Tuesday, 25 August 2015


"Well," said Rita dropping her hands from her hips.  She tilted her head slightly to one side and raised a foot so that she was on tiptoe.  The culottes she wore concealed it, but she had muscular calves that she showed off most years when she competed in the Miss Rainville pageant.  She was posing like she was onstage already, and I was preparing myself to applaud with the audience.  "Well, seems to be like the man most entitled to that title would be Abraham Kinsome himself.  You'll find him atop the Turgid River Hill."
I let her words hang in the bar for a moment, letting the peanut gallery, the good old boys, work that one out for themselves.  The only thing atop the Turgid River Hill, named for a river that was diverted thirty six years back, is the Rainville Cemetary.
"Why Rita," I said pleasantly, "are you being telling me that you want your grandpappy dug up?"  She frowned, and opened her mouth, so I stepped in quick before she could reply.  "Happen as the Mr. Kinsome I'm looking for has already done that though.  I don't see as how Abe could really have been buried with a family fortune, but I'm betting that anything he was buried with has been checked through a dozen times by now."
"How dare you!"  Her words were as fast as her steps and her arm swept out wide in an arc that caused the Inspector to curse and duck, then came back in for my jaw. I caught her wrist in my hand and held it there, feeling her quiver with the effort of trying to get loose from me.
"Mr. Kinsome has been identified as the Coffin-Robber," I said.  "I have the documentatory evidence if you'll be seeing it."
"You can eat shit," she said.  She leaned forward and tried to spit in my face, but again she'd telegraphed her actions for me and I twisted out of the way.  When I righted myself again I thrust her wrist down to the floor, letting go but putting her off-balance.  She backed off, rubbing her wrist and snarling at me.
"Why-hi, what's the game here then?"  Bobby Kinsome had walked into the bar behind me.
Bobby Kinsome had a weak chin that he blamed his mother for, weak ribs that he blamed his father for, and carefully-groomed facial hair that he claimed was all his own work.  His rich, reddish hair grew over his scalp like clover over a meadow and descended the side of his face into his beard, which traced out the bone-structure of his face.  It made him look leaner and added shadows to the hollows of his cheeks; his eyes, even though they were brown, were intensified by the beard, and the moustache was both elegant and slightly rakish.  It belonged, without a doubt, on the face of a movie star.  It resided, however, on the face of Bobby Kinsome, and there it made do while waiting for its moment to escape.
"They're trying to finger you for the Coffin-Robber, Bobby.  You'd better get on out," said Rita.
"Why-hi!  I've never robbed a coffin in my life," said Bobby.  "And I'll not run from the likes of this man.  Only a ruffian would run in fear from the perpetrators of justice!"
Bobby was probably the only Kinsome to have ever gone to a university, and that was more because he pestered his parents until they agreed to send him.  His teachers petitioned his parents not to, mostly on account of his grades but also because they were worried about being tainted by association.  But Bobby's parents were insistent that Bobby wanted an education and they were sure that they weren't going to stand in his way.
I'm not aware that anyone's ever heard the story of why Bobby wanted to go to that university so much; there are those who say that he had gotten sweet on the boy he paid to do his homework in high school and was following him, and there are those who say that Bobby thought that university was just one long keg party, but I have my doubts about either.  Bobby Kinsome is far too self-centred to have gotten sweet on anyone, be they man, woman or goat, and while he might think that a year-long keg party would a thing, he had that back here in Rainville already.  Bobby came back after eight months, having tried out fifteen majors and abandoned them all, with no indication of what he'd been after in the first place, and fragments of an education that did no more than show up how little of it he'd really understood.  Hence the perpetrators of justice.
"I'll cover him!" said the Inspector sounding all excited.  He was fumbling at his waist for something, and I gradually realised that he was actually carrying a pistol with him.  I backed off immediately, for a man who doesn't understand a gun is a danger to everyone, but most especially himself.  The bar backed off with me, giving the Inspector space.  "Why aren't you arresting him?"
"Because this here's a Kinsome bar," I said slowly.  "Put the gun down, hey, Inspector?  You don't look like you've ever learned to use that thing."
"What matter that it's a bar?"
"No, Inspector, the problem is that this is a Kinsome bar.  Rita over there was born a Kinsome, and the guys on the door who're wearing the knuckle dusters and waiting for you to turn your back on them, they're Kinsome cousins, Jack and Darnell.  The guy serving behind the bar, well that's Oliver Kinsome, and somewhere out back will be his father and uncle, James and Anthony. You try arresting Bobby in here and you're not an officer of the law?  You'll be flying out that door so fast you'll land on the ground last Wednesday."
"Why-hi, the man's a prick but he has a point!"  Clearly Bobby thought that was wit as he sniggered in the silence.
"So put the gun away," I said.  "I came here to talk to Bobby and find out why people might be spreading such muck and dirt around about him.  Not to see him shot.  By an Inspector."

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