Clitpic episode 1, chapter i, part the first
My fanfic. Don't laugh.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
Feel free to deride this as having nothing whatsoever to do with Python except the names, for being a big fat waste of time and pixels, and for being turgid and hopeless writing.
BUT! If you take one thing away from this, for Christ's sake take away the value of prepositions.
CHAPTER ONE: CONTUMELY
It was a dark, stormy afternoon. Actually, it wasn't quite stormy yet. Storm-ish, maybe. A storm was threatening. Oh yes. You could tell that by the chill humidity and almost palpable tangibility in the air. And, when I say "dark", it wasn't like it was night time or anything. It was almost dark, but in the middle of the afternoon – well, late afternoon-ish – that was strange enough. Look, I'll start again.
It was a darkening, slightly squally with a touch of potential tempest, late afternoon. It was definitely late afternoon. Mid- to late afternoon, anyway. About, say, three-thirty, maybe a quarter-to-four. There or thereabouts.
I'd had a pint at lunch. Alright, two. It's not like I'd killed someone. I'll admit, I was on the margins of being the worse for wear when I got back to the office, but it's not like I killed him. Someone. It's not like I killed someone. I can't see what all the fuss is about. I mean, come on – a tiled floor; it was an accident waiting to happen.
God I miss George. George was my first serious girlfriend. And, when I say "girlfriend", I mean shagmental, any-which-way-including-loose obsession. If George were here she'd get me out of this. Or, at least, help me forget about it. Until tomorrow. Anyway, fuck her, the whore. She dumped me. Went off with some lame-arsed wannabe rock star with a shoulder span he built up carrying his wallet around. I mean, Jesus.
He slipped. I think he must have pissed on the floor and slipped on his own piss when he turned round. I was just washing my hands, listening to him fucking talking, saying words at me. Snide, sniping, sneering words like, "you'll be first to go, I reckon," and, "she dun't respect cowards."
I finished washing my hands and looked up at the mirror. Doug wasn't in it. I turned round. His teeth lay at the bottom of the urinal with a dash of blood. His head was resting, slumped on his spine, minus its lower jaw. Most of the rest of his blood was spurting playfully onto the floor, mixing with the piss he must have slipped on.
Like I said, I'd had a few at lunchtime. I wasn't feeling tip-top, nor very much disposed to answering a bunch of irksome questions. I made my excuses and left. I was sure he'd understand.
So – darkling, glowering, ponderous, like eight pairs of nursemaid's breasts, the atmosphere stifled. The immediate, adjacent atmosphere, that is. Not the stratosphere or the mesosphere, which I couldn't comment on.
I headed west – west-nor'west, probably – past the boarded-up ex-minimarts and cut-price raiment emporiums, studiously avoiding the smears of dog shit that others hadn't, the gobs of bronchitic phlegm that embellished the pavement like marooned jellyfish washed up on the shore, and eye contact with anyone at all, towards the dreary shopping arcade I called "the dreary shopping arcade."
"Do you want fries with that?" enquired the pustule adorned youth, whose only ambition in life was to satisfy my every fast food desire at that specific moment in time, slouched behind the counter of the 99p-burger recession-proof shit dispensary.
"No, just the coffee, thanks," I imparted. There's only so much grease one can ingest in a given time span.
I took my coffee to a table by the window at which I sat watching the animated corpses, the afternoon and the pretty blue flashing lights pass by, heading east, or east-sou'east if I'm any judge of direction. A song I thought I knew filtered through my reverie – staccato brass intertwined with a descending trumpet motif. I wondered what she was doing now. I mean, right now, at that very moment in time. Taking tea at the Atlas Bar with Charlie, probably, before driving to tonight's venue to watch the sound check.
It's not unusual to be loved by anyone.
I could go a bit of that carnal catharsis tonight, I thought. I felt inexplicably agitated and vexed, full of bile that needed purging. I was probably just overworked, stressed, feeling the pressure, but I sure coulda used some of her sweet sexual healing, yessiree.
It's not unusual to have fun with anyone.
We had a great time together. She loved dancing and I loved going out with her. Well, I enjoyed it, at least. She looked sensational when we went out and I enjoyed just watching her, dancing. Well, I tolerated it, anyway. Sometimes it was irritating, if I was tired or had had a hard day in work. But she loved it and I went along with it.
