There have been many excellent film noir detective mysteries in the past, but none have come close to matching The Maltese Falcon. But what if Ron's dreams of being a hard-boiled detective were to be fried over-easy? Then read on, if you dare...
Disclaimer: Kim Possible and The Maltese Falcon are owned by their respective copyright owners. And any resemblence to persons living or dead will be purely and intentionally farcical...
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"Ron, you're falling asleep again."
He yawned back, "Huh? Oh, sorry, Kim. One too many lectures at college today."
He stretched out his arms to relieve the tension.
"Man, all those classes are just grueling. And now that Humphrey Bogart marathon is starting on Middleton Movie Classics! I've really been looking forward to it, so I better nuke some more coffee so I can stay awake."
Kim frowned. "Just don't stay up too late, Mr. Movie. Don't forget that finals begin tomorrow."
Ron groaned, "Yeah, don't remind me."
She kissed him on the forehead and left to go upstairs.
He mumbled, "No matter what, I'm staying awake for this. This is my favorite movie of all time!"
Ron stretched out his arms again as he laid back on the couch. "Gosh, I wonder what it would have been like to be a hard-boiled private eye like Sam Spade, way back then…"
The movie began and the credits started to roll, the tinny 1940's movie soundtrack accompanying the scratchy black and white images.
By the time the title card appeared, Ron was fast asleep.
"In 1593, the Knights Templar of Malta paid tribute to Wallace I of Rodigan by sending him a Golden Mole Rat encrusted from head to toe with the rarest of jewels. But the pirate Blackeye Brown seized the ship carrying this priceless token, and the fate of the Maltese Mole Rat remains a mystery to this day…"
The scene cut to the outer office door of a detective agency in downtown San Francisco. It read, "Stoppable and Senior Detective Agency (But We Serve Minors Too!)"
Sam Stoppable's faithful friend and Gal Friday Kimmie Peregrine opened the inner door to his office, and found him unsuccessfully playing with a paddle ball, accidentally hitting himself with it instead.
"Ow! Ow! Ow!"
He looked up to see Kimmie frowning back at him with her arms crossed. "Oh, heh-heh, hey shweetheart. What's the sitch?" With an embarrassed look, he quickly put the paddle ball back in the drawer.
"There's a lady here who wants to see you. Her name's Ms. Wonderful." She continued with a sly grin, "That is, if you can tear yourself away from your other important business."
Sam perked up. "Ooh! A customer?"
"I guess so. You'll want to see her, anyway. She's a real knockout."
Ron quickly straightened his tie. "Well, show her in, Kimmie."
She glided into the room with almost catlike grace. One look at the gorgeous raven-haired woman, and Sam's eyes nearly bugged out of his head. If this had been a Tex Avery cartoon, no doubt he would have instantly turned into a zoot-suited wolf, complete with lolling tongue.
To say that she was a knockout was an understatement of galactic proportions. And this dame's proportions were certainly heavenly. Her shapely silk-stocking covered legs reached right to the floor, and her low-cut mint green chiffon dress tightly hugged every one of her graceful curves. He had her pegged as major trouble the moment he saw her.
In her hands, she held a Harlequin paperback.
"Romance novel?" he asked.
The dark-haired beauty smoothly replied, "No thanks, I've already got one."
With a confused look he responded, "Yes. Yes, of course."
A sultry saxophone began playing in the background.
Sam frowned. "Not now, Kimmie."
With a look of disappointment, she put the saxophone down and reached for her violin.
"Sorry, Kimmie. No gratuitous sax or violins today, please and thank you."
Finally giving up, she left the room, closing the door behind her.
Sam merely shrugged as he gestured to a chair. "Won't you sit down, Ms. Wonderful? Sam Stoppable, at your service."
She cocked an eyebrow. "Sam Stoppable? Doesn't that, uh, kind of send the wrong message?
He drawled, "Yeah, I get that all the time. I tried Ron Rototiller, but then I was getting all sorts of gardening calls. So, what can I do for you, Ms. Wonderful?"
She began huskily, "I need a detective. I'm staying at the Hotel Rockwaller, and I asked them if they could recommend someone reliable. They tried to steer me away from your agency as way too goofy, the manager even calling you a loser, but she did say you'd work dirt cheap."
Sam recalled the hotel's snarky proprietress and current amour of his business partner. He thought to himself, "Yeah, Bonnie, just mock the fact that business is a little slow, why don't you?"
His attention suddenly snapped back to the femme fatale as she uncrossed one leg and placed it over the other, provocatively smoothing out a wrinkle on her dress. Sam started to break out in a sweat.
