By twists and turns of fate and a dodgy batch of Dried Frog Pills, we find ourselves at Part Nine of the provisionally titled ‘Horace Adkins Saga’. The final title remains as elusive as ever and so you are stuck with me naming each segment will be titled according to a random synaptic tangent. For those of you who may be a tad confused, I suggest that you make sure you have read the previous parts, starting with Part One.
Should you be rejoining the story, or do not have the inclination to read the previous parts, allow me to recap.
Horace Adkins, the beloved and renowned Barbers Shop Quartet Impresario is presumed dead after his Georgian Mansion was blown up in the course of his suicide. In the mortuary, there is the body of a swimmer who drowned in the Thames after taking a large high tea. The safety of the streets of London is threatened by the illegal importing of cheap Macramé yarn.
Inspector Jones is convinced that all of these are somehow linked to Horace Adkins.
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. Not only does he discover that McRamie has been abducted, but that all records relating to the case have vanished. Not only that, but he and his sidekick Smithy have no recollection of their previous visit.
Jones is convinced that the ‘John Doe’ in the Thames was murdered by Darrius ‘The Baker’ Kipling, an employee of the Horace Adkins. 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.
At every turn, the Inspector is finding the world is turning odd. He suddenly finds himself married to Pippa Hucknell, the investigative journalist whose stories are upsetting his Superintendant. His car is now a rather chirpy, lime green Datsun Cherry that behaves like a puppy. Since the case has started, he has suffered numerous random wardrobe malfunctions, 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, been forced to deal with feral Girl Guides and found he is quite fond of a pink Mark III Ford Zephyr.
Now read on...
The hospital had put Tom in a private room at the end of a long corridor that smelt of pickled beetroot. When Inspector Jones lying still on the bed, his afro spilling across the white pillow. Wires and tubes went to all manner of contraption. All was quiet except for the steady beep from the heart monitor.
“Guv! You needn’t have come.” Tom’s voice was quiet, hoarse.
“Nonsense, of course I had to come.” Jones lay his hand on Tom’s shoulder. “I want to make sure you are well enough to buy the first round at the Light Entertainment Championships.”
Tom gave a weak laugh which turned into a cough.
“I’m sorry, Guv.” Tom turned his head away from the Inspector. “I let you down.”
“Hey! You didn’t let anyone down.” The Inspector raised his voice a little. “You had a dangerous job to do and sometimes... well, sometimes don’t go as planned. What happened?”
“It was going so well.” Tom closed his eyes and swallowed hard. “The Girl Guides were easy to find, like everybody else in the park, they were watching the preparations for the lawnmower land speed record.”
Tom swallowed hard and clenched his right hand into a fist. “We had them all rounded up and back at the minibuses.”
Tom tried to lift his head to look at Inspector Jones, but winced in pain and let his head fall back on the pillow.
“It’s OK, Tom.” The Inspector spoke in soothing tones as he patted his shoulder again.
“It was awful, Guv!” Tom turned his head and stared wild eyed at Jones. “We were about to load them up when someone blew a whistle. They had bean bags. Loads of bean bags. The air was full of them. And the screaming, my God the screams...”
Tom thrashed about on the bed and a nurse with a starched wimple stepped from the shadows.
“I think that is enough for today, Inspector.” She said as she fussed over Tom’s bedding. “He needs rest.”
The Inspector nodded and promised Tom he would visit tomorrow before leaving the room to find Tom’s doctor.
The doctor reassured the Inspector that Tom would make a full recovery, but Jones still scowled as he walked slowly down the corridor towards the exit.
“Inspector! Inspector!” a voice called after him and Jones turned to see a uniformed constable running down the corridor.
“Yes, constable?” Jones looked at his torn and grubby uniform and his blood smeared face.
“We found this, sir.” The constable held up an evidence bag containing a silver whistle.
The Inspector took the bag and looked closely at the silver whistle with the engraving ‘The Bandleader’s Ear-buster Whistle. As used by Horace Adkins.’ The Inspector swore.
“Get this to forensics. Tell them I want a full report on my desk tomorrow.” The Inspector paused and then in a low growl added, “Tell them that it was used to try and kill Tom Taylor.”
Giving the bag back to the constable, Jones turned on his heel and walked briskly away.
As Jones approached the Datusun Cherry, it chirruped and flashed at him.
“And you can shut up, too” Jones spat as he climbed into the driver’s seat.
The Datsun went silent.
Jones just sat in silence for several minutes, staring up at the window of Tom’s room.
“I’m sorry.” Jones said at last as he patted the dashboard of the Datsun. “It’s just that none of this feels right. This just doesn’t feel... normal.”
The Datsun gave a little chirrup of agreement and started its engine.
Jones didn’t go back to the station. Instead, he decided to go home. One way, he stopped off at the Delicatessen and spent the rest of the journey working out a menu for that evening’s dinner.
There was no Mercedes on the drive when he got home.
“Pippa’s going to be in a foul mood when she gets back” Jones whispered to the Datsun. “I think I might be in her bad books.”
The Datsun gave a little chirrup of agreement and stopped its engine.
Gathering up his groceries, Inspector Jones went inside.