Jane shot an awful glare across at Ted, the kind of glare that you know instantly how low a regard that person has for you, the kind of glare that for some reason made Ted feel happy that person was there. He didn’t know why, but for some reason he always felt comforted by glares. This phenomenon had been around his whole life, not that he actually enjoyed the fact that he was obviously upsetting these people, mostly because it meant that they weren’t ignoring him. Eventually he went to see a shrink about it, who far from actually addressing his problems started telling him about hers; it led him to conclude that they were the ones with the really serious problems. It was all making him feel rather depressed, fortunately he got another glare when Jane realised he was gawping at her.
The others were all deep in conversation about Mervin’s news, something big was up; someone had been seen moving unicorn horns out of the town. Hans wasn’t sure why it was such a big deal, I mean, so what it might just be in season or something, but Mervin’s tone made him think differently about it. The fact that Mervin then added that he owned part of a local stock at McGregor’s farm, which was the only place where these horns could have come from too, probably explained that.
“Look, I know yeh’re all staring at me cos yeh’ve got no idea what I’m going on about, but yeh’ve gotta understand this. Unicorn horns help to concentrate magical power, and if yeh can assemble a load of them yeh can cast some pretty nasty magic.” preached Mervin to them.
“But why do you own some unicorns?”
“They’re a good investment, yeh know it’s a bit like wine, the older it gets the more powerful a horn it can produce. I thought it would set me up nicely for my retirement, well I needed summat after that Debonshyle bloke decided that all us old miners pensions would be better spent on his gambling habit, then promptly dying with ne heirs and ne way to recoup it when he died.”
“But how do you manage to keep unicorns on someone else’s farm without them knowing about it?”
“Well, this was thi clever part of it all, we created a fish magically and added two extra eyes, and then lured McGregor out fishing for the day, whilst I replaced all his stock of horses with our unicorns, and then made all their horns invisible. Then just having such a weird fish, and all the tourism you get from having people visiting the ‘Famous Five-eyed Fish of Avysmere’ kept him distracted from the different behavior of the unicorns, simple really.”
“You do know fish normally only have two eyes, don’t you?”
“What, really!” replied Mervin, quite astonished. “Just watched this fish in cartoon a few days before and that had three, so I just assumed that they do, I’ve never seen a real live one to compare with.”
“But…” began Jane, eventually giving up on trying reasoning it out, instead she had another question, “So what did you do with the horses?”
“Well, we created a stable around the back of the castle to house them and then made that invisible too.”
“But wouldn’t it just have been simpler to put the unicorns there in the first place,” suggested Hans, making a sensible comment for a change.
“Never really thought about it tha way, though my plan did boost thi tourist industry yeh know,” mused Mervin, but then drifted back to the point. “So, are any of yeh gonna help me or just sit around doing nothing much like usual.”
“But what do you want us to do about it Dad? It’s not like you’ve assembled the greatest magicians of all time!” exclaimed Chloe.
“I know, I know, I canne expect yeh to go in some magical duel with whoever this is, but they are partially owned by me and I do have part of the responsibility in tracking them down.”
“Oh, wow, I could be like, Hans Little PI, I could get an office in town and get a pet dog to guard it that I’d share all my secrets with, just like in the books I used to read as a kid,” said Hans, quite excited by the idea.
No-one else was. Instead they just stared at him, in the kind of puzzled expression you reserve for when someone is clearly talking complete and utter nonsense.
“He’s got a point,” announced Jane, somewhat unexpectedly. The others looked at her with the same look they’d just given to Hans. “No, listen to me, I could do with something to keep me occupied during the day, and I suspect so can Hans and Ted, why not start a detective agency?”
“Look all I want yeh to do is help me track down these unicorn bandits, yeh don’t need to go through all this setting up a detective agency business, I just need a little help looking around a bit, can you do that?”
“Aww... but I really wanted to have a detective agency, I’ve read loads about detective work and I’ve always been interested,” replied Hans.
“Like what?” asked Ted.
“Well, I’ve read all the cases of Sherlock Holmes, and all those of Poirot, you know they solved so many crimes between them I’m surprised neither of them tackled the case of Jack the Ripper!”
“Hans, they’re fiction!” replied Jane
“What, Jack the Ripper is fictional!” said a shocked Hans.
“No, Poirot and Sherlock Holmes, you idiot!”
“Ahh… well the ideas are the same aren’t they? Just need to follow logical deduction and stuff don’t you? We can do that can’t we?” pleaded Hans, looking around at people.
Just as Mervin was about to iterate that he only wanted to find some unicorns, Chloe decided to speak up, “Okay if we’re gonna do this we need to do this properly, this seems a simple enough case to cut our teeth on, but we need a name and then we need to get to work.”
Various names were then bounded about from Hans Super Detectives, which sounded too silly, to Detection Inc, which sounded too serious, too Private Detectives Anonymous, which sounded too much like a rehabilitation group.
“Look what we need is some kind of simple name that tells people what we are and makes it look like we’ve been around longer than ten minutes,” interrupted Chloe.
“What you mean something like Old Detective Agency,” contributed Hans.
“No, that sounds too generic, needs to be authoritive and individual, not sure how though,” said Jane.
“The,” said Hans, gathering confused looks. “Well use ‘The’, you know something like ‘The One And Only,’ how much more unique can you get.”
“Stick with ‘The’ for now, but although ‘The Old Detective Agency’ says old, it doesn’t feel like it if you know what I mean,” said Chloe.
“Simple, use older words,” said Mervin who by now had given up on simply going out to find the unicorns, “Look Ye has the same meaning as The and yeh can just stick an e on old, to get ‘Ye Olde Detective Agency. Right, now we’ve solved that can we please get on wi tracking down these unicorns!”