Righnbeck

"Righnbeck" was written on the door in gold, gothic, scripty looking letters. As if some 12th century monk had taken an hour away from the scriptorium copying copies of copies of copies of holy books to come down to this dusty little god forsaken town in Iowa and do an old pal a solid.It looked nice. I was jealous. I made a show of knocking for the two uniforms that were behind me, but as softly as possible. I like to make an entrance and I find that knocking, more often than not, spoils the surprise. I barged in without being asked. The office fit the door. On the floor was a luxuriant burgundy rug stitched up like a tapestry of curling flowers and figures doing what figures on rugs do in the way that they do them, which is to say expensively. Lining the walls were big hulking gothic bookcases 8 or 9 feet tall and brimming with little gargoyles and goblins and god-knows what-else, and stuffed to bursting with books. There were statues too. Little stone things like the bookcase carvings sitting on just about every horizontal surface in the room. Righnbeck liked to be watched. I cupped a hand to my mouth. "Righnbeck, It's Kay, speak up if your in here." There was nothing. Not that I expected it. The place was so cramped with the medieval decor there wasn't a place to hide a goldfish. "It looks like he's not here Kay." It was one of the uniforms. The younger one with the Norman Rockwell looks, freckles and everything. "Brilliant d....", I ran my hand through my hair. I was about to butter his bread but stopped myself short. I don't know why. Who cares. Right then I just wanted Righnbeck and this joint was fresh out. "Look around boys. See if you can find anything useful." I caught the younger one's eye, "but for Christ's sake, don't touch anything." I turned towards the doorway and took a long look through it to the dingy hallway behind us - drab, institutional, looking at the threshold between it and the lavish office it was as if the seam in the carpet was glowing, as if the door jam were the frame of some truly uninspired painting. That's when I saw the owl. It was perched just above the door, its talons gripping some sort of lizard headed thing carved in the freeze that capped the doorframe. It was so still that at first I thought it was stuffed. Given the rest of the office a bit of taxidermy would hardly seem out of place. I stared at it for a long second, then two and three and four and then it twitched. So quick I wasn't sure I'd even seen it. Twitch, twitch, blink. "Freeze!" I shouted under my breath. The two uniforms gave me a look but they were smart enough to do as told. Soon enough they followed by gaze to the spot just above the door. "Is it dangerous?" one of them whispered. "I can hit it from here, no problem," said the other. It was the older one this time, a plump man with scraggled grey hair and 3 days of a beard. He started to reach fro his sidearm and as he did the owl snapped its gaze to stare him down. "No you fool!" I shouted. I dove at the man, sliding across a mammoth wooden desk sending nicknacks and papers scattering across the floor. My outstretched hands struck the old fool square in the stomach, 2 buttons above some ridiculous silver belt buckle, and his weapon went off. He'd only managed to get the gun about waist high, unfortunate for me, as the round went into my left shoulder, caromed off a few bones inside and went whizzing out the other side with a wet THWACK. The low angle was a no go, but that little dance inside my anatomy was just the ticket to redirect the round. I landed in a pile on the other side of the desk, and looked back just in time to see a burst of feathers falling in little twirling spirals onto that lush imported rug. It's a while after that where my memory picks up again ...