This time it was to be the Protagonist Cafe, a rather upscale, uptown tea-and-crumpets eatery, a place on the corner of the financial district that catered to the well-to-do and the hoping-to-be-someday-soon-well-to-do that would dictate my life. Here my next few days would find their reason for being.
I parked my rusting, sputtering but to-date still faithful Volvo in the driveway of the Our Lady of Sorrows Cathedral that had been casting a tall shadow in this city long before the cathedrals of banking and commerce were built.
Old Parky, my first mentor when I first joined the Department, was there to meet me. Even though he was threatening to retire soon, I sensed he still loved the work. He never made Inspector, but he should have. He was the best detective the Vancouver PD had ever paid a paycheck to. But he wasn't much of a politician, and besides that, he probably drank too much for any body's good.
"Hey, Nicky. About time you got here. Even that sassy pain-in-the-butt reporter from the Sun beat you here."
Oh, great! Just keep her from me, alright, Parky. I ain't in no mood to deal with any nosy dame. I've got a hangover that feels like two bulldogs are having a scrap in m brain. Okay, what do we got?"
"Nicky. That waiter of there. Something Henson or Hanson. Well whatever, he went back into the food locker and found this old boy stabbed dead, dead, dead with your classic ice pick. Two in the heart and one in the back of his neck."
"Alright. Show him to me, Parky. And God,cloth establishment, past the mahogany bar, through the kitchen and by way of a white metal door, the refrigerated food locker. And there midst the sides of beef hanging from the ceiling and stacks of cardboard boxes filling metal shelves, there laying over a stack of three metal grates of orange juice was a some poor soul who had eaten his last biscuit with marmalade. Why that reference? That's what was sitting on a white china plate, four biscuits, a sausage, and a jar of Robertson's Scotch Orange Marmalade. And I thought ... "Lord, I haven't had some of that stuff in years.'"
About then, the good medical examiner strolled in, and she was the best part of the job. Some say she was the best coroner this town ever had, and that might be debated, but she sure was the best looking. "Good morning, Tasha."
She gave me the look, "Inspector Bouton, it's Dr. Noble, if you don't mind. Our Tasha and Nick days are long gone."
"Alright by me."
"Now that that is settled for the hundredth time, let's see what we've got. here."