Stop the Presses
“I’m sorry. Who were you again?”
“We’re with the Gasparo Floyd fan club,” said Bonnie. “We were wondering if you’d like to donate to a memorial dinner being held in his honor.”
“He’s dead?” asked Harriet Farnsbottom. “You’re sure?”
“He’s really, most sincerely dead,” said Anne.
“Whatever it is you plan to serve,” said Harriet, “it would never be good enough for that ghastly little man. He was never satisfied with anything.”
“That’s strange,” said Anne. “We’d heard that you were one of the regulars for his monthly extravaganzas.”
“He only invited those he wished to laud his expertise over. He could be so petty.”
“I suppose now that he’s gone, you’ll be taking over his job as food critic?” Bonnie pointed an accusing finger at her. “Is that why you killed him?!”
“You’re not part of any fan club,” said Harriet. “Who are you really?”
“Just a couple of gals in the big city being accused of a murder they didn’t commit,” said Anne.
“Don’t try to change the subject,” said Bonnie. “Isn’t it true you always wanted his job?”
“Me, no. I don’t want the job. And I certainly didn’t kill Gasparo.”
Anne put her hands on her hips and pouted. “But we thought…”
“You thought what?” Harriet interrupted. “That I killed the man so I could take over a crummy little column at a second-rate newspaper that’s teetering on the brink of bankruptcy?”
“Ah, yeah,” said Anne. “That about sums it up.”
“Well, let me tell you a little secret, just between us girls.” Harriet looked around the office to see if anyone was close enough to overhear, then leaned in and whispered, “As an advice columnist, I spend about five minutes a day doing actual work. The rest of the time I’m writing romance novels.”
“Really?!” shouted Bonnie, loud enough that every head in the office turned toward them.
“Yes, but keep your voice down,” said Harriet. “This is just my day job. Have you ever heard of Charlotte Wise?”
“Of course,” said Bonnie. “I’ve read the whole Highlander on a Horse series. Oh my god, are you saying that you’re actually Charlotte Wise?”
“No, of course not,” said Harriet. “Charlotte Wise lives in a mansion in Beverly Hills and has half-a-dozen oiled-up bodybuilders to cater to her every whim. Do you think that I’d be working in a dump like this if I had twenty best-selling novels under my belt? What I’m saying is that I’m going to be the next Charlotte Wise, so I don’t need or want the hassle of a new job, especially if it means having to deal with all those temperamental cooks. I’m perfectly happy where I am for the moment.”
“There goes that theory,” said Anne.
“So where were you last night?” asked Bonnie.
“Meeting with my agent.” Harriet held her thumb and forefinger a half-inch apart. “I’m this close to signing a deal for my new book, A Werewolf Is a Woman’s Best Friend.”
As Harriet held up a book with a half-naked man with a wolf’s head on the cover, Anne’s eyes opened wide. “Hmm. Looks…interesting.”
“Hubba, hubba,” said Bonnie. “Nice abs. I’d adopt him from the shelter.”
“So you see ladies, I had no reason to kill Gasparo, nor did I have the opportunity. I’m afraid you’ll have to look somewhere else.”
“I guess we’re back to square one,” said Anne.
“Maybe not,” said Bonnie. “Who else was a member of this club of yours?”
“Besides Gasparo and myself, there was only Dr. Wun, Pierre the chef from the restaurant where we met, and Mississippi Joe.”
“Mississippi Joe?” asked Anne. “Who’s that?”
“I’ve heard of him,” said Bonnie. “He’s one of the richest people in California, but he’s a recluse. No one even knows what he looks like.”
“I do,” said Harriet. “Despite some of his unusual habits, he has one of the keenest palates on the west coast. He is…or rather, was Gasparo’s arch-rival. I wouldn’t put it past Joe if he finally got fed up and did something drastic.”
“That sounds like someone we should talk to,” said Anne. “Where can we find him?”
“He usually spends his afternoons playing saxophone down by Pier 39, entertaining the tourists. He says it helps him keep in touch with the common people, whatever that means.”
“Thanks for your help,” said Bonnie. “And good luck with the novel.”
“And sorry about the whole accusing you of murder thing,” Anne added.
They were on their way to the elevator when Bonnie spotted a fire extinguisher with googly eyes stuck on top so that the hose hung down like an elephant’s trunk. “Look, another clue. Our killer has been here too. We must be on the right track. Let’s head down to the docks and reel in a big fish.”
To be continued…
The characters of Anne and Bonnie, while loosely based on their real world namesakes, are entirely fictitious. You can find more googly-eyed goodness at vandaleyes.net.