The interview room consisted of two solid wood dining chairs; one occupied, one not, a folding table with an only just rectangular top, a bare concrete floor, four brick walls that were originally painted a shade of buttercup yellow but had over the years darkened in a patchwork of places leaving them with the look of having been stained by nicotine, a card reader that released the eight bolts which rendered the stainless steel door incapable of being opened, six fluorescent lighting tubes that buzzed incessantly when on, and sometimes even when off, a dry-wipe board fixed steadfastly to the wall for illustrative and note-taking purposes and a camera housing the size of half a Magic 8-Ball mounted to the ceiling on the opposite side of the room to the door.
And one Mr Dewar. Hotelier.
The unexpected sound of the bolts in the door disengaging caused Mr Dewar to jump. Detective Davies entered wearing a thick tie of a yellow that clashed horribly with the patchy stained walls and holding a thin blue cardboard folder containing the notes and photographs that detailed the ongoing case. Mr Dewar smiled at the Detective as he dropped into the unoccupied chair and placed the opened folder on the table between them. Once the folder was opened, Davies didn’t once look up from the notes.
“Mr Gustave Dewar, is that correct?” eyes fixed on the pieces of hand-written paper.
“Oui.” The hotelier confirmed in a resonant, full-toned voice, still smiling. “The friends of mine call me Gus. For short.”
“Mr Dewar,” Detective Davies continued, “further to previous questioning, there are a few details of your accounting that require clarification.”
“I am not an accountant.” Mr Dewar stated.
The Detective aversely made eye contact with the hotelier, not that he necessarily wanted to do so but had developed a reluctant inclination when interrupted by the purported to be obstinate detainee.
“What?” Davies said flatly.
“You said accounting. I am not an accountant. That would be my cousin, Brian. He deals normally with the money.”
“Mr Dewar, by accounting I mean your account, your … report of the events alleged to have taken place at your establishment.” The officer’s temperature had, without warning, risen by a few degrees. Celsius, that is.
“Oh. Then why did you not say report, Detective? That would have been much easier.”
“Mr Dewar, may I continue?”
“Bien sûr. Pardon.” The man relinquished.
“Thank you. Mr Dewar. You are the proprietor of the hotel that bears your family name, yes?”
“And your hotel provides a rather unique service, does it not?”
“Oui.” Mr Dewar confirmed with not a small amount of pride. “Or, at least, it did until I and my staff were rounded up and brought here by your officers. It would seem that after all of these years, the ferret has been finally let out of the bag.”
“Pardon?” the hotelier begged.
“It’s cat, Mr Dewar. The cat has been let out of the bag.”
“Cat. Ferret. Whatever it is, Detective, now everyone knows what it is, do not they do?”
“They do, Mr Dewar. Indeed they do.” Davies referred again to the papers in the folder, “You provide a service to, and I quote, ‘to relieve paying clients of their spouses for a fee of six-thousand pounds’, that is what you said, isn’t it?”
“Oui, six-thousand pounds … or seven-thousand four-hundred and twenty-eight euro. Whichever is the most convenient.”
“So, let me get this straight,” the Detective’s agitation apparenting, “people would come in to your hotel,” he reiterated, “for the sole purpose of having their wives or husbands … assassinated?”
“And the amenities, as well, do not forget. We have three lovely swimming pools. All heated. And two of them are Olympics sizes.”
The Detective grimaced at the accused. “That’s sick.” Davies declared.
“I agree.” Mr Dewar himself had to admit.
“You do?” the Detective said in disbelief.
“Oui, I greatly enjoy an invigorating swim in the morning as much as many of our guests do. C'est très thérapeutique, non?”
“Mr Dewar, these are serious accusations that have been made against you and your hotel, I would thank you to bear that in mind when answering my questions.”
“Why, Detective, are we talking so much about animals?”
“Animals, Mr Dewar?”
“Oui, animaux, Monsieur. Bears. Cats. Ferrets. Une ménagerie fantaisiste, n’est pas?”
