Prisoner of the Pink Panther
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The Pink Panther diamond has been stolen again. Left in its place is a woman’s shoe and a monogrammed silk handkerchief. Called in to investigate is Inspector Jacqueline Clouseau, the very sexy but clumsy granddaughter of the famous French Chief Inspector who twice before recovered the diamond. While she is pursuing the prime suspect, he himself is pursuing a beautiful woman he believes to be the owner of the shoe, and the real thief. Will he catch her before Clouseau handcuffs him, or will he instead fall victim to the erotic charms of both women?
What are you pointing at Sammi? Standing next to my favorite waitress at the local pub is a Bobby, and her gaze is following Sammi’s pointed finger right towards me! I see this Bobby on a pretty regular basis as I walk around the neighborhood, but usually just smile and nod as I walk past. If one could look past the uniform, she might be called pretty, with light blonde hair, a cute face, and an infectious smile. But I generally prefer to look over my shoulder and see the back of any member of the Metropolitan Police force, preferably walking in the opposite direction.
The Bobby starts walking towards my table, and I debate whether to dash for the door. But while I might be able to outrun her, I can’t outrun her radio.
“May I join you?” she asks.
I take this as the type of question where there is only one answer, so I give it. “It would be my pleasure.”
She sits across from me. “My name is Constable Tye, and I have been looking for you for the past two days. I am glad I found you first, Fantom.”
She called me The Fantom? I’m not near as glad as she seems to be.
“You haven’t heard about it yet, but three days ago, the famous Pink Panther diamond was stolen from the British Museum. The museum temporarily closed the exhibit to keep this hush-hush and to preserve the crime scene, but they will be announcing the theft tomorrow. Left in its place was a woman’s shoe, and a monogramed silk handkerchief with the letter ‘F’. I hope you understand what that means.”
“It sounds like one of mine. Am I a suspect?”
“No, you are not just a suspect, you are the PRIME suspect.”
“I didn’t do it. I would never dream of doing such a thing.”
“I believe you, but others are pointing their fingers in your direction. There is an alert out now to bring you in for questioning. But at least for a little while, no one really knows what you look like or where you live.”
“I have a friend at the London Police Forensics Laboratory and we would like you to examine the evidence. Specifically, to see if you recognize the shoe, and tell us if the monogrammed handkerchief is one of yours.”
“How can I trust you?”
“If I wanted to, I could arrest you right now. But I remember this area before The Fantom arrived. You are a one-man economic boom. Besides the new shoppe across the street from the Old Opera House selling T-shirts and Fantom masks, there are plans for a new hotel and new luxury flats. If The Fantom goes to prison, all that stops, and we go back to the old run-down neighborhood. Will you help us catch the real thief?”
Constable Tye arranges transportation and we arrive at the new Forensics Laboratory building. She escorts me to the second floor and there we meet her friend, Jane Watkins. She then leaves to return to her post.
Watkins begins, “The Pink Panther diamond was stolen from an exhibit at the British Museum three nights ago. Earlier that evening, there was a fundraising masquerade ball. The thief attended that ball, hid in the basement once it ended, and then stole the Pink Panther later that night.”
“The President of the Republic of Lugash asked her majesty’s government to bring in outside help. They have brought in Inspector Jacqueline Clouseau of the Sûreté. She is the granddaughter of the famous French Chief Inspector who twice earlier recovered the Pink Panther diamond. Here is her photograph.”
“Let’s move onto the physical evidence. Put these gloves on. Here is the monogrammed silk handkerchief we found at the crime scene. Is it genuine? Is it one of those you leave draped across women’s feet at the Old Opera House?”
She hands me the handkerchief. I look carefully at the stitching and the monogram. I can’t feel the silk, but it has a familiar sheen. “I found these handkerchiefs in an old millinery, buried since World War Two. It’s original silk from China, handmade, and extremely rare. It looks authentic to me.”
“That handkerchief is your trademark. It’s pretty damning physical evidence.”
If she wanted my attention, she had it now.
“Let me show you the shoe. We have examined it and obtained samples of several fibers, but little else.”
Watkins hands me a woman’s shoe, size 39. It is gold in color, with closed toes, and a cutout to show off the wearer’s arch. It is a quality shoe, but not new, there is some wear on the sole, and some scuff marks outside the big toe area.
