“So you're Miss Scarlet”
The inspector had a nasty habit of sticking his tongue out of the side of his mouth like a small boy when writing in his notepad
The inspector slowly crossed out the name and looked at her. It was difficult not to as although she wore a robe she hadn't made a great deal of effort to fasten it.
“Surely not Scarlet Charlie?”
“No just Charlie. Charlie Ramsbottom”
He continued to look at her, pencil poised. “Short for?”
“Your full name miss, just for the record”
“Charlotte Ramsbottom” He continued to look at her, half as a policeman and half as a
heterosexual male. Well maybe a bit more than half.
She answered his stare “Well would you be boasting about having had a lap dance from Charlotte Ramsbottom”
“Quite” He looked down and wrote the name, still with his tongue out but after licking his lips.
“and your relationship to the deceased?”
“Customer. Just another dirty old perv willing to pay to have some tits waved in his face”
“Died happy then did he?”
“How would I know”
“Miss Ramsbottom you and he were the only two in, shall we say close proximity, when he died which means you are under suspicion for causing his death so the sooner you persuade me otherwise the sooner you can go home”
“Inspector please” The manager of The Lownge ingratiated himself into the conversation Syrup on his head and in his attitude. “Is there anything we can do to speed this up I'm losing money while all this is going on.”
“and you are?”
“Sean Preston. I'm the manager”
“Well Mr Preston you won't be earning any more money tonight or probably longer until we finish our investigation. This is not the wild west where they drag the body out and the piano player starts up before the Saloon door swings shut. Did you know the deceased? Had he been here before?”
“The professor, yes he was a regular always about the same time of the month. Look it must've been natural causes. I mean who's going to want a harmless old sod like that dead. His heart probably just couldn't take it.”
“Until I hear different Mr Preston it's a suspicious death. Now how many girls did he have dance for him”
“Just the one. He had a thing for Charlie, always asked for her and waited if she was busy or on a break”
“I thought you said you didn't know him Miss Ramsbottom”
Charlie opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted by the bustling presence of Jimmy Holden excusing himself past any human obstacle to get to the inspector and closely followed by a flustered looking PC.
“Hello inspector, something for the Examiner? any clues, name of the deceased, cause of death? Shot? Stabbed.....?
The inspector looked straight past him to the PC who wasn't sure whether to stand to attention or grab Holden.
“How did he get in?”
“I'm sorry sir he just shouldered past while I was dealing with someone else”
The inspector looked at the flustered, out of breath PC “That someone else female and scantily dressed by any chance?”
The officers blush answered for him.
“Holden your messing up my crime scene get out, Officer help this gentleman out of the door”
Holden wasn't to be dissuaded that easily and was at risk of leaving the part of his jacket the PC had hold of in his efforts to get some kind of statement. “No ideas at all Inspector?” in a last attempt he used his free hand to gesture a mock headline in the air 'Clueless Clouseau' 'Investigation stalls'
The inspector gestured for the PC to release Holden who shrugged his jacket back into shape and walked back to the inspector with the smug smile of someone who had already won the Pulitzer prize. He stood waiting for some kind of statement or attributable quote. He was disappointed.
“Holden. You are beginning to annoy me. Every time I'm called to a scene of crime lately you turn up like a bad smell. If you print anything like that I will have a word with traffic and ensure that all blue five year old Fiestas are perfectly roadworthy, being driven at 30 miles an hour, three feet from the kerb and the drivers have not so much as sucked a wine gum in the previous six months. Do I make myself clear?”
He may as well not have spoken Holden looked straight past him into the private booth
“Just doing my job inspector is that where Prof Plum bought it”
“It's Professor Plume and we haven't released the name yet so how...”
If it was possible Holden looked even more smug “Oh just doing my job and asking round. The girls are quite gossipy if you know how to tackle them. Have you spoken to Mayfield yet?”
The inspector couldn't help the querying tone in his reply “Terry Mayfield?”
“Terence Frederick Mayfield, drug dealer of this parish. I thought you'd have been onto him straight away”
The inspector and Holden looked at each other. Holden was obviously giving no more without encouragement which drew the hardest “Why” the inspector had ever uttered.
Holden straightened and beamed “Well what with him and Miss Scarlet being an item and the old Prof getting dragged in to young Mr Mayfield's enterprises.”
“Okay Holden You've obviously got more on this than I have so let's hear it all”.
“Drug dealer likes dancer, Prof likes dancer. Drug dealer gets dancer to encourage Prof and tries to get him to provide certain chemicals. Prof does for a while and then gets scared. Prof threatens to tell you lot. Prof meets untimely end and nobody lives happily ever after”
“I don't suppose you'd like to tell me how they did it as well”
“No idea inspector” Holden looked past the inspector and into the booth at one stiletto that had been kicked under the bench seat. But the old fella did have a foot fetish.” The inspector followed his gaze. “Old fashioned, used to like drinking out of a ladies shoe.”
“Sergeant! Get some men going through the bins I want the other shoe to match this one”
“So inspector do I get an exclusive interview?”
“No. You've got more than I have already” and in answer to Holden's disappointed look “But you can have a wine gum and drive at 33”
Holden already had the headline written anyway.
Miss Scarlet in the Lownge with a shoe