To try to use words to describe Arthur Witles (Wit ‘Uls) would be an impossible task. The very nature of a man as unique as he would all but defy the laws of language. He is a very intelligent, articulate, enigmatic and insane man. If I did not have the sour pleasure of knowing him, I would certainly do everything in my power to avoid meeting him, any man of sound mind would do the same.
Arthur Witles is somewhat of a recluse. He chooses to spend the vast majority of his time in intellectual works. His mind is a product of forensics and pathology. He has several degrees from reputable schools. His spare time is all occupied in the furthering of his knowledge in these and other necessary fields. Being by any standards a genius, he also has a total and complete lack of any form of common sense. That is, if you were to drop a coin, he could tell you every relevant mathematical formula to describe, in great detail, and with startling accuracy, where it landed. Then hit his head on a table -twice- while reaching for it.
Arthur Witles has no real job, his employment comes from local detectives and private parties with some mystery to be solved. He babbles endlessly about wanting to be just like his idol, some fictional character by the name of Maybelock Houses or something. He has never yet met a mystery that he could not solve, though at times the methods he uses in solving them may make him seem like a complete moron. He would be far more impressive if he were to simply hold his tongue until the mystery was solved, but instead he babbles the most ridiculous things, as he thinks out loud. But don’t take my word for it, the following is a true account of one mystery in which he was involved.
It was early in the morning, Witles sat postulating theories of butter and french toast. The day was rather warm for being in the fall. I had been at his home since early that morning, but there was a light rain preventing my departure. We had been sharing a discussion of some trivial event, though Witles did not find much pleasure in trivialities. As the words began to dwindle, and the coffee was running short, we were visited by a detective.
“Arthur Witless, I presume.” the man spoke.
“Wit ‘Uls” Arthur corrected.
“Indeed.” came the man’s response.
“I can see by your demanor, your red, puffy eyes, the water marks on your crumpled suit, which you have been wearing for at least two days, and your missing wedding band that you have come to me seeking help in finding the wedding band, your wife, or both.”
“Very keen observations, to be sure. But truthfully I have been divorced for several months. My clothing and demeanor come from being up for the past forty-eight hours investigating a murder.”
“That was obviously going to be my second guess.”
I exchanged a glance with the detective that went thusly: his eyes said ‘is he telling the truth?’ My eyes said ‘you got me.’ His eyes said ‘I think it may have been a mistake to get him involved.’ My eyes said ‘You are definitely right.’
“My name is Smitts, I have heard that you may be able to assist me in the investigation.”
“Indeed I can, If you could tell me all that you know of it.”
“All that I know is that we found a body, if I knew more I would not have come.”
“Of course, I would normally like to hear the details of the case before accepting or declining. But the mere fact that the case has Scotland Yard (to Witles everything was Scotland yard, the police, private investigators, he called them all by that name, just like Maybelock) lost in the dark, knowing nothing other than there has been a murder does entice me so. We shall go to the scene. Do you have a Brougham waiting?”
“What the hell is a Brougham?”
“A Brougham, a hansom, a carriage?”
“I have a squad car.”
“Excellent, shall we go?”
With that the three of us left the house and began our journey to the crime scene. I could not help but think of what Smitts must be thinking about Arthur Witles. Witles spent his leisure time reading, yet only read classic works. This gave him but little knowledge of what was going on in the world today. At times it seemed that he was living in 1896 not 1996. I am sure that he knows nothing of satellites or technology, only what he has read in classic literature and his books on forensics and pathology. Just another of the many idiosyncrasies that make Arthur Witles such a singular person.
It took only a few moments to be upon the crime scene. It was near Brown’s Bridge, over the Marilosa river. Smitts led Witles over to another man at the scene.
“Hello there,” the man said, “My name is detective Steele, and you must be Arthur Witless.”
“Is the crime scene just as you found it?”
“Yes, no one has touched much of anything, the body has not been moved.”
“Excellent, I shall have a look around.”
Witles took out his magnifying glass, put his pipe in his mouth and began to look around. He would stop occasionaly, stare into space, and let a stream of bubbles come from his pipe. As he reached the body, he began to speak under his breath, looked around frequently, then went silent and began to stroke his nose. This was one of his most annoying habits. If stroking your chin makes you look wise, stroking your nose does exactly the opposite.
After thoroughly investigating the body, Arthur Witles turned to us and began to speak.
“You are wasting your time looking for a murderer, this man committed suicide.”
“Suicide?! Are you mad? He is wrapped in twenty pounds of chain!”
“That he did himself, just before he threw himself from that flagpole.”
“Yes, I think it is rather clear, did you not see the color of his skin, he obviously jumped from something.”
“Why not the bridge?”
“The water under the bridge is only a couple of feet deep, he would have had numerous fractures if he had jumped from there. The only other thing around here tall enough to bruise his skin like that is the flagpole.”
