“Anything else Sir” said the soft voice through the state of the art intercom speaker.
“No Jackie, that will be all, You run along and enjoy your weekend, I’ll finish up here” replied the man behind the large ornate mahogany desk. The man released the reply button and for a second watched on as his hand fell and rested upon the desk top. The desk sat at the far end of the mans sumptuous private office. The immaculate office had been furnished by the best Interior Designers money could buy, but the desk along with the personalised wine bottles and the photographs in the cabinet were the mans personal choices. The desk itself had been flown in from Southern Africa, a gift from one of the mans associates after he had admired it on one of their get-togethers down at the the Cape. All at Tax payers expense of course. Good Times.
The man recalled how his associate had been wary about getting such a prized artifact into the country,fearing customs could be a problem, but the man himself,had no such qualms. None of that import scrutiny and transfer paper delay nonsense for him, of course not. You didn’t get to head a conglomerate like he did without knowing how to cut through paperwork or more importantly have the ear of a government worker, or better still the desperation of a willing dock hand, down on his luck crying into his pint and needing some financial assistance from the mans “chauffeur” before heading back home to the wife with at least a semblance of a wage about him. Best of all was the Political Members of course but they were only for use in emergencies and of course, any such deals were always done away from the public eye and always under the guise of Campaign contributions. The man smiled as remembered his fathers words “The wheels of Industry always needed oiled and in business, oil always ran green.”
The man took another look at his hand and sighed .He then made a mental note to reprimand Jackie first thing on Monday morning. The nail on his index finger was looking a little ragged. Jackie had forgotten to book his manicurist. The man opened his walnut leather bound folio and checked through his recent calendar entries. It had been almost 3 weeks since the Manicurist had last attended to him and that was not acceptable. He would have to remind Jackie that it was her job to keep on top of such important Diary items. It seemed he just couldn’t get the staff these days. He almost regretted letting her leave early. It was only 8pm after all. Once again, he heard his fathers words “Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile”
The fading sun’s dying glare caught the thick gold ring on his slightly raggedly-nailed index finger and the man watched as the reflection bounced across the walls. He smiled as he watched the golden light pass over his pictures with Royalty. He smiled again as he tilted his hand and the light passed the pictures with celebrities and movie stars, some he called friends, some he called friends no more. The man watched as the light moved on and it passed his original edition Eames chair. Such an extravagant purchase, he had bought it for “those relaxing moments”, but who had time for “relaxing” these days. These days he could say the same for smiling.
Back in the day, now that was a time he could relax, relax and smile. That’s all he seemed to do back then. Back when he spent time on the West Coast. ‘Now those were the good old days’ he thought to himself, wondering how it had all turned on its head. He remembered how he would only need to visit the East Coast once in a while, just a courtesy trip to pull out the latest deluxe Mont Blanc pen and sign yet another massive loan deal or generate yet another Blockbuster headline. That smile, captured at a million joyous press conferences, covered in a million media pieces, coveyed over copious dinner parties with the rich, the powerful and most important, the influential Press.
“Yes, The good old days right enough” he mused. When he drank vintage champagne a lot more than he drank todays customary red wine, even if today he did spend more and more time on his personal vineyards. Time that many deemed unnecessary given the circumstances. He knew what they were saying about him, even if they thought he wasn’t aware of the whispers and moans, he still had control. Didn’t they realize, even he needed a place where he could relax. Even he had to switch off once in a royal blue moon and just stop listening to the constant demands. So many demands. So many demands, and suddenly so little friends. So many calls unreturned. How did it ever come to this he wondered?
The man turned his custom made office chair away from the desk and towards the lowering sunshine. He would risk relaxing for just one moment. Heaven knew he needed it where he could get it these days. The man sat back and allowed himself a moment to take in the view. Edinburgh was always so lovely, but even more so, or so it seemed to him, during a twilit Friday evening. Even the new Tram lines leant a certain charm despite the hassles over the last few years in trying to get the Bentley through the stagnant city centre traffic. Thankfully the mans “chauffeur” knew Edinburgh like the back of a Leith dockers hand, and he didn’t have to waste too much of his time, sat on pause, like the rest of the East coast based workers.
