Hi, my name is Frank Perelli and I'm the character in Maryann Miller's story, "Over the Threshold", that is in The Corner Café A Tasty Collection of ShortStories. This picture you see here isn't really me. It's what I wish I looked like. That's a picture of Sam Spade, a really famous character. The only thing we have in common is that we both wear a Fedora and a trench coat. Oh, and I guess I ought to say that he taught me everything I know.
I'm a private investigator, sometimes called a gumshoe, and one day I was hot on the trail of this guy Paul Ricca, who was trying to muscle in on Johnny Roselli's business. I don't often work for the wiseguys, but, hey, I gotta make a buck somehow.
So this day I hear that Ricca might be at Mickey's tavern, and I decide to stop in. Except inside it ain't Mickey's. That sure was a strange experience. One minute I'm pushing open the tavern door, and then something really weird happens. I'm not where I'm supposed to be. And the people I meet. Well, let me tell you, they ain't like any of the mopes that I'm used to seeing around town. Back where I come from, people know how to dress. Some even wear spats and derbies and know enough to cover up boney knees when going out in public.
I don't want to give the whole story away here, but I was stuck in some time warp or something, and I'm still wondering if it was a dream. Only we wake up from dreams, don't we?
How this writer, Maryann Miller, came up with this idea, I don't know. She could have just let me catch this Ricca guy and get on with my business. She could maybe even write a whole book about me. I'm a pretty neat guy, and folks would like me. But no, she had other plans. She said she had some other folks to write about.
Speaking of other folks. I poked around a little inside that cafe, and there were some real weirdos there. I met a dame named Wilson. Who names a girl Wilson? And there was somebody who loved cows? I'm not even going there. There was another girl who lost her digs, and one who wanted to quit driving a bus. I didn't ask either one what happened. They both looked like they wanted to cry, and if there's anything I hate it's being around a dame with a lot of tears and wailing.
Oh, and the other thing about this place. There was no beer or Jack Daniels. They had coffee, but not just straight boiled in the pot coffee. There was this menu hung where the picture of the nude lady used to be, and it listed things like Chocolate Mocha Toffee and French Vanilla Latte. What the hell kind of coffee is that?
If you really want to know how weird this Corner Cafe is, you might just want to stop by and see. Me, I'm staying here. I still have to find that Ricca guy.