"The Doe Who Isn't There"
17 August 1936 0130
My old man was on th' job, like me, chasin'
th' bad guys here on th' Spontoons. 'course, he did it as a
cons'tble, not as a detective, like me, so he got, usual-like, th'
rough stuff. He told me oncet, "crime don't keep no banker's
hours." True enough, tonight.
I usually talk into this thing 'round
midnight, anyhow, so I'm up.
[My great-grandfather is referring to the fact that he used an
early-model Dictaphone, with wax cylinders, to dictate these memoirs,
usually after the rest of his family had retired for the night.
This was done in an effort at self-analysis and self-improvement - OFXB
IV.] Th' telephone operator calls me on th' line I gots in my
den, so I don't wake th' wife an' kids.
Cheery stuff. Some Euro was taking his
sweet thing out fer a lil' night cruise on his boat, not far from
Casino Island. You knows and I knows what that means,
'course. Anyhow, they're on th' deck, in th' moonlight, gettin'
in the mood, 'round about midnight, when th' skirt lets out a yell that
must have woke half th' island, at least th' half that's
sleepin'. Bumpin' up against th' boat is a floater. I don't
mean what ya ties a boat to. I mean someone who ain't gonna be
doin' much more'n bein' room temp. Guy figgers he ain't gonna
have no fun nohow anyways, so he sends up a flare, an' gets a crashboat
out, which hauls th' floater in. Crashboat radios it in t'HQ, HQ
calls me, 'cause I gots th' duty.
My boss, Detective Inspector Franklin Stagg,
he's usually up at this hour, anyhow, six nights outta seven. I
ain't real easy wit' him takin' th' night duty as often as he
does. I mean, it's good for me 'n th' kids, but it ain't
right. So I'm kinda happy at least t'pick up a bitta slack.
We finally gots a Murder Box fer me, too. That's a big bag wit'
all sortsa gizmos fer detectives t' look at a crime scene wit'.
Plus my Speed Graphic an' a few packs a' film. So I heads on over
t'where the crashboat has put th' body, on th' wharf. Just
managed t'beat a guy from th' Mirror, who
snaps a photo of th' floater 'fore I tells him t'buzz off an' let me
work. No hard feelin', 'course. Guy knows I gotta work.
Took th' last happy snaps this guy's gonna get
this side of th' Pearly Gates. Middle-aged porker, male, kinda
overweight, and naked as a jaybird. He ain't been in th' water
long, 'cause he's intact, nothin' missin', no bloatin' or
nothin'. Gave th' body a pretty good once-over. No blood or
nothin', nothin' bashed. I can sees a few small bruises 'round his
neck, but they ain't much of a much. Only thing sorta outta place
is a big tattoo the guy's got on his bicep, in Russkie writin', which I
can't read. Red star an' a anchor. Took a good closeup of
that. I figger th' boys at th' Russian embassy are gonna have
t'know 'bout this sooner or later, but I figger later is better.
Crashboat boys point out where th' floater was
found, not far from one of the nav buoys in th' channel. I gotta
hunch where th' guy coulda come from, growin' up 'round here an' all,
but I wants t'hear one of the wetboys twopenny'orth on it.
"Two 'an six says it's Hairpin Cove, Iron.
They ought to close that place up tight at nights, it ain't safe."
See, this is a place 'bout maybe a few hunnert
yards, as th' seagull flies, from where th' body was found, but it
kinda dipsy-doodles around. Hairpin Cove is kinda long, thin an'
wobbly, an' it's kinda a nice place t'swim, but when th' tides are
movin', like th' wetboy sez, it ain't safe there, unless you're in real
close. Usual-like, oncet a year, some dumb Euro goes skinny
dipping there, an' manages t'kill himself wit' the rip-current.
Kinda small beach, compared t'other parts of th' Island, so it ain't
all that crowded, even in th' day. Most nights, y'can have th'
beach for yourself, if ya want.
Anyhow, I figger th' best thing t'do is send
the stiff over in a meat wagon over to Doc Meffit's shop. Since
he's th' Medical 'xaminer, he does th' pokin' and proddin' of th'
stiffs. I has a few constables watch Hairpin Beach, t'keep out
folks, so when Stagg gets on duty, he can have a look-see wit'out
nothin' gettin' tramped on.
