The Case of the Missing Native American
My uncle is a full blooded, ‘no anemia’, Indian from Rhode Island. He hates to he teased about his braids and he doesn’t like being called a Rhode Island Red.
We feathers wanted to ride up front with the sharp tip but we got the shaft.
The Case of the Missing Native American
Set em up McRonald
Inspector pulled the Modus Operandi automobile onto the brick driveway. He pulled it to the garage door and paused to catch his breath. It’s cheaper than gasoline, but still hard work pulling the car everywhere.
He pressed the garage door remote control. The door smashed onto the hood of his new Modus Operandi. The long yellow hood reflected hundreds of black dents where the door had smashed into the car.
He pulled the car back, pushed the garage door up, and pulled the car on into the garage. He buttoned the remote control again and the door slammed down on the trunk of the, otherwise, pristine auto car. He pulled the car completely into the garage and closed the door.
This always leaves him dejectedly shaking his head. It happens so often that his neck stiffens up. Dr. Mal injects 100 cc’s of Crisco and PAM directly into his Multifidi and Rotatores, (look em up), and the rigid soreness leaves.
One May the stiffness moved to a Miami Beach Bagel Bakery. A hungry New Jersey transplanted mother-in-law discovered the stiffness when she chipped her tooth on an impliable bagel. The fire department ran the hard muscle spasm out of Dade County with hoses full of diluted Ben-Gay spray.
Insp. Inspector entered into his living room. It was exactly as he had left it this morning with the exception of a small fire under the birdcage. He scanned the room for a fire extinguisher. He didn’t own a fire extinguisher but he was hoping someone had broken into his house and left behind a fire extinguisher.
The caged bird was beyond panic and Chirpy vomited onto Sunday’s classifieds. The fire licked the cage bottom. Burning bird barf gas shot up Inspector’s nose and he threw up too. He grabbed the Flavor-Aid breakfast pitcher and doused the flames.
His house certainly did need cleaning. The breakfast mustard jar was still sitting on the mosaic tile craft set kitchen tile counter.
It was time for drink. He took down a Ronald McDonald’s Collect Em All Series from the 1970’s glass. He mixed a drink that had been passed down through Inspector generations. It had also been passed up and onto the carpet many times by previous generations who drank too much.
The family recipe: Start with a relatively clean Ronald McDonald Glass. Pour Apricot Brandy up to Ronald McDonald’s feet. Fill to Ronald’s groin with Whiskey. Wait 10 seconds for sensation to return to the little clown’s crotch. Fill to Ronald’s right hand with pineapple juice. Pour ginger ale to Ronald’s eyes. Drop in 4 ice cubes. Clean counter because drink always overflows glass.
He drank the mixture neatly and quickly. Normally it’s impossible to use two adverbs at the same time, (neatly and quickly), but he used two straws.
He remembered the first time he had used drink straws. He was in a bar in Morocco or Monaco or Macon; he couldn’t remember which. Someone in the bar yelled, “Bottoms Up’.
Inspector turned his Singapore Sling upside down, the straws still in the drink. “I meant to do that” didn’t translate well and he left when no one would stop laughing.
He finished the drink and started to clean the living room. He cleaned everything except the television. He had a long running joke with his friends. Whenever they would ask, “What’s on TV tonight?” He grinned, “Looks like dust to me.”
Friends finally quit bothering so he dusted his TV and placed a Tupperware bowl of fish heads on the photographed wood-grained laminated plastic top. Next time a friend would drop by and say, “What’s on the old TV tonight? It looks like dust to me.”
He would chuckle and answer, “No. It looks more like a bowl of fish heads to me.” Inspector placed a fresh bowl of fish heads on the TV and closed the curtains. He noticed the setting sun shooting brightly colored lights into a darkening azure sky. This bothered his eye and he closed the curtain.
Far off in the West, 6 little Nissan trucks switched off their brightly colored searchlights. They drove off in 6 different directions after another successful franchise grand opening for Bill’s Bar and Grill and Grill and Bar and Laundromat. Bill is proud of his signature combination jukebox clothes dryer.
Inspector sat at his desk and considered the $3,000 check. A wildlife scene was imprinted on a pale blue background. The scene was from the Checkbook series “Preservation of the Dwindling species”. Two moose in the act of deep-woods romance were busy trying to keep from dwindling.
