By indexer
96 days ago

The Case of the Missing Doughnut: a story

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I go every week to a writers' group - the Hinckley Scribblers - that meets in Hinckley Library (Leicestershire) every Friday morning. This week's challenge was to write a piece that included the line: The detective wanted his doughnut but it was missing from his desk. This is my attempt:

The island of Eastray, somewhere off the coast of somewhere else, had a population of around ten thousand generally law-abiding people, which is why its Police Station did not see a great deal of activity. Its complement of one station sergeant, two police constables and one detective constable was therefore more than enough to keep law and order on the island, and the occasional visit of an Inspector from the mainland was a welcome break from the general monotony.

On the Monday morning in question, Inspector Jarvis turned up bright and early, bearing a gift. This was a paper bag containing one doughnut for each member of the station staff.

“A little something to have with your mid-morning coffee”, he said, before turning to Detective Constable Harris to ask if there were any cases on hand that might be of interest.

“Nothing in the detecting line”, he said, “but I’m due to give a talk to the children at Coldbeck School this morning about the work of a detective”.

“Can I come along with you?” asked the Inspector. “I’d like to see how that goes.”

So the two of them set off together, after the detective had first of all taken his doughnut from the paper bag and placed it on his desk, so that he could enjoy it later.

When the two men returned to the Police Station later that morning, the rest of the station staff had already had their coffee break, so Constable Harris put the kettle on to make coffee for his guest and himself. When this was ready, the detective wanted his doughnut, but – to his surprise – it was missing from his desk.

“It looks like you’ve got a real case to solve”, said the Inspector. “After everything you told those kids this morning I’d like to see you in action. What was that about means, motive and opportunity, and gathering all the available evidence?”

So Detective Constable Harris got to work. The “means, motive and opportunity” bit was no problem at all. Nobody had visited the Police Station in their absence, so the only suspects were the three remaining staff members. All of them had plenty of opportunity, and lifting a doughnut off a desk and conveying it to one’s mouth took no more “means” than a single hand.

But what about motive? Which of them was greedy enough to steal a second doughnut on top of the one they had already had?

Constable Harris’s finger of suspicion pointed straight at Sergeant Glover, who was – to put it politely – of above-average girth. This man would surely be hard pressed to resist the temptation of an extra snack.

“Did you eat my doughnut?” the detective asked.

“Certainly not”, the sergeant replied.

“Can you prove it?”

“Yes”.

This surprised Constable Harris. “How?” he asked.

“I’m borderline for Type 2 Diabetes”, said the sergeant. “I never touch anything with all that sugar. I split my doughnut between the other two, and I certainly didn’t eat yours.”

The constables nodded at this.

Detective Constable Harris was left with no choice but to search for evidence. But what would count as evidence in a case like this? He had an idea.

“I reckon that it’s impossible to bite into a doughnut without spraying jam all over the place”, he said. I know that I never can. I will therefore search the place thoroughly for signs of red jam, and when I find it I’ll track the jam back to the culprit who sprayed it.”

“That sounds like a good plan”, said the Inspector. “Off you go”.

It did not take him long to find a red smear on the keyboard of Constable Bright’s computer.

“Gotcha!” he yelled, “Banged to rights! You owe me one doughnut!”

“I don’t think so”, said the aggrieved constable. “I had a nosebleed this morning, and that’s blood, that is.”

The Inspector was not impressed. “I thought that even you could tell the difference between blood and strawberry jam”, he said. “Or don’t they teach that sort of thing in Police College these days?”

Undaunted, Detective Constable Harris tried again. Another shout of triumph arose when he examined Constable Campbell’s desk. There was definitely something red there that could not possibly be blood.

“That looks like strawberry jam to me!” he said.

“You want to taste it?” suggested the constable.

So the detective did so. It was not strawberry jam.

“I love a dash of ketchup on my breakfast bacon butty”, Constable Campbell said. “My mum always said I was a messy eater. She was right.”

Detective Constable Harris was flummoxed. “Somebody must have taken my doughnut”, he said. “And it must have been one of you.”

“I took it”, said Sergeant Glover.

“But I asked you just now,” said the detective, “and you told me that you didn’t”.

“No”, said the sergeant. “You asked me if I ate it, which I didn’t. But I did take it, and I put it in a safe place just in case one of these other greedy bastards took a fancy to it, and here it is.”

So saying, he presented the detective with his doughnut.

“And one other thing”, said the Inspector, “when you eat your doughnut you will find that I gave everyone a custard doughnut this morning, so your search for strawberry jam was always going to be a fruitless one – literally as you might say”.

As laughter rang round the room, Sergeant Glover accidentally on purpose remembered that he had forgotten to change the wall calendar that morning and now did so – to reveal the date as April the First.

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96d
luluarte We call it bola de Berlim in Portugal 👌😍😁
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indexer @luluarte These are real doughnuts - not those ring things that Americans call "donuts". The story wouldn't work otherwise!
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soncee Yummy i like it
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indexer @soncee The story or the doughnut?
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soncee I like the story but more donughnut 😁
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