17 August 1936 0610
I takes a bit of shut-eye at HQ after I gets
back. Ain't no one t'bug me about it, 'specially since th' Chief
Const'ble, who don't like me (or Stagg) is nice an' tucked in his own
bed, wit' his special lil' bit o' company. So it's Stagg who
pokes me up when he gets in. Early. He even beat th'
two-star edition of th' Mirror, which
I'll bet is gonna have th' floater in it, front an' centre. Looks
like th' heat an' his usual hoof trouble gave him hell last night, but
he's a trooper, he still puts in a full day an' then some. I
fills him in on th' floater, an' tells him what I done. He gives
a nod, an' a clap on my shoulder, which makes me feel okeh. Good
enough t' tag along wit' Stagg an' his Murder Box t' Hairpin Beach,
t'see what we can see.
17 August 1936 0745
T'get on Hairpin Beach ain't much. There's th'
coastal road, an' ya sorta make a turn offen it, t'ru a path in th'
underbrush an' unner some trees, an' there it is. There's two
paths, so ya pretty much only need t'ree constables t'watch it.
They sez ain't no one been around since I sent them there, which is
good. We takes one path offen th' road nice an' slow, real
careful, but there ain't nothin' t'see, even fer Stagg, who's good at
that sorta thing.
Hairpin Beach is kinda small. Mebbe fifty feet
wide by 'bout twenny feet at high tide, mebbe thirty at low tide.
So if there's somethin' there, you're gonna see it, quick. So it
ain't a surprise both of us sees a pile a clothes dumped on th' beach
like a buncha dirty laundry. Stagg has me take a few snaps of
this at a distance.
Both of us pads real careful over there, 'cause we
don't wanna mess up no tracks. One setta tracks ain't hard
t'spot. Pig trotters, all right. At sorta a fast pace, like
he was skippin' or runnin'. Area near these tracks is sorta
disturbed. Looks like somethin' dragged funnyways. Stagg
has snaps of that, too.
Finally, we gets up t' th' clothes pile, an'
Stagg puts on some gloves from his Murder Box, and gets out a buncha
envelopes. Tie (cheap, kinda loud like mine), white shirt, white
undershirt, white linen pants, white boxer unnerwear, white linen
jacket, straw hat. Lotta sweat steans on th' shirts, an' on the
jacket, plus th' guy's a slob, he's spilled somethin' on th' tie an'
th' shirt. Clothes are dry, ain't a whole lotta sand stuck on
them, which Stagg says means they ain't been here all that long.
Above th' tide mark, too. One watch, still tickin', Russkie make,
pretty good quality. Silver-metal cigarette case wit' an anchor
on it, full wit' cheap local cigs. Cheap Zippo-type lighter, red
star on it. Key ring. Wallet, 72 pounds in notes.
I.D. in the name of M.I. Rahksov, wit' th' face of th' floater I seen
early today starin' back at me. Russian Embassy I.D., which means
there's gonna be trouble when he don't show up fer work t'day.
Pants pockets have some silver an' copper coins, plus a stub from th'
Grand, looks like dinner fer two, plus a whole lotta drinks. All
this gets shoved in envelopes by Stagg, an' I label it up an' date
it. We don't wanna lose nothin', see?
After we finishes up baggin' th' late
lamented's clothes, Stagg takes off his gloves, an' stretches, sorta
lookin' round. I makes a guess what's on his mind.
"I figger we oughta send one const'ble, each
direction, have a close-in look at the roadsides, see if there's
"I was thinking along the same lines,
Sergeant. Go ahead and give the orders. While they're doing
that, we ought to ask around, certainly at the Grand, and along the
road here, to see if they recall Mr. Rahksov. A phone call to the
Foreign Ministry is probably in order, as well, I'm afraid..."
17 August 1936 0955
Waiter at th' Grand remembers Rahksov, all
"You would think that someone from a nation
that has such concern for the working class would leave a tip, but oh,
no, he must think it's some sort of decadent bourgeois habit..."
