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A Glimmer of the Duke

B. A. Ramsey

A Glimmer of the Duke

“Imagine a dress with a train that long! Right down the aisle, out the church doors, and down the front steps!” said the excited medical secretary, Miss Penelope Ending, to Dr. Glimmer MD F.R.C.P. Dip. Of Psychology.

But Dr. Glimmer scarcely heard his secretary, for his attention was otherwise focused on the troubling yellow slip of paper that he held in his hand. He did not appear to be able to account for the yellow slip of paper, nor could he account for the train Miss Ending seemed so excited about taking to the front steps of her church.

“She will make a lovely bride and a lovely Princess!” gushed Miss Ending, as she poured over her Royal News Magazine.

“Miss Ending,” said Dr. Glimmer, waking up. “Are you getting married?”

Miss Ending pushed the glasses she was wearing to the bridge of her nose and turned in her chair to face Dr. Glimmer. “Heavens, Dr. Glimmer!” she gasped. “I should be so lucky.”

Then she spoke more softly with a faraway look in her eyes.

“Why, there have been a few suitors in my time,” she sighed. “And there was a man who I was quite serious about. He went to Greece,” she said sadly. “And I never saw him again.”

“How sad for you, Miss Ending,” said Dr. Glimmer. “But why must you catch a train to church?”

“Dr. Glimmer!” Miss Ending laughed. “You are distracted today.” Miss Ending handed Dr. Glimmer her Royal News Magazine and explained, “I was referring to Kate’s dress.” And pointing to the open page, she said, “See? Here’s a picture of it in my Royal News.”

“I see. Yes.” said Dr. Glimmer, looking at the magazine. “Is this a picture of the actual dress?”

“Well, no. Not really.” Miss Ending admitted. “It’s not the real dress. We won’t see the actual dress until the wedding ceremony. This is a designer’s conception of what the dress will be like, based on report.”

Following this information, Miss Ending spoke at length about how suitable a couple the young pair are for each other, as if she was personally acquainted with them both. But despite her attempt to gain any duration of attention from Dr. Glimmer, she failed; for Dr. Glimmer’s eyes had wandered from the Royal News Magazine which he held in one hand, to the yellow slip of paper that he held in his other hand; and his attention became fixed on the yellow slip of paper once again.

“Dr. Glimmer,” asked Miss Ending in a concerned tone. “Is anything the matter?”

Dr. Glimmer shook the yellow slip of paper in his hand.

“I’ve received a parking ticket.” he said angrily.

“Is that all?” said Miss Ending, downplaying the ire that the nuisance of such a penalty causes in a person.

“Yes.” answered Dr. Glimmer coldly. “But it is from here at the hospital, and I have a monthly parking pass.”

“Your next patient happens to work for the Hospital Parking Authority.” said Miss Ending. “Perhaps he can –”

“Yes, my new patient.” said Dr. Glimmer, collecting himself. “His name is William something or other, isn’t it?”

“Dr. Glimmer,” laughed Miss Ending. “I’m afraid that you are confusing your new patient with a Prince. Your new patient is Philip Smith. Heavens! Imagine your new patient, Prince William.”

Then Miss Ending stood up from her chair and took both the Royal News Magazine and the Parking ticket from Dr. Glimmer’s hands. “Leave it to me.” she assured him. “I’ll call the Hospital Parking Authority and straighten this ticket out.”

“Thank you.” said Dr. Glimmer, with extreme satisfaction. “I only hope your wedding day will someday prove to be as auspicious for you as the Royal wedding, and your train as equally grand.”

“Heavens, Dr. Glimmer!” Miss. Ending blushed. “I’d settle for a white wedding any day.”

“Yes.” continued Dr. Glimmer. “It was entirely that man’s loss, who went to Greece. Perhaps one of the suitors he left behind -”

“Eighteen years ago,” said Miss Ending, making the Royal News Magazine and the Parking ticket a fan and waving it in front of her face in order to hold back her tears. “And one suitor is enough,” she managed to say. “Two or more, and they eat you out of house and home.”

Miss Penelope Ending said this a little bitterly, as if she had some first hand experience of unruly suitors in her time.

Dr. Glimmer thought he might change the topic at this juncture in order to regain Miss Ending’s former happiness, but he did not have to change the topic at all. For at that very moment in walked Dr. Glimmer’s newest patient, who introduced himself to them both, not as Philip Smith, but as Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

The appearance of Mr. Smith, which so plainly did not resemble the Royal bearing of Prince Philip, and the serious manner in which the introduction was made, caused in Miss Ending much new found mirth, and she could barely suppress her laughter.

