Brian paused and looked up. “I need shoes.”
“I’m afraid I can’t allow you to pillage that body.”
“Pillage?” Brian clicked his tongue against his teeth several times. “I don’t think I’d use that word to describe it.”
“That’s why your mother hired my firm. To think of these things for you.”
“So, Desmond, when would be the proper time to get those shoes?”
Desmond covered his eyes with his hand, sighed and rubbed his hand down his face. “Never, Brian. Never is a good time to take shoes off a corpse.”
Brian stuck his hands in his pockets and lifted his trousers to reveal his shoeless feet. A toe stuck out of one sock and the other was inside-out.
Desmond put his arm around Brian and led him away from the body and the vultures who still called themselves “The Press.” Desmond smiled – when one of them spoke the title, you could practically hear the capital letters.
A flashbulb went off, Brian reached out and snatched a camera. The hapless presser was jerked forward by the strap around his neck.
“Brian,” said Desmond, “please return the camera.”
“But, Desmond, I so very much dislike having my photo taken from that angle.”
Desmond placed his hand tenderly on Brian’s, still clutching the camera. “You could perhaps ask the presser to delete the photo?”
Brian looked down at Desmond’s hand and Desmond immediately withdrew it. “No need, Desmond.” Brian pushed a button on the side of the camera and a card ejected, “I’ll just take this card with me.” He dropped the camera and it was barely rescued from the ground by the strap still around the presser’s neck.
Desmond shrugged at the presser and followed behind Brian, who was cheerily whistling to himself.
“Perhaps…” Desmond called out while he caught up with Brian, “perhaps we should get you home and into a clean pair of shoes and socks?”
“Perhaps I grow weary of your constant whisperings. You’re like a humming bird fluttering about from flower to flower, never stopping, but always in the way.” Brian stopped mid stride and held out his phone to Desmond. “Call my mother, please. I’ve no use for your services anymore.”
Desmond pushed the phone towards Brian. “Your mother has given me very specific instructions. You should call her personally.”
Brian furrowed his brow and stared at Desmond.
“I’ll wait while you call.” Desmond snapped his fingers. “Put it on speaker.”
Brian pushed buttons until the phone squawked. “Royal secretary,” a voice said, “may I direct your call?”
“My mother, please.”
“I’m sorry, eminence, but Her Majesty has instructed me to not forward calls from you.”
The line went dead and Brian stared at the blank display.
“Come now, Brian. We’ve a lot of work to get done before your coronation.” Desmond held open a car door and beckoned Brian inside. When Brian was seated comfortably, Desmond walked to the driver door, started the car and drove away.