Stagg cuts 'im off 'fore he gets real goin' on
"Yes, he racked up quite a bill, about 28
pounds' worth. Started out at late afternoon tea, went on into
dinner. Kept a table occupied for hours. Had to break a 100
pound note, if you please. Supposed to be all he had. Rock
lobster bisque, some of which ended up on his shirt front, fish course,
ditto, and chocolate mousse, also ditto. Obviously, they don't
teach them table manners. Nor how to hold their liquor quietly..."
"So Mr. Rahksov had a number of drinks?"
"He split both a quart of grain vodka and a
bottle of white wine with his guest. Rather unpleasant,
hatchet-faced little weasel, spoke with a New Haven accent out of the
side of his mouth. Um, sorry, Inspector, I..."
Stagg sorta sighs. "No need to
apologize, sir. I'm not responsible for the actions of my
countrymen. So Mr. Rahksov was intoxicated when he left?"
"He wouldn't have been able to walk a white
line, unless it had been painted by an abstract artist. Probably
about 9:15 or so."
"Did you happen to hear what Mr. Rahksov and
his guest were talking about?"
"Well, when they saw me listening, they
switched from English to Russian."
"Were any other guests aware of Mr. Rahksov?"
"There were complaints about the noise, but
other than that, nothing special that caught my attention. What
happened to the gentleman?"
"He was found dead early this morning,
floating in the ocean."
"Well, that's what you get for not tipping."
17 August 1936 1040
Constable askin' questions 'round th' area got
results. Spontoonie vendor seen Rahksov, along th' coast road,
prolly 'bout 9.30 or so.
seen thou swine outlander night previous, brother.)
(Affirmative, brother. Saw myself swine outlander.
Myself to hearth walking. Myself work-day complete.
Outlander clock-reckoning nine and one half of night.)
(Enquiry actions swine outlander doing, seest thou, brother.)
outlander shameful behaviour occuring. Same absent senses, same
intoxicating spirits smell. Expression disgust.)
(Enquiry swine outlander alone was.)
(Negative, brother. Myself see swine outlander with, shameful in
the telling, Spontoonie female. Same grass skirt, flower wearing
ear near, garland flower make over chest.)
(Enquiry Spontoone female belonging species.)
(Spontoonie female like unto creature with horns outlander here
(Enquiry certain thou species.)
(Affirmative, brother. Tail Spontoonie female like unto tail
creature with horns outlander, white flag similarity. Ears
likewise creature with horns outlander similar. Spontoonie female
long dark hair possessed. Colour black possessing)
(Enquiry stated thou shameful in telling relation Spontoonie female.)
hears Spontoonie female vending of self discussion, negotiation with
""Good evening, sir. I am
Nuki-Nuki. You lonely? You looking for fun? You like number
one boom-boom on the beach?""
Nuki-nuki. Great. Wish t'hell th' tarts
'round here would think up a better name t'use, sometimes.
shameful was, brother. Virtue selling behaviour shameful
is. Myself Wise One future discuss. Emphasis repeat
swine outlander travel following sighting thou. Same likewise doe
outlander, same likewise doe Spontoonie coastal road walk.
Emphasis negative myself follow. Fire demons vendors of virtue
take. Enquiry reason question thou myself swine outlander
outlander deceased is. Creature with horns outlander divination
attempt truth, likewise myself.)
emphasis satisfaction. Virtue lack rewarded has been.)
17 August 1936 1135
Stagg phones in t' Doc Meffit, tells him
t'look fer certain types of fluid, if ya gets my meanin'. Meffit
says he'll put it on th' list.
Second call t'HQ tells us t'go back up near
Hairpin Beach. Const'ble found somethin' near it.
17 August 1936 1210
Const'ble points out what he found.
Communal compost heap, one th' boys at th' Min'stry of Public Works
keeps up t'take care of th' nat'ral trash they get. I takes a few
snaps, an' then Stagg leans down, an' uses his stick to gentle-like
take out a grass skirt.
