Plump, crumpled, costive gumshoe Smedley Blavelpang was in a proper fix. It was the sort of fix private detectives tend to find themselves in. The wind had blown his hat clean away and his gun was jammed and he was trapped behind some bins in an alleyway and the rough tough thug he had been pursuing was closing in on him armed with an unjammed gun full of bullets. It looked like curtains for Blavelpang.
He could hear distant sirens, but the cops would be speeding to a different crime in a different part of the picture-postcard country village where Blavelpang plied his lonely trade, a trade which often filled him with disgust at the iniquities of his fellow villagers. Sometimes he was actually physically sick.
Ping! A bullet zipped past the bins and struck a piece of municipal statuary which had been uprooted from its spot outside the butcherâ€™s shop and dumped in the alleyway. It was a steel and lead representation of Laika, the pioneering Soviet space dog. The statue was unpopular with the villagers, most of whom loathed the Soviet Union and canine life-forms and space travel in equal measure, probably because of the curriculum taught in the village community education hub. From infancy they were brainwashed by the fierce pedagogue who ran the place with, it was said, an iron fist in an even more iron glove. This man was as plump and crumpled and costive as our imperilled detective, a resemblance not accidental, for he was Blavelpangâ€™s papa.
The relationship between the two was fraught. The papa had always opposed Smedleyâ€™s decision to set himself up as a private eye, wanting him instead to join an anti-Soviet dog-strangling spacerocket-sabotaging pressure group. But the son followed his own lights, and now they had brought him to this dingy alleyway where he was likely to perish in a hail of bullets fired by the unjammed gun-toting rough tough thug.
Is it really curtains for Smedley Blavelpang, or will he escape an undignified death behind some bins? Will this crisis force him to reconsider his life-choices and to conclude that his papa had been right all along? Will the thugâ€™s gun suddenly jam too? Find out in the next episode of our exciting serial story!