Time for some more spontaneous nonsense, I suppose.
(Though I may not be feeling quite punchy enough today.)
Dincton Flatt sat cross-legged on the floor of one of his empty properties, shuffling through a deck of cards and frowning.
The sound of padding on the carpet and the soft voice of his robot coyote broke his trance. “What’s wrong, sir?”
Flatt turned at the prompt and raised an eyebrow. “I’m missing some cards, Featherby.”
The coyote tilted his head. “Are you trying to say that you’re not playing with a full deck, sir?”
Flatt narrowed his eyes.
“Which cards are you missing?”
“The diamonds, of course. It’s always the diamonds…” He shoved the rest of the deck between Featherby’s jaws. “Go fetch a new deck, will you?”
“I’ll see what I can find, sir,” was the coyote’s muffled response as he trotted away.
A buzzing rumble shook Flatt’s trousers, and he reached in to fetch his mobile. “Flatt’s Flats – this is Mr. Flatt.”
A husky voice answered on the other end of the line. “It’s Watley.” Abberson Watley, one of his top agents.
“What is it, Watley? News on the Clumpsworth listing?”
“No, Flatt, I’m afraid not. There’s been a murder.”
“A murder?” Flatt shot to his feet, eyes squinting at the horizon he could not see beyond the wall in front of him. “A murder most foul, you say?”
Watley sighed. “Most foul, I fear. At the Cherry Grove property.”
“Cherry Grove? Damnation, Watley, it’s only been two days on the market!”
“It seems people are literally dying to get into your suites, Flatt.”
“Yes, well, they could do us the courtesy of popping their clogs on the way there, now, couldn’t they?” He wiped his free hand down his face. “Very well. I’ll be right over.”
Only a moment after he hung up, Flatt’s phone buzzed again. “Yes, Watley – what now?”
The voice that answered this time was not Watley’s, however, but one which heavily implied the perfection of its owner’s immaculate white suit. “Abberson Watley? Come, now, Flatt, you mistake me for someone who cares as little about his closure rate as he does his attire.”
“Cheverly,” Flatt grumbled. “I’m sure you’re looking splendid this afternoon.”
“Mm, yes, quite. I hear there’s been a murder.”
Flatt glowered at nothing, nearly crushing the phone in his hand. “If fact, there has.” His voice grew low and sharp. “Was it you?”
“Don’t be daft, Flatt. It’s unbecoming. You must understand, however, that a murder would never happen at one of my properties. No, I imagine this will not be good for business.”
“Imagine what you will, Cheverly – we’ll see how things play out.” He hung up as forcefully as modern technology would allow.
A moment or two later, he dialed Mr. Cheverly back, but only reached his answering service.
“Good,” he spoke into the recording, “is how things will play out. Because I shall solve the murder with wit and good manners and make the property worth double.” He hung up again and dropped the phone back into his pocket as Featherby returned with a much slimmer stack of cards in his maw.
“I’ve found the diamonds, sir,” he said, dropping them.
“Excellent work, Featherby. But,” he began, then continued, without stopping, “where are the others?”
The coyote’s gaze wandered the room. “I haven’t the slightest idea.”
Flatt crossed his arms and shook his head. “Oh, Featherby, why did I build you?”
“For good times, sir.”