I seen what th' const'ble guessed. It's
still kinda fresh, an' it's all intact. Ain't no part missin', so
why ditch it? Kinda funny t'sees it. Stood out on th'
Stagg sniffs it a bit, an' then hasta cough, his
eyes waterin'. I takes a sniff myself, an' I has t'do th'
same. I mean, even a bit of time onna compost heap, that's gonna
give somethin' a real hum, if ya knows what I mean. Ain't no way
we're gonna get no scent from this, an' no pawprints, neither.
Skirt had a whole buncha sand in it, tho, like it had been used fer
sweepin' a beach. Stagg puts th' skirt in a bag, t'sees if we can
finds some fur or such.
17 August 1936 1300
Sure enough, when we gets back t'HQ, all hell
is bustin' out. Th' Mirror's afternoon edition plays up th'
findin' of the late lamented, front page. Th' Chief hauls us
upstairs, an' he's gotta guest, this sorta shifty-eyed dog. He
wants the low-down on what we done t' fix this, so Stagg tells him all
we finds out.
This sorta settles th' Chief a bit. I
mean, he can show this dog, who turns out t'be some sorta security guy
at th' Russkie Embassy, that we ain't lettin' grass grow unner our
hooves on this one. Dog turns t'Stagg.
"If you need results, Inspector, please do not
hesitate to call upon my...services."
Stagg sorta stares at him fer 'bout fifteen
seconds, long 'nough t'make th' dog fidget a bit. "Many thanks,
but I am more interested in the truth, than in mere results."
Chief shows us out th' door 'fore we can have
any more fun. Me, I thinks th' bum deserves it. I figger he
don't like nothin' better than a little 3rd degree in th'
basement. I ain't squeamish, mind, but I don't hold wit' puttin'
interrogatin' 'fore findin' out what happens, see?
17 August 1936 1350
Stagg's in a good mood when we gets down t'our
office. I think takin' a poke at that Russkie bum helped
him. Anyhow, Meffit himself shows up, personal-like, a few
minutes after we gets in, and he ticks off what he finds.
"Well, gentlemen, the primary cause of death
was certainly drowning. No shortage of water in the lungs.
Alcohol level in the blood, even with the passage of time, was very
significant, so I imagine he was quite intoxicated at the time of his
death. And you were right, Inspector. There was a little,
ahem, indication in the approriate place that he had had a sexual
encounter shortly before his death. The sample had not washed
away while he was floating."
"I didn't see any signs of a myocardial
infarction, which is my shop talk for a heart attack. Mind you,
with his diet, and probable lack of exercise, he was cruising for all
sorts of health issues. Liver like a football. I'd hate to
think what his daily vodka intake was. Rather overweight as
well. I'd say even in the course of natural events, he would have
been a candidate for a massive heart attack in a few years. This,
of course, does not take into account getting judicially administered
lead poisoning, which I'm told is at near-pandemic proportions in his
"Sergeant Brush says he saw some bruises on
the throat. What of it?"
"Yes, there were some bruises on the throat,
but it's hard to make out what they mean. The deceased's throat
bones were intact, which means he wasn't choked to death.
Throttling someone requires a great deal of pressure, and you would get
far more vivid bruising."
"Were the bruises indicative from a position
in front of, or behind, Mr. Rahksov?"
"The way the bruises are arranged suggests a
position behind him. Very firm grip, but not nearly enough to
injure, let alone kill. And not firm enough to give any clue as
to the species of the person giving them."
"Enough to hold him under the water, perhaps?"
Meffit takes off his pince nez, an' polishes
"Well, if what you told me a few minutes ago,
that he had some sort of encounter with a doe, I'd wonder. Even
drunk, a pig of this size would be very difficult for a doe to
handle. Certainly possible, I suppose, but I have my doubts."
17 August 1936 2005
Me 'n Stagg spend most of th' rest of
th' day makin' a whole lotta calls, usin' a th' directory an' th'
census sheets an' reports from th' Ministry on Euros visitin' th'
Islands. Whitetails ain't all that common here, so it's not like
we gotta sift t'ru thousands. 'bout 110, mebbe 120, youngish
whitetail does, an' we knocks down th' list t'about nine by th' time we
packs it in fer th' night. Musta had half th' const'bles on
Southie an' the Main Island runnin' around, lookin' fer scattered does
where there ain't no phones. Th' nine we ends up wit' ain't got
no alibi fer last night, so we tells 'em t'drop by HQ t'morra mornin',
fer a lil' show-an-tell.
