Detective Bryant sat back in his chair tapping a pencil on his desk.
His partner, Detective Adason walked by in her sensible shoes and stopped. She studied him and tucked a strand of her bobbed hair behind her ear. “You have a look of bafflement on your face.”
“I received the strangest call from a frantic mom. Her twenty-one-year-son is missing something rather…strange.”
Adason sat on the edge of Bryant’s desk. “Tell me more.”
“It’s rather odd because he had an abundance of the item before, Mom assured me.”
Minutes later, the two partners headed out to investigate.
The next day, Adason dropped a paper on Bryant’s desk, covering up a coffee-cup ring. “Got another victim for you. Same weird stolen object.”
“You’re kidding.” Bryant slid his hand down his cheap striped tie, but it was practical, for his work often required that he get dirty. He didn’t want to waste the money on a good tie that had a high chance of getting ruined on the job. “The missing item is something quite valuable, but it’s unexpected that someone would actually steal such a thing.”
Adason smirked. Surprise zinged through Bryant seeing how the grin put a sparkle in Adason’s eyes, making the brown depths all the more attractive. He shifted in his chair.
“Let’s head out, Adason.”
She nodded, and they left the station. By the end of the week, they had three more similar victims.
Bryant spread his notes out on the old surface of his desk. Adason scanned the papers. She pointed to something on one of the papers then dragged her finger to the next paper and nodded.
Bryant leaned back as his chair creaked and stretched his arms up. He rolled his neck. “What is it?”
“I’m just looking at the interviews again. All the vics’ family members said their loved ones went to the city on Friday nights.”
Bryant leaned forward. “Yes, but the vics all said they did a lot of normal stuff in the city on those Friday nights. Nothing panned out, remember?”
She crossed her legs and dusted off the knees of her comfortable navy blue slacks. “I still think it’s the key.”
“Okay. Let’s go over this again.”
They combed the notes until the room grew dim with dusky gray light. Bryant’s phone buzzed. “Hello, Detective Brant…”
He hung up.
“What is it?” Adason asked.
“Our first victim went to a beekeeper to buy fresh honey.”
“His mother told me he’s quite allergic to bees. He could have gone to the grocery store to buy his honey.”
Adason shook her head. “His symptoms are getting worse.”
The next day, they got calls from frantic family members saying one of their loved ones dumped his beloved fiancé for the ex-girlfriend he despised. Another walked into a bank and played a practical joke, holding a plastic gun to a woman and asked for her money then laughed. He kept swearing on the way to jail that it had only been a joke. A fourth was a diabetic who skipped breakfast then had a chocolate bar for lunch, and the fifth bad-mouthed her boss after working so hard for her recent promotion. The families begged the detectives to find their missing very precious objects before it was too late, and someone died. Things were escalating and heading in that direction.
Adason sighed and dropped down into the chair across from Bryant. “Okay, let’s see. We’ve narrowed down the Friday night place to two common places our victims frequented: An ethnic grocery store known far and wide for its wonderful food—one can understand why that place would draw such disparate people there, and a small club that often features magic acts.”
Bryant blew air over is lip. “I don’t think it’s the store. There’s nothing strange there.”
“I agree. Let’s go back to the magic club.”
Two hours later, the detectives walked into the small club through the black front door and took seats at a small round table in the back of the room. Only a smattering of people were there this early, sipping sodas or cocktails.
Bryant and Adason looked across the cozy room to the stage. Red velvet curtains that parted in the middle remained closed. Gold tasseled ropes hung from them.
“It smells like mold in here,” Bryant noted.
Adason glanced around at the yellowed, antique wallpaper. “Old place.”
They ordered sodas and asked the middle-aged waiter to retrieve the manager of the club. Five minutes disappeared into the past before the detectives held a soda and faced a corpulent manager sporting an old-fashioned handlebar mustache.
“How can I help you, detectives?” He rested his hands on his belly, over his white button-up shirt.
Adason and Bryant explained their business.
The manager squinted and scratched his greasy hair. “Hm. Well, we did have an incident at one of our shows, around the timeframe you had indicated.”
Adason took a sip of her sweet soda. “This is good. I like the added vanilla flavoring.”
The manager tipped forward in a mock bow. “Many people come here for our exceptional drinks.”
Bryant offered a soft chuckle.
“Anyway,” the manager continued, “on the night in question, I would bet all five of your victims had been patronizing my club. It was a strangely slow night, probably due to the bad weather keeping many people away. There were only about five people here, and they all fit your descriptions.”
Adason twirled her skinny straw around her tall narrow glass. “Go on.”
“Our normal magician, Mr. Magic, he goes by—”
That earned a scoffy-chuckle from both detectives. Bryant swirled his glass, clinking the ice cubes against its surface.
“Well,” the manager said, smiling, “he started his show by waving a magic wand over his audience. He told them he was going to hypnotize them, so they’d all have good luck. He’d impress the idea into their subconscious minds, and they’d have great weeks, maybe even win the lottery!”
Bryant took a sip of his bubbly soda. “The opposite happened.”
The manager nodded. “Mr. Magic’s lovely blonde assistance rushed onto the stage, anxious, saying that he needed to come with her right away. His sister was in town, and she meant to have a word or two with him about his magic choices at her child’s birthday party. Mr. Magic’s face turned red with anger, and he shoved his pointed finger in her face. ‘What’s wrong with her, with you, interrupting me during a show? Why have you both lost your common sense?’ he roared. His assistant ran off the stage in tears. Frustrated, Mr. Magic excused himself and exited the stage. I then noticed that his audience was staring ahead in a trance. I snapped my fingers, and they seemed to wake up. I went to find Mr. Magic and couldn’t. When I returned to the main room, the five people were gone.”
Adason and Bryant stared, open-mouthed.
“Case solved,” Adason said.
“We’ve got to get each of the victims back here, so Mr. Magic can put them back in a trance and return their very precious missing object: common sense.”