Had to admit, I was impressed. I'd seen a lotta murders in my time, but this one was done up pretty nice. No signs of forced entry, no signs of a struggle. Nothing that would indicate any crime had been committed at all. Except, of course, the dead guy with a bullet hole through his skull. Hell, there wasn’t even a spatter pattern. We even checked the hole left in the wall to see if we could find the remains of the bullet and we got nothing. Which lead me to thinking, for this crime scene to be so perfectly spotless, someone had to clean up. And they really cleaned it up. Which lead to the questions of who was this guy, how long he’d been here, and who hated him enough to plan his murder so well?
“So, John, what do you think, Anthill Mob?”
That’s my name, by the way, John. John Francis Smith. I guess you could call me a Private Investigator, but I haven’t done much private work in a long time.
“They can clean up a scene pretty good when they need to, but I’ve never seen them do it this good. And I don’t see any reason they’d bother with the extra effort on this guy. He’s a nobody.
“Si, if you don’t recognize him…”
No one hires me anymore, if something big happens it’s assumed I’ll look into it or it‘s assumed it doesn‘t need to be looked into. Some people would call me a detective, and I do, on occasion work with the cops, but I don’t work for ’em.
“Still, that doesn’t mean they’re in the clear. I’ll put my ear to the ground, find out what I can. I’ll see you around, Louis. Give chief McGraw the heads up that I’m looking into it.
“Sure, Ranger Smith, I will let him know.”
Ranger, that’s what most of ‘em call me. Ranger Smith. Started out as a joke spawned from too many hours of t.v. watching and game playing. Augie’s a smart kid, so smart that sometimes you forget he’s still just a kid, but then he goes and starts calling you Ranger Smith because he looks at what you do for a living and decides it needs a title, and you’re relieved to know that there’s still a child’s playfulness behind that adult mind. Then Benny over at The Alley picks it up, then all of his friends. Eventually it stuck.
Can’t say it doesn’t have a certain ring to it. So I’m “The Ranger” of the city of Hanbara. Named after the two founders. Louis Barbara, who you’ve already met, is descended from one of them. Course, I’m one of the few people who actually call him Louis, to most other people it’s Baba Looey. And no, that isn’t one of Augie’s nick names. That came from his boss, Police Chief McGraw. McGraw’s known the Barbara’s for years, it’s what he’s called Louis since he was small, and much like my official title, it just stuck. He doesn’t seem to mind it though, McGraw’s a good guy, if it bothered Louis he’d stop using the name.
So, what do I do? I run the asylum. I’m not the law, I don’t pretend to be, and I don’t want to be. I’m more subtle than the law, smarter than the law. I know what fish to keep and what fish to throw back into the ocean. I have no legal authority, but I have the authority that you gain through having the right kinds of connections and making the right kinds of deals. The pimps, the prostitutes, the racketeers, the mob. I know’em all professionally, I know a lot of them personally. And I have, if not the respect, the trust of the legal system in town. I have their trust in that they know what I can and can‘t, will and won‘t do and know I‘ll act accordingly. Louis is probably the only cop who actually likes me. I cut into their business and do their jobs better than them. Then I’ve got the nerve to let all that detective work "go to waste", to let these "scumbags" get away. Which shows exactly how smart they are.
Not once in my life have I let a drug dealer I found get away, nor a rapist, nor a murderer. The cops get their big fish, I keep the little ones as bait. And when I say little I mean the crimes, not the clout. No, I’ve got quite a few little fish in high places. And I was on my way to see one of them now.
As you can tell, Hanbara is a story featuring the characters of the Hanna Barbara universe. It is not a detective story, at least not the entire thing. This is the first part of the first story arc “Running the Asylum” starring Ranger John Francis Smith.
Opinions and comments would be appreciated.