18 August 1936 1000
Well, it's mid-mornin', an we gots nine young
whitetail does, standin' in a line at one end of a big room.
Stagg walks in, looks quick-like at th' does, who look back at
him. He sorta turns pale, an' mumbles t'me that he's gotta do
some paperwork, an' he bolts. I figger he don't wanna face folks
that look like th' fawns he lost. Can't say I blame 'im.
One of th' does, Euro nurse over at Island
Hospital, makes a sorta wry face. "Shucks. I was hoping
he'd stay around. He's kind of cute. I like the vulnerable
'nother doe, a Euro teller at a bank, sorta
sniggers. "You should shoot a little higher, dear. He's an
N.H. N.H. stands for New Haven, and it also stands for Nut House,
which is where they ought to chuck the deer that come from there.
I dated a guy who used to be in their Flying Corps, believe me, I know."
Third deer, a doe wit' glasses and a hairdo
that makes me think she just wandered in from some library, blushes
bright red at this conversation. Musta led a sheltered life.
A few other Spontoonie does, native
dress, an' last, an' certainly not least, a doe with long black hair,
an' a frilly white dress, wit' an umbrella. Look like butter
wouldn't melt in her mouth. She's lookin' real unhappy, an'
givin' me a nasty look. I mean, she's one hell of a looker, but
even I'd cross th' street if I seen her comin'.
Anyhow, we brings in th' vendor we
talked to, t'see if he can I.D. the doe he seen wit' Rahksov.
"Awright, ladies. I wants each of
ya t'step forward, an' nice an' clear say out loud: "Good evening,
sir. I am Nuki-Nuki. You lonely? You looking for fun?
You like number one boom-boom on the beach?""
Well, this don't go over well.
Most of th' does squeal real loud at this. Th' last Euro doe, th'
one wit' th' umbrella, points a paw at me.
"Well, ah nevah!"
Lookin' at her, I don't believe it. I
knows a professional virgin when I sees one.
"Look, just read th' line. Th' sooner
y'do, th' sooner y'can scoot. Now will ya just play nice?"
Most of th' does start givin' me further
hell. They ain't gonna say that line, an' how dare I thinks that
one of 'em is a hussy, and ain't I got no shame, an' things got real
low when a doe gets accused of bein' a doe of th' evening, an'
such. Miss Professional Virgin down at th' end is givin' me
thirteen t'th' dozen on this. Finally, I has t'read 'em th' Riot
"LOOK, IF YOU ________ DON'T READ TH' _______
LINE LIKES I ASKS YA, I'M GONNA CLAP TH' LOT OF YOUSE FER A FEW HOURS
BEHIND BARS, T'SEE IF I CAN LEARN YA SOME MANNERS. NOW SHUT THE
________ UP, AN' DO WHAT I TELLS YA!"
Th' does simmer down, but they ain't happy 'bout
it. I hears more'n one comment about runty lil' foxes gettin' a
hoof across th' chops if they ain't lookin. They steps forward,
an' reads th' line, one by one. Few gotta repeat it, 'cause they
says it fast, which gets 'em even madder. Th' Professional Virgin
yells she ain't gonna do it, an' she's gonna get a lawyer if I puts her
in th' pokey. Vendor whispers t'me that she ain't what he seen,
nohow. He'd remember a type like that. So that's
that. Bowled fer a duck, no luck. It's kinda a relief t'
see th' backside of them does.
I did thanks one of 'em, th' mousy librarian
type. She read her line, one take, in a sorta flat American
accent. She sorta blushes at me, says "thanks" real meek an'
quiet like, an' skedaddles outta there.
Only thing we got of th' whole thing: th'
vendor looks at th' grass skirt, and sez it's like th' one he seen on
Nuki-Nuki, whoever she is.
First thing I does when I gets back t'my desk,
is take th' bottle outta th' bottom drawer an' pour myself a good stiff
one. Stagg's at his desk, doin' th' paperwork. He sorta
eyes me, a bit guilty-like.
