March 11, 2008

The Weeping Maw (4 of 11)

Thread: Mission

‘Hello, Reverend,’ said the inspector, closing the door behind him.

The inspector was a plump, shortish man in his thirties, a grey bar code painted on his scalp and a well-meaning glint in his beady eyes. He wore a rumpled grey suit that was too big for him; likely he had lost weight since its purchase. A tie hung from his neck like a crashed kite, its navy pattern twisted and knotted. The bottom button of his wrinkled shirt had refused to fasten.

The inspector banged a plate carrying pastries on the table. One of the pastries stood out; it was a chocolate something that had burst from one end, vomiting in appealing beige.

‘Hello, Inspector. Why don’t you call me Tom?’

The inspector smiled. ‘Well, why not? Hello Tom! Pleased to meet you. And let’s dispense with the ‘inspector’ nonsense. Please call me Paul.’

They shook hands. This was getting off to a good start, an excellent start.

‘So my colleagues mentioned that you had something to tell me about our poor late Miss North?’ Paul sat down on the other side of the table.

Tom’s smile failed him. ‘Oh yes. Yes indeed. Gosh, this interview room is a bit cold and, well, rather unfriendly don’t you think?’

‘I’m sorry,’ Paul laughed, his stubbled chin wobbling. ‘But we don’t have different interview rooms for nice people and bad people, Tom.’

‘Oh no, no, of course. I, uh, would like to know first… did she suffer? Mizzy. Tell me Mizzy didn’t suffer.’

Paul raised an eyebrow. ‘Mizzy? Is that what she called herself?’

‘Yes, that’s right.’ Tom was insistent. ‘Did she suffer?’

Paul excavated a notebook from his jacket and scribbled on a new page in capital letters: “MIZZY”. The page was now full and he flipped it to the next blank page. Paul’s super-sized writing was a menace to the rainforests of the world.

The inspector looked up, leaned backwards and stared intensely at Tom’s neck. Tom’s dog collar chafed in response.

‘I can’t talk about the details of the case, I’m sure you understand.’

A little upset, Tom frowned and said, ‘She was in a fair bit of trouble. Quite depressed. I hear you say it was murder. I just need to know whether she suffered or not? Was it quick? I just need to know, for my conscience, you understand. That poor girl. Maybe I didn’t help as much as I should have.’

‘Look here, Tom, what kind of trouble? Drugs? Crime?’ Paul leaned forward sharply and his permanent smile deepened a little more. ‘Perhaps… incest?’

‘No… no! She was just a little unhappy, Inspector. Paul.’ Tom surrendered the table to the inspector, leaning backwards to keep distance between them.

Paul sighed, a little disappointed. His smile also failed him. ‘Look, Tom, I can’t…’ Paul stopped. ‘Well I guess, no, she didn’t suffer at all. Just don’t go telling any papers about that, eh? Between you and me?’ He winked and his smile returned.

‘Oh, thank you Paul, you’ve put my mind to rest. I was so worried it was a really violent death, I think she was opening up to everybody she met. Trusting, looking for something. Like kids in one of those internet chatrooms looking for like-minded friends. Blank faces from the other side of a monitor. I hope she is at rest now, at least.’

‘Tom,’ Paul said, leaning forwards across the table. ‘I don’t mean to press, but I think it’s important you tell me everything you know about, uhhh…’ – he checked the previous page of his notebook – ‘…Mizzy.’

Tom nodded. ‘Of course. Well, Mizzy came to me a few days, I think, before she was due to return to America. She was a bit lost, wrapped up in herself. She told me some of her life story. She had sabotaged every success in her life but was mystified as to what was going wrong.’

Tom went through the Mizzy’s story, what he remembered of it. Paul looked bored, disenchanted with all this attention to detail. Tom had nothing to offer of recent history, real people or real places – this was all he had. A convoluted, futile narrative that had been relayed to him.

Tom had made a mistake; he was just wasting the man’s time. He should have just left, quit, walked out the door.

But then he mentioned the dream about a cat.

Paul woke up and said, ‘Stop. Hold on there, Tom. Back up a little. Did you just say a cat?’

‘Yes, she had a dream about a cat. A nightmare really. A cat with stigmata. She thought it meant something. I think it was just-‘

Paul laughed out loud, apparently out of shock rather than humour. ‘Well, well, well. Isn’t that a turn up for the books? Thank you, Tom. Thank you for coming down here today.’

The inspector got up, walked over to Tom, and patted him hard on the shoulder.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2259

2 Responses to “The Weeping Maw (4 of 11)”

  1. Jennifer wrote on 15-Mar-2008 @ 1354:

    Part 5!!! Quickly!



  2. Jennifer wrote on 15-Mar-2008 @ 1354:

    Part 5!!! Quickly!



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