Friday, June 11, 2010

A Humid Lunch with Velma-Fin

"Nick, it's always a pleasure to see you," I said stepping into the office. 

It was everything I had imagined with a blue peacock and a whiny 29-year old assistant thrown in for good measure. The room was an ample size for one person's workspace, at least 500 square feet. The walls were buttressed stone and on them where old maps of New York City, ancient maps of Mexico, South America, and Europe, a framed diploma from Barnard dated 1935, an assortment of black and white photographs with some framed and others just tacked up. Where ever there weren't maps or photos there were bookshelves. Volumes upon volumes of books in all shapes from all ages and stacked up at least 7 feet high. 

Nick had his own desk. It was flat and white, very sparse, most likely from Ikea and on it was a silver iMac with a ridiculously large screen. Velma's desk was directly opposite Nick's and it couldn't be more contrary: huge piles of scattered papers, two weighty volumes of who-knows-what opened with post-it notes wedged in over a dozen spots. No computer. No phone. Just a green bankers lamp. I couldn't even see what the desk was made out of it was so blanketed.    

"The pleasure is, of course, all mine," he said sipping on an iced-tea, no doubt left over from lunch. 

"So what do you think?" Velma said throwing her arms up. "A real dump huh? But it's my dump." 

"No I love it. It's so... you." I pointed to the vaulted ceiling which was covered in maps of the cosmos. "What is all that?"

"Those are the stars, sweetheart."

"I know that, but what are they there for?"

"Stargazing is a hobby of mine." Nick choked a little on his last sip of iced tea. "You alright there, chief?" She said beating his back with her flat palm. 

His shoulders cranked up in discomfort. " Yes alright, alright. I'm fine." 

Rudy, the blue peacock, was hovering close to Nick's desk chair. He seemed to be in a defensive posture against me. I guess Nick had told him a couple of tales. "Is that Rudy?" I said pointing.

"It is," Velma huffed. "He's more Nick's bird now. Barely pays attention to me anymore. Did Mimi come back?" She asked Nick.

"No she left a little after you went to lunch."

"She's probably flirting with some tourists," Velma grunted. 

I stood quiet gazing at the star maps on the ceiling. It looked as though someone was taking notes on them. I was trying to make out the handwriting when Velma clamped down on my left shoulder, "Alright, time to give you a new job." She walked over to a book shelf in the far corner of the office and bent over to pick up a brown file box. It looked ancient. In faded black ink I spied the words, "TOBIAS FINCH." I recognized the name. That was the detective who was trailing her in the journals. "So good ole Toby. He was my first and favorite mentor. The man I spent a couple years on the tail of and right before he died, he handed me this box." She passed it over to me. 

I opened the lid and dust erupted into a cloud that washed over my face. After it cleared and I took a hearty sneeze, I discovered a mound of yellowing type-written pages.      

"Who knew he fancied himself a writer," Velma said in a laugh. 

"What are these?" I asked scared to touch the papers for fear they might disintegrate. 

"Finch wrote out some of our cases together. They're pretty good, that old dog."

"And so I'm..." 

"Puttin' em up on the computer."

Nick chimed in: "We all know how well that worked the first time."

I wasn't about to let that slide, "Yeah. It seems NONE of us were able to keep that up."

Velma jumped in quickly, "Who cares? The journals we can do later. These are fun. Real fun. He was a character."

I slid the box closer to me in a vain attempt to lift it. It wouldn't budge. There had to be thousands of pages all shuffled about and out of order. "Velma, I can't carry this whole thing on the train." 

"Well, boy genius, thankfully Nicky arranged the first manuscript for you all nice and neat."

He pulled a substantially smaller shirt box from under his desk and waved it at me quite disrespectfully. "Because I didn't have enough to do."

"I'm pretty sure you can handle that right, precious?"

I stood up and snatched the box out of Nick's terribly small hands, "Yeah this I can do." I tucked the box under my arm.

"Good. So go. Read 'em. Post 'em-"

"Sometime this century," Nick interjected.

"Do you ever get tired of hearing yourself?" Velma spat.

"Not really," he smirked.

"I'll try my best. Just for you, Nick."  

He faked an awful smile. And Velma punched me in shoulder. "So you can find your way out right?"

"Yeah just up 28 steps in the dark. Or you could leave the door open so I have at least a little light."

Velma opened her oaken office door and shoved me out. "Practice. Practice." She slammed it shut leaving me in complete darkness. Clutching the shirt box and counting slowly with each step, I kept wondering how I always seemed to find myself in these situations.

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