Sunday, May 9, 2010

Blumber

        Here's a story that I wrote when I was 12. It was the first short story that I wrote entirely by myself. That's a mixed blessing; bad since I feel like I should have gotten an earlier start, but good because it means that none of my stories were written at such a young age that they're completely terrible. This one has some problems with grammar, rhetoric, and plotting, but I still like it. I actually made it into a series, with eight other stories, but I ended up losing the others. This is the only one I have left, in it's original, unedited form.





Blumber

by Adam Rowe



    "Blumber, you idiot! You've mangled this last case beyond recognition! You arrested the pizza place manager and let the real criminal get clean away! You're fired unless you shape up and stop arresting the wrong people! What do you have to say for yourself?!?"
    The meek man in the low chair across from the roaring Commander Tuntle nervously twiddled his thumbs.
    "Wh-well..." he stuttered, "...the pizza wasn't half bad..."
    "That's the last straw!" As Tuntle talked, he slowly raised himself up until he towered over Blumber. "You've got one more chance to prove yourself or YOU ARE FIRED!"
    Tuntle fell back into his chair and sighed. Then he began again, more quietly. "We've got news of a robbery on Pi Lane. Be there. Solve the crime. Report back. Is that clear enough?"
    "Uh... Well... y-yes, sir." The rotund man attempted to climb out of his chair, fell back, struggled out again, tripped on the doorstop, caught himself, turned to the Commander, ventured a weak smile, and tumbled out the door.
    As soon as he was gone, the Commander's phone rang. He picked it up and listened to a voice on the other end. "Yes, yes. It worked perfectly. He's completely fooled. What you've forgotten already? Frankly, I think your memory gets worse every day. Here's the plan. Blumber thinks that his case is real, but I've set it up. I want to see if he can solve a crime when all the clues are provided or if he really is the incompetent bumbler that I think he is."

****

    Blumber went down Pi Lane until he came to the house with a 314159 address. Seconds after he had knocked on the door, it was opened by a short, squat lady with white hair. Had Blumber been a good detective, he would have pondered the fact that the lady must have been waiting for him inside the door. But he lived up to the Commander's expectations and did not ponder at all. 
    "Well, M-mam, I hear you've been robbed. How about you tell me about it?"
    "Well, I don't have any bank account," Mrs. Brown said in a wavering voice, "So I hid my money under the floorboards in my bedroom. Then one day..." She paused to blow her nose. "I came back to find the floorboards pried up and the th-thief escaping out the window with my money. All I could see was the back of the robber. He had on a red and yellow sombrero, though. Can you trace that?"
    "I- uh- yeah." Blumber racked his brains for another question to ask. "So... does anyone else know about the hiding place?"
    "No. In fact, I haven't invited anyone in for several years."
    Blumber pulled a stick of bubblegum out of his pocket. "Have some gum?"
    "Oh, no thanks. I don't really care for the stuff."
    Blumber couldn't imagine anyone not enjoying bubblegum. He had spent a third of his salary on it and had used to be a salesman for Burple bubblegum before becoming a detective. He was a lot better at that then he was at being a detective. Too bad he had been fired for eating his merchandise.
    "I don't suppose you could show me around the room where you were robbed?"
    "Oh, sure."
    Mrs. Brown led Blumber up a flight of stairs into a practically empty room furnished with only one table and one chair.
    "Here it is."
    Blumber investigated the floor, the ceiling, and the window. While he was doing this, his hands messed up the fingerprints perfectly imprinted in the dust on the windowsill. But that was all right, since he hadn't noticed them anyway. After a careful search, he finally looked under the table. To his surprise, he found a wad of Burple gum stuck to the underside. He reached into a  pocket in his small trench coat, felt around, pulled out an old banana, looked at it, wrinkled his nose, dropped it back (the banana skin, not his nose), and pulled out a small knife. Then he chipped the gum off the table and dropped it into his pocket.
    "I- uh- think that's all, Mrs. Brown." Blumber stuttered. He stammered whenever he was hot on a clue (or nervous or sad or happy or angry or puzzled or thinking or tired or normal).

****

Hattie's Hats

    Blumber passed under the gaudy and, in his opinion, overdone sign and entered the hat store. This was the third hat store that he'd been to. None of the others even carried red and yellow sombreros, much less sold them. He made his way through throngs of chattering women and slipped behind the check-out counter.
    "E-excuse me," he said to the large woman at the counter. "But..."
    This was as far as he got, for the woman answered in a piercing voice. "Excuse you? For what?"
    Then she gave him a penetrating shriek undoubtedly meant to be a laugh. Blumber rolled his eyes. It was one of those ones.
    He thought about giving up, but his job depended on this, so he squared his jaw and asked, "Have you sold any red and yellow sombreros lately?"
    "Why, we haven't sold that kind for five years. We only sold one then and before that, we didn't sell one for seventy years and, in fact, we stopped carrying two years ago, becuase of so little sales, and..."
    Blumber was even less pleased to hear that Hattie was a talker as well as a bad-joke-cracker.
    "Do you have any record of the consumer who bought the hat five years ago?"
    "Why, sure I do." Hattie said, peering at him as if he was a hat inspector in disguise. "I print two of all the receipts and I store-- this is a hat store, get it?-- them in a big tub. I'll go fetch it."
    The woman trotted off and came back a few minutes later with a huge tub in her hands.
    "Here it is," she said cheerfully. Then she upended the container. Hundreds of thousands of sales slips cascaded onto Blumber's feet.
    He groaned.

