The case of Mr. 88

On the second Friday of the month of April of 19.. (the date doesn't really matter, but I remember it well because it was the day I sprained my ankle at the park while training for a marathon)...

On that very day and at the same time, but in a different part of town (that's my alibi, folks), a locker was broken into at a popular gym. It had never happened before, and the owner of the gym was in shock. He thought of calling the police, but knew the police would just start a file on the case. The file would be listed as "open" until the time came to list it as "closed". The time between the opening and the closing of the case would be called "investigation" and the end result would be nil. Just as he pondered on what to do, an unassuming patron of the gym -- a tad below forty, thin, not very tall, one of those faces you quickly forget -- knocked at his door.

"May I? I'm a private investigator. Here's my business card". The owner looked at the card and the card just said:


No phone number, no street address. Just that. "Ironside" was a TV series involving an investigator on a wheelchair, the owner remembered from way back when. So this must be a copycat looking for attention...

"Sir, I can solve your case. By noon, I think. If I don't solve it by then, you can call the police and you'll owe me nothing". The voice was deep, persuasive. The eyes intelligent. The guy, whoever he was, had charisma. The owner had an infallible charisma detector, and it was tingling. Before he could think rationally he heard his own voice say "Deal. Where do you wanna start?".

They started with the locker that had been broken into. Of course. The lock had been picked. A nice, clean, quick job. Irunside made a mental note of the number: 88. How symmetric, he nodded approvingly. "Let's see Mr. 88" he said.

Mr. 88 was a tall guy in his thirties, fit, tanned, good looking. He reported his wallet had been stolen, but his cellular phone, his car keys and his Rolex watch had not been touched. The thief had taken the wallet after leaving the credit cards and all the cash -- 165 dollars -- behind. What else was in the wallet? "Oh, this and that, you know... business cards, receipts, phone numbers...". Irunside gave him a piercing look. Mr. 88 lowered his eyes. "What else was in your wallet?" he repeated slowly. Mr. 88 hesitated. The investigator had a way with words... or maybe it was his tone... it made one feel like confessing one's deepest secrets. Irunside smiled encouragingly: "If you spent less time lifting and more time running you'd learn to take more notice of beauty around you. Like that young lady this morning, who was drooling over you while you pressed the bench, is that what it's called?". Mr. 88 looked surprised. Which young lady? "Brunette, green bambi eyes, definitely a runner". "A runner? How could you tell she was a runner?" asked Mr. 88, who was beginning to understand. "Number one, she wore running shoes. Number two, she wore a running watch of the same brand as the shoes. Number three, she was as thin as a runner but had muscles in her legs, just like a runner. Number four, a runner can always tell a runner, and that was one very beautiful runner. Now, since you obviously know whom I'm talking about, could you tell me what else was in your wallet?"

Mr. 88 turned all red in the face and asked to talk to the owner alone. Irunside chuckled and told the owner: "Case closed. You have my business card if you need me".

There was no need to call the police, after all. No charges were pressed. Case closed. What was in the wallet? Only two people knew for sure: Mr. 88 and the mysterious green-eyed runner. Oh, Irunside had a pretty good idea too, but that was just a matter of logic and intuition. In the following months he noticed with satisfaction that Mr. 88 had become a runner too. He ran across him at the park almost every other day. Mr. 88 never seemed to notice that Irunside was there too, light on his feet and very fast. But then again, Irunside is not someone you'd notice easily. Just one of those faces so easily forgotten...

Since September 7, 2007 - © Aerostato, Seattle - All Rights Reserved.

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