Mr Dewar jumped a second time when Davies rocketed up from his seat, teeth bared and narrowed eyes fixed on the man sat across the table. The officer ran his fingertips through his hair, front to back, and needlessly adjusted his tie. A silent count to ten and a deep breath later, the Detective resumed his chair.
“Let’s move on, shall we?” Davies hissed.
“I am happy to be onward moving, yes.” The hotelier agreed.
The detective pulled a photograph of a silver-haired lady with a toothy smile and badly applied lipstick from his folder and held it for Mr Dewar to inspect.
“Mr Dewar, please would you confirm for me that you are aware of the disappearance of a,” he referred to the notes again, “a Mrs Marjorie Bolt-Tupp from your hotel.”
“I do.” Mr Dewar confirmed.
He looked at the hotelier without lifting his head. “You do … what … exactly, Mr Dewar?” Davies attempted to coax a bit more from the up-until-just-now very talkative man.
“I do know about the disappearance of Mrs Bolt-Tupp, but what can I say? The vacuum pressure that builds up is very strong in the hotel’s toilets.”
“Very strong, is it?”
“That’s where she’s gone, is it? Down the tubes?”
“That’s what I hear.”
“And was that organised, Mr Dewar?”
“Well the plumbing was, at one time or another I’m sure, arranged to be installed by someone, yes.”
“WAS THE DISAPPEARANCE, THE ASSASSINATION OF MRS BOLT-TUPP ORGANISED? MR DEWAR! YES OR NO!”
“That, Detective, I do not know.” Mr Dewar said.
Davies closed his eyes and forcefully rubbed the back of his neck.
“You. Don’t. Know.” was the Detective’s deflated response.
“That is correct, Detective. If indeed it had been organised then it would have involved a monetary exchange and for that you would need to consult with Brian. As I said, he deals normally with-”
“The money, yes, I remember.” Davies had abandoned the back of his neck and began to abrasively scratch his forehead. “What, then, can you tell me about this man, Mr Ivor Stephenson?”
The detective slid the photograph closer to Mr Dewar.
“Ah, Mr Stephenson. A very unfortunate accident on the golf course. I don’t believe he ever saw it coming.”
“Saw what coming, Mr Dewar?”
“Well, his approaching doom. Caused by the ricochet of the ball that ultimately hurtled towards his head and shattered his skull, but of course.”
“But of course.” The Detective mocked. “And please would you explain to me the use of an item found at your hotel, the ‘golf ball gun’?”
“You can’t always guarantee an accurate ricochet.”
“So you’d wait in a bush on the golf course,” Davies postulated.
“Brian.” The hotelier clarified.
“Look, it doesn’t matter, SOMEONE would wait in a bush on the golf course and fire this ‘golf ball gun’ at the person that was to be assassinated.”
“Or persons. It is a powerful gun. Brian did three people one time. Twenty-two thousand two-hundred and eighty-four euro and only one lot of propellant. C’est une bargain, n’est pas?”
“And no one ever noticed Brian or you or whoever waiting to kill them?”
“I believe it is whomever, Detective.”
“DEWAR!!” Davies shouted.
“No. They didn’t. Neither, either, did they notice Brian’s balls.”
“I beg your …WHAT?!”
“Balls, Monsieur, Mr Stephenson brought into the hotel his own balls, you see, a brand-new set of Champion™ but he was ultimately killed by a Noodle™.”
“This is abysmal!”
“Inferior balls, I agree, but they were on offer.”
“For Christ’s sake, Mr Dewar!” Davies slammed his hand down on the table. “Can we focus?! Now! Please!!”
“Mais oui, Monsieur.” Mr Dewar didn’t jump this time. He was growing accustomed to the Detective’s unexpected outbursts, and expected this one.
“Now please, Mr Dewar, tell me about Mr and Mrs Bucket.”
