Since launching with the first short story, Maynard Soloman Solves the War on Drugs, Maynard Soloman, gal-damn detective, has become somewhat of a cult hero. Or a folk hero. Or maybe just confused.
Using his vocabulary of insults from bygone days and a decaying RV, the old-timey Maynard Soloman made good on his promise to fix the problems of the modern world one case at a time. Or at least cuss at them until they went away.
8 Funny Detective Stories represents his first eight cases of mystery, malarkey and misadventure. Each combines the slapstick fun of The Pink Panther with the sharp wit of The Onion, if both lived in an RV watching nothing but old Westerns. Fans of Carl Hiaasen’s crime fiction humor, Elmore Leonard’s bumbling bad guys or snappy current events satire will enjoy these quick reads.
Despite being older than dirt, the Ol’ Badger is just getting started – so long as the piss and vinegar don’t run out. Here are the short stories and bonus features you’ll find in this keen collection.
1. Maynard Soloman Solves the War on Drugs
2. Maynard Soloman Fixes Social Security and Eats a Pony
3. Maynard Soloman and the Job-Nabbin’ Illegal Immigrants
4. Maynard Soloman Proves Santa Claus is Real
5. Maynard Soloman Legalizes Gay Knot Tying
6. Maynard Soloman Takes the Bus to a Strip Club
7. Maynard Soloman & the Bull$hit Cancer Awareness Campaign
8. Maynard Soloman vs. The Kidney Thieves
How to Cuss Like Maynard Soloman
Maynard Soloman’s Two-Beer Critter Marinade
Maynard Soloman’s Guide to Milk and Cookies
10 Signs Your Kid is in a Cult
Maynard’s Guide to Tipping
Maynard’s Guide to Charitable Giving
Dr. Maynard’s Guide to Kidney Transplants
“Maynard is the philosopher-cum-man-of-action that we all wish we could be, the detective who solves mysteries by turning idiocy against itself.” – Peter Rozovsky, Detectives Beyond Borders(Spinetingler Award winner)
“Maynard Soloman is a mobile home-dwelling crime-fighting dynamo. He may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but he sure is amusing.” – Laura Roberts, ePublisher Daily
“Benjamin Sobieck has created a unique character in Maynard Soloman. Everyone knows a guy like him, myself no exception. His story has all the sarcastic humor one would expect from the character…Pick this up instead of a crack-pipe.” – Liam Sweeney, author of the Anno Luce series
“I recommend to everyone who is looking for a quick read. It’s perfect for that pick me up laugh, that bathroom read, that afternoon escape.” – Molly Edwards, Reviews by Molly
“Maynard’s unabashed ways and sour disposition make for a very entertaining tale.” – Chantal Boudreau, horror author
“PonieeinoP.” – Anonymous 5-star reader review on BN.com
Where to Get It
8 Funny Detective Stories for the Amazon Kindle for $3.99.lick here to get
Also available at all major e-book retailers. Hop to it, ya mugs!
Preview: Maynard Soloman Solves the War on Drugs
Introduction: Who is Maynard Soloman?
Here’s the deal.
My name is Maynard Soloman. Not “May.” Definitely not “Nard.” Not “Solo.” Not “Man” or even “Hey, Man.” It’s Maynard Soloman.
Can you read? Then you can see that I stenciled my name in spray paint on the side of my Winnebago RV. On the other side are the words, “Investigation Services.” Do a little word math and whaddya got?
Maynard Soloman Investigation Services.
It’s a one-man shop on wheels. I opened it up after the force booted me out of the Obscenities Division. Said this Ol’ Badger had dug his last hole. Said my health “problems” were a liability to the job. Said I should just retire.
I told ‘em to go to hell. Retirement is for chumps who want to die in their gardens. I don’t have a green thumb and I never will. I have a can opener and slow cooker.
They forced me into retirement anyway. Fine. But then the arthritic bean counters at the force stiffed me on the medical bills. Some retirement.
So to keep gas in the ‘bago and the can opener turning, I opened up my own shop. Pay off some of this debt, see the country in the ‘bago and try to drive faster than my health problems. Long as I’m moving, I don’t have time to get sick.
