Folks Want Answers
Folks want answers. Sometimes folks want the right answer. Sometimes they even want the wrong answer. Most times they don’t care if it's right or wrong, so long as they got other folks to blame. And that’s where we come in, the Crime Incorporation Apparatchiks. It's our job to investigate the big stuff, put all the facts together and demystify the conclusion. That's what most folks want—keeps them functioning properly.
But things were far from proper today. The chief was on the green phone, telling me to get my ass down there and help come up with answers before the heat came on from the newspapers and the TV stations.
When I got there he was waiting for me in his office.
'Hey there, buddy. Wut’s goin’ on? I got all sorts o’ crazy stuff gittin’ said to me by different folks.'
I liked the chief, I have to say. Moron, liar, cheat and complete and utter failure at everything he had ever done. The kind of man you can trust to do the right thing at the right time.
'What have ye got fur me?' He mopped sweat from his brow and his head jittered with a nervous smile.
I hadn’t even seen the incident report, but I knew it was bad—even by our standards. When the dust settled we expected to be looking at the biggest crime in the history of the state, right slap downtown. A whole lot of questions, and like I said, folks want answers and they want them fast.
So the chief stared at me with his beady eyes smiling and his eyebrows twitching at the smirk on his face. 'C'mon there, buddy, what ye got?'
Folks seemed to like having a chief who talked funny; the one before him talked like he was high on helium balloons and whacky-baccy and he got away with all kinds of stuff. But when he got caught cheating on his wife, folks got excited. Excited folks is tricky folks.
The one before him? Well he was the new chief's pappy and he just did whatever he liked.
'So what ye got?' the chief asked me. 'Make it good boy, all our asses are ridin’ on this one. Lotta property damaged, son. Lotta money—and not to mention, all them dead folks.'
'We're working on it,' I assured him. 'We're still collating the facts, sir. Still trying to figure out how a crime of this magnitude could have been pulled off right under our noses.'
'Facts,' he laughed.' All the facts ain't gonna fool most folks some of the time.' He winked a wily satisfaction in his words of warning. 'So what's the answer?'
'We're working the moustache angle right now.' I was playing him, only offering him half the data for the formulating portion, keeping the second half in reserve for the blaming portion.
There was silence while the smile on the chief's face wavered, then reinforced itself with another wink and a half nod. 'Okay, I'll buy it. How does it go from there?'
I shrugged. 'That's pretty much it, sir. Whoever did this primarily had a moustache.'
'That's it?' The chief scratched his head. 'And how exactly is that gunna stoppem asking me the tricky questions?'
'It isn’t, sir. The answer gets more complex in the convoluting portion.'
'Okay, so what else ye got?'
'A beard, sir.'
There was a longer silence while the chief contemplated that, staring meaningfully into a glorious imagined sunset, beady eyes suddenly narrowing. 'Same guy with the moustache and the beard?'
'No, sir, different guys. So far we have two moustaches and one beard.'
'So one guy has a moustache and one guy has a beard too, and that's
how they did it?'
'Possibly, but they also talk funny, sir.'
I could see the cogs turning inside his head as he put the parts of the
mystery together. So I proceeded to the evidence portion.
'Remember that time you bet that guy's cocaine that you could make
three skyscrapers fall in a neat pile with just two airplanes crashing?'
'The other guy with the beard.'
‘Well someone just did it.'
'I knew it.' He nodded profoundly. 'All that plane fuel, two distinct facial
hair patterns—and down they come. Like three concertinas at a barn
dance, it all makes perfect sense. So did I win the bet?'
'No, sir, they took that portion away.'
'What, son? What else could they have taken from us?'
'Yes, sir. They don’t like ’em, so they took ’em—and they talk funny.'
'Jesus in a hot dog, son. How did you figure all this out so dang fast?'
‘Like I said, sir, both men talk funny and that led us to the connections portion.'
I showed him a photo of a medicine factory levelled to the ground. 'The largest pharmaceuticals factory in Sudan, sir.'
'Crashed airplanes agin?'
'No, sir, we did it.'
'I knew it.'
‘You remember the previous chief?'
'No, son, I sure don’t.'
'Well a young intern ended up covered with his semen one day and we got called in to figure out how such a plum crazy thing could have happened. And then we got to thinking—'
We looked each other in the eye and I could see the penny drop.
'These Sudan folks got moustaches, son?'
'I see,' he nodded gravely. 'Beards.'
'Generally speaking—no, sir.'
'Godammit!' He slammed the table in a manner that led me to assume that we had reached the answering portion. Another sticky cigar butt smoking on the grassy knoll.
He shook his head and picked up the Red Phone. 'I shoulda guessed it. Those sons a bitches talk funny—don’t they?'