SPINK: The Latté and the Call of the Foam
It was an awkward meeting from the very start.
Leon uneasy, edgy, keen to go the moment he arrived, looking at
his watch and smartphone and there was Arnold, carrying a full
caffeine load, mid-sentence in a difficult moment for Detective
Spink one of Vancouver's least finest cops.
was pacing up and down the 'Bean Around The World' café
floor. Clearly agitated and
had something on his mind.
trying to be honest here, Arnold," he said.
"That would be a first, Leon."
"Cheap shot, my friend. I'm your agent, Im paid to be honest
whether you want to hear it or not, and the truth is that you just cant
write about coffee anymore."
Arnold frowned. "What do you mean?"
Leon wrung his hands and stared out at the passing traffic for a moment
before speaking. 'I mean, all you ever write about is coffee. All
your screenplays are set in coffee bars, every short story you have written
begins and ends in a coffee shop, even when Travel Inc. sent you to Europe
all you did was lurch from one coffee shop to another. Your last novel
was even set on a coffee plantation. There are no coffee druglords, Arnold,
they are a figment of your imagination. Its got to stop, I just
cant sell this stuff anymore."
''Leon, with the best will in the world, you hardly ever sell anything at all. The last time you sold
a novel of mine, you failed to mention the publishers were facing
''It was your book that pushed them over the edge, Arnold. They might
have recovered but for The Great Mocha Grande Mystery. It
was no loss to publishing, believe me. You are still recycling the same
He took out a tattered manuscript from his pocket and dumped it onto the
table. "Hot Chai in a Cold Wind is exactly the same damn story,
only set in Florida."
"Actually, Leon, you might not have noticed this but Chai is a not
actually a coffee drink and the plot is completely different. In fact,
I am writing the sequel now. I had a good response from the reading group."
"Five old ladies and a cat. Great feedback. And I bet its set
in a coffee shop."
"Five published authors and a cat, Leon. I might add this coffee
shop was the scene of a double homicide the night the Chief of Police was shot
in cold blood in the Sports Club next door. Kits Beach is
basically one long death row these days."
Leon shook his head and sighed. "You just have to get out of the
coffee bar, Arnold. Your Detective Spink sucks. He doesnt smoke
or drink and he firebombs Starbucks in his spare time. Tell
me that isnt about coffee. What kind of hero is that?"
"Its about the politics of coffee. Its a big business
Leon, or maybe you never noticed just how many Starbucks there are out
"Sure I noticed and so will Starbucks if this piece of crap every
"So did you send it to anyone at all?"
"I told you, I dont think it is ready. Spink is a terrible
"He solves the case."
Leon practically exploded and whipped around to face Arnold. "Solved
the case? He kills the only witness to prevent him finding out he is screwing
the mans wife. He never goes into the precinct, never does any paperwork,
hes just not..." he searched for more polite version of what
he really wanted to say "..very professional."
Arnold frowned and finished his latte. He felt Leon wasnt being
entirely fair. "One, Leon; paperwork isnt sexy. Did you ever see anyone do
paperwork in Law and Order? C.S.I. is Crime Scene Investigation, Leon.
Not P.S.I. Paperwork Scene Investigation.
"Two: People dont want to read about paperwork,unless it is forensic
and Spink is not forensic, hes undercover and undercover cops dont
go into the office to do paperwork, Leon. Ever.
"Three: he had to kill the witness because it would have blown his cover
and yes he was sleeping with the mans wife, but he was only staying
in character. Spink had to do it."
Leon pursed his lips. "Well I dont buy it. Spink stinks."
"Its my best work, Leon. I note you didnt turn up for
the cold reading. Farrell wants to play him and Serinda wants to
be his lover."
"What cold reading?"
"The cold reading you didnt turn up for."
"The one in the coffee shop?"
"It was a bar actually, and over a hundred people squeezed in. It
was good feedback."
"I play poker on Wednesdays."
"It was a Thursday."
Leon sighed and Arnold could see he was trying to get something off his
chest. "Listen Arnold. I have been meaning to tell you for sometime,
but I think you need better representation than I can give you. We arent
in synch. I need superheroes. Give me superheroes. Thats whats
"I gave you Beanman."
"A guy who can turn seawater into coffee? What kind of superhero
"Hed be big in Seattle."
"Give me a break. Beanman". He snorted with derision. "Look...Im
going. Ill have my assistant send all your stuff back tomorrow."
"You have an assistant now? Things must be looking up. Spink predicted
this yknow. He said you were bailing out on me."
Leon frowned, halting by the door, turning his head towards Arnold. "You
do know Spink is a fictional character, right? A crappy small town coffee
stained cop way out of his league. Couldnt catch a bad guy if he
ran right over him. Hes a loser Arnold, just like you."
Arnold watched Leon go, signalling to the barista that he was ready for
another medium latte, easy on the foam. He watched his former agent cross
the road, climb into his rusty old Buick and drive off, belching
smoke all the way down Cornwall Avenue. It was time; he mused, to find
an agent who could afford a more environmentally friendly car.
Detective Spink came out of the toilet and noted Arnold looked kind of
tense. "I miss anything?"
"Not much. Leon was here. Wants me to find better representation."
Spink nodded, unsurprised. He signalled the barista hed have another
mocha on Arnolds tab. "Been telling you that for months, pal.
Let me tell you. Man like that, who doesnt drink coffee? Just not
someone youd want to be around. You know what Im saying."
"Youre right Spink. When your right ,youre right."
Spink nodded and settled back into the armchair. He examined his coffee
stained fingernails and leaned forward a little. "You want me to
break his legs?"
Arnold smiled, hestitated a moment, and then shook his head. It was good
to have a friend like Spink around, dependable, solid, a man who cared.
© Sam Hawksmoor May 2020
author of The Repercussions of Tomas D