. . . murder and mayhem?”
“Inspector Smith-Jones, I am painfully aware that this is a most inopportune time to say this, but has anyone ever told you what lovely eyes you have?”
Inspector Smith-Jones turned away, tears suddenly welling up in the corners of her left and right eyes. She removed the tiny rainbow-colored paper umbrella from her glass and took a sip of her gin and tonic.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to . . .” Joe said, reaching out to her. Smith-Jones waved him away.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” she said, and then began to laugh. “Mostly I get comments on the size of my feet.”
“How rude. I hardly noticed them. Your feet, that is. Well perhaps when you tripped down the stairs, but that could happen to anyone. I don’t know why I said that just now about your eyes. I guess it’s all the stress, all the weirdness that’s going down. Lovely music, though.”
“It’s okay, I understand. People say strange things in situations like this. And yes, it is quite lovely. The music, that is. I've always been rather fond of James. Especially the old stuff.”
“Right. What we need to do here is focus. In fact I learned a special technique for focusing back when I was doing Special Ops for the British Army.”
“You were in the army?” she asked, somewhat surprised.“Yes, but it’s not something I like to talk about. Some really bad stuff went down back in ‘96. We were on the Menlung Glacier, hunting Yeti. I assume that you’re familiar with mountaineer Eric Shipton and his 1951 Everest Reconnaissance expedition?”
“I’ve heard the lads talking about it in the pubs now and then.”
“Well, we were doing a follow-up. What I’m now going to tell you might help you understand a little bit of what is going down here. You see Jack, Violet’s father, was my commanding officer. The second week out we came to a small village called Panda Town. That’s not what it was really called, but we named it that. You know how it is in the army. Anyhow, Jack met a lovely little native lass. She swept him off his feet. I think he was going through a mid-life crisis at the time. Anyhow, there was a third member on our team who was also a local boy.”Inspector Smith-Jones drew in a large quantity of air; “You don’t mean . . .”
“Exactly. So you see, in a way, this all makes perfect sense.” Joe raised his St Pauli Girl and drank deeply.