All of you are idiots!
Everybody at the orphanage celebrated the defeat of Nell, but the responsible just showed an odd smile and went to his room. I followed him.
—It was you, right? That was great! —I praised.
—Actually, it was teamwork. You were right: you can't do everything by yourself. Now we have to reward the person who helped me.
—How did you manage that?
—I contacted a spy who discovered that Nell cheats on his wife. As that woman runs the TV station, if she knew of the betrayal, she'll throw Bill to the street for sure. I explained that to the announcer, so he readily agreed to recant ... and well, I also threatened him with death.
—But that's illegal!
—So is defaming innocent people. An eye for an eye.
—Don't you fear to be betrayed by your reporter?
—She won't do anything to me, as long as I save a friend of hers from jail. Please hire the best lawyer for Thierry Morello —the boy said while handing me a folder with data about the prisoner. I argued that we shouldn't get involved with people like that, but L didn't hear me: he had fallen asleep.
The next morning I went to his bedroom to verify that he was all right, but could not find him. I looked everywhere, and finally saw him enjoying a light rain on the roof. I had to climb there.
—What the hell are you doing? At this rate, you'll never recover.
—I'm a normal kid, I do mischief.
The car of Mr. Wammy suddenly appeared in the distance, and we gazed at it until it stopped in front of our door.
—Hello, Wammy-San! —L greeted loudly.
—Why are you up there? —Quillsh asked.
—Mr. Roger told me to come here to look at the landscape.
I wanted to pinch him, but even without one leg he was very fast. Our benefactor gave him a crutch.
—As you don't stand still, you better use this —he ordered.
Once inside the house, the orphans performed a beautiful song of Handel, and Quillsh applauded with excitement.
—When I left, this place was a hell, but it has become a paradise. Remind me to double your salary, Roger; in your hands, even children bloom.
—Mr. Ruvie is not as silly as he seems to be—L declared.
Wammy upbraided the child, but I defended him—: Please forgive him. He is not as obnoxious as he seems to be.
Then we sat down to have breakfast together. The air was full of some kind of relief that we hadn't felt in a while, and it was because of our leader, who looked refreshed and jovial.
—I see that trip helped you, despite the slander —I said.
—L taught me that instead of fleeing, we must take the situation on our hands. I'll change what makes me suffer.
—Thanks to that stupid TV show, we verified that Miss Elizabeth didn't lie, at least about the reporter —the little detective interjected.
I wanted to change the subject, but my boss didn't allow it.
—How is she lying?
—She expected the cultural center attack, and therefore stayed in Japan. In fact, I suspect she is acquaintance to the mad bomber. You don't know, but your lady was called to testify on suspicion of carrying explosives and hit a policeman.
—Why didn't you tell me before?
—You weren't as strong as you're now, Wammy-San. Fortunately, you'll go today to see Miss Melbourne, right?
—Of course. When you hit the bottom, momentum is acquired to come to the surface.
The gentleman took out his huge Dyna TAC 8000X to make a call.
—Hello, this is Quillsh Wammy. Please tell your mistress I'll wait for her outside the cathedral at five o'clock. She may not want to see me, but I need to give back something to her— he said to the servant who attended him, and hung up without waiting for an answer.
My friend didn't want anyone to accompany him, because he considered the event as a test of strength; he had proposed not to get depressed even if Elizabeth didn't appear. He would go ahead, accompanied or alone, but always moving forward. An unknown man suddenly appeared by the church, looking fixedly at Wammy, and then left to return accompanied by the beautiful lady.
—It's a pleasure to see you again! —the pianist greeted.
My boss shook his hand tightly and then asked, pointing to the man—: Who is this big guy?
—He's Marshall, my new bodyguard —she said. The guard forced a smile, and Quillsh returned a similar gesture.
—Would you like to go to the countryside, miss? It's a beautiful day.
—I love the idea. Let's get into my car; Marshall will drive.
—If you don't mind, I'd like to talk to you alone —Wammy said, offering his arm to her. The escort would intervene, but my friend cut his briskly—: Your mistress will be safe with me. No one would dare to mess with Mr. Wammy the terrorist.
