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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 2: The Emerald Cock

It was a drizzly night when this big case landed in my lap. I was just about to leave the office when I heard somebody pounding at the back door. I was never quite sure why, but it was always the big and hard cases that came to the back door. I grumbled; I had looked forward to going home and relaxing, listening to the radio shows with my wiener dog Bangkok. I went to the door and yelled "Who is it?"

"There's a lotta money behind this door if you're interested in my case," a muffled man's voice answered.

I was hesitant. Ever since I upset the three biggest gangsters in town with the case of the Cheatin' Rat a few months ago, I was on my toes, always on the look out for trouble. I grabbed the pistol in my coat pocket just in case.

"I was looking forward to going home and relaxing with my wiener," I said, "this had better be good."

"What?!" yelled the voice on the other side.

"I'm lookin' forward to goin' home with my dog!" I said. "Are ya deaf or sumthin?" I opened the door. There stood a man with slicked back hair, a thin moustache, wearing a dark suit. His hairline was receding more than my bank account. I hoped he was right about the money.

"I assure you, that won't be necessary," he said, looking downward, toward my crotch where I had the gun.

"Well it can get me intro trouble a lot, but I would never want to be without it," I replied. "But I'll put it away for now. Who are you?"

”My name is Michael Hunt,” the man replied. “May I come in? It’s quite moist out here.”

I decided not to let Mike Hunt get too wet so I let him in. I gave the alley a once-over with my paranoid eyes, then shut the door.

”So what’s your story?” I asked as we made it to the main area of my office.

” I am a curator from the Museum of Antiquities,” Mike said. “We were recently supposed to receive a very special item from the Balkans and it never arrived. We are very concerned because it is a very sought-after item. It’s priceless, really, at least to us, but for a successful thief we imagine it could catch quite a bit of cash on the black market.”

”How much cash we talkin’?” I asked as I grabbed a cigarette from my desk drawer. I tried to offer him one but he waved it off.

”About a quarter of a million dollars,” Mike said. I was about to light up, but then I slowly lowered my lighter down.

”That’s some item!” I said. “Tell me… Mr. Hunt… what is it anyway?”

”It is a small, pure emerald statue of a rooster,” Mike said, “more commonly referred to as the Emerald Cock. I’ve seen only black and white photographs of it but I have been told that in person it is quite a brilliant green, a real exquisite piece.”

”Green seems to be an appropriate color,” I said. “So you need me to find your cock?”

”Yes, and we can pay you a very fair price for your services,” he said, “money is practically a non-issue here. We just want the Emerald Cock in the museum in time for a very important show. Not only would it be terrible for us to never get it in but it would be a tragedy for the world of antiquities altogether if such a beautiful artifact was in the hands of some devious thief.”

”Thanks, but you had me at ‘we can pay you a very fair price,’” I said. “Give me as much information as you can. Like where exactly and when exactly your cock was coming. And what ship it was on. Give me what the captain ate for breakfast that day if you can.” I grabbed my notebook and a pen. “And of course don’t leave out anybody you might be suspecting, even some guesses you think might be a stretch.”

He told me that the Emerald Cock was supposed to arrive on a ship called the Shooting Seamen the previous week. In charge was Captain Richard Smoker. He was a popular fellow with quite a large stature, the reason why he was affectionately referred to as “Big Dick” by his shipmates. The ship docked at Pier 69 at 4:20PM four days before. Hunt said that his package was quite small so it was possible that it was overlooked. I decided to try to track down the ship and its captain the next day, as Hunt told me the ship would be back at the docks to drop off another shipment. But before I did so I got paid a visit from a woman.

The dame that came into my office that day, she was mighty fine-looking. She had a curly tussle of chestnut-colored hair surrounding a beautiful pale face, like she was a living porcelain doll. And the gams she had, visible where her skirt ended, went all the way from downtown to uptown. But the hat and coat she wore, both like what I wore, suggested she was no ordinary broad. She was quite a dish, but she definitely meant business.

”What’s your name, sweetie?” I asked.

