Maloney groaned and dragged his hands down his cheeks. “I’ve told you,” he moaned. “I’m sick of telling you. That’s how it happened.”
Detective Inspector Barrett’s lip curled with disdain. “How stupid do you think I am?” He held up the sheet of paper containing Maloney’s statement as though it was contaminated. “You expect me to swallow this?”
“You don’t have to take it orally, no,” scoffed Maloney. “In fact, why don’t you roll it up and shove it where the –”
A cough from Maloney’s brief cut him off. It would not do to antagonise the police any further.
Barrett shook his head. “You really think you can get away with this cock and bull story about a magic lamp, don’t you? Too much pantomime, that’s your trouble.”
“Oh, no, it isn’t,” said Maloney. “Honestly, if you’d said the same to me just yesterday, I would have thought you were off your conk too.”
“So, once more: you were walking down the road and it caught your eye, this ‘magic lamp’?”
“Yes; the sun just caught it. It was in the window of a charity shop. I’d never seen one in the flesh before. Well, you don’t. You only see them in stories and on the stage. So I went into the shop to have a look, picked it up. Gave it a wipe with my cuff – there was a bit of fluff on the price tag. It was pricey, I can tell you. And the shop assistant was hovering, probably thought I was trying to nick it. ‘Can I help you, love?’ she said. ‘That’s a lovely lamp’. It is, I agreed, I wish I could afford it. Next thing, I know she’s wrapping it up for me and says she’ll take whatever I’ve got in my pocket. Well, I wasn’t going to argue. Who would? And I get out of that shop before she can change her mind. I stuff the lamp in my jacket and I wonder how I’m going to get home with no money left, and it’s starting to rain, so I wish somebody would come along and give me a lift and the next thing I know, I turn the corner and there’s a car at the kerb. ‘Get in!’ says the driver and he pulls away before my bum touches the seat. Nice motor, I says, I wish I had the money for one like this. And the next thing I know, he’s putting his foot down and there’s sirens blazing and we’re being chased through the streets. He takes us down a dead end and gets out. He’s off and over a wall before I know what’s happening. And that’s when you lot caught me. How was I to know there was a ton of money on the back seat? How was I to know it was a getaway car from a bank robbery? God’s honest truth, that’s what happened.”
“This lamp then,” said Barrett, “Where is it?”
“I don’t know,” Maloney hung his head. “One minute it was there, the next: gone.”
“Hmm,” said Barrett. “You sit tight.” He left the room with his detective constable. “I’m going to check at the front desk,” he said. “I don’t know about you but I could do with a bloody magic lamp like that.”
Maloney turned to his lawyer. “I wish you could get me out of here,” he said.
“Sorry,” shrugged the lawyer. “You’ve had your three wishes, mate.”