Vince McCormick was a big, angry slug of a man just a month shy of retirement. On Super Bowl Sunday, his two sons, Vince Junior and Sonny, came over as usual to watch the game.
As kick-off time approached, the boys were in the kitchen, helping their mother prepare the snacks. Junior heated up nachos in the microwave while Sonny poured the bags of potato chips and pretzels into bowls. Marie McCormick was mixing the ice and ginger ale and rye together in tall glasses.
"Make sure mine is strong enough," came her husband's growl from the living room.
Junior saw the bruise on his mother's arm. "Did he do that to you?" he asked. Marie didn't answer.
"What'll you do when he retires and hangs around all day?" Sonny asked. "It'll only get worse."
"No one in our family gets divorced," Marie said firmly.
Colonel Rollo's tour of the provinces was a necessary evil and the military dictator took every precaution to ensure his own safety. There had already been two assassination attempts this year, and he didn't want to try for three.
When the colonel's train pulled into the Gorganzuela station, the town officials were waiting to greet him. But the door to his windowless, bullet-proof carriage remained shut. Nervously, the mayor knocked. He heard some stumbling sounds from inside and finally the train door slid open.
Captain Corkran stumbled out. The dictator's second in command was usually a resplendent sight in his broad hat, bandana, and American cowboy boots. Now he looked weak and silly. 'Assassination," he coughed.
The mayor looked in and saw the lifeless body of Colonel Rollo dressed in his robe and slippers. A purple ring around his lifeless neck testified to murder by strangulation, probably with a long, strong, thin cord.
In the dead of winter, the citizens of Mountebank, Minnesota, grabbed at any excuse for a party, especially when it was hosted by Ama Wheeler, the richest woman in town. As usual, this one was rowdy and crowded and a huge success—until about 12:30 A.M. That's when Ama noticed that her prized Ming vase was missing from the entry-hall table.
When the police arrived, they found all the revelers herded into the living room, with Ama standing guard like an angry sheepdog. The house was searched. Then the house perimeter. Then the guests' cars. No vase.
"You're going to have to take their statements," Ama told the police chief. "I don't suppose it will do much good. At a party like this, people can barely remember their own movements, much less keep track of others'."
A church choir was picnicking in a rest area near Pine Gorge when they heard the distant squeal of tires. The choir members gazed out over the winding ribbon of road in time to see a red convertible slam through a guard rail and sail out into the steep gorge. The driver was thrown clear of the vehicle seconds before impact. Miraculously, there was no explosion.
The highway patrol found the bloodied body of Mike Ilirium smashed on the boulders. Inside the mangled car were several loose rocks, a tangle of broken branches, and more blood on the seat and the dashboard.
The Ilirium saga was well known to the area gossips. Mike had been engaged to a local beauty. They broke off the engagement when she confessed to having had an affair with one of Mike's brothers; no one knew which.
The authorities visited the Ilirium lodge a half mile up the road from the accident. Mike's two brothers seemed devastated by the news.
When the emperor rose on that April morning, he immediately noticed the silence. "There's no cricket. Where's my cricket?" he demanded. The servants of the bed chamber checked all the usual places, but the cricket was gone—and so was its jeweled cricket box.
The entire royal court was thrown into turmoil until the chirping pet was finally found, housed in a lowly bamboo box and hidden in the corner of a public garden. The emperor was both relieved and outraged. "How dare someone steal from me!" He ordered the captain of the palace guard to find the still-missing box and the culprit.
Finding the box was easy. Lu Ping, a near-sighted gem dealer, bought it from a palace servant and only realized later what he had purchased. With the most abject apologies, he returned it to the emperor. 'I don't know if I can recognize the man who sold it to me," he said with a squint. "I'll do my best."
From the gem dealer's description, the captain narrowed down the suspects to three. But the dealer couldn't make a positive identification, and none of the three would confess. "Hang them all," the emperor commanded.
It was midnight on Christmas Eve when the maintenance staff of Kimble's came to work in the deserted department store. When they arrived at the North Pole display, they discovered every child's worst nightmare, the lifeless body of Santa Claus. He was in a storage room, his head bashed in by the butt end of a .44 revolver.
