Tag Archives: monte carlo

Pop Culture Mysteries: Case File #005 – Smeller vs. Denier (Part 11)


Part 1


“Two heinous misdeeds have occurred this evening,”  I said.  “The theft of my poker moolah and an expulsion so ghastly that it not only drove my wife mad…”

“Grandpappy Guilliaum, is that you?”  Muffy asked.  “Come back to me, Grandpappy!”

“…but it also rocked the stability of the Allied powers.”

“He who expounded it, pounded it,”  Rupert said.

“He who deceived it, retrieved it,” Charbonneau replied.shutterstock_71510056

“SILENCE!”  I shouted.

The room grew quiet.

“Two offenses,” I said, “And not one of you will come forward to claim either or both of them.”

“Are they even connected?”  Fremont asked.

“An astute question, Professor,”  I said.  “If either action was not a reaction to the opposing action then that is quite a coincidence and my detective’s intuition always mandates that I must never assume a coincidence has occurred until two events are proven to be unconnected to one another.”

“I am surrounded by idiotas,”  Signora Bellavenuti said.

“Motivation,”  I said.  “Though a circumstantial lens through which to view a case, motivation, more often than not, provides the first glimpse of the true culprit.  Though a person had a reason to do something does not mean he or she did it, determining who had the most reason to do it is a necessary exercise in any investigation.”

“Then exercise away,”  the Count said.

“I will,”  I replied.  “And Count Rickard, I will start with you and the Countess.”

The Countess’ monocle popped off yet again.

“How dare you?!”

“Hatcher,”  the Count said.  “Why would one of us ruin our own dinner party?”

I thought about it.

“You wouldn’t,”  I said.  “You are a couple of leisure and you enjoy consorting with the various celebrities and beautiful people who make their way to Monaco in the summer.  Pardon the pun, but one whiff of what happened here this evening will lead to your social calendar being very empty.  Neither of you would have done this.”

The Count was furious.

“Then stop wasting time and tell us who did it!”

I spun around and pointed at the would be big game hunter.


Collective gasp.


“Yes you!”  I said.

I walked over to the corpulent self-proclaimed Safari master and got right in his face.

“Stereotypically speaking, you’re the prime candidate to pin the evil excretion on!”

The Lord’s eyes shifted back and forth.  He looked exceptionally nervous.

“I am?”

“You are,”  I said.  “Pardon my impropriety, but these are desperate times, so I must point out that you are the fattest person in the room, and thus if we are to remain true to our default mindset, then you are the one to blame, for one of the oldest stereotypes in the book is that the obese have no ability to control their bowels!”

“Yes!”  Signora Bellavenuti shouted.  “It was the fat man!  Take him away!”

“I didn’t do it I swear!”

“Didn’t you?”  I asked as I studied the man’s eyes.  “You consume more food than the average man…”

“I do not!”  Lord Blackburn interrupted.  “It’s glandular!”

“That’s what they all say!”  I screamed in the Lord’s fast as I grabbed him by the shoulders and continued my interrogation.  “You eat more food than the average man and therefore, you have a greater propensity to produce an emission!”

“LIES!”  Lord Blackburn cried.  “ALL LIES!”

“Hatcher,”  Yakubovich said.  “Of course the overweight Westerner did it.  All you capitalist pigs do all day long is stuff your faces and pass gas with nary a thought of the rest of the world.”

“Did you do it?”  I asked.




Lord Blackburn broke out into tears and made an impassioned plea.

“All my life, I have struggled with my weight.  And all my life, whenever the source of an odor is in question, the finger is immediately pointed at me.  I bathe early and often, multiple times a day just to avoid suspicion for I know the world is full of cruel, callous people and false accusations of odor production will always be my lot in life.”

My heart sunk.  Sometimes being a jerk is part of a private dick’s job.  It’s necessary, but it’s also the one aspect I despise the most.

“I assure you sir, it was not me.  I can control myself just as well as any man.  I was once chased by rabid cougar and not once did I expectorate through my sphincter.”

“Hmm,”  I said.

I patted the big galoot on the shoulder.

“I believe him.”

I was derided throughout the room.  “Oh come on!”  and “He did it!” and so forth.