Elizabeth laughed and told his companion to leave them, and already inside Quillsh's limousine she exclaimed:
—Bill Nell really went beyond the limits!
The gentleman didn't respond; instead, he turned on the stereo with the album "Augusto", so Clayton would speak for both of them.
Once in the forest, the couple walked a while without exchanging a word, but when the lady stopped near a bush of white daisies, her companion joked:
—Where are you, Miss Elizabeth? Which flower are you?
Elizabeth laughed charmingly and my friend stored that picture in his mind. He thought that even if he loses her, at least he had good times and memories. Then he decided to show the stolen mug and said—: I needed to return this to you, and I also want you to keep the words I said before taking this cup.
He was really encouraged! That was the real Quillsh Wammy.
—You mean the "I love you"? —she asked, taking the porcelain.
—Yes. I apologize for loving you, but I couldn't help; you're the perfect woman.
Miss Melbourne dropped the cup, and it got shattered.
—I'll give you something that I do want you to give me back —she announced, and slowly approached the gentleman to kiss him in the cheek. Then my friend took her in his arms and repeated the caress.
—Then you love me too? —he asked.
—It's impossible not to do it. You're the perfect man.
The lovebirds walked hand in hand among the flowers quietly, until Quillsh broke the silence again.
—Dear Elizabeth: if we'll be together, I need you to be very honest with me.
—I've always been.
—Tell me the truth; did you know that it would be a bombshell on your recital?
The pianist became pale and released the hand of her boyfriend.
—Don't be afraid to tell me. I need to know in order to protect you —Wammy reassured.
The lady confirmed it: she suspected the attacks were aimed at her and had decided to put a bait to investigate. Quillsh scolded her for exposing innocent people, but she defended herself saying that the venue was open, which would prevent trapped victims.
—Not all the pretty women are stupid —she argued.
—I never hinted that. Anyway, we shouldn't get angry about something that already happened. Please answer another question-
—If I had known I would come to an interrogation, I would've brought my lawyer.
My boss tenderly embraced her and caressed her long, straight hair.
—I don't care if you made mistakes. All I want is to help you.
She nodded and kissed him on the cheek. Her boyfriend took up the question—: Did you strike the policeman, or you hired someone to do it?
—I asked Marshall to punish him, because that was the only way to get rid of him.
—Do you know that man?
—Well, yes. Such guy chased a friend of mine when we lived in Spain. Because of his profession, nobody believed our complaints, so my roommate decided to beat him, and only then he left her alone. Later we discovered he was a poor alcoholic who had lost his wife and children in an accident, and was engaged in harassing people who look like the deceased ones.
—Is he named Lorenzo by any chance?
—I don't know. We always called him "cripple" See, now you must tell me how you know these things.
—I have the world's greatest detective working for me. I'd love to introduce him to you: he's a boy genius.
—Is him one of your orphans?
—Yes, though he'll possibly find his parents soon.
—You shouldn't trust such serious matters to a kid. If he's truly gifted, why not to send him to the special school that opened in Boston?
—That won't be necessary; I will turn Wammy's House into a school for great intellects.
—You and I are persons of rank, my dear, and we have to be among people like us. Orphans are icons of failure, because they come from incapable parents that couldn't even give them a place in the world.
—That's exactly what my father says —Quillsh sighed.
—Why to take care of others' mistakes when you can raise your own successful children?
—Do you think about starting a family?
—Nothing would please me more. I just hadn't found the right man... until now.
It was getting dark, so Wammy took Elizabeth home. He found her residence freshly painted and the garden plants uprooted.
—I see you are remodeling. If you want, I can send Roger to help you.
—Thanks, but that's not necessary. I have actually thought of selling this house to move to London. Winchester is so boring!
—Well, from now on I'll make it fun for you.
The couple kissed as farewell, while Marshall stared at them with angry eyes.
The gorgeous notes of "Wonderful this night" surrounded the hospice while their occupants drank the tea.
—I wonder how Mr. Wammy's date ended up —I confided to L, who ate a piece of pie with many strawberries.
—Clearly the lady also has interest in him —he replied mouthful.
—Nothing would please me more than to see him happy.
—I agree. And you, Mr. Ruvie, should also get a girlfriend. Abigail is nice, but she does not bathe often.