But when I see you hanging around with anyone…
It pissed me off sometimes, if I turned around to look at her and she was dancing with some unidentified wassock in a shiny shirt.
"Well why don't you dance with me then?"
"I can't fucking dance. I'd look a right twat."
"You could at least try," she'd say, and then try to get me to learn a few moves before, inevitably, collapsing onto the bed in a heap of giggles and lingerie. Anyway, fuck her, the trollop.
It's not unusual –
That's where I knew that song from. It was the ringtone on my mobile.
"Hello," I sighed.
"Where are you?" It was my boss. Not just my boss, everybody's boss. Spawned in the bed of Lady Macbeth and Julius Caesar, she maintained an iron grip and withering disdain on and for all the thralls in her dominion.
"I was just on the toilet," I replied, flatly.
“I’m at McBurgry’s. I had a headache, needed some fresh air.”
“You need to come back to the office, now.”
“To be honest,” I said, “I was going to go home and go to bed. I think I might be coming down with something.”
“The police are here. They want to talk to everyone who was in the building when… Doug’s been attacked.”
“What, in the office? By who?”
“That’s what they want to talk about.” A bunch of irksome questions.
She hung up. I finished my coffee under the doleful gaze of the pimply, gender-indeterminate maître d' behind the counter, then got up and set off back to the office. The gloomy sky scowled at me pitilessly and my nostrils were filled with a complex blend of odours from the docks, the fast-food outlets and the unwashed corpses walking upwind of me.
There was a great intensity of activity around the entrance to my office block as I arrived. It’s not my office block – I don’t own it. It is the office block I work in but that makes me its office worker, I think. An ambulance had pulled right up onto the pavement, which was surely a health and safety risk. I had to step into the road to get around it so I could reach the doorway. People were darting into the building and rushing out again, then turning around and darting back in. I moved to one side, out of their way, and lit a cigarette, then dropped it and stamped it out. I was trying to give up smoking and had managed to cut back just to lighting them. I normally lit around fifteen a day, on a good day. That one had been my sixteenth.
It’s not unusual –
“Yeah? Yeah, I’m outside. I can’t get in – the lobby’s full of headless chickens. No, people running around like headless chickens. I don’t mean anything by it, it’s just a saying. Yeah, ok, I’ll try to fight my way in. Bye.”
“Clear a way! Clear a way!” a female voice was calling from the lobby inside. Typical, I thought. The boss had given the command that I was to be given free passage in and the throng had parted like George’s legs, fuck her. I sauntered in and sauntered out again, followed closely by a stretcher being propelled by a couple of paramedics. On the stretcher was a body-shaped lump covered by a red sheet. I turned as it was hefted into the health and safety risk and noted that the sheet had only lately assumed such a crimson hue as its lower edges were still white.
“What’s that?” I asked one of the chickens.
“Some bloke got battered to death in the toilets on seven,” she clucked.
“Shoulda kept his hands to himself,” I quipped, personably, as she was carried off into the throng. I pushed my way to the lifts but they weren’t having any of it, so I headed up the stairs, popping a Smint into my mouth as I was wont to do after flirting with a fag.
My office was on the fifth floor and that’s quite a climb. I was out of breath when I got to my desk to see a message on my computer screen – “See me,” in my boss’s handwriting. I removed it and pressed control-alt-delete, then entered my password. Passwords are secret and should not be disclosed to anyone or written down, so I won’t mention it here but you can be sure it had nothing to do with George, the slut. My desk phone rang. Internal.
“Hello? Yes, yeah I’m back. No, I was just checking my email. Okay, I’ll come straight there.”
As I expected, she was right where she’d said she’d be when I got to her office – in her office.
“The policemen are in the boardroom holding interviews,” she told me. She’s not one for humour at the best of times so I refrained from telling her I was happy with my current role. “Gloria’s in with them now and they want to see you next.”
“What’s all this about?” I asked. “You said Noah’s been battered in the toilets.”
“Doug,” she corrected, unnecessarily. I knew his name, I just also knew it irritated her that I could, apparently, never remember it. “Look, you need to tell them you don’t know anything.”
“But I don’t know anything. I wasn’t even here when it happened.”
