This collection presents most of the comic short stories of Paul Hawkins, a semi-rustic semi-genius. They were all originally written with a crooked spoon on the back of a dusty coal shovel. All have some of the funny in them; some are dark comedy, some are happy comedy, and some veer toward the stupid funny but then redeem themselves. This collection has a little something for everybody, like in a good box of chocolates (not like the waxy no-name brand that appears on store shelves around Christmas and which you give to people you don't particularly like.) Laugh a little - you'll be glad you did.
Fred Hoover: Crime Buster
"Get me $40 in marked ones. I have some very minor criminal activity to investigate."
Such is a typical excerpt from the long-lost transcripts of the FBI's Very Very Petty Crimes Division, opened in 1958 to keep J. Edgar Hoover's talentless nephew, Fred Hoover, employed and out of the way. Closed recently in the wake of a Congressional budget hearing in which some grandstanding fiscal hawk exposed it to utmost ridicule, all that remains of the division now is a warehouse full of brittle tape recordings and boxes upon boxes of very petty documents.
It is sad to think that that once vibrant law enforcement division is now gone, for back in its heyday, when a marked dollar bill crossed a state border in a barely illegal transaction, such as the purchase of a comic book, French postcard, or firework, Fred Hoover was on it.
All references to this organization have been scrubbed from the internet, but you can sometimes still find a lonely old timer who is willing to talk about his days at the Bureau. It is harder to find anyone who has anything nice to say about Fred Hoover, though. It's always tough working for a relative of the boss. He was too young, dressed too fancy, favored lilac dress shirts and carnations, and in general was a bossy talentless asshole and a bit of a dandy.
He died one day in a sting operation somewhere in one of the smallest towns in Arkansas. He accidentally shot himself while trying to remove his gun from his shoulder holster in the midst of investigating an interstate comic book sale.
Forensics determined that if he had had the full stack of $40 dollars in marked ones in his vest pocket, it might have stopped the bullet. But he was a few dollars shy because he had stopped on his way to the crime scene to purchase some suspicious horehound, bottle rockets, and sarsaparilla.
As for the questionable comic book itself, it featured Mary Marvel on the cover in a skirt that might be a tad too short. The boys at the lab would be able to tell. Sure was showing a lot of thigh, though.
All in all it was a tragic loss – that comic book would be worth real money today were it not for the bloodstains and bullet hole. Oh, and though no one would admit it, more than a few people actually missed Fred. He had made the mundane adventuresome; he lived large; he was fun to make fun of but he pursued ridiculously petty crime with style. After his death the department still chugged on, but its heart and soul had left it, and when it shifted its focus to petty potentially illegal interstate sales of office supplies, no one complained. It was a logical shift in an increasingly mundane world. Fred had been a holdover from a different era, when men lived out even petty details colorfully, and with gusto. RIP Fred Hoover. There’s plenty of lilac buttonhole carnations and four-color comics in heaven.