A Whole Lot of Ruckus
Against a lamppost, the sole source of illumination in the shady alley, leaned a short figure in a trench coat and fedora that obscured most of his face. It was detective and private eye Westley Ruckus, waiting for an anonymous tip about criminal activity.
Westley Ruckus nodded in greeting to the approaching silhouette, who in turn did nothing to acknowledge the detective, but let a small manila envelope sealed with twine tumble from his pocket as he passed. Westley Ruckus wasted no time in unraveling the string and unfolding the note.
"At 9:00 A.M. today the New York Boullon Bank will be robbed of the Hope Diamond,” the paper read in neat print.
Westley Ruckus was conflicted. It could be a trap, but the source had handed off the tip in such a professional manner. The detective decided to check it out. Incognito. What was the worst that could happen? The real Hope Diamond was definitely safely on display somewhere.
At 8:50 Westley Ruckus began loitering. He sat, paced, stood, jogged - whatever seemed inconspicuous so not to alert any accomplice to the crime.
Thirty-six minutes and eleven seconds had passed before clear evidence of crime appeared. Three unknown people donning all black and carrying sacks over their shoulders swung precariously from a now diamond-lacking chandelier in the main bank hall.
It all made sense now. The Hope Diamond had been hidden in plain sight. The one on display was a fake. All this time, the famous gem, along with several other diamonds had been on the chandelier. Or, were on the chandelier. The detective turned back to the thieves.
The chandelier gained momentum as the crooks swayed their bodies. In unison, they released their grips from the cold metal and crashed through the second story window, glass raining around them. Two of the burglars dashed to the getaway car as soon as their feet touched the ground, but the third froze.
“I’m Westley Ruckus,” the detective began in a playful tone, before steeling his voice: “And that’s illegal.”
The bandit’s eyes widened in recognition; his stance wavered, but he did not back down.
An engine revved in the background, and the detective groaned inwardly, grabbed the stunned robber’s bag of loot, and raced off to his 1996 Bentley convertible. He pulled a quick turn and sped down the road, flooring the gas pedal. The perpetrators swerved right, narrowly missing a bright pink station wagon, Westley Ruckus hot on their heels. The thieves bounced left after a block, then immediately jolted right.
This was going to be a problem. Dead ahead was a construction site, and the burglars weren’t turning. The bandits’ car was a bit smaller than Westley Ruckus’s and they managed to shoot through a narrow pipe. Westley Ruckus’s knuckles were white on the steering wheel, his teeth gritted, and his eyes locked on the looming pile of gravel. The tires fumbled for traction, luckily finding a bit of grip. Pebbles flew everywhere as the vehicle neared the top. Just as Westley Ruckus reached the peak of the mound, something shifted below his left wheel, spinning all hopes of a smooth descent away. The car was airborne now. It was also upside down.
In that moment, if at the right angle at the right time, one could have seen Westley Ruckus’s identity, an object of much curiosity among criminals and police alike. No matter how comprehensive the database was, the results were all the same. Not a single person had ever been able to secure an image of the detective’s face, making him impossible to track by name alone.
Westley Ruckus changed the radio station to high-speed chase music, pushed some buttons, and shifted gears, ensuring a safe landing.
After quickly weaving through some construction vehicles, the thieves were back in sight. They maneuvered left, skidded right, and the chase continued. The streets all blurred, unimportant to Westley Ruckus. He could have chased them for hours, but clearly the thieves did not share that opinion. The New York Harbor came into view.
A gate to a private dock was coming closer at an alarming rate. The bandits crashed through the gate with reckless abandon, then they dove out of their car, bags in hands and leapt onto a twenty-four-meter yacht that was tied to the dock. While one frantically tried to start the mega-yacht, the other began sorting through the bags of diamonds. He cursed. Westley Ruckus grinned smugly at the bag of stolen goods in his car. The Hope Diamond might as well have been returned.
The detective shimmied up the rope to the yacht after exiting his car.
“Stand down!” Westley Ruckus called to the crook on the deck.
“Make me,” he sneered. Westley Ruckus cracked his knuckles. The detective walked right up to the thief and punched him square in the jaw.
“What was that for?” complained the burglar.
“Breaking and entering,” Westley Ruckus shot back, then kicked the breaker-and-enterer in the shin.
“Trespassing” the detective continued, kicking the trespasser in the other shin.
“Malicious destruction of property.” The malicious destroyer of property tried to dodge, but was too slow; Westley Ruckus pummeled him in the gut.
“And robbery,” the detective concluded, finishing with a left hook to the robber’s face.
The boat started up, and the criminal fell. Westley Ruckus manacled him at the first chance, then straightened his trench coat and adjusted his fedora. Before he could confront the remaining future felon, she came to him, leaving the ship coasting. Without waiting for an invitation, she came at him, striking a blow to his stomach.
“Is that all you’ve got?” he winced.
“In your dreams!” she snorted.
“Bring it.” He challenged. The crook swung right, but he dodged. Westley Ruckus faked left, then struck. He aimed a punch at her stomach, but she grabbed his wrist and twisted it behind his back before shoving him over to the back of the yacht and pressing his stomach against the railing of the stern. A jet stream of white foam frothed beneath his gaze.
“Where. Is. The. Diamond?” interrogated the crook.
“Back at the dock.” Westley Ruckus answered easily.
“If you move a muscle, you’re dead,” the burglar threatened, before tying up the detective. The bandit raced back to the captain’s post and began turning the yacht.
Two minutes later, the thief heard a voice.
“Oh Criminal!” a binding-lacking Westley Ruckus called. He shook the bags of diamonds, “You might want to save these before they sink!” That was all it took to get the burglar sprinting. As soon as the bandit exited the cabin, Westley Ruckus emptied the first sack of small diamonds into the New York Harbor.
“Oops!” He sang.
“When I get through with you…” The thief began, but was cut off.
“Yeah, yeah,” the detective waved off her comment airily. “There’s something you’re going to want to see first.” Her curiosity got the better of her, and the bandit stepped to the stern. She was about to point out that there was nothing there when Westley Ruckus wordlessly dumped the second bag of diamonds off the ship. As the crook processed the scene, quick as lighting, Westley Ruckus shackled her hands behind her back.
“Did you notice?”
“Notice what?” She spat bitterly.
Westley Ruckus gazed down at the last visible diamond, watching it bob among the white-topped ripples in the harbor.
“Oh, that,” fake surprise laced the thief’s voice, “that I lost everything for a fake Hope Diamond?”
“The Hope Diamond wasn’t fake,” the detective assured her. “Only the smaller ones were.”
Twenty minutes later, the crooks had been arrested and Westley Ruckus was jauntily driving home. He parked his car in an alley, hopped a fence, scaled a wall, and unlocked his apartment. At the door he took of his trench coat and fedora. He walked in and flicked on a light.
“SURPRISE!” chorused a dozen or so voices. They immediately launched into a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday. Westley Ruckus laughed and smiled with his friends, and then a cake was brought out. It was simply splendid, a candle for each year of his age sat atop the dessert. Westley took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and blew out all twelve candles.