The Private Detective
One of the first lessons Eric learned the hard way after leaving the force and going into business for himself was to never ask the client why they wanted his services. The less he knew, the better it was for everyone. Something about this case, and the creepy man who hired him last week, just didn’t sit right though.
As he sat in the old blue Buick flipping through his notes, he saw her coming down the step of the opera house. He snuffed out his fifth camel and started the car. She was all dolled up in a Victorian get-up. Looked like something out of an H.G. Wells movie. Eric watched as she crossed the street, entered the park, and hailed a carriage.
“Shit!” He couldn’t follow her in the car through the park.
The carriage turned the corner and and disappeared from his view!
“Buggerations!” Eric snorted as he quickly got out of the car and hop, skipped and jumped his way across the street into the park. He could just see the end of the carriage as it made its way merrily across the lawn tracks!
As Eric chuffed along behind the carriage, he was becoming more and more startled as he saw smoke billowing from the top of the carriages’ roof, “What on earth?” Eric thought.
After only a few minutes, the carriage came to a standstill beside the fountain of Silver Waters, and she stepped out. Eric quickly hid behind a man selling balloons! He saw her talk to the driver, who doffed his hat and moved the carriage forwards by fifty or so feet before coming to a standstill again.
He watched Vicky [he had called her this because of the garb she had been wearing when he first caught sight of her. He didn’t know her name, Mr Creepy hadn’t passed on that nugget of information, so Vicky would have to do for the time being] walk up to the fountain, and as she approached from within her bulky skirts she withdrew a large bottle of something. The contents he could see were bright green almost luminous!?
“What on earth??” Eric gasped!
Vicky stopped in front of the fountain of Silver Waters and seemed to be speaking to the statue on the top, a funny looking gargoyle [l know, who would have thunk it?] and as she did so, the statue moved and so spake back in a kind of sing song accent and turned and looked at the balloon seller – who was already becoming quite twitchy as he didn’t usually have another man quite this close to him when hiding!
Suddenly the balloon seller disappeared in a plume of green smoke with silvery tinges and Eric saw the balloons take flight to the skies!
“Blimey! That’s burst my bubble of disguise!” Eric thought, “Now what?”
Meanwhile Vicky and the gargoyle were looking directly at Eric and seemed to be speaking in the language of the elephant shrew [Eric knew this as his Son was studying the very same language in the elephant shrew school – l know how freaky as a coincidence is that?] As Eric tried to look as inconspicuous as possible which was somewhat difficult in his bright yellow zoot suit, Vicky and the gargoyle were speaking rather fast now and as they were doing so, the air around them cracked, and groaned, and creaked – yes creaked! The more Eric looked the more he could see wrinkles appearing before his eyes, the air seemed to be visible, the atmosphere was heavy, was that a portal opening, and was that another Vicky stepping out, was that another Vicky stepping out, was that another Vicky stepping out?
Eric closed his eyes for a moment thinking alternative reality and feeling somewhat faint and when he opened them again …
… he sat on his old Harley flipping through his ipad, he saw her coming down the step of the museum. He snuffed out his twenty second Marlboro and started the Harley. She was all dolled up in a Gothic get-up. Looked like something out of an old, well Gothic movie. Eric watched as she crossed the street, entered the zoo, and hailed a camel.
“Chocolate Smarty Cake!” He couldn’t follow her on the bike through the zoo.
The camel turned the corner and Eric thought, Thunder Pants and then he started to feel very giddy. What was going on? He was uncoordinated, disorientated and sank slowly to his knees as he lost consciousness.
He woke with an IV in his arm Ina hospital bed. A nurse was busy with a chart and it took her a minute to realise he was awake.
“Welcome back! You had us all worried for a bit there!” She chirruped. “What happened?” asked Eric “I’ll see if the doctors here to see you” she replied, neatly avoiding his question as she sashayed out of the room. Eric noticed wryly that her scrubs fit in all the right places – obviously, he wasn’t too out of it!
He looked around, bored. The room was a bland, beige, instantly forgettable room with a stunning view of a solid brick wall six feet away. If you weren’t sick before you would be after a couple of hours here he thought.
There was a peremptory knock on the door. Before Eric could respond and officious looking man in a bespoke suit walked in. His shoes looked expensive. Handmade burnished Italian leather glowing as only shoes polished by a valet could. His apparel and demeanour screamed upper class like the foghorn on a cross-channel ferry.
“So you’re awake” he barked in a short staccato burst of verbal gunfire. “Do you know who you are?” “Yes of course I do,” said Eric giving his full name “Why am I here and where are my clothes?”.
