The spare room technically belonged to Hugo. He very rarely slept there, yet the wardrobe was full of his clothes. Every morning, he left the master bedroom and changed here, all to maintain the illusion that he slept there, because he and Theodore were ordinary bachelors who simply shared a flat.
Theodore thought this was overkill. He argued that most people who visited the flat were fully aware of the situation, and those that weren’t never ventured as far as the bedrooms. Nevertheless, Hugo persisted. He hoped Theodore was right. He hoped the night would never come where the pretence would be needed. But if it did, he was not going to be caught unprepared.
Of course, all that counted for nothing when there was a dead body in the spare room.
That morning, Hugo changed in the dining room. He’d had the foresight the night before to move all of his clothes out of the spare room. The body was already starting to smell and Hugo knew from experience it was a stench that seeped into fabric. On his way to the kitchen, he caught Theodore spraying perfume through the spare room door. Theodore looked embarrassed, but only for a moment.
That was as much as the pair acknowledged the body that morning. Hugo intended to bring it up at breakfast, in the hope they could come to a decision on what to do with it. The sooner that thing left the house the better. But he had no new ideas and doubted Theodore had changed his position so there was little point trotting out the same argument all over again.
Instead, they discussed the case.
‘What’s our next move?’ said Theodore.
‘I want to look at the Hammam’s records,’ said Hugo. ‘I want to know every guest who was in the bathhouse last night.’
Theodore frowned ‘But how many people will that be? One hundred? Two hundred?’
‘We have to start somewhere.’
‘Very well,’ said Theodore. ‘It suits me, anyhow. I want to talk to the patrons, see if anyone was there yesterday. Maybe somebody saw something suspicious.’
Thus, after breakfast, they walked back to Jermyn Street. Inside the Hammam, they were met enthusiastically by the attendants. Theodore was rather tickled by the warm reception, while Hugo struggled to explain they were not there as bathers and had come to speak with Mr Butterfield. After a long wait, an attendant returned and bade the detectives to follow. However, instead of leading them upstairs, he took them to an unoccupied office behind reception. And instead of Mr Butterfield, it was the steely-faced Furqan who met with them.
‘Mr Butterfield is busy,’ Furqan explained, once the attendant had left. ‘However, he has asked me to remind you of your commitment to discretion with regards to the Hammam’s patrons. Any help you require with your investigation, you may ask me.’
‘We can’t speak to anyone?’ said Theodore with a scowl.
‘Can we talk to the staff?’ said Hugo.
‘Mr Butterfield would prefer if you didn’t,’ said Furqan. ‘He is conducting his own interviews with the staff on duty Tuesday evening. He will notify you if he learns anything relevant.’ He was erudite in his speech, despite a strong accent.
Hugo and Theodore exchanged a look. ‘What exactly is your job here?’ asked Hugo.
‘I am the assistant manager under Mr Butterfield. It is my job to ensure the smooth running of operations in the Hammam.’
‘I take it you’re a native Turk,’ said Theodore.
Furqan’s brow furrowed. ‘Cypriot.’
‘We want to see your records,’ said Hugo. ‘Everyone who came and went yesterday.’
Furqan shook his head. ‘Impossible. The ledger is in use. You must not disrupt the smooth running of operations in the Hammam.’
‘If Mr Butterfield wants us to catch a murderer, he may well have to.’
‘The ledger is always in use.’
Hugo opened his mouth, but hesitated. ‘What about this evening?’
‘The ledger is always in use.’
‘The reception staff can keep separate records and copy them into the ledger when I am done. If we do it during the night shift, traffic in and out will be slower. It won’t be a big job.’
Furqan considered this. Hugo had been careful to make this seem like a compromise, but the truth was the delay suited him. His plan would be more effective later in the day.
‘Very well,’ said Furqan, though his arms remained firmly crossed.
‘So that’s settled,’ said Hugo. ‘But if we can’t see the records and we can’t speak to anyone, what does Mr Butterfield expect us to do all day?’
Furqan didn’t even bother to shrug. But before Hugo could argue further, Theodore grabbed him by the arm. ‘Why don’t we take a bath?’
Theodore winked. ‘I have an idea.’