Inspector Pinkerton Investigates

Inspector Pinkerton Investigates

A Story by Malenkov

Inspector Pinkerton brings sanity, compassion and a much needed dose of reality in "The Sheep Town saga" (Fourth part of a chain story).
















Inspector Pinkerton Investigates








Had it been any other Private Investigator, Rogerem Pinkerton might have just left the crime case at that--another instance of crazy Lotus eaters on the rampage. At least that’s how Sergeant Havnoclu of the Sheep Town homicide department had described it, as the oaf had stuffed what seemed like half a gallon of Earl Grey English tea down the cavernous maw of his rather large and stupid mouth.

Anyway, what did that pup Havnoclu know about the finer points of a miscreant’s mind? In this business you needed a raw, almost erotic intimacy with criminality that bordered on psychotic to ferret out the crevices of the depraved psyche.

Inspector Pinkerton chomped at the stick of liquorice which he’d just removed from a small paper bag; mulching the sour aniseed that clamped to his molars and then--almost as an afterthought--he cupped a snuffling white rodent into his hand, stroking it before dropping it gently onto the sandy floor of a large, roughly three-foot long oblong, see-through plastic enclosure that lay on a low table at the end of a large drawing room.

The mouse sniffed curiously a while at the Perspex walls in disinterest, and then scampered along the white-grey sand bunched in little dunes like some miniature Kalahari landscape. Pinkerton clicked his tongue, cooing at the mouse. “There now Maurice, don’t be afraid.”

It wasn’t that Pinkerton was overly attached to the animal, but he liked to give the mice names--somehow it made it more humane that way. 

For a moment Pinkerton tracked the mouse, its pink nose trawling a furrow in the fine grained crystals of sand on the cage floor, then he tore his thoughts back to the murder case at hand, wondering vaguely what it was about the case that unsettled him.

He kicked off the soft brown leather hush puppies, meditatively digging the fleshy folds of his toes into the lush carpet. He was half aware, in the twilight nether regions of his consciousness, that this little twirling of toes was a way to surreptitiously slip self-description into the scene.

Pinkerton wasn’t exactly Arnold Schwarzenegger when it came to brute physique: he suffered the usual middle-age male afflictions: a hairline so regressed up the shiny egg-shaped, veranda of his crown, it looked like some vast Amazonian logging operation run amok. And what was left of the wispy nutmeg tufts of hair were so scoured by balding dead-zones, it might have been the aftermath of some over-zealous napalm air-strike on a Vietcong jungle.

But Pinkerton had his saving graces. At least he owned a bushy flare of a rather handsome walrus moustache that he liked to think was very character building.

“It rounds you off marvellously, my boy,” his rather antediluvian uncle, E.M. Forster, would often snort during dinner times--before his uncle was tragically maimed in a suspicious fishing accident that, being Pinkerton’s only surviving family, had left a traumatic footprint forever etched upon the sinewy tenterhooks of Pinkerton’s psyche, like some bog-weed not a thousand years of psychotherapy had a hope in hell of disentangling.

He took a lug of black coffee, pausing a moment to savour the musk of Arabica beans, and the torrid filth of descriptive riot that had just rampaged on the page. Pinkerton sat back, deep in the bosom of the patent-leather of the office chair, and sighed, letting the super-charge of caffeine slough off the hangover from the night before.

So what were the facts of the case anyway?

Was it another canned cliché of unrequited love? A stodgy triangular affair--the sort of thing Ploti might have stuffed into The 36 Basic Plots? Certainly it seemed that way--to a rank amateur like that block head Havnoclu--that whining, over-sexed pup couldn’t tie his own shoe laces, let alone solve a homicide mystery--his idea of a visionary breakthrough probably consisted of changing his brand of toothpaste. There were things that only a born detective could do. It wasn’t that Pinkerton was immodest, in any way. But hadn’t genius often been over looked?

