Cadbury sits on the private balcony of Cadbury’s Detective Agency, alone, staring at a massive sprawl of humanity spreading out into the night.
Each shimmering light is both a glimmer of hope and a spore of a vast, deadly disease.
Cadbury: People are toxic to the human condition.
He raised a glass to that, though he did not drink from it.
Cadbury Fife only consumed one liquid, and that was Grapefruit Juice. Tart, potent and direct, GJ represented everything Cadbury enjoyed about life. And he took it straight up, like a slap in the face.
Further, he preferred to drink only Gold Juice brand Grapefruit Juice, imported from The Congo. Unfortunately supplies of Gold Juice were running low, due to issues in the supply chain from The Congo, related to the Politician’s Strike.
Hence, he was being sparing in his use of the drinking lips this evening, else he had to dabble in some of the despised Sudanese variety of GJ that was so widely mocked in the Congoan jungles, yet still superior to anything else found locally.
Cadbury: Another thing I have noticed about people… they are stupid. [Wagging his finger briefly at the air] But not how you’d think.
Cadbury: See… in a twist, the intelligence of humanity lies in the stupidity of humans.
Cadbury: As upright bees we design the hive, we build the hive, we decorate the hive, we populate the hive and we sell the hive for a 10% profit on the hive exchange.
Cadbury: But we still cannot see the hive.
Cadbury swooshed his GJ gently, perhaps as an alternative to wasting any of the delicious fluid by drinking it. He looked out wistfully.
Cadbury: Let’s talk about mistakes.
Cadbury: [Nodding] What are they?
Cadbury: [Taking some GJ] Arrrrgh, yes. [Standing up, yelling into a light, still breeze] Mistakes!!
Cadbury: [Now pacing the balcony] So, are we taking the case?
Cadbury: [Wincing slightly in taking a shot of GJ] One small mistake for a man, one grand experiment for mankind. It is called sacrifice. [Holding a glass to the air] Sacrafice!
He stood down again, reflecting on what a kind of marvel he was and also what kind of marvel was this balcony.
Typically tower offices did not have balconies, let alone private ones, since it was presumed that business people were especially disposed to jumping off things, or perhaps pushing other people off things. This, Cadbury assumed, was a relic of the days before business people ran the world, when they were poor tittering creatures under the puppet-like command of political forces and consumer whim. Now, however, the business person was the muscular, mustachioed dictator behind the concrete veil of civilization’s profoundly insipid puppet show.
Now, the business person called, pulled and fired the shots.
Of course, Cadbury Fife was a detective, and numerous other things, but not a business person.
And that is why he now laughed.
Cadbury: [Stifling chuckles] So, will we take the case?
Cadbury reeled back in his chair, turning to his right to see Mr. Gullet there, glistening with slime as always. Most of Cadbury’s alarm came from the fact that it disturbed him to laugh in the presence of others. He laughed alone. Uproariously, when the occasion called for it. Or modestly, churlishly, at other times. He laughed however he wished in fact, but alone.
Then again, Gullet had adopted the fashion of sniffing his way into all his underwear, which were always very fresh since Cadbury never wore them, and generally becoming more or less like the air. Which is to say, so universally invasive and pointless that you eventually stopped asking why it existed.
Cadbury: [Peering quizzically] Why are you here?
Gullet: [Holding up a bottle of Congo Gold] Well… you are running low on The Juice I believe?
Cadbury glared, sniffing to himself, vascillating confusedly between disgust and delight.
Cadbury: Hmmm, well I meant, why are you here, in the sphere of existence, more generally Gullet. It is truly not clear to me. But hey, you know, whatever floats existence’s monumentally ridiculous boat.
Gullet: Let’s just say I have my reasons, Detective. And if I have some Juice, then that’s an added bonus, no?
Cadbury: [Conceding] Yes, I do suppose so. [Throwing back the remainder of his existing glass and offering the empty to Gullet] Roll on.
Cadbury: [Taking the full glass back from Gullet] So, yes, having solved the case, I am now duly considering whether to take it or not.
Gullet: Well, there are loose ends.
Cadbury: Something is on the loose, probably, yet it is less than clear what.
Gullet: You do need to uncover your motive. That will take some work I fear.
Cadbury: True. [Turning] You’re getting somewhat good at this Gullet. Have you been watching me?
Gullet: I do have you on video feed most of the time.
Cadbury: Yes, true. [Invisibly sighing] True and comforting. Well, nothing for it then. Take a note and start a file. We shall call this “The Case Of The Person That Got Lost In The Corridor Of Reflection On The Way To Shop Of Souls”
Gullet: [Looking unconvinced] Perhaps I could suggest… “The Case Of The Missing Self”, Detective?
Cadbury: [Visibly shuddering] Why on earth would we use something so diminutive, sassless and wholly without literary merit?
Gullet: Field length restrictions in our database.
Cadbury: Just dandy. Something in this story needs an upgrade Gullet.