Monday, February 18, 2013

SatNav: The Real Story of Paul Scholes (Part 2)

Here lies part 2 in the epic saga. Included are very British names, very old cars, and very sophisticated medical terms.

Doctor Gordon Lawrence Copperthwaite. What a name.
As a lifelong Manchester resident who goes by Wally Narbridge, I’ve seen my share of British names. But that one beats the lot. Sounds like the family practitioner on Downton Abbey.
In fact, the truth wasn’t far from that. As explained to me by his agitated wife, a Mrs. Melissa Copperthwaite, “He works at the GP office in Glossop proper, and as he’s the new boy he has to make rounds to all the sick folk who can’t leave their houses.”
In my notes, this read as: “wrks @ Gloss. GP, visits the dying.”
A man of few words, if I do say so myself.
As I reviewed the latest in a seemingly unbroken string of simple marital infidelity cases, I was forced to resort to analyzing the (relatively low) hilarity level in the subject’s names.
Lady Copperthwaite (I like to think her a “Lady”, it lends a certain 19th-century charm to her jealous, snooping persona) came to call upon my office about a week ago, certain that her husband was sleeping around. She was growing very suspicious of his long days driving through the green bumps and valleys to the east of town, and his coming home late nights smelling of perfume.
I pointed out to her that generally speaking, very old women, women who very well could be infirm and bedridden, often use the smelliest perfume.
She was having none of it.
I could sense undercurrents of some other problems within this marriage. Realer problems that were harder to uncover, if you take my meaning. I resolved to help this woman as best I could. I suppose I’m just a golden-hearted English gentleman.
Also, I could use the money.
Glossop is the smallest town in England to ever have a team in the top tier of the English football league system.  Glossop North End competed in the First Division of the Football League around the turn of the 20th century.
I know this because I have access to Wikipedia.
I find this interesting as a football fan, depressing for the residents of Glossop, and thoroughly coincidental considering the facts that came to light surrounding Doctor Copperthwaite.
I rumbled into the town of Glossop three days ago in my grey, nearly-gone-to-shit Toyota Camry, whom I’ve named Mims. She’s the 1991 model, so she rolled off the assembly line around the time I was using the backseat of another Toyota for purposes not generally approved of by the automotive community.
I was smoking weed, if you’re wondering. What, you think I was getting lucky as a 17 year old? I’ll thank you for the compliment.
But we’d found ourselves together, Mims and I, as we puttered to a stop outside a coffeshop with sandstone walls and a picture window crisscrossed by white latticework. After receiving my (hopefully) hangover-curing large black coffee, I took a corner seat and started planning my attack.
By that I mean I drew giraffes with ever-increasing neck lengths across a fresh page of my notepad, until it looked like the service bars across the top of my old flip phone.
Theoretically, I had all the information I needed to proceed, but something was holding me back. If I’m honest, two somethings.
I was almost certain I was being watched.
As a detective, you spend roughly forty percent of your waking hours watching or following others, and if you want to continue to eat solid food and breathe without the help of a machine, you get pretty good at not being noticed.
I’m pretty good at not being noticed.
If my football career had continued, I surely would have been labeled as the elusive “big-bottomed small” – at 5 foot 9 and roughly 200 pounds, with admittedly thinning hair over a standard pasty face centered by a drinker’s rosy nose, I look like an Englishman. I can blend into a crowd well, whether it’s in a shopping centre, church, or pub. Preferably a pub.
The two men following me did not look like Englishmen.
“Lanky talls,” they would have been labeled by the football pundits, with matching swept back oily hair and skinny rat faces. They looked for all the world like the hired guns they were as they sipped their highbrow lattes in the opposite corner of the coffeeshop.
It was pathetic, really.
I had noticed the car on the drive out here. The execution was passable, keeping several cars in between us, but the vehicle choice left everything to be desired. Clearly lifted directly from the staff lot at Old Trafford, the sleek dark red Mercedes with the “MUFC3” number plate blended into the light suburban traffic like an Army tank in a daisy meadow.
I had caught Manchester United by surprise, that much was certain. These two weren’t proper detectives, or even really proper muscle men. Judging by the conspicuous car and the fact that they had both blunderingly followed me into a small coffee shop with no obvious rear exit, I inferred that they were no more than low-level stadium security pushed into emergency service.
As a football club and moneymaking empire, Man U are top notch. But as a detective agency, they’re shite.
The question was, why were they following me?
Stupid as they looked, I decided against asking them.
Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” jostling its way out of my speakers, I cruised Mims slowly along Glossop’s main street, the red Merc crawling like a bloated spider two cars back. Using my considerable powers of deduction, I reasoned that these basement-dwelling sweater-vested men weren’t given any more direction than to follow me and report back to their boss on my doings.
