The Easy Case

Birbhanu Singh posted under Flash Fiction QuinTale-44 on 2022-09-24

Alex found a piece of paper abandoned under his seat on his bus trip to the office. It looked pretty old and crumpled. Smudged with dirt and chiseled by time. It said, "DON'T LEAVE." He scoffed at the piece of paper and exclaimed, "Duh! This will be a cakewalk."  Alex Lawson had been a highly successful detective. Over a long span of forty years, he had never lost any case. Almost all his colleagues gave up on one or another matter, but his unswerving perseverance and boundless brilliance always took him to the finishing line.  He took the paper and went to the forensic department. The experts used the ink-dating method to calculate the age of the ink. It was deduced that the note must have been at least 30 years old.  Once he knew the age of paper, it became easier to focus on that limited range of period. So he started studying his files between the twenty-seventh year and thirty-third year, a good practice to consider the margin of error by the forensic team. First, he jotted down the name of all the persons he met during that period. All his acquaintances, all his relatives, all his clients, all his colleagues, and all his family members. And then he studied the three clues given to him to disentangle the knots of the puzzle. He who doodled these letters is known to you. He is alive. He lives in close vicinity.  Alex rubbed the names out who were dead or no longer lived in his close vicinity and eventually got the final list. Then, he made an appointment with all his clients. Everyone got a piece of paper identical in size to the note found in the bus. They all scribbled - DON'T LEAVE. As good or as bad as they could write in their natural handwriting. But the handwriting experts could not find a match to the master's handwriting.  Then came the turn of other acquaintances. They all went through the same exercise. Again came an array of "DON'T LEAVE" notes; this time, too, a match was not to be had. Saddened by the fiasco, Alex turned to his colleagues. They all jotted down the mysterious words on scraps of paper. The notes were again sent to the handwriting experts. But none of them turned out to be the writer of the master note. Alex was quite hopeful this time. It must have been written by one of his family members. His son and daughter were always seen playing handwriting games, scribbling, and doodling on scraps of paper. But he was dejected to receive yet again a piece of negative news from experts. This was his fall from grace. The only case he would ever lose, even though it was a prank by his colleagues to show that he can fail too. He almost gave up.  He scribbled himself the words. Boo-yah!  And they matched this time. The case at which he scoffed, he almost lost it...   Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!