”Wilma,” she said, “Wilma Dikfit. And please, don’t call me ‘sweetie.’”

At that point I could definitely tell things were going to get interesting.

”Well, what brings you here, Ms. Dikfit?” I asked as I went to my icebox. It was a bit late for lunch, but I was feeling peckish. I wanted a chicken sandwich.

”I am from Dewey Blowham & Howe Mutual, the Museum’s insurance company,” she said. “We work mostly with Mr. Hunt, whom I’ve been told you’ve already met with.”

”Yeah, last night,” I said. “Excuse my manners, would you like a sandwich, too?”

”No thank you,” she said, “I only eat meat at night.”

”Suit yourself,” I said as I began tearing apart my roasted chicken that I’d bought at the market the previous day.

”Mr. Wood,” she said, looking appalled, “do you always choke your chicken like that?”

”Sorry, it’s just that all my sharp knives are at home,” I said. “So why is a representative from Dewey Blowham here?”

”We insured the Emerald Cock,” she said as she took a seat, “so you can see why we’d have a vested interest in the case.”

”Sure,” I said as I slapped my meat into my buns. “So how much was it insured for, if you don’t mind my asking?”

”I do mind, that’s confidential,” she said. “But I can tell you that it’s quite a lot.”

”So you guys obviously aren’t interested in paying out this claim unless you absolutely have to,” I said, “which is what brings you to my office today.”

”I can see why they call you a detective,” Wilma said. “I will be closely monitoring your investigation.”

“So why’s he spending money on me if he insured the Emerald Cock?” I asked. Something wasn’t quite adding up. “Does he just need it for his show that badly? I know it seems to be insured for substantially more than what I’m charging, but it’s still a lotta scratch to lose if you don’t hafta.”

”We have required that he seek assistance from a P.I. after the local authorities have failed to help,” she said as she pulled a shiny, ornate little cigarette box out of her purse and retrieved one from it.

”That’s quite a nice box you have there, Ms. Dikfit,” I said as, now feeling like one myself, I reached in my desk drawer for a smoke, too.

”Thank you, Mr. Wood,” she said, “I kind of like it myself. I like to stick all sorts of things in my box but it works best for these.” As she lit hers I lit mine.

”Please, call me Max,” I said. I tried smiling at her but the gesture wasn’t returned. And here I’d thought that the moment where we were smoking together was almost leading to some well-needed warmth in the conversation. I guess not.

”So the museum’s policy requires private investigative help?” I said after a drag. “Are all your policies the same?”

”It’s only required for high profile accounts like the museum’s,” Wilma replied. “Now, we need to go find Mr. Hunt and have a meeting with him, the three of us.”

”Are you gonna be with me here for my every move?” I asked. The last thing I wanted was some broad following me everywhere, scrutinizing my every move, as if she was my boss or something.

”I will be closely following the investigation,” she said. Then she got a little doe-eyed. “You don’t mind too terribly do you?”

Now, I am a tough man, a hard-nosed investigator, but when damsels give me the old doe eyes, I just cannot resist them, especially when they’re as pretty as this one was.

”All right,” I sighed, “but going to talk to him again was not number one on my to-do list today. I was gonna head down to the docks first, rustle up some information.”

”Don’t you want to see Mike Hunt?” Wilma asked. “I really think that it is imperative that you do.”

”I do wanna see him,” I said, “but I want to see a Big Dick first.”

”Ah, the captain,” Wilma said, “but he can wait.”

”Listen, lady,” I said, getting annoyed, “this is my case and I’m calling the shots here.”

”Oh come on, Mr. Wood,” she said, getting a little forceful, “it’s just a short meeting. I know where he usually haunts this time of day. We’ll head straight there. Just a twenty minute talk is all I want, between the three of us.”

I caved in. “All right. But I want to go get Bangkok, my wiener dog; he’s almost like a partner to me.”

”Do you want to go grab your wiener before I show you Mike Hunt?” she asked. “I don’t think pets are allowed in the tavern where we’re going.”