Santa's off-duty name was Rudolph Pringle. "That's Rudolph's revolver," the manager informed the police. "He started carrying it after a six-year-old pulled a knife on him."
"Do you know anyone who would want to see Rudolph dead—besides the six-year-old?"
The manager cleared his throat. "Santa's been having a lot of fights with his elves. I know three elves who'd threatened to kill him."
The detective had the murder weapon bagged. Then he placed it on the center of the interview table, right where the suspects would be forced to look at it. "Rudolph Pringle has been murdered," he informed each elf. "What do you know about it?"
The murder occurred in the wee hours of the morning on the last Sunday of October and looked like a professional hit. The victim, Sol Weintraub, ran a garbage-collection business that was going in direct competition with a mob-owned company. Days after winning a contract with the city's convention center, Sol was found dead in his suburban home.
The killer had broken into the man's house, shot him once in the head with a silencer-equipped .38, and left, taking no valuables.
It was now early November and the police were no closer to finding their killer. The medical examiner was placing the time of death at between 2 and 3 A.M. But the mob's most reliable "enforcers" all had alibis.
Johnny "Dum-Dum" Falco had been out on the town that Saturday night. Witnesses saw him at the Tropicana Club until 2 A.M. Other witnesses, just as reliable, placed Dum-Dum at a nearby tavern from 3 A.M. until closing. No matter how the police timed it, the murder scene was a good 40 minutes away from both the Tropicana and the tavern.
Victor Conroy's alibi was even better. He'd been a patient at Mercy Memorial. The young hit man had been in a minor car accident and was being held overnight. A nurse checked his room every hour, all night. Mercy Memorial was also nearly 40 minutes from the crime.
"I'm changing my will," Abigail Wallace announced. Her four children might have been adopted, but they were just as spoiled and ungrateful as any natural offspring. "Tomorrow I'm cutting you all off without a cent." And with that satisfying but reckless statement, Abigail rose from the dining room table and headed up to her bedroom.
No one was surprised when a gunshot rang out two hours later. The only surprise was that it had taken so long.
"I was downstairs reading," Manny later told the police. "As soon as I heard the shot, I ran upstairs and down the hall to Mother's room. It was locked from the inside."
Moe had also been downstairs, in the kitchen. "I ran up the back staircase. Manny was already at Mother's door, pounding and calling out her name."
"I was in my own room at the far end of the hall," said Jack, the third child to arrive at the scene. "I suggested looking through the keyhole. But Manny and Moe decided to put their shoulders to the door instead."
It was 1 PM when the two officers heard the cry for help. They responded quickly, racing down an alley to find a woman sitting on the ground, massaging a nasty bump on the back of her head. It took them a minute to get her to speak coherently.
Her name was Mary Ramsey. She worked at a jewelry store and had been in the process of taking yesterday's receipts to the bank. "I do this every day. My boss warned me not to use the alley. Today I had a feeling I was being followed. Like an idiot, I took the alley anyway. I heard footsteps. Before I could even turn around, I was hit on the head.
"I fell down," Mary continued. "But it didn't quite knock me out. He was running away with my money bag. I only saw him from the rear. He was tall and had on blue jeans and a dark-colored cardigan." The officers brought in two men for questioning, both tall and both dressed according to Mary's description.
When the police arrived at Hubert Stoogle's house, the motif seemed to be water. The sprinkler system was going full force, and the owner of the premises was lying dead in his own bathtub.
The man's three nephews lined up on the sun-drenched front porch, each one eager to tell his story. "Once a week Uncle Hubert had us over for lunch," Stanley Stoogle said. "I parked in the front drive. Uncle wasn't around, so I assumed he was taking his usual soak. As I went into the library, a summer shower passed over. Five minutes later, the sun was out again. It was a few minutes after that when I heard Uncle shouting. Then all the lights sputtered and went out. I went upstairs and found him. Someone had thrown an electric hair dryer into his tub."
"I got here during the shower," volunteered Dick Stoogle. His hair and clothes were still wet. "I parked behind Stanley. Just running up to the porch I got drenched. I was in a downstairs bathroom drying off when I heard the shout and saw the lights go off. When I got up to Uncle's bathroom, Stanley was standing over the tub. A wet hair dyer was in his hand."
