Episode 2 –
A Mutilated Body & A Poor Alibi
” You’re alive!! “
This was Miss Roberts – his Secretary & PA, the type that movies were always casting 20 years younger than the real McCoy. John Smith affected his usual nonchalance,”You sound disappointed Toots, how come ?”
Miss Roberts always gave great ripostes:”Thing is Skip,when we heard you were dead first thing I did was look up florists in the yellowpages..”
“Aw,that was sweet of you Toots, on the ball as always”.
“Yeah I’ve got as far as ordering the wreath”
“No flowers yet?”
“You got any preferences?”
“I’ll pass on the flowers, I get hay fever you know”.
“Yeah, but Skip the flowers are meant to go on top of your grave”.
“Got it all figured out ain’t you, the boss croaks and you’re into the flowers for sentimental occasions catalogue”.
“So how come you’re not stiff and laid out on some coroner’s slab?”
“I just wouldn’t be comfortable,anyhow toots you going to let me in on this pantomime show or do I have to buy a souvenir program?”.
Miss Roberts, a widow to an authentic hero in the war.The kind of older sister figure that men like John Smith wished they’d had back in their childhoods instead of two dumb too dumb brothers;anyhow he extinguished that line of thought- the one that only leads into the past and on into melancholy.
Now was not the time for morbid self-reflection;he had things to do and problems to solve now that he was supposed to be dead.
Miss Roberts let him know that an Inspector Ruyter and Sergeant Brannigan were up on the 7th.floor making official enquiries with you know who.Smith nodded appreciatively and prompted her to phone upstairs and request the cops pop down.” ‘Pop down’ ,excuse me Skip?”
“Yes my good woman? ask if they wouldn’t mind awfully popping down”.
Miss Roberts phoned muttering in her stage whisper that someone’s been watching too many Ronald Colman movies lately and ended her call with ” it’s far far better thing” aimed at Smith who had diplomatically already turned his back on her so as not to crack up.
Once they’d all been introduced – police and civilians alike – they settled down with Miss Roberts acting as stenographer.Smith reassured Inspector Ruyter that occasions of this sort here at Continental Development were routinely recorded.Thanking Smith for this unusual courtesy Ruyter proceded with the interview.
Later that evening, everyone else gone home and the city switching to night mode,on the 5th floor of the Hitchcock Building,John Smith and his trusted P.A.were going over what she’d recorded earlier.Each in turn picking out salient highlights.
“30 to 40 large wounds..”
“Remote platform used for freight traffic of which there’d been little of recently due to the wildcat strikes at ports on the east coast,so fairly deserted.”
“On the basis of a heavily blood stained and almost illegible drivers licence and one of your business cards..”
“They triangulared it was John Smith, in particular this one”.
“You say here that you were at the Station to get the 9.11 for your meeting with the mysterious clients but someone you assumed was calling on their behalf advised you not to get the train as the meeting had been called off and they also told you to await for instructions from them”.
“At this stage Ruyter asks you for more details about the call and made a pointed reference to Sergeant Brannigan for him to check the call logs for the Station Manager’s Office first thing in the morning”.
“And my answer to what did I do after I got the unexpected call cancelling the meeting..?”
“You said you went and bought the Daily News morning edition and made your over to Steffano’s Bar for a very late breakfast ..”
“You wound up back here on the 5th floor of the Hitchcock Building at your office-Overseas Acquisitions of Continental Development Inc to be greeted by me..”
“You’re alive etcetra and so forth pax vobiscum”.
“You haven’t told them everything have you John?”- Miss Roberts looked at him more in sorrow than admonition.
“Of course not Toots”.
Heaving an all too visible sigh of relief, Miss Roberts continued,”Thank goodness for that, for a moment I thought you were breaking the professional habits of a lifetime”.
Smith grinned,”Yeah and by the time Brannigan who got too many knocks to the head playing gaelic football at College ,will have ascertained, even for his limited intellectual faculties, confirmation of the cadaver’s erstwhile identity from the department of motor vehicles”…
( To be continued )