The room is dark, with light slicing through venetian blinds. Jack takes a long drag on his cigarette, blows a long, billowing puff towards the corner of the office, and hits play on the VCR’s remote control.
Videotape has made things so much simpler, he thought to himself,I could’ve used a camera back during that mix up with the Jade Princess.
The first sequence is filmed in color, although this fact is only apparent at the end. The camera is attached to the ceiling in a narrow hallway, facing directly towards a door. The hallway walls are painted with peeling grey paint – or so it must be assumed. The light is too dim to distinguish colors. There is a rotary telephone sitting on a small stand about half-way between the camera’s viewpoint and the door.
There is another door on the left-hand side of the hall.
The floor of the hallway is bare concrete. There are a few scuff marks and stains of some sort. There is also a discarded cigarette packet.
A clue?, Jack thinks idly.
The soundtrack, previously a hiss of recorded silence, records a grinding noise, tires on gravel, then footsteps. The door at the end of the hallway opens. For a moment, weak evening sun illuminates part of the corridor. Yellow light picks out every scratch and blister in the paint, and confirms that the slightly darker stain is rusty red blood.
Martin Calypso walks through the door and closes it carefully behind him. He has two plastic grocery bags in one hand. He is well dressed, slightly overweight, nervous. He glances up at the camera, then puts the bags down on the floor. He reaches up, his hands vanishing out of the field of vision. He removes a piece of wood, and it becomes apparent for the first time that the camera is concealed in the ceiling. Calypso checks the camera’s lens and film, ensuring that it is still recording. He then replaces the covering, reaches into his jacket, and removes a Halloween mask.
He leaves by the door on the left. For a moment, television set, a blanket, ropes, pizza boxes can be seen but then the door is closed and there is nothing but the grey entryway.
Jack pauses the tape, rewinds it, and plays it pack and forth, forward and back multiple times.
Simpler. Sure. Since when is more useless information better than less?, he pondered to himself. So I know someone likes to smoke boxed Marlboros in the building. A real man’s cigarette, according to what advertisers would have you believe, but they’d also make you think that beer is sexy on a man.
His thoughts are broken up by the ringing of the phone.
“Yell-oh. Hammer Investigations…Oh, Hi, Liz…Nah, nah, nothing major. Just wondering why can’t I get the divorce cases anymore… or claim jumpers. Sure, c’mon by, I could use the company.”
Returning the phone to it’s cradle, Jack looked around the room. idly wondering if he should pick up the place before Liz got there. Nah, he thought, that red-headed wildcat’s seen this place look worse. Besides… I’ve seen her car. I’ve got a defense.
Eliza Jones was the best thing to come along into Jack’s life in a long time. For one thing, she was as clever as she was gorgeous, a fantastic sounding board when he was in a quandary, and had been quite a help on a couple of cases already. For another, She had a car, and a willingness to help ferry the guy around, for only the opportunity to go along on a stakeout and crack wise with him. She’s something special… nothing like the other women in his life. Self sufficient, capable, and yet remarkably feminine. If things kept up, Jack was considering offering her a partnership… both in the business, and in the Hammer name itself.
Moments passed, and Eliza arrived to find Jack reviewing the first tape, yet again, notepad in hand. “Hey babe,” she said, entering without a knock.
“Hi, Liz…have a seat. Maybe you can make something of this.”
Eliza squeezed Jack’s shoulder as she passed, pulling up a chair, and pouring herself a cup of coffee. “The Calypso case?”, she asked.
“Yeah… I can’t make heads or tails of this… and I’ve got six more tapes to look at after this one.”
“Jack, have you thought that maybe watching the rest of them in sequence might help?”
“Um…no. Good thought! Maybe an overview would be best… all told… I have seven videotapes, 4 audio cassettes, and a roadmap with Graceland as the final destination. No real witnesses, save for machines. I’ve got a long night ahead of me.”
Eliza got a dreamy look in her eyes, the way she often did when she saw Jack in his contemplative element. “We’ve got a long night ahead of us, Jack…and I’m sure we can find a way to make it a lot more tolerable.” Leaning forward, she got up from her chair, and had a seat in Jack’s lap instead, wrapping her arms around his neck as Jack turned off the VCR with the remote.
Bathed in the soft blue light of the TV screen, they kiss and we fade to black.
To be Continued.