweat stains that continued to grow under Zippy’s impressively cut arms. Zippy was watching a young coed as she carried a basket of soiled unmentionables into the laundromat. He was glassing her with his new professional lightweight Ziest Conquest HD 10×42  detective binoculars with the advanced HD lens design with extra-low chromatic dispersion. He received it last year as a gift from a small group of his relatives and close friends from Matamoros, Mexico, that he had smuggled into the United States to pick rutabagas in southern North Dakota. Where they got ahold of high-quality German binoculars in Mexico is unknown. He was still glomming onto the young coed when the phone rang. Zippy Doo answered.

“Max Fly, Private & Nefarious Investigations & Pest Control. Who is this?”

Helen Feelich

“This is Helen Feelich and I need to speak with someone from your pest control division.”

” I can help you. My name is Chico Rodriguez, but you can call me Zippy Doo.”

“Well, Mr. Doo, can you come over here right away? There is a revolting essence in my bedroom and I need you to investigate this problem.”

“Essence, eh? Well, we are kinda busy right now,” Zippy replied, as he swatted two mating flies that had taken over the top of what was left of his Sonic burger that he had for lunch earlier in the day.

“If we drop everything we are doing to take care of your mephitic problem, there will be a hasty response charge of $10.00.”

” What mephitic problem? I got a stench in here and I don’t care about your hasty charges,” she screamed, “I just want to get rid of that ungodly vapor so I can sleep. I have to be to work at the Burnt Corn Bare and Intimate Essentials, Brassiere, Corset, and Apparel factory by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. I am lead sewer on the line that sews the straps on the cups of the brassieres and tomorrow we are doing the double D cups. If I don’t get some sleep, I could sew my fingers into a double D brassiere and that just won’t do.”

Fly Mobile

“We’re on our way,” Zippy replied as he stood up and strapped on his .357 Smith and Wesson revolver.

“Don’t you think a .357 is a bit of an overkill for a skunk or some other malodorous critter?” I asked.

“Dead’s dead. Don’t matter how they get there,” he replied.

We jumped into the Fly Mobile with Zippy driving. He had just received his learners permit that he kept in the glove box along with his recently expired green card which was a forgery anyway, and rushed right over to 1221 Backwater Avenue where Mrs. Feelich resides.

She lived in a nicely appointed double wide and she let us in before we could even knock.

“Mrs. Feelich? I’m Zippy Doo and this is my partner, Max Fly. We are Private Eyes as well as pest control agents.

“That’s nice. now get in here and get to work and find what is causing this halitotic smell.”

As usual, it didn’t take us long before we solved the mystery – the smell turned out to be her husband, Amos, who was passed out under the bed. So for an extra $10.00 we took Amos to Patty Mae’s All Night Bar and Pool Hall in downtown Burnt Corn where everybody smells about the same and told him not to go home until after 7:00 a.m. We left him with a bar of Ivory soap the cost of which was added to Mrs. Feelich’s bill.

Amos Feelich

This is why we do what we do. It’s not for the big fees. It’s for the good feeling we get when we help remove the vermin and botheration that torment the poor citizens of this fine southern Alabama city.

You got a problem? Give us a call that’s all.

