Shrimpinski

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            Detective Leo Shrimpinski sat in his dark, dank office. The shelves around him were covered in cobwebs, coating the mystery novels. Papers were scattered across the floor with words like “3rd St. Midnight”, “get fingerprints”, and “buy more OJ” scribbled on them. On the other side of a desk, decorated with random trinkets, sat Leo, who reclined in his creaky, wooden chair with his feet propped up on the desk. His greasy hair hung over his pale face. Leo lowered his cowboy hat to keep the sun out of his eyes, which was trickling through the closed curtains. He pressed his grimy glasses to his face as he studied the book in his hands, the latest edition of “Where’s Waldo?” At least, Leo thought it was the latest edition, as he had hardly left his office in months. “Now where the heck is that stripy-shirted freak?” Leo muttered angrily to himself as he examined the page. Leo was bored out of his mind.

            There was a knock on the door.

            “Come in,” Leo said in as manly of a voice as possible. He was trying to sound tough, but everyone already seemed to know that he wasn’t. The door creaked open.

            It was a tall man with a curious look in his eyes. He was wearing baggy jeans and a shirt that said, “I hate babies.” The man stroked his fluffy mustache. This was clearly going to be one tough customer. “Leo Shrimpinski?” the man asked.

            Leo carelessly tossed aside the “Where’s Waldo?” book and sat up in an important sort of manner with his hands folded on the desk. “That would be me,” he answered in what he hoped was an equally tough voice.

            “My wife has been murdered just this morning down at the docks,” the man said. Stepping into the office. “Simon Stern,” he said, stretching out a hand that Leo promptly shook. Shrimpinski’s bone structure was quite weak from lack of fresh air and proper food, due to not leaving his office in weeks, so the handshake was a rather painful experience.

            “So do you have any suspects? Evidence?” Shrimpinski inquired.

            “Um, no,” Stern said awkwardly. “I have no idea what happened.”

            “The body was just found by the docks? That’s it?”

            “That about sums it up, yeah.”

            Leo leaned back in his chair and tossed his cowboy hat on to his cluttered desk. “I guess I’ll have to go investigate the area then. But seriously… no suspects? Not even witnesses? What was your wife’s name?”

            “Erm, uh, Sheila. Sheila Stern,” Simon said as though the name was completely foreign to him. He was clearly doing his best not to seem mega-upset.

            “Right,” Shrimpinski said, leaning forward once again, unsure of how to present himself to this new client. “Well I’ll be heading out to the docks then. Talk to some of Sheila’s friends and see if you can come up with any suspects. I’ll be back in an hour or two.” Leo stood and walked towards the door, putting his cowboy hat back atop his blonde hair. He stopped quite suddenly at the door and asked Stern, “What did she die of?”

            Simon Stern answered quickly, “She was stabbed, twice. Or was it thrice… Frice? I mean… four times… I’ll see you later then.” He quickly left, and after packing up his things, Shrimpinski left the building as well.

            The docks smelled strongly of fish and salt. Shrimpinski whipped out his magnifying glass and looked around. If the murder had been just this morning, wouldn’t the police still be around to investigate with him? Leo looked up at the sun and estimated that it was about noon. Maybe they all took a break for lunch. However, now Shrimpinski had no idea where to look. Maxwell hadn’t been very specific about, well, anything. This was probably the most vague case he’d received all month. Actually, all year, Leo corrected himself. This was the only case this month, as business was painfully slow.

            After walking for a few minutes, Shrimpinski finally saw what he was looking for. Yellow tape was around one of the wooden docks that stretched over the ocean. It clearly read, “Do not cross.” There was nobody else there, so maybe his lunch break theory wasn’t so bad after all. There was a large ship docked by the taped off area. It was dark red on one side and a fading pinkish color on the other. Leo effortlessly pushed aside some of the yellow tape. He had his ID with him, so the police wouldn’t care. Hopefully. Shrimpinski bent down to the wooden dock with his magnifying glass in his hand and instantly saw something helpful.

