#160

Looking out the spyhole I thought there were only two men, but on opening the door I discovered a third. He was standing in the middle and could have only been 5'3 at most. He wore a scruffy black suit, a shirt undone at the collar and a tie with a knot so small that it looked like he'd maybe tried to hang himself with it. His appearance cried out basements and a backlog of paperwork. “Inspector Little Dick Tracy,” he said, holding up something that looked like a bus pass. And without further word, he and his two stooges barged in past me and went straight down the hall and into the kitchen. It was as if they knew the place. I closed the door and rushed after them.

Arriving in the kitchen I looked at the Inspector. My eyes must have shown my bewilderment (or fear). “Just followed the wheel traces,” he said smarting. I gave a look back, down at the linoleum hallway floor, but couldn't discern a trace. “You've gotta have the eyes for it,” he said “It's all about seeing what's not there.” I pulled an inward face, not sure what the hell he was talking about.

  “What's this about, Inspector?” I asked, “I hope not another complaint? The council are already petitioning for my eviction.” The inspector looked up at me, “Take a seat, Sir,” he said, “I'll explain.”

I pulled a chair out and sat down. With him in front of me and a detective towering above each of his shoulders, it somehow made me think of the game Tetris. I imagined guiding a red block onto the top of the Inspectors head and banking the points as all three of them disappeared.

  “Hm, Mr. Spencer, isn't it?” asked the Inspector reading off a little flip pad “Mr Tristram Alan Spencer?”
  “Yes, that's right.” I confirmed.
  “Thirty two, 6ft, mousy hair, thin lips, shoulders too broad, weak jaw, a bit weird...” the Inspector muttered to himself. “Ah, OK! Well it's not you we want to see but a Mr John McManus. He resides here with you, yes? Your disabled charge, hm? Is he here now?”
  “No, er, he's not. But he was... up until Tuesday evening when he stormed, I mean, drove out and left.”
  “Left???” repeated the Inspector, now turning to his goons and giving them a curious look. That seemed to be the cue for them to start doing their 'thing'. As if in synch, they each moved off and began opening cupboards, fingering around, looking under spoons, the kettle, table cloths, etc.
  “Never mind them Mr Spencer,” said the miniature Inspector, “it's just routine.”
  “Er, routine or not, Inspector, you need a warrant to do that.”
  “A warrant to speak to someone? I don't think so, Mr Spencer. And that's all we're here for – to speak to Mr Mcmanus. A warrant, ha!”
Just as I was about to get angry Inspector Little Dick Tracy suddenly zoomed in real close and hissed: “Why, whatcha hiding?”
  “Nothing!” I shrieked jumping up, “I just don't like my things being touched, that's all!” In a fit of panic I grabbed my little wooden pepper grinder out the hands of the nearest detective and sat back down.
  “Ok, that's enough boys!” the Inspector said giving them the nod to stop, “You'll be more useful over here with your pencils out!”

At that, the two detectives stepped back in place behind the inspector and took their notepads out. The inspector looked at me, opened his eyes, and made as if ready to write himself. “Well, go on then, you say Mr McManus has left?”
  “Er... Oh yes, that's right. On Tuesday evening we had what you'd call a domestic, well, it's been a domestic for the last few months ever since John lost feeling in his legs and could no longer walk. But Tuesday evening was especially bad... John was threatening to leave and saying he wouldn't come back and that he had...”
  “Just hold on there, Mr Spencer... just, hold on. Is Mr McManus your disabled charge or your lover, your speaking as if....”
  “Well, he's nothing no more, I think we should speak of him as was. As I say he's gone... left, actually. But yes, we were lovers – or had been – but I suppose these last months he was just my disabled charge... I suppose that's the truth.”
The inspector lowered his head and made a note in his note book. When he looked back up there was a strange but familiar look to his face. When he said: “So go on then, tell me more?” I heard the lisp, saw the leer, the sparkling eyes, the artificial pose he so naturally took up, and I knew I was either extremely fortunate or thoroughly damned, but that either way I'd end up being fucked: I'd just been lumbered with the only queer inspector in the Met*!

Strategies and drastic rethinks were running through my mind. For a moment I couldn't concentrate or even remember what I'd been asked. “Er, yes, er... please, excuse me... it's hard, you know... very hard. Everything's still so fresh.” The Inspector didn't respond, just stared straight ahead at me. At one point I thought he was going to blow me a kiss. 'Just answer the question' I urged myself ... it's about a wheelchair, that's all. I composed myself.

