It was dark in the room, very hard for me to see. All I could make out was that I was in bed. A large king sized sleeper. Big enough to fit four people in it. Once I opened my eyes to see into the darkness, a large painful feeling struck my head, like someone was driving a wooden stake into my brain. Damn, these hangovers, I thought. But this one was worse than the last. Cause to my left shoulder, a large breath of hot air puffed at me. Usually I wake up by myself on the sofa, but this time I wasn't alone.
I slowly turned my head and gazed into the darkness. At first, I saw nothing, but when my eyes adjusted to the blackness, I finally got a glimpse of the face and I was in shock. Light Brown fur, with a little of Red, over him with some white here and there, ears perked up like a cat listening to its surroundings, and a tail that was long and bushy as ever. It was Fox, a partner in my work. He and I were friends since high school. After college, we went into investigation work; solving crimes and cracking mysteries at every turn. I was shocked to see him a foot away from me. Luckily, he was sleeping as hard as a rock and had pants on. I may have been fully covered, but thoughts ran fluently through my mind. How could this be? He is my accomplice in detective work. We can't be …
Then, my memory kicked in. Last night, we were at the Dream Pipe, a bar owned by two brothers that did some drain cleaning in their days. We had a couple of Goomba shots, an alcoholic mix of vegetable juice, whisky, and cola. Odd as it sounds, it tastes as sweet as candy. After a couple of rounds, we left the place and attempted to get home to our apartment, at the 64th floor of the Atraim Hotel. Instead, we took a left turn into an alleyway and passed out in front of a dumpster. That was all I could remember, seeing how my memory was nothing but garbage at this moment. The only thing that bothered me the most was how did we end up in a Donkey Kong size of a bed? Then a light came on. My head looked suddenly towards the door. I gazed at the sight before me and couldn't believe what I was seeing before me. She was covered from head to toe in blue fur, gazed at me with those mysterious turquoise eyes, a tail that was as long as my sleeping friend, and wore nothing on aside from having a towel on.
"I hope I didn't wake you two up at a bad time," she said. "I was taking a shower and just wondered when you two would come to. You both slept for quite a while." It was 12:40, I've slept longer. Fox finally woke up and yawned. "Is it morning already?" he asked. "More like midday," I responded.
"Well, I must say," she said, "it was quite a night we had. And I will truly never forget it." As she drew closer to us, I noticed something on her right hand. It was a ring. I turned to get up and saw something glisten on my hand as well, it was also a ring. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I turned to show my friend, but it was too late. He had one perched on his hand as well. I was flabbergasted. Me and my friend were greatly intoxicated and had a three way marriage. As long as nothing happened between me and him, I would be fine.
She sat next to us, not surprised at our discovery at all. She said, to the two of us, "If you don't remember what happened, here is a recap. My name is Krystal and you are both with me, till death do us part."
"How could have this happened?" I asked as me and my also stunned assistant sat about in my office, sipping coffee. "Out of all the people out there in this world, why does this happen to me, Sam Cubed, Private Eye?"
"It could be worse, Sam," said Fox as he took a large gulp of the morning brew. "We've been through worse shit, but this one really takes the cake."
"It sure does," as I stirred the tan liquid in my mug, "To think, you and me married to some broad that we don't know much about. At least she was kind enough to tell us what happened."
"I know," said my partner. "I still have a headache from those shots." Krystal was indeed kind enough to shed some light on the subject. She said that she found us lying about near the dumpster and helped us on our feet. She added that when we got on our two legs, we said some nice things about her in a drunken fashion. I wish I had a memory of we both said, because she claimed it was sweet.
"Although, I felt sorry for her when she told us about her family," I said. "Imagine, her parents taken out one by one and the only to survive that massacre." The killer in question went by the name Mr. B, a powerful crime boss. Apparently, they made a loan from him they couldn't pay back. So they ended up getting a visit in the form of an M-16 and a lot of bloodshed.