Pinkerton held the coffee mug up in one stubby hand, delicately wiping shiny pools of liquid that had spilled onto the black lacquer of the writing table. And then replaced a jumbo-sized coffee-flask on the little cork mat, which he fiddled with fastidious preciseness on the table edge. It might have been a crude stage gesture, but it certainly broke up the windy descriptions.

The facts were plain: A simple stabbing--albeit imaginatively rendered with the use of a pencil to the jugular. You had to credit criminal ingenuity for that. Then there was the extra-legal hallucinogenic substance. LSD wasn’t it? Lotus Eaters chasing altered reality was how that lug head Havnoclu had laughed it off.

But the way the world was today, who could blame them for a little escapism?

What was the killer’s motive? Pinkerton wondered--for that matter, what was the plot arc? And were there to be sub-plots and realistic characterization?

Pinkerton’s brow frowned; these were serious questions on which it was unwise to lightly tread. Rumour had it that Charles Konsor had been forced to elect Hilary Hildegard to the Writers Café Select Committee on Correct Writing (the Investment Governance Board had threatened to withdraw funding). And she’d press-ganged a legion of terrified and underpaid minions to her crusade, like some Grand Inquisitor of McCarthyism, roiling against “the bad apples of un-American writers afflicting our society.”

During last week’s “Rally Against un-Correctness,” which she’d held before a packed crowd of cowering characters and hushed writers who’d filled out Wembley football stadium, the strident tinge of her voice whipped paranoia into a blazing forest-fire of fear and unrest. She’d stomped up to the lectern, snarling face set in hate like Torquemada. The way the knuckled claws gripped the edge of the lectern, she might have hurled herself into the audience like a Minute Man missile.

One had to be careful, Pinkerton thought. Could Malenkov be entrusted to the delicate surgery of sustaining reader interest? Or safeguard the inviolable reader-writer contract upon which--as Hildegard rhetorically spun it--“the The American Way of Life depends.” To break the contract would do more than damage reputations nudged up in snail-like steps.

Something more serious was at stake--the wrath of the Writers Café Inner Party of which Hildegard was a Committee Director.

The Inner Party were rumoured to be an unelected few. Handpicked by Hildegard herself. Even Konsor was terrified of them and took great lengths to avoid them. Come to think of it when was the last time Konsor had been seen? There had been rumours, of course. First, light as moth’s wings, then snowballs of monstrous proportions. Some claimed Konsor was not in fact taking a well deserved holiday in Disneyland,  but was at this very moment chained to a wall in a covert detention camp, tortured, humiliated, having his teeth extracted and balls broken in Guantanamo Bay by Hildegard’s Thought Police.

Yes, one must be careful.

Was Hildegard really the leader of some huge secret society sect? Had she funded the Iraq war to cover her Crusade Against un-American Writing? Was she the real identity, the puppeteer, behind Osama Bin Laden?

But back to the story, and the murder case, Pinkerton thought. Was it simple jealousy that motivated the killing? And was there enough substance to give the reader the experience they’d come to expect from the sellable slush on the market these days?

Early that morning Pinkerton’s haemorrhoids had bled profusely on the toilet. Call it what you will, laugh it off as a gypsy tea-leaf thing. Whereas others were less inclined to pry under the surface of every fact as though it harboured a conspiracy theory, Inspector Pinkerton was not the type of man to brush off an omen lightly.

It wasn’t always a perfectly accurate weathervane. But ever since that apparently trivial case of a senile cat-loving grandmother’s “suicide”--a tragic case involving a Lego implement with sadomasochist undertones--had turned out to be a case of alien abduction from the lost city of Atlantis, he’d come to trust the scarlet haemorrhaged rush like a cat’s sixth sense.

Sure, it could go wrong sometimes: like that time they’d lynched that postal chappie--Arnold somebody or other--in Little Town as a Nazi war collaborator. Only to find out from a man who claimed to be his distant twice-removed cousin that Arnold was about as capable of war crimes as Pinocchio.

But in the cosmic scheme of things casualties were to be expected. After all, this was war. The streets were crawling with dangerous psychopaths, sociopaths, even liberals who’d stab their own children.

Society had to be protected.

