Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Weekend Lancashire Yarn

“A Couple of Tenors Short” has now passed 10 000 words – that is over 10% of a novel and I still have loads of stuff to throw into the mix. To start with, there is Part Thirteen which will see Inspector Glynn Jones take a haircut!

This is another longer segment. This is because ‘Chopper’ will be my cameo role when this is made into a feature film – so Hollywood Producers, please take note.

As always, I remind you that in order to get the best from any serial, you should start at the beginning which I decided on a whim to name as 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.

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

Inspector Glynn Jones has made a big decision. Even if he is mad, that is no excuse for poor police work. Invigorated by this, he has decided to solve the various puzzles with which he is confronted. This is despite suddenly finding himself married to Pippa Hucknell and having to drive a rather chirpy, lime green Datsun Cherry with a tendency to behave 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, had one of his team hospitalised by feral Girl Guides and the Sat-Nav in the pink Mark III Ford Zephyr is causing a few problems.

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.

Every clue appears to be 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.

Forensic tests seem to support Jones in his belief 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 Superintendent 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...

Back in the Zephyr, as soon as the engine started, the Sat-Nav demanded to know where they were going. Jones tried the off switch a few times, but it still refused to work. Ignoring the pleading from the box, he gave directions to Smithy.

“Aww, come on, pleeaaase?” The Sat-Nav wailed.

“We are going to get the Guv’ner a haircut. Now