The Maltese Sparrow

Chapter Eight

By Douglas E Gogerty

The food arrived just as Daniel Butler did. That is the usual case of things. Most private detectives miss several meals, or in this case, I was forced to share. The nature of the missing bird was unclear.

"What can you tell me about the Larsentient that died of the bird flu?" I asked him as he munched on one of my crab cakes.

"What makes you think I know anything about him?"

"Do we really have to do this the hard way?"

"Apparently so."

"I am just concerned about your health and well being."

"My health?"

"You are not concerned?"

"Should I be?"

"Large earth birds are carriers."

"And?"

"Don't you have a couple of Maltese blue tits?"

"Do I?"

"I have seen them with my own two eyes."

"Oh! Those birds -- they're gone."

"Gone?"

"You are a clever one," Daniel Butler admitted as he started in on the mucilage. "You got me talking again."

"Where are the birds?"

"I do not know. I think your Larsentient friend was attempting to get them off world."

"He was a smuggler?"

"Amateur! He got sloppy -- drat -- you're good!"

"So, it was murder."

"How else? It is a rare disease."

"Who do you suppose did it?"

"I have not one clue -- perhaps his partner."

"Partner?"

"Oh no! You cannot get that out of me."

"Why?"

"Because I do not know who it was."

"Were they trying to get anything else out?"

"Like what?" he asked washing down my meal with some of my goose liver smoothie.

"A Maltese sparrow perhaps?"

"Possibly, but a small bird like a sparrow should be easy. Nothing elaborate would be necessary."

"Has anyone contacted you about the birds?"

"Why me?"

"Well possibly because you smuggled them onto this world. You certainly would have the capacity to get them off."

"The sparrow would have none of that."

"The sparrow?"

"He will not travel in a confined space."

"So, it there is something special about this bird."

"It is not a jewel encrusted bird covered in enamel to hide its value if that is what you are driving at."

"No. I am talking it about its abilities."

"You have been listening to that hotel man -- Manny -- I can tell."

"Why?"

"Do you actually believe that the bird is self-aware?"

"I cannot say, but there is definitely something special about the bird."

"If not awareness, then what?"

"It is not my job to say, but a man is dead over it."

"It could just be revenge," he stated finishing off my meal.

"Revenge?"

"You have quite the way of getting people to talk. Perhaps someone wanted him dead for something he did, and used a convenient method to do the job."

"Who?"

"If I knew -- then -- I -- would..." he said turning an interesting shade of blue.

"What is it?" I asked, but I got no answer as he keeled over.

Detective D'Cheuer was there almost before he hit the ground. He was poisoned. So much for the Butler doing it. Since he ate my food, I could only assume that the poison was meant for me. I did ignore the warning to stop investigating the case. I knew I was getting close, but I still did not know how.

On the other hand, the police did not believe that he ate my meal. Thus, they arrested me for the murder of Daniel Butler. Someone said we were arguing and that I threatened to kill him or asked him if he was concerned for his health. Someone definitely wanted me out of the way, but who?

"This could not happen to a nicer guy," stated Detective D'Cheuer.

"Do you think Mr. Butler was so bad?"

"Not him wingtip -- you!"

"I did not kill him."

"The evidenced points to you doing it."

"It is pretty slim evidence."

"It will hold up."

"What was my motive?"

"When you are dealing with a known smuggler, it is easy to invent something."

"Such as?" I asked.

"Perhaps he cheated you on a deal. Perhaps he was extorting money from you for that mail order bride you ordered. With a little investigation, we can build a motive."

"Don't be ridiculous. I'm getting close on my case. You cannot stop me now."

"Oh! I cannot can't I?"

"Please?"

"Don't tell me. You want 24 hours to clear your name."

"Actually, I was hoping for 240."

"Ten days? Are you crazy?"

"Come on detective. Be a stand up guy."

"You know the drill. If you make bail, you can continue your investigation then."

"But..."

"No buts. You have the right to remain silent. If you give up this right, anything you say can be used against you in your trial. You have the right to attorney. If you cannot afford one, the court will appoint one for you. Do you understand these rights as I have explained them?"

"Ummm -- no."

"Shut up and put your hands behind your back."

I did as he asked, and he attached my hands together. He put me in his vehicle and took me to the police station. With the design of the world, everyone was close to a police station. Thus, it took quite a while to get to the destination.

I was fingerprinted, photographed, and had some DNA taken. It was the normal booking procedure. I was almost an old hand at it. They gave me my one phone call. Since Maxine was the only one I knew with any money, I called her.

My client came down and bailed me out. She did it on the condition that I would continue the case, and any further expenses would be counted against my bail.

I explained that I was getting close to something big.

"I am not interested in your big case," she explained. "I just want my bird back."

"But..."

"But, nothing! I am paying you to find my bird and return her to me. The rest of your investigation does not appear to be headed in that direction."

"I suppose you are right."

"I am," she said emphatically. "You solve your poisoning case on your own time. My missing Mable comes first."

"But..."

"Would you like to return to your cell?"

"No," I said as an uncontrollable shiver shook my body.

"Then find my bird!"

"Yes ma'am."

I was caught between a rock and a hard place. I needed to find out who killed Daniel Butler -- or who tried to kill me. However, if this did not lead me to the missing bird, then I should not pursue it. If I did not pursue it, I could end up in jail for a very long time. I was getting close to something, but I did not know what. The only thing I could do was carry on.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Douglas Gogerty published on December 28, 2008 3:00 PM.

"Well that's pretty, but it doesn't answer my question..." was the previous entry in this blog.

"Blaze Mason: Ghost Ship" - Chapter 3 is the next entry in this blog.

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