Dr. Thoth: Between the Lines  

Please, allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Dr. Thoth.

I am living in a rather large tourist trap called the Gold Coast. I often find it too gaudy here for my tastes, but I like sitting on the beaches and watching the ocean. It reminds me of the river which travels through my homeland.

I have been many things in my life---scholar, computer programmer, writer, judge…

There are few things that would surprise me. I fancy myself prepared for every eventuality.

A woman walked into my office.

I was, of course, prepared for this. I am a private investigator. Women often walk into my office.

I leaned back into my chair and turned my head on side to study her. Judging by her expensive tailored suit, she was a businesswoman of some note. It was not a conservative suit---it had all sorts of ruffles, rips and zips. I guessed that she was probably working in the arts. Right up my alley.

She sat down in the chair in front of my desk and fidgeted with her handbag and glasses. I folded my hands into a pyramid and waited for her to speak. Always best to let the clients speak first. It gives you the opportunity to examine them. In my experience, half of the mystery is what the client decides to leave out of their initial story.

She stared at me. I didn’t mind. I was used to that. My secretary, Ms. Seshat, says it’s because of the ties I wear. They are a little loud, I admit, but everyone needs a little colour in their lives.

Finally, she folded her hands in her lap and spoke. “My name is Wendy Addams. I am here on behalf of Le Cercle. We were told you could help us. We have a most urgent and private matter.” She paused. “A manuscript has gone missing.”


So I found myself traveling to Le Cercle. Le Cercle was a small theatre company with an international reputation situated in a large city calledBrisbane, about a 100km north of the Gold Coast.

My questions as to why the manuscript was important and what was its content were to be answered by the Director when I arrived. Safe to assume that they weren’t worrying about the absence of the manuscript---they could easily print out a million copies if they wanted to. No, they must be worried about who has the missing manuscript and what they will do with it. The manuscript’s contents must be fairly hot stuff. Controversial----slanderous? Hmmmmm…

I arrived in Brisbane. I strolled through South Bank, an Expo site converted into a picturesque area down by the river. As I passed by some café’s, a couple got up from their table leaving most of their chips behind. Immediately the ibises converged. I shooed them away and had myself a pretty meal.

As I ate, a man at a nearby table lowered his newspaper and exclaimed: “Still living off other people’s scraps, you old scavenger?”

“Marcus!” He was an old friend of mine. Well, maybe more of a friendly acquaintance. We were both investigators. He probably wasn’t too happy to see me here in his territory.

“Thoth. Here on business?” he asked---though it wasn’t really a question.

“News travels here quickly. What do you know?” I questioned him.

“Nothing useful. Just that you should watch where you stick your beak into,” he warned me and went back to reading his newspaper.

“Thanks, Marcus. Take care of yourself.” He grunted in response from behind his newspaper.

I continued on to Le Cercle. He may just be jealous and trying to scare me off the case or he might be genuinely warning me. Time would tell.


I met the artistic director, who shook my hand enthusiastically and insisted I call him ‘Rob’. I helped myself to some of Rob’s biscuits that he had conveniently left on his desk and settled myself in for the long haul.

After the compulsory pleasantries, Rob began to explain their problem to me

 “Well, a few months ago, we received a script from an emerging writer and we’ve been developing it with the writer since. It’s a brilliant play. No question about that. It queries the very way that we, in our society, construct public figures and place them on pedestals.”

I prepared myself for the ‘but’.

“But, though it is fictional, the writer has chosen to use a real---deceased---public figure and his family---for strictly allegorical purposes, of course.”

Ah. Both controversial and slanderous.

“And a copy of the script went missing?” I interjected.

“Yes. It was on my desk and I had to leave for a fire drill. When I got back, it was gone. We were then contacted anonymously, threatening to send it on to the family of (the public figure). Naturally, we didn’t acquiesce. We’re a relatively small theatre company, Thoth---we can’t afford blackmail and we can’t afford a lawsuit, either. We’d like you to go to the family, intercept the manuscript and ensure that they won’t sue us. Distance us from the play and promise them it won’t go into production, if necessary.” He paused. “I would also like to know who stole the script.” And there he finished.

So. I was to be a mere “gofer” boy. Normally I would think such a task to be beneath my capabilities, but business had been slow of late and I was starting to fear my brain would atrophy---so I took the job.

The first thing I did on this case was seize my opportunity when Rob briefly had to leave the room. I looked under his desk. Nothing. There was a paisley couch in the office. I looked under that. Eureka. There was the missing script.

It never does to overlook the obvious.

I pocketed the script, I thanked Rob and left to get on with the rest of my job.


I read the script while I was traveling to Mr. Public Figure’s family. No, I won’t tell you who Mr. Public Figure is, but, yes, you’ve heard of him. And boy, did this play ever tear him to shreds. Mr. Public Figure vs. Mr. Private Figure. It portrayed him as a cruel man, who was cruel in all his dealings---especially with his children.

I was beginning to become suspicious. Something wasn’t ringing true in the outline Rob had given me, but it didn’t seem like Rob was being purposefully deceitful…

This script wasn’t a play---it was a cry for help.


I had a hunch. I went to see Mr. Public Figure’s eldest daughter. We’ll call her Jane. Jane is a nice name. Jane was middle-aged, tired and dowdy-looking in her dressing gown.

I stated my business.

She was unhappy to see me.

“I’m sorry, I can’t help you. I don’t know anything about theatre.” She tried to close the door to her house. I stopped her.

I simply held up the script and showed it to her. Jane’s demeanor altered. She straightened up and no longer looked so dowdy. For someone who said she didn’t know anything about theatre, she was a good actress.

“You’d better come in.” She opened the door for me and led me into an unkempt kitchen.

As she made tea for us, I helped myself to some biscuits.

“Things aren’t what you think they are, Dr. Thoth,” she said, as she poured the tea.

“No?” I nonchalantly asked. “Then you didn’t write this script about your father?”

She stopped suddenly. “So you know.”

“No, I’m guessing. The script just seemed too detailed. And it’s understandable that you would want to write under a nom de plume. I must admit that I don’t know why you would blackmail Le Cercle.” I shrugged my shoulders.

“That was Janus. The girl who was posing as the writer of the script. She wanted money.” She looked me in the eye and softly said, “You must think I’m a terrible daughter.”

“After reading your script, I’m more inclined to think you had a terrible father.”

She took that in for a moment. “I want the world to know what he did to me. Can I pay you to ensure that this play will go into production?”

“No need to pay me. They’re keen to put it on, they just don’t want to get sued,” I pointedly mentioned.

“Oh, I’ll make sure nobody sues. Though, we will all be suitably shocked and outraged at the dishonouring of my father’s memory, of course.”

“Of course.” I looked at her and left the house. I never saw her again.


I went back to Rob and returned the missing manuscript, assured him that the family won’t sue, the blackmail would end and that the theft was not an inside job. I was paid, thanked for my good work and sent on my merry way.

And that was that.

No mystery, no shoot-outs, no crime---unless you count the one that was perpetrated by a man long dead. No justice, either.

Some revenge. I don’t normally advocate revenge, but Jane’s heart was too heavy for an innocent---and where I come from, the fastest route to hell is to have a heart that is heavier than a feather. I hope the exposure of her father will make her heart a little lighter.

After all, that is what I do---what I have always done. I restore the Ma’at, the balance of the world. One day, everything will be as it should be.

In the meantime, I stopped in South Bank again and had myself another fine meal of discarded chips.

Copyright: Jasmine Choinski

Organic Divination for the Urban Jungle

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