It was a quiet morning at the Bear With Us Detective Agency. Wolfie and
I were enjoying lemon cannoli from the Hungry Bear Donut Factory. We had
root beers from the Thirsty Dragon Root Beer Factory and were reading
the latest stories from two of our favorite sources, the National
Inquisitor, and the El Bruno Gazette.
“Here’s one from the El Bruno fish wrapper,” Wolfie said.
“Pervert Seized While Terrorizing Town.”
“Shocking,” I said. “Read on.”
“Wee Willie Winkie ran through the town, upstairs and downstairs in
his nightgown, rapping at the windows, crying through the lock and
asking if kids were in bed because it was eight o’clock.”
“You sure it’s Winkie and not Wilkin? The cop story in the
Inquisitor says that Willy Wilkin kissed the maids a milking and with
his merry daffing he set them all a laughing.”
“What’s that mean?” Wolfie asked. “He’s got a merry daffing?
What’s it do, tell jokes? Who writes this garbage?”
“Wow, look at this.” I turned the front page of the Inquisitor
toward Wolfie. The headline screamed, “International Serial Killer
Suspects at Large, Hundreds of Victims.”
“Read that one to me,” Wolfie said.
I read it:
Surete Internationale Director Jacques Clouseau announced a world-wide
manhunt for three suspects. Clouseau alleges the three were behind
hundreds of murders in Europe and the United States. Authorities are
searching for Jessica Fletcher of Cabot Cove, Maine, Jane Marple of St.
Mary Mead, England, and Hercule Poirot of Belgium.
“These are people who wrote the book on murders and then went and
pulled them off,” Clouseau said. “They were clever as minkies in
every case, pretending to solve each case, while skillfully blaming
innocent people for their dastardly crimes. Fletcher alone is
responsible for over 260 deaths. Some of her victims received a bimp on
the head by a blunt object. Her series ‘Murder, She Wrote’ should be
retitled ‘Murder, She Wrought.’ Marple and Poirot are cut out of the
same ugly cloth, posing as innocents while doing their dastardly
“Wow,” Wolfie said.
“Could be something to that,” I said. “Think about it. Every time
one of them showed up somewhere, some poor bugger died.”
We sipped our root beers and crunched another cannoli.
“Here’s one about that local gang of toughs, the Simple Simons,”
Wolfie said. “Seems they met a pie man heading to the fair. One of the
toughs says to the guy, ‘we want to taste your ware.’ The pie man
ain’t no fool. He says, ‘show me the money.’ The toughs say, ‘we
ain’t got any.’ They’re about to grab the goods when Mr. Pie Man
introduces the boys to Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson. Couple Simple Simons
won’t be tasting pie unless they’re serving it in the after-life. El
Bruno’s finest showed up after the gunplay and got the pie man for
carrying without a permit.”
I was about to read another story when Beartina walked in from our outer
“You wouldn’t believe the two foul balls that want to see you
two,” she said. “Couple old dudes who still think they got it.
Can’t find their young wives. A blowhard and a dummy.”
“Just our types,” Wolfie said. “Send them in.”
They came in. I motioned for them to sit down in the chairs in front of
“I’m Bearstone Blackie and that’s my partner Wolfram T. Wolf over
on our designer Naugahyde sofa.”
“Call me Ralph,” the fat guy said. He wore a jacket that said Gotham
Bus Company in lettering above the front pocket.
The thin guy wore an open vest, a white tee shirt and a pork pie hat.
“Norton,” the thin guy said. “Or call me Ed. Just don’t call me
late to dinner.”
He laughed and slapped Ralph on the arm. Ralph frowned at Norton.
“We’re out here from New York on our honeymoon,” Ralph said.
“Congratulations,” I said. “You two look like you’re made for
“No, not us,” Ralph said. “I mean it’s us, but not to each
other, couple of good looking women. We came here to see some of your
sights, like the ketchup factory and the Hungry Bear Donut Factory.”
“Worth the trip in itself,” I said.
“I should give you a retainer,” Ralph said. “Would three thousand
be about right?”
I nodded, biting my lip to keep from smiling.
He counted out 30 Ben Franklins and slid them toward me.
“We, uh, got a little problem,” Ralph said. “We’re married to a
couple of real lookers and, well, we gave the girls enough dough to
choke a couple horses so they could go shopping. Well, they haven’t
He wiped sweat off his brow.
“How long they been gone?” Wolfie asked.
