If Rhys-Morgan was angry before – and he was – then he was really angry now. He had got nowhere with Mr Smeg, and now he had been fobbed off to his partner, Mr Butterworth, the haemophilic annelid. To cap it all off, the vacantly smiling secretary at the front desk was insisting that he waited. The policeman was feeling the desire to arrest someone stronger than he had felt since the great Donut Truck Hijacks of 1994.
He sat down on one of the comfy-looking brown leather armchairs opposite the secretary’s desk. It turned out not be as comfortable as it looked. He scanned the hardwood coffee table next to him for something to browse. All that was on offer was a two-year-old copy of ‘Hello’ magazine and the sports section from the Telegraph. Rhys-Morgan did not believe in sports and he had no time for celebrities. After a couple of minutes, he could not bear it any longer.
“Look,” he said, sharply. “Does Mr Butterworth have an important client in there, or something?”
“No,” replied the secretary. She now wore the expression of someone who had come to terms with the fact that she had to deal with an undesirable and was determined to bear the burden with dignity.
“Then why can he not see me now?” Rhys-Morgan demanded.
The secretary coughed quietly. “He’s, er, having his, erm, lunch.”
By now he was out of his seat. “He’s what?!”
That was the final straw for the tired detective and before the secretary realised what was happening, he was marching purposefully towards the oak-panelled door bearing the gold plaque with the engraved letters ‘B. B. Butterworth. Senior Partner.’ This act was enough for her to lose her composure.
“No, sir!” she cried. “You really don’t want to…”
But it was too late. Rhys-Morgan was already bursting through Butterworth’s door in a fury. Inside, he found himself in a well-decorated office with high bookshelves and filing cabinets on each sidewall, either side of a central desk of fine mahogany. Beyond, a tall window looked out through net curtains into the car park.
Behind the desk, a surprisingly young man sat up sharply and quickly pulled his suit jacket closed. He was well groomed, but Rhys-Morgan noticed that he wore no tie and the top three buttons of his pale pink shirt were undone.
“What is the meaning of this?” he demanded, his face displaying a mixture of shock and, to Rhys-Morgan’s surprise and intrigue, embarrassment.
Rhys-Morgan ignored the question. His policing instincts were screaming at him that something funny was going on here. “Mr Butterworth?”
“And who is asking?” came the uptight response.
Rhys-Morgan flipped out his badge. “Detective Inspector Rhys-Morgan. Homicide.” He liked saying that. It generally got people worried, even if they were perfectly innocent.
“Oh.” This was obviously not the response that the young man had expected. “No, I’m Mr Butterworth’s personal assistant.”
Rhys-Morgan snapped his wallet shut without a loud slap. He was not prepared to be passed around any more. “I want to see Mr Butterworth.”
To Rhys-Morgan’s well-trained eye, the P.A. panicked a little. “Er, I’m afraid that Mr Butterworth is…”
Rhys-Morgan leant forward, placing both hands firmly on the desk and looking the man squarely in the eye. “Now.”
“It’s alright, Jonathon,” said a third voice. “I can see the policeman. Let him see me.”
Rys-Morgan stood up and took a step backwards. There were only the two of them in the room. Jonathon continued to look worried and began to unbutton his suit jacket. As it fell open, Rhys-Morgan noticed that Jonathon had his tie draped around his neck. It was what was known as a “power tie”. To Rhys-Morgan’s mind, that was just a synonym for “tasteless”.
The detective’s gaze did not linger on the tie, however. Once the jacket was open, Jonathon pulled open the top of his shirt to reveal his left breast almost down to the nipple. On it, in line with the armpit, was a leech. Twin puncture marks oozed blood next to it.
Rhys-Morgan’s face contorted as if he had just tasted some more McDonald’s coffee. “That’s disgusting!”
Jonathon fingered at his tie, his discomfort plain to see. “I know, and I’m sorry. But it was present from my late aunt, and my mum makes me wear it.”