When Hollywood darling, Bit Pished, had her priceless pearl stolen, it was an obvious case for the infamous detective M. Ercule Pwarro...
"As you know, ladies and gentleman, the Cervix Stone, a priceless pearl belonging to Miss Bit Pished, has gone missing. It is a very serious matter."
Ex-Detective-Superintendent Parker glared at the ill-assorted group of guests assembled in the Penthouse Stateroom of his newly acquired hotel. Through the picture window, which he advertised as giving a birds-eye view of the craggy wildness of the Grampian hills, he could see nothing but a whirling blanket of snow. It was New Year's Day and the hotel had been cut off by drifts for two days.
"I've retired, dammit," he growled. "And if you think I salted away my graft money so carefully to have my business ruined in the first week, you can forget it. I've made a New Year's resolu- tion. And it's this: whichever of you cruds did it is going to be nicked if I have to kick the..."
There was a discreet murmur beside him. A short friendly-looking man with curling waxed moustache and patent-leather hair touched him on the arm. Parker controlled himself with a visible effort.
"But we are lucky," he said, "to have as a guest here , my old friend, and the most distinguished detective of his generation, Monsieur Ercule Pwarro. Over to you Ercule."
Pwarro stepped forward, ran his fingers through his hair and straightened his tie, a nervous gesture which added yet another brilliantine stain to his silk shirt front.
"Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have been introduced. Now let us introduce each other."
He turned to a flat florid man in his late sixties who stood by the fireplace with a thin oldish woman clinging to his arm. "You are Sir Roger Duxbury, I think a member of the government, and this is your lady wife? Charmed."
Pwarro smiled and turned to a grizzled, powerfully-built man who stood staring out of the window, holding hands with a pretty and petite girl of about 25. "And you are Mr. Smith, car dealer from Epsom?"
"Yes," Smith's reply was brusque.
"And this," continued Pwarro, "is the lady referred to in the register as Mrs. Smith. But in actual fact she is your secretary, am I right?"
"How the hell did you...?"
"Elementary, my dear Smith. The lady listens to everything you say, she does not interrupt you. Therefore she is not your wife. She has beautiful manicured hands which have rarely done any manual work. Her nails are so long she couldn't possibly type. Therefore she is a secretary. Besides, she insists on sitting on your knee with a shorthand notebook at breakfast. A detective is trained to notice these things."
Pwarro turned to a short scowling young man whose eyebrows almost met in the middle. He stood by himself, disdainfully ignoring the others. "You are Mr. Snitcher, I believe?"
"Yes, but I've nothing to do with this. I didn't arrive until six this morning. My car got stuck on the road down there. You can count me out."
Pwarro raised an eyebrow in Snitcher's direction. "I see," he said after a pause. "But I would still be grateful if you would remain here. And this is Johnny?"
A lumpen youth of 19, his face creased into an idiot smile crossed the room and held out a crumpled paper bag to Pwarro. Pwarro extracted a large Mint Imperial and crunched it noisily between his teeth.
"Your son, Sir Roger?"
"Yes, our son. He is, er, handicapped as you see. Can't speak, mentally retarded. You may eliminate him from your enquiries."
"I see," said Pwarro. "Still, I would be grateful if he would remain. Now where is Miss Pished?"
"Ere I am, Monsieur."
There was a faint rustle of silk and a blast of perfume as a slim figure entered the room. The deep quivering voice with its tanta- lizing Swedish vowels, the straight ash-blonde hair, the perfect features and naturally uplifted breasts left no mistake. Here was Bit Pished, Hollywood's latest and greatest sex symbol. Her eyes, a deep blue, turned on Pwarro, sending out a message to the depths of him. Here, they said, is an utterly stupid woman. With a sigh Bit flung herself into an armchair.
"Tell me, Miss Pished," said Pwarro, in a strange strangled voice, "when did you last see the pearl?"
"About a quarter to twelve it was. I invite these guests to see in the New Year with me, and just before they come I put it in his hiding place."
"And where was that?"
"Ere, in up my, how you say?"
Bit flamed scarlet. Angrily she pulled her short dress up around her waist and pointed to a pouting perfectly shaven pussy. "In here it's the safest place."
Pwarro's eyes bulged. "Safe, Mademoiselle? From what I hear of you, it is a place to which any member of the public can obtain admittance."
Bit cast her eyes down modestly. "What you say is not true. But anyway I do like this."
She flung her long legs over each arm of the chair with a violent movement and gently pried the pale pink lips apart with her sharp white-painted nails.
First I take the pearl so, and push it in this far." A finger slid in with a faint sound, sort of gurgle as if someone had bitten into a peach.
"Then I take a Tampax, so." She slid a long dispenser into her- self and gave a slight squeak as she shot it home.