We felt bad for her, even when we were intoxicated. She then told us we carried her to a minister down the block, who could get a couple hitched for just 50 cents. It's a very cheap price, even when you are in the year 1939. The rings Priest Ike gave us were for no charge. At least that was a breath of relief. But, I just couldn't bear the thought of it all while sitting behind the desk of my own office while sipping coffee with my fox of a friend. Then the phone rang, as Fox grabbed it and answered it, I gazed out the window behind me as another sip from the morning drink pressed against my lips. I was filled with guilt about what had taken place. I still couldn't believe that Fox and I were hitched to some dame. She may have good looks and a mysterious personality, but I just couldn't help but wonder if this was part of something that was to shaken my life.
Then, my associate hung up the phone and looked to me, knowing that he had urgent news to tell. "Looks like we got a case on our hands," he said.
I responded with tired eyes, with a feeling of knowing what I was going to get into, "Peachy. What is it this time?"
"Last night, someone snuffed out the owner of the Dream Pipe. Cops found him with a wrench driven to his head. It was a very brutal killing."
I slowly got up, wondering how crap like this will never seem to stop coming to us and said, "Well, let's get down to business."
I sat at the bench with a bottle of whisky in my hand, thinking about the examination me and Fox did at the morgue. The carcass was badly beaten to a pulp. Even the mortician didn't have the guts to remove the wrench that was embedded in his brain. Mario was his name, but he never made his last name public. One mystery I could never and will ever solve. Fox took a taxi back to the office; said he needed to file a report on the body and its findings. Also something about seeing a dead body that badly bashed made him feel sick. So I went to the Dream Pipe alone. I was looking for more than a drink. There were some interesting suspects there that had answers to my questions. One was Luigi, the owner's brother. The bartender told me that when his bro died, he would possibly get full ruling of his sibling's business. But since a scandal that involved mushrooms and the tabloids giving the high and mighty Italians a bad name. He thought his brother went through rehab, Mario never forgave him.
Next was Peach, Mario's ex-wife and once famed singer of the Dream Pipe. He was caught cheating with the bartender's ex-girlfriend. When the fruity dame found out, she just walked up to him and said it was over. She spent the last five years of her life living with her father, a rich business tycoon that owned 8 oil rigs that kept their wealth alive. Some princes she was.
Then came the bartender; he never revealed his full name, but only went by his nickname, Link. He was quite upset to find his ex with another man, only shorter than him. Apparently, when he told her that he began to feel a part of his sexuality was leaning towards men, her last words to him before she went out the door were, "Well, excuse me, you queer bastard."
But there was one person I had a knack to talk to at that place. She was Mario's second wife and now singer of this popular place, Zelda. Her voice was operatic, but not enough to be on stage. She was a beauty, but not of my interest. Once she was done performing, I had to question about her link to her deceased spouse.
I paid for my liquor and moved to the dressing rooms. I walked up to her door and knocked on it. She told me to come in. Her room was very plain and simple, aside from the large sofa and huge mirror that had pictures of her and the short plumber.
"Sam Cubed, Private Eye. I have a couple of questions to ask you."
"What's the occasion?" she asked while removing her ear rings.
"It's on the death of your husband." At that immediate moment, she burst into tears. It was like a water fountain that would never stop. As I handed a tissue, she sobbed, "I loved him dearly. I would never do anything to hurt him. Besides, last night the only thing I remember he last did before his wrenching death, was that he had a meeting with Big W."
Big W, now that was a character that I had a bone to pick with. Mario's evil cousin and a crime boss of sorts. Since kindergarten, this guy has been nothing but trouble. He was about the same height as his goody-two shoes of a sibling, but wore a yellow suit that was quite tacky, even for a villain. But what really drew my attention to him, when ever I saw him or a photo of his looks, was the mustache he bore. It was long, bushy, and desperately needed a trim. Guess he never heard of a razor before, the chump.
"Thanks for your help and don't worry, I will find the son of a bitch who killed your love." She smiled a bit as I walked out the door knowing who to tackle next. As I left her room, my memory kicked on the whereabouts of that moron. Last I saw of him, he was sitting in the center sipping on his favorite beverage, The Slippery Elm Tree. It was an array and assortment of liquor into one drink. One sip and you will feel like everything is turning surreal. I know the feeling. I use to have a few till I stopped when Bartender Link told me of its secret ingredient. It was then I deiced to never drink an alcoholic beverage that contained children's cough syrup in it.
