*201 Swann Street, 2004*
The phone rang again, as it had been for the last twenty minutes. Andy switched on the bedside lamp, blinking rapidly trying to get used to the harsh light. He hoped that the remnant visuals of the rather disturbing dream involving lumberjacks, Alfie, and a rather menacing dog snapping at his legs would dissipate. He wiped the sweat off his brow, realizing that the weird tune he heard in his dream was the phone ringing.
The clock mocked him, as its lights flashed quarter to five. He silently moaned as he reached for the phone. He glanced at Alfie, who was blissfully snoring, his breath reeking of cheap whisky and a swirling concoction of smells which could be best described as a waste treatment facility of a rather popular brand of cologne. The pristine white pillow case wore a darker shade of drool dribbling out of Alfie’s open mouth. Spit bubbles being born and dying out his noxious little orifice. None of which helped Andy lighten up or distract him from the fact that somebody dared to call at a time when even the diligent and hardworking elves union forbade them from working.
‘This better be good’, Andy groggily threatened into the phone receiver, while he wondered if he should switch on the bed side lamp and then decided against it.
‘Good? This will give you both a boner the size of Mt. Kilimanjaro... Is he up?’ The voice on the other end with the heavy French accent seemed to be yelling over the din created by what seemed like heavy machinery being operated. Andy deduced the background noise to be bunch of men grunting while working with shovels and yelling out instructions to each other to be careful.
‘It is 5 in the morning Eugene. So he is not awake and neither am I’ , Andy replied curtly while brushing his palm against his dry lips and oily face, the caller’s excited energy clearly upset Andy more than it normally would have. The caller was Eugene-François, a good natured officer who was their liaison. Eugene worked for the newly created and yet to be named department under the purview of Interpol. The department was created and resourced so as to address the cases which were clearly and inarticulately labeled as being weird. The other departments which found its resources and time being wasted by this newly found outfit and by the people hired as consultants, had been kind enough to have christened the department as The Department of Weird or ‘DW’ as the slang which had evolved after much bickering and bitching. By special directive of the department head of this yet to be named department, the twins had been hired as outside consultants. And it was Eugene’s job to bear their collective wrath and put up with their temperamental nature.
‘Désolé… Désole.’, Eugene apologized and let the cold dead air envelope him further before he found his hands going numb with the wait and the cold.
‘Well? Wake him up! He is going to love it! I tell you… He is going to love it… Sending a car around to pick you both up... Should be around the corner’ Eugene continued, his infectious albeit slightly misplaced energy creeping back into his voice, given the time and not really waiting for Andy’s response.
Click. Andy hung up. He had heard all that he needed to hear. He couldn’t bear to listen to Eugene’s French so early in the morning. Morning. The sky was still dark, just like his mood. And knowing Eugene and his annoying habit, Andy wondered if the car was already waiting for them downstairs.
‘Alfie! Alfie! ‘ Andy whispered, as he gently poked Alfie in his guts, knowing well that gentle and subtle was not really Alfie’s style.
‘ALFIE !’ Andy pulled Alfie’s hair aside and yelled, giving vent to his sour mood and his morning breath.
‘WHA ? WHA ?’ Alfie woke up with a start, books tumbling down the side of his bed, while his hands instinctively reached for the cricket bat lying down on the floor next to the books.
‘Eugene called.’ Andy spoke matter of fact while he watched Alfie roll his tongue around his teeth and then masticating on whatever he found interesting lodged in his molars.
‘Yeah ! So ? It is five AM! ‘ Alfie yelled as he looked over Andy at the clock, before spitting out the last shredded and chewed upon piece of meat lodged in his teeth.
‘He sounded pretty excited about whatever it was that was exciting him.’ Andy wiped his face, brushing off the last veils of sleep and the images from the disturbing sleep.
‘Eugene is always excited about something. What does that French bastard want now?’
‘I don’t know. He just told us to get ready and come wherever he was. He said you will love it.’
‘He always says that about everything. Did he say where to come?’
‘No he didn’t. I am guessing the driver ought to know where.’
‘You know the driver doesn’t talk. That is what the word mute means you know.’ It was Alfie’s turn to show his displeasure at having his blissful, alcohol induced sleep disturbed.
‘We’ve got to get ready. He is sending a car to pick us up.’ Andy ignored and continued to relay the message or whatever he could remember. Just for a fleeting second, Andy wondered if he had really answered the call or if it was part of his elaborately detailed dream. He seemed to be having a lot of them off late.
‘Now?’ Alfie said as he stretched and yawned.
‘For the love of god and all that is holy, please brush your goddamn mouth with some industrial strength cleaners. You smell like badgers and raccoons made themselves a nest in there.’ Andy said in mock irritation, smiling at the bewildered look on Alfie’s face.
‘So we don’t know why we are awake or where we are going?’
‘No! But it is time you woke up and got ready! The car should be here anytime now.’
‘I bet he found something new...’ Alfie tried to hypothesize a logical and reasonable theory for him to be awake while jumping out of bed trying to shake his body out of the lethargic state it seemed so content with.
‘Oi! Easy now!’ Andy moved sluggishly, still considering whether to tell Alfie about his dream and then deciding against it.
As they tied their shoe laces, Alfie exclaimed, ‘I have a good feeling about this… And are you sure Eugene said that I would be happy?’
‘Yes. You are always happy when you have a new case’ Andy replied, shaking his head.
‘Though, I really did wish he would have called couple of hours later. I could have done with some more sleep.’
‘Being dragged out of bed at five in the morning is not really your thing, is it? Especially when you are hung over like a horse’ Andy quizzed with a smile.
‘Well, don’t really have much choice in this matter now do we?’ Alfie chuckled at the quip, as they walked down the stairs to find the car waiting for them.
‘Look at you! Smiling like a kid who just been promised by Santa that all of his wishes will be granted this Christmas.’
‘What look? If you ask me, anything is better than just moping about in our apartment waiting for something exciting to happen. You said so yourself!’ Alfie said as he rolled down the window on his side trying to hide the glee which was spreading its warmth across his face as the cold wind blew and the car sped into the early morning light.
The brothers looked outside the car window, silently and stoically, each lost in his own thoughts, one smiling sinisterly wondering what awaited them, while the other frowned and cursed nature for having played such a cruel trick on them.
‘Good thing that we don’t share consciousness and conscience, wouldn’t you say?’ Andy spoke, shredding the silence that had enveloped the car.
Alfie continued smiling, as he absentmindedly ran his fingers over the imaginary seams where their bodies were conjoined, as the car sped on.