The hammering on the door punched a horrible rhythm deep into Alex Trepan’s skull, shaking his brain loose from sleep. At first Alex was unsure whether it was just the force of his hangover which was pummelling his eyeballs but eventually the pulses separated and he could tell the door from his own self-pity. In an attempt to dispel some of the internal noise, he farted hard into the mattress, which seemed to displace some of the pain.
The hammering persisted, interrupted only by a regular muffled moaning which Alex (through years of similar experience) correctly identified as his own name, ejaculated by a female in distress. This was a normal morning.
Thankfully he’d failed to get undressed before falling asleep, so Alex pulled himself to his feet, stuffing them, with their unusually prehensile toes into his grandmother’s slippers. The door monger seemed in no hurry to leave so Alex made a token effort to clear some space; he bumped a table and sent half a dozen rum bottles, a stack of grievously abused paperbacks and an ashtray crashing to the floor. That stopped the hammering.
Alex opened the door, recalling as he did so his resolution to use the eye hole and safety chain. He shrugged to himself; he hadn’t even locked the door. It swung open to reveal a young lady, pretty (despite the fashionable sack-shaped garment she’d presumably been shipped in) with a minimum of makeup, though what had stuck to her face was of the distressingly orange variety. Yet another victim of the Boots Oompa-Loompas. The automatic act of mentally undressing her, involving as it does a certain amount of three-dimensional rotation and spatial mechanics, almost made Alex vomit on her ghastly sole-less pumps.
She spoke first, which was just as well because Alex’s first question was going to be unhelpful.
“Mr Trepan, are you hurt?”
This was a promising start, already his detective mind was revolving: the lady knew him, he did not recall her; this was not unusual. She was concerned, and might yet be coerced into making tea. Alex attempted a reply, but found his voice as yet gummed by a night’s rumming. With a throat clearance that would shame a tuberculosis patient he managed a teenager’s warble.
“How kind of you to enquire. Please don’t be concerned by my appearance…” he tailed off, unsure of whether she ought to be.
“Oh Mr Trepan, I warned you about how dangerous they could be,” so saying, she pushed Alex back into his flat, “dear lord, they found you here?” she exclaimed.
The shame Alex ought to have felt on letting someone into the hovel he lurked in was utterly outweighed by the pang of distress he felt from the young lady and a tingle of curiosity making its way past the brain throb.
In his years of working or at least surviving between call centre jobs as a private detective , Alex had learned when to just let people talk. One of those times is when you’re hungover and can’t engage in conversation. Another is when you have no idea what is going on. This was a good time to listen.
To be continued?