It is far too early in the morning and I am standing in The Dean’s rooms, head pounding and feeling rather sick. My night out with Head Porter is entirely responsible for this, one way or another. My personal feeling is that his sherry was definitely past its best and this feeling has nothing whatsoever to do with the copious amounts of house red in The Albatross.
Through the fuzz of white noise in my head I am aware of The Dean tutting and cursing prolifically. I have just relayed to him the exciting revelations from last night and he is, as ever, furious. Not so much about the murderous antics of his fellow academics, more so that he hadn’t been invited to partake in any of them, or was even aware. As The Dean of College he should have been informed. This, apparently, is far more offensive than the deeds themselves.
I have tried to impress upon The Dean the potential dangers involved, for example – going the same way as Professor K and Senior Bursar – but he remains unmoved.
“If anyone tries to kill me, they’ll know about it!” he declares, shaking his fist in the air.
“Right Sir,” I reply, amused by his turn of phrase.
“I can’t believe the buggers didn’t ask me to be involved, to be honest” he shakes his head. This is a fair point. I think The Dean would have been a brilliant member of The Vicious Circle. Certainly, the most enthusiastic. “Anyway, all that aside, this is all very good for our investigation.”
“Do you think so, Sir?”
“Absolutely, Deputy Head Porter! Listen. We know for sure that there are nefarious deeds afoot. I think we can be fairly certain about why they were killed. Now we just need to find out who killed them. Now…” The Dean begins to pace the room, rubbing his hands together. He is thinking. There is a knock at the door. “Bugger off!”
The door opens anyway and a very sheepish-looking Head Porter stumbles in. Rarely have I seen a man look so unwell, unless they are about to actually die. You see, I was right about that sherry. The Dean gives him a sideways look, then turns his attentions back to me.
“Now, Deputy Head Porter,” he continues “Remind me, will you what it was we decided?”
“Sorry Sir, I don’t follow?” What is he on about?
“Holmes and Watson” The Dean replies “I can’t remember which one I was going to be. Probably Holmes, I would have thought.”
Head Porter leans over to me, understandably baffled.
“What’s going on?” he asks, his voice displaying all the hallmarks of one so obviously in tremendous pain.
“Don’t ask,” I reply under my breath. Then, to The Dean “I don’t think that’s our primary concern right now, Sir. Maybe we should…”
“Ridiculous, Deputy Head Porter” The Dean cuts me off. “We agreed. But now we have Head Porter in on this too… well! Who is he supposed to be? And why do you look so bloody awful, man? What’s the matter with you? Good God! You haven’t been poisoned as well, have you?!”
“It might have been something I ate, Sir” Head Porter replies, weakly.
“Well, this won’t do. It’s time I took charge of this situation, and that is exactly what I intend to do! I shall start by delegating. Head Porter, any ideas?”
“I could be, um, Colombo?” Head Porter suggests. I can see The Dean is considering this. I feel it is time to bring something sensible to the discussion.
“I think, gentlemen, that we should consider the information we already have available,” I venture. I am not immediately silenced, so I decide to continue. “Professor VJ Duke was right when he said we need to find out what key was really missing from The Lodge. Someone has obviously gone to some trouble to cover that up. Also, the typed note to Head Of Housekeeping requesting the new kettle. Clearly, Senior Bursar didn’t send that note, but his killer probably did. And someone sent me an email from Senior Bursar’s account after his death. I believe these are the main things to look at initially.”
“I was thinking exactly the same thing, well done Deputy Head Porter!” exclaims The Dean. “Now I knew things would start moving once I took charge of things. Right, well, we can’t do anything on empty stomachs. I suggest our first move should be to get some breakfast. What do you say?”
I see Head Porter visibly heaving at the very idea of food, but I think it is an excellent suggestion. I realise I am suddenly ravenous. Today might not be so bad after all.