THE DONUT SHOPPE MURDER
5:00 a.m. I gazed tiredly at my clock on the wall above my picture of Hoover. Mickey Mouse had that same stupid smile on 24 hours a day. I envied him. What I would do to be a cartoon.
But I’m not.
The name’s Danish. Rhubarb Danish. I’m a Chicago private eye with an attitude problem. I never sleep. I live off stale coffee and I’m addicted to Flintstone’s chewable tablets.
Popping a Dino, I contemplated the cruel, harsh city of crime outside my window.
5:15 a.m. My office door burst open quicker than a frat boy’s fly. In walked this dame that could make Don King’s hair go flat. Dressed in a mini skirt that exposed more juicy thigh than a marinated Butterball, this woman wept hysterically.
Her blonde curls cascaded onto her shoulders. She had a body that not only didn’t quit, it didn’t even take a mandatory coffee break.
Looking at me with large green eyes she cried, “Help me Danish! You’re my only hope!”
“Slow down Toots. You’re doin’ 70 in a 40 zone,” I said coolly.
Gasping for breath, the blonde bombshell continued. “My name’s Frenchie. Frenchie Cruller. I was in a Dunkin’ Tyme Donut Shoppe on Michigan Avenue when I witnessed a murder!”
“Ya get a good look at who did it?’
She wildly shook her head, “No, no, it was so fast… so much commotion..” She waved her hands in the air faster than a mime in a windstorm.
“Alright, alright,” I said, popping a Fred. “Who’s the stiff?”
“I dunno, “ she sobbed burying her face in her hands. “Some cop.”
A cop! A man of the shield! This was a case I had to take out of obligation, duty and commitment.
“Come with me baby doll,” I whispered. “I’ll get to the bottom of this.”
6:00 a.m. My old Dodge boat that I got at a police auction lumbered its way onto the lot of Dunkin’ Tyme Donuts on Michigan Avenue. It wasn’t exactly the Copacabana. I felt about as welcome as a leper in a massage parlor.
There was quite a large crowd inside huddled around an inert form on the ground.
Frenchie and I entered, me flashing my P.I. badge and assuring everyone that everything was alright. I then glanced down at the corpse.
It was my old buddy Tim Bits from the fourth precinct. I’d seen him look better. He lay on the tiled floor on his back, eyes staring aimlessly up at the rotating fan on the ceiling. There was trail of whipped cream travelling down the midline of his body from forehead to crotch.
From that moment on, I knew it was a syndicate murder. The whipped cream; the Donut Shoppe; death of a police officer…those elements pointed to one man and one man only – Choco Éclair, the notorious French gangster!
This could prove to be the biggest case of my career. I was more shaky than Don Knotts on a vibrator. I looked over at Frenchie and stammered, “B.b.b.babe…level with me…did you work for Choco Éclair?”
The shock of my revelation caused her to pass out at my feet. I knew I was up against a most dangerous man. Popping a Barney Rubble, I hauled Frenchie over my shoulder and into my banana colored Dodge.
6:25 a.m. When Frenchie had awoken, I had to torture her into telling me where Éclair’s hideout was. What I did was I took her Visa card and threatened to burn it with a cigarette lighter. She bared her soul.
Éclair’s secret hideout was in the basement of this existential 24 hour Japanese restaurant called Dim Sum Of All Parts. Frenchie tipped me off that the owner’s name was Terry Yaki and he would lead me exactly to Éclair’s lair.
7:20 a.m. I sauntered into the restaurant with Frenchie by my side. For her protection I had disguised her as a Shriner by placing a red fez on her head and making her wear a matching robe with a collection box around her neck.
I shook hands with Yaki and placed a fin in his outstretched palm. With a curt nod, he understood immediately what I was after and motioned for the two of us to follow him downstairs.
I brushed a bamboo curtain out the way and the three of us travelled single file down a thin staircase that was older than Betty White at a Buddy Holly concert.
Yaki led us to a dark room lit only by a single light bulb on the ceiling with no fixture attached. I could make out a rotund figure sitting behind a large desk with his fingers enlaced in front of him.
Before I could introduce myself, Yaki pulls out a .38 and holds it against my temple. With his other hand he gives Frenchie a violent slap which sends her collection box reeling.
“Well, well eef eet eezent the famous Rhubarb Danish,” purred the French accent from behind the desk. “I have looked forward to zees moment for a long, long time.”
I spat on the ground. “What? Are ya mixing soy sauce with your cinnamon twists now Éclair?”
The French fiend laughed heartily and exposed his features to the small area of light.
He was grossly overweight with flimsy, greasy hair parted in the middle and plastered down with some sort of gel that looked like a combination of rubber cement and diesel fuel. He had a pencil-thin moustache that looked as though it were drawn on.
He motioned with a pudgy hand, “Begone Terry. I weesh to see Mr. Danish die very slow.”
At Éclair’s wish, Yaki slipped his gun back into his apron and went upstairs to peddle early morning spring rolls.
“Now,” continued Éclair, “I have plans for you, Monsieur Danish. Your feet will be tied to 2 boxes of three week old doughnuts and then you will be thrown eento ze harbour to die!”
I was nervous. My eyes felt bigger than a walrus on steroids.
Trying my best to keep my cool, I stared at him long and hard. “Whyja ice Tim Bits, Éclair? He was a friend of mine.”
“Very seemple Monsieur Danish. Tim Bits was on my payroll. Every month I would mail heem a nice fat cheque to keep quiet and let me do my business. He started to get greedy. Said he could get more eef he turned me in. So..I broke our business arrangement.”
“By killing him,” I muttered through gritted teeth.
“Tres bien monsieur,” he purred.
“Don’t try any of that French shit on me Éclair. I’m gonna bust you on three charges.” I exposed a finger as I rhymed each of them off. “The killing of a police officer on duty, threatening the life of a private investigator and..prostitution!” I cried pointing to the Shriner in the corner.
Realizing who it was, Éclair’s face turned ashen. “Beech!” he cried and lunged at Frenchie.
As quick as bull in heat, I lay a shot against the gangster’s chops, sending him sprawling across his desk. I slapped the cuffs on him and later sent him to rot in Joliet. Then I popped a Wilma.
9:00 a.m. Me and Frenchie had a long talk over some coffee and donuts at the Dunkin Tyme where Tim Bits was killed.
I decided not to book her for prostitution since she was cute and showed me more action than a Sylvester Stallone flick.
I carry a badge. I have an attitude problem. The name’s Danish. Rhubarb Danish, private eye.
© Copyright 2016 Steve Balsky. All rights reserved.