Dingus took a thoughtful sip of his drink.

     "Zubrowka," he said approvingly. "A wonderful vodka."

     The woman nodded. 

     'You see, Madame," he continued, "I am oddly poxed. Especially in matters criminal, I am somehow able to detect and deduct as readily as I breathe. It is only upon reflection that I can trace the path of thought that brings me to conclusions."

    He paused.

    "Which are, incidentally, invariably correct," he added, sounding  almost sad.

    "How extraordinary," she said. "Please continue. You will join me for dinner?"

    "Thank you, but no. I have already dined. At a little place not far from here."

    The woman gestured dismissively to a hovering waiter. She leaned forward and cocked her head slightly in an unspoken invitation for him to continue.

     Dingus sat back in the chair. His posture went almost rigid and his eyes focused on some unseen point some six feet above her left shoulder.

     "To your earlier question, for example, it was evident that the 2009 Lexus RX350 was being cased, as they say," he said in a quiet monotone.

      "Given its value, it was most probable that the car's occupant was not a patron of either the laundromat or used bookstore. Ergo, the French restaurant. And, since the car's engine was still ticking slightly, it was quite obvious that its driver had only recently arrived. The various items on the passenger seat suggested that the driver had arrived quite alone. That the rear-view mirror had been slightly turned to serve as an impromptu compact strongly suggested, I'm afraid, that the driver was a woman.

       "Of the twenty-three occupied tables, this was the only one that met that paradigm."

       His faraway gaze returned to her.

       "Et voila," he said, finishing his drink. He puckered his thin lips. "Wonderful vodka."

       "This is fascinating," she said. Her smile waned only slightly as she looked momentarily beyond him.  "You will have another?"

       "Thank you, Madame. No," he said, rising. "I believe your divorce attorney has arrived."

       A  white-haired man approached the table slowly. His snowy eyebrows arched as he watched a damp, bowler-wearing stranger unfurling his long frame at Melinda's table.

       Dingus MacPherson bowed to his martini partner and tipped his hat as he strode past the newcomer.

      "Charles," she smiled. "I do believe I've just met the rarest of creatures: a sleuth savant."   


The End

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