"Something the matter, Mr. Stoppable?"
"Oh, er, nothing. Just wondering how much, uh, leg work this case will involve."
Ms. Wonderful smiled back with a not-so-innocent grin, as Sam's nonchalant tough-guy attitude continued to melt away.
"I'd like to hire you to locate my sister. Her name's Miss Go, and she's run off with a dangerous ex-con named Itwasa Tuesday. He goes by Itsy for short. However, my sister isn't well versed in the ways of the world, and I'm real worried about her. I'm hoping that when you find him, you'll find her as well. Oh, and by the way, he's under a terrific delusion that he can sing, so the local karaoke bars might be a good place to start."
Just then the door opened and in walked Sam's partner, Miles Senior Junior. He spotted Ms. Wonderful's considerable assets right away.
"Oh, the pardons! Excuse me, pretty lady."
Sam waved him in. "It's all right, Junior. Come in. Ms. Wonderful, my business associate, Miles Senior Junior."
Sam turned back to Junior. "Ms. Wonderful's sister, Miss Go, has run off with a dude named Tuesday. When we find him, we'll probably find her too. He likes to sing karaoke, so …"
Junior gushed, "Ooh, Ooh! Let us take the case, partner! I shall go undercover as a teen pop sensation and find this very bad man. I shall tail him and find this Miss Go person, this I promise!"
Sam smiled back at their sultry client. "Well, Ms. Wonderful, I think we have a deal."
Junior happily continued, "Ooh, partner, I am the excited boy! My fiancée, Señorita Bonnie, will be so pleased when I tell her. Then perhaps she will finally let me set a date for the marriage now that we have gainful employment?"
Ms. Wonderful instantly held up her hands. "Whoa, slow down there, Junior. This won't be just a Sunday stroll in the park. Tuesday is as dangerous as Miss Go is sweet and innocent. He wouldn't stop at anything in order to keep from going back to Cell Block D."
Ron surmised, "Could he cover up by marrying her?"
She shook her head back and forth. "No way. He already has a wife and three children in Middleton."
Sam smirked, "They usually do, though not always in Middleton. What does he look like?"
"He's got dark hair, blue skin and a scar beneath one eye. He talks in a loud, blustery manner and likes to, uh, give the impression of being evil. He was wearing a long, blue lab coat the last time I saw him."
"What does he do?" Sam queried.
She shrugged. "Who knows? Mad scientist, tries to take over the world, maybe even a horticulturist on the side: I haven't the faintest idea."
Ms. Wonderful pulled out her billfold. "Oh, and will this be enough to retain your services?"
She handed him a $200 Smarty Mart gift certificate.
Sam's eyes widened at the considerable amount. "Coolio! That'll be fine to start. Thanks!"
She gave him a seductive wink. "Don't mention it. You know where to reach me." As she got up to leave, she sensually smoothed down another wrinkle on her dress. Kimmie once again began warbling on her sax as Ms. Wonderful slinked out of the office.
Sam bade the drop-dead gorgeous female goodbye. "Until the next time, then. Hasta lombego, Ms. Wonderful."
Kimmie came back in as soon as she'd left. Sam asked, "Well, Kimmie, what do you think of her?"
The goofy look on his own face revealed exactly what he thought of her.
She scratched her chin. "Well, she's sweet, but that green tint to her skin is kinda gorchy."
Ron agreed, "Yeah, that's sick and wrong all right. Looks like she needs to get out in the sun a little more often. Then again, it could just be her diet, and I should know. I remember that time when I tried to live off of Bueno Nacho for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which was bad enough, but when I fell into that vat of mysterious chemicals at HenchCo…"
As he continued to drone on, he didn't even notice as Kimmie softly closed the door behind her.
Later that evening, the regional singing competition at the Hyde Street Karaoke Bar was in full swing, with a dozen hopeful crooners each lining up for their chance to strut their stuff.
Itsy Tuesday was the next to sing. He confidently strode up to the microphone and began his song.
"I'm going through a tunnel, stuck in the canyon, in an elevator. Who'll even listen? No! No, no, no! Whoa, whoa! Hello, hello, can you hear me now? Hello?"
Although his raspy, grating voice wouldn't be winning him any awards, the emotional content of his performance did strike a sympathetic chord with a few members of the audience, who politely applauded.
Itsy bowed deeply and gushed, "Thank you very much! Ha-ha, you're too kind." He strutted proudly to his table in the back and sat down next to a beautiful young woman who was a dead ringer for Ms. Wonderful. Junior instantly spotted her, deducing that she must be the mysterious Miss Go.
