We have apparently broken into JB’s house this week Fletcherfans, and found her hard at work on her newest book. Would you like to hear about it?
Once upon a time, in a magical faraway kingdom called Hollywood, there lived a private detective (naturally) called Frank Albertson. He wasn’t very good at his job but he was convinced that fortune was just around the corner.
After returning home from a failed attempt at catching a cheating husband, Frank finds his wife in their bedroom with a lawyer, Raymond Fleischer but the good news is it’s nothing suss – Raymond represents the estate of Elizabeth Flack, who has left all her worldly possessions to Frank’s uncle Charlie. Raymond is looking to find Charlie to tell him the good news but Frank and his wife Sunny haven’t seen him for over 2 years, when Frank finally got sick of old uncle Charlie eating his food, drinking his beer and stealing his shirts. The last they heard he was in Reno although the last Christmas card Sunny sent him came back ‘not known at this address’.
Raymond tells them it’s a shame – if the old guy has passed away then the fortune would go to Frank. And there are a lot of zero’s in fortune. Frank’s pupils turn into dollar signs and he asks Raymond how to go about proving Charlie is dead but Raymond tells them it takes 7 years for someone to be declared legally dead. He gives them his card and bids them good day.
While back out on his quest to catch his client’s husband cheating, Frank spots a story in the newspaper about an unidentified body found on some railway tracks outside of Huckabee, Nevada and constructs a Genius Plot. The body is too badly damaged to be properly identified, and one dead body is as good as another someone once said probably.
Sunny is horrified – poor Uncle Charlie!
(Frank explains that it’s not actually Uncle Charlie).
Sunny is on board and they set to work bombarding the coroner’s office in Huckabee, Nevada to work out the winning combination of identifying features that “Uncle Charlie” needs (and let’s not dwell on the fact that Huckabee is literally a 1 horse town but it has a coroner’s office). Through a cunning montage of elimination, they work out that John Doe is old, tubby, brown-eyed and doesn’t have a wooden leg. Sunny nails the guessing game, making Frank wonder if she’s got some sort of second sight happening but she says she’s just describing Uncle Charlie.
I don’t think she understands what’s happening you guys.
Grady Sunny drive to Huckabee to claim the remains of “Uncle Charlie” and meet the local Sheriff who according to IMDB is called Ed Ten Eyck which frankly sounds suspicious but then if you look closely…
The sheriff is mighty understanding, and tells them that John Doe died quick – was knocked clean out of his shoes, which they found beside the body, but weirdly no ID. Frank and Sunny take it in turns to tell a complicated story about Uncle Charlie’s life as a hobo, but as much as the Sheriff would love to help them bury their uncle and be on their way, there’s a catch – they aren’t the first people to lay claim to the body. In fact, they’re 3rd.
Cut to some noises that I never wanted to hear come out of Bill Maher, and then an explanation.
Frank decides his next move is to pay a visit to a guy whose name he saw written upside down on the Sheriff’s desk, whom he finds down at the local bar doing some lip sync battling.
Bart Mahoney, local lawyer and Rick Astley afficionado, is representing Marcia Mae Bailey whose father apparently lies in the morgue. Bart informs Frank that since the warning light was out, and old Roper Bailey was deaf, the railroad company as good as murdered him – and what jury is going to argue with a grieving child?
The bartender snorts at this. It would seem the grieving child might not be all that grieving.
Back at the hotel room, Frank is “resting” with Sunny (I would say get a room, but they did) when he gets a call from the Tenner, unhappy about his recent meeting with Bart Mahoney and requesting his presence down at the sheriff’s office. He’d like to introduce Frank to contestant number 2 in Who Wants To Be A Corpse Claimer – Tilly Bascombe, who is claiming the dead man is her husband Mort. They compare pictures just in case, but Mort isn’t Uncle Charlie. Tillie tells them that Mort liked to take long walks due to his insomnia, and it was entirely probable that the reason why they didn’t find any ID was because the velocity of the train whipped it out of his pockets.
This gives Frank an idea, and he asks the Sheriff to recruit the local little league team to search around the tracks the next day. That night, he and Sunny go down to the railway line and throw some of Uncle Charlie’s belongings into the bushes.
The next day (JB tells us,
madly searching for more whiskey) Frank wakes up feeling confident the belongings will be found. Because guys, you can’t just hide things in the desert. Someone will find them.
