Dincton Flatt and the Crime Scene Place

Time for some more nonsense?


 

Is a crimes

 

Dincton Flatt strode handsomely through the quaint French doors of 29 Cherry Grove Street, his robot coyote trotting alongside him.  He adjusted his collar and surveyed the scene, expression insisting on his own importance.

“Heaven’s grace, Flatt!” blurted Abberson Watley, one of his top agents.  “It’s been three hours – where on Earth were you?”

“He felt the need to take a detour for a spot of chair shopping,” Featherby offered.

Flatt raised an eyebrow at his coyote.  “A man must see to the needs of his posterior, you’ll agree.”

“Mr. Flatt, I’m glad you could join us at last,” a familiar voice floated in from another room.

Flatt nodded in greeting as the other approached.  “Constable Billiardsman.  What precisely are we looking at?”  Jeborah Billiardsman was one of the more competent officers he had worked with, but his attire sported a preposterous amount of buttons.

“It’s Detective Inspector, Mr. Flatt, as I’ve told you many times.”  He gestured toward the middle-aged woman who lay motionless in the center of the sitting room.  “Hiddia Ribbenstern, forty-three years of age, found at 10:30 this morning with her body cut off.”

“Her entire body?”  Flatt grimaced, eyes sweeping over the woman’s corpse.

“I’m afraid so.”

Flatt shook his head.  “Savages.”  He knelt over the body.  “Do we have any leads?”

“None yet,” Watley sighed.  “Who would commit such a heinous act in such a well-kept and well-priced little chalet?  To so wantonly devalue it is the real crime, if you ask me.  Have you seen the kitchen?  Real marble tops and new, stainless steel appliances.  Solid maple floors throughout.  And such a short distance from the station.”

These last comments were directed toward Billiardsman, who held up a hand.  “I’m not here to house-hunt, Mr. Watley.  Merely to investigate a murder.”

“Yes.  Yes, of course…”

“And on the topic of said murder: how much do you know about the owners, Mr. Flatt?  Why are they selling?  Any financial difficulties?”

“The Hollyrakers?  I don’t believe so.  She’s expecting, and they purchased a larger property last month.”

“One represented by Flatt’s Flats, of course,” Watley added.

“Naturally.”  Flatt smiled at his reflection in the metal clasps of the deceased’s handbag, running a hand over his short, impossibly blond hair.  “No, I doubt they were involved in this.  Perhaps the culprit was incensed by the victim’s fashion.”  He stood up, gesturing to the bowler that lay askew on the floor, a half meter from the woman’s head.  “That bag with that cap?  No, madame, I fear not.”

“I hardly think–” Billiardsman began.

“Did anyone notice her mobile?” Featherby chimed in.  He had been nosing around the woman’s body, and was fishing the device out from under her frame with a paw.

Watley retrieved the phone and looked through it.  His eyes widened.  “My god!”

Flatt stepped over.  “Watley?”  Watley showed him the screen.  Ms. Ribbenstern had written a note to herself, and Flatt read it aloud for the officer’s sake: “I am not wearing a hat today.”

Billiardsman blinked.  “No hat?  You’re certain?  Then, that means…”

“That our killer must be some–some sort of hatleaver.”  Flatt frowned.  “Watley – call Ms. Franklin and have her cancel my dentist appointment for this afternoon.”

“You do not have a dentist appointment today, sir,” reminded Featherby.

“Ah, yes.  Watley – call Ms. Franklin and have her schedule an appointment with Dr. Clamb for 5:00.”

Watley’s features contorted.  “But, Flatt, we–”

“And then have her cancel it.”

Watley was silent a moment before asking,  “Whyever for?”

“We haven’t the time to indulge in the luxuries of oral hygiene, Watley; we have a murder to solve.”  Flatt turned to Billiardsman, who had scooped up the cap and was turning it over studiously.  “Have that checked for hair and prints, Constable.  Meanwhile, we’ll start looking for anyone who appears to have recently parted ways with a hat.  And committed homicide.”

