فصل 08

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فصل 08

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Chapter eight

The detective reports

Tom was leaving the office when his mobile phone rang. He looked at it and then turned and looked at the office building behind him. He could not believe it. The only people who phoned him on his mobile were people from work. He was just leaving work and they were phoning him already! He thought about not answering it. Marina did not like the mobile phone for some reason. She had only phoned him once on it, when she had locked herself out of the house without the key. But perhaps it was her. He answered it.

‘Hello, is that Dr Watson?’ a voice asked.

Tom knew at once it was the detective. The detective had said it was better not to use their real names when they talked on the phone.

‘You can never be too careful on the phone,’ the detective had said. ‘You never know who might be listening.’

Tom thought this was all a bit childish. But the detective seemed hurt when he had said this and so Tom had agreed not to use their real names.

‘Yes, this is Watson and you are Mr Holmes?’ Tom said.

‘I am ready to make my report,’ the detective replied.

‘What, now? On the phone?’ Tom asked.

‘No, we should meet. I’d rather do this face-to-face,’ the detective said. ‘Anyway you have to give me some money for my costs. Your wife has expensive tastes.’

‘What do you mean? Where did she go? What did she do? Did she…?’ Tom asked.

‘All in good time, Dr Watson, but not on the phone,’ the detective replied.

‘Well, I’m just on my way home,’ Tom said.

‘I know.’

‘How do you know?’ Tom asked.

‘I can see you from the phone box,’ the detective said.

‘The phone box?’

‘Yes, the phone box,’ the detective said. ‘My mobile phone isn’t working. I’ve had a bad day with machines, I can tell you, so I had to use a phone box.’

‘What are you talking about? What phone box?’ Tom asked.

‘Behind you,’ the detective replied.

Tom turned round. There, standing in a phone box a few metres away, was the detective. He was still wearing his heavy, dirty, white raincoat although it was a warm day. The detective waved at him with his free hand. Well, it was not totally free. He was holding a fat cigar in this hand. A heavy, dirty white raincoat and a cigar? Tom had seen this before somewhere, but he could not remember where. On television? He asked himself where this detective had learnt his job. He wanted to ask him if detectives went to schools, or if they just watched lots of American films. But not now. He listened to the phone and the detective’s question.

‘Where can we meet?’ the detective asked.

‘Well, this might seem like a stupid idea, but why don’t you come out of the telephone box and we can meet here and now,’ Tom answered.

‘No, someone might see us together,’ the detective said.

‘Who? So what if someone sees us?’ Tom said.

‘Better to be careful,’ the detective replied. ‘You never know who might be watching.’

Tom began to wonder if all detectives were as strange as this one. Maybe it came with the job. Then he suddenly remembered that he wanted to know what Marina had done in London. What did the detective mean when he said Marina had expensive tastes? He wanted the detective to say that she had come up to London for the day, had not met anyone and had gone back home, happy at the thought of seeing him again. That is what he wanted the detective to say, or something like that.

But that is not what the detective said.

Tom and the detective sat down with their drinks in a quiet pub. Well, actually it was not quiet, the music was playing very loudly even though the pub was empty. Not surprising it was empty, with that noise going on.

‘It’s good. No-one will hear our conversation,’ the detective shouted.

Tom shouted back ‘sorry’ a few times and then told the detective that the important thing was that they could hear each other, and not that no-one else could hear them. ‘Anyway,’ said Tom, ‘as the pub is empty I don’t think anyone can listen to our conversation.’ He asked the barman to turn the music off. The barman was not happy to do this.

‘People like music when they come to the pub,’ the barman said.

‘We are the only people in the pub and we don’t like it,’ replied Tom.

The barman turned the music down, not off, but down.

A little, not a lot, just a little. At least it was possible for Tom and the detective to hear each other. The detective began his report, reading from his notebook.

‘I parked my car outside number 35 Greater Blackbird Drive at 11.27 this morning and, after waiting for ten minutes, I saw a car stop outside the above house, 35 Greater Blackbird Drive, and I watched as the woman in question came to the door and…’

Tom stopped him. ‘ “Woman in question?” You mean Marina? Listen, can we do this in English, please? Anyway… what car?’

