(Story by Rickie Roberto, Private Investigator/ mime artist. Once nominated for Employee of the month at Beautighe Police Department ( 2008), twice voted Mime of the year by members of Slurry Junior Drama Club, Slurry High (1994) )
I’d spent an entire 3 days peeing.
Previous to that, I’d been holed up at work for the last month and a half.
No weekends, no 6 o’clock knock off, no lunchbreaks, no toilet breaks. Just a solid month and a half of unpunctuated slog.
At 30 by 30 numbers square- every line having to contain the numbers from 1 through to 73- this certainly hadn’t been your ordinary garden variety sudoku. Upon finally completing it, I was mentally and physically depleted. My boss, Inspector Lieutenant Chief, ( or Dave, as I call him; we go way back.) came good on his side of the bet. I’d now enjoy a full week off. He even agreed to my demand of a full extra week off on top of that, as compensation for the kidney damage inflicted by 45 consecutive days of holding in my urine.
Fast forward to the day after I finally finish relieving myself, and I’m feeling the urgency to get out of the house and into the great outdoors for some fresh air and exercise. Despite there being a noticeable amount of difficulty involved in moving any part of my lower body, I decide to embark upon a long, mimed bicycle ride.
That’s right. Mime. My first passion. I don’t get as much time as I’d like to devote to it these days, of course, but every spare second I get, I’m miming. It’s constant. Every morning on the way to work; every coffee break; every evening on my way home. Even as I lay in bed asleep. Mime, mime, mime. Speech is something I don’t do if I can help it. This applies to the written word, also.
You may be wondering: doesn’t that get in the way of my work? Or indeed, interfere with life in general? But I have to answer: No. It doesn’t. Take this story, for example. You may think you are reading at the moment, but you’re not. I’ve simply tricked you into believing so. This is, in actual fact, all mime. There are absolutely no words here at all. Mark my words, sonny Jim, this is 100% pure mime magic.
Of course, my Detective’s head says it’s foolish; frivolous; pure whimsy. Stop it, he says. Get back to work. But my artist’s soul demands it. And who am I to argue? It’s a need. Where other detectives see a desk , a see a desk that doubles as a surprise escalator. Where they see nothing but empty space, I see an invisible glass cube that I could become convincingly trapped within. Sometimes I feel the pressure to conceal my passion for the arts, just to live up to the gritty, tough, no-nonsense, investigative hotshot image that I know everybody secretly holds of me. But, I have to remain true to myself. As my closest associates would agree, I just can’t pretend.
So there I was, mime cycling down the esplanade; the wind blowing through the little bits of my hair that were sticking out of my helmet. In my current state of hindered leg movement, I was grateful for the mostly downhill route.
As I continued upon my way, I felt the impulse to purchase lipstick. Why not, I say. I’ve earned it.
So I stop at the next lipstick shop- a local lipstick retail chain named Facegash. And while I’m in there, testing out colours, I suddenly remember that I’ve neglected to lock up my mime-bike. Indeed, I’ve forgotten to park it altogether, and it dawns on me that I’m actually still riding. Indoors.While testing lipsticks. Quite the faux pas. I remove my helmet, and severely reprimand myself. This is no way for a Private Investigator to behave. But I’m really in the mime zone, and don’t want to break character. My insolence infuriates me. Maybe it’s just all the stress of the last six weeks catching up with me, but I lose my cool, and punch myself. Pretty soon, it’s an all-in mime brawl, and I find myself challenging a teenage bystander to a duel with a retractable lipliner pencil.
I’m promptly kicked out of Facegash.
Not for the cycling, or the fighting, but for attempted shoplifting. Unbelievable. Obviously I’d never do such a thing, but the young lady working the counter insists that she saw me. I try to explain that I was simply miming shoving a tube of Vixen 006 up my sleeve, but she doesn’t buy it. Well then, neither will I. I’m not gonna give these amateurs my patronage after being falsely accused of the very crimes I work so hard every day to thwart.
Eventually, after a few choice words over the phone from Inspector Lieutenant Chief, the Facegash staff are convinced. They apologise profusely, and offer me a 3% discount on my next purchase of over $500.00.
Still, I’m so shaken up from the experience, that it takes me a full two blocks of walking to realise that I’ve left my bike back at the store.
I trudge back to Facegash, and ask after my bike. They say, no, we haven’t seen it. I say, well yeah, that’s because it’s invisible. Lady behind me has overheard the conversation, and points to a cafe across the road. Is that it?, she asks. No, that’s a cafe, I reply. No, no, in front of it, she says. Oh, I see it now. Looks like it, I say. How did it get over there, I wonder. Maybe it rolled over there, the lady speculates. Hmmm, maybe, I agree. This street is on a bit of a slope. I thank the lady for all her help, and make my exit.
I hop onto my mime-bike, and pedal for about 20 metres before I land a flat tyre. Typical. I chain the bike up, and continue on foot. I’ll come back for it tomorrow.
About thirty minutes later, I’m nearing home. All of a sudden, I find myself distracted by the lack of bakeries in this particular neighbourhood. In my disquiet, my gaze drops to the ground.
That’s when I see it.
Grey- almost the exact shade of grey as the concrete it’s sprawled upon- it’s a wonder I notice it at all. At first glance it appears to be some sort of misshapen, yet oddly regal sparrow; grey wings outstretched defiantly, like Kate Winslet in that famous scene from Titanic. But upon closer inspection, its true form becomes apparent.
Despite the fact that it’s a little mangled (from what I automatically deduce to be about 5 hours, 32 minutes and 44.3 seconds of ceaseless pedestrian trampling ), the quality is immediately obvious. It looks as though it’s made out of actual hair. This aint no joke ‘stache from the $2 shop that comes complete with a crude plastic nose and conjoined glasses. It’s not even like one you’d find at a swanky costume shop. This is a high class faux mo’. The kind of false moustache a classy, cold blooded killer might wear. Or a dirty, lowly, beat poet, who steals moustaches because he lacks the life skills necessary to grow one.
I steady myself. My heart is pounding like a warehouse rave from half a block away. I know I’m on holiday, but detective work is in my blood. Mime may be my mistress, but investigation is my wife, and at the end of the day, she still bakes a bloody good lasagna. My instincts tell me to go with it. There’s a reason I’ve stumbled upon this majestic pseudo soupstrainer today. Yes, the Unsolved Mystery Gods are trying to tell me something, and have surely conspired to place this fraudulent facefuzz directly upon my path.
Kneeling down, I discreetly scream out in pain as my poor, not-quite-recovered bladder is squashed mercilessly by my other organs due to my hunched over position. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. C’mon Ricksta, I tell myself. This is no time to cave. I reach into my pocket for my emergency tweezers, and gently begin to lift one corner of the moustache . There’s a slight resistance, as the foot traffic has done an effective job of flattening it tight against the grimy pavement. Gently gently, centimetre by centimetre, I carefully peel the noble mo’ from the ground. When at last, I have it, I place it in an empty marmalade jar ( clean of course, with the label steamed off ) , then walk the remaining 598 steps home.
To be continued….pretty soon. Give it a few days, to be safe.