Heavy as heart was, Kristoph Gavin couldn’t help but smile at the trenchcoated man whose broad shoulders filled the entire frame of Kristoph’s office door. Once he’d gone over to greet his visitor, Kristoph found himself engulfed in a bear hug that literally lifted him off the ground--no mean feat as he and Gumshoe were of nearly identical heights.
Kristoph closed his eyes, drinking in the the comforting, familiar scent of Gumshoe’s off-brand aftershave and silently reflecting that Richard was probably the only person on Los Angeles he would actually miss.
“You didn’t really think I’d let you leave without saying goodbye--did you, pal?” said Gumshoe after he ‘d finally released Kristoph. “I mean, what are friends for?”
“I’m flattered. And for what it’s worth, Richard, I consider you a...a friend as well.”
This last statement was rather an understatement. For the past few months, Gavin had been starting to think of Gumshoe as more than a mere friend. Perhaps if things had been different, he might have one day become more so.
Do you really have to leave?” Gumshoe scratched his head in that endearingly bashful way of his. “ Don’t get me wrong, it’s super cool that you’re going back to Germany with your little brother to support him through the...well, rough patch he’s going through.”
It was unsurprising that Gumshoe had come to the same conclusion many others had: namely, that the Gavin brothers were leaving America indefinitely, because Klavier’s disastrous first American trial had sent him into a depressive spiral.
To be fair, it wasn’t an entirely inaccurate assumption to make. Klavier was undeniably depressed at the present time, and at least part of Kristoph’s own decision to leave was due to genuine fraternal devotion. But there was another piece of the puzzle that was not common knowledge.
Just prior to Klavier’s extremely intense and very public breakdown, his elder brother had experienced an extremely intense and very private breakdown of his own. It was primarily for this reason that Kristoph was returning to Germany.
Gumshoe cleared his throat and continued. “But like, do you really need to go with him? Klavier seems like a pretty tough cookie and a really cool guy. I feel like he would understand if you changed your mind about going with him. Your whole life is here after all."
‘What life? ’ Kristoph mused silently to himself. Aloud, he said. “ My whole life? Hardly. Klavier and I have been only been in Los Angeles for less than a year--remember? And even before...well.. everything--I can’t say I was exactly happy here. So, leaving...well a new start for myself, it just...it feels right.”
“Makes sense,” Richard nodded sympathetically. “ Though I’ll miss seeing you around, buddy--even at those crime scenes where you weren’t supposed be.”
“And I’ll miss you as well. Believe me when I say that your kindness has been one of the few bright spots during this dark and difficult time.”
“Say---when do you leave? Officially I mean? ”
Kristoph raised an eyebrow. “Not until tomorrow afternoon. Why?”
“Think you have time for one more drink before you head out? We could go to that fancy new wine bar down the street from City Hall."
“I’d love to, but you must let me pay for us both this time. Don’t even thinking about protesting. I’m a lawyer--remember? We both know I can argue circles around you.”
Gumshoe laughed and placed a companionate arm around Kristoph’s shoulder. “Alright, pal. If you really insist.”
Seven Years Later
Objectively speaking, Kristoph Gavin was happy. Of course he was happy. There was absolutely no doubt about it. No, sir, none at all.
He was a senior partner at Germany’s most prestigious of law firms, and his win record was unprecedented on both a national and international level. One of his previous trials was even being adapted as an independent feature film that was already garnering award season buzz. His family owned significant property on every continent sans Antarctica (and it was only a matter of time before that changed as well.) He’d donated so much money to the International Space Station last year that they’d named a small planet in the Andromeda Galaxy “Vagtler” after Kristoph’s childhood pet goldfish.
His life was going so well for him right now that --addicted to work as he was--he’d felt comfortable talking this short holiday, leaving business matters in the hands of his more-than-capable assistant and jetting off for his family’s luxurious villa in the lake district of Cohdopia.
Currently, the most pressing issue on his mind was whether to attend the sold-out symphony performance tonight or the exclusive private gala at the Cohdopian National Art Gallery. (He was still hoping he might be able to make an appearance at both. Perhaps if he were to bribe the conductor to start the concert an hour or so later than scheduled?)
Kristoph Gavin’s life was undeniably--and quite deservedly-- perfect . He was brilliant, good-looking, wealthier than Croesus (and with far better hair and job security).
And with all of that in his life, how could he not be perpetually ecstatic? He was definitely happy. Surely, no doubt about it. Never been happier. So extraordinarily happy.
He wrapped his arms around himself as his entire body quivered slightly. ‘I’m happy. I’m very happy. This is what happy feels like.’ His right hand had tensed so tightly that the scar on his palm blazed like a brand.
Perhaps, a manicure might make him feel more like himself. Yes, the mere thought of it was cheering Kristoph up already. There was a tastefully understated day spa in the small town a mere ten minute drive from the Gavin property line. He didn’t have an appointment, but such things seldom mattered when one was a wealthy as Kristoph was.
He’d go into the charming little Cohodpian town to have his fingernails buffed and polished, and somehow suddenly, everything would make sense again. He’d reassure himself that despite false evidence to the contrary, he was extremely incandescently happy.
