“Were it not for the droppings,” my good friend and Trinidad’s greatest detective Sherlock Homeboy told me afterwards, “I might never have solved the case.”
This was a startling admission from Homeboy who, as readers may remember, had, through close examination of a toilet, deduced the last meal of a vanished chairman of a State commission. As he had said to me at the time, “Alimentary, my dear Watsingh.”
Yet the case of the missing goat must surely rank among the most difficult cases that Homeboy had ever investigated. Indeed, in reviewing my files, I find only three matters which came as close to stymieing my friend’s unparalleled powers of deduction. These were “The Case of the Purloined E-mail”, in which he had to track down a first edition Oxford English Dictionary to deduce the meaning of “purloined”; and “The League of 34”, in which he observed the average time MPs can hold a pee in order to ensure jail is illegal for multi-millionaires; and “The Case of the Plagiarised Prisoner”, in which he trained ten monkeys to type and so substantially reduced the price of legal arguments.
It was a dark and stormy night when the client came to our quarters at 22 Bake & Shark Street. Even before the knock sounded at the door, Homeboy, who was playing his steelpan at the window, remarked, “I see we are about to be visited by the Prime Minister.”
“Good god, Homeboy!” I exclaimed, “How on earth did you deduce that?”
“Ah, Watsingh,” he said. “You see, but you do not observe. Surely you noted the helicopter landing on the road outside?”
I said, “Yes, but I assumed they were looking for Dana Seetahal’s killer.”
“No,” said Homebody, “for they didn’t even set up roadblocks. Even so, it is possible for a National Security helicopter to be used for matters of national security. Hence my second observation, which is the black car parked outside with the letters P and M on the number plate.”
I clapped my hands. “Now that you have explained it, it seems so simple!”
“Yes,” said Homeboy ruefully. “Perhaps, like Integrity Commission chairman Ken Gordon, I should keep my methods secret so as to have more respect.”
It was at that moment that a heavily-veiled woman entered. “Mr Homeboy!” she exclaimed, in a voice trembling with despair and Vat 19, “I am in desperate need of your assistance.”
Homeboy sank into his armchair and steepled his fingers. “Yes, Madam Prime Minister,” he said, “I am willing to assist you in any way I can for ten times my usual fee.”
The PM tore off her veil. “That is acceptable. I see you are even more formidable than your reputation, Mr Homeboy.”
Homeboy inclined his head. “Give me the particulars, omitting no detail, however small.”
“Very well. I was wearing a pair of Louis Vuitton boots, retail price US$5,579.24, plus a cute bolero top designed by Mei Ling—”
She went on in this vein for 45 minutes, before coming to the goat. “We had him specially imported for a curry duck lime. But some of the guests don’t like duck.”
“Which guests?” Homeboy asked.
“The acting Police Commissioner, State board members, most doctors.”
“I see. So it’s a matter of empathy. Continue.”
“The goat had been blessed by a pastor, ohmed by a pundit, sanctified by a babalawo, and halaled by an imam. Even vegetarians could not object to its currying. But, when time came to cook it, the goat had disappeared.”
Homebody leapt to his feet. “I must examine the scene!”
At the PM’s house, he scrutinised the yard, paying particular attention to the African violets. “Notice, Watsingh, how this flora is here only for cosmetic purposes,” he told me sotto voce.
He then went inside to the hall, where he took out his magnifying glass and peered closely at the marble tiles. And it was here that he found the droppings.
“I see the goat was a Chigu,” Homebody said, holding one of the channa-shaped nodules between thumb and forefinger. “About two years old, female, with a flirtatious manner.”
“You are an expert on goats, Mr Homeboy?” asked the PM.
“I once did a monograph on 140 different types of faeces,” Homeboy explained, “although I still cannot talk crap as well as President Carmona.”
He stood pensively in the middle of the hall. “Notice, Watsingh, the abrupt cessation of the droppings. This goat was taken suddenly, but not violently.”
He turned to the PM. “Madam, the person who kidnapped your goat has a large jaw, no tact, and lacks expertise in criminal law.”
“Oh, thank you, Mr Homeboy,” said the PM, seeming even more agitated. “Here’s your fee. The police can take it from here.”
The next day the police raided a roti shop in Laventille and seized all the curry goat, but the evidence was eaten by SRPs.