”Then maybe I’ll grab him afterwards,” I said, shrugging.

When we headed for my Studebaker, I saw that my left rear tire was cut and flat. “Dangit!” I said. It was nothing new to me; you make as many enemies as I’ve made and you get used to it. But it still annoys the heck out of me. Us Woods, we prefer to be uncut, especially our tires.

”Mr. Wood, your spare is cut, too!” Wilma said, pointing at it, still hanging on the back but slashed as well.

”That’s all right,” I said. “As often as this happens to me, I’ve learned a few tricks.”

Inside my car was a spare-spare tire hidden under the backseat floorboard. It took a while to put the new tire on, but as soon as we did I washed up and we left. It only turned out to be a minor inconvenience but I had the feeling that it wasn’t a random attempt to trip me up; it was probably somebody who really didn’t want me solving this case.

The tavern she took me to, Harry Beaver’s, I’d frequented before. Harry had been an acquaintance of mine for quite some time. But it was not my favorite place in that side of town; they had a good Happy Hour on Wednesdays, though. But unfortunately that day was Tuesday. It was Mike’s favorite place, though, if Wilma was so sure he was there. And he was.

”Has anybody seen Mike Hunt?” Wilma shouted when we entered the tavern. All the men in the place looked over at us, still in the doorway.

The bartender looked like something clicked inside his head, he nodded, then he said: “Ah, he’s over there, in the back left corner.”

Hunt was back at a table, just where the barkeep had said he’d be, nursing a bottle of lager. We strolled back to where he was seated. He seemed a little surprised to see us at first, but he then graciously gestured to the chairs across from him as we approached.

”Hello, Max,” he said, “and, uh, what brings you here, Ms. Dikfit?”

”I am accompanying Mr. Wood here to monitor the investigation,” she said. She stared at him, almost boring into his soul. It seemed to make him nervous.

”Oh, yes, of course,” he said, managing a smile. “By all means. I’m sure you’d like to see me find it as much as I would. I’d, uh, like to see him in action myself; I hear he’s quite good. Which is why I hired him.”

I noticed a black mark on his left hand. I asked him about it.

”Oh, that?” he said. “Oh, um, we were handling a rather large piece that was, um, rendered mostly with charcoal. I’m afraid quite a bit of it had gotten on me and I didn’t get it all when I cleaned up.”

”Next time be more thorough, I guess,” I said. I would have figured that a guy like that would have been, but I shrugged, it didn’t matter.

The conversation was pretty boring from then on out. There was discussion about the insurance policy – all that could be discussed in front of me that is – and the particulars of the case which we all already knew. But it seemed kind of pointless to me, but maybe that was the point. I think Wilma was also purposely trying to make him nervous, being more domineering that I’d ever seen a dame be to a man. It actually excited me a little; strangely, she seemed more attractive to me than before. But why was she doing it? Maybe she thought there was some funny stuff going on with the claim. I decided to keep that in mind. But I determined to actually start trying to solve the case at the docks.

”Seems like a good guy,” I said as we were leaving. “Seemed a bit dodgy, though.”

”Oh Mike Hunt is very well liked, has been all around town and has been seen by most of the important men – and women – in Bone City,” Wilma said. “He has taken on many big bones, by the way.”

For those who don’t know, our city is named Bone City because of all the dinosaur bones found in various digs in and around the city in the late 19th century. I guess that’s why she mentioned it at that moment. We had a brief conversation about it as we got into my car and headed for my place.

”Would you like me to grab your wiener?” Wilma asked me when we pulled up to my house.

”No, he doesn’t do well with strangers until he gets to know them,” I said, “but thanks for the offer.”

”No, I insist, I’m very good with dogs,” Wilma said. I knew then that saving me the trouble me of getting my dog wasn’t the only reason she wanted to get into my house alone. She obviously wanted to get more information about me, maybe by looking at my mail or furniture. I must have been as much of an enigma to her as she was to me. Maybe I was to her what Wilma Dikfit was to me: a big question that needed answering.

So of course she appeared frustrated when I ultimately went in and got Bangkok myself.

