Friday, 27 February 2009

Herr Bubbles

Artur Odermatt, AKA “Herr Bubbles”: Proprietor of Odermatt’s Laundrette and much feared leader of the Swiss chapter of “Die Reinigungsmittel”. His appearance is both distinctive and alarming, thanks to his monocle, bowler hat and the horrific scar which runs the full length of his face.

Herr Odermatt is equally dedicated to his professional laundry service as he is to his criminal activities, and his traditional hand washing service was always a source of pride for the people of his home town of Indemini, at the foot of Monte Tamaro.

His methods, which have remained unchanged since the family business was established in 1754, entail the rigorous scrubbing of garments against the rocks of the nearby mountain and the use of a unique detergent, prepared with the collected saliva of an indigenous species of cuckoo.

Despite there being a great distance between the small town of Indemini and the great city of Geneva, word of Herr Odermatt’s extraordinary techniques and their ability to clean the most intricate raiments somehow reached le Boulevard de Banni, and in particular, Herr Muller himself.

As a connoisseur of fine apparel from around the globe, the question of sanitation had for some time beleaguered Herr Muller; causing him to devote years of experimentation to discovering a suitable illumination. Spurred on by the prospect of finding a solution to his problem, and charmed by the complexity of Odermatt’s methods, Franck made the long and arduous journey to meet the illustrious “Herr Bubbles”.

Initially their meeting was somewhat icy, neither man wishing to give away too much information too soon. However, after much discussion and several games of Takhteh, each managed to gain the trust of the other man and they formed a mutually beneficial alliance which has remained strong ever since. Herr Muller soon discovered that the laundering services Artur Odermatt offered were in no way limited to the washing of one’s soiled and damaged garments.

Herr Odermatt’s unique skills were so valuable, so essential to Herr Muller’s regime that he simply had to enlist the services of this expert valet. He waited until the early hours of the morning, when the Indeminian was sufficiently refreshed with vodka and fatigued from the many games of Eastern backgammon that he let down his guard to a point where he disclosed a tiny but vital secret regarding his working methods. At that moment Herr Muller looked up from his game and made Artur an offer he simply could not refuse.

Clearly beaten, Odermatt vowed to follow Herr Muller back to le Boulevard de Banni and never to return to his home town, even to visit his family or to tend his rare and beautiful llamas.

Once settled in the simple but attractive building that had been procured for him, Herr Odermatt sent word back to his Generals in “Die Reinigungsmittel” to the effect that their usual business was to be resumed and he once again took up his position as leader of this much feared troop of the most despicable examples of humanity.

Odermatt, having access to many of Herr Muller's contacts and networks, now coordinates a vast army of professional assassins and espionage experts, including Ludwig and Horst, who are bound by an oath taken by their dying mother, to carry out the orders of Herr Muller and anyone he authorises as his Left-Tenant. These assignments range from discreet carcass disposal, to sourcing priceless and rare diamonds, paintings and wildlife for export to Asia and the Americas.

However, Herr Odermatt must never let slip the cover he has worked tirelessly to preserve. Dedicated to the continuation of his family traditions and forever indebted to the rock on which he built his fortune, Odermatt makes a daily journey to the foothills of Monte Tamaro, leaving his operations in the capable hands of Horst.

He routinely packs the unwashed clothing and dirty bedlinen of the busy townsfolk into his tiny and ancient Fiat and makes this journey, this pilgrimage to soap and lather, always ensuring he reaches his preferred boulder by dusk, the time that the cuckoo emerges to dine.

Here he repeats a routine so familiar to him that he is able to pass the time by playing his precious Ozark harp, the sad sound carrying on the wind, while he washes his customers tweed, wool and leather, looking down on the twinkling lights of the small town he left behind, and harmonising with the distant bleating of his beloved and estranged llamas.

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