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!"