And if… by some bizarre twist of fate, the experience determined that wasn’t happy after all, the manicure would clear his head enough for him to determine how exactly he might change that.
After all was said and done, the manicure had not had exactly had the desired impact after all. It had been a pleasant experience--one that had resulted in particularly lovely and pampered fingers--but it was very much a transient pleasure.
‘What I really need is something stable. Then, I’ll finally feel as happy as I am again. If only I had something sturdy. something solid and dependable and---’
Kristoph lost his train of thought, as he literally collided with a roadblock--one in the form of a behemoth in a green trenchcoat. Kristoph opened his mouth to snap at the walking traffic hazard, when his own icy eyes met the kind brown eyes of the other man.
Kind brown eyes. Familiar brown eyes.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, pal. I didn’t see you there,” Richard Gumshoe smiled affably at Kristoph. “Some times, I can be a bit of a klutz, I’m afraid. I….” He gave a start as recognition hit him. “Hey! It’s you… it’s Mr. Gavin, sir. Isn’t it?”
“I….I... yes… you are correct.”
“ It’s me, Dick….I mean, it’s me, Detective Gumshoe….I mean, I’m not sure if you remember me” RIchard said, scratching his head bashfully. “We used to see each other at crime scenes back in Los Angeles.”
Kristoph favored the other man with a beatific smile. “Of course I remember you, Richard. It’s lovely to see you.”
“Yeah, it has been awhile. What’s it been...five years, now?”
“Seven, I think.” Kristoph gently corrected.
“Yeah, that sounds about right. Not that you’d be able to tell that it’s been so long. You look good, Mr. Gavin.”
“So do you.”
Kristoph wasn’t merely being polite. The truth was that Gumshoe looked very good indeed--certainly better than a man nearing forty had any right to look. He was just as handsome, burly, and broad-shouldered as Kristoph remembered him, but his bulky form seemed to have acquired some real muscle tone in the seven years they'd been apart.
The only real signs of aging that Gumshoe was displaying at all were a handful of new grey hairs and delicate laugh lines around his eyes. These only resulted in Gumshoe’s looking even more sturdy, solid, and dependable than Kristoph remembered him.
“So what brings you to fair Cohdopia, Richard? Business or pleasure? I hope it’s the latter,” Kristoph continued, brushing the pale fringe out his eyes in a manner that he hoped simultaneously conveyed modesty and coquettishness.
“Nah, I’m here for work. We’ve got another lead on the ongoing Borginian cocoon smuggling investigation , and I... hey, wait a minute! What are you up to, pal? Getting me to spill all sorts of sensitive case info like that!”
“OBJECTION! I did not ask for any confidential professional information. It’s hardly fair to blame me for your having such charmingly loose lips.” Kristoph asserted, flushing scarlet as he realized that he’d been staring fixedly at the lips in question. “In any case, your secret is safe, my friend. But I’d advise you to be cautious around those less trustworthy than myself.”
Gumshoe nodded. “Thanks, Mr. Gavin.”
“Of course, Richard. And please, do call me,‘Kristoph. I’d like to think of us as friends, after all--albeit temporarily estranged ones.”
“Okay. But only if you call me ‘Dick,” Richard Gumshoe was my father...I mean is my father. He’s not dead, I promise, pal! Just retired to Seal Beach with my mom and their three cats.”
Kristoph gave a slightly exaggerated--if still appropriately dignified--laugh. “You always were so very humorous ... Rich---I mean, ‘Dick.’”
Kristoph felt ridiculous referring to a grown man by that vulgar phallic diminutive, but he relaxed when he saw the warm, welcoming smile on Gumshoe’s face at the nickname. “See, that wasn’t so hard was it?”
At the word “hard”--and it’s associated thoughts with Dick and...well... dick, Kristoph felt his cheeks grow hot again. “I...er...no...it’s fine; I’m fine.”
He cleared his throat and changed the subject. “So are you planning on staying in Cohdopia long? Because, I’d love to have you come for dinner at my father’s villa this evening--or perhaps, tomorrow? ”
“Sorry, pal. I’m heading back to America in a few hours, I’m afraid. But we should definitely catch up sometime. Wait, hold on!”
Gumshoe grabbed the ever-present red pencil from behind his ear, hastily scribbled something on a flimsy bit of paper, and thrust the bit of paper in Kristoph’s hand. “There.. I’ve written down my phone and email, if you ever want to keep in touch. Or if at some point, if you ever come back to L.A.--even if it’s just a brief visit--we can get a beer or something.” Dick glanced down at his watch. “Okay, I really should be going now. But it was great seeing you again, Mr. Gavin.”
As Gumshoe turned on his heel and left, Kristoph glanced down at the paper in his hands. On the back of Gumshoe’s scrawl, there was a recently expired coupon for an antacid medication:
Give Your Heart The Love It Deserves: Buy One, Get One 50% Off when you buy Acid Annihilator X!
Kristoph glanced off into the distance at the now barely-visible figure of Richard “Dick” Gumshoe, as his brain ruminated about the oddly appropriate words on the page.
Give your heart the love it deserves.
‘I think I will,’ he said, placing Gumshoe’s barely legible contact information in his breast pocket.