Unfortunately for Frank, his enthusiasm is shortlived. The local little league team is not too crash hot at finding things, leaving Frank to stew and Sunny to wonder why Tilly doesn’t sweat.
They are soon joined by Tilly’s cousin Jerry Wilber, who has some desert experience.
Jerry, it turns out, has been running Mort’s
laundromat microchip company ever since Meth Mort disappeared. But honestly who cares because
The search for
meth missing possessions continues, and they are soon joined by Bart Mahoney, complaining about an illegal search, the death of his client’s father etcetera etcetera. They are also joined by his client’s legs, and after a while, the rest of her.
While Bart banishes his client back to the car to contain her
chest grief, the little league kids hit gold. It’s bad news for Tilly and Jerry, good news for Frank and Sunny – they’ve found Uncle Charlie’s possessions. The sheriff takes them back to his office for a closer look but begrudgingly admits he can’t find any reason not to turn over the body – even if he is clearly suspicious. He gives Frank and Sunny a form and tells them to go see the coroner, Jack Yamamoto. When they arrive they meet his assistant, Lon Ainsley, whose voice Sunny recognises from their constant calls to the coroners office, and who you might recognise from such episodes as these. (Side note – I wish they had put the actor, Robin Bach, in more episodes; he was hilarious. Unfortunately he passed away in 1991 but he he was one of the unexpectedly best bits I’ve discovered watching this show).
Lon ushers Frank and Sunny into Jack Yamoto’s office. While Frank fills out paperwork, Sunny reads Autopsy magazine (oh MSW writers, you’re so funny!) and Jack offers to get them a deal on a plot at the local cemetery. But when the last form is filled out, and Frank and Sunny are just leaving the office, Frank gets a tap on the shoulder. It’s the Big Ten. He’s just had a call from his counterpart in the next town – they’ve just arrested a hobo with a wallet, with close to 200 bucks in it. The wallet itself has plenty of ID in it – it belongs to Mort Bascomb. So what Big Ten wants to know, is just how Uncle Charlie’s belongings ended up all over the railway track?
Needless to say, Frank is under arrest. The sheriff throws him in the slammer with a friendly hobo who is busy stuffing his rather fancy looking shoes with newspaper, since they don’t fit him. This gives Frank an idea and he hollers for the judge.
The sheriff listens while Frank pitches his theory – if the shoes were knocked off John Doe, they wouldn’t be sitting next to him. Someone killed John Doe, realised John Doe wasn’t wearing shoes, tried to jam his own shoes onto the body, realised the shoes were too small and so waited for the train to do it’s business and left the shoes next to the body afterwards. Big Ten and Frank go to see Yamoto, who tests said theory and it’s confirmed. John Doe was murdered. Because, y’know, MURDER she wrote and all.
Frank, now apparently free, goes to see that bartender from the beginning of the episode to see what he can find out about Bart Mahoney and the grieving Marcia Mae. Turns out, Marcia Mae has been taking care of herself since she was 16, with Bart Mahoney footing the bills, including the grocery bill Marcia Mae racks up at the bartender’s other job, the grocery store. She buys chewing gum and soda for herself and Mexican beer and chewing tobacco for her father – and despite the fact that her father’s been missing for 5 days, guess what she bought in the grocery store just that day?
Frank and Sunny report their findings to the Sheriff, who agrees that Bart had no motive for killing John Doe. That leaves the Widow Bascombe, who comes into her husband’s fortune as provided by the company – “with her cousin Jerry the hunk in charge.” Sunny points out.
They decide to pay Tillie a visit and, well…
After a 5 second attempt at bluffing, Jerry falters and Tillie throws him under a bus. Jerry killed Mort and what’s more he buried him in the backyard.
Tillie convinced her (it turns out) second cousin Jerry to kill Mort so she could get his money. They only decided to get married after.
The Sheriff, conceeding defeat, lets Frank and Sunny claim the body on the proviso they get out of town double quick. They arrive home exhausted, but excited about their newfound wealth.
Until they hear someone in the bedroom. It’s Uncle Charlie, just popping in to pick up his things before heading to Vegas with his new girlfriend. You aren’t going to believe this, Charlie tells Frank and Sunny, but some old girlfriend left me a boatload of money!
But let’s face it. Noone cares.