Saturday, July 8, 2017



My name is Deadbolt, Hasp Deadbolt. I'm a P.I. In my business, trouble often comes calling. This time a giant bug grabbed my elbow and jerked me around, tearing my shirt.

"Lady," I said, "violence is not necessary."

"Emergency!" She screamed. "My house is on fire, my children will burn!" She pointed. A plume of black smoke rose a few blocks away.

"Did you call the fire department?"

She nodded, urging me in the direction of the blaze and ripping my sleeve clean off.

"Then fly away home; I'll be along." I started running.


By the time I got there, the fire was out. Her children huddled around her skirts, crying. She counted frantically. "Ann, my youngest, isn’t here!"

I waded into the rubble. I started in the wreckage of her kitchen. "Here she is ma'am," I called, "under the pudding pan."

While the frantic mother was cuddling the baby, a local cop arrived. Constable Johns and I went way back. Bridget had a sharp eye, she was tough, and she owed me, since the "Boy Blue" incident.

"Good work Hasp," she said, "but why are you interfering with an arson investigation?"

"Arson!?" I exclaimed. "This just happened." If I'd been thinking a little faster I would've claimed Mrs. Ladybird was my client, but just then the lady in question turned to us.

"Arson!" She looked at me. "Hasp Deadbolt?" I nodded. "I want you to help me nail the bastard who tried to kill my babies." She turned to Constable Johns. "What do the police think?"

"Well, ma'am, I'm not at liberty..."

"Deadbolt, you're on the case. Is 100 a sufficient retainer?"


"Constable," I said, "we need to talk. Let me buy you a pastry."

"I'll fill you in," she said, taking a bite, "if you help me." There'd been a string of suspicious fires on the north side.

"We've kept quiet. We don't want copycats."

The fires were set in broad daylight; it had to be somebody who spent a lot of time in this part of town. I rubbed my chin. Old Miz Hubbard was doing time in the happy house. "This is not Georgy Porgy's style. I like Dr. Fell, but I can't say why."

Bridget nodded thoughtfully. "I can put him near two fires, maybe more."

“Let’s check his house.” I couldn't do that legally, but Bridget could. The next day we waited until the doctor left on his rounds and we went in the back door.


Not much can turn my stomach, but all I will say about what we found there is this: I do not love thee Dr. Fell.

The end

For those unfamiliar with the two nursery rhymes referred to here, these are links to versions similar to the ones I used.

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home

I do not like thee Dr. Fell

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