The Calhoon Case-Files #1 - The Burning Question
By Seamus Kennedy
As soon as people saw him, they could tell that he was different. He was
incredibly tall, at well over six-foot-four-inches and was extremely thin
and lanky, and this, combined with his strange, striding walk, made him
look like a stork. He was wearing blue jeans, a white shirt and hiking boots.
Over this he wore a long black coat which trailed down to his ankles. His
bright red hair was matted and twisted like a clump of briars, but was kept
in some degree of control by a big, black, wide brimmed hat. His grey eyes
were masked by a pair of small, round spectacles, which were continually
slipping down his nose. His face was covered with two day old stubble, and
he wore a vacant like a newly lobotomised man. He was the kind of man who
had a past that was murkier than a month old pot of coffee. who would look
danger straight in the eye, and then knee it in the groin. He was Kurt Calhoon,
*No one knew exactly what had happened to the German tourist. All they
could tell me was that he had walked out of the Bungee Burger restaurant
into the shopping centre and exploded, leaving nothing behind but a pair
of smoking shoes, a burnt smell and a strange stain on the ceiling. Everyone
seemed to have a different theory as to the cause of the explosion. The
police were left baffled, and the shopping centre management were left with
no choice but to come to me, Kurt Calhoon.*
"And that's all we know." The shopping centre manager finished
telling his story and leaned back into his chair which creaked in protest
of his weight. Across the desk, which was covered with a mound of documents
and newspapers with half filled in crosswords, Calhoon sat studying his
new client. He was a typical executive; dark suit, pale blue shirt and a
lump and lifeless tie. He looked like the kind of guy who drank mineral
water and played squish on the weekends. The kind of guy who was named
Carl, and had a girlfriend called Deborah, or Alicia. The kind of guy who
worried so much about getting an ulcer, that he gave himself a ulcer. Calhoon
decided to test his theory that one could tell a person's personality from
the colour of wine gum that they chose. He held out a bag to the manager.
"Can I offer you a wine gum?" Calhoon's accent was a strange blend
of Scottish and Australian. "Thank you." The manager, who Calhoon
had began to think of as being called Carl, confirmed!
Calhoon's assessment of him, by reaching for an orange wine gum. "My
fees are two hundred pounds a day plus expenses." "That's acceptable."
"Then you've just hired yourself Kurt Calhoon."
*The first thing I decided to do was to interview all the eye witnesses.
I managed to get their addresses from contact in the police force. Unfortunately,
none of them were much help...*
Calhoon knocked loudly on the door of the apartment and waited. He had
spoken to seventeen of the thirty-three witnesses, and none of them had
been of any help to him. His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the
door in front of him being unlocked. The door opened just enough to allow
an eye to peer out at him. "Yes, yes, what do you want?" "I'm
sorry to bother you sir, but I'm looking for a mister Dirk kenvatay."
"That's me, but I prefer to be called Dirk, The Almighty." "Well,
mister Almighty, I'd like to talk to you about that man who exploded in
the Thirty Pines shopping centre." "The eye narrowed in suspicion.
"Are you with the police?" "No sir, I'm a private investigator."
"That's okay then. Come in." The door opened to reveal the owner
of the eye. The man stood about five-foot-five-inches tall. His black curly
hair looked unkempt and he looked as though he hadn't shaven in a week.
He was wearing a pair of garish fluorescent coloured Bermuda shorts, and
a tee-shirt with a picture of a cartoon duck on the front. "So, what
do you want to ask me?" "I was wondering if you had seen anything
that might be helpful in my investigation. For example, did you happen to
see anyone suspicious in the shopping centre that day?" "No, I
didn't see anyone, but I know who killed the tourist." Calhoon felt
a surge of surprise, "Who?" Dirk smiled. "Pigeons!!!"
"What?" "It's true. pigeons are planning to take over the
world." Calhoon looked sceptical. "What is it that makes you think
that sir?" "I was told it by a banana." "Well, thanks
for your help sir, but I must be going." Calhoon walked out of the
apartment making a mental note to report Dirk to the Granville Asylum for
Calhoon stood on top of a ladder in the middle of the shopping centre and
scraped a sample of the soot from the black stain on the ceiling into a
small plastic bag, using a chisel. Then he put both the bag, and the chisel
into his coat pocket and climbed down the ladder. "You said he had
just left the Bungee Burger restaurant?" "Yes" replied the
manager. "Then we'd better check it out. Lead the way."
Calhoon walked into the Bungee Burger manger's office and looked around.
