My Father In Reflection
03/07/1938 – 18/10/2018
A short piece of detective fiction from my Father
The Police Captain leant back in his chair, slowly lit a cigar and regarded the man sitting on the other side of his desk. “Mr Reynolds, thank you for bringing this matter to my attention, but I’m not sure what you would like me to do about it.”
Mike Reynolds spread his hands. “It is just that something seemed wrong, and I had no idea who else I could ask.”
The policeman placed his cigar in the ashtray in front of him, and the pale blue smoke drifted into Mike’s face, it’s direction of travel assisted by the overhead fan, the rusting leading edge of which struggled wearily in the turgid, humid air. The captain picked up the little bundle of clothing from the desktop. “OK. Let me see if I have the story right. You were walking yesterday from the town beach towards Diana beach, and you went across the rocks on the headland. Yes?”
Mike nodded. “Correct.”
“And you found these on the rocks about ten metres from the sea?”
“Yes, ten or twelve yards.”
“OK. So we have a lady’s wristwatch, a pair of sunglasses, and a, what would you call this?”
“I think it’s a kimono, or something like that. It’s what women wear over their bikinis when in the street.”
The captain smiled. “At present in Cyprus many of them wear almost nothing. Well, at least the tourists do. OK, and a pair of beach shoes. Nothing very expensive, and no identification anywhere.”
Mike nodded again. “I’m afraid so. I left it all where I found it, thinking the owner had gone for a swim, but on my return, a couple of hours later, it was still there.”
The policeman smiled again. “Well, no bodies have turned up along the coast, or,” he indicated his computer, “anywhere on the island. There are no reports of any missing persons. So, short of dragging the Mediterranean for a body, I can’t help you.”
Mike got up, stuffed the little pile of items into a plastic bag, thanked the captain and left. He stopped outside the police station, pulled up short by the searing heat and blinding sunlight. Dammit! He had come on holiday to get some peace of mind, after a bitter, protracted divorce. How in God’s name had he become involved in this? Bin the bloody stuff, Mike. If the cops don’t want to know, why should you bother?
He found the nearest tavern, O’Neill’s Irish pub and ordered a large beer from Nico, the owner, whose only connection with Ireland was that he had once drunk a Bushmills. The beer didn’t touch the sides. The four items were spread out on the table and examined more carefully. The watch was Japanese, with no inscription and quite unremarkable. The same applied to the sunglasses except they had been made in China. The kimono, or shawl, had been made in England, but that didn’t help much, as half the tourists he had seen since his arrival had been Brits.
The shoes were different. They were almost new and had a label on the inside in English, inscribed ‘G. Papadopoulis, Made in Cyprus.’ Mike made up his mind to check the various shoe shops in town later in the day when the sun went down. He ordered another beer and a Greek salad and spent the afternoon laying on the beach, his little plastic bag beside him, nagging away at his mind.
At the fifth shop he realised that he was wasting his time. All five stocked the shoes which sold for about ten Cyprus pounds, and no one recognised the kimono. At the last shop the owner looked at him pityingly. “We do have a lot of customers at this time of year.” He picked up the shoes again and examined them. “You know that there is something written inside this left one?”
They examined the shoe closely. Sure enough someone had written K.Lee in blue ink. The following morning Mike presented himself at Larnaca Police Station.
The captain smiled. “Mr Reynolds, kelie mera. Have you found a body?”
“Captain Katsimentes, no, but I may have a name.”
The policeman sat up straight and took the shoe. “Well, now, that’s different.” Over his shoulder he called out, “Sgt Frangakis,”
“Sir?” A large, heavily moustached man hurried into the office.
“Check Immigration and your hotel records for a female, possibly British, in the name of K.Lee. Last seven days please.”
“Last two weeks, please?” Mike interposed gently.
“OK, two weeks, sergeant. Now, Mike, a cup of coffee while we wait?”
The checks were accomplished in fifteen minutes. A Mrs Katie Lee had entered Larnaca Airport from London by Monarch Airlines three days previously and was registered at the Hotel Olympus. Katsimentis stood up and took his black cap off the hook on the wall. “Come on, we’ll do this together.” They walked the ten minutes to the hotel and the hotel receptionist was very anxious to deal with the captain’s request to speak to Mrs Lee.
A young woman of about thirty appeared in the lobby within a few minutes. She was concerned that the police wished to speak to her. She was small, dark haired, slim, and Chinese. She was also very attractive. The policeman introduced himself. “Are you all right, Mrs Lee? No problems of any kind?”
She smiled with relief. “No, I’m fine thank you, apart from six stitches in my right foot.” She pointed to her heavily bandaged foot. “Why?”
Katsimentas smiled dazzlingly. “I am delighted to hear that. Mr Mike Reynolds here has been most concerned about you and he has some of your property, I think.” He touched his cane to the peak of his cap and left.
Mike opened his bag. “Are these things yours?”
“Yes, they are. I gashed my foot on a rock while swimming and came ashore on the beach. I went to hospital and when I got back my stuff had gone. Thank you very much. Ever since I was at school, I have always written my name in my shoes. Childish habit, I know. Look, Mike, may I buy you dinner to thank you properly for your trouble?”
“Yes, fine, thank you. Will your husband come too?”
“Yes, you are Mrs Lee?”
“I still use my married name, but I was divorced two years ago.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Oh, don’t be, I’m not. It’s ironic that you took all that trouble to find me and return my shoes. They don’t fit.”
Written by BM