“No,”  I said.  “People, please.  The only thing that separates us from the animals that Lord Blackburn claims to murder so often is the ability to make deductions based on reasoning and not preconceived notions about a man just because he’s part of a certain group or class.”

“Your heart is bleeding, comrade,”  Yakubovich said.

“Yes,” I said.

I crossed over to the other side of the table.

Now it was my turn.

“Stand up!”  I ordered Yakubovich.

“You’re insane!”

“Please do as his says, Mr. Yakubovich,”  the Count said.  “We must get to the bottom of this.”

Yakubovich rose up.

“And it was out of your bottom from which this entire evening came, isn’t it Yaku-bopper?”

“Watch your tongue before I cut it out.”

“Earlier, you came to me and asked me to stand up,”  I said.  “I expected that you were going to throttle me but instead you gave me a hug.  It was most out of character for a man suspected of being one of the  world’s most notorious black market arms dealers!”

“I am legitimate businessman!”  Yakubovich said.  “And I wished to apologize for being a poor sport but now I wish I hadn’t it.”

“Or perhaps you never did?”  I asked.  “Perhaps when you hugged me and squeezed me with the muscles you formed while toiling your youth away in a Siberian gulag…”

I reached into the man’s jacket pockets.

“…you were merely distracting me just long enough to stick a hand inside my coat and swipe the check for the winnings you were not man enough to admit that you lost fair and square!”

I turned his pockets out.


They were empty.

“Oh,”  I said.

“What a moron,”  Yakubovich said.  “Hatcher, you are making a spectacle of yourself.  Your check probably fell out somewhere around the house.  You should retrace your steps for it.”

“Should I?”  I asked.  “Or should I…check your pants pockets?!”

I turned those inside out too.  Nothing.

“Damn it!”

“Fine!”  Yakubovich said as he angrily unfastened his belt.  “You want to inspect everything?  Here we go!”

The Russian dropped his drawers to reveal a pair of red polka dot boxers.  He ripped off his coat and shirt for good measure, but left his undershirt on.

He stood there in his skivvies staring at me.

“Are you happy now?!”

“Good news, Sergei,”  I said.  “You’re in the clear!”

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Pop Culture Mysteries – Smeller vs. Denier (Part 5)


Part 1        Part 2        Part 3      Part 4


“Ring a ding ding!”

Frank Sinatra.  Dean Martin.  Sammy Davis Jr.

I was in the company of the three greatest musical performers of my era.shutterstock_135718616

Today, the best you could do to get of sense of what I felt like in that moment would be to have a run in with that Justin Bieber kid.

And that, 3.5, is one of the many reasons why I feel sorry for you.

“Hatcher, you old hound dog!”  Frank said in his baritone voice.  “I heard your girl was a knockout but she is gorgeous.”

“Thanks Frank,”  I said.  “It’s good to see you.”

Awhile back I did some work for Frank.  Nothing too serious.  Old Blue Eyes had an obsessive fan who was writing him all kinds of creepy letters, so I was hired to find the wacko and tell him to knock it off.

In addition to my fee, Frank comped me a free ticket to one of his shows and let me hang out with the boys backstage.

Dino shook my hand.  “Jake, are you the one making all the raucous over here?”

“Guilty,”  I said.  “I’m taking home some extra bones tonight boys.”

Sammy swaggered over and shook my hand with both of his.  “Jakey Baby, you deserve every penny of it.  You are one happening cat, you dig?”

“I dig.  Say, where’s Joey?”

“He’s got a gig out in the sticks,”  Frank said.

The redheaded waitress came over with a tray of champagne.

“Drinks, gentlemen?”

“No thank you, sweetheart,”  Dino said.  “My doctor told me I have to abstain from alcohol.”

“So what did you do?”  Sammy asked.

“I did what any self-respecting man would do,”  Dino said as he took a glass and had a gulp.  “I found another doctor!”

Laughter erupted.  We each grabbed a glass.

“To Jake’s nuptials,”  Frank said as he raised his bubbly.  “How long you been hitched, kid?”

“Just a few days.”

“And what, my invitation got lost in the mail?”

I studied Frank’s face.  I wasn’t sure what to say.


I was waiting for him to tell me he was kidding but he never did.