Wasn’t it better to pre-empt than to trust? Who knew what the world would come to if those criminal crazies ascended the bastions of Whitehall, and Washington? Thankfully the world was safe--guarded by men like President Bush: stout bulwarks of sanity keeping the grenade-toting terrorists from obliterating the cradle of civilisation with weapons of mass destruction. They’d sacrifice their pensions and ranches. Sell generations of children and raise-taxes for the rich. Even debase the dollar to toilet paper in thwarting the destruction of all that was decent and humane and American.

What would happen if people like me, Pinkerton mused, weren’t there to fight the good jihad against criminality? Keeping the streets clean of the vile paedophiles prowling every street corner? Only unsleeping vigilance kept anarchy and chaos at bay and hoof-thumping apocalypse from incinerating the universe.

Sometimes he’d awake from the night’s deep, sweating buckets of tangy sweat so strong it bleached his pyjamas. It was always the same dream--a mad leering face in hot pursuit along hellish tunnels. It was a simple enough to interpret: his was a manifest destiny to ward humanity from vein slashing sociopaths.

Admittedly, the goal was an outrageous one to force upon a character. But as Pinkerton wryly observed, amusement softening the crevices of his blotted cheeks, at least it established a forceful desire. Something his body’s sinews could strive gaspingly for, with every last drop of energy--preferably in a psychologically-torn way at that. It was something--even if it was so dubious, you’d more chance of convincing the reader about Yetis.

Yes, Pinkerton thought. There was something strange about the murder he couldn’t quite grasp in those long chubby-tipped fingers of his. It appeared to fit the standard crime case so squarely it was like snapping together a child’s jigsaw. But its very simplicity screamed out at something esoteric marauding beneath the surface, like a pike prowling the placid glaze of a pond.

A movement from Maurice in the cage drew Pinkerton’s eye.

Yes! Yes! There it was--It had moved a leg.

Pinkerton drew closer, cloaking the squeak of the chair-rollers on the carpet. He lightly drew his thin lips under the moustache and held his breath.

There it was! There!--A spindly leg, tremulously stirring among the grains of sand.

Sicarius hahni. That was Boris’s Latin name. Concealed among the dunes of the plastic cage, flickered the mottled-desert-grey-and-black legs of the six-eyed sand spider.

Maurice drew nearer. Disappointedly, Maurice had decided the Perspex walls were more interesting and so, largely in the interests of suspense, the whiskery white cone of the mouse’s nose once more patrolled the Perspex crevices for scraps of food. Pinkerton paused a while, then picked up Maurice by the scruff of his neck, dropping him delicately near the centre of the cage, then set a little cream-yellow hunk of Edam cheese, punctured by holes, next to the spider’s lair. Pinkerton sat forward. The soft line of his face tautening with fascination, as Maurice edged towards the cheese--and the camouflaged tarpaulin of sand and stones, under which, lying so still you barely noticed it, lay the bulbous abdomen and legs of the six-eyed sand spider.

No matter how many times Pinkerton had seen Boris devour mice, it never ceased to thrill him like some gladiatorial duel of wits and weapons in a Roman amphitheatre. There was always the chance the mouse would escape--but it was a pretty loaded contest.

One moment, Boris was tentatively fingering the soft pelt of Maurice’s paw with a leg tip, the next instant--in a blinding whirr of spear-tipped fangs, darting legs and detonating sand--Boris struck.

Maurice’s whiskers twitched for a moment, stunned incomprehensibility, and then he collapsed. Belly up, in an explosive paroxysm of jerking forepaws and protruding eyes and gasping paralysis. Then Boris was rearing up over the prone mouse, four hind-legs scuttling like a crab, one proboscis-like claw prodding the mouse’s head, before Boris scuttled a safe distance away.

Pinkerton peered into the arena--leaning far over the lip of the cage, so that his shoulders and chest spilled in it, calling to mind some bean-bag long collapsed upon itself--watching Boris’s nail-sized fangs puncture the tender, fleecy underbelly of the mouse.

