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Hello. My name is Max Wood. I am a Private Dick. I work for hire solving crimes that cops either can’t or won’t solve. I work out of an office at the corner of 22nd and State in Bone City. I work alone; that's the way I like it. Partners just get in the way. I am a stand up man and always rise to the occasion whenever I’m called upon, sometimes to solve unsolved crimes. Sometimes the job is long and hard but I almost always pull it off. These are my investigative stories.

Episode 1: The Cheatin’ Rat

It was a rainy Wednesday night when she first came to me. It was the first time a client came to me out of the blue in a long, long time. It was quite exciting when she arrived, surprising me by coming in the building’s back door.

”I hear you do investigations,” a woman’s cigarette-stained voice startled me as I was grabbing my salami. (I had felt like a sandwich.)

”Oh, hello,” I said when I saw her, trying to cover up my alarm. I put the salami on my desk and took a good look at her. She was tall for a dame, wet from the rain outside, a cat in her arms. Her skirt was short and I could see her gorgeous legs that looked like they could go on forever. Her ruby red lips looked like a pretty little bow on her round face. Her golden locks spilled around her doll-like face like it was decorated by the rays of the sun which were fare away that day.

”Well?” she asked. I must have spent too much time admiring her.

”Yes, I do,” I said, “I’ll investigate anything you like. I’ll do anything to get the facts. I like to split the mystery in two, get in the middle and snatch the truth.”

”Wonderful,” she said while petting her wet pussy.

”So, what’s your name, dollface?” I said as I got into my desk drawer for a smoke.

”Ophelia,” she said, “Ophelia Cox. Got an extra one of those? I’m afraid that all of mine are wet and limp.”

”Sure,” I said, handing her one. After I lit mine she bent down and let me light hers. “So, what do you need investigated, Ms. Cox?”

”I think that my husband Harry is cheating on me,” she said before sucking long and hard on her cigarette.

”Ah, that shouldn’t be a problem,” I said, “I deal with that all the time. Why do you think he is?”

”He leaves a lot, going out with the boys, golfing supposedly,” she said, “and then I find that he’s left his balls at home.”

”Does he ever play with another man’s balls?” I asked.

”Maybe,” she said, “but he also works late at the office a lot lately.”

”Aaah, working late at the office,” I said, “the oldest trick in the book.”

”So what do you charge?” she asked. The subject was turning to money too quickly. I needed to know more about her.

”I didn’t say I was taking the case yet,” I said. I grabbed my salami again, intent on stalling by making that sandwich.

”With all due respect, Mr. Wood, you don’t appear to be busy,” Ophelia said as she craftily blew a smoke ring out of her mouth. She looked like the kind of girl who was very good at blowing things.

”It’s lunchtime,” I said. But she had a point. “Well, before I take the case, I need more information. Have a seat.” I gestured to the chair in front of my desk.

”I’ve told you our names,” she said as she slipped down into the chair, “what more does an expert investigator need?”

”Knowing how the marriage is going would help,” I answered. “Would you like a sandwich?”

”Just some of that salami would be fine,” she said, “sometimes I’m just in the mood for a plain, long, salami to suck on.”

I cut it in half and handed a piece to her. “Well I prefer my salami shoved between two buns myself.” Then I began slicing it up and putting it on my bun to demonstrate.

”Are you sure you should be eating so much, Mr. Wood?” Ophelia asked. “You are a little chubby.”

”I don’t think so,” I said, “but I think you’re changing the subject, trying to evade my question.”

”Fine, all right, our marriage could be better,” she said, “but it seemed like it had been going fine to me.” She took a big bite and began chewing it hungrily. Then she fed a piece to her cat.

”Maybe his hours are just long and hard and he’s just getting the shaft at work,” I suggested. “Anyway, I’m just looking for something to go on. Some motive for his cheating heart.”

”Maybe most importantly, his sister Sharon Cox told me she saw him once talking to a woman in the alley behind his company. And another problem is that he doesn’t exactly work in an office, his company is more of a factory. Which is why I doubt they having him working late a lot.”

