Archive for April, 2009
April 30th, 2009 Posted 6:34 am
“Now that we’ve bonded over the ukulele,” Bernie said to Arnold Fetzer, the art gallery dude, “what have you got for us?” We were working on what Bernie called the Greed Case, not sure why. We had a paying client, which was good. He was a Hollywood producer named Kelo Printz, who’d hired us to find a missing can of film. We’d found the can, all right, in a cave in Death Valley, but there’d been no film inside, instead a folded-up painting by Martin Ramirez. What else? Oh, yeah: Kelo Printz was missing. And I think there’s more, too. Milk bones in Fetzer’s drawer, for example. I sidled over that way.
Fetzer cleared his throat. I can do that, too. Once I got a chicken bone stuck in there, a story for another time. “You say you’re interested in Martin Ramirez,” he said. “Know much about him?”
“I’m listening,” said Bernie.
“He was a poor Mexican immigrant who came up to California in the twenties looking for work. By 1931 he was in the Stockton State mental hospital and he spent the rest of his life institutionalized. He also took up painting, and is now recognized as one of the leading painters of Outsider Art. In that first year at Stockton, he met a fellow patient who’d worked in Hollywood as a PR flack. The flack’s name was Ezra Printz.”
“Ah,” said Bernie.
Ah? Meaning what? The milk bone smell was overwhelming.
April 29th, 2009 Posted 7:21 am
“Heard about Tinker Bell?” Bernie said. “She’s a six-pound chihuahua up in Michigan who got blown away by a seventy-mile-per-hour gust of wind and was lost for three days.” So many numbers! Not sure I was following, really. I knew chihuahas, of course, especially one called Pancho who once actually stole a chew strip from me and then vanished in a tiny hole in a wall. This was during the Millstein divorce case, a bad one I’ve just about completely forgotten. As for what happened to that big diamond ring of Mrs. Millstein’s I can’t say for sure.
“That’s never going to happen to you, Chet,” Bernie said, giving me a pat. Me, blown away by the wind? No way. I’m a hundred-plus pounder and I love the wind. “The other interesting thing it said on the news is that these people used a pet psychic to find Tinker Bell. Does that mean they keep a psychic as a pet?” He laughed. No, I didn’t get this at all. But glad you’re safe, Tinker Bell! Eat something.
April 28th, 2009 Posted 6:27 am
“You had nothing to do with anything, you say,” Bernie said to Fetzer. “Can’t get more comprehensive than that.” Fetzer blinked. Bernie can do that to people, make them blink just by saying things. As for what he’d just said, don’t come to me.
Bernie glanced around the shop. His gaze went to a newspaper lying open on a table. He stiffened. Uh-oh. Something was up. He moved to the table, picked up the paper. His eyes moved back and forth. Human eyes do that when they’re reading. There’s something machine-like about it that bothers me. Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but humans can be machine-like at times. Maybe we’ll get to that later. But right now Bernie was saying, “Oh, no – John King died.”
Fetzer’s bushy white eyebrows rose. “You’re a ukulele player?” he said.
“Not like him,” Bernie said. “I just mess around a little.”
“No one was like him,” Fetzer said. There was a silence, the kind of silence that happens when humans are thinking. “Maybe we can work something out,” Fetzer said.
April 27th, 2009 Posted 7:04 am
“Any idea who that was?” Bernie said, pointing to the Audi, now just about out of sight.
“I didn’t see anything,” said Arnold Fetzer.
Bernie gave him a long look. I found myself standing beside the milk bone drawer. Lots more in there – the smell came in lovely powerful waves. Bernie walked around the shop. “How’s business these days?”
“Terrible,” said Fetzer.
Bernie paused in front of a painting. “Is this by Martin Ramirez?”
“Yes, in fact,” Fetzer said. “You surprise me.”
“Oh?” said Bernie, turning to him.
“But in a good way,” Fetzer said. “I didn’t take you for the art world type.”
“What type did you take me for?”
“Well, more the cop type, actually.”
Bernie moved a little closer to Fetzer and smiled. This wasn’t one of Bernie’s friendly smiles because his eyes weren’t smiling. He towered over Fetzer. Fetzer backed away, almost bumped into me. “I’m especially interested in Martin Ramirez,” Bernie said.
I barked, real loud. I wanted one of those milk bones. Fetzer jumped, actually got off the ground. “I had nothing to do with anything,” he said. “I swear.”