“All in good time my man, you were brought in without any identification two days ago. You were dehydrated and had concussion. Let’s get some details shall we? He proceeded to ask Eric’s full address, profession and if he knew what day of the week it was, what year it was and other questions Eric presumed were to assess his cognition. “What happened do you remember?” the man concluded.
Eric’s Mind was a blur. Full of bizarre dreams – or were they?
“I don’t really know” he admitted. “Do you know why you were in the park?” I was following someone on orders from a client.”
The man leaned forward quivering “Ahh and what do you know of this client? he purred.
Just as Eric was about to answer there was a knock at the door. A short tired looking Indian man shuffled in. “Hello, I’m sorry to keep you waiting. I’m Doctor Raina”
Wait! exclaimed Eric turning to look at the first man “If this is the doctor then who are you?”
There was no one there, although the air looked oddly thick where the strange man had stood. Dr Raina looked puzzled. “What are you asking?” he said, a concerned frown on his face, “That concussion must be worse than we first thought.” He wrote something on the clipboard he clutched.
Eric asked if he might get some extra strength aspirin, because really. His head was pounding now. And not just from that cheap cigarette he had barely puffed on before coming on this journey. Dr Raina explained that concussed patients could not have any painkillers due to the effect on an already overtaxed brain. Or something. Eric was having trouble following the good doctor’s words. At least in any cohesive fashion.
“How did I get here?” Eric finally managed. Dr Raina smiled. “Oh, that lovely woman – she said she was your sister? – brought you in. Such strange clothes though.. Said you’d been in some sort of accident with your motorcycle…”
Eric sat up very straight, shocked at the thought of his beloved soft tail being damaged. “What happened?” he asked. His head throbbed more strongly. “I guess you were on your way to an audition for that new film “Grotesque” when somebody sideswiped you. You were lucky not to die!” The doctor looked at his watch, clearly needing to move along. “Your sister said I was to let her know if .. *ahem excuse me* WHEN you woke up ..”
Eric looked at the tired little man before him. “Don’t do that please,” he asked. “Because you see, I don’t have a sister!” Dr. Raina looked startled. “Well who is she then?” he queried. “You’re asking ME?” said Eric. “The only woman I’ve been in contact with recently was my … oh never mind.” Eric thought of the fat fee that the creepy man had paid. He needed the dough. Smokes weren’t inexpensive for the first thing, and second, now there would apparently be repairs to his bike, and third and perhaps most important: he didn’t get so many clients, he could refuse even creepy ones. Plus there was the rental for that blue Buick. Some stake-out car. Hmpft.
But what was going on? Eric stared as the door began to swing open. Dr. Raina continued writing his endless notes in utter disregard of the opening of the door. “Look OUT!” Eric shouted, as the long dull metal barrel of a Colt 45 poked through the opening.
Dr Raina looked to where Eric was staring. There was nothing there but he was clearly agitated. He walked to the door and opened it, there was a strange odour of eau de cologne but apart from that, nothing.
Eric was still in a state of agitation, his breathing was laboured and he could see spots appearing before his eyes and the dizziness that came before passing out.
The doctor made him lay down and checked his pulse again.
“I’m going to give you a sedative, you are clearly in a state of high dudgeon about something.” Dr Raina filled a syringe, quickly found a vein in Eric’s forearm and injected him with something that quickly made him feel calmer and more relaxed, like sinking into a warm bath.
“There, that’s better isn’t it?” Said Dr Raina. “Tell me, how many cigarettes do you smoke per day?” he asked looking at the four packets of cigarettes that they had taken out of his pockets and placed on the bedside cabinet. There were two packets of Camels and two of Marlborough and each were half empty.
“I suppose I smoke between forty and fifty cigarettes a day. When I was in the police I smoked sixty a day, but I’ve cut down since then.”
“I think you are suffering from nicotine poisoning, it’s causing you to have hallucinations.”
Eric thought to himself. Could I be having hallucinations? Could all this have been a figment of his imagination? The Victorian lady, the Gargoyle, even the creepy man who’d hired him in the first place? It all seemed too real.
Just then there was a frantic knock on the door and a nurse came bursting in.
“Doctor, there’s an emergency in the next room, you must come quickly.”
The doctor rushed out of the room with the nurse. Eric could hear the persistent beep of the kind one of those machines make when they can’t find a pulse.
Eric lay back in his pillow, the sedative seemed to be working, taking away all his anxiety. “maybe it was all in his head.”
Then a woman walked in, she was wearing ordinary clothes and her hair was hanging loose, but he recognised her face even without her Victorian clothes.
“You!” He cried, sitting up in bed…..
The story died here
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