Saturday, 4 October 2008

Sleuth

A short short story

Why did she put up with it? Gaz was always telling her how much he cared but it was obvious from his actions that he didn't. Perhaps she was being unfair, she reflected. He just found it easier to get on with his mates. He was easily led. He was like a big kid. Yes, he did care, in his way: she was the 'still point of his turning world' as he was fond of saying. The still point. That was the trouble.
At least she had the telly for company. She'd been watching the repeats of a detective drama she used to watch, Sleuth. DI Ferguson and his sidekick, DC Nesbit. The most interesting thing about it was that Ferguson was single, married to the job as they say. Occasionally he went home to a bleak-looking flat and slumped on the settee with a takeaway in a mac that looked like he'd slept in it. She felt sorry for him. The living room looked as if it smelt of damp.
Anyway, he'd got his man, and the titles were rolling. She'd missed one or two important bits because she'd dozed off for a few moments on the sofa. She forced herself to sit up and reached around for the remote. Couldn't find it. Oh, well. Gaz would have to look for it when he came in, she thought. Insomniac. Spent his time watching late night films. God knows what was on at that time.
As she climbed the stairs she had this funny feeling that someone was up there, waiting for her. Should she go back down? No. It was just a feeling. She shouldn't be so stupid...
'Evening,' said the man. It was DI Ferguson, leaning on the bannister in his trademark creased mac.
'My partner'll back soon,' she said. She wasn't sure why.
'Pleased to see me?'
'Well... Yes.'
'Mind if I look around?' He raised his eyebrows. How many times had she seen him say and do that? 'We could always get a warrant...'
'No, I suppose not...'
He raised his eyebrows again. “Aren't you going to offer me a cup of tea?”
He walked towards her, glancing observantly from side to side. She retreated back down the stairs. He followed her.
'What's this all about? What's happening?'
'Wish I knew, love. Wish I knew.'
The shock was beginning to wear off. Listening to him talk, it became apparent to her that he was at least as confused as she was, if not more so. He sat down on the edge of the sofa.
'Truth is, love, I've no idea. Nothing to go on.'
So far he'd seemed preoccupied: looking round suspiciously, obviously weighing up the bits and pieces on the mantelpiece, the pile of magazines in the corner. She saw his eyes fall on the TV set. The adverts were still on.
'What were you watching?' he said.
'You.'
'And you didn't turn it off?'
'I couldn't find the remote.'
'There's a switch on the thing, you know.'
'Gaz'll be coming in later.'
'Don't tell me. Sits up watching naughty films?' He started to root under the settee cushions. 'Quite a lad, your Gaz, by the sound of it. They always slip under the cushions, don't they? Remotes, not boyfriends that is. Not that I get much time to watch the telly... Here we are, love!' He sat up, smiling triumphantly, brandishing the missing gadget.
'Thank you'.
'Not at all.' He pointed it at the telly. 'Shall I do the honours?'
'By all means.'
She was never sure quite what happened next. One minute he was there... The next... There was the remote, on the hearthrug, the telly was off, and there was no more DI Ferguson.

5 comments:

Frances said...

A bit reminiscent of 'Lost in Austen'. I like it.

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for the comment. I'd not heard of Lost in Austen but I've googled it, and now see what you mean.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Is the spooky or what. The photograph makes it spookier - I presume it is the remote control gadget but it doesn't half look scary. And did you have to put that walking man on - that is even scarier!! Like the story - it leaves one with an uncomfortable feeling - like it could happen.

Dave King said...

Really enjoyable - good, honest writing. Thanks.

Poet in Residence said...

Well-crafted. Good images. Just enough detail. A fine piece of writing. And a delight to read.