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Rated: E · Short Story · Detective · #2242972
First attempt at mystery.
World’s Greatest Detective

Night is sticky around these parts. New Orleans has been known to make people sick. Sick of partying all year round and sick of the weather, Michael McAllister thought of the rainy night as wonderful, even while he was pulling off his soaked shirt. He grinned as he opened the window and the hot, humid wind and rain came blowing through. He looked at the mighty Mississippi and all its boats and wondered for a split-second if he should have been a captain of one of those ships. “Nah, “he said to himself. I like it as a detective.

In fact, McAllister was a great detective. He had the reputation of a gutsy, detective that always got his man. The thing was he did it high-tech. He was an expert at all the new methods, and it showed. But from his apartment, you would never have guessed it. Books, every one of them, about Sherlock Holmes, odd gadgets, a pipe, a hunter’s cap just like Sherlock Holmes wore, pub signs, it was all there. Michael McAllister loved Sherlock Holmes. He loved deductive logic. He loved his methods, he lived by the axiom, “Once you have eliminated everything that is impossible, whatever is left, however improbable it may be, must be the truth.”

The trouble was, this new Sherlock, never solved a case using this method at all. He winced as he thought of it. What would the great detective say? Instead, McAllister solved cases using methods Holmes never dreamt about…DNA, infra-red scanning, forensic work, bio screens, and more.He was a leader and well-respected for that…not for his Holmesian methods. That’s why the museum called him. This case was a cold case it seemed. A priceless painting was no longer in the vaults…but no one knew when it was taken. Now, McAllister had to solve this case…his biggest yet.

McAllister entered the room in early morning. He surveyed the room, taking extensive notes and trying to make an exact count. He looked for anything out of the ordinary because that is what Holmes would do. But it seemed he always missed something this way. He asked for an inventory. They had one. He asked the question, before he realized he shouldn’t…because it was his job, it was something that Sherlock Holmes would do,

“Is there anything out of place here?”

“Well, not really, nothing has been moved, just the one painting.”

“Did you go through all the paintings? Maybe it’s misplaced.”

“No sir, we went through them all.”

“Interesting, very interesting.” He said.

He chewed on his gum. He didn’t like pipes or cigarettes for that matter. Gum would have to do. “I think…well, let’s bring in the equipment.” McAllister brought the equipment in. He dusted for prints. He took prints from all the workers in only a matter of minutes, twenty-five to be exact, McAllister decided that he couldn’t find anything with new prints and nothing out of the ordinary at all in that department. The paintings had been touched by the employees but not by anyone else. Everyone had been accounted for, with reasonable alibis. His eyes, usually not his strongest detective tool, spotted something. Then he saw it, a painting not on the manifest. He looked carefully in the corner. How come no one mentioned extra paintings? Why is there a new painting and one missing? Could it be? He brought in another, large instrument, it was an infrared scanner. What he saw made his heart beat faster. He saw another painting underneath it. The one he was searching for. He took his fingers across the paint. He should have smelled the new paint smell. It had been painted over.

Now why would someone go through the trouble to paint over a painting instead of just taking it? He thought to himself. He sat down surveying the place, thinking and chewing. He tapped his fingers. He was deep in thought.

Well, there was the possibility that they couldn’t get out without being seen and maybe they wanted to come back later. But why would they take the trouble to do that, when they could just do it later? He thought. But then he went back to the painting--as it always did. He thought about what tests he could run. Well, the painting was there…the crime had been solved, at least the important stuff. But his mind kept wondering, why? He looked at the manifest again. His thoughts kept bothering him. Why didn’t the manifest list the new painting? Why was everything accounted for but the old painting, when that was underneath this new one? Was a painting missing at all? Could it be that one painting was still missing? A different one? A more expensive or valuable one? He shook his head. Is there any painting more valuable than one beneath? He thought about it and made himself happy by saying perhaps a Michaelangelo, DaVinci, Raphael or even Donatello. After his reverie, he slipped back into thought. His brain was working hard. He had to know. It was bothering him. He’d never sleep without the answer.

He decided to do tests on the paint to determine where the paint came from. He wanted to get a certain brand. It might lead him somewhere. He took a sample, and as he did so, it spread easily. He wiped it on his shirt. “This is fresh paint.” He said matter-of-factly. It probably happened overnight. Wait a minute? The curator and his employees said they never go into this room…it only happened overnight when it could have been done years ago? That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. He expected to be a cold case. But it wasn’t. Why? Why did the people decide to come into the room on this day, the morning after the painting had been stolen? Suddenly he got the feeling that he had been lied to. He got up and paced the room. “What were they trying to pull here?’ He called the curator in.

“What made you come into this room today?”

“We are having an exhibition soon and I needed the artworks.”

“Come here, I want you to see this.” He showed him the painting. “Is this painting accounted for?”

“Yes. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Is it worth more than the other one that was stolen?”

“Yes, it is. It is a Michelangelo.”

“It’s a fake. Look, he rubbed off the paint. See underneath, is your painting.”


“Yes. It’s underneath. Where is your real Michelangelo?” He asked gruffly.

“I don’t know.”

“I think you do…. What are you trying to pull here?”

“It takes a skilled painter to paint this, and to do it overnight, someone who restores them possibly, someone who knew that I would be here today. Why did you set me up?”

“I need to talk to someone about the Michelangelo.” He said quickly.

McAllister just let him go. He looked at the painting.

The curator didn’t come back for a while. When he did come back a half hour later, he brought with him someone unexpected. “Hi, Chief,” McAllister said. “How did I do?” Chief Lawrence Price laughed. “It was not a test…just a challenge. How did you solve it?” Surprisingly enough McAllister didn’t know what to say. He thought about it. I solved it using logic...and technology. The Chief smiled. “Now you know,” McAllister smiled. Yes, he did know. He knew he could be like Sherlock Holmes.

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