The assistant, who was sitting with us, left the room angrily.
—When will you learn to shut your mouth? —I yelled at the unwary one.
—Adults are weird; they scold us for telling lies, but also for telling the truth.
I was trying to pinch him when the phone rang. It was Quillsh, who shared the good news with excitement. L was thrilled to learn that the wounded police was Lorenzo, but when he listened about the romance, became gloomy and prophesied: "from now on, we won't see Mr. Wammy often."
Our benefactor didn't visit us for three days. He was busy taking his girlfriend to restaurants, cinemas and parks. He invested his free time in practicing piano and visiting the barber.
The little detective felt bored, so he invented a form of entertainment: everyday things got lost and began to appear in the weirdest places; so we had cereal boxes in the washing machine, tablecloths under the cushions of the chairs, cutlery buried in pots ... When I asked why he was doing that, he explained that carried out an experiment about our ability to adapt to change. I told him to better search for his mother, but he replied he needed to leave the country to do that. On Wednesday, he got on the roof early. He looked like a gargoyle by his peculiar way of sitting, though he substituted his weak foot with an arm. I let him be, because I shared his jealousy; both of us felt relegated. The day was very quiet, until nighttime, when I heard the cook screaming. L had thrown the egg carton to the floor, and exclaimed: "Clara is a fool!" The other kids came immediately to see what happened, and began to chase him. I watched everything from the top floor, but as soon as he discovered me, screamed: "Mr. Ruvie is an idiot!" I threw at him one of my shoes, and he answered me by shattering the windows with his crutch. Then I joined the chase; we ran some laps around the living room, until we got to the bathroom, where L pulled the shower curtain and exposed John. The victim wrapped himself in a towel to join the throng. Everyone in Wammy's House was insulted. The damn brat called us one by one dedicating rude words, and finally kicked the fence to rush into the street. While we followed him, he was screaming relentlessly: "All of you are idiots!"
We ran some distance, until we reached river Itchen and our prey dropped into water with a horribly swollen leg. Then, we heard an explosion.
—I apologize for the method I used, but otherwise you wouldn't have evacuated so quickly —L excused himself—. Now we have to call the fire department and refuge in the Lions' mansion.
We applauded his sharpness and carried him on our shoulders to the big house. When Quillsh found us there, he was startled.
—But what happened?
—A bomb exploded in Wammy's House —I explained.
—It was my fault. I was too confident —the wet detective said—. It was obvious that we would be their next target.
—Please tell me everything in order —my boss asked.
—I was enjoying the twilight on the roof, when I saw a cloaked guy jumping our fence. I thought of capture him, but I noticed he was installing a bomb, so I preferred to get everyone out of the place.
—Could you identify him?
—I just saw he was an athletic guy.
Wammy sent the hospice people to sleep and summoned his beloved odd child and me for a secret meeting.
—I won't forgive this. I'll finish this issue once and for all —Quillsh roared.
—And who will you punish? —I replied—. We have Gibbs, the crippled one, Lorenzo, the athletic guy...
—I can get more clues, but for that I need a voice filter —our little companion said.
The inventor improvised the required device and the boy communicated with chief Collingwood.
—Good night. I am L, Mr. Wammy's private detective —he introduced himself with robotic voice.
—Finally I have the pleasure. I am chief inspector Albert Collingwood. I'm really sorry, but I can't attend you right now, because I'm very busy. Could we talk after a couple of hours?
—This won't take long; I just want to know how your wounded official is.
—He recovers favorably, but he'll have to rest a while longer.
—Have you visited him?
—I haven't been able. I just called him some hours ago, but the nurse said he was sleeping since evening.
—I fear someone could try to kill him. Would you mind to assign him a guard?
—That's a good idea. Hey, I'd like to keep talking with you, but I have to make an urgent call right now.
—We'll speak later, then. Thank you — L said and hung up.
—You're a big fool!—I scolded him —. Why did you say your real name?
—Nobody believes it's real.
He was right: only four people, including me, called him that way. For everyone else, he was Reizo Gotō.
—This is my logo —he announced while showing a piece of paper with an elegant printed L; I snatched it when realized it was a capital letter thorn from a book of mine.
