Dr Hasp was not at all pleased.
‘For goodness’ sake,’ he said. ‘Didn’t you hear me call ‘Enter’?’
‘No, I didn’t,’ said Dug.
‘Well,’ said Hasp, and opened the door wider. ‘Come in and park it.’
The office was crammed from floor to ceiling with newspapers. Assorted front pages of the Falkirk Herald had been taped over the windows, making the electric light necessary even at this time of the morning. Books, folders and loose leaf documents were strewn all over the desk, and there was a clunky old Philips cassette recorder sitting on top of a pile of magazines. A large prosthetic hand was propped in the corner of the room like a mop.
‘Something wrong?’ said Hasp.
‘No,’ said Dug. ‘Just your...newspapers...’
‘Porous bricks,’ Hasp said, curtly. ‘Strange you haven’t mentioned them before. I’ll have to make a note.’ He started scribbling with a pencil. Then he looked up. ‘Paper is an excellent insulator, you know.’
‘Good idea,’ said Dug.
Hasp tilted his head back. ‘I know,’ he said. ‘Now.’ He underlined the note he had just made and flicked back through the file. ‘Mm-yes,’ he said. ‘How’s the therapy coming along? Are the photographs helping, we wonder?’
‘Oh, don’t apologise,’ said Hasp. ‘As I’ve told you before, it’s a much more common problem than you might imagine. Never reported in the popular press, though. No entertainment value, you see.’ He opened a drawer and produced a bottle of Famous Grouse. He filled a glass that he found under a mound of yellow paper. The glass looked like it hadn’t been washed in a very long time. ‘Just keep at it,’ he said. ‘I feel...’ He squinted at the whorls rolling around the whisky, behind the fingerprints. ‘I feel we are on the verge of a breakthrough. Then we can ask your mother to come back in...’
Dug held up both hands. ‘Stop, stop, Doctor,’ he said. ‘I haven’t got a problem with my mother.’
Hasp laid the glass down slowly. ‘Well there’s a stringent denial if you please,’ he said. He scratched another note in the file. He stopped suddenly, then flipped back to the front page. He ran a finger over the photograph stapled in the corner then looked at Dug. He glanced at his watch. ‘You’re not my eleven o’clock, are you?’ he said.
Dug shook his head.
‘No, you’re not,’ said Hasp, and flapped the file shut.
‘I’m here about my...’
‘Well,’ said Hasp. ‘This is all rather...I, er...well, where’s my eleven o’clock, hmm? It’s twenty past now.’
Dug had no idea.
Hasp took a mouthful of whisky. ‘The question being begged, of course,’ he said, ‘is who are you, young man?’
‘Douglas Lloyd,’ said Dug.
‘Ah!’ said Hasp. ‘Douglas Lloyd Douglas Lloyd. Hmm. And we’ve met?’
‘Well, yes,’ said Dug. ‘I was here a few weeks ago...’
‘Nope,’ said Hasp. ‘Can’t remember you.’
‘You phoned me last night,’ said Dug. ‘You said my father was here. Walter...’
‘Walter Lloyd, the drunk and disorderly!’ Hasp smiled. He laid his pencil next to the glass and awarded himself with a pat on the shoulder. He bounced up from his chair and stumbled against a stack of Falkirk Heralds. ‘We’ve got him locked up. Come on.’
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