Ameliaisabird - Summer challenge
The Bergamot Robbery
CHAPTER
1
Part One - The Cliffhanger
Mr. Arnold was a straightforward, down-to-earth sort of character, despite being a good looking young man in his early sixteenth year. Even so, he did have a grinning, slightly flirtatious sense of humor that he carried with him everywhere, even his detective studies. Mr. Arnold happened to have a small career, or hobby, as Mr. Potter put it, in investigating confusing or tight situations that were brought to him by troubled neighbors or other citizens of the area in which Mr. Arnold lived.
Despite having a reputation of a helpful person among those who have crossed paths with him, he was not known by many, therefore not having many mysteries to unravel and also not very much of a pay coming from his hobby. While he wasn’t investigating, Mr. Arnold had a job working at the nearest convenience store, which is where he was now on this foggy Friday afternoon.
Today wasn’t a big day for sales at Eugene’s, the convenience store where Mr. Arnold worked. In fact, they had had almost no customers at all, save a few lackluster old women who came into the store for a couple minutes, then left empty handed. It truly was the most boorish and depressing day Mr. Arnold had seen.
At this very moment, Mr. Arnold had his head bent lazily on top of the counter. His eyes were closed, but he was not sleeping, which is why he heard the quiet tingle of bells as the door to Eugene’s was pushed open.
The man who entered was unlike many of Mr. Arnold’s usual customers. He wore a sharply tailored blue suit. It was the color of midnight, as some might put it. The color that was so close to black, but still a blue, a very deep, deep blue. This man had his hair combed back fancily, and his black shoes clipped on the dusty floor with prestige.
He had a very precise and professional aura about him and even though Mr. Arnold did not look up until the man was right in front of him, he could still feel it as the man looked sharply into his eyes.
“Mr. J. Arnold,” he began slowly. He had a slight French accent that tinged his words and made him even more intimidating. “I was informed that you work as a detective, am I right?”
Mr. Arnold perked up right away. “Yes, sir! I do. Is there anything you need?” He said, self consciously straightening his simple button up shirt.
“Yes. I most definitely do need something. You see, I have a good friend who runs an apothecary shop a couple blocks away. She sells many varieties of herbs and plants. One of her favorite, and one that is the favorite of many customers, is the Bergamot, Mr. Arnold. Mr. Arnold, do you know what Bergamot is?”
“Yes, sir. Definitely.”
“Well, an unfortunate event happened just the other day.”
Mr. Arnold took out a notepad from beneath the counter. “Uh, what day, sir?” He asked.
“Wednesday, if I remember correctly.” Mr. Arnold quickly scribbled that information down. “There was a robbery.”
Mr. Arnold looked up. “A robbery, sir?”
“Yes, Mr. Arnold, a robbery. Of her bergamot.”
“How much was stolen?”
“All of it.”
Mr. Arnold shook his head and muttered, “All of it...” As he wrote down the news.
“Anything else, sir?” He asked.
The man ignored his question and narrowed his eyes skeptically at Mr. Arnold. “Now, Mr. Arnold, I am a man of many duties and cannot afford to have my time wasted. I have no more details to give you besides how devastating this is for someone to lose all of the very thing that their business is known for. I came to you with hopes of help and expect you to figure out all other information about the robbery and report back to me.” He handed him a business card with his name on it. Alfred Rogers.
“Here is my telephone number and adress. Contact me any way you see fit. Afterwards, I will handle looking for the criminals myself. I am hoping to see your detective skills put to work, though. I also expect this to be done professionally. Can you do this, Mr. Arnold?”
“Yes sir, I can.”
“Good. I wish you fortunate luck and success in this investigation. If it is done well, I promise to pay you more than you have ever been paid before.”
Mr. Arnold smiled. “Thank you, sir.”
“No, Mr. Arnold, thank you.” And with that, he pivoted on his heel and left the convenience store.
Mr. Arnold left the convenience store in a generally pleasant mood, considering he hadn’t had a situation to unravel in months. It was an exciting prospect to be back at his hobby again. Mr. Potter had decided to let him go and would be hiring someone to take his place while he was gone. It would have been hard for him to disagree, though, because Mr. Arnold had rushed into the back room of Eugene’s and practically begged him to let him go.
Mr. Arnold was headed to the apothecary shop, but he now realized how very clueless he was to the location of it. The man, Mr. Rogers, had apparently forgotten to include that detail.
After asking around, Mr. Arnold had gathered enough information about the apothecary shop that he was now confident in where to go. He walked down a few streets, passing a variety of small shops and cluttered houses, before turning a corner and finding himself facing a large, falling down building with paint peeling off and windows spiderwebbed with cracks. Hanging sideways in the smack center of the building’s exterior was a large sign displaying the words: APOTHECARY - SINCE 1891
Considering it was the year 1940, this shop had been around for a long time. Approximately fifty years.
Mr. Arnold strode across the street, up the steps of the building and, placing his hand on the doorknob, slowly opened the old door.
Inside were shelves and shelves of assortments of herbs and remedies, all in little cloth packages or small, corked bottles. He walked precautiously through an isle filled with stomach ache and soreness remedies, and upon reaching the end of it, came to a small wooden desk where a small woman sat, staring intently and sadly at a leatherbound book.
She looked up slowly as Mr. Arnold approached the desk. When her eyes met his, she did not smile, nor even acknowledge him besides her hard, scrutinizing stare. Mr. Arnold smiled, though. He held out his hand. “James,” he said. “James Arnold.”
“Pleasure. I’m Mrs. Delilah. She replied, and gave him a little smile, seeming a bit more friendly now than she did a few seconds ago.
“What do you need?” She asked. “I garuntee we will have everything you’re looking for.” Mr. Arnold found this particular comment confusing, considering she most certainly didn’t have everything. She didn’t have bergamot. Mr. Arnold went along with it though, because even though he should be questioning her, he didn’t want to drop such things on her right now. He’d rather get to know her a little better first so she wasn’t suspicious. After all, he wasn’t an actual detective; he didn’t work with the police.
He followed her through a few isles of stuff, nodding along to everything she was saying, even though he didn’t want to buy anything. As they turned a corner, she started saying, “and here is where I keep my berga-“ but stopped short. There was no bergamot on the shelf.
“That’s funny,” she said. “It was here just this morning.”
“Pardon?” Mr. Arnold said, surprised.
“What is it, Mr. Arnold? Were you interested in buying bergamot today?”
“Well, no, but I was and still am interested in talking about bergamot. You see, I am a part time detective. I was told by a man named Alfred Rogers that you were a good friend of his and that he had been told about a robbery that happened on Wednesday. At this shop. Of your bergamot.”
Her eyes widened.
“You tell me now,” continued Mr. Arnold. “That you had all your bergamot this morning.”
“And all week,” she added.
“But you don’t have any now.”
She nodded.
“Then Mr. Rogers was wrong,” Mr. Arnold said, incredulous. “Very wrong.”
Just then, a loud knock sounded through the room.
“I must go get that.” And then the little woman walked across the room to open the door. Suddenly, she gave a small shout.
“Mrs. Delilah?”
Silence.
“Mrs. Delilah?” Mr. Arnold hollered, louder.
This time, a reply came. But it was not Mrs. Delilah.
Mr. Rogers’ voice echoed through the shop, though it seemed to have taken on a more singsong tone to it.
“James,” he said.
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