“Detective Inspector,” the officer sighed.  “And I assure you, Mr. Flatt, that the CID is quite capable of handling this investigation.  You are merely here as a courtesy and character witness–”

“Nonsense, my good man.”  Flatt clapped him on the shoulder.  “I’ll have this dastardly hatleaver brought in forthwith.  And this property will sell in no time at all.”  He turned and beckoned to Watley and Featherby.  “Come, gentlemen; let us get to work.”

“Mr. Flatt, that isn’t how–” Billiardsman was calling after him, but Flatt stopped listening.  He was too busy playing at a bicuspid with the tip of his tongue.  Alas, there were signs of a chip.

“Watley – ring Ms. Franklin, if you would  I think I’ll keep that appointment after all.”


 

Bene scribete.

Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den

A police cop

“Police police police police police police police.”
– Police

 

Oh, homonyms and homophones.  They let us construct statements such as the above (which, while a ridiculous thing to say, is a perfectly valid English sentence that could be rephrased as “Cops that are regulated by other officers regulate cops that are also regulated by other officers.”).  If you want some extra-specific vocabulary, the noun ‘police’ and the verb ‘police’ are polysemes.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find something inherently humorous about legitimately using the same word (and to a lesser extent, letter) too many times in a row.  You can almost feel the language glaring hatefully at you, like a cop (that may or may not be regulated by other cops) watching a criminal get away on a technicality.

One popular example used to demonstrate the importance of punctuation goes something like “John while I had had had had had had had had had had had proper grammatical structure.”  When we add some orthographic organization, this string of madness actually makes sense – “John, while I had had ‘had’, had had ‘had had’; ‘had had’ had had proper grammatical structure.”

Perhaps the craziest exercise in homophony, however, is the Chinese ‘poem’/riddle by linguist Yuen Ren Chao entitled 施氏食獅史 (usually called “Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den” in English).

In its written form, it’s understandable enough (if you know Chinese, anyway):

石室詩士施氏,嗜獅,誓食十獅。
氏時時適市視獅。
十時,適十獅適市。
是時,適施氏適市。
氏視是十獅,恃矢勢,使是十獅逝世。
氏拾是十獅屍,適石室。
石室濕,氏使侍拭石室。
石室拭,氏始試食是十獅。
食時,始識是十獅屍,實十石獅屍。
試釋是事。

 

It translates to something like:

In a stone den was a poet called Shi, who was a lion addict, and had resolved to eat ten lions.
He often went to the market to look for lions.
At ten o’clock, ten lions had just arrived at the market.
At that time, Shi had just arrived at the market.
He saw those ten lions, and using his trusty arrows, caused the ten lions to die.
He brought the corpses of the ten lions to the stone den.
The stone den was damp. He asked his servants to wipe it.
After the stone den was wiped, he tried to eat those ten lions.
When he ate, he realized that these ten lions were in fact ten stone lion corpses.
Try to explain this matter.

 

But, when read aloud in (or transliterated from) Mandarin, it becomes practically incomprehensible:

Shíshì shīshì Shī Shì, shì shī, shì shí shí shī.
Shì shíshí shì shì shì shī.
Shí shí, shì shí shī shì shì.
Shì shí, shì Shī Shì shì shì.
Shì shì shì shí shī, shì shǐ shì, shǐ shì shí shī shìshì.
Shì shí shì shí shī shī, shì shíshì.
Shíshì shī, Shì shǐ shì shì shíshì.
Shíshì shì, Shì shǐ shì shí shì shí shī.
Shí shí, shǐ shí shì shí shī shī, shí shí shí shī shī.
Shì shì shì shì.

 

It’s not perfectly homophonic because of tonal distinctions, but still.  (>^-‘)>  There’s a bit more variation when spoken in the other dialects that use the Chinese ideography (like Cantonese or Taiwanese), but either way, it’s really only followable in writing.

 

Languages are generally engineered to be as clear as possible, and where they fall short of that goal is something a writer should keep in mind – plus, abusing those problem areas can produce some entertaining results!

 

Bene scribete.