By the way, I don’t use or carry weapons. I cross too many state lines.
Now climb into the ‘bago and let’s get going. In the time it took me to explain all this, gas just went up three cents.
Maynard Soloman Solves The War on Drugs
At my age, a one-person sleeping bag does not cut the mustard. You gotta stretch. Gotta let those joints air out from a long day of wheelin’ and dealin’. What you need, friend, is a two-person sleeping bag.
They are the double-wide trailer of sleeping arrangements. Sure, it ain’t fancy. But it’s a helluva lot better than the single version.
Thing is, the price of a two-person sleeping bag is double of a single. I’m having trouble keeping brand name Tuna Helper in the pot. It’s just not gonna happen, see.
Here’s a tip from ol’ Maynard himself.
Go down to a Costco or a Sam’s Club and head to the sweatpants section. Get the biggest pair they sell, the ones that look like a gal-damn tent. You may also want to check the camping section.
Bring it back to your RV (or camper or pickup topper or wherever you live) and cut down the insides of the legs. Tape the legs back together so there’s only one leg.
Now crawl inside after a long day on the road. Hot damn, tell me if that isn’t prime mollycoddling.
I call it the Maynard Bag. The ‘nard Bag, for short. Don’t try patenting it, I’ve already got one pending. One of my financial Plan Bs. I think this one is actually Plan R.
This night, as always, I snooze in the ‘nard Bag. I’m dreamin’ of buffet coupons when a ruckus wakes me up. The ‘bago is parked at a Wal-Mart in the overnight area. I figure it’s just prices dropping or somethin’.
But then I realize it’s coming from inside the ‘bago. Sounds like…the dishwasher? Did some punk break into the RV to do his dishes in my ‘washer? With the way knuckle-draggers are these days, I wouldn’t put it past ‘em.
Just the other day, some fruit bat put his Cro-Magnon skull through the left window of the cab. The POS takes a bunch of my CDs while I’m away eating a burger. The joke’s on him, though, because those are all classical renditions of Elvis songs.
The next night, I come back from supper and again a window is busted. This time, it’s the right one. The punk ape put the CDs back with a note. It says, “Fuck you and dye.”
Yeah, fuck me for having an RV. I’d like to tack his balls from my ceiling next to the fuzzy dice and the lucky troll. But I don’t have a paper clip small enough.
So it wouldn’t be a surprise if someone WAS doing dishes in the ‘bago ‘washer.
I get up out of the ‘nard Bag and do a couple stretches. I need the half of me that can still mop the floor in arse to wake up. The rumbling and churning gets louder the more I stretch. That punk must have the ‘washer on full power.
That gets me madder than a coyote in a car wash. Running appliances when the engine is off drains the gal-damn battery.
I peel back the curtain to the bed and look into the kitchenette. I see my alphabetically arranged coffee creamers. I see my slow cooker. I see a puzzle I worked on for 1,200 miles. I don’t see that the dish washer is on.
Where in the hell is all this noise coming from?
I hear it again. It sounds like a bobcat going apeshit on a crappy coffee machine.
Then I feel it. It’s in my guts. The sound of my own indigestion had woke me up.
Damn it all to hell, it musta been that chintzy buffet a few towns back. Here’s another tip from ol’ Maynard: Never eat at a buffet where the senior price is more than the regular price. Also, “brown” is not a kind of meat in the same way as “red” or “white.”
Time to head out to Wal-Mart. Bless their hearts for having a pharmacy section open 24 hours.
I shuffle out the ‘bago in my pajamas. It’s not like anyone will care at this hour. I turn to inspect the RV as I leave. That punk was back. After “Investigation Services,” he wrote “SUKS :-” in red spray paint.
Gal-damn fruit bat needs a lesson in spelling. I can help. Spell this one. S. H. I. T. F. O. R. B. R. A. I. N. S.
* * *
I walk into the pharmacy section and find some of the good stuff. Or as you call it, TUMS. Which is really just SMUT spelled backwards if you can spell. It was a code word from back when I worked in the Obscenities Division. Porno pushers asked if you needed a roll of TUMS.