Eugene said he arrived last. "The shower was long over. The driveway was full of cars, so I parked by the rear garden. Once inside, I noticed the place was dark. I wandered around, looking for my brothers. Then Stanley came down and told me the news."
The boys all agreed about what happened next. Eugene ran out to move his car. "The darn sprinklers had gone on and the inside of my convertible was soaked." Meanwhile, Stanley went downstairs to replace the blown fuse, and Dick used his cellular phone to call the police.
"I can't give you anything for this. It's junk." Abe Ketchum pushed the watch back across the counter. The Quali-Tee Pawn Shop was a class establishment and, as the manager, Abe had to maintain certain standards. The would-be customer, a shabby young man who smelled of liquor, took back the worthless item and shuffled dejectedly out onto the street, lingering in front of the windows to inspect the shiny display of abandoned valuables.
Abe's assistant bustled out from the back room. "I'm leaving," Mark said. That was nothing unusual. Mark Price was the owner's nephew and was always either coming in late or leaving early. Abe felt particularly overworked and under-appreciated as he watched his privileged assistant breeze out the door.
Abe had one more customer that day. A well-dressed woman walked in and timidly offered an emerald brooch. Abe instantly recognized the quality of the piece and offered her as much as he was permitted. He was surprised when she accepted. Like many of his customers, she seemed desperate.
That night, a burglar alarm echoed through the neighborhood. The police arrived just a few minutes later, but the deed was already done. A thief had broken a display window, jumped inside the crowded shop, and left with many of the most valuable items.
"We have a little mystery at the Inner City Convent," the Mother Superior said as she poured a second cup of tea.
Inspector Griffith was immediately interested.
"It's the convent offices. We have three civilian employees there to handle the mail and the bills and the bookkeeping. Alice has been with us for years. Very reliable, even though she has a bit of a drinking problem and a husband who... Let's just say he can use our prayers.
"Barbara is new. She worked at an Alaskan convent before coming here. She's seems wonderful, although we're still waiting for the sisters there to send us a character reference.
"Our third is Claudia. Ever since the city opened up riverboat gambling... Well, I'm not going to point fingers, but there have been some minor irregularities in our petty cash.
"As you know, the office is closed all weekend. On Monday morning I arrive first. I open up, check the mail, water the plants, turn off the alarm. We have this newfangled alarm system. It does all the usual. And it also automatically records whenever the alarm has been turned off. I never quite saw the sense of that. But four Mondays ago when I came in, I checked the log. The alarm had been turned off Saturday afternoon. For five minutes. Then it was switched back on. I didn't think anything of it. Someone probably came back to retrieve some forgotten item.
"The next Monday, I found the same thing. Turned off Saturday afternoon for five minutes. I asked the women—they all have alarm keys. All three denied having visited the office.
The schedule at Klein Miller Accounting ran like clockwork. For example, on Friday mornings, Arthur Klein always took the train from their Connecticut offices into Manhattan. He would return at 1 P.M. and go immediately into the partners' meeting. Except for this Friday. On this Friday, he was mugged and robbed seconds after arriving in Manhattan.
The New York police held out little hope. "It was just bad luck," a sergeant commiserated. "There's no way a mugger could know you were carrying those bearer bonds."
"I normally don't carry anything," Klein moaned. "But one of our clients needed to transport the bonds to his New York bank. I agreed to take them—as a favor. This will ruin us."
The next train to Connecticut was at 1:10 and Klein was on it. Immediately on arriving, he met with Phil Miller, the other senior partner. "I didn't tell the police this," Arthur confided. "But someone here must have been in on the theft. The mugger was following me. He knew I had the bonds."
The two partners walked past the conference room where Betty, their executive assistant, had just finished setting up for the partners' meeting. "That's quite an accusation," Phil whispered.
The four finalists lined up in the hotel ballroom, all smiling for the photographers and all wearing knee-length aprons, each custom-made apron proclaiming "The Great Dessert Bake-Off." Bob Bullock's smile was genuine. His entry, "Death by Chocolate," had been a runaway favorite in the preliminaries. And the others knew it.
"I'm going up to my room for a nap," the lanky Texan drawled as he folded his apron and tucked it under his arm. "See you gals at the finals."
