Sunday, 15 April 2012

The fifth floor

The lift doors slid noiselessly shut and with only a faint whine of a motor somewhere activating the lift began to move.  Miss Flava looked around, impressed.  Back at the police headquarters the lifts were avoided by all but the bravest or most time-pressed policemen and shuddered and groaned like they were bit-players in a Hammer horror film when they were used.  This lift had mirrors, shiny brass-effect buttons, gleaming pieces of trim, carpet on the floor, and a discrete poster advertising the breakfast buffet on the lower-ground floor.
"I think she thinks we're together, you know," she said.  Playfair sniffed.
"Well we are.  She'd be pretty dim to think that we'd just chanced to come in at the same time and had rooms next door to one another."
"That's not what I meant," said Miss Flava.  "I think she thinks that we're here for a romantic weekend break."
"Oh," said Playfair.  Then, after a couple of seconds pause.  "No."
"I know," said Miss Flava, with perhaps a little too much emphasis.  "But she doesn't, and she's drawing conclusion based on us having adjacent rooms, arriving together, and wanting a connecting door."
"Silly woman," said Playfair after listening to this.  "That's the kind of conclusion officers on this force jump to, because they haven't considered all the facts.  We've got too much luggage for that kind of romantic break for one thing, and you carried most of it."  The lift pinged softly to indicate that they'd arrived at the fifth floor, and the doors slid open.  "I don't know what form of ID you showed her, but I used my warrant card, and why would we ask for a key to the connecting door instead of just requesting that it be kept open?"
"Does that make it sound more like we're colleagues on a business trip?"
"...actually, it makes it look like I'm your parole officer, unless you showed your warrant card too."  They'd got the luggage out into the corridor now, and the lift doors silently closed behind them.  Miss Flava stared at Playfair in disbelief.
"She'd better not be thinking that!" she said, her hands resting on her hips and her chin jutting out slightly.  "How could...!  How dare...!  Playfair!!"
"Well, what ID did you show her?"
"My driving licence of course!  Like a normal person would."
Playfair shrugged.  "Passport would have been better, it's unlikely you'd be allowed to keep that if you were on parole," he said.  "Though our parole officers don't seem to much care."
Miss Flava kicked a bag that she knew contained clothes.  She knew the case Playfair was referring to, where three prisoners on parole had flown out of the country and disappeared in South America because their parole officer had apparently thought that meeting them for a pint on Wednesday evenings was enough to carry out his job.
"You're carrying the bags then," she said, venting her frustration where she could.
"No need," said Playfair.  "It seems we've got rooms by the lifts.  How convenient is that?"
Miss Flava took a very small amount of comfort in seeing that Playfair's door was directly opposite the lift, while hers was offset a little, meaning that late night returnees and drunkards would be more likely to wake him than her.
"Fine," she said.  "Carry your own bags into your room then."  She swiped her access card in the door lock, and pushed the door open.  Then she paused and looked back at Playfair.
"What are we doing with Calamity?" she asked.

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