The birthday of the boy from Disneyland
I didn't know I had so many skills until I met Mr. Wammy. Under his orders I had to act as a gardener, nanny, chef, teacher, detective and even actor.
After the episode of the Stanmore library, my boss spent two days at the lions' mansion; he was determined to return to the Melbourne residence, so he had to refresh his technique on the piano. Meanwhile, I fulfilled his request to investigate about Elizabeth in the small archive of the town, but found not a line about her. In contrast, about Mr. Thomas there was a lot of information; newspapers spoke of his business and scandalous divorce. I got clear he was childless, and his only brother, who had to be the father of the beauty, lay abroad.
Not wanting to disappoint my employer, I made a crazy plan: waited for Melbourne's maid to come out and pretended that I fell.
—Sir, sir! What is it? —she cried, while she held me.
—I'm very dizzy. I think my blood pressure is low. Could you help me get into that coffee shop? —I pointed to a nearby place—. I need a drink with sugar.
The girl helped me to settle in a table. I ordered hot chocolate and a milkshake for her.
—Do not bother, sir. I'm going home —she warned.
—Please stay with me while I recover. If needed, I can pay you—. I put money on the table and she sat down.
—Thanks, but that's not necessary. We must do well without looking at whom —she declared smiling, but after an hour ate his words and ended up taking the tip. It was well spent money, because the girl was a consummate gossip. So I knew that at first Thomas had been very upset by the arrival of Elizabeth, but later he had even hired a very handsome guard named Robert Gibbs to take care of her. The maid criticized her love for grooming, considering that at thirty years should be resigned to being single, and also mentioned that Miss Melbourne had been very frightened by the recent disasters, since she would assume the leadership of the destroyed factory.
The following Saturday I gave my report; Quillsh heard everything very carefully and then, blushing, ordered me to get a bunch of roses.
—The sprouts I planted are already blooming. Anyway, should I buy more? —I asked, puzzled.
—They are not for the garden. I want them wrapped in cellophane with a bow —he replied with a timid voice —. I'll make a visit.
I felt sad because he didn't share with me his affective interests, but I had no right to demand an explanation, so I went to the market and bought a crimson flower dozen, fresh as newly opened. When I handed them to my boss, I could not contain myself and said, "Elizabeth will love the present", but even so he didn't confess his love.
Who would imagine the present wouldn't reach its addressee? When Wammy returned to the artist home, was empty handed. At the last moment he decided to leave the gift in his car because he lost the courage for expressing his affection.
—Hello, Mr. Wammy! —the pianist greeted with excitement—. I've waited for you to come!
Quillsh briefly shook hands with the lady; was sweating so much.
—I brought some scores —he said, showing some books to hide his nervousness.
—Wonderful! The afternoon is very nice, and there's no better way to spend it than playing.
I verbatim reproduce a part of the diary; nothing like the words of the protagonist to describe that occasion:
"In the piano lounge strict silence reigned. It seemed that everything conspired to make my wild heart beats audible. The polished black surface of the instrument reflected the beautiful Elizabeth in her satin dress, and me spellbound at his side, like a vision obtained through the mirror of dreams. I could hardly breathe, but I didn't mind dying if it was in her company. She sat with noble gesture and began to press the keys "to prepare the hands", but what I heard was not a warming, but a masterpiece of coordination and musical sensitivity. Contemplating her execution I felt the weight of his prodigious mind as a child amazed by the infinite extension of the ocean. When I took the seat she'd arranged for me, I could see in his eyes strength of rebirth, like that of a phoenix. We played Schubert with great affect, as if every note wove a new world that would be just for us. There was much sync between her hands, delicate and young, with mine, old and decadent, that for a moment the barriers between her and me vanished. Such is the power of music. "
The text gave no further details about the meeting, but jumped to the time when Mr. Wammy was on the roof of the lions' mansion, watching the sunset:
"That day my life changed. I thought I knew everything, but in reality I was helpless against a barrage of unfamiliar feelings. Even my titles and awards could not fight my personal misery. I felt no right to aspire to such a flourishing and radiant woman, because in the background I always considered myself as a loser who didn't even deserve the air I breathed. When it started raining, I was not able to move; the drops running down my body seemed to come from another dimension."
So disturbed was my friend, which was not surprised to find a child beside him who naturally said: "Good evening, Mr. Wammy. My name is L ", and then gave him a curious business card. With very nice handwritten it said: "Reizo Goto. Private Detective." Quillsh carefully observed the newcomer: he was thin and pale, and his hair was a mess. He wore shirt with tie and trousers rich alike, but didn't use shoes or socks.
—Here says your name is Reizo —rebuked the adult.
—I use a pseudonym to avoid mockery from foolish people, but you have not laughed hearing my real name. That confirms what I already knew.
