Off topic: The Little Translator, unorthodox policing, Foxy Roxy and a twist in the tale
מפרסם התגובה: Mervyn Henderson
The Little Translator addresses the Queen of England: http://www.proz.com/forum/lighter_side_of_trans_interp/107185-the_little_translator_addresses_the_queen_of_england.html
The Little Translator relates the Barcelona Connection:
The Little Translator makes a right royal faux pas:
The Little Translator throws his hat in the ring with Obama and McCain:
The Little Translator solves the world economic crisis:
The Little Translator slides into the crease at the end of 2008:
The Little Translator amid terrible rates and late payment too:
The Little Translator, MI5, and Jimmy the Weasel:
As I was saying, the Sergeant walked over to the nasty-looking yob, a bloke so seriously large he was practically blocking out the light.
He only had to walk a few metres, but if you’ve read LT before you’ll have realised it took him eight and a half years to get there ...
When he was halfway across, I noticed him taking a piece of paper out of his pocket. He pored over it for a second or two. Then he nodded in satisfaction, walked up to the chap, tapped him on the shoulder and said something to him. A puzzled expression came over the other man’s face …
Quick as a flash, Garmendia’s right foot came up and his boot slammed into the man’s groin. As his hands went instinctively between his legs, and his body jerked forward and down, the policeman grabbed the back of his head with both hands and drove the man’s face down hard onto his knee. I was pretty sure I heard the sound of a nose breaking. He hit the floor like a felled ox, the little policeman kicked him twice in the chest, and that was the end of it, bar the groaning and squealing of a man in terrible pain. Garmendia turned him over and snapped the cuffs on.
The bar, obviously, had stopped. The jukebox was still playing, though. Garmendia went over to the wall and yanked the plug out of the socket. Funnily enough, it had been playing The Rezillos – ‘Somebody’s gonna get their head kicked in tonight’. He came a little nearer to us, and flashed his badge.
“This is a raid!” he barked to everyone there, now staring at him open-mouthed. “Line up against the wall, all of you, move it!!”
Garmendia took out his radio and called for support. In a few minutes three or four policemen arrived and began searching the customers, and two of them dragged the cokehead away, still squirming painfully and very audibly on the floor.
“Doesn’t mess around, does he?” Dreadlocks whispered to me in awe.
Very slowly, Garmendia took his sunglasses out of his breast pocket. He looked over at us, and put them on very slowly too. Then he took them off just as slowly. Then he looked away from us again, and up at the ceiling. Then he put them on again slowly and looked down at the floor.
Dreadlocks stared. “What IS it with those sunglasses?” he whispered.
“Nothing”, I sighed. “It’s David Caruso time, that’s all.”
Garmendia came over. He wasn’t even breathing heavily.
“Remind me never to cross you, Sergeant”, I said, still in shock. “But, er, first aren’t you supposed to go through all the “You are not obliged to say anything, but anything you do say will be taken down and may be used against you in a court of law” business, all that stuff? And what’s the bit of paper you were looking at?”
Garmendia just laughed.
“The element of surprise, of course. Have you never seen that film ‘Far and Away’ with Tom Cruise? When anyone starts getting bolshy with him and it’s obvious they’re going to beat him up, Cruise just says “I don’t want to fight you”, whereupon they laugh at him or sneer, but that means they’re off guard and just as they start in with the sneering, Tom wallops them first. So I got in first with this one. He’s a vile piece of work, but when you’ve been kicked between the legs, had your nose broken and a few ribs too, you’re docile. All you want is for it to stop. As for the piece of paper, it’s a kind of diversion script” – he fished it out of his pocket and handed it to me.
Dreadlocks and I looked at it. It said:
1. Give us a kilo of apples, six carrots and a few spuds, mate, and I’ll pay you on Monday.
2. They say a wet bird never flies at night.
3. Do you know, a lot of people call koalas bears, but they aren’t bears. In fact they’re marsupials.
4. Didn’t I see your uncle and aunt the other day down the pub?
5. The race is not always to the swift. And a change is as good as a rest.
6. In a right-angled triangle, the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides.
“What’s the point of it all?” asked Dreadlocks, puzzled.
