Peregrine Falcon, Private Detective

PEREGRINE FALCON
PRIVATE DETECTIVE

In the back of the two-room office, a telephone rang. The telephone was bright red - standing out in the dark, under-furnished office - with a rotary dial. It sat in the middle of the room on a simple, somewhat cluttered, wooden desk.

At the sound, the slim figure standing at the window turned towards the telephone, watching it quietly as it rang again, then a third time. On the fourth ring, he - or she, it was difficult to tell - finally stepped over to the desk and picked up the phone.

“Peregrine Falcon, detective for hire, what can I solve for you today?“

Peregrine Falcon looked no more than twenty five, somewhere between a pretty young man and a sharp young woman with a voice that danced nimbly across the line between light tenor and rich contralto. Pale skin, equally pale platinum blonde curls (trimmed short), and a pair of eyes which were much nearer lavender than blue completed an overall odd appearance.

In contrast, the detective was dressed traditionally in a simple button-down shirt, a dark blue waistcoat and matching necktie, a pair of trousers, and laced-up black leather boots (which, despite their thick soles and tall heels, couldn’t quite make up for a height of five foot two).

“Hey Perry, you’re never gonna guess what just happened!”

The man on the other end of the line was Jeremy Thompson and would, if asked, cheerfully tell you he was Peregrine’s best friend. (A sentiment which was rarely reciprocated.)

“Ah, Jeremy. Good evening to you as well.”

“Something just drove my car into a wall! It’s a total wreck.”

Peregrine’s eyes narrowed. “Something?”

“Yes, something,” Jeremy mimicked. “If it was a someone I’d just let the police handle it, but invisible things driving cars into buildings seems more your kind of thing, you know?”

“Invisible– why don’t you just tell me what happened.” Peregrine sat down, leaning back against the desk chair.

“So, me and Clarette had just walked outside - hey have you met Clarette? She’s amazing. Absolutely gorgeous, comes from the northern colonies, you should hear her accent, it’s–”

“Jeremy.”

“Right, right. So we were just walking up to Daniella–”

“Jeremy, the car?”

“I know! Daniella! The car!”

”…Of course. Go on.” Peregrine cast a beseeching look up at the ceiling.

“We walk up to the car - the one I just got after saving for months and months - and she’s sitting right where I parked her, completely empty, when out of nowhere the engine roars and she goes shooting forward, up the sidewalk, and BAM! Into the wall and a million pieces!”

“You are absolutely sure there was no one visible in the vehicle at all?”

“Absolutely sure. But somebody must’ve done it, and they owe me a new car!”

Peregrine tapped a finger against the desk, thinking. “I’ll be there shortly.”

“Wait, Perry, the police already–”

The telephone receiver made a satisfying clunk as it fell back in its cradle. Peregrine made straight for the door, grabbing the cap and coat on the rack along the way.

”–roped it off…” In a payphone booth across town, Jeremy looked ruefully down at the receiver as it emitted a droning dial tone. Hanging it back up, he stepped out onto the sidewalk and made his way back over to the growing mass of people and police officers surrounding the cordoned-off car wreck.

“Yes I am sure! We hadn’t even touched it and it took off!” A beautiful dark-haired young woman was arguing with a police officer, her voice carrying a strong Colonial accent. She gestured towards the nearby building and its neighboring twisted mass of metal that had once been a vehicle. “You can see it for yourself!”

The police officer nodded and mmhmmed as he jotted something down on his report.

The woman bristled indignantly. “I do not appreciate being humored like a child. Jeremy! Did you reach your friend? These police of yours are useless.”

“We’re doing our jobs as best we can, miss,” the policeman said, the reply sounding more like a rote reflex than a genuine response.

“What he said, Clare, don’t give him too hard a time.” Jeremy put an arm around his girlfriend’s shoulders, giving her an encouraging squeeze. “I got in touch with Perry, yeah.”