Boris had cost half-a-years earnings to import from a pet dealer he knew among the shadier regions of Kensington’s shopping district. Not to mention the expense and time it’d taken to fix up a state-of-the-art climate-adjusted-microcosm of the Kalahari Desert. But it was worth it, every penny of it.

The six-eyed sand spider was the most poisonous beast on the planet. Its pounce was lightening death, its venom a putrid necrotic tissue-destroying thing that curdled cow organs in five hours flat. It was a blood-thirsty murderous killing machine honed over--who knew?--several ice ages.

Pinkerton never tired of the way the spider’s poison degraded the fleshy mice to sacks of putrid gunk, a squirming slush sucked up at a leisurely pace through fang-like-straws. What was it like, Pinkerton wondered, to be a little mouse--innocent, pitiful, defenceless--oblivious to the creepy flesh-eating death-machine lurking by your very feet? How did the mice feel when the soft tap-tap of the sand spider’s claw stroked the delicate meaty pink of a tiny paw? Or when the terrible fangs pumped into the yielding vulva of soft pink mouse flesh?

For a moment Pinkerton reflected it might be a tad morbid, this pleasure akin to exhilaration. But then again, it was only a harmless hobby: something to assimilate the inner workings of the criminal mind--allowing Pinkerton to cook the facts of the murder case in memory, while he disinterestedly observed the spectacle of prey-and-predator in an age-old dance of death.

Pinkerton sat in a light beige Harris Tweed jacket and standard Quick-Save-issue blue-denim jeans. One hand idly ran along the crease of a rather plump and short thigh. He recalled the smell of vitreous organs and the drip of bloodied toilet paper--that omen thing again. The feeling in his anus as if he’d ejected half his intestines along with the Vindaloo and cheap Chilean Merlot he’d binged alone on the night before. He definitely should avoid that stuff.

Yes. Something was strange about this case. It wasn’t just the gut cleansing haemorrhoidal movement like some anarchist insurrection. Something fishy was afoot: socially inappropriate and deconstructive. Jona’s mother for instance--what was her name again?-- Dullwitch, Mrs. Dullwitch Erricson. She looked and smelt like a Persian rug a neighbourhood of stray dogs had shat upon. Her alibi was so iron-tight you couldn’t blast it apart with Semtex.

Or at least, it appeared to be.

But appearances could be deceptive and his stomach was as sensitive to red-herrings, diversions and false alibis as an airborne early warning system.

Something didn’t fit--but, what was it exactly?

Pinkerton prowled around the room, momentarily hovering over the cardboard box of cowering mice. He trawled his mind once more over the police files Havnoclu had given him on Jonas and Frederick--apparently just a pair of small town bums. Not worth spending tax-payers’ money investigating.

Pinkerton let his mind drift, wriggling his toes among the furry carpet, letting the stream of thoughts meander. The graphic H2 pencil that had protruded from Jonas’s larynx entered beside the jugular. On the right breast of both men he’d noticed a pencil-thin circle, inside of which was an inverted Star of David, drawn with something like charcoal graphite. What was it?--A tattoo? Fancy body work? The mark of an Occult ritual slaying?

Pinkerton roamed the room. It surely wasn’t merly a tattoo. That couldn’t be it--surely, now? Plot convention ruled that out as boring. Might it be a case of lurid, sexually deviant body art gone wrong? That at least had opportunities for character-development and a decent pitch those agent fellows might hook the gullible proles on the mass market with.

Whether there was enough juice in sexual deviancy to sustain the howitzer-like arc of a story so convoluted it’d take an archaeologist to decipher it, was doubtful. No. Something fiendish, sexy even, was drastically needed to stop the plot collapsing under the weight of its own absurdity like some Himalayan avalanche.

No, something Occult was definitely afoot. It had to be. It wasn’t just the haemorrhoids--Occult was in. Hadn’t Snodgrass that rather sickly looking agent-fellow, said so the other day in Regent’s Park cafe?

An inverted five pointed Star of David enclosed by a circle. What could that mean? What connected it with the case? Mentally, he ran through his list of contacts. When it came to Occult Lore, Demonology, even Accounting come to think of it, Pinkerton knew only one man truly scholarly enough for the job.