“What time did you bunk off?”
“I didn’t bunk off. I felt ill. I thought some fresh air would do me good but there’s none of that outside. Made me feel worse.”
“What time did you leave the premises?” she pressed.
“I don’t know, two o’clock, two-thirty, maybe. Mid-afternoon, anyway. Definitely mid-afternoon.”
“And how do you know he wasn’t attacked before then?”
“Well, I don’t, but you didn’t ring me until after four and I assume it didn’t take two hours for someone to kill him.”
“No, but he could have been lying there undiscovered for any amount of time.” She thought she was clever. She wasn’t clever.
“Not on the seventh floor. It’s mostly men up there. Someone would have discovered his body pretty quickly.”
“Okay,” she conceded. My logic was too rich for her palate. “Well, don’t mention anything about Doug or what’s happened. Just stick to the facts.”
“Right, just the facts.”
She sighed. “The facts being that you left the office feeling unwell at two o’clock –“
“It might have been half past two,” I said, eager to stick to the facts.
“– at two o’clock, and you went and sat in McBurgry’s until I rang you to ask you to come back to help the police with their enquiries.”
There was a knock on the door and she beckoned Gloria in, who was as white as a sheet. Well, as white as some sheets – white sheets that hadn’t been soaked in blood. Gloria was my peer, promoted by our boss in her relentless drive to place her useless acolytes in positions of power.
“They said I can go home,” Gloria told us.
My boss turned to me. “Before you go up I just want to have a quick word with them,” she said, and left the office.
“How was it?” I asked Gloria.
“Harrowing”, she confided. “I felt like they were accusing me.”
“Accusing you of killing a six-foot-four rugby player in the men’s toilets?” Gloria was five feet tall at best. “CID’s finest at work. What did they ask you?”
“Where I’d been all day, especially at three o’clock – they asked me that about three times. About my relationship with Doug, whether we got on, how well we got on…”
“Whether you were getting it on?” I continued.
“Yes. I think they were hoping I was having an affair with him and he’d dumped me or something.”
“This is what happens when you recruit the majority of your police force from the rankest ranks of Sun readers and X Factor viewers.”
“By the end of it I didn’t want to tell them anything,” she complained. “They twisted everything I said into something sordid.”
By now I expected the boss was excitedly telling the police how I’d known all about Doug being dead, about it happening in the toilets on the seventh floor after two p.m., and that I’d alluded to headless chickens earlier, even though she’d only told me that he’d been “attacked.”
Her desk phone rang. Internal. It was her, asking me to come up to the Boardroom.
“Gotta go, Gloria,” I said. “You go home and look after yourself.”
By the time I got up to the Boardroom my boss had made her excuses and left. Policeman #1 (flat hat) introduced himself as Chief Inspector Praline and confirmed my details. He seemed an officious but not oppressive man. I liked him. Policeman #2 (tit hat) did not introduce himself, nor confirm any matter. He seemed a dense, bland man and not the ideal choice to take notes, nor witness events, in my opinion, which, it appeared, was his main duty there.
“Now, sir,” Chief Inspector Praline inquired, “would you please describe your movements since arriving at the office this morning?”
“Well, orificer,” I began –
“Officer,” the officer corrected.
“I’m sorry?” I begged.
“You said ‘orificer,’ sir,” he explained. “I think you meant ‘officer.’”
“Did I?” I queried. “I don’t think I did say ‘orificer’.”
“Yes, you did, sir.”
“Did I call him ‘orificer’?” I asked Policeman #2.
“Er, yes, sir. You did.”
“I didn’t really call you ‘orificer’, did I, Oh Fister?” I queried, turning back to Praline.
“Can we get on, please, sir?” Praline suppressed irritation admirably, I thought.
“Oh, I do hope so,” I confirmed. “I wouldn’t want to fall out with an ol’ fusser of the law.” I flashed him one of my disarmingly charming smarmy smiles.
“Can you confirm your movements since this morning, sir?” he tried again.
“Yes of course, Inspector,” I said.
“Chief Inspector,” Praline corrected.
“I’m sorry?” I begged.
“Oh, nothing, sir. Pray, continue.”
“Well, Inspector,” I continued, “I went at approximately nine-fifteen. Fairly solid. Not too much discomfort. A bit whiffy, but no problems wiping.”
