Dr. Ambrose

by Derek McMillan

From our ‘Meet the neighbours’ call.

Doctor Ambrose lived in an unremarkable house in a pretty nondescript street in an unfashionable part of town. He was anything but ordinary however.

Nobody knew where his money came from, what he was up to at any particular time and exactly what he was a doctor of.

At first we, his next-door neighbours, were mildly interested. Then we took an interest. By the end we were downright nosy.

“He roams his garden in the twilight.”

“Strictly speaking, that is not illegal, Oscar.”

“I know that, Sara. It is just highly suspicious.”

Then while we were sitting down to tea, there was a noise and it was definitely coming from Dr Ambrose’s house. Through the party wall I could hear that it was a voice and it was a good octave higher than the doctor’s. We couldn’t hear any words.

The next day I loitered in the garden and casually asked,

“By the way, what are you a doctor of?”

“Philosophy,” said Dr Ambrose and walked smartly away.

This is a useless answer. PhDs are awarded for many things like Physics, Chemistry or extracting moonbeams from cucumbers.

The doctor turned at the corner and raised his voice slightly, “My thesis was on extracting moonbeams from cucumbers,” he said.

Mind-reading is a myth or a trick but what dastardly trick the doctor had performed to give me that answer I did not know.

“So what have we got so far?” I asked

“Nothing?” Sara answered unhelpfully.

“1) He walks in the garden in the twilight, 2) We do not know where his income comes from and 3) He was able to say exactly what I was thinking.”

“1) So what? 2) None of our business and 3) Ah,” she said.

“Ah indeed.”

And there we left it until a month later I saw my old friend Declan.

“I saw an advert in the paper for a Clare Voyant. She claimed to know things about me I didn’t know myself and she offered online consultations. Her rates were very reasonable.”

I may as well mention now that Declan is as gullible as a herring but on with the story.

“I went online and I couldn’t see her. There was just a crystal ball with a heart of fire which held my attention. Then I asked questions and she answered. I spoke but her anwers came up as text. She really did tell me some amazing things.”

“You remember my Uncle Jed?”


“Well do you know she was able to tell me all about him, like ‘did I have a relative with a name beginning with J’ and then she said that all his money had disappeared when he died. How could she possibly know all that? What do you think, old man?”

I kept silent and encouraged him to continue.

“You see I heard from my cousin, Jed’s erm..”

“Daughter,” I prompted.

“Yes, how did you know that?”

“Lucky guess, do go on.”

“Anyway Selina told me that when Jed died all his money had vanished. What do you think about that?”

I knew for a fact that most of Jed’s money had vanished behind the bar of the Duck and Shovel but I kept that to myself.

I then asked one question and the answer to it got me thinking. Apparently Selina contacted Declan by email.

First I did an extensive search of my email account. Sure enough, ten years ago I had an email with the phrase “extracting moonbeams from cucumbers” as an example of proverbial nonsense.

I did a little discreet research into the world of cyber-security

Sara and I arranged to question “Clare Voyant” the next day.

The crystal ball was impressive and Clare answered every question about myself that I asked. When I thought I had enough written down I ended with,

“I expect this beats extracting moonbeams from cucumbers.”

Silence reigned.

Now I had chapter and verse that “Clare Voyant” and Doctor Ambrose were one and the same. They had been hacking into email accounts which was a criminal offence.

I presented the evidence to the local nick and then patiently explained it.

“So now we know the good doctor had a PhD in cyber-security and we know where he got his money from.”

“And his roamin’ in the gloamin’?” Sara asked.

“Just a foible, as far as I know.”

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