Continued from Part III.
“I have eaten here many times,” Janoa was saying, and it was a lie. Merriweather had never seen him before. “I very much like the soup, I adore the croquettes, I find the chocolate tart quite divine. To be a food inspector is such a privilege, don’t you think? But also such a responsibility. Public safety is in my hands, but also the livelihood of an artisan, a craftsman, to whom food is an expression of the soul, but to whom perhaps the matters of business are not. What do you think?”
Rudolph was clearly struggling to think anything. He took a deep breath, as if about to dive into a deep pool. “I’m sure it is a very important job,” he said. “And I have indeed heard that the food here is excellent, and…”
“Do you believe in second chances?” interrupted Janoa.
Rudolph swallowed. “No,” he said.
The door to the street crashed open. Three policemen stormed into the room. Rudolph jumped in his seat, but Janoa’s hand had slid forward and closed a strong grip around his wrist.
Merriweather turned and fled.
He ran into the kitchen, turned and pushed the door closed, leaning his weight against it. Then he surveyed the room.
Grease covered almost every surface. Unwashed crockery from the past fortnight was piled high near the sink, encrusted with remains that had long turned green. The strange smell from the fridge – he had been meaning to sort that out for months. The bag of rotting fruit lay where he had left it yesterday, as did the knife he had used to cut out the mould.
He heard the sound of footsteps. Clean white shoes on the floor of the corridor to the kitchen.
The footsteps stopped just the other side of the door.
Knock, knock, knock.
Merriweather began to panic.