Detective Richard Hollings stood at the scene of the crime and scratched his head; pondering how on earth such a gruesome event could have taken place.
After all, it wasn't every day he found two middle-aged men, naked in an overflowing bathtub, dead as the result of an apparent electrocution. It was the third distinction that offered the conundrum - the death part, that is. And the reason for his presence in that particular bathroom on that particular day.
"They look surprised," offered his colleague, the young Detective Marx.
"Indeed," replied Detective Hollings.
He had noticed the same thing. Had this been a double suicide, the looks of surprise would have been, well, surprising. Besides, if anything, it looked more like an accident. The cord hanging from the shelf, one end still in the socket, one end attached to lord-knows-what beneath one of the victims, indicated an accidentally "shocking" end to a, what seemed to him at the time, strange ritual.
"What do you think that one's sitting on?" asked Detective Marx, pointing to the rotund derriere of the victim on the right.
"Beats me. Gonna have to wait for the coroners office before we find that out. Meantime, let's have a look around," answered Detective Hollings.
To which they did.
Detective Hollings checked the bedroom out first and found the clothes of the recently deceased laid neatly on the bed. He checked the pants for their wallets and was able to at least quickly ascertain the two gentlemen's names, which offered little help in solving the crime.
"What do you make of these?" asked Detective Marx, as he entered the bedroom, holding several empty plastic bags?
"Well, that explains the overflowing bathtub," said Detective Hollings.
"They're ice bags. They're empty. There's no ice or water anywhere else but in the bathtub. Ergo, the ice went in the bathtub."
"That's screwy," said Detective Marx, looking to Detective Hollings for a further explanation.
"Maybe, maybe not," said Detective Hollings, producing a card from one of the wallets. "Check this out."
"So what's the Penguin's Club?" asked Detective Marx.
"They're those guys that go swimming up in the Arctic. Crazy old coots. I guess they were practicing in a bathtub filled with ice."
"Makes sense, in a twisted sort of way, but why together?"
"Hmm," said Detective Hollings, before his eyes landed on the probable answer. "Look on the bed."
"The clothes?" asked Detective Marx.
"Nope, the cane. The white cane, to be more precise. One of the victims was most probably blind. Maybe they practiced together and swam together. Could explain why they were both in the bathtub together, anyway."
"Maybe, but how'd they die?"
"Well, the coroner just pulled up, so it looks like we'll be finding that out momentarily."
The coroner, being used to seeing all kinds of strange deaths, didn't even flinch when he saw this one. He just chalked it up to one more bad idea gone horribly awry.
"And there's your culprit, gentleman," he said, once the deceased were removed.
"Well I'll be damned. At last, it makes sense!" announced Detective Hollings.
"What?" asked Detective Marx.
The answer, which was obvious, is as follows:
Two penguins are sitting in a bathtub. One penguin says to the other, "Please pass the soap." The other penguin replies, "No soap. Radio!"
Copyright 2003, Rob Rosen