The rhinoceros driver grunted non-commitally to this. Dirk felt
a tingle of frustration and tried again.
"So what's this one called?" he asked, beaming ludicrously in
an unnecessary effort to appear a complete tit.
"'S called Eric. I had a parrot called Eric once, you know.
Never did a frickin' thing. Just sat there, never shut up, and then, just as when you thought it was being quiet and you'll
get some peace, turns out it's actually dead and starting to smell real bad. Had goddamn maggots in it. I had to torch the
inside of the cage."
Dirk took some pleasure at the Great Zaganza's rhino-naming
ineptitude, but realised he had to avoid any further overlong parrot-hating sessions as they were not good for his mental
health. He decided to try one last gambit.
"So what about the other rhino? Where did it come from?"
"Some zoo in Topanga Canyon. I've got a flyer here if you want
it..." He handed Dirk a large yellow flyer which announced 'Eric the Rhino's triumphant arrival' and went on about the tragic
death of the other rhinoceros. Dirk was a little infuriated to find it was called Desmond. Damn that Zaganza, bloody show-off.
"It's not really fair, though, keeping animals in cages like
"I suppose," said the driver, with the air of one who knows
that if the world were a little fairer to rhinoceros then it would be a lot less fair on rhinoceros transporters. He then
set off to find a shop that would, he proclaimed, sell him a good herring sandwich. To Dirk this sounded impossible, considering
the state of the seawater off the coast of Los Angeles, but on reflection, seeing that the man drove rhinos around for a living,
Dirk judged that if anyone could stand up to that awesome challenge, it was he.
Eric the rhino farted nervously across Dirk's back and made
little grunting noises, but as nothing further seemed to be available for investigation Dirk made his way back to Joe in the
car. He avoided conversation by pretending to be thoroughly engrossed in the flyer, which for no good reason at all was graced
with a straight-on view of Eric's mighty backside, and grunting non-commitally to everything Joe said to him. It was only
when Joe actually shouted at him that he noticed that the car had stopped.
"I said we're here."
"Oh. Um, thanks. So you have no idea at all who's waiting for
"Some guy from New Zealand, like I said. 'S been nice talking
to you. Bye now." Joe actually seemed to switch off after saying this, and it wasn't until Dirk stepped out the car that he
showed any further signs of life or movement. However, the moment Dirk's body was clear, Joe's head rose and as Dirk shut
the car door, Joe threw the car into gear and swerved out onto the road and away. Dirk looked at the building in front of
It gave the impression of having been a caravan in a past life,
and having taken something of a step down the evolutionary ladder. It was a squat, ugly building made of what seemed to be
corrugated iron, but after a cursory investigation proved to be merely very, very badly made bricks. The door was a six-foot
rectangle of steel in one of the walls, and it was to this that Dirk made a bee-line.
He wrote "12.05 - meet mystery employer" in his notebook and
reached for the intercom. Before he could reach it the electronic locking system buzzed and the door swung open slightly,
in a way that can only be achieved if you're a very sad person who likes to waste a lot of money on a well-balanced door carefully
designed to do exactly this, or if you can't afford a decent door at all, and you do such a bad job of fitting one that the
bloody thing won't stay closed. Dirk stepped inside, entered a long, dingy hallway, and noticed a slightly crumpled, torn
coat, very much like his own, lying in a carefully ruffled heap under a set of coat pegs.
Then a man in a kangaroo suit walked through the other door.