At the docks, we arrived there just as the Shooting Seamen was unloading its contents. I knew it wouldn’t be long after that before it pulled out. First we looked at the cargo area. After we split up and looked around some, Wilma brought an empty box to me.

”That’s a nice box you have there,” I said, half-smiling.

”It’s the box the cock was in,” she said. “I can’t see any useful clues.”

”Your box looks kinda small there,” I said, “looks like it’d be a tight fit for that cock.”

”Oh, the cock is smaller than you think,” Wilma said.

I sighed. “Let’s go talk to the captain. I can’t find any clues here, either.” So we headed for the bridge.

”Oh, I remember that,” said Captain Smoker when I asked him about the Emerald Cock. “It was real nice. Green, I think.”

”Uh, that would be why it’s called the ‘Emerald’ cock,” Wilma said.

”What?” said the Captain. I guess he didn’t know that ‘emerald’ meant ‘green.’

”Listen,” I said quickly, not wanting to school the Captain and waste my time, “I need to know if anything unusual has happened around here, with regards to the item in any way.”

”Hmm,” the Captain said, stroking his chin thoughtfully, “no… nothing that I can think of.”

”Think harder,” Wilma pushed. And he did. It looked like his thinking got harder and harder the more he stroked. “Are you sure there isn’t anything?”

”Well, there was this fellow…”

AH-HA! We both leaned in closer. “Yes..?” I said.

”Well, we hired him about a week before the shipment,” Captain Smoker said, “and he only stuck around a few days after it. He just stopped showing up. He was a bit unusual. He had a longish thin nose. Cold blue eyes. And he liked to mix things. Like whenever we were in the mess hall…”

”No need to say anything more!” I exclaimed. I knew exactly who he was talking about!

”You think that guy had anything to do with it?” Smoker asked.

”I know he did,” I said. “He’s a known gangster in these parts, known only by his nickname: Sir Mixes-A-Lot.”

”So, this Mixes guy, he cause a lot of trouble ‘round here?” Wilma asked me as we walked down the docks away from the ship. There was concern in her beautiful eyes; I don’t think she’d have bet on dealing with a hard core gangster. For the first time she lost that cold, authoritative look and appeared a little scared. I think that’s when I started to have feelings for that dame, after seeing a glimpse of her humanity, that frailty we all have despite how we often try to deny it’s there.

”Yeah, he does,” I said quietly. “But don’t worry, dollface. I know how to handle these guys.”

I vaguely noticed some yelling in the background. I looked back at the ship to see some crew members messing with a broken rope for their anchor. They were trying to thread a new one through the hoop and it was too high for them to reach. They attempted to toss the rope into it but failed.

I turned back to Wilma. She said: “Are you sure?”

”Sure as I’ll ever be,” I said.

”We need to add some weight to the rope!” I heard a crewman yell. We were both distracted briefly by it but turned our attention back to each other.

”I would like you to tell me everything you know about him,” Wilma said.

”Sure,” I said.

”How about we go get some coffee?” Wilma asked.

Then another crewman yelled “We need something that’ll fit in the hole!”

I looked into her eyes. I could feel a bit of passion beginning to smolder between us. “Wilma Dikfit!” I yelled, a bit louder than I’d planned on. I looked behind me. The crewman looked puzzled. Then I cleared my throat and sheepishly restarted my sentence. “Wilma Dikfit, it’s a date.”

I decided to take Wilma to this all night joint called Hot, Steamy & Creamy, my favorite diner in the area. Not only did they always have a great cup of Joe but the waitresses were always friendly and serviced you with great pleasure. Plus they had the best cakes and muffins that I’ve ever tasted.

I told her that Mixes-A-Lot, more often referred to as just “Mix,” was a really bad guy, known to associate with the thugs that I’d run into in my last case. And he was bad-looking, too, with a large forehead, large square jaw, and a bushy unibrow. He had started out as a can opener working for them and worked his way up from there. But now he had his own splinter criminal enterprise and for the most part operated by himself with his own goons. And he loved to mix: drinks, recipes, tenses (like past, present, future), and even pancake batter. He loved to cook anything most where he got to use a mixer. And of course his favorite type of social gathering was a Mixer. But there was one thing he didn’t want to ever mix: me and anything he was up to.

