The man had too many airs and not enough graces. His stance was snooty, his excessively creased pants were trumped up, his gold-lined jacket hung at entirely too regular an angle. Even his shadow was overtly cocksure.
Cadbury: Who are you?
Eastman: Eastman Piper, Representative.
They stood by some trees in a section of The Park, a leafy destination in the political district of downtown. Both men wore thick coats, the type of coats you wear to protect yourself from the cold, but also to make it clear that you don’t care about the cold, or even know whether it is cold. The sort of coats that men wear to meet other men.
Cadbury: [Looking to Gullet] Does the story check out?
Gullet: The story appears to check out thus far.
Cadbury: Can you do that other thing that you do?
Gullet: [To Eastman] This is Cadbury Fife, the eponymous detective.
Eastman: [Holding out a large paw] Greetings Cadbury Fife, pleased to meet you.
Cadbury: I don’t shake hands. Too touchy, and more than a little feely. Also, I am not especially pleased to meet you, nor do I subscribe to the social foible that dictates that I should proclaim that I am. [Sniffs the breeze lightly] Nice to meet you though. Now, we have some questions.
Eastman: [Smiling slightly, Eastman is okay with Cadbury's obtuse verbal stylings] Ask your questions, fine sir.
Cadbury: I have no interest in asking questions. We have questions, much like we have trousers… there’s really no need to take them out and dangle them around. [Looks down at his pants] Do you enjoy cola?
Eastman: I do not.
Cadbury: Agreed. Too much sass. Too bubbly and abreast of the issues.
Eastman: I don’t believe cola has much to do with the issues.
Cadbury: Is that a political stance? It’s quite hot out, must say. Gullet, I don’t recall being advised of this heat. Could do with a cola.
Gullet: [To Cadbury] You might recall that when I told you how hot it was you suggested that “it seemed a good coat day”.
Eastman: [Preferring to move on from the heat discussion] My position on cola is one of the least political of my stances.
Cadbury: Name some of those stances for me. And forgive me, I do get lost in the gooey eyes of politics – can never remember a thing about it – so try to speak slowly.
Eastman: [Narrowing his eyes a little] Well, I represent the group Representation Without Taxation, we promote the cause of The Uptrodden, the overlooked minority of super powerful individuals and elitist groups that seek nothing other than everything. We are pushing for the removal of all taxes and the deportation of the jobless.
Cadbury: I presume I donate to this group. Gullet?
Gullet: You don’t believe in donations, detective.
Cadbury: Well if I did, I would certainly be donating to trucking companies… so as to get them to haul truckloads of cash to the premises of this group. Sounds really like a solid platform founded on thoroughly turgid principles. I know Mark would approve.
Cadbury: Mark von Cola – now there was a politician I could really trust. [Pauses, looks coyly at Eastman with one eye] Tragic what happened to him…
Eastman: What did happen to him? Last I heard he had disappeared.
Cadbury: Disappearance is not tragic? Not a happening? To vaporize, vanish, blink out like a black light in the void of the night?
Eastman: Well that depends, really. We all wish to disappear sometimes.
Cadbury: Disappearance is a hollow act without a curtain call.
Eastman: [Looking at a tree] Perhaps sir, however I am becoming late for a meeting cross-town with the… constabulation.
Cadbury: You are not interested in Mark von Cola?
Eastman: I have no time to be interested in him, or anyone else. I am too busy representing the people. However, do tell me what is the latest?
Cadbury: He was found to have a tie to your group Representation Without Taxation.
Eastman: Yes, I believe he was in the group. Although frankly I questioned his motives.
Cadbury: Why would motives concern you?
Eastman: They do not. Nothing concerns me except for The War On Losing.
Cadbury: A battle we can’t afford to lose. What was von Cola’s role in the group exactly?
Eastman: Building financial machinery, internal public relations, body politic platform development and I believe something to do with catering.
Cadbury: Something of an all-rounder?
Eastman: It is a small group.
Cadbury: How many people in it.
Eastman: Since Mark von Cola left? [Taking a breath] One. Suffice to say I’m more than a little miffed by Mark, however I can’t say I blame him. Disappearance comes to us all. And the odds were stacked all over him.
Cadbury: Humph. Let’s talk color. What do you think about mauve for winter?
Eastman: [Blinking loudly] My meeting with the Stipulators…
Cadbury: Do you eat ice cream?
Cadbury: You shouldn’t. [Dusting his hands lightly] Okay, look, good, you have been a very great help in this case. More than you would imagine. We need to make sure we are committing the right crime in the end.
Eastman was already walking away, nodding, smiling and waving in a highly coordinated dance of gestures, each individually awkward, but executed so seamlessly that one had to admire the overall effect.
Cadbury stood and applauded without feeling out of place at all.
Cadbury: [After 30 seconds of applause] Let’s get out of here. I need some baths.