****
    Three thousand receipts later, Blumber found it.   
    1(one) sombrero----------------------69.95
    Blumber scanned the rest of the old sales slip. It had the name of the criminal, his phone number, and his credit card number. There was enough information there for even an incompetent detective to trace. (Which was lucky.)

****

    "That's right, he's making a total fool of himself. According to 'Mrs. Brown', he missed the fingerprints entirely. Although Hattie did report that he found the right sales slip, without the fingerprints he has no evidence to arrest Bugsly! That's all for now. Yeah, yeah, goodbye."
    Commander Tuntle set the phone back into the cradle and leaned back in his chair, unmindful of the squeak. he chuckled. Soon he would be rid of that no-good detective.

****

    "Excuse me, but is this the residence of one 'Bugsly O'Brien'?"
    The man who answered the door had a grimace and glared at Blumber. He pushed his purple Burble gum to the side of his mouth.
    "Yeah. Waddya want? If you're sellin' sompin', I don't want it."
    Blumber was used to this opening phrase from his days as a bubblegum salesman, and he launched into his speech without stuttering.
    "Sir, I'm investigating a robbery and, in following up a lead, I have come to your door. Please do not be alarmed, as I will only be asking you simple questions."
    At the word 'robbery', the short man's tight features grew even tighter.
    "I don't know of any robberies."
    Blumber slipped out of his speech and assumed a lighter, yet dignified tone.
    "Oh, yeah?"
    "Yeah!"
    "Yeah?"
    "Yeah!"
    "Yeah?"
    Bugsly slammed the door shut in response. Blumber decided to use a more direct approach in hopes that the villain would lose his nerve and confess. He rang the doorbell again.
    Bugsly looked less then delighted.
    "You again?!"
    "You robbed Mrs. Brown by prying up her floorboards in her bedroom while wearing a red and yellow sombrero. Then you jumped out the window to escape when she saw you. I'm arresting you."
    Bugsly's left eyebrow twitched, but otherwise he gave no sign of alarm.
    "Ya got evidence?"
    "Uh, well... Mrs. Brown... eye witness... heh."
    "Get outta my house!"
    Blumber left.

****

    "Well, Blumber, I assume that you've come to give me a report on your investigations so far. What do you have to say?"
    It was one day later and Blumber sat dismally in the Commander's office.
    "W-well, sir, I followed a lead to Hattie's Hat store and then traced a receipt to this guy named Bugsly, but I didn't have any evidence, so I can't arrest him."
    "Hmm... not very good, but if you can find the evidence, then you can keep your job."
    "Why thank you, sir. I guess I'll be going then..."
    As Blumber got up to go, his elbow joggled a jar of ink on Tuntle's desk. It soared in the air, spilling ink as it flew. Commander Tuntle instinctively reached out his arm and snatched it out of the air, covering his right hand in jet-black ink. Blumber, aghast, grabbed some important documents off the desk and began to blot the ink.

****

    It was two days later. Blumber had been to three movies, two libraries, and played some miniature golf. He had also given some thought to the mystery. Now he was reporting back, he thought, for the last time.
    "Well, Blumber, I assume that you've come to give me a report on your investigations so far. Again. What do you have to say?"
    "Sir, you'll be glad to know that I've caught the thief."
    "Huh?"
    This was the first that Commander Tuntle had heard about it.
    "In fact, sir, he's standing in this very room."
    "Blumber, there's no one here but you and m... Blumber?"
    Blumber leaned over and snapped the handcuffs on Commander Tuntle's still slightly ink stained hands.    
    "Remember, sir, you have the right to remain silent."
    Tuntle was silent. For two seconds.
    "WHAT?!"
    "And now for that report," said Blumber cheerfully, "You see, at Mrs. Brown's house, I found a still fresh wad of Burple gum. Mrs. Brown doesn't like gum, and she hadn't had any visitors lately, so I concluded that it must have been left by the crook. There was a perfect thumb-print in it, since the burglar had used his thumb to stick it onto the underside of the table. Then, when I spilled the ink on you, I kept the paper that had your thumb-prints on it. They were one and the same. So now, I get to keep my job. I wish I could say the same for you. Take him away, boys."
    As the squad car with the bellowing Commander in it drove off, Blumber gave one last piece of advice.
    "Remember, sir, crime does not pay!"

****

    "Well, Blumber, I've decided to let you keep your job. After all, you did come up with an answer, even though it was not the one I wanted."
    It was a few days later. Commander Tuntle had finally convinced the police that he was innocent. Now he was meeting with Blumber in his office once more.
    "And I must say, I'm very impressed with the way you made that ink mishap look like an accident."
    Blumber thought about telling him that part of it was an accident, but concluded that what Tuntle didn't know couldn't hurt him. 
    "I suppose that I shouldn't have stuck the gum to the bottom of that table when I was inspecting Mrs. Brown's house. Well, Blumber, you're free to go. And we've got another case for you. I suspect a bank robber will try to rob a bank soon in Plumville. Can you stake it out?"
    "Yes, sir!"
    Blumber attempted to climb out of his chair, fell back, struggled out again, tripped on the doorstop, caught himself, turned to the Commander, tried to look dignified, failed, and tumbled out the door.

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