12 Aug

PREVIOUSLY:

Part 1.

THE CASE OF THE GOLDEN EYEGLASS.

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2

Inspector Blinky Curmudgeon might have been blinking but it was hard to tell on account of his wearing blacked-lensed glasses that covered a respectable portion of his upper face.

“So, Sergeant Williams, you are prepared to become a force with me?” he asked, smiling. At least his mouth was smiling: there was no telling what his eyes might be doing, and that made Sergeant Royston Williams feel positively uncomfortable. He judged people from the expression in their eyes.

“My secretary will be in shortly, and the paperwork will be down to her,” grinned the Inspector, adjusting his spectacles whilst simultaneously revealing a thread-work of delicate scarring underneath them. “As you might suspect, I’m a bit short-sighted.”

“A bit?” stammered Royston, unable to stop himself.

“Well, quite a bit, actually,” smirked his potential employer. “I was in the force, you know, at the practice range when a pistol exploded in my face. Nasty job, I can tell you.”

“I’m … er … sorry,” muttered Royston, lost for words.

“No need to be, old chap. It wasn’t your fault, you know! Anyway, I’ve a secretary who deals with all the papery stuff that I’m hard pressed to cope with myself. I type the odd letter, though … I actually managed to type the one I sent to you, so lack of sight doesn’t mean lack of ability, you know.”

Royston felt like telling him he’d pressed all the wrong keys on his keyboard and sent an almost totally intelligible letter, but decided not to.

“She’s an angel, is Miss Parr,” continued Blinky. “I was a lucky man, finding her, I can tell you. She’s getting on a bit, as are most of the efficient secretaries. These days the young ones want to call themselves Personal Assistants when all they really are is secretaries. Anyway, Miss Parr – I did say she’d be in shortly, didn’t I? Well, she’s around seventy by my reckoning and never did a detective have a more efficient secretary.”

“Seventy?” echoed the sergeant (retired).

“By my reckoning. She did tell me her date of birth and I wrote it somewhere. Yes, seventyish, though not frail! Not by any means! But I wouldn’t be able to function without her. There are some sad limitations to being a tad short-sighted!”

“You function?” queried the sergeant without thinking.

The Inspector nodded soberly. “I can tell from the tone of your voice that you are keen to join me,” he murmured. “We have a busy little business running here. I have more clients than I can cope with, hence my need for a Sergeant.”

He was interrupted by a rattle at the front door and the sound of it opening and closing.

“Ah, here’s Miss Parr now,” he beamed. “I dared say if she gets to like you she’ll eventually allow the familiarity of Christian names! Her name’s Angelina, though don’t call her that unil she says you can. It rolls off the tongue, don’t you think? Angelina Parr…”

“Morning Mr Curmudgeon,” came a tinkling voice from just outside the door.

“Come in, Miss Parr,” boomed the Inspector in a voice that made Royston duck as if he was in the path of a nuclear missile. “I want you to meet my new Sergeant, an ex-colleague from the force who plans to aid me in my many cases.”

“Your one case, you mean,” came the voice, and the door opened and Angelina Parr flowed in.

The first thing that Sergeant Royston Williams noticed was that she was not in any way in her seventies: he’d be hard-pressed to consider her to be half that age. She was dressed immodestly in as little as possible, wearing the tiniest dress that he had ever seen, the sort that threatens to let even modestly proportioned breasts fall out, and by the look of it Miss Parr’s breasts were far from being modestly proportioned. She was slender without being too thin, had an effusive fountain of rich blonde hair arising from her head and was in every possible way the most splendid creature that Sergeant Williams had seen since his own wedding day when he’d caught sight of the chief bridesmaid for the first time.

“Miss Parr…” he whispered, and passed out.

“What’s going on?” demanded the Inspector from behind his desk.

“The poor man’s fainted, sir,” gushed his secretary, and she place one fragrant leg on either side of the prone sergeant and bent down to loosen his clothing. Seeing that he was at what he had believed would be a job interview he was wearing a tie, and she undid it and patted his cheeks with fragrant fingers whilst cooing into his ears.

“Is he all right?” demanded the Inspector.

“He’s coming round, sir,” explained the secretary excitedly. “I’ll take him into my office where he can be made more comfortable, and maybe get a doctor to see him?”

