The Retired Husband (TRH) reminisces about Murder Most Foul.
‘Twas a country trip, I recall. I had some jobs that took me away from home for a few days. Travelling with my DFL was always an interesting experience.” (For the reader’s benefit, DFL is a term TRH used to describe his then assistant. It stands for ‘Dumb F#*# Labourer.)
The DFL came wrapped in a package of assorted phobias. A young man – anyone younger than TRH is young in this context – the DFL had somehow grown up sadly warped. He was scared. Of life. Of anything that moved. And in particular, dogs. He did own a Rottweiler himself at one stage. A gentle beast, he was phobia exempt. TRH recalls several jobs where customers had dogs in their yard. A fact of life. We own one too. Although TRH would debate whether Tess fits into this category given her size and delicate nature.
If the DFL was confronted by a ferocious, snarling, snapping, drooling beast with bared teeth (= ie. friendly dog, wagging tale, wanting a pat, desperate for some tender loving care) he would lock himself in the work van and not emerge till said beast was secured. Even including the aging toothless beast that picked oranges off the tree, peeled them, and gummed them to death.
But I digress. TRH and the DFL were on a country trip. Away from home for a week staying overnight in motels. TRH had to be mindful about the speed at which he drove the car. Too fast (= any speed beyond that of snail pace ) had the DFL clinging with clenched, white knuckled fists to the car dashboard, the door handles, anything he could grab a hold of without taking his eyes off the road. He also had trouble sleeping. Being a chain smoker, he was prone to sitting up at nights. Frying a few chops or bacon and eggs in the middle of the night in a shared motel room was not uncommon. What really gave TRH the heebie jeebies was when he woke up in the middle of the night from a deep sleep to the feeling he was being watched. He was. The DFL was sitting on the side of his bed, puffing on his fag, intensely watching TRH sleeping with unblinking eyes. Most un-nerving, he said. Creepy. Freddy Krueger creepy.
The DFL was prone to exaggerating too. TRH learnt never to take him seriously. One day, on returning to their motel room after a hard day’s work, TRH headed for the shower to wash off the day’s grime and sweat. He wanted to feel comfortable and clean, enjoy the evening meal and a few drinks before retiring for the night. Whilst in the bathroom, he heard: “Hey! You might wanna get dressed before you come out. We got visitors.”
Thinking this was yet another joke, TRH ignored him. Stepping out of the bathroom into the motel room naked, he was astonished to find they indeed did have visitors. Two police officers. The female police officer was seated on TRH’s bed. Without missing a beat, he asked “Officer, do you mind if I pull my trousers on?”
She replied “Please do.”
Having made himself decent, the police proceeded to explain the purpose of their visit. It seems there had been a murder in the room next to theirs the day before. The police were investigating the crime. Murder most foul had been committed under their very nose and they were oblivious.
© Raili Tanska
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