martes, mayo 5

Phantom Detective (chapter one)

I bring you a new story. I'm not gonna leave Ath and Thysa unfinished, but I'm very excited with this new one and all the things I imagine lately are related to it. I don't wanna write Ath and Thysa without motivation, so I'll make a pause.
I hope you like this one =)

Benjamin Archer, the Chief of the Edinburgh Police, was a man with broad back and shoulders, face with sharp features but affable eyes. He smiled at Leah, who waited squeezing her hands nerviously, deep sat in an armchair too big for her.

- Don’t worry, Mark is an impeccable policeman.

She nodded but said nothing. She couldn’t have said anything even in the case of knowing what to say, due to the lump that she had in her stomach as in her throat. The office of Mr. Archer was cosier than she had expected. The walls were covered by diplomas, medals and old photographies. His desk was next to a window that showed the streets, squares and the people walking down, and at the bottom of the room was the bigger filing cabinet collection that Leah had ever seen. Benjamin Archer took another sip of his steaming cup of coffee.

The office’s door opened in that moment. The noise of telephones and people talking interrupted the still atmosphere of the room when Mark Green entered and closed behind him. Leah stood up, almost jumping, and he looked at her a bit surprised. Mark Green was a tall and stout man, he had a strong jaw and a straight nose; he was attractive, and made her suddlenly feel inhibited and insecure.

- Sorry Chief... I didn’t know you were busy. I’ll come back later.
- No, no. Stay, Mark, we were waiting for you.

Mark remained in front of the desk of Mr. Archer, looking confused. He stared at the girl again, frowning.

- Do we know each other?
- No, no yet, but I’m sure you two will get along very well.- Benjamin said, smiling.- Mark, I’m glad to introduce you your new partnet, Miss Leah Meyer.

Leah stretched her hand to him, feeling a little stupid. But Mark didn’t respond to her gesture; he stared at her for a few seconds and then laughed. She felt her cheeks burning with shame when she lowered her arm. She knew something like that was going to happen, so why was she surprised?

- Very good joke, Chief. I admitt it, I almost believe it. Very good joke, very good...

But he stopped laughing when he realized Benjamin wasn’t playing the same game. His expression was hard and severe. Mark turned to Leah again, a mixture of incredulity and irritation in his face.

- You must be kidding.
- No, Mark, I’m not kidding. And I think you’re insulting Miss Meyer with your behaviour.
- Are you serious?- he asked, raising his voice.

Leah knew what came next: the shouts and the indignation would start, the protest and then the pleas, and she preferred not to be present in that moment. She cleared her throat shyly and said:

- I think... I’ll leave you alone to discuss. I’ll wait outside.
- I think that’s a great idea.- Mark replied, fiercely.
- Please, Leah, wait outside. It won’t take a long time.
She tried to smile and went out of the room.

There was a small waiting room between the Chief Office and the nerve center of the Police Station, the place where calls were answered and the rest of policemen did their job revising and signing papers, speaking by telephone or talking cheerly among them. It was a sort of chaotic and noisy environment, two characteristics Leah disliked but thanked in that very moment: maybe that racket muffled Mark’s Green yells.

She sat down in a chair and buried her head between her legs. She sighed. Who did she want to fool? She couldn’t feel offended by Mark’s reaction, it was completely justified.

The voices inside the office grew louder and the not even the noise couldn’t drown out the policemen’s bellows.

- I could be her father, for God’s sake!
- Mark...
- You can’t do this to me, Chief! Am I suppose to act as her baby-sitter too, pick her up when she wants to go out at night and hold her hair while she is throwing up, completely drunk? Or have I to sing her a lullaby every night? This’s not serious at all! I can’t accept it.
- Mark, I’m sorry, but this’s an indisputable matter. She’ll be your partner. And you must treat her with respect. She’s nineteen, she’s not a child. She’s reponsible and she’s been the best of her degreen, the number one. She’s competent and efficient.
- I refuse.
- You can’t.
- Do you know why I don’t have any interest in marriage and in form a family? I hate children; I don’t get along with them. I don’t have time and I don’t feel like changing nappies.
- You’re exaggerating. She’s perfectly able to take care of herself; you don’t have to protect her more than you would protect any other partner. She knows how to use a gun and personal deffense.
- Chief...
- Mark, I don’t need to discuss this with you. It’s immovable. Leah Meyer will be your new partner.