“Yes, yes,” mumbled the Inspector. “But be careful! We can’t have a lady of what we might call a certain age overdoing it, picking up the corpses of young men in their prime, can we?”

“I’ll go easy, sir,” grinned Miss Parr, and she held the recovering Sergeant Williams by one hand.

“When he is compos mentis, explain the new case to him, will you?” added the Inspector. “Give him a coffee or something wakening, and I’ll have a briefing in, say, sixty minutes…”

“Yes, sir,” acknowledged Miss Angelina Parr, and with a huge grin on her pretty face she led the recovering sergeant into an adjacent room.

Within a couple of minutes Royston was sitting in an easy chair in the most sparsely furnished office he had ever seen. There was a desk and computer in it, and against one wall a metal filing cabinet with the printer for the computer sitting on top of it. There was a chair behind the desk and there was the one he was sitting in – and that was the sum total of the items in the room. There wasn’t even a hat-stand or waste-paper bin!

“He says you’re seventy…” spluttered the sergeant when his head had stopped revolving and the beautiful young woman was in clear focus.

“The poor dear,” simpered Miss Parr, “I don’t disabuse him of the thought. It’s best if he thinks that I’m … untouchable, if you see what I mean. He’s got wandering hands, you know, or so they say, but they don’t wander up the skirts of his granny!”

“Wandering hands…?” groaned the sergeant. “Wandering hands?”

The young woman nodded. “He had quite a reputation before he lost his eyesight,” she murmured. “I knew him back then … I was a rookie constable and he was the Inspector who kept trying it on! But that accident with the pistol … he seems to have lost more than his eyesight. He’s lost part of his hearing as well, and he’s virtually deaf without his hearing aid. So he hears what he thinks he ought to hear, and when I speak it sounds as if I’m seventy to him. It suits me!”

“It must be … a madhouse!”

“No, it’s really quite good here. He got loads of compensation and a good pension, and that funds this place. He gets the odd enquiry and even solves the odd simpler one.”

“And the one you’re supposed to be explaining to me?” asked the Sergeant.

“Ah, that’s really interesting,” sighed the young woman, helping his with his loosened tie. “Why don’t you take that off? We don’t dress formally here!”

“So I see,” he muttered, eyeing her well-exposed flesh.

“I’ll show you what it’s about,” said Miss Parr, standing up and moving towards her desk. From its only drawer she took a small box, which she held towards the Sergeant.

“Take a look,” she whispered.

He opened the box and gasped.

Inside was a glinting golden eyeglass, shaped like a jeweller’s loupe and containing a crystal lens that seemed to gleam with an inner light.

“What…?” he asked.

“This is the Golden Eyeglass,” she whispered, “it’s dreadfully old, hundreds and hundreds of years, and we need to find its owner…”

“You don’t know who it belongs to? Gasped the Sergeant.

Angelina Parr shook her head. “Mr Curmudgeon held an open day a couple of months ago, in order to try and get some business. Six people came, and when they’d gone we found this eyeglass in the middle of my desk! It’s worth many thousands of pounds – we checked on that much – and someone must be missing it. But who? Nobody else came into the building that afternoon, though we had catered for fifty!”

“Catered?” asked Williams sharply.

“Yes. Cakes and tea for fifty. But only six came. They were Granville Pike, a teenager, moody, insolent, a student on holiday. Then there was Eleanor Sharman, a chatterbox, pretty, in her 20s, I think – a supermarket checkout girl. Next came Frank and Enid Whiplash, he a severe looking headmaster, and she in her sixties and very prim and proper. After a while along came Curly Dryden, the town librarian, you might know the sort – dry as dust and short sighted, and finally Tiny Bloxam, police constable, old fashioned and proud of his truncheon!”

“And the case is, who does the eyeglass belong to?” asked the Sergeant. “Well I never! It’s not a theft or a murder or anything juicy like that, but a bit of lost property!”

“Worth fifty thousand pounds!” came the Inspector’s voice from the doorway.

Blind he might be, but had found his way from his seat in his own office to there.

©Peter Rogerson 12.08.14

 

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3 Responses to “”

  1. pambrittain August 12, 2014 at 7:36 pm #

    This is getting good.

    • Peter Rogerson August 13, 2014 at 10:35 am #

      Getting? Really, Pam….

      • pambrittain August 13, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

        Okay, okay, scratch the word ‘getting’.

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