Sarge placed the report on his desk and sat back in his chair. It revealed Jack Spratt had died from extreme blood loss due to mutilation of the throat and neck. On his torso, abdomen and limbs, were multiple lacerations varying between 6 and 15cm in depth and 2cm in length. The autopsy medical examiner noted they were consistent with being mauled by an animal.
“That’s interesting,” he thought to himself, resting his hand on his chin, looking towards the ceiling. His eyes shifted to the clock hanging on the wall, its silver outer shinning in the office lighting, and just stared at it.
As with any police station, Small-Town Police Station was no different. It had to be manned 24/7 and it was Sarge’s rostered night on. He was lost in thought when there was a ‘ding’ at the front counter. Standing up slowly, he walked out of his office to the front of the station.
It was the Queen of Hearts.
She wasn’t a real queen. Not only was her name Queenie, she’d steal all the hearts of whoever heard her sing. Opera sung alongside the magical music of the harp was her forte. Married to Giant Pete, who suffered insomnia, she’d sing him to sleep every night. Worked every time and kept him from climbing the bean stalk in the centre of town. At the top, his brothers and cousins undertook suspicious activity. As it wasn’t in Small-Town Police Station’s area of command, Sarge wasn’t privy to what that activity was.
“Hello, Queenie. It’s been a while since we’ve seen you in town,” Sarge commented.
“Yes, it has,” she responded.
Queenie was a beautiful young lady, about twenty-six and short for her age. Dwarfism. However, no-one dared call her a dwarf! This small person had a fiery temper! Her blonde hair shone like gold in the sunlight. Well, any light-source actually. The clothing she wore, predominantly ankle-length dresses, were gorgeous hues of browns, pinks, yellows, reds and oranges immaculately sewn with gold and silver thread. Those colours suited Queenie’s olive complexion perfectly. Being a Tailor by trade, she designed and made her own clothing at her little shop, In Short Supply, on Avilas’ main street.
Tonight, Queenie’s normally bright white smile was hidden behind a troubling expression. She kept rubbing her hands together as if she was washing them.
“What’s wrong, Queenie? You’re looking rather anxious,” Sarge enquired.
“Oh, yes, I am, Sarge,” she replied. “I’m worried about Knave. You know him. He’s my brother. Well, he’s visiting for a week before heading home to St. Ives to his seven wives.”
“Ah, yes, I remember him. Knave of Hearts, your twin brother.”
“That’s right. Well, I made some tarts all on a summer’s day. The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts and took them clean away! Ran out the back door and into the fields! No-one’s been able to find him.”
Queenie sobbed into her lace handkerchief.
“When did this happen?” Sarge asked.
“Yesterday afternoon,” she sobbed. wiping tears from her eyes.
“Ok. We’ll file a missing person’s report and I’ll send Matty and Bales to begin looking for him right away.”
Queenie nodded as she blew her nose into her dainty handkerchief. Sarge opened the door and invited her to take a seat at the desk closest to the door.
Behind the home of Queenie and Giant Pete, a team of towns folk gathered alongside the officers. Thank goodness for daylight savings. It gave them an hour to start the search at least.
The search team consisted of Jack Nimble, Jack and Jill Hill, Hansel and Gretel Witches, Peter Pumpkin-Eater, Diddle Diddle, Miss Muffet and Nancy Etticoat.
“Queenie, you stay here in case Knave returns,” Matty suggested. “We’ll search for an hour. In the event we don’t locate him, we’ll resume tomorrow, first thing.”
She nodded,- indicating she understood and agreed. With tear-stricken eyes, she watched them form a line and commence calling out her twin brother’s name until their voices were like a whisper in the distance.
“Knave! Knave! Knave!”
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