CHRISTMAS FICTION SPECIAL! There are a million stories in Surf City, USA. And Bubbles Jackson, Super Chimp Detective stars in this one!
The message was clear and shocking: There had been a murder. Lights lit up on Bubbles’ pager in a sequence he knew all too well. Life in Surf City had taken yet another ugly turn, as it usually did at just the wrong time. In this case, it was Christmas Eve.
Bubbles combed his hair and pulled on his yellow pants. They had an elastic waistband. Pants were a concession to community mores. Bubbles preferred to go without pants while relaxing at home, especially when he was decorating for the holidays. But one never knew when duty would call. And people didn’t like it when he left his house without pants. Elastic made it easier.
Finally dressed and not a second to lose! Down the staircase and to the bus stop he went. The bus arrived just as he reached the sign. All of the bus drivers around Huntington Beach knew him well.
“Ooooh, this can’t be good! Bubbles out on a call on Christmas Eve!” said Glenda as she opened the door. Bubbles climbed up the stairs and waved his pass at the reader.
“Cheee cheee cheeeeee op op op ooooo” said Bubbles.
“Oh really? That’s a shame! Lordy, what’s this town coming to?” said Glenda as she closed the door. Bubbles took a seat near the front and watched expectantly for his stop. The crime scene was an extended-stay motel near the wharf. Back in the old days they used to call them “flophouses”. Damn political correctness.
“Here’s your stop, Bubbles! Looks like the uniform guys have been here a while!” said Glenda as she threw open the door.
“Ooooohoohooohooo CHEE CHEEE!!” said Bubbles as he leapt down the staircase and wobbled determinedly towards the black-and-whites in the parking lot. They were outside a room cordoned off with “CRIME SCENE” tape.
“You go get ’em, boy!” said Glenda. She loved giving rides to Bubbles as he made calls on official police business.
“Bubbles is here!” said Captain Reinhardt, looking up from his spiral notebook. He was relieved. The crime scene was a mess. Murder was never pretty, but this one was especially gruesome. Someone had really had it in for this poor guy. He appeared to be an upstanding member of the community. They could tell by the Rolex and Filofax they found. Both were covered in blood and guts. Various parts of the guy were spread around the room.
“Got the call from housekeeping. Didn’t find him until about nine this morning. Guess whoever did this forgot to put up the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.” said Sergeant Alvarez. Then he said “LOL”. He didn’t laugh. He said “L-O-L”: Each letter separately.
“OOOOoooooOOOOoooOOO guh guh guh” said Bubbles. By that he meant: “What the hell did you just say to me?”
Sergeant Alvarez just shrugged and went off to talk to Percy, the crime scene cleanup guy. Everyone thought they were gay for each other–Alvarez and Percy. No one talked about it, because it really didn’t matter in any way to their abilities to perform their jobs.
Bubbles leaned down and picked up the Filofax. It was leather-bound and heavy with sales receipts and computer printouts of maps showing various locations around Huntington Beach. Nothing too remarkable. But as Bubbles paged through it, there was something on the last page that caught his eye: A loose photograph of something that appeared to be a demon.
“Krampus” came the voice. It was a female voice. It was a low, soft, sultry voice. It was coming from behind Bubbles, over his shoulder. He turned.
“Traditional figure from German folklore. German parents tell their children that if they don’t behave, Krampus will drag them . . . to hell . . . ” There was a real sexiness to the way she shaped the last syllable.
“CHEE CHEEE CHEEEEE woowowowooowooow!!!” said Bubbles.
“Oh,” said Captain Rheinhart. “Bubbles, let me introduce Doctor Margot Fields. She’s a mythology expert attached to our department on special assignment. She’s from UCLA.”
Bubbles looked at her and too in the spectacle. She was a tall drink of water. She wore a deep-red pencil skirt that came down to just above her knees, and a loose white blouse that was semi-translucent. Her long red hair was styled in crazy extensions that reminded Bubbles of 80’s singing sensation Taylor Dane. And languorous, shadowy lids sensuously half-covered her sharp blue eyes, accenting her ruby red lips. She stood in high heels, her hips slightly tilted in a way that was provocative, though not obscene.
“WowowowowCHEECHEEE CHEEEEEEE” said Bubbles.
“Well, I yes, you do have a point there . . .” she said, slightly defensively. She had been caught off-guard. “Yes, it does appear to be a version of Krampus that’s particular to Bavaria. But . . . I was unaware that you were so well-versed in Germanic folklore, Lieutenant.”
“GAHHAHHGAHH OOO OOO OOO OOO!!!” said Bubbles, letting Doctor Margot know about one of his post-doctoral certificates from Yale.
“Well, I’m . . . I certainly . . . well . . . ” stammered Doctor Margot.
“OOOooooo Oo Oo” said Bubbles. “GahhahhahCHEEE!” He continued. He respected her as a fellow researcher and scholar. She blushed.
“Ok, can we leave the socializing until after we get a lead on this crime?” said Captain Rheinhardt, gruffly. Bubbles pouted out his lips and nodded. He reached up and took Margot’s hand.
