“This is the fourth murder in a row this week,” muttered Sergeant Bonedead.
“One right after the other?” asked Rita Doublegirl, crime beat reporter for the Daily Objective.
“No, I mean actually in a row. The site of the killings forms a straight line right across Squalortown.”
Rita made a pout with both of her lips. “And Squalortown used to be such a pleasant little city.”
The Abstract Detective stood with his arms akimbo right above the chalk outline of the latest victim. “It makes you wonder,” he pronounced.
“Why someone would do such a heinous deed?” asked Bonedead.
“No, how they came up with that weird word, akimbo.” He looked at his arms and shook his head, mystified, then turned toward the sergeant. “Why didn’t you call me in earlier, Bonedead?”
“Earlier? Hell, I don’t get to work until 9.”
“Earlier in the case, fungus brain. I could have stopped this murder before it even happened.”
“Is that even metaphysically possible?” asked Rita Doublegirl, pencil at the ready.
The Abstract Detective ignored her query. “This killer is obviously sending us a message. Every killing takes place on exactly the same line segment. A line segment leading from Candy’s Finger Massage Joint through the alternative tattoo district straight to this barren, unattractive little garret.”
“Some people like the minimal look,” objected Bonedead.
The Abstract Detective walked around the chalk outline, using the measured pace of a sage elder who’d studied jurisprudence at the feet of several obese barristers. “I’d say this victim was at least five foot eight.”
Bonedead checked his notes. “So would I.”
The Abstract Detective looked up, his eyes betraying the jaded sobriety of a man who’d seen more murders than he’d seen stacks of chocolate chip pancakes with generous dollops of whipped cream. “What’ve you done with this man’s shoes?”
“Taken them to the Shoe Barn for a full refund.”
“And his belt?”
“It’s on the breakfast bar,” responded the sergeant, taking offense at the Abstract Detective’s unspoken surliness.
The Abstract Detective walked to the unattractive, white, mock-granite breakfast bar where a country-western, brown leather belt lay, looking somewhat forlorn without its former wearer. “These abrasions on the belt. They have a very particular pattern.”
Rita Doublegirl snickered. “If there’s one man who knows something about belt abrasions, it’s you, Abs.”
“Save it for the water cooler,” the Detective snapped. He ran a finger down one of the imperfections. “If I don’t miss my guess, this is the mark of a man who spent far too much time rubbing against reptile cages.”
“Holy Monitor Lizard,” cried Bonedead. “Could this be connected to the disappearance of the pygmy pythons?”
“I’ve got a riddle for you,” said the Abstract Detective.
“Riddle me diddle,” said Rita gamely.
“What’s long and straight and makes a perfect linear form?”
“Michael Phelps on the diving board,” answered Rita, a dreamy looking coming into her eyes.
“Wrong. A pygmy python stretched out to full length.”
Boneaded gasped, amazed once more at how the Abstract Detective’s completely insane leaps of logic were dumbfoundingly abstruse yet nevertheless entirely cogent steps in the solution of a crime.
Just as the Abstract Detective was about to expound on his theory, he was interrupted by a shout.
“Hey Abs,” yelled Officer Bayboy from a nearby wall, “take a look at this.”
The Abstract Detective looked grim. “Nobody calls me Abs but Rita Doublegirl.”
“Well, I guess I just disproved that theory,” retorted Bayboy triumphantly. “Anyway, check out these yogurt splatters. It looks like the culprit threw a cup of raspberry yogurt at the victim before the murder.”
The Abstract Detective, miffed at the young officer’s cognomen faux pas, was unimpressed. “To an amateur it does,” he snipped. “Clearly this yogurt was thrown after the murder. It’s still uncongealed.” To prove his point, he ran a finger through one of the milky bloblets, which easy trailed after his finger in its still-gooey state.
“Nobody knows yogurt like you,” affirmed Rita, in the throaty, seductive voice of an amorous bear on an autumn evening.
The Abstract Detective was examining the splatter pattern with his magnifying glass. “This is no ordinary yogurt. I can clearly see gobs of organic granola. But not too many of them.” He slipped his glass back into its velvet-cushioned case. “There’s only one health-food obsessed, reptile loving murderer I know who’s into granola, pythons and rigid lines. Smoothie MacDrew.”
Rita gave a small gasp, more like a squirrel’s hiccupp than a bear’s growl. “But that’s impossible.” She darted a look at Bonedead. “You sent Smoothie MacDrew up to the big house.”
“Yeah, he was ordered up to the big house,” Bonedead grimaced. “But Bayboy here escorted him to the old Hornby mansion on the hill.”
Bayboy was still smarting over being chastised for this error. “I was just told to lock him up in the big house.”
The Abstract Detective interrupted before Bonedead could dig at the old wound. “No matter. I know exactly where to find him.”
After Bonedead apprehended Smoothie and ensured that was escorted to an actual penitentiary, Rita Doublegirl rendezvoused with the Abstract Detective at the First National Cafe.
“I’ll have a double shot. And make it double hot, hottie,” she purred to the bearded barista. She took a seat while waiting for the fancy joe. “How’d you do it, Abs? You totally predicted Smoothie would commit his next murder at the vacuum shop.”
“Simple abstract thought. The vacuum shop was the next point on the trajectory of MacDrew’s murder line. Every victim was found at an exact interval of 3000 meters.”
“But how’d you know it’d be on a Tuesday?”
“I didn’t. But fortunately Officer Bayboy’s undercover vacuum cleaner salesman disguise completely fooled MacDrew.”
“I’ll say. Too bad he got killed.”
“We were that close to swooping in to stop the crime,” the Abstract Detective noted, making a small-distance gesture with two fingers. “If only Bayboy hadn’t been demonstrating that super high powered vacuum with noisy suction action, we would’ve heard the tip off.”
“He really got into that disguise.”
“Doppio,” yelled the barista.
“Ha,” Rita chuckled. “I love it when the barista’s get surly.”
The Abstract Detective nodded abstractly, his mind already off on another set of criminological cogitations as the coffee fumes swept out into the inky-black, corruption-inducing night.
Check out more absurdity in my “screamingly funny” collection, Space Command and the Planets of Doom: http://amzn.to/atEZo9