            There was blood splattered all over the ground. Puddles of it lay everywhere. Maybe he could take a sample of the blood in case Sheila had fought back. There could even be fingerprints on the wood if somebody had fallen down… Would any of this help find a suspect? Probably not, but Shrimpinski’s instincts seemed to work pretty well most of the time. He got out a small bottle to put some blood samples in. “Crap,” Leo muttered to himself as he searched his pockets. How would he get the blood into the bottle? Pretending that it wouldn’t cause problems, he pushed the blood in with his hand. “Good enough,” he said, standing up. “Now I’m pretty hungry, I’ll stop by again later… Wait…” Shrimpinski looked at his hand. The blood was stuck to his palm like some sort of…

            “Paint,” Leo sighed. He looked up at the boat in front of him, half red and half a pale pink. He stared at the “Do not cross” tape and then looked at the buckets lying around the dock that were clearly labeled, “Red Paint. Warning: Sticks to things pretty good.”

            Shrimpinski went back to his office empty handed.

            Leo walked into his dank room and headed back to his desk. Why was there no evidence? Had Maxwell found any suspects yet? He sat down in his creaky chair and leaned back against the wall. He fell to the ground with a thump and whacked his head. Today was not his day. It was odd; usually his chair was perfectly distanced from the wall so he didn’t lean too far back or too far forward. Angrily, he got back to his feet and dragged his chair back to a more preferable location. Shrimpinski searched the office for his “Where’s Waldo?” book. It was missing. Even more angry, he sat down in his chair and planted his face on his desk. Maybe he should call Stern. But wait… he hadn’t left any phone number, and Leo knew that phone books were an evil sales plot for those fiendish phone companies.

            So Shrimpinski had to wait. And wait. And wait. And wait just a little bit more.

Finally, there was a knock at the door. “Yeah, what?” Leo called. The door creaked open and once again, it was Stern who stepped into the office.

            “Did you find anything?” Simon Stern asked.

            “Nothing. I had no idea where to look, and there weren’t any police officers. There’s nothing,” Leo sighed. “Did you talk to Sheila’s friends?”

            “Um, no. Nobody was home, coincidentally.”

            “Nobody?”

            “Nobody.”

            Leo leaned back in his chair again, this time without it resulting in pain. “Is there anywhere else to look? This case seems completely hopeless. No suspects, no witnesses, no evidence, no police investigation… What’s going on?”

            Stern looked concerned but remained silent.

            “Are there any other places that I can investigate?” Shrimpinski asked a few seconds later. He was getting desperate for clues.

            Simon Stern looked startled, like he had just seen a ghost. “Ah! I think she was at the coffee shop on Broadway for her breakfast! You could check there!”

            “Excellent,” Shrimpinski said, getting to his feet and tilting his cowboy hat further back on his head. He headed for the door.

            “After you,” Stern said cautiously to Leo as he stepped out of the doorway.

            A few moments later, Shrimpinski was back on the street and hopping into his car. He glanced at the passenger seat where he usually placed his magnifying glass after a trip to the scene of a crime. He checked his pocket only to find it empty. …He had left it on his desk back in the office. Leo seemed to have a tendency of losing things today.

            He got back out of the car and walked to his office. Just outside the door he saw Stern lugging a vaguely familiar desk down the stairs. “What are you doing?” Leo asked.

            Stern nearly dropped the desk in surprise. He spun around and looked at Shrimpinski with a worried look on his face. He blurted out, “I’m trying to help the neighbors move. They wanted some help so I figured, uh, why not?”

            Slightly confused, as just about nobody lived in this building besides Shrimpinski himself, Leo let Stern pass with the desk as he continued up to his office.

            The moment he opened his door he suddenly realized what was going on. His desk was no longer in the room, and his papers were scattered across the floor. Stern was robbing him this entire time! It all made sense… The crime was imaginary, that’s why there wasn’t any evidence, or any police at the scene of the crime. Stern had been lying to get him out of the office. The building was old, and the doors didn’t have any working locks, so it would have been easy for his possessions to be stolen. Since Shrimpinski spent so much time hanging out in his office, Stern had to lure him out. While he was at the docks, all of his things were being stolen. That’s why none of “Sheila’s” friends had spoken to Stern. He had never called them!

            After he was done musing about the sinister plot, Leo ran back down the stairs as fast as he could, leaving his office door wide open. Shrimpinski burst outside only to see his car being driven away by none other than Stern himself, with his antique desk hanging slightly out of a window.

            Leo sighed and walked back inside. He walked upstairs to his office and sat down on the floor. There were more books missing on his shelf. Shrimpinski sighed, “Well crap.”

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