CuiousPages - fiction and nonfiction
CuriousPages - fiction and nonfiction
For a few weeks, Lorna Glover had been dating Felipe Perez, a boy from the office where she worked. But she was perplexed. She could not work out what his feelings for her were. Her friend, Sonya, suggested she consult the Emotional Detective Agency in Baker Street, who specialize in just this type of situation.
It was Thursday lunchtime and Lorna had an extended lunch break of a few hours. She decided to take the opportunity to check out the Agency. When she arrived in Baker Street, there was a queue starting at the Agency’s front door and extending along the pavement for about twenty yards. The queue contained a mixture of both men and women. Lorna joined the back of the queue and over the next two hours she gradually edged her way towards the Agency’s front door. At last, she was standing in the reception area, at the head of the queue.
There was a long corridor leading into the heart of the building, and on either side of the corridor, doors opened into it. Occasionally, a client would reappear from one of these doors, sometimes a man and sometimes a woman, but they would always be accompanied by another person who seemed to work for the Agency.
These Agency workers always wore a nondescript overcoat and plain shoes. Their facial features were attractive in some way, but Lorna could not tell if they were male or female. They were rather like the androgynous models in glossy fashion magazines, having been perhaps carefully selected for their blurred sexuality—or their sexuality having been blurred by the industry. These workers accompanied the clients through the Agency’s front door and appeared to follow them back out into their everyday lives.
It was Lorna’s turn and she was taken along the corridor and directed to enter one of the doors. Beyond it, there was a room furnished with two easy chairs, a coat stand, and not much else. Sat in one of the chairs was a person who was introduced to her as Agent Melancholy.
Agent Melancholy had attractive features and long hair, but, again, Lorna was not sure whether Melancholy was a man or a woman. The agent stood up, greeted her in a soft voice and indicated for her to sit in the other easy chair. While the agent was standing, with no overcoat on, Lorna took the opportunity to quickly scan their body, looking for any bulges that might give away their sex, but she could not detect any. They both sat down.
Lorna said, “I’ve heard you can detect the emotional life in men.”
Agent Melancholy said, in a soft voice, “Ah, yes, we do our best. But you have to understand that this is the final frontier of human discovery. With some men, detecting the emotional life in them is like trying to prove that, if a cat could speak, it would be able to learn Japanese. How does one go about doing that? First of all, have you ever heard a cat speak?”
“No, I haven’t”
“Well, there you are. So how do you know whether it could learn Japanese or not?”
Lorna said, quite truthfully, “I can’t see how you could tell.” She was beginning to feel relaxed. She sank into the easy chair. There was something simple and straightforward about Agent Melancholy and she felt that, though the agent’s questions seemed a bit strange, she was able to easily answer them.
Melancholy said, “And this is your experience of men?”
She said, “With most of them. Well, no, with pretty much all of them.”
“I see,” said Melancholy. “So you want us to find out whether—supposing your man were a cat—whether or not he would be capable of speaking Japanese?”
Lorna said, “I don’t want him to speak Japanese; I just want him to speak to me.”
“Japanese would be a first step though?”
“Do you think you could get him to speak Japanese?”
“I doubt it; we’re speaking metaphorically, you understand.”
Lorna said, “Yes, I see. Well, no. No, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Agent Melancholy told her, “Well, you see, this is the first problem. Do you know what the problem is?”
Lorna said, “I want to know if he cares for me at all.”
He returned to his easy chair, wearing only his shirt, underwear, shoes and hat—which he seemed to have forgotten to take off. He folded his arms, resumed his smug smile and beamed this at Primrose.
Primrose waved her weapon even more frantically at him and shouted, “Five thousand signatures—you can’t get out of it this easily—five thousand.”
Roland shouted, “What are you looking at me for?—he’s down there—” pointing to the floor, “—down there.”
She shouted, “Five thousand, five!”
He pointed her to his uniform, “Down there—” pointing vigorously with his whole arm, “—he’s down there.” He then looked away, firmly folded his arms and crossed his bare legs.
Meanwhile Sally had finished her initial questioning of Thomas and was becoming more diverted by this fascinating idea—which seemed more convincing the more she “scientifically examined the facts”. That is, the more she looked at Thomas’s face and saw everything she wanted to know, written all over it.
She smiled broadly to herself, tapped the arm of her chair conclusively, then adopted a grimace that resembled a stick‑on photo of a smile while her face appeared to be straining with the effort of holding the photo in place. And at the same time, she widened her eyes as if she were sitting on a pin but could not possibly break with decorum and reveal her pain to anyone. She turned to Primrose, beamed this stick‑on smile at her and politely asked, “Now, would you like tea… or coffee?” beam, beam.
Primrose shouted, “What—?”
Sally politely repeated, “Tea… or coffee?”
Primrose gaped at her for a moment, then said, begrudgingly, “Coffee… please.”
Sally took similar orders from Francis and Thomas, then walked to the kitchen.
Roland watched the backs of her tracksuited legs as she left, sighed deeply, tapped his fingers several times on the arm of his chair, then looked closely at the arm, reflecting that there was definitely nothing criminal‑looking there (—No, no, nothing at all; damned if I can see a thing). He got up—leaving his uniform heaped on the floor beside his chair, but apparently unaware he was still wearing his hat—and headed for the kitchen, waving his arm dismissively over his shoulder at Primrose Jones and shouting, “Sack the lot of them; oh yes, let’s do that—Miss Volcano‑gob wants to have a go!”
Primrose glared after him and her head began trembling on her shoulders. She viciously watched the living‑room door, as if by merely staring at the door Roland had passed through, she could inflict some terrible injury on him. And as she watched the door, her head began quivering alarmingly and the occasional spray of venom escaped from between her whitened lips.

 

Fiction and nonfiction by Fletcher Kovich and also classic writers.

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