“I say a different one each time”, explained the Sergeant. “This time I used Nº 2. You saw how it put him off his guard. The only possible response is your own response. Perplexity. Just as he’s trying to figure out what the hell you’re on about, you go for him. It doesn’t really matter what you say, as long as it means nothing. None of them mean anything to him. Especially Nº 2. It’s my favourite.”
I was still curious.
“But what does that even mean, a wet bird never flies at night? Is it some kind of Basque proverb?”
“No, no. But, well, if you were a wet bird, would you fly at night? Of course not, because it’s too bloody cold up there. It doesn’t matter, who cares, it’s just something to get him thinking about anything at all except the possibility that he’s about to get zonked. You’ve got to admit it’s much safer than giving him the official caution, warning him by saying: “Yo, you gonna haul your sorry ass down to the precinct with me, punk”, like they do in the films, which is a recipe for disaster. It’s simple”, grinned Garmendia. “As simple as two and two are four.”
He pursed his lips in doubt, looked up at the ceiling, and then turned to me again:
“I suppose that should really be two and two IS four?”
“Search me”, I shrugged. “I’m a translator, not a mathematician.”
As the coppers were going about their business, I saw that she hadn’t yet lined up with the rest, wavy chestnut hair falling around her bare shoulders and down over her chest, perched on a stool at the bar in her short leather mini-skirt. There she was.
Dreadlocks saw me looking at her.
“That’s Roxy. She’s not quite a regular, but she does come here quite often. So pretty you daren’t even look, isn’t she? I’d try it on with her, but I know I don’t have a prayer. Sometimes she leaves with a man, sometimes she leaves alone. You never see her with the same one twice, though. And I’ve never seen her smile. Ever.”
“Roxy, is it? I see. Well, Roxy’s smiling now”, I said as she looked over at us.
“That’s different. That’s her Foxy Roxy Smile. Her eyes never smile, I mean. There’s a terrible sadness about her somehow.”
As we looked at her, she raised her shapely bottom unnecessarily high over the stool, stretched out those long legs, and sauntered over to us fully erect like she was on a catwalk.
“Did you see that?” whispered Dreadlocks. “She got off that stool like she’d just s***ged it. She’s always doing that kind of thing.”
I turned to him.
“How’s that done?”
“I dunno, it’s the way she moves. She kind of stands up over the stool, and …”
“No, I don’t mean her, I mean you. How do you do that asterisk thing?”
“Oh, that. It’s just something I do to be in compliance with Rule 1 here, that’s all.”
“Doh”, I thought, yet again. “Who’s in charge of this tale anyway?”
“Oh no”, said Dreadlocks, “here she comes, she’s coming over. She’s so drop-dead gorgeous she makes me feel faint.”
“Don’t fret, Dreadlocks”, I reassured him. “I’ll handle this ...”
She stood in front of us and smirked, arms akimbo and pert breasts straining beneath a tiny white cutaway top.
“So, are you going to take down my particulars?” she murmured, using both hands to play with a lock of her hair at neck level.
Dreadlocks stiffened. Some parts more than others.
“Dreadlocks”, I hissed in his ear. “Cover yourself up, will you? You’re letting the side down.”
Dreadlocks retreated gratefully a little way behind a stool. She grinned knowingly, and studied me through half-closed eyelids.
“Actually, it’s another investigation they’re on, not this one”, Dreadlocks stammered. “Detectives on a case. Murder most foul.”
Well, that Murder Most Foul was MY line, but I let it pass.
“Like Agatha Christie, you mean?” she asked.
Dreadlocks’ ears pricked up. He glanced at me expectantly.
“Sorry”, I told her, glaring at him. “Miss Marple’s been done already.”
Garmendia was still close by.
“But you’ve done Hemingway twice, so you could do her again, couldn’t you?” he chimed in. “What do you care?”
The girl looked at the three of us in turn in bewilderment.
“What on earth are you all talking about? And anyway, I didn’t mean like the Marple woman. I meant like the other one, the Belgian detective. Like … like … oh, what was his name …?”
