Rigor mortis had not set in yet, although the flies had gathered. The California sun was beating down remorselessly upon the pathetic body laying in the roadside ditch.
The Texas Ranger shook his head sadly. This was not the first such case he'd seen.
The tire treads were distinctive. They showed up well in red on the white bathrobe the old man wore.
"Frink," the detective said to his deputy sadly, shaking his head. "I knew this man. He worked at the mall. Lou Frink."
"Frink?" the deputy asked.
The sheriff nodded sadly. "Frink again. This is the third frinkin' body we've had this month."
"If you're going to be silly about this case," the deputy complained, "I'm going to go home and have some lemonade."
The federale shook his head sadly again. He seemed to be in a rut. He was a very sad gumshoe.
"I think you're in a rut," the deputy noted.
"Frink," the officer disagreed sadly. "_He's_ in the rut."
The deputy shook his head sadly. It was catching. "Let's go into the mall and talk with Frink's cousin, Lee Moor Frink."
"You mean the guy who runs the chandelier and heavy weaponry shop?"
"Yeah. The Best Little Chandelier and Heavy Weaponry Shop In Texas."
"Say, which one of us is talking?"
"Never mind. Get in the patrol car." They got in the patrol car.
The two secret agents drove right to the entrance to the TwinFeech Mall.
It seemed that the pet store was having a sale on Tactical Field Gerbils. It was a blowout sale, and the inventory was going fast. Next door was Sleeper's Everything's A Buck Store. Then they passed by Pine's Fine Paints and Latex, and her balloon business looked a little flat.
"Don't you think we should have gotten out of the car before coming in here?" the deputy asked.
The copper nodded sadly. "I'd hate to have to report this to Captain Webster."
"Let's park it in front of that Fire Hydrant and No Parking Sign Store over there," the deputy suggested. The FBI agent nodded sadly.
They parked the bronze '98 Saturn, known for its impeccable finish work, durable paint job, and low $13,090 sticker price that you, too, could test drive at your local Saturn dealership today! (Your mileage may vary.)
They got out of the car. The lawman nodded sadly again.
So did the deputy.
Then the MP nodded sadly again.
The deputy nodded sadly in return.
The fed nodded sadly.
"I think you're in a rut," squeaked a passing mall rat.
"Frink," said the trooper. "_He's_ in the rut." The mall rat nodded sadly.
The two flatfoots headed to the Heavy Weaponry and Chandelier Store.
"Say, is it 'flatfoots' or 'flatfeet?'"
"Speaking for myself, mine are killing me."
"Maybe that's what got the guy in the robe. He's flat."
"Feet with distinctive tire tracks?"
"I still think we should have checked the body for a pulse."
"Well, rigor mortis hadn't yet set in."
"Say, I've lost track of who's talking again."
"Shut up and get in the store," the deputy said.
"Oh," said the fuzz said. "I guess it was me." They went in the store.
The centerpiece of the store was a 155mm Howitzer decorated with sparkling chandeliers. Behind the counter was an attendant, cleaning a chain gun.
"Frink?" asked the deputy.
The attendant shook his head sadly. "No, I'm Hassan 'Tom' Suddein. Can I help you?"
"Frink." The inspector nodded sadly. "Where is he?"
"He went out to lunch," said the attendant. "He said he was in a rut. Why do you ask?"
"We wanted to ask him about a man in a bathrobe," the deputy said.
"He was in a rut, too," said the patrolman.
"You might want to talk to the old man who runs the shop across the hall," said the attendant. "He gets a lot of weird customers in there."
"The trail seems to be heating up," said the Mountie.
"Let's go check it out."
"Okay," said the attendant.
"Not you," said the deputy. They went across the hall. Coming out of a little shop, there was a bouncy, giggling blonde bimbo, carrying a shopping bag.
"Say, that reminds me of a blonde joke Jeffrey told me," said the deputy.
"What is it?" asked the bailiff.
"How many blondes does it take to write an SRU story?"
"I think I've heard that one," the boatswain nodded.
"Say, you don't look all that sad any more," observed the deputy.
"Let's just get this over with," growled the gendarme.
They went into the store. There was an old man in a bathrobe behind the counter.
"Hello, Bob," said the old man. "Hi, Jack."
"No," said the deputy. "Murder."
"Frink," the prefect nodded sadly. "And who the hell are Bob and Jack?"
"I dunno," said the old man. "What can I do for you?"
"We wanted to ask you about a man in a bathrobe," said the marshall.
"I haven't seen him," said the man in the bathrobe. "Why are you asking me?"
"We found a dead body," said the hall monitor.
"In a rut," the deputy agreed.
"Frink," nodded the constable sadly.
"He had on a bathrobe," the deputy continued.
"With tire tracks," said the royal inspector.
"They were very distinctive," nodded the deputy sadly.
"And rigor mortis hadn't yet set in."
"Although the flies were already gathering."
"It was the third body like that we'd found."
"And the California sun was beating down remorselessly on the pathetic body."
"In the ditch."
"Actually, it was more like a rut."
"Say," said the old man, "which one of you is talking?"
"I forget," said the bobbie.
"We thought you might know something about it," said the deputy.
"Actually..." said the old man.
"Yes?" asked the deputy.
"I haven't got the slightest idea what you're talking about," said the old man. "Are you going to buy a bathrobe or not?"
