It didn't happen often, but there he was, sitting amongst the stuffy high bred folk. Barker walked past the twentieth mirror he had noticed in the place. It seemed to suit him well though. There was never enough time to casually glance at your own appearance. He straightened his tie. Powder blue, he had gone with. It was a symbol of respect for the armed forces.
Barker turned away from the mirror. There would be more. For now, he had to make all appearances of a concerned and appalled spectator. After all, it was the banquet dinner to commemorate the life of his fellow detective, Lucky.
Lucky had passed on to a better life. At least the speaker had the room convinced this was the case. His car had mysteriously lost all four tires and crashed into an oncoming pole. Lucky had no chance to brake or swerve.
Sad for Lucky, who didn't seem to quite live up to the name in the end. Barker looked around, snapping out of his own thoughts. The people were clapping, the long-winded speaker must have been done. He put his paws together in a slow clap as well. Barker was not only a detective, but he was also a Canine. A very special kind of dog called a Doberman.
Barker checked the schedule for the events of the night. He really hoped eating was up next. However, at a glance, he quickly found it was anything but eating time. There highlighted in red marker was his own name, he remembered now, keynote speaker. Why had they chosen him?
Barker straightened his tie and looked in the twenty-first mirror of the night. He wasn't even great friends with Lucky. They weren't even good friends. They had merely been co-workers. Matter of fact, Barker recalled not even liking Lucky at all. The smug little bird. Always nudging up to Psitticus. He was what you would call the perpetual brown noser. Loved everything that squawking parrot of a boss had to say.
Barker stepped up behind the podium. He had notes, he always had notes. He fidgeted around in his pocket for them. He had originally started the speech off very simply,
I could not be prouder that Lucky is finally gone. No longer do I have to grin and nod at his stupid pandering. No longer must I play the third detective in an office of three. No longer do I have to listen to his pointless dribble.
Although that was the way Barker really felt about the situation. He thought it classier to start like this instead...
"Today we celebrate the life of a fellow detective, a soldier, and a great man. There are many things I could say about Lucky to those gathered here, but we all know he touched each of our lives. We know that he was charismatic, determined, and always ready to prove his worth. "Barker hated to lie, but appearances were everything. Anyone who told you differently was a liar.
"I could sit here and spew a few jokes about how the man was always ready to make you laugh. I could sit behind this wooden podium and tell you a tearjerker of a surefire lead detective gone too soon. What a great boss he would have made."
Better than Psitticus at least, but that didn't make him nearly as good as Barker. Barker held back the bile that was forming from these sickening words. His paw moved up to his neckline and straightened his tie again.
"I, however, will not be doing that tonight. Instead of making you laugh or making you cry. I decided to just say thank you to the man we have all gathered here to mourn. Thank him for his service to the country, to the city, and to the people. A friend is what he was first and foremost to us all. Remember him with his beak shaped in a smile and his wings spread in flight, for tonight he has risen above us all. We as those left behind can only hope that one day we too can join him in paradise," Barker took a drink of water. The words needed to be washed out from his pallet. Why did he write this crap?
Barker smiled and held his hand up for the applause. He then stepped down from the stage. The group gathered to shake his hand. Some even offered congratulations on the promotion to the second detective. These were the idiots of the group. There was no promotion. There was no second detective position. Barker had solved more cases than Lucky had ever dreamed of solving. It was only the constant sucking up that made people assume he was somehow more important than Barker.
Barker didn't inform the imbeciles. Instead, he nodded and smiled, continuing his way to the back of the hall. Behind him, he heard the call for dinner. At least if he had to be with these people he could get a nice meal from it.
Lucky was well liked in the community. He was a decorated soldier, a beloved detective, and a major donating force to the local charities. In short, the meal was overdone but downright delicious.
By his third plate, Barker started to feel that maybe he should slow down. By his forth, he was sure it was time to slow down. Then again, he had dessert to worry about. And what a dessert it was. A massive chunk of cheesecake covered in nuts, Barker devoured it like he was a starving child.
Then, he leaned back looking down at his belly. It was starting to show the signs of aging. His pant line was growing older with him, but that didn't bother him. Many distinguished men had a little something extra in the belly.
Barker straightened his tie and looked up at the ceiling, which just so happened to be the twenty-third mirror of the night. Even with a belly, he was the most tasteful man in the room.
"Barker that was a hell of a speech," the claws dug a little too deep into his jacket.