“Sorry, I didn’t know you’d want to come.”

“Aww, stuff your sorries in a sack.”

Frank put his arm around me.

“Say, Jake, when are you back in the states?”

“End of the month.”

“Good,”  Frank said.  “Have your people call my people, will you?”

People.  He thought I had people.  I had one secretary.

“I’ve got a bunch of shows lined up in Vegas.  I could use a good man like you watching my back.  We’ll get you a room, make it worth your while, whaddya say?”

“I say…sign me up.”

“Good,”  Frank said.  “Say, we gotta call it splitsville but we’ll see you in the funny papers.”

Frank and Dino walked off.  Sammy hanged back.

“Say, Jakey baby, you want to do me a solid and tell me what you think about this little ditty I’m working on?”

“Lay it on me Sammy.”

Sammy sure was smooth.  My ears were in for a treat.

“I knew this cat, named Joe Spangles and he’d bake a cake for you, with blue cashews…blue cashews!  Mr. Joe Spangles! Mr. Joe Spangles!”

Sammy waited for the verdict.

“Still filling in the details but that’s the gist of it, babe.”

“I like it,”  I said.  “I think you’re onto something there.  The melody’s great but the lyrics need work.”

“I appreciate it, babe.”

Sammy walked off to catch up with his buddies but I stopped him.


“What’s the haps, man?”

“I heard you’ve been working on a duet with Peaches.”

“Oh yeah.  A really swinging, outta sight number.  It’s got all kinds of razzle dazzle.”

“How’s she doing?”

“Good,”  Sammy said.  “Better since she broke up with that Step Aside Clyde cat.”

Wowza.  Peaches was available.

“You want me to tell her you said hello?”

I pondered that question.  Then I spotted Muffy looking all fabulous and enchanting as she giggled and gossiped with a clique of fancy ladies.

For the first time in so many years, I realized I was over my first love.  I’d moved on and not only was I happy, but I was able to allow myself to feel it.

“You there, babe?”  Sammy asked as he waved a hand in front of my face.

“Huh?  Oh.  No.  No thanks.  I’m just glad to hear she’s doing well.”

“Yo Sammy!”  Frank shouted from across the floor.  “We catching this flight or what?”

“I gotta run,”  Sammy said.  “Stay groovy, babe.”

I found Count Rickard and pulled up a seat next to him at the bar.

Shortly thereafter, the casino manager arrived to hand me a cashier’s check for twenty-five large.

“Congratulations, Mr. Hatcher,”  the manager said.  “I assume you wouldn’t want to carry this much cash with you, so I’ve taken the liberty of issuing you a check for the sum.  It’s as good as currency in any banking institution of your choice.”

I stared at it just to make sure it was real.  It was.  I tucked it into my breast pocket and could feel it burning a hole in my jacket already.

The Count and I sat and yakked it up for awhile until the redheaded waitress returned.

This time, she looked at me longingly and said, “Voulez vous coucher avec moi?”

“Um,”  I said.  “I’m sorry ma’am, but I don’t speak French.”

The Count, who was multilingual, laughed.

“She asks if you wish to sleep with her, Mr. Hatcher.”

“Get outta’ town!”

“I shall remain in town.”

“No foolin’?”

“Not at all.”

“Huh,”  I said.  “Tell her thank you but I’m a married man.”

The Count tapped the strumpet on the shoulder.  She looked at him and he said, “Je suis desole mais Madame, Monsieur Hatcher est une grande homosexuel.”

The waitress stomped her foot, shouted “Bon sang!” and took off in a huff.

“I hope you let her down easy, Fabes.”

“Something like that.”

“Fabes, have they got karma in Hungary?”

“I believe they have karma everywhere.  Why do you ask?”

“As of this very second, my life is better than it has ever been.  My business is successful.  I just won a fortune.  Every bimbo in the joint wants to dance the forbidden fox trot with me but I’m not interested because I’m married to a beautiful woman who revs my engine.  My ex-girlfriend is free of a monster I accidentally introduced her to and I don’t feel bad for mucking up the relationship I had with her anymore.  Oh, and just in case that’s not enough, I’m going to be paid to go to Vegas and hang out with three of the best entertainers in show biz.”

