They left the theatre.

"Well, what did you think?" Eri asked. "Was Rigoletto as good as I said it'd be?"

Nancy nodded. "I liked it. But I can't believe that dirty, lying, good-for-nothing Duke got away with manipulating poor Gilda like that!"

So that's what happened? Conan thought. I couldn't understand anything that was going on. Well, I fell asleep halfway through it anyway. Dang Italians.

Eri checked all four tires.

"Ah, are you checking to make sure that tire slasher hasn't done anything?" Conan asked.

"Indeed, Conan-kun," Eri said. "Well, they all look okay to me."

The children got into the back of Eri's car. Nancy was humming the tune to La Donna E Mobile as she did her seatbelt.

Eri put the car in reverse and backed out. Then she put it in drive and got onto the open road. It was dark outside, but all the cars on the road had their lights on so driving was arguably safer right now as compared with the daytime.

And it was precisely for this reason that all three of them noticed the large amount of police activity surrounding a nearby house.

"Hey, Auntie Eri, pull over! Please! Please!" Conan whined.

Eri did so.

Eri and Conan got out of the car.

"Ah, um, you aren't allowed in here," a police officer said weakly.

"I'm Detective Mouri's wife," Eri said. "What happened here?"

"A murder, from the looks of it," the officer said. "Masatomo Chikamatsu, age 40, was found dead in his living room. The cause of death was a gunshot to the head."

A murder, huh? Conan thought.

Opening

(Cup of Trembling by B'z)

(Each fresh breath of life is a fresh chance to start anew! In today's case, a car which was paralyzed on the side of the road! Or was it? Perceiving the one and only truth! With the body of a child but the mind of an adult, my name is...DETECTIVE CONAN!)

Above all, I'm afraid of you seeing me like this

The youthful vigor sapped from my bones

Too afraid to proceed, too afraid to turn back

A wretch, recoiling from my own shadow

Wallowing in self-pity like a pig wallowing in its crap

I can't check my phone, lest you might try to call

I can't live at home, lest you might try to visit

All I have left is the clothes on my back and

That dreaded bottle, whose contents I dare not drink

Oh I'm going nowhere, a pinwheel spinning in circles

This Cup of Trembling I now raise to my lips and swallow

So I may face the demons haunting my restless nights

I can't show my face to you until I can call myself a man

Until I've walked a full moon carrying my cross

Alibi of the Flat Tire!

Swag

"What happened here?"

"A murder, from the looks of it," the officer said. "Masatomo Chikamatsu, age 40, was found dead in his living room. The cause of death was a gunshot to the head."

A murder, huh? Conan thought.

"So, uh, anyways, you really shou..."

"Ehh? Eri? What are you doing here?"

Kogoro looked at his wife with a confused stare.

"We were driving home when we passed by this neighborhood and saw the police siren lights," Eri said. "I take it Inspector Megure called you up here?"

"Y-yeah," Kogoro said.

I didn't get to see if Pirate's Spirit won the race, he thought, sullen.

"Ah, Mouri-kun!"

The Inspector approached Kogoro, accompanied by a police officer and the discoverer of the body.

"What's your wife doing here?" he whispered.

"Just a coincidence, I guess," Kogoro replied.

"*ahem* I take it that man there discovered the body?" Eri said.

The man nodded. "As I already told this police inspector, my name is Sanpei Hirotani. It was a little after 7:20 that I discovered the body of my old friend Masatomo-san."

"Can you tell us exactly what happened?" Kogoro asked.

"Of course," Hirotani said. "Earlier today I went to go pick up a six-pack of beer in town. It only took me like five minutes, but apparently that was enough for that person."

"That person?" Conan said.

"The serial tire slasher I've heard about in the news, of course!" Hirotani said. "I got into my vehicle around 6:20 but I had to pull over around because my upper right tire was flat."

"And when was this?" Eri asked.

"Uh, sometime around 6:20, I think. I know it was a little before 6:30 when she pulled over."

