Southern belle and one-time stripper Coco Meringue has come to the Cracked Shell detective agency to ask hard-bitten PI Troy Yolk to track down her missing husband, shady businessman Larry "Lemon" Meringue. Now read on…
Troy read the note again. It was from the notorious Al Bumen and his gang of thugs, demanding a ransom and threatening to crack Larry’s skull open if the money wasn’t paid by the end of the month. "That’s in two days, Mr Yolk" said Coco. "There’s no way I can raise that money in two days. You’ve got to find him. You’ve got to stop them!" Troy looked up. Coco was dabbing at her eyes with a silk handkerchief. He couldn’t stand it when women started crying. "Why don’t you just call the police?" he asked. "Oh no, Mr Yolk, didn’t you read in the note? If they catch wind of the police they’ll kill him! Oh please say you’ll help me…" Against his better judgement, Troy agreed. He was just that kind of guy.
Five hours and many cups of black coffee later found him staking out Albumen’s Souffle Cafe – clearly just a front for his other illegal activities. All the heavyweights in the town’s shady underworld had come in and out of the cafe – but no sign of Al. And no sign of Larry. Troy knew bad when he saw it and this wasn’t looking good. Maybe it was time to put the squeeze on some of his contacts. Troy drove on down to the City Scramble, a late-night joint where his best sources usually hung out. Harry Halfdozen (so called on account of the loss of four fingers in a nasty accident) was holding up the bar, as usual. "So Harry, how about a bourbon?" asked Troy as he slid onto the stool next to Harry. "Yolk, whaddaya want?" was the less-than-promising response. "I need some information, and I need it quick" replied Troy, "and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll talk before I have to turn to less sociable forms of persuasion. You’re the man who sees everything that goes on in this town – what do you know about "Lemon" Meringue?"
"Lemon? Ain’t seen him for a couple of days, but the word on the street is that he’s shacked up in some broad’s apartment – Sunny Sideup I think she’s called." "Are you sure?" asked Troy. "Sure I’m sure", replied Harry irritably. "Rumour has it he’s too scared to tell Coco – she’ll take him to the cleaners if there’s a divorce! No, he’s up there right now, getting coddled by Sunny – you know she has that fancy English accent and all. I hear he calls her his English Muffin, and I hear she likes him to be on top – know what I mean?" he leered at Troy. "Bet that would make that Southern ballbreaker Coco green with envy if she found out – green as fresh asparagus spears, hahaha!" Troy slammed down the money for the drinks on the bar and strode out into the night. Curses. His big kidnap case reduced to nothing but a lovers’ squabble and a coward trying to hide his affair. Troy drew hs coat around him, turned up his collar and walked down the dark rainy street wondering why, why, of all the detective agencies in the city, why did she have to walk into his?
For those of you questioning my grip on reality, don’t panic – this is a submission for the End of Month Egg on Toast Extravaganza #15, kindly hosted by Stephanie, who chose film noir as her theme. Given the rather free interpretation we give to the word "deadline" here at EoMEoTE, Steph is still accepting entries till mid-week, so get cracking! And remember to check back at Stephanie’s for the soon-to-be-revealed roundup featuring more runny dames and hard-boiled heroes.
I have cheated ever so slightly this month – the delicious dish you see in the picture was not in fact made by my fair hand – but rather by my fab sister-in-law Paola. On the last morning of my recent visit to South Africa the family got together for a brunch and Paola made these delightful bites. On the left we have a toasted English muffin topped with Philly cream cheese, a coddled egg (on top, just like Coco likes it, hur hur hur!!) and topped with wilted fresh asparagus. On the right, we have the other half of the muffin, topped with blue cheese sauce, crispy bacon and rocket (arugula). A stylish brunch dish and a fittingly delicious final meal to my holiday. Thanks Paola!
** STOP PRESS ** Hostess Stephanie has posted the roundup – and what a roundup it is!! Go check it out now!