I was just about to head back to the bar and talk to him, when two Koopa Troopas stood in my way of returning to my further investigation. Big beefy torso, black suits, and had tiny but muscular heads that could crack a walnut in half a second. Those where Troopas alright, but the only flaw was the tiny turtle heads that were perched on top of their huge bodies. Threatening as they were, their minds were as big as a pea. Before I could utter a word, they placed a cotton cloth over my mouth. I was being chloroformed. It was then I began to black out.
"I know what you are up to," said the voice. "And I want you to stay out of what you are trying to find." I began to finally come out of my unconscious state. Once I woke up, I found myself in the back of a limo. In front of me were Big W and as well as two Koopa Troopas, sitting on either side of me. That fat bastard; it was him who sent them in to drug me. "Sorry about the chloroform," he apologized with a fat grin. "But I prefer to talk in private. I may have taken a very surreal drink, but I'm not stupid. I had a feeling you would try and investigate me."
Enough was enough, I had questions and he had answers to them. "Alright, confess W. I knew you did it so you could gain control of your cousin's business." He said nothing to me for a moment. Just then, he glared at me like a cat getting ready to pounce and said, "Your close. But this is not of my doing. Sure, I may have assisted it, but I'm not fully behind the operation."
"Then who is?" I demanded. He didn't answer. He just nodded to the two numskulls sitting next to me and the tossed me out of the limo. Before they drove off, I heard the fat ham yell, "I'm not your man, Sam. However, I may have been behind your new wife. Plus, I suggest you drop the case while you still can. Boss won't be happy about this with you nosing about." I was flat on my face when I heard the tires screech and drive off. Once the limo was gone, I got up and stood up on the sidewalk I was dropped off at. As I looked about my surroundings, I thought about what he said before he dumped me here. What did he mean by being behind my new wife? Was Krystal hired to do such a thing? Or is this all a set up?
I had to get back to the office to find out. I stuck out my thumb and a cab stopped in front of me in a split second. Now that's my kind of ride. As I stepped inside the yellow car, the cabbie said, "Hedgehog Express, where to Sam?" I then realized who it was. Sonic was quite the speed demon when it came to taxi travel. "To my office and fast," I responded. In an instant, the car bolted onto the street faster than a locomotive. "So, how is your good old boxing friend doing?" I asked.
"Oh, Knuckles is doing fine," he said while passing a red light. "He won another match last night. Seeing how we are his sponsors, we're giving our members free rides and non-members half price. Seeing how you are my favorite customer, no fee for the trip." I helped him out once in a case where his champ of a friend was framed for taking drugs during his match with Ivo Robotnik, some called him by his boxing name, Eggman. Turns out his opponent set him up so he could take the win. Robotnik was always the cheating son of a bitch he was.
As he pulled in front of the building, I said good bye, gave him a tip of 50 cents for his troubles, and ran inside to my workspace. There sitting in my office was Fox and Krystal, whom we where possibly sharing between each other. Apparently, they were waiting for me. I closed the door tight to avoid open ears listening in. "Please take a seat," he said. "We're just talking about the possibility of who could have killed Mario."
"I think I'd rather stand," I responded. "I was menaced by Big W during my investigation. He is not the murder, but he was behind something else…" At that very moment, our beloved blue gem burst into tears and began to spill the beans. "Okay. I confess. I was at the bar last night but for a different reason. A couple of weeks ago, I heard you two were the highly recommend private investigators about. I wanted the murder of my parents revenged by having you track down my killer and put him behind bars."
"Why didn't you walk over and ask us then?" Fox asked.
"I was going to, but then I saw you both taking liquor shots. So I assumed you two were busy…" she said wiping what was left of her tears.
"We were taking shots like we normally would. We're never that busy," I responded. We never were. When we went to the Dream Pipe we went there to relax and nothing more. "Now that I think of it, I remember that on the second round, it tasted sweeter than usual and a bit spicy. I have a feeling they might have been spiked," said a concerned Fox. Then again he was right.