“Don’t …”, I warned her. “Just don’t. Don’t say it.”
“… oh yes, Poirot, that was it. Like Hercule Poirot”, she finished.
“For the love of Mike”, I said, “that’s torn it. Yes, o yes, like Hercule Poirot. Like Poirot …”
And lo and behold, the wavies were back:
Hercule Poirot was addressing the six suspects in the drawing room at Highfield Towers, residence of the late Dr Black, the renowned wealthy scientist who had been brutally done to death during our stay there, necessarily by one of those present in that very room.
There was Colonel Mustard, the gnarled, grizzled old soldier who had fought his way intrepidly through Omdurman, both Boer Wars, the trenches of the Somme amid gas, mud and endless salvos of bullets and shells, and three marriages. Now retired, with one arm shot away, he had swapped battle for bottle, and spent his time weaving unsteadily around on a self-appointed mission to protect pretty young things from the cads, blackguards, ne’er-do-wells and good-for-nothing workshy loafers and predators who littered beaches from Deauville to Estoril and Calais to St Tropez. When none of these wretched vultures were pestering the ladies, he would simply be on hand to keep the flies off the creamy white flesh of their luscious sweat-beaded melons. And their tempting pink cherries. To say nothing of their moist downy peaches.
Beside him was Professor Plum, another scientist who had been working alongside Black on an ambitious new project they were both extremely excited about – an idea they were going to call the “worldwide web”, which would apparently use new-fangled machines to provide everyone everywhere with information at the same time, and even a letter system they were going to call “e-mail”. A paperless system, too, whatever that meant. I avow it sounded like a downright hare-brained scheme to me. Absolutely ludicrous – whoever heard of a paperless letter? Dash it all, we have a perfectly satisfactory postal system in this country, with at least three or four collections and deliveries a day, for heaven’s sake. If I write a note for my man Bloggs to be delivered to someone in the morning, why, it inevitably gets there in time for afternoon tea and crustless cucumber sandwiches. The whole rigmarole was doomed to failure from the word go, if you want my opinion. Preposterous. It would never catch on.
Sitting stiffly upright in her chair, her little rat’s eyes darting suspiciously everywhere, was the third suspect, a woman by the name of Peacock, Dr Black’s housekeeper, a sharp-tongued, bitter, jealous female, permanently enraged with the hand Life had dealt her. For time had passed Prudence Peacock by - now in her late fifties, she had waited all her life in service at Highfield for Mr Right, before she was eventually forced to set her sights on the only one who was left - the occupant of Highfield, Dr Black himself, an eternal bachelor. But, sadly, it was not to be. The staid, dowdy Prudence might have held the keys to his house for years, but not the keys to his heart …
Unlike Rosie White, the murdered man’s cook, no more than a frazzled East End commoner who dropped her aitches and used frightfully vulgar expressions such as “Lor’-love-a-duck”, “Strike a light, guv’” and “Gor blimey, missus” but, as everyone knows, the way to a mere man’s affections is through his stomach, and Rosie was renowned, revered and envied for miles around for her legendary solid fare of shepherd’s pie, tripe and onions, Welsh rarebit, toad-in-the-hole and slow-roasted lamb, among other specialities. She, too, had entertained high hopes at one time with Dr Black, but given her lowly origins and lack of finesse she had sadly realised she could not hope to set her cap at him in any official capacity. She was nevertheless well aware of the prim and proper Prudence’s aspirations, and hated her for it (the feeling was mutual), and her way of foiling them was to place a delicious steaming hotpot, for example, in front of Dr Black and beam in triumph as he tucked in enthusiastically amid oohs and aahs and mmms, while the housekeeper fumed in a barely contained stony silence only yards away.
