Mornings had never agreed well with Dirk Gently; he viewed them as a kind of obstacle to the rest of the day. Some months back he had resolved to quit smoking, but the idea had yet to percolate its way into his subconscious, and the fact that he usually carried a pack of galouise ‘in case of emergency’, never helped. They inevitably found their way upstairs to his bedside, where he tended to reach for one and light up as an integral component to his struggle to consciousness every morning. Little else seemed to do the trick, as Dirk was well accustomed to sleeping through all manner of other interruptions, and the additional ones provoked by having a tarp for a front wall had only increased his tolerance.
On this particular morning, Dirk’s routine was rudely interrupted. Even his near-legendary skills of sleeping through anything could not compete with the police out on the front walk using megaphones. After the initial panic that comes of waking up to the police standing out front of one’s home using megaphones to declare one’s name to the entire neighborhood, Dirk padded through the debris that littered the bedroom floor to pry open a window. It creaked and groaned under the assault, but at last gave way. Leaning cautiously out of the window, he peered around the side of the house to where a number of officers were milling around. No guns trained on the house were in evidence, and there seemed to be a general air of boredom on top of the impatience that prompted the use of the megaphone. When he was noticed, there was a small amount of shuffling among the men before one of the younger officers squeezed himself between the buildings to address Dirk.
Deciding that playing things cool was the best course of action, Dirk ducked in for his glasses and a cigarette, and lit up while the policeman struggled past an overgrown rosebush. Dirk slurred around the cigarette, “Am I under arrest?”
“Ah, no sir. We’re just making enquiries.”
“Right. Then it can bloody well wait until I’m dressed.”
Halfway down the stairs, Dirk’s brain caught up with the world and he paused. Gilks would have just come in, on the grounds that the current condition of the front wall had prevented his being able to knock first. On further reflection, Dirk suspected that Gilks would have probably even come upstairs to shake him awake,* rather than loiter about on the front walk while the neighbors stared. He proceeded the rest of the way down to where his front door used to be with more caution, pulled open a section of polyethylene, and invited the officers in. The three men that made themselves at home around his kitchen table were not wholly unfamiliar, but he could not immediately put names to faces. They looked entirely too serious, and Gilks’ absence made the situation surreal in a way that was entirely unexpected to Dirk. Feeling off-balance, he opted for good manners and offered them tea, which was refused. It was too early in the morning for his usual blustering to have any real momentum, so he meekly sat at the kitchen table instead, and listened.
He continued to sit at the table when they had gone, and started on a second cigarette without noticing. Gilks was missing. The Cambridgeshire Constabulary seemed to have no real leads. The good news was that Dirk was not really a suspect, and had only been questioned because they were grasping at straws, a fact which worried him even more. There had been a brief moment when he had the alarming suspicion they were almost hoping he’d take up the case. The idea of something or someone that Gilks couldn’t handle was a terrifying thought just by itself.
*He probably would have enjoyed it immensely, in fact.