”Wouldn’t that be two things?” Wilma asked before taking a sip of her steaming coffee.

”I guess,” I said, shrugging. “You’re a pretty smart broad.”

”I did get a degree in business administration,” Wilma said as she lit a cigarette.

”You went to college?” I said. Wow, a dame with a degree. I hardly ever ran into one of those. More and more I was realizing that this one was special.

”First one in my family to do so,” she said. “So what about you? You got a family?”

”Just me and my wiener,” I said. “It’s tough to beat that. Sure it gets lonely sometimes but I like the freedom.”

”I figured no wife or kids,” she said, “but what about parents? Brothers? Sisters?”

”My father was killed in The Great War,” I said, “and I have no siblings and my mother lives by herself with her cats uptown. I bring her some groceries every week.”

”That’s sweet,” she said. “Too bad about your dad, though.”

”Didn’t see him much anyways,” I said. “And after he was shot down the government made sure my mom and I was pretty well fixed. But let’s get back to Mixer. Are you sure you want to go with me? He’s mighty dangerous, especially considering his hate for me.”

”Well, got a spare gun I can use?” she asked.

I was surprised. “You can handle a piece?” I said. “Have you ever even shot a gun?”

”I’ve been down to the shooting range a few times,” she said.

”So you’ve never plugged somebody?” I asked.

”Oh, no, Max!” she said, almost looking offended. “The only thing I’ve ever drilled are targets. And tin cans, shooting with my father out on our family’s ranch. Those were some of my favorite times as a child.”

I didn’t say it, but I figured she was a classic Daddy’s Little Girl. She had achieved so much, done what so few women I’d known had done, probably doing it all to please her father. She probably became a pretty good shot, wanting to hit those cans, please her father then as she does now. I’m no headshrink, but doing this as long as I have, you get a certain intuition about people.

But as much as the idea of a woman with a gat excited me, I didn’t want to endanger her life. As much as I tried to deny it to myself at the time, I was getting quite dizzy with that dame.

After we bumped gums a while longer, we left to go find Mixes-A-Lot. On our way Wilma made a call in a phone booth to report the progress to her bosses. When we arrived at Mixes-A-Lot’s warehouse, I decided to have her stay behind in the car while I went in to confront him and watch for anybody else coming in. I told her to send my dog in to warn me if anybody did. I certainly didn’t want anybody to get the drop on me. She reluctantly agreed.

I was able to sucker a couple of brunos near the entrance into leaving their post by throwing a rock down the alley so they’d go check it out. Once inside I located the main office. There he was, standing outside of it with a worker, quite a looker except for her oversized rump.

”Freeze!” I said as I came from behind some boxes, training my bean-shooter at them. “I’m here investigating a high profile theft and I have reason to suspect you, Mixer! And by the way, what’re you doing with a broad with a backside like that? You usually go for the petites.”

I like big butts, I cannot lie,” Sir Mixes-A-Lot said, shrugging. “And if I were you I’d scram before you ended up in a Chicago Overcoat. You had a lot of nerve barging in here like that on my perfectly legitimate operation here.”

”The day you’re doing anything legitimate is the day that Rikers lets everybody on account ‘a good behavior!” I exclaimed. “Now tell me what you know about the Emerald Cock. I have somebody who’s very interested in getting it back.”

”Who?” Sir-Mixes Lot asked. “Hunt?” I nodded. “Then why’d he have me stealing it?!”

”What?!” I said.

”Yeah, I don’t mind tellin’ ya,” he said, “my cut wasn’t very substantial. Besides, I was gonna double cross him anyways, sell it myself. I can’t believe the sucker actually thought I’d gave it back later.”

”I don’t believe you!” I said. “If he wanted the Emerald Cock so bad, why’d he have a thug like you steal it?”

