"Expecting trouble? I asked.
He ignored me and concentrated on caressing the muzzle of the gun.
"Didn't think so," I said.
He glanced up, squinted at me over his glasses. "Watch your tongue," he said. "I'm trying to be nice to you."
"You kept me waiting two hours."
"And with very good reason."
I said: "It's unprofessional for a shrink to run late."
MacCoddleswap blushed. "My boy, that's only your opinion. I worked horrendously hard to get where I am today. And my position often gives me a great deal of pleasure. Just like now, when I get to tell you the wonderful news."
"And that is....?"
"My good friend," MacCoddleswap said, "I'm afraid the chaps in the lab feel you've been a little sneaky."
He pronounced the word 'sneaky' with undue emphasis and I sat straighter in my chair.
MacCoddleswap continued. "They are very concerned," he said. "And so am I. You haven't quite lived up to our agreement.."
I sat up quite rigidly now and crossed my arms over my chest. "I've stuck to the rules as well as I could."
MacCoddleswap guffawed. His adam's apple moved up and down in his neck. It reminded me of a flapping fish wedged in a pelican's gizzard.
I watched him carefully as he placed the gun down. He placed the gun on the report so it didn't scratch the dark cherry wood of the desk.
"Rules?" he said. "Oh poppleycock! You, my fabulous Feenian friend have been at it again, haven't you? It's the very first thing you do after our sessions. Admit it."
I looked up at the ceiling. "Not the first thing," I said.
"Don't deny you've been burning the midnight oil every night this week. Mark my words, eventually you'll run out of wick. You're racing to the end of it."
I blinked. Run out of wick? I thought that was a bit personal - and said so.
"Nothing's secret here," he said. "Pretend I'm your considerate conscience. Aren't you supposed to be reading books rather than poking people in the eye with your illustrations?"
I didn't blink, held his gaze. I recognised the hidden words of course.
Burning. Sneaky. Racing.
He was using all the right words. They'd been Illustration Friday prompts over the last few weeks. He knew it and I knew it.
Something was going on here, something I didn't understand.
"You can't go on," he said. "Apart from your wick, something else will give. Probably your corpus christi cerebullum. It's already looking like a Peruivian pickled pizza parlour. It all has to stop."
"Never," I said. "You've mixed me up with someone else. There's another Finnie around here somewhere."
"You mean that that sparkling chap in New Zealand? The gay and lesbian one? The one who wears a codpiece on his head? Oh have no fear, we're onto him too."
MacCoddleswap picked up the gun on his desk by the trigger guard. With the other hand he shoved the report across the desk at me.
Though it was upside down I pretended to read it.
I didn't need to read it of course. I knew what was on the report already - after all, I'd written it - not that I'd tell MacCoddleswap that.
Let him find out for himself.
Obviously we were getting nowhere. On the spur of the moment I decided to try another tack - something I'd learnt as a Sunday School teacher when I was trying to get the kids to behave.
Instead of reading the report I decided to stare at him.
MacCoddleswap was an ugly man so I started at the best part - his eyes.
Now I took more notice I saw that his face was obnoxiously horrid. Not only did his face make me want to mix my metaphors, but to go into flights of ridiculously lurid similies - it was the only real way to describe what I saw.
MacCoddleswap's eyes were mostly dirty green, illuminated by flecks of cardigan grey that speckled his irises like faded and abandonned Macdonald's hamburger wrappers in a park of dead grass. His eyelids were red and inflamed liked broken blisters, the base of the eyelashes caked with yellowish specks - blepahritus - literally inflamation of the eyelids. Unkindly I hoped the blepharitus was terminal. I'd heard somewhere that in one in three million cases the victim needed amputation at the neck.
Gradually I let my gaze wander to his nose.
It was a bad move.
Obviously MacCoddleswap had once been a rugby player. His nose was pushed to the his right side and fishooked up so I could see into his nostrils. His nostrils were small, dirty caves, the spiky nasal hairs jutting into the dark recesses like tarnished stalagmites. I guessed that somewhere in that foetid lushness was hiding a pea sized brain.
By now he seemed to know what I was up to, and twisted his head ever so slightly to spoil my line of sight.
That didn't stop me. Casually, and without fear, I continued my visual degustation of his face.
Beneath the nose I discovered the dry river bed of his nasal labial cleft. Deeper than normal, it could only mean one thing - that he'd been an only child - and been a spoilt one at that.