The check was the initial retainer that she had given him. “She” was Brenda Gidgett, lovely heir to the Gidgett estate. A fortune amassed in the early 60’s from popcorn concessions in movie theatres. The “Hot-With-Stuff-That-Faintly-Resembles-Butter” division alone had assets of over 3 billion dollars.
Brenda Gidgett had interviewed Inspector last night. She had cried out her story. The case was “The Case of the Missing INJUN”, cross-referenced under “Tune-ups. $9.95 Includes Parts.”
Brenda said her uncle was missing. He was CEO of the Gidgett holdings and an American Indian. She was worried. He could be hurt.
Inspector consoled her, “You really shouldn’t worry about your uncle. We don’t shoot Indians any more.”
Brenda sobbed, “I can pay you whatever you want. I’m very rich, you know, from the Pop Corn Company.” She lived and breathed popcorn. “Butter’s in my blood.”
Brenda pressed on through tears and Inspector’s handkerchief. Brenda was right about one thing. Butter WAS in her blood. It was also in her tears. He held a piece of hot toast under her eyes as she finished her story.
Brenda said, “My uncle is a full blooded, ‘no anemia’, Indian from Rhode Island. He hates to he teased about his braids and he doesn’t like being called a Rhode Island Red.
Chief Sitting Quietly was the name given him when he arrived at the Cherokee General Obstetric Wig Wam. It’s curious how the old Indians knew what the sex would be. They’d listen to the mother’s labor sounds. If the mother was silent and bore the pain stoically, then the baby would be male, ‘Brave’, a fine young, bouncing Brave.
If the mother screamed at the slightest pain, then the baby would be female, ‘Squawked’ or ‘Squaw’.”
“So they knew your uncle was going to be a boy, even before he was born?”
“Well no,” said Brenda. “Not in his case. His mother passed out in labor. Some of the Elders went out on a limb and said it would at least be an Indian. It took seven arrows to bring down those old Indians off that limb.”
Brenda continued, “Chief Quietly would sit quietly for hours shaping arrows from freshly-cut tree limbs. He opened three branch offices on the reservation.
Uncle Sit used to tell me about their strict code of ethics. The Christian Missionaries first noticed Indians walking the straight and arrow. Of course, these Trading Post Christians, who only traded posts, were also wary and arrow minded themselves.”
“Brenda, if your uncle made arrows for a living, how did he get the money to start a Pop Corn Company?”
Brenda said, “Uncle Sit became a famous Indian in his own rite; the rite consisted of tossing corn ears into the Heap Big Fish River during the full moon. He knew that that corn-laden cobs would make the fish grow ‘Heap Big’. ‘Heap Big’ in Indian culture is roughly equivalent to U.S. Choice, Grade A.
My uncle loved fish. He always ate his fish with a cold glass of vegetable juice. That’s how he got his nickname, the V-8 Injun.”
“So he made his money throwing corn in a river?” asked Inspector.
“Yeah, he was an inventor,” said Brenda. “He made money with his discoveries. His finest invention was hot-buttered popcorn. He conceived it after consuming some popped Maize seeds with cold margarine.
His inventions brought him money and much peace. Uncle loved peace and smoked it whenever he could get a bag.”
Brenda stopped crying and her buttery tears were now just drizzling. Inspector finished his toast, “What else has he developed?”
“He patented the remarkable Native American clothes washing machine. The squaws would have to carry their clothes and skins down to the river. They slapped the apparel on the rough river rocks until their duds were either clean or gone. Uncle Sitting Quietly invented the Teflon-Coated Rock.
When he was still a boy he improved a weapons system. He had once pierced his leg with an arrow while cleaning his bow. His words have been passed down through witnesses at the time. He had to pull the arrow out through the other side of his leg. His exact words were, ‘ISNA POCCA HO NO.’ Translated that means, ‘SNANA, POCO TOTO’ in Sioux.”
“What does it mean in English?” asked Inspector.
“It means, ‘I didn’t know the bow was loaded’. That’s how he came to invent the Bow and Arrow Safety.” Why is it bow and arrow but not gun and bullet?
“His finest creation resulted from manipulating the Buffalo’s diet. He fed them potatoes, spaghetti, white bread, and other starchy foods. Fifteen Buffalo generations later, the Chief had bred the first wrinkle-free, stay-pressed Buffalo hides.”
I Can't Believe it's Not Brenda
I Can't Believe it's Not Brenda
Brenda started to cry again. There was butter all over the carpet. She ended by saying, “My uncle is missing. Please help me find him.”