”What exactly does he do?” I asked.

”He works at the YummyYum Fudge Packing plant,” she said, “he’s Chief Fudge Packer. He has packed more fudge, supposedly, than any other fudge packer they have. That’s why they put him in the rear, to start the line out.”

”Yes, I think I agree, a fudge packer wouldn’t need to put in extra hours, unless a man thought it was really fun,” I said.

”So again, I ask you, what do you charge?” Ophelia said.

”Five bucks an hour, usually,” I said. I detected some distress in her face. “Well, how much dough ya got?” I asked.

”Depending on how long it takes I may not have enough to pay you,” Ophelia said. I smiled.

”For you, dollface, I’ll make it three-fifty,” I said, “and at the end if you have any problems we can chew it over.”

So I decided to take the case even though money was a little bit of a question. I figured, what the heck, she was right. I didn’t have any other cases at the moment.

After she left I got in my Studebaker and went back to my house at 69 Johnson Street. I wanted to bring along Bangkok, my dog, so-named because Bangkok is where I found him, near a restaurant where he was about to be put on the menu. I was there visiting an ex who had assumed a missionary position there. Bangkok is a wiener dog and, let me tell you, I like wieners, they’re fascinating. The longer and hairier the wiener the better. And Bangkok is certainly a long and hairy wiener. So I decided to go back home and grab my wiener because I like him to be my partner sometimes. I know I’ve said I don’t like to work with partners, but he’s a good companion to have. He’s loyal, sits up and lies down when told and I don’t have to pull my wiener very hard to get him to come. However, he like to chase pussies and whenever he sees one down the street my wiener can get me into some trouble.

But I’ll still never have a man for a partner again. You want to talk about trouble, take my last partner, Rod Peters. He was always jockeying for more money and power, trying to take more than his fair share and frankly this attitude turned Rod into a real jerk. I eventually pulled Rod aside and told him to get the heck out of my office. I haven’t seen him since.

But back to the case. First we staked out the YummyYum the next morning, trying to get a glimpse of Cox. It was a sunny day, unlike the previous, and the sunlight reflecting off of all the puddles and wetness on the pavement created a bright haze in the air. Apparently we were early and we’d beaten Cox there. After waiting there about twenty minutes, finally around 7 a.m. we saw Cox slipping in the rear entrance. He was an average-looking fellow, maybe a little gaunt, with dark brown – almost black – hair. We wondered why the heck he’d entered in the rear and not the front. Something definitely seemed strange about his behavior.

"Bangkok," I said, "looks like we're in for a long day."

I hadn’t realized how boring it would be to look at Cox all day when I’d taken the case. It’s a good thing I’d brought along a lunch and some crossword puzzles to do. Finally, around five-thirty, just when I was looking for a four-letter word for “screw,” Cox left. I watched him get into his Ford then tailed him. I began to grow nervous as he headed for the railroad tracks. Soon we were on the other side.

Neither I nor Bangkok could believe our eyes when we found out his destination. The sign by the front door of the bar was all I’d needed to see: “Liquor in the front, poker in the rear.” He parked in the alley on the side of the Liquor/Poker, a seedy dive that had been a speakeasy during Prohibition. Now it was a swinging place where prostitution, corruption, and violence flowed as freely as the drinks. What would an Average Joe fudge-packer be doing at a rough joint like that?

Well, I soon found out. He never made it into the place. Who he was there to see met him outside, and they weren’t no broads. They were about the last three people in town I’d expected him to be meeting. They were three of the toughest gangsters in the city: a big guy named Hammer – so-named because he liked to do his dirty work with a hammer, Two-Pack – so-named because he always packed two guns, and Notorious Big – so-named because he was very fat and there was another Big in town who really wasn’t all that notorious.

