Within a Shrouded Sky – Part 1: The Rubber Duckie

Do you remember where you were on the day of The Fog?

I do.

Son, it was a miserable autumn day in 1942, in none other than this droll corner of the world, downtown Chicago. America was at war. It was a time when we were all supposed to share a common, united, fighting spirit, boldly striking against the bloody Germanic-Japanese menace. It’s most unfortunate then that certain schmucks in society can’t seem to fit the mould. I was reminded of this again first hand as I sat in my office, behind my desk, quietly smoking a cigar.

Business was slow, I’m inclined to admit. I had a dead end job in a dead end part of town. It wasn’t a good time to be on the force, what with many of our lads fighting abroad in Europe or Asia, we found ourselves short staffed, which both the unorganized criminals and the mob took full advantage of. It was with trepidation then and a reluctant heart that I filled out the paperwork of yet another botched job. Wife beater, and killer, the bastard. Jumped in a beat up old automobile and was halfway to the Mexican border before we knew who he was and where he was headed.

I stubbed my cigar, loosened my collar and mopped my brow. It was one of those sticky, humid days. Where the weather just sums up the mood; uncomfortable.

There was a knock on my door. I looked up, and through the translucent glass of my office door I could make out the vague silhouette of my protégé, Constable Hobnob. Keen kid. Perhaps too keen, helped every old dame cross the road, even when they’d been heading in the other direction, and had a habit of throwing cats into trees to get them down again. We’d tried giving the guy a desk job, but lord knows it can’t be possible to make that many spelling errors, or to forget that many names. As an aside, in a past murder trial whilst working admin the kid had managed to sue himself, accidentally.

“Come in, Constable!” I said, before leaning back and putting my feet on the desk.

“Detective, Detective Inspector Valentine sir!” shouted Constable Hobnob.

“What is it?” I asked him, filing my nails in an authoritative manner.

“Sir, der’s been a moider!” spluttered Constable Hobnob, perhaps a little too enthusiastically.

“Another one? Hells bells,” I muttered, “Alright, spit it out man, what’s the scope?”

“Dis broad sir, she came stumbling into the station just now. Gorgeous girl, legs like…”

“Stay focused, Constable!” I reprimanded.

“Sorry sir,” muttered Hobnob, “So she comes in just now, tears streaming down her face and bawling all high heaven. Took her in for questioning sir with Captain Jeffery. Her husband sir, found moidered in cold blood, in his own apartment, face down in the bath. Sleeping with the duckies sir.”

“The duckies, Constable?”

“A little yellow rubber one sir, I’ve already taken the liberty of questioning it. I think I’m onto something,”

“Dare I ask what, Constable?” I asked.

“That the duckie didn’t dunnit sir,” said the kid, brilliantly.

“Whatever gave you that impression, Hobnob?”

“The moider victim had a knife in his back sir. The duckie couldn’ta stabbed him sir, he ain’t got no hands!” said the Constable, happily.

“I see,” I said, “did the rubber duckie in question tell you this himself Constable?”

“No sir,” said the Constable, “I kept him busy with silly questions about the weather and the war, and did some investigating at the time. Strange though, I wasn’t aware the duckie knew about its right to remain silent.”

“Isn’t your evaluation coming up at the end of this month, Hobnob?” I asked, oh so wonderfully patiently.

“Yessir, Detective Inspector, sir!” said Hobnob, happily, “Am I gonna be getting that raise any time soon, sir?”

“Something like that Constable,” I murmered, “something like that. So where is this woman now?”

“Still at the station sir, Jenkins said I should fetch you for further questioning.”

“Very well, Constable,” I said, standing up and putting on my overcoat, “let’s move.”