A Nose for Danger, part 15

While talking with the owl, I took a look around. As always, his digs were simple. The room was empty except for two cushions, with a low wooden table between them. There were no pictures on the walls. Nobody knew for sure, but I’d heard the owl came from somewhere in the Far East. Seemed like as good a guess as any.

The lack of clutter was helping me think, and now the pieces were starting to come together in my mind. If Rebecca was pointing the finger at Lulu, what did that say about Rebecca? Maybe she wasn’t as innocent as she looked. I needed to figure out a way inside her head.

“Owl, what do you think is the biggest mystery about these murders?”

He didn’t hesitate. “Who.”

I nodded. “Yeah, that’s it, the big question: Who’s our killer? Is it really Lulu, or am I being played? Something’s going on between those two sisters, and I’ve gotta find somebody with the right angle to help me dig out the truth.”

The owl seemed to think deeply before replying. For a long time he just sat upon his cushion in silence. Finally he looked at me, and uttered a single word. “Hu.”

“That’s it, of course!” I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of this angle before. “Hu, down at the crime lab. Hu owes me a favor, and is one of the few people I can rely on to keep quiet. Owl, you’re a genius.”

The owl looked please, but wisely chose silence.

“Before I go,” I asked, “is there anything else you think I should know?”

There was another silence, even longer than the one before. Then the owl spoke. “Smellephant,” he said, “as an anthropomorphic personification representing a genre archetype, you necessarily exist within a specific dialectic framework. Rebecca and her counterpart Louisa personify the antipodes of this dialectic, inasmuch as they comprise two intrinsic and complementary aspects of a single unifying principle. Your essential quest is to find the unity within these apparently antithetical forces, thereby achieving a state of clarity and balance that will serve to illuminate your very existence.”

“Yeah,” I shrugged, “I already knew that.” The owl was a smart bird, but he could say the most obvious things. Guess we all do sometimes. I got up to leave.

But it looked like the owl had one more question for me. “What do you get,” he asked, “when you cross an elephant with a rhinoceros?”

“Hell if I know.” It was time to go. I put on my trench coat, drawing it tight against the cold, pulled down the brim of my fedora, and stepped out into the night.

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