Chapter 17 Cologne and the Lawyer

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On Monday morning Inspector Riggs walked up 6th Avenue. The weather was unexpectedly clear and he was happy for the exercise. A little past Nordstrom shoe store he found the small upscale men's clothing shop, specializing in custom suits, fedoras, handkerchiefs, silk ties and squares, cuff-links, shaving soaps, and everything else the modern man needed to be thoroughly civilized and debonair.

An exceedingly well-groomed sales clerk came over. He had a very thin mustaches and smelled like something spicy and expensive. "Good morning, Sir, what might I be able to help you with today?"

Riggs showed him his badge. "I'd like to see your colognes."

The man nodded amicably. "Yes of course, Sir. Right this way. We have the best selection in town."

Riggs grunted quietly.

"Is there any scent, in particular, which you particularly enjoy? Or should I say, any scent your wife would particularly enjoy?"

Riggs began to wonder if the sales clerk had missed the significance of the police badge.

The salesman went on, "Our colognes organized by the strength of their musky quality. These ones here are what I like to call the 'New Metropolitan Man' while the ones over here have more of 'old world rugged rogue' charm." He picked up a bottle and sprayed something rugged into the air. He then closed his eyes and inhaled deeply while waving his hand around in a little circle under Inspector Riggs's chin.

"Do you see what I mean?" the sales clerk gushed enthusiastically, "It's like a salty sea anchor rusting in a spicy cherry wood whiskey barrel," he considered a moment then added, "and a horse."

Riggs coughed. Horse it was, and not the preferable end either.

The salesman watched his face carefully and said, "But you're already a large, roughed-looking sort of man, aren't you? Perhaps you're looking to civilize your persona with something a little more... gentile?" He selected a tall blue bottle and held it up tantalizingly.

"Straight from Denmark," he explained as he sprayed the bottle. "This smells like a symphony of polished steel, fresh pineapple martinis, and a mahogany-trimmed boudoir."

Riggs leaned away from the questionable mist cloud and said, "I'm not looking for a cologne for myself."

The salesman's eyes opened significantly and nodded. "Discretion is always the gentleman's prerogative," he whispered knowingly. "I understand perfectly. And what sort of scent do you think your friend would enjoy?"

Riggs pulled Winifred's sketch out of his pocket and unfolded it. "I'm looking for a bottle that looks like this. The label is red."

"Oh, of course! La Passion de Romeo. Paris! Autumn. Wet earth. Tanned leather and chestnuts! I should have known." The salesman stood in place and shook his head.

Riggs waited a few moments.

"Do you have any?"

"Does anyone?" The man lamented. "Unfortunately, this particular cologne is extremely fashionable at the moment. Last year several celebrity gossip columns claimed that Carol Lombard bought two bottles of La Passion de Romeo for Clark Gable and you can imagine what happened next! The price went up $7.35 a bottle and I still can't keep it on the shelf. Our last shipment only contained two dozen bottles and they were gone within days. Days!"

"When did you sell the last one?" Riggs asked putting on his hat.

"Oh, it must have been almost two weeks ago. I remember, a beautiful woman came in and said she wanted La Passion de Romeo as a gift for her boyfriend. Lucky man!"

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