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Recipient: tetsubinatu
Title: The Curious Incident of the Geese in the Daytime
Characters/Pairing: James Hathaway/Robbie Lewis, Lizzie Maddox/Tony Maddox
Rating: G
Wordcount: 1,275
Warnings: None
Summary: Surely a detective inspector shouldn’t be concerned by a case involving stolen geese.



“Geese!” Inspector James Hathaway exclaimed as he walked back into the office. “I was summoned by one of the senior college dons, as a matter of great urgency, to discover it was because someone had stolen his geese.”

Sergeant Lizzie Maddox tried hard to hide a smile. The sheer outrage on the face of her boss was funny, but she didn’t think he’d appreciate her laughing at him. Struggling to control a giggle, she said, “How many geese, sir?”

“Six.”

“Like in the song:
Six geese a-laying
Five gold rings.”

“Thank you very much, sergeant. There is sufficient festive music at home, without you adding to it here.”

“How is Robbie?” she asked. Since Robbie Lewis had retired he had insisted Lizzie use his given name, saying there was no need for formality now he had left the police force.

“Still coughing and sneezing, and doing an excellent impression of Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer, but nonetheless decorating the house and playing non-stop Christmas music.”

“Will he be well enough to join us tonight?”

“Oh yes. That’s assuming we get there, we need to do something about these geese first.”

“The logical solution is that they’ve been stolen and will turn up on a market stall somewhere.”

“Or get sold on for cash out of the back of a van which would be even harder to trace. That was my first thought, but Carstairs - the don - seemed more agitated than the loss of six geese really justified.”

“Perhaps the song was right. The geese were laying the gold rings. Isn’t there a Sherlock Holmes story about something similar?”

“I think you’re confusing the goose which laid a golden egg, with The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle. And being entirely too fanciful for modern day Oxford.”

Constable Green, who had been waiting patiently to give Lizzie some files, said, “My aunt used to have geese. I hated visiting her, they used to peck at the car tyres as we drove in and I was terrified they would attack me.”

“Yes,” James said, “Geese have certainly been good at warning when strangers arrive. They’ve been used for such purposes from ancient Roman times onward.”

Once Green had given Lizzie the files and departed, James continued, “Maybe there’s something in that. Remove the geese and gain access to the property unnoticed. But why?”

Lizzie shook her head. “Could you ask Carstairs?”

“I’ll phone him and see, although somehow I doubt he’ll be very forthcoming. And in the meantime we’ll ask officers to be on the lookout for geese of dubious origin, to add to all the other dodgy goods on sale at this time of year.”

***

They made no further progress, so James noted that all possible lines of enquiry had been pursued and they went home with no more thought of the geese.

Tony Maddox had offered to be the designated driver for the evening, so he and Lizzie picked up James and Robbie shortly before seven. They were heading towards an out of town pub when James’ phone rang. He answered it, listened to the caller and then hung up.

“The geese are back,” he said.

“Case closed then,” Robbie said.

“No, that makes even less sense,” James replied. “We’re not far from Carstairs’ house, do you think we could call in? I’ll go and make some sort of ‘glad to know it’s all sorted’ speech.”

They pulled up outside Carstairs house. The geese began honking as soon as they arrived, but James and Lizzie strode past them. Tony and Robbie were left in the car.

“That goose looks a bit odd,” Tony said, pointing at one of the geese, which appeared to be listing to one side.

“It does,” Robbie replied. “How many geese were there supposed to be? I can only see five.”

“There were definitely supposed to be six geese. Hmm, I don’t know about you, but having been stuck in an office all day, I could do with stretching my legs.”

“Yes, a bit of fresh air wouldn’t do me any harm either.”

They both got out of the car, and Robbie said, “Wouldn’t you expect geese to be more aggressive?”

“Yes. They remind me of myself in my younger days when drunk: all noise and no action.”

They started to walk round the side of the house. The geese honked a bit, but rapidly lost interest.