Max Fly In Buenos Aires, Argentina

The phone rang.
“Rocco’s Pub.” It was Bubba, Rocco’s three hundred pound bouncer
“Hey, Bubba, is the Rocco Man there?”
“Just a moment. Rocco, it’s the Cheese Head. Can you talk?”
“Yeah, give me a moment. I’ll get to my office. Hang up the phone after I pick up.”
I could hear laughter and chatter in the background and then Rocco was on the line.
“Okay, I got it, Bubba, thanks.”
I heard the extension click as Bubba hung it up.
“Cheese Head, you still there?”
“Still here, whatcha got?”
“The connection’s good, like you are on the south side or something. Okay, I got this from Harry last night. The magazine rented you an apartment. It’s the one they told you about. The first-month rent has been paid and the key is where you would expect to find it. Inside you’ll find more detailed instructions.They want you to write an article on the Buenos Aires Cowboy Fair, La Feria De Mataderos. It’s a weekly fair with folk dancing, handicrafts, and food, as well as gaucho demonstrations.”
“I’ve heard of it.”
“Do they do the polka down there?”
“Don’t think so. At least I haven’t seen it yet, but there are a bunch of Krauts walking around. Anything else?”
“That’s it.”
“Thanks, Rocco, I’ll be in touch.”
It was a studio apartment in the Puerto Madero district where rusting ships and decaying warehouses littered the area. I walked in and cleared off space on a bookshelf and set down my bottle of brandy. Now I was moved in. I found my instructions. They were from my handler.
He said to go to La Capilla, a boliches, a nightclub, in downtown Buenas Aires. It had been dry-cleaned and I would meet a deep cover agent, an agent of influence, a raven who had been working Buenas Aires the past three years. She had been briefed and was waiting for contact with me. She was in her late 30’s, about 5’ 4” and 110 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. Her codename was Snake. She knew my code name and had more information about the Nazis and what happened in Poltava, Ukraine.
When she walked in the La Capilla it was already after midnight and the bar was still crowded. She was wearing jeans that hugged her like they meant it and a crimson T-shirt stretched tight across her breasts. She had on an open leather jacket, and tennis shoes and wore a holstered and belted six-shooter, a .357. She walked to the bar, turned, and stood with her elbows on the counter and her ankles crossed. Her eyes were as cold as hung beef and her mouth pitched at an angle that made me squirm in my seat as if I had a diaper rash. She promised trouble. She was my contact and damn if I didn’t know her. Medusa, still tough as nails.
She ordered a drink and took a sip and then looked around. Our eyes locked on each other as I walked toward the bar. Her eyes lifted from mine. They were blank, clouded, lost somewhere in the long roll of her life.
“Hi, I’m a Cheese Head from America, the state of Wisconsin. Names Max, may I buy you a drink?”
“Sure, you can call me snake, I’m from Georgia.”
After the drinks arrived, she thanked me.
“You’re welcome,” I replied.
“I see you are still walking on the green side instead of lying under the brown side, Max,” Medusa said.
“I am. Guess I’ve been lucky. How long have you been in this racket?”
“A long time.”
“I was told you would have some information for me?”
She laid an index finger against my lips. “Shhh, quiet my love. Not here. If you want to hear my story, you must have patience. Are you hungry, Cheese Head? The fresh pasta, calamari, and Patagonian wines are particularly good, as are the desserts. Perhaps you could buy me dinner after we finish our drinks?”
“I’m always up for a late night snack,” I replied.
“I know you are,” she replied with a smile. “I see you are back to writing once again. The vaqueros down here are an interesting breed. Very tough and manly. I have enjoyed myself while here.”
“I can only imagine.”
“Yes, please, imagine. It gets el toro raging in you, Cheese Head. I like you best when el toro is loose and running free in your mind,” she smiled.
I looked around and noticed a fat man in the far corner of the bar, eating a sandwich and drinking a beer. Later he was still sitting there. His sandwich was gone but his beer was untouched. He was looking in our direction.
“You notice that fat man in the far corner?”
“Yes, he’s been watching me for awhile now. He hasn’t touched his beer.”
I got up and gestured for Medusa to get up.
“Let’s go over there,” I said. “A little more privacy.”
She picked up her purse and I led her around the corner to a booth in the back.
I was facing to the front of the bar so I could watch the movement of the fat man with the sandwich and beer. He didn’t appear.
“Look,” I said turning back to face her. “The man who has been following you may have killed one of my assets, Selena, so you have to be careful. I am trying to be patient but I need you to answer my questions about Poltava.”
“Everyone wants to eat but only a few are willing to hunt, Max.”
I knew what she meant. Medusa wasn’t afraid to hunt and she was damn good at it.
She reached into her bag and removed a brown manilla envelope and began to unwrap the string holding the flap closed. She removed a sheath of papers about one inch thick. The cover sheet was marked, “STRENG GEHIEM” in bold red letters.
“What’s that mean?”
“Top Secret.”
“Is the whole report in German? I can’t read German.”
“That’s okay. That’s why you have me.”
I looked at her smiling face.
“I thought I have you for other reasons.”
“That too,” she replied with a coy smile. “This report has been very difficult to get. Nobody in law enforcement gives anything away for free, pissing matches over pride and turf too often leaving everyone with nothing to show for it except wet shoes,” Medusa said with a frown. 
“I had to be very creative,” she smiled that knowing smile.
I nodded my head acknowledging her hidden meaning.
“Let’s finish our drinks and go to my apartment. I have a bottle and you can translate what you have there.”
“I thought you would never ask.”