Speaking of asking, some punk ass is looking at me like he’s got a question. Or maybe that’s just how he looks. He’s suddenly right next to me. He’s got a ring through his thick mushroom of a nose. I’d like to put him in with some real bulls, see what see thinks of them.
“Hey, mister,” the kid says.
“What in the hell do you want?” I say without making eye contact.
“Can you do me a favor?”
Oh boy. Here it comes. “Do you a favor? Son, I’ve been doing favors all your life. I paid for your deadbeat parents to shit you into this world. Then I paid for you when they blew their money on smokes, beer and Slim Jims. I probably paid for the school you aren’t going to. How in the hell do I owe you a favor?” I say.
I speak truth. It’s all I can do. My little contribution to the world.
But I’m curious. Here we are in the middle of Wal-Mart at 2:49 a.m. He’s got the gumption to come up to me. I may as well see what he wants.
“Son, what do you want?” I say.
“I have a cold. I need to get some medicine. But the pharmacy is closed,” he says.
I point at the shelves around us. “Are you blind? We’re surrounded by medicine. Just use some over-the-counter stuff until the pharmacy opens,” I say.
The kid looks at his feet. “That stuff doesn’t work. And the pharmacy here won’t give me the stuff behind the counter. They say I need to be 18. But there’s a pharmacy counter that is open all night. It’s across town. Could you drive me there? Just go in quick and get some for me?” he says.
Ha, I ain’t no chump. If he thinks a man traveling the country solo in an RV is dumb enough to let a minor in with him, then he’s probably leaking cranial fluid down his back.
Why this kid would want cold medicine in the middle of the night is beyond me. I think back to my vice days. Nope, nothing there. I worked in the Obscenities Division. We didn’t do drugs, figuratively or literally.
Kids back in my day would ask you for a plug of tobacco. Sure, I’d give ‘em some. It keeps kids calm and focused on school work. Only they had to prove they could handle it first. I use-ta make ‘em swallow the first chew. If they could stand it, they got the rest. If they couldn’t, they didn’t want more anyway.
“Keep dreaming, kiddo. It’s probably all you can do,” I say and turn my back.
“Dammit, mister, turn around,” the punk says.
Now I usually am an even-keeled sailor. But the way he’s lippin’ off, he’s looking like the Moby Dick to my Ahab. And I just love oil lamps.
I do an about face.
He says, “You can leave me here and come back if you want. Don’t you want to know who’s been spray painting your RV?”
Are you watching closely? Because I’m about to solve a mystery in less than three seconds.
“Let me guess. It was you,” I say.
He looks shocked. “How did you know?”
“I spent 30 years in the Obscenities Division as an investigator. You don’t get razor sharp wits for nothing,” I say.
The kid is lookin’ at his feet with these big eyes. He looks like a mule caught on some train tracks. “Yeah, that was me.”
“I figured as much. You smell like the Dumpster behind a Sherwin-Williams,” I say. Boy, did he reek. It’s like standing next to a permanent marker.
“I can fix it if you want. Then you can drive and get the medicine,” he says.
“Fix it how? Scrub it off? That would take days. You must be spending too much time around the fumes. Fresh air is good for a kid,” I say.
“No, change it so it doesn’t look bad. Like how they do with tattoos sometimes.”
I chew on this on for a few seconds. The ‘bago did need a redo. I suppose this punk keeps a reserve can of spray paint anyway. Better that he use it for something good. Few things are worse than spray paint in the hands of the illiterate.
“Fine. But you re-paint it first. Then you wait in the parking lot here while I get the medicine,” I say. We turn to walk out the aisle. “You should know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Maybe you wouldn’t get sick if you weren’t outside spray painting RVs.”
“Didn’t you say fresh air is good for me?”
Wise ass. “Shut your trap and fix my RV, OK?”
I pay for the TUMS and chew a couple on the way to the ‘bago. The kid runs off to some bushes. He meets me with a can of red spray paint.
“Get to paintin’, boy,” I say.
I down a few more TUMS and inspect the damaged windows. I had taped sheets of plastic over the missing glass. Gal-damn thieves. If you’re POS enough to break in, don’t try making things right by being a dumbass all over again.
