Dear Auntie Ora

Each time I wash my socks, one or two pairs come out with the left sock missing.
Recently, in desperation, I bought a job-lot of identical pairs of black socks. I am now down to the last two of these.
I need your help, as I suspect foul play.

Kind regards
Dr Isaac.


Sibyl Stojay leaned forward and pressed the intercom button, waited, but no reply. Remembering that the money set aside to pay the repair man had been used instead to pay Pythia's expense account again, she sighed. She stood, walked around the desk and poked her head out the door.

'Pythia, dear, would you please come to my office'.

She had hardly sat back down when Pythia DiStefano, the barrel of her 12 gauge in one hand and a can of oil in the other, burst in.

'Listen, if it's about that hotel bill in Bali, I can explain...'

Sibyl shook her head tiredly. 'No it's not about that... Bali, you said...? What were you doing in B...?' She shook her head again. 'Never mind, I'm sure I'll be entertained when I get round to asking you about it. No, I have a little job that's right up your alley.' She slipped the letter across to Pythia.

'Hmm... I know how he feels. I have the same trouble with gloves. Do you have any idea how much it costs to buy a new pair of gloves, all because one's gone missing?' She looked up at Sibyl. 'Oh, sorry, of course you do.' She hurried on, changing the subject. 'So what is this job that's right up my alley?'

'I would like you to investigate this guy's missing socks', said Sibyl.

Pythia stared at Sibyl. 'You can't be serious. This is the oldest question in the world. We never investigate missing socks and pens and...'. She stopped as Sibyl held up a warning hand.

'Look at his signature, Pythia, the guy is a doctor. That means rich, baby. Rich, satisfied clients mean money for us. Money for us means we get to pay your expense accounts, and,' she looked ruefully at the dead intercom, 'get a few things fixed around here.'

'OK, you've made your point. I'm on my way.'

'Good. Oh, and take Cassie with you. The fresh air will do her good.'

'And it will get her out of my hair for a while.' she mumbled to no one in particular.

***

As arranged, the keys to the apartment were under the door-mat. Pythia watched warily as Cassie opened the door and led the way into the living room.

'Ew,' said Pythia. 'Typical bachelors's apartment, stuff strewn everywhere.'

'I wonder if he's cute,' said Cassie, walking around a pile of Playboy magazines. 'Say, did you hear that noise?'

Pythia had already taken the pump action from her back-pack, and had it held in the ready position.

'It sounded like it came from the laundry', she whispered. 'I'll go on ahead, you follow...'

Suddenly a black clad figure wearing a red bandanna and a parrot, cutlass in hand, burst from the corridor.

'Arrrgh'

'Eek', shrieked Cassie, then looked again at the figure.

'Wait a minute, it's only Captain Pegleg', she said. 'Hello Pegleg, what are you doing here?'

'Arrrgh', said the pirate.

'You'd better answer the lady', said Pythia, cocking the pump action. 'At the same time, you can explain that thing that looks like a sock hanging out of that bag you're holding.'

'Well shiver me timbers, me hearties, if an ol' one legged sea-dog..'

'In English, if you please,' said Pythia, levelling the shot-gun at Pegleg.

'Awk, she's gonna shoot, she's gonna shoot,' squawked the parrot.

'Oh do be quiet,' said Pegleg. 'Well, Pythia, you appear to have caught me dead to rights. Ok, I'll tell you the whole sorry tale...'

***

The three women were seated around the desk, each holding a cup of coffee, still fitfully giggling after the shrieks of laughter that accompanied Pythia's account of the encounter with Pegleg at the doctor's house.

'You'd think, with all that booty he claims to have buried, having to buy a pair of socks each time he needed one for his good foot would be the least of his worries', said Sibyl. 'I've heard of cheapskates, but this one takes the cake.' She shook her head. 'Still, he's been a good client. You did let him go, didn't you?' she looked at Sibyl.

'Yes, right after he promised not to steal any more socks from the doctor.' She frowned thoughtfully. 'You know, we can't tell the true story to the doctor, but we need him to know we've solved the case.'

Oh, that's OK. I've already thought of something,' said Sibyl, as she started typing.

----
Dear Dr Isaac,

After extensive investigation, we at Delphic have found and eliminated the cause if your problem.

The cause was, in fact, a singularity in the bottom of your washing machine. The solution was simple. We merely applied a large quantity of anti-particles to it, and the singularity eventually disappeared.

We believe you will have no more problems.

We have enclosed our invoice. We are sure you'll agree that, relatively speaking, $100,000 is a modest cost for peace of mind and not having to buy socks all the time.

Kind regards,
Sibyl Stojay.
DIRECTOR,
Delphic Research, Inc.

----

'I don't know what I mean either but it sounds impressive. It doesn't matter whether he understands or not though. He won't query it out of fear of appearing ignorant. After all, he is a doctor,' said Sibyl.