One of the three "gals" smiled back with a murderous gleam. "Not if I can help it." She waited five minutes, then wiped her sweaty palms on her apron and headed for the elevator.
An hour later, a maid found the body. Bob Bullock was laid out on his bed, still dressed in his cowboy shirt and jeans, his head smashed in by a cooking mallet. Blood was splattered everywhere.
The island of Canary Rock had no police force and none was really needed—not until the fateful morning when Gerald Espy was found dead in his bed. The millionaire had been laid up with a broken leg, and although the local doctor was adept at setting bones, he was not well versed in murder. It wasn't until he saw the dead cat curled up in a corner that he even suspected foul play.
"Poison gas," the inspector guessed when he arrived. An empty glass container on the table was the primary evidence. "Pour one chemical on another." He pointed to the dead flies on the windowsill at the east end of the room. "In less than a minute everything in the room would be dead."
The body had been discovered by Espy's son, Melvin. "I was out with some friends on my boat. I dropped them off at about midnight, then motored back to Canary Rock. There were no lights on at the house, but every now and then the moon would peek through. I figured Dad was asleep. So I locked up the house and went straight to bed. This morning, I went to check up. He was dead."
The American agent used his skeleton keys to work on the lock while his female partner acted as lookout. It was hard to see clearly in the dreary hall light in the dreary apartment building in the dreary winter weather of Beijing. But David Richman finally cracked the mechanism and opened the door.
"Hurry," he whispered, motioning for Julia to join him. Inside it was just as chilly as the hall.
"We're looking for photographic negatives," he told Julia for perhaps the tenth time. "35 millimeter. Lu Ching hasn't had time to reduce them any further. Thank goodness it's a small apartment."
It was small, all right. The tiny studio contained a futon bed that doubled as a sofa. There were also a bookcase, a table, two chairs, and an old-fashioned desk fan that whirred noisily on top of a cluttered desk. A hot plate served as the apartment's kitchen. From a small adjoining bathroom came the sound of a leaky toilet.
"We have to find them," David whispered as he went directly for the bookcase. "The lives of a dozen Chinese contacts depend on our finding those eight negatives." He was already going through the books page by page, checking the covers for any telltale slits where the agent for the People's Republic might have stuffed them.
The Tafel nephews had finally persuaded their sedentary Uncle Gil to go camping with them. "I love food and I hate discomfort," the heavyset man protested as he wedged his huge frame into the four-wheel drive. "This will be the death of me."
On the first evening it poured. The nephews all pitched in, building a fire and setting up a rain cover for food preparation. The ensuing meal was haphazard, with each camper fixing a plate for himself, then scurrying back to his own tent and eating alone.
As they finished their meal, the rain stopped. Ed, the eldest, was the first one out of his tent. "I hope Uncle Gil got enough to eat," he said as he surveyed the empty pots.
His youngest brother joined him under the dripping tarp. "You can bet on it," Richie said, flashing his usual, dazzling white smile. "I saw him going back for thirds."
The middle brother, Pete, was the last one out. They washed the pots in the river, then, on their way back, stopped by Uncle Gil's tent. He lay collapsed among his empty plates. Dead.
"A heart attack," Pete deduced. "I mean, it couldn't have been the food. We all ate the same things."
"Not quite." Richie was eyeing the dead man's glass. "Maybe it was the wine. I don't drink white wine and Ed doesn't drink at all."
"I was trying to be a good neighbor," Jake Spado told the sergeant. "I was watching TV at about midnight when Shamus started barking next door. The Whitakers were away. So out I went in the driving rain. I made a circuit of the Whitaker house. Everything seemed safe and secure, so I went back home." Jake bristled. "And here's the thanks I get, being suspected of burglary."
The other neighbor told a slightly different story. Millie Overlock had been awakened by the barking. "I finally got up and looked out. By the light of a street lamp I could see Jake disappear around the side of the Whitaker house. A few minutes later he came around the other side, then went back toward his own house. Since I was up, I made myself a cup of tea. The rain was just stopping as I got back into bed."
Millie leaned over to the sergeant. "It had to be Jake. Shamus barks when anyone comes near, even the Whitakers. I would have heard if Shamus had started up again."
