A malevolent manner (pat.., p.1
A Malevolent Manner
By William Scott
Copyright 2013 William Scott
Each year in Canada’s capital there comes a time when life seems to crawl slower and slower, until one might swear to it halting completely. Nothing seems to grow and the winds of change are ushered in, a feeling of melancholy with them. The jet streams of the North descend with cold air, like heralds of an impending invasion of brutality. The once multicoloured arbor, an inspiration to artists and residents alike, drop and perish before the onslaught. Their remains become a skeletal form of warning for those who travel beneath them. Their apparent demise ushers in a slow and hesitant period between the seasons. The comfort of autumn in the afterglow of summer slowly recedes and the sun no longer shares its warmth. The days become gray with indifference and with them the people who must endure through it. The only thing to do, it seems, is to wait for the eventual cold and frost of the long dark winter.
Within these gray thoughts walked a civil servant among many, abandoning the halls of government within the city center. He forced his way up a pair of city blocks, through the throng of workers eagerly trying to get home before the impending cold rain. Despite the fact that his leather jacket and boots would offer minimal resistance against the impending hard rain, he wasn’t in a similar rush for shelter. It was the end of another work week, with nothing to celebrate or look forward to, save a drink or two on his way home. As the street came to an end, he turned east along the roadway bearing the name of the Iron Duke of Waterloo. The crowd thinned out noticeably as he passed the gothic towers of Parliament, as most people made their way towards the bus stations further south. From there they would board the bumping and screeching vessels of the road which eagerly waited to spirit them to their identical suburban homes.
As the Peace Tower chimed the quarter hour, he stopped to look over the national war memorial. He guiltily conceded to himself that he’d stopped due to repetition as much as respect or reverence. If confronted he’d argue that he was not a man of habit, but deep down he knew it was an argument he would lose. Everyday he woke up at the same time, ate the same thing for breakfast, walked the same route to the office, took breaks at the same time, ate the same thing for lunch, and then took the same route home from the office. Every Friday he stopped at his favourite pub on the way home and had the same drink.
With this in mind he grabbed the letter out of his pocket. Here was something outside the ordinary clockwork of his life and he was intrigued. It was addressed to Commandant Pierce in an elegant hand of black ink, with no return address and no postage stamp. The letter had appeared during the last mail run of the day, however when questioned, the mail clerk had no memory of dropping off the letter. Even more perplexing than the appearance of the letter, was the name inscribed upon it. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d heard the word commandant, let alone used it himself. As the rain began to fall he replaced the letter in his pocket, lowered his head, and trudged onwards.
The warmth of the pub hit him as he passed through the second set of doors. Passing the threshold, one was immediately hit by a feeling of passing back in time. The sturdy dark oak walls were adorned with gilt framed hunting prints. Large oaken pillars lined the room, like ancient trunks in a druidic grove. Mingled beneath them were a variety of brown leather loungers and crimson encased chairs with matching tables. Near the door stood the bar itself, a gleaming monolith of polished oak and brass. Its brilliance embellished by the twinkling of numerous bottles lined in front of a large mirror. The fireplace on the opposite end of the room was spitting flames and he welcomed the chance to dry off beside it. But before he could do that he needed to get himself a drink. On his way to the bar he nodded to some of the regulars he recognized and shared the odd pleasantry. For the most part he tried to avoid speaking for no real purpose. He could talk for hours upon numerous subjects; however he found short banter regarding the weather or other inane subjects tiresome. He couldn’t help but think of that now as he reached the bar and placed his order.
“What can I get you Pierce?” asked Talbert the bartender, a squat man who always acted as though he was on the inside of a shared joke.
“The usual,” he replied to the bartender.
“Are you sure you don’t want to branch out, try something new?”
“The usual’s fine thanks.”
“You know there’s a wide world of spirits and ale out there, all waiting to be discovered. You’ve been coming in here for ages and have always ordered the same thing. You know what that tells me? It tells me tha-”
“I know what I want and more importantly,” placing money on the bar, “always pay for it.”
With that he grabbed his drink and walked away before the bartender could continue. Talbert was a decent enough type and was always in extra good spirits on Fridays. The impending weekend revellers always meant profits.
Luckily there were still a couple spots available near the fireplace. Some of the patrons probably couldn’t handle the heat it was giving off. Pierce on the other hand welcomed the crackling blaze. Having just escaped the rain outside, that was well on its way to becoming a storm, the intense heat would be comforting. He picked a leather lounge chair near the hearth that also allowed him a view of the window and the street beyond it. The soaked leather jacket was removed and placed to dry on a nearby clothes tree and he dropped into the chair, weary from the week, the day, the walk, and the rain.
Taking a drink from his full pint, he remembered the strange letter that was sitting in his jacket pocket. Placing his drink on the small table beside his chair, he leaned over and removed the letter for further inspection. With relief he noticed that the letter had been unaffected by the rain, though he was still no closer to comprehending the strange title written upon it.
Commandant? Surely this letter couldn’t be for him. The name itself sprung to mind old World War Two movies of cookie cutter villains with horrendous German accents. Thankfully concentration camps no longer existed, besides anyone put in charge of a similar lock-up was called a warden these days. Either way, he couldn’t think of any conceivable reason why anyone would bestow him with the title of Commandant.
It’s a prank or joke. Pierce could think of no other possible explanation for this singular letter and its appearance at his desk. But even this revelation could not entirely shed light on the letter. He had never been a practical joker and Pierce was not close enough to any of his colleagues to invite this type of joke. Besides, it didn’t even seem like a good one.
Without any real resolution, Pierce decided to open the letter and see what the explanation the contents could provide. Sadly the contents of the letter turned out to be just as unhelpful as the plain envelope that had carried it. He removed a postcard sized piece of cream paper, clearly expensive from its weight and thickness. It had a thick black border with a golden inner line. Within this bold boundary was again the ominous and mystifying title, Commandant Pierce. Flipping the card over, he found more writing. This however was not in the bold print of the main side. Here in a more elegant and fine scrawl were what appeared to be directions. November 18th, 11am, 111 St. Patrick.
Pierce held the card between his fingers, staring at it thoughtfully, while taking sips of his drink. He was now more certain that this was some kind of a prank. The letter was clearly meant for him, since he knew of no other Pierce on his floor. The jokers probably dropped it off at his desk, as the clerk had no recollection of delivering it. Unless he was in on it, in which case his initial hypothesis was still correct. He didn’t recognize the exact address, but downtown Ottawa wasn’t that big. He knew St. Patrick Street was
Finishing the dregs of his drink, Pierce donned his jacket, nodded his farewell to Talbert on his way to the door. Stepping into the rain soaked street, he turned up his collar and began his journey to find what clues the unfamiliar address on the mysterious card in his pocket might tell.
A Malevolent Manner (Patrick Pierce #1) by William Scott / Science Fiction / Thrillers & Crime have rating 3.6 out of 5 / Based on36 votes