"I had nothing to do with it," defended Krystal. "After a trip to the restroom, I went to find you had both left. Then Big W came over, looking like he was searching for someone, and said that you were both staggering around in an alleyway. I felt so bad that I wanted to help you two out. I couldn't help seeing you both drunk. But then you both said nice things and …" Here was when she broke down into a sea of tears. I couldn't help but feel sorry for her. The kid was an orphan, had no family, and we were her only comfort by the looks of it. Even though we were intoxicated on such an unbelievable night, we still cared about the girl. She wiped her tears and looked at us with her eyes getting a tad red from her sorrows. "If you don't want me, that's fine. I understand."
But as she got up to leave us, possibly for good, Fox and I stopped her before she opened the door. "Listen kid," I said, hopefully cheering her up, "This may have been unexpected for both of us…"
"…But we don't want you to go," Fox picked up. "You lead a rough life and we want to make it up for it."
"We promise, after this case," I said meaningfully, "we'll track down Mr. B and place him behind bars. Then we can all relax…"
"…for a long while," Fox finished. We then noticed a change in her attitude. First a smile grew, then a ray of hope dawned on her and then soon enough she hugged both of us tightly. "Thanks Sam. Thanks Fox. I really appreciate it. Besides, I think I do remember hearing something about the shots being spiked while I was in the ladies room."
"WHAT?!?!" we both exclaimed.
"I was washing my hands and I was next to the vent system that leads to the men's room. I eavesdropped on a conversation between Big W and some other guy, I couldn't recognize the voice, and they mentioned about slipping a drug, made from the Inferno Flower, in a customer's second round of shots. Seeing that you were the only two who were taking Goomba Shots, I assumed they were talking about you." Then, it dawned on me and Fox. The Inferno Flower was only available in Brazil. And there was only one crime boss that had access to such a rare plant. It was him all the time. Case solved.
I had no time. This character had to be in our hands right away. "Fox, you come with me. Krystal, you stay here, guard this place and lock the door. This guy needs to be in our hands by today or else, who knows what might happen." I just opened the door, when someone or something struck me hard on the head with a wooden club. It was hard enough to knock me out. As I fell to the floor, I heard a grunt from Fox, followed by Krystal's screams as my sight faded to darkness.
"I told you to get off my trail, Sam. Actually, I told Big W to give you that message, but you were warned either way," said a voice as rocky as gravel. I knew who it was. He was the one I was going to find and put behind bars. Instead, he found me.
"Of course I was warned. But I never have good hearing." I snapped back, "Even when you are trying to hunt down and capture one of the most fiendish crime bosses to ever exist in this city…MR. B!!!" That's right, Mr. B. He was behind it. In fact, he was behind a lot of things. As me sight came to, I got a good glance at him. Bigger than me, spikes sticking out of the back of him, and looked like a cross between the devil and a larger lizard stuck inside a giant turtle shell. In fact, he was. The room was very bare, aside from a bed, a one-way listen in radio, bathroom, and a cabinet. "Welcome to the 24th floor of the Atarim," he said with a sneer. All this time, he was 40 floors below me. How could I have missed that? I began to lay the facts on him one by one. "I knew it was you all along. You were behind everything; the murder of Krystal's parents and the murder of Mario. You killed her guardians just over a little debt that was left unpaid. You also snuffed out that Italian plumber just to gain control of the Dream Pipe."
He just stood there and grinned wickedly. "You're right on the money. But there is more to it. I want more than just the Dream Pipe. I want to open a business of my own. Koopa Paradise, a place where sins can run wild. Complete with gambling, harder liquor, sex, and greed all under just one roof. A little get together where the bad can roam wild. And then, I shall mass produce this joint to everywhere across the state, making it the number one spot in the country. Then, state by state, place by place, my empire will grow and I SHALL BE RICHER THAN ANY OTHER AND RULE THIS PITIFUL WORLD WITH MY MILLIONS OF GREEN!!! I SHALL HAVE MY OWN WORLD, MY OWN RELIGION, AND MY OWN DYNASTY!!! AND THAT DAY IS UPON YOU NOW!!!"
He laughed evilly in my face. His plan was a genius one. It was like Santa Clause, but bringing the toys to the bad guys. With a joint were many can commit sin on every state sounded like opening a bank for the mob. If Mr. B opened this and mass produced it, it could be chaos to the economy. That is what he wanted. That is what all crime bosses wanted. Money and it was a key ingredient to this fiendish plot. It had to stop before it could begin. "Well, that's quite an idea. But there is one thing that bugs me. What does having me and my friend Fox getting hitched has to do with this?"