Count Rickard bit a cherry off the pointy end of the little umbrella in his drink.

“And yet, you say this all in an ominous tone, filled with doom and gloom.”

“Shouldn’t I?”

“Why should you?”

I patted my pocket to make sure the check was still there.

“Karma means you can only have so much good and so much bad in your life,”  I said.  “Up until recently, I’ve had a life that I wouldn’t wish on a dog.”

“Then rejoice,”  the Count said.  “For your time has come.  The universe is finally rewarding you with some good for sticking it out through so many years of bad.”

“Maybe,”  I said.  “But maybe it’s too much good.  Maybe if it gets any better the universe will arrange for an anvil to drop on my head to balance me out.”

“Oh Mr. Hatcher,”  the Count said.  He stood up and left a stack of chips at the bar to pay our drink bill.  “Such negative thinking will get you nowhere.  Come, my friend, let’s collect our wives and return home for dinner.  This is a night to celebrate.”

Copyright (C) Bookshelf Q. Battler.  All Rights Reserved.

Image courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:  I will now read from a statement prepared by Delilah K. Donnelly, Attorney for the Bookshelf Battle Blog:

“The appearance of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin in this story was for fictional and parody purposes only.”

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Pop Culture Mysteries: Smeller vs. Denier (Part 4)


Part 1   Part 2   Part 3


Sergei Yakubovich chomped on a cigar and studied his hand like a sinner looking for a loophole in the bible.

“You are bluffing, Mr. Hatcher.”

“There are two things I never do, Sergei,”  I said.  “Bluffing’s the first.”

The Muffster

The Muffster

“And the second?”

I took a hearty swig of of scotch.

“Drink with a commie.”

I motioned for the waitress to fetch me another.

“But in your case, I’ll make an exception.”

Sergei had a permanent dour glare on his face, as if someone was perpetually pooping on his party.

He looked down his nose at me over a pair of circular spectacles.

“You are full of the shit of a bull, American swine.”

Yakubovich held himself out to the world as a legitimate businessman, though it had long been rumored that he had secretly made his scratch by using his politburo contacts to obtain and sell Russian arms on the black market.

One of the many reasons why I despised the pinkos.  The guys who always got on their soapbox about how the villagers should share toilet paper rations were always the first ones to get all capitalist when it came to their own personal wealth.

“Only one way to find out.”

The waitress, a darling auburn haired lovely in a skimpy black dress, set another scotch down in front of me.

I flipped her a chip.

“Keep ’em coming, doll.”

“Oui oui, monsieur.”

Muffy rested her chin on my left shoulder.  One whiff of her perfume was all I needed to feel like a man.

“I thought I was your doll?”

“You know you are, my sweet souffle.”

Sergei pushed a large mound of chips into the already heaving pot in the center of the table.

“Prepare to be crushed, comrade.”

Count Rickard tossed his hand down on the table and backed away.

“Mr. Hatcher,”  my former client said as he stood up and fastened the top button of his coat.  “If there’s one lesson I learned when you bailed me out, it’s how to not be drawn in by greed a second time.”

Signora Isabella Bellavenuti was quite a sight.  She was an Italian fashion designer of world renown, though what passed for trendy finery back then always amazed me.

Coincidentally, it still does today.

She wore a white mink stole, likely produced from the pelts of a hundred deceased varmints and an elaborate hat, festooned with feathers and miscellaneous plumage, curving at various, oddly chosen angles.

PETA would be up her ass with an electron microscope if she were around today.

“This is, how you say, ‘Too rich for my blood?'”

She too backed off and sucked on her filtered cigarette as if it were her last.

Yakubovich and I engaged in a stare off.  Neither one of us was going to budge

“Your will is like that of your countrymen, Hatcher,”  my Soviet adversary said.  “Bloated, lazy, and soft.”

I belted down my newly arrived scotch.

Then, I pushed the remainder of my chips in.

“Au contraire, Yakubovo-whatever,”  I said.  “Your resolve is like the Communist Party’s motto: sacrifice is great, especially when the other guy’s doing it.”

The tension between us grew thick and palpable.  You could cut it with a knife, eat it up and still have enough left over for seconds.

Signora Bellavenuti lightened the mood.

