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Slightly Corked

A bad day at the Barbi factory: A Jack Proctor Adventure


It had been a week since a client had braved my three flights of stairs or even phoned. I was beginning to wonder why when the Globe and Mail explained it to me. According to a recent article, the private detective business was out of date and dying. What of, they didn’t say, but judging from the smell of my office, my guess was flatulence.
As an adaption to changing times I had turned to yoga. I assumed what’s known in private detection circles as the downward dick position: Feet crossed on desk, hands behind head, core fashionably tight, if a little pudgy.
As further proof that I was a new age, caring individual, a big bag of kale chips was deployed on the desk. It was half empty, in case you’re wondering about the flatulence. In that position I pondered the dilemmas of life. Like why we travel in circles, never rectangles. Something to do with the earth not being flat, I supposed, and then the phone rang and I fell off my chair.
It was Melissa Petley Jones, the very young wife of Anthony Petley Jones, an overweight fixture on Victoria’s wine tasting scene. “Proctor,” she said, after introductions. “Can you come over? I need help.”
“Sure,” I said. Over, in this case, happened to be Victoria’s Uplands, the gin and tonic capitol of Canada. Melissa, who was a good 30 years younger than Tony, and maybe 200 pounds lighter, opened the door for me.
“Hiiiiiiee,” she said in a high-pitched, nasal, valley girl voice so fashionable with young women these days. Just a phase they go through I suppose, like leg warmers.
As on every occasion I had met her, she was dressed to showcase her massive store bought chest, and skinny frame. Today’s outfit was a skintight white top over a leopard skin bra, the first I’d seen since the Korean War. Overall effect, bad day at the Barbi Factory.
“Any particular reason your house smells like a shooting range?” I asked. The answer wasn’t far away, Anthony, or at least his carcass, was lying in a pool of blood on the living room floor.

“I didn’t mean to shoot him.” she said, but not convincingly. I examined the body. Six shots, all below the belt; so much for the Marques of Queensberry.
“If he’s not dead,” I said. “He’s a pretty good faker.”
“It wasn’t my fault,” she said.
“I’m sure knowing that will make him feel a lot better. Any reason you shot him, or do you just like the sound of gunfire?”
“I thought he was just a common thief. He had a bottle in his hands, our 1970 Chateau Pavie.”
“Easy mistake to make. He’s pretty much indistinguishable from any other 310 lb flagship for gout. His trademark scarlet waistcoat and the paisley cravat might have clued you in, considering there’s maybe one other guy in the whole province who dresses that way, but what the heck, everyone makes mistakes. On a more delicate note, how come all the shots landed below the belt?”
She shrugged her thin shoulders. “I was trying not to hit the bottle.”
“Ah. How thoughtful. Being the collector he was, I’m sure he would appreciate the gesture. But why did you call me? He needs a mortician, not a detective.”
“Well… “ She said, sliding her leopard skinned charms closer, “Tony always said you were a man who knew how to get things done. He also mentioned you had a truck. Rather than involve the police, I thought we could just spare the fuss and get rid of the body ourselves.”
“Why sure. Just let me just check my tide tables, Let’s see… Yes, if we dump him in at Clover Point, we can catch the flood and have him in Seattle in time for a light supper, possibly a movie.”
I looked at the body. Tony, in his annoying British private school accent, always referred to himself as pleasantly corpulent. Somewhat of a stretch for a guy with the freeboard of the Port Angeles ferry.
“We’ll have to weight him down,” I said. “Otherwise he’ll pose a threat to navigation. Next time you invite me over to dispose of a body, shoot someone lighter, okay.”
“By the way,” I added, sounding as innocent as a 60 year old reprobate could. “Before we cart him out, let me see the gun.”
“The gun? What for?”
“Idle curiosity.”
From her purse on the side table, she produced an old webley that might have come over on the same boat as Tony’s cravat. Ha! I thought examining it. Just as I suspected. It was fully loaded. I stuck it in my waistband and dialed 911.
“Greetings and salutations,” I said to the 911 operator. “I’d like to report a murder. That’s right, a big fat guy. Third Uplands mansion on the left, just past the golf course.”
“You idiot!” Melissa screamed as I hung up. “The police will ruin everything. They’ll accuse me of murdering him.”
“Which you did. And after we got rid of Tony I’d be next; it would be two of us taking the flood to Seattle, not one.”
“Jack,” she said. “How can you say that?”
“I couldn’t until I saw the reloaded gun. If it was an accident, why bother to reload?”
That stopped her dead in her tracks, but not for long. All of a sudden two breasts, size jumbo, and a lascivious smile started undulating toward me. “We could make beautiful music together Jack.”
“Sorry Cupcake. I don’t look good in Kevlar pajamas, and if I slept with you, that’s what I’d be wearing.”
“Oh all right,” she hissed. “I killed the fat slob. But he had it coming. He was planning to drink the Pavie all by himself. It was our last bottle.”
Later that evening, I drank a very tasty Portuguese red with a lizard on the label in Tony’s memory, Capitao Rayeo $14. Once you got past the cravat, he wasn’t such a bad guy.

– Delbert is the co-proprietor at Mahle House. Read more at

About the author: Angie

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