“Ooooohohooooh gaggagghhgg” he said.
“Yes, I do have a car. We can go there right now!” said Margot. She was excited to be involved with the investigation. Bubbles picked up the Filofax, folded it under his arm, and they left.
Twenty minutes later Margot parked her SAAB 900 Convertible outside the offices of Jerome Klein, Optician to the Stars. Bubbles and Margot rode the elevator to the fifth floor.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Klein isn’t seeing anyone right now” said the receptionist. She had very long fingernails that had little stickers promoting Japanese pop groups all over them.
“OOOOOHOOOOO GAHGAHGAHGAHGA CHEEE!!” said Bubbles as he looked up at Margot.
“Well, he’s going to have to make time for us, sister!” said Margot. “This is official Huntington Beach PD business. This is Lieutenant Bubbles!”
“And you are. . .???”
“I’m Doctor Margot Fields, Professor of Germanic and Norse Mythology at UCLA!”
“Well, I’ll check if he can see you now” said the lady with a sneer as she reached down and pressed her intercom button. “Mr. Klein, there’s a police detective. . . and a woman here to see you. . . ”
There was no response.
“Mr. Klein, are you there?” asked the receptionist.
Margot and Bubbles looked each other in the eye. It was go time: Not a second to lose!
Bubbles ran towards the door, and propelling himself upwards using his long arms and hands on the berber carpet, he slammed his flat feet against the door near the lock. The door frame broke under the assault of his terrific kinetic energy and the door swung open. The receptionist screamed. Margot came running after Bubbles.
They beheld a startling spectacle: Mr. Jerome Klein was sitting behind his desk, a formal place-setting laid out before him. He had a white linen napkin tucked into his shirt collar. He looked up from his repast though small, stylish spectacles that could only be obtained through an import-export company that he owned. The glasses complimented his balding head. A Bach concerto played in the background. On his plate were medallions of human tibia, covered in a sauce Béarnaise. Steamed asparagus and wilted endive accented this dish, which was a human tibia: The lower leg.
“OH MY GOD!” Screamed Margo. Jerome Klein got to his feet and pulled the napkin from his shirt.
“Philistines! How dare you defile this temple of art!” he sneered in a voice that sounded like a slightly more pompous version of Lyle Waggoner (who was famous in the 1970’s thanks to his appearances on The Carol Burnette Show and Wonder Woman). He reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a letter opener that had a swastika on it.
“OH MY GOD! BUBBLES! HE HAS A LETTER OPENER WITH A SWASTIKA ON IT!!!” screamed Margot.
Bubbles had hoped it wouldn’t come to this. It was always a sad event when he had to settle things this way. But he had a job to do.
He reached down and dropped his yellow pants, and straining as he reached behind him, he grabbed his weapon. Jerome Klein was now beside his desk, brandishing the letter opener and making wild snarling and snapping sounds as he sneered. He advanced towards Margot, a wild look in his eyes. He almost looked like a dog with the hydrophoby. But just as he was about to lunge towards Margot with the letter opener, his spectacles were knocked off by a large, steaming load of Bubbles’ feces.
“My glasses! NOOO!!!!” screamed Klein. A second load hit him in the ear. He was running around behind his desk in a panic. “Oh NOO!!! How foul!!” he screamed while the Bach concerto entered one of its more rhythmic passages. As he twisted and spun like a whiling dervish, he began to lose his balance. The back wall of the office was a ceiling-to-floor window that overlooked the parking lot. As he energetically meandered closer to it–still screaming–a third shot hit him square in the forehead. SPLAT! He fell backwards towards the window. It shattered. He appeared to be suspended in mid-air for a moment, then fell towards the ground as he screamed.
Margot and Bubbles rushed to the broken window, though it took Bubbles longer because his pants were around his ankles. They looked down. Mr. Jerome Klein–Optician to the Stars–lay atop Margot’s SAAB, spread eagle and covered in blood. He was dead.
“Bubbles,” she asked “But how, how did you . . . know?”
“CHEEECHEEEHHOOOOOOOHOOOOOhoOOOOO!!!” said Bubbles as he pulled up his pants. He opened up the Filofax. On the last page, just opposite the picture of Krampus, was a note written in a red pen. It said:
Hey, I think Mr. Jerome Klein, Optician to the Stars is a weirdo who wants to eat my tibia. He has been stalking me. If I get killed, he’s probably the one who did it.
“Oh” said Margot, looking off into the distance, introspectively.
The next day at Don the Beachcomber, Bubbles, Captain Reinhardt, Sergeant Alvarez, Percy and Doctor Margot were on the patio enjoying Pacifico Beers. They were laughing. They were in their surf gear because they planned to go surfing after they got loaded. They were all wearing Santa hats and colorful shorts.
“And then he fell out the window and died right there on my car, so I guess it was . . . ” said Margot. Everyone knew the rest and groaned a bit. “a SAAB story after all!”
They all laughed and toasted each other. Margot got a hug and a kiss from Bubbles. She could tell that it was just the beginning of a wonderful Christmas evening there in Surf City, USA.
© 2013 Bill LaBrie