I have come to the conclusion that I am rather good at deductions. This may come as a surprise to some. Indeed, in general, my grasp of mathematics is rather tenuous.
To me, arithmetic might as well be a collection of Arabic numerals. Some, although they would be uncharitable, would say that the level of my mathematics skills were evident in my current precarious financial situation. Needless to say, those who carry such thoughts are ineligible to attend my informal get-togethers in Mayfair.
These are the sort who tend to want to prove they are the smartest person in the room. I abhor individuals who feel the need to demonstrate themselves superior, the sort who must tell everyone what they know, using language they think will impress, but which they do not understand. You often find them talking incessantly at cocktail parties, depending on other people’s ideas for wit, and finding nothing better to do with their days than indirectly writing books about themselves.
Luckily, my close social circles are devoid of such personages. My day-to-day interactions are free from such characteristics.
In any case, I came to the conclusion that I am rather good at deductions. Having concluded, through careful observation, that Madison’s lover was Michael Beaconsfield-Outremont, I had to determine how to make the information known to a select audience. Of course, Ypres and Cousin Andrew, being present at the moment of the historic revelation, would not need to be in attendance. Although, I did and continue to hope that they will include the moment in their memoirs. I expect each will devote nothing less than a chapter to the episode.
The dilemma of the manner in which to present my argument hung over me for the rest of the weekend.
I took the opportunity to think the matter over during walks in Central Park, dodging the odd tourist and their photographic apparatus. Finally, using my now famous capacity for deduction, I settled on a strategy Sunday night. All was ready to be set in motion at the United Nations Development Organisation office on Monday morning.
As a citizen of London, I have often read the odd Agatha Christie novel before bed, or fallen asleep between acts of a murder mystery in the West End. It is from these experiences that I drew my plan of action. Although I have often said that I delivered a line like an inspector revealing the murderer in the drawing room, this time I meant business. And meaning business in New York is a whole different ballgame, rather like the difference between cricket and baseball.
I decided to call a meeting at my desk requiring the attendance of both Madison and Beaconsfield-Outremont. There would be no suspicion on their behalf, as if there is one clear function of any bureaucracy, especially UNDO, it is to call meetings.
As they would be pulling out their notebooks, preparing to doodle or catch up on the sleep they forfeited to Manhattan life, I would pounce. I would pounce by subtly putting the facts before them, hinting that I knew what they knew. I was very happy with my plan.
As I waited for the two suspects to arrive at my desk, there was but one issue that I needed to settle.
I had already agreed with myself on the outfit (Lagerfeld – the brand, not the designer’s trademark uniform) and the pose. The point of contention was whether or not to use an accent. Of course, to North American ears (and the masses north of Cambridge) I already had an accent. I was debating whether I should put on an accent from beyond the Anglosphere. I was going over accents in my head, sweeping east to west geographically, from Russia to Portugal, when the two North Americans arrived in unison. At the moment of their arrival, my mind was still on its grand tour of Europe, halfway between Stockholm and Copenhagen.
I greeted them with a mild hello.
“Why do you sound like the Swedish Chef?” I progressively dropped the Scandinavian tone of my overture after Beaconsfield-Outremont’s remonstrations.
“I think it suits you, Vanessa!” added Madison, with usual supersonic cheer.
Like Ypres, I was undeterred.
“You are probably asking yourselves why I am here.”
“You work here.”
“Yes, indeed, sir, I work here. Nevertheless, you are probably asking yourselves why I am here presently.”
“Aren’t you usually here presently on a Monday at 11:00?”
“Sir, I will request that you only answer my questions when asked.”
“I was asked.”
“Why are you calling him sir, Vanessa” Madison chimed in like the heavy bells of Saint-Patrick’s Cathedral.
“Madam, I shall request your silence as well.”
“You act as if there has been a murder!” Had Madison been wearing pearls, she would have clasped them.
“Well, madam, although there has been no murder, there are two suspects. And I am looking at them as I speak.”
The pair quickly turned around to look behind them to the secretarial staff with an air of mild confusion.
“You know, ever since I lent that stapler to Olga, and she never returned it, I knew something was off. Is she in cahoots with Kaito?” The Montrealer whispered his inquiry.
“Which one is Kaito?” Added Madison, narrowing her eyes as they searched the perimeter.
I took a deep breath, straightened the spine, and adopted a more authoritarian pose.
“I am referring to the events of this weekend. You may not have thought that I would notice anything was amiss. But, if you persisted in that assumption, you would be wrong. You see, as a famed conundrum consultant, and keen deductionist, as it were, I notice all. In that exchange at the strip club, there was an unnameable quality. It was almost as if the two of you had met before.”
Madison and Beaconsfield-Outremont looked at one another. I leaned across the desk. Had my desk been equipped with a lamp I would have shined it into their faces. Upon reflection, it was all the better I did not, as I would have had to shine it into both their faces in rapid succession in the manner of a Dresden disc jockey.
The drama of the scene intensified with each passing second of stillness.
Madison, the braver of the two, cleared the air with the most powerful of air fresheners: the truth.
“Actually, we had met before. We’ve crossed paths in Manhattan, as I was visiting my aunt, we sort of bumped into one another.”
“Ah ha! And so the affair began!” Beaconsfield-Outremont had the terrified look of an Anglophone about to order at a restaurant in French for the first time. This was the moment to strike.
“The two of you are lovers!”
The silence of the vanquished settled upon the room.
“Vanessa, Michael, although he is very sweet, considerate, and has great legs…”
“Lies!” The declaration escaped me.
“Vanessa, Michael is not the dear handsome lover I have told you about.”
I was beginning to thinking that Madison and Beaconsfield-Outremont were not the vanquished after all. As I was thinking, a Cucinelli suit approached. Madison soared with glee at its proximity.
To my amazement, the content of the suit was the ever-bureaucratic Pietro Ducale.
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