After looking over my high-school era stories, I came to the realization that few of them are any good. In fact, they’re horrible. For that reason I have decided to skip ahead a bit to one of the good ones. This story was, like the play below, written in a quick burst. I began on June 29th, 2008 at 03:00 a.m. and finished fifty minutes later. I then went to sleep.
“Parvum, P.I.: The Yak Files”
The phone rang. A hand reflexively turned on the lamp, followed by a displeased groan. According to the alarm clock it was 9:15 p.m., far past our hero’s bedtime. After rubbing his eyes he picked up the phone.
“‘Ello,” he croaked.
“Is this Parvum?” a panicked woman gasped. He jerked the receiver away from his ear, a soiled expression on his tired face.
“Yes, this is Parvum,” he answered impatiently. “What’s the problem, sir?”
“Come quickly, please! It simply cannot wait!” she pleaded. “Come to my residence at 118 Churchill Way.”
“All right, I’ll be right over.” With that, our hero stepped into his pink rabbit slippers and headed for the door. He walked outside and felt the cold of the winter air biting at his skin. At first he wondered why he felt such a chill, then realized that he forgot to get dressed again. He rushed his naked self back into his house and slammed the door behind him.
A private investigator stationed in Liverpool, England. Lives in a spacious row house maintained by Sir Higgins.
Full name: Thomas Sullivan Parvum
Height: About so
Weight: My, my, aren’t we nosy?
Age: Younger than you. Ooh, did that hurt?
Sex: No, but always hopeful
Allergies: Shellfish, Sharks who ate people who ate shellfish
Ms. Anne Leigh Picklesworth-Snicklewicket III frantically opened her door and was relieved to see Parvum on her doorstep. She wasn’t relieved, however, to see that he was unconscious. “Parvum? Parvum! Are you all right?” She bent down and vigorously smacked him on the face until he came to. He looked up at her. “Guess I’m a little out of shape, eh?” Apparently our hero had bravely exhausted his physical capabilities in order to reach Ms. Picklesworth-Snicklewicket. “Sorry,” he explained between deep breaths, “I ran as fast as I could to 188 Churchill Way. When I remembered that you lived at 118 Churchill Way, I turned tail and got here soon as I could.”
“My goodness, you ran all that way? That’s so sad, dear, ‘specially since you yourself reside at 117 Churchill Way.” “That’s neither here, nor there, ma’am.” Parvum rebutted, by now sitting on a chair in her foyer. “What can I do for you?”
“You called me?”
“Oh, right! You see, Parvum, my darling has been kidnapped!”
Parvum snapped to his feet. “That’s terrible! Who has been kidnapped? Your husband?”
“No, my yak!”
After a long silence Parvum sat back down. “Your… yak,” he mumbled.
“Yes, my darling just up and flew the coop an hour ago! I was so worried!”
Parvum looked up at her with heavy eyes. “But you waited an hour after the fact to call me so that you could drag me out of bed?”
“I know it’s… um, late, investigator, but this is imperative. I don’t want my wee yakky fweezing in that cold, cold snow.”
Parvum chuckled. “Funny you should mention your wee yakky freezing; when I first left my house tonight I had an interesting experience—”
“Investigator, please! My poor yak is out there in that harsh Liverpudlian tundra! You must find him!”
Parvum rose and placed reassuring hands on her shoulders. “Don’t worry, ma’am, I haven’t lost a single case yet.” He made this courageous statement despite the fact that he had been assigned three cases thus far. “Now, just what does this yak of yours look like?”
“Well, he looks like a yak, really. He’s hairy, and he has crumbs in his beard, and the boys in the neighbourhood like to put baseball cards in his hooves,”
“How am I to find him?”
“Well, he goes by the name “Bingles the Speckle-peppered Snozjlebeast,” or the nickname “Billy Gibbons.” He weighs about 700 kilos and smells of stale ham.”
With this knowledge our hero set off from 118 Churchill Way in search of the wayward bovine. Armed with nothing but his wits, and toting an over-sized novelty butterfly net, Parvum tiptoed through the moonlight-cast shadows. Now, if I were a yak, whereabouts would I be? He looked everywhere he could think of. He looked in front of 119 Churchill Way, he looked between 119 and 120 Churchill Way, all to no avail. Just when he was about to go to bed and resume the case tomorrow, something caught Parvum’s eye. An obscure figure was walking along the sidewalk opposite him.
“You there!” Parvum called out.
The figure stopped. “Are you calling to me, sir?”
“I certainly am.” Parvum walked over. “Just where are you going, sir?”