It took us about five minutes to walk to my new apartment. We were pretty sure the man with the sandwich and beer didn’t see us sneak out but we retraced our steps, just in case.
We didn’t see any sign of him.
I opened the door and ushered Medusa in.
I poured a hook of brandy in each of our glasses and sat down next to Medusa on the well-worn couch. She took a solid drink and reached into her bag and took out her report and began to read.
“Have you heard of Konstantin Ivanenko?”
“No, I haven’t. Who is he?”
“A Russian ufologist.
“Ufologist?”
“Someone who studies UFOs. Ivanenko was an expert, Max.”
“An expert on UFO’s? Is that like an expert on looney tunes?”
“Before you cast aspersions, Max, listen to this report.
According to Ivanenko, the Nazis established a German base in the Muhlig-Hofmann Mountains in Antarctica. It was discovered in 1938 by German Captain Alfred Ritscher. The area was renamed Neuschwabenland, New Swabia and was known only as Station 211. The Richter expedition’s scientists used their Dornier seaplanes to explore the area and discovered ice-free lakes that were heated by underground volcanic fissures and they were able to land on them. It is believed that the expedition was to scout out a secret base of operations. and the facility is known only as Base 211.
Now, if you had been a Wehrmacht soldier at the railroad station in Poltava, the Ukraine, during the summer of 1942, you may have seen a very strange-looking military unit. The unit consisted of women, all of them blond and blue-eyed, between the ages of 17 and 24, tall and slender, with sensational figures.
“My favorite kind.”
“Every kind is your favorite kind, Max. Each woman wore sky-blue uniforms and Italian-style garrison caps with the insignia of the SS. You might have thought the SS had recruited a platoon of high-class call girls, but the truth was far stranger than that. You would have been looking at Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler’s latest brainstorm The Antarctic Settlement Women or ASF. The secret Fatherland of the new 1000 year Reich.
Ten thousand of the racially most pure Ukrainians were transported in 1942 by Martin Bormann to the German Antarctic Base 211, in the proportion of four Ukrainian women to one German man.
If true, this would mean that Himmler transferred 2,500 Waffen-SS soldiers, who had proven themselves in combat on the Russian front, to Station 211 in Antarctica. This may be the source of the myth of the Last SS Battalion.”
“Are you trying to tell me that Nazi’s are living under ice in Antarctica?”
“I’m trying to tell you it’s possible and that it’s possible that life actually existed there long before the Nazi’s got there. There is strong evidence that Antarctica was charted long ago by unknown people when temperatures were much warmer.
In 1947, Admiral Richard Byrd went to Antarctica on Operation Highjump. They said the reason for the operation was to test military hardware under extreme conditions, the suggestion that it was a combat operation aimed at dislodging Nazi troops from their secret Valhalla has always floated in the air.
But that wasn’t all: Vice-Admiral Byrd had apparently stumbled into a magnetic anomaly that messed up his navigational equipment and his radio. He radioed back reports of seeing a completely different, verdant landscape under his aircraft.
It is believed the observatory contains vast crystals which put forth a certain kind of magnetism, which is used as a guidance system so that large spaceships could land at that location.”
“Where did you get this information?”
She was smiling in the mirror.
“South America, Buenas Aires, in particular, is crawling with ex-Nazis, including Richard Gehlen and Otto Skorzeny, Hilter’s former bodyguard. These pigs still like young women and have a difficult time keeping from bragging. Más loco que una cabra con pollitos”, they are crazier than a goat with chicks. It isn’t hard getting information out of them.”
I stared at her.
She smiled, “It’s a job, Max, and I’m damn good at it. “Echar un polvo, I get paid to fuck,” she smiled again.
“What do you think? Would you like to visit Antarctica?”
“I don’t think so, but thanks for asking.”
“Ok, well, I’m tired.”
“If you would like to make an old timer happy one more time, I sure would like you to spend the night with me.”
“ Max, you are more a survivor than an expert when it comes to women. I planned on staying.”
I woke to an empty bed.
I started some coffee and filled a cup. I walked to the little refrigerator and pulled out a carton of milk and added a couple of fingers to the steaming hot liquid and sat down on the couch, and thought about the evening before. If Medusa stayed on my calendar, I didn’t think I would make it to the end of the week. She sure had some unusual information on the Nazis living in Antarctica and I was trying to see how this all tied into the tragedy that happened on November 22, 1963.
There was a soft rap on the door. I picked up my revolver and went to see who was there.
It was Medusa. I let her in.
“I just got word from your handler. Your shadow has been thrown in jail.”
“What? When?”
“Last night. We have to go.”
There was blood on her chin and some on her hands and a spattering of blood on her shirt.
“What happened to you?”
“That fat man from last night? He followed us. I had to take executive action.”
“He’s dead?”
“What do you think?”
I felt like the glue that was holding the world together, was finally letting go.