“Marone!  Had I wanted to witness a pee pee measuring contest, I’d of watched my last two lovers duel over my hand!  Show your cards already!”

Yakubovich splayed his cards out on the table.  Eight, seven, six, five, four.  All hearts.  A straight flush.

The looky lous who’d gathered round the table emitted a collective gasp.

“Sacre bleau!”  Muffy cried.

Old Sergei had played better than I gave him credit for.

“What in the name of Barbara Stanwyck’s underpants?!”

The Russki snickered and started raking the pot towards his side of the table with his hands.

“I guess I underestimated you, Yak-a-boo-boo.”

“Is Yakubovich,” my nemesis said.  “And yes, you failed to recognize Russia’s might, just as your leaders will when we fly the hammer and sickle over the White House.”

“Over my dead body,”  I said.

“That is idea.”

I stood up.  I looked around the room.  All eyes were on me.

The French waitress brought me another shot.  I drank it, then slapped the empty glass down on the table.

“That’s good,”  I said.  “That’s really good.”

“Do not embarrass yourself, Hatcher.  Take your lumps like a man.”

“Say Yaka-bo-bo, what did the Queen do after she dropped a big steamer?”

I tossed down my hand.

Ace.  King.  Queen.  Jack.  Ten Spot.  All clubs.

You could have knocked that Bolshevik over with a feather.

“A Royal Flush?”

Cheers.  Applause.  Accolades.  And most of all, money.  Sweet, glorious cheddar.

It was mine.  All mine.

Twenty-five thousand smackers.

I know, 3.5.  That sounds good, but not life changing, right?

Wrong.  Adjusted for inflation, I was staring at the modern day equivalent of a quarter million.

Muffy hugged me like she wanted to push herself through me.  She planted her lips on mine and we sucked face like a pair of flounders who’d just crashed into one another on the ocean floor.

And not for nothing, but as soon as that bread was the property of yours truly, a lot of chickadees in that joint started giving me that look.  You know the one.  Like we were on the plains of the Serengetti, they were jaguars, and I was a nice, ripe, juicy caribou butt that they wanted to sink their teeth into.

But as far as I was concerned, Muffy was the only kitten I was interested in.

Outraged, Yakubovich slammed his fist on the table and stormed off.

Count Rickard shook my hand and it was congratulations all around.

An attendant gathered up my chips.

“I’ll cash you out sir.”

I accepted adulation for awhile until Fabian’s wife, Arianna, the Countess Rickard, found us.  She was an average looking broad.  Wouldn’t knock your socks off but you wouldn’t turn her down in a pinch either.  She had a slight hair lip, though it was nothing that a little hot wax couldn’t have cured.

“Muffelia!  I’ve been looking all over for you!”

The Countess had taken a real shine to my better half, treating her like the daughter she never had.

“Come dear,” the Countess said.  “I simply must introduce you to the Duchess of Shropshire.  I think you will both get along famously.”

“Merci.  Excuse moi, Jacob.”

The missus wasn’t gone for more than a few seconds when I felt a strong hand slap me on the shoulder.

I turned around.


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Pop Culture Mysteries: Smeller vs. Denier (Part 3)

Monte Carlo

June 1952

I was having a ball.


Muffelia “Muffy” Bordeaux aka the Second Mrs. Hatcher

No really, I was in attendance at an actual, bonafide ball.  I was wearing a fancy white tuxedo and everything.

Toward the front of the room, a conductor whirled his baton about, back and forth, leading strings, winds, and all manner of instruments in a breathtaking waltz.

Meanwhile, the second Mrs. Hatcher and I were cutting a rug on the large, luxurious floor.

“You dance divinely, mon cheri,” my partner whispered in my ear before nibbling ever so suggestively on my lobe.

“You’re not too shabby yourself, my little creme brulee.”

Muffelia “Muffy” Bordeaux.  She was a sultry Cajun coquette, the type of woman who made men’s hearts overflow with passionate lust.  Like the bayou she was born and bred on, she was mysterious, mischievous…and oh so dirty.

Sorry 3.5 readers.  I didn’t mean to scandalize you.

I love it when a broad wears her hair up, mostly because I spend the whole evening in anticipation of when it comes down.  And Muffy was the Queen when it came to finding out what made my blood pump.

