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The Abstract Detective and the Case of the Linear Murders

The Abstract Detective and the Case of the Linear Murders

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Published by Brian K. Henry
The Abstract Detective takes on a perplexing case involving reptiles, line segments and yogurt splatters.
The Abstract Detective takes on a perplexing case involving reptiles, line segments and yogurt splatters.

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Published by: Brian K. Henry on Apr 02, 2012
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11/24/2014

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Brian K. Henry
The Abstract Detective and the Case of the Linear Murders
“This is the fourth murder in a row this week,” muttered Sergeant Bonedead.“One right after the other?” asked Rita Doublegirl, crime beat reporter for the DailyObjective.“No, I mean actually in a row. The site of the killings forms a straight line rightacross Squalortown.”Rita made a pout with both of her lips. “And Squalortown used to be such a pleasant little city.”The Abstract Detective stood with his arms akimbo right above the chalk outline of the latest victim. “It makes you wonder,” he pronounced.“Why someone would do such a heinous deed?” asked Bonedead.“No, how they came up with that weird word, akimbo.” He looked at his arms andshook his head, mystified, then turned toward the sergeant. “Why didn’t you call me inearlier, Bonedead?”“Earlier? Hell, I don’t get to work until 9.”“Earlier in the case, fungus brain. I could have stopped this murder before it evenhappened.”“Is that even metaphysically possible?” asked Rita Doublegirl, pencil at the ready.The Abstract Detective ignored her query. “This killer is obviously sending us amessage. Every killing takes place on exactly the same line segment. A line segmentleading from Candy’s Finger Massage Joint through the alternative tattoo district straight tothis barren, unattractive little garret.”“Some people like the minimal look,” objected Bonedead.1
 
Brian K. HenryThe Abstract Detective walked around the chalk outline, using the measured paceof a sage elder who’d studied jurisprudence at the feet of several obese barristers. “I’d saythis victim was at least five foot eight.”Bonedead checked his notes. “So would I.”The Abstract Detective looked up, his eyes betraying the jaded sobriety of a manwho’d seen more murders than he’d seen stacks of chocolate chip pancakes with generousdollops of whipped cream. “What’ve you done with this man’s shoes?”“Taken them to the Shoe Barn for a full refund.”“And his belt?”“It’s on the breakfast bar,” responded the sergeant, taking offense at the AbstractDetective’s unspoken surliness.The Abstract Detective walked to the unattractive, white, mock-granite breakfast bar where a country-western, brown leather belt lay, looking somewhat forlorn without itsformer wearer. “These abrasions on the belt. They have a very particular pattern.”Rita Doublegirl snickered. “If there’s one man who knows something about beltabrasions, it’s you, Abs.”“Save it for the water cooler,” the Detective snapped. He ran a finger down one of the imperfections. “If I don’t miss my guess, this is the mark of a man who spent far toomuch time rubbing against reptile cages.”“Holy Monitor Lizard,” cried Bonedead. “Could this be connected to thedisappearance of the pygmy pythons?”“I’ve got a riddle for you,” said the Abstract Detective.“Riddle me diddle,” said Rita gamely.2
 
Brian K. Henry“What’s long and straight and makes a perfect linear form?”“Michael Phelps on the diving board,” answered Rita, a dreamy looking cominginto her eyes.“Wrong. A pygmy python stretched out to full length.”Boneaded gasped, amazed once more at how the Abstract Detective’s completelyinsane leaps of logic were dumbfounding abstruse yet nevertheless entirely cogent steps inthe solution of a crime.Just as the Abstract Detective was about to expound on his theory, he wasinterrupted by a shout.“Hey Abs,” yelled Officer Bayboy from a nearby wall, “take a look at this.”The Abstract Detective looked grim. “Nobody calls me Abs but Rita Doublegirl.”“Well, I guess I just disproved that theory,” retorted Bayboy triumphantly.“Anyway, check out these yogurt splatters. It looks like the culprit threw a cup of raspberry yogurt at the victim before the murder.”The Abstract Detective, miffed at the young officer’s cognomen faux pas, wasunimpressed. “To an amateur it does,” he snipped. “Clearly this yogurt was thrown after the murder. It’s still uncongealed.” To prove his point, he ran a finger through one of themilky bloblets, which easy trailed after his finger in its still-gooey state.“Nobody knows yogurt like you,” affirmed Rita, in the throaty, seductive voice of an amorous bear on an autumn evening.The Abstract Detective was examining the splatter pattern with his magnifyingglass. “This is no ordinary yogurt. I can clearly see gobs of organic granola. But not toomany of them.” He slipped his glass back into its velvet-cushioned case. “There’s only3

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