To Slay a Man about a Dog
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by Fredric Brown
Description: Peter Kidd should have suspected the shaggy dog of something, right away. He got into trouble the first time he saw the animal. It was the first hour of the first day of Peter Kidd's debut as a private investigator. Specifically, ten minutes after nine in the morning...
eBook Publisher: Wildside Press, 1944 USA
eBookwise Release Date: November 2008
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [42 KB]
Reading time: 22-31 min.
"Fredric Brown (1906-1972) was an American science fiction and mystery writer. He is perhaps best known for his use of humor and for his mastery of the "short short" form--stories of 1 to 3 pages, often with ingenious plotting devices and surprise endings. Humor and a somewhat postmodern outlook carried over into his novels as well."--Wikipedia
Peter Kidd should have suspected the shaggy dog of something, right away. He got into trouble the first time he saw the animal. It was the first hour of the first day of Peter Kidd's debut as a private investigator. Specifically, ten minutes after nine in the morning.
It had taken will power on the part of Peter Kidd to make himself show up a dignified ten minutes late at his own office that morning instead of displaying an unprofessional overenthusiasm by getting there an hour early. By now, he knew, the decorative secretary he had engaged would have the office open. He could make his entrance with quiet and decorum.
The meeting with the dog occurred in the downstairs hallway of the Wheeler Building, halfway between the street door and the elevator. It was entirely the fault of the shaggy dog, who tried to pass to Peter Kidd's right, while the man who held the dog's leash--a chubby little man with a bulbous red nose--tried to walk to the left. It didn't work.
"Sorry," said the man with the leash, as Peter Kidd stood still, then tried to step over the leash. That didn't work, either, because the dog jumped up to try to lick Peter Kidd's ear, raising the leash too high to be straddled, even by Peter's long legs.
Peter raised a hand to rescue his shell-rimmed glasses, in imminent danger of being knocked off by the shaggy dog's display of affection.
"Perhaps," he said to the man with the leash, "you had better circumambulate me."
"Walk around me, I mean," said Peter. "From the Latin, you know. Circum, around--ambulare, to walk. Parallel to circumnavigate, which means to sail around. From ambulare also comes the word ambulance-- although an ambulance has nothing to do with walking. But that is because it came through the French hôpital ambulant, which actually means--"
"Sorry," said the man with the leash. He had already circumambulated Peter Kidd, having started the procedure even before the meaning of the word had been explained to him.
"Quite all right," said Peter.
"Down, Rover," said the man with the leash. Regretfully, the shaggy dog desisted in its efforts to reach Peter's ear and permitted him to move on to the elevator.
"Morning, Mr. Kidd," said the elevator operator, with the deference due a new tenant who has been introduced as a personal friend of the owner of the building.
"Good morning," said Peter. The elevator took him to the fifth, and top floor. The door clanged shut behind him and he walked with firm stride to the office door whereupon--with chaste circumspection--golden letters spelled out: * * * * PETER KIDD PRIVATE INVESTIGATIONS * * * *
He opened the door and went in. Everything in the office looked shiny new, including the blonde stenographer behind the typewriter desk. She said, "Good morning, Mr. Kidd. Did you forget the letterheads you were going to pick up on the floor below?"
He shook his head. "Thought I'd look in first to see if there were any--ah--"
"Clients? Yes, there were two. But they didn't wait. They'll be back in fifteen or twenty minutes."
Peter Kidd's eyebrows lifted above the rims of his glasses. "Two? Already?"
"Yes. One was a pudgy-looking little man. Wouldn't leave his name."
"And the other?" asked Peter.
"A big shaggy dog," said the blonde. "I got his name, though. It's Rover. The man called him that. He tried to kiss me."
"Eh?" said Peter Kidd.
"The dog, not the man. The man said 'Down, Rover,' so that's how I know his name. The dog's, not the man's."