Dr. Glimmer merely sighed and addressed his newest patient.

“I’ll see you now, Mr. Smith.” he said.

Dr. Glimmer ushered Mr. Smith into his office and offered him a chair. Then Dr. Glimmer sat facing opposite Mr. Smith, in his own chair behind his desk. Mr. Smith was a heavy set man with partially balding hair, which he wore in a pony tail. He had on a parking attendant’s uniform: black slacks and a thick navy blue shirt. Sewn into his shirt pocket was the hospital crest, bearing the letters VMH for Vicora Metropolitan Hospital. The crest also bore his name, Phil, in red letters.

Dr. Glimmer opened his case file, took up a pen with his left hand, and began to make notes while assessing his newest patient.

“Are you aware that when you came into my office you introduced yourself as the Duke of Edinburgh?” asked Dr. Glimmer, benignly.

“Yeah.” answered Mr. Smith, gruffly.

“But your name is Philip Smith.” said Dr. Glimmer, pleasantly.

“Why shouldn’t it be?” asked Mr. Smith, getting irritated.

“For the simple reason,” said Dr. Glimmer. “That the Duke of Edinburgh does not go by the name, Smith.”

“Now listen here, Doctor.” said Mr. Smith in a menacing tone. “I don’t know who that man is who claims he’s the Duke of Edinburgh, but I am the real Duke of Edinburgh.”

“How long have you believed that you are the Duke of Edinburgh.” asked Dr. Glimmer.

“My whole life.” said Mr. Smith growing angry. “That other guy is an imposter. It’s a conspiracy or something. Take this wedding, next week. I should be there. Instead they have some clown there pretending to be me. I have a mind to show up at that wedding and confront him face to face.”

Dr. Glimmer examined his case file for a moment.

“I see here that you were recently admitted to this hospital’s psychiatric ward.” said Dr. Glimmer, calmly. “Do you know the reason you were admitted?”

“I got into a fight with someone.” said Mr. Smith, bluntly.

“What was the fight over?” asked Dr. Glimmer.

“Some guy refused to call me Duke.” said Mr. Smith.

“Do you mean Your Highness?” asked Dr. Glimmer.

“I settle for Duke.” said Mr. Smith.

“Was the fight with a stranger or someone you knew?” asked Dr. Glimmer.

“Someone I work with.” answered Mr. Smith. “Marco is his name. He’s always laying it into me that I’m not a real Duke. So I ordered him to call me by my title. But he wouldn’t. So I clocked him.”

“What were the repercussions of the fight?” asked Dr. Glimmer.

“The police came and they charged me with assault. But he had it coming. He’s always laying it into me. Anyway, the police came. But instead of taking me to jail, they took me to Admitting, and I spent two weeks in hospital.”

“I see.” said Dr. Glimmer. “And you work for the Hospital Parking Authority, here  at the VMH, don’t you?”

“That’s right.”

“Has your employer been able to accommodate you through this?” asked Dr. Glimmer.

“They want to fire me. But now that I have a psychiatric problem, they think I’m a sympathy case.” said Mr. Smith, drily. “So, I just got a warning.”

“So you agree you have a problem?” said Dr. Glimmer.

“I was being sarcastic.” said Mr. Smith.

“And are you taking your medication?” asked Dr. Glimmer, looking at his case file.

“Yeah, I’m taking it,” said Mr. Smith. “But I don’t know what it’s for. There’s nothing wrong with me.”

“Mr. Smith –”

“Call me Duke.” said Mr. Smith, leaning forward.

“How about Philip?” suggested Dr. Glimmer.

“Duke.” insisted Philip Smith.

Dr. Glimmer sighed.

“I think you will find,” said Dr. Glimmer with confidence. “That if you continue taking your medication, and keep your appointments with me, that you will leave off with the idea that you are Duke of Edinburgh, and feel comfortable with your given name, Philip Smith.”

“Are you saying the medication is going to change who I am, Dr. Glimmer?” laughed Mr. Smith derisively.

“I am saying,” said Dr. Glimmer. “That you have a delusion, Mr. Smith.”

