• Chapter 2

    “Catch”

    My dim witted brother Jason lobbed me a ball as I walked through the door of our seedy third floor office.

    I yelped, caught it, recognised it as a hand grenade from the various war

    Sally, who was on her way out of the ladies, caught it in one hand.

    Jason was in fits. “It’s rubber” he crowed in that awful infantile voice he’d used every time he thought he’d been funny or clever. “I bought it in a charity shop”

    It had crossed my mind as I was scrabbling to get under my desk that the thing hadn’t felt like metal.  Cursing my brother, I sheepishly scrabbled back out again as  Sally dropped the thing on my head, then caught it as it rebounded.

    That was the upscale part of the morning. The rest of it settled into its usual pattern of absolutely nothing even vaguely interesting happening other than musical sounds coming from Sally’s state of the art computer.  She was vainly attempting to regain enough RAM to play solitaire. 

    (State of the art over twenty years ago.  Back then most people hadn’t even heard of a laptop, let alone seen one.  Cell phones were in their infancy, were the size of a small television and cost the National debt to operate).

    Jason was pretending to be reading his paper and giggling every time he reached a bit he could understand in the comic he had hidden inside it.

    I was, as usual reflecting on why my parents had lumbered me with cretin for a younger brother.  Was it a punishment for some heinous crime in a previous life, or just a case of ‘shit happens’. 

    On a personal note I also spent a lot  of time pondering why I had not inherited the down to earth commonsense both of my parents seemed to have naturally, and I was incapable of nurturing, even artificially. 

    It also transpired that I hadn’t accidentally hit Prentice in the face.  While I had been apologising to the owner of the bag of carrots and her schoolgirl companion, Sally’s bus seat companion had made the mistake of feeling up Sally’s bum as she slid past him.  His nose evidently had been softer than her elbow, sad really.

    Two months earlier, shortly after my forty sixth birthday, I’d opted for a career change.  In a moment of foolish despair, I’d given up trying to instil some appreciation of Blake, Wordsworth and Shakespeare into a new generation of disinterested undergraduates, (most of the first year students I tried to teach  were so hung up about not getting AIDS, the only thing they fucked was the English language), and had chucked in my safe pensionable academic sinecure to become…to become, a private investigator.

    Somehow, the how being a mystery that will stay for the rest of my life, I allowed myself to be talked out of the money I’d managed not to pay in alimony to my ex-wife, and become a partner in a private detective agency.

    My other partners were of course, my brother Jason and his stunning looking sarcastic, sensual, sneaky, sneering, soul mate, Sally.  I even accepted, despite being the one who came up with the money, to be the most junior partner.  As they pointed out at length, they were the experienced ones 

    Sally had been a detective constable with the Metropolitan police, why she wasn’t still, was not explained.  She had met Jason when they had both been working for a West country detective agency.   Why they had left this said agency to come to Pontycymchesty was also never quite forthcoming. 

    The most mystifying  thing of all was, what on earth, may late twenties, beautiful blonde bitch of a partner saw in a moon faced pot bellied idiot, as represented by my waste of space, thirty three year old, brother.

    Being junior, one of my jobs, in fact the only one  was taking charge of the post, had been any, and stationary.   With no important letter to open and distribute, (‘i.e. chuck across the office) to its recipient, I opened the box of business cards which Jason had used my car to collect that morning. 

    Jason had also been the one that designed them; he had after all got a G too Z in GCSE art.

     

    PONTYCYMCHESTY INVESTIGATION

    and

    SECURETY SERVICE

    Personal Investigations performed in total intimacy

    Chief Investigator and Securety Consultant: Jason Floweres

    No assignation is too small for P.I.S.S.

     

    He had no English language or intelligence qualifications whatsoever.

    “Whattya think?” he asked lowing his paper concealed comic and smirking proudly, “gets it said right”.

    Wrong! But never mind.  Did he really I wondered, want to know what I though, because I thought he was a pr…

    Reaching across my desk Sally plucked the card out of my fingers “Let me  see.” She said, then she said “Jason, you utter prick”

    Which saved me the bother. (In the American version, the U.P. was me and somehow I’d got downgraded from lecturer to janitor.  God only knows what I shall become in the French one)

    “What’s wrong darling, don’t you like them?” He stood up and put down his paper carefully so that his comic didn’t fall out. “I did think that perhaps instead of ‘Personal Investigations performed in total intimacy’, I could have put, ‘Intimate investigations carried out with complete dispensation’,  but…” 

    “From whom?” I asked.

    “What?”

    ‘What’ was one of the two standard Jason responses when asked a question he didn’t understand.  “Dispensation.” I replied, “Who from, the Pope?” 

    Now he was really lost.  Sidling round his desk he muttered plaintively. “ I thought they were pretty cool”

    “You thought they were pretty cool.” Sally echoed, lips tightly compressed.

    “Ummm” Jason’s other standard response when asked a question.

    “Interesting choice of words, original spelling” brotherly contribution from me, unacknowledged as usual.

    “Apart from ‘security’ being spelt with ‘i’ not and ‘e’, why personal investigations Jason?” Sally  snarled as she very slowly tore the card in half and dropped the pieces in front of him.  “Shouldn’t it have been ‘Private?”

    From the perplexed expression on his face he was obviously so engrossed in trying to work out which ‘e should be replaced by an ‘i’, so he actually answered a question using words. “Yeah well,” he said bravely, ”I thought I’d made us sound a bit different.”

    Oh we were different alright, especially him. “That’s two thoughts he’s had in one day” I muttered, helpfully, or so I believed.

    She didn’t even have the courtesy to look at me when she said “Shut up”.  Jason was saying “ “Well babe” (babe was one of his new ‘in’ words) we can still call ourselves P.I’s”

    (And we all know what the P stands for Jason, don’t we?)

    “And as PI’s Jason, do we have assignments or assignations?”  she asked pitilessly.

    “And are they intimate or discreet?”. 

    Sally treated me to one of her baleful blue eyed stares before.  “Please stay out of this Jet.  We both know that as an ex academic you think you have a superior intellect than us simple ordinary people;” (ordinary, she was about as ordinary as Lucretia Borgia, she was also not at all simple, my brother, well?). 

    Still staring at me , she reached out  and took Jason’s hand in hers before continuing.  “So please try and understand, you will only confuse him terribly if you discuss two concepts at the same time.”

    Couldn’t argue with that.  Picking up the packet of cards I asked, “Take them back to the printer’s then, shall I?”

    She nodded, transferring her gaze back to her beloved moron. “ Yes please and have them change personal to private…”

    Oh Sal!”

    …”assignation to assignment…”

    Babe!”

    “…performed in total intimacy to carried out with compete discretion…”

    “But Sal, I thought”

    “I suppose we could be intimately discreet.”

    She ignored me

      get them to spell security correctly and get rid of the Chief Investigator Jason Floweres crap completely and…

    “Oh no ….babe!”

    “…get them to adjust the font sizes to take up any unnecessary space.”’

    I glanced at my brothers face, was totally unmoved by his obvious distress, picked up the packet and said, still looking at him, “speaking of unnecessary space…?”

    If they’d had a row, they were over it by the time I got back from a not very happy printing firm.

    What’s more a magical event occurred as I walked through the door.  The phone rang.

    (In the Piddlewood version, the phone didn’t ring, it was a letter, delivered by a FedEx courier.  The rest was almost right. In reality, Sally answered the phone In fiction, Sam opened the letter. I got sent out for bagels.) 


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