"Then I wear this." From her bag she took a weighty platinum chastity- belt with a mighty lock set in the front and teeth like a shark. "With this, Tampax not come out, pearl not come out and," she frowned, " no one go in, not that way anyhow."
Pwarro grunted as he picked up a fly button which had popped off onto the floor. "And you put this on at a quarter to twelve and did not remove it until...?"
"About 2.30, for Mr Parker. And was gone the pearl. I look, Mr Parker look... Gone!" A great tear ran down her cheeks. "120.000 pounds worth of pearl, gone away."
"There, there," said Pwarro, stroking her inner thigh. "I will find it for you, little one." He turned to Parker. "These were all the people in the hotel last night, apart from ourselves?"
"Not me,"chipped in Snitcher, "I didn't arrive until six."
"Ah, yes, Mr Snitcher was not here."
"There is the butler," said Parker. "Would you like to interro- gate him?"
"No, no, my dear Parker," said Pwarro with a smile, "one thing I have learned over many years as a detective - the butler never did it. So," he added, addressing the gathering, "we have an impossible crime. The pearl could not have been stolen but it was. The probable is often possible, the possible very often improbable, as we detectives say."
"Right, first, Parker, perhaps you would take Miss Pished into the bedroom and dust her arse for fingerprints. I will be in to probe a little further into her story and then perhaps in half an hour, ladies and gentlemen, I would be glad if you would all be here. Wear what you wore last night and we will reconstruct exactly what you were doing at 12.30 last night."
"What about me?" asked Snitcher. "I was driving at the time".
"Perhaps you would be here too, Mr Snitcher," said Pwarro curtly. "And now, after you, Miss Pished."
"Enjoy your probe, chief?" asked Parker as Pwarro walked un- steadily from the bedroom, smoothing down his hair.
Pwarro smiled as Johnny crossed the floor and proffered the bag of mints. He took one and crunched it between his teeth. "Most satisfying," he replied.
"That is rather more than I can say, Darlink," snorted Miss Pished, who appeared behind him in her dressing gown. She snorted again as she locked the jaws of the shining chastity-belt around her slim loins. "I thought a police probe would be... how you say? Rather more extensive."
Pwarro took Parker by the arm and led him aside. "I have discov- ered some interesting facts," he said quietly. "Firstly the pearl is not there. Secondly Miss Pished is not a virgin and thirdly" - "thirdly, 3 2/3 inches is not, as I had been led to believe, the average length of a policeman's penis. Where is everyone?"
He turned angrily to Smith's secretary who, stark naked was doing a tap dance at one end of the room.
"Sir Roger is in the loo and he won't come out," she said, clutching herself between the legs and dancing more vigorously. "Mr Smith and Lady Duxbury are getting undressed, and Mr Snitch- er," - she glared across the room - "Mr Snitcher is ogling my tits; and so are you, Monsieur Pwarro!" She banged on the floor. "Come out Sir Roger, or I'll wet myself," she bellowed.
"Too late," smiled Pwarro, taking another Mint Imperial from Johnny and crunching it between his teeth. "Did you find any prints on Miss Pished's wonderful behind, Parker?"
"Yes, chief, 57 varieties."
Pwarro sighed. "And I hoped I had been one of the first."
"Right," he said when they were all assembled. "Please take up the exact position you were in at 12.30 this morning. Now!"
Pwarro fought to surpress a smile as Sir Roger, dressed in stock- ings, suspenders and pink frilly knickers lay down on the floor. Miss Smith lowered her backside heavily and rather damply over his face and shoved her hands briskly into his knickers. Mr Smith took Bit Pished's legs over his shoulders and started to lick hungrily at the metal grill of the chrome chastity belt. Lady Duxbury lay on the floor naked, legs parted, thrusting her pelvis up at the ceiling as if screwing an invisible man. Pwarro looked at her and at Snitcher, who looked on, but didn't comment.
"What does Johnny do on these occasions?"
"Nothing," said Sir Roger in muffled tones. "He can't do much. He watches and eats sweets."
Johnny smiled and handed Pwarro another mint, which he crushed into powder between his molars.
"Men who eat sweets like that make lousy lovers," commented Bit Pished from around Smith's mighty cock.
Pwarro scowled darkly. "Keep going," he demanded. "This is very interesting, Parker," he murmured.
"You've seen something suspicious, chief?"
"No, but it's very interesting." Suddenly he turned on his heels, his voice stopping the action dead.
"Mr Smith, is it usual for a man to wear his walking boots when making love to a filmstar?"
"No, but you said..."
"Take them off please."
As Smith removed the hob-nails there was a tinkle of metal. Parker dived on the object and handed a skeleton key to Pwarro.