I return to the kid. The “SUX :-” is now joined by a large * at the end. It looks like scribbles. Maybe a bush.
The kid sets the can down. “All done,” he says.
I take a step back. Nope, looks the same from here. “What are you done with? You just added some scribbles at the end.”
“It changes what you’re sucking at. It’s better than before,” the kid says.
Huh? This makes no sense. Back in my day, we used graffiti for communication. We didn’t have these fancy phones everywhere, see. I’d write, “Martha, will you go to the dance with me?” on the side of Martha’s barn. Then she’d write…I forget exactly, but I’m sure it was a “Yes, Maynard, I’d love to.”
Ah, good ol’ days.
But now, you can’t understand what in the hell this graffiti is about. Shit, you’d think every one of these punks is a doctor.
“Are you sure this is better?” I say.
“Sure I’m sure.”
“If I find out it’s not, I’m going to beat 17 years of good parenting into you. Or however old you are,” I say.
“Yeah, I’m 17. Can you get me that medicine now?” he says.
“Fine. What kind is it?”
“Just ask for pseudoephedrine.”
Now hold on a minute. I see what’s going on here. Pseudo means fake. He’s trying to play a trick on me. Make me look embarrassed at the pharmacy counter. “Yeah, right, kid. Nice try. What is it really?”
“Pseudoephedrine is an ingredient. It’s in a lot of medicine. Whatever has it in it, that’s what I need,” he says.
“Fine. Wait here,” I say.
* * *
The pharmacy turns out to be some shithole with a state-of-the-art drive-through. I guess even places like these have standards.
Another standard? A 10-foot clearance. Which means the ‘bago needs to shave off another a few feet. I ain’t cutting off the roof for this kid, so I park and get out.
The place is deserted except for me and this metal box. I stand there for a bit lookin’ at the thing. It’s not talkin’ at me yet.
In my years, I’ve learned that customer service is a luxury that must be demanded. Asking for help nowadays is like organ donation. You’d better have a good reason. And nothing conveys reason better than a round of healthy cursing.
“Hey, you blasphemous pillock. If you’re done bogging off, I need some gal-damn service,” I say and kick the box a couple times. Ouch, my knees. They hurt like bastards. “Are you in there? Or am I talking into the ass end of a robot?”
After a few seconds of lollygagging, this woman’s voice comes over the line. She sounds sleepy and scratchy, like a drunk scarecrow.
“Can I…help you?” the woman says.
“My ‘bago won’t fit through your drive-through. I need some medicine.”
“No, my gal-damn RV. It’s too tall. So I’m on foot. It didn’t trip the thing that tells you I’m here. But I’m here now. Take my order,” I say.
The woman coughs. I can’t tell if she’s laughing. “Sorry, sir, we don’t take walk-ups in the drive-through. You’ll have to come back when the store opens.”
You’ve got to be shitting me. We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t figure out a drive-through. “What do I need to do? Call a cab or something?”
“That’s one option.”
“You honestly expect me to pay for a cab? The drive-through isn’t 30 feet long.”
“Sir, you have to be sitting above four wheels. It’s policy.”
“What about a shopping cart? I could paddle my way through like a gal-damn canoe.”
“It’s not my problem.”
Mother of Lucifer, I about lost it right then and there on that crone. You just cannot get decent customer service any more. It’s no surprise. Everyone’s so gal-damn soft nowadays. I’m surprised they don’t crack in half when they wipe.
Normally, I would’ve hung it up at this point. But I feel I owe it to that kid for fixin’ the RV. Does that mean I’d pay for a cab to go 30 feet?
Ladies and gentlemen, good ol’ Maynard Soloman does have a heart. I keep it preserved in a jar of piss and vinegar in my chest. Like a pickle.
The cab comes. It’s $5 to sit down, $7 for the medicine, $8 to wait for the pharmacist to find the medicine, $4 to go to the end of the drive-through and $1 for the pikey driver’s tip. He’s got the goolies to ask me if I want to be dropped off at the ‘bago.
I just laugh and get out, $25 poorer.