Smirking insolently at all those gathered there was Letitia Scarlett, a penniless flame-haired tearaway with dangerous curves who latched onto other people’s money to smoke gaspers, swill whisky and flirt with anything in trousers, particularly trousers with bottomless pockets, and, as Rosie White, who was by way of being a bit of a Keyhole Kate tale-bearer, put it to me rather coarsely, she was not averse to a “piece of skirt” either, dear me. Professor Plum had also confided to me that, although Black’s bloodshot eyes would linger longer than was strictly necessary or decorous on Miss Scarlett’s trim figure on occasion, the owner of Highfield Towers was no fool and knew she was a gold-digger, and had told her so in no uncertain terms, much to her chagrin and disgust, and in any case at the end of the day he was more captivated by Rosie White’s legs of pork and sides of beef than by Letitia Scarlett’s best rump.
I disclosed to Poirot that the Reverend Green, a small round piggy-looking man, had ended up in this remote neck of the woods because the Church had quietly dispatched him from the capital following allegations that he had plied altar boys with communion wine at catechism classes. The tattling masses also assured the boys had been subjected to, shall we say, certain acts unbecoming to a man of the cloth. And that was not all. Here too, the gossipy cook had informed Poirot of rumours concerning the saintly Reverend during choir practice with young lads in Highfield village, in the hoarse whisper of the great unwashed: “More queer practice than choir practice if you arsk me, Mr Parrot sir, or my name ain’t Rosie White. Gawd strike me down dead if it weren’t.”
Yes, Poirot was working the room ...
“Mesdames et Messieurs, this has been one of my most difficult cases. I smelt a rat. Or rather, something smelt fishy to me. The whole thing smacked of a red herring. Many red herring, in fact. More red herring than one would find in the hold of a trawler putting in at Grimsby, as Inspector Japp said to me this very morning when we were winding up the case."
“They don’t catch red herring”, drawled Miss Scarlett, lolling against the fireplace with a bored defiant expression.
Poirot turned his egg-shaped head to look at her.
“So you wouldn’t find any in a trawler. What you mean is a kipper, and they’re smoked”, Letitia went on, taking a long drag from her cigarette as if to illustrate the verb, and carelessly tapping her ash onto the Persian rug. “The expression “red herring” comes from when they were training hounds to run after the fox. What they did was to …"
Poirot rapped his cane on the floor for attention.
“Thank you, Mademoiselle, thank you indeed for your kind enlightenment, but what I meant was that there were far too many incriminating clues pointing to far too many suspects. There was either a clue found at the scene of the crime, or something to provide motive. Could either Letitia Scarlett or Prudence Peacock have become so enraged with unrequited affection and rebuttals that they took it upon themselves to commit murder? Unlikely, and anyway by their separate accounts they were together at the time of the murder, when Prudence was berating Miss Scarlett in the lounge for her outrageous behaviour and blatant flirting with Dr Black and others in the house, whereupon the young lady merely shrieked with laughter and poured herself another double of The Famous Grouse, and so her pink garter found at the scene had obviously been deliberately planted there to incriminate her. And why on earth would Rosie White do away with the man who was her bread and butter?
The sheer violence of the crime in any case pointed to a man. Also, the lavatory close to the scene was heard to flush from the lounge shortly before the dastardly deed was discovered, but there was something about that lavatory which signalled a man to me when I inspected it. And then it came to me. The seat had been left in the upright position and, as everyone knows, very few women are physically capable of leaving a lavatory seat up.”
Poirot was warming to his task.
“Discarding the women, then, we now know Colonel Mustard despised Dr Black as a filthy unpatriotic coward who had deliberately used the feeble excuse of his important research to avoid being sent to the front at Ypres and being cut to pieces like everyone else at the whim of Kitchener and the rest of the top brass. Again, however, it is hardly a reason for murdering the man, and anyway the good Colonel, I am afraid, is rather the worse for wear for much of the time, and I do not believe he could either properly plan or execute such a crime.”
Mustard glared at him, harrumphed a little and twisted furiously at his handlebar moustache with his only hand, but otherwise said nothing.
“Could Professor Plum have become so incensed with Black taking out a patent for his new system without including him, as it has transpired, that he decided to take revenge?”, Poirot went on. “But he, too, had an alibi – the cook was ordered to bring the grilled trotters to his room that evening, and lock the door behind her until the following morning, as he wanted no interruptions from anyone and was not prepared to leave his desk before he had finished that day’s research. Which she did.