The man looked up and over the skyline and down towards Leith. Ah Leith, the latest Edinburgh place to be ever so gentrified and given the fancy coat of paint marked “Respectable Affordable Desirable” in the Dulux colour wall chart of modern Estate Agent parlance. The man wouldn’t be seen dead in Leith, unless her Majesty was visiting of course, but he did remember some good times down that way. One Sunday in particular. Good times. That was so long ago though, now just a distant memory, like his trips to the West Coast. Gone but never forgotten.
Suddenly the man heard a knock from behind his seat.
The man began to turn in his chair and said “Jackie, Im glad you’re still here, its about these nails.” But he didn’t get to fully voice his complaint. The man’s concentration was broken as soon as he stared towards the doorway. It clearly was not Jackie who now stood there in front of him.
In the doorway stood the oddest creature the man had witnessed in many a long time, and that was including him having frequented the West Coast for over a decade.
The figure in the doorway was a squat, almost square shape. It had a thick high tuft of dark hair, some grey strands were visible, upon a shrunken face that seemed to be almost melting down into its shabby clothes beneath. The creature stared back at the man, one eye taking in the room and the other seemingly holding the man in its permanent gaze. The clothes were totally absent of any shape or cut, the man didn’t dare wonder what his personal tailor would make of such a bedraggled sight. The loose fitting clothes were a sad mixture of greens, beiges and creams, even his shoes had a tinge of magnolia about them.
Even though it was the summer, the figure had apparently dressed for an Autumnal downpour given it was wearing a severely distressed raincoat that had long seen better days and by the stains present, had encountered several oil spills, ‘No doubt from some old rust bucket’ suspected the man.
And then there was the smell.
Now the man liked cigars, but only real true cigars. God knows he often enjoyed a hand rolled Cuban. What joy was often had when he sat with a Cobida or Monte Cristo in his manicured fingers, especially back in his West Coast days and night of celebrating the latest success. It was a fact that he hadn’t had much occasion for visiting his London based Humidor Club in the last few years but that didn’t mean he couldn’t feel affronted by the nauseatingly acrid smell being given off by the cheap cigar being held by the creature in his doorway.
The creature spoke.
“Oh hello sir, your secretary let me in. Jackie is it?, lovely women. Very nice indeed.”
The man wondered about the creatures accent as he watched the creature move forward into the office, lumbering forward, approaching the desk. The Creature spoke once more.
“My names Lieutenant Columbo, Ive just transferred in from L.A.P.D into Govan CID in Glasgow. I just have a few questions for a David Murray. You are David Murray sir?
“Sir” replied the man curtly.
The creature stared back in confusion, shook his head slightly, before asking “Sir?”
The man replied “My name is Sir David Murray not David Murray sir”.
The creature paused as if to take the information in, before smiling and raising a hand as if in surrender. The creature then laughed before saying “Well I’ll be, Sir David Murray, not David Murray Sir. Its amazing how words can get us in such difficulty isn’t sir?, I mean Sir David,sir?”
Sir David watched as the creature finally stopped just in front of his desk and before he could reply, found himself further repulsed. The police-man had begun stroking the desk. “Wow this is some desk. My wife would love something like this, She loves to sit and write letters, to her sisters, even to Just Joan in the Record, you know it sir, Agony Aunt stuff, not my cup of coffee,but it keeps her happy. She only has an old ikea table to lean on you know Ikea?, Wow, she would love something like this alright”.
Sir David continued to feel repulsed as the man continued his stroking of the fine mahogany carvings and then making his way around the desk, coming ever closer to Sir David himself. This was too much and the man was not in the mood for imbeciles.
“Lieutenant, is there something I can help you with?” said Murray in a dry, commanding tone.