“I hope he arrives soon, then.” Clarette frowned, refusing to be mollified. “This man thinks I am making up stories.”

“It is kinda hard to believe, though, right?” He waved at the wreck from over her shoulder. “I sure wouldn’t if I hadn’t seen it.”

“Hmph!” She shrugged his arm off, folding hers and lifting her chin defiantly. “If someone who had seen it told me that a car had driven itself into a building, I would believe her!”

“As would I,” Peregrine interjected from behind them.

The two looked around simultaneously at the unexpected comment.

“Perry, hey! It hasn’t even been five minutes. How do you do that?” Jeremy grinned, clapping his friend on the shoulder.

“Trade secret. And you must be Clarette.” The detective turned to the young woman and held out a hand. “Peregrine Falcon.”

“Oh. …Yes! Clarette Roubere. It’s lovely to meet you.” Clarette took the proffered hand, looking rather bewildered as her eyes flickered over the slight androgynous figure. “Jeremy has told me much about you.”

“Has he?” Peregrine smiled in amusement at her expression. “I hope I haven’t fallen too far short of your expectations.”

“Ah, no, that is… no, not at all.” Clarette smiled back, rallying gamely as she obviously bent the truth.

“Excellent! Now if you’ll excuse me…” Peregrine stepped around and up to the roped-off area, getting the attention of the bored-looking policeman. “Good evening, officer. I need to take a closer look at the vehicle. I won’t be touching anything.”

“Sorry… sir.” The policeman looked over and frowned, hesitating. “I can’t let you in.”

“Ah yes, of course not…” Peregrine hmmed thoughtfully. “Jeremy, it seems the police have confiscated your vehicle.”

“What?!” Jeremy turned on the policeman. “You can’t do that! That’s my car!”

“Sir, your car is a wreck.”

“But she’s my wreck!” He pointed accusingly at the officer. “Do you know how long I saved up for that car? Do you?!”

“Sir, please calm down…”

As soon as the policeman turned away, Peregrine ceased to be standing outside the restricted area, appearing on the other side of the rope without going through the usual intermediate steps to get there. Then, taking advantage of the police officer’s continued distraction and limited field of vision, Peregrine looked over the wreck critically for a moment before approaching the front. Reaching a hand out over the crumpled hood, Peregrine slowly and consideringly traced a line through the air, across the engine and towards the wall.

“Hey!” The officer on the opposite side finally noticed the interloper. “Sir, please step away from the car.”

Peregrine obeyed and took a step back, eyes following an invisible trail from the impact site on the wall and up, to the top of the building.

The first policeman, his attention pried away from the ranting Jeremy by his coworker’s outcry, turned around. “What– how did you– sir, I said you can’t come over here.” He strode over to where Peregrine was standing, his frown deepening.

“Did you? Well, I suppose I can’t, then.” With a small bow and an almost-tip of the cap, Peregrine casually walked back over to Jeremy and Clarette, ducking under the rope in a perfectly normal manner.

The police officer watched in suspicion, following a few steps behind. “As I was saying, Mr. Thompson, we are not confiscating your vehicle. This is only temporary until we can determine the cause of the accident.”

“We had best leave them to it, Jeremy,” Peregrine said, cutting off any further protests. “The gentlemen are trying to do their job, after all.”

“But–”

“You should listen to your friend.” Clarette gently tugged Jeremy away from the policeman. “You called him here to help, didn’t you?”

“Well, yeah, but–”

“So, Mr. Falcon–”

“Peregrine, please. Peri if you must.”

“Ah.” Clarette hesitated, thrown off by the interruption. “Peregrine. Did you learn anything for Jeremy?”

“Hmm.” The detective looked back at the building and frowned. “Nothing particularly helpful, I’m afraid. I’ll look into it as best I can, but don’t get your hopes up.”

Jeremy’s face fell. “You sure?”

“Am I ever sure?” Peregrine patted him encouragingly on the upper arm. “I’ll be in touch.”