—I don't get the purpose of your call. I thought you would ask the law for help — Wammy snapped.
—Now we know that Lorenzo didn't put the last bomb, and he won't escape because someone will be watching over him.
—Tomorrow I'll go to see him. He will be easily identified because of the guardian —Quillsh said—. Also I will wiretap his line to know if he is giving orders by phone.
—It's a great idea! —I praised—. How can I help?
—Get me a gun —L asked.
—Why in the world you want that? Did you forget Bill Nell's trouble? —my boss protested.
—Someone must protect Wammy's House. You are very busy lately.
The boy was right: Elizabeth absorbed our friend. Because of her, Quillsh postponed the task of looking for Lorenzo, and didn't even escort us back to the orphanage. Fortunately, the security systems had extinguished the fire promptly, so the house didn't get too much damage. Our friendly neighbors helped us to clean the debris and lent their Bobtails to us, which made the kids happy.
On Friday, our leader finally returned victorious. Under the pretext of checking the hospital's extinguishers, he got permission to explore the whole place. He had managed to see the wounded man, who had bandaged face, but the guard prevented him from talking to the patient. The phone trap was installed successfully, and that very afternoon we had a chance to test it.
—Hello, comrade! How do you feel? Are you ready to prosecute criminals?—Collingwood saluted with his peculiar voice.
—Save the joke, man. We both know that I'm always heating seats —the convalescent answered.
—How is your knee? I hope it didn't get worse after this incident.
—Are you sure no one is listening?
—You know your secret is safe with me. Anyway, if we get out of this, I promise I'll help you to have another surgery.
—Do they still suspect me?
—Yes. There is a detective after you, so I had to put surveillance. You should remove the charges against Miss Melbourne; don't mess with important people, my friend.
—You're right. I will say that I was delirious when I made my deposition.
—The good thing is that the press didn't know about this issue, and we can bury it forever.
—What about the show? Will you grant me to go?
—If you're well then, count on it, but now you have to rest. Remember there's a colleague that will help you if you need anything.
—Thank you, Colley. Bye now.
L exclaimed: "Lorenzo's voice is creepy!" and fell off the chair where he was crouching.
Quillsh continued absenting. He abandoned us when we needed him more, so I phoned him to complain and he just told me that his girlfriend had hired a foreign detective to deal with everything, and we shouldn't get involved anymore. When L knew about that, became very sad, but tried to hide it. "It's good that other person will investigate those stupid bombs! Now I can concentrate on finding my mom", he said.
To cheer him up a bit, I took him with me to my old house. The place was covered in dust, because I had not come there since I moved to the orphanage. I found in the mailbox a lot of letters from Margaret, and to read them calmly, I locked me in my bedroom. My heart skipped a beat when I saw an invitation to the opening of my sister's bakery, occurred weeks ago. I couldn't hold back my tears at the thought that I had forgotten my own family by concentrating on an ungrateful friend that no longer took care of me. I cried for a while, until a shot tore me from my sadness, and discovered that my guest was holding a small revolver that my father had inherited me. "Great! It works!" he said with joy for having pierced my wall clock right in the center, blowing up its hands. I scolded him, but since we had to protect ourselves, I decided to take the gun to Wammy's House, warning him that the others should not find it.
The next day, L called the Japanese embassy in Italy; the person in charge agreed to search for his mother in San Buono. After that, L repeatedly phoned the Osaka University Hospital. The nurse who picked up the phone didn't want to answer any of his questions, and finally, unplugged the line. The investigation had hit a dead end, so the boy got even more depressed and locked himself in his room to eat tons of sugar.
All the children were in their beds when a tall, pale man rang our doorbell. As I felt distrust, I attended him with closed fence. The dogs barked nervously.
—Good night. I'm sorry to come at this night hour. I am Mr. Lawliet —the visitor said.
—Lawliet? —I stammered, trembling with shock.
—Yup. I came to recover my son. Tomorrow I go back to Japan, so I don't have time to waste.
The man handed me a folder containing a French act on behalf of "Reizo Lawliet" and a kindergarten certificate from the same country, plus some medical studies.
—I hope he is well —the guy continued—. Just bring him to me, I'm in a hurry.
