With A Grain of Salt
by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
Taffy had done 18 months for hijacking one of Peter Piper's trucks. Stole16 tons of pickled peppers (Why?! Who knows?). But Piper had a good alibi. He'd been home with his wife, eating pumpkin pie and playing cards with a couple of neighbors. So who killed a two-bit hood by ripping his throat out, dousing him with slime, and dumping him in Sir Reginald Thimble's flower bed? A similar murder in Dressmakers St. put me on the right track My client was a member of the notorious Tailor Gang At last everything was piecing itself together in my head.
Sir Reginald's front door was open. Running up the steps I slipped and landed hard. A trail of goo came up the drive and went through the door. I followed, and almost tripped over the butler. Crushed flat.
Three well-dressed victims had been smoking in a room off the main hall,.my client among them. Blood was everywhere. I stepped back out. A snail the size of a Volkswagen was coming up fast from the back of the house. I pulled a salt shaker out of my pocket and raised it high. The snail stopped in its trail.
"So it is down to me and it is down to you, Deadbolt," the snail gurgled. I was surprised to hear a mollusk quoting "The Princess Bride." Usually they go in for live theater when they seek entertainment.
"One question," I said. It dipped an eye stalk "Why? Did the Tailors pay you to hit the Welshman? And if they did, why start killing them? You're a pro, not a garden-variety psycho."
"You humanoids are all crooked. They put the hit on the little thief cos he was stupid enough to rip them off. Only an idiot steals from a syndicate."
"You won't get an argument from me," I said, "but what about the Tailors? Doing your civic duty?"
"Thread-biters didn't pay me." It sounded outraged. "I let that get out, that people can push in my eyestalks, and I won't be eating."
"Three square salads a day where you're going now," I said, "you can thank me later." Meanwhile, I had unscrewed the lid of the saltshaker. It would last until the cops got here with a couple of 5 pound sacks.
"Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater"
"The tailors and the snail"