Story by Rickie Roberto, Private Investigator/ mime artist.
(Part 1: HERE)
My coffee had gone cold. Twice. The real one and the mime one. Adjacent to these, upon the otherwise bare dining room table, sat the ex-marmalade jar containing the mystery moustache. Next to that, a bowl- empty now save for a single piece of popcorn, spared for the reason of it bearing an uncanny resemblance to a Meerkat in a beret.>
There was another reason for my distraction, however.
On my way into the flat this afternoon, I’d run into Cecil, my neighbour. Nothing too unusual about that, granted. But he’d been wearing a scarf.
A scarf? In weather like this? I reasoned that perhaps I’d just forgotten to remove my own mime scarf from yesterday, and I was simply unaware of the placebo effect it was still having. I checked to make sure, but no; that wasn’t it.
The scarf was also uncharacteristically bright. Bulky. Sculptural. A far cry from Cecil’s usual drab attire. Perhaps he’d been experimenting with his style. In all honesty, though, he wasn’t pulling it off too well. He looked like a pale sausage being constricted by some sort of bohemian anaconda on its way to a folk festival. All I could see of his face were his eyes. Nervous. Reticent. But why? I hadn’t asked, as I didn’t want to be nosey, but as we parted ways, I deftly snipped a tiny wool sample from his scarf whilst his back was turned so that I could run some tests later.
There’d been yet another strange incident later that evening. I’d popped outside to put the bins out, and on my way back inside, I noticed a striking redhead- female, mid thirties- leaving our block of flats. I’d never encountered her before. Perhaps she was new here, or had just been visiting someone. The detail that had really got my attention though, was the partially-face-obscuring scarf she’d been wearing. A brightly hued, distinctly serpent-like, chunky knit affair.
Or at least it appeared to be. I wouldn’t know for sure until I’d run some tests on the sample of Cecil’s scarf I’d acquired earlier, and compared it to the tiny fibres of Mystery Redhead’s scarf that I’d also managed to obtain, thanks to the overgrown rosebush near the front gate.
Ah, my friend, the rosebush. Many a time it’d been suggested by fellow residents and visitors that one of us prune the thing. It was a hazard after all. Even for the initiated- who knew to lean to a 70° angle while passing- there was little chance of getting past unaccosted. We’d eventually arrived at the decision to leave it, however, due to its effectiveness as a deterrent to thieves and door-to-door evangelists. Not to mention the many times it’d come in handy for investigative purposes. Indeed, this plant had become almost like a friend and colleague to me. All sorts of crucial evidence had been snagged by “Constable Rosebush” over the years, leading to many a baffling case being solved. The longstanding and locally famous mystery of the missing postman, Leslie Paul Gibson, for example. Had I not noticed the unusually blonde foliage amongst the scarlet petals that spring morning, I doubt we’d ever have found him. Of course, had Mr Gibson never tripped and fallen into the rosebush initially, he’d never have become trapped in there for 5 years. Thus, for a while afterward, I’d been confused as to whether Constable Rosebush should be arrested or promoted, or whether I’d simply been anthropomorphising a plant to the point where I’d lost touch with reality.
A loud knock on the door abruptly snaps my attention back to the present.
I open the door the slightest crack, and peer out. It’s the pizza delivery guy. I’d forgotten that I’d mimed ordering pizza 30 minutes ago. I pay the man, then return to the table, with my invisible Capricciosa, and my thoughts.
Damnit. I should’ve shown Pizza Guy the popcorn Meerkat.
I remove the two tiny jars containing the scarf samples from my jacket pocket, and place them next to the jar containing the fake ‘stache. First thing tomorrow, I’d run some forensic tests on the scarf samples; see if they were from one and the same source. Of course, if they proved to be, it may just mean that Mystery Redhead was either a relative, friend, or weed dealer of Cecil’s, whose scarf he’d borrowed for personal reasons. But something in my gut was telling me that this scarf of secrets was somehow linked to the fake moustache. It seemed implausible on the surface of things, but mystery works in mysterious ways, and my detective’s intuition was rarely off the mark.
My mime alarm went off before my audible one. I was keen to get cracking on this case.
By 9:00am I’d already run rigorous forensic tests and got the results back. As I’d suspected, both fibre samples were from the very same scarf.
The moustache, however, was full of surprises.
For starters, this baby wasn’t made of real hair. Although it definitely looked real, it was, in fact, top quality, low sheen, high deception, synthetic kanakalon. A true master of disguise in its own right.
A tiny section, 8 fibres in diameter, had been slightly melted- indicating a cigarette ash burn (Marlboro Gold- Lights) . This facial costume had either been owned by a smoker, or gotten too close to one.
There were also traces of lipstick ( Facegash; ‘Pashables’ collection in ‘Skank 603’), chewing gum ( Excessively chewed Strawberry Hubba Bubba, from the mouth of an 83 year old lactose intolerant woman of Lithuanian descent), and dog shit ( Labrador; 3 years old; overly fond of frisbees, and possibly going by the name of Groucho Barx ) . These last 2 items were likely from the soles of passing pedestrians, but I wasn’t about to rule anything out. There’s a lot of kink out there.
The big news headline on the cover of the ‘Tache Times, however, was the hair. And I’m not talking about the synthetic hair that it was made of, but rather a single imposter hair attempting unsuccessfully to blend in with the locals. It should’ve worn a disguise. Long, fine, and the colour of a vintage Merlot in a wineglass held up to the sun, it stood out under the microscope like a heavy-handed rouge job on a pigeon. But its incongruity wasn’t what made it interesting. You see, this lone hair had a long lost twin.
And I was about to reunite them…
To be continued…..