Friday, April 30, 2010

Masquerades and Operas

Time to give you Part Fourteen of “A Couple of Tenors Short”. The summary is getting rather long; I think it may be time to take the pruners to it.

That means that you really should try to read this from the start which means going to the strangely named Part One. I should also point out that this is very much a draft. There are things that need developing in the edit, couple of plot holes to fill and some ideas that I want to weave in. I’m not quite sure how I will get to share those with my loyal readers. However, if any readers think they have spotted any errors, I would appreciate it if you let me know.

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

Inspector Glynn Jones is investigating the abduction of Archie McRamie, the theft of industrial generators, forged tickets for the Light Entertainment Championships, feral Girl Guides, the smuggling of illegal Macramé yarn, and a suspected murder of a ‘John Doe’ dragged from the Thames. His biggest obstacle to solving all the cases is that Jones believes he is going mad.

Since the case started, he has found himself married to Pippa Hucknell; found that he driving a rather chirpy, lime green Datsun Cherry that behaves like a puppy; suffered numerous random wardrobe malfunctions; keeps re-growing a ginger moustache; bet against his own station in the upcoming police light entertainment championships; had run in with gangs of Buddhist monks; had one of his team hospitalised by the feral Girl Guides and found the camp Sat-Nav unit in the pink Mark III Ford Zephyr is developing a personality and cannot be switched off.

Doctor Wilkins, the famous TV Pathologist has confirmed the unknown swimmer drowned in the Thames after taking a large high tea. The Fruit Fancies of his last meal are being linked to Darrius ‘The Baker’ Kipling.

After finding a copy of ‘The Cat Crowed at a Little After Two-thirty’ by Archie McRamie in which the main character appears to be Horace Adkins, he decides to pay the author a visit only to find that both he and Smithy had been there before but cannot remember anything about it. Not only does he discover that McRamie has been abducted, but that all records relating to the case have vanished.

Darrius ‘The Baker’ Kipling and Dunker Phil, another of Adkins employees, were observed with Vera Anne Adkins and Violet Ann Adkins, two of Horace’s daughters, visiting the offices of London’s premier trial lawyers, Witherspoon, Lewes, Grambling, and Witherspoon.

Jones has had a meeting with his Superintendant and a man from the State Security Services who are very interested in finding out why this visit took place, but have told the Inspector that he will be disowned if his investigation results in adverse public opinion.

Now read on...

Jones thrust his phone back into his pocket and started to walk back to the station.

Outside the Brass Workers Hall, he stopped. A small shrine had been placed on the pavement. Candles flickered in glass jars. Flowers with small handwritten notes had been tied to the railings. A group of garden gnomes dressed in stripy waistcoats and boaters paid silent homage to a barber quartet. In the centre of the tributes, a picture of Horace Adkins draped in black lace.

Jones stooped down and read some of the tributes before straightening up and shaking his head. As he was about to walk away, three teenage girls in pinafore dresses delivered a small stuffed rabbit then stood dabbing at their eyes with paper tissues. Shaking his head, Jones walked away.

The streets were busier now. Takeaways and restaurants offering every imaginable British regional cuisine were preparing for lunch and the air was filled with the smells of baking and frying. Llama carts and buses clogged the streets. Pedestrians added splashes of colour with garish blazers and multicoloured pinafore dresses. A woman with two cherubic children in a pushchair clipped Jones as he slowly walked towards the river. They both apologised in unison and both gave a nervous laugh before going on their way.

There was something about the scene that reminded Jones of the childhood game where random items were placed on a tray and he was asked to memorise them before they were covered with a cloth, one removed and, when the cloth was taken away, he had to identify what was missing. There was something missing, Jones was sure of it, but the more he tried to grasp it, the more elusive it became.

A little further up the street there was another impromptu shrine to Horace Adkins. Outside the Adkins Garden Gnome Factory, there was the familiar collection of candles in jars, gnomes, flowers, scarves and cuddly toys around a huge oil painting of Horace. Jones squatted down and read some of the messages accompanied to the sound of the workers inside singing and hammering to the Disney sound track of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’.

Jones checked his watch and straightened up. He watched a traffic policeman trying to clear a delivery cart carrying nine identical, near naked waxworks of Prince Albert from a junction. The ensemble of Prince Regents, their modesty covered with loin cloths, watched impassively as the policeman tried to tempt the recalcitrant llama across the junction with carrots.

Jones walked on, turned a corner and found himself opposite the offices of Witherspoon, Lewes, Grambling, and Witherspoon. He paused for a few seconds before heading towards a pub a little way down the street.

Jones entered the ‘Lamb and Ledger’ and headed straight to the bar. A fresh faced girl with freckles, pigtails and wearing a pink gingham pinafore greeted him warmly. Jones ran his eyes down the various beer pumps and selected a pint of Adkins IPA. The girl poured his beer, took his money and then skipped along the bar to serve another customer.

Taking a slow sip of his beer, Jones looked around the pub. The lunchtime rush hadn’t started and there were plenty of tables available. He selected one in the corner with the best view of the door.

Twenty minutes later, Johnny Jackson entered and looked around the bar.

“Glyn! My old mate!” His face lit up in a huge grin as he rushed over and gave the Inspector a huge bear hug. “How are you my old mucker?”

After ordering two more pints of IPA and two plates of pie and mash, the two went back to the corner table.

“How’s life at the end of the long arm of the law then?” Johnny asked before quaffing down a third of his pint.

“Not bad.” The Inspector took a more conservative sip of his beer. “How’s the life of the chief clerk at Witherspoon, Lewes, Grambling, and Witherspoon?”

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