“Now listen.” said Mr. Smith in a low tone. “I know who I am. I’m telling you that guy in England is an imposter, and I don’t take the insult lightly. Now, show me the respect I deserve by calling me Duke, because if you don’t, you’ll wind up like Marco.”

“I will not call you any such thing.” said Dr. Glimmer defensively.

“Then don’t call me nothin’ at all.” said Mr. Smith, angrily.

Dr. Glimmer sat back in his chair, put his pen down, folded his arms, and frowned. He did not take well to being threatened by one of his patients.

“A Glimmer of the Duke.” thought Dr. Glimmer to himself, uncomfortably.

After a moment of reflection Dr. Glimmer took up his pen with his left hand once again and resumed taking notes.

“Do you often have violent thoughts?” he asked.

“Only when I’m insulted.” said Mr. Smith.

“Do you feel unsafe in any way?”

“Never.” answered Mr. Smith.

“Do you hear voices?”

“What do you mean.” asked Mr. Smith.

“I mean voices for which you cannot account. For instance, voices that appear to be in the room, when no one else is there with you.”

“No.” said Mr. Smith. “I’m not crazy, you know.”

“No, of course not,” said Dr. Glimmer. “Mr. Smith–

“Duke.” warned Mr. Smith.

“Yes.” said Dr. Glimmer. “I will see you in one week.”

“Fine.” said Mr. Smith, who looked as though he was glad the appointment was over.

Mr. Smith stood up and was about to leave when Dr. Glimmer stopped him.

“One more thing,” said Dr. Glimmer.

“Yeah?” said Mr. Smith, gruffly.

“I hope you will learn to accommodate people who do not call you by the title you feel you’re owed, and you will avoid getting into fights in the future.” said Dr. Glimmer.

“I will t ry to forbear.” said Mr. Smith, clenching his teeth. And he left Dr. Glimmer alone in his office.

Dr. Glimmer returned to the front room of his office which his secretary occupied in order to obtain his Case File for his next patient. Miss Ending was just off the phone with the Hospital Parking Authority.

“Dr. Glimmer,” she said. “You will be happy to know that the Parking Authority has said it has made a mistake, and the ticket you received has been voided.

Dr. Glimmer thanked Miss Ending, but his mind wasn’t on the ticket just then. Nor was his mind on his next case. His mind was on the threatening manner of his newest patient, and he feared how dangerous Philip Smith might be to himself, as well as to other people who did not offer him the title of respect that he imagined was due. Dr. Glimmer included himself in the number of people that might be at risk, and he feared not a little for his own safety as his doctor.

“A Glimmer of the Duke, indeed.” thought Dr. Glimmer with more than a little reserve.

“Why, the nerve of it!” said Dr. Glimmer as he walked around his dark blue Toyota Camry again and again. “There’s no doubting who’s responsible for this - no doubt at all.”

Dr. Glimmer was referring to the unhappy fact that someone had let all the air out of the tires of his car, which was parked in the underground parking lot at the hospital. The person responsible, thought Dr. Glimmer, could be none other than Philip Smith.

Looking around for immediate assistance, Dr. Glimmer found none. So off he stormed into the office of the Parking Authority to lodge a complaint. Sitting behind the desk was a dark haired man with a moustache.

“Can I help you, sir?” the man asked. Dr. Glimmer was about to lodge a complaint against Philip, when he saw by the name on the crest which was sewn into the man’s shirt that he was being offered assistance by Philip’s adversary, Marco.

Dr. Glimmer bit his tongue.

“Someone has let all the air out of my tires.” said Dr. Glimmer angrily.

“We don’t have a pump here.” said Marco. “Best thing I can do is call the gas station on St. Dennis Road. They’ll send a tow truck around.”

“Thank you.” said Dr. Glimmer.

Marco picked up the phone and dialed a number. He ordered the truck, and hung up. “Be fifteen minutes, sir.” he said.

But there was something about the way Marco had placed the call that struck Dr. Glimmer as odd.

“Do you often have cause to call that station for your patrons.” asked Dr. Glimmer.

“Rarely.” said Marco.

“It’s just that you knew the number off by heart.” said Dr. Glimmer.

“I know the owner.” said Marco. “Do you want some coffee?”

He asked this as he pointed to an automatic coffee maker on top of a filing cabinet. There was some coffee in the carafe.

“No thank you.” said Dr. Glimmer.

“It won’t be long, now.” said Marco.