"No dice, sir. An' I gots a favour
t'ask. Don't never stick me in no room wit' no nine whitetail
does no more. I seen enough t'day t'make me glad I'm a dogfox,
and that I ain't no whitetail buck."
Stagg sorta sighs, an' rubs an antler.
"I'm sorry I inflicted that on you, Sergeant. It was just, well,
"Aw, hell wit' it, sir. Don't pay me no
neverminds. Just let me stick one of them does I seen t'day in a
waterfront dive, an' see how long she lasts."
19 August 1936 2310
Well, we don't got no luck findin' another
witness who seen this Nuki-Nuki. It's like she's the doe that
ain't there. No one heard of her.
Real quiet-like, I chats up a few of th' guys
who are in th' business of providin' company, if ya get my drift.
They ain't heard of no whitetail doe like that, an' they don't like no
free-lancer operatin' outside of their turf, neither. These guys,
they gots th' reason t'know who's who an' what's what on th' streets,
an' they ain't got no clue.
Funny thing, th' lil' weasel, th' one that
Rahksov had been chowin' and drinkin' wit'? No one seen him
around, neither. Interior Ministry ain't got no record of a New
Haven weasel bein' here in th' Islands legal-like. There's
another guy I wanna have a lil' chat wit'.
21 August 1936 1100
Magistrate brings up what they calls a
coroner's jury. That's a hearin' when a bunch of Spontoonies hear
some folks talk, an' make th' call whether somethin' is an
accident-like, or it's somethin' nastier.
Meffit, bein' th' M.E., had first innings.
"In my opinion, the late Mr. Rahksov met his
end through misadventure. He had had a significant meal, and he
had been drinking heavily for a number of hours on the night that he
died. My autopsy indicated that there was a high level of alcohol
in his blood at the time of death. He had also engaged in some
sort of sexual activity very shortly before his death, which could have
placed further burdens on his body. He was swimming in an area
with known dangerous currents, and I believe that he may have become
disoriented, from being both tired and intoxicated, and he was swept
away by the rip-tide of Hairpin Cove, and met his death by drowning."
"What of the bruises that were on the deceased's
"I think those were probably a function of the
sexual encounter that the late Mr. Rahksov had shortly before he
died. As my report indicated, there is no evidence that he was
throttled or choked to death. There are no injuries consistent
with that kind of action. The bruises, of course, were
administered before death; after death, they wouldn't have registered
in the way they did."
Stagg got his chance at an innings, too.
"Your Honour, I believe that there are a
number of unexplained facts that warrant a continued enquiry. All
of what Dr. Meffit says with regard to the medical evidence relating to
Mr. Rahksov's body is accurate, but there can be a different
interpretation placed on them."
"Dr. Meffit is right: Mr. Rahksov's powers of
resistance were likely very low, as a result of his intoxication and
his sexual encounter. It would not have taken much, though, to
get a firm grip on his neck from behind, perhaps as part of the 'play'
of what he was supposed to pay for. From there, holding him under
the suface of the water would be quite possible."
"But surely, Inspector, even if you suppose
that, there's no other evidence to suggest foul play."
"Consider this, Your Honour. Hairpin Beach is
very isolated, and it was not likely that there would have been any
interruptions. Anyone intending to do in Mr. Rahksov would have
had plenty of time. But let's suppose, arguendo, that this was, in fact,
an accident, that Mr. Rahksov somehow slipped under the water without
"Why would his companion take the trouble to
obliterate her tracks, but not take any of the deceased's
possessions? The deceased had the not insiginficant sum of 72
pounds, in untraceable form, on him. Counting the 28 pounds he
paid for his meal and drinks, this totals 100 pounds, and we have
evidence that this was the only significant money he had on him.
So his companion was not paid. She obliterated her tracks, but
she did not take any of the money that she was theoretically entitled
to, so to speak?"
"In addition, it is highly suggestive that we
found a grass skirt, similar to the one worn by the companion of Mr.
Rahksov, discarded in such a manner that it would obliterate any scent
deposited on the skirt, but still look reasonably natural on a compost
heap, had it been there for a little bit longer. It seems curious
to me that the companion would ditch the only item of clothing she was
"Assuming that skirt belonged to her."