Mr. B stopped his laughter and looked at me closely. "I wanted to throw you off. Set up a little hurdle to slow you down. A hurdle that allowed Big W to call a private meeting between him and Mario. A hurdle that managed to get me to Mario in a room, so I could bash his brains to oblivion. However, it was also a hurdle that back fired. When Big W had you chloroformed, he planted a bug in you, so we could listen in and be updated on the situation. We managed to overhear the conversation you had in your office with your pal and lover. And, when I heard her voice, I realized it was Krystal, the target that I missed. I vowed to kill that family and I shall. Once she is dead, their debt will be paid…in full."
I couldn't believe this shit. "Didn't killing her parents fill that void? What does she mean to you anyway?"
He looked at me and responded coldly, "She vowed revenge and before she commits it, I'm going to make a fur coat out of her before I'm turtle soup. And as for your partner, he is with her at the Robert Nes Memorial Clock Tower. At the stroke of midnight, they will see their end at the 4th chime. And when they take the plunge, we will all sing here comes the bride." He got up and grabbed me by the neck and lifted me a few feet above the ground. "And I don't care if you try and stop me, because by the time you get there, they will be face flat on the ground in blood soaked pavement….holding hands."
"You bastard," I said while being choked at the neck.
"But seeing that you're here, I might as well toss the bouquet." With a mighty throw, he chucked me out of the window. I couldn't bear to open my eyes. I thought I was done for. I was hoping to hit the pavement to escape this nightmare, but I landed in a dumpster. What rotten luck. As I got out and brushed myself off, I couldn't help but think. Do I really have a chance to save my pal and the dame? Or go waste my life as Mr. B installs a night club filled with sin?
Hell no. I would not allow it. As I ran out of the alleyway I landed in, I managed to get to the sidewalk and stick out my thumb. A cab stopped in front of me in a split second. As I stepped inside the taxi, the cabbie said, "Hedgehog Express, where to Sam?" I smiled. My luck was starting to change…
The Robert Nes Memorial Clock Tower was old; older than me. Construction began in the early 1900s and then 20 years later, its builders decided to add on additional floors. It was officially 10 stories tall and almost as big as the Chrysler building. I began to walk up to the top floor. Each step creaked louder and louder. With each step, I wondered how high I was getting. The more I went up, the more I told myself not to look down. Damn vertigo.
I eventually reached the inside of the clock. The room was full of gears and springs turning and twisting here and there. Light peeked in the center from the face of the clock that looked backwards from the inside. As I entered through the door carefully, I sipped behind a large gear and looked around. Sure enough, in front of the face of the clock, there was Fox and Krystal held at gun point by Big W and kneeling on the ground. I pulled out my revolver, hidden in my coat, knowing how risky this situation was. It was loaded, what luck. Now, that I think of it, if I remembered it earlier, I would have used it on Mr. B. However, I was too focused on my headache at that time, which I did get from getting knocked out. Hey, you too would forget a lot if you were still recovering from a wild night while being chucked out of a window and a moving limo.
I was about to make my move, when I felt a cold metal gun touching the back of my neck. I immediately hid my gun back in my coat, he didn't notice. "So nice of you to join us, Sam Cubed," said Mr. B. "Of course, you didn't think we would start without you." It was an ambush. He wanted me to come here. He teased me more with, "Shame you didn't take the elevator like I did." It wasn't my fault I wanted to sneak up on them traditionally. Screw the lift; at least it was worth the walk.
He forced me to movie and joined the captive two. I knelt there next to my partner, my one and only friend I was with though the way. Next to him was our soon to be widow. I felt so sorry for her. I made a promise to get this demonic turtle behind bars and now he was going to kill us. The clock was at 11:58. 2 minutes till our death at the pavement below. "Looks like its game over, Sam," said Mr. B as he raised his gun, getting ready to shoot us down. We were dead ducks.
