Monday, November 4, 2013


"You can tell a lot about a man from his car," said Detective Inspector Crompton, eyeing the sleek black lines before them. He kept moving his hands as if to touch it but holding himself back.
"That so, sir?" replied DS Johnson rolling his eyes behind his superior's back. "Didn't know you went in for the Sherlock Holmes stuff. What's this one then? Banker? Lawyer? Left-handed croupier with a penchant for Dutch cigarettes?"
"How would I know?" Said Crompton, too busy looking over every inch of the vehicle to turn around. "Could be a rich man who bought it offhand, could be an enthusiast who scrimped and saved for years, could be a midlife crisis. What I meant, Johnson, is that we can run the plates, find out the owner and home address and start investigating. Like policemen." He paused. "Police officers. Whatever we are these days."
"Ah, of course, sir," Johnson kept his voice chipper but made exaggerated choking motions with his hands. For every piece of advice he got from the vastly more experienced Crompton there were a half a dozen unhelpful jibes. "Do you want me to do it now, sir? Only..." he left the rest of the sentence to fend for itself.
"Only what?" snapped Crompton, who was now lying on the ground looking under the car for, presumably, evidence.
"Only I would have thought " Johnson began in his best impersonation of a patient man, "given the car's in this garage and all it's pretty obvious where the car belongs. And to who."
"Whom." corrected Crompton, then frowned "Probably. Maybe 'who'. Hmm." He grunted, stood up and dusted off his long grey coat. "In the normal course of events that would be the correct assumption, sergeant. In this case I think you'll find what we have here is an impostor." DS Johnson scratched at one eyebrow pensively as if making a decision. After a few moments he lay down where Crompton had and looked under the car. Concrete. Oil stains. He stood back up, still young enough that it didn't require a grunt of extertion to do so.
"I give up sir," he said with reluctance, "how can you tell?"
"Garage door's open, and the car's jutting out the front a little," explained Crompton. "You'll notice at the back though it's flush up against those boxes. Whatever car goes in here normally is quite a bit shorter than this beauty."
"Well spotted, sir."
"I thought so."
"So someone's parked this car in the wrong garage?" asked Johnson skeptically. "Found out the door wouldn't close and just left it?"
"It is a strange situation," agreed Crompton, his voice muffled by the storage boxes he was busy rummaging through. A minute or two passed while Johnson wiggled his toes to get some warmth into them, unsure if Crompton wanted him to join in searching the boxes. Eventually Crompton finished poking around the back of the garage and finally squatted down next to the driver side window. He winced as his knees made a cracking noise, peered through the window, and shook his head sadly. "What do you think," he asked the sergeant, "murder?"
"Just going off the way his face has been smashed in and those bloody footprints leading out of the garage, sir, that was the way I was leaning."
"Me too, Johnson, me too."

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