"Oh, I admit it," said Smith, "I tried to pick the lock. But I didn't steal the pearl. I didn't know it was there. And I could- n't pick the lock it was gummed up with some sticky stuff. Hon- estly."
"And why did you try picking the lock?"
"Have you tried plating a girl through a chastity-belt?"
"I see. And how did you come by a skeleton key?"
"I'm a used car dealer."
"Mm! A perfectly reasonable explanation perhaps." Pwarro looked convinced. "Well, ladies and gentlemen, let us proceed. Next I would like to see what you were doing at 1am.
"Better than a porno cinema club, eh Parker?" he whispered as the suspects changed position. "Good grief, normal sexual inter- course!"
Lady Duxbury and Smith had assumed the missionary position. Bit Pished was bending over the settee, buttocks held apart and Sir Roger stood behind her looking like a pantomime dame in his knickers and padded bra. Miss Smith was whipping the empty air in a corner of the room. Pwarro looked at her and at Snitcher, but said nothing.
"What were you doing there, Sir Roger?"
"Well, er, using the tradesman's entrance, you see, front door being locked."
"So your knickers would be lowered? Lower them please."
As Sir Roger eased the scanty lace around his fat bum there was another tinkle of metal on the floor. Everyone fell silent. At last Bit Pished spoke.
"My key!" she screamed. "You brute, where's the Cervix Stone?"
"I...I don't believe it. I don't know why the key's there. It must have been planted."
Sir Roger stood staring belligerently at Pwarro, his face a dark crimson.
"Planted. I see, a very reasonable explanation." Pwarro crunched another of Johnny's mints and smiled. "well now, if you will relax as you are, I must do a little research. Then I will return and we will do one further reconstruction."
He turned on his heels and left the room, the sound of Lady Duxbury and Smith fighting for first use of the lavatory ringing in his ears.
"They are, how you say, shitting sticks," he said to Parker. Parker grinned.
When Pwarro reappeared he was reeking of paraffin and carried a folded sheet of blotting paper between his finger and thumb. He placed it carefully on the piano and looked at the suspects, who were sitting apart from one another in gloomy silence.
"Now, ladies and gentlemen, I will show you what you were doing at 1.45. It being the last time Sir Roger and his wife would be together I think. On the settee? Yes. Now you, Miss Pished," he said, leading her by the hand, "would be lying here, with your face between Miss Smith's legs and her fingers up your..."
"No, no, no, how dare you do this to me!" Bit disentangled her- self from the secretay's legs and hit Pwarro across the face with her long raking fingernails. Pwarro protected himself as best as he could and stood smiling as she abused him in her native tongue.
"Silly of me," he said at last, when the fury had died away. "Mr Smith would be with Miss Smith of course."
He placed the two together on the carpet. "And you Miss Pished would be on the floor, I think with your breasts held together so..."
"You know that..."
"With," said Pwarro crisply, "with Mr Snitcher's penis between them."
Snicher rose, furious. "You got it wrong, frog," he snarled. "I wasn't here, ask them."
Pwarro looked around the room and received confirmation from each person in turn. He stroked his moustache gently.
"Oh, but you were Snitcher. Apart from the impossibility of getting your car here over impassable roads, there are your fingerprints on the key. I saw all this and I saw ladies making love to invisible men and I asked myself why. Why are these people lying to protect you? And then I found this." He reached for the blotting paper and withdrew a blackened piece of note paper. On it had been written REMEMBER SE(X). "This had been burned, but I have reconstructed it. At first it meant nothing, but then I remembered. The 'free sex for votes' scandal? Yes?"
There was a dead silence as he continued. "The affair was hushed up, but you Sir Roger, were the M.P. involved, Smith was your agent, and Miss Pished would, I suppose , have been the sex - no wonder you had such a majority. And you Snitcher" - here he spat contemptuously on the floor - "you were the Liberal candidate. You found out and have been blackmailing these people ever since."
Snitcher scowled and sat down. "You won't prove anything, copper, they won't talk. And you don't know anything?"
"I know they were going to kill you last night?"
"Oh yes, look at yourself, man. You have on one of those watches that smashes the very instant the victim dies and all the labels have been removed from your clothes. In all my experience I have rarely found a murder victim who did not have these marks on him. Besides, Miss Pished has a phial of strychnine in her bag. Sir Roger a revolver, and Miss Smith a curiously designed dagger. All things that would have made me suspicious if I had been investi- gating a murder. But I'm not. I am investigating the theft of a pearl, the Cervix Stone, and I know how it was done. So if you will get dressed I will use the lavatory and we will sort it out for once and for all."
"Enjoy your walk, Lady Duxbury?" She had dressed in her outdoor clothes and Pwarro's quick eye noted the snow on her Wellington boots.
