Janet and Jane: The Case of the New Addition: Part Four
For a minute, it was as if time froze. I didn't mean for that to slip out. One, this was not a good time. Someone could come up to us in a second and wonder what we were doing. Two, I was not prepared. Not being prepared was something that got me in a whole bunch of problems.
"Janet, I'm not the one who's doing this," James said desperately. "I'm serious! You need to let me go!"
"Then why are you acting so strange?" I asked.
"Please, if you let me go, I'll explain." He tried to pull his wrist from me again. "I promise. Just please let me go before-"
James didn't answer that. He finally got his wrist out of his grip. As soon as his wrist was free, the Bori started to furiously scratch at it. His wrist itself was turning red. Yikes, I wasn't holding him that hard.
"James, are you okay?" I asked.
"Yeah, I'm fine," he said. His voice was getting hoarse. "This happens all the time."
"All the time? What do you mean all the time?"
James looked back up at me. "Didn't Jane tell you? I'm allergic to latex."
He was allergic to latex? Now I felt bad for doing that stuff to him. The gloves I tried to give him were made of latex. And since I put on those same gloves and I held onto him... I think you could figure the rest out. No wonder he was acting scared of them.
"No, she didn't tell me that," I informed. "If she did, I wouldn't have given you such a hard time with the whole rubber glove thing."
"Well, I am." James crossed his arms. "Why on Neopia did you think I was the one who was doing this? I know you don't like me, but I didn't know you'd go so far as to think I did a crime."
Hold on, he thought I didn't like him? Well, I wasn't sure if I liked him quite yet, but I sure didn't dislike him. My feelings toward him were neutral. I never really hated anybody at first (unless I meet someone because I was on a case and they were the criminal - that was when I hated someone). Yes, James was a little annoying, but I certainly didn't hate him.
"Where'd you get an idea like that from?" I asked.
James nervously stepped back. "Well, you just seemed rude to me, so-"
"Ah, the rude card." I crossed my arms like James was crossing his. "Don't take it personal. You can ask Jane this. I'm rude to almost everyone."
"But that has nothing to do with you thinking that I was the one who did this." The purple Bori was going from nervous to snappy. Hey, this side of him was kind of cool. "I told you the paint on my hands were from an art project. Besides, I couldn't have done it with the paint brushes we found. They have a latex grip." He looked at his right hand, which was actually still red from yesterday. "Some serious latex, too. I felt my allergies acting up within seconds of touching it."
Yeah, that made sense. The Neopet I saw last night didn't have gloves on. This paint brush was like the one he was using, so he wouldn't be able to hold it long enough to paint all of this. I didn't think he would be able to paint even a brick.
"What about a Neopet you saw last night?" James asked.
Did I say that out loud? Whoops. I didn't mean to say that. I simply answered, "I couldn't sleep that well last night, so I took a walk through the Marketplace. I saw a Neopet painting on the walls. The thing was, I didn't see much of him, but I saw his left hand. It was purple and it looked like it was you, so-"
"I can figure the rest out." James crossed his arms. Suddenly, it looked like he got an idea. "Hey, do you remember where Darren's shop is?"
Alright, strange request. "Yes, I do. Why do you ask?"
"I want to ask him a few questions."
Okay then? That was a little strange. Asking questions was a normal part in solving mysteries, but I didn't see a reason to talk to him. He was just a regular shopkeeper. I didn't think that there was something suspicious with him. Now that Cybunny, though...
"Just trust me on this," James told me. "I think I'm on to something."
I would argue, but I was curious about what this guy was thinking. He wasn't just going to tell me, so I did what he wanted. I led him to Darren's shop. It was the only way to get him to tell me.
Darren's shop was closed today. There was a sign on the front door with the word, "Closed" written in all caps in big, bold, red letters (sheesh, we got the idea). The painting of the police chief was smudged up. It looked like Darren was trying to wash it off and finished halfway through.
"You shouldn't have given him the Neopoints he needed to get that off his store," I informed. "It's evidence and-"
"I get it. I wasn't supposed to do that," James snapped. "I just came to see if the store was closed."
I crossed my arms. "How come? What does it mean if the store was closed?"
"Well, Darren directly said to me that his store would be open today."
Alright, where was he going with this? "Yeah, and?"
I rolled my eyes. This guy had a lot to learn. I sighed, "Just because he said the store was going to be open, it doesn't mean that something suspicious is happening if the store's closed."
"Well, it's just that..." James looked like he knew what he was talking about, but he stopped. "What I'm trying to say is..."
"James, make sure to think out your theories before you decide to share them," I said as I walked away.
I didn't get too far from him. James followed me. The Bori was determined to continue to explain his theory, but he kept stopping in the middle of his words. That kept me from taking him seriously. Poor guy. That could be a problem he usually faced.
"Janet, listen!" James practically shouted. "Why would Darren close his store today? Think about it. What would be a perfectly good reason why he wouldn't be here today?"
"Okay, I will," I sighed. I started to lay out my thoughts out loud, "He could be sick, he could have needed to do something, he could be shopping for some more paint remover to get that mural off his store."
James crossed his arm and pouted. The purple Bori pouted and said under his breath, "I know something more is going on."
"James, this isn't like a mystery book. Your gut feeling won't get you anywhere in this case."
"Huh, funny, because Jane said your gut feeling helped you guys figure out some cases."
Yeah, he had me there. Yes, I did get the occasional gut feeling, and yes, they do help us, but I do not always rely on that. I relied on facts. He had a lot to learn about being a detective. At this rate, he wouldn't last the few months that he was here.
"But you can't solve an entire case based on instinct," I sighed. "You have a lot to learn, James."
With those as my parting words, I walked away.
Later that day, I decided to examine the pictures of the paintings Nathan was nice enough to send over. I spent over an hour at my desk examining them. I knew there was a pattern (after James told me about it), but I didn't see how it would correlate with a motive. Maybe someone was jealous of the business they've been getting?
Wait. That actually made sense.
My train of thought would have continued if it wasn't for a loud crash that came from the end of the hall. I did my best to ignore it. It was probably Natia who was foolish enough to carry her weight in supplies again. That would be the third time this week she dropped a pile of stuff. If she broke one more piece of equipment, I was going to lose it.
The crashing continued. It sounded like when Jane and I played with my parents' pots and pans when we were kids. It was starting to bug me. I couldn't focus with all the noise. Either Natia was trying to pick all that stuff up on her own or she was trying to walk away from the mess. It didn't matter what it was - it was bugging me.
I got up out of my chair and walked into the hallway. I instantly said, "Natia, for the last time, don't carry-" I stopped myself when I saw James on the floor surrounded by some of the supplies from different areas of the building. "James, what are you doing?"
"I was trying to find something that could help me," he said simply.
"Help you with what?"
James got up and sifted through the supplies that were all over the floor. "I'm going to prove my point right."
He was going to do what? "James, that's a terrible idea."
"Of course you'd say that."
The Bori angrily faced me. "I knew you were going to disapprove of this. I get it; I'm inexperienced, I messed up, I shouldn't be doing this!" He crossed his arms and muttered, "Not the first time I heard that."
Now I started to feel bad for James. Believe it or not, I have been in his shoes. Can't do this, can't do that, I've heard it all.
I tried to talk some sense into him. "Look, James, you can't do this-"
"Yes I can."
"Hold on, James," I quickly said. "You can't do this alone."
To be continued…