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Sam Hawksmoor    
   
The Heaviness
of Genie Magee
Another Place To Die
Endtime Chronicles
SPINK: The Latté and 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.
Leon was pacing up and down the 'Bean Around The World' café floor. Clearly agitated and had something on his mind.
' Listen I’m trying to be honest here, Arnold,’ he said.
‘That would be a first, Leon’.
‘Cheap shot, my friend. I'm your agent, I’m paid to be honest whether you want to hear it or not, and the truth is that you just can’t 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. It’s got to stop, I just can’t 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 publisher’s were facing bankruptcy.’
''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 old stuff.’

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 it’s 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 doesn’t smoke or drink and he firebombs Starbucks in his spare time. Tell me that isn’t about coffee. What kind of hero is that?’
'It’s about the politics of coffee. It’s a big business Leon, or maybe you never noticed just how many Starbucks there are out there.’
'Sure I noticed and so will Starbucks if this piece of crap every gets published.’
'So did you send it to anyone at all?’
'No.’
'Why?’
'I told you, I don’t think it is ready. Spink is a terrible detective.’
'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 man’s wife. He never goes into the precinct, never does any paperwork, he’s 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 wasn’t being entirely fair.
'One, Leon; paperwork isn’t 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 don’t want to read about paperwork,unless it is forensic and Spink is not forensic, he’s undercover and undercover cops don’t 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 man’s wife, but he was only staying in character. Spink had to do it.’
Leon pursed his lips. ‘Well I don’t buy it. Spink stinks.’
'It’s my best work, Leon. I note you didn’t 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 didn’t 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 aren’t in synch. I need superheroes. Give me superheroes. That’s what’s selling.’
'I gave you ‘Beanman’.’
'A guy who can turn seawater into coffee? What kind of superhero is that?’
'He’d be big in Seattle.’
'Give me a break. Beanman'. He snorted with derision. 'Look...I’m going. I’ll have my assistant send all your stuff back tomorrow.’
'You have an assistant now? Things must be looking up. Spink predicted this y’know. 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. Couldn’t catch a bad guy if he ran right over him. He’s 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 he’d have another mocha on Arnold’s tab. ‘Been telling you that for months, pal. Let me tell you. Man like that, who doesn’t drink coffee? Just not someone you’d want to be around. You know what I’m saying.’
'You’re right Spink. When your right ,you’re 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 2013
author of Repercussions of Tomas D


 

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