The detective looked a bit hurt. He thought this was how detectives should speak when they give their reports, but Tom clearly did not agree.

‘OK,’ the detective said. ‘Your wife came to the door and kissed the man who had driven up in the car.’

‘What? What man? What car?’ Tom asked. ‘How did she kiss him? Are you sure it was Marina?’

‘My dear Watson,’ the detective smiled at him as if Tom was a child, ‘if you are going to ask me questions now I will never finish this report. Please listen and ask me any questions when I have finished. I think things will become clearer as I continue. OK?’

‘All right, but please stop calling me Watson. Where did you get these names from anyway?’

The detective looked hurt again but continued.

‘OK,’ he said. ‘The woman in question… sorry, your wife then returned, sorry, she went back into the house and came out with the man and they were carrying two large bags.’

‘What!’

‘Where was she?… Where were they?… Was she leaving?…’

He did not finish his questions. He did not want to complete his thoughts, thoughts like ‘she’s leaving me’. Also the detective was now looking at him the way Tom’s teachers used to look at him when he was much younger. Tom was older now but the look on the detective’s face still stopped him speaking.

The detective continued. ‘Your wife and the man then drove off together in the car, a red Volkswagen Golf, the car number was P237 SIM and… they took the A14 and drove towards Boddington village…’

‘I don’t want to know the number of the road,’ Tom almost shouted. ‘I don’t want to know the number of the car. I don’t care what colour it was, I just want to know what they did, OK?’

‘OK, OK,’ the detective said. ‘They drove to the sports centre. They played tennis. Not very seriously. A lot of laughing. I watched but I couldn’t see who won. Not my game anyway, I prefer football. Do you play yourself?’

‘Can you please tell me what happened and maybe we can talk about football later?’ Tom said.

The detective looked down at his notebook and continued. ‘Then they went to lunch. That’s what I meant about expensive tastes. An expensive Italian restaurant. And I didn’t have much money with me so all I had was a plate of spaghetti and a glass of water. You don’t want to know what they ate, do you?’

Tom shook his head. He did not know that Marina liked tennis and he did not know that there were any good restaurants near them at all. The last time they had eaten out was on his birthday, in a pub. They had gone home and made love. My God, that was the last time they had made love. Four weeks ago?

‘Well, they didn’t seem very interested in what they were eating either, you know, more looking into each other’s eyes than looking at the plate, if you know what I mean,’ the detective said.

Now it was Tom who used a look on the detective. The detective coughed, said ‘sorry’ and continued.

‘Then they drove down to the coast. One hundred kilometres! Can you believe it? And all they did when they got there was walk along the beach for ten minutes, take off their shoes, walk into the sea, kiss each other for, I don’t know, probably five minutes, and the beach was really wet, look at my shoes!… And then they looked at each other and said something, I couldn’t hear what they said. I mean, I was actually quite close to them but they didn’t see me. I don’t think they would have seen the Loch Ness monster if it had come out of the sea. I mean, I know the Loch Ness monster doesn’t live in the sea but… you know what I mean, they were… they only had eyes for each other. Really romantic.’

The detective suddenly remembered that he was telling this story to the woman’s husband and he stopped. He looked at Tom. Tom’s head was down. The detective could not see if Tom was crying or not but he suddenly felt really sorry for him. He wanted to reach out his hand and touch Tom. He remembered what it felt like to find out you were losing the person you loved and in that moment the detective thought: ‘this is not the job for me’.

‘And then?’ Tom asked. He did not want to hear any more and yet at the same time he wanted the detective to finish the story. He had to know everything.

‘They ran back to the car and drove back to Boddington,’ the detective said. ‘They parked in front of a small building with six flats in it. They took the bags from the car and went up to the front door. She opened the door with a key and they went in.’

‘She opened the door?’ Tom asked in surprise.

‘Yeah, I checked with the neighbours,’ the detective replied. ‘It’s her flat. He was just the latest visitor. They’d seen him a couple of times but there were others before him. He was just the latest one.’

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