As Selia sat across from Cadbury she became, for the first time, vaguely aware of Process. Perhaps it was the seeming total lack of Process that was urging her to believe that there must in fact be some process at work here. Maybe it was the sober looking folder Cadbury was holding.
Cadbury: So, this case we have been discussing.
Selia: [Ironically] Discussing, yes.
Cadbury: Discussion is merely the transfer of information from one individual to another in a mutually agreed format and structure. In any case, you will be pleased to learn, that after much consideration, I have agreed to take your case… presuming of course you meet my terms.
Selia: Terms? Terms of…?
Cadbury: The terms of my Detective’s Agreement are long and complex. My lawyers wanted to simplify them but I wouldn’t have it. Strange people, lawyers. Obsessed with brevity. Anyway, that’s another conversation.
Selia: [Looking at him very obtusely] Yes, I, um, suppose.
Cadbury: I’d like to have it now though.
Cadbury: But really, let’s not. [Sitting back, folding arms] So, Selia, your case….
Cadbury: Gullet will handle the paperwork, don’t worry about that. If anything, that man is excellent with paperwork. Got drummed out of the legal profession due to an fixation with it. That and forgery. So just don’t you worry, which I can see you would be prone to do if you weren’t so busy being skittish.
Selia was taken aback as this was the first time he had acknowledged her existence in such a direct way, let alone casting judgement on her personality. She didn’t even quite pick up whether the judgement was good or bad. It did seem quite ‘Cadbury’, however.
Cadbury: So ask me some questions.
Cadbury: Good question, but very vague. Try another – about the case this time. What do you want to know?
Selia: Humm. Well. [Settling in] Okay. I want to find my boyfriend. So… where is my boyfriend?
Cadbury: No, you’ve got this mixed up. That is a leading question. Also, this is the first I’ve heard of this ‘boyfriend’ concept and it seems questionable at best. Let me ask the questions from now on. Why do you think you have a boyfriend?
Selia: [Smiling and snarling]: I-
Cadbury: I should probably do the answers as well. Or, we can skip them. Answers are rarely useful. Why don’t I think you have a boyfriend?
Selia: That is a better question. I presume you’re making it up. I think I’m offended but I’m not sure to what.
Cadbury: Well that is a common state to be in for people talking with me. Perhaps I am a mirror reflecting the light of your self-loathing. In any case, regarding you not having a boyfriend, I can see you virtually shaking with anxiety at the air. You would make a man nervous, and they are frightfully, pitifully sensitive creatures that don’t like to be made nervous. Also, you are smart enough to know that anyone that would like you is inherently suspicious. By the way this is perhaps the great hidden flaw of humankind… the smarter and more self-aware we become the more we realize that the last creature we should be propogating with is one of us. Well, there are quite a few other flaws but I will tell you about them later. In any case, you told me the other night that you did not have a boyfriend.
Selia: [Taken aback by this last enough to forget that which preceded it, or too confused to deal with it all at once] No… what? I told you no such thing!
Cadbury: Could have been Gullet. Sometimes I get any two people mixed up. But luckily it is not important. Do you like poetry?
Selia: Erm, no, not so much.
Cadbury: Good for you, it really is a despicable form of expression. Second only to dance as the lowest form of expression possible. However, and I just want to be direct about this… we do have to attend a Slamdance Poetry event tonight. Gullet will give you the details.
Selia: Tonight? Wha- no… I mean, I do have to work tomorrow.
Cadbury: [Eyeing her suspiciously] I don’t think so. You are too anxious to be employed.
Selia: No… I am anxious because I am employed.
Cadbury: Hmmm, well I know Gullet is employed… to a suspicious extent. So you must be unemployed.
Selia: No, no… I work for… right here, in the building…. that’s how I even knew about this… Detective… Agency.
Cadbury: And does your boyfriend work with you?
Selia: Well my boyfriend doesn’t work because he disappeared. But, anyway, no, he did not work with me. He was a… politician, actually.
Cadbury: Yes, well. I presume he would be on strike, in any case, had he not disappeared. Seems a horribly unfortunately time to disappear in fact. Must have been a poor politician indeed to not be taking utmost advantage of his circumstances at all times. Why disappear when you are on strike?
Selia: He was a fine politican. He had not had his time yet.
Cadbury: His time to suck the blood from the necks of the citizens? It does taste good, I can admit that, but it’s just not nutritious. Then again, nutrition is a scam.
Selia: We all suck each others blood, Detective. Politicians just run the blood bank that makes sure everyone gets a fair share and doesn’t run out. At least, that’s how it should work. Mark was trying to change the system…
Cadbury: Does the constitution protect us from attacks by the constitution?
Selia: [Looking dumbstruck] Sorry, I-
Cadbury: Nevermind. Things aren’t important at this point. Maybe later, though that has a way of never coming. You do look the part though, all prim and politican proper. Attractive, yet not sexually appealing. [He made some notes in his folder]
Cadbury: [Looking up] Ok, see you tonight then.
Finding herself in a state of shock, Selia presumed the meeting must indeed be over, as this appeared to be the customary state to be left in at the end of these meetings – even more so than the states of mild, transient, intermittent and surprise shock that one was usually in throughout them. This was, after all, Cadbury’s Detective Agency.
She arose from her bucket and headed for the door. As she left she though she’d try something different.
Selia: [Smiling] See you tonight, then.
He didn’t move his eyes, but she thought she saw him upturn his lip slightly.