“Bernie? You called?” Hey! It was Suzie. Hadn’t heard her voice in way too long, although it usually sounded warmer than this. Suzie had been Bernie’s girlfriend, back when she’d worked for the Valley Tribune, the Valley being where we lived—maybe in Arizona, a detail I’d picked up quite recently—but then she’d gone away to take a job with the Washington Post, a no-brainer Bernie said.
“I, um, ah,” Bernie said. “Sorry.”
“You’re saying you’re sorry?”
“For what didn’t happen,” Bernie said. For what didn’t happen? This was hard to follow. My mind wandered to a morning not long ago when Suzie had arrived suddenly at the houseboat where Bernie and I had stayed while working the Ralph Boutette case and found Vannah on board. Vannah: a story for another time, but I should probably mention that tiny bikini and how the straps kept slipping no matter what she did. My mind wandered on to something else, namely barbecue, and when it came back, Bernie was saying, “. . . crazy to let silly misunderstandings come between us.”
“How about serious misunderstandings?” Suzie said, her voice still pretty cold.
“Them, too,” Bernie said.
There was a pause, and then Suzie laughed. Soon they were both laughing. I like watching humans laugh when they’re on the phone, especially when they laugh their heads off and somehow keep the phone in place the whole time. As for what this conversation was about, you tell me. It went on for some time, and then I put my paw on Bernie’s knee, just reminding him about what we were here for, namely barbecue.
Bernie glanced at me. “I’ve got a feeling Chet’s hungry,” he said.
“That’ll be with a capital H,” Suzie said, losing me completely. But maybe not Bernie. He laughed again. What fun we were all having! I pressed a little harder with my paw.
“So,” Bernie said.
“So,” said Suzie. After that came a long pause. Then she went on. “What’s next?”
“Headed home,” Bernie said.
“Happy trails,” said Suzie.
- from PAW AND ORDER, coming Aug. 5
Welcome new friends Minnie, Jama, Jasper, Token, Mr. Maximilliano. Stay tuned for Friend of the Month announcement later today!
We blasted out of bayou country, Bernie behind the wheel, me in the shotgun seat. Our ride’s a real old Porsche, the oldest we’ve had in our whole career. The last one got blown up; the one before that went off a cliff. And who can remember the one before that? Not me, amigo, except for how loud train whistles turn out to be from up real close. The point is, old Porsches are how we roll at the Little Detective Agency, just one of the things that makes us so successful, leaving out the finances part, where we’ve run into some hiccups I won’t go into now. And don’t get me started on hiccups, which is the annoying thing about them, namely that you can’t stop. What else do you need to know? Bernie’s last name is Little, which is how come we’re the Little Detective Agency. I’m Chet, pure and simple.
We came to a crossroads with a roadhouse on one corner. Bernie slowed down and read the sign: “Ti-Pierre’s Cajun BBQ.” No surprise there: for some time now, barbecue had been in the air, impossible to miss. Bernie tilted up his face—no need to describe his face, the best human face in the world—and took a sniff. “I can almost smell it,” he said. Yes, the best human face, not at all like those tiny-nosed human faces you see so often. Bernie had a nose that looked capable of doing big things. So why didn’t it? I turned to him, gave that nose a good long look. He gave me a good long look back.
“What’s on your mind, big guy?” he said. Then he smiled. “I got it—you’re up for one last taste of the local grub before we head for home.”
No! That wasn’t it at all! Bernie laughed and gave me a nice pat, scratched the spot between my ears where I can’t get to. And just like that, one last taste of the local grub was all alone in my mind, whatever had been there before completely gone. I couldn’t have been happier, which is how I like to operate.
We pulled into the parking lot at Ti-Pierre’s Cajun BBQ. I was just noticing all the bikes in the lot, the big kind that bikers like, when the phone buzzed. Bernie hit speaker.
Welcome to the Friends gallery: Delli; Xeno & Xantara; Maggie; Jonas; K-9 dude; Sunny; Godiva (note to Godiva’s human companion: Spence will be at Murder By The Book in Houston Monday Aug. 11 at 6:30PM.)
The first excerpt from PAW AND ORDER will be posted tomorrow. We’re starting at the beginning, and by pub date, August 5, we’ll have completed chapter 1. The first word of PAW AND ORDER is: “We.” That seems right.
Welcome Buster, Lucky & Bandit (quite possibly the same as a very recent Bandit); Ozzie.
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Chet and Bernie Book - July 21, 2014
This time Hollywood comes to town, and the movie people get the same Spencer Quinn treatment as the characters in his other books–honest and even biting at times, yet ultimately human and, most of all, funny as hell. Chet and Bernie are wonderful as usual, as are all of the regulars who pop up in all of the books in the series. Chet is one of my all-time favorite characters. He’s a constant reminder of what all of us outside of the nation within should be…loyal, hardworking, always living in the moment, and happy with life’s gifts, large and small. I’ve read all of the books in the series, and re-read them again and again, and I never get tired of Chet and his positive outlook on life, and Spencer Quinn’s wicked sense of humor.
Welcome to the gallery new friends: Bandit; Chet (! )