“Why would you be doing altitude training if you’re not a runner?” asked Miss Flava. She had the impression that Kevin wasn’t trying to be difficult, but had the kind of approach to the world that got bulldozed over by Playfair’s approach.
“Why are you doing altitude training at all?” growled Playfair.
“Like, because it’s good for me,” said Kevin. His eyes once again searched their faces, trying to find sympathy from one of them. “It helps my muscles stand out. It thins out the sub-cutaneous fat.”
Playfair looked frankly astonished when Kevin managed to spit out the word sub-cutaneous without any trouble, and then frowned. “You’re saying that the altitude is for fat-loss?” he asked. Kevin nodded. “Really? You bought that gimmick? Don’t you weigh yourself regularly? Can’t you see how much weight you’re gaining or losing?”
“All fat,” said Kevin proudly. “I haven’t had any of my lifts go down all week, and I feel fit as ever. I got 475 on squats last time, I’m going for 490 today.”
“All fat,” said Playfair, and there was a hint of awe in his voice. Miss Flava was sure she’d never heard that from him before. “And it’s all to do with altitude is it?” His eyes were gimlets pointing at Kevin’s face.
“Oh yes,” he said, smiling happily. “All fat!”
“Right,” said Playfair. “I don’t believe it, but you clearly do. How often have you been to this clinic then?”
“This is the first time,” said Kevin after a moment’s thought. “I came here two weeks ago to prepare for the competition.”
“How did you find out about this place?”
There was another pause, and Kevin stared down at his feet while he thought. Then he looked up again. “My trainer told me about it,” he said brightly, as though pleased to have been able to give the right answer. “He recommended I should come here and do some altitude training and cut some extra fat so that I’d be striated for the competition. We want to win this one so that I can get a ticket to the one in New York in Spring next year, and I can turn pro from there.”
“You mean you’re not a professional bodybuilder already?” Miss Flava hadn’t meant to interrupt Playfair’s questioning, but she was having a hard time that someone as muscular as Kevin wasn’t going to the gym as a full-time occupation. Kevin shook his head and looked embarrassed. “Good grief, I mean, look at you! How can you not be professional with a body like that?”
Kevin grinned and winked at her, and she suddenly realised how she must sound to him. Playfair snorted, which might have been laughter.
“How well do you know the staff here?” he asked. Kevin kept looking at Miss Flava as he answered.
“Well, I know Nurse Wendy and Jacquie and Clara,” he said. “But I don’t think I’ve met any of others.”
“Clara?” Playfair’s voice was carefully neutral. “Who is Clara?”
There was a pause, and then Kevin’s face twisted up a little and he squinted. “Who’s Clara?” he asked.
“That’s what I asked you,” said Playfair. “You said you knew Clara.”
“Uh.” Kevin shook his head. “I don’t know any Clara. I just know the nurses here, and Jacquie on reception.”
“Right,” said Playfair. “You just misspoke.”
“Yeah, that’s right,” said Kevin. “What you just said.” He winked at Miss Flava again, who was trying to avoid eye contact with him.
“So Kevin,” said Playfair, trying to get Kevin to look at him but failing. “Do you know the Day shift manager at all? Bob?”
“Who?” said Kevin. He ducked his head, and twisted in his seat, still trying to get Miss Flava’s attention.
“Do you know why we’re here, Kevin?” asked Playfair. That question got a response, as Kevin suddenly sat still and appeared to be thinking. Thirty seconds later he still hadn’t said anything, and Playfair waved a hand in front of his face. Kevin blinked.
“Do you know why we’re here, Kevin?” asked Playfair again.
“…no.” he said very slowly.
“There’s been a murder,” said Playfair.
“It wasn’t me!”
“Yes, well. We’re trying to find that out, aren’t we Kevin? The man who was murdered was Bob, the Day Shift Manager. How well did you know him?”
Kevin shrugged, and seemed about to say “Who?” but then he looked at Playfair’s face and thought better of it.
“Thank-you,” said Playfair, sitting back. “You’ve been a great help.”
As Kevin walked away, presumably off to the gym, he looked at Miss Flava, who looked him straight back in the eye.
“Well, he’s special,” she said. “Looks like he only pays attention to the women, and I bet you he’s tried it on with all of them.”
“Looks like he wants to try it on with you, too.”
“He can keep his hands to himself,” she replied, a touch of acid in her voice to match the sudden touch of colour in her cheeks. “What do you think of his story?”
“Sounds plausible so far,” said Playfair. “Who do we have who might be able to check out whether altitude training really has an effect on fat loss?”
“You and me, Playfair.”
“Damn. OK, fine, I’ll make a note. And I see he’s another one who knows about Clara up until we want to know about her.”
“Quite the mystery woman, Playfair.”