The First Cutlery Case

By Keith Errington

If you have a problem,

if no one else can help,

and if you can find him….

maybe YOU can hire…

The Cutlery Detective

Phillip Fork, The Cutlery Detective, was excited. His new venture in the role of private investigator was only a week old and already his first case was filed away. Well, it wasn’t really a cutlery case, and he did have to refuse it, but nonetheless it was a good omen, he thought.

He had been called to the cottage of Douglas Patch one morning and wasted no time in interviewing the man. Unfortunately, it turned out that Doug’s prize spade had gone missing during the night and he was distraught, in his own words, “It was a lovely digger that one, couldn’t have asked for a better tool. Lovely green handle it had, and a nice matt black blade. Not likely to find the likes of that again – not round here anyway.”

Phillip sympathised, but he had to explain that it simply wasn’t what he did – he was The Cutlery Detective you see, not the Garden Tool Sleuth. The poor man offered him lots of money, but Phillip stood fast – after all, you were never going to succeed in business if you didn’t specialise.

And fortune delivered for Phillip, for within two days he received a message that some spoons had gone missing at no 9 Tendril Drive. The road was a small group of cottages, actually not that far from Mr Patch – maybe he had mentioned the cutlery detective to a neighbour? Phillip thought this was a good sign – if there were that many crimes in such a short space of time in such a small area, then surely there must be hundreds across the island happening every day?

Phillip wasted no time in following up the lead. He found a cottage with a broken gate – half hanging off its hinges, but still with a number on it hanging on by a single screw at the top. Phillip glanced down briefly – saw the number nine – and walked confidently up the path.

He found the front door slightly ajar. How thoughtful, remarked Phillip to himself, they were clearly expecting me. He entered the hallway but was taken aback by the untidiness of the place. A painting was askew on the wall and a Writhing Plant in a small pot had been knocked off its stand.

Phillip righted the stand and carefully avoiding the rustling leaves, put the pot back in place. He then went on to straighten the painting. That’s better he thought.

Phillip thought it odd that there was nobody to meet him, but then he realised they must clearly know of his reputation and therefore trusted him. And obviously, they were thoughtful enough to stay out of the way and let him get on with his work.

He passed a couple of open doors – to his left was a dining room, unremarkable except for broken cabinet containing just empty display stands. These people were both clumsy and untidy thought Phillip. Why there was glass everywhere. He avoided the room and looked through the doorway on the right. On a chair was a middle-aged man, clearly a busy butcher, as he was fast asleep, and his chest was covered in dried blood. Well, a hard-working man deserves his rest, observed Phillip, and moved down the hall to the kitchen at the end.

Now here was a crime scene, thought Phillip – yellow curtains and blue wallpaper – what were they thinking? His eyes caught sight of an open drawer. Aha! It was the cutlery drawer! Phillip drew a breath, flexed his fingers, stretched his hands out and crossed the room.

The drawer was neatly compartmentalised with a section for every item. Disappointing, he mused, not a single spoon was missing, just this empty section here – possibly a large knife? Phillip sighed, he found knives boring – so straight and uninteresting compared with the sexy roundness of a beautifully curved spoon. You could only cut things with a knife but a spoon – well, it just had so many uses.

Nonetheless, there was no denying that a knife was cutlery – even if this one was of some size – possibly even a carving knife. He retraced his steps and took the stairs to the bedroom to see if there were any clues there. But there was nothing, just a bedroom that its owner was clearly in the middle of re-organising – drawers were on the floor, wardrobes were open and clothes strewn all over the bed. Nothing here, noted Phillip and made his way downstairs again.

He went out into the large back garden – a standard place to check when hunting for cutlery. Although this was his first real case, Phillip had obviously thought through the whole idea and had reasoned that many people took cutlery into the garden; a spoon in a mug of tea, a knife to help cut the rhubarb, a fork to prick the night potatoes, or the end of a peeler to ‘dibble’ a hole for dark bulbs. Obviously, many people did a number of tasks in the garden and after a while forgot about the temporary implement they had removed from the kitchen, and thus a common solution to the problem of missing cutlery was delivered.

As Phillip diligently searched the back garden, he noticed a freshly dug patch of ground – maybe there was something nearby. But all he could see was a digging implement lying on the ground. Well, chuckled Phillip to himself, Douglas was wrong, spades with green handles and matt black blades must be very common, for here was another one!

As Phillip continued his search of the large garden, he noticed a shed across the other side to him. Just at that moment, he saw the door open, and a man emerged carrying an old, dusty and almost certainly moth-ridden carpet, rolled-up and over his shoulder. He was headed back to the house. He looked a rough type thought Phillip, dirty, bruised and covered in fresh, dark stains. Clearly the gardener.

Phillip waved. The man stopped, seemingly startled, and dropped the carpet. Phillip hoped the man might know something and started walking towards him, but the gardener looked this way and that, then grabbed a large haversack lying next to the shed, and ran off, jumping over the low fence on the far side of the garden. Well, he must have been late for something mused Phillip. Let’s take a look in that shed.

And there, on the bench was the missing knife. The gardener had clearly borrowed it to harvest some beetroot as its blade was red along with the well-worn handle. Phillip shook his head – this is too easy he thought and took the knife back to the kitchen. Being careful not to wake the sleeping butcher, he carefully cleaned the knife using soap and hot water till it was gleaming again, and then replaced it in the proper place and closed the drawer. 

With a happy smile on his face Phillip left the house, carefully and silently pulling the front door shut behind him, and then closing the rickety gate as he left the property, not noticing the number falling off as he did so. It fell into the mud upright. A number six.

Meanwhile, Mrs Ansty who lived a bit further up Tendril Drive – at number 9 – was slightly annoyed and also disappointed, where was the infernal man? How could she make tea or eat pudding without spoons?

Back at his desk, Philip put his feet up, took a glass out of a drawer and poured some potent looking liquid into it. A good day he thought. He would send a bill along to number 9 tomorrow. Case closed.

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