  “Yes, er, we had a domestic, a big one. You see, for these past months John's been seeing Brian The Postboy – our actual postboy! – the one who delivers letters to this door. Oh, I hate him! But John didn't, sorry, doesn't, in fact he likes him – a lot. Anyway, they started seeing each other, etc, etc and it's been causing a lot of friction. On Tuesday we argued about that, AGAIN, and I got jealous and didn't want John to see him and I said I just couldn't bare it. Then John threatened to leave and I got upset, hysterical in fact, and for the second time in the last six months John packed his things and left.”
  “Hmm, interesting!” said Little Dick, “We may have to go over that in much more detail later. But for now, you said at first the argument was about Mr McManus's disability and now you say it was over this Bryan???”
  “Er, Brian with an 'i' not a 'y'!” I said bitchily. “You pronounced it Bry-yann but it's Bri-ahn. Less Greek bronze, much more boggy Britain! But anyhows, yes, our troubles first started because of John's disability, but the real fighting began due to his 'friendship' with Bri-ahn. The argument of Tuesday was over that, not John's paralysis. We've never really argued about that, although it was a constant source of strain.”
  “Fighting, you say? Physical?”
  “Unfortunately, yes – John towards me that is. He had a history of psychiatric problems, was even sectionned earlier on this year, and sadly that did involve him getting violent, yes.”
  “But still you wanted him to stay?”
  “I can't explain that, I loved, love him.”
  “Ok, so you argued Monday...”
  “Tuesday,” I interrupted
  “Ah yes, Tuesday, and he left. At what time would that have been?”
  “Um, let me see.... evening, mid, about seven I guess.”
  “You Guess or you know?”
  “Know, because it was...”
  “You know the exact time Mr McManus left??? A bit strange isn't it?”
  “Not really, no. I'm a stickler for times and things like. I'm well known for it.” I said proudly.
  “Is that right. So you'll be able to tell me what time it is now?”
  “The time now? Right this minute, now?”
  “About, yes. Come on... Quick.”
That had me flustered. I panicked, tried to look at my watch, then his, but it was no good. “I don't know.” I finally conceded, “I haven't got the slightest idea. Is it Morning???”
The inspector made a note. “Afternoon, actually, 12.03pm,” he said. “ Anyway, Mr Spencer, that's all by and by, we really just want to speak to Mr McManus. It turns out that the wheelchair which was discovered atop St Mary's church steeple on Wednesday morning was registered belonging to him. That brings up multiple questions, makes this whole history even more confusing, and we really need to speak with him. Do you know where Mr McManus may be? Family? Friends?”
  “Oh, I don't know,” I answered. “When he took off he didn't say. Family, I sincerely doubt as he's not spoken to any of his relatives for almost three years.”
  “What about Brian, do you think John could he be with him???”
  “Possibly... probably. I mean, that's what I suspect, but I don't know.”
  “Ok,” said the Inspector, again jotting something down. “Now, what about you, do you know anything about this bloody wheelchair on the church?”
  “Only what I read in the paper. It was double the shock for me because of course I was there at the jumble sale the first time it appea....”
  “Yeah Ok, Mr Spencer, save it for your memoirs,” the Inspector interrupted rudely “we're too busy for all that and really must get going now.”

It was only then that the other two goons came back into focus off the inspector's shoulders and I realised I must have been in some kind of a trance, focussing so intently on his questions. I suddenly didn't feel well, weak, like my belly was full of nothing. Then my feet felt cold on the kitchen tiles and my brain was telling me I must get up and walk. I did, following the three policemen down the hall and to the front door. “Ok Mr Spencer,” said Little Dick Tracy “Thanks for your time and help. It's very possible we may need to speak to you again, though in the meantime, if Mr McManus does turn back up here, please make sure he contacts us straight away, OK?” I nodded and then squinted as the door opened and the light of day shone in. Just as I was about to close the door on the detectives backs, the three, all together, done a Columbo and span around: “Oh, Mr. Spencer, just one final thing befofre we leave?”
  “Y-yes?”
  “Your place, it reeks of urine! Good day.”

To the sniggers of the Inspector's two muppets I closed the door. Now alone, I reeled back and just kinda slid down the wall and onto the floor. My palms were sticky with sweat. Little Dick Tracy, he's gonna grill me alive.

5 comments:

  1. I'll bet Little Dick had,uh,has a Big Truck! Be careful Tristy.

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  2. This is all getting very suspenseful.

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  3. @ Jim: I wouldn't be too sure of that, though we'll probably find out! I'll try my best to be careful, but guilt has a nasty habit of making one screw up. X

    @ Simon: Yes, there's lots going on... it's only a matter of time before I forget an important story line. X

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  4. 'Little Dick Tracy, he's gonna grill me alive'.

    Pshaw!

    You come on like some sort of weakling. But it's just an act. A guy that could murder and chop up his long time lover has many resources. And I'm determined that those resources should be at the disposal of Abigail Winthrope.

    It's destined Tristy!

    By the way is 'Gurney Nutting' an anagram?

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  5. Abigail:

    Gurney Nutting's blogs:

    http://dbcstuff.blogspot.com/

    http://doomedbutcheerful.blogspot.com/

    **************************************

    (There may not be a WFJ post today.... may not.) X

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