“Do you recognize İstanbul Escort the shoe?” she asks.
“I cannot be certain. There have been hundreds over the past few years. There is nothing unique or memorable about this one. Have you done a DNA test?”
“We did a rapid DNA test and found 2 different sets. They are on both the shoe and the handkerchief. I assume that one set is yours and the other set belongs to the owner of the shoe. Neither set matches any records in our database.”
I decide to put to use the knowledge I have gained from encounters with hundreds of women’s shoes and feet.
“As long as it already has my DNA, may I describe the wearer to you?”
“How can you do that?”
“Watch and learn, Watkins.”
I hold the shoe to my nose and inhale deeply several times.
“There is a faint odour of foot cream mixed with perfume. There is hardly any smell of perspiration, so the owner of these shoes does not ever walk very far in them. The fact they do show some wear implies they are several years old, because they are rarely worn for more than a few hours each time. The heels are modest, and combined with the size, the wearer is likely to be of above average height.”
I then lick the exterior of the shoe, from leather upper to sole.
“There is no metallic taste of the ubiquitous dust from the Underground, so the wearer certainly does not live in London. There is a bit of saltiness, so the wearer probably lives near the ocean. Given the style of shoe, it would be a warmer climate, perhaps the Mediterranean. The leather is very high quality, Italian, the stitching quite nice, implying a premium price, so the wearer is a person of means.”
I look at Watkins and see the stunned look on her face.
I continue, “Your instruments tell you that a bottle of wine is a liquid made from grapes with a certain alcohol content. They cannot smell nor taste, and imagine how dull life would be if ignore these two senses.”
I look closely at the sole and exterior of the shoe for wear, looking for places where the foot has pushed out against the leather. Next, the interior is checked for similar places where the foot has rubbed against that part of the shoe. And finally, I check the insole to see where the toes, heel, and balls of her foot have indented the foot bed. I form an image of the wearer’s foot in my mind.
“You show me the foot, Watkins, and I will tell you if it has been inside this shoe.”
“I’ve never seen anything like what you just did,” said Watkins. “We have something called barefoot morphology, but it is nowhere near as advanced as what you just described. There are several other unsolved cases you may be able to help us with.”
“Only if I stay out of jail,” I reply.
“Now, let’s look at the video evidence,” says Watkins. “There was a masquerade ball earlier that evening at the museum, and the man who stole the diamond was in attendance. Here is some of the footage. He is wearing a mask, a hat, gloves, and what appears to be a fake beard. He may also be wearing a wig with a pony tail, but we cannot be certain. We have been unable to get a match using facial recognition software. Just taking a quick look at you, you are both thin, both about the same height, and both wear ponytails. If I were to testify, I would tell a jury that you match the physical description of the suspect.”
“As the masquerade ball was ending, we have video of the suspect descending stairs into the basement. He must have hidden there until everyone left. The basement is used for storage of exhibit and office materials, but has no artifacts, so other than the camera on the stairs, there are no cameras located there.”
I notice an odd gait in the way the suspect walks, but then again, how is one supposed to walk when stealing a priceless diamond?
“Do you see that odd gait, Watkins? It might be due to the overpronation. Or perhaps the thief isn’t a man?”
“The next footage we have is in the exhibit room where the Pink Panther was being shown. If you watch the back left corner, you see the suspect lift the iron grate on the ventilation duct and his head will appear. I believe this is also one of your trademarks. He pushes aside the ventilation grate, then squeezes up through the vent. By coming up this way, inside the exhibit room, he bypasses much of the museum security.”
The resemblance is uncanny. It is like watching myself commit the crime.
“Next, we see the theft itself. He uses a fogging spray to find the laser motion detection beams, and carefully moving between then, he lifts the glass dome. There is no security on the dome itself, but there is a pressure switch underneath the diamond. Here you see the suspect grab the diamond and replace it with a woman’s shoe, then drape the handkerchief across it.”
I have to ask, “Why didn’t the alarm go off?”
“The pressure switch checks the weight of the diamond every 5 seconds. If anyone removes the diamond, they have only 5 seconds Escort İstanbul to replace the diamond, or the exits are sealed and they become a Prisoner of the Pink Panther. The swap took 3.4 seconds. What is significant here is that the weight of the shoe and handkerchief exactly match the weight of the Pink Panther diamond. Note that the published weight of the Pink Panther is purposely false. The thief must have known the actual weight, not the published weight.”