“Perhaps”, ventured the detective, “the doctor had threatened Green with disclosing his shenanigans, and the desperate Reverend had to act fast? After all, a catechism was found torn into pieces in a wastepaper basket down the hall. Perhaps, but ironically it transpires that at the time he was closeted in the vestry with two choirboys, giving them extra Bible classes. It sounds … plausible enough.”
The Reverend Green’s face turned a delicate shade of pink as all those assembled in the room fixed him with a disapproving stare.
Poirot raised his hands in the air.
“Truly, ladies and gentlemen, I believed I was going mad. There seemed to be no way that anyone could have killed the doctor. “Nom d’un chien, Hercule!”, I thought to myself. Yes, yes, I did. And then I said, “Nom d’un nom!” Followed by "Nom d’une pipe!” And then “Nom d’un nom d’un nom d’un nom” …
“I say, can we get on with this without all the foreign shilly-shallying?” broke in Colonel Mustard, still irritated by Poirot’s previous remark. He swayed as he got up to pour himself another brandy and soda. “I have to catch the 6.27 to Paddington to get to my club, and I’ll have you know my driver and my man can't wait around all day doing nothing and getting paid for it, by Jove. It’s a dashed liberty, law-abiding British citizens being retained and insulted like this by an uppity French detective.”
For once, Poirot ignored the slight on his nationality.
“What I mean, Mesdames et Messieurs, is that all the information I was receiving was bogus, none of the clues led anywhere at all, or else everyone had an alibi, and at every turn I was foiled. They could not ALL have done it together, as they did on the Orient Express, I told myself.”
Then Poirot’s expression changed to a sly leer. He was at his most catlike, his green eyes shining, positively purring as he spoke:
“I reached the conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, that there was no logical reason for the murder of Dr Black. It was a totally random act, committed not for money, not for love, not out of hatred, not to take revenge on the doctor, not to silence him … non, non, this man was murdered simply because of the totally unrelated rage of a person belittled, denigrated and defeated. Dr Black was not killed by Miss Scarlett, or by Rosie White, or by Prudence Peacock, or by the Reverend Green, or by Colonel Mustard, nor, curiously, was he killed by Professor Plum either. It all became clear when I thought back to one of my previous cases, the murder of poor Roger Aykroyd.”
I watched in suspense as his voice grew harsher.
“I am now in a position to reveal the truth. To my great dismay, the perpetrator of this foul act was a person no one would ever have suspected. None other than my own companion, in fact. Yes, Dr Black was murdered by Captain Hastings. In the library. With the lead piping.”
The game was up. I sprang to my feet.
“Yes! Yes, I admit it! It was me, damn your eyes! I killed Black, yes, I did it all right! I belted him with that piping good and proper. And yes, for no reason whatsoever, just to commit the perfect murder and see you fail, Poirot. To watch you squirm, eat humble pie and bite the dust at long last among all the alibis and false clues I planted, you little Belgian monster. Damn you, Poirot. Damn you to hell, you cursed mountebank!”
Yes, it was true. Yes, I had grown to abhor that foreign Johnny so much down through the years. What with me doing all the legwork and him just sitting there with his fingers pressed to his temples, banging on about the grey cells, Hastings, the grey cells, and that irritating habit of his of suddenly dashing off to clinch the case all on his own, grabbing all the glory for himself, and telling ME diddly squat until it was all over. Oh yes, I loathed the arrogant little sod, I can tell you.
And so I yearned to take the pint-sized pillock down a peg or two. I had to fairly stick my fist in my mouth to stifle the laughter when Mustard called him French just now. Dear God, the way he reacted to that kind of thing! Lord, how I roared inside when somebody took him for a Frog. How the little runt would bristle. How his hackles would rise. He would go red in the face and a vein would start pulsating on that blessed egg head of his. Sometimes I even propitiated it myself, just for fun. “M. Poirot wishes to ask you a few questions”, I would say to people, “ … er, by the way, do you speak French at all?” And then of course they’d assume he was French, and walk in and maybe ask him what part of France he was from, and then the fun would start.