"She?" Kogoro said.

"That kind woman who went out of her way to help me," Hirotani said. "Her name was Melody Utagawa, if I remember correctly. So, like, I explained my situation and showed her the flat tire. And then she drove to a tire shop that was about ten minutes away from where I was stranded."

"And you waited patiently the whole time?" Kogoro asked.

"Well yeah!" Hirotani said, a bit flustered. "What else could I do? It's not like I could just drive off!"

"R-right," Kogoro said sheepishly. "And what happened next?"

"Well, after Utagawa-san came back she helped me changed the tire, and then I was on my way. I drove to Masatomo-san's house, as we had planned to meet at his house, drink beer, and watch a sumo match live at 8:00."

"And that's when you discovered the body?" Eri said.

He nodded. "He wouldn't answer the door, so I looked through the window into the living room to see if he was there, and that's when I saw the body. I called the police immediately."

"Hey, Megure-keibu, did you determine the time of death?" Conan asked.

For that he got a fist to the head from Kogoro. "Quiet, brat! You aren't supposed to be here anyway!"

"S-sumimasen," Conan said meekly.

"To answer the kid's question," Megure said, "we have in fact determined that the victim died at exactly 6:40:39."

"Huh?" Eri said. "How can you be so sure about that?"

"When the victim hit the ground, his watch must've broke," Megure said. "The hands on the clock were on 6:40:39."

That seems a bit too convenient, Conan thought.

"I see," Kogoro said. "Hirotani-san, can you show us where you were stranded?"

Scene Transition

"My car pulled over right here," Hirotani said. "I recognize the spot because it's just a few feet past the 55 speed limit sign."

Megure's phone vibrated. He took a look at his text messages. "Hmm..."

"What is it?" Eri asked.

"Takagi-kun managed to track down Utagawa-san, and she confirmed Hirotani-san's story."

Nancy held up her phone. "From where we are now, the nearest tire shop is about a ten minute drive away."

"Considering that it was a two-way trip, and that she needed to go inside and load the tire into her car, it should've taken her roughly 25 minutes or so," Eri said.

"The speed limit here is 55, Kogoro said. "By car it's only about 5 minutes to the victim's house, but on foot there's no way Hirotani-san could make it there and back before that woman came back."

"Okay, so Takagi-kun just sent me another text confirming Hirotani-san was waiting in his car when Utagawa-san came back with a new tire," Megure said.

"In other words, I have an alibi," Hirotani said impatiently. "Can I please go now?"

Conan and Nancy were walking in the grass.

"What are you searching for?" Nancy asked.

"I'll know when I find..."

Conan gasped.

"What is it?"

Conan smiled. "I know how it was done."

"You gonna stun oto-san now?"

"Indeed I am."

Kogoro walked back to the car. "Well, I guess I'll leave the rest up to..."

He felt a slight prick on his neck. He felt drowsy and began tottering like a drunk man.

"Oh! You've solved it?" Megure asked as Kogoro fell into an asleep sitting position.

"Indeed I have," Kogoro/Conan said, hiding behind the car. "Inspector, this was definitely a premeditated murder. The detail he put into it leaves no other possible options?"

"He?" Megure said. "You mean Hirotani-san?"

"Exactly."

"A-are you really that forgetful, tantei-san?" Hirotani said. "I mean, wasn't it just explained that I couldn't have done it?"

"Could it be that he had a spare in his car?" Eri suggested.

"No, that isn't it," Kogoro/Conan said. "In between changing the tire, going to the victim's house, murdering him and then returning, all that would almost certainly take more than twenty five minutes. No, the tire...was never flat to begin with!"

There was an awkward pause. And then...

"Ha ha ha...ha...ha...HAHAHAHA!" Hirotani said. "Really, tantei-san? Is that your explanation? Go ahead, ask Melody Utagawa! I even let her take a good look at the flat tire!"