”For the insurance money!” Mixes said. “The cock gets pulled, and once it’s missing long enough the museum gets the insurance money for it, he embezzled the entire million bucks, and gives me a cut of forty percent. That was his hair-brained scam anyway. Me, I’m gonna take my cut of that, and then turned around and sell it on the black market and make a ton more anyway. And I’d love to see you even try to stop me, you low-life gumshoe!”

”A million dollars?!” I said. “He told me it was only worth a half-a-million! It was insured for a million?!”

”Yeah,” said Mixes, “hmm, maybe this guy wasn’t as dumb as I’d thought. Maybe smarter than you.”

Just then I heard footsteps behind me. I turned to see several of his men with their guns drawn. I looked left, right, all round, trying to find some way out of the fix. Then I saw it. Several pallets of boxes were suspended in a net held by a crane above them. I shot and snapped the rope holding the net together and the boxes fell on them, knocking them all out. Then I turned, narrowly dodging a bullet fired from Sir Mixes-A-Lot’s gun, and I fired on him. I shot his hand and his gun went flying somewhere.

”NO!” Mixes yelled, holding his hand in pain. “He’s going to got away again!”

I noticed something green and shiny in one of the smashed boxes. I couldn’t believe my dumb luck! I tore the rest of the box apart to reveal a small, beautiful green statue of a rooster. It was the Emerald Cock!

I grabbed it and made for the door as he ran to try to grab his gun again. I made it outside and to my car before he could find it.

”You have it!” Wilma yelled as I got in. “You have the Emerald Cock!” Bangkok barked, apparently excited about it, too.

”I also have some very interesting information,” I said. “I’ll tell ya as we get the heck out of here!”

I sped off as quickly as I could, squealing my tires as I did so.

Insurance fraud!” yelled Wilma when I told her. “See, this is exactly one of the reasons we have them hire P.I.’s and that we accompany them on the case. Not only was he trying to file a false claim, he was responsible for its own theft and had it insured for more than it was worth!”

”Well when we get to his office at the museum we’re gonna make sure he’s not defraudin’ anymore!” I said as I gripped the cock tightly. “But first we need to stop off at a payphone; I have a call to make.” I had a suspicion that I still didn’t have the whole story for a couple of reasons. I pulled over at a pay phone to made a quick call.

”May I see the cock?” Wilma said as I opened my door, trying to reach for it.

”No, I think I’m gonna hold onto it a little longer,” I said, “it’s my case!”

I got out, made my call, and got back in.

I barged into Michael’s office when we got to the museum, gun pulled, Wilma tailin’ me. He was so surprised he literally dropped what he had been doing. He was putting wads of cash into a suitcase and he dropped some of it. Somehow he must have already gotten the claim money!

.

”So you were scammin’ the insurance company?” I said, half-grinning at him. “Thought you could get away with it, didn’t you?”

”M-M-Mr. Wood,” he stammered, “why, I, uh, I d-don’t know what you’re—“

”Don’t bother!” I said. “I’ve talked to Mixes. I got the story! Now, hands in the air! I’m takin’ you in!”

”You didn’t get the whole story,” I heard Wilma say behind me. Then I hard the unmistakable CLICK of a gun being cocked. I swiveled around. She was holding the gun on me that I’d given her earlier. “Hand me the Emerald Cock.” She held out her free hand.

”He got it?!” Michael said like a kid on Christmas morning who’d discovered one more present that he hadn’t expected. “He has the cock?!”

”Yes, and now I’m going to have it,” Wilma said. I handed her my cock and she quickly grabbed it.

”But, Wilma,” I said, “are you sure you want to do this? I thought… I thought you and I…”

Wilma flinched a little. Some emotion swept over her face. “There was never going to be a… You and I.” She swallowed. I could tell that she actually had developed feelings for me. “Turns out you’re not as smart as you think. He couldn’t have fooled me by giving me the wrong value for the artifact. We work with appraisers! Apparently you don’t know much about the insurance business. I personally made sure that it was insured for double its worth.”

