As it so happens I am window shopping in the local market when I spot Paul Drake, the famous private detective who works with Perry Mason in the Erly Stanley Gardner's books. I am kind of amazed to see him making a meal out of crispy cakes, various types of sandwiches and a big jug of Coke. He is smiling too, a rarity for him. No sarcastic manner is visible as of now and he does not appear to be tall and lanky either. Considering what he is eating, I am not surprised.
I approach him slowly and sit down in front of him placing my stuff on the table. He does not even blink an eye and goes on eating. He waves his hands and nods at me to say my piece. I ask if it is no bother, I would like to interview him. He nods again in between bites. I take out my tattered notepad and a battered ballpoint pen. I write down his name on a page, underline it and start with my interview:
I: Mr Paul Drake, what are you doing in India? I thought you never left Perry Mason's side.
PD: I must remind you that I am a private detective. I don't work for Perry Mason. I help him when he asks for it. Coming back to what you asked, I have always wanted to visit your country. As Perry Mason is now in between cases, I thought I might as well come here. I don't want to leave India. I am thinking of setting up a detective agency here. Away from Perry Mason.
I: But I thought you and he had come a long way together.
PD: Well yes, we walked together all over US, before we both landed up in Los Angeles. You aren't aware of the fact that he borrowed money from me to start his practice. And he did not bother to pay me back. He owes me. HE OWES ME HELL OF A LOT.
I: Mr Drake, I see you are eating cakes and sandwiches. I thought, you only survived on instant coffee and card board Pizza.
PD: What else do you expect me to do if I am running a detective agency? Who has the time to indulge in such meals there? Now I am on holiday, loving each moment and indulging in it.
I: You are not as tall, lanky and athletic as you are thought to be. However, you have a slouch and very much dour-faced.
PD: Do you know you are being insulting? (He stands up to show me his height and for a change he smiles which kind of lights up his face). I put a small cushion on my belly to be in disguise.
I: To me, you look pregnant..
PD: That's the idea. I wanted to know how does a pregnant woman feel and I am also eating accordingly, to be like her.
I am kind of confused, look him over and say nothing for a while.
I: Why are you doing all this stuff which goes against your image?
PD: What image? Who cares for that? Perry Mason has left me for that chit of a girl. To think, I trusted him so much.
I: Who? What? How? Why? ( I am nonplussed!!)
PD: Della Street, who else?
I: Well, that was to be. I always thought Della Street was in love with her boss and he with her.
PD: No, you don't know the rest of it. He left me for her. For that I can't forgive him. Last I heard, she is going to have his baby. I wanted to be the one having that.
He puts his head on the table, cakes and all, and starts bawling. I am left speechless. Slowly everything dawns on me. After a while, I try to reason out but he is in no way responsive. I pick up my things and walk out.
His last words are, "Bye, beautiful."
When I look back, he is ordering more food.
Cross posted from my Reading Room blog.