No Land But Shadowland (Part 2)
I enjoy spying on them. I like looking at them when they can’t see me or even if they could, wouldn’t recognize me or even begin to know who I was or had been. In the walls of the old cottage, my childhood home, dimly remembered as the land of shadows, there I keep my arsenal. Because of those years spent in America, I learned the value of early and often when it comes to ordnance. Or to put it another way: speak softly and carry a loud stick.
You think of private detectives as lonely people, you know you do. Really, that is nothing to compare to an agent of the state, but a private investigator’s clients must be lonely or must be dreadfully afraid of becoming lonely or they wouldn’t hire me.
This new fish, I mean client, very nervous woman on the phone, young, could be exciting but dresses drab, anxious, probably filled with some kind of repressed religion or obsession, I think. Meets me in a dark cafe not far from the old hocus pocus.
—Mr. Clark, yes? I’m Elle Young. We spoke on phone. I need you to guard me. Just for a day. Maybe until tomorrow night. Just stay with me. She stares at me with eyes of pain.
—Why? My mind is revising as my eyes take in details the drab hides: the Ferragamo shoes, the Dior bag, the undoubtedly real diamond jewelry. The obsession now translates to simple fear.
—Because my husband owed about a million pounds and they want to get it from me. Her voice rustles with fear and anger as if a mighty wind shakes through her.
—Your husband did not pay or could not pay?
—My husband has disappeared. He is always disappearing. He works for MI6. Now her voice shook with disgust. I wonder which one he is and if I ever worked with him. Never mind.
—Do you have a gun, she asks. So I show her the Colt revolver I’m carrying, and the Glock-19.
—That makes me feel better, she says. I’m not paying money I do not owe. So we discuss terms of my employment and my rather absurd fee which she will have to pay a rather large chunk of up front since I will be dropping everything for the next 36 hours to attend to her. I hasten to point out that we must get to the bank before closing time.