It all started when Lorna Buttercheeks walked through my frosted glass door. She sauntered through my office on mile-high gams to show me a menacing photo the digital postman had delivered to her inbox: her front door with a mysterious brown package next to it.
Lorna’s ruby-red lips trembled and her sapphire-blue eyes filled with wimp water.
“What kind of greasy john would case my joint and want me to know about it? I’m so scared, Charlie, I haven’t eaten in days.”
Just then my pocket horn dinged: a strange photograph of my office front door. No wonder Lorna’s under-dainties were in a bunch: this photo gave me the willies. Some loonjob with a door fetish had tailed her, and now they were sucking me into Lorna’s mess.
I scrammed out the door where I spotted a goon rushing down the stairs like his boss didn’t pay for piddle breaks. He beat it quick, riding a van with a sinister half-smile painted on the side.
Back upstairs, I noticed a brown box leaning on my office door. In the box was a 40-pound sack of Skatin’ Eddie’s Super Clumping Ultra Deodorizing Cat Litter.
“Some stooge has got me all wrong,” I muttered. “I don’t stick my neck out for no one. Least of all scooping some carpet scratcher’s toilet sand.”
Buttercheeks piped up.
“Say, I could take that litter off your hands. Skatin’ Eddie’s is Prince Cheddar’s favorite brand.”
“I don’t get mixed up with royalty, doll.”
“No, Prince Cheddar’s my housecat. He used to flop at Slim Mahone’s speakeasy drinking bathtub gin with milk. When Slim got nabbed, Cheddar did six months in county. No one else wanted him on account of he’s always stinko on moonshine and catnip.”
That's when the second photo came: my front door again. I ran out to find a white paper sack with a Five Guys bacon burger and onion rings inside. I was down the stairs quick enough to pin the messenger against the wall and stick my gat in her kidney.
“Who sent you?” I said.
She looked down at her pocket horn.
“Charlie Grim ordered it,” she sputtered.
“Impossible,” I said. “Charlie Grim is my name.” Now they had my attention.
Back inside, Lorna was chowing the cow sammie like it was the answer to her prayers. When two more creepy photos and two more packages arrived, I got wise: those pics always came at the exact same time as deliveries.
“Listen here, sister, there's no broad in this town who can take me for a sap.” I opened the first new package.
“What do you know about Fierce Felix’s Fur Shaver and Tattoo Kit? Why did you leak my address to an Amazonian crime syndicate? You better start chinning unless you plan to leave here in a meat wagon.”
“You’ve got me all wrong, Charlie! I need you! I’ve got nothing to do with those dirty crooks.”
I opened the next package.
“Yeah? You had nothing to do with Max Gravy’s Get Hard in the Yard Weight Lifting Bench for Cats?” I got close enough to smell her cattle breath.
Then I noticed something on the horn: six new “Rotten Racket” Alerts from Wells Fargo.
I gave it to her straight: “There is no peeping creeper, is there? This is all about that jailhouse fur licker, Prince Cheddar. You haven’t got the chips for his gangster needs, have you? You’ve never dropped a dime to clump his tinkle. No, you charged it all on my coin and showed up here to make out with enough swag to crown him King Gouda, plus a bag of stooge-grade stool powder.”
The jig was up. Ordinarily, I’d treat the broad to a vacation in the hoosegow, but those gams and wimp-watered eyes had softened me up. I walked her to a hired car outside.
“You know what gave you away, sweetheart?” I said as she got into an Uber wagon. “Your weakness for tepid beef sandwiches. Everyone knows that this keyhole peeper only eats Wingstop—and I always order carry-out.”
“Wait, Charlie,” Lorna cried as the car pulled away, “I think this driver’s in on the racket! He somehow already knows where I live!”