"Yes, thank you, I needed a little air."
"Quite so. Well, let us begin." Pwarro took another mint, crushed it and stood for a while, thumb in the armholes of his waistcoat. Then he began.
"This is an impossible crime. It is clear that anyone taking the Pearl would have to have access to Miss Pished's vagina. Now you will have observed Miss Pished's disgust at any lesbian contact, rather cleverly demonstrated I think, so I rule out the ladies. But what of the men? Mr Smith had a skeleton key, he could have opened the chastity belt. But when? Not while she had both her legs round his neck that is certain. He would have needed both hands and he could hardly have removed the belt, Tampax and pearl then locked up again without her noticing. Then there's Sir Roger, he had th key this morning. But he could hardly have had it since last night, or Miss Pished would not have discovered the theft. She had the key at 2.30 and there is only one. Sir Roger may have taken the pearl, returned the key, and taken the key again but there seems no reason. Then there is our Liberal friend Snitcher."
Pwarro reached into Johnny's bag for another mint and stopped suddenly. He reached out quickly for the boy's teeth and brought his lens up to his eye. "You eat too many sweets, Johnny, but..."
Suddenly Lady Duxbury stood up. "It was me," she said. "I con- fess, and I'm going to be sick."
Pwarro looked after her as she retreated to the lavatory. There was a retching sound, a splash and a scream, and a crackle of electricity. Sir Roger appeared a few seconds later at the door. "It's my wife," he choked. "She's dead!"
"As you all know," said Pwarro, half an hour later. "Lady Duxbury is alive. The lavatory cistern was a death-trap, wired up to the light switch, but her Wellington boots saved her, also she was wearing rubber gloves." He paused. "She will recover, but let us get on with this investigation.."
"I had come to Snitcher. Now Snitcher had you all in his power. He could have forced Miss Pished to give him the pearl, faked a robbery so she could claim the insurance and could squeeze that out of her as well. He was never searched. He turns up here, all innocence, hours later and relies on his power over you to keep him out of it. The case against him looks black. He has eyebrows that meet in the middle and a silly foreign name. And I found this note in Lady Duxbury's pocket." He unfolded a paper and read: "Confess or face the ruin of your husband."
"The bastard." Sir Roger was on his feet before anyone could move, a sword from the wall in his hand. He ran at Snitcher, who retreated to the window. Snitcher drew a gun. He threatened the irate politician, but Sir Roger took no notice. He lunged at Snitcher. Snitcher fired twice, missing badly. He leapt back onto the windowsill and fired again. He leant back against the window. It opened behind him and, with a terrible scream he fell back- wards out over the panoramic view of the Grampians to the foot of the gorge. The only sound in the room was Sir Roger's stentorian breathing. Then Pwarro spoke.
"The case against Snitcher is black, but I don't think it was him." There was an outbreak of protests. Pwarro held up his hand for silence. "No, you will have noticed that I discovered some- thing in Johnny's mouth just before Lady Duxbury confessed."
Johnny ran up, hearing his name mentioned, and Pwarro took anoth- er mint. "It was one of Miss Pished's pubic hairs. You love your son, don't you, Sir Roger?"
"But he takes things?"
"Er, yes, sometimes."
"And if he does it again, you know that even your name will not keep him out of a certain kind of hospital?"
Sir Roger did not reply. "I believe your wife suspected Johnny and tried to protect him. As soon as I was on the track she tried a diversion, a fake note and a fake murder attempt. Because you prepared that trap for Snitcher, didn't you? Each of you has used the lavatory today, none of you turned the light on. You all knew it was there."
Bit Pished broke in angrily. "Yes, that's true, but I had no sex with Johnny after the party. It was before. And the stone was there after. I put it in me after I had with a Johnny a little sex, no?"
Pwarro looked bemused. "You didn't have Johnny after you locked the stone inside you? That makes it a baffling case."
He sat down heavily and put a mint in his mouth. In the silence there was a terrible crunch as his teeth met. Then a look of realisation spread over his face, so acute it looked like agony.
"When you had Johnny, you put the stone beside the bed?"
"In a paper bag?"
"I think, yes."
"And you took it out afterwards and inserted it as you've shown us?"
"Then I know where the pearl is."
He spat the stone into his hand and gave it to her.
"We have not been looking for a pearl, we have been looking for a Mint Imperial," he said. "There are two differences. Pearls do not dissolve in the vagina, mints do."
"What's the other difference, chief?" asked Parker curiously.
"Mints don't break your teeth, pearls do," said Pwarro, spitting two bloody molars onto the floor.
To his surprise, everyone began to laugh.
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Page last updated 97-Dec-11 by: Altairboy@aol.com