“Uh, it’s the third day,” Norton said. “Sheesh, they must be
having a great time, eh Ralphie Boy?”
Ralphie Boy rolled his eyes.
“How much money did you give them?” I asked.
“Fifty thousand each,” Norton said. “They needed it to buy some
clothes. They’re new to this country and we’re loaded, so why
“That’s right,” Ralphie Boy said. “We made big money later in
life and now we want to enjoy it. My first wife, Alice. What a turkey.
She said I’d never get anywhere driving a bus.”
“Hey you got to Manhattan and Brooklyn,” Norton said. You even got
to Rikers after you popped her one.”
“Yeah, I kept warning her,” Ralph said. “Finally did it. Pow,
right in the kisser.”
“And she hit him right back, broke his nose.” Norton laughed and
slapped the desk.
“Never mind that,” Ralph said. “Your marriage to Trixie was no
“He’s right,” Norton said. “Trixie, my first old lady. Same
thing. She kept harping, ‘You know a lot about the sewers and water
treatment plants, but what good will that do you, Ed?’ Hah, that’s
exactly how Ralph and I struck it rich. I’m glad she divorced me.”
Wolfie covered a laugh and shook his head at the two characters.
“So you struck it rich driving a bus and knowing about sewers and
underground water pipes in New York?” I asked.
Ralph looked over at Norton and winked.
“Should we tell him, Pal o’ mine?”
“Why not? We’re rollin’ in it, Ralph. We don’t need to work
another day in our lives.”
“Okay,” Ralph leaned forward and leaned on the desk.
“We ran into a guy who needed help educating engineering students
about how a complicated city like New York works with all its electric,
sewers, water and gas lines. Well, we knew a lot of that. Norton had the
info and I had the bus. So we’d take these students on a tour of all
the facilities that keep New York working.”
“Yeah,” Norton said. “This guy who ran the program had a big grant
and he said he’d give us each a couple million to take these minority
college kids from Middle-Eastern States on our tours. You know a lot of
people from Delaware and Maryland don’t know New York. Hell, these
kids could barely understand English. So, that’s what we did. That’s
how we can afford our new Russian wives.”
“Russian wives?” I asked.
“We just came back from Moscow a week ago,” Ralph said. “They got
hundreds of women over there dying to meet rich American men.”
“The Kalashnikov sisters,” Norton said. “Va va va voom. I told
Ralph, hey, I’ll take the redhead or the blonde. Either way.”
“Yeah,” Ralph said. “That’s what he said, but I’m the brains
between the two of us. I knew that he knew that I knew that he wanted
the redhead. So, I said to him, go ahead and take her. If it don’t
work out, we’ll get you one that does.”
He and Norton started laughing. Ralph broke into a coughing fit.
“Too many Havanas,” Ralph said.
Wolfie stared at me and shook his head.
“So, Ralph,” I said. “You been to the cops with this problem of
“No, we haven’t.” He looked down at the floor and then up at me.
“You start telling the cops about handing out fifty thousand dollars
to your Russian wives and they think you’re peddling drugs or weapons.
All we did was run a tour bus for engineering students.”
“Yeah, all we got left to do is deliver their luggage to the airport
in our bus,” Norton said. “Don’t even have to unload it. Just
leave the bus in the departure drop-off lane and grab a cab. Hit a call
button on a cell phone to tell them where we left it. Pretty snazzy
I told them to wait out in the front office while Wolfie and I talked
over their case. Wolfie grabbed one of the chairs and slid it close to
“I hope you got Homeland Security on speed dial,” he said.
The FBI agents who arrived minutes after our call were happy to be
involved in a slam-dunk case that could lead to busting up a terrorist
“I’ve been going nuts looking at emails,” Agent Magda Prickly
said. “This case is great. I don’t think these guys even know what
Out in the front office, I could hear Prickly’s partner, Agent Andover
Stickly interviewing Ralphie Boy and Norton. The three sat around a
table that held a recorder.
“What do you think you were involved in?” Stickly asked.
“Just helping engineering students and their teacher,” Norton said.
“Mr. Kiter. Think his first name was Al? Right Ralph? We were working
for Al Kiter. Right Ralph?”
Ralph’s eyes bulged out as he tried to stand and catch his breath.
All he could manage before fainting was, “Homina, homina, homina.”
Excerpted from "Bearstone Blackie, Detective" by Ray Pace. Copyright © 2017 by Ray Pace. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.