The story so far: Fetlock Graves, gentleman detective from a bygone era, is hearing how a young lady in distress came to be embroiled in a murder hunt.
‘Pray continue,’ Fetlock Graves invited his unexpected guest.
‘Well, this Jamie’s been coming a few weeks, sometimes twice a day, and I’ve been doing the flirty thing – like you’re allowed, to encourage punters to come back. But not so’s they get their hands on you. So anyway he hangs round for me one night and asks me out, and I say no, cos I don’t want no nutters stalking me nor nothing like that. And so he writes his number on a twenty note and gives it me. And I flounce off cos that’s a little bit insulting, don’t you think, Mr Graves?’
Fetlock Graves surveyed his guest wryly through the blue fug of tobacco smoke.
‘I feel ill equipped to comment,’ he admitted, eventually. ‘The important point is that you took it as an insult.’
‘You bet I did. But then after a couple of days of me being at work, and strutting myself at all these punters – old they are, most of them, no offence like –’ Graves bowed his head as if to indicate that none was taken – ‘and like I say after a couple of days of him not showing I s’pose I get to missing him and wondering where he is, so I phoned his number after all.’
‘Ah, yes, Mr Graves. Ah indeed. Treat em mean and keep em keen, eh? Thought it was s’posed to be us girls who did that, but never mind.’
‘And did you speak to your, um, client?’
‘Don’t make him sound so sleazy! Yeah I spoke to him, and he asks me out, mentions a posh place in Mayfair he wants to take me. So I says all right I’ll go.’ She paused to inhale more nicotine.
‘And was that evening a success?’ Graves prompted, when the young woman seemed to become wrapt in contemplation of her Moldovan Dark.
‘Nah, it was a mess. I got pissed on Champagne, and he was embarrassed cos there was all these posh birds in posh frocks and I’m there in me leather mini…’
‘One moment!’ Graves interrupted imperiously, his hand held aloft. ‘Please elucidate “pissed” and “mini” for me.’
‘Pissed is drunk and mini is mini skirt.’ Catching her host’s non-plussed look she added, indicating the upper portion of her thigh, ‘A skirt that comes to here.’ Her smile broadened as Graves’ jaw dropped. ‘That’s a bit like what Jamie looked like when I turned up. ‘Jesus, Flossie,’ he says – Flossie’s my name, in case you’re wondering, though I don’t think you are cos you never asked me yet what my name is––’
‘My silence on the matter was in no way a judgment,’ Graves submitted quickly.
‘Yeah, whatever. Anyway, Jamie goes, ‘Jesus what are you wearing?’ ‘Clothes,’ I says. ‘Hardly,’ he says. I says if it’s good enough for Posh Spice it’s good enough for me. He says I look like some slapper in a porn film, so I chuck my drink in his face. ‘Actually,’ I says before leaving, ‘I think I look quite nice.’ Then I walk out, past all those posh birds looking like they want to stick pins in me.’