WHEN DETECTIVE RYAN IS CALLED TO A MURDER SCENE, HE IS ABLE TO QUICKLY SOLVE THE CRIME DUE TO HIS KNOWLEDGE OF HAIRPIECES AND TOUPEES.
It was just after two in the morning when my cell phone beeped me awake. I reached across the voluptuous mountain range of the brunette beauty next to me, grabbing the phone before she could fully wake. “Where do I meet you, Van Pelt?” I whispered as I gathered my clothes and crept into the hallway, shooting one last quick glance at my bedmate, whose name may not have been firmly planted in my memory but whose entertaining tricks with a bungee cord certainly were. The sergeant gave me the address, and in two minutes I was hailing a taxi, the cold autumn wind pummeling my head and making me wish I’d brought a hat.
“Here’s the set-up, Ryan,” Van Pelt said as I walked into the luxurious penthouse apartment and was shown to a sumptuously appointed bedroom, complete with corpse on the floor and a sobbing beauty in an armchair. “Victim is Reggie Carstairs. Well-off character. Not hurting for dough.”
“Tell me something that will surprise me, Van Pelt,” I said, one eye on the weepy redhead, whose clothing accented her well-placed curves in a way that was clearly pleasing to the officer hovering attentively near her.
“THIS is the body we’re concerned with, Ryan,” Van Pelt said, forcing my eyes to the dead man on the floor. He was fortyish, on the tall side, wearing an expensive suit. His bald head was ringed by a row of darkish brown hair, much of which was still sticky with blood from the large wound to the back of his head. Looking closely, I could see some adhesive tape residue on top of his head; judging by my quick glance, it looked like he had a hard time positioning his hairpiece in the same place, as there was tape residue in quite a few different places – some of it not fresh.
“Miss Jones over there –” Van Pelt gestured at the redhead – “discovered the body at 1:35. She’s a – ahem – ‘masseuse,’ you see, and Carstairs was a steady client. Steady to the tune of 5 nights a week.”
“Muscles must’ve ached him something terrible,” I commented.
“We’re figuring he couldn’t have been dead long, judging by the freshness of the blood and all. Maybe 20 minutes before she got here. Which is kinda strange.”
“The doorman says he saw Carstairs leave the building at 1:30 – five minutes before Jonesy got here and when he shoulda already been dead.”
“Cripes,” I said. “Why don’t these corpses ever make it easy on a guy? Doorman see anyone else?”
“Not since he got on at midnight. ’S been a quiet night, nobody else coming or going.”
“Doorman’s sure it was Carstairs, huh?” Van Pelt nodded.
I looked around the room. Victim’s toupee was on a mannequin head on the dresser. Beautiful piece of work, an exquisite auburn, definitely expensive, but it also was clearly very well cared for. Carstairs obviously knew that properly maintaining a toupee takes time.
“Look, he even has a spare mannequin head,” Van Pelt observed. “In case the other gets broken, I guess.”
His immense closets were filled with the best clothes, of course. He had one bureau devoted to nothing but silk boxers.
“What I wouldn’t do with that money,” I muttered, moving on to a bathroom that was the size of my bedroom. In the medicine cabinet, he had five kinds of imported toothpaste and several boxes of floss, with “Specially for Reginald Carstairs” embossed on each. He also had one row almost filled with bottles of liquid hair adhesives, and another row almost filled with adhesive removers. There was another row almost filled with hair care products designed specifically for high end toupee wearers.
Almost filled. But not quite.
“Van Pelt, did the doorman say if Carstairs was carrying a satchel when he left?”
“A briefcase, yeah.”
“Get word out to be on the lookout for anyone named Carstairs trying to leave the country – and he may be using his brother’s name.”
“Brother?” Van Pelt asked.
“Yes, brother – as in, the man that Reggie Carstairs killed and left in his apartment tonight.”
How did the Bald Detective know the dead man was not Reggie Carstairs? Think about it.
Give up? See below for the Solution
When he examined the body, Ryan noticed signs of tape adhesive residue all over the dead man’s scalp. Yet there was no sign of tape adhesive in the apartment; instead, the medicine cabinet contained an abundance of liquid adhesives. There also was plenty of adhesive remover, yet the state of the victim’s pate indicated that he was not very attentive to removing adhesive from his scalp. Since the victim bore enough of a resemblance to Carstairs to fool Miss Jones, Ryan deduced that the victim was probably a relative, most likely a brother.
Ryan deduced that Carstairs had, perhaps in a rage, accidentally killed his brother. He knew he had to flee, but he also knew Miss Jones would arrive any moment. He figured his brother’s rather shabby toupee would be a giveaway, so he tore it off, hid it in his satchel along with a few precious bottles of toupee-related products and tried to leave the country. Because he was wearing his own hairpiece, one of his mannequins was left behind, hairless.
Having solved things quickly, Ryan sped back to his home, where he was delighted to find the brunette awake and playfully swinging her bungee cord in greeting.