Inspector said, “Why didn’t you say so. Sure I’ll help you. Would you like to go to bed with me and we’ll start looking for him in the morning?”
Brenda didn’t hide her feelings from Inspector. She stopped crying and started laughing. He noted the reaction. “You don’t have to give me an answer right away.” She was a beautiful Indian princess, very tempting with dairy product dripping down past her loins. He was going to have to play it slow and cool with this buttery maiden. With her, there was going to be no margarine for error.
Brenda was still laughing as she left. He could still hear her laughing as the bus roared away. He wondered why she was taking the bus when she was so wealthy until he realized it was her own bus equipped with a dining room, restroom, and galley.
He was on the case early Friday morning. The last person to see the Indian had been Trader Jack. Trader was the son of Bill and Ilene Jack. The Jacks were from Alaska. They had left Alaska during the Pipe Line days. They were accountants and had come east to strike it Poor, looking for a tax write off which they found right off. The Jacks purchased the Trading Post and had lost money consistently for twenty years.
The Jacks were especially proud when little Trader was born. They were first in the country to take an exemption for being blind, over 65, and having a dependent child.
Trader Jack continued to run the trading post after Bill and Ilene had passed on. Soon he was making a profit. He was glad that his parents had never lived to see it.
Inspector and Trader talked a while. Trader was in a good mood and talked freely. Inspector started to ask him about Chief Sitting Quietly when he noticed a Nun looking at the old pickle barrel.
Inspector said, “There’s a customer over there by the old pickle barrel. Looks likes she’s shoplifting. I thought I saw her palm a pickle in her habit.”
They watched the Nun quiver for a few minutes until a blush floated onto her face. She looked around and slipped the glistening gherkin back into the old pickle barrel.
Trader Jack said, “She always puts the pickle back. She works here.”
“You have a Nun working here?”
“Yes, I bought her contract two years ago. She’s an indentured servant. She still owes me two good years and then she’s free. I guess you could say I’m a Jack of all Trades and a Master of Nun.”
Jack WAS a Jack-of-all-Trades. He often traded jacks with auto parts dealer. He did, however, deny playing Jacks and often would say, “I never play Jacks.”
He couldn’t get past Sixies without using his mouth. If you’re playing Jacks on a dusty floor in the back room of a trading post with little Indian girls, you don’t know where that ball has been.
Trader Jack added, “I saw Chief Sitting Quietly last Thursday morning. He came in and ordered three month’s supply of food. Maybe he’s going up to his cabin in the mountains.
Inspector thanked Trader Jack for his help. “Hmmmm, no clues yet.”
Something was bothering him. Why was there a trading post here in a shopping mall in St. Petersburg, Florida?
Back at his office, he sat polishing his glass eye and pondering the Gidgett case. The Chief had been missing almost 24 hours. It was time to call off the futile search. The phone rang. “They must have turned it back on.”
It was Brenda’s voice. “I’ve found my uncle’s hard-bound diary and there are many words in it. The Inspector mumbled something back into the telephone receiver. He was daydreaming. In his reverie, Brenda’s long butter-slathered legs were draped over the telephone directory. He was direct dialing with both hands and was letting his tongue do the walking. The dial tone brought him back and he hung up the phone.
An hour later Brenda’s bus stopped at the corner. She strode in, diary in hand. She’d been crying again with big yellow cholesterol spots soaking into her full blouse.
Inspector stared at her hungrily. There she was, standing in his living room with her ripe, perfect butter-stained body. His mind wandered back to a much earlier Thanksgiving Day; he was just a little Inspector. As Mom finally slid the self basting Butterball turkey from the hot oven, he experienced an overwhelming pleasant and frightening feeling that started in his tiny Nikes, rose through his knobby knees, and lingered a little too long in his prepubescent groin. The warm tingling sensation took a return trip down his legs and disappeared into his sneakers, leaving them moist and smelling like month-old turkey stuffing.
Later, Inspector would sublimate all these feelings into four sandwiches of smoked, pressed, cooked, slicedTurkey from the vending machine at the Shell station across the street from the bail bondsman. ‘Sub sandwich’ comes from the word ‘Sublimate’, the ability to channel basic need frustrations into the consumption of many foot-long sandwiches.
Brenda said, “There’s a section in this diary I think we should investigate.” She read, “I will be going to my cabin in the mountains Thursday morning. I will be spending three months alone, inventing.”