* * *
Back in the Wal-Mart parking lot, the kid’s gone missing. I sure as hell ain’t wasting gas driving around looking for him. So I park the ‘bago and hit the ‘nard Bag. He knows how to knock.
Not three winks later, I hear a rattle at the door. I slip out of the Bag and look out the window. Who in the hell is that?
Before I identify the visitor, I hear two big rips coming from the cab. And it ain’t comin’ from me this time. I look to see two big SWAT-lookin’ guys shovel themselves through the plastic sheets. Damn it all to hell, my windows are busted again.
Then the knocking visitor lets himself in with a kick. The door hits the floor. I run to the bathroom and fortify my position. Door shut, ass on toilet. Releasing that indigestion is my only line of defense. I’m like a rabid skunk.
I hear footsteps outside the bathroom door. They inspect every corner of the ‘bago before honing in on my position.
“I take it you guys aren’t here to cut a swell, are you? Or did you gal-damn apes already get a mitten?” I say.
There’s a pause. I can hear them thinking. My unnerving taunts are worthy of any medieval battlefield. Then one of them says, “You’re not going to cut anything. You’re going to come out right now.”
“I’d have to be full as a tick to do that. I don’t even know who you are,” I say.
Another pause. They know not to mess with a badger like me. “Just come out,” one of them says.
“Who are you?”
“The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.”
“The ol’ ATF. The party planning committee itself.”
“We are authorized to kick down that door. But you can make it easy on yourself if you come out now.”
I’m done in the bathroom anyway, so I decide to come out. “If you fruit bats want to start shootin’, I advise you I ain’t heeled. Not much fun in that, is there?” I say.
There are five of them outside the bathroom. Each one is dressed like a walking tank. They’ve got flashlights attached to the muzzles of their tactical shotguns. I see the lights and feel the stare of the muzzles. A quick glance out the window shows me 10 more just like ‘em.
This is serious.
“What can I do for you fine gents?” I say and raise my hands in the air. A good badger knows when to fight, when to dig a hole and how not to get shot.
One of the brutes shoves me against the bathroom door. The pervert puts his hands all over me. He pulls out the roll of TUMS and an unopened box of cold pills.
“You mind explaining these?” he says.
“You’re standing next to the bathroom. I think you know what the TUMS were for,” I say.
“No, these,” he says. His hand rattles the box of cold pills.
“Those? I bought those tonight. If you’re looking for counterfeit drugs, you’re probably on the right track. It’s got pseudoephedrine in it. Sounds like a scam to me.”
“Stop messing around. We know what you did,” he says.
I ain’t sure where all this is going. “Know about what?”
“A minor paid you to buy an ingredient used to make methamphetamine,” he says and twists me around to face him. “That’s illegal.”
I can smell the Chap Stick on the guy. Cherry. Odd. Most SWAT guys I know won’t goose up on sheen lip care. The glare is too risky. “Is this some kind of joke?”
“Sir, there’s nothing funny about pseudoephedrine. Meth is a terrible drug,” he says.
I’ll be dipped, this really is a gal-damn sting. That kid was nothing more than flannel-mouthed bait. But I know my rights. Back in the Obscenities Division, they armed us with the latest in legal advice. From the talk radio I’ve listened to, nothing has changed since then.
Time to put on my lawyering hat. “Am I under arrest?” I say.
“On what grounds?”
“Buying pseudoephedrine for a minor.”
“Did you confirm that I actually gave this minor the pseudoephedrine? It was unopened in my pocket, after all.”
The ape pauses. He cracks his neck. “No.”
“Interesting. You said this minor paid me. How much?”
“He fixed the paint job on your RV.’
“Did you know he was the one who originally vandalized my RV? He owed it to me to fix it,” I say.
The other apes in the room are getting antsy. I sense they’re tired of holding those shotguns. Probably want to shoot or take a break.
“We were aware of that. We caught him in the act. He repaid his debt to society by participating in this sting,” he says.
Amazing. Absolutely amazing. The cops find out who painted on the ‘bago, and they don’t even tell me about it. My tax dollars at work. “You guys are a real piece of work. You catch a kid vandalizing property, then come back to the property and beat it to hell. Really makes a lot of sense.”