Junior was the last to sing, but he was quite nervous. He had already been thrown out of two other karaoke bars that evening due to his lackluster singing, so he was anxious to perform as well as he could while he continued to tail the elusive Itsy Tuesday.
He began tentatively, "On the road to love, you must pay the toll… Exact change is required, 'cause that's the way I roll… I've got a tortured soul, and my heart, it has a hole."
Just as had occurred elsewhere, his terribly off-key singing and total lack of technique were earning him increasing boos and catcalls from the audience.
He weakly finished, "Because that's just the way I roll, Ba-hay, baby. That's just the way I rollllll..."
Just as he finished his song, a shot rang out from the back of the small audience. The look of surprise on Junior's face lasted only a moment before he keeled over on the stage.
An enthusiastic round of applause immediately broke out, followed by several hurrahs and a desire to congratulate whoever had pulled the trigger. But during the loud celebration that followed, no one noticed a second shot, this time with Itsy Tuesday as the target. Itsy likewise collapsed at his table. An ambulance was quickly called and rushed the two seriously wounded men to the hospital, and the police were notified.
A few minutes later, Sam Stoppable was awakened by a phone call.
He groggily answered, "Hello? Yeah, speaking… Junior's been shot? Where? … Well, of course in the shoulder, I mean the place where he was at! The karaoke joint on the corner of Jekyll and Hyde? Yeah, I'll be there in twenty minutes."
He hung up and quickly dialed another number. "Hello, Kimmie? It's me. Now, listen, precious. Junior's been shot. No, he's not dead, but if anyone heard him singing, he might as well be. Now, don't get excited, but you'll have to break the news to Bonnie. I'd rather eat a moldy Naco before talking to her, so you've got to keep her away from me. Now, get right over there. Thanks, Kimmie, you're an angel."
Twenty minutes later, Sam strode into the karaoke bar.
A police officer motioned him to the stage, where Detective Hobble greeted him.
"Hello, Sam. I figured you'd want to see this."
"Thanks, Detective. What happened?"
"Someone got him with this. It's a Luger."
"No, I'm Irish. When will you ever start remembering that?"
"Uh, never mind. How many shots were fired?"
"Only one, and it was from the pistol we found lying on the table Tuesday was at when he was shot."
"Anybody hear the first shot?"
"Yeah, everybody in the entire place. You've never heard such uproarious applause."
Sam smirked, "Oh yeah? You ever hear Junior sing?"
"No. That good?"
"Uh-uh, that bad. What about the second shot?"
"No one heard it since the crowd had already gone wild. We figure Tuesday was trying to dust his competition."
Sam's eyebrows shot up. "With Junior's voice? Maybe not impossible, but really, really, really hard to believe."
"Tell me, was Junior workin', Sam?"
"Yeah, he was actually tailing Tuesday."
"I can't tell."
"You can tell me, I'm a cop."
"No, I mean I'd rather not say at the moment. Well, I guess I better break the news to his fiancée, Bonnie."
Hobble lamented, "It's tough, him gettin' it like that, ain't it? Junior had his faults like any of us, but he must've had some good points, too."
Sam sadly wagged his head. "I guess so. It's just that singing wasn't one of them."
He left and walked around the corner to the nearest payphone. He dialed the Hotel Rockwaller.
"Ms. Wonderful, please… Checked out? What time? Any forwarding address? Okay, thanks."
As he walked back to his flat, he thought, "Hmm, she checked out two hours ago, and no forwarding. There's some rotten cheese in the state of … well, whatever state they make it in. And Ms. Wonderful seems to be the melted topping on this Naco of evil."
For a moment, his mind's eye conjured up a mental picture of Ms. Wonderful drizzled with a can of whipped cream, before shaking his head to clear that particular vision.
He looked up at the nighttime sky. The moon beat down on the city like a hammer, a relentless cold beating hammer hammering down like a big metaphor that was... cold, for some reason.
A few minutes after he had stepped back into his flat, there was a knock at the door.
When he opened it, Detective Hobble and Lieutenant Barkin of the SFPD stood before him. "Good evening, detectives. Won't you come in?"
Hobble began, "So, did you break the news to Junior's fiancée, Sam? How'd she take it?
Sam waffled, "Uh, not exactly. You know I don't know anything about women."
Hobble scoffed, "Since when?"
Barkin sneered, "Since high school. He's as clueless now as he was back then."
Hobble sighed and continued, "What kind of gun do you carry?
Sam replied, "None. I don't like 'em. But I've got a few water pistols back at the office."
