Thursday, April 27, 2017

Carl and the Grey Rhino

This affair must all be unraveled from within.  These little grey cells.  It is ‘up to them’–as you say over here.  Hercule Poirot

The Famous Detective inspected the scene of the crime.  His friend Carl peered out the window.

“You say the body was found slumped over this box?” he asked.  “What is this box anyway?”

“The zoo is sponsoring a one-day contest to name our new acquisition, a grey rhinoceros,” said the zookeeper.  “Zoo visitors were given a ballot upon entry which they then could mark and deposit in this special box between noon and eight o’clock at night.  At 8 P.M., volunteers arrived to process the entries, and that is when the body was discovered.  If word gets out, it will really put a damper on the naming festivities.”

The detective pounced on a small scrap of paper on the floor near the box.

“Aha!  A clue!  It must have been dropped by the victim.”

He scrutinized the paper, turning it over and upside down. 

“This is very mysterious,” he said, “and therefore must have great bearing on the case.  The victim must have written it before he died. But its significance escapes me.”

He showed it to the zookeeper.

“Does this mean anything to you?”

The zookeeper also turned the paper over and upside down before shrugging his shoulders.

“Not a clue,” he said

The detective turned to his friend Carl.

Mon ami, what do you make of this?”

Carl looked at the paper.  On it was written a definite integral.  Carl looked at a large whiteboard above the box on which were written a series of numbers in two rows and five columns. 

“Gentlemen,” he said, “this symbol represents the average number of entries in the box.”
He did some quick calculations.

“Furthermore, the number is 10.6875.”

“Ah, 10.6875!”  The detective addressed the zookeeper.  “What is the meaning of this number?  I insist you tell me.”

“Hey, I don’t know anything about it,” the zookeeper protested.  “It could be a phone number, a license plate, a ticket number–anything!”

Carl coughed up a hairball.  Then he strolled to the far end of the room.

“Yes, you are right,” said the detective.  “It could be anything, but what?  All we know is that it was obviously important enough for this poor fellow to write it down.”

“Found it!” Carl called out.  “It refers to employee number 106875.  Find the person who matches this number and you’ve got your killer.”
The zookeeper and the detective hurried over to Carl, who was standing in front of a time clock.  There in the third row of a cardholder was a punched card with the number 106875; the name next to the number was Walla, B.

“Walla, B.” said the detective.  “That name is familiar.  I am certain I have seen it somewhere.”

Carl rolled his eyes and pointed to the door.  There, in large black letters, was the name of the zookeeper–B. WALLA, B.S., D.D.Z., P.D.Q.

“YOU!” exclaimed the detective, grabbing at the zookeeper as the latter scrambled for the exit. The detective missed, and the zookeeper sprinted for the door.  Suddenly his legs went out from under him, and he fell heavily to the floor.  He had slipped on Carl’s hairball.

In the meantime, Carl had sounded the zoo alarm.  While the zookeeper struggled to his feet, a team of security guards arrived with their weapons drawn. 

“STUPID CAT!” shouted the zookeeper.

The detective addressed the guards.

“Here is your murderer,” he said.  “If you search his apartment, you will find the murder weapon, a newly issued passport, and a ticket to the French Rivera.  And if you unlock the box with the entries for naming the grey rhinoceros, you will find a winning lottery ticket stolen from the mob and hidden in the box for safekeeping.  Mr. Walla, B. tried to retrieve the ticket before it the box was opened.  Unfortunately for the victim, he had strict orders to guard the box because he had heard rumors of a planned ballot stuffing.  It was Mr. B. Walla who started the rumors to ensure the safety of his stolen lottery ticket.  When the victim refused to allow Mr. Walla to open the box, your ex-zookeeper put a bullet through his temple.  The victim knew that Walla, B. would not know the meaning of definite integral and could thus identify his murderer without Walla being aware of it.  It’s as simple as that.”

Carl coughed up another hairball.

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