"At last!" cried Lance Sleuthe, brilliant but currently unemployed private detective. "At last, a case!" He had been searching for the right briefcase for months now, and had at last tracked it down. Later, he relaxed in his parlor after returning home with his new purchase.
Suddenly, his bell was rung. Brrrring, brrrring, brrrring.
"Come in," called Sleuthe, expecting it was Mr. Barnes, the deaf telephone operator who lived in the upstairs rooms. To his surprise, the door opened. A tall, thinly veiled woman dressed in black entered the room. "Am I addressing Mr. Lance Sleuthe?" she queried in a soft, low voice. The detective put down his briefcase, picked up his pipe, lit it, and nodded slowly. His keen eyes and razor-sharp mind, as quick as ball bearings on ice, were constantly evaluating the most minute details before him.
The woman continued. "My name..."
"Your name," suavely interrupted Sleuthe, "is Priscilla Winston."
The woman gasped. "Why yes, but how did you..."
"Never mind that. You are Priscilla Winston, daughter of the late Duke Neville Winston. You are thirty-seven years of age. You have come, no doubt, concerning your parrot."
"Why, Mr. Sleuthe, that's absolutely remark..."
"You have never been married; you own, besides your parrot, two goldfish and a French poodle, you enjoy ginseng tea and your slip is showing."
The woman blushed as she bent down to attend to this last detail. Sleuthe blew a few smoke rings and mentally congratulated himself. 'Sleuthe, old boy,' he thought, 'you are truly a deductive genius.'
"Well, Mr. Sleuthe," announced Miss Winston after fixing her skirts, "I'm impressed that you remember our conversation of last week so well."
"Yes, yes, never mind all that," stated Sleuthe briskly. "Are there any further developments?"
"Indeed there are." Miss Winston seated herself, quite accidently doing so on Sleuthe's heroin needle. He was always leaving it lying around. 'That deaf fellow can't see it anyway,' he would reason to himself.
"My parrot, I'm afraid, has absconded with my funds again," began Miss Winston. Instantly, Sleuthe's mind was churning like a vat of butter. He analyzed the incident from every angle imaginable. 'Parrot,' he thought. 'Funds.'
"He's made off with over 600,000 pounds, all in hard cash." Sleuthe, considering his current financial status, toyed with the idea of a career change. 'Absconding funds is much more profitable than being an impoverished private detective,' he thought.
"I don't know who to turn to this time," sobbed Miss Winston. "The police are no help. They've already told me that there's no mention of parrots anywhere in the criminal code and ...sniff... I'm at my wits' end."
"Very well," announced Sleuthe, "I will take the case." Picking up his briefcase, he dramatically flipped the metal catch. The case sprung open, revealing a somewhat worse-for-wear parrot. "Here is your parrot," said Sleuthe. "I picked him up this morning after anticipating your arrival here today. I regret to tell you, however, that the £600,000 has already been spent on gourmet bird food."
"No matter," said the woman as she stood up. She held the parrot in a throttling grip. "I can at least bring the miserable creature to justice. Now, as to your fee..."
"No fee," Sleuthe shot back. The woman raised an eyebrow. "The puzzling solution to the case is a reward in itself," he explained. The woman in black nodded, and a moment later was gone. Sleuthe, the world's greatest living detective, eased back in his chair and re-counted the large sum of money in his briefcase. 'Six hundred thousand pounds,' he thought, his mind whirling like so much confetti on a windy day. 'That should support my secret drug habit for...' Suddenly, his bell was rung.
"Come in," he called. He was satisfied to hear several seconds of silence, followed by a slow shuffle of footsteps up the outside stair . 'I knew it was that deaf fellow,' he thought, congratulating himself once again on yet another brilliant deduction. He settled back into his chair and closed the briefcase.