“Ah, the Buckets. Both of them kicked, non?” Mr Dewar couldn’t resist it. “It was amazing, for three-hundred and fifteen years in this business my family have been and this was the first time and, only time, that both husband and wife came to us at the same time, and for the same reason.”
“And how did the Bucket’s meet their respective ends?”
“Well, there was a night of bad reception of the television and Mr Bucket went to the roof to fix the antenna that led to their room, the only room in the hotel, by the way, that has the access to the roof. There was a large gust of wind and again, what can I say? … Gravity, it’s not the friend we thought it to be, eh?”
“And what about Mrs Bucket?”
“I’m sure she heard most certainly her husband’s cry as he fell past their window on the way down and in her triumph, celebrated by indulging in the special sashimi that her husband had surprised her with before going to the roof to fix the antenna.”
“What was so special about the sashimi, Mr Dewar?”
“Blowfish. Very dangerous. You know they say, Detective, that there are only three chefs in the world at any given time who are skilled enough to prepare the blowfish sashimi without nicking with the knife the sac inside the fish that holds the toxin that renders the meat to be lethal.”
“Yes, I’ve heard this.” Davies acknowledged.
“Brian is not one of those chefs.”
After a moment of massaging his clenched jaw, the Detective referred again to the notes in his folder.
“As far as we can tell, there has never been a death reported at the hotel,” Davies stated, visibly unsettled, nerves beyond redemption, “no reports of corpses ever having been removed either. How did you dispose of the bodies?”
“Pigs.” Mr Dewar illustrated. “We have our own pigs. And our bacon is, how do you say, top-notch? First-rate? C'est magnifique.”
“Magnifique.” The Detective parroted as, he thought, was his instruction.
“Brian is also a butcher. The bacon, conversely, he butchers very nicely. Crisps up wonderfully well for le petit déjeuner.”
“THAT’S IT!!!” The Detective conceded. “I’ve heard enough!! Mr Dewar,”
“you … are … a cretinous individual and you, my horrible little friend, are going down.”
“Not on you, I’m not.”
“You are going to be locked in a cell for a very long time!”
Davies collected the photographs and loose bits of paper, stood from his chair and motioned to the person on the other side of the ceiling camera that he was coming out. Seconds later, the bolts sounded again, resulting in Mr Dewar jumping a third time. A uniformed officer opened the door for the Detective and awaited orders.
“Take this filth to the holding cell and tell the commissioner that the charges against the staff at the Dewar Inn have crossed the threshold for prosecution.”
“Sir.” The officer acknowledged.
“The Commissioner?” Mr Dewar repeated, attentiveness piqued.
Mr Dewar was placed in cuffs and escorted from the interview room. The prisoner was led down the corridor and through the reception area where visitors to the station signed in at the desk there and collected their station passes. It was at this desk where Mr Dewar recognised someone he knew.
“Commissioner?” the hotelier’s escort began, “Detective Davies says that the thresh-”
“Commissioner Cline!” Mr Dewar interrupted, “How wonderful to see you again.” He was loud enough for everyone else present to stop what they were doing and take notice.
The Commissioner shot the loud man a sideways glance and continued writing in the visitors’ book.
“I was wanting to congratulate you for your marriage. Number four, n’est pas? You’re a very lucky man, non?”
The Commissioner continued writing.
“I also wanted to let you know that your booking for your usual room will have to be postponed until I am returning to the hotel. It may be some time but I will let you know when you can visit us again.”
The Commissioner had by this time finished writing but remained bent over the desk, motionless.
“Au revior, mon amie!” the hotelier shouted as he disappeared down the corridor.
Moments passed before the Commissioner realised the silence that permeated the reception area. Even more moments went before he noticed that everyone there was staring at him. The Commissioner replaced the chained pen on to the register, stood upright and straightened his uniform jacket. He puffed out his chest, raised his chin and before moving on to his scheduled meeting, declared to those around him, “I have no idea who that bizarre little man was.”