Here is the second part in the short story featuring Lawrence Pinkley, the eighteen year old detective from the forthcoming book The Curious Disappearance of Professor Brown. If you missed the first part, please catch then read the solution on this page.
‘An interesting question. And I think I have your answer,’ I paused for effect, waiting for a gasp of amazement, but didn’t get one. I continued anyway. ‘You see, I don’t think the fish were ever here in the first place.’
‘But, I unloaded them myself!’ replied Mr Stickleback. ‘If there’s one thing that’s certain – I unloaded the fish from my boat and put them on the floor, right here!’
I walked around the entrance to the warehouse and chewed the end of my pen, trying to look like I was deep in thought. I had seen detectives doing it on the television when they were just about to announce the murderer. It all added to the tension and justified my pay.
‘The solution is very simple when you look at the facts. My suspicions began when I noticed that all of the warehouses are identical in every way except for their number plaques. I see warehouse number five is missing their number, no doubt blown off in the storm. When we were outside I could see that your plaque was loose, as if it had been hastily removed, or replaced. Beneath the plaque was a dusting of wood shavings, disturbed when a screw was removed. If it had happened any earlier than today, the storm would have washed away any trace of it. What if your number plaque had been moved and what you actually did was unload your catch into someone else’s warehouse?’
‘But that can’t be possible. I unlocked the warehouse myself, before I unloaded.’
‘That is the clever part. The key to your warehouse was in your coat which you left unattended on the wharf when you went to fetch Dave Barton. Enough time for the number plaque to be removed and placed on another identical warehouse, whilst the key to the new warehouse replaced the old one you had in your pocket. That way you would think you were opening the padlock to your own warehouse. After you left for breakfast, the number plaque was replaced; your original padlock removed with the key that had been stolen from your pocket and replaced with the padlock you now had the key to.’
‘But who could have done that?’
We walked back out onto the wharf and looked along the wooden walkway.
‘Your neighbour, Randy Lyons. You said yourself that he was getting ready to go out when you returned, which you thought was far too late, but now you can see his warehouse is heavily stocked with fish. You unloaded your catch into his warehouse. You now have his padlock on your door whilst your old one is probably now on his.’ All those hours sitting inside reading Agatha Christie while the storm blew through town had actually paid off. I felt quite pleased with myself.
Mr Stickleback had now become so red in his face, I thought he was about to explode.
‘The scoundrel! How can we prove it?’ he asked.
‘We can’t,’ I answered. ‘But, I would change your lock if I were you.’
Suddenly my attention was drawn to a small movement in the darkness of warehouse number four. From around the door to Mr Stickleback’s warehouse the face of a small tabby cat peered out, licking its lips as it surveyed its surroundings. It trotted out onto the wharf, followed by a stream of cats made up of all different colours, shapes and types. I assumed I was watching all 57 of Mrs Meakin’s lost cats making their way along the wharf with bellies starved of food for four days now satisfied and full to the brim with freshly caught fish. Luckily, Mr Stickleback seemed to be too preoccupied watching his fishing rival to notice the cats.
‘Thank you, Mr Winkley,’ said Mr Stickleback shaking my hand. ‘I will find some way to recoup what I’m owed by Mr Lyons.’ With that he strode towards his neighbours warehouse.
That was my cue to quickly leave before things got ugly between Mr Stickleback and Mr Lyons. I would pop into Mrs Meakins on the way back to my office and tell her where her cats had been hiding. I was sure they would find their way back to her in good time, especially if she left out some fresh fish for them.
I took a step forward, skidded on a green blob of phlegm, lost my footing and fell face down on the fishing wharf.
Did you work it out?
Pinkley Puzzle and Desktop Theme