24: Like projectile life through the narrowing tunnel of existence

The train chundered forward like projectile life through the narrowing tunnel of existence.

On the train were Cadbury Fife, detective philosopher at large, Mons Gullet, socialite techno-assistant, and Rafaella Ellison, Esq., of the reputable law firm Smithikins, Pillipilli and Leeb-du-Toit.

Cadbury: [to Rafaella] Do you enjoy your job?

Rafaella: Do you enjoy toothpaste?

Cadbury: I admire it. I confide in it. I pour my hopes for a sparklier mouth into it. It emboldens me and I would say that, yes, I am rather passionate about it.

Rafaella: I-

Cadbury: Just a few more things about toothpaste if I may. [Pauses]

Cadbury Fife liked to conduct interviews on neutral and mutually unexpected ground. And by protocol, he himself had no idea where the discussion would take place until it happened. On this occasion, it was on a train.

Cadbury: But first, you had a question?

Rafaella: Not at this time.

Cadbury:Will you have one in the future? Forward planning is at the forefront of advance management.

Rafaella: Thanks, I will pass on the questions though.

Cadbury: Very well, let’s move onto the topic of… Gullet- ?

Gullet: Selia.

Cadbury: Selia. This person is in your employ?

Rafaella Ellison was a distinctly appropriate package, all cut and dried and baked sumptuously in delicate fabrics, coming out ultimately like the perfect blend of business sass and fashion forward professionalism.

Rafaella: Arguable. But, let’s say ‘yes’ for the sake of argument.

Cadbury: What does she do?

Rafaella: Make copies of documents, substitute placeholder text, sign things…. um, occassionally respond to communications.

Cadbury: So, she provides high level legal services?

Rafaella: Billed at an almost inconceivable rate, yes. Also she is illogical, conceited and usually drunk.

Cadbury: In other words – a model employee?

Rafaella: Well, the legal profession is not for everyone.

Cadbury: Gullet, where do we stand on the legal profession?

Gullet: [Pausing for a moment to recall the official position, then quoting] The legal profession is the apex of imperial paper-shuffling elevated to the status of quantum surgery conducted on the brain of a pin-headed angel.

Cadbury: Yes, indeed, fine people. But back to our topic… Gullet-?

Gullet: Selia.

Cadbury: The other thing.

Gullet: Mark von Cola.

Cadbury: [Pointing at the air] What is the nature of your relationship with the deceased?

Rafaella: Deceased? I did not know that that has been determined.

Cadbury: Well, his presence is deceased. Or rescinded. Either way, I don’t use it as a technical term. I presume you were an admirer?

Rafaella: I am an admirer of beneficial things.

Cadbury:  [He seemed to enjoy this answer] Very well. I am going to do a dance for you, and I would like you to tell me if you recognize it.

Cadbury stood, took one cane and twirled it, and then launched into a surprisingly smooth sequence of moves that appeared to combine ballroom and hip-hop, rolling perfectly with the motions of the train. Then he sat.

Rafaella: I do not recognize it. Extremely impressive though.

Cadbury: Do you do a lot of fishing?

Rafaella: How much would a lot be?

Cadbury: Well… any.

Rafaella: Then, no.

Cadbury: Why not? Seems like it would be a fun activity. Strategic, physical, hunger-quenching.

Rafaella: How many reasons would you like.

Cadbury: None. I will accept it as a failing. For now. Meanwhile, please accept my open invitation for a spot of fishing. We are always ready to do some. Gullet, please stock the required fishing weapons and costumes.

Gullet nodded sternly. Rafaella maintained a steady, detached glare.

Cadbury: [Looking at Gullet sternly] Ok. Let’s talk about current affairs then. When was the last time you saw Mark von Cola?

Rafaella: A few months ago, he came in to the office with his partner to discuss various issues we were dealing with on their behalf.

Cadbury: [Somewhat surprised by this turn of events] Oh. Really. Most spurious. This partner…

Rafaella: Eastman Piper. We worked with their group.

Cadbury: And what was this discussion about exactly?

Rafaella: I am not at liberty to discuss that of course.

Cadbury: Hmmm…. can’t discuss the discussion. All a frightful coincidence wouldn’t you say?

Rafaella: What?

Cadbury: All our mutual friends at the same party. How did you get tangled up in the affairs of Mark von Cola.

Rafaella: We have represented him for some years. Selia met him at SPL.

The train began rolling to a halt, at what apparently was the discussion’s off-ramp.

Cadbury: Ok then, let me explain the quantum math of detecthievery. When the subject is in position the objects will dance around. When the objects dance, the movements caused will shake out their character. Once we have the characters, we can hold the Detection Party.

Rafaella: And what happens at the party?

Cadbury: I don’t know madam. The Detection Party is always full of surprises. You should, however, be marking it on your calendar.

Rafaella: [Rising as the train stops] Well, my calendar is quite full… when is the party?

Cadbury: I don’t know madam. There is still much dancing and shaking to do. I would suggest blocking out the next year.

Rafaella: [Collecting items and moving towards the door] Most convenient.

Cadbury: [To Gullet, as Rafaella moved away, his hands moving suspiciously in his pockets] Let us take a ride upon the tracks, Mr. Gullet. Let us slide down the slippery line and make a stop at the endpoint of stuff as we know it.

Gullet: You lost your ticket?

Cadbury: [Removing his hands from his pockets] My word you are a sniveling hound, Gullet.

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