—And what do you know?
—That you are an educated and cultured, plus sensible gentleman. To appreciate a good rain a special spirit is needed.
Wammy was comforted to hear that opinion, because he felt silly for being soaking. The boy continued:
— I have been following you during ten days, and you have shown intelligence and good judgment when finding my hiding place and taking care of the books I couldn't return. Since you value knowledge, you're just the partner I want.
My friend shuddered when learned he had been spied all that time. His interlocutor seemed to notice.
—Please don't take it personal; if you don't want to be the prey, you have to become a hunter. Let me explain: I need an adult to help me to travel and collect information; it's very difficult to research on my own.
L pulled off of his pants a plastic bag that held several coins and resumed:
—Of course I'll pay you. My business is going bad, but I have saved enough.
They must have looked very ridiculous holding such a conversation under a storm, but the kid wasn't disturbed.
—What do you say? Do you agree?
—How old are you, boy?
—Today just fill up eight.
—Where are your parents?
—I'm lost, that's why I need your help.
—Of course I'll support you, but first we have to dry off or we will get sick.
Quillsh sent the kid to take a hot shower while he dressed up a pajama, but later repented to left alone a visitor with such a bad record.
—Come in, Mr. Wammy —L said when heard hitting the door. His host was amazed to discover him washing himself fully clothed.
—What a strange way of showering! —He exclaimed.
—Always I do so. It's annoying putting off what we will put on later; anyway, I still have to wash my clothes.
Immediately my boss prepared a tub full of bubbles, undressed him and laid him on the lather; he found not any hiding weapons. The guest accepted undeterred to be washed.
—Nobody ever taught you to bathe? —the adult chided.
—My aunt had many children to attend, and I had to do it myself.
—How many cousins do you have?
—Those kids weren't my family.
Fearing touching an uncomfortable subject, Quillsh decided to change the conversation:
—Where do you live now? I brought you candy to your shelter.
—I cannot eat sweets. Mom says that spoil the teeth.
—That's why dentists exist. Today it's your birthday, and we'll enjoy a delicious cake.
Luckily he had in the fridge the cake bought for Willy.
—I've never tried this kind of treat. Do you commit, Mr. Wammy, to repair my teeth in case of damage? —L said so seriously, that his host had to hold back the laughter.
—I guarantee it will be wonderful —Quillsh replied, and then pulled the child from the water to cover him with a robe. When drying his feet, he realized that was badly mistreated, so he gave a massage.
—Why you don't wear shoes? —he asked.
—I'm not used to. I put on a pair for the first time a couple of years or so ago. They are noisy. A detective requires stealth.
—I noticed you like Sherlock Holmes.
—Those stories are very interesting and instructive, but have a defect: they are not real. I hate fictional things.
He didn't sound as a criminal but like an enlightened dement. With each answer, he gained sympathy from the inventor, who took him to see the clothes destined to the orphanage. The boy rushed over a white long-sleeved shirt and baggy jeans.
—This looks so clean! —he exclaimed ecstatically.
Quillsh told him that those clothes were not his size, but he was already wearing them and pirouetted around the room.
—What a comfort! I can move freely!
—It's my gift for your day.
—Thank you. In all my birthdays I received clothes, except the last.
—What you got then?
—Nothing. I had already got lost.
My boss was saddened to learn he had been so much time alone.
—But I got the best of gifts, when I became three years old—continued L—. They revealed my name.
Nothing he said made sense, so Quillsh took him to the dining room to place the candles on the cake. The celebrated looked at him steadily as he heard the "Happy Birthday" and turned the eight lights off with his fingers before he could be stopped.
—Now cut your dessert —ordered Mr. Wammy handing him a knife, but seeing him brandishing the weapon felt a chill running down his back. The offended boy dropped the utensil and left the table.
—It's obvious that you don't trust me, so we can't make business. You misunderstand me: I hang around places visited by the law because I'm looking for certain policeman, and if I stared so intently at the remaining L signboard, was because I thought it might be a message from my mother, who besides you and my aunt, it's the only person who knows my real name.
—You don't need to clarify. Come, dear, let's eat.
—If you don't suspect me, why did you take the bill? I couldn't have bought these chemicals, as they never sell them to someone of my age.
—Then, why did you have that note?
—It's evidence. I found it in the place where he kept me kidnapped.
He was pouring a huge amount of absurd data, but somehow he transmitted honesty. Not wanting him to go away, Quillsh calmed and decided to play along.
—It's better if we talk after dinner.
—Please don't waste my time. If you are not interested in my proposal, I'm leaving right now.