I thought of telling him that he came to the wrong orphanage, but since he looked a bit like L, I decided to ask the kid to identify him.
—Fils bien-aimé! —the man exclaimed when he saw the boy.
—I don't know this man —the little one said, clutching me.
—Wow! Now he even speaks English! You did a great job raising him! —Lawliet expressed.
—The child says he doesn't know you. Please go now.
—Read the studies! My son suffers from amnesia and other mental problems.
—Then he's not the one you're looking for. Go away or I'll call the police.
Instantly I felt a cold metal cylinder squeezing my forehead. The guy had me at gunpoint.
—Open the door or die right here! —he commanded.
My hands were shaking and I couldn't get the key into the lock, but L helped me to do it.
—Remove the dogs! —the intruder indicated, and I scared the animals until they went to the other end of the garden. Then the boy left closing the cancel; the intruder threw away his crutch and grabbed him by the neck.
Not daring to follow them, I saw them disappear hoping everything was a nightmare. I screamed for help, but no one listened. I was going to send the dogs after them, when I heard a shot, and then L ran back with my revolver in his hand. Immediately I took him inside the house and undressed him, because his shirt was splattered with blood, but fortunately he wasn't injured. I wanted to know what had happened, but he covered himself with a bed sheet and said: "I'm asleep." Promptly, I phoned Quillsh, but the system warned me that he was outside the coverage area; there was nothing left to do but to wait for daylight to move the detective to a safe place.
As I already said, Peter Salvin was a very kind man; he gladly accepted to give asylum to L. The boy took his equipment with him, and asked me not to visit him, fearing the impostor would follow me to locate his prey.
After finding the Lion's mansion deserted, I decided to wander by the paths surrounding Wammy's House, trying to imagine where the wrongdoer had fled. I walked a while along the Itchen, without much hope of accomplishing anything, until I saw a white Volkswagen Gol surrounded by polices who were recovering a corpse from the river. When I went to look, I shuddered: the dead one was Lawliet! Although a bullet had destroyed his face, I could recognize him by the clothes he wore.
—Oh, my god! What happened here? —I asked Collingwood, who led the operation.
—The Brighton's car was stolen again. We came to recover it, without knowing there was this little surprise waiting for us —the commander explained.
Before putting the body in a bag, a forensic took his fingerprints to compare them with those he had in his record, and finally exclaimed—: Just as I thought! This is Teddy White.
I wanted to check inside the car, but Collingwood got in my way.
—Please leave, Mr. Ruvie. Your boss and you are getting involved in many dangerous matters. If you continue like this, we have to consider you suspects.
I left and went to the town's archive, where I found several notes about the recently deceased, who was a thief from Romsey repeatedly arrested for various crimes.
—When I phoned Salvin's home, L spoke dully—: You called just in time. I found out something interesting.
—There's no time to waste—I interrupted—. You have to escape. They found the kidnapper's corpse.
The boy hung up on me, so I got one of Abigail's uniforms, and after completing my costume with a hat, took a taxi to see L. He was right: the maid clothes stank. When I arrived, Peter went out, but stopped to lend me a copy of his keys. Upon entering, I found L wrapped on a fax paper strip.
—Let them arrest me. I'm a gross murderer —he murmured, without looking at me.
—You killed him for self-defense. Come on, flee while you still can! —I insisted, but he didn't move. I tried to contact Quillsh, but was unsuccessfully again, so I decided to call Miss Elizabeth. Her maid informed me that the couple had been traveling since Sunday, and would not return until Thursday. I was furious to learn that my boss had fun while we were in big trouble.
—Leave me alone. You smell really bad—L grumbled when I tried to carry him.
—You have to move on. Remember that you're close to find your mother.
—She will die of disgust when she knows I'm a murderer.
—You're not a criminal, you just overacted a bit. You shouldn't have aimed at his head.
The boy stood up when hearing that.
—I shot him in the leg, when he tried to load me in the car.
—Was it just a single shot?
—There weren't more bullets.
—Then someone else should have killed him. It makes sense; would have been stupid to throw himself into the river.
I told the detective what I saw, and he regained his strength.
