Evelyn opened the office door, and walked over to the desk.
What Evelyn intended to say on opening the office door was a simple few words: “Here’s your tea, Mr Green – will there be anything else?”
But Harold Green was dead. That was for sure. The bullet hole in his forehead was a bit of a giveaway. And if that wasn’t enough, the blood splatter on the far wall surely had to be.
Out of habit, she placed the tea on the desk, and then walked out of the door, back to her desk. She sat down, in front of the typewriter, and began to think.
How could someone have come in the front door, shot the man in the head, walked out again, and she hadn’t heard?
The phone rang, and instinctively, she reached over, picked up the receiver and began to talk.
“Harold Green Theatrical Associates, can I help you?”
“Ah yes,” came a voice. “It’s Roger Andrews. I wonder if I can speak to Mr Green please?”
“Not at the moment,” she said, on automatic pilot. “I’m afraid he’s in the middle of an important phone call with a director at present. But if you want to leave me a number where he can reach you I will see what I can do.”
“Ah,” the voice said. “Well then, not to worry. I’m calling from a payphone and I’m due on stage in an hour so I’d better call back tomorrow.”
“Right you are, Mr Andrews,” Evelyn said brightly. “I’ll let him know you called.”
“Thank you so much, Laura.”
She hung up.
“Two years I’ve been here and he still calls me Laura,” she muttered. Well, Roger Andrews was going to need a new agent whatever happened.
“Don’t move,” said a voice behind her.
“Ah,” she said. “I did wonder if you were still around.”
“Put your hands in the air,” he said. “Nice and slowly.”
“Now,” he said. “Where’s the cash box?”
“There isn’t one.”
“Don’t be stupid,” the man said. “There’s got to be a cash box. There must be.”
“We don’t deal in cash,” she said. “It’s cheques only.”
The man snorted.
“We’re not in the cash business,” Evelyn said, as though trying to explain it.
“What did he pay you?” he snarled.
“A week. What did he pay you?”
“Thirty pounds a month.”
“That’s a lot,” he sneered. “For a secretary.”
“I do the shopping,” she said. “Drive him places. His …”
“In a wheelchair,” she blurted. “The… erm, wife.”
She decided to risk turning round, and did, slowly.
There was nobody there. At least, nobody she could see.
Gradually, Evelyn lowered her arms. She scratched at her temple.
“Are you all right Miss Benson?”
She looked behind her. Harold was standing there, perfectly well again.
“I’m quite… fine…”
“You don’t look fine.”
“Well, you do,” she said. “Except a moment ago, you didn’t. You were in your office and there was a bullet hole through your head and you were quite dead.”
“I think you should come and sit down,” he said, taking her arm. “You don’t look well.”
He led her over to the brown leather sofa in the corner of the office. A swarm of beetles emerged from the vase on the table, dropped off the flowers and scuttled off the sides of the table into the corners of the room.
“Did you see that?” she pointed at the flowers. “The beetles?”
“On television the other night?” he asked. “John wanted to watch it, so we did. Very good they were.”
“No,” she shook her head. “Real beetles. Came out of the flower pot.”
“Sit down,” he said, gently.
She sat on the sofa and Green, a look of concern on his face, walked off in the direction of the kitchen.
The more Evelyn thought about it, the less well she felt. The room seemed to be spinning. Nothing seemed to be looking quite right. She looked up at the door and the familiar words painted on the glass had changed:
Harlod Gremm. Tehratrical Assumptions.
She closed her eyes and concentrated hard. The wording seemed, momentarily, to change back to normal.
Green bustled back into the room with a bottle of milk in his hand.
“Where’s the contacts book?” he asked, his face red.
“In the top drawer.”
He went over to her desk, cursing under his breath, and drew out the book. He dialled a number – something he never did on his own, if she was around – and waited. Nobody answered, so he hung up, and dialled again. This time someone answered.
He stood upright now, lips pursed, anger coursing through him.
“It’s Harry Green here, how are you sweetheart?… Marvellous, how’s Brendan?… Oh dear, I’m sorry to hear, you two seemed so perfect together… Listen, I’m trying to get hold of your brother, I’ve got a job for him…”
He seemed less angry now, and more tense.
“Yes, that’s what I had in mind. The usual rate?… Good…”
Evelyn blearily looked across at him and tried to stand. He held out a hand in a stop signal and shook his head, and Evelyn sank back down on the sofa.
“It’s Kevin Lodge, I’ll give you his address. He came in here today and we had a little row and I’m sure he went to my fridge and spiked the milk. My secretary’s in the middle of a bad trip right now.”
Evelyn slumped to one side on the sofa and the rest of the conversation swept past her in a blur.
“Harold Green Theatrical Associates,” Evelyn said, picking up the phone.
“Hello there, it’s Roger Andrews here,” the voice said. “I wonder if I could speak to Mr Green please.”
“Who?” Green silently mouthed through the open office door.
“Roger Andrews,” she mouthed back, and he nodded, picking up the phone.
“Hold the line, please,” she replied. “Patching you through.”
She pushed the button to connect line one to Green’s phone. There were four buttons on the phone, even though only one was actually connected to a phone line – it looked more impressive to clients that way.
“Roger,” Green purred. “Good to hear from you.”
“Hello Harold,” Andrews said. “I was wondering whether there’s any more auditions coming up? I’ve only another three days on this one and I’m still trying to catch up with the bills -”
“No problem Roger,” Green interrupted him. “As a matter of fact, I have a part for you starting Monday. As it happens, you’ve already auditioned for it.”
“Not the York rep?”
“No,” Green giggled. “Much closer to home – the Coriolanus.”
“Oh. Well that is good news. But I thought they cast Kevin Lodge.”
“Yes,” Green said. “Yesterday fired me as his agent. Then he stormed out of my office, and that evening he had an accident and broke both his arms.”
There was a few moments silence before Andrews said anything.
“Those two things… they wouldn’t be related, would they?”
Green waited a few moments before answering.
“So… do you want to play Caius Marcius, or not?”
Evelyn smiled and hung up her phone. Things were back to normal.
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