”You were both in on it!” I said. “And I’ll bet you were the one, Hunt, who tried to slash my tires, hamper the investigation! I knew that black mark on your hand looked too greasy to be from charcoal!”

”Yes, and yes, and now we have a chartered plane to catch, headed for Mexico!” Michael said. “Good thing you were able to get the money wired quickly, dear!”

”Actually, just I have a plane to catch,” Wilma said. “I’m taking the money AND the cock!” She, with her gun, motioned for me to drop mine. I did. Then she had us both raise hour hands and step away from the money.

”You’re making a big mistake, Wilma Dikfit,” I said. “You’re letting your greed get the better of you. Somewhere in there is that little girl, shooting cans with her daddy. He wouldn’t be pleased about this.”

”SHUT UP!” she shouted. Apparently I’d touched a nerve.

”I don’t believe it!” Michael said. “You… you… double crossing hussy! You’re taking it ALL!”

”She’s not taking anything!” yelled a voice at the door. Everybody turned to look. There was Officer Wagner and a group of cops, guns drawn.

”No!” Wilma yelled. She turned to me. “You called them didn’t you?!”

”I know the insurance business better than you thought I did,” I said. “I investigate insurance fraud quite a bit, actually. I knew the only way Hunt could get that cock insured for more than what it’s worth is if he had an inside connection. You being his agent, that was the logical conclusion. The phone call I made was to the police, just in case I turned out to be right. I was still a little surprised. Maybe it was hope, hope that I was wrong, hope that there was still some room in this situation for you and me to be something.”

”I was thinking about letting you have a seat on that plane, Max… maybe letting you sit in Mike Hunt’s spot,” Wilma said, “just think about it, you and me, and all that money…”

”Sorry, sweetie, I’m always on the straight and narrow and always will be,” I said. “This side of the law is where I prefer it. I would like to ask you a question, though. Why involve me at all in the first place?”

"It really is a policy of my company to require P.I.'s," Wilma answered, "we had to do everything by the book to ward off suspicion. Now I wish we hadn't!" There was genuine hurting in her eyes as she said that.

”Drop the gun and the cock!” Officer Wagner ordered her. She let the gun thump to the floor but she wouldn’t let go of the cock. When Wagner moved in to take it, she tossed it into the air. Everybody gasped and held their breaths. Just then Bangkok came rushing in. In mid-air my wiener grabbed the cock. Hunt seemed the most relieved.

”Thank god!” he said. “It has so much history!”

Then one of Wagner’s officers grabbed Wilma, turned her around, and started putting cuffs on her. Two other guys swarmed in and grabbed Hunt.

After they left Wagner retrieved the Emerald Cock from my dog. “Good boy!” he yelled. “The Museum will be happy to have this, and the peace of mind in knowing that their crooked director is going to the slammer. He seemed happy that it wasn’t destroyed. If he truly still cared about it, why put the artifact in any danger?”

”The simple answer is greed,” I said, “it’s like a cancer. It can infect anybody. Just ask Wilma Dikfit. I believe that she’s just a good person who just got caught up in greed.”

”May-be,” Wagner said. “You know, we don’t always see eye-to-eye, Wood, always gettin’ into our business, but this time I gotta hand it to ya, ya did a good job, gumshoe.”

”Maybe if I’d done a better job and solved it sooner I could have convinced Wilma to do the right thing,” I said. I sighed. “Come on, Bangkok, let’s go.”

Later that night, while taking my wiener out, we strolled by a jewelry store. It was closed, but there in the display window was something that I was going to buy for Wilma if things had worked out differently.

”Bangkok, I was thinking about buying that pearl necklace for Wilma,” I said. “I would have loved to have given her one. Oh well. Maybe the next time, maybe the next Wilma. Come on, boy.”

So I walked my dog down the lonely street, wondering where my next case, and next adventure, might take me. A Private Dick’s life is a lonely one sometimes, but it’s the life I’ve chosen. At least I’ve got my wiener. And sometimes, that’s all a guy needs in this crazy world.

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