Up the claustrophobic staircase, I opened the door to the recluse’s apartment. On the frosted window glass read the name Private Detective H.B. Cooper. There he was, sitting at his desk, slouched in his leather chair. His light chestnut hair was streaked with silver. Hazel eyes hid under two thick eyebrows. “You’re late.” He muttered, polishing the brass handle of his walking stick. His accent was distinct, a proper English accent, he would call it.
“Good morning to you too, old man.” Rolling my eyes, I placed the mug of coffee and his newspaper on the desk. A glass vase holding a bouquet of daisies was placed on the kitchen counter. “Secret admirer sent you flowers?”
“Hardly,” He scoffed. “A token of gratitude from out last client.” While reading the front page story, he commented on his previous case. “You think finding a scribbled message about how cruel the world is and what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the temple is enough to prove a man killed himself?”
“Usually.” Placing the vase in the sink, I poured some water for those dehydrated flowers. “You’re in the paper, by the way.”
His wrinkled face pinched into a scowl. “As If I care for such trivial commentary.”
His modest apartment was more of an office than a home. The room centered around a Cherrywood desk. There were no pictures of loved ones, if he had any. No heirlooms to remind him of his homeland, London. Just an overflow of books that spilled from the bookshelf onto the coffee table and the floor. A condensed library, with many books on many different subjects. Too many books for one man, if you ask me.
In front of the pea green sofa was a coffee table with a typewriter sitting among scattered notes and files. Consider that my desk. There was a cramp kitchen area and a bedroom door I had never entered.
While being employed by the detective, I became a jack-of-all-trades. I was his caretaker, his assistant, the royal note taker and the feeder of the cat. In one of the cabinets were cans of cat food. Peeling back the metal lid, I set the tin of stinking fish mince on the floor. No cat in sight. “Merlin is outside,” He pointed out before he took a sip from the steaming cup of coffee. A grimace of displeasure came across his face “This tastes bloody dreadful.” Every morning, the coffee is deemed dreadful.
“You gotta be kidding me?” I climbed out the window onto the paint chipped fire escape. Orange rust clung to the metal. The black cat stood precariously on the railing, tail swishing without care. His muzzle pointed to the sky, whiskers testing wind conditions. I grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, earning a meow of displeasure. “Y’know, one day, that cat of yours is going to fall and get flattened.” I nodded towards the streets where car horns were blaring.
Crouching back in the window, I dropped the cat into Mr. Cooper’s lap. He was engrossed in the newspaper. From the fire escape, I caught a glimpse of the parachute jump and a thin blue line of the ocean. It’s nice to wake up every morning to a clump of seaweed in your nostrils.
At the time, I had been working for Mr. Cooper for about a year. He was an odd egg, but boy, was he sharp. He had a sort of humble, unexpected kind of brilliance. In a hidden notebook, I kept record of facts of the detective. Mr. Cooper was a vault of information. A man who solved mysteries for a living was a walking mystery himself.
Write with Heart,