He was just breezing a thumb through a pink fluffy bound ragged address book, about to reach for the phone when the synthesised jangle of Jingle Bells Rock made him jump. 

“Dr. Dummkopf here,” the phone caller said. The voice had a low hum-like quality about it, and a slightly monotonous Oxford-English drawl. “I had the presentiment you might want to speak to me.”

There was a clink of what Pinkerton suspected was a brandy tumbler in the background, and Dummkopf’s voice sounded a touch slurred--had the old codger been at the sauce again? For a moment Pinkerton paused, scrunching his eye brows, vaguely aware of the improbably meta-fictional break in the plot causality. “Amazing,” said Pinkerton.

“I do presume you are alluding to the present coincidence of my call.”

Dummkopf cleared his throat. “Easily explainable old chap--Synchronicity, don’t you know. Happens to me all the time. Just so happens I was consulting the Oracle upon the adequate treatment of my varicose veins when I happened to flip to the thirteenth symbol of the I-Ching, Ta Chuang--Great Power.

Dummkopf paused a moment, then continued. “‘By helping others they in turn will help you to achieve a happy conclusion.’ I thought of you, of course. And picked up the blower immediately.”

Dummkopf lowered his voice. “Hope I haven’t caught you at a bad time, old boy?”

Pinkerton proffered the necessary strokes civilised conversation demanded--aware of the largely empty rituality. “No, no, I was just thinking of calling you, actually,” Pinkerton lied.

“That would explain why I called you first.”

Pinkerton cut to the chase--Dummkopf spouted paralysing monologues on Para-psychology, so single-mindedly, he’d shame a monomaniac.

“Dr. Dummkopf what do you know about occult markings?”

“There are unseen forces everywhere Mr Pinkerton, one can never be careful these days. . . ”

“O.K. Then what about a pencil-inflicted murder with inverted Star of Davids drawn on each victim’s right breast?” said Pinkerton, injecting what he judged to be a fair amount of gravity into the pause.

The voice on the other end of the phone had now lapsed into silence--and was holding it. Pinkerton heard what he judged to be a ragged, raspy, breathlessness on the other end, as well as a surreptious slurp of about two finger widths of French Cognac, and the clink of a lead-crystal-glass brandy tumbler placed stealthily on a thick and round, old oak dining table which--considering his view point--was blindingly perceptive.

Dummkopf cleared his voice again, rattling his throat in that jarring way that sounded like a heavy shoe grinding gravel into the pavement. “I think you’d better come and meet me, old chap--Might you manage to be at The Fox & Hound at Liverpool street. Two-thirty sharp?”

Pinkerton was about to fire a quick “Sure,” but bit his lip. His diary was empty, but he was aware it might sound a tad unprofessional, too available--desperately available. He loudly rustled The Telegraph which he’d taken down from a side-board cabinet, and said, “I might be able to squeeze you in my schedule--Three-fifteen good for you? I got a client debriefing, so I’ll be in the vicinity.”

“It’s cutting it short, Mr. Pinkerton, exceedingly short. But let me see . . . .”

Pinkerton heard what sounded like paper rustling on other line.

“Ah, I suppose I shall be able to manage it after all. But do be on time, please. I’m due to give a distinguished lecture on Tarot reading at St. Swinions’s School For The Psychically Retarded in the after-noon.”

“I’ll be there.”

“Oh, and do be sure that you are not . . .  not followed.”


Dummkopf dropped his voice to a foreboding whisper--a distinctly conspiratorial edge, that might conceivably work its way into the story. “You really can’t be sure--what? Never trust your senses, I always say. Unless of course, you mean it in some psychic sense, but that’s an entirely different story altogether, old boy. Why only the other day, I happened to be chatting to this marvellous bright chappie from the Royal Society for Para-psychological Research. Met the blighter in the ground floor of the British Library--so happened I was delving into the finer nuances of a case of a French poodle suspected of remote viewing. Fancy that--what? Well, the chap was explaining to me that--”

Pinkerton cut him off--saying he needed to catch up on a Brahms’s recital he was currently studying, and hung up.