Psitticus bent down to Barker's ear level. "I know most of it was drivel coming from you, but you keep on a show like this and maybe you do have a shot at taking my place,"
Psitticus laughed as if he had just told a hilarious joke. Barker chuckled to play along. It was all a game, it was always a facade.
The fun part of the night was over with. The food was cleared away by men in white coats. Barker wasn't sure if they expected a tip for their service, but he figured if they did the other rich type folks would cover it for him.
Barker maneuvered through the hallway ready to press for the doors. He would be the first to leave, gather a taxi and make it home. The evening wasn't quite over for Barker, he still had a few details he had to work out in the current case.
You see it was known that Lucky not only crashed without the use of his steering wheel but also that, try as he might, his breaks did not work either. This fact was already known to Barker far before the forensic type had gathered the information and saw fit to pass it along to the real detectives.
Barker stopped by the mirror on the wall and readjusted his tie for the last time of the night.
When he arrived home he would be pressing those combat papers of Lucky. Delving deep into his backstory. Finding the plaster that held up those walls around his life. He would find the holes and dig his snout into them. Barker had an uncanny ability to sniff out things.
The men and women gathered at the doors, peering into the night. Some patted Barker on the back and congratulated him on his assent. Others commented on his speech. Each would forget about him in the morning. He did not donate to their balls or attend their dinner parties. Barker did not fancy a sit down with any one of these people. It was just appearance that brought him here in the first place.
He was entirely content to have sat at home alone. Alone with his notes at least. Those notes that would help him solve the case of the unlucky crash of Detective Lucky; the rising star of the detective force dead so young. Psitticus's handpicked predecessor dead in his thirties. Barker wasn't upset by the fact, he would have hated to work for the idiot.
Barker was more than happy the crash occurred to be quite honest. This meant that when he solved the case he would skyrocket even higher into the annals of great detectives. He was already known, by the people who mattered, to be the best detective in Maharris. Maybe even in the world.
Barker hailed a taxi. "Take me to the corner of Watson and Holmes," Barker was loath to ever be dropped off directly at his apartment complex. He had a fear of people knowing where he lived. People were fickle creatures. They would stalk, destroy, and kill for the most whimsical reasons.
The trip home was unrelenting. The cab driver took it upon himself to assume that Barker cared one iota what he had to say. The truth could not have been further from the speculation. Barker hated conversations with people, especially cab drivers. They had made their lot in life and it was to be a boring, smelly driver. They had nothing of interest to say to him.
So, when the cab stopped Barker was quick to remove himself from the man's presence. He refused to leave him a tip, the man had made the ride most un-enjoyable by filling the cab with his useless banter.
Barker stayed planted on the corner until he could see the tail lights blink out of sight. Then he turned down Holmes street. The street lights in the neighborhood left something to be desired, but perhaps that was why Barker had chosen to live down here. The people weren't always honest and friendly, but neither was anyone else. It was just that this group chose not to put up the fake image of hospitality. It was much easier to see the danger if there were no hidden agendas.
Barker passed with no excitement to 228A Holmes Street. He fished his key from his pocket and entered his small hub. Papers were strewn across the floor, he walked over them, not bothering to check the envelopes of mail that were shoved through the slot. He would pay the bills at some point, but tonight he had other things on his mind.
Barker's apartment did not consist of normal items such as couches, chairs, or tables. Instead, he had an open floor and a bed in the corner. Of course, he had a refrigerator and a stove that worked; at least he assumed it would if he ever used it.
Tonight, Barker made his way to the only wooden structure inside his hovel. It was a misconstrued writing desk that had obviously seen the last of its better days years before. He saw no reason to chuck it out, as any flat piece of wood was just as good as another, no matter appearances.
Lucky's case file was already open. The pictures of the gruesome crash lay strewn out over the desk. Barker pushed them to the side. He had witnessed the crash first hand. He had the information he needed from it already stored in his mind. If he wanted the image, he had to but close his eyes and see it.
What Barker wanted was the list of Lucky's combat buddies. Those who had gone to war with him. Those who had slept near him as he screamed at night in terror. Those who had witnessed him killing helpless vagabonds in the hills. Barker wasn't sure any of that was actually the case, but he would soon find out.
On the morrow, he had already planned to walk to the corner of Watson and Holmes and hail himself a cab. From there, he would visit those on the list he had drawn up. There, he would find his victim... err his murderer. Barker traced the paper with his nail and landed on a name: Captain Dotton. Prime suspect number one.
The Canes Files