The Cook

The Great Detective sleeps on the third floor, and the Other Detective on the second, and the Cook sleeps in the basement. A quiet man, it suits him; the windows are high against the ceiling and the light is filtered through the murmur of the city streets. He goes up to the third floor every morning, carrying breakfast to the Great Detective on a tray, but he has not been to the fourth floor in years. He knows what lives up there, in careful, tidy rows, in rooms cool and moderate and torrid; there was a time he marinated in that glory, but not now. There was a time too when he burned like a bachelor’s souffle for the Great Detective, but not for years, and not now.

The Other Detective he sees most days, partners in commiseration, brother wives in a house where music seldom plays, in the kitchen or the office; not infrequently in his basement rooms that, like every other, are soundproofed and discreet. Old friends, they are casual with each other, with their names and their loves and their bodies. The cook does not cloister himself within the house — he is not eccentric in his genius — but nevertheless his mind has risen with the yeast of years to fit its shape.

He does not like crime, and will not talk about it. There is always another body, another rule broken, another flurry of activity to come, but such moments can only be measured against the quiet, unbroken, remorseless tender of his craft.