Now, the LED on the Mickey Mouse clock above the drawing room door said 11:25 AM. Time enough still, to give Boris a little treat. After all, who could tell how long he’d be away from home?--or even survive the forces of darkness long enough to feed his beloved pet?

Pinkerton considered this with a detachment that bordered on flippancy. But the question: “Will Pinkerton solve the case and still live?” at least still carried an iota of dramatic significance he could invoke, if the Thought Police ever raided him. He sighed. Finally Malenkov was inching the plot forward, despite torrents of adjectives, and obscenely overwritten silliness that would have sunk a carrier-battle group.

Pinkerton checked the windows, fingering the heavy satin folds lightly so as not to show he was observing. Was a team from the Thought Police even now swooping upon his London tenement in Number 17, Thoreaux Square? Was that elderly man in the plaited wool overcoat spying upon him? There, the one he’d seen a flash of just as the horse and cart had clip-clopped past on the dirty grey cobbled streets among the pea-soup fog, like something from a Dickens novel, two floors below . . . .

Pinkerton could plead Authorial Abuse if they came for him. After all, was it really his own will that made him think and act as he did? Wasn’t he simply an underpaid, badly-sketched, flat-character, at the mercy from a capricious author? Pinkerton shivered and rubbed his hands, warming the backs of his hands against the glowing coals of the fireplace. Would he be safe from Hildegard and her penguins? Safe from the ever-vigilant eyes of the Inner Party who roamed the internet searching for sacrificial lambs like some Aztec death-cult.

Who knew what dangers Malenkov had in store for him? Come to think of it, if this really was a Victorian setting what the hell was the internet doing in the scene? But what could Pinkerton do--go on strike? Might as well just accept fate and get on with the plot--what was left of it at least.  

Pinkerton was tired--as well he might be; for he’d been forced to sustain a fictional narrative of absurd proportions for nigh on four-thousand words. Was it something he could sue Malenkov for? Would the Writer’s Equity Union cover authorial abuse? But jobs were as scarce as good sex these days. Especially for a forty-six-year-old warhorse of a private investigator, who’d frankly seen better days. He’d be amazed, he said to himself, if any reader was still reading. “Are you?” he said. “Amazing.”


With a sigh Pinkerton loped absently over to the mice trembling in the cardboard box and pulled one out, tenderly cupping the shivering ball of fur for a moment in his hands. Then, a new found interest re-firing his loins, he briskly sauntered over to the cage in which Boris had reburied himself.







© 2010 Malenkov

Author's Note

This is the fourth part of a chain story -- "The news paper article"

the story begins on Haresh Daswani's site. See:

Note: This was just written as part of a chain-story for the WritersCafe, and is the fourth instalment.

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Featured Review

this was very good and very deep. It has brought forth a certain mystery that now adds a dimension not seen in the entire story. Everyone has given their own specific and special twist somewhere, you have given it well. It was deep, and with wild meta's around, something that has to be slowly digested, but it all pulls together well as a brilliant masterpiece.

A very good piece

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


incredible - your descriptive style of writing is unmatched here at the cafe. Juicy writing flavored with wry humor and incredible imagery - intelligent and well crafted. I loved it.

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

this was very good and very deep. It has brought forth a certain mystery that now adds a dimension not seen in the entire story. Everyone has given their own specific and special twist somewhere, you have given it well. It was deep, and with wild meta's around, something that has to be slowly digested, but it all pulls together well as a brilliant masterpiece.

A very good piece

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Well, I'd never been all that fond of the fourth wall anyway... Conan Doyle meets The George Burns & Gracie Allen show. The asides and allusions are all very well done and nicely timed, and the Victorian-esquely restrained tone of the whole piece is marvelous. Virtuoso writing.

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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3 Reviews
Added on June 18, 2008
Last Updated on August 11, 2010
Tags: short story, murder mystery, fiction, humor



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