I resolved to lose them.
As we entered a roundabout, I took the first exit and slowed almost to a stop as I waited for the Merc to follow suit. As soon as they turned onto my street, I whipped a quick U-turn, thanking God and the Japanese for my Toyota’s short wheelbase and exceptional turning radius, and powered into the traffic circle, out the next exit, and along the increasingly country road towards the Copperthwaite residence, all the while grinning at the thought of the boatlike scarlet Mercedes humping its way around in a 6 point turn.
Lady Copperthwaite set a teacup on the endtable to my right, as if the Earl Grey could somehow aid me in my thoroughly illegal efforts to break into her husband’s home office. Fortunately, the doctor hadn’t bothered with anything more than the cursory doorknob button lock that seems to come standard in every newish, well-to-do suburban home.
Easy prey for the tip of a coathanger.
Lady Luck found me again once I was inside the office, in the form of instant access. Bookshelves lined the walls, and the desk that sat between me and the large picture window opposite was no more than an old front door, treated and planed, and laid across two squat filing cabinets with no locks.
I told the lady of the house I’d need to peruse these case files in peace, in order to determine any patterns that her cheating/ not cheating husband did/ did not follow.
First, though, I thanked her for the tea. It was really quite good.
With the Man United fools miles back, Mims properly hidden in the Copperthwaite’s attached garage, and the good doctor not scheduled to be home for six hours, I began my investigation at a languid pace.
Thumbing through the left-hand drawers of the desk, I marveled again at just how very British some of these names could be (Cadwaller, M.? Cleighton, D.? Dipsbottomley, Q.?). Nothing stood out immediately – no files were markedly larger or smaller than the others, and none seemed to have significantly more or less wear on them. Switching sides, I began work on the right-side drawers, and immediately noticed a change.
The bottom drawer was locked.
Smelling blood, I went in for the kill.
By that, of course I mean I withdrew two paper clips from my bag specially formed to open locked filing cabinets.
Within seconds, the contents of the drawer were mine.
One file caught my eye immediately, and I knew then why the Red Devils were on my tail. Thinner than the rest, it contained only one sheet as I ripped it from the drawer and spread the folder greedily open upon the desk. The name in the red tab at the top: Scholes, P.
Skimming the document as only a trained private eye can do, I gleaned these facts:
·         Date: January 13, 1993
·         Reason for visit: Severe swelling of the right upper thigh, yellow discharge and blistering of a surgical incision made in the area
·         Treatment: Draining of pus and topical anesthetic prescribed.
My first thought, naturally, was one word: Gross.
My second thought was: I wonder why Doctor Copperthwaite is home so early.
This thought came to me because, as you might have guessed, Doctor Copperthwaite  was home.
Things seemed to happen very rapidly after that, and I remember the incident as a film trailer: quick cuts of people yelling at each other, a beautiful young woman on the arm of a raving, spitting, rage-filled doctor, a broken wife seeing her marriage dissolve, a Three Stooges-esque chase around the doctor’s desk with the all-important Scholes paper clutched in my fist. I remember shouted words rebounding crazily off the bookshelves of the office, words like “TRESPASSING” and “ILLEGAL” and “That’s the only copy of that document, and so help me God if you bring that to the public I’ll ruin you and everything you ever loved.”
I guess that one kind of stuck with me.
In repose with a cheap cigar and an equally cheap beer in my apartment, I reviewed what had easily been the most interesting day of my career.
It ended, as these things so often do, with enough potential blackmail to fill a post office. I was on the hook for breaking and entering, trespassing, and accessing confidential medical records. The good doctor was on the hook for cheating on his wife and possibly covering up the biggest scandal in football history (my mind was already racing with the possibilities). Lady Copperthwaite was, well, she was just SOL.
In the end, the doctor and I had come to the only agreement that was possible without bloodshed: total silence. I’d keep the Scholes information as no more than a mental note in a growing case, and he’d let me out of his house for no more than the cost of two new deadbolts.
Connecting dots from the notes I had dashed off as soon as I got Mims back into my street’s garage, I came to several conclusions.
These included the following.
1.      Scholes had made his professional debut in 1993.
a.       Doc Copperthwaite operated on Scholes’s leg during January of that year.
                                                                                      i.      ? Scholes’s body rejecting new material ?
2.      Man United tried to follow me.
a.       They picked me up going from Manchester to Glossop
                                                                                      i.      ? They followed Lady Copperthwaite to me ?
1.      ? They keep tabs on every doctor to ever work on Scholes ?

Maybe United aren’t as shite detectives as I thought.

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