The sergeant went from Millie's to the crime scene. As expected, the Rottweiler let out a chorus of barks. Jimmy, the Whitakers' nephew, quieted Shamus, then invited the officer in to inspect the damage in the rear living area.
The secret police warned the prime minister to cancel the Pretenders' Ball. But the costume ball was a 200-year-old tradition in the small Grand Duchy. Despite threats from the rebels, the annual celebration had to take place as scheduled.
The prime minister made a handful of concessions to security. The peg-legged pirate had his sword confiscated, and the Turkish sultan gave up his curved, bulky dagger. But the baseball player was allowed to keep his bat, and the chukka sticks were not taken from the masked Ninja. No one was expecting an attack by a blunt instrument.
But that's exactly what happened. On one of the palace's two dozen balconies, the 80-year-old grand duke was cornered by an assassin and bludgeoned to death. When the chief of police discovered the body, the old duke, dressed as a peasant, was draped over a ledge, his royal blood dripping into the dark chasm below.
"Quick," the chief said to the nearest costumed reveler. "Close the doors. Alert the guards." The pirate, in reality a provincial mayor, immediately ran to obey, taking the steps two at a time down to the main ballroom.
"We have to find the murder weapon," the chief's assistant said a few minutes later as he lined up all the shocked and grief-stricken guests.
A homicide sergeant stood in the hotel suite, gazing down at the body of Bugsy Ferret. "He was a card sharp," the sergeant told the hotel manager. "Bugsy preyed on tourists. He'd lure them to a hotel, start a friendly poker game, and take them to the cleaners. I guess someone came back this time and took Bugsy."
Bugsy lay sprawled amid a carpet of scattered playing cards and a bottle of Blush gin. He'd been stabbed in the chest.
"Looks like he didn't die right away," said the sergeant as he pointed to the five cards held in the victim's stiff grip. All diamonds. "Maybe he was trying to tell us something."
"We got our suspects," came a voice from the bedroom. The sergeant's partner emerged, holding a handwritten list. "Benny King, Jack Lawrence, Joe Blush, Alan Spade. He listed their hotels, too. Let's check 'em out."
It was late at night at the Drakemore Hotel. A member of the cleaning staff was dusting the courtesy phones in the lobby when she heard the breaking of glass in the side lobby. And then the alarm went off.
The side lobby contained a display case holding memorabilia from the Drakemore's opening fifty years ago: the hotel's first menu, a laughably antiquated price list for rooms, a few rare coins and stamps from that year, photographs, and the dusty signatures of the first famous guests.
The night manager showed up a few seconds later. He and the staff member circled the lobby and discovered three guests who had been in the vicinity. Diplomatically but firmly, the manager suggested all three remain in the lobby until the police arrived.
"I was just pulling into the Piney Bluffs gas station," the shaken witness told the operator. "I heard a gunshot. And then I saw the men—two of them—running out of the station and hopping into a recreation vehicle. They'd killed the attendant." She gave a description of the R.V and a general description of the men.
The R.V was found, abandoned south of one of the roadblocks the highway patrol had set up. The vehicle was just feet away from Piney Bluffs State Park, which was enjoying its first rain in weeks. It was assumed that the men had hiked away into the hundreds of acres of parkland. Officers were sent in to interview the campers.
The time of death was firmly established. At 10:06 P.M. all three suspects said they heard a gunshot echo through the house. The house was shared by four graduate students; three, if you no longer counted Harry Harris, the victim who lay in his second-story bedroom, a bullet in his chest.
Harry, it seemed, had been a ladies' man. He had even bragged about seducing the girlfriend of one of his housemates. Unfortunately, the police didn't know which one. They separated the three remaining housemates and interviewed each one.
"I was working on my car," Bill Mayer insisted. "I plugged an extension cord into an outlet behind the house. Then I took a work light around to the side driveway, in front of the garage. When I heard the gunshot, it took me a second to realize it came from the house. Then I ran inside."
The silent alarm announced a break-in at the home of Jordan Marsh, the famous collector. When a patrolman arrived, he found two men waiting for him in the backyard of Marsh's suburban home, standing by a broken window.
