CuiousPages - fiction and nonfiction
CuriousPages - fiction and nonfiction
“I have shoved it several times,” I told him.
“You haven’t eaten it, I mean.”
“I know what you mean. Do you think I’m stupid?”
“It looks good to me.”
“You’re quite fat enough with what you’ve just eaten,” I told him.
“I am not fat.”
“Well, why are you eyeing up my trout, then?”
“I’m not eyeing it up. I was just looking at it.”
“You were using your eyes. That’s eyeing it up, isn’t it?”
“It depends how you look at it. I certainly wasn’t eyeing it up. I was just glancing at it.”
“Well, that’s what you say.”
Roger folded his arms and looked away. I did the same. We each studied a separate wall of the restaurant for a minute or two.
My mother, who was sat at a nearby table knitting a pullover, walked over to me and tried it against me. She leant close to my ear and whispered, “There will be consequences.” She walked back to her table, pausing to look back at me and point at me, warningly. She sat at her table and continued knitting. Occasionally she caught my eye and gave me a subtle nod or a wink.
 The waiter placed a bill on the table in front of me.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Your bill,” he said.
“For what?”
“The trout.”
“But I didn’t order it. Why should I pay for it?”
“You’ve been playing with it.”
“No, I haven’t.”
“Yes, you have; I’ve been watching you.”
“You’ve been what?” I asked, indignant.
“Watching you.”
“You’ve got no business to be watching me.”
“It’s my restaurant.”
“Do you own it?”
“I didn’t say I owned it.”
“I just heard you. You’re a liar.”
“Very well. If that’s the way you want to play it,” he said, and walked away.
Roger said, “You might as well eat it now, since you’re paying for it.”
“I am not paying for it,” I told him, and watched my mother’s agile fingers building, stitch by stitch, the front of my pullover. She kept glancing at me, as though keeping an eye on her child as he played. As her fingers worked, she slowly shook her head at me.
Two burly men arrived at our table, each with a yellow rose tattooed on their upper arm, one on the right arm, the other on the left, as though they were the mirror imaged of each other. I was busy examining these roses when one of them said:
“Come with us.”
“Do what?” I said.
“Come with us.”
Outside, Roland Wise, the chief constable, was standing with his back to the Softlies’ front door. His chin and cheeks were adorned with a scraggly, black beard, which never seemed to fully grow and was more like body hair, as if his very hair were uncertain about how to properly fulfil its role. He also wore his full chief constable’s uniform and stood with his hands clasped behind his back as he watched Peter’s car, which was parked at a curious angle just inside the entrance to the driveway. Every now and then Roland bobbed slowly up and down above his flexing ankles while his brow knitted in an athletic manner—perhaps to provide every possible assistance to his mind as his mind attempted the gruelling task of considering the car.
On approaching the house and first seeing the car, he stopped in his tracks, suspecting it the victim of criminal activity. He gasped at the prospect of the find. But then he quickly got a grip on himself, reminding himself that this was Perception, and crimes just did not happen in Perception—not unless you count mass murder.
This idea hung around in the thick swirling mist of his mind for several long, tortuous moments, then lit up in neon: MASS MURDER, causing him to reflect (—By Gad, I’ve done it!).
Roland recently underwent part of that rigorous three‑week training course along with his entire police force. Initially, he sent all his men on the course and remained in Bright Spark House alone, in sole charge of the constabulary. During the following three days he made various inspired command‑decisions (which we shall have the pleasure of being fully informed about later), but then found he had nothing else left to do but sit in his office and slowly drum his fingers on the terrifying expanse of his totally empty desktop. After several hours of this, he got bored and joined his men on the remainder of the training course—which involved them reading every one of Agatha Christie’s crime novels.
And while still stopped in his tracks along the pavement from Peter’s car, and having just received that neon‑lit message, MASS MURDER, he then hurriedly applied this recent training—recalling every Agatha Christie novel and struggling to draft each of their plots in turn onto the situation before him. But after several long, tortuous moments he gave up, reflecting that there must—sadly—be a perfectly legal explanation for the car’s state.
He resumed his stride along the pavement, reached the car, but then decided to give it a quick once‑over as he passed it—just to make absolutely certain there was no telltale sign of mass murder lurking inside it.


Fiction and nonfiction by Fletcher Kovich and also classic writers.


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