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15 July 2005

Can Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple or Auguste Dupin win this pizza?

The Mystery
of the Tiny Closet

(a True Story)

It was noon on a lovely sunny summer day in Vleeptron Gardens, a charming suburb of Ciudad Vleeptron.

µþÞ‰œ¥, The Greatest and Most Famous Detective in the whole Dwingeloo-2 Galaxy, chanced to be walking past the small cottage of Mr. and Mrs. Vleeptron.

The Great Detective could not hear what the couple was saying inside the cottage. But the picture-window curtains were open, and The Great Detective could see what was going on in the living room. The couple were both dressed in perfectly ordinary informal clothes.

And The Great Detective saw a Very Odd Thing.

There was a tiny closet in the corner of the living room.

The closet was stuffed full of clothes on hangers. First Mr. Vleeptron made room for himself by pushing aside the raincoats and other clothes on the hangers. Then he stepped into the tiny closet.

There was barely room for him, but then The Great Detective saw him invite Mrs. Vleeptron to squeeze herself into the tiny closet. It wasn't easy, but she did.

She wasn't angry or very reluctant about being pulled into the tiny closet -- but she wasn't thrilled or particularly happy, either. From her expression, it was clear that she did not regard this as Fun. She seemed to be just grudgingly cooperating with this strange task or duty or request.

Then The Great Detective saw the door to the closet close, with both Mr. and Mrs. Vleeptron inside.

About twenty seconds later, the door to the tiny closet opened again, and first Mrs. V., and then Mr. V. carefully stepped out of the closet. Mrs. V.'s index finger was pressed on to Mr. V.'s t-shirt, about where his lowest right rib was. His t-shirt had some sort of complicated but orderly and multi-colored pattern on it, but the t-shirt was too far away for The Great Detective to make out what the t-shirt design was or said.

At that point, Mrs. V. looked out the window and saw The Great Detective staring through the window at them. The Great Detective was embarrassed to be caught so shamelessly snooping, and so The Great Detective hurried away, and that is All the Great Detective saw.

Maybe this wasn't the most difficult case in
µþÞ‰œ¥'s long, illustrious career, but The Great Detective certainly thought it had a uniquely puzzling character, and spent the rest of the day, and deep into the night, trying to figure out:

What were Mr. and Mrs. Vleeptron doing?

* * * * *

ATTENTION NEWCOMERS & WANNABE DETECTIVES: Cliquez Ici to read the COMMENTS. There's a CLUE down there, and also everybody's Guesses. So far All Wrong, but you know what Sherlock Holmes said to Watson:

"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"

-- "The Sign of Four"


Anonymous Jim Olson said...


I know the room and the window, and the closet concerned.

I am surprised that two grown adults would fit into that particular closet, if in fact, it is the closet that contains Mr. Vleeptrons Only Suit.

Its location in the house is interesting. (If it is the closet I am thinking of. ) One wall is an exterior wall. One wall is against the bathroom (the toilet is against the other side of the wall in that corner) and one wall has electronic equipment on the side. Perhaps none of this detail matters.

As for the clues, the shirt that Mr. Vleeptron was wearing could possibly have been a tie-die t-shirt (which I know that Mr. Vleeptron likes to wear.) I don't think this detail matters either.

Mrs. V, having her finger on Mr. V's chest at his lowest right rib is more challenging. Perhaps she was measuring something at Mr. V's request, using Mr. V's body as the measuring stick. Perhaps where the interior doorknob landed when the closet door was closed. Why, however, did it take 20 seconds to determine this measurement with the door closed? (I know what I would be doing in a closet with the door closed with the love of my life for 20 seconds...but again, perhaps this is an unneeded detail...)

Yes, thats it. Mr. Vleeptron wanted to know the measurement of an interior detail of this closet, and could not find yardstick or tape measure immediately at hand. He invited Mrs. Vleeptron to help with the measurement, and finding themselves in close proximity for a few moments took the time to engage in some "kanoodling". Mr. Vleeptron could then, at his leisure, find the yardstick or tape measure, and measure the distance according to the sense memory of the spot where Mrs. Vleeptron had her finger.

Anonymous Jim Olson said...

Why the lower right rib cage? Mr. V. backed into the closet, so his back was to the back of the closet. The interior detail being measured would be on the wall with the electronic equipment, possibly the electrical socket?

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Ah, Father Brown the Great Clerical Detective (by G.K. Chesterton) to the rescue! Thanks for being the first Detectve on Vleeptron to take a stab at the mystery!

Don't use your personal familiarity with this particular living room and closet to get to the Answer. I've purposely described Everything You Need to Know to solve the Mystery. Things which you know, but other people don't, aren't going to help solve the Mystery.

Mr. and Mrs. Vleeptron were not in the tiny closet for any romantic purpose. They had the whole house to fool around in. Are you suggesting they get their jollies with some Tiny Cramped Closet perversion? Suggest all you want ... but that's not the Answer.

Mr. & Mrs. V. did indeed fit in the Tiny Closet. It surprised Mr. & Mrs. V. too.