"That you accomplished with a very simple trick which, nonetheless, would be sufficient to fool an unsuspecting person. Allow me to explain it, step by step. First, you showed up ahead of time and dug a hole."

"A hole?" Megure said.

"Yup. Its dimensions are such that a tire would just barely fit into it, and then you wouldn't be able to see the hole, since it's rectangular. It's fairly shallow, so only a small part of the tire would sink into it. Then he came here, pulled over, and drove his car so that one of the tires would fall into the hole. Then he waited for help to come. In case you don't quite get how it works, Conan will show you."

Conan emerged from behind the car. Then he whispered in Nancy's ear, "Hey, can you drag your old man out of the car's way?"

Nancy nodded. "Okay."

Conan walked into the grass. Then he pointed.

"Ah-le-le?" Conan said childishly. "If you look right here, there's a hole, just like Uncle Kogoro said!"

Megure and Eri looked.

"He's right!" Eri said.

"I-I have no idea how that hole got there," Hirotani said. "Anyhow, what's it got to do with anything?"

"Hey, Inspector Megure, can you drive your police car into the hole?" Conan asked.

Megure nodded and got into the car.

"Huh? Why are you lying down in the grass, dear?" Eri asked.

"Oh, u-uh, the grass feels nice," Kogoro/Conan said. "Anyways, the experiment."

Megure drove the car off the road so that one of the tires fell into the hole. Then he put the car in park, got out, and checked it.

"Ah! I see!" Megure said.

"When one of the tires is in the hole, it looks like a flat tire," Eri said.

"Exactly," Conan/Kogoro said. "Now, Inspector, if you'd please drive the car out of the hole?"

Megure got back in and did what he was told. It took him like five seconds.

"As you can see, getting the tire back out of the hole isn't an issue," Kogoro/Conan said. "From there, you drive to your victim's house. He recognized you and let you into his house, and afterwards you murdered him and returned to the side of the road. However, you didn't go back to that exact same spot. After all, if when helping you fix the tire Utagawa-san noticed that the tire not only wasn't flat but was in a hole so as to look flat, your trick and thus your alibi later would crumble. So, you parked the car elsewhere nearby, let out air rapidly from the stem valve, and used a blade of some kind to slash your own tire. Then, she returned and helped you replace the visibly ripped tire and you drove back to the victim's house, pretending to 'discover' his death. Immediately after murdering him, so as to make it perfectly clear when he died, you proceeded to smash his watch. Your fingerprints should still be on the watch, to say nothing of the tire tracks surrounding that hole which will invariably be identified as the same tires you use on your car."

With few other options, Hirotani tried to run. Conan activated his Power-Enhancing Kick Shoes and pushed the button on his belt, which made a soccer ball appear. He kicked it with great force, and it hit Hirotani in the back of the head, incapacitating him long enough for Megure to catch up and make the arrest.

At the police station he broke down and confessed to everything.

His motive was that, in his college days, he had paid Masatomo to write his senior thesis for him. Recently, as Masatomo was going through difficult times financially, he threatened to make this known unless Hirotani paid him ¥1,000,000.

Ending

(Negai Goto Hitotsu Dake by Miho Komatsu)

Doushite futari wa deattano?

Konnani sabishii yuuhi wo miru nante

Ki no kiita kotoba sagashitemo

Hanareta kokoro wo tsunagu kotoba nakute

Dekirudake no egao de te wo fureba

Chotto dake demo kirei ni mieru no kana

Negai goto hitotsu dake kanaete kureru nara

Kizu tsuke atta ai ga hajimaranai you ni

Post-Ending

They were walking home from school.

Conan sighed. "Man, it's been like a month and they haven't caught that tire slasher."

"That's one elusive criminal," Nancy said. "I don't even get what someone would gain from messing with people's tires."

Conan and Nancy passed by a car, and from the corner of his eye Conan saw a rat nibbling on a car tire.

He smiled.

"What is it?" Nancy asked.

"Nothing. Nothing at all."