Category Archives: Cutlery Detective

The Legend of Two Spoons McGraw

A new story from Keith Errington!

Two Spoons McGraw was a legend on Hopeless, Maine. But, to be honest, being a legend wasn’t difficult on Hopeless, Maine – there were plenty of legends arising from the island, although, to be fair, few of them were told about people who were still alive. McGraw was both alive and famous. He was certainly more famous than Fork Leg Leon, but perhaps less famous than 110 Knives Patricia.

Now, do not think by this, that fame is measured in the amount of cutlery you are associated with; no, these enumerations were entirely coincidental. Fame on Hopeless, Maine, like pretty much anywhere else, was measured in deeds, words and actions (and access to a friendly storyteller like myself, of course.)

At this point, dear reader, I invoke my powerful clairvoyant skills to divine what you are thinking at this precise moment? Why the name Two Spoons McGraw? And what was his legend?

Not long ago, everyone thought that Martin McGraw was a simple fantasist. That he had lost his mind like so many others who dwelt on the Island for any length of time. It was often said that if you hadn’t lost your mind at least a tiny little bit, you were not a true islander. McGraw was convinced he was a cowboy, a rooting, tooting, hat wearing, trick shooting, tobacco chewing, son of a gun. He had managed to find an old hat that he had bashed about and steamed until it mostly resembled a Stetson. McGraw then added two leather belts – one slung across each shoulder, bandito style. The blacksmith had, somewhat reluctantly, fashioned a pair of simple spurs, although they weren’t very good. In fact, they were so bad that only McGraw knew what they were actually supposed to be.

By now, you have probably guessed that McGraw was not toting a pair of ivory handled Smith and Wesson six shooters on his belt. Nope – guns were non-existent on the island, and besides, ordinary powder was ineffective on Hopeless, Maine. Being as mad as a coot, and possessed of a vivid imagination, McGraw toted a pair of ivory handled, ornately decorated spoons. They were as beautiful to look at as they were as ineffective as a weapon – particularly at medium to long range.

So far – just another average citizen of Hopeless, but McGraw’s name became legend one day when a dispute with a neighbour, Captain Coleridge, came to a head. McGraw had challenged Coleridge to a mid-day duel. Like everyone else, Coleridge thought McGraw was mad, but felt like he needed to confront McGraw and sort out the matter. (no one, to this day, can remember quite what the dispute was about). Being an ex-military man, Coleridge had fashioned a bow and arrow, which he brought with him in case McGraw proved dangerous – after all, Coleridge knew from experience, being mad often went hand-in-hand with being dangerous.


Noon, the main street of town.

At one end, Captain Coleridge, 58, experienced soldier, seen too many wars and armed with flint-tipped arrows and a powerful bow.

At the other, McGraw, 32, deluded fantasist, believing himself a gunslinger, armed with the finest Sheffield could offer in the way of harmless cutlery.

Lillywhite Lanbury had been chosen as the signaller. It had been agreed that she would drop her handkerchief and at the moment it hit the ground, that would be the sign to draw.

Lillywhite, true to her name, was a lady pale of complexion, and delicate of figure. She took excessive care of herself, which, given her apparent frailty, was probably wise. She wore the finest silks and the most beautiful dresses. Her handkerchief, for example, was made of the finest gossamer thin silk, and weighed almost nothing.

And it was this one fact that would prove to be a significant factor in how the following scene played out.

At the stroke of noon, Lillywhite Lanbury held her hand up and let the handkerchief slip through her fingers.

The slightest of winds, funnelled down an alleyway between the buildings on the street, wafted across and lightly caught the handkerchief. It floated motionless for a moment, as if to tease the two combatants, and then, capriciously, it carried the square of white silk upwards in a slow spiral.

The reaction of the two men at either ends of the street could not have been more different. McGraw simply stayed motionless, his feet slightly apart, his hands hovering above his twin holsters, fingers mere millimetres from his spoons. Coleridge, on the other hand, who was already sweaty from his quick walk to the place, was now obviously agitated and had started to twitch. A military expletive issued from his lips as he watched the handkerchief dancing in the breeze.

As this was happening, a slight fog drifted across the town. This was perhaps the most normal event of the day. Hopeless, Maine was perpetually foggy, although admittedly less so in the town. Onlookers – of which there were many – could still see the duellists, but everything had that slightly blurry edge to it, typical of a mildly foggy day.

The eyes of McGraw and Coleridge were still fixated on the handkerchief, which was still several inches above the dirt of the street, but nevertheless, seemingly now travelling, but oh so slowly, downwards.

McGraw was as passive as before. He was born for this. Living by the code of the cowboy, by the might of the spoon, that was his calling.

Coleridge, on the other hand, was visibly shaking. His face had reddened, and his forehead was clearly traced with a couple of bulging veins. He had raised his bow, but his left arm was twitching, and he was struggling to hold it steady.

The handkerchief, in cahoots with the breeze, took one more opportunity to tease. It looped upwards and then down.

As the silken square was looping, Coleridge shouted something in total exasperation, which sounded like, “For Drury’s Sake”.

Silk touched dirt.

There was an instant flash of silver as twin spoons were drawn in the blink of an eye, then a twinkling as they were spun and holstered.

At the other end of the street, his face twisted in agony, Coleridge clutched his upper chest and went down.


Now the rule in most parts of the world is that you look for a rational explanation for events first, and then, and only then, when all logical possibilities have been exhausted do you imagine some other force at work, some magic, some mystical power, some influence. Only then does superstition take hold.

I suspect you can guess what I am going to say here. Superstition was the first port of call for any unexplained event on Hopeless, Maine. What the onlookers to the showdown had seen, clearly, despite the slight fog, was Two Spoons McGraw (as he had instantly been named) draw his spoons and Coleridge go down. There was a clear corelation between the two events. Captain Coleridge had died at the hands of Two Spoons McGraw and his deadly spoonfighting skills. He was truly a spoonslinging legend.


It so happened that Doc Willoughby was passing, and although in a desperate hurry to be somewhere else, as he often was,he nevertheless agreed to look at the body. The crowd described to him what had happened. Surely it was McGraw’s silver spoons that had killed him?

The Doc looked at the eager crowd around him, then down at the obvious heart attack victim, then back at the expectant crowd. Realising it would take at least an hour of explanation to deal with this, he sighed and said in his best Western accent, “Yep, reckon those spoons of McGraw’s are right lethal – I’d be about givin’ him a lot more respect from now on if I was you”. And he got up and wearily pushed his way back out, through the crowd, as quickly as possible.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the Legend of Two Spoons McGraw was born.

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.