The Case of the Missing Horse

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A Short Story By Shinjon Maitra *

It was a cold January morning. The city of New York was, as usual, bustling with people, who couldn’t care less about the temperature.

In the NYPD office, a distinct roar was heard. Mr. Charles Goldstein, the chief, was sitting in his cabin, his bulging eyes glaring at Willie Nelson, whom he had just given a mouthful for spilling some coffee on his table. Goldstein was a bulky man, with a great belly, a large head which rested on broad shoulders.

As Willie left the room, Toby, Goldstein’s assistant, entered. He was a smaller version of Goldstein, but timid to the core.

“Sir...I...” he stammered.

“Stop this nonsense and come to the point!” bellowed Goldstein, leaning on to his armchair.

“Sir, a new recruit has arrived, and he wants an audience with you,” said Toby.

“Bring him in,” said Goldstein, sipping his coffee from the huge mug.

Toby shot out, and returned within a few seconds, followed by a tall and lanky man of around twenty-five. He wore a crisp police suit, and navy blue shades. He took off his shades and said, “Good morning, Sir!”

“Morning, what’s up?” asked Goldstein.

“Sir, I’m Edmund D’mello. I request that a case be allotted to me,” said the young man.

“A case, eh!” chuckled Goldstein. “Have you seen yourself? Policemen need to be strong and big, not mousy like ya.”

“Sir, I don’t think policemen are chosen based on their bulk,” said Ed, “I came first in this year’s tests, and I think you need to see my ability, not sheer strength.”

“Are you teaching me?” barked Goldstein. But at the back of his mind he thought, “This fellow seems confident. I guess I should give him a case to handle.”

Mr. Goldstein rose and handed over a folder to Ed, and said, “This is a tough one. Solve it in three days, or you’re gone.”

Ed picked it up, saluted, and left the room. He went out of the office and got on his motorcycle, revved up the engine and darted to the address mentioned in the folder.

On a damaged board was written ‘MARCO’S FARM’. Ed went in. The farm was big, and full of horses of different sizes and colours. A man strode up to Ed. He was dressed in cowboy clothes, complete with a hat.

“Ah!” he said, “You from the chief’s office?”

“Ya,” said Ed.

“I’m Marco,” said the man, shaking hands, “You can help me?”

“That’s what I’m here for,” said Ed.

Marco’s face turned pale. “Look at all these horses” he said, pointing his fingers at the fine beasts. “All of them champions in races. But, by Jesus, I’ve lost my best steed – Pegasus, the white stallion!”

Ed popped out a notebook and started jotting down.

“When did this happen?”

“Yesterday,” replied Marco.

“You think it was stolen?”

“Yes, by Jove!”

“Any suspect?”

“None...”

 Just then Lopez, Marco’s nephew, appeared. “Hey Marco, Mr. Daniel Cornwall’s here,” he announced.

 Daniel Cornwall. The name rang a bell. Yes, he was a master racer. Mr. Cornwall was there, a strong looking man. Ideal for Fatstein, Ed thought to himself.

 Mr. Cornwall said, “Marco, tomorrow’s the grand race. Send Pegasus on time!”

Marco’s face fell. “Pegasus has been stolen...,”Marco said slowly.

“What! Who?? When???” blurted Cornwall. “What about the race??”

“You can take any of the other horses,” said Marco.

Ed stepped in and introduced himself. “Don’t worry. I’ll surely bring Pegasus back in time tomorrow.”

Mr. Cornwall wished him well, though with a lot of doubt.

Marco led Ed to the shed where Pegasus was kept. There were footprints in the mud that led to the shed. Ed asked if the footprints were Marco’s. “No,” he said, “I wear fine Wellington boots.” 

But there were two sets of footprints, one made from sneakers, and the other made from a different pair, but made by a heavy man. The prints had dug deep into the mud. Ed bent down and clicked a photo of the footprints in his mobile camera.

“When was the last time Cornwall won a race?” asked Ed casually.

“About three months ago. Since then he has been having a tough time,” said Marco.

Ed went back home and lay on his bed. Pegasus was stolen. But who? When? Why? And how?

He looked at the clues he had gathered. He had also found a locket with a horse’s bust embossed in it, a small broken ampoule and a piece of torn red cloth. He tried to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. Pegasus had been tranquilized.

“Gotcha!” exclaimed Ed, sitting upright. “I have cracked it,” he thought. “I was such a fool!”

The next morning he went to the races. Marco was there, with Lopez, his nephew at the farm.

The race began. The steeds galloped amidst cheers from the galleries. Gamblers had already placed huge bets.

Cornwall’s white and brown horse emerged the winner! A huge crowd gathered to cheer the jockey! From within the thick crowd emerged Ed with his team. Ed calmly walked up to the winning horse and smeared some chemical that he was carrying in a bottle, on the brown spots on the horse. Lo and behold! The spots started disappearing.

As Ed’s colleagues started handcuffing Cornwall, he asked him to come out clean. Cornwall saw there was no chance of escaping. “I was going through a very rough patch, and Pegasus was running for others. I bought out Lopez and together with him, drugged Pegasus.” By that time, Lopez, who was trying to slip out through the crowd, was nabbed by the policemen in plain clothes.

“I had noticed Cornwall that morning wearing a chain on his neck. It had a hook that was empty. It suggested that the locket had fallen off. Then I found a locket with the bust of a horse in the shed” said Ed, sipping his coffee with a contended Goldstein that evening. “I stole into his stables in the night and checked on the horses. I had a picture of Pegasus. One of his ears had a scar. When I found the one in the stable with brown spots, I was sure this was the one, only with a little make-up!” The two laughed out loud.

“Well, young man,” growled Goldstein, as he put his huge paw on Ed’s shoulder to pat him, “If a leopard can’t change its spots, a horse can’t get any new ones either, haha...”

* Shinjon is thirteen and in Grade VIII. He is an avid reader and loves art and craft. In his spare time he draws cartoons and creates things out of paper and board.

 

JULY 2018

Vol. 12 - No. 12










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