It wasn’t long, for within fifteen minutes a tow truck arrived. Dr. Glimmer could see that Marco and the driver knew each other, but there was little in the way of pleasantries exchanged between the two of them. Dr. Glimmer was thankful for this, because he would just as soon be getting on his way.

The gas station was, as Marco said, nearby on St. Dennis Road. Dr. Glimmer’s tires were filled; he paid for the tow and thanked the owner.

Fill ‘er up while you’re here?” asked the owner.

“No thank you, I just filled my tank.” answered Dr. Glimmer. And he left to drive home.

As he was driving away from the station, however, Dr. Glimmer observed that he was a little low on gas. Dr. Glimmer was sure that he had almost a full tank of gas when he went to work that morning, but now the needle indicated that the tank was only half-full. He kept wondering if he was on some sort of slope in the road and the needle would come back toward full, but it never did. He immediately jumped to a conclusion. Not only had Philip let the airs out of his tires, he had also siphoned his gas.

“But why only siphon some of it?” Dr. Glimmer asked himself. “Why not leave me completely empty.”

Then Dr. Glimmer thought how unnecessary it was of Philip to leave him with flat tires and, to add insult, siphon his gas. Weren’t flat tires enough? Or wouldn’t siphoning his gas have been just as well?

“Either siphon my gas or leave me with flat tires. Not both.” said Dr. Glimmer aloud to himself. “And then to take only a quarter tank! I might not even have noticed it was missing.”

Dr. Glimmer opined to himself about the absurdity of the situation, and the absurdity of his patient, all the way home.

The next morning Dr. Glimmer recounted to his secretary, Miss Ending, the inconvenience of the previous evening.

“Do you know?” complained Dr. Glimmer. “Not only one, but all four tires on my car were completely flat.”

“Who could have done such a thing?” asked Miss Ending, with surprise.

“Oh, I have an idea who it was.” answered Dr. Glimmer. “And do you know? To add insult to injury, some of my gas was siphoned.”

“Some of your gas was siphoned?” asked Miss Ending in a tone of sympathy.

“Yes.” said Dr. Glimmer. “So, I had to go to the same gas station I was towed to last evening on the way to work this morning.”

“The same station?” commiserated Miss Ending.

“And do you know?” continued Dr. Glimmer. “Marco was there.”

“Who’s Marco?” asked Miss Ending.

“He works for the Hospital Parking Authority. It was Marco who called the tow truck last evening.” responded Dr. Glimmer.

“What was he doing there?” asked Miss Ending.

“I don’t know.” said Dr. Glimmer. “Perhaps his tires were flat, too.”

“Well, flat tires I’m not sure about, but with the price of gas these days, one wonders why more people aren’t getting their gas siphoned.” said Miss Ending shrewdly.

“I think it was a prank, don’t you Miss Ending?” asked Dr. Glimmer.

“On the contrary, Dr. Glimmer. I overheard two other doctors in the elevator the other day, who felt they lost a quarter of a tank each.” said Miss Ending.

“Here at the Hospital parking lot?” asked Dr. Glimmer.

“Well it wouldn’t surprise me if it was here.” answered Miss Ending.

“Why, I was sure it was a prank.” said Dr. Glimmer, half to himself.

“A lucrative prank, you can be sure, Dr. Glimmer.” said Miss Ending. “And a parking lot full of cars that would hardly notice a little gas missing, if it was siphoned.”

“Come to think of it,” gathered Dr. Glimmer. “It was only because I had just filled up my car the day before that I did notice the gas was missing.”

Dr. Glimmer wondered if he had underestimated Philip. It would be a mark of considerable acumen on the part of Philip if he was responsible for the siphoning. But Dr. Glimmer doubted that Philip had the organization to get away with repeated theft. And then there were the flat tires. If one was being careful not to alert a driver that his gas has been siphoned, he surely wouldn’t want to draw attention to the fact that his car has been tampered with by making his tires flat.

‘No,” thought Dr. Glimmer. “It is likely that Philip is responsible for the flat tires, but it is someone else who is siphoning gas.”

Two days later, Miss Ending greeted Dr. Glimmer in the morning with some distressing news.

“Dr. Glimmer,” she said. “There has been a murder.”

“Murder!” gasped Dr. Glimmer.

“I’m afraid so, Dr. Glimmer.” Miss. Ending continued, “And the victim was someone with whom you are acquainted.”

“Not a patient, Miss Ending?” said Dr. Glimmer, growing more alarmed.

