Josephine & the Detective

At first, Josephine had suspected her pretty young dresser Maxine.  Who could have blamed her? They were such beautiful creations; any girl might be tempted.  But Maxine had beat her fists against the dressing room mirror and sobbed, protesting her innocence.

A month later, three more exotic costumes went missing, including her famous banana outfit. Something had to be done.

Josephine’s heels clacked on the bare boards as she mounted the steep narrow stairs.  Would this man be able to help?

“Miss Baker, I have been expecting you.”  A flamboyant sweep of his arm gestured her into the room.  The pungent odour of tobacco tickled her nostrils.  Ignoring the chair proffered, Josephine sat cross-legged on the ottoman.  He paced up and down bombarding her with questions, abruptly halting mid-stream to chew on his pipe. Outside, the London pea-souper curled and swirled around the corners of the window frame.  Suddenly he announced “A cab.” And without waiting ran down the stairs two at a time. Not wanting to be left behind, Josephine hitched up her skirt and followed him, delighted by the thrill of the chase.

At the theatre a small knot of people clung around the stage door hoping for a glimpse of their glamorous idol.  As usual, standing guard in his dark blue serge uniform was Constable Dorian.  For the first time Josephine noticed his delicate manicured hands and under the street light the faintest traces of rouge and face powder just below his effeminate jawline.

“How did you know?”  She whispered.

“My dear Miss Baker, el….”  The end of his sentence was lost in the swell of the growing crowd calling her name.  The last she saw of him was a flash of an Inverness cape melting into the night.

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