A photograph astray in the isle.

Mr Lamper had been living with Miss Karen in an apartment at Thawcam Road since they graduated from college. They first met when they both accidently lost their IDs and after a dialectic argument with the hostel warden, had to spend the night outside in the lawn, since then they had been close friends. Both shared some good memories together and were together since last seven years; they were both geniuses in solving crimes, and had become quiet famous private detectives in the country. Miss Karen had one peculiar habit, she started humming an old folk song whenever she got lost in deep thoughts, Lamper always felt annoyed at her disposition because he never liked that tune much, but he never used to say a word. After cracking a crime case, Lamper thought of taking a break, so they both were now in Sims Island, a small and peaceful place with very simple folks.  One could walk around the island in little over an hour. Known for several waterfalls and sandy beaches, Sims Island had abundance of tropical plant life, including the remnants of the ancient rainforests.

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Sims Island belonged to Mr Tucker, who ran a food factory, which stood at one end of the island. Mr Tucker was throwing a party today on the occasion of his son’s twenty third birthday. When he heard that the famous detectives Karen and Lamper are on his Island, he couldn’t resist the temptation of meeting them and so invited them to his party. Miss Karen and Mr Lamper arrived at Mr Tucker’s mansion late in the evening. Mr Tucker, a potbellied man wearing a tailcoat greeted them with gratitude and introduced them to the other main guests, Lapian the banker and Mr Hill the police commissioner. The party was held in the outdoor space which had a lovely reflecting pool in the middle of the garden that produced a visual effect of water extending to the horizon. Everyone at the party was enjoying, Lamper sipping slowly from his glass of lemonade was staring at a lady, when his friend noticed him doing so, he muttered, “Do you see that lady there, I think something is going between her and the banker”.

Karen replied, “I am more interested in Mr Tucker’s son Dom and that shy girl standing in the corner, I have been noticing them staring at each other from some time. The girl doesn’t seem to fit here she must be an ordinary girl from the town but I should say you are right about the banker and the lady.”

Mr Tucker called the main guests including the detectives for a group photograph. Dom wanted to click the shot, but Mr Tucker insisted his son to join the group, and so Lamper volunteered to click the camera. After the party was over, Karen and Lamper went back to their hotel. Mr Tucker wanted them to stay at his mansion, but Karen begged his pardon and left.

After spending a week at the island, Karen and Lamper came back to their city. The next evening after their arrival, someone knocked at their apartment door. Lamper got surprised opening the door as he saw that lady from the party, standing in front of him. He politely asked the lady who looked very worried, to come inside and called Karen who was in the other room watching television. Lamper went to get a drink for the lady. When Karen came and saw the lady, she asked her why she looked so stressed. The lady replied, “My son’s life is in danger, some people want to kill him. I came to know about you after I saw you at Mr Tucker’s party. Please help me.”

Karen answered, “I will surely help you but first tell me about yourself and your son.”

The lady stated, “My name is Araaya and Dom is my son…”

Lamper holding the glass of water exclaimed, “Mr Tucker’s sons’ name is Dom too, isn’t it?”

Lady answered, “Dom is not his real son, he adopted Dom about two years ago, Dom isn’t my son too, Dom’s mother died while giving birth to him, and nobody knows about his father. At the time of Dom’s birth, I worked as a nurse in the same hospital. I decided to take care of him. Dom had been living with me in the city since his birth. Two years ago I was assigned to take care of Mr Tucker in the island, I told him about Dom and he gave him a job of an accountant in the factory on his Island. Mr Tucker has no wife or children; he started to like Dom and soon made the decision to adopt him and later brought us both in his mansion to live with him. Everything was perfect until the day before yesterday when Dom came home badly hurt, when I asked him he told me about these two men who claimed to be Mr Tucker’s real sons, threatened to kill him if he doesn’t leave the Island. Dom stopped me from mentioning this to Mr Tucker as he didn’t want to trouble him. I had no option left, so I came to you for help. Nobody, not even Dom, knows I am here.”

