The Food Inspector, Part III

Continued from Part II.

Merriweather’s eyes went wide. He saw Rudolph sitting very still, colour rising into his cheeks, hand resting upon the table… was it shaking slightly? Merriweather imagined he could hear cogs turning in Rudolph’s head, trying to process what was going on, trying to find a way to understand and change the situation to his advantage. Merriweather had never seen his adversary so taken aback. It was intoxicating to watch. Rudolph seemed so much smaller than normal, so much less frightening.

The man in the white suit introduced himself as Janoa Reathwate. He had a calm, measured air, as if every word and every slight motion of his arms were carefully planned out in advance. He tapped the golden pen on the pad of paper to emphasis his syllables, and it seemed as if each tap celebrated the ticking of a grandfather clock. The man spoke with a slow, gentle manner, and yet his eyes never blinked, nor shifted from their focus on the centre of Rudolph’s forehead.

The gentleness was an act, Merriweather decided. He remembered the man’s brusque manner when he had first entered the restaurant. No, this was a dangerous man, one you did not see coming for you until it was too late. What other power could make someone as threatening as Rudolph seem like a mouse cornered by a cat?

Rudolph must have realised this too. He may not have understood what the situation was, but he knew threat, he knew he was in over his head, he knew his lucrative game had evaporated. Was that sweat beading upon his brow?

To be continued…

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