This is the continuation of a story. You can read the rest here.
A small man with small glasses and short brown hair on his head only from the ears down walks around a desk to come shake my hand. I consider myself of average height for a Homo sapiens, but I feel like a giant when I shake his hand. I practically have to bend over to reach the little thing.
He’s wearing a three-piece suit and I wonder if he bought it in the boy’s department. Do they even have three-piece suits for boys? It seems like an odd thing for boys to wear. When I was a boy, I didn’t even have a suit; just a suit coat and non-matching fancy pants.
A voice asking, “Mr….?” shakes me out of my menswear reverie. Focus, dummy. Have we been holding hands this whole time?
“Walker Drake. And you are?”
“Mr. Dixon.” I knew that, but I was hoping he’d solve the mystery of whether Elbert Dixon is one or two people when he introduced himself. He left me hanging.
Dixon gestures for me to take a seat in one of two chairs in front of his desk. I choose the one that gives me a sidelong view of the door, because I’ve become wary of sneak attacks. I rub the site on the back of my head from the last one.
“Ms. Adler said that you are from McGinty’s Books?” Ms.? So, I guess everyone around here is ambiguous.
“Something like that, yes.” I guess I’m ambiguous, too. At least I’m not tiny.
“I was to have dealt with Mr. McGinty personally.” The pluperfection of that sentence throws me for a second, but I navigate back to the present tense.
“Mr. McGinty is indisposed due to a family emergency. I have license to act on his behalf.” Alright, so that’s a lie. I do have a license, just not to act on McGinty’s behalf since I’ve never actually met him.
He looks skeptical, “Well, did you bring it?”
“Pardon?” In the detective game, answering a question with a question is a way to get more information and lead a conversation where you want it. I can’t help that this is a stupid question leading nowhere since I have no information.
“The package that Mr. McGinty was to have brought me yesterday,” his verb forms are making my brain hurt, ”did you bring it?” He sat forward in his chair and practically licked his lips with anticipation.
“I didn’t bring it. McGinty has the paperwork, and without that, I can’t make a delivery. Do you have a copy of it?”
“Now look here, sir. Do you have the package or not? If not, I’ll have to ask that you leave now.”
“I do have it, but I don’t have it on me. As I said, I cannot deliver it without the paperwork.” I feel strange using the indefinite it so much, but seeing as I don’t actually know what it is, it it is.
While my brain is occupied, my mouth carries on flapping out words as if it knows what it’s talking about. “Without paperwork, I have no way to tell if you have paid in full, partially or haven’t paid at all. I cannot verify that you are, in fact, the proper recipient and we wouldn’t want to make a mistake like giving the package to the wrong person, would we? So, please, if you have a copy of the paperwork, bring it forth and then we’ll talk about delivery.”
I have just channeled my inner accountant. I sound so much like someone I’d hate that I’m going to have to punch myself in the face later.
With a tsk, Dixon reaches into a desk drawer and pulls out a folder, opens it, retrieves one flimsy piece of yellow paper, and hands it to me. It’s an invoice from McGinty’s alright, but that’s nearly as much sense as I can make of it.
In the bill to and ship to fields, it says ELBERT DIXON & ASSOCIATES along with the address of the chair in which I currently sit. The item description says something in what might possibly be Latin or Pig Latin along with REMAINDER DUE ON DELIVERY: $5,000.
Aha! So, he was trying to skate out of his debt after all! I’m on to your game, Mr. Verb Tense. “Can you make a copy of this for me?” Without being summoned or even noticed, the bespectacled receptionist slinks up next to me and holds out her hand. I cower and give her the paper; she disappears. So much for evading sneak attacks. “I’ll expect payment of the remaining $5,000 you owe before I make delivery. When would that be convenient for you?” Please, say next month some time.
“As soon as possible, Mr. Drake. The delivery was to have been made yesterday.” The way this guy talks makes me want to smash something.
The receptionist returns with two pieces of paper. She gives one to me and one to Dixon. “Thank you.” I grab a business card from the little stand on his desk and hold it up, “I’ll be in touch.”
I still have no idea what it is, where Mac is or whether Elbert Dixon is one person or two. Waiting for the elevator, I look at the business card for clues, but disappointingly, all it says the obstinately obscure ELBERT DIXON & ASSOCIATES with a phone number and address.