I got my gun and quietly got out of my car and snuck around to the other side of the alley so I could hear what they were talking about. I left Bangkok behind, afraid that it’d be too dangerous of a place to put a wiener into. At first the conversation in the alley seemed harmless, just some small talk. But I think they were teasing Cox; I knew how these guys operated. Whenever something bad was about to happen they usually started out with the chitchat and worked their way up.

And this time I was right.

”You know what, Cox,” Hammer said, getting cocky, “we think you’re a rat!”

”What, me, a rat?!” Cox said. He was full of righteous indignation but I had a feeling that they had him pegged. He must have been some sort of informant, probably for the Feds. It made sense, explained why he’d be hanging out with those cats.

”Yeah, we had ya tailed the other night,” said Notorious Big, “you didn’t cover your tracks very well I’m afraid, saw ya meeting with some very interesting characters.”

”Yeah, some characters with badges!” added Two Pack.

”Well, I’m a double agent, see,” Cox said, “yeah, I’m really workin’ for you! They just think I’m an informant for them, but I’ve really been gathering information from them for you!”

”You expect us to believe that?!” Hammer said. I could see him reaching into his jacket pocket for his hammer. “Why didn’t you mention this before?!”

”It was a surprise, see,” Cox said, but it was no use. They were starting to close in on him. Two-Pack drew one of his guns. This is where I took action.

First, I fired my gun, which disarmed Two Pack and startled the heck out of ‘em. I came out of the shadows, pointing my piece, not letting them get the chance to draw any more of theirs. Hammer, though, had his hammer out.

Please, Hammer, don’t hurt ‘im!” I exclaimed. “It certainly won’t be good for his health, but it won’t be good for yours, either!” I approached him closer, intent on confiscating his weapon.

You can’t touch this!” he said, drawing further away from me, wielding his hammer menacingly.

”Who the heck are you?!” Cox said, turning to me.

”I’m Max Wood, Private Dick!” I answered. “And I’m here to save your life. Your wife asked me to see if you were cheatin’ on her. Good thing for you I was here trying to find out if you were.”

His question distracted me long enough for Two Pack to draw his other gun. In a second we were both pointing our guns at each other. To make matters worse, Hammer still had his hammer and Notorious Big was also drawing his gun.

”Swell!” Cox said. “Now how are we gonna get out of this one?”

”You tell me and we’ll both know!” I said, trying to think.

Just then, a bunch of cop cars screeched up, sirens blaring, lights blazing.

”It’s the fuzz, let’s scram!” Two Pack said. With the cops yelling for them to stop the three gangsters took off deep into the dark alleyways.

”Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes!” I said to Officer Wanger, an old friend of mine.

”Seems like I’m always gettin’ you out of trouble!” he said. Even though his fat face was smiling, I could tell he was quite annoyed with me.

I followed Harry back to his home so we could explain what was going on to Ophelia. She was glad he wasn’t cheating on her, but upset he was lying to her about being an informant. He didn’t want his wife to blow his cover so he could help the Feds stop the gangsters from moving in on the chocolate industry.

”I guess this is goodbye,” Ophelia said as I was about to leave. “I guess there’s just the matter of payment.”

”Nah,” I said, “such a short case, forget about it. You guy have a lot more to worry about, what with having to move to another state, change your names, your lives in danger. Hold onto all the dough ya got. Maybe in due time you’ll have lots of little Cox’s running around.”

”Thanks, Mr. Wood,” Harry said with a little laugh, “for everything.”

With that, I put on my hat and left. I never saw them again. It’s a shame. That Ophelia Cox, or whatever her new name is, she was quite a dame. I’ll never forget her smile, or her cute little pussy. Maybe they even changed his name, who knows?

The only thing I did know was that I had to watch out for Two Pack, Notorious Big, and Hammer. I was on their radar now. But I had a feeling that my wiener Bangkok and I would do all right. We always seem to find our way out of jams. We always pull it off and get off free, even if the situation is hard, hairy, or sticky. That’s because I’m Max Wood, Private Dick, and I always come through, find what I’m looking for, the answers to mysteries or solutions to problems. That’s me and that’s what I do.

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