"My name's Digby Dunne," the first man said. "Jordan's next-door neighbor. I caught this man red-handed, breaking in and stealing the Cleopatra coin."
"I caught him red-handed," the other man countered. "I'm Kenny Johnson, Jordan's other neighbor."
For six months, a dirty cop had been leaking information to the mob, and Officer Bill Brady of Internal Affairs was going to catch him tonight. According to Brady's sources, Carmine Catrone, a mob boss, was scheduled to meet the dirty cop in Hannibal's, an out-of-the-way tavern.
Brady arrived at Hannibal's wearing a wig and false mustache. A familiar face was already on the premises—Marjorie Pepper, a desk sergeant from the Fourth Precinct. Brady watched as Marjorie ordered a drink, then lifted her left arm and checked her watch. Was she waiting for someone?
Seconds later, another familiar face entered, this time from the direction of the rest rooms. It was Adam Paprika of the Special Vice unit. As Adam used his right hand to zip up his trousers, Brady noticed the diamond pinkie ring. It reminded him of Carmine Catrone's pinkie ring.
Then came a third familiar face. Rookie patrolman Charlie Salt walked in and ambled over to an empty table. Charlie opened his briefcase and began writing down notes. When the young officer lifted his left hand to call over the waitress, Brady saw the glint of a gold fountain pen. Very expensive.
Brady had never counted on more than one officer showing up. What if they recognized each other? What if they recognized him?
As the bar grew crowded, Brady kept an eye on his subjects. All three were smoking. And all three occasionally got up to use the phone or buy cigarettes or use the rest rooms.
On a January night, one of the coldest of the new year, a foot patrolman was making his rounds of the downtown storefronts when a hissing cat ran past him into a nearby alley. Officer Greeley glanced after it, and the beam of a roaming flashlight caught his eye. It was coming from inside the alley window of Collins' Jewelry.
Greeley called for backup and a patrol car quickly arrived. With their guns drawn, the three officers covered the front and back exits. But it was already too late. The burglars were gone. A half-full display case made it obvious that the thieves had been alerted to the police presence.
"They must have had a lookout," Greeley said. Seconds later, his deduction was confirmed. A walkie-talkie lay on the jewelry store floor, right where the burglars had dropped it. "Quick," Greeley said. "I saw three guys loitering around. One of them has to be the lookout. If we hurry..."
The officers did hurry They spread out over a ten-block radius of the deserted downtown and brought in three loiterers. Greeley remembered each one.
"I was waiting for a bus," the man with the white cane and dark glasses told them. 'Tm blind. I work as an accountant next door to Collins' Jewelry. Tonight I stayed late working on taxes. I heard the usual street noise, but I obviously didn't see a thing."
"Your regular two o'clock appointment is here," came the secretary's voice over the intercom.
Alicia Bonwit looked up from her cluttered desk. "What? Is it Wednesday already? I don't have time." Then she got a glimpse of her frazzled hair in the mirror. "Well, perhaps I'll make time. Send them in."
The team trooped into the editor's office— Fernando, a blond, clean-shaven hair stylist; Dodo, a tall, red-headed manicurist; and Mr. Mark, a distinguished, gray-bearded dress designer. Alicia pushed aside the stacks of work. "What a day!" she exclaimed with a sigh and delivered herself into their care.
"I've been so busy, I haven't even looked at the Queen Glendora photos." Alicia pointed to an unopened, padded envelope sitting among the editorial debris. "The paparazzi have been working overtime trying to catch a shot of the Albanian queen and her secret lover. Other magazines would pay a fortune for such pictures, but I got 'em. And I haven't had a free second to open the envelope. Oh, well, first things first. What are we going to do with my hair?"
For the next hour, the editor-in-chief of the fashionable tabloid Scoop Weekly allowed herself to be pampered. She gossiped, looked at fabric samples, and watched as her hair and nails were returned to their usual luster. It was only after the entourage had left that she noticed the missing envelope. "The Glendora photos," Alicia shrieked and immediately rang Security.
It's Thursday, so you know what it means, Neatoramanauts: it's time for the What Is It? Game, brought to you by the wonderful What Is It? Blog.
