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By Simon Lelic

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Where has your history degree got you if not further back than where you began? You are, how old? Thirty. Thirty-two then. If you had joined the police force when you were sixteen you might be a chief inspector by now. Superintendent. But I digress. My point is that when Amelia Evans left us - and not before time, let me tell you - we had no choice. We needed a teacher who could recount in order the wives of Henry VIII, who could point on a map to the fields of Bosworth and who could recall the date of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.

The headmaster, he says maybe I’ve had enough to drink and I say, I’m drinking orange juice, I’m drinking fucking orange juice, and the headmaster says, yes, well, nevertheless, and mutters some crap about sugar. And he leads me away. And I leave. So that was it. That was the first time me and Szajkowski met. After that, things just kind of went downhill. ’ ‘Does he know what’s happened? ’ ‘You’re not listening to me, Inspector. He won’t talk to you. He doesn’t talk. ’ ‘And you’re not answering my question, Doctor.

You should put something on that hand,’ she said. ’ Harry stood and shoved the burnt hand into his pocket. The broken pot dangled from his left. ’ Lucia got up. She threw the paper towels into the bin by Walter’s desk and made to follow Harry. ‘Don’t do that, Lulu. ’ She should have kept walking. She should have left Walter in the arms of his ego. Yet she could sense his leer even with her back to him, could picture him reclining in his chair. The others would be watching too - willing her to retort but just as ready to laugh if she stayed silent.

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