The Case of the Unfortunate Pause

Brady eyed the chocolate cake. He circled it.

He sighed.

There was always cake at Stanley Stanley’s Investigative Services. Surely, there wasn’t that many birthdays to be had.

Caldwell entered the kitchen.


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“I see you’ve found your latest victim.”

“No… I’m a reformed man. Plus, is the cake really the victim?”

“With the way I’ve seen you eat it, yes.”

Jane cleared her throat behind them.

“Hey, Jane! You need some water or something?” Caldwell asked.

Jane looked at Brady.

“Don’t look at me. He was born that way.”

“There’s been an accident involving the boss,” Jane said. “Stanley Stanley is in the hospital.”

Caldwell gasped. Jane looked at Brady again.

“That’s his soap opera addict gasp. A bit dramatic, if you ask me. Thanks for the news, Jane. Keep us posted.”

“I don’t think you understand. It wasn’t really an accident. It looks like foul play.”

“What makes you think that?”

“Well, unless the man hit himself with a bat twenty times, it seemed a rather realistic assumption.”

Stanley Stanley was in a coma so there was no use asking him questions.

His wife, Rebecca, had no clue what had happened. Stanley didn’t seem to have any concerns. In fact, he was a generally happy man.

Brady figured there were two scenarios. Either someone had clubbed the wrong man or a Stanley Stanley perp had been let out of prison.

He was wrong in both his assumptions.

And it was Caldwell who actually broke the case (sort of).

Caldwell sat at his desk patting his eyes with a tissue.

“What in the world are you crying about, you moron?”

“Just reading Stanley’s last email out to the staff. Man, he really did love the ellipsis.”

“He sure did. He was always misusing those suckers.”

“Say…”

Brady looked up at Caldwell. The gears were really working up a storm in his head. That didn’t happen much, but whenever it did, it was as brilliant as a Jay Leno show. Or as mind boggling as Bush Jr. saying something smart. You were a fool to let the thought escape.

“What is it?”

“Well, you remember the time he used an ellipsis in that woman’s will and it went to court on if she really wanted to be cremated just ‘cause of that darn punctuation? Or the time Jane thought Stanley knew who was stealing coffee from the office supply, because his answer was ‘No…’”

“That second one was a real hoot. That was back when Jane was a new face.”

“She’s only been here a year.”

“Yeah, but she’s made up the time with attitude.”

“I’m not sure I understand…”

Brady realized he may lose Caldwell’s revelation if he didn’t steer the conversation back on course.

“Well, what about ellipses?”

“Maybe he paused again in the wrong place.”

Brady frowned. “That’s ridiculous.”

Caldwell nodded and got up.

“Where are you going?” Brady asked.

“To get some of that cake. Someone’s got to get fat around here.”

“Um… I think we have that covered.”

They both glanced around the office.

“Good point, but I’m still having a slice and I’m going to eat it right here, in front of you.”

A week passed.

The released perp search turned up nothing. Nor did they have any leads on an identity mismatch.

Jane came over to Brady’s desk. She sat down on the edge and stared at him.

“What?” He asked without glancing up at her. He didn’t need the stare that came with the rest of her directness.

“I think you should consider Caldwell’s theory.”

“He told you about that?”

“No. I sit five feet away and you boys aren’t known for your soft tones.”

“And how are we going to check into that lead?”

“I know the boss’s email password. Well, I know about 60% of the passwords here.”

“You should be a spy.”

“You’re assuming I’m not.”

Brady looked at her and laughed. Jane scowled and walked away.

The phone rang at Jane’s desk. She answered.

“Oh, I see.”

Jane hung up the phone.

“Well, wonder no more. Stanley woke and he’s telling all right now.”

“Blimey!”

“Here’s hoping Caldwell was wrong. If not, I know a great Spanish soap opera he’d love on DVD.”

“Wow. The whole series. That was very thoughtful of you.”

“I’m a thoughtful guy.”

“But it’s not my birthday, so what’s going on?”

“You don’t know, do you? Seriously, do you ever watch the news?”

Caldwell blinked.

“Stanley Stanley woke up last night after you went home.”

“Wow! Really? That’s great. That man must be made of steel.”

“Well, I hear part of his arm is now.”

Caldwell laughed. “Nice one.”

“Not a joke. Anyway, you were right. The man misused an ellipsis again. Apparently, he made some woman think her husband was having an affair and it spiraled out of control.”

“So which one hit him with the bat?”

“Neither. It got so complicated, three couples were on the way to divorce. By the time it got back to Stanley, his simple answer didn’t cut it for the woman’s mother-in-law. Apparently, Mrs. Balderdash was his high school English Professor. She warned him a long time ago that his disregard for proper grammar would do him in. So she hired a professional to teach him the importance of composition.”

“Wow… Someone should tell Detective Harris that story. Maybe he’ll stop using exclamation marks all the time.”

Brady stared at his notepad, contemplating a world of structure and rules.

Caldwell patted him on the shoulder.

“Don’t pause in thought for too long. That’s what gets people in trouble.”

“And here I thought it was the lack of thought that got people in trouble.”

Caldwell shrugged. “Common misperception.”


About Kristina England

Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her writing is published or forthcoming at Crack the Spine, Extract(s), Gargoyle, The Hessler Street Fair Anthology, The Quotable, Yellow Mama, and other magazines. Find her on her blog.

>> Kristina England's author page

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