“SAY,” Lewis said, “When’d you get the new wheels?”
“I bought it at that little car lot near my cabin.” Melanie said, “Nice, isn’t it?”
“I should say so.” Lewis said, “I used to have a car just like this myself back when I was running liquor.”
“Oh, Really? I never knew that.” Mel said.
“Yep!....- I’d gotten it for a song off a buddy of mine.”-“Ol’ G.C. Griswold.” –
“In fact, I actually named it after him as a show of gratitude.”
“You did? Huh, -so that’s where the name came from.” Mel said with a bit of thought in her voice.
“Do what?” said Lewis.
“Oh, Uh,- you see, I happened to find an old note in the glove box and…”
“I’ll be danged!” Lewis interrupted, “It IS my old rig! I thought this ol’ boy was already gone!”
“You mean this is the same car? How can that be? I thought the feds would have impounded a moon-runner.” Mel asked, her brows raised in confusion.
“Well, they do, but lucky for me I’d already handed him off to another friend of mine before they caught me. Looks like the paint he put on is still sticking too.”
“Something else is sticking as well.” Mel said, her tone going serious, “Because when I read the note it didn’t really indicate towards our friend here being alive.”
“Oh,… well,…I just couldn’t come right out and say that, could I? Folks would have thought I was nuts.”
“You ARE nuts.” Mel said, a smile crossing her face, “Now how about we go for a spin?”
“Well, I would,… but your aunt wants me to stay around the store and decorate the joint. It’s nearly Christmas again you know.”
Oh dear, Aunt Edna,-known to the rest as, “Grandma”. She was the reason Mel even entertained the idea of the lawsuit.
You see, if you’ve not heard about it in the papers or on the news, that nice, loving, but not always bright woman got herself hit the Christmas before this. The culprit was the driver for that certain businessman,-a shipping magnate and a friend of the family no less.
Anyhow, the driver must have been crocked on something strong as he hauled his client through the slush that night in the boss man’s machine.
It was just a little green and gold coupe, but the old man didn’t have his license.
-That was the result of an incident in which he pulled into a lot, his nose as red as the pinstripes on his fenders, and in a fit of drunken stupor he’d tried to launch the thing off of a ramp made of banked snow and land it on some poor guy’s roof.
The guy called the cops, but the sentence was lessened when the old man slipped some, “gifts” under the table to the judges.
Unfortunately, his driver was about as bad to tank up, and when they wheeled that thing around the corner, Grandma was right in the flight path, trying to bull her way to a shelter with a load of fruitcake.
The impact knocked her spang out of her P.F.Flyer tennis shoes, but by a Christmas Miracle she survived with only a bruise or two and a case of amnesia.
That’s strangely where things get interesting, because rather than explain anything upfront, the two hoods loaded Grandma into the vehicle and drove away, leaving nothing but her outline in the snow, the form straddled by tire marks, and a sloppily written letter.
And with the booze still hanging high, they didn’t even think to take the poor dear to the hospital; instead, they hauled her clean through to the old man’s home and central shipping office, miles due north of town.
Only when the boss man sobered up did he think to bring her home. That was several months later, after the police and even the Spankenheimers had come to believe the worst, even donning black for a solid month.
That’s where Mel’s role in thing came to light, - her and her snake of a cousin; little ‘Never-did-anything-wrong’ Jake, an annoying, self-righteous walking pile of slag. (And secretly on the old man’s bribe chain to boot.)
He was the first to hear about Grandma’s survival by way of one of the old man’s aides. He was even taken to see Edna one night.
Of course, during the days just after this night, Mel had been playing her hand. Because with Edna presumed dead and Lewis, for all his worth, struggling to keep the store afloat, she’d decided to take up an offer from another businessman, a MR. Austin Bucks, who sometime back had approached Edna with a proposal to buy out the store, raze it, and use the lot for a delivery service of his own. Edna’d refused, and Mel temporarily lost her temper.
It was also this moment that she let something happen that she was now ashamed of; she’d let the sliver of greed deep in her mind get loose, growing swiftly until that fateful Christmas Morning when in a chance look to the side of the crime scene she noticed the scrawled letter. By then it had blinded her, as is the case with most.
Being’s as the two investigating cops, (Who sounded like they’d stepped foot out of the movie, “Fargo”), were blatting on about a dumb strand of hair that’d came off of the driver’s toupee when the ditz had gotten out to check things out, instead of canvasing the surrounding area immediately, she snapped it up and hid it in her coat.
For a while, she thought she had it knocked; she’d let everyone go on thinking the worst, (Which showed just how bad her mind had slipped), and get Lewis to give her power of attorney and then sell the store. From there things would have written themselves.
Unfortunately she’d figured without Jake. See, Jakey didn’t like her very much, and though he sucked up to Edna and Lewis hard enough to put a shop-vac out of work, secretly he was biding his time until they kicked, the business falling into his grasp.
The store had been successful up to this point, and he knew that if it changed hands, the money from the sale would be just one lump, which would probably go into an RV and a trip to the Grand Canyon, leaving him penniless.
So when word came that Mel was arranging the sale, he took up a grudge, vowing to stop the proceedings.
And when the aide came to pick him up on a whim, he saw his chance, convincing the old man to come down and bring Edna along, leaving the driver at home and putting the aide at the wheel.
Of course, this was where the letter came back into light, because on the day of the sale Mel was outside MR. Bucks’ office, along with her lawyer, Ms. Irene Miranda Slime, or I.M. for short, and they both saw the coupe run past on the car park, Edna riding in the back.
Mel got a little steamed here. She didn’t want Edna resurfacing until it was too late. So after a small conference with Ms. Slime, (who was far more crooked than herself), they waited until Jake and the fat man got out and went into the building, leaving Edna and the aide alone. And after the aide parked the car, they swung into action, with Irene creating a diversion to draw the aide out and away from the vehicle, and then sneaking the still dazed Edna out of the car park into Mel’s former machine, while upstairs Mel rode up in the express elevator to press the sale forward before Jake could get to Austin.
Sadly her scheme still managed to backfire, because Austin, who’d introduced the idea for the sale in the first place, had somehow started to buck down. And when Jake burst into his office, followed by the old man, he put a hold on the proceedings altogether to listen to the old man’s story.
It was here that Mel screwed up, because just as the old drunk finished his story, the greed drove her to light upon the idea of having him arrested and then sue him for hit and run, keeping, ‘Grandma’ MIA until after the case.
This was to be the crux of her plan, for though she managed to spirit Edna away to her cabin, Jake managed to locate her, with a little help from a friend of his, a real bloodhound. And the guy must have been good, because he even found Mel’s cabin without even an inkling of where it was.
If some of you have ever heard the news from around that time, then you know what lies ahead, but for those of you a little behind in the news, here’s a little catch-up.
You see, by the time that Jake and his friend found Edna, the case was boiling and about to whistle. If the boys hadn’t been successful Mel would have won the case, and that dumb boozer would have been broke and in jail. But…
At any rate, things went downhill when Jake and Co. brought Edna in at the trial, along with the letter.
The odd part was that it’d only been a few days ago that all of this had went down, and surprisingly things were looking up.
“How’s she doing?” Mel asked sheepishly.
“Well,” Lewis drawled, “She’s feeling better health-wise, but if I were you I wouldn’t go in. She’s still as mad as a little wet hen about that stunt you pulled.”
Mel sighed a little.
“Well, if that’s the case, -are there any other surprises I should know about?”
“Now that you mention it, eh, you’ll want to follow me into that alley yonder. Come on Clyde.”
Lewis lead Mel and Clyde over to an alley beside the shop and after a split inspection