Her lips were red, full, and so very kissable.  Her hair was blacker than a coal miner’s boots and that night, she wore a silver gown with dangly earrings to match.  Men aren’t that hard to please, ladies.  We like shiny things.

For the first time in my life, I was on top of the world.

I’d left the LAPD and put up my own shingle.  Hatcher Investigations was in full swing and in the City of Angels, there was no shortage of wealthy folk with problems that required a man with my special skill set.

My secretary, Connie Connors, who I swiped away from my former boss, Capt. Thaddeus Talbot, was back home holding down the fort.  I owed my success to her.  She kept the business running like a well oiled machine, did all the filing, filled out all the paperwork, and most importantly, played nicey nice with the clients

Thus, all I had to do was the sleuthing.

My bank roll was fat, my car was sporty, and best of all, I had the type of wife who, with just one look, could make a man pitch a tent faster than a master outdoorsman.

Today, at ninety-five, I realize that’s not the only quality a man should be looking for in a significant other, but forgive me, because back then I didn’t know any better.

In my defense, the Muffster excelled at switching off a man’s brain.

Her accent made me putty in her hands, and she never missed an opportunity to bend me any which way she wanted.

She insisted on calling me Jacob, but she pronounced it, “Zsa-Cob.”  “Zsa,” like Zsa Zsa Gabor, the actress from Green Acres, and “cob” like what you hold when you’re eating corn.

“I want you to hold me in your arms forever, Jacob.”

“You don’t have to ask me twice, baby.  You make me feel like a million bucks.”

SPOILER ALERT:  I’d later learn that the “forever” Muffy had in store for me was a mere six months and coincidentally, she’d shoot me six times and leave me for dead over the same amount of money, not to mention run off with Roscoe, my lousy excuse for a kid brother, God rest his soul.

But put all of that out of your mind for now, 3.5.  That night, I was convinced we were both happy.

And why wouldn’t we be?

We were on our honeymoon.  A free honeymoon.   A glorious fortnight in Monaco, the tiny European principality where all the beautiful people of the world gathered to hob knob, rub elbows, trade gossip and measure each other’s bank accounts.

We were the guests of Count Fabian Rickard, heir to a lavish Hungarian dynasty, and between you and me, a bit of a gullible old goose.

He’d managed to get nearly his entire fortune tied up in an elaborate real estate swindle and hired me to track down the fraudulent huckster who bilked him.

The nogoodnik was hiding out in LaLa Land and yours truly located him, put him behind bars, and most importantly, reunited the Count with his cabbage.

He was so grateful that when I mentioned I was about to tie the knot, he insisted that the new Mrs. Hatcher and I be his guests at his chateau, a vacation home he visited quite frequently.

The Waltz wrapped up and the band took a powder.

Our benefactor strolled up to us with a bubbly champagne flute in each hand.  He offered them and we accepted them gladly.

“Ahhh, young love,”  Count Rickard said.  “What I wouldn’t give to return to the days when the Countess and I gazed at one another the way you two do.”

The Count had a devilish black beard that came down off of his chin in a point and a heavily waxed mustache that curled up on both ends.

“Come now, Fabes.”

Fabes.  A little nickname I had for him.

“I bet whenever you’re gone, the little woman counts the seconds until you return and stir her goulash.”

Count Rickard looked at me, trying to figure out what I meant.  Then he let the guffaws fly.

“Oh Mr. Hatcher, you are a card.”

“He is an ace!”  Muffy added.

As jokes go, it wasn’t that funny, but Muffy was hotter than the surface of the sun, so we laughed anyway.

“Come my boy,” the Count said as he wrapped an arm around me.  “You must try your luck in the casino.  Are you a betting man, Mr. Hatcher?”

“Oh, I don’t know,”  I replied.  “Pa Hatcher always told me that games of chance are the devil’s work.”

Muffy looked at me with those dark, hypnotic eyes and straightened my bow tie.

“Come Jacob.  It will be fun.”

Yep.  All it took for me to ignore the sage advice of the wisest man I ever knew was a coy pout from a Southern belle.

Oh well.  Men had done worse things for far less.

“Lead the way, Fabes. ”

Copyright (C) 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

Image courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

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