I stare at the ape. I can feel his brain melting. But he’s not quite done cooking.
He says, “Sir, there’s a War on Drugs going on. And…”
“And that little mudsill badgered me into getting the pseudoephedrine. I said no over and over. But then he said he’d fix my RV if I got it for him. I had no idea I was doing something illegal.”
“That young man is a patriot. He’s helping his country win the War on Drugs,” he says.
“So the end justifies the means? The key element of your sting commits entrapment, and you think that’s OK?” I say. All of this sounds pretty pinko to me.
“Entrapment doesn’t matter. This is the War on Drugs,” he says.
I’m not getting through to this fruit bat. I have a feeling we’ll connect on this next question. “How much did this little raid cost?”
“No, it isn’t. The Randall Act of 1993 specifically states you can tell me. You don’t have to worry about losing your job,” I say. Actually, there is no Randall Act. I made that up. But with how many drug laws there are on the books, these apes probably don’t know that.
“Fine. Tonight’s sting cost $4.7 million. It’s part of a nationwide operation,” he says.
“Well, congratulations. You took $7 of pseudoephedrine off the streets. You trashed an old man’s RV. And you let some punk kid get away with vandalism,” I say.
“Most stings net much larger yields,” he says.
“Really? Because even I know meth is out. Cheap heroin and prescription drugs are where it’s at now.”
“Congress approved the funds for the operation last year. We are mandated to use the money to fight meth. We have to wait for approval for other operations.”
“You guys are hammers when you need to be screwdrivers. It’s simple. Take out the big movers and shakers, the top POSs. Don’t hang out in Wal-Mart parking lots harassing Winnebago enthusiasts. The federal government can’t spend less than a million dollars on anything. It ain’t worth it to harass decent people,” I say.
“What are you trying to do, solve the War on Drugs?” he says.
“That’s what I do. Solve things. And when you do take down a real piece of shit, tell people. They want these miscreants to hit the pavement as much as you do,” I say.
I can feel the conversation shifting. They know the game is up. Well played, Maynard. You’re a real thoroughbred badger.
The apes step outside. I see them talking to each other, then on their radios. After a while, the one ape comes back inside.
“We consulted with our superiors. It appears we’ve targeted the wrong person,” he says.
I pop a victory TUMS. The cool, minty flavor sends a chill over my body. Feels good in the hot RV. “That’s all fine and dandy. But you still wrecked the hell out of the ‘bago. I don’t want you to fix it personally, on account of the last time I had someone fix it. But I wouldn’t mind some monetary compensation,” I say.
“That is acceptable. The operation has budgeted $500,000 for repairs,” he says.
Hot damn, that’s a new ‘bago. I ain’t gonna turn that down. “That will be sufficient,” I say.
“A courier will deliver the payment in the morning. Have a good night, sir,” he says.
The apes leave me to the mess. I give my knees a break in the ‘nard Bag. I dream of a new ‘bago, of commanding the highways in a gasoline-chugging fortress. I imagine top-of-the-line features. Dual built-in deep fryers – one for meats and one for cheeses. Escalators connecting the main and upper floors. A 100-gallon septic system. Heated toilet seats.
* * *
I wake up early. I don’t want to miss that courier. A bowl of steel-cut oats later, I hear a knock where the door used to be. It’s the courier.
Actually, it’s that punk kid again. He’s got a square cardboard box in his hands.
“Still paying off your debt to the country?” I say.
“I guess. The cops told me to give this to you,” he says.
I exchange a fiver for the box. “With what I got comin’, I can afford to tip you. Go buy a book of crosswords and stay out of trouble,” I say.
The kid takes the money and runs. I bring the box back into the ‘bago. It’s heavy. Maybe they paid in cash?
I open the box and stop. You’ve got to be shitting me. I read the note twice just to make sure it’s true. It reads:
Dear Mr. Soloman,
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives regrets the unfortunate intelligence error that resulted in damage to your RV. Enclosed with this note is your compensation, purchased and valued by the Bureau at $500,000. It will repair the torn plastic windows in the cab and then some. You have now waived your right to sue the Bureau related to this incident.
I reach into the box and pull out…
A giant roll of silver duct tape.