The room was quite large, but the only furniture was a small desk, and a
chair. The rest of the room was filled with expensive looking exercise equipment
and crates of Slim-quick weight loss milk shakes. There was also a vat of
a strange blue powder, behind the door. Calhoon thought that this was strange,
until he saw the occupant of the room. Robert Dawson, owner of the Bungee
Burger fast food chain, brought a new meaning to the word obese. Looking
more like a small hill than a man, he sat on a small wooden chair, whose
legs were buckling under his immense weight. His suit looked close to bursting,
and a layer of fat hung over the edge of his shirt collar. The man looked
as though he would have trouble getting out of his chair, let alone using
the exercise equipment in the room. "Ah, Mr. Calhoon, you wish to see
me, I believe?" Dawson spoke with an upper class British accent. "Yes,
I wanted to ask you about the man who exploded." "Yes, what a
tragedy. But what do you want to ask me?' Calhoon studied the other man's
face carefully. "I wondered if any of your staff had noticed any thing
strange about either him, or the burger he ate before he died." Dawson's
red and bloated face froze for an instant. "No, they saw nothing. And
one if you will excuse me, I have business to do. Good day, Mister Calhoon."
As Calhoon was leaving the office, he grabbed a handful of the powder from
the vat, making sure not to be seen by Dawson. Once he was out in the corridor
he put it into a small plastic bag, and put it in the pocket that contained
the bag of soot. Carl the shopping centre manager walked up to him.. "Tell
me," asked Calhoon, 'is he trying to lose weight?" "Yes.
He is so desperate, he even bought the Slim-quick company. That's where
he got all the milkshakes." "Really? Well, thanks Carl. I'll be
*I decided to send the samples of soot and the strange blue powder to my
old pal Doug Marley at Cipher Labs for analysis. It took three weeks for
the results to come back, but as soon as I got them, I knew they had been
worth the wait...*
Calhoon was doing his daily crossword when the phone rang. He did not usually
answer the phone himself, but his secretary Mindy had taken the day off
to welcome home her boyfriend Larry, a truck driver who had just got home
after delivering two tonnes of frozen pizzas to Buenos Aries. Calhoon had
to almost wade through the avalanche of paper on his desk to find the phone.
"Hello, Calhoon Investigative Agency, Kurt Calhoon speaking."
"Kurt, it's me Doug. I've got those results you wanted." "That's
great Doug. So, what did the tests say?" "Well, that mysterious
blue powder you discovered is actually sodium dionitrate. It's a chemical
that's just been developed by the Slim-Quick company. The idea is to take
some of it with your food, and it just burns away the fat in the body, but
it hasn't been tested yet." "What about the soot?" asked
Calhoon. "It's actually the remains of that poor tourist. but there
also seems to be some traces of sodium dionitrate mixed in with it."
Calhoon's brain spun into overdrive as all the pieces of the puzzle slotted
together. "Thanks for all the help Doug, but I've got to go. I've got
a killer to catch."
Calhoon burst into Carl's office and skidded to a halt in the middle of
the room. "Carl, good news. I've found your killer." Carl looked
surprised. "What? Who is it?" "There's no time for explanations
now, come on." Calhoon raced through the shopping centre towards the
Bungee Burger restaurant, faster than a grey hound on steroids, followed
by Carl. They ran through the dining area and into the office behind the
.kitchens. Calhoon kicked open the door to Robert Dawson's office and strode
in. Carl stood in the doorway with a confused puppy dog look on his face.
"It's over Dawson. I know the whole story. how, desperate to lose weight,
you bought the Slim-quick company in the hope of using their new chemical
to help you. But you didn't know if it was safe, so you put some on that
man's burger. You killed him Dawson, and now I'm taking you in." Dawson
smiled. "You're right when you say I killed him, but you're wrong when
you say you're taking me in." From his desk drawer Dawson pulled out
a vial of blue powder which Calhoon recognised as sodium dionitrate. Then,
he threw back his head and gulped down the powder. At first, nothing happened,
but then, Dawson seemed to expand and suddenly exploded with a large bang,
seeming burning internal organs flying through the air. Calhoon threw himself
backwards, knocking Carl out into the corridor, as Dawson's flaming spleen
flew straight towards him. Calhoon felt the tongues of orange flame lick
at his face, and then he hit the floor, and the world went black.
When Calhoon woke up in a hospital room, he felt a strange numbness just
above his eyes. a quick glance in a mirror beside his bed told him that
his eyebrows had been burned clean off by the explosion. But he didn't care.
he had never liked them anyway. The door creaked open and Carl walked in.
"Mister Calhoon, I'd like to thank you. You caught a murderer and saved
my life. If you hadn't thrown me out that door, I'd have been toast."
Calhoon smiled. "No need to thank me Carl. That was just an ordinary
day in the life of Kurt Calhoon, private eye."
"The Calhoon Case-Files #1 - The Burning Question" belongs purely
to Seamus Kennedy © 1997.
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