Past the Old Man Bridge is a harbor town founded by Russian emigre’s during the great War who had settled along it’s muddy shores to ply the dog-fishing trade as had long done in the home country. I was led to this quaint town by a tip from Joel the barkeep at the Boundless Euphoria nightclub, who had said that the shady history of my new client, Edward G. might be found behind the gaudily painted facades of Little Siberia. Joel is a failed impressionists who’s only hook seems to be early Peter Lorre. In fact, Mochtar the Sikh says Joel really is the 21 st Century Avatar of Peter Lorre himself. Be that as it may, Joel is prone wild imaginings when under the influence of his latest intoxicant dou jour which, as became evident as he waxed morbidly poetic with bug-eyed intensity about the satanic influence on local politics, to be of the hallucinatory variety.
“Sy, I heard you were working for E.G…”
“Yeah. What do you know about him?”
“He is, shall we say, in league with Mephistopheles.”
Dealing with nut-jobs is part of the job description. I’m Sy Caymore, private eye.
Edward G, the tragedian mobster–who did real estate transactions on the side–had hired me to help with his scheme to move the Grandiose Forest to Eagledale. He had this hair-brained plan to reverse the course of western history, restore the sovereign right of kings, and score a nifty forest for his new racket club; a scheme that had all the makings of some looney, Shakespearean Tragedy for which, it appeared, Edward G had cast me in the role of unwitting stooge. Against my better judgment, I’d taken the case in hopes of enhancing my meager bank account and getting some new material for a mystery novel I had been wrestling with for some time.
As I crawled over Old Man Bridge in my ’66 Dodge Dart I had plenty time to think. There is no better automobile for traversing the City of Night. It’s revolutionary torsion air-ride and flight-sweep styling commands respect among the pale hipsters who haunt the labyrinthine city of delusion; and though the dashboard may go pixilated, technacolor haywire and transmit coded messages from the outer reaches of space, she now exhibited the sure-footed dignity of a thoroughbred as I negotiated the snarled Island Expressway.
Joel had said the Mayor of Little Siberia might shed light on the Grandiose scam, and clues to E. G,’s shady past might be found among the brick, archival vaults of Little Siberia’s City Hall. I pulled into the parking garage and took the elevator to a lofty hall where maritime artifacts were on display. A Grand Banks dory, still manned by a skeleton in foul weather gear, lay under florescent lights, looking like it had just been hoisted from the murky waters of Dogfish Bay. Display cases held models of the old fishing fleet that had once fitted out here for their seasonal voyage to the Bearing Sea.
At first, the place looked empty. Then I saw a curly haired woman in overalls and Birkenstocks seated before an ancient laptop. She had the wholesome aspect of an organic farmer.
“Excuse me, I’m looking for the mayor.”
“That would be me,” she said with a bright, welcoming smile.
I was pleasantly surprised. Such open-faced candor is rare in Winslow, where getting a word—kind or otherwise – from city officials is like pulling teeth.
“Would you know anything about Edward G Snobinson and some wacky scheme to heist the Grandiose
forest and remove it to the Dunsinane Racket Club in Eagledale?”
Her pleasant manner suddenly vanished and she said with thinly veiled menace:
“Questions like that can get you a permanent mooring on the bottom of Dogfish Bay.”