Inspector took the diary and reread the typed words. “I’ll try to read between the lines and see what I can make of it.”
Fifteen minutes later Inspector said, “Maybe I’ll try reading in between the spaces to see what I get.”
Brenda waited another thirty minutes while Inspector reread the diary. “Well, what did you get?”
“Get in my car. We’re going to the mountains. There are just too many clues pointing toward your uncle’s mountain cabin.”
Driving toward the mountain cabin, Inspector said, “I know the Chief had a hard-bound diary, double spaced typed. Now I realize that he’s staying at his mountain cabin for the next three months. What I don’t know is how he got the hardbound diary into his ancient typewriter?”
Brenda said, “I don’t know. It was bound to be hard.”
“I hope we get there in time,” said Inspector. “His journal said he planned to stay high in the mountains because he had scored some really sweet Peyote, (Apache Gold).
”Brenda sat in the passenger side of the car, as all passengers should. She adjusted the side mirror to check her makeup. She gazed into the mirror as if someone were writing a story and trying to describe her.
She saw her too wide wise Key Lime sea green eyes in the reflection. The eyes were too wise to compensate for her stupid looking nose. Her wide wise eyes noticed her ambivalent mouth. She looked away from the mirror and could no longer be described.
The road to the mountain cabin had once been a long, twisting, winding tongue of asphalt. So many people had complained about the road that the highway patrol had been dispatched. Once they sewed their patches back on, the highway patrol arrived to lash down the long, twisting, winding tongue of asphalt to trees on either side of the highway.
The twisting and winding ceased but the highway still remained long. In the words of highway patrolman, Broad Rick Crawfish. “I believe we finally have the problem of the long, twisting, winding asphalt tongue licked.”
Inspector and Gidgett arrived at the mountain cabin and ran to the cabin door. “Was the Chief inside? Was it too late? Had they arrived in time? Were they too early? Should they come back later? If the Indian Chief was still in the cabin, were they still outside the cabin? What time was it? Wasn’t that a Cherry Laurel down by the lake? Who was asking all these questions?”
“Go away!” shouted the Chief, with a hint of impoliteness in his voice. “I’m inventing.” Peyote smoke curled out from under the cabin door. “Go take a walk and I’ll be out later. There’s an Oak tree down by the lake you might want to see. Many pale faces think it is a Cherry Laurel.”
The End of the Line
The End of the Line
Chapter Three (last chapter)
Brenda and Inspector strolled down to the lake to wait for the Chief. Brenda gazed down into the lake. The water glistened under the lunchtime sun. (The sun has to eat too.) The water reflected back at Brenda. She lingered there long enough to describe her again.
She saw her too wise wide eyes and peered at the reflection of her stupid nose while her ambivalent mouth hung open. Suddenly a minnow swam out of Brenda’s stupid nose. She reached for a tissue. She laughed as she realized the trick the lake had played on her reflection. She looked away and could not be described.
The cabin door opened. Chief Sitting Quietly floated out the door. The Peyote-eyed Indian announced to Inspector, to Brenda, to the lake, to the Loons, to the little minnow in Brenda’s nose, and to the Cherry Laurel Oak tree, “I have found it.”
“My finest effort yet. I have developed a large plastic hoop to swing around your waist. I have also built a three-foot long board with wheels under it.”
Brenda, not one to mince her words or her meat pies, said in her most niece-like tone, “Oh Senile Brother of My Father, (Native American Sarcasm), it has been done before. Let’s get off this crazy mountain.” There never was a mountain in Florida. They were just in Brooksville with bad brakes.
The ancient Indian was puffing on an old lariat he found coiled in the cabin. The lariat wouldn’t stay lit. The Indian would mumble, light it again, and smile. Smoking that lasso, he was really looped.
Brenda seized the burning rope, “Put out that rope you’re smoking; it’s the end of the line for you.” She crammed the dreamy Chief into the backseat of the Modus Operandi and they all started back down the mountain.
Inspector had an uneasy feeling that something was closing in around him as they drove down the mountain. He realized what it was. It was the case that was closing and they were not yet off the mountain. He pressed the accelerator and they raced down the mountain.
Safely off the mountain, the backseat Indian began to spout primordial tribal chants from his early days as an E-4 in his village. As the case closed around them, Chief Sitting Quietly offered this advice to Inspector and Brenda, “Peyote and Coyote can be rhymed and they can both be smoked, but don’t ever, ever, ever, inhale a coyote.”
The case closed.