Gendarme Sergeant Arpin sighed. He had seen many worse sights but violence and it’s results always filled him with sorrow. He lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply, his lungs resented this, as they always did, but it reminded him he was still alive.
The daguerreotypes showed images of broken chairs, tables and glassware littering the bar. So senseless but unsurprising, which made it all the more heartbreaking. Across his desk sat the proprietress, her head bandaged.
“Do you feel well enough to speak with me?” he asked.
“I reckon,” said Mistress Rosamund as she sipped the gendarme station coffee which was better than she had expected.
“Mademoiselle, I am Sergeant Arpin, I would like to ask you some questions.”
She smirked and said, “I’m sure you would.”
He took out a form and rolled it into the Gutenberg. The details came, her name, her nationality, how long did she own the establishment, and so on. Not so interesting that they need to be put down here but Sergeant Arpin was a very particular policeman and it should be acknowledged.
“Do you have any enemies?” he asked.
“I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t.”
“Very philosophical, and yet, it doesn’t answer my question.”
“Well, there are some that don’t care for me and a few that might not shed a tear at me being six feet under, but I can’t think of any that would do this.”
“Even so, would you please share their names?”
“Give me a cigarette.”
He did so, lighting it for her off a wooden match. She took a drag and blew a
smoke ring at the ceiling. With a smile, she said, “You know, I really can’t recollect.”
Sergeant Arpin shrugged. He knew she would give him no names, there was a code after all.
“Did you recognize any of the assailants?”
“Didn’t get a look, they all were masked.”
“Naturally. So who else was here when these ruffians came into your establishment?”
“Just Mr. Twig, who works the door for me.”
“You run the whole place,” he said looking at the daguerreotypes of the long bar, “with such a small staff?”
“Of course not, it’s early, the rest of my folks aren’t supposed to come in till early evening, though I don’t think we’ll be open tonight.”
“I would like to speak to them.”
“They may be scarce, given the state of things.”
“Of course. Was anything taken?”
“The criminals, did they want anything in particular?”
“From where I was standing, it seemed like all they wanted was trouble.”
“Easier to find than to lose.”
“Now who’s the philosopher?”
“Only the poorest kind. So they came in, proceed to break everything in sight, steal nothing, ask for nothing and are repelled by your man, Mr. Twig. Does that sum up the events, as you’ve shared them?”
“I reckon so.”
The sergeant flipped though his notes and looked up at Mistress Rosamund.
“A witness in the catacombs reported seeing a young woman, perhaps a student, running from the scene. Did you see anyone matching that description?”
“Nope, I was a mite busy, what with all the violence.”
“So no one like that was in your establishment?”
“Not today, as I said, we weren’t even open.”
“Curious,” he said as his whiskers twitched.
“Not really, some young student hears a ruckus, they are likely to go a running the other way.”
“I suppose so. Thank you for your time,” he said handing her his card, “If you remember anything else, please call.”
She looked at the card, which read,
Sergeant R.M. Arpin
Division Of Pernicious Criminal Mischief
673 and 3/5th Rue de droit
Sliding the card into her blouse, she said, “Thank you kindly Sergeant, if I should recollect anything, I’ll be sure to give a ring.”
“Good day mademoiselle, bonne chance with your redecoration.”
And with that she got up and made her way outside. Mr. Twig sat on a bench, waiting.
“What do you make of him?” she asked, grinding her cigarette under heel.
Mr. Twig unfolded himself and stood. He scratched his chin and pondered for a moment.
“He maybe the only honest gendarme I’ve ever met.”
“You may be right.”
“Is that good news or bad?”
“Too soon to say. But get some candles, wine and some fresh bread, I need to send a message.”