Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Number One Under Heaven (34)

Detective Superintendent Howie Moore was ordinarily a jovial character – ideally suited to his job, he was a man of exactly the right amount of intellect to make light of the dingy world into which he was regularly drawn. ’Spart-a-life, innit – criminality? he would often quip, when attempting to explain away the unlawful activities of the tattooed snakeheads he was responsible for hunting down in his Wan Chai manor. See, they don’t know any diff’rent, do they? ’Swhat they’ve been brought up into – know what I mean? Strangely, Moore empathised with his prey, seeking always to justify their actions. In short, he was someone of a highly forgiving disposition. A man who – uncommonly, for one in his position – avoided wherever possible the heavy-handed approach that was so often deployed throughout the force in which he served.

But today, Moore’s happy-go-lucky demeanour had been sorely challenged and he wore instead the look of a troubled man. Now staring grimly through the windscreen of his car, he drove through pouring rain to the airport, in order to meet the homecoming party. In spite of the foul weather – which had wrecked his plans for golf – the mustachioed senior officer was enjoying a relatively quiet day until, out of the blue, there had been that call from the Sunny Cape school office. The deeply disturbing news he had then been given created a dark cloud of its own – for Moore was himself the father of three young daughters, meaning he could well imagine the torment Sophie Blake’s parents must now be going through. And if this were, as he somehow sensed, a case of abduction, well then even he, as magnanimous as he was, would not be able to forgive the callous actions of the transgressors.

There was something else that was troubling Moore, too. Guilin tour leader Gavin Hewitt was an acquaintance, through a shared Masonic lodge – a relationship he had quickly realised would inevitably create a conflict for him in this most unfortunate of cases. And so it was an unusually apprehensive figure that Moore cut as he parked his car and took the lift to Arrivals on level one of the airport’s vast hall. A group of concerned parents had already assembled there, impatient to see their progenies – the news of young Sophie’s disappearance engendering a kind of hysteria among them. As the school party then traipsed solemnly through Customs and out into the arrivals hall, the cries of recognition were followed by floods of tears, as relieved mothers were reunited with their precious ones. There were tears among the rest of the children, too, and a sense of abandonment that they had not been met. Shocked by the events of the day, they had lost sight of the fact that their parents had planned, all along, to meet them back at the school. In the pandemonium that was developing all around them, Moore beckoned Hewitt to one side with a discreet movement of his head.

“Hi, Gavin. I’m sorry to ’ear about wha’s ’appened.” There was an embarrassed look on the Detective’s face. It did not feel right that his friend before him stood accused of negligence. “I’m bloody devastated,” replied Hewitt, looking crestfallen. “I wanted to stay there until we found her, but the bloody Chinese pol–” “Look, I won’t be detainin’ you ’ere and now – all right?” the portly Detective cut in, his piercing blue eyes difficult for the other man to engage. “I expect that in any event you’ll be, like, wantin’ to do the decent thing, you know, an’ face the girl’s parents in person.” Staring at the ground, Hewitt slowly nodded, aware of the reception he would soon be given, back in the Cape. “But I’m gonna need you t’come down to the station in Wan Chai an’ provide me with a full statement, within the next twenty-four hours – OK with you?” “Sure, Howie. And… thanks,” said Hewitt, somewhat meekly taking the big Detective’s hand. But he was still unable to look his lodge acquaintance directly in the eye, aware that the blame for what had happened lay squarely at his feet, which he now dragged off slowly, to rejoin the remainder of the party…

Blake pressed the buzzer on the door to the SoHo studio premises. In fact he leant his full weight on it, causing the harsh sound to trill incessantly within. After briefly peering through the spy hole Elle emerged, looking concerned. “What’s up?” she asked, quizzically. “I… nee… y–” was all he could manage. “Look at you, Adam,” she complained, her words echoing those of his wife, albeit uttered in a gentler tone, and with compassion instead of what, in the other instance, he had come to understand was hate. “Here, take the keys to my apartment,” she continued, now smiling sympathetically while fishing them from a pocket in her jeans. “Go and get your head down for a while, while I finish up here. Can you manage that?” By way of confirmation, Blake managed to smile the lopsided grin of the paralytic, before stumbling back down the stairs. He gripped her key fob as tightly as he could lest he drop it, this coveted prize. As he then staggered up the steep hill in the direction of her nearby apartment, the promise of lying next to her again began to make him wish he were sober. With nothing to run away from any more, he wanted to experience her to the full, to feel each touch her hands laid upon him, to taste the kisses he would tease from her. Sober… up… Gotta… s-soberrup… he hiccoughed.

But on arriving at Elle’s apartment block, Blake’s demeanour reversed once more as he cursed in the realisation that he had forgotten the entry code needed to open the door. Reaching into his pocket, he fumbled around for his cell-phone, without luck. Shit! I’ve los… m’fuckin’ phone…! he cursed inwardly, reliving the experience a third time. Just then the door clicked open, at the sound of which Blake took the opportunity to lurch clumsily through, knocking into a middle-aged woman before twisting away and tripping, to land on his backside. For a moment, the woman thought about challenging his purpose, preparing mentally to raise some kind of alarm. But Blake’s sheepish grin was sufficient to summon the ounce of humanity required for her to let the episode pass and she moved stiffly off, to return to her own business. Now summoning every surviving memory cell from within his pickled brain, Blake sought to retrace each step of the route to his lover’s apartment, which he vaguely recalled was on the eighth – and lucky – floor. Halfway along the corridor there, he pushed a key into a door on the right which to his immense relief turned smoothly in the lock. Bingo! Blake spluttered out a chuckle, amazed at his cleverness: You… still go’it… boy… he thought, contentedly.

Once inside he made straight for Elle’s bedroom, where he kicked off his shoes and collapsed on to her bed, falling instantly into the deep but unfulfilling sleep of the drunk.

posted by Kirk at 11:58 pm  

2 Comments »

  1. Brilliant!!

    Comment by HonH — June 9, 2008 @ 2:57 pm

  2. online bingos…

    Interesting website – we all agree that your writting style is engaging and we’re looking forward to reading some more…

    Trackback by online bingos — July 19, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

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