Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Case of the Shrinking Summer

"Watley! It's still June, is it not?" I stared dumbly at the calendar, which stubbornly read "September".

"I still have three more months until teaching duties at Investigator University begin, right?" I stared dumbly at the calendar, which stubbornly read "September".

"No harm would come from just correcting this calendar to June, I dare say, eh?" I tugged in vain at the page of the calendar, at which I stared dumbly.


Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Case of the Vanishing Obese People

The Empire of Nippon seems remarkably devoid of the shockingly obese. Indeed, merely stout fellows are hard to come by. Such a contrast to my own Emerald Isle, which is hardly lacking in porkers.

Where have all the overfed disappeared to? I pondered this question while pacing the streets, searching for my vanished umbrella. Suddenly I found myself facing a dead end. Looking up, I was startled to see an enormous poster:

Ah-ha! The solution to the conundrum was quite literally staring me in the face. No doubt all of the Nipponese fatties are at this very moment crowded into this haberdashery, purchasing oversized suits. That neatly explains their absence from the city streets.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Case of the Stolen Umbrella

A most harrowing incident, which because of the complexity of incidental details will have to await elucidation at a further time, required my personal presence in the Empire of Nippon. Watley declined to journey with me, explaining that he would be busy eating breakfast for the next year or so, and so I set off on my own for the remote island of Quarterborough. After a sea voyage of some length, I at last arrived, older and more brilliant by several months.

As it was the Plum Season, marked by heavy rains, the ryoukan where I was lodged most hospitably provided me with an umbrella, whose handle was marked with mysterious glyphs 職員会館.

I set out in the morning for my scheduled appointment with my client amidst a caninical-felinical downpour, grateful for the use of this Oriental parapluie. Arriving at the building where my meeting was to take place, I saw several umbrellas carefully set just inside the doorway. Inducing that the Nipponese were most attentive to maintaining a comfortable interior space, I concluded that wet umbrellas should not be carried beyond the threshold, lest they sully the interior with moisture. After some moments of deduction, followed by a lengthy period of induction, and at last postceded by a fleeting instant of reduction (for good measure), I decided to place my own umbrella beside the others. As I did so I congratulated myself on my cultural sensitivity and general sharpness of intellect.

However, when I emerged from my meeting several hours later, my umbrella was nowhere to be found. But then I asked myself: how do I know it is my umbrella that is nowhere to be found, and not some other poor fellow's umbrella that is nowhere to be found, and that this fine umbrella right here is not mine? Unable to resolve this conundrum, I concluded that I must take that umbrella, which might as well be mine for all I knew, and carry it off with me. Sadly, just as I was about to triumphantly carry out this scheme, my extraordinarily competent mind revealed a key memory, which perhaps you, dear reader, will understand better if you cast your eye back to the very near-beginning of this tale. You will, I'm sure, be shocked to be reminded that my umbrella was carefully marked with several mysterious glyphs, to wit: 職員会館. I however, knowing the great power of my own faculty of recall, was not shocked, merely disappointed, for logically I was forced to conclude that it was indeed my own umbrella that was nowhere to be found. Not wishing to run afoul of the Oriental police, I set the umbrella in my hands back down, and stepped into the heavy rain with only my deerstalker to protect me.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Case of the Rejected Patent

Watley knocked on my door bearing an intriguing letter in the morning's post.

"From America!", he exclaimed, beaming with excitement.

"Any fool could see that," I snapped. "Especially me," I added, to make it clear that the United Statesal origin of the epistle had not escaped my keen detective's eye.

I settled into my settling chair, lit a pipe, filled a bowl with filberts, and sliced open the envelope with my Official Detectivator Open Letterer. Watley eagerly though somewhat awkwardly, stood pinned in the narrow space between the shoulder of the chair and the corner of the room, peering over my shoulder. I blew forcefully to fluff open the envelope, then carefully extracted its contents. A single sheet of paper, folded in thirds.

"My dear Sleuthe," the letter opened. It continued:

Your fame has spread even to these shores. Only your intellect and insight can save me from a grave injustice!

I recently submitted the following patent request to the government of the United States of America. It was rejected! Rejected, I say!
Application for one "object-avoidance echo-location device".

Items: human (one); bat, trained (one)

Mechanism: Place bat on left (or right) shoulder of human. Instruct human to emit high-pitched squeak. Bat will then use echo-location skills to instruct human appropriately, viz. "Watch out! Go left! Left! Even farther left than I think!" (Note: if bat is on right shoulder, the last sentence should read "But not as far left as I think!".)

Note 1: Bat training protocol must include English-language speaking instruction.

Note 2: Human should keep eyes closed at all times. Else, what's the point?

Note 3: Amendment to note 1. In other countries, non-English-speaking bats may be employed.

Rejected, I say! I wish to engage your services to investigate this gross miscarriage of justice. I am prepared to provide significant monetary recompense.

"Well, Watley," I declared, "The man is clearly insane. I believe this is the first time I will reject a case. And with rent due, at that."

I paused, then added: "I call it: The Case of the Rejected Patent!"

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Case of the Postal Discount

Just the other fortnight I had occasion to send an urgent document to a client sojourning in the Empire of Nippon, located far to the east. Watley informed me that, following the recent establishment of the Universal Postal Union by the Royal Prussian Minister for Posts, Heinrich von Stephan (whom Watley assured me was a most unpleasant man, a fact I had already deduced mere moments after he so informed me), Her Majesty's Royal Mail had but just inaugurated an express delivery service to the far corners of the globe.

I thereupon signed my name to the document, powdered and blotted it, folded and sealed it, and sent it round with Watley to the post, with careful instructions regarding the grades of marmalade and filberts he was to purchase at the jammers' and nutters' on his return. Watley merrily set off, shaking his head and muttering something indistinct under his breath about "a real nutter", whatever that might mean, and I thought no more about him.

Strictly speaking, that last phrase is not correct, since upon Watley's return, as he stood before me and spoke to me, I found my thoughts once more turning to him.

"A most peculiar thing, my dear fellow," he exclaimed. "I was informed by the postal clark that there are two categories of service to Nippon, dubbed 'priority' and 'economy', from the names of which I deduced that the former constituted a speedier service and the latter a less expensive one."

"I'll do the deducing around here, Watley," I interjected.

"The fellow next informed me that the 'priority' service would cost 75 quid, and the document would arrive at its imperial destination in seven months."

"75 bob!" I gasped, first at the expense, then at the realization that I'd once again forgotten if 'bob' and 'quid' referred to the same unit of currency or not. To avoid any appearance of ignorance, I coughed loudly. "--kof-- 75 bob ... bob ... bobosterous, I say!"

"Precisely what I exclaimed, Sleuthe, though with an additional 'r'. Recalling that you still hadn't received your fee for solving the Case of the Bankrupt Client, and well aware that rent is coming due, I then inquired about the 'economy' service."

"Ah yes, the economy service, quite the thing." I spoke with some relief.

"But that's just the rub, there, you see," Watley continued. "The economy service was 92 quid. And the amount of time it would take to deliver was identical: seven months."

I gasped audibly, then silently. My mind was at a loss for words.

"Not to worry, old chap. I popped into the jammers, and for only 15 quid, they agreed to deliver the document. You see, they are now making regular voyages to Nippon. There is, apparently, a thriving trade in quince and gingko."

Watley and I celebrated his stroke of genius with a handful of filberts.