The figure adjusted his gloves. “Why, home sir. I was just at the Mitre having ale with my mates.” Parvum scrutinized this figure. “I see.” Our hero produced a flashlight and shone it in the traveler’s face. “What do you know about the disappearance of a large, Nepalese cow?”
The stranger was taken aback. “I simply don’t know what you’re talking about, sir.”
“Oh, a real ham-and-eggs Briton, eh? Or should I say hammer-and-sickle? Citizen of the world, huh? In service to her royal majesty, eh?” The stranger brushed aside Parvum’s flashlight. “You, sir, are daft. I have no knowledge of a missing bovine nor the slightest idear of why you think I’m in league with Russia. Good night sir.” And with that the swarthy trench-coated figure slinked into the shadows.
* * *
It’s been over two hours and I still have no sign of the yak’s position. Nevertheless I have been relentless in my search. Our hero has placed a cardboard box in the centre of Churchill Way, propped up by a stick. Within lied a shepherd’s pie. Should the yak attempt to retrieve the treat, he shall be ensnared. Parvum felt a rush of pride at his ingenious design. It seemed the only thing he needed to worry about was hypothermia. That we must attribute to him lying on the sidewalk for over an hour, hiding with baited breath. He finally gathered his wits about him and rose to his feet. He returned to the house of Picklesworth-Snicklewicket.
Parvum stood near the fireplace, still wearing his winter camo and face paint. “I must inform you, Ms. Picklesworth—may I just call you Picklesnicket?— that this case is a tough one to crack. I am utilizing every ability I have and still the yak eludes me. Thus far I have many numerous suspects. Do you have an alibi, Ms. Picklesnicket?” Her eyes grew in surprise. “You suspect me? I’m the victim!” Parvum moved to the window and looked out across the street. “This could have all been an elaborate scheme,” he explained, “You could have simply wanted to get me out of my house so that your goons could ransack it!” He spun around. “But, you see, Ms. Picklesworth-Snicklewicket, I have foiled your plans! For I unintentionally have nothing of value! Ha!” he cried. She looked dejected. “All I want is my little boy back, Mr. Parvum.”
Parvum produced from his coat a small notebook. He opened it to reveal a list. “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I can’t let you go that easily.” In the notebook was a list of all possible suspects. She looked it over. Her eyebrows shot up. “You’ve got yourself on here!” She observed. He looked her firmly in the eyes. “I don’t remember where I was at 8:00 this evening. I don’t know what I’m capable of.” He returned to the window and looked across the Way. When he looked down at the street he saw that the box had been upset!
Not even 15 seconds later he had rushed outside, tripped on the threshold, and flown over the stoop onto the street. He ran over to the box and tipped it up to see under. Alas, there was no yak, nor any other creature. The pie was gone, and in its stead there was a pile of crumbs. A thin trail of crumbs snaked out of the box and dotted the street. Of course! A beard full of crumbs! Parvum took out a magnifying glass and followed the trail. It stretched in a great circle and eventually led back to the stoop of 118 Churchill Way. It stopped in the kitchen.
“I am at a loss, Ms. Picklesworth,” he sighed. “The trail ends here.”
“What ever do you mean, investigator?”
“The yak’s crumb trail, it went into your house, but stopped.”
“The crumb trail? Oooh! You mean from that shepherd’s pie? Why, it was rather delicious.”
Parvum sighed heavily. “That pie was meant for the yak, ma’am. Curses. Now I’ll never find him.” Presently the telephone rang. Ms. Picklesworth-Snicklewicket moved to answer it, but Parvum stopped her. “Let me answer it, ma’am. It may be a trap. Hello?”
“Yes, is this the residence of Ms. Picklesworth-Snicklewicket?”
“It certainly is. How can I be of assistance?”
“I called to inform her that her pet yak is over here on the banks of the River Mersey. I was able to ID it by the name and phone number on the ID tag on the tyke’s collar.”
“Right, thank you.” He hung up. Ms. Picklesworth looked worried. “Well? What was it?” “I got a lead,” our hero said, and with that, he set off to find the missing yak.
As he was walking along the Way our hero saw a sinister-looking man fidgeting with a suspicious-looking barrel. “All right, now, what’s all this funny business?” Parvum asked boldly. The man was caught by surprise. “What do you mean, sir?”
“Oh, you want to play the game, eh?” Parvum said with narrowed eyes.
“I’m just sprinkling salt on the road!” Indeed, the man had a shovel with a small amount of salt on it. Parvum was not convinced. “Isn’t it a little late out? I’m sure it must be even later in your glorious homeland, eh?” “May I ask you a personal question, sir?” the man asked.