My gaze lingered on that cleft, imagining that when he cried and his nose ran it became a disgusting bubbling brook of watery nasal excrement.
I think my disgust finally showed on my own face because by the time I reached his mouth, he was wriggling uncomfortably in his chair.
I realized he'd had enough when he started to waved the gun around in my direction.
"Oh do stop staring!" he said. "It's so tiring."
I continued staring at his mouth.
Suddenly MacCoddleswap swore. He banged the butt of the gun on the desk.
"Hot damn! That's it! You can't push me like this. Do you know who I am? I've had enough. You're pushing the wrong bells and all the dings have been donged!" He grabbed the buzzer on his desk like it was a dead rat.
Unperturbed I kept staring at his mouth and said: "Still having your injections?"
His hand stopped at the buzzer. "Injections?"
"I heard you'd been volunteered for botulism tests....."
Something within him snapped then, his fat lips began to vibrate with anger, the ora-serratta widened, his fibrillating cheeks went beetroot, his eyes bulged like unopened tulips ready to burst and, for a second, his face swelled and his lips, obscene and ripe, beckoned to me like a shiny bubbling waterfall of wet, pink pigs' bladders.
"It's Botox, you idiotic imbecilic ingrate," he said.
"Botox?" I glanced at the half dead flowers on his desk. "There's rosemary for rememberance? And there's pansies, that's for thoughts," I said. "But Botox for beauty? Too late for you I'm afraid."
MacCoddleswap's fingernails were long and curved like claws. With a piggish grunt he jabbed at the buzzer over and over until a foreign accented voice answered.
He lent close to the speaker and shouted: "Svetlana!"
A minute passed. The door behind me opened. A thick chested woman clumped in, stood against the wall on the right of the door. Except for the orange hair and the dress she might have been MacCoddleswap's twin.
But not quite. Unbelievably she was even uglier than MacCoddleswap.
"This hunk of sveltic beauty is Svetlana," MacCoddleswap said. "Svetlana ich bin ein Easter Berliner. Before the wall came tumbling down, she used to make 1000 Kronor a day. Not bad for a woman with a wooden leg and the IQ of an under-ripe grapefruit."
"Doing what?" I asked, ignoring his atrocious German. I had poor taste in women but even I could see that Svetlana was too ugly to be a prostitute. Perhaps, if her hair had been longer, she might have been in high demand as an orangatang impersonator for childrens' birthday parties.
But I doubted it.
"Oh, jolly jumbucks! Just wait and see," MacCoddleswap said.
He'd finally had the guts to put the revolver down. Every now and then his red rimmed eyes glanced at it to make sure it was still there.
Unsteadily he climbed to his feet and opened the curtain that covered most of the left side wall of his office.
Behind the curtain was a sliding glass door. When the curtain was fully open I could see through the door into the next room. In the room about eight men were sitting on chairs. The chairs were arranged neatly around the walls of the room. The men had been dressed in the same grey overalls I usually wore. Though they were not three feet from each other, none spoke. I wondered if they'd been drugged.
In one corner three other men were lying face down on the floor, not moving.
"It must be time for me to go," I said.
MacCoddleswap shook his head sadly. "Dear dolly me, I'm very afraid I can't let that happen," he said.
Reflexively I sat forward in my chair. Behind me I could feel Svetlana take two lumbering steps towards me. There were false teeth on the desk. I pretended to admire their sleek plastic finish.
MacCoddleswap grinned. 'They were my grandmother's. I keep them there so they remind me of her smile." His own grinned widened and I saw that his own canine teeth were yellow. I shivered. The grin on his face was as out of place as a cheap Christmas ornament on the wall of a funeral parlour.
"You love to mix your metaphors," he said.
"So what? That's not a crime."
His grin vanished. He held his right hand out and spread the fingers. He tapped each one with the black barrel of the revolver. The metal clicked against each of his long yellowed fingernails.
Unfortunately the cream would have gone off by now.
"Point five," I said.
"So we've covered point three, passive tense?" he asked slowly.
"Yes," I said.
He grunted. "You're not lying to me I hope?"
"Never," I said.
He looked down at the report on his desk. There was a gold pen in his jacket pocket. He took it out, held it between two fingers and ticked off a few boxes.
"Ahhah!" he said. "We didn't cover point three and a half - 'trying to write like a cheap detective novelist'. I'd remember if we had."
