Friday, February 28, 2014

Hand In Glove

Cover art by Richard Stroud
PI Dr Jake Flintlock and his sidekick Dr Bum Park are inveigled by American theater director Chuck Cinzano into the investigation of a severed hand in a baseball glove on Primrose Hill, London. The assignment morphs into a murder case as Chuck is “stabbed to death” in Jake’s home. Having flown to Sausalito, CA, Jake and Bum begin to suspect they are being used as actors in a play. Yet, a real crime has been committed and somehow the culprit has to be found.

Primrose Hill, London NW1, on the first summer Saturday the mercury hit twenty-five degrees was not the place for me. Packed as it was with semi-naked people, the place looked more like the Costa del Sol in August. Bad decision, Jake! Better to have stayed at home and watched telly, but by then it was too late. There is no way Binkey can be dragged out of a park he’s already in. Hell to play as he wraps his lead around a tree and performs his idea of a sit-in, bottom rooted to the grass and forepaws planted in defiance while baring his teeth at passersby in what he thinks of as his wolf impression. Which I tell him makes him look at best mental, but you can see how passersby might feel differently when faced with a Dachshund/Doberman cross pretending to be a wolf; frightened, for example. Not that Binkey has ever bitten a passerby, you understand; just likes them to think he might. So it was I was left with little choice but to continue indulging Binkey’s walkie needs and trudge on through the mass of unedifying man—and womankind.

All the ones around me were currently turned to the sun spit-roasting themselves at a future cost to the National Health Service in carcinoma treatment of squillions, money the NHS couldn’t afford because the bankers had stolen it all and the government didn’t dare ask for it back. As I had time and again in my years on the planet, I asked myself what the world was coming to, a thought I shared with Binkey as we stumbled through the dumbed-down, bunkered-in, smartphone-silly, flabby flotsam of the second decade of the twenty-first century.

“Bloody hell, Binkey,” I commented close to the top of the hill, narrowly avoiding the head of a whale-like German lying—well, more like floundering—on his stomach as he tried to capture on his iPad the splendour of the cityscape laid out beneath him: the London Eye, the Sexy Gherkin, the Shard, all of that. I knew the whale was German from the way he kept re-angling his iPad to get his picture exactly right and grunting, “Vorsprung durch Technik.”

“You wonder what a Martian expeditionary commander would make of this lot, don’t you?” I asked Binkey. “Probably call home straight away and tell his boss to cancel invasion plans in case the troops catch something nasty. Advise him to check out black holes instead.”

“Raaafff, raaafff!” Binkey said from the other end of his lead, but I could tell from the way he was tugging towards an—illegal!—barbie a few yards away from the German’s head my analysis of the planet’s problems wasn’t the cause of his excitement. What was interesting Binkey more than self-induced Armageddon were the sausages currently turning the same shade as the people cooking them.

“Binkey, heel,” I commanded.

Fat chance. Binkey doesn’t obey any commands except Walkies, Din-Dins and Bikkies, which strictly speaking aren’t commands at all. More like offers.

HEEL!” I nonetheless repeated pointlessly...which was when the really bad thing had to happen.
Call it catastrophe theory, call it nemesis, call it anything you like, but I ask you: What ungodly presence was it which had to inspire the German, at that very moment, to kick out an excited leg at the capture of the pic he doubtless hoped would soon grace the cover of a Der Spiegel and thereby cause me to trip and let go of Binkey’s lead such that the freed beast made a bee-line for the barbie—tended as it turned out by a band of Russians—piss on it, scarf all the sausages, and then run away to the other side of the hill to take part in a baseball game organised by American dads for their cutesy Major-League-wannabe progeny...and steal their ball? I mean, life’s hard enough, right?

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