I had a week off last week, so no story. Sorry. I did make myself a new banner for this feature. I hope you like it! I’m quite pleased with myself! I teased this week’s story in a post earlier this week, which was about a haunted picture.
The photograph was written as a longer version of probably the first ever piece of flash fiction I had published, The Photo.
The protagonist, BIFF KELLER, is a pensioner worried about his best friend, THORLEY LANGDON, who has gone missing. The police want to know if Biff knows anything about it…
“Thorley had always been extroverted, but even for him, locking himself in a hotel room was just bonzo-doodah. It was his wife, Sparrow that came to find me. It was a week ago. Perhaps ten days, I don’t really remember. A lot has happened since then, and the old brain is not as quick as it used to be.” He tapped his knuckles against his forehead. “Laverne, that’s her real name, Sparrow’s I mean, knew I was Thorley’s best friend, and I think she saw me as her best hope. I was his best friend, that much is true – wastrue, but as for his best hope? I don’t think any of us knew what was going on with Thorley, so calling me his best hope was stretching things just a tad.” He held his thumb and forefinger about a centimetre apart and lifted the fingers to his eye.
“What was going on with Mr Langdon, Mr Keller?”
“Biff, please, Biff.” Biff Keller pushed away the thin silver strands of hair that had fallen onto his cheeks. He ran a hand over his balding head in an effort to push the erratic strands back into place. As soon as he returned his hands to the table, the hair folded over and slid back over his eyes. Biff sighed and licked his palm. This time, when he pushed the hair back in place, pressing it down on his scalp, it stayed fixed, plastered to his head. He looked at the detective in front of him. “I can’t get the blasted stuff to stay,” he indicated his hair. “Do you have anything for it?”
“What would you like Mr Keller? Shall I put a call out for the emergency stylist?” The detective looked around from his seated position at his colleague who leant against the rear wall of the tiny room. Both men smiled.
“No sir,” said Biff, “and I would thank you to speak to me in the manner in which I am speaking to you.”
The seated detective turned back to face Biff, looking suitably abashed.
“I’m sorry Mr Keller, it’s just that that no one has ever asked us for,” he paused as he turned back to his colleague, “hair care products before.”
“Well, a man likes to look his best, don’t you think?”
“Yes sir,” said the detective, “it’s just not something we get asked in here.” He indicated the room they were in. It was approximately seven metres by four metres, painted a fading grey colour; ‘High Society’ had been its off-the-shelf name. Now, it was anything but; the floor paint had faded away to almost white at the door; at some point in the past someone had bled out on the floor, an episode frequently brought up in team briefings as a cautionary tale to always search the suspect before entering the interrogation room. The cleaning crew had made a good job of clearing up most of the blood, but a dark patch remained where the poor soul had breathed his last breath, whilst his arteries sprayed blood across the room, plastering the far wall and the table at which Biff now sat. Underneath Biff’s chair, someone had thrown up at some point. That had cleaned up easily, but the smell still lingered.
“I don’t know why that should be such a strange request. You made me a cup of tea,” he picked up and replaced the polystyrene cup in front of him. “Not your best work, if I do say so.” He slid the half finished drink across the table, away from him. “Earlier, you asked if I wanted anything. Well now I’m telling you I want some pomade. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, I’ll just have whatever you chaps use.”
The seated detective ran a hand over his shaved head.
“I don’t have much call for it, to be honest,” Shaved head said.
“Well, why would you bother having a giant mirror in here, if you weren’t bothered about looking your best?” Biff indicated the mirror on the wall to his left; it started about waist height and reached almost to the ceiling. “That doesn’t make any sense to me.”
“Don’t you worry about that, sir.” He looked at the little counter on the recording device that sat on one end of the table, then up at the clock on the wall behind Biff.
“Biff, please. I already said that.” Biff stood up and leaned over the table, offering his hand. “And you are?”
Shaved head was surprised to find himself standing and shaking the offered hand.
“Detective Curtis, and this is Detective Daly.” He hiked a thumb over his shoulder, and the man leaning against the wall smiled and nodded. Curtis took his seat and cleared his throat again. “Please sit, Mr Keller – Biff.”
Biff straightened his tie before taking his seat again.
“Well, it’s damned strange if you ask me,” he said. “Giant mirrors and such.” His sentence trailed off into muttering under his breath.
That brings a code to this week’s instalment. I hope you’ll join me next week for part 2!
My question to you: a simple one this week: stick with the logo, or go back to a book cover image?