“What are you going on about?”
Parvum accusingly jabbed his finger at the shoveller. “So you’re saying you’re not communist, huh? Would you give your life for the red-white-and-blue?” The man with the shovel stuttered and sputtered. He did not know how to respond. “Um, R- Russia’s flag is red, white, and blue.” Parvum was about to speak, but he paused in mid-breath. He lowered his arm. “Good point. I see that you are a formidable opponent. I will take my leave now, for I have a yak to find.”
The journey to Mersey was long and difficult. Not because Churchill Way was far from the riverside, but because our hero lost his way and had to ask directions from a man he called “Red.” When Parvum arrived at Mersey, the young yak was poised to cast himself into the river. Parvum ran forward. “Don’t do it!” He pleaded. The yak did not seem to be able to see our hero. Oh, right! The face paint! He quickly rubbed his face clean and hoped that a seemingly floating head would not alarm the yak. “Billy,” he continued, “You’ve got your whole life ahead of you! Don’t throw it all away now!”
Bingles the Speckle-peppered Snozjlebeast looked at Parvum with those beady black eyes, obviously on the verge of tears. Parvum moved slowly forward in an effort to harness the great beast, but it shied away, moving even closer to the icy river. “Billy, it’s okay,” Parvum cooed. He produced a shepherd’s pie from his apparently roomy coat. “If you come with me I’ll give you this!” Bingles grunted and with a mighty toss of his hornéd head he walked to our hero. I must say, I’ve never dealt with a suicidal yak before!
Ms. Picklesworth-Snicklewicket III opened her front door and almost cried out with joy at the homecoming of her beloved pet. “Oh, how could I ever thank you, investigator?” she asked while tears flowed down her cheeks. Parvum looked confused. “By saying thank you, I suppose.” Ms. Picklesworth led her pet by his right horn into her guest room and gently closed the door. Parvum awaited her return to the living room with a bill for services rendered. He had set it on her coffee table and was looking out the window again. “Of course, there is the matter of my payment, ma’am. If you’ll be so kind, I’m sure my pillow is waiting for me.” He heard a soft click. When he turned around, she was aiming a gun at him.
“Thank you for your assistance, Parvum. I knew you could help traffic my good friend Nikolai Pakabag from the river banks.” Presently a man, obviously a Russian, walked from her guest bedroom wearing a yak costume. She continued, “Nikolai needed a safe escort from the river banks, where he was passed off to you. And now that he has safely reached his headquarters, he can move toward his ultimate goal: Seizing control of the drug store on Penny Lane and using it as a communist base of operations!” She threw back her head and laughed maniacally. Parvum looked intensely at her.
“I knew it!” Parvum exclaimed. “I knew something was pinko around here, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.” She smiled at him as Nikolai Pakabag set the head of his costume on the sofa and sat next to it. “Such a shame.” She shook her head. “You know too much. Now I’m going to have to kill an amazing detective like you.” At this she and Nikolai threw themselves into a fit of laughter. At this our hero took on a look of disgust. “You, ma’am, are nothing but a megalomaniYAK.” “Clever,” she said with pursed lips, “but your humor won’t last for another minute. Good bye, Thomas Parvu—” both she and Nikolai fell to the ground, unconscious.
* * *
“It was simple, really,” Parvum said, sitting at a bar, surrounded by admirers. “I had put tranquilizer in the shepherd’s pies. I figured that it would be easier to get a yak home asleep than awake. I realize now that was dumb logic, as a yak weighs 1,200 kilos fully grown, but my mistake served me well. Since both Ms. Picklesworth-Snicklewicket and Mr. Pakabag had eaten a pie, they succumbed to the sleeping effects. I had grossly miscalculated the timing of the tranquilizer, so it was many minutes before they were finally knocked out, but in the end it saved my life.”
His throng of worshippers cheered at this and Parvum ordered another round of beers. Just then a bobby approached Parvum. “Mr. Parvum, would you mind filling out a statement?” Parvum raised his eyebrows. “About what?”
“Why, what else? Your home was ransacked last night around 10:00.”
“I knew it!” Parvum snapped his fingers. He finished his beer and turned to go.
“Oh, sir, did you want to keep this?”
Parvum turned around to see what the bobby was referring to and looked the head of the yak-costume eye-to-eye. Our hero emitted a high scream and collapsed. The bobby nudged Parvum with his foot. “Out cold.”
And so England was saved from a communist infiltration by a man named Parvum. Parvum, P.I.