“Michaels please. Now”, he’d said loudly, storming through reception, flashing a walleted badge and placing his hand flat on the counter with a soft slap. Catherine Thorpe held out her hand and stared at him, utterly expressionless having taken in the cheap suit, whiff of deodorant covered body odour, the loose and slightly stained tie and the creased shirt.
She asked for his badge, if he had an appointment and opened Mr Michaels’ calendar on her computer screen behind the high counter which came up to the man’s chest. Detective Constable Ian Wallis. He didn’t have an appointment. “Mr Michaels is in meetings for the next three hours but if I can take some details I’ll have his PA contact you to set up a meeting at a more appropriate time,” she offered politely smiling and handing back his badge. This wasn’t her first rodeo, she thought, testing a phrase she’d overheard in the Partners meeting on Tuesday. Yes, she liked that. Suited her, she thought. She’d have to try it aloud soon enough.
Catherine Thorpe had been with Michaels, Michaels and Alnwick since long before the second Michaels got his name above the door and Alnwick dropped dead at his desk. The first Michaels had since departed for the serenity of tax exile, iced rum and Alzheimers some years ago, but Catherine Thorpe continued managing the day to day operations of the practice. Whatever Michaels she served could ill-afford to dispense with her services.
“Look, love,” Wallis started, finishing rapidly. “Detective Constable” she said, smiling calmly and getting to her feet on the raised dais behind her altar. “However hard you may pound my counter, and however patronising you think your job title entitles you to be, as I mentioned previously, Mr Michaels is unavailable for the next three hours. You are welcome to wait, at which point Mr Michaels will be able to grant you ten minutes of his time, or, as I suggested previously, you might like to leave your details and I’ll have his PA contact you to arrange a meeting, as soon as possible?”
“Bollocks,” Wallis said, louder than before, stepping back from the reception counter and putting his hands in his pockets. He looked around as Catherine pressed the yellow button on her desk. As one of London’s leading criminal law practices they had long found a distinct need for the sudden deployment of a certain brand smartly dressed, softly spoken hooligans.
“I’m going to see him now,” announced Wallis, “and I tell you what, love, you’re certainly not going to stop me.” He sneered at Catherine as he turned away, walking straight into the wide chest of Silvio.
“Mrs Thorpe?” Silvio asked courteously, taking hold of Wallis’ upper arms. Catherine had seen it all before, knew all the tricks the police and clients tried to get their own way. It wasn’t her first rodeo, she thought again with a barely detectable smile.
“Detective Constable,” she began again, stepping down from the raised platform and walking around her counter with a pen and pad in hand. “If you would be so kind to let me have your email address and telephone number, I will ask Mr Michaels’ PA to contact you as a matter of the utmost urgency, to arrange a meeting at his earliest possible convenience. I don’t have to remind you that this is private property and that without the correct documentation you have no right to enter any part of these premises to which you are not invited. Now, if you please, your telephone number and email address?”
Wallis swallowed and looked as though he was about to burst as he recited his telephone number and email address. His puce face never once stopped looking up at Silvio, who smiled sweetly and awaited further instruction from Mrs Thorpe as he tightened his grip ever so slightly.
“Alright, alright,” huffed Wallis. “I’ll go. Yeah, fine. OK, I’ll go.” Catherine smiled at Wallis and nodded to Silvio who turned the Detective Constable to face the main entrance before releasing his arms and placing a guiding hand firmly in the centre of his back. As he was escorted to the door, he called out over his shoulder that he’d be back and next time he came in, he’d have his own hired goons with him. Catherine sighed and a soft smile touched the corner of her mouth as she walked back around the reception and up the two steps back to her chair and her desk.
“Of course you will Detective Constable,” she said, half to the departing policeman and half to the two receptionists sitting either side of her. “It’s not my first rodeo you know, and you’re not my first cowboy.”