Suburbia Is So Bland That It Is Literally Colorless.

It was one of those days where it’s not so much raining as just having the clouds ooze down onto the street continually. When an umbrella doesn’t help, because the drizzle is already halfway fog, so it’ll come up just as easily as it came down. The only place that isn’t a uniform foggy gray is inside.

Why did he do it, White Dog? Why did he do it, White Dog? Why did he do it?

Right off the bat, I don’t trust him. People with titles for names are almost always sitting on something shady, and his story is weirdly non-specific: he’s had ‘gold coins’ stolen, but doesn’t seem to have any idea how many there were or how much they were worth.

I say, do you know it’s bally peculiar, but though I had my gold coins stolen, I’ve not the slightest idea how many there were or how much they were worth!

See what I mean?

Where was ya at da time o’ da crime? Max starts, while I take in the room. Makes me think of the way nursing homes smell, frankly, but obviously pricey. Gold coins come in handy, I guess.

I was out the shops, buying tea and biscuits!

“And you say that somebody found the combination to your safe?”

That’s it in a nutshell, wot? He hands me a slip with four numbers written on it.

“10, 9, 8, 7?”

By Jove! How did you know?

“Because it’s written on this slip of paper you just handed me.”

Oh yes. Forgot about that.

This is just about the worst safe combination I’ve ever seen. This has to be the first thing a thief would try, right after the first five digits of the guy’s phone number.

“Just out of curiosity, what are the first five digits of your phone number?”

Oh, let me think about it for a moment- ah yes! 10987!

Ok, so it is the worst safe combination I’ve ever seen. “And you not only wrote it down, you hid it under here,” I say, eyeing the flowers. I don’t like plants. At least they aren’t eggplants.

Great Scott! Right again! I say, you must be bloody brilliant to keep getting these right!

“It’s pretty obvious from the way they left the pot turned around after they-”

Oh no, I did that.

“What?”

I always turned the pot around so I’d remember where I’d hidden the combination in case I forgot it!

What am I supposed to say to that? I fish for something witty, but all that comes up is how much I need a drink right now. The well of snappy comebacks went dry a long time ago. So I mutter something about how I need to confer with my assistant and drag Max into the hall.

“Keep an eye on him while we talk, and let me know if he makes a suspicious move.”

I thought he wuz da victim here!

“Maybe. There’s two possibilities.”

Bet I cin guess one of em.

“Shoot.”

He’s a moron.

“That was the first one, yeah. Hard to believe someone’s that stupid.”

Whut wuz da second?

I don’t answer. There’s still something here I haven’t put my finger on. “Whichever it is, we’ve got an easy test. He still there?”

Yup.

“Alright then. Watch this.”

I stalk back into the room, and he smiles at me pleasantly. But there’s something underneath the smile. He wants me out of here. Maybe he thinks I’m taking too long, maybe he’s upset at having a plebeian infest his house, or just maybe I’m on the right track.  “I’d like to conduct a little crime scene reconstruction, if that’s alright with you.”

Righto! Sounds jolly good, that! Carry on, then, anything I can do?

“Could you put everything in the room back the way it was when you last saw it before the crime? Then my assistant will go through the motions of robbing the safe.”

He blinks at me. Oh, I say, is that strictly necessary? Surely-

“Don’t worry, Sir, we’re professionals. Right Max?”

Whatevah.

But, I’m afraid, with all the stress and the excitement, I’ve quite forgotten where everything was! Perhaps it’s best you-

“Don’t worry, we’ve got your notes right here! Now, the slip went under the flowerpot, the safe was closed, the picture was over it. Right?”

Er, I suppose.

“Ok, Max, you get the slip out of the pot, and open the safe.” He looks at me like I’m crazy, which I’m used to, but he does as I say, which he’s used to. Slip comes out, picture goes on the floor with a thud, and Max is spinning the dial nonchalantly. But when he tugs on the safe-

“It didn’t open.”

Seems not to have. Funny.

“Maybe he made a mistake. Try it again, Max.”

Wind wind wind. Clunk. Nothing.

“Imagine that. It’s almost like that’s not the right combination. Try it again, Max-”

Oh bolloks! Fine, it’s a fair cop!

“What is? The fact that you gave us the wrong combination? Is that a crime?” I grin at him, and he suddenly doesn’t seem to have anything to say, “Course, staging a robbery for the insurance money and then fencing the coins yourself, that would be a crime. But why would a nice respectable Sir like you ever do such a thing?”

He glares. I want my solicitor.

“That’s right, stiff upper lip. Do you lots of good in jail. Max, cuff him.”  I guess I figured out where his money comes from. Gold coins really do come in handy. But there’s still something I’m missing.

Ya know, dis guy seems kinda familiar.

“What?”

Didn’ we take ‘im in fer illegal salvage?

Oh, that’s it. Musta been the mustache that threw me off.

The Final Word.

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