“No, sir,” Praline persevered. “I mean the conveyance of your person around and beyond the confines of the building since first arriving here this morning. Thank you, sir.”
“Oh – oh, I see,” I clocked. “I’m terribly sorry. Gosh, how embarrassing.
“Well, as I say, I visited the little boys’ room shortly after arriving, switching on my computer and making a cup of tea. Thereafter I returned to my desk – oh, no. Before returning to my desk I bumped into old Doug in the corridor.
“’Well, how are you, old Doug,’ I asked him.
“’Pissed off,’ he told me. He wasn’t a happy chappy. He was complaining that our boss had dumped a big workload on him that he said Gloria had made a complete cock-up of and just left him to it. She is wont to do that, occasionally, I must admit. Well, he really wasn’t pleased. I commiserated and went back to my desk.
“I spent the morning answering my emails and working on a solution to a particularly tricky problem with my colleague, Julian, and popped out for lunch at about, ooh, just after noon, I think.”
“And, uh, where did you go for lunch, sir?” probed Praline, subtly.
“Ah, I nipped over to the Strangled Cat,” I dutifully informed him.
“And what did you have to eat, sir?”
“Oh, let’s see,” I teased. “I believe I had the ‘Curry and a Pint’ deal, Sergeant.”
“Chief In –“ Praline began, but thought better of it. “I mean – just the one pint, sir?”
“Just the one, yes,” I lied. “No, I tell a lie, I had another pint after the first one.”
“Ah,” the Chief Inspector crowed. “Now, sir, can I ask you about your relationship with the victim, Mr. Douglas?”
“Yes you may, Sergeant,” I encouraged, coquettishly.
A pause goes here.
“How did you get along with the victim, sir?”
“Oh, you know,” I said. “About average.”
“’About average,’” he mused. “Could you expand on that, sir?”
“Well…” I pondered. “We were work colleagues. We didn’t socialise, didn’t fraternise outside of the office. There were no homosexual tensions between us, no assignations or secret rendezvouses. Professionally there was no friction – at all that I can think of – no petty jealousies or –“
He interrupted me. I was just getting started and he interrupted me. “Ah yes. ‘Petty jealousies.’ You weren’t at all concerned, sir, that Mr. Douglas had been promoted so quickly from the ranks whilst your own career has been somewhat stymied for a number of years?”
“Oh, no, Constable,” I assured him. “What you need to understand is that promotion through the ranks is very much a matter of examining one’s conscience and understanding not just one’s desire for the trappings of rank, such as earnings and authority, but also the extent to which one wants to retain a private life of one’s own, the degree of accountability one wishes to accept, and the limits of one’s own abilities. I do not envy those who wish to reach and surpass the level I myself have attained.”
“Right, yes.” Things were happening in Praline’s mind that he did not welcome but he pressed on. “So, after lunch?”
“Well,” I went on, noting the lack of a “sir” at the end of his question, “I returned to the office but after a couple of hours I began to feel a bit delicate and developed a throbbing headache. Perhaps the curry wasn’t up to the Cat’s usual standard today.”
“I thought a little fresh air might clear my head, so I went for a walk.”
“And what time was this?” Praline persisted.
“Oh, let’s see,” I calculated. “It would have been around, oh, around a quarter past, half past three.”
“Half past three?” Praline looked puzzled.
“Yes, about that time, maybe a little earlier,” I confirmed. “I know I sent an email to my boss at ten to three because she’d asked me for an update before three o’clock. Anyway, I went out and wandered down to McBurgry’s for a coffee to try to perk myself up. Then I got a phone call from my boss telling me Doug had been attacked and I was to come back here to speak to you, and here I am.”
“Er, yes,” Praline tried to reassemble his thoughts. “So, um, what do you know about the incident?”
“Oh, about Doug, you mean,” I baited the hook. “Poor Doug. Well, someone killed him in the toilets on the seventh floor. Battered him to death, I think. There was a lot of blood.”
“How do you know he’s dead?”
“The blanket was pulled over his head.” Thinking on my feet.
“The sheet, the thing they cover up dead people with. He was on the trolley. I passed him on my way up here. They’d covered up his head. That’s how I know there was a lot of blood.”