Karen assured Araaya that she would look into the matter. She told her they’ll come to Sims Island tomorrow. Listening to this Araaya left. Next day in the afternoon Karen and Lamper reached Mr Tucker’s mansion. When they went inside, they learned that there had been a theft in the mansion last night. The police commissioner Mr Hill was present there, he told Lamper that the thief somehow entered Mr Tucker’s study when everyone was asleep but fortunately didn’t succeed in breaking the safe and couldn’t take anything valuable. Mr Tucker’s mansion had a lot of rooms, but he used to sleep in the study itself. The only things missing from the room was a silver vase and a golden photo frame which hung on the wall. When asked, Lamper told the commissioner they came to meet Mr Tucker for some business issues. Mr Tucker who was present there along with Araaya, said to Karen and Lamper that he was happy to meet them again and would discuss business over dinner. Mr Tucker took their leave and went to the factory. Araaya made the arrangements for the detectives’ stay at the mansion.

At night over dinner, Karen asked Mr Tucker about the photograph in the missing frame. Mr Tucker said it was the same picture which was taken at the party.

Karen said, “You can get another copy of that photograph made, and I think that the frame and the vase didn’t matter much to you.”

Dom, who was also there, said, “Dad isn’t worried at all for those chaffy items but he is sad at the loss of that picture, it was the only copy. The negative of that photo was with the studio owner who sold his studio and mysteriously left the town with his family”.

“I know the reason for his sudden departure; he left because of the deviant nature of his daughter”, Mr Tucker rebuked.

“You know better, Dad”, stated Dom.

“So, what was it that you wanted to discuss with me Miss Karen”, asked Mr Tucker.

“Nothing of much importance Mr Tucker, we could talk about it later now I think you should take rest. This had been a hectic day for you”, replied Karen.

Mr Tucker then retired to his study; Araaya had already gone to sleep, and Karen then told Dom to rest too.

Next morning Karen and Lamper went to see the banker. Mr Lapian was a jolly man; he was surprised to see them. Lamper told Lapian that he wanted to open a bank account for they are going to start a business with Mr Tucker in the Island.

Lapian said, “Sir, I am leaving the Island for few days next week, so if you want to open an account soon, you should carry out the necessary procedures before I leave”.

Karen replied, “We are in no hurry, we can do that after you come back”.

“As you wish Ma’am…now you must excuse me I have to attend a meeting now”, saying this Lapian left.

Karen and Lamper went back to the mansion and saw Mr Hill sitting there with Mr Tucker. “We found the thief Mr Lamper, but it’s sad he is alive no more, we found his dead body today in his own house. We discovered the missing vase and the frame from his house, but Mr Tucker is still annoyed because that photograph was not in the frame. Maybe the thief threw it away as it was worthless to him”.

“Who was he, and how did he die?” asked Karen.

“He was a drug addict who overdosed to death”, replied the commissioner.

“What a waste of talent…he was a very good artist, he used to come to my house and bring me my sketches that he drew without even looking at me, and I always threw him some money… I am feeling very sorry for him”, Mr Tucker said sadly, then he looked at the commissioner and added, “I’d like to meet the deceased person’s family and grant them compensation”

Karen said, “Mr Tucker I think you should stay indoors for some time, something’s not right here.”

Mr Tucker, a bit scared asked Karen, “Why do you think so?”

“Please follow my advice, I’ll explain everything later”, said Karen and left with Lamper meanwhile, Mr Tucker hurried to his study and shut the door.

Lamper enquired, “What’s going on…What can happen to Mr Tucker?”

“His life is in danger someone wants to kill him, we must keep an eye on the banker”.

That evening after closing of the bank both Lamper and Karen followed the banker, keeping some distance. Banker entered a park, there Araaya was waiting for him. Karen and Lamper heard the banker say, “You must not stay with Mr Tucker, he is not a good man you will soon get in trouble if you keep living in that mansion. If you trust me do as I tell you, leave him and come with me.” Araaya sat silently staring at the banker.

In the morning everyone woke up hearing Araaya’s scream. Karen sprang up from her bed and ran towards Mr Tucker’s room, Lamper followed him. Mr Tucker was lying dead on his bed, and Araaya stood perplexed near the bed.

After examining the body Karen explained, “Someone has smothered him in his sleep”.

Karen looked under Mr Tucker’s pillow and found a key. Dom entered the room rubbing his eyes; Araaya came running towards him and started crying. Dom was shocked seeing Mr Tucker lying still and said, “Dear lord… What happened to Dad?”

