Crenshaw Burnaby, U.S. Marshal
"Who would murder a coat check girl? Answer that and you've solved the case."
Marshal Crenshaw Burnaby came to Chicago in the winter of 1962. He'd been dispatched from headquarters to help the local police solve the mystery of who was murdering coat check girls and dumping their bodies in the snow.
"I ask you again." Crenshaw Burnaby paced up and down the wooden floor of the South Side precinct building. "Who would murder a coat check girl?"
"A nudist?" Rookie officer, Melvin Murphy ventured.
"Perhaps." Crenshaw replied. "Who else?"
"Someone with gum smeared on his collar." Jimmy O'Toole spoke up.
"Well, it wasn't there when he handed it in and so he blames the coat check girl."
Crenshaw raised an approving eyebrow at Jimmy. "You've a sharp mind son. I bet you're a hell of a cop."
Jimmy blushed. Crenshaw resumed pacing.
"Come on men, keep 'em coming. We call this the brainstorming process."
No one spoke. They didn't think they could top Melvin and Jimmy's theories.
"Hey goddamn it!" Crenshaw's voice cut like a thunderclap. "You gonna quit at two?!"
Crenshaw grabbed the nearest man and slammed him against a wall.
"There's a villain out there murdering coat check girls and their innocent blood is on your hands."
Crenshaw drove his knee into the terrified cop's solar plexus.
"You're lead-less, theory-less, gutless and pale."
He released the quivering man and didn't watch as he slid to the floor. Crenshaw whirled on the rest of the officers, his lip curled in a snarl.
"Coat check girls are being murdered out there." He spat. "They need sturdy heroes and theories and brutal, righteous rage. But meanwhile you're in here braiding each other's hair and trading cookie recipes."
He took one step forward and two dozen cops shrank back as one.
"I've seen more ferocity on the spring-time pages of calendars, the ones where baby ducks cuddle in hay with fuzzy kittens."
Crenshaw drew his sidearm and emptied it into the ceiling.
"Now." He roared in the plaster dust silence. "Who would murder coat check girls? And keep the goddamn theories comin'."
"Drunken sailors!" Brian screamed.
"GOOD! WHO ELSE?"
"Circus folk!" Marcus hollered.
"Nice thinkin'. WHO ELSE BY THUNDER?!"
"A big meanie!" "The mob!" "Wombats!"
Three cops spoke at once. It was impossible to tell who said what. Crenshaw didn't seem to mind. He dropped to his knees and started dry-humping his rifle.
"Yes boys, yes! Let the purifying theories wash over our trembling minds. WHO?!!! Who else would kill the coat check girl?!!"
"Jealous bartenders!" "A guy named Steve!" "Wolves!" "Space aliens from the planet Tweed who think that she's a jailor!"
Crenshaw writhed orgasmicly and started tonguing shotgun shells.
"More boys more! We're gonna crack this case, I can feel it! Who would kill the coat check girl?!!!"
"Somebody's uncle!" "An armless man!" "A death platoon of beavers!"
"God I love you boys!" Crenshaw lurched to his feet and sprinted around the room, kissing the cops on the mouth.
"There's yet to be an unsolved case that couldn't benefit from a theory!!! So, more damn it more or I'll shoot you where you stand! Who would kill coat check girls?!!!"
"Dock workers!" "Sasquatch!" "Someone who doesn't like ticket stubs!" "Minorities!" "Johnny Unitas!" "Buttons the Psychopathic Clown!"
Crenshaw dropped his pants, spit in his hand and proceeded to clutch at himself.
"Oh boys, detective work!!! Don't it just make you wanna... WHO ELSE?!!!" He bellowed. "Who else would kill the coat check girl?"
"Vampires!" "Renegades!" "Someone who wasn't hugged enough!" "A Bengal tiger!" "Dwight Eisenhower!" "That guy right over there!!!"
Crenshaw Burnaby tuck-rolled and came up double-fisting shotguns. "Who said that?" He snarled. "Who said 'that guy right over there' and at whom was he pointing?"
Sergeant Freddy Sanderson stepped forward. "It was me, C-Crenshaw." He stammered. "That guy in the lobby--h-he just walked in."
"Look." Said the guy in the lobby. "I just wanted to report a bicycle theft, but if this is a bad time I can always--"
Crenshaw Burnaby raised his shotguns. "Instinct governs most successful police work."
"No Crenshaw, what are the odds?!!!" But Freddy's cry was swallowed up by the roar of Crenshaw's shotguns. And the guy in the lobby left a stain so severe that it had to be replastered and painted over.
"And now we wait." Crenshaw whispered as he sat cross-legged on the floor. "If no more coat check girls die then we've got our man."
And through some spectacular chance of fate, the man in lobby actually had been the killer. No more coat check girls died. And Crenshaw Burnaby returned to headquarters victorious and his legend ever-grew.