A Heavy Cloud
Detective Weisell had known he wanted to be a detective since he was seven years, five months and twenty-two days old. Six months and ten days later, on his eighth birthday, he made an announcement. He made the announcement before he had unwrapped his present (a teddy bear wearing a blue coat) and after he had extinguished the candles on his cake (he preferred to blow out each candle individually while turning the cake clockwise). The eight year old Weisell’s announcement was this: he had decided to solve riddles when he grew up.
“I’m going to be a detective,” he explained.
When his parents failed to respond with the proper amount of enthusiasm, he patiently stood before them and listed the reasons why the job of detective would be ideal for him.
“I am curious,” he said, “methodical, observant, logical, conscientious, and patient. I’m not too gullible—”
“Okay, okay,” said his parents. “You can be a detective.”
“And tenacious,” said the eight year old Weisell. “That means I’m tireless and determined.”
“We knew that already,” said his parents.
Weisell knew they knew that.
Maybe I can be a good detective, he thought.
He opened his present, looked at the teddy bear and frowned.
The next day, his parents returned the bear and exchanged it for a magnifying glass.
Weisell blinked and looked around the Bird House and remembered where he was. He realized he had eaten all the cake. The birds in the cages chattered with each other and sang. Only the large green parrot sat quietly and stared out the window.
The lovebird above him looked down and winked.
“Don’t give up,” said the lovebird.
I wish you could tell me which direction to turn, thought Weisell.
Weisell stood and dropped some coins on the table and headed for the police station. When he reached the station, he walked to the front desk and spoke to the officer on duty. She wore a glum expression.
“Is he here yet?” said Weisell.
The officer looked up from behind two towering piles of forms. She nodded toward the Police Chief’s office.
Weisell straightened his tie and picked up a few blank forms from the desk. He placed the one form he had filled out that morning on top, and waved the papers casually in his hand as he entered the office.
The Police Chief sat at his desk and stared at the red-dotted map of the Park. Several small trophies and plaques with vague and mysterious origins sat before him on the desk.
Weisell made a quick list of the awards closest to him:
- Top Regional Sleuth
- District Champion in Clue Catching
- Best Achievement in Clever Detecting
- Police Chief Personality of the Year
There were rumors that the Chief hadn’t really won these awards and had actually bought them from somewhere on the other side of the river. Weisell shrugged when he heard this gossip.
“I’m only concerned with the facts,” he told them.
Weisell stood before the Chief’s desk and described meeting Edward and visiting the Bird House. He took out the earring and handed it to the Chief.
“Gold?” said the Chief. His held up the earring and licked his lips.
He looks like he’s going to eat it, thought Weisell.
“I bet Edward had this on him,” said the Chief.
Weisell nodded some more.
“Know who it belongs to?”
“No,” said Weisell. “There’s a possible connection with a Wilhelmina Something.”
“A socialite with a strange dog.”
“That’s it!” said the Chief. He slammed his fist down on the desk, and the trophies and plaques hopped up in the air. “This is the big break we’ve waited for. I knew you could do it. Did you make an arrest?”
“Who? The dog?”
The Chief glared.
“I didn’t arrest Edward,” said Weisell.
The Chief raised his eyebrows.
“Maybe you aren’t aware,” he said, “but stealing things is against the law.”
“Did Edward steal something?”
The Chief ignored the detective.
“I’m writing an arrest warrant for Edward,” he said. “What’s his full name?”
“Rook,” said Weisell.
He sat down.
I don’t feel good, he thought. I am not a good detective.
“Rook, like the bird?” asked the Chief.
“Rook, like the chess piece.”
“Name: Rook. Location—where does he live?”
“The Park,” said Weisell. “He sleeps beneath the Broken Clock Tower. He searches for something he has lost. He has searched every day of every week of every month for nearly a year and still not found it.”
“I know that,” said the Chief. “He’s a thief.”
Weisell slumped in his chair.
None of this makes sense, he thought.
“Where’s the evidence?” said Weisell.
The Chief stopped writing and looked up.
“Did I ask you to sit?” said the Chief. “Let me check. No, I’m positive I didn’t.”
Weisell stood up.
“The evidence is all around you,” said the Chief. “You said he had a piece of gold jewelry on him when you investigated him this morning. You said the jewelry was stolen from a socialite. You said there was a break-in at the Teahouse.”
“I didn’t say—”
“It’s an open and shut case,” said the Chief.
“What about the blue-covered book?” said Weisell. “Why would Edward want to steal a book full of recipes?”
Even if it does contain the key to a kingdom of cakes, he thought.
“Maybe you better let me do the thinking from now on,” said the Chief. “There’s a big difference between us. Can you guess what it is?”
I can, thought Weisell. But my mother wouldn’t want me to say it aloud.
“I have a riddle for you,” said Weisell. “Would you like to hear it?”
“Not particularly,” muttered the Chief.
“I fly without wings,” said Weisell, “and I cry without eyes. Darkness follows me wherever I go. What am I?”
The Chief stared at Weisell for a long, uncomfortable moment. He pushed the earring and the arrest warrant across the desk toward him.
“You know what you have to do,” said the Chief. “Don’t forget the paperwork.”
Weisell picked up the earring and warrant and waved his pile of forms in the air. The Chief frowned and pointed at the door.
Weisell left without saying goodbye.
As he walked out, Weisell began to list all the things he could have said.
As usual, it was a long list.
“Bad news?” said the officer at the front desk. “Haven’t solved the case yet?”
“Not yet,” said Weisell. “Someone else thinks he has.”
The officer at the desk chuckled and shook her head.
“My mother told me not to count my chickens before they hatch,” she said.
“Do you want to hear a riddle?” said Weisell.
He told her.
“That’s easy,” she said. “You’re a heavy cloud.”
“I am a heavy cloud,” said Weisell.
“Cheer up,” she said, and patted him on the arm. “You can’t stop the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but don’t let them build nests in your hair.”
The Police Chief waited until Weisell shut the door. He listened to the footsteps disappear down the hall.
The Chief picked up his phone and dialed.
“I want to order a bouquet of white roses,” he said, “the biggest bouquet you have. How much would that cost?”
He listened to the reply.
“Make it a small bouquet then. And I don’t want my name on the card. All I want you to write is this: To Frances, from your secret admirer.”
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© 2018 Colin Lewis · Brought to you by Unlikely Objects