Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Candice Bull and the Seven Tumbler Lever Lock

This tale has been going on for a while now. You may now find yourself thrown into (not yet) the middle of this broiling pot. Previously, I have suggested that those who have not already done so, should acquaint themselves with the innovatively named Part One followed, in the nature of radical nomenclature, by Part Two , Part Three and Part Four. However, at this point, I would like warn casual visitors that this story has no connection whatsoever with Part Horse.

Should you be rejoining the story, or do not have the inclination to read the previous parts, allow me to recap.

Inspector Jones is still a policeman with problems. He has discovered that he is married to Pippa Hucknell, the investigative journalist with a reputation amongst members of the force. He lives with her in a rather nice art deco house. On the flip-side, he also discovered his car is now a rather chirpy, lime green Datsun Cherry. Since the case has started, he has grown a moustache that has turned out ginger, bet against his own station in the upcoming police light entertainment championships, had run in with gangs of Buddhist monks and found he is quite fond of a pink Mark III Ford Zephyr. Sadly, he is no closer to working out what the case actually is. His Superintendent believes he is investigating an international macramé racket and wants to know why Jones suspects the late, lamented Horace Adkins, the renowned Barbers Shop Quartet Impresario, of being involved.

On his desk, Jones has discovered an old paperback in an evidence bag. The main character in the well-thumbed paperback appears to be none other than Horace Adkins. Also, he has decided on the basis of some fruit fancies that the body of an unknown man that was dragged from the Thames has something to do with the case. The post-mortem on the poor soul suggesting he was a victim to a tragic accident caused by swimming too soon after taking a large high tea.

Now read on...

There was a smile playing on Jones’s lips when he awoke the next morning. Some would say that it wasn’t so much a smile as a huge great grin, but Jones made no effort to get it under control. Next to him, a Pippa Hucknell shaped depression in the silk sheets. The air was heavy with her scent and a smell that hadn’t assailed the Inspector’s nostrils for quite some time.

Of Pippa there was no sign. Jones went to the bathroom and performed his ablutions while humming Gregorian chants. After dressing in a blue suit, white shirt and maroon tie, Jones went downstairs. In the kitchen there was a note from Pippa propped against the full coffee pot apologising for having to shoot off early.

Jones read a couple more chapters from ‘The Cat Crowed at a Little After Two-thirty’ by Archie McRamie while he ate his cereal and drank the coffee.

The Datsun Cherry in the drive chirruped and blinked as Jones locked the front door. As he approached it, the driver’s door swung open and the radio tuned itself to a station playing big band interpretations of Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Jones started to sing along.

At the first set of lights, Jones ran his thumb and forefinger above his top lip and smiled when he touched bare skin. He smiled when the traffic ground to a halt due to a protest about the levels of llama dung on London streets. He smiled when he got cut up by two men on llamas. In fact, Jones’s jaw was beginning to ache through over-smiling.

Rather than go straight to the station, Jones decided to go via the Mortuary. When he arrived at the neon lit dome, queues for gallery tickets for the day’s post-mortems were already zigzagging back towards the parking lot. As Jones ignored the queues and walked straight towards the doors, some customers started cat-calling and shouting abuse, but the leather clad security guards moved in quickly with their whips and quelled all signs of discontent.

Jones found Doctor Wilkins, the pathologist in his dressing room, preparing for the day’s events. He leapt out of his chair when the Inspector entered, leaving a scowling make-up girl standing with a mascara brush in hand.

“Inspector! My main man, how are you doin’ Bro’?” The doctor held up a hand for the Inspector to high five.

The Inspector obliged and the two men made small talk while the make-up girl improved on her scowl.

“I came to find out about the drowning of the swimmer in the Thames.” Eventually Jones got to reason behind his visit.

“Which one?” The doctor moved towards a rack at the back of the room.

“The John Doe” The Inspector looked at the blank faced Doctor and added, “The one hauled out at Putney Bridge.”

“Oh that one!” The Chinese doctor pulled a large box from the rack and placed it on his desk. “He’d been in the river up to twelve hours by the looks of the cadaver. He could have entered the river anywhere.”

The inspector eagerly peered into the box. It contained the skimpiest pair of Speedos and a key. “Is that it?”

“He was swimming, Inspector.” The doctor spoke slowly and over emphasised the word swimming.

“Oh.” Jones picked up the key. “I don’t suppose you can tell me what this is for?”

“Hmmm” the doctor stroked his dreadlocked beard. “Manufactured by Candice Bull & Co, I would say. Probably in March 2006. It’s for a seven tumbler lever lock, so I would say it is for a secure office or our swimmer was paranoid about home security. Find the lock this key fits and you will find the poor man’s beach towel.”

Jones nodded.

“One more thing, doc.” Jones looked deep into his eyes. “Could we be dealing with murder here?”

The doctor paused and stroked his beard again “You think The Baker could be involved? Hmmm, it certainly his M. O., but that’s difficult to prove. I’ll do some tests on those Fruit Fancies. I should let you have the results in a couple of days.”

The two men shook hands warmly.

“Thanks doc.” Jones grinned at the pathologist. “If there is anything you want, just let me know.”

“Well, now you come to mention it,” the doctor gave a sly grin, “I would quite like a couple of tickets for the Police Light Entertainment Championship.”

“I’m sure I can manage that.” Jones laughed.

As he turned to leave, he caught is reflection in the large makeup mirror and saw the ginger moustache was again nestling snugly on his top lip. Swearing under his breath, he headed to his car.

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