"The skirt was intact, and reasonably
fresh. It would seem improbable that a skirt like that would be
disposed of on a compost heap near the scene of the incident.
Furthermore, there was a significant amount of sand on the skirt,
consistent with being used to wipe away tracks on the beach. I
think it's reasonable to believe that this was the skirt the companion
"Did you find anything on the skirt that would
indicate who its owner was, Inspector? Or for that matter, on Mr.
"No, Your Honour, there were no hair or fur fibers
on the skirt. We were not able to find anything on the clothes of
the late Mr. Rahksov, either, either hair or fur."
"And you were not able to find a whitetail doe
that met the witness' description."
"Our enquiries are continuing, sir. But no,
the sole witness failed to pick a doe out of a lineup. I believe
the fact that no doe answering to this description was known in her,
ahem, profession, or on a survey of the whitetail deer in the Islands
indicates that she is, or was, an outlander, possibly in the country
illegally. We have reason to believe that the dinner companion of
the late Mr. Rahksov was also here illegally."
"And you have not been able to find him,
"No, Your Honour."
"So you do not know what, if any, connection
he has to this incident?"
"No, Your Honour."
"And you have not been able to establish a
motive for this companion to allegedly attack Mr. Rahksov?"
"Not at this time, Your Honour."
"Sergeant Brush? Do you have an
opinion on the matter?"
I didn't like bein' put on th' spot, but
Stagg just nods at me, encouragin'-like.
"Well, I figger that this Nuki-Nuki,
see, she's doin' her job, an' things get a little rough, see?
Before she knows it, Rahksov's bought th' farm, mebbe she dunno how,
an' she's stuck wit' a stiff on her paws. So she shoves him out
in th' current, t'get rid of th' body, an' clears out her tracks.
She then does a bunk, real fast, an' ditches her skirt, an' that's
"And goes off into the night, naked?"
"Hell, it's Casino Island. Folks
prolly see this sorta thing now an' again. What's 'nother naked
doe, more or less?"
Jury liked that one.
"But you haven't found this Nuki-Nuki?"
"Kinda obvious it ain't her real
name. No, we ain't found her."
21 August 1936 1555
Coroner's jury took 'bout two hours t'come
back wit' a decision. Meffit sez that ain't what usually
happens. Usual-like, th' jury don't even have t'go outta th' box.
No joy for us. Jury comes back wit' a
verdict: death by accident.
Stagg sorta shrugs, an' shakes paws wit' th'
magistrate, jury, an' Meffit. Meffit's a good sport about
this, an' takes me 'n Stagg out for a drink, on him, at th' Marleybone.
"Well, Inspector, I'm sorry you came out on
the short end. No hard feelings?"
"What you testified to, Doctor, was
possible. It was plausible. It's just that I had a
different interpretation on the matter. Professionals can
disagree civilly, can't they?"
"Oh, quite, quite, Inspector. Well, you
got the jury to argue it out over two hours, so they must have taken
your argument seriously. Or perhaps Sergeant Brush's."
"Yes. His was also possible.
Furslaughter, not murder. I suspect that the natives on the jury
might well have taken his analysis regarding naked does to heart.
I doubt if the witness we found would have appreciated it, though."
We're almost t'ru our drinks, when a round of
vodkas gets put in front of us by th' bartender. "Courtesy of the
gentleman at the far end, sir."
Turns out it's th' Russkie dog we seen in th'
Chief's office. He raises a glass at us, an' pads on over.
"No luck in finding the truth,
Inspector? Pity. You should try for results, rather than
the truth, some time. Much more satisfying."
Stagg raises an eyebrow. "You seem to be
taking the death of your colleague rather cheerfully."
Th' dog shrugs. "Drunkard. Getting
loud and careless. Meeting with undesirables and going off on his
own personal adventures. Moscow, of course, had noticed all of
this before. It was only a matter of time before the Centre would
take action to bring him home for "debriefing." Comrade Rahksov's
death was providential. It save a lot of bothersome paperwork."
Stagg passes his vodka over t'me. "Yes.
Providential. That's the word for it. But for whom, I
"Justice Takes a Hand" on the Willow Pages
section of the Story page.)