by Trevor Hopkins

I asked a couple more of my gently probing questions, but Skeath was having none of it. He denied any knowledge of the source of the mini cameras, or of who might be placing them in the dressing rooms, and repeated his threat of violence if he were to find out who was responsible. He looked like somebody who had something to hide - but doesn't everybody, when it comes down to it? - but as far as the spying on the performers was concerned, he might actually be on the level.

I let Gaffer Skeath go back to his day job, to his visible relief - for all that he tried to hide it - and reconsidered his criminal record. His form was Assault and Battery: more than one fight outside a bar late in the evening, where his evident strength and huge hands had injured his opponents, sometimes severely. He had been convicted, served his time, and all long ago. Sure, he might be an angry and threatening Goblin now, but that might well be more bluff and bluster rather than real threat. Still, under all the puff, he was hiding something. It might be worth a closer look at some point.

Sudden loud sounds from outside interrupted my reverie. I stuck my head out of the box-room in which I was temporarily incarcerated and looked up and down the corridor. A little way down, the corridor itself was nearly blocked by a wheeled rack overloaded with extravagantly adorned stage outfits, every one bursting with feathers and tulle and sequins. How the garments stayed in one piece was entirely a mystery to me; presumably there was some conventional material in there somewhere.

The argument seemed to be a difference in artistic opinion between two very different characters. One was a slightly-built older Goblin who was supporting his points with overgenerous gestures of hands and arms. He wore soft-cut trousers in cerise and a flowery open-necked shirt with a cravat at the throat. I guessed - correctly, as I would later learn - that he was the wardrobe master, and he was not on my list of staff to interview.

The other Goblin was a much more serious piece of work. Although clearly middle-aged and of no more than average height and girth, he emanated such an air of threat and malignity that I was surprised that the effete little wardrobe master could even summon the courage to stand up to him like that. The scary Goblin wore an expensive-looking three-piece suit of conventional cut and colour that looked exceptionally out-of-place in this busy and artistic environment. All-in-all, he had the air of an old-school gangster, needing only the addition of a Tommy-gun in an oversized violin case to complete the image.

The rack of clothing itself was being held steady by a third Goblin, a young and female one, and one that at first I didn't recognise. It was Campsie, of course. She had taken my advice on dress sense, it seemed; the frivolous colour scheme, the low-cut top and the shortness of the hemline all added to the impression of a young person determined to make an impression in the artistic world by whatever means possible. She had also applied far too much makeup: rouge and lipstick in bold colours, applied generously, and her eye shadow put me in mind of one of those animals on the surface - Racoon? Panda? - but certainly enough so that the shape and colour of her eyes was effectively disguised.

Campsie spotted me peering around the door jam, watching the altercation between the other two Goblins. To her credit, she barely reacted to seeing me there, and I was quite sure neither of the two remonstrating employees noticed anything. I nodded once and left her to it.

Part 40 Part 42