Friday, January 13, 2017

The Case of the Bogus Detective 42

Mr. Jason Francis Montgomery smokes a high-tone Cuban cigar called Mascara, which means ‘mask’ in Spanish. 

I guess all this time he had been wearing a ‘mask’ of deception.

I thought, ‘I saved Jace from Violetta’s love snares last winter, but here is evidence of his presence in her hotel room.’

Then I thought, ‘She has got him under her spell again and recruited him into her army of lovers.’

And finally, ‘I bet he is the one she is about to marry.’

I almost got a bad case of the Mulligrubs as I stood there in that west-facing bedroom lit all gold in the light of late afternoon. But instead of going into a bad trance, I felt I might be sick instead, so I looked around for the jug & basin. I saw them sitting on a chest of drawers and started towards them. 

Then I heard an inner door open behind me. 

Someone was here in Violetta’s suite! 

I kept walking towards the chest of drawers but turned my head just a little. I had an impression of a tall man dressed all in black. 


I knew it was him by his smell & by the way he moved & by the way the whole room held its breath. 

I hoped my black & white outfit would make me no more noticeable than a chair or a spittoon. I hoped he would see a chambermaid who had come in to replace some towels. When I reached the chest of drawers I put the towels beside the jug & bowl. Then I turned & started for the door with my head down, willing him not to recognize me.

‘P.K.?’ he said in a low voice. ‘Is that you?’

I stopped. I could feel my cheeks burning. 

Then I took a breath and turned to face him. ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘It is me.’

His eyes got wider. ‘Dang!’ he said. ‘I almost did not recognize you.’ He trailed off & took his cigar from the ashtray & sucked on it. ‘What are you doing here?’

‘I came to get the bulge on Mrs. Violetta de Baskerville AKA Mrs. von Vingschplint,’ I said. ‘And also on you, and on whoever else is in cahoots with her.’

‘You think I am in cahoots with her?’ said Jace. He blew smoke down. ‘Why, I have not laid eyes on her for nearly half a year!’

‘You are a lying, two-faced varmint,’ I said. I tried to make my voice calm but I could hear it was shaky. ‘You were the only other person on this earth who knew about my initials. You told Violetta so she could use that information against me. That is how a trickster convinced me he was my long-lost pa.’ 

‘D-mn!’ said Jace. He turned away and then turned back. ‘It ain’t like that, P.K.,’ he said, but he was rubbing the back of his neck with his free hand. He himself had taught me that was a sign that someone was probably lying!

‘It ain’t like what?’ I said. ‘You swore you had not told anybody. Now I know you are a lying varmint. You being here in her room proves it!’

I went to the door & opened it.

‘Dang it, P.K.,’ he said. ‘Don’t go. Let me explain.’

‘No,’ I said. ‘I never want to see you again.’ 

My eyes were blurring up & I felt sick again so I went out fast & closed the door behind me hard. I ran to the service stairs & down & along a dark corridor & out into the streets of San Francisco all lit with sunshine like watered-down honey. 

I headed towards the setting sun and walked up hill and down. 

I was in a perverse state of mind. 

I was having a kind of Civil War in my head. 

Part of me was thinking, ‘Jace would not betray me. He has always been a friend to me.’

But another part said, ‘He was there in her hotel room. He is her lover!’

By and by I found myself at the fort they call Presidio. 

The sun had set & lit up a few clouds & I saw the vast sparkling bay & what I now know is the blue Pacific Ocean through a gap in dusky hills. 

Somewhere in the Presidio, a lone trumpet was playing taps, which is sad and beautiful at the same time.

That tune always makes me think of death.

I closed my eyes and said, ‘Dear Lord, why is it that everybody I care about either dies or betrays me? Will I ever find a place I can call home?’

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