“No.” said Miss Ending. “The victim was that man who works for the Hospital Parking Authority. Marco has been murdered.”

Dr. Glimmer could not help but feel relieved that the murder victim was not a closer acquaintance. Still, the fact that it was someone he had met, here at the hospital, sent a shiver.

“A Homicide Detective has been questioning people, and he wants to speak with you.” said Miss Ending.

“Did the murder occur here in the hospital, Miss Ending?” asked Dr. Glimmer.

“Yes.” replied Miss Ending. “In the underground parking lot.”

Dr. Glimmer was about to ask when the Homicide Detective would like to see him, but he did not have to. For at that very moment the office door swung open and in walked the Homicide Detective himself.

Dr. Glimmer showed the detective into his office and closed the door. He hardly had time to react to the news he had just received when the Homicide Detective began to question him.

“Do you know Philip Smith?” boomed the Homicide Detective.

“Yes, he’s a patient of mine.” replied Dr. Glimmer.

“When was the last time you saw him?” demanded the Homicide Detective.

“Four days ago.” replied Dr. Glimmer. “Why do you ask?”

“He’s missing.” shouted the Homicide Detective.

“Missing?” Dr. Glimmer echoed.

“Does that surprise you?” demanded the Homicide Detective.

“Detective, do you think Philip Smith is connected with the homicide?” asked Dr. Glimmer.

“I think he is the murderer, himself.” yelled the Homicide Detective.

At that moment Dr. Glimmer thought it was likely as well. Philip Smith had shown his dislike for Marco before. But Dr. Glimmer wanted to hear more.

“What was the cause of the victim’s death?” asked Dr. Glimmer.

“Strangulation.” boomed the Homicide Detective. “Some thin tubing around his neck was the murder weapon.”

Dr. Glimmer needed only ask one more question to know that Philip Smith was not the murderer.

“Could that tubing be used to siphon gas?” he asked.

“It’s thin and hollow enough.” shouted the Homicide Detective. “Why do you ask?”

“Because Marco was siphoning gas in that parking lot.” said Dr. Glimmer with assurance.

“What’s that got to do with Philip Smith?” demanded the Homicide Detective.

“I think you will have to look further afield for the true murderer Detective,” said Dr. Glimmer. “And you will also have to look further afield for Philip Smith.”

At that moment Miss Ending was heard knocking on Dr. Glimmer’s office door. She spoke apologetically through the small opening she made. “There’s a police officer here to see you, Detective.” she said.

“Show him in.” the Homicide Detective ordered.

Miss Ending entered the room with the police officer who informed the Homicide Detective that the owner of the gas station on St. Dennis Road had just confessed to the murder, and they were taking his statement downtown. As it happened, Marco had been siphoning gas and selling it to the owner of the gas station at a rate of fifty cents per litre, which over the last nine months had amounted to ten thousand dollars in Marco’s pocket. The owner of the gas station had been selling the stolen gas at market prices. But there had been a fight over the money on account of the recently rising gas prices in the city. Marco wanted more for his troubles, as he was siphoning gas at a rate of more than one hundred litres per day.

“Open and shut!” the Homicide Detective cheered. “That’s just the way I like my cases.”

Dr. Glimmer, however, could not help but feel that the Homicide Detective had overlooked the matter of the disappearance of his patient, and he reminded him of this fact.

“He’s your patient,” the Homicide Detective boomed. “Do you have any idea where he is?”

“I’ve a Glimmer of it.” said Dr. Glimmer.

And handing the Homicide Detective his case file he said, “Here is a case I call A Glimmer of the Duke.”

“Well, it’s a Royal something or other, isn’t it Dr. Glimmer.” roared the Homicide Detective.

The Homicide Detective opened the case file he was handed and began to read. “The Duke of Edinburgh.” he read out loud. “And where do you suppose this particular Duke of Edinburgh might be if he’s not in England.”

“On a plane to England,” replied Dr. Glimmer. “On his way to confront the imposter he imagines is there.”

“The wedding?” stammered the Homicide Detective.

“I’m sure there will be plenty of security Detective, but perhaps a call to Scotland Yard might be in order.” said Dr. Glimmer. “And I know I shall watch that wedding with peculiar interest, and trust to see Prince Philip well.”

“Yes.” said Miss Ending. “And to see Kate’s lovely dress, as well.”

With that the Homicide Detective slammed down Dr. Glimmer’s case file and continued his case.

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