—Do you still have the documents he gave you, Mr. Ruvie?
In response, I pulled out a folder from my wallet apron. The documents were definitely fake, but very well done. Looking at them calmly, I discovered something I hadn't seen before: a photocopy of our ad in a Japanese magazine.
—I wish White had not died —L lamented—. I believe he was on mom's side.
—How can you say that? Why didn't she pick you personally?
—Possibly she is sick. Let me show you —he unwrinkled the roll of paper where he had laid, and showed it to me —. I finally got the list of the Osaka University Hospital employees, and I realized that we have misconstrued the situation: Mom is not part of the staff; rather she is there being cured. I imagine that she slipped into the office to call after seeing the ad, but repented and chose to find out who owned the phone number first. Knowing that Wammy's house was involved, she hired White to get the records of the boarders, so they found mine. Otherwise, how could he know that Lawliet is my provisional surname, and Reizo my nickname?
—It has logic —I admitted.
—Mom had to get false documents, so his assistant could claim me; she also instructed him to speak to me in French, because she knew that was the language I understand.
—But why he said you were mad?
—They invented that to explain why I didn't recognize my fake father. It was the same strategy that Lorenzo used to get me out of Joy Farm. Tell me the truth, Mr. Ruvie; do I look like a crazy boy?
—That doesn't matter right now —I escaped—. We need to find Ted's murderer before you are blamed. Do you have any idea who it was?
—White needed medical attention, but instead of seeking relief, he went to a desolate place; surely there was an accomplice, who decided to punish him for his failure.
—I don't understand.
—Perhaps the murderer was planning to get a ransom for me.
—What if Lorenzo was the one who tried to kill you? Remember the bomb in Wammy's House, perhaps you were the target.
—I've thought about it, but I don't find it logical. Anyway, I'm devising a master plan to expose all our suspects; I have to conceive it carefully, because I will be the bait—. L unrolled the rest of the fax and pointed to another paragraph of text—. By the way, I forgot to tell you that we have fewer enemies now: last week, an Ira militant was arrested for making bombs and chemical weapons. He is described as tall, handsome and gray eyed. His name is Liam Mc Carthy, but is known by at least five different aliases. Have you guessed who he is, Mr. Ruvie?
—He is Robert Gibbs. Counting him, there are two criminals out of combat.
—Would be three, assuming that Lorenzo is the crippled one, but we still have the athletic one unchained out there. We must continue spying on the phone, because tomorrow will be Wednesday. I'm eager to have a new bombing that gives us another piece of the puzzle.
—Still don't know why everybody thinks you're insane?
It was very boring to wait for things to happen, especially when they didn't happen; Lorenzo did not receive more phone calls, and we didn't know of another attack, at least for that week.
—Perhaps Miss Melbourne's detective has already captured the criminals —I said to L over breakfast.
—I doubt he goes ahead of me. I'll call Mr. Wammy to find out about it. He is supposed to return today.
The child dialed several times, but couldn't succeed until the evening when my boss finally picked up the phone.
—Hello. This is Quillsh Wammy. Who are you? Mr. Salvin?
—Hello, Wammy-San. How are you?
—Dear L! I'm so glad to hear you! I feel great. I took Lizzie to Paris, and best of all, we got engaged. Isn't it wonderful?
—Well, that's relative.
—And how have you been?
—Compared with yours, our experiences are trifles: Roger has started to dress as a woman, and I'm involved in a murder ... Nothing out of the ordinary.
—I'm going to Wammy's House immediately.
—I forgot to tell you that we hide in professor Salvin's house since someone tried to kidnap me, but do not rush, everything is fine.
Thanks to reverse psychology my boss came flying, but the child was already asleep. I told my boss what happened, complaining for his abandonment, and he excused explaining he thought that being away from us would protect us from danger; he also announced he would travel again the next day, but would hire guards to protect the children, but I shook my head as disagreement.
—You know how reckless L is; we have to get this rascal out of here, before we lose him forever. Leave him into a boarding school. He loves to learn.
—He will refuse, because is determined to find his mother.
—Then take him while he's sleeping. It's a chance that should not be missed.
Quillsh accepted my idea, and we did hurry to prepare the luggage and put the detective into the car.