With Their Loud Music, And Their Hula Hoops

Father Brown Has Switched The Sugar And The Salt!

I tell you, officer, I don’t know what the world is coming to! These kids today!

I try to ignore him. By now, I’ve had plenty of practice at that. He was waiting by the door, wringing his hands, when I showed up, and he’s been less than a step behind me every second. I just know he’s gonna say ‘dagnabbit.’

In my day, we knew what was due the owner of a fine establishment like this! These kids today, they have no respect!

“What did the suspect look like?” I ask the waitress, who just goes on staring glumly at the abandoned ketchup bottle. She looks like she’s in the kind of shock yo’re supposed to only get after airplane crashes or huricanes. Lady, if the worst thing that’s ever happened to you is a dine-n-dash, you’re in the wrong city.

All they think about is the Rock Music and the Candy, and it gives them the Brain Damage, I tell you! These kids today! With their huge cigarettes and their smiley faces! Surely they’re all on the Drugs!

I suppose that grabbing him by his walruslike british colonial mustache and stuffing him into the salt shaker wouldcause him to class me as one of the kids today. Seems like something these kids today of them would do.

Won’t know until I try, though.

A man doesn’t know what to make of it all, dagnabbit!

Knew it.

I tell you, officer, I hope you’ve got some way of collecting some kind of information to track this person down.

“You mean, some evidence of some kind?”

Yes, something like that! Perhaps some detail of the criminal, inadvertently left at the scene!

That’s what I would be looking for if you’d get out of my face!

Here’s a thought. You know how they say that no two people have the same fingerprints? What if you examined the prints left behind on the flatware, and then compared those to the prints of the suspects?

It’s hard to resist gaping at his stupidity, but I do. I don’t want him to mistake it for gaping in wonder at his brilliance.

“I think I might have head of something like that before,” I say, “Might as well give it a try.” Now Go Away!

I tell you, these young hoodlums! But we’ll get ’em, won’t we, officer? And he bustles off to do whatever it is he does here. Bug the cook with how he used to walk barefoot ten miles to school every morning uphill both ways.

Sly, dese prints aint no good! Max says after a while.

“What do you mean?”

Dey aint from a human!

“So some pink slug’s got his tailless butt off the line. What else is new?”

Dat dey’re from a dog or udder canid! And look! He holds up something in a pair of tweezers. It’s a hair. A grey hair.

One that could have been part of a huge ridiculous mustache.

I whirl on the waitress. “What does that old guy do here? Is he the manager, the owner, what?”

She blinks. She’s still in shock. I… I dunno. Not never seen him afore, mister. He don’t work here.

The note is sitting in my inbox when I get back to the office. It just says: ‘I tell you, officer. These criminals today. A law abiding man doesn’t know what to do. See you again.’ Attached to it is a fake mustache.

Dagnabbit.

The Final Word.

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