Mr. Vleeptron was not wearing his (hippie-style) tie-dye shirt. Read the Mystery again. The shirt is described in some detail.

µþÞ‰œ¥ and all the other Detectives of Dwingeloo-2 are still trying to solve The Mystery of the Tiny Closet, and so those are all the hints I can fairly provide at this time.

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

John diP of Cabot Cove, Maine -- he's Jessica Fletcher's nephew -- writes:

Aha! A subtle clue!

"The closet was stuffed full of clothes on hangars. First Mr. Vleeptron
made room for himself by pushing aside the raincoats and other clothes
on the hangars. Then he stepped into the tiny closet."

The closet was full of hangars! And hangars contain aircraft! So Mr.
and Mrs. Vleeptron were inspecting their aircraft! Yes?

Okay, so I misspelled coat HANGERS. No, Mr. & Mrs. V. are not keeping airplanes in their tiny closet.

Mystery No. 2 (no Pizza): Guess what John diP does for a living.

Last night I had a Brief Internet Relay Chat relapse and bumped into NAIT who has been reading Vleeptron (but not Leaving Comments, so maybe he will be the first to meet the Vleeptron Firing Squad).

I gave him a HINT, so now I will give it to the entire Dwingeloo-2 Galaxy and the Melkweg, too:

*** CLUE *** KLEW *** CLUE *** KLEW ***

During the day, the Tiny Closet is the only place in Mr. & Mrs. Vleeptron's cottage where a person can be in total darkness.

Anonymous despicableteacher said...

Aha! They were developing photos!

Anonymous Jim Olson said...

So, you spilled something photolumenescent on your shirt, or it already glowed by design...and 20 seconds in the dark is about the right amount of time for your eyes to adjust. Where Mrs. V's finger was indicated the spot on your shirt that glows.

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Okay! The detectives from all around the world are lining up!

Mr. and Mrs. V. were not developing photos (or removing a roll of film jammed in a camera).

And nothing spilled on the t-shirt. BUT Father Brown is on the right track ... something on Mr. V's t-shirt WAS luminescent! But what?

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Okay, I don't want to throw too many CLUES out here ... but here's an itty-bitty

*** Clue *** Klew *** Clue *** Klew ***

Maybe this is a case for the Great Detective named AMY. Maybe she has special insight into this problem.

But that's just a Clue, a hint, a roadsign ... and it should not make all the other detectives lose heart. Any of you are just as likely to stumble on the Solution first.

Anonymous Jim Olson said...

I'm going to be disappointed if the answer to the identity of the Half-Blood prince is what was glowing on your t-shirt.

Anonymous The Impolitic said...

Ah, elementary my dear Watson. It's clear that young tyke Vleeptron, received a gift from his treasured Grandmama Vleeptron. Said gift was a super secret spy kit containing a pen that writes in invisible ink that can only be seen in complete darkness under ultraviolet light.

Being a mischevious child, he used all his colored markers to decorate Daddy Vleep's tshirt and as an added bonus added some very naughty words in invisible ink.

Not wanting to be embarassed at the local disco the next time they went dancing, Mr and Mrs V went into the closet with their supersecret ultraviolet pen light to pinpoint the offending artwork so Mrs. V could apply the appropriate ink removing agent.

What is untold and unwitnessed by our intrepid sleuth is that this required several more trips into the closet in order to pinpoint every potentially embarassing word.

Mr. and Mrs V however, are extraordinarily proud of their offspring for having expanded his vocabulary so greatly.

Voila. I will be in town in two weeks to collect my pizza.

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

THE IMPOLITIC has certainly done a lot of creative thinking to solve The Mystery of the Tiny Closet, and deserves a pizza slice just for the volume of smoke coming out of his (his, right?) ears.

Alas -- his conclusion has nothing to do with The Solution. THE IMPOLITIC shouldn't quit his Day Job (which is , very heavy into US politics).

Sharing the AMY hint to everybody:

AMY is a biotekkie. Bio isn't the Path to the Solution -- but things a biotekkie had to study and has to know might give a detective the Edge here.

In fact, I will take a wild guess, and you may take my wild guess as another CLUE:

Somewhere in AMY's office/lab is The Same Thing that is on Mr. Vleeptron's t-shirt. (Read the description of the t-shirt again carefully.)

That Mrs. Vleeptron was pointing a finger at a spot on Mr. Vleeptron's t-shirt "about where his lowest right rib was" is a Big Clue. Just for openers, it suggests that the Vleeptrons were interested in one small specific fingertip-size spot of the design on the shirt.

Anonymous despicableteacher said...

Hmm she was counting his ribs to see if any was missing?

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Noooooooo ...... all ribs present and accounted for.

Blogger Mamagiggle said...


Blogger Mamagiggle said...

I would have guessed Radium, not knowing how big the chart appeared on the shirt, they used to use it in the 1900 to paint the faces of some clocks, since it also glows in the dark.

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Everybody see? The Case Is Closed! A great detective has found the Answer! (Close enough for Rock n Roll and High School Chemistry Class, anyway.)


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