"I liked the pink one with the rabbits on it," said the meter maid.
"If you're going to be silly about this," said the old man, "I'm going to go home and have some lemonade."
"Frink," said the time guardian. "Let's get back to the case."
"No More Frinks!" said the old man. "Get out of my store!"
They left the old man's stall in the mall and went back out into the hall. In the hall outside the mall stall was a fox. The fox was wearing socks, and had a box. The fox in socks's box was full of rocks. The inspector shook his head sadly.
"That fox in socks with the box of rocks is sure a fox," said the deputy.
"Those aren't rocks," said the gestapo agent. "Those are writer's blocks. Besides, she's not a fox, she's a mutt. That's what's in my gut."
"But," said the deputy, "it's better than a slut."
"That's quite a cut," observed the enforcer.
"I think we're still in a rut," said the deputy.
"Frink," said the bouncer. "_He's_ in the rut."
"I think you already said that."
The highway patrolman nodded sadly. "We're still no closer to solving this. I don't have a clue."
"You do?" said the screw.
"I don't know."
"Third base," said a passing woman in belly-dancer garb.
"Who was that?" asked the deputy.
"I'm sorry, I wasn't listening," said the NARC.
"Let's go see Mr. Coe," said the deputy.
"Why go?" asked the game warden. "What does he know?"
"Dunno," said the deputy. "Beats me."
"We'll see," said the man from the FCC.
"If you're going to be silly about this," said the deputy, "I'm going to go home and have some tea."
"Lemonade," said the ice cream man.
"We're still in a rut," said the deputy. The author nodded sadly.
Mr. Coe ran an optometry shop in the mall. When they got into the store, Mr. Coe was there washing his lunch in the sink. It was a bag lunch.
"Yo, Coe," said the deputy. "What do you know?"
"Hi, Joe," said Coe.
"Hello," said the deputy.
"Slow," said Coe.
"I think you already said that," said the bodyguard.
"No," said the deputy.
"Oh," said the usher.
"Have you got any clues?" asked the Knight of the Round Table.
"I don't know," said Coe.
"Third base," said a passing woman in belly-dancer garb.
"Who is that masked man?" asked the barbarian.
"I'm an optometrist," said Coe.
"I can't think of anything that rhymes with 'optometrist,'" complained the paladin.
"Good," said the deputy.
"Actually," said Coe, "I got a clue just this morning from a large bearish man in a Cupid costume. It came in the form in a Hamstergram."
"What did it say?" asked the revenooer.
"It said, 'Help, I'm being held prisoner in a DI fortune cookie factory.'"
"Derksen Industries," mused the Jedi Knight. "Don't they have an outlet here in the mall?"
"Several, I think," said Coe.
"How else do you think they run their computers?" The Dungeon Master nodded sadly.
So did Coe.
"Let's go," said the SMERSH operative.
"It's all starting to come together," said the deputy.
"Thank God," said the ghostbuster. The author nodded sadly.
They went to the DI outlet store, right next to Copernicus' Metamor Keepsakes store. Standing outside the store was Eddie Glover, Tim Ruppell, Dana Short, Bill Hart, and Jason Lehrer.
"Judging by the number of cameos all of a sudden," said the plumbing inspector, "I'd say we're getting to the end of the story."
"No," disagreed the deputy, "nobody's mentioned J.T. MartenTaur yet."
"Somebody should," said the redshirt. "We wouldn't want him to get jealous."
The deputy Winced. They went into the store.
"Damn!" cried Bryan. "It's the cops! All my evil plans are for naught! I'm caught! I'm on the spot!"
"No you're not," said the Man from U.N.C.L.E.
"Besides," said the deputy, "we did the rhymes already."
"And I was saving them up, too," said Bryan. "But now that you've caught me," said Bryan, "I suppose you want me to confess the details of my heinous crimes."
"I suppose," Batman nodded sadly.
"I did it!" shouted Bryan. "I confess! I was the one who was littering out on the county highway today!"
"Littering?" asked the chaperon. Bryan nodded sadly.
"We're investigating a hijack case," said the spook.
"Murder," corrected the deputy.
"Oops," said Bryan.
"Now what's this about littering?" asked the SWAT team.
"I had to throw it away," said Bryan. "He wouldn't fit in the trash can."
"He who?" asked the deputy.
"No, it was 'wheeooo,'" said Bryan.
"Frink," nodded the general.
"You're under arrest," said the deputy.
"But I didn't do anything," said the Smokey.
"Not you," said the deputy.
As Derksen was carried away in chains, the deputy looked at the IRCop. "I can't believe you cracked this case so easily."
"Well," said the Texas Ranger, "even a blind pig finds an acorn now and again."
(and typed by) Fish (Corey Moore)
Rabbit (Phil Geusz)
Xodiac (Doug Linger)
Scarlet Macaw (Chris McKay)
Tinbender (Jim Peterson)
Spidaur (Dave Bawtree)
Rhino (Ryan Holmes)
BlueNight (Luke Allen)
Qualin (Bud Bennett)
Weremoose (Lance Holloway)
DanielSan (Daniel Peterson)
Heather Whiteside (Whiteside, Heather)
Scratch N. Post
Niloticus (Kris King)
Or, Les Frinkables
Last Updated: Mon Jul 25 2005 07:44:09