The Policeman once again paused, nodded and then seemed to take the hint and removed his hand from the desk. He then stepped back around the desk so he was once again facing the man. “Yes sir, just some questions, probably just routine but I’m sure you’ll understand. I just need to tidy up a few loose ends and all that”
“Loose Ends?” asked the man. “Loose ends about what?”.
“Oh murder sir!” replied the policeman in the most matter-of-fact manner that Murray had ever encountered.
“Murder?” gasped Murray.
“Well I say Murder, its more a killing. Something definitely died, and someone killed it and when something is killed, I call it murder. Though some don’t. You know what I mean sir? You know, theres that language thing again, funny isn’t it Sir, I mean Sir sir”
The man suddenly didn’t feel too comfortable, even in his custom made chair, suit and underwear. He tried to compose himself and said “Err, actually its quite late Lieutenant, Columbo is it?, Cant this wait until Monday and cant you go through my lawyers. I’m very busy you know”.
“Oh sure sir, sure” replied the Policeman who somehow now seemed slightly taller, slightly more agile, slightly more of a presence than the man had originally considered. “I just thought I would pop in as I was in the neighbourhood. No biggee at all, sure it can wait. You have a nice weekend sir” concluded the Lieutenant who then turned and headed back towards the doorway.
The man felt himself let out a sigh as he watched the police detective head towards the exit. Something wasn’t quite right. No-One ever asked him questions. No-One ever needed him to explain. No, something wasn’t quite right at all and the man didn’t like this or this so called Lieutenant Columbo, not one little bit.
The man raised his head slightly just as the detective finally stepped into the darkened doorway. Suddenly the creature stopped. The man held his breath as from behind, he watched as the detective seemed to be moving his hand from one pocket to the next, finally finding whatever he was looking for in his inside jacket pocket. The detective then appeared to be looking at a piece of scrap paper. The man felt a pang in his stomach as he then watched Columbo raise his right arm in the air and casually say…..
“Oh Sir David, just one more thing…”
If there ever is a reckoning and there ought to be who will “Columbo” actually be? Oh the thought off your scenario being reality is a sweet thing. Very funny sir, very funny indeed.
Thoroughly enjoyed that HH
That was a smashing read, like pretty much everything else on this website.
Saw Columbo at the top of the story but forgot about him as i read. When he became involved i cried laughing. Fekkin great bit of writing ma man.
Excellent Desi. Great read for a Friday. Now where’s the uisge beatha?
Excellent Desi. Great read for a Friday
Excellent read Desi, would be great if that shit gets what he is due.
Very good nice writeing
Simply fantastic, I remember watching Columbo as a kid in the seventies. You have captured his style brilliantly. Well done Sir,sir!
Great figurative language in your piece,Desi.
My only grumble,is calling Columbo a ‘creature’.
Growing up,he was an ‘icon’ on tv.Along with Ironside,Canon etc.
It was through Murrays disdained eyes he was a creature…
I bow to no one in my respect for the man in the raincoat…always say you can tell everything sbout a man just by asking his views on Columbo
great read, good laugh too. thanks, hh.
Charlie: Look, kid, I – how much you weigh, son? When you weighed one hundred and sixty-eight pounds you were beautiful. You coulda been another Billy Conn, and that skunk we got you for a manager, he brought you along too fast.
Terry: It wasn’t him, Charley, it was you. Remember that night in the Garden you came down to my dressing room and you said, “Kid, this ain’t your night. We’re going for the price on Wilson.” You remember that? “This ain’t your night”! My night! I coulda taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors on the ballpark and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville! You was my brother, Charley, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn’t have to take them dives for the short-end money.
Charlie: Oh I had some bets down for you. You saw some money.
Terry: You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it. It was you,
That wee pest columbo is still undefeated sir,oops am i aloud to say sir..sir?
Quite brilliant. Hh
Excellent. Reads perfect, and I’d love to see a conviction soon.
Brilliant stuff Desi……Columbo was one cool dude.
Can you write a sketch involving Paul Baxendale Walker and Lee McCulloch’s mother……or is that just taking it too far?