I clapped my hands together, imitating his sudden enthusiasm. He didn't notice.
"Oh we did," I said. "Don't you recall? You accused me of being a Dashall Hammett impersonator."
MacCoddleswap screwed up his face so much I thought the tip of his nose would poke him the eye.
"Ha, very funny," I said. I stood up from my chair. "Time to go when you start making bad jokes."
In an instant Svetlana's hand crushed my shoulder. She forced me back into the chair.
MacCoddleswap said: "We haven't finished yet."
"My normal shrink only gives me two hours," I said.
"Your normal shrink doesn't work for the government," he said.
"Okay. I give up what's point five?"
"I'm afraid it's in regard to the pictures at the very end of this post. The ones with that sneaky kid stealing those ducklings."
"What's wrong with that?"
"Well, for a start, they're not ducks they're geese."
I shifted uncomfortably. The velour was starting to give me a rash even through the overalls.
"No one will notice," I said.
"Balls," MacCoddleswap said. "If I can see they are geese then anyone could.."
As if to underline his statement MacCoddleswap did the contortionist act with his nose again. This time he twisted the tip so high he looked like an albino monkey having an epileptic attack.
I tried not to laugh. Instead I nodded.
"Yes I can see your point."
"I'm afraid you need a rest," he said.
"I just had a rest."
"Rest? I've heard you are working on a commission."
I didn't say anything.
"And," he added snidely, "another book."
I kept my lips buttoned, didn't tell him I hadn't even sent off the first one yet.
He changed tack then. "How much do you weigh?"
After a moment I told him.
He blinked. "Pardon?"
I told him again - this time in pounds and stones instead of kilograms to make it easier on his brain.
He looked astonished. His lips started fibrillating again.
"That's it," he said. He nodded sideways at Svetlana.
Svetlana was quick. Before I could move she'd dragged me out of my chair.
I tried not to cry out, but she had a death grip on my hair and was doing her best to scalp me.
"Take him to Room 13," MacCoddleswap said. "Two weeks."
"That's not right," I said. "
Svetlana dragged me by the hair toward the door. I grabbed at the chair, missed it. At the doorway I stamped on her foot.
She laughed at me.
"MacCoddleswap!" I said. "You're making a mistake. Don't let it end like this. It's just not right!"
MacCoddleswap came out from behind the desk. "Hold on Svetlana," he said and peered at me through his spectacles. "What's not right?"
"You can't lock me away. I haven't answered my comments yet. There's blogs I want to visit."
I pointed at the paper on his desk. "Read the back of the report. Then give me a few hours at least."
MacCoddleswap picked up the report from his desk. I think the excitement was too much and his brain had stopped working. He scratched his chin to look intellectual.
"It's on the other side," I said, indicating with my hands how he should turn the page over.
Eventually MacCoddleswap found the back of the page. Eventually he even found the list - the list being the only thing on the page.
He put the report back on the desk, turned his back to me, then lent over the desk like a school master and read the names slowly, out loud, having as much trouble with the English ones as the foreign ones.
When he was finished he grunted and said "Too bad. Take him away."
Svetlana didn't need to be told again. With one fist she banged open the door, the other fist dragged visciously at my hair.
As she dragged me out into the corridor I managed one last glimpse of MacCoddleswap.
Already he'd gone over to the glass doors. He slid them open so he could see unobstructed into the next room. He had the revolver in his hand again. With the revolver in his hand he watched the mannequin men, the way they sat against the walls with those blank eyed stares.
We'd made several turns down the corridor, heading for the east wing, when I heard the shot. It was muffled by the walls, but a shot never the less.
Then came the sound of a man screaming softly.
And, finally, just like in a John Le Carre novel, another shot. Then silence.
As we reached Room 13 I couldn't help myself. I began to laugh.
Svetlana never loosened her grip, but she was curious all the same.
She said in her broken English "Vat's up with you Fennee? Why do you laff?"
"Oh no reason," I said.
How could I make her understand that finally at least part of me was happy.
She wouldn't understand that, at long last, the gun had been fired. She wouldn't understand that I could finish up my story now.
Well the first part anyway.
The second part - the part about The Secret of The Dancing Ducks - well that would have to wait for two weeks - when MacCoddleswap finally let me out of Room Thirteen.
And he would let me out of course.
That's if I made all the right promises.
Thank you for being so patient with me :)