ROD BALSAC: PRIVATE DICK (EPISODE 1 – PART 2)
bBy Matt Harvey
_____I never cared much for sweets. I’m a meat and potatoes kind of guy. But I
learned a long time ago; never refuse a cup of sugar when it’s offered by a beautiful
women. So when Quinn LaToilet, heiress to the LaToilet Candy fortune, asks you to
give her a hand…well…I made it double-time down to the factory.
_____Old man LaToilet had been receiving threats against his life and Quinn had
come to me for help. Who was I to say no? Plus, money appeared to be no object
to the LaToilets. Obviously there was more money to be had making gum balls than
in being a gum-shoe.
_____I hadn’t realized how far the factory was from downtown. Walking had been
a mistake. Halfway there I flashed my old police badge to a kid and commandeered
his pogo stick “for official police business.” In times of need I’ve never been too
proud to work my own stick. Even if it caused blisters on my hands.
_____As Quinn requested, I arrived promptly at noon. The factory was surrounded
by a high wall, with a large main gate at the front. There was something strangely
welcoming about a front gate made of candy canes with gold accented ornaments of
butterscotch. Famished after my long trek, I walked up and tried to break off a
chunk of butterscotch in the shape of a gold leaf. No go, so I just hunkered down
and tried to break off a piece with my teeth, when-
_____“What are you doing Mr. Balsac?”
_____With my lips firmly wrapped around the butterscotch, I saw the bombshell
Miss LaToilet, standing on the other side of the gate.
_____“Nuffim,” I said.
_____“Those are made of iron, not candy.”
_____“Oh.” I pulled my mouth off just as the gates began to swing open. Quinn
walked out to greet me, as I wiped along strand of saliva off my chin.
_____“It’s nice to see you, Mr. Balsac. Thank you for being on time.”
_____“As always, my pleasure.”
_____Quinn and I walked down a long road to a small door on the side of the main
_____“Lots of smoke coming from those stacks up there,” I noted.
_____Quinn opened the door. “The by-products of sweet chocolaty goodness.”
_____Stepping inside the factory was like entering Grand Central Station. People
and crates of supplies moving every which way. However, the entire staff appeared
to consist entirely of midgets. It reminded me of a story I once heard about another
_____“Hey, Miss LaToilet, are all of these little guys—“
_____“Yeah. Are these the same guys Wonka—“
_____“Wonka is a fool,” Quinn shot. “That imbecile spent millions rescuing those
little buggers of his and then put them to work in his factory. Do you know what
kind of health coverage those orange-faced parasites need.”
_____“No I guess I don’t,” I confessed.
_____“A hell of a lot. That’s why my father got a great deal on these pygmies from
_____“How’d he swing that?”
_____“It was easy. Nike closed a factory in their hometown. That’s why they all
_____“Can I take your coat Mr. Balsac?” Quinn asked.
_____“Yes thank you.” I pulled off my coat and noticing a white-haired butler
approaching, I tossed it to him. “Thanks pops.”
_____The butler looked at first confused, then pissed, as he walked up to me.
_____“Mr. Balsac, my I present my father, Pierre LaToilet.”
_____“Hello, Mr. Balsac.”
I quickly removed my coat from Mr. LaToilet’s arms. “My apologies sir. I
don’t normally run around throwing my old raincoats on other men.”
_____Mr. LaToilet snorted, “That’s quite a comfort.”
_____“Father, maybe Mr. Balsac would like to see the factory?” Quinn offered.
_____“Oh would he? How magical! Death threats against my life and he wants see
how gumdrops are made.” Mr. LaToilet turned around and began to march off, still
grumbling. “Oh goodie, goodie.”
_____Quinn pushed me to follow her father. As the two of us followed a number of
steps behind Mr. LaToilet, I could understand why people would want him dead.
Such a warm and magnetic personality. But dodging out of the way of push carts
being pushed by operators to short to see over, Quinn stayed close to me. Close
enough for me to smell her and remember why I took the case.
_____We continued on through a number of tour stops. After the sugar boiling
room, the coloring stations, the packaging department and nougat research and
development, we took a break in the shipping area. Cranes and forklifts moved
boxes of yummies on to trucks to go out and brought raw supplies in on crates.
_____“So you started receiving threats when you backed out of a deal to build that new factory across town?” I asked.
_____“That’s correct Mr. Balsac. It’s nice to see you were listening during the
tour,” countered Mr. LaToilet.
_____“After my father decided not to build, he took heat from city politicians and the press,” Quinn chimed in.
_____“As I recall, it would have meant lots of new jobs for the city, right?”, I asked.
_____“Ah rubbish,” said Mr. LaToilet. “I didn’t make it in this business by selling
sugar-plum dreams to the masses. I sell good wholesome, all natural candies made
from the finest preservatives, colorings and chemicals. And all at affordable prices,
mind you. But apparently I haven’t given enough.”
_____All of a sudden a large crack was heard above us. We looked up to see a
large crate cracking open above Mr. LaToilet.
_____“Look out!” screeched the pygmy crane operator. I dove and knocked old
man LaToilet out of the way, just before the crate crashed to the warehouse floor.
_____Quinn ran to us. “Are you both alright?”
_____“Yes, except for being crushed by Balsac,” said Mr.LaToilet.
_____I rolled off of him and dusted myself off as I got to me feet. Quinn helped her father up.
_____“That was a freak coincidence,” I said.
_____“It would be, if it wasn’t the second time its happened this week,” Quinn said.
_____I walked over and examined the broken crate. Bags of spilt cocoa were
mixed in with broken shards of wood. There was something missing though. For
crates this size, where were all the nails? On the sides that were still intact, it looked
like someone had pulled most of the nails.
_____“Where do these shipments come from Mr. LaToilet?”
_____“From all around the world. Cocoa from Colombia, rice paper from Japan,
honey from the Crescent Valley and evaporated milk from the Grand Tetons.”
_____“No, I mean where do these shipments arrive directly from?” I inquired.
_____“The docks down at the pier.”
_____“I think it’d be a good idea for me to make a little stop down at the docks.”
_____“Do you think these accidents have some connection with the threats against my father?” Quinn asked.
_____“You can bet your vanilla fudge on that,” I said grabbing my coat.
_____“But Mr. Balsac, I was going to show you our nut testing room.” said Mr. LaToilet.
_____“Father, he has to go. If Mr. Balsac has time later, I’d be glad to show him
how we test nuts.”
_____I said goodbye to Mr. LaToiilet and Quinn showed me to the front gate.
_____“I might just take you up on your offer, Miss LaToilet.”
_____“Quinn please. It all depends on what you can find out at the docks. I’m a
woman who likes to see a man finish what he starts.”
_____“I’ll keep that in mind.”
_____As the gates closed behind me, Quinn called out.
_____“Why don’t you come up to the house for dinner tonight. I’m sure my father would love to have you for dinner.”
_____“I’ll be there.”
_____Watching Quinn turn and walk away was like watching a sleek ship riding over gentle round waves. Thinking of ships, I wanted to get down to the docks and ask some questions, but I couldn’t help thinking about the meal tonight. Maybe Mr.
LaToilet would want me for dinner, but all that mattered was what Quinn might have planned for dessert.