Twitterings and squawks that presage looting and death hand a cuckoo of a murder case to astounded Police Detective Mickie O?Day!
When Captain Jim Doran phoned me to come to his office in the Detective Bureau down at Headquarters I had a hunch he didn?t want to discuss the rainy weather.
?I?ve got a job for you, Mickie,? he said in his deep, rumbling bass, when I entered. ?Sit down and listen.?
I sat down cautiously, as a man will when he is six-foot-two and weighs a hundred and ninety. Sometimes furniture had a way of unexpectedly collapsing with me and it always offended my dignity as a first-grade detective.
?Go ahead, Cappy,? I said. ?I?m all ears.?
?I know you are-you?ve got the best hearing of any man in the Police Department,? he said. ?That?s why I want you to work on this case.? He frowned. ?And don?t call me Cappy.?
I just grinned. I owed him a lot and we both knew it. Ten years ago I had been working in a steel mill and an accident had left me totally deaf. Doran had learned that I was anxious to join the police and had dug up a good surgeon who picked the pieces of steel out of my skull and made me hear again.
I made the grade in the examinations and finally worked my way up to first-grade detective. I was so glad to be able to hear that I?d trained myself to really listen, and I was good at it.
?It?s a strange case,? mused Doran. ?I?d have thought Swenson was nuts, if it hadn?t been for Brackton, and even with him I?d have put it down to coincidence if it hadn?t been for Marshall.?
?And we?d have ham and eggs if we had some ham and we had some eggs,? I said. ?What are you talking about??
?Crimes and twittering birds,? said Doran. ?Three of them.?
The more he talked the crazier he sounded. I let him keep on talking, hoping it would begin to make sense.