Another pause here.
“Did you go up to the toilets on the seventh floor?”
“No, Sergeant,” I said. “My office is on the fifth floor. Why would I go up to the seventh floor?”
“Well, precisely,” Praline rallied. “Therefore, how could you know the circumstances of Mr. Douglas’s demise if your manager informed you only that he had been attacked, not where or when, nor the extent or consequence of that attack?”
“Ah,” I paused, briefly. His eyes lit up. “That would be Maria.”
“Maria?” A light went out.
“Maria Mariolini, one of the secretaries on the third floor. I bumped into her on my way back into the building. She told me he’d been battered to death, in the toilets on the seventh floor.”
“Oh really?” He wasn’t going to let go quite so easily. “And Mrs. Mariolini will confirm your statement, will she?”
“Am I making a statement, Inspector?” I asked, surprised.
“Oh, er, no, sir,” Praline recovered. “Not an official statement. I mean Mrs. Mariolini will confirm what it was you just told us, would she?”
“Miss,” I corrected.
“What do you mean, ‘miss’?” he asked, paranoia finally creeping up on him.
“Miss Mariolini,” I informed him. “She isn’t married. Well, not yet, anyway.”
“Oh,” he stammered, “oh, I see.”
“Yes, she’ll confirm it,” I confirmed. “I’m afraid I made a quite tasteless joke at the time. I didn’t fully understand the seriousness of the situation, to be honest, and I was rather crass. She won’t forget my comment, I don’t think.”
I turned to gaze pensively out of the window. Thunder rumbled in the distance. Praline, deflated, seemed to be gazing inward. I offered him a lifeline.
“Perhaps it was an accident.”
Okay, it wasn’t really a lifeline. I was just twisting the knife a bit.
“Hmm?” he said.
“Maybe he wasn’t killed. Maybe he slipped. I’ve been complaining about those tiles and how slippery they are when people piss all over the floor for months. Perhaps he slipped and banged his head.”
“Banged his head?” Praline exclaimed, incredulously. “His head’s half off!”
“What do you mean?” I asked. Now that was a lifeline. Not, perhaps, to the Chief Inspector but certainly to the officious little man inside.
“His neck’s been snapped and his head is hanging down his back. Unless there was a sudden surge in gravity at the precise location in which he was slipping I cannot see the forces exerted upon the back of his neck being of sufficient might to inflict the grievous trauma it experienced.”
“Oh,” I said. “Can I go now?”
“No,” he declined. “I haven’t finished with you yet.”
“Why not?” I enquired. “I’ve told you everything I know. I’ve stuck to the facts, like my boss told me to. I haven’t speculated or made anything up. I –“
“Like your boss told you to?” There was apoplexy building inside him. I could feel it. I could feel his anger. But there wasn’t so much as a glimmer of it on his face.
“Yeah,” I yeahed.
“Are you saying she coached you before you came up here?”
“I don’t know about that,” I replied. “She just said, ‘tell them you don’t know anything.’ I said, ‘but I don’t know anything,’ only what other people have told me.”
“I see,” he discerned, “I see. I’m getting the picture.”
“She asked me to tell you what I would have told you anyway. It’s no skin off my nose.”
“Thank you, sir,” Praline concluded. “Thank you very much.”
“Can I go now, Chief Inspector?” I asked again.
“Yes indeed, sir,” he countenanced. “We’ll be in touch if we need you to make a formal statement, but you’ve been very, very helpful. Thank you for your time.”
I closed the door firmly behind me and trotted off down the corridor. Then I stopped and pressed my ear against the wall; and, when I say “wall”, I mean the flimsy piece of cardboard partitioning that separated the corridor from the Boardroom.
“Well, well, well, Constable Clitoris,” I heard Praline’s superior voice ponder. “Now, why, do you think, would that young man’s boss come in here before him to tell us that she’s certain he’s the killer because he had information only the killer could possibly know, then?”
“I dunno, sir.” It was a thin, lugubrious voice, almost that of a young child, but deeper.
“Well, think, man, think.”
“Do what, sir?”
“Oh, never mind, Clitoris” the Chief Inspector shrugged, audibly. “But bear this in mind: even when somebody rubs you up the wrong way, you can still get a good deal out of them.”