Read this carefully. Preferably with your lips moving. And even then ...
"He's in there. I'll leave you to it then."
I thanked the supervisor. The door was opened for me by a security guard, who stood aside discreetly as I entered. The man was sitting at a table, looking slightly anxious. He half rose, smiling uncertainly. I gestured for him to resume his seat, and lowered my frame into the chair opposite.
I had inadvertently allowed my jaw to drop slightly. "Plodding?" I enquired."Right," I began, opening my notepad. "I'm Investigator Thomas Felling. My name was on the slip of paper you handed in. Call me Tom. And you are...?"
He looked puzzled. "Mayan armour, ah. Harmonium, ammonia, uranium..." He shook his head as if to clear it. "Nom... Mormon, Norman." He frowned. "Moon or morgen?"
"It's almost half-past ten. You say your name is Norman?"
He leaned forward. "Sherry, tomfelling, north shoreman, name dummat. Horm, neg. Sorm! Herm!"
"So, er... Herm. Where do you live?"
"Manner of hammering here, Surrey. Near earshot. Only short arrows. Norwich. Harrow? Throne's toad from Sharon's crotch."
"Sharon? Girlfriend? Wife?"
"Ho, neg marrows, chief. Grief! Hoof! Some very near missiles, mine, fiery scrapes, neg webdings, neg splice, slickness and stealth, that candle of werbs. Sorrel, no fangs. Thunderground, tomfelling sirs. Herring Cross, nomean?"
"Okay," I said, with more conviction than I felt, and tentatively jotted: 'MALE. HERM ?? c. 35-40. LONDON' "And why exactly did you want to see me?"
He became more animated. "Seamy, narf! Crimes! Sorm, herm. Wild times aheard, tomfelling, ears peeled, lips sealed, eyes full frontal, hands shirking in a biscuit squirrel. Risky. Unner hat, rats in mattress, old son, reach for the whisky. Whew!"
My hand remained poised above the pad. I nodded encouragingly, suppressing any sign of confusion. "Er, do go on."
"Wool, seam. Yesday, scoffing a quartz or pine - Red Lime (mebbin Quing's Arse, dummat), saw threevem. Long copes, dark glarps, stamby door mane kine low throaky garbling, like war in a pipe. Neg humour bins, swear. Strewf! Whew! Bygol, eyes fright, pine spilt, spine chilt, gim creebs tomfelling, pragly piston panks! Haddago gents. Gobback." He paused dramatically, whispered, "Gorm!" The memory prompted him to wipe his brow with some shreds of greyish tissue. I abandoned the pen, raising instead an expectant eyebrow.
"Ailings! Spiles! Creepers from an utter whirl, an utter Zola systole; fast galleries swirly in the golden spice, shoals of molten coal, millibands of lifeyears awake, nomean, kidgeneg, sorm. Sorm, tomfelling, owneyes. Herm, ownears. Spiles def. Plodding!" He nodded vigorously.
I had inadvertently allowed my jaw to drop slightly. "Plodding?" I enquired.
"Plodding." His somewhat cryptic blurt had now gained a kind of fierce momentum. "Spiring, crooking up streams to make us wavery, savoury, slaver, drool the whirl, the holy worm. Mem H G Wheels? Whorf, Warp of the Whirls? Sim, but neg stalky tripots, seary heatraids zappling Leatherwedge or Choking. Farmer, swan and woolly goats! Ailing creepers zemblin humour bins, tent on, bent on assymbolate us. Tole barman, ole fren, had one meb two onnahouse, neg harm, sez besgosee tomfelling. Well," he concluded, with evident relief, "Mere."
"So you are," I said. "Well done. Most observant. Your barman was of course quite right to send you to me." And we duly assymbolated him.
© L J Sklaroff 2011 All Rights Reserved
Date and time of last update 01:00 Sat 26 Feb 2011
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