Oh, hello, it’s been too long.
I made a commitment, well, more a promise, well, more like I said so recently in a #CreateLounge chat, that I need to start blogging again. This seemed like a good enough place to start.
Check out the rest of the story on the blog.
Reginald Bullock was many things but rarely late. He prided himself on that, if not on much else. He arrived at his desk in the Investigation Department of Magical Law Enforcement at 9 o’clock sharp every morning, and, considering how punctual it was that he arrived, he considered it completely right that he leave his desk at precisely 5 o’clock every afternoon, without fail. What he did in the hours between, of course, was another matter altogether.
Which was one of many reasons why he was none too pleased to reach his desk the next morning at exactly 9 o’clock and find things were not as he had left them at 5 o’clock the day before. For a moment, he almost thought that he had walked to the wrong desk entirely, as he did not recognize it. It was only after he counted and found that it occupied the exact position where his desk usually was that he realized it was the desk that was the problem. First and foremost, that he could see it.
He could see the entire cubicle, in fact, including the floor, which was now bare and showed the world exactly what color the carpet had been some twenty years ago. The papers, the stacks and stacks of them, were gone. All that remained was a single, slim pile of files that sat in the middle of his now clean desk. The only other thing in his cubicle was the person responsible for all of this, a pearl-haired Patrolwitch who sat calmly in a chair opposite his own.
“Good morning, Mr. Bullock,” Rhi said as she looked up to him from her chair. Reg stared. His turn to goggle.
It took him a minute, several in fact, to find the words, but at last he did, or one word to be precise. “What?”
“I took the liberty of tidying up,” she replied, a look of extreme, though measured, satisfaction on her face.
“Where?” came his follow-up.
“I also took the liberty of working through your paperwork,” she said with a smile. “I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know most of it was woefully outdated. The rest was either irrelevant, a closed file, or something that pertained to a case being working by another investigator. I forwarded the relevant paperwork on to the proper office.” Rhi folded her hands and smiled at the obtuse investigator.
“How?” he now asked.
“Well, sir, you’d be surprised what one can do when one is focused on the task at hand.”
He looked around again at the bare office, landing back on the single stack of files on his desk. No need to guess what those were. He stalked over, dropped himself in his chair, and stared at Gillford as hard as he could.
“Well, it seems there’s no getting rid of you,” he said.
Rhi stiffened. Her smile disappeared. No, she thought, absolutely not.
“How long have you worked Patrol, Gillford, was it?” Reg asked, sitting back suddenly.
“Seven years,” she answered.
“Seven years,” he whistled. “I would have thought you’d figured it out by now.”
“Figured what out?” she asked, stung.
Reginald sat forward again in his chair. “How the world works.”
Rhi stared at him in confusion. With no other retort to offer, she put her hand on the files and pushed them towards him.
“I don’t care how the world works, Mr. Bullock,” she replied. “I care about solving this case.”
“And solving this case will get you what exactly?”
She looked back at him in disgust. What it got her had never entered Rhi’s mind. What it got her didn’t matter at all.
“Three people are dead, sir,” was her reply and she tapped the files again.
“So you say,” Reg said. “And these people are important?”
Again, the completely unthinkable remark. They were important enough, Rhi thought, they had died and no one knew why.
“They deserve to have their deaths explained,” she shot back. “Their families deserve to know the truth.”
“Maybe,” Reg admitted. “But I’m not the one to do that.”
“Why not?” Rhi asked. “You have been assigned the case.”
“That’s why I’m not the one.”
Rhi, of course, did not understand. “This is important, sir!” And she shoved the files towards him.
“If it were,” he said calmly, pushing them back. “They would never have given it to me.”
Rhi stared, goggle-eyed again. “What?” Her rage was rising. “Mr. Freeman himself personally recommended you.”
And he laughed. He laughed, and it made Rhi all the angrier.
“Well, that just proves it,” he said.
“Proves what?” Rhi asked.
“If ole Vince Freeman cared two knuts about this case, he never would have told you to bring it to me in the first place.”
And Rhi was cross, she wanted to be, but she could feel it draining, the righteous fury, to be replaced with the disappointed, defeated feeling she had felt last night. It made sense. It made perfect sense when you remembered the people involved.
“I’m bettin’ Vince didn’t tell you about me, did he?”
Rhi looked up at Reg. She shook her head.
“I didn’t think so,” he said and sat back. “Gillford, I’m not exactly what you call popular. I doubt anyone would even call me competent. To tell you the truth, I’m a bit of a nobody. But the Investigation Department gets a lot of cases, and sometimes they get a case that they sort of know isn’t going to go anywhere. Maybe there’s not enough evidence, maybe it’s just not important enough to. When they come upon that case, they send it down to Reg Bullock.” He held his arms out to where piles and piles of files had once stood, and Rhi recalled the man’s reaction yesterday when she had asked for Reginald Bullock’s desk. Laughter. “This is where cases go to die, miss.”
Rhi just stared down at the desk, at the files. It made sense, of course. She had begun to suspect it yesterday. Mr. Freeman’s sudden change of heart, giving the case its due, giving her exactly what she wanted. She knew better, but, at the time, she had been too eager, too excited at the mere prospect. Last night, it seemed easier to blame Mr. Bullock’s apparent apathy; it seemed easier to think if she just made it easier, then maybe there would be a chance. She had hoped, which is something she rarely allowed herself and for this very reason.
“Sorry to disappoint you, Gillford,” Reg said and tapped a finger on the files. “But three dead muggles just isn’t important enough for anyone better than Reginald Bullock.”
Rhi looked up. She wanted to hate him, this fat, lazy man before her, but there was something in his voice, a resignation. Something told her, somewhere deep inside, maybe Reginald Bullock didn’t like the way things were either, but he didn’t see that there wasn’t anything to be done about it.
Slowly, she rose from her seat. As there didn’t seem to be anything else to say, Rhi turned and stepped out of the cubicle. She left Reg to his empty desk, presumably to nap. She walked mindlessly down the hall, bereft of thought, of hope. She made it nearly to the lifts before it finally clicked.