The last suspect on my list was the glorious Mrs. Vegas, but I decided to let things slide because: a) I found my real Sobekneferu-queen, b) my job as a private investigator was done, and c) I had to rush back to secure my money.
I went to inspect the stone mentioned by Arcadio because I promised myself to check each clue before announcing the final truth. Suddenly, I got an overwhelming desire to jump into the sea, to wash away all my troubles, to feel ‘simply Harmless’ again — here, in this moment, in my beautiful city Rsa. The scorching sun beckoned me to unknown distances, the sea breeze promised to take me to the land of my fantasies, the vast wings of the bird hid the light of the magical Atlantis, surprising my meditational state of mind. In silence, the Zen-bird sat on my shoulder, clawing its oversized beak into my tender flesh. I cried, falling on the sand like an infant.
When I opened my eyes, the first thing I noticed was the perfect legs of Mrs. Vegas. I bounced up frantically, dusting off my suit. My gaze fell on the bizarre pink pollen that the bird had left on my arm.
“What a fool I was!” I wiped my forehead, heading towards the terrace, but Mrs. Vegas blocked the path. To strengthen her dominant position, the fifth lady placed one leg on the edge of my shoulder while her other leg reminded in a standing position. She kept looking at me with fiery, longing eyes. I knew I had to go through her intense wilderness with fierce demon-like noise if I wanted to get back to the terrace on time.
“I was hoping we might chat for a few minutes. In my bedchamber.”
I checked my watch and answered, “What for? I know I ought to be over-excited, as a previous time, but you see, darling, all I can think of is the crime, the money, and the Royal life in Gunung Kinabalu with my real Sobekneferu.”
Mrs. Vegas snorted, then kicked me, declaring, “A word of advice for the future. If you are planning to survive in the Vegas world, you’d better make damned sure you are a friend of the noblest and the most generous part of this family.”
I had no time to share my views on the matter or defend myself, but I felt how the local temperature dropped, at least ten degrees cooler than before. I rushed out to the gates, bowing my head in despair. There I asked a chauffeur in the white uniform to go back to my apartment and bring a photo of Margaret Thatcher from an antique bedside table. Satisfied, I walked back to the beach house.
It was a warm, unusually bright evening. The terrace outside was crowded, tables crammed closely in three rows. The middle section was free, with a gold podium. In the distance, I detected the staggering silhouette of my boss, Mr. Killing. I stopped in the doorway, looking at the relaxed Arcadio Hardstone, who was reading a financial magazine.
“Interested in the latest market stock, Mr. Hardstone?” I asked him with a deadly smile, only to tease the ugliest animal I’d ever seen, his armadillo Jack.
The animal raised his fuzzy head, every hair on his back prepared for mortal combat. Noticing that maneuver, I retired into the shadow of the chilly sunless hall.
In the middle row of the terrace, between the tables filled with endless chewing and a cacophony of glasses, sat glamorous Magdalena, enjoying the touch of Mr. Vegas’ fingers. She was wearing a transparent bikini. The memories of our last meeting at the beach were still vivid in my mind. I sighed.
“Hey, Vodou Investigator! Are you hiding? Am I right and you know who did it?” Mr. Vegas laughed.
“Your bird is the murderer. Your future wife is a cheater. Your son is a wanker. And your friend, aka pathologist, aka banker is a thief.” I muttered from the darkness.
“Only four phrases, and yet such a world they contain,” added someone behind my back. I turned, watching how four guards rolled in ‘something’ that turned out to be the Mayor of our city. He had a round Irish face, creased in a jovial grin that stayed in place regardless of the conversation topic. Each of his guards carried four guns. They looked like men who’d kill quickly, accurately, and passionately. I have never seen Mr. Domination below the belt, and now I understood why. Our Mayor was chained to a shapeless wheelchair with the help of countless blue pipes. How this ancient man could win over twenty-five other, relatively young and healthy candidates to become the Mayor of Rsa was beyond my understanding…
While I tried to figure out my future strategy for delivering the news about the murderer, Miss Magdalena lurched and unceremoniously sat down near the Mayor’s knees, dropping her blonde curly head on the blanket that covered his legs. A creep of excitement snuck onto the terrace. At that moment, a chauffeur pushed me out from the shadows, shoving a photo of Margaret into my pocket.
“Please, forgive Mr. Chopper; he is mute and dumb,” explained Mr. Vegas.
I envied Mr. Chopper because, unlike me, he did not have to answer to the mighty of this world, working off the money that I may never see. I briskly jumped out into the middle of the podium, holding up a photograph of Margaret Thatcher above my head. The photo was topped with pink marks.
“Here is the proof!” I yelped.
“Closer to the point,” Mr. Domination said calmly, narrowing his eyes.
“I would like to express my gratitude to Zen, the bird of our generous host Mr. Flamingo Vegas, as it reminded me that when I placed a bag of money, hm, I meant payment, under the bed, I noticed pink pollen. A short note: I’m highly allergic to any kind of pollen and, in fact, animal hair.” I paused, hatefully staring at armadillo Jack. “Then I saw the same dust at the crime scene and on my new suit — the remains of our precious katydid. Let me explain how it all happened…” The heart-stopping fear couldn’t block my heroic speech.
I openly told to the shocked crowd of high-class beasts how Zen-bird ate a poor katydid, how lewd Magdalena met immoral Arcadio under the stairs, how the bored son of Mr. Vegas filmed them, how I left the room of salacious Mrs. Vegas around 4 am, how each of us tramped on the body of the rare pink creature, unaware of the previous murder, how Arcadio hid diamonds, and at the end, about the evil lies of Mr. Domination to the lovely princess of Gunung Kinabalu. I also mentioned the kidnapping act, performed by Mr. Vegas, who probably tried to help his friend.
“I expected a different verdict from your investigator, Flamingo. Such a waste of time!” Mr. Domination frowned, increasing the cold temperature outside.
Mr. Vegas nervously grabbed me by the collar: “Is it your final word, Hammer?”
His son gripped a bucket of exotic fruits and threw it over Magdalena. Mrs. Vegas stretched her body to stop him but was hauled back by the guards. Mr. Domination was in control of himself amid the chaos. With a royal gesture, he peeled off his warm blanket and hissed to Mr. Killing: “Grab my rifle!” but Mr. Arcadio Hardstone was more alert and agile.
Frozen panic streamed from the sickening air into my nostrils, infiltrating my bloodstream. Without being able to move, I somehow pulled myself closer to the stairs, clutching the hand of stunned Miss Amblycorypha Oblongifolia, who was hiding there and galloped out of the beach house to the car.
I could hear the sound of the bullets above my head.
I could see the swing of the ax and the marks on the doors.
One glimpse back was all I needed — I increased my speed.
Inside the red jaguar of Flamingo Vegas, I crouched down as low as my stiff body would allow, praying to get out from this insane situation alive. The legs of Miss Amblycorypha Oblongifolia were fully connected to the wheels of the car, but despite that, her left hand went down without any warning and grasped the mysterious object which was climbing out of my trousers.
“Please, not now,” I groaned.
“Our Kingdom is so fortunate! You are going to be an amazing husband,” the woman smiled, watching the wrestling match I had with my zipper.
NEXT CHAPTER – Day 7: A Never-Ending Race