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In The Zone . .Emotional Chaos . ..Number 9. . .September 11


Emotional Chaos
Weekly Column by Brian Codagnone

November 13, 2003


Editor's note: The following story is taken from "The Singular Casebook of Inspector Blancmange" (1905), although it first appeared in the London magazine "Fascinating Crimes" in 1897. In it, the Great Detective attempts to solve the gruesome murder of Sir Ponsonby-Bleek. There were few clues: on the day of his murder, Ponsonby-Bleek left his country estate in Writhing-in-Agony, Sussex, and took dinner at his club in London. From there he left for the theatre, but never arrived. The next day, parts of his dismembered corpse began turning up in a series of hat boxes all over London. The baffling case caused Scotland Yard to bring in Inspector Blancmange, who often consulted on crimes of such a unique nature.

It was a leaden gray day in London, during that depressing season when the fog is so thick you can slice it up and serve it with marmalade on toast. We hadn't had a case in over a fortnight, and were suffering the effects of the boredom that our involuntary confinement invariably brought. Blancmange, being in an especially deep torpor, played absently on his tuba, hoping, as always, for some form or murder or intrigue to bring about much needed mental stimulation. Suddenly, there was a knock on the door of our rooms.

"I think you'll find, Broadbeam, that it's Inspector Glucose and, if I'm not mistaken, he'll be wearing pants and carrying an umbrella!"

I answered the door. It was exactly as Blancmange had predicted.

"How did you know, Blancmange?"

"Quite obvious, my dear Broadbeam. You'll recall that the Times predicted rain this afternoon, and our friend Glucose hasn't ventured out without trousers since the incident at the schoolyard!"

"Brilliant! Come in, Glucose! What can we do for you?"

Glucose entered, shook out his umbrella and removed his mac and pants. "Good afternoon, gentlemen! I've got a case that's a real poser! You've no doubt read about the singular murder of Sir Ponsonby-Bleek."

"Ah, yes", said Blancmange, rolling a large joint. A beastly habit, marijuana, but it helped him to think. "He was found in a series of hat boxes all across London!"

"Quite right, Blancmange! Upsetting to the haberdashers, I can tell you! The only clue we have is that all the boxes came from the firm of Merkle and Sons, Ltd. of Rummage Road, Chelsea."

"Hat box suppliers to the Royal Family since 1774!" I interjected.

"The same! A quite respectable firm."

"I say!" I said.

"Intriguing!" said Blancmange from behind a haze of blue smoke, "Pray, go on!"

"According to Ponsonby-Bleek's solicitors, the firm of Pommeroy, Wolfbane, Harker and Cohen, he leaves an estate worth over 2,000,000 pounds! One would think that would be motive enough for murder, but he had no relatives at all, in fact no potential heirs beyond his household staff.""No relatives at all, Glucose?" I asked. Murder for inheritance was usually a family affair. "Do you recall 'The Case of the Gilded Weasel'? It turned out that Lady Hampstead's long lost cousin had been masquerading as a tree for 27 years, and only appeared at the reading of the will! He was found guilty of her murder and hanged at Dartmoor later that afternoon."

"Quite right, Broadbeam, but Pommeroy, Wolfbane, Harker and Cohen have done a thorough search. Ponsonby-Bleek's parents were killed in a freak blimp accident when he was away at Eton. His elder sister Annoria died of ennui when he was a boy, and his younger brother Nigel died valiantly fighting the Boers in Afghanistan. The only other relative, his Uncle Jack, was eaten by missionaries in the south seas."

"What a tragic family history!"

"Money can't buy happiness, my dear Broadbeam! But back to the case. Ponsonby-Bleek had no relatives, no enemies, and rarely wore hats! We've spoken to everyone even remotely connected to the case, but have met with nothing but dead ends. We have most of a body, but without a motive this crime has The Yard baffled!"

"Motive, indeed!" said Blancmange. "Let me ponder this, Glucose. In the meantime, gather all the servants and his solicitors at Ponsonby-Bleek's estate tomorrow. I shall reveal the killer then!"

With that intriguing comment, Blancmange dismissed Glucose. When the Scotland Yard man had left I asked, "Surely you don't know the killer merely from what our friend Glucose has disclosed!"

He sat back in his chair with a look of deep concentration. "I shall by tomorrow, my dear Broadbeam! But for now, I must think!"

He lit another joint and sat back, closing his eyes.

"No motive and few suspects! This is indeed a three-spliff problem!"




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©2003 Brian Codagnone
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Surf Our Site

Home ... Misfits . Rafferty .. . S1019 .. . Star Crossed....
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Ginger & Shadow. ..Writer's Block.. ..Cool Links . ..More Cool Links .
Oddities ..Link To Us... Guest Comics . Online Store..
In The Zone. ..Number 9. . .September 11