What is this thing in the picture? Your guess can win you a free T-shirt of your choice from the NeatoShop! Here's how to play:
Place your guess in the comment section below. One guess per comment, but you can enter as many guesses as you'd like in separate comments. Post no URLs or weblinks.
You might know what it is, but if you want to win a t-shirt, you'll have to use your imagination, because we are going to select two winners who give us the funniest incorrect guesses. If you guess right, then good for ya - but you don't win anything, okay? So, it's up to you, creative people: you have twice the chance of winning that T-shirt.
Please write your T-shirt selection alongside your guess. If you don't include a selection, you forfeit the prize. We highly suggest you take a look at the NeatoShop's new selection of Funny T-shirts and Science T-Shirts.
Update: This is a J.C. Cox Coin Till, the main selling point for it was that it was supposed to stop mistakes and disputes about which coin was given in payment since coins from the last four transactions could be seen through the glass on the right side. The coins were dropped into a slot at the top and progressed down to the next level by means of a brass lever which moved from side to side. Finally the coins were retained in a locked box at the base. The shelves on the left were for counted stacked coins and the bowl was for miscellaneous coins.
My favorite coins are miscellaneous coins! That’s all very interesting, but your outlandish ideas were priceless! Berhard said:
An incubator for butterfly eggs and chrysalis... On the shelf you may store the chrysalis, while the butterflies may hatch inside the glass cabinet. The glass cabinet may protect the butterflies from being disturbed or eaten by birds or laboratoy cats...
In the bowel on the left buterfly food may be stored to be able to feed the newly hatched butterflies with honey or nectar.
This is cat liquor cabinet. Back before the pet prohibition amendment, you could drink alongside your pets. Small bottles of rum and scotch as well as mixers could be stored on the shelves with the "top shelf" stuff locked up in the right. The built in mixing/drinking bowl was an optional accessory to these cabinets.
So both win a T-shirt from the NeatoShop! Great going, guys! Thanks to everyone who played this week, and thanks to the What Is It blog.
Nurse Abbott had just received her regular 10 P.M. call from Melba, the daughter-in-law of her patient, multimillionaire John Cord. As usual, Nurse Abbott put the irritating woman on the speakerphone as she tried to straighten up the kitchen. "Yes, I gave him his 9:30 medication," Nurse Abbott sighed. "Yes, he's in the study, having his tea. Is there anything else?" These conversations could go on for hours.
"Jimmy!" the nurse heard Melba shout to her husband. The annoying voice bellowed through the speakerphone. "Pick up the extension. Didn't you have a question for Nurse Abbott?"
The nurse sighed again. "Hello, Mr. Cord." She answered a few more useless questions from John Cord's son, then tactfully found a way to hang up.
Nurse Abbott finished her chore and then returned to the study. That's when she found the body of John Cord lying crumpled on the Oriental carpet. A breeze from the open French doors played through a scarf that was wrapped tightly around his neck.
The police combed the crime scene and found no clue to the killer's identity.
W00t! It's time for another contest collaboration with the excellent What Is It? blog. Can you guess what this odd item is? This week, we are looking for funny and clever answers, not the correct one, but if you guess correctly, you'll win our undying respect. If you have one of the two funniest answers, you'll win a T-Shirt from the NeatoShop!
Place your guess in the comment section. One guess per comment, though you can enter as many guesses as you'd like. You have until the answer is revealed on the What Is It? Blog tomorrow.
Please write your prize selection alongside your guess, so visit the NeatoShop and take a look around. If you don't write your prize selection, then you don't get the prize. I think you'll like the selection of funny t-shirts and science t-shirts -or even t-shirts of your favorite blogs and websites.
Update: This is a pineapple eye snip, for removing the eyes when peeling them, patent number 681,339. What’s a pineapple eye? You can see them in this article about a different eye-removing tool.
Patrick Scott 1 had a funny answer: “Mom's tongue forceps, for washing your mouth out with soap, you foul mouthed kid!” Sounds like a good idea to me -and good for a T-shirt from the NeatoShop. So is the comment from tchitchou, “This is the device Edward scissorhands used to go to the bathroom. Everybody understand why. Brrrrrrrr.” Congratulations to both! We’ll do it again next week. See the answers to the other mystery items at the What Is It? blog.