"You don't have one here? You sure about that?"
Sam was starting to feel very uncomfortable. "Uh, what's this really about, Detective?"
"Why were you tailing Tuesday?"
He smiled back innocently, "I wasn't tailing anyone Tuesday, but I was tailing someone the Monday before last."
"Don't get smart. I mean Itwasa Tuesday."
"Oh, heh-heh, that Tuesday. Actually Junior was, 'cause we had a client..."
"Who's the client?"
A crooked grin broke out on his face as he visualized Ms. Wonderful and that can of whipped cream again. "Sorry, I can't tell you that."
Barkin growled, "Probably a hot dame with a reaction like that, don't you think, Hobble?"
He turned back to Sam and smirked, "And don't think we don't know about Bonnie Rockwaller having the hots for you, in spite of her engagement to Junior. I think that whole 'loser' thing regarding you is just a ruse to pull the wool over our eyes, so we've put a tail on her just in case she had something to do with all this."
Sam agreed, "Yeah, that's some tail… I mean, yeah, I know she was all over me like a cheap suit when I got that $99 million check for inventing the Naco, and then again when she cheated her way to becoming the Prom Queen when I was the Prom King, and then Kimmie caught us lipsmacking, which was totally Embarrassment City, but I explained to her I wasn't the kiss-er, I was the kiss-EE, but that didn't seem to make any…"
"STOPPABLE!" Barkin fumed, his face a perfect picture of total frustration.
Hobble pressed on, "Be reasonable, Sam. Give us a break, will ya? How can we turn up anything if you don't tell us what you got? Barkin here says you were in too much of a hurry to stop and check on your partner at the hospital, and you didn't even go to his fiancée's house to break the news. We called your office and the girl there said you told her to do it."
Barkin postulated, "Stoppable, I'll give you five minutes to get to a phone and talk to that red-headed receptionist of yours. Then I'll give you twenty minutes to get back to your flat. You could have done it easily in that time."
Sam began to break out into sweat. "Uh, what's he getting at, Detective Hobble?"
Hobble answered, "Just this: both of them were shot within a twenty minute walk of this flat."
Suddenly realizing that he was a suspect, Sam replied sarcastically, "Oh, so if I'm starting at Point A walking south at five miles and hour, and your driving north from Point B at twenty miles an hour, at what point do you run me over with an accusation of attempted homicide? Sounds like one of your extra homework questions from high school, Lt. Barkin."
Barkin looked ready to clobber him, but Hobble held up his hand to calm the Lieutenant down. "Sam, what time did you get home?"
"A few minutes ago. I was walkin' and thinkin' things over."
Barkin griped, "We know. We tried to call you. But since your phone wasn't busy, I figured at least you weren't trying to call me. I've had to have my number changed three times over the past year, because you must think I'm either Miss Lonelyhearts, or else your shrink!"
Hobble barked, "Stow it, Barkin." His head snapped back to Sam. "Where'd you walk to, Sam?"
Sam shrugged. "Bueno Nacho, but it was already closed."
"Did you see anybody?"
"No, no witnesses, except them." Sam pointed directly at the fourth wall.
Barkin rolled his eyes. "Nice try, Stoppable."
Sam crossed his arms. "Well, at least I know where I stand now. Sorry I got all bon-diggety on you there, but Junior gettin' shot really upset me, then you two comin' here casting aspirations …"
Barkin rolled his eyes. "That's aspersions, Stoppable."
"Yeah, whatever. Missed that word on your pop quiz back at Middleton High, too. By the way, have you been able to question either Junior or Tuesday about what they saw?"
Barkin muttered, "Nah, they're both in a coma. But if either of them croak, it's gonna be Murder One for whoever did it."
Sam swallowed nervously.
Hobble interjected, "Well, you know me, Sam. Whether or not you did it, you'll get a square deal and most of the breaks. Don't know if I'd blame you, a man that shot your partner, but that won't stop me from nailin' you."
Sam agreed, "Fair enough. But I'd feel better about it if you'd have a drink with me. Soda?
"Soda?" Hobble and Barkin happily exclaimed at the same time.
"Jinx!" Ron blurted out. "Now you guys both owe me a round the next time!"
After they had left, Rufus popped out of Sam's pocket with a worried look on his tiny mole rat face.
"Yeah, Rufus. I've really got a tiger by the tail this time. And I'm sure that Miss Wonderful is in this up to her pretty little neck too. So it's up to us to figure out this riddle hidden within an enigma and wrapped up in cryptic Naco of mystery..."
To Be Continued...