In response, my boss put a spoonful of cake in his mouth, and then a transformation occurred: L eyes shone, while his person changed from gray to a whole range of colors in seconds. "This is the most delicious I've ever tasted in my life," he said while chewing, and ordered another portion, and then another, and another, until the dessert disappeared. His companion feared that he could get indigested, but he didn't dare to restrict him because he looked very happy.
—This is the life you deserve: full of candy, games and good things. Let us adults handle everything else.
—I'm sorry I exalted me before, Mr. Wammy. You have been very kind. I can assume we're friends now, right?
—Count on it, but you have to promise not to go away from me until we find your mother, right?
L reflected a moment and nodded. While he brushed his teeth, the owner of the house conditioned two beds in the guest room to sleep together.
—Well, now we will rest —commanded Quillsh as he locked the room.
—His caution seems useless —the child cynically said—. How do you think I got in your roof? I'm an breaking locks expert.
Quillsh was surprised by that brazen affirmation.
—I've come to a conclusion, Mr. Wammy —L continued with grim countenance—. You won't trust me until the author of the fires is behind bars.
—It's very simple to prove your innocence: you will remain in my orphanage twenty-four hours, and if something bad happens again, I'll know it was not you.
—I can't stand idly while bombs are still thundering out there. I'm a detective.
—What shall we do then?
—Tell me what you know about the case.
My friend confided everything we had learned and soon fell asleep, but the child was more active than ever and prowled through the mansion until he found the library; at dawn, he had finished reviewing half of the acquis.
—So you're still here, huh?—his host said after discovering him crouching on a pile of books.
—It was a very rewarding night. You have a good collection.
—No wonder you have those dark rimmed eyes. Do you ever rest?
—Thirst for knowledge is stronger than sleep.
When the inventor returned the texts to the shelves, he realized that the boy had chosen many written in French.
—You know languages? —he asked.
—In the orphanage I was taught English.
His partner gathered all his patience to listen extravagances again.
—Didn't you say you lived with your aunt?
—Mom and she spoke French, and the guy who kidnapped me, English. I couldn't understand anything he told me, but I was caught by Joy Farm and there I learned this country's language.
The shelter referred by L was a small farm on the outside of the city.
—You were in Joy Farm?
—I'm not pleased to remember that; I think their goal is not to protect children but to get free labor.
—I'd like you to tell me more, but first let's have breakfast.
—Will there be more cake? —L asked full of excitement.
—No, but we'll eat something also delicious.
The elegant gentleman went to the kitchen to prepare hot cakes. The last time he did it was along his mother, decades ago. L helped to wash all utensils, and enthusiastically ate the pancakes after bathing them with unreal amounts of jam and maple syrup.
—Now tell me: How was your life in the orphanage?—Quillsh asked, wishing to resume the conversation.
—I'm sorry, but I must go—L said, heading for the exit.
—Our deal was that you stay with me.
—I need to trust you; if you let me go now, you will show you are dependable.
—Today we celebrate the birthday of Willy with many treats.
—Well, maybe I can visit you.
Wammy ran into a bookcase and pulled out a Polaroid, which he handed to the child.
—We'll need someone to take photos.
—Can you pick me up at 10:30 outside the cathedral?
—Of course. See you there.
L embraced the device and ran without looking back. He disappeared so fast, that was not possible to see which path he took. My boss wrote: "I was begging to heaven that fascinating kid was a good person and we could meet again."
Shortly after, the inventor and I bought supplies for the party, and then went to the designated church. He was very anxious and kept patrolling the green square with his eyes, but after an hour he sadly ordered to leave; however, when we reached the car, we were surprised by the flash of a camera. "Please forgive I didn't show myself before, but I had to make sure you would not bring the police. I already analyzed this puny gentleman, and realized I shouldn't be afraid of him", said the boy while pointing at me in the snapshot, so he instantly won my hatred. To make it worse, he took the seat next to Quillsh, initiating a process of gradually displacing me. When we got off the limousine, it was snowing, so my friend covered his protégé with coat and scarf. They stopped to contemplate the majestic facade of Wammy's House, and just then the bells of all Winchester ringed in unison to announce noon; I realized between those two something magical happened. Ralph and I recovered the gifts from the vehicle, while they walked ahead, but a neighbor headed off Mr. Wammy and I was forced to take L's hand to lead him inside.
"You shouldn't be jealous of me, Mr. Ruvie. I'll leave very soon", he dared to say. I tweaked his wrist out of anger, and he ran to the interior, where orphans were already waiting to give him the traditional welcome: "A new face! Let's cuddle him!" they screamed, jumping on him.
The scene our benefactor found was frightening: the kids were lying scattered around the house, for the newcomer had knocked them using his extraordinary ability to fight.
—They started it all —he justified himself—. They used violence against me and I had to make justice.