“The last footage we have is the suspect descending back down through the ventilation grate into the basement. We have no footage of them coming back up the stairs from the basement. A thorough search of the basement was done, and we found a pair of shoes matching what the suspect was wearing on the video. They were left near an unlocked door in the basement. The door opens to an old unused tunnel, protected by iron bars. Only someone very thin could have squeezed between those bars. Furthermore, the tunnel itself is flooded, making it impassable. But somehow, the suspect just disappeared.”
“Can I see the two shoes left by the tunnel in the basement.”
Watkins pulls them from an evidence box and hands them to me. They are also a size 39, so they could be from the same wearer, but it could also be a coincidence. They are sturdy hiking shoes, showing light wear. I complete my examination and report the results to Watkins.
“I assume you found the wool fibers inside the shoe, so I hope you have traced them to the source. There are several types of wool used in hiking socks and it may be a clue. The smell of perspiration is present, but not especially strong, so I believe these shoes were worn for many hours, perhaps all day, but infrequently. In addition, they were worn in colder locations, perhaps in the mountains or northern Europe.”
“On the soles, I see a bit of overpronation, with more wear on the inside sole near the ball of the foot and the big toe. The shape of the foot is harder to see because of the lighter wear, thicker leather, and thick wool socks. There is a black gummy substance stuck between the treads. Have you taken a sample?”
Watkins replies, “Our job is to link the shoes to the crime scene. We already know these shoes were there. But I can do that.”
Watkins scrapes a section of the black gummy substance for her sample. “It’s red underneath.”
“Let me taste.” I rub the tip of my tongue against the newly exposed red surface. “It has a bitter, fruity taste. Let me know what it is after you analyze it.”
“This is a photograph of one of the suspects, Sir Charles Lytton III. His grandfather was suspected of being the famous jewel thief known as the Phantom, though it was never proven. Sir Charles left the country a week ago, but his whereabouts are unknown at this time. Inspector Clouseau believes he may have re-entered the country under a fake passport. However, it is unlikely he stole the diamond, as he is taller and heavier than the suspect shown in the video.”
“Curiously, his wife, Lady Claire Lytton, is staying here in London at the Palace Hotel, along with her personal assistant Anna Hjerpe. Here is a photograph of Lady Lytton. She was sent an invitation to the masquerade ball, but when questioned, says she threw out the invitation and did not attend. Inspector Clouseau does not think her presence here in London is a coincidence, and believes the thief may try to pass the diamond to her.”
“Inspector Clouseau believes The Fantom is the prime suspect. We have to assume that your DNA is on both the shoe and handkerchief. But the rest of her case is also quite strong. You have just confirmed that the handkerchief is genuine. Your physical description matches the one captured on video. And your milieu is iron grates and the dark underground. Taken all together, it is quite enough to convict you.”
“There is a quiet manhunt going on now to locate you, and fortunately, Constable Tye was able to find you first. The theft will be announced tomorrow, and the manhunt intensified. Someone will provide a clue to your identity or about where you live, that will be added to another clue, and yet another. They will eventually find you, and convict you, unless the real thief is found.”
I take a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I’m not going to sit around and wait to be arrested. I want to help you track down the real thief.”
“I’m glad to hear that. I have taken off from work the next two days, and have some ideas. We can work together.”
“Your job is to connect the shoe to the crime. What we must do now is connect the shoe to the wearer. The game is afoot, Watkins!”
Watkins and I decide to pursue the only lead we have, Lady Lytton, at the Palace Hotel. We want to learn if the shoe left at the crime scene belongs to her. I befriend a bell boy using a fairly large tip, and from him, learn that Lady Lytton frequents the fitness center at about 10:00 AM, then takes a sauna. Waiting outside the fitness İstanbul Escort Bayan center, Watkins and I see her arrive.
I need to get a close look at her bare feet to compare it with the shoe left at the crime scene. I want to see if worn palces inside the shoe match up with similar locations on her feet. I also want to compare the indentations on the toe pads of the shoe with the shape and length of her toes. And finally, I want to smell her feet to see if she is using the same foot cream as we found on the shoe. But she is wearing trainers right now, so I decide to wait for her to go to the sauna.
