Moments later, Beaton returned, looking flushed. Still, he seemed to have calmed down. Engel sensed that little anger outbursts were a regular problem of his.
'Alright,' Beaton said. He drew up a chair and sat opposite Engel, his fingers steepled before him. 'We're all going to calm down now. I am going to keep questioning you. And until I have an answer, neither of us leave this room.'
Engel looked at him with barely disguised contempt. 'I doubt that.'
Suddenly, from outside the door, there was a metallic scraping. A key turned in the lock, and Engel realised that he and Beaton were locked in. Beaton hadn't been lying - he obviously had no intention of storming off again.
'OK,' He continued. 'I want no more pathetic pops at my wife, no more snidyness and absolutely no spitting. Is that understood?'
Jack Engel spat. Beaton wiped the sputum from his face with a tissue he'd concealed up his sleeve. He tucked it away again.
'I'll give you that one,' he said. 'Next time I'll spit back.'
'Well, I'm scared.'
A thought occured to Beaton. Did Engel know things about his wife, or was it all a bluff? How far could Engel's knowledge stretch? It was all very well to go around coughing up facts as if you'd accidetally swallowed an encyclopedia. But did he know about people... real people?
'So...' Beaton began, examining the fingernails of his left hand. 'What do you know about my wife exactly?'
Engel smiled. Obviously time to offload more information.
'Er, te me think. Her name is Laura. She has auburn hair and blue eyes. She's around five foot five, around ten stone eleven pounds. Nice looking woman. Curvy. You're a lucky man.'
'Thank you, Engel,' Beaton said through gritted teeth, annoyed. 'What else?'
'She works at a garden centre - gardening is what she lives for - she feels her true purpose is to aid the plants and flowers in their bid to take over the world.'
Beaton felt a wave of discomfort as he listened to this stranger, paraphrasing his wife's own words.
'Her mother's name is Jackie. She owns a Ford Fiat, and owned a red rusty truck before that because she likes a car with character. She has five pairs of identically sun-yellow underpants. Her favourite author is Charles Dickens, or possibly Truman Capote.'
All correct so far. Beaton's face twitched as he tried to rid himself of the mental picture of Engel rifling through Laura's underwear drawer.