Turnbull was in a particularly bad mood, because for some bizarre reason several of the consulate lamps had broken at the same time. He was gluing one of the bases together, grumbling to himself about how people had no respect these days. Somebody must have deliberately sabotaged Consulate property... it was a minor vandalism, but still... it annoyed him. It was an insult to the Consulate, an insult to the nation.
After some moments deep concentration he looked up from his attempt to jigsaw the lamp back together, and saw that the old Mountie was back again. For a few hours now he'd been getting on Turnbull's nerves, popping up and disappearing at the most unusual times. He supposed the man must have some business at the Consulate, but what it was remained a mystery. He wondered, did it have to do with the man in the locked room? Perhaps the stranger was just wandering around breaking lamps. Turnbull narrowed his gaze suspiciously.
On his third attempt he managed to get the old guy's attention.
“Yes, you. Do you mind telling me what your business is here?” The man turned to him open mouthed, looking astonished at what was, after all, a fairly simple question. For a moment Turnbull toyed with the idea that the man wasn't in fact a Mountie at all, but someone dressed the part. Then he considered how unlikely it was that a non Mountie would choose another uniform than the red serge. The old guy was dressed as though for sub zero temperatures in a field uniform. He even had the beaver skin hat on. He must be boiling.
“Are you talking to me?” The old guy looked positively flummoxed.
“Who else would I be talking to?”
“You're not a relative of mine?” He shook his head. “No, I don't think so...”
“Who are you,” Turnbull asked, “and what are you doing wandering around the Consulate?”
“Ah, I came to meet my son.”
“Well, if you let me know who you are, I'm sure I can arrange for him to have some time off.” Turnbull could afford to be magnanimous to the old man. He thought it was sweet that a father would wear his uniform to meet up with his son. His own father never really cared one way or another when Turnbull made Mountie. “Is this a police matter?”
“You could say that,” the old man said. “But it's all right, my son and I are in communication now.”
“Good, good...” Turnbull carefully placed the lamp base on the desk. It held, and the cracks barely showed at all.
The Mountie nodded, gesturing at the lamp regretfully. “I'm sorry about that...”
“Did you do this?” Turnbull felt his irritation rise again.
“You could say that it's partly my fault, yes...”
“What on earth for?”
The old man suddenly looked sly, and refused to answer the question. “Hey,” he was grinning hopefully. “You see that door?”
Behind it the mystery prisoner was yelling for the toilet.
“Could you go in there and shoot the fellah on the other side?”
“Excuse me?” The old man was obviously deranged. “In the first case I can neither comfirm nor deny that there is anyone beyond that door,” (there was an ominous growl and a man yelling insults from the locked room) “and in the second case, why would I execute him?”
“Oh well, never mind,” the old man said in a resigned tone of voice. “It was a long shot. I'll just go look in on him myself.”
He walked straight at the door, braced himself, squared his shoulders, and disappeared right through the wood.
That was very peculiar. Very peculiar indeed.
He shrugged, and carried on fixing the lamps. Ah well, stranger things had happened at the Consulate, he thought... not that anyone would ever believe him.