Needless to say, no photos of that party were taken, as children were swollen and angry. It was necessary to keep L in a separate room, but he wasn't bothered because spent the day playing with jigsaws, toys he never enjoyed before.
—If you have to leave, please do it now —Quillsh said to his guest when twilight came—. It's dangerous for you to walk alone in the dark.
—Now that I confirmed your good intentions, I'd like to stay. This place is very different from Joy Farm.
—You can live here as long as you like, but about the other kids...
—If they annoy me again, I'll hit them harder. Don't worry, Mr. Wammy.
The next day, I created a file for the boarder number 15, to archive his documents once he was under our custody; we wanted him to be formally dressed for the occasion, but he refused to put on his old suit.
—I don't want to use it. I'll wait until my white shirt gets dry.
—What's the matter? You dressed like that before—my boss scolded.
—I needed to hide I lived on the street.
We had to wait until the favorite outfit was ready, and later we bought many identical items to avoid complains.
The lawyer who attended the notary laughed when we told him the boy's name.
—I can only write real names in a record—he explained.
—Then start typing. It is a capital L—the aforementioned interjected angrily.
—When his parents appear we'll confirm the data —alleged Mr. Wammy—. Furthermore, no law prohibits that appellation.
—What is your surname? —the notary asked while typing.
The three of us looked at each other not knowing what to say, but in the end the kid dared to consult:
—Can I use the name of my mother?
—How is her last name? —the lawyer asked.
—I only know she's named Law.
—¿Law? Are you sure? —my surprised patron questioned.
—It's correct. That's how my aunt and I always called her.
—What do you think if you are enrolled as "L Lawliet"? A few days ago I heard that surname and found it very nice —Wammy suggested.
—So okay —anticipated the lawyer, booking the data—. Who is the father?
—Mihael Jackson —L replied.
The actuary deep breath and took off his glasses.
—I don't have time for joking.
—Please write only L Lawliet, everything else leave it blank. Later we'll get his true documents —Mr. Wammy decided.
Half an hour later we left with the peculiar record in our hands, and then my boss scolded his protégé:
—You must stop teasing. Not everyone likes them your sense of humor.
—Actually, I hate jokes, but I hate more to be unfairly scolded —L said angrily.
Our next stop was a medical office, where they reviewed the boy to find up why he didn't sleep and was so pale.
—Don't you go out to play under the sun? —the doctor asked.
—I suffered an illness that kept me from being outside. I think is called Xeroderma Pigmentosum.
—It cannot be, that has no cure. Right now you should show irritation.
Quillsh received a call and excused himself to go out to answer.
—We have to make some deeper analysis —continued the Galen—. In addition, it would be interesting to apply an intelligence test.
—We know he doesn't look very smart —I said with disguised scorn, whereupon L looked at me with evil eyes.
—On the contrary: I think he is extremely intelligent. If you don't give him special education, he won't develop his skills.
—Is there any questionnaire to diagnose madness? —I asked to continue bothering.
—Mr. Roger wants to know how his head is —the child intervened.
—Do you see what I meant? He is very sharp! —the laughing doctor exclaimed—. Don't worry about his sleep issues, because geniuses like Leonardo Da Vinci had strange break schemes.
As we left the clinic with the score against me, I whispered to my boss that the boy had mental problems, but my revenge was in vain because he asked Ralph to take us to a records store, arguing that music would be the best therapy. On the counter was a large poster that promoted the new Eric Clayton record, and L ran to it.
—My mother and I are his biggest fans! —he declared, so his benefactor bought the new album for him.
Once in Wammy's House, magical guitars sounded blaring.
—Mom loves this song —said the detective, while "I shot the police" was playing.
—And which one is your favorite? —Quillsh asked.
—It's not included in this CD, but I feel "Can't have a Way Home" describes my current situation.
—If she doesn't accept to go with me, I'd like you to accompany me to the next concert —Wammy said, blushing.
—She? Oh, I got it! The roses' addressee. What is her name?
—How do you know so much?
—It's a simple deduction. You would deliver the bouquet, but your relented and left it in the car. If that wasn't a romantic affair you wouldn't have acted so shy.
—I see I can't hide anything from you. Her name is Elizabeth Melbourne.
Quillsh noted: "L was so direct and honest, that I couldn't help but open my heart at him. When he listened to me, it seemed that none of my concerns was absurd." I felt very envious because he never intimated so much with me.
The little detective listened attentively to the story about the lady, and then made another of his puzzling questions:
—How much money would you be willing to invest to solve the case of the bombs?
—All the necessary, if that can make her safe.
—You should ask her out, Mr. Wammy. The chances of acceptance are greater than ninety percent.
—How can you be so sure?