“So, you are saying that he wrapped his body, arms, and legs in chain, padlocked them behind his back, all while balancing on top of a flagpole?”
“Of course not, that would be ludicrous! He obviously padlocked his arms and legs behind his back before he climbed the flagpole. He could never have kept his balance to do that on top of the flagpole.”
“So after he chained his arms and legs behind his back, exactly how did he climb the flagpole?”
“Oh, come now, if a man is crafty enough to chain and lock his appendages behind his back it would be a simple task to climb the flagpole.”
Smitts and Steele both turned their heads in disgust. Witles held firm though, he always did. Then he began to search the ground a ways away from the flagpole.
“Halloa! A footprint. There may have been foul play.”
“Moron.” Steele whispered under his breath.
“It should be easy enough to find the suspect. Judging by the tracks he has four legs and must be well over ten feet tall.”
Witles continued to examine the footprints as Smitts and Steele stared on with mouths agape.
“I would like to ammend my last statement. There were two men of average height, about 5’10”, running.”
Witles mumbled something, quite under his breath, about a packaging plant. He then gave the detectives a guarantee that he would have the perpatrators at their office within a day. I am sure that I don’t have to tell you that no one there believed him.
Once we returned to his house, Witles went into his dressing room. He came out a moment later wearing dirty clothes and a ratty wig. He looked quite like a wino. He told me that he must go out and asked for me to await his return. He told me that he would clear up the matter in only a couple of hours time. I really didn’t believe him, but chose to wait anyway.
Often, when Witles was involved in a case, he would wear costumes to in order to infiltrate a relevant group of people, and even on occasion to fool security to gain access to restricted areas. It was simply amazing that he was usually quite accurate with determining where he needed to go, and often the case was quickly solved. This time, though, nothing would be more startling to me than him returning with the news that the case had been solved. He often seems to be the village idiot, this time, I feared, he actually was.
It was far beyond my amazement, when Witles returned, for he was wearing that singular smile. This had to mean that he had solved the case. As my eyes passed over him, Witles began to speak.
“My only regret, Dr. Ampere, is that Scotland yard will not be able to charge them with murder.”
“No charge of murder? I thought that you said that there had been foul play.”
“Indeed there had been, Dr. Ampere, all in due time, all in due time.”
“Have the authorities apprehended the suspect?”
“Suspects, and no. They will not need to. The suspects will be at Scotland yard in less than two hours.”
“How, why will they be there?”
“Dr. Ampere, it will all be clear soon enough. Let us just say that I informed the suspects that Scotland yard had found something of their belonging on the man’s body. I also promised them that I would testify on their behalf if it became necessary.”
“But what? Why would it beocme nec…”
“All in due time, Dr. Ampere.” Witles said, as he was reaching for his pipe, “As soon as this bowl is gone, you too shall see the truth.”
I stared on in bewilderment, as Witles blew bubbles from his pipe. He was torturing me, had he at least been smoking tobacco it would have had some effect on him, as it was he was doing it only to pass time. He knew that I had
doubted him, and he wanted to make me pay. But, as promised, as soon as his bowl was gone, we headed for the police station.
Upon entering the police station, where Smitts and Steele voiced heavy skepticism, which only served to make Witles almost giddy, he still refused to tell us his secrets. He merely assured us that it would all soon be over. He filled his pipe with bubble stuff and sat stoicly staring at the door, only an occasional bubble cut through the stalemate.
Two men stepped through the door, this brought Witles to his feet.
“As promised, here are your suspects. I am sure that you will find their story quite captivating.”
“Can we please just have the photo?” asked one of the suspects.
“What photo…” Steele’s voice trailed off as Witles began to speak.
“Tisk, tisk, let us hear what they have to say.”
“We didn’t kill anyone.” One suspect said.
“As well we know.” Witles assured him.
“Don’t you see, that photo could destroy us both.”
“Yes, yes, as we know, now tell the story.” Witles seemed anxious to make it known that he was right, yet again.
“Okay, but promise that what we say will not leave this room.”
Smitts and Steele glanced at each other, this was, of course, a request that was simply unheard of in law enforcement. They did eventually agree that the story may be more satisfying than a mere conviction.
“You are aware that you may have to testify?” Steele asked.
“If need be. I would still like it if you were to promise that what we say here will not leave this room. It would destroy us both.”
“If it is not relevant to this man’s death, it will not leave this room.”
“Good enough.” The man said, then he began to tell the story.
“Jack and I have been having sex for some time…”
“You see, they’re gay, they’re flaming queers, I knew that!” Witles interjected.
“Let them talk.” Came Steele’s response.
