…from the case files of Detective Pagasmo…
(Continues from Haiku Hunt)
Most of the internet cafe’s neighbors had turned out their lights and closed up shop by this hour. Night pressed down hard on me or maybe it was exhaustion making me stagger through the glass door. I bellied up to the bar as the bells finished tinkling to announce my arrival. Yes, this internet cafe had a bar, but the barman didn’t look up from his battered paperback. He just kept reading Maurice by E.M. Forster and muttering to himself.
“I am confused at times. [How] should I sound? Should I echo?” Rubbing his shaved pate, the undergrad barman looked like he’d poured himself into his skin-tight jeans and child-sized t-shirt. “You need not answer all the questions! You can just laugh and laugh again.” He banged his fist on the wood veneer of the counter to emphasize his point. After tossing down the book, he clamped long-fingered hands to either side of his head. “Thoughts – they do what we don’t ask for!”
“Yeah, that’s the nature of thinking.” I picked the book up off the ground, and a bookmark slid free. Embossed in its middle was another of those emblems; the fifth I’d seen:
With shaking fingers, I snatched it off the chessboard floor and held it up. But the barman was still in throes of his rant and had squeezed his eyes closed. So far he hadn’t noticed he had a customer.
“I knew […] that I don’t know!” Freeing a hand, the barman pounded his fist into the counter again, and felt around, likely seeking the object of his distress.
“Looking for this?” I slid the paperback, which had a reproduction of a water painting of a young man on its cover, toward the stricken kid.
He stopped its slide with a hand and opened dilated eyes. Great, so my only lead was stoned out of his mind.
“At times, we pretend to think on one [thing] and actually think [some]thing else,” he said sounding somewhat coherent despite his glassy and dilated pupils.
I took a chance and held up the bookmark with the design facing out. “What’s this and how’d you come by it?” Please let it not be some secret society with a vendetta against me.
The kid drew back as if he feared the laminated thing would attack him and stumbled his way out from behind the counter. I stayed with him, hemming him in and keeping the image eye level.
“I’m not going to hurt you. I just want answers, and you’re the first person associated with this iconography who hasn’t tried to kill me.
But the kid had lost it. He cringed away from the bookmark, crossed his arms over his head and shook as hard as a sapling in an earthquake. This was getting me nowhere. I needed to change my angle of attack.
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More Detective Pagasmo stories: The Boxes Are Doors, Descending into Trouble, Epistemology, Novitiate, Lulled by Rhymes, News, Clues and Howitzers, Mixed Media, No Truth in Quotes, Haiku Hunt, Random Risks, Freeze Frame, The Mark of Destiny, Detective Pagasmo in Playing Dead, Detective Pagasmo.