Coffee. Ifan Rhys-Morgan needed more coffee. He glanced with disdain at the empty cardboard cup on the passenger seat of his black Ford Mondeo. It was not just that the cup of coffee he had procured from the MacDonald’s drive-through on the way was disgusting. It was small and disgusting. And he had managed to burn his fingers.
Who was responsible for designing such rubbish cups? Even the MacDonald’s staff at the drive-through window - who Rhys-Morgan suspected had a similar brain content to their burgers - realised that cardboard was a terrible insulator and warned him of the danger just seconds before handing him the cup. Of course, they had not bothered to hand him the vessel in a way that would have given him a chance of avoiding injury, but it was the thought that counts.
Rhys-Morgan turned the engine off and pocketed the keys. Sucking at his right middle finger at the memory of the pain, he ran his left hand through his thinning greasy hair in a vain attempt to make himself look more presentable. Realising the folly of this idea, he settled for vaguely straightening his tie before stepping out of the car.
The small car park of Smeg & Butterworth legal consultants (“Smeg & Butterworth – we’ll sue the shirt of your back and then press charges for indecency”) was otherwise empty barring a very large Jaguar in one corner. Rhys-Morgan had parked in the opposite corner, leaving room for another three cars. If he had parked straight, there would have been room for four or five, but Rhys-Morgan did not care. He did not care much for lawyers. (Lawyers had a bad tendency of getting criminals released. Rhys-Morgan did not really care about that, however. It was the way they tended to object to his interrogating suspects with a melon, an eggcup and a red-hot poker. Rhys-Morgan thought that very few of the world’s troubles could not be sorted out by the perspicacious application of a red-hot poker.) D.I. Rhys-Morgan did not care for much. Except coffee.
The interior designer of the reception area for Smeg & Butterworth had obviously gone for the pot-plant jungle theme. Rhys-Morgan had to fight his way through the trailing leaves of several spider plants suspended in hanging baskets and side-step a five foot peace lilly before finding himself face to face with a rather attractive young lady receptionist. Rhys-Morgan frowned. Lawyers always had attractive receptionists. Bastards.
The attractive receptionist looked Rhys-Morgan up and down with a facial expression suggesting that she was calculating his worth in her head.
“I’m sorry,” she told him, with perfect elocution, “but young Mr Smeg Junior deals with evictions and alimony cases, and he has not come in to work today.”
Rhys-Morgan ignored the implication and flashed her his badge. He was not sure whether the disappointed look on her face was because of his appearance or his profession but he got the distinct impression that the young lady would have preferred it he was really was a vagrant divorcee.
“Detective Inspector Rhys-Morgan,” he told her. “I would like to speak to one of the senior partners about a case they handled three years ago.”
“Of course,” she replied with a very false smile. “Smeg and Butterworth are always pleased to help the police.”
“Yeah, I bet they are,” thought Rhys-Morgan. “That’s because we’re responsible for some of their most lucrative cases.” He could not help his lip curling slightly. “Lawyers – they’re all blood-sucking leeches.”
“Actually, only Mr Butterworth is a blood-sucking leech.”
Rhys-Morgan frowned. “I’m sorry. Did I say that out loud?”
“It’s OK.” The attractive receptionist smiled sweetly at him but the eyes behind the smile were as a cold as ice. “Although Mr Butterworth prefers to be described as an haemophilic annelid.”