—Call her now, and say you will meet her tomorrow at seven. You will enjoy a dessert in "Delight", the café shop near the firehouse.
My boss was persuaded and phoned the Melbourne house. Great was his joy when the lady not only took the call, but accepted the proposal willingly.
—You're a great counselor —Wammy thanked when he hung up.
—Then follow my instructions exactly as I say: you will pick up the lady at six, not seven, as agreed.
—That would be discorteous.
—It's absolutely necessary to change the time and take the main avenue. Once in Delight, sit next to the entrance, being easily visible from outside. Mr. Ralph must drive four times around the block and then go to park the car in the lane number three. It's very important not to leave anything valuable inside the vehicle.
—I wouldn't like him to wait in such a lonely place.
—Actually, it's necessary that the driver leaves the car and takes a taxi to continue circulating near the cafeteria. If done as indicated, the date will be a success.
—That doesn't sound romantic at all.
—There is a high probability that you can even embrace your loved one if all goes as I planned, Mr. Wammy.
Quillsh blushed and stopped arguing, since he found in the boy courage to take the important initiative.
—I'm going to buy a new outfit. Is there something you'd like me to bring you?
— I'm eager for trying more difficult puzzles.
—I'll get you one with thousands of pieces.
—Could you also bring me more books?
—Sure. Any special topic?
—I'd like to learn Japanese.
Quillsh left toward the center of Winchester; while reviewing the windows couldn't stop thinking about the day ahead of him, and the boy who orchestrated it. His sharpness for certain things combined with their absurd statements, suggested a psychological imbalance, but it was also possible he was trying to hide a terrible family history under a pile of lies.
Wammy's House had become a battleground since the arrival of number fifteen boarder. Orphans spent the day planning ways to get revenge at him, and several times I had to break up their plots. Personally, I would've loved to give him a hard time, but my boss made me promise to protect him. To make my work easier, I decided to confine him in his room, but anyway it was enough to throw to him a lot of sweets and books to get him quiet. Occasionally he played his favorite album and sang; that was creepy.
On Tuesday, Quillsh didn't visit the orphans' home, but phoned his favorite one.
—Horrible brat, you got a call! —I announced.
Apparently my boss needed moral support for what he was about to do, but L simply told him that everything would be fine if they follow his provisions. When returned to his room, he said to me: —My mother is very beautiful. I don't think I'm ugly—. Before closing the door he added —: By the way, I had my hands full of chocolate, but I managed to avoid damaging the phone.
I discovered my hat stained and sticky besides the appliance. I wanted to hit the rascal, but I couldn't find him, because he'd tricked me to escape.
I was very worried, but L returned a few hours later and told me quite naturally: "Mr. Wammy needs a relaxing tea ", and after that, he locked himself in his bedroom. Almost immediately entered my boss accompanied by Ralph, both pale as dead.
—You will not believe what happened, Roger. Turn on the television.
By tuning the news I saw a charred car. My heart skipped a beat when I identified it.
—Blimey! Is yours! Are you all right?
The survivors collapsed on the armchairs while the cook brought them a sedative. I sent the kids to sleep, and as soon the field was clear, the detective showed himself.
—I'm glad that everything turned out the way I planned —he said quietly.
—Enough already of your stupid jokes! —I exclaimed and took his arm to get him out of the room, but Wammy stopped me.
—Leave him, Roger. He owes us some explanations.
—Before you scold me, I remind you that you were willing to spend whatever for the research —L defended himself—. It was a shame to sacrifice such a nice car, but it was worth it, because now we have pretty valuable information.
Quillsh jumped off the couch.
—Then you know what would happen?
—I had a theory, and now I know it is correct. In fact, I was close to see the face of the bomber.
—What do you say? Were you there?
—Yes. I watched the car from a roof, but a lady found me and I had to flee. It was a lucky mishap, because the explosion was stronger than I expected. I didn't think it would damage so much the cafeteria.
—If the fire station hadn't been so close, it would have been a major disaster!
—Indeed. That is why I suggested going to Delight.
My boss went outside looking for fresh air, because he felt troubled digesting the facts. L overtook him.
—Are you mad, Mr. Wammy?
—You should have called the police instead of exposing people.
—We cannot count on them; remember they are under suspicion. Anyway, thanks to my method we know the wrongdoer is after Miss Elizabeth.
—You have to explain everything, and you better be right.
The gentleman followed L to his room. The boy had there series of maps and notes which helped him to illustrate:
—Between the first incidents there were some points in common: both happened on Wednesday and the offender tried not to cause casualties, but seems like he wasn't financially benefited. If he were a rival for Mr. Thomas Melbourne, the most logical thing he would have done was to attack the parent plant, which is larger; the destroyed building newly opened, and it didn't have inside finished products. Analyzing the case of the library, it's easy to notice that neither brought some profit: Louis Bennett documents could have been used to develop new technologies; it would've been wiser to steal them. For these reasons I discarded the theory of an envious entrepreneur.
