Balthazar & Thomas More

Found this in an old email I sent to myself. I must be getting old. I don’t remember writing it. Notes to myself include writing a story about a super detective that hires actors to play the role of cliche detective while solving crimes. Hey. No one ever accused me of being good, but I was once called a hard worker by John Metcalf. Google him. He’s a famous Canadian writer that most of us haven’t heard of.

Balthazar only answers to his full name. It took several
uncomfortable minutes to realize this when we first started working together.
The curator of this museum of popular antiquities was about to find that out.

“Bal?” He asked.
He walked behind, trying to keep up. “Bal? Are you listening to me?
Bally?”

“Sir,” I said. “I think it would be best if…”

He turned to me quickly. “Excuse me. Who are you?”

“Thomas,” I said. “Thomas More.”

It was the first name that came to mind.

“I work for Balthazar,” I said.

“So?”

“I was just wondering if I could answer your questions.”

“Are you a detective?”

“No,” I answered. And neither, technically, was
Balthazar. But that wasn’t his question.

“Then why would I want to speak with you?”

I nodded, bowed, and stepped back. I turned my head to the left
and started to visually scan the room, up and down, left to right, imagining an
infrared scanning beam spraying from my eyes, digitizing the details of the
room. I waited for Balthazar and listened to the curator continue to try and
get his attention.

“Thomas!” Balthazar yelled. I smiled. He had been paying
attention after all, I thought. I wasn’t sure he had been. I strode over, hands
in my pockets.

“Yes, Balthazar?”

The curator was still right on his heels and appeared to be
several degrees more incensed than before. I still smiled.

“What time was the bomb supposed to go off?”

“Four o’clock,” I said. 
I checked my watch. “Exactly twelve more minutes.”

The shocked curator repeated my last sentence.

“Yes. I heard him the first time,” Balthazar said.

“But, Mister Balthazar,” the curator said. “What
are we going to do?”

Balthazar took his business card holder out and snapped it open
for the curator to take one.

“Two things,” Balthazar began.

“One. My name is not Bal or Bally or even Mister Balthazar,
no matter what the person who referred you to me said. They were fucking with
you, sir. It’s best you know that now. I answer to the name Balthazar. Don’t
waste any more time calling me anything else.

“Two. There is no we as in you, me and Thomas.”
Balthazar looked to me and grinned. “There is us, as in me and Thomas. You
will sign the cheque and that is all. If it occurs to

us to answer
your questions, we will. A thank you will suffice.

“Have I made myself clear?”

Before the curator could answer, Balthazar went on. “We now
have?”

“Ten minutes,” I said. I didn’t have to check my watch.
I’d been counting down in my head since I last announced the time as well as
continuing to absorb the details of the room.

“Ten minutes,” Balthazar repeated. “Before your very
expensive museum of inconsequential popular art is turned into rubble.”

I heard the very real involuntary gulp of the curator. I knew now
we could get to work.

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