“The only person I saw going out there was the landlord,” Ren shrugged in answer to Kester’s musings about who else was spotted going to the bathrooms during the incident. “Probably to the store room to get more beer or something.”
“I’ve got an idea,” Sophy nudged Kester’s arm. “Megan said we need to ask who’s doing a Vet Medicine degree, right? So…let’s ask them. Let’s get everyone to write down what they’re studying.”
“Excellent!” Kester cried in excitement, leaping towards the bar. “Timothy!” He attracted the attention of the landlord. “Could you give us some sheets of paper please and some pens?”
“Um…yeah. Sure,” Timothy shrugged and printed off some blank receipts for them, fishing out a handful of pens from a pot underneath the counter, passing them over.
“Here we go, guys,” Kester handed them out to Sophy, then the two of them walked round the bar, giving them to all the students and requesting they write their names and degrees down. It was a fairly quick process and within five minutes they were huddled in a corner collating the results.
“Nothing,” Sophy sighed disappointedly. “None of them are studying veterinary medicine, or even medicine.”
Kester rubbed his eyes, thinking. “What about Felicity and Timothy?” he suggested half heartedly. “We haven’t asked them.”
Sophy stared at him. “But…they were the ones who…the ones who reported the crimes in the first place. Timothy had his money stolen and Felicity had her cat…put to sleep.”
“We have to consider everyone in here as suspects,” said Kester calmly. “So…we should ask.”
“Alright,” she shrugged. “You’re the detective. Let’s ask. You do realise that someone could be lying, right?”
“Except, they don’t know why we asked them.”
“If they’re smart enough to pull this off, they’re smart enough to work out why we’re asking.”
“Mm, fair point,” Kester had to admit. “Still though. No harm in asking, I suppose.”
He approached the bar with a friendly smile, trying to appear casual. “So…did you guys go to Uni?”
“Huh. No,” Felicity scoffed, folding her arms. “Always wished I had though.”
“Really? Why didn’t you?” Kester didn’t particularly care about the reasons why. He was merely attempting to make casual conversation in order to get round to the point.
“Couldn’t afford it.”
“I did,” Timothy perked up. “I went here.”
“Oh really? That’s cool,” Kester grinned. “What did you study?” He felt like he was doing a fairly good job at being normal.
“Medicine,” he answered.
Kester tried not to look too excited by this and didn’t jump in immediately to ask him what field of medicine. Sophy did that for him.
“Any particular area of medicine?” came her voice from behind, sidling up next to him and leaning on the bar.
Timothy rolled up the sleeves of his shirt and began to wash up some dirty pint glasses in the sink. Kester couldn’t help but notice the tattoo on his forearm and things began to fall into place in his mind, using all his best detective knowledge to formulate a theory.
“Not when I was here,” he explained. “But then I signed up for the army. It was my dad that wanted me to join, I was never really that into it. I didn’t particularly want to fight or go on the front line. Ended up in the RAVC.”
Kester and Sophy glanced at each other with blank expressions.
“What does that stand for?” Sophy asked.
“Royal Army Veterinary Corps.”
“I’ve got it!” Kester yelled, thumping the air with his fist so enthusiastically and loudly that he soon had the attention of everyone in the bar.
“Got what?” Timothy was looking at him, confused.
“I’ve done it!” he continued. “I’ve solved the case.”
“Really?” the landlord seemed sceptical. He rolled his shoulders, eyes darting between Kester and Sophy.
“Allow me to explain,” Kester said, dramatically touching the brim of his trilby with his little finger. “I can tell by the tattoos of dice and cards on your left forearm that you’re a gambler and have been for a long time. So, you’ve got yourself into a bit of debt, perhaps with some bad people you’d rather not owe money to. This calls for drastic measures. Using your knowledge of animal medicine which you acquired through your course and through training with the Veterinary Corps, you administered sleeping tablets to your wife’s cat, then took the money from the till using the confusion that followed her discovery of the animal to slip to the toilets and secrete the cash there, knowing you’d be able to return and collect it later. And that was why you didn’t want to call the police. Because you thought we were a pair of hapless detectives who would never actually manage to solve this little mystery. Well, I’m sorry Mr Thorburn, but we did solve it, and now I am going to have to call the police, because you’re under arrest.”
Timothy Thorburn was staring at Kester open mouthed and aghast. His wife Felicity was glaring at him.
“T-Timothy,” she stammered. “Is this…true?”
He swallowed heavily. Everyone in the pub was looking now, wanting to know if Kester had got it right. He tugged down his sleeves again and shamefully hid his tattoo, hanging his head and staring down at the floor.
“Yes,” he sighed. “Every word of it.”
“I’ll call the police,” volunteered Megan Sharma, getting out her mobile phone as others gathered round Kester and Sophy, clapping them both on the back and congratulating them.
It was all a haze of praise that Kester found difficult to take in, still reeling from the fact that he’d actually managed to do it. He could hardly believe it himself, but he’d never felt so pleased and so proud in all his life.
“That was brilliant, mate”, “Well done,” “You really are a good detective,” “Great work”
But it was Sophy’s praise that meant more to him than any other as she turned to him with a big gleaming smile on her face.
“You know what, Kester Norwood,” she said. “I’d actually be rather proud to be your sidekick.”
Then, quite unexpectedly, she leaned up and kissed him on the cheek. “Maybe we could discuss it further over a drink?” she suggested, and winked.
Kester felt his cheeks flushing a deep shade of red as he realised he’d won the jackpot. He’d solved the case AND got the girl.
“That would be great,” he replied, nodding repeatedly. His future career as a detective was looking bright indeed.