Friday, 24 May 2013

Letters and Words

The first thing that fell out was a packet of smokes and a lighter.  I picked them up quickly as I knew what Boy Blue smoked; sure enough when I opened the packet to check they were very fragrant cigarettes and all hand-rolled.  Very neatly too.  When Blue wants to do a job he takes his time and does it well, and that’s probably the only reason he can still get jobs in this town as an actual musician.  I’d heard him him play in a couple of clubs, usually when I was waiting to be thrown out, but once when I was aiming to get someone else thrown out, and he definitely improved the music.  Then I heard him play one night in his little bedsit by himself and if I’d still been able to cry, I would have.  I put the ciggies and the lighter in my inside pocket, with the idea that I might return them to him if I found him alive at the end of all this.  Then I paused for a moment and wondered why they were in the bedleg, which clearly wasn’t something he’d have been going in and out of every night.  I shook the leg a little more gingerly this time to find out what else was in there.
I had to put my fingers inside in the end to pull out the papers that were stopping it up, and Tom, the barman, couldn’t resist a cheap comment.  The guy sat to my left, who was still fulminating to himself decided that he’d had enough of perverts like me at that point and lumbered off his stool in search of somewhere else to stand or sit in the bar.  I barely even watched him go, knowing perfectly well that a bar that was happy to have me as a patron was going to have far worse than me to sit next to.  I just stretched out a little and occupied both stools, propping the bed-leg against the bar on the other one.
“What’ve you got there anyway, Mac?” asked Tom.  There were plenty of people trying to catch his eye, waving money, credit-cards and assorted numbers of fingers, but he still stopped by me and looked at the papers.
“Can’t say I know yet,” I said.  “I’ll have to learn how to read first.”
He closed his mouth, his words having been stolen from him, and then gestured at my untouched glass.  “Another drink, Mac?”
I tipped the drink down my throat and laid the glass in front of me.  “You’re a gent, Tom.”
“And you’re the scum of the earth, Mac.”
The first page I turned over startled me.  It was headed paper, and right at the top in an overly fussy typeface was From the desk of Miss Belle Peep, Proprietress of City Farm.  Underneath that was an address, phone and fax numbers, email address and then an eight digit number that went unexplained.  I checked the address, and it definitely wasn’t where I thought the farm was, at least not the one she’d inherited from her father.  I made a mental note; that needed checking out.  The rest of the page was taken up with a short letter discussing the purchase of seventeen sheep, though as I read it I felt as though I was missing something.  There were plenty of technical-sounding and looking references, but something about the letter as a whole didn’t gel with me.  Possibly because Boy Blue was hiding it and it simply didn’t look incriminating.
The second page was just a pornographic picture and I was about to offer it round the bar for the best offer when I looked more closely as the face and almost fell off my stool.
“Dirty pictures, Mac?” Tom placed my drink down and leaned over to get a better look.  “Is that really your kind of….”  He tailed off, and frowned.  Then he turned the picture the other way up, and then he stared at me.  “Isn’t that…?”
“Natasha Monkeybutt’s face,” I said.  “Yes.  The question is though, is the rest of it her?”
“You sure you want to be walking around with that, Mac?”
“You want to pin it up on your wall, Tom?”
He recoiled and wandered off to serve some other desperately thirsty customer, and I rolled the picture up and put it back in the bedleg.  That was lit dynamite as far as I was concerned, and I wondered what the hell Boy Blue had been doing with it.
That left one more; a scruffy, torn-covered notebook.  I opened it and learned inside a couple of paragraphs that this was Boy Blue’s diary.  Doubtless there’d be an explanation for the picture in here, but his handwriting was atrocious and the bar was far too noisy (and nosy) to sit here and try and puzzle it out.  I’d take this one back to the morgue.
“Showtime, Mac,” said Tom as the lights dimmed and Gaby was spotlighted on the tiny stage.

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