Caught red-handed

August 08, 2006|by LYDIA HADFIELD

In Pulse's first serial fiction story, a sketchy private detective on his first big case pursues clues found in a trash bin.

Chapter 2: The sleuth in action

I stared in awe at the diamond ring. I had never seen such a large jewel up close - certainly never while rummaging in the trash cans behind my apartment building. It wasn't a bad find for an amateur detective.

I gingerly plucked the ring from the folds of the blood-stained towel where I'd found it. I dropped the ring in my vest pocket and re-crumpled the towel. I peered back into the Waskotts' trash can and froze. Towels, sheets, flower-print curtains were twisted in a heap at the bottom - all smeared with dark red.

Moments later, I found myself outside the landlady's door, waiting for her to respond to my knocking. I had surreptitiously dragged the Waskotts' trash bin into my basement room. I figured I would need the evidence later. Now was the time for investigation.


The landlady's door opened a crack. A pale, whiskery face and a pair of red-rimmed pigeon eyes regarded me. She glanced at the pith helmet on my head and my hot-weather sleuthing outfit: A blue-and-yellow-striped vest over a T-shirt worn with cut-off black slacks. Abruptly, I remembered the vest had come from her trash bin.

"Whattayewwant!" Mrs. Pall barked.

"I just want to talk. Ask you a few questions, Mrs. Pall."

"What's this all about?" Mrs. Pall didn't open the door any wider.

"What room do the Waskotts live in?" I leaned against the door frame.

"The big attic one. Yew should know that by now. You been livin' here three weeks, haven't yew?" The crack in the door thinned.

"Can you tell me what they do? How long they've been here? Are they nice people? Do you get along?" I asked more than I'd planned to.

"What? That ain't none of my business. I just collect rent and pay the cockroach man. I don't care if they stay up in that room all day. I don't care if they're up there buildin' things that rumble all night -"

"Is that what they do? Are they building something?"

"Sure sounds like it! But the smell is gettin' to me. I can tell ya that."


"Don't you smell it? Gotten stronger since yesterday. Kinda sweet sorta smell. I don't like it."

I jotted notes on my hand with a ball point pen.

"Know what I also don't like?" The pigeon eyes narrowed.

I leaned closer.

"People rummagin' in my trash can!"

Just then, a great crash sounded from upstairs.

(To be continued next week)

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