PAIGE 104 - SLEUTH HOUND

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Them hounds came in like Scotch professors to a hat store. Thought it'd be a quiet day with the old gold in one hand and a ham sandwich in the other. But those days don't come so easily no more. Old blighty rolled in like somethin' out of a cheap film, and the headlights of the M lass cut through the air like a butter through hot knife. It's cold, but got nothin' on the ticker of this P.I. Speaking of which, the ol' disquali-ray took a gander over them fields outside. Ain't got nothin' much but them kids runnin' about, and I ain't one for kids. I thought, hm, maybe the ol' instead'll crack me a break for once, but I was wrong. The old D came in, silent as a stuffed canary, ain't heard a twitter til' the ol' Beauregarde told me about him. Shot up like a froyo on the 3:13 mark, shot up and spread the news all around. Yep, the D-man was here, and he was here to stay.

Took the last of the O.J.'s good hospitality, then picked up my comrade on the way out. Yep, she's yellow and packs a punch. Usually grape juice mixed with cranberry, but I'm not partial. Orange and lemonade's good, too. Took a swig and asked her, "so, you seen the D-man? Hm, and the day after the box goes missing. He'd like us to think it chance, but chance ain't speaking nothing but an alibi. What you say, ol' M?" The lass said, "I want punch." Sighed and smiled. That lass always tends to the pugilistic side. I'd curb it if I were a different Eye, but I ain't. Sometimes the gray matter needs a bit of thunder. "We'll get you some punch later, M. Tell me, you seen anything on this stakeout? Anyone carrying something suspicious?" She blinked twice. Those lights flashing shot out in the rain. "Well, Kingsley was out here earlier today when the rain started, and he came back holding something wrapped in his rainjacket." I knew it. The subtlety of the K, mixed in to the crowd like a bishon frieze in a crowd of polar bears against the arctic icescape. Ain't nothing but a trained eye could pick up those details. Said, "Mary, you're the best." "And you're the second-best, Livi," she said.

Walked up the stairs. The window outside was dull, like the conversation here. Passed the D-man, he looked up from a book and called out. I turned. "So, it's the Dylanator. Can't hide behind consonants forever." "What? Um, hi Livi! I've just arrived, did we have any plans for today?" I laughed quietly. The D-man ain't got no clue who I am, always getting mixed up with this Paige lass. "Depends," I said, "if you're the one with the box." "The box?" Ah yep. Here we go, feigning ignorance again. The D-man and the Beauregarde couldn't be more in cohorts, and here he is pretending he doesn't know about the box. "You and the L are pretty close, I'd say. You say you don't know The Box?" "Oh! You mean the board game?" You see, I always coax the truth out in the end. "Ah, so you know," I said, "and it's missing, eh?" "Oh yeah, she told me when I came in. Guess we'll have to wait until it turns up."

Poor guy, seems he either had no clue, or cared as much as the Paigenator for Russian sports. The L's heartstrings are pretty wound around the D, we'll have to wait to see if he pulls or not. What's his endgame? That we don't know. I rolled down the stairs. Was too hard to walk, had too much of the ham and O.J. Thought I heard a whisper in the kitchen. Turned round, saw the S there. "Well, if it ain't the Susan," I said. "Oh, nice new shirt you have there. I thought you only wore orange?" Ha, so she thought I was the Paige lass too. "Ain't no Paige," I said, "name's Sage. Bolivia Sage. Tell me, and you might want to show your cards, pal, you know anything about The Box?" "The Box?" she said. "Oh, you mean the board game thing? Uh, no. And what's with the accent?" Ah, bumpkins. They ain't seen nothing of the world, you come from anywhere half a mile away, and they wonder at the chin-wag. "Well, thanks, lass. See you round."

Went back out to the rain. "Livi!" came a voice. There was the name again. Even my comrade was in a jesting mood. "I saw Kingsley go upstairs with a box!" I swung back like a Russian with whacking bread. "Good job, M," I said, and disappeared into the instead. Knew he had to be there, ain't nowhere else to go in the rain. "You seen Kingsley?" I asked the D. "He's in his room, isn't he?" the D said. "Ah, thanks," I said. Obviously he wasn't in cohorts with the K. Turned down the hall, heard the hum of a heater on beyond the door. I said "checkmate, K!" and turned the handle. He was standing there over the pieces and The Box, while an electric heater hummed nearby. "So you're the one!" I said, "you've got it!" I said. "It was out by the goat pen," he said, "I got it just in time before the rain. Thankfully only the box is wet, the game is fine!" I kicked back my shoulders. "Good alibi, K. But you're caught red-handed. Or wet-handed. It makes no difference. Now are you going to return The Box to the L, or will I?" He stood up, and said "oh, well I think I've got everything together now, here you are. We'll all get together in an hour or so maybe?"

Last-minute remorse. I took it to the L, and she wouldn't blame the K, though he was caught red-handed and all. Heart of gold, that lass, but I would have DNA-proofed them crocodile-tears and sent that crocodile off to Alcatraz. Still, not my call. "Now L, let's have a talk about them sparklers..."

- Sage.