by Simon Evans
When she walked into my office I was slumped in my chair. Bleary eyed and so, so drunk. Bleary eyed, drunk, fuzzy haired, drunk and tired. And depressed. And drunk.
She swayed into my cramped, dimly lit office like a perfumed panther. She had hair like an oil slick, eyes like burning wheelie bins, a mouth like a perfect sun dried tomato, a nose like a marble ski jump and an ass like a velvet bag of moles.
She looked at the chair on the opposite side of my desk with distaste as I gestured towards it with a nod and a flick of my cigarette.
“I’ll make this quick” she said, with a voice like ground, golden gravel.
She swallowed back some emotion. It looked like she was swallowing a baby otter.
“It’s my husband. I think he’s having an affair. I need someone. You. I need you to find out. The knowing but not knowing is a knot growing inside me. A knot I need untying.”
A perfect tear dropped slowly from one of her dark, bright eyes. As the salty droplet slipped deliciously down her face I saw myself in it. Hairy face, red, anxious eyes. Myself and my whole world reflected in the tear of a dame.
“Why the suspicion?” I growled.
“He comes home smudged.”
We sat in silence, listening to sound. The cars outside humming and beeping. The flies above yesterday’s lunch. The piano next door played by Gerald Solowitz, the elderly solicitor. He was playing ‘Ramble On’ by Led Zeppelin.
“Where can I find this man? Where does he spend his hours and minutes when he ain’t spending them with you?”
“He owns ‘HB Reid Hard and Soft Water Kitchens, Bathrooms and Sinks’. That’s where he is now. That’s where he always is.” She said sadly.
“I know the place. Terrible adverts.”
“Yes. Twenty three minutes from the motorway, by car.”
“I’ll get right on it.”
“And your fee?”
“Pay me when I’ve untied your knot, lady.”
“You might need this.” She purred, as she slipped a folded piece of paper across the desk in my direction.
I ground my cigarette stub into the mound of butts which hid my ashtray and unfolded the paper without losing her gaze. Those eyes.
I looked down.
“What’s this lady?”
“That’s my husband. I thought you’d need to see what he looked like.”
“But this is a drawing of a stick man.”
“No. It’s a photograph.”
“A photograph?” I looked again; it was a drawing of a stick man.
“That’s what he looks like Mr Molotov. Do you want my business or not?”
“Sure lady, whatever you say.”
“My number is on the back Mr Molotov. Please call me with any information.”
The broad had regained her composure. She got up and slithered out the same way she came in, the bag of moles following behind her.
I was left with a haze of perfume, a drawing of a stick man and a state of semi arousal. I slipped from my chair and fell asleep under my desk, still gripping the drawing of a photograph.
When I woke up it was light, my least favourite part of the day.
Three hours, fifteen cigarettes and seven coffees later I was in my Rambler on my way to HB Reid Hard and Soft Water Kitchens, Bathrooms and Sinks.
I parked the Rambler in the car park of an adjacent department store called ‘Us 4 U 4 Pets 4 Ever’ and walked to the car park of HB Reid Hard and Soft Water Kitchens, Bathrooms and Sinks.
I decided to case the joint from a distance in order to gain sight of my target – HB Reid. As I was peering over the roof of a ’67 Chevy towards the showroom window I became aware of a scribbling sound next to me. I jolted in surprise and turned to see a stick man right beside me.
“Mr Molotov. I presume you’ve been speaking with my wife.” Said the stick man, with a voice which possessed the depth of lead but also the fragility of a pencil.
I tried to hide my surprise, my loss for words and my own professional disappointment in my own ability by taking an extra-long drag on my cigarette.
“Allow me to introduce myself. I’m HB Reid. Please join me in my office Mr Molotov.”
He offered me a spindly graphite hand and his mouth drew itself into a warm, welcoming smile. His eyes were basic but kindly. I was already warming to this little guy. He had more animation than most of the people I met.
In HB Reid’s office he told me a story of love, loss, betrayal, courage and hope. It was a captivating story which took all afternoon to relate. When HB finished talking he took a pencil from his desk and drew a perfect tear on his cheek and looked at me with an expression of such pleading, disarming honesty that I was, again, at a loss for words.
I pushed the photograph of HB Reid towards him across his desk.
“I won’t be needing this Mr Reid.” I turned and left the office and walked back to my car, smoking thoughtfully.
In the dim light of the now deserted showroom the womanly figure on the door of the women’s toilets slowly slid to the floor.
HB Reid was waiting.