The next thing she heard was the door opening again and for a second, she didn’t know what face she should make. Should she smile, as if she hadn’t listened anything? But the fake smile didn’t reach her lips on time and she just observed Mark Green with an idiot expression and blushed cheeks. The policeman stretched his arm without say a word and after shake hands, he moved away walking quickly. Leah stood up when Benjamin Archer stuck his head out.

- I’m very sorry, Leah. But try to understand Mark...
- I understand him perfectly, Mr. Archer.- she said.
- Of course... Well, welcome to the Police Force, Miss Meyer.- he said in a formal tone.

He placed his hand in the pocket of his jacket and took a shiny silver badge, with oval shape and the name of the Edinburgh Police. He gave it to her solemnly and she smiled dazzling.

- You can leave today, tomorrow you’ll start early in the morning.
- Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.

The friendly smile Benjamin made cheered her up a bit, and when she left the Police Station she had almost forgotten Mark’s Green words.

What Leah liked the most about the place where she lived wasn’t the business neighbourhood where the building that she inhabited was, an old-looking block of flats, and it wasn’t also the modest but spacious enough apartment she occupied in a second floor, and neither her nice neighbours that had already offered her their help in case she needed something, but the coffee house just below her home. Its name was “The Hiding Place” and it was an establishment whose atmosphere imitated the Italian mafia, with faint lights and music from the time. They had delicious hot chocolate and coffees, so when she wanted one she only had to go downstairs and turn the corner of the street. Sometimes she enjoyed them in the coffee house but normally she carried them up to her apartment, where she could spend the time reading her notes, papers and making her own investigations.

That day she had a quick lunch next to the Police Station and when she finally arrived home she stopped a minute to buy a hot chocolate before going upstairs. As she closed the door at her back she put the keys in a table at the entrance, she left her bag over the floor and then fell heavily in the couch by one of the big windows of the living room, from where she could see and hear the traffic of the rush hour in Edinburgh. She took off her boots and placed her bare feet over the table, next to the hot chocolate cup. She sighed, satisfied. Apart from Mark’s insulting comments, it had been a good day. She had achieved what she wanted and now was part of the Police Force. Did it matter that her partner didn’t take her seriously?

- He’ll make your life impossible.- a voice whispered behind her ear.
- You’re wrong, Simon.- she answered, without turning her head.- When he realizes what I’m capable of, he’ll come to his senses.

She heard an angry hiss and a cold gust of wind gave her goose bumps. Simon went in front of her, floating lazily over her feet, observing her while frowning and with an offended expression in his withish and translucent face.

- You mean when he realizes what we’re capable of, right?
- Sure.- she said.- But don’t believe all my success is because of you, uh? You know, who passed the exams was me, and by myself.
- True. But you’ve got to admit I’m a great help.
- I’ve never denied that.- she replied, taking a sip of her hot chocolate.- It tastes like holy glory.- she said, licking her lips.

The ghost gave her a bitter glance and snorted, but she ignored him.

- What have you been doing while I was busy?- she asked.
- I explored the city.- he answered, looking through the window.- It’s a pinturesque place, compared to Boston. I visited the cemetery... there are good people there, I think I made a pair of friends.
- I’m glad to hear that, now you have more friends than me.
- How is that Mark Green?
- The only things I know about him are that marriage isn’t one of his future aims, that he doesn’t like children and he can be very rude when he wants to. He shakes hands firmly, so I deduce he’s very confident, and he has a big nose that makes his face very attractive, thoguh.
- Did you attend to a blind date?- Simon repplied, raising an eyebrow.

She laughed and she lay down in the couch, adopting a compleley horizontal position. She sighed again, happy. She felt totally happy, with a world full of possibilities opened in front of her. A new city, a new place to live, new job and new people still to meet. Everything was within her reach: with Simon, success was granted. She took the badget Benjamin Archer had given to her some hours before and contemplated it, ecstatic.

She undid her shirt, finished to drink the hot chocolate and left the badge next to the empty cup. She stood up and went to the bathroom while taking off her trousers. Simon watched her with something very similar to indignation. Soon he heard the music blasting out, the water of the shower and Leah’s voice, singing. The ghost rolled his eyes, shook his head a bit saddened and leaned over the badge to study it more carefully.

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