Tucked round the side, and out of sight of the main drive, was what looked like an old kennel. Robbie and Tony peered inside, to see the sixth goose, which half raised its head, before flopping back down again.

“I know you’re the ex-policeman,” Tony said, “but I’d say these geese had been drugged.”

“I agree,” Robbie replied. “You might drug the geese and steal them. But you wouldn’t bring them back and leave them in a kennel. Surely you’d just dump them at the front of the house. It sounds like an inside job.”

“But wouldn’t James have found them this morning?”

“He’d have had no reason to come round here.”

“True. And you’d be unlikely to say ‘are you sure you’ve looked everywhere?’ when it’s six geese which have apparently been stolen. So what do we do now?”

“We go and wish Carstairs the season’s greetings.”

As Carstairs opened the door to them, they heard James saying to Mrs Carstairs, “And you’re sure no-one unexpected came today?”

“No, I’d have heard if they did,” she replied.

“But you wouldn’t have done today,” Lizzie said quietly.

There was a pause, which Robbie interrupted by saying, “Mrs Carstairs, you look as if you’re dressed to go out.”

“Yes, we’re going to …” She stopped and looked thoughtful. “My emeralds. I wonder …” She turned and made for the stairs.

“Can I come with you?” Lizzie asked.

“Please do.”

While they were waiting for Lizzie and Mrs Carstairs to return, Robbie said, “Your geese don’t look too well. Do you think they were poisoned?”

Carstairs replied, a little reluctantly Robbie felt, “Oh, I suppose they might have been.”

It wasn’t long before Mrs Carstairs came back downstairs. She marched straight at her husband. “Where are they?” she asked. “What have you done with my emeralds? And don’t even try to pretend they must have been stolen today, because I won’t believe you.”

Carstairs took a step backwards. James readied himself to intervene in case Mrs Carstairs physically attacked him.

“It’s okay, inspector. I’m not going to risk damaging my nail varnish by hitting him,” Mrs Carstairs said. Turning to her husband she added, “I assume your gambling debts caught up with you again. Give me the paper and I will redeem my jewels tomorrow. But this is the last straw.”

Carstairs took a slip of paper out of his wallet and handed it over to his wife. She looked at it and nodded.

“Is there anything else we can do, madam?” James asked.

“No thank you. I can manage.” She glanced at the clock on the wall. “I have a party to get to. And when I’m asked where he is, I shall explain he was unable to come as he was packing.” Carstairs tried to remonstrate, but she continued, “I expect you, and your precious geese, to be gone before Christmas Day.”

“Good evening, Mrs Carstairs,” James said, and he followed the others back outside and into the car.

Once they were on their way again, James said, “You were right, Lizzie, it did have similarities to a Sherlock Holmes story. Only not the blue carbuncle, but Silver Blaze.”

“I’m sorry, sir, I don’t understand.”

“The curious incident of the geese in the daytime.”


Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
complexlight
28th Dec, 2016 21:06 (UTC)
This brought a smile to my face :-)
thesmallhobbit
15th Jan, 2017 20:51 (UTC)
Thank you. I'm delighted to hear it.
tetsubinatu
29th Dec, 2016 12:50 (UTC)
Thank you, Mystery Author, for this lovely little fic! Very Christmassy with some lovely little details of Robbie's retirement and a nod to The Original Great Detective! :)
thesmallhobbit
15th Jan, 2017 21:14 (UTC)
Thank you, I'm delighted you enjoyed it. I'm very pleased you liked the details I included :)
divingforstones
1st Jan, 2017 17:55 (UTC)
I really liked Robbie and Tony with their double-act bantering about getting a bit of air/ deciding to have a go at solving things themselves when they've been left in the car, I could really see the two of them like that!
thesmallhobbit
15th Jan, 2017 21:16 (UTC)
Thank you. I'm really pleased you enjoyed Robbie and Tony doing their own bit of investigating.
dawnebeth
2nd Jan, 2017 17:02 (UTC)
Quite funny!
thesmallhobbit
15th Jan, 2017 21:17 (UTC)
Thank you!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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