The crime scene investigator was extremely puzzled as he reviewed this image captured by a security camera. At first glance, it did appear that the woman dancing on the desk was probably responsible for the corpse currently in the county morgue, and the primitive but heavy cast on her leg was most likely the source of the blunt-force trauma on said corpse.
But as he zoomed in on the odd sign in the background, his instincts went on full alert. “Do not remove newspapers from this room.” Who would make such a sign? Why were the newspapers so important? What was up with the water cooler in the corner that appeared to have radioactive plutonium floating in it? Clearly, there was more going on here than a drunken chorus girl attempting to high-kick her way to a better life. The investigator needed more information. He picked up the phone and called Oprah.
Oprah: “This better be good. The Chinese take-out just arrived and I need me an eggroll.”
Investigator: “What do you know about Mitzi Gaynor possibly killing someone with her foot?”
Oprah gasped, and then recovered. “I don’t know anything. Unless there’s plutonium in the water cooler.”
Investigator: “There’s plutonium.”
Oprah gasped again, because it was kind of fun to do that. “Meet me at the secret place in one hour. Make sure no one is following you. And if I’m wearing a red dress, it means we’ve been made and you need to run.”
Investigator: “Got it.”
Oprah: “And whatever you do, don’t take any of the newspapers!”
The line went dead.
Previously published, considerable changes made, especially in the following questionable prize for those who keep scrolling…
One hour later, at the secret place, a greasy table in a seedy diner in South Chicago…
Investigator: “But you’re not Oprah.”
Gayle: “There was an incident with an egg roll and Oprah is momentarily unavailable for this booking. So she sent me instead.”
Investigator: “Hmm. That makes me a little nervous. But at least you’re not wearing the red dress.”
Gayle: “But I am wearing the red dress. Wait, maybe I’m not. I have a wee bit of an issue with color-blindness. I left that off my resumé when I was cast as Oprah’s best friend.”
Investigator: “So we have been compromised. What do we do now?”
Gayle: “We talk very fast. That security photo you have? Mitzi is leading with her right foot, but the coroner’s report indicates that the killer was a left-footed heifer.”
Investigator: “Don’t you mean hoofer?”
Gayle: “No, I mean heifer. The killer is Elsie the Cow. The notorious Bovine Gang does not play nice, and we are in terrible danger, even if I can’t see that danger coming in full technicolor.”
Investigator: “Then why are still sitting here? We’ve got to blow this joint and run for our lives.”
Gayle: “Agreed. But before we go…”
Gayle: “Can you pick up the tab? I’m accessory-blind as well and I grabbed an extra egg roll instead of my purse. It’s my understanding that soy sauce-drenched pasty is not acceptable currency in this country.”
Investigator: “Oh. Well, I don’t have any money, either. Or an actual name in this story.”
Gayle: “Hmm. It seems we have a moral dilemma. Which is more important? Running for our lives or properly supporting local businesses in our community?”
Investigator: “I’m thinking we shouldn’t spend a lot of time on that dilemma. Let’s motor.”
Gayle: “Hang on.” She whips out her soy sauce-drenched cellphone.
Investigator: “Are you calling for backup? I’ve always wanted to do that. But I can’t afford a phone, so…”
Gayle: “Big O? It’s me. We’re in a bit of a pickle. Things went south, I wore the wrong dress, and we might be killed at any moment. Thoughts on the matter? Uh huh. Uh huh. Yes, Fred is here.”
Investigator: “Fred? Is that my name? I really need to quit drinking vodka from the bottom shelf.”
Gayle, briefly covering her cellphone with a soy sauce-drenched hand: “No, you’re not Fred. He’s the bouncer at this joint. And stop talking. We can’t have any cross-chatter on a secured line.”
Investigator, apparently not Fred: “I’m so lost right now. Especially the part about a diner needing a bouncer. What is going on in that kitchen? All I wanted was a nice patty melt and some decent conversation.”
Gayle, removing her hand: “No, O, I’m not ignoring you. I’m just dealing with some C-grade talent in the Green Room, you now how it goes. But I’ll put the plan into action. We’ll debrief later.”
Investigator: “And that plan would be?”
Gayle, standing up and speaking much more loudly than someone who should be invested in not being noticed by hired thugs who might want to kill them: “Well, I declare. I just found a hair in my prosciutto salad.”
Immediately, a burly man appeared at the table: “Password acknowledged. How can I help you?”
Gayle: “Hey, Fred. We need immediate transport to the Harpo studios in order to prevent our untimely demise.”
“Right,” said Fred. “We should proceed to the kitchen, wherein you will both need to change into different dresses for the extraction maneuver.”
Investigator: “Wait, I get to wear a dress?”
Gayle: “Honey, let’s come out of the closet later. Our itinerary is pretty tight right now. We’ve got to move.”
Two minutes later, the helicopter arrived, hovering above the diner, blowing things about, including the delicate chiffon of Investigator’s dress, a delicious development which made him feel like Marilyn Monroe in “The Seven Year Itch”. He would never forget the moment.
What was forgotten? The patty melt. The cook placed it on the warming counter, dinging the little bell, and an expert but under-tipped waitress snatched it up immediately. But when she arrived at the designated table, she found it unoccupied, except for a small splatter of soy sauce. The patty melt was never eaten, despite it just wanting to be loved.
And that, my friends, is the saddest part about this story. Other than the fact that this story was written in the first place.
Final note, for now: Another obscure music reference was tucked in this travesty. Scroll back, if needed…
Categories: Past Imperfect