The Magic Cannon

 

220px-chancellorsvillebattlefieldmodernThe  Cannon That Could Fly

We weren’t robbers, we were thieves. There is a difference. A thief is a trickster a robber takes something for its value and to have it. A thief doesn’t want to have it. Robbers go armed. A thief doesn’t have to. Thieves are always laughing. You don’t want to joke around with a robber; robbing is serious business.
Stealing is an art. A thief has to be able to carry whatever he takes. He’s got to be able to hide it.
Like magic! Diamonds are magic. That is why women wear them on their hands, as a sign of the magic of womanhood. Even though we aren’t women, we are magicians. Or, as the Navajo say, a character of disorder. We are coyotes, the mischief-makers, tricksters. As one story goes, the Spirit Chief sent the mischief-makers to go to the land of the dream visions.
“You will be known as the Trick-people,” Spirit Chief said. “Do good for the benefit of your people.”
And that is just what we did!
A good thief makes a person believe, for the moment, that even a cannon can fly.
Trick-people confuse people and confusion is a funny thing. It makes it harder for people to do anything.
At every home football game, two fraternities, Tau Kappa Epsilon(TKE) and Phi Sigma Epsilon(Phi Sig’s), set up, each in their separate corner behind the end zone, their respective noise maker that they set off in celebration of a touchdown. The TKE’s had a bell that they rang and the Phi Sig’s had a cannon they fired. Everything was fine until…
The bell went missing. Nobody had any idea what happened to it until the TKE’s received a note from the Phi Sig’s stating they had taken it and if the TKE’s wanted it back, they would have to find it. They continued to mock the TKE’s publicly for weeks on end and to make matters worse, the TKE’s couldn’t make noise in the end zone on the rare occasion our football team scored a touchdown.
Well, the tricksters weren’t too happy with another group trying to meddle with their province of the unexplained, so they decided to assist the TKE’s in their quest to have their bell returned.
It began one autumn evening. Darkness had fallen on our calm city, LaCrosse, Wisconsin, a small college town and home of Heilman Brewery and Trane Company, located on the Mississippi River in Northwestern Wisconsin. A town of forty-five thousand people, or was it forty-eight thousand? It was a cool, dry Saturday evening in mid-October. The leaves had already turned colors a few weeks earlier and now had fallen, leaving the trees that lined the streets surrounding the campus, dark and barren, appearing like ghostly apparitions with stick arms reaching into the inky evening sky.
They were a group of six tricksters dressed in dark clothing and sneakers with carbon black from charcoal briquettes, smeared across their faces, gathered around a table in the dining room of their house. A group of tricksters, that enjoyed confusing different groups on campus. They were going over the plan one more time. Everyone knew what they were going to do. The tension in the room was high. They were hoping for a night with no moon. They needed the darkness of the night to pull off their magic. They had been planning it for weeks and tonight was the big night. They all agreed, drinking and stealing don’t mix. Tonight there would be no alcohol.
A friend of two tricksters from their high school was an officer in the organization, the Phi Sig’s, the organization they were going to confuse. Unknowingly, this officer provided them with inside information. Information such as, where they stored their cannon!
The Phi Sig’s, as usual, were having a party with a sorority and the music and noise would provide the tricksters with the cover they needed to get away with this heist.
The object of their mission, the Phi Sigma Epsilon cannon, was stored in a shed just outside the frat house and this is where the heist would take place. The distance wasn’t that great between the shed and the house, so they would have to be careful and use caution when approaching the target.
The house was located on a cobblestone side street just off State Street, about a block from a girls dormitory on the edge of campus. The cobblestones were of some concern to the tricksters as the wheels on the cannon were metal and would make a loud noise that would echo on the cobblestones while they rolled it away.
The tricksters had discussed this problem over the past few weeks and decided the best remedy would be to wrap towels around each wheel. So, that night, each person held a handful of towels.
It was eerily quiet that fall evening. The nearby campus seemed to be deserted. Students most likely downtown celebrating another weekend.
The night sounds seemed to be magnified as the tricksters walked out of the back door of the house. The tricksters proceeded quietly down Seventeenth Street to the frat house they were planning on stealing the cannon from. Some tricksters excitedly spoke in hushed whispers, the level of which continued to rise as their excitement grew. A “shhh” sound came from their leader, quieting the group down one more time.