“Anyway, somehow Hadshaw got a photo of us engaged in sex. I know not how, though it doesnt matter. He had been blackmailing us both for a year now. We decided that we had to end it now. All we did was chain him
to the flagpole so that we could search his home and take the photo. You see, he could not really report that someone he was blackmailing had broken into his home and stolen the photo he was using to that end. We had every intention of letting him go once we had the photo.”
“So why did you kill him?”
“We didn’t kill him. We searched his house, but could not find the photo. When we returned to the flagpole to demand the photo in return for letting him go, he was gone. When we looked around, we found him lying dead on the
shore. I swear that is how it happened.”
Steele and Smitts looked at each other (in a way that men don’t like to speak of) and called a guard. They told the guard to detain the men while they spoke to Witles. Once the men had left, it was Steele that spoke first.
“You amaze me Witless.”
“Indeed.. How did you know, it escapes me.”
“As well it should, you are a simpleton.”
“Enough with the insults. If you don’t want those men to be put away, you better tell a story even better than theirs.”
“It is quite elementary. I told you then, as I tell you now, that the man committed suicide. Had you a single shred of intelligence you might also have seen the gouges in the steel of the flagpole. These obviously came from the chains which fettered mr. Hadshaw. This meant that he had not been murdered. He actually did take his own life, albeit by mistake. Upon investigating the scene, it was painfully obvious that he had been chained there. The only reason for someone to chain him like that, in a relatively public place, is if they merely wanted to detain him. After seeing the gouges in the pole, I knew for sure that it was not a murder. And this,” Witles pulled something from his pocket, “was what told me who it was.”
Witles held in his hand a small, s-shaped piece of packing material.
“That! A packing peanut told you everything?”
“No, not everything. But, being in the shape of an ‘S’, I knew that it must have come from the Salistosarasacosacosta and Sisters packing company.”
“But, all of those packing peanuts are shaped the same!”
“Really?!” Witles’ eyes darted back and forth, “Of course, but there is a certain characteristic of this particular one that my extensive experience in the field tipped me to its origin.”
“Amazing!” Steele shouted.
“Indeed,” Witles said, “but it gets better. Knowing that the it could only have come from the Salistosarasacosacosta and sisters packing company, I knew where to go to find out who the culprits were. This was easily found, for upon inquiring about who had been absent for any length of time the previous day there were only three names mentioned. Hadshaw and the two men that you have detained. It became clear to me that it must have been a case of blackmailing gone bad, and knowing that both of the men were married I knew that they must be bisexual.”
“Okay now you seem to be reaching. How were you sure it wasn’t about something that is an actual crime, like say embezzlement, or drugs or something?”
Witles eyes could actually be heard as the bashed from one side of their sockets to the other, “Well, they were married. They felt enormous shame for their homosexual activity, otherwise they wouldn’t have been paying the man to keep the photos a secret.” Witles seemed content with that answer, and I tell you I thought he made a pretty good save there also, but Steele was a little less impressed.
“So it we be worse for them to be exposed as part time pansies than to be in the midst of a multi-million dollar embezzlement fraud?”
Witles eyes began to dart, but stopped as he decided on a different tactic.
“Well, the only thing that matters is that I knew it, and I was right, and I alone solved your case. Doubt my methods if you must.”
“For the time I will concede that your methods worked where ours had failed.” Steele struggled to make the statement.
“Finally a bit of respect.” Witles responded.
“I never said a damn thing about respect!”
“Come now,” I said, “Let us hear the rest of this before we have an actual homocide.”
“Anyway, they chained him to the pole to detain him. They searched his home, then they returned to free him. Upon returning, they found him dead, they fleed in horror, not wanting to be implicated in the crime. I took a gamble, thinking they may not have found the photo, as it turns out I was right. When I told them the police had found it, they came here right away.”
“How did he climb the flagpole?”
“His arms and legs were chained behind him, but he was chained to the pole also. I imagine he used the chain to keep him from slipping as he inched his way up a bit with his feet, then a bit with his hands, then his feet again, etc.
He probably looked a bit like a caterpillar as he did it. I am not sure what he planned to do once he reached the summit, and it seems that he wasn’t either, since he ultimately fell to his death. So, you see, the suspects from
Salistosarasacosacosta and Sisters can not be charged with anything worse than being gay. And, since no one ever recovered the photo there is not even proof of that.”
“That is amazing!” Smitts shouted, staring at Witles.
“Yes, it is to you. But all very elementary to the seasoned investigator. Proof once again that Scotland yard is nothing but a bunch of bumbling idiots. Now, if you would hand me my pipe I will be off.”
Steele handed Witles his pipe, and bottle of bubble stuff, choked in his anger for a moment, and said as sincerely as he could, “We thank you for your assistance, Mr Witless.”
“Wit ‘Uls” Arthur corrected.
“We are all entitled to an opinion.” Steele said as he slammed the door behind us.