English Practice exercises - narrative tenses (2) for proficiency: P6-04G
Other English Grammar Lessons
The text which follows is the opening of a detective story. It is written from the point of view of the detective. In this extract, the detective sees a man’s face, and struggles to remember where he has seen it before. Change any verbs in bold in the past simple which should be in the past perfect. NOTE: as there are no extended ‘flashbacks’, the language issues associated with this do not arise. Here, it is a matter only of working out what verbs lie within the time of the developing story line (past simple) and which refer to an earlier period (past perfect).
LOOKING FOR A FACE
In my line of business, an excellent memory for faces, which I have, is a great asset.
I was sitting in a quiet corner of the lobby of the Hotel Resplendent, that windy October afternoon, when a man with dark, curly hair and a slightly olive skin entered. I knew two things immediately: that I saw this man before, and that I did not know where or in what context. He was impeccably dressed in a dark suit and pale green shirt, a tie with deep green and blue diagonal stripes, and a pair of black brogues. With the possible exception of the tie, all were clearly custom-made. He walked across the lobby towards the lift and I lost sight of him.
Where did I see him before? Before I had a chance to consider this, the client whom I was awaiting also entered the lobby, and for the next couple of hours I was fully occupied. Later, around five, I retreated to my favourite coffee house, which was just round the corner, for a latte, a cheese and salad sandwich, and a good think. Why could I not place this man? Was it a number of years since the first time I came across him? No, definitely not – this was a recent meeting. So, in the period since I first set eyes on him, he changed his appearance. How?
Did he undergo plastic surgery? I didn’t believe it. Did he wear a beard or a moustache at the time of our first encounter? Again, that didn’t feel right. I would stake my reputation on having seen already, and not long since, the exact same face that I saw three hours ago in the lobby.
That left only one possibility: that he changed his ‘look’ compared to the first time I saw him. ‘Obvious’ you might say, but not to me. You must realise that I am used to dealing with individuals who adopt disguises, for any one of a number of reasons; in fact, I do it myself from time to time. If this was simply a different look, then it had to be a remarkable transformation that took place – otherwise I would have figured out when and where that first encounter occurred.
I ordered another latte and began to sketch from memory the face in the lobby. As I did so, I felt myself go deeper and deeper into concentration. And then it hit me. The last time I saw the man with the bespoke tailoring was two months previously, at which time he was dressed as and was performing the functions of a public lavatory attendant!
As I realised this, I felt a familiar shiver - a mixture of excitement and apprehension. I was going to investigate this man, and that was going to take me, my gut feeling told me, into some dark and dangerous places. Because I noticed the man in the lobby for a second reason – three weeks previously, a man using the same Beirut tailor tried to put a bullet through my head.