When they arrived at their destination they stopped to listen for a sign of anyone that might be around. The only sound was that of the partygoers in the house behind the shed. It sounded like they were having a lot of fun.
The group split up. Two split in different directions from the rest of the group and went to their observation points behind large trees in the backyard while the other four proceeded to the wooden shed that had once been a garage.
The two wooden doors were closed and held together by a metal clasp, but no lock. The tricksters knew there wasn’t a lock. They had been by the shed at least a half a dozen times during the past few weeks. This was a well-planned caper. The doors were difficult to open and scraped on the ground as they pulled them apart. The noise from the doors made the tricksters stop for a moment to make sure nobody was alerted to their presence. After confirming all was clear, they walked inside and there before them was the ominous dark shadow of the reason of their escapade. The Cannon!
“Quiet, someone’s coming,” one of the tricksters at the observation post whispered.
It wasn’t long before they heard a couple of voices approaching in the dark. They were laughing about something that they thought was funny. They stopped a few feet away from the shed by some bushes. They unzipped and took a leak.
When they finished they turned around and walked back to the party without noticing a thing.
The tricksters were safe. They were lucky those two didn’t take the time to look into the shed and check on their prized possession.
The tricksters proceeded to wrap the towels around the steel wheels. As they rolled The Cannon forward, the wheels squeaked. The noise seemed louder than it actually was and this added to their anxiety.
The tricksters had to roll this heavy piece of artillery over a half a mile through campus to their destination.
It was heavy, over 1000 pounds. Two tricksters were on each wheel and one at the breech of the cannon and another in front. They had to slow it down and stop it from rolling when they approached an intersection in case a car might be coming. It would be difficult to explain if they hit an oncoming car with a thousand pound cannon.
The slope into the basement of the trickster’s house from the road was steep and they had to make sure the cannon wouldn’t get away from them and smash into something in the house causing structural damage.
When the cannon was safely secured in the basement, the trickster’s laughed. It would be held for ransom and an elaborate ransom note would be sent, consisting of cut out letters from a copy of Life Magazine to the Phi Sigs. It would read, “Return the TKE bell or you will never see your Cannon again.”
All around campus, people were asking, “Who took The Cannon? Where was The Cannon being held hostage?” Nobody knew.
The campus was abuzz with speculation. “I bet the TKE’s took it as revenge for the Phi Sig’s stealing their bell,” some students thought.
The TKE’s denied having anything to do with it.
“I think the Phi Sig’s have it and are just trying to get publicity and pin the blame on the TKE’s saying the TKE’s are retaliating against them for stealing their bell,” others said.
The Phi Sig’s were blaming the TKE’s while publicly mocking them, “Not very imaginative of the TKE’s. You’d think they would be able to come up with something a little more original than that. Why copy us? I guess they just wish they were as cool as the Phi Sig’s and this is their way of getting attention.”
Everyone was wrong. Nobody but one person outside the tricksters had a clue who took The Cannon and even that person had no clue where The Cannon was being kept and that person was the insider, the unknown co-conspirator.
After a couple of weeks of threats and pleadings, the Phi Sig’s realized the TKE’s really didn’t have their cannon and it was not going to be returned until the TKE’s got their bell back, so the Phi Sig’s gave in and returned the bell.
It wasn’t long after that and The Cannon mysteriously appeared, like magic – ON the roof of the library, next to the main hall on the university campus. Now, how would the Phi Sig’s recover their cannon from the roof of the library? They had no clue!
One of the tricksters approached a group of students as they stood around the building looking up at the cannon.
“Who put it up there?” One young man asked no one in particular. “How in the world are they going to get it down?”
“How do you suppose it got up there?” The young girl, obviously a freshman, standing next to him asked.
“I don’t know. It surely didn’t fly up there,” he replied.
“Are you sure?” The trickster asked.
“Well, no; but have you ever heard of a cannon flying?”
“Not before today,” the trickster replied.
For over forty-five years the secret has never been revealed and if you think this trickster is going to reveal the secret now, you are mistaken. Tricksters never reveal the magic of their illusion.