Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 23126 – 11131
If you want more about our friend, Art Vegan, click here.
Here’s the haps:
It was a dark and stormy night when Art Vegan sat in his van watching the blackmailer’s house, fully aware that this two-bit crook, who used a black magic marker to color his manila envelopes because he was too cheap to pay extra for the real black ones, would have to leave his house sooner or later. Art had done stake-outs during his investigations before and really, this was a simple problem.
His client was a law-abiding man with local political aspirations. He hired Art because the official route could turn nasty and he hadn’t actually done anything wrong but he also could not vouch for his whereabouts at the time. Often law-abiding people hired detectives like him because they can sometimes use less orthodox methods than the police.
The crook had taken some photos which he claimed to be of this client in a very compromising position. They were just fuzzy enough so you really couldn’t tell who it was, probably some two-bit “B” actor, but if the right person with a sufficiently suspicious mind got ahold of it there could be an awful lot of damage done. Oddly enough, the criminal had used an old-fashioned film camera. By not storing them on a computer or in the cloud or anywhere else the crook had the advantage that nobody could hack his accounts or claim he had used any kind of photo-editing software on them. The drawback, of course, was that he had to keep the negatives in a safe place. Like a safe in his house.
Art had done his homework and had watched the house for the past several days while at the same time looking at various public and quasi-public records about his man. He had even talked to the man himself. Earlier in the week Art went for a few strolls around the block, saying hello to neighbors who were outside, becoming a recognized figure. He had even spoken with the crook himself. While they were exchanging pleasantries about the weather a scruffy and shaggy but terrifying-looking dog came around the corner, barking and snarling and charging the fence and jumping up on it. Art acted scared.
Jumping back, he said, “Man, that’s one scary beast!”
“Oh, yeah. Anyone comes around uninvited will lose an arm or a leg or something.”
“What’s his name?”
“Bloody Murder, ’cause that’s what you’ll be screaming if he gets you.” The man laughed.
“I’ll bet he cost an arm and a leg.”
“Nah. I got him really cheap because he doesn’t have any papers. I just had to pay for his shots. It was a great deal.”
Art watched from his van as the man drove away. While he enjoyed the old-time tough-guy detective shows like Rocky Fortune and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar as well as Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade, he knew simple was best. Still, he really liked the look those guys had and he wore a long, black trenchcoat and a fedora, just to feel the part. He wore a signal jammer on his wrist which took the wi-fi down and disabled the security system, cameras and all. He had no intention of spending a long time on the job so anyone watching would see the wifi had only been down for a short time.
Inside the house, his only real challenge would be the dog but since he knew the guy was a cheapskate on everything else, he figured he could handle old Bloody Murder. As the dog came barking and snarling around the corner he held out a very large t-bone steak which the dog, forgetting all about any sort of training he might have had, took from his new best friend.
The safe was child’s play and Art got what he wanted from it and locked it back up. Bloody Murder, who looked up at Art and wagged and went back to his business, would have the bone and all devoured before his owner ever came back and it would be a mystery how his target had ever recovered the film.
“But Mister Vegan,” the overjoyed client exclaimed, “I can understand how you did most of it but how did you get past that vicious shaggy dog? I would have expected him to bite you. Surely a highly trained attack dog couldn’t be won over that easily.”
“You’re right. A highly trained attack dog couldn’t but to highly train a dog properly would cost a lot more money than our friend would be willing to spend so he relied on its reputation alone. Remember, the man was a tightwad and only paid the cost of his shots for the dog, and after all, everyone knows that a bargain dog doesn’t bite.”