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The Case of the Missing Cayman

by Edmund Holmes

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"What do you make of this, Holmes?" I asked the detective working at his chemistry table.

"Something stolen, I suppose, which is reported in the paper there, Watson?"

"Yes, this newspaper story of the missing cayman: ‘A very dehydrated crocodilian was brought back home to the Regent's Park Zoo today, sixty-four days after he disappeared form his pool in the zoo's aviary building.

‘The alligator-like reptile was found yesterday afternoon with a rope around his neck, tied to a pole in a south county town park -where an anonymous tipster told authorities to look. It appeared the four-foot cayman had been there about three days, zoo officials said.'"

"Does it say the officials had a clew of who stole the cayman?" queried Holmes.

"No. Lestrade saw me in the club in Pall Mall, noticed I was reading about it and asked me to have you pursue this mystery as they have no tangible indications as to the culprits."

"As I remember reading about this amusement news, the small crocodile-like creature was a surprise discovery in the marsh of the small Mountain Lake. It disappeared in the reeds. Then it was found a fortnight later and some concerned people brought it to the zoo. A week later it was stolen right out of aquatic jungle in the glass aviary house. Its been a mystery for two months."

"Righto. The article quotes the veterinarian, ‘its condition shows that it was kept in a building for a while and mistreated. Its in a bad way, pretty weak. He had been manhandled quite a bit, poked and jabbed, its a pretty sad thing. The nine year old, broad-snouted male cayman was beaten about the body and broad snout, poked and jabbed, its scales battered, his brown and yellow eyes scratched, dagger point teeth cracked and his tongue wounded by a slash across it. The cayman was close to death when the officers brought him back to his aviary home.'"

"And they don't know how the cayman was taken out of the aviary? By whom? And why it was stolen, Watson?".

"Smudged fingerprints were found on a glass wall. But investigators don't know who or why."

"No? Then we'll have to go down there to confirm my presumption of the four young thieves who are devotees of the god Sobek, who stole the cayman for performing fertility rites upon its body in their evangelical school in the little town." He put on his frock coat and hat as I followed suit and we left for Victoria Station.

It was a clear, sunny day for our train trip from London to the South. The countryside was awash in the light, pastel colours of the new impressionist paintings originated with Turner. There was time now to ask my friend to expatiate upon his presumptions now in the train compartment en route to the town where the missing cayman was found.

"Well, I knew you were going to talk to me about something stolen, Watson, when you held that newspaper so close to your vest. It would have taken two or more people to wrestle a nearly hundred pound, four foot long reptile in a glassed-in jungle, capture it and to lift it up, thrashing and clasping its broad fang and tooth lined jaws at the thieves, who'd have to work well together to grab and drag the cumbersome crocodilian out through the aviary glass they had cut aside to break in, since there were smudges on the glass and no evidence of the doors being forced open. They'd have to have a large conveyance to contain and transport the reptile to their town.

When we alighted there and walked a ways, Holmes mentioned he noticed on the station's side wall the same serpentine markings on the church school's side wall, when he pointed out the same design again on the jerseys of the soccer players across the field. I said it was probably the team's insignia, as we walked through the green park to where we found the pole with the rope that was tied around an alligator-like neck. When he picked it up, Holmes said, "How cruel of the thieves to leave the crippled cayman out here algid and dehydrated when it needs an incalescent eighty degrees in an aquarian area to swim in. Look at this," he remarked, "a broken tooth, it's triangular too, like a reptile's."

We left the park for the constable's office, walking into the street where I followed Holmes' gaze over toward another wall of a school building, with the same green sinuous insignia we saw before, this wall had a cross and lettering exhorting readers to "Fight to the Death for the Right to Life for the Unborn!"

At the Constabulary, Holmes waited to speak to the officer-of-the-day who eventually came over to us, standing erect, as if preparing to listen to my friend's familiar questioning of police.

The smiling detective asked, "Is there a sporting club in the area with ‘cayman' or ‘crocodile' for their name? Do they have such an alligator-kind of creature for their mascot?".

"Not that I know of, Mr. Holmes," answered Officer Aikin.

"Has there been any observation here of The Jackson Street Boys? "Holmes asked. "They're a terrorizing, house break-in and store thieving, animal- mutilating gang that has been marauding up and down the coast."

"There's been no intelligence for criminal investigation of that gang in this town," was his measured reply.

"Any connection with the recent arrest of three smugglers of rare reptiles, including a Komodo Dragon, on the endangered species list, illegally brought here for their own selfish profit?"

"Don't know about them either, Mr. Holmes. Except that they were caught and the creatures are now safe in the zoo."

"That's correct, Officer Aikin. Has there ever been an enquiry, in the park neighborhood, of someone reported to have a reptilarium, a pet crocodile, or perhaps a person with an eccentric reptile fetish?"

"No, I haven't seen any records or any such reports."

"Is there a religious sect near the park that you know of?" queried the detective.

"There is that fundamentalist Christian church school by the park. They are being watched now, since the seven murders of doctors. Antiabortionists killed them for practicing medicine, operating for the human-right need of unfairly put-upon women. They are an extremist group."

"That forbids termination of fetuses and thought about the fate of the girls?" I wondered aloud.

"They may have used a few devotees to steal what is for them, a living embodiment of Sobek, the Upper Nile crocodile god of fertility, which they worship. They paint their sign on walls."

"Why would they mangle the cayman in such macabre mutilation?" I asked.

"No longer of use to them, Watson. With the police surveillance, the zealots thought it better for them to discard the crocodilian. They beat it with their crosses probably, looking at your paper's picture of the incised side wounds to its eyes, undersides, back scales and cracked teeth. They cursed the oviparous god Sobek for not protecting them from the law. Then they cruelly dragged the cayman to the park one night and left it tied to the pole by the rope we saw there, Watson."

"Like they leave our girls abandoned," interpolated Officer Aikin, "after the fundamentalists' forced pregnancy, left out of society without education or a trade, for their obsessed coercion."

"The evidence suggests there is patent hypocrisy, as well, Mr. Aikin. What they murder abortionist doctors for, they do, to a reptile. They abandoned their live fertility god talisman just like the girl they force to breed without relief of an unintended zygote they call a ‘child.' Then they disregard the real one, the girl-child mothers, and their personal, physical, human rights."

"That's true, Mr. Holmes."

"You can tell Inspector Lestrade now, Aikin, Watson, by whom, how and why the missing cayman was stolen from the zoo. Maybe you can arrest the false teachers for contributing to the delinquency of minors, putting insignia sweaters on them and having them graffitize walls, instructing them to rob from the municipal zoo, to maim and mutilate a rare animal?"

"Yes, and we can hold those zealots for questioning about the serial killers of our hero physicians, the brave doctor victims of the counterfeit religionist murderers."

We left together, with Officer Aikin carrying a box of manacles, for the local fundamentalist school, as Holmes concluded, "Let there be retribution now upon the fanatical fetus cult."

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Edmund Holmes of the London of the West, has taught English Literature and Film-making, travel driving throughout GB and the US South, entraining often through Europe. His interest in art history and archaeology has inspired master painting subject representation and historical topic photo-collages. Holmes' recent writing has been of sonnets and Sherlockian pastiches. You can email Edmund Holmes with your comments or questions. This work is copyrighted © 1999 by Edmund Holmes. My deep thanks to Edmund for allowing me to publish this work on Yoxley Old Place.

Note: This web version first appeared on 'Yoxley Old Place'

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