Stay tuned for the next story tomorrow evening at 9:30pm GMT 🙂
Ever since I’d set myself up as a consulting detective for the hordes of wannabes who had signed up to a trendy new “gig economy” private detective app and quickly found themselves out of their depth, I was actually starting to enjoy Christmas again.
Not only had I actually dusted the chair on the other side of my desk, but I’d also been able to get a decent bottle of whisky for the first time in about three weeks. But, as I sat back and watched the frosted glass window on my office door, I couldn’t help but feel an odd sense of foreboding. Call it a detective’s instincts, but I probably shouldn’t have had that chicken phaal last night.
But, before I could think about it too much, I saw a silhouette appear against the window, followed by three short knocks. With something that almost felt like friendliness, I said: ‘It’s open. Come in.‘
A twentysomething woman with bobbed black hair glided through the doorway. The eyes of a cartoon skull glared at me from the back of her smartphone.
With a smile, I said: ‘Let me guess, you need help with one of your clients. Either that, or the funeral director is at the other end of the hall. Tell him I sent you and he might give you a ten percent discount. On the other hand, the miserable old git might jack the prices up.‘
‘He’s my grandfather.‘ She deadpanned. I tried not to let the shock show on my face.
She almost creased up with laughter. I raised an eyebrow. With a magenta smile, she said: ‘Sorry, bad joke. I need your help with a case on GUMS4U.‘ She paused for a second ‘Some joker didn’t read my seller description.‘
‘Am I getting yanked into solving a murder or something? Because that’s really the police’s job.’ I sighed.
‘What? No. I usually track down lost pets.‘ She tapped her phone a couple of times. ‘But this smart-arse wants me to find out how The Magnificent Marvin Mysteriono performs his most famous magic trick – the cabinet of swords. He’s demanding answers within the day. Tosser.’
Tapping her phone again, she handed it to me and said: ‘Take a look.‘.
I tapped and swiped at the screen for a few seconds. The video disappeared above the top of the screen. I tried to swipe downwards, but the phone screen suddenly displayed a photo of a rock band instead of the video. I’ll never understand smartphones. Sighing, my client reached for the phone and tapped it twice, before holding it up.
On the screen, a man in a top hat emerged from clouds of ominous blue fog before gesturing towards an ornate wooden wardrobe. With a theatrical flourish, he flung the doors open to reveal a row of gleaming swords. A violin started to play quickly as seven shrouded figures drifted out of the fog.
As quiet chanting started to fill the air, each one reached for a sword and held it aloft. Finally, a hooded monk appeared in a puff of smoke. With a bony finger, he pointed towards the wardrobe. Nervously, the magician stepped inside. Four of the shrouded figures turned the wardrobe sideways. Then, after shrieking a few words of phony Latin, they plunged their swords into the wardrobe.
Each blade went clean through, followed quickly by a gush of bright red stage blood from below the wardrobe doors. As the blood pooled under a stage light, the monk merely lowered his head in prayer before slowly removing his cowl. He was none other than the magician! The tinny sound of applause crackled through the phone’s speakers.
‘Impressive.‘ I smiled. ‘I have to give him marks for theatricality but, really, it’s the oldest trick in the book.‘
‘Tell me more.‘ My client looked surprised.
‘Whilst the wardrobe is being turned sideways, Mysteriono changes into the monk’s robe and sneaks out via a secret door in the other side of the wardrobe. Because everyone’s attention is focused on the wardrobe, which also has a false back panel that contains a blood bag, he’s able to switch places with the monk for the big reveal. As I said, the oldest trick in the book.‘
She gasped theatrically ‘Really? You got that just from watching the video once? I’ve seen it like twenty times.‘
I shrugged. She raised an eyebrow: ‘Wait a minute. You just guessed, didn’t you?‘
I smirked: ‘Technically, someone else did. Don’t feel bad about collecting a fee from your client – it’s practically a stupidity tax. I mean, couldn’t he just have glanced at the comments below the video?‘
She rolled her eyes ‘The comments? No-one reads those. Hey, wait a minute! What about the fee I’m supposed to give you for this wise advice?‘
I checked my watch. ‘Fifteen quid an hour. We’ve been here twenty minutes. So, a fiver, I think.‘