Case Closed! — Conspiracies and Mysteries Solved

"Inspired" by Patricia Cornhole's immodest claim that all those Ripperologists may as well give up their theorizing and debating Jack the Ripper's identity because she's written the final word, "Case Closed!" seeks to solve completely and forevermore the mysteries of the world. Case closed!

13 February 2007

The Burgerland Killings

There’s nothing like confronting one’s own mortality to speed along some self-evaluation. My recent escape from Chinese Martian terrorists, who were holding me against my will in Dimensure Nine, has led me to publish a story that I’ve been sitting on for some time. Indeed, the photos for this explosive piece have been hidden in the cushion of my desk chair. Yes, corporate spies, it hasn’t all been Oreos and pretzels!

This scoop has its origins in the early eighties, when I was a cub reporter for the Daily Truth-teller, an old-fashioned truth-telling daily. I received a mysterious package containing mysterious photos, taken quite mysteriously for mysterious reasons. “A mystery,” I thought. The photos were grainy (mysteriously so) and featured what appeared to be spokespersons for Burger King. The Duke of Doubt, Sir Shake-a-Lot and the Burger King himself. The accompanying note read, “Where are they and why?”

Indeed, I thought, where, and why. I realized that they hadn’t been seen in years, and yet I could not recall hearing of any investigation. A quick call to my undercover contact at the National Police Association, Cpl. Terry Stoddard, revealed that all three were reported missing, presumed dead. The case, while not closed, was not being pursued. Stoddard’s explanation was less than convincing due to an ominous string section playing in the background. I grabbed my fedora, placed a fresh “Press” card in the hat band, and stormed out of the office. I was on the case … until it was closed.

Lots of phonecalls and interviews later, I gave up. The trail was cold. Besides, an outbreak of lobsteritis had made for an easier story to cover. I placed the photos in a file folder marked, “Case Never To Be Marked Closed” and went on with my career.

Fast forward a number of years. I’m now editor at The Gumshoe Investigator. And another package of photos arrive. These contained disturbing crime scene photos of several murders. Three McDonald’s representatives, Grimace, Hamburgler, and Mayor McCheese—all dead. It appeared that all had been victims of mob executions made to seem like accidents. At least the police said they were accidents, but that many bullet holes in the head made me suspicious.

Who were we left with? The Burger King, Sir Shake-a-Lot, and Duke of Doubt were missing and presumed dead, but Ronald McDonald was still alive and highly visible. A theory began to take shape. Ronald McDonald, head of the McDonald’s empire, had taken out contracts on the Burger King gang for either strategic or vendetta reasons. But why had several McDonald’s figures also met grisly fates? Retribution? Maybe, but from whom? More likely, I deduced (thanks to years of crime investigatin’) that they were the assassins who took out the King gang, then found themselves victim themselves of the oldest rule of conspiracy: kill the assassins. Ronald McDonald himself was killing off the McDonald’s gang. Of course, it all made sense. By the nineties, Ronald was the only one left to promote the business. I didn’t have the why but I didn’t care—leave that for the philosophers.

I was about to go to press with my exposé when I was visited by the Fry Guys, who delivered a terrible beating, growling about the photos, the photos, the photos. I didn’t surrender the photos, but I didn’t dare go to press. It was too dangerous. At that point, I was still the best, toughest, and bravest crime reporter on the northern coast, and I couldn’t take the chance of dying. So I refiled the story in the “Case Never To Be Marked Closed” folder.

Which takes us up to today. What’s changed on the McDonald’s-Burger King gangland slayings? A lot, actually. Ronald McDonald has disappeared and I think it’s probable that he’s dead or … gone underground. Why underground? Because of the re-emergence of the Burger King! Of course! He wasn’t dead, but had gone underground when his comrades had been gunned down. But now he was back, perhaps after dispatching his arch-foe, Ronald. But there was something not quite right about this Burger King. This one’s face was plasticky, the result of bad cosmetic surgery. In fact, I came to believe, this was not the original Burger King—he was dead, killed by the McDonald’s gang. This new King, I was sure, was Sir Shake-a-Lot or maybe the Duke of Doubt, cosmetically altered to look like the King!

