Saturday, April 17, 2010
The courtesy light illuminated Smithy in the driver's seat of the Ford Zephyr. He was peering into the rear view mirror and combing a thick, black moustache that garnished his top lip.
Jones climbed into the back seat with the two pizza boxes.
"I thought I said inconspicuous?" he barked at Smithy in a South London accent. "Anybody can spot a pink classic Ford Zephyr, you idiot."
Smithy shrugged "It was the only car in the pool that would start."
"Plonker!" Jones clipped Smithy across the head. "What's the idea with the moustache?"
"It sort of grew." Smithy licked forefinger and delicately brought his eyebrows under control. "Somewhere between Westminster Bridge and Southall."
"I don't like it." Jones spat the words as he delved into the pizza box and withdrew two Kebabs. "Something very odd is going on here. She still in there?"
"Yea" Jones checked himself in the mirror some more. "She'll be some time I reckon. Those hucksters charge by the hour."
Jones felt his top lip and swore under his breath. "I've got one too"
Smithy turned to his colleague and tutted quietly. "Oh bad luck, Guv. Yours has turned out ginger."
Jones swore again and pointed over the road to the entrance of the 24 hour Taekwondo shop. "Who are those two?"
Smithy was examining his wrist and the designer watch that now replaced his cheap timepiece. He didn't look up.
"They arrived with the woman. It's OK, I've done some sketches of 'em. I'm afraid the camera turned into a box of assorted artist materials sometime after you rang. I chose to do them in the style of Monet."
Jones looked at the two men again. He knew them. The heavy, thickset man wearing the plum shell suit was Darrius. In North London he was known as the Baker. His fruit fancies had broken the hardest of men. The other was Dunker Phil, he had a rap sheet as long as your arm. Jones hated rap.
"You know, Smithy?" Jones took a mouthful of kebab. It tasted of asparagus. "This whole case has gone weird on us. I chose a terrible day to give up crochet."
Jones Handed Smithy his Kebab and discovered that the two cans of Cola in his pocket were now fruit smoothies.
"Put the radio on." Jones tried to remove the large gold ring that now adorned the third finger of his left hand.
A phone in was in full flow. The host had a politician in the studio who was calling for the legalisation of Macramé. A women from Kensington was mounting a stout defence of the art form for social purposes.
"Harrumph" Jones tried his smoothie. It tasted of beetroot. "I was on the bust of the Macrame den in Brixton. If she saw the look in those poor kids eyes caused by inferior imported yarn, she wouldn't be so smug."
The presenter broke off the call and announced breaking news. He cut to Pippa Hucknell.
Both men in the car swore in unison. Pippa Hucknell was a journalist with a reputation in the force.
She was outside the home of the Right Honourable Horace Adkins. Or, to be more precise, what was left of it. She editorialised and theorised freely, interspersing her staccato condemnation of the authorities with descriptions of the few smoking fragments that remained of the Georgian country house and the herds of bonsai bison that had appeared on the lawns that evening.
She made it very clear that although the police were treating the case as suicide, it looked to her that sinister forces were to blame and that this was clearly linked to organised macramé gangs.
Smithy turned off the radio.
"Here, guv," he turned to his red-faced superior in the back seat. "My Kebab tastes of sardine."
Smithy looked down the street. A jogger in the away strip of the Hounslow Harriers loped easily towards them, avoiding the giant mushrooms that grew in the cracks in the pavement.
"That's all I need." Jones rolled his eyes.
The runner stopped at the back window and doffed his straw boater. Jones opened the window.
"Thanks, son." He took the offered notelet with its pictures of spring lambs on the front.
"Son?" the runner spat. "I'm all woman!"
She raised her running vest and pressed her embroidered sports bra through the open window before straightening up and running back the way she came.
Jones read the note. It was from the Superintendant, whose mobile phone was still at the cleaners after the attempt on his life with the exploding pumpkin. The Superintendant was not a happy man, he never was, but with the recent trauma and the evidence locker overflowing with contraband fridge magnets, his mood was worse than ever.
The note demanded an explanation as to why the pair was following the daughter of one of the most revered barber shop quartet managers. It demanded that Jones submit a report the next evening. It wasn't even signed with the normal love and kisses or with sketches of kittens in the margins.
"That's all I need" Jones muttered. "But it looks like he hasn't heard the news about Horace Adkins."
At that moment another jogger turned the corner. This one was sweating heavily under a multi-coloured crocheted poncho with a top hat that was balanced precariously on his head.
This one wasn't so good at avoiding the giant mushrooms. As he sprinted to the car, several were flattened releasing clouds of butterflies into the street.
This note described Horace as the recently deceased revered barber shop quartet manager and demanded the report on his desk in the morning.
Jones scratched his head. "You know Smithy, there is something odd going on here."
As he spoke, two boys appeared from an alleyway carrying a waxwork of Horatio Nelson wearing a kilt and a tam-o'shanter.