I’m a nightcrawler, a silent watchman – the Midwest’s best detective (probably). I roam the seedy underbelly of St. Olaf and I dig up all the secrets she’s hiding under that grimy belly of hers – I know the ins and outs of this town, I know the backs and forths. If goons or ghosts go bump-in-the-night, you can bet I’m on the case. I’ve got the gumption, the get-up-and-go, the gumshoe know-how because I’m Larla Schnutter. And I’m back at it, buster!
. . .
It’s second semester already. Where does the time go? I light up a cigarette and take a drag. Nothing like nicotine in the morning. Suddenly, I hear a withering SHRIEK.
“Larla! What the hell are you doing in my room?!”
I whip out another cig and offer it to my trusted partner, Kermit Schindler, who blinks at me from his bed. He rubs his eyes and murmurs, “How did you even get in here? I locked the door.”
“Oh, I’ve been in here since last night,” I say. “Anyway, that’s not important. What is important is I’ve got our next case!”
“Where’s my roommate?” Kermit says.
“Gone. I’m moving in.”
“What? Is that even legal?”
I chuckle to myself and take another drag, “Kermit, you and I both know I operate above the law.”
“I’m so confused,” Kermit says sleepily.
“So our next case,” I say, slapping the files I’ve gathered onto Kermit’s lap and leaning against his bed frame. Kermit sighs and flips through the papers, squinting at my scrawled notes.
“Old Man Geebler? Where are you getting this from?”
“The ghosts told me,” I respond nonchalantly.
I sigh, exasperated. “Yes, Kermit, the ghosts! We’re all pals now. If you didn’t go abroad to London over interim, you might’ve known that.” I snatch back my files and Kermit makes noises of protest.
“Whoa, whoa. Larla, are you mad at me, or something?”
“Not mad,” I say, turning away. “Just expecting more of a commitment from my right-hand man. I mean, this is serious biz now.” I point at our window, which has Schnutter & Schindler stenciled on it in big brown letters.
“WHOA. When did that get there?!”
“I had a guy come in.” I shrug. “Anyway, get dressed. We’ve got a lead to follow.”
Kermit gets up and stuffs his pale, string-like limbs into tight black clothes. “But what about Modern Dance class?”
“Oh…Right. Modern Dance. That first.”
. . .
“So who are you calling?” Kermit pants, red-faced, and glugs down half the water in his bottle. He mutters, “Oh my god, I don’t think I’ve ever been this sweaty in my life.”
I hold the phone to my ear as I wait for my ghost friend to pick up. “I’m ringing Hairy Larry.”
Finally, a muffled voice says, “Hello?”
“Hey, Larry! It’s Larla,” I say, beaming at Kermit who is unsuccessfully trying to peel his shirt off.
“Larla! Hey! What’s up? How are yerfherfherfmurghhhhh…”
“Sorry? What was that?”
There’s some crackling and Larry says, “Wow, sorry, my service sucks. Why did I have to die with Sprint?”
“Larry, this is important. I need to talk to you about Old Man Geebler.”
“The geezer? Yeah, I’ve heard he haunts the woods. What about him?”
“Well, Larry,” I say, lowering my voice, “I may or may not have stumbled onto a major conspiracy. Tell me, how did Geebler die?”
Larry pauses. “It’s said that Old Man Geebler… was MURDERED.”
“Yes! Awesome! That’s exactly what I wanted to hear. Thanks so much Larry, stay hairy!” I hang up.
Kermit looks at me wearily. “Larla, I don’t know about this.”
I grab Kermit by the bony shoulders.
“This is it, Kermit,” I say, shaking him with increasing fervor, “We’re gonna solve a murder!”
To be continued…