As I faced forward to my doom, I heard a gunshot. I looked to either side to see if one of us was hit. Instead, I saw Big W stagger backwards, clutching his heart and dropped dead on the floor. We turned to see an odd figure in the doorway. Dressed in a suit with black gloves, fedora perched on its head, and a gun in one hand. I couldn't make out the face, because there happened to be no face on it. It was blank, but the voice sounded like Yoshi on cigarettes. "Don't move, Mr. B. Let Sam and his friends go. Now, drop the gun or there will be a bullet logged in your cranium," it threatened.
Mr. B was nervous. He did put the gun down, but pulled out another on from his shell and shot at the Blank Figure in the chest. The phantom character fell back to the doorway and tripped. As it tripped, the mysterious guest fell down the stairs, step by step. Tumbling down the long and tall path that laid ahead for it; what a death. Without a moment to spare, I tossed Krystal my gun that I was hiding and she quickly fired one bullet straight at B's head in one shot.
He paused, feeling this blow to the head and dropped his revolver. As he fell back to the face of the clock, he stuttered his last words, "Paid…in full…" He crashed through the clock at the first chime of midnight…
Second chime, he was falling to the street below…
Third chime, he hit the ground face up, shell cracked, and soaked in the blood flowing from underneath him…
By the fourth chime, Mr. B was dead.
We all got up and looked at the mess below, it was a gruesome sight. "I guess that ends it," Krystal said as she returned my gun to me. "Yeah," I said, "but there is one thing that remains unanswered." I ran to the elevator, finally using it now, in hopes of getting to the phantom and questioning its presence before its death. I made it to the first floor and there it was; laying weakly at the first step, waiting for death. I silently walked over to the figure and took a good look at it. The hero that could have been was now near being dead. I reached my hand and touched its blank face. It felt like rubber. It was rubber, a rubber mask. I quickly grabbed it, ripped it right off, and soon became horrified at the sight of who it was.
She explained, with her final breath, "When I found out he killed him, I had to take revenge on B. For what he did … killing my husband…Mario…" With those last words, Zelda died in front of me. Before she gave into death, she closed her eyes and let out a smile. A smile of hope, a smile of happiness, a smile knowing all was well and her spouse's death was vengeance, and it was a smile that stayed on even after her death…
The police came in and viewed the aftermath. As the mortician took the dead three, we told them our story and went on our way back to my place. Well, now our place. "All this time, that greedy monster was behind it. I'm glad to see you solved it," said Krystal as we walked back to the Atarim. "But how did you figure it out?"
"Mr. B has a side business with drugs on every continent. He's also the only one to have ownership of the Inferno Flower," I said.
"A rare type of plant that can be used as a strong addition to create drugged liquor," continued Fox. "When you mentioned about it, that's when it all came together. He was trying to make a fool out of me and Sam here."
"It all back fired," I added, "because Big W chose a random girl instead of planning it out. Either way, we're stuck with you."
"After all," Fox said, "you're a nice kid and would make a great addition to the investigation team."
"That's exactly what I had in mind," she said. "But there is another reason why I should be with you two."
"What's that?" we asked.
"Well, I wanted to tell you two this but I didn't want to shock you both."
"Oh, come on," I said. "How bad could it be?"
"Ok, but on that night, after the wedding, we went to my place and instead of sleeping like I told you two…"
"And that is how we met your mother." I finished saying to my two boys. Marcus was in his bed, 10 years old and his fur as blue as his mother. Max was also in his separate cot, 10 years old and his fur the same color as his other dad, who was still my partner to this very day. "That was an interesting story," said Marcus, "but there is one thing that bugs us."
"When you had us, did you, Fox, or our mom give up your jobs?" asked Max.
I answered, "There will always be crimes to bust. In fact, now and then, we take shifts watching over you. Next week, I have to help Fox with a situation we are having. We're getting close to capturing the Pink Vacuum and keeping him behind bars, once and for all this time."
"Will you tell us about him?" asked Marcus.
"Perhaps, but right now, it's time for you two to sleep. There is plenty of story to go around tomorrow." Despite a sigh of disappointment from them, they laid back, closed their eyes, and went to sleep. I got up from my chair, turned out the lights and closed the door silently.
Now, I know what you are thinking. Is Marcus really my son or is it Max? Or perhaps either boys belong to me or they actually have Fox's DNA in them? Or is it half and half? Take my advice. Some mysteries are best left unsolved…..