One of the first thing a young constable would learn when they entered the threshold of the police precinct in the 4th arrondissement, was that you didn’t want to be around commissaire Javert when he got angry; not around him and not in the proximity of his office either. Whenever his constables, and lieutenants, and commandants sensed that he was getting angry, they had the perfect excuse for last minute stakeouts, doctor appointments or urgent visits to sick relatives. («But how will I know that he’s angry? He looks pissed all the time!» , would ask some inexpert constable, to whom the others will answer with a sibylline «Oh, you’ll know »).
The recent collaboration with the police precinct in the 13th arrondissement on a series of murders had been one the cause of one of the longest angers that commissaire Javert had had lately. (Things had gotten significantly better since he had got a boyfriend, and then married - «He just needed to bone!» would snicker some cheeky lieutenant to the others, on their break).
But the infamous commissaire Adamsberg managed to get Javert so angry that not even the delights of married life could mitigate his irritation.
The anti-crime squad of the 13th arrondissement, one of the highest rates of crimes solved and, apparently, one of the most dysfunctional squads. Officers gossiped that there were a zoology faculty dropout, a narcoleptic and a man who spoke exclusively in rhyme among their ranks. And then, of course, there was the dreaded commissaire Adamsberg. Vacuous, evanescent, foggy, like his brown eyes, that reminded Javert of the bottom of the Seine, that he had had the pleasure to examine once; they called him a “plower of clouds”: he was incredibly lucky, worked on whims and embryonal ideas he got, on sensations, and words, and his digressions without rhyme had proven themselves essential for the solving of a case more than once. Javert hated his methods with a passion.
Of course, Adamsberg had had heard about Javert too. With the help of his commandant Danglard , who knew by heart the names and deeds of every chief of every police precinct or gendarmerie in France, he knew that commissaire Javert was methodical on the edge of manic, he followed the law scrupulously, who was very strict, but never cruel. Gossipers said he had married his archnemesis, a pardoned criminal (but the rumours never agreed on which crime he had committed), and now was helping him raising his young daughter. Overall, a very strict, but professional and correct individual.
Unfortunately, commandant Rivette couldn’t escape Javert’s annoyed musings, since they shared an office, and so he had to listen.
«I hate him, Rivette, I really do. He went out! He went out to walk along the Seine, while here the prefect is looming on us and judging every move we make! We’ve been on this case for too long and we can’t find a solution, this case won’t be ours for long, and he walks around! He only contributed to the case with his vacuous thoughts, and they haven’t brought us anywhere! And did you see his squad? They have a freaking cat living in their headquarters, a cat!»
«We’ve... we’ve had a cat too here, sir... a few months ago...»
«Yes, but we’ve kept her just a few days, before I brought her home to my daughter, where cats should stay! Oh, how I wish Danglard was the commissaire, and not Adamsberg... that man has logic and method, I can understand him... if just he wasn’t an alcoholic...».
«Sir?» a blonde head and eyes too big peeked through the ajar door. Estalère, one of Adamsberg’s men, if one could talk about men when talking of Estalère, eyes too young and too innocent to be a policeman. «Commissaire Adamsberg wishes to see you. I- I brought you coffee, sir».
Black, no sugar. That Estalère was good.
And there he was, Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg in the flesh, standing by the doorframe, so he and Javert were facing each other.
To Javert, they looked like the bounty killers in those old Western movies that Jean had forced him to watch one night. (Javert would never admit that he liked Colonel Mortimer). He noticed that he was at least one head taller than Adamsberg.
«Let’s walk, commissaire, it helps me think».
They were walking along the banks of the Seine, skirting dangerously close that place that Javert avoids very carefully since a terrifying summer a few years back.
Adamsberg had almost offered one of his son’s cigarettes to Javert, before remembering what Danglard had told him: “He only smokes to celebrate a victory. His officers shed tears of joy when they see him smoking after closing a case.” And those cigarettes were technically stolen –borrowed-, he would have never accepted.
«What did you wanted to ask me? Are your investigations going well?»
«Egregiously, commissaire .» (Adamsberg would never admit that he called him by his title because he had forgotten his name, and has also forgotten to ask Danglard before going out). «I was told that you dabble into astronomy. I was wondering if you could tell me a smattering of it; you know, my son- the little one, Tom, the eldest is still in Iceland - has been asking questions, and I’m trying to read him books, but my reading voice puts him to sleep- it puts everyone to sleep, really...»
Javert felt the primal urge to break something. Adamsberg had brought him there just to ask him questions about stars?!
Of course, of course, in the end, Javert’s knowledge in astronomy was essential in solving the case.
Javert still didn’t know if he wanted to throttle Adamsberg or not.