Dead Cold Presents, “Grandpa Got Run Over By a Swordfish”
By Jeff Cohen
c. 2013 All Rights Reserved
The gypsy was dead. Luckily, it was a gypsy moth, and nobody cares about those.
The rest of the scene wasn’t quite as easy to take, though: lying on the floor was a swordfish mounted on a supposedly wooden board. If you touched the bottom of the plaque, the fish would appear to sing “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” which made no sense at all. Why would a fish sing that?
Next to the mounted fish, which had one corner that was now covered in blood, was a jug of Moonshine, the latest in a weird line of cleaning products meant to look “down home,” manufactured by Smyth and Weston, a huge conglomerate which would be starting a search for a new CEO. Ronald Smyth (pronounced “Smythe”) was lying on the rug with a very large hole in the back of his head where someone had hit him with the singing fish.
“You just found him like this?” asked Detective Regina Levitton, a tall, imposing woman carrying a notebook and a gun (notebook in her hand, gun, thankfully, in her shoulder holster).
“Yeah,” I told her. “I came by to see Hannah, his granddaughter, to return her screwdriver. I live next door.”
“Was there anyone else here?” Levitton asked, not an expression on her face.
“Not that I saw, although there was a 1959 ZIL-III Soviet-made armoured limousine parked in the driveway when I walked over.” Levitton stared at me a moment. “What? I’m a buff, okay?” Some people don’t understand hobbies.
“A buff.” Levitton’s interrogation style seemed to consist of looking skeptical. It wasn’t doing much for me, but I’m an amateur. “The uniformed officers on the scene didn’t report a 1959 armoured limousine in the driveway.”
I shrugged. “I guess whoever drove it here left before the cops arrived.”
“Do you know anyone who owns a vehicle like that?” the detective asked.
I shook my head. “Never seen one like it before. I figured it was here because he—”—I pointed at Smyth on the floor—“was a big wheel in business.”
These days, anyone can be a detective as long as they have an iPhone. Levitton was furiously punching away at hers. “There is one in this state, registered to a Harcourt T. Weston.”
“The dead man’s partner,” I noted.
Beat, two, three… “The man most likely to benefit from Smyth’s death,” the policewoman said. Geez, Sherlock! Ya think?
“Maybe,” I said. “I was just returning a screwdriver.”
But Levitton was already thinking three steps ahead; her eyes were practically spinning in their sockets. “You can go,” she said. “Thanks for your help.” It’s always that way.
I stole another glance at Smyth, dead on the floor, his head pooled in blood. I shook my head. The waste.
That’ll teach you and your partner to put cleaning products in moonshine jugs! My father would still be alive today if not for you and your partner—I hope he rots in jail.
Jeffrey Cohen, who writes as E.J. Copperman, is a New Jersey native and freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, American Baby, TV Guide and USA Weekend, among many others. As a screenwriter, his work has been developed by the Jim Henson Company and CBS. He teaches screenwriting at Drexel University and writing at Rutgers University. His hobbies include speaking about himself in the third person.