It’s all so confusing. Who killed who? Who’s really dead? Did Shake/Duke kill Ronald? Was he in on the original Burger King Massacre of the seventies, a double agent? Did Shake/Duke kill King? Or are Shake and Duke dead, along with everyone else? Then who is the new Burger King? Who sent me the photos in the first place? Any story with this many unanswered questions must be legitimate! The machinations involved in this scheme are so profound that I fear for my safety and expect to go underground once more.

This case, however, is closed™ (pending new evidence. Send all leads to Manny Fatback, c/o this site.)

11 February 2007

The Return of Cletus Hookworm

It’s hard to remember what exactly has happened to me these past months when I’ve been missing—that is, missing from where I and others expect me to be, but not missing from where I was. Where I was was right where I was, and certainly not missing. If that reads as confusing, maybe you need to patch the gaps on your aluminum foil hats.

Yes! That’s what had happened! After my near fatal encounter with a rabid, murderous, vindictive, and malodourous Uncle Ned, I realized that my aluminum foil hat had ripped. Maybe it through normal wear and tear, maybe Uncle Ned had torn it when I wasn’t paying attention. The latter possibility made a lot of sense because it’s just the kind of thing Uncle Ned would do. Hadn’t he tricked Doctor Tongue into joining the Peace Corps? Hadn’t he once tried to karate kick The Fonz? Of course he had—he was capable of anything. Yes, yes, yes. Where was I?

Ah, in my bunker, fixing my aluminum foil hat. That must have been when the mind control ray got me. My subordinate, Manny Fatback, is prone to blaming Stephen King’s rogue clones and, more often than not, they are to blame for the ills of this world. (And other worlds—scienticianologists have long wondered why Jupiter is unsafe for humans. Think about it: Jupiter was the king of the Roman gods. King. Obviously Stephen King’s clones rule that planet at the exclusion of human beings. Jupiter is also the fifth planet from the sun. His fifth book? The Dead Zone. Jupiter is a dead zone for human beings. There’s more, much more, including his failed attempt to kill Jack Lemmon, Meadowlark Lemon, and the Lennon Sisters, but I don’t want to pee on Manny’s hydrant.)

The mind ray. Whoever was controlling it, the next thing I knew I was in a gypsy camp in Gypsania, somewhere in Europe. What did they want? At first I thought it was a nefarious plot—fixing a tribal volleyball match or securing cheap trenchcoats from my Inuit connections (if so, my reputation would indeed have been the cause of my present fate). However, it was my editorial skill, in turning literary urine into wine and papering over the holes in Manny’s investigative stories. (I mean, really, Manny originally thought that Big Bird was involved in Reagan’s assassination. Absurd when you really think about it.) So I fixed up the gypsy manuscript, Gypsgoria—a puerile rip-off of Fangoria Magazine; the absence of Wes Craven or Robert Englund interviews made it little more than a Vincent “The Gypsy Prince” Price fanzine. I think that they smelled my contempt. After all, without my trusted Irish Spring, there was little to whistle about.

So, one night, while my captors slept off a Mr. Pibb-fueled donnybrook, I stole away, eventually coming across a dimensional transporter run by a kindly gnome named Lonnie. This led to a whole series of adventures, the gist of which Manny got right in his updates as to my whereabouts. Eventually, a chain-smoking, hard-drinking private eye named Johnny Carcinoma—a man who any smart publisher would pay big money for the rights to his own exploits—rescued me while working on a case involving a man dressed like a cat eating macaroni and cheese in rubber boots. Fantastic, sure, but I don’t make this stuff up. Indeed, our own Dr. Fantastic, inventor of the Tell Whether A Person Is Lying 4050, said that my story was 51% likely to be true. In other words, I passed.

Still, nagging questions remain. What are gypsies doing with mind control devices? Why do they live in tents? Is it a coincidence that Jack Lemmon and the Lennon Sisters are dead, yet Meadowlark Lemon lives? Is that Uncle Ned sitting in a Ford Taurus down the block from me? Does Uncle Ned have clones? Does anyone really believe that a painter with an obsession with the ghoulish was really Jack the Ripper, especially in light of what happened to Suzanne Sommers house? It all makes sense if you have the grapes to make wine, folks. This case might never be closed, but for now, Case Closed!™