—Then who is him?
—The bombings seem to be a way to attract attention; something like a child's tantrum or blackmail between lovers. The bandit didn't want to ruin the physical places, but what those sites represent —. L dramatically knocked down a house made of cookies for emphasis to his statement and continued—: I was missing an important piece of the puzzle, until you talked about Miss Elizabeth, who undoubtedly is connected with the pair of attacks: she'd run the new factory, and the girls who'd offer the recital are his students. Also you said your girlfriend is very beautiful; men become unhinged often for a woman like that.
—She's not my girlfriend.
—Perhaps she will be later. Tell me, did you get to hug her?
Quillsh choked; yes, he had achieved. Fleeing off the coffee in flames, he protected her with his arms.
—What has that to do with the investigation?
—Actually, nothing. But don't forget that we're friends besides partners. I want you to be happy.
—Let's continue with the case.
—As I said, the facts suggest there is someone close to the lady, who provides information to the bomber, or is the delinquent himself. Otherwise, how would he know the change of time? Having Mr. Robert Gibbs as guard, it's unlikely that the residence was spied from outside.
—Now that you mention, I saw him yesterday; he is a very handsome guy. He didn't escort us because he had to help a friend in trouble.
—He's very likely to be the snitch. You should be careful until we verify this. Let me continue explaining my plan: the schedule change served to make sure there is a spy, and I knew a circus would parade at six.
—It's true. So there was a lot of traffic.
—That was my intention. The criminal has left no trace, which shows that he worries about being caught. He wouldn't attack in the middle of a traffic jam, with many witnesses there.
—What if you were wrong?
—I told you already that crazy man won't destroy Miss Elizabeth, only to the things that matter to her. Surely he loves her.
—Please continue your report.
—As we didn't know how our suspect moves, I had Mr. Ralph spinning around Delight allowing the vehicle to be located. It was an easy target, and the guy took the bait. By the way, what time exploded the bomb?
—I think he arrived by car, since he didn't look agitated. He was tall and thin, and moved limping his left leg.
—Then he wasn't Robert Gibbs, because he is robust and walks with ease.
—Perhaps they are accomplices.
—Now that I think, no longer saw the guard when I brought Elizabeth home.
—We'll have to think of something to protect your girl, Mr. Wammy. Maybe they won't kill her, but they could kidnap her.
Quillsh meditated in silence for a while, and then stroked the boy's head.
—You are really clever. I'm surprised.
—Will you begin to take me seriously?
At that point, I interrupted to bring them some tea.
—Please get me a taxi, Roger. I'll go home —my employer said rejecting the drink.
—Can I sleep with you, Mr. Wammy? Mr. Ruvie is eager to thrash me —L accused.
—It's very dangerous to go outside now —I pointed out, diverting the topic.
—There's cops everywhere trying to prevent another bombing, and besides, I will be accompanied by a secret agent —Quillsh assured, and left with the flattered child.
Wednesday was a day of terror; businesses and schools were closed as prevention against another possible attack. I couldn't stop worrying about my friend safety, and was also jealous, so I phoned him to warn not to trust the kid. Wammy told me I shouldn't worry, and after my call he asked his guest:
—Are you truly afraid of Roger?
—Not really. I just wanted to come here because of the new books and puzzles. I must learn Japanese as soon as possible.
—I can teach you. As a member of the intelligence service, studied the languages of our enemies during the war. But tell me: why do you want to learn that?
—I think Mom is in Tokyo. She said we lived in Disneyland.
—I guess you don't know there's another park with that name in Anaheim, California.
—It's horrible to be so ignorant! —L exclaimed tearing his hair until Wammy stopped him.
—Please calm down. Do you remember when did she say that?
—During my third birthday.
—That must have been in 1982, but Tokyo Disneyland was opened in 1983. I went to the opening myself.
—Then she was referring to America —the detective concluded, and stayed thinking awhile, then continued—: Anyway, I have elements to guess we were located in Japan: at home we didn't wear shoes, and children who visited us spoke in a language I didn't understand.
—Did they have oriental features?
—I never could see them. It was forbidden to go out of my room when there were people.
—Was it because of your illness?
—Mom said a monster was looking for me.
—I'm surprised you believe in those things.
—They aren't as described in the fairy tales, but they do exist. Returning to the topic, when Mom and I fled, we used Asian pseudonyms to board a ship. She said that during the trip our names would be "Jiyū and Reizo", and our surname "Gotō."