He would draw himself up to his full height of four foot three, and splutter:
“I am not French, Madame, I am Belgian. Like Hergé. Georges Simenon. And Jacques Brel, to name but a few.”
The old fool. Brel isn’t even born, and nobody’s even heard of the first two yet.
And as for all that poncing around with the waxed moustache, the tiny Russian cigarettes … and oh, those ruddy syrups of his. Give me strength. I took him down to the Goose and Gander one day for a snifter. I ordered a brandy, naturally, but Poirot just had to ask if they had any “sirop”, didn’t he? John the publican being a simple man, he went out to the kitchen and came back with a tin of Lyle’s Golden Syrup, a spoon and a little bowl. Poirot’s face was a picture.
And the patent leather shoes. Oh, don’t get me started on the patent leather. All the fussing and whining if he got so much as a speck of dirt or dust on them. As we were leaving the public house that day I just managed to avoid some horrid smelly dog’s mess at the bottom of the steps, but cunningly said nothing to the little Belgian following me out. Not only did he step in it, he stepped in it with both shoes, and so there had to be a great to-do and palaver of washing and drying and brushing and preening with his man Georges later. Laugh? Laugh? I’ll say I laughed all right – dear God, I thought my plus-fours would never dry.
As if on cue, Inspector Japp entered the room with two officers.
“Got to come with us, I’m afraid, Captain Hastings”, he announced gravely.
And I was led away in cuffs, broken, to my date with the judge and the hangman.
Miss Sexy nodded in appreciation.
“Well, well, the wavies, now there’s a thing you don’t get treated to every day”, she said huskily, drawing closer. “Perhaps you’d like to handcuff me as well”, she breathed.
“Actually”, I clarified, panting a little as I exited the wavies, “I’m not a policeman. I’m a Translator.” I thought it was best to say it with a capital T.
Her big brown eyes opened wide.
“Mmm”, said she, pulling down her bottom lip with an index finger in a fetching pout. “Now, I certainly do like a man who’s good with his tongue.”
I studied her for a bit. There was plenty there to study, believe me.
“How long can you keep it up?” I asked her.
She chuckled wickedly at that one as she looked me up and down and down and up, and sideways too.
“Well, there’s a coincidence. I was just wondering the same thing about you.”
“Angela”, I said very, very softly. “Forget it, Angela. It isn’t going to wash.”
That certainly threw her. Suddenly the femme fatale vanished.
“Angela?” she snapped. “Who are you? Do I know you? My name’s Roxy.”
“Oh yes”, I nodded. “It is now. You call yourself Roxana. Or Roxy. Foxy Roxy. Helps with that man-eater image of yours, doesn’t it? Except it won’t cut any ice with me, Angela.”
“How dare you?” she snarled. “The name is Roxy, I tell you. Who the hell are you? What could you possibly know about me?”
“All of it”, I replied slowly. “The lot. I know what happened to little Angela all those years ago. So, like I said – cut it out, will you?”
She stood very still, staring at me, wary.
(TO BE CONTINUED – SOONISH. SOONER THAN BEFORE, ANYWAY)
| || || |
| | Chris S
This reminds me of that episode of Friends where at the start they all pile into the caff to find some other people had taken their sofa
| | Nikolaki
Local time: 05:52
| Angela ? Who the bloody 'ell is Angela ? || Sep 12 |
I had to activate my unused account just so I could come and pay a public hommage to this outstanding young talent.
"As I was saying" he says, picking up seamlessly after 8 an'anarf years' absence as if he had just nipped out for a leak and was striding back into the room cool as you like, pulling up his flies. That's style, LT, that's style.
But what happened to the fan club ? Did they grow up ? Did they end up, after too many years of hoping, tearfully peeling their Mervyn Henderson posters off their bedroom walls (and maybe marrying someone called Adrian) ?
C'mon girls, he's back !
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The Little Translator, unorthodox policing, Foxy Roxy and a twist in the tale
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