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Fiction, © Copyright 2000, Jim Loy
"Dithering, why do you shake your head like that?"
"Blithering. My name is Blithering."
"Is it really? Nevertheless Blithering, why do you shake your head like that?"
"Oh I was thinking about one of my patients. He has just suffered his third broken leg in two years."
"I deduce that he is a circus performer."
"Why do you say that?"
"It is elementary. If you had a brain as large as mine, you would understand the mathematics of the situation. If the man has broken three legs, then he must have at least three legs."
"But he only has two legs."
"Has he perhaps broken someone else's leg?"
"Has he perhaps had one of his three legs amputated."
"As I said, it is elementary. He must still have all three (or more) of his legs."
"He never had three legs."
"Blithering, you contradict yourself. The man has had three broken legs, but you then say that he has never had three legs. Which is it?"
"Blithering, Blithering, Blithering! And you call yourself a doctor."
"And you call yourself a detective."
"What? I heard that. You cannot call me someone who calls himself a detective. Well, you can, actually. But I only call myself a detective because I AM a detective. Have I not memorized the Consulting Detective's Oath? Do I not smoke a pipe? Do I not shoot holes in the wall? Do I not ... do ... all sorts of other things?"
"I lost my head. I apologize, Coleslaw."
"Gesundheit!" He giggled at his favorite joke. "I forgive you, of course. How can I stay angry at a pleasant moron such as yourself. Your extreme dimness casts my blinding intellect into sharp relief. I'm sure that you will see that I am right, once you recount your patient's legs. Here, what do you make of this?"
Coleslaw tossed an envelope toward me. It curved in flight, missed my grasping hand, hit my head, and plunged into the blazing fireplace. The fire brightened dramatically. Coleslaw was the first of us to recover from his astonishment, "Nice header! Allow me to recite the contents of the letter from memory, Blithering. It was from a Mr. Andrews, or maybe it was Fartheringgale, or some name such as that. He implored me to recover a priceless painting by Leonardo something or other Vinci."
I said, "Da."
"So, Blithering, this is all obvious to you, is it? Well, to make a medium sized story short, this priceless painting has been stolen by the evil Lord Gibraltar."
"But Coleslaw, Lord Gibraltar is a friend of the Crown Prince, as well as the Czar of Russia."
"Ah Blithering, you surpass yourself. That information may come in very handy indeed. I may be able to round up the entire gang. But, the painting must come first."
"Is it possible that this Mr. Andrews or Fartheringgale, or some name such as that, is the real criminal, and he is trying to get you to steal the painting for him?"
"Certainly not! Criminals do not make use of consulting detectives. Criminals employ stupid flunkies to steal for them." Coleslaw wiped the foam off his mouth. "Now then Blithering, are you up for a little adventure, this evening?"
"Of course, Coleslaw. You can always depend upon me."
We found ourselves in the bushes outside a huge mansion. Side by side, we peered in through the open window. Coleslaw pulled me aside, and spit into my ear. "Sorry about that, Blithering. The man we see through the window is none other than the evil Lord Gibraltar. We could wait until he goes to bed, and then search for the painting. However, I do not know what the painting looks like. Besides, the evil Lord Gibraltar may have hidden it somewhere. Therefore we must employ the standard ploy for this situation. Here, set these branches and twigs on fire. The prevailing wind will blow the smoke in through the window. When Lord Gibraltar foolishly thinks that his house is on fire, he will surely run to save his most valuable possession. When I say the word, shout 'Fire!'" And we shouted "fire," and various synonyms for "fire," as our shouting was becoming monotonous.
Later that night, back in 112C Dead End, "Coleslaw, have you noticed that the word 'monotonous' is rather monotonous?"
"Hm? Oh yes, you make a good point, Blithering. You may also notice that the word 'long' is not long. And the expression 'upside down' is not upside down, unless you are standing on your head when you say it, like this: upside down."
"It is certainly too bad that we did not recover the painting."
"Nevertheless, I consider our adventure a success. The evil Lord Gibraltar will no longer enjoy his ill-gotten painting. I am certain that it was lost in the fire."
"Yes Coleslaw, who would have thought that he would save his wife, instead of the painting?" We both shook our heads.
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