All names, organizations, characters, etc., in the following are the property of their respective creators, and no connection with same is implied or stated.
Barney and Thelma Lou stood on the porch of the house, nervously glancing at the street, fearing the long silhouette of the deputy’s powerful patrol cruiser. Barney felt exposed on the porch, our of his own vehicle, and it made him nervous enough he missed pressing the doorbell button the first time.
“Calm down, Barney,” Thelma Lou said. “I’m sure it’s all right.”
“Easy for you to say, Thelma Lou,” Barney said sharply. “That deputy’s looking to make a name for himself and apprehending a murderer who happens to be a former officer of the law himself will go a long way towards that.” He stopped, softened when he saw Thelma Lou’s eyes mist up. “Aw, shucks, Thelma Lou, I’m sorry. I’m just on edge. We’ve got to get this thing worked out before he finds us, or I may never get my name cleared.
“That’s OK, Barney,” Thelma Lou said, smiling. “I understand.” Barney smiled back, then squared his shoulders, breathed deeply, and pressed the buzzer. After a minute or so, the light came on and a familiar face showed in the doorway.
“Barn?” the man asked. “Thelma Lou? What are you all doing here so late.” He pushed open the screen door and ushered the pair in.
“Good to see you, Ange,” Barney said, shaking his old mentor’s hand. “I sure hope you can help us. I told Thelma Lou that if anyone could help us, it’d be Andy.”
“Anything, Barn, anything,” Andy said. “Just tell me what’s going on.” He motioned to his bodyguard, a tall, lanky man with drooping eyes, to clear some newspapers off the sofa. Barney and Thelma Lou sat down.
“Ange, it’s Floyd,” Barney started. “He’s been murdered.” Barney then proceeded to tell the whole story, including their harrowing escape from Ernest T. Bass. “He was a nut,” Barney concluded. “So I thought we should come here.”
Andy had been nodding. “Coming to me was the right thing to do,” he said. “The right thing to do.” He motioned to the bodyguard. “Bring us some iced tea,” he said. The man left for the kitchen.
“What do you think’s happening, Ange?” Barney asked.
“What do you think is happening, Barney?” Andy asked in response.
“I haven’t got a clue,” Barney said. “Wasn’t any time to gather any evidence; that deputy was all over us. And you know you can’t solve your crime without your physical evidence. All of your great sleuths use their physical evidence. Your Nero Wolfes, your Sherlock Holmes, your Sam Spades…What?” broke off as Thelma Lou elbowed him sharply. She pointed to the kitchen door, which had just produced Ernest T. Bass. He grinned malevolently over his gun.
“Andy!” Barney shouted. “Separate! He can’t get us both!” But Andy didn’t move. And when Barney saw the bodyguard follow Ernest T. into the room, also holding a gun, he knew why.
“You’re in on it!” he shouted. “Aw, Andy, what’s going on?”
“Shazam,” the bodyguard said.