Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The commission of Feng Shui

"I wouldn't try moving that," said Deadneck quietly, her voice barely audible over the clatter of her typewriter keys.  Miss Girard stopped pushing Janet's desk and looked over.
"Why not?" she said.  "Look, I'm being paid to do a job here and it seems like you're all determined to stop me! Your Chief Constable has hired me to do this, you should be helping me, not saying stupid things about how you think things should be done!"  Her voice rose steadily as she spoke, and because it all came out in a torrential flood of words she ran out of breath at the end and found herself gasping and squeaking like a cat toy.
"The desks are bolted to the floor," said Deadneck, not stopping typing.  "That's why you can't move it."
Miss Girard gave the desk another futile push, and then knelt down to peer at its legs.  Sure enough, they were bolted to the floor by two different bolts on each leg.
"Why?" she said plaintively.  "Everywhere else in the police station has been fairly easy.  Of course, people complain when you move things but they see the sense in the new system fairly quickly.  I've improved the filing system, I've made the hot-desks places it's nice to spend time, I've even made the ladies toilets something less than a horror movie.  Why is so hard when I try and deal with Inspector Playfair's side of the office?"
"Probably because we all know what he's like," said Deadneck.  "And we know what's likely to happen when he comes back, and because none of us want to take the blame for it."
"What is he, some kind of monster?"
"Oh no," said Deadneck pulling a sheet of paper from the platten and getting a new one ready.  "Monsters can be killed."

Miss Girard's response to that disappeared behind the opening of the door to the rest of the police-station again, which heralded the arrival of her handyman, Oliver.  He was wearing his usual blue overalls with the paint splashes down one leg, a white t-shirt with a frayed collar, and carrying his metal toolbox.  He looked around the room, nodded at Deadneck, and wrinkled his nose.
"Smells like dog in here," he said.
"I don't care," said Miss Girard.  "I need these desks unbolting so that they can be moved."
"That don't sound right," said Oliver.  "You just pushes a desk, Missus."
"Not these," said Miss Girard, pointing.  Oliver followed her finger, but still looked puzzled, so she knelt down to show him the bolts.  There was a low discussion down by Deadneck's feet as Oliver wanted to know why the desks were bolted down and Miss Gerard made wild guesses.  Eventually they both stood up again.
"It'll take a while," said Oliver.  "Someone's sheared the heads off all the bolts."  Deadneck just nodded quietly.  "And it might get a tad noisy, we'll have to drill the bolts out in a number of places."
"That's fine," said Miss Gerard with the casual arrogance of someone who doesn't have to be there listening to the noise.
"Er," said Deadneck who felt it wasn't fine.
"Right then, let's get started.  You might not want to stay in here, miss."  Oliver looked at Deadneck, who shuddered and typed a little faster and a little harder.
"It's the energy of this room!" said Miss Girard suddenly.  "There's a strong negative energy here, so strong that I can almost feel it!  It comes from... she swung around, her eyes tightly closed and her finger outstretched.  Oliver stepped back to avoid it.  Deadneck never stopped typing, but her eyes were also on Miss Girard, fascinated to see where she'd stop.  There was nothing for a few seconds but the squeak of Miss Girard's heels on the floor. Then she stopped, somehow facing Playfair's door.  Without saying anything, she swivelled slowly until she was facing Miss Flava's door, and then she shivered.
"Warring factions," she said, her voice thick and slow.  "There is a powerful energy here, but it runs into opposition before it can gather real momentum.  It is tamed temporarily.  We must direct the energy to a better source, we must guide it into productive lines."
She opened her eyes again, and seemed to recover herself a little.
"We must bring in tokens of disillusionment!" she declared enthusiastically.  We must re-route the energy around the contestants, so that they are calmer within and withof themselves!"  There was a noise from Deadneck's direction that might have been a stifled laugh.  "I have just the things in the car!"
"Is she always like that?" asked Deadneck after Miss Girard had left, struggling womanfully with the door.
"Not really," said Oliver.  He opened the toolbox and took out a power-drill and started looking for a socket to plug it into.  "I think the police station's getting to her a bit."
Deadneck just nodded, wound the sheet of paper out of her typewriter and picked up the next report.  She wondered, just for a moment before returning to her job, what Playfair would decide to arrest Miss Girard for when he discovered what she'd done to his office layout.

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