The Luton Budgie

Denouement Spadework was probably the UK’s leading private detective in the early post WWII period. Most of the time, of course, he worked on seedy divorces and other such bread and butter cases. Mostly just scraping by with enough left over by the end of the week for him to buy a bottle of whiskey, so he could drink… and forget.

That Friday evening Spadework had drunk just enough to keep forgetting where his mouth was every time he raised the bottle to his lips.

But still he remembered there was something he would never forget, even if he couldn’t quite recall what it was at the moment.

It took him some time to realise there was someone in his office, and a while more to resolve the various blurs into the shape of a woman, watching him.

‘Hello,’ she said eventually. ‘Are you Spadework?’ Spadework the detective.’

‘Sometimes,’ he said.

‘I need your help.’ She looked at him. ‘You look like you could do with a little help yourself.’

‘No.’ He held the bottle up to the light dim late summer evening light. ‘There is some left, but I can manage it on my own. I’ve had lots of practice.’ He tried to bring the bottle to his lips and fell to the floor.

It was dark when he awoke to the smell of coffee. It had been a while since he’d been able to afford coffee, even though it was a business essential more important than food, stationery, the office rent, or his secretary’s wages. Which reminded him as he rubbed his face awake, he hadn’t had a secretary for months.

Come to that, he hadn’t had a woman for months either and the one handing him the mug of strong coffee was just the sort of woman he liked… female… and with a pulse.

He drank the coffee, so hot it scalded his mouth and the two other just as hot cups she gave him were just as hot.

When he was awake, she shrugged off her fur coat and cross her legs as she sat opposite him. ‘Tell me, Denouement,’ she said. ‘Have you ever herd of the Luton budgie?’

‘No.’

‘Oh.’

Spadework rubbed the stubble on his chin. ‘Is it anything like the Maltese Falcon?’

‘No.’

‘Oh.’

Spadework closed his eyes.

When he opened his eyes, she was gone. Only a hint of her perfume remained.

Spadework sighed and shook his head. ‘That Luton Budgie sounds like it could have been quite a case,’ he muttered to himself as he searched his desk draw for another bottle. ‘Shame.’

 

Published by David Hadley

A Bloke. Occasionally points at ducks.

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