A Kettle Of Fish

“Chief, you like sherbet lemon?” I asked, offering the office my brusque and business-like detective stride and throwing some sweets across the room without missing a beat.

“Chocolate limes?” said the chief, looking down at the bag I had just thrown into his lap.  “That’s a whole other kettle of fish.”

I sat down at my desk and pulled out a salad I had stowed away for lunchtime.  It had been lovingly handcrafted by my lovingly handcrafted wife just before our breakfast had been rudely broken by breaking news.

“Well, get used to them because some madman killer is on the loose, he’s gone done three so far and his method of murder is chocolate limes.”

“Chocolate limes?” the chief asked.

“Each victim was stuffed with chocolate limes, spilling out of their mouths like human gumball machines.  Sorry chief.”  The chief did not like similes, he liked to know what was happening and when it was happening and what was being done to stop it and when.  “Blackstock and Corduroy are taking pictures at the crime scenes now and plain clothes are out visiting local sweet shops.”

“Ok,” said the chief and then stood up in a rawkus of squeaking chairs and creaking desks, and lumbered out of the room, a man of few words and discordant footsteps.

I put my feet up on the desk and lifted the lid on my salad box.  It was mostly mushrooms today, but I was ok with that.  Mushroom is a good thing, a peaceful thing to have on a murder enquiry.  I lifted a piece of mushroom out of the box and held it up to get a good look at it – its stem, its umbrella’d head, the strange dark fringe on its underside.  I was no biologist but the composition of a mushroom was something I could study for a long time.  “Something to do with its powerful resilience and yet innocuous fun.”  I had not been meaning to speak out loud, it was not the kind of mistake a mushroom would have made.  I tried to imagine a galaxy with nothing but giant mushrooms bouncing peacefully off one another and none of this messy murder done by freaks obsessed with chocolate limes.

“Right,” said the chief, his bulbous head re-entering the room.  “The pictures are in, let’s see what kind of kettle of fish this is.”

I put down my salad and followed him through to investigation procedure, giving another recital of my brusque detective stride, though really my heart wasn’t in it and it became a pale imitation of my earlier authority.

Maybe if the pictures came out well they could make for a good game at the Christmas party – guess how many chocolate limes in the murder victim.


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