This is how the case began.

A little over a week ago, I was in my office, smoking a cigar and thumbing the pages of the new Spicy Mystery Stories I’d just bought from Otto down at the newsstand, when a dame opened my door and slinked in.  She was gorgeous.  I had to spit out the window onto the top of a passerby’s head just to make sure I could still sin, and that I hadn’t died and gone to heaven.  She had an hourglass figure and in my pants it was starting to feel a little like high noon.

She didn’t say a word, just reached out to give me an envelope.  She  dropped it to the floor before I could get my fingers on it.  By the time I bent over to get it, she was gone.  I ran out into the hallway, but it was too late.  She had disappeared faster than an altar boy at a church picnic.

I closed the door and opened the envelope.  “Salsa Rio and Sour Cream Doritos are back!!!”  It was signed JunkFoodDog.

He was a new kid in town.  A real spitfire.  Always good for the dope anytime a new product hit the block.  I picked up the blower and asked the operator to connect me.  She told me the line was dead.  Hrm.

I headed down to the stacks of the city library.  I needed to find out more about these chips.  I found out that the “Sour Cream” Doritos were actually Sour Cream and Onion.  I loved Sour Cream and Onion.  I decided to put a pin in the Salsa Rio and follow up later.  The note mentioned that the chips were “back.”  That bothered me.  I hadn’t heard of them before.

I couldn’t find much, just a grainy commercial video, a bunch of discussion threads and some petitions.  Apparently the Sour Cream and Onion Doritos came out sometime in the late 70s and were discontinued sometime in the mid 80s.  I also found a few mentions of “Sonic Sour Cream” and “Doritos Thins.” Not exactly a lot to go on.

Back at the office, I called all of the grocers I could find in the directory.  No one had the chips.  Some didn’t even believe they existed.

The night was getting long.  I’d have to make the rest of the calls in the morning.

On my way home, I decided to stop by the druggist’s for quick phosphate to take the edge off.  Joe was working the jerk that night.  He was a good guy.  Always had his ear to the street.  I slid him the note.  He walked to the front of the shop and locked the door.  He said he hadn’t seen JFD in days, then opened the register and pulled out a bag of Sour Cream and Onion.  “Last time he was in, he asked me to give these to you,” he said.

The bag looked great.  A real throwback to simpler times.  I opened it and popped a few chips.  They tasted and smelled familiar.  A little too familiar.  During my younger days I used to spend my summers down the shore munching barrels of Cool Ranch Doritos.  These tasted pretty similar, maybe with a slight hint of onion.  They also didn’t seem to be as heavily seasoned.   They were good, though after a 25 year absence, I was expecting something with a little more wallop.

I finished the bag and asked Joe what I owed him.  He waved me away.  I slipped him a sawbuck anyway.

I spun my stool and got up to leave.  I heard a click and instinctively reached for my shooter.  I was too late.  I heard the bang, and the lead deposited in my shoulder spun me around.  I stumbled backward and fell.  When I looked up, I saw Joe staring at me from behind the counter.  The snub nose in his hand was still smoking…