The Crime Studio
that I have.’
    ‘There aint nuthin’ to be proud of, you bigot! God al mighty !’
    Now he sat in the Nimble Maniac on Breed Street , the inside of his head roiling like a lava lamp. What about hippos - was it possible that their teeth were simply stubs of chalk? If tortoises lived so long, why didn’t they learn to speak up? Do trout cry? Blince shook his head grimly. There was still so much he didn’t know.
    As he bit into the next sandwich, Benny the trooper entered the eatery. ‘Been a prod in the right direction on Pill Street , Chief.’
    ‘Stabbing? Get a man to the scene Benny - tell him to hover gaping like a paddlefish till we get there. This pastrami’s dynamite.’
    On arriving at the premises they detected a guy who was bristling with knives and strung by the legs from a ceiling pipe. The kitchen floor was an action painting of bodily fluids.
    Blince gestured with a cigar. ‘This is the most gruesome offence I’ve seen since we got out of the car, Benny,’ he rumbled, and shoved the stiff into a slow spin. The effect was impressive. ‘Get a loada that.’
    As the cop photographer finished up, Blince expressed his regret that he hadn’t a sea rod to pose with. He was still laughing when a kid wandered in.
    ‘Pizza boy.’
    ‘Who let this kid in here?’
    ‘It’s a kid with a pizza, Chief,’ said Benny with mirth and patience. ‘A pizza boy .’
    ‘I’ll be the judge of that, Benny.’ Blince swiped the pizza from the startled kid, ate a piece and spat. ‘This pizza’s been thinned with turpentine! That how he liked it?’ Blince gestured sharply at the cadaver.
    The kid gaped and swallowed, speechless. Blince drew himself to his full height, and pushed the door firmly closed. He approached the kid like a Goya giant, blocking out the light.
    ‘What’s in the sportsbag, kid - a Parabellum? Cover me, Benny ... Well, get this. Kid’s walkin’ round with a jar of maraschino cherries.’
    ‘Tell me you’re kidding.’
    ‘Guess you got some explaining to do, pizza boy.’
    ‘Well aint that sweet. Kid returns to the scene of the crime with a cherry jar and an attitude of respect.’ Blince let out a sigh which resembled the wheezing of stomach gas from the recently dead.
    ‘Looky here Chief,’ said Benny, at the stove. ‘Fresh char over the burners. Oven’s cool. Guess that rules out a pizza.’
    ‘Hold your horses, Benny. This here pizza’s as warm as a baby’s backside - no reason to think the first was any cooler. The guy didn’t reheat a thing. And those scorchmarks resemble blast-burns from a Mac-10.’
    ‘Well now Chief, a Macky’s pretty accurate.’
    ‘Not with a kid at the helm, Benny - in a state of panic. You believe gun nuts braggin’ they take the head off a termite at twenty yards?’
    ‘Better not say that to the boys at ballistics, Chief.’
    ‘The boys at ballistics can bite my ass. Don’t I enter the lab to find I’m welcome as an adder on a narrow ledge? All cos I caught ’em namin’ rats in the basement. Every one of ’em’s a fairy in ballistics.’
    ‘Coulda been suicide, Chief.’
    ‘If he’d fixed the pizza himself I’d agree with you Benny, but as it is he hadn’t a motive.’ Blince reminded him of the Beerlight rules for Russian Roulette. A group of people sit around a table on which rests a fully loaded gun. The first one to pick it up and shoot himself is the Russian. ‘What I think today, Benny , New Guinea thinks tomorrow. New Guinea , you hear? So just consider that next time you feel the urge to hammer at the portico of my intellect.’
    Benny sniggered silently, turning puce. ‘You’ll be the death of me, Chief,’ he gasped.
    ‘What’s your name, pizza boy?’
    ‘Timmy Bedlam, sir.’
    ‘Timmy Bedlam he says. How old are you Timmy?’
    ‘Twelve, sir.’
    ‘Twelve, no less. How long you been in the pizza trade?’
    ‘A week, sir.’
    ‘And this is your second delivery to this address isn’t it Timmy.’

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