"Quod Est Dentem" - Your Story 53 Finalist

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TiffanyLuckey
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"Quod Est Dentem" - Your Story 53 Finalist

Postby TiffanyLuckey » Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:36 pm

Quod Est Dentem

I stepped into La Cocina Norte at 12:16 p.m. The scent of cumin and old lard did little to hide the other odor permeating the eatery: I smelled a rat, and it wasn’t wrapped in a tortilla. I motioned to one of the officers already on the scene. “Weird call, eh Frank?” I said as he approached. I patted the Colt Official hidden beneath my coat; nothing like a six-shooter and Mexican food to keep you warm on a blustery October day. “What’ve you got?”

“Caroline Sinclair. Age 9.” Frank nodded toward a pale girl with long black hair speaking with another officer. A woman sat next to her, arm around her waist. “According to her mother, Caroline had just finished her last enchilada at 11:35 when they started arguing.”

“About what?”

“About whether or not she could buy a gumball from that machine.” He pointed to a dusty, faded-red bubblegum dispenser. “Seems her mother couldn’t convince her against it, so Mrs. Sinclair relented.” Frank consulted his dog-eared notepad. “At 11:41, Caroline inserted a quarter, turned the lever, and caught a human tooth in addition to the expected blueberry gumball. According to Mrs. Sinclair, the girl screamed ‘like a banshee in a smoke shop.’ She then flung the chomper and ran bawling. A waiter retrieved the tooth at 11:43.”

“Jeez,” I sighed. “Where’s the Tooth Fairy when you need her?”

#

At 2:12 p.m. I met with Dr. Harold Beauregarde, DDS. The tooth was a six-year molar with an amalgam filling and an odd bluish tint. A small brown indention marred one side of the crown. “By the amount of wear, I’d place the age at 12 or 13,” Beauregarde declared. “However …” he paused, tapping the tooth with a probe. “The coronal deterioration, the amalgam, this cavity, and especially the weird color indicate something very peculiar, something I haven’t seen since …”

“What is it, doc?”

“I think I know who this belongs to,” he breathed.

“Yeah? Who?”

“My niece,” he said. “I’ll verify the records, but I believe this tooth belonged to my niece. Violet.”

Records confirmed a match. Dr. Beauregarde slumped in his chair and stared at the floor. I stood, slipped on my coat. “I put out a warrant for his arrest,” I said. “We’ll get him this time.”

Beauregarde sobbed. “Even in his retirement he still brings me business: Cavities. Gingivitis. The whole rotten lot.” He raised his face. “But this!” He pounded his desk. “This is absurd!”

#

Two officers hustled the suspect into the interrogation room. “Wonka,” I breathed.

The little man sat down and peered at me with twinkling eyes. He grinned and tugged at his goatee. He looked ridiculous in his black top hat, green pants and purple velvet coat. It irritated me. Just like last time. “The officers said I was arrested for the disappearance of Violet Beauregarde,” he said.

I leaned forward, pressed my face to within a foot of his. His breath smelled of orange mint. “We’ve been through this before, Wonka,” I hissed. “Back in ‘67 we didn’t find any evidence, but now I’ve got it.” I held up two bags, one containing the tooth, the other a blue gumball. “A most peculiar thing,” I said. “These two objects are genetically identical.”

“What?” Wonka’s eyes grew as large as snozzberry lollipops. “Then that’s where she got the idea …”

“Who?” I said, standing. “What idea?”

“Most interesting,” Wonka said. “And so very creative!” Suddenly he clapped, jumped up and hugged me.

“Who?” I repeated.

“Why, Miss Cornelia Prinzmetal, of course!”

“Who?”

“Now you’re sounding like an owl. Violet’s best friend. And fiercest competitor! She’s been at the factory since 1964. We brought Cornelia on when Violet refused to join us.” He sighed. “It was Cornelia’s idea to use the blueberry juice we squeezed from Violet to improve our chewing-gum meal! For the longest time the result was the same. Then suddenly … perfection! And a wonderful spin-off as well: that marvelous blue gumball! Apparently Cornelia managed to employ Violet after all!”

I sat back down. “When did this all happen?”

“1967. That’s when we released the current products.”

#

Cornelia Prinzmetal confessed upon her arrest. A month later she got life. Reportedly she cheered, shouting about never having to listen to another Oompa Loompa sing again.

Everyone said she was crazy. Me, I don’t know—that’s a hard one to scrape off my shoe.

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