Showing the key to Dom, Karen asked, “Is this the key for Mr Tucker’s safe?” Dom nodded, Karen asked him to open the safe. The safe contained few thick Ledger books on the upper racks and some cash and jewellery. Karen picked a Ledger book from the rack, and while flipping the pages she asked Dom, “The way these ledger books are lying on the rack, it seems recently someone has taken out few of them. Does anyone else has the key to this safe?” Dom replied that only he has one, but he rarely uses it. When the police arrived at the crime scene, Karen suddenly dropped that thick ledger book from her hand and then after picking it up placed it in the rack where it belonged and signalled Lamper to move out. Outside Lamper heard Karen humming her tune, he said, “I know what you are holding in your fist” and smiled.

At the funeral, Karen and Lamper, who sat behind Araaya and Lapian in the church, overheard their conversation. Lamper was pleading, “Please… You have to decide will you come with me or not”. Araaya replied, “I can’t do that, Dom will be left alone. Please understand”. Getting the reply banker kissed her cheek and left. Lamper and Karen both looked at each other and moved back, leaving Araaya sitting gloomily.

A lawyer came to the mansion in the morning, he told Araaya and Dom that legally Dom is not Mr Tucker’s son, so all his property will go to the Trust. When the lawyer left Araaya started crying, Dom consoled her. Krent and Lamper who were also present there asked Dom, “Did you know about this?”

Dom replied, “Dad and me met a lawyer a year ago and had a conversation regarding this. The lawyer told us its quiet a fiddly procedure, I thought dad will do this before he would die. We never expected that he’ll leave us so soon”, saying this Dom turned to Araaya and said, “there’s nothing left for us here now… we’ll leave the island tomorrow”.

Dom and Araaya stood at the port carrying their luggage to catch a ferry to the city, the banker too stood there at some distance secretly following them. They were about to board when they heard Lamper’s voice from behind, “please stop!” They turned back to see, Karen and Lamper coming towards them with three police officers. Lamper told the police officials to check Dom’s suitcase. Dom went in a daze; he didn’t say anything. When police opened his suitcase, they found it filled with thick Ledger books. Krent asked one officer to take out a ledger book and open it. When the police officer did so, everyone was astonished to see that it was hollow from inside and was filled with Diamonds and so were the other books too. The police arrested Dom. Araaya confused and scared asked Karen, “Please tell me what’s going on?”

Karen answered, “Dom has committed two murders, its better you ask him.”

Araaya looked at Dom, who stared at the sea quietly, then he spoke, “Miss Karen is right, I murdered Tucker because he raped and killed Mili, the girl I loved, and he killed her father the studio owner when he protested.”

“Tell us why you murdered the artist?” Karen asked.

“I murdered John, so that Tucker’s men and the Mafia couldn’t track me. I wanted to leave no trace of my identity here in the Island…” Dom stated.

“So he destroyed the photograph and killed a man who could have made his exact sketch” Lamper cut in.

“Why Mafia or anyone would want to come after you?” asked Araaya.

When Dom didn’t say anything Karen explained, “Mr Tucker had connections with Mafia as he was into money laundering. Dom was his accomplice in this; everything was going fine until the village girl came between them. Mr Tucker used to hide his diamonds in the thick Ledger books, and Dom was aware of this, after killing him he wanted to run away with the diamonds. You can ask Mr Lapian he also knew about this but being afraid he never told this to anyone”.

“Dom would have ditched you after leaving the island, believe me Araaya”, Lamper added.

“That’s why Mr Lamper was following you… look he is right over there hiding behind the lamppost” Karen told Araaya. Araaya saw Mr Lapian who slowly started coming towards her, he was confused about what was going on.

Smoking his cigarette while relaxing in the apartment Lamper asked his friend, “How did you come to know so much about the case?” Karen who was reading a book said without looking up, “I guessed there could be two suspects, Lapian the banker and Dom, as they were in the photograph, only they would want to destroy it, so that no one could send anyone after them once they flee after committing a crime. My attention was on the banker because he had good reasons to do so, I thought he might run away with the bank’s money, but I realized I was wrong, he is a good man, and then I focused my attention on Dom, but I couldn’t find any evidence to prove his crime. When Dom mentioned leaving the Island then it was very easy for me, and I caught him red handed, rest of the story he told himself. The two ruffians who terrorized Dom were from Mafia, who beat Dom because of some unfair deal, Dom just made the story to cover the truth from Araaya… Maybe it was God’s wish that we go to that island, that’s why he sent her to us… However friend I am really sorry for you, she is indeed a good lady… she’d be happy with the banker… meanwhile, you can mend your broken heart with this…” She took something shiny from her cardigan and dropped it on Lamper’s palm, leering at the stone Lamper let out a smile and continued smoking his cigarette.

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