Are we liking it so far?
When Horatio turned around, the man he saw behind him threw him off balance. In all honesty, Horatio should have recognised the voice, but even if he had, the image that stood before him now didn’t match up with his expectations.
A smoking jacket with a face was the first thought that came to mind. A smoking jacket that had come to life as the result of an evil scientific experiment, or perhaps a nuclear explosion. It was holding a large cigar in one hand and a glass of whiskey in the other. It was only after Horatio had looked past this that he managed to spot the bruises.
‘Clever camouflage, Kenya.’ Horatio said.
‘Thanks. I try.’
Kenya Grove, the head honcho of Grove Transmedical. This was the man whose life Horatio had saved, apparently. That had been over a year ago, and Kenya was still sporting the same bruises.
‘Did you enjoy your little joyride in my ambulance? I suppose you must have by definition.’ Kenya said, grinning.
‘It was acceptable. I’ve had better, all told. The driver was a little chilly.’
Seeing Kenya had caused Horatio to forget that the paramedic was still around. She reminded him with a sharp smack upside the head. Kenya seemed to find the whole thing hilarious, Horatio did not.
‘We thought you might have actually been hurt,’ Kenya chuckled, ‘So we sent Maria. Her bedside manner may be a little brusque, but she’s the finest paramedic we have. And we have some damn fine paramedics.’
‘You knew it was my flat?’
‘Of course I did. I keep an eye on all my saviours nowadays, just in case they ever need the favour returned.’
‘Saviours, plural? How many do you have?’
‘Oh, more than my share I think. Anyway, I feel we have wandered off topic a bit.’
‘There was a topic?’
‘Yes. I was going to explain why I had Maria bring you here, then grill you about why your flat exploded.’
‘You’re not a cop, why do you care?’
‘I’m very nosey.’
Kenya beamed at Horatio as if that answer was perfectly acceptable in the civilised world. What annoyed Horatio about this, however, was that Kenya tended to be right. They weren’t exactly friends, but they had a drink together occasionally, Kenya liked to touch base with the man who saved his life, and that exact grin had wormed its way into more than one conversation.
According to the man himself, the grin was something he had perfected during his hospital stay, the same hospital say that followed directly from Horatio saving him and culminated in the founding of Grove Transmedical. Horatio didn’t exactly understand the logic, but he understood the grin. It had an uncanny ability to make you doubt yourself, to question what you know to be true. Horatio reasoned it was part of Kenya’s immense success following his release from hospital: when a man looks as certain about himself as Kenya, the competition think he has something up his sleeve.
But Kenya didn’t have any secret weapons, and he made it perfectly clear to everyone. This was his master stroke, all it did was put people more on edge, make them more likely to believe he had one. And even knowing this, Horatio was unable to successfully fight that damned grin. You never lost an argument with Kenya, you conceded before it began.
‘Fine,’ Horatio said.