Watkins and I explore the sauna area. It is rather large, separate from the fitness room, and off the main room is the sauna itself, plus changing rooms for men and women. The sauna here is quite nice, with upper and lower benches on three sides, in a U-shape. And, it is unisex.
As expected, she enters the main sauna area and goes into her changing room. I enter mine and quickly disrobe, hoping to beat her into the sauna. Wrapping myself in a towel, I enter the sauna, and find it deserted. On the lower bench I see a small opening at each end of the U. There is enough space for me to crawl under the seat of the lower bench, and in the darkness, I will be hidden under the wooden slats. There is also enough space for me to crawl, so no matter where she sits, I will be able to get a closeup view of her feet. I await her arrival.
Lady Lytton comes in, wrapped in her towel, and takes a seat on the lower bench. Seeing the sauna unoccupied, she lowers her towel, and now naked, moves to the upper bench. Her bare feet are resting of the seat of the lower bench, surrounded by her towel. In the darkness, I quietly slide over to her until her feet are directly above me. Unfortunately, the same wooden slats hiding me are also obscuring the feet I need to examine.
I move under the upper bench, in hopes of looking outward onto the heels of her feet. Above me, I see Lady Lytton’s bare bum through the slats, but in the dim light, it is like looking at the dark side of the moon.
Frustrated, I move back under the lower bench. Unable to get a clear view, I decide to smell her feet to see if there is a match with the odour of the shoe left in place of the diamond. Her foot is resting on her heel with the toes pointing up. I press my nose up between the slats in order to smell her sole, but my nostrils are squeezed inward within the slats, making it impossible to smell anything.
Unable to get a clear view, and unable to smell her foot, the only thing left is to try is to taste her foot. I stick my tongue up through the slat and manage to touch the tip against the sole of her foot. I brush my tongue gently against her sole, tasting the saltiness of her sweat, but find it inconclusive. Perhaps she felt me, because the next thing I know, her heel slides forward and traps my extended tongue beneath it!
Unable to yell out, I wince at the pain. The front half of my tongue is directly beneath her heel and is being mashed flat! She must think it is resting on a section of her towel! For the next twenty minutes, the sweaty sole of her foot plays with my tongue, and fearing detection, I endure the pain, not daring an attempt to withdraw it.
At last, she is getting ready to leave. Through the slats, I see her slide forward, her bum descending right on top of me as her feet move to the floor. She re-wraps herself in her towel, walks to the sauna door, and exits.
The ordeal is finally over. But when I try to remove my tongue, I cannot! My tongue is swollen and is stuck between the two slats!
I moment later, the door to the sauna opens. “Fantom, come out quickly. Clouseau must be following you. She searched your clothing in the men’s changing room and found one of your monogrammed silk handkerchiefs in your back pocket. I followed her into the women’s changing room and she is getting undressed right now. I was faster, but she is right behind me.”
“My young is yuck!” I try to yell.
“Your young?” asks Watkins.
“Ower year. In the yak!”
Watson replies, “I see it. Is your tongue stuck? Oh no, here she comes!”
I hear Watkins sit down on the opposite side of the U-shaped benches, and the sauna door opens.
“Deed you zee a naked man in eer,” says the voice of a young woman, whom I presume to be Clouseau.
Watkins replies, “If he’s handsome enough, I wouldn’t mind seeing one. But no, it was empty when I came in.”
“Straange. Very straange. I am an officer of the leuw, and I saw a man enter zee main sauna reum 20 minutes ago. Hee never came back out.”
“The luew? You are an officer of the luew?” asks Watkins.
“Yez. Zat is correct. I am Inspector Clouseau of zee Sûreté. I searched heez clothes in zee changing reum and found a cleuw.”
“A cleuw?” asks Watkins.
“Yez, hee has a monogrammed silk handkerchief in heez pocket, and that means hee eez the notorious Opera of zee Old Fantom House.”
I sense movement, and a moment later the slats above me are cast into darkness. My already flattened tongue is pressed down again, only this time, by much softer flesh. Clouseau is sitting on my tongue! Clouseau wiggles her bum, and then relaxes, her bum flesh slowly surrounding and trapping my tongue against her sweating vulva.
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