Bucketful’s of rain smashed against Collier’s windshield. Images of pedestrians navigating the street, awash with water, appeared distorted and blurred. The thoroughfare had become busy with morning traffic. A vehicle cut him off. Though he drove at a snail’s pace, he thought it wise to pull to the curb. The ignition turned off, he sat back to wait out the deluge. Fifteen minutes passed before the downpour eased. Wafts of fresh baked bread tweaked his senses, and his nostrils flared. He peered through the passenger side window. Surprised to find himself parked in front of Emma’s Bakery, memories of childhood outings with his mother and treats offered by the late-owner perked up his mood. The shop was now run by her son. Today, especially, he needed to inhale and to partake its specialties. His stomach gurgled. The rain picked up. He plunged into the storm and entered the shop, his umbrella forgotten on the passenger seat.
Two brown paper bags, one slightly crumbled, the other neatly packed, sat on the passenger seat beside the umbrella. Collier parked his vehicle in the reserved space at the side of the police station. Drizzle had replaced the heavy rain while the sun intermittently poked between fast moving cloud cover. A stickler for being on time, he was pleasantly surprised to discover he was ten minutes early. After brushing the crumbs from his lap and the portion of the seat between his legs, he picked up the bags and scurried into the building.
“Good morning, Inspector,” Dubin said cheerily. “You’ve been to Emma’s, I see. No better place to catch a cup of sunshine on a morning like this.”
“Let me guess, sir. Custard tarts in that one and, by the look of it, you’ve already been at those,” he chortled. “Now for the other” He sniffed the air like a hunter’s hound. “Pigs in a blanket and still warm.”
“Well, Mr. Houdini, can you tell me how many of each I bought?”
“Four custards and six pigs but only two tarts remain.”
“How? Never mind. Where’s Sergeant Snowden?” he asked, still shaking his head.
“I don’t know, sir. I’ve been too busy with that riff-raff” The corporal directed his attention to Archibald Lyle who sat on the bench behind Collier.
Collier put on the sternest of appearances when he turned to face him. “Your visits are becoming too frequent, Archibald. What are you in for this time?”
“I threw a dart at a barman,” he slurred.
Collier glanced at Dubin and shook his head. “Who was the barman?”
“Jock Mahoney, Inspector.”
“Tell me, Archibald, why would you do such a thing?”
“I was trying to part his hair,” he belched out.
Collier jerked back. “Corporal,” he whispered, “remove him immediately. Finish your paperwork in the interview room a...