Mr. Wammy wrote down the nicknames he just heard, but remembering that Japanese surnames should be written before the name, he corrected the note.
—I just noticed something very curious, dear L. As Jiyū means "freedom", here says "Go to freedom".
The child was rushed to catch the note and said: "That's right!"
—I need you to tell me everything about your life —said his host—. Maybe we'll find more hidden messages.
Although we reached Thursday without another explosion, residents of Winchester stayed paranoiacs. They were very frightened by the attack on Mr. Wammy, so they expected the worst from an offender that didn't even respect a national hero.
Orphans embraced fondly our leader when he went to visit, because they were afraid of losing it. Quillsh sent the internal 15 to his room and took me aside, so we could talk.
—You will not believe what I found out. L had a novel-like life—he said with dismay.
The boy told him he had always lived with his aunt, who studied in the mornings and worked as a nanny in the evenings. He stayed in a room without windows, where only his bed and a table with a phonograph fit. His mother visited him on weekdays, always after six, but never took him for a walk, because it was supposedly fatal to expose him to the sun. She taught him to read and write with the help of many books in French, but never told him things about the family; she often said: "The less you know, the safer you will be." The little boy didn't even know his name, until he was given a sweater with a small L embroidered and asked if that was his name. His mother and his aunt went out for a moment, and when returned they swore to reveal the truth; they stated that L was actually his name, and his dead father shared name with the King of Pop. They also said they lived in Disneyland, because the monster could not find them there.
His life remained the same for another three years, until one morning when his mother suddenly appeared to wrap him in fabric cover and locked him into the chest of a car. L was afraid of choking, but stayed there many hours quietly. After that, he was boarding a ship; didn't understand what others were saying, but his mother guided him to the cabin. He remembered they had been at a couple of ports, and then they had traveled in a truck. During that very long journey he heard other unknown languages and had to endure a terribly hot weather, but never dared to uncover fearing the sun, until the day his mother unwrapped his face while saying: "Worth dying to see this"; in front of them there were magnificent pyramids. Later they took a couple of flights, boarded a train, and finally got a small car.
—That is nonsense! He has seen too many movies! —I exclaimed.
Wammy looked at me reproachfully and continued narrating: the fugitives crossed a thick countryside when some bullets deflated their tires. A strange man pointed at the head of Law, so she ordered his son to go with him. The kidnapper handcuffed L to a seat of his car and transported him several days, to deposit him in a box that was uploaded in a noisy boat. The boy ended up imprisoned in a warehouse of Winchester for two weeks, but learned to open locks and escaped. People didn't understand his requests for help, so he ran aimlessly until he came to Joy Farm. He had to milk cows and clean stables, but also learned English. He spent several months at the hospice, until one day his abductor found him and demanded his custody.
We were still engrossed in the story, when the cook told us it was time to eat. L did not want to eat anything but sweet, so Quillsh invented for him a vitamin preparation that could be dissolved in coffee without altering the taste. I wanted to resume talking when leaving the table, but my friend said he would go searching for the kidnapper of his protégé.
Mr. Wammy was a great shooter, but he did not like hunting. He used to carry in the chest of his car a rifle to practice if he ran into some desolated place. As soon as he bought a new limousine, he hid there his gun.
L had wandered several times by the place where he was caught, but always far enough, unable to see his captor. My boss was determined to get inside there, so disguised his companion as a girl and pretended he wanted to rent the warehouse. The owner opened up the space for review.
—Could we know who rent this storehouse? —Wammy asked to him.
—A person named Leopold Blummer rented it for years, but since several months, he doesn't come here. I suspect he left without paying me the bill.
The place was completely empty, but retained marks of drums and cans on the floor. The investigators thanked the owner and went to see the place from the distance.
—Are you sure the kidnapper's name was Lorenzo, not Leopold?
—I remember very well. On one occasion, he showed me a cartoon where he appeared hugging a girl; above her it said: "Law" and on him, "Lorenzo" —the boy spelled the inscriptions.
—That sounds like Spanish, the man must be a foreigner. Do you remember anything else?
—I already told you everything, Mr. Wammy: the guy was an awful thirty years old drunk. He often cried when visiting me, and tried to hug me, but I didn't not allow it. As I always kept silent, I guess he thought I was deaf.
—And you think he was a cop, right?
—He was good driving at high speed, and he had handcuffing. If not an officer, he is a skilled criminal.
—What about the girl in the picture?
—She was wearing sunglasses, so was not particularly recognizable.
—When we get home, I'll find my books in Spanish. Maybe we can get something clear about the label of the cartoon.
—First, we should interrogate the librarian of the Stanmore. I just remembered that Leopold Blummer was the subject who left the poisoned sandwich.
The employee, who had settled to work in a bookstore, was delighted to see Mr. Wammy and was particularly affectionate with "the girl" who accompanied him. L stoically endured the situation.
—The Day before the explosion, the library was visited by more than a dozen people. I was busy, so I didn't see them all, but noticed the presence of a particular man —the girl informed, blushing—. He was very good looking, and had amazing gray eyes; a face like that couldn't be forgotten. I guess he set the trap. What a pity!
Quillsh thanked and retreated in haste. Already on his car, he said to his companion: "Do you know who has memorable eyes? Robert Gibbs!" then ordered his driver: " To Melbourne's house, quickly. "
—Visiting Miss Elizabeth, can arouse the wrath of the bomber. It's best to call her by phone —L warned.
—I think you're right. Ralph, take us to the hospice. My phone is out of battery.
In 1987, the technologies that are so familiar today were still using diapers. I remember the first computer of L, a ZX Spectrum 128 with a dull monochrome display, capable of gathering information from the world thanks to the Internet Engineering Task Force. An apparatus of this kind was very expensive, but it was highly profitable because the boy used it to monitor stock exchanges worldwide. Following his advice, Wammy invested in various company stocks, and before long, his fortune grew as it had gotten much bread yeast. Thus, the little one paid back favors.
—Could I speak with Miss Melbourne, please? —my boss said on the phone. Shortly after, the woman was on the line.
—Hello, Mr. Wammy! I am pleased to hear you. How are you?
—I'm fine. Are you feeling better?
—I have taken some natural wonderful sedatives. You should also try them.
—Later, I will. I hope you don't mind it, but I need to ask some things about your guard.
—Are you going to hire him? Now I understand why he left us.
—Mr. Gibbs left?
—Yes. Tuesday was his last day with us, but he quitted since Saturday. It's a shame to lose him, but I'm glad he takes care of you now.
—Actually, I call to warn you about him; my private detective suspects he is involved with the bombings. Please exercise caution.
—Thank you for caring, you're very kind. When will you come to play again?
—I'm afraid that's not possible for now.
—What a pity. Well, I appreciate your attention. Bye now.
Quillsh loosened the knot of his tie; he felt that the world was a jungle full of wild beasts. He informed L about Gibbs' departure, and then asked me to stay at his home. Once in the mansion, he gave me a glass of excellent wine and a plate of sandwiches. As we played chess, he told me about his new discoveries. He was obviously very upset, because otherwise I would not have been able to win the game.
—There is something else that worries me—he confessed ruefully, as he put the chess pieces back in the box.
—What is it, Quillsh?
—I suspect that Law is not the mother of L.
—Why do you think that?
—She doesn't seem strive to find him. If I were she, I would have contacted all the orphanages in the world.
—Maybe Law died.
—I don't even want to think about it, I wouldn't bear to see that kid suffering. I think I love him too much.
—I blushed with envy, but tried to hide it by drinking a lot of wine.
—It's not good that you get involved with him. He is a mad child.
—That's precisely what worries me, Roger: I guess that Law gave him a lot of absurd data to make him look like a fool. Did I mention that the sweater with the embroidered L was pink?
—Blimey! What kind of mother would dress a boy with that color?
—The clothes they gave him were always worn-out.
—Perhaps they were very poor.
—Of course, they had money: they bought imported books and records. I think they rather recycled their own childhood clothes. That L probably was sewn to identify a sweater of Law.
—That's not cruel, many families do like that.
—What about the visit to the pyramids? A good mother would expose a sick child to the harsh desert sun?
—It's true. She wanted to damage him, or the illness was a fake.
—Yes. Moreover, even if all these lies served to protect him, it would have been better to hire a bodyguard, that way he wouldn't had a dark childhood. I also suspect that Lorenzo is the father of L.
—Lorenzo the kidnapper?
—That one. Otherwise, why did he take the kid?
—Perhaps he wanted a ransom.
—He bought for him expensive toys and good food; instead than a raptor, he acted as his dad.
—Perhaps he is confused. Drunks imagine things.
—There is another fact that makes me think of a relationship: when Lorenzo retrieved the boy from Joy Farm, he didn't have to show any documents.
—Sure, they were urged to get rid of him. Sympathy is not one of his features.
—In that case, they could have expelled him before. I suspect there is a great physical resemblance between them.
—And how could he take L with him, if he is so good at fighting?
—They had to inject him a sedative. The narcotic didn't work, but he pretended to be asleep to avoid getting another dose. Once in the car of Lorenzo, he broke the window and escaped.
At that moment the clock struck twelve. The time had gone like smoke.
—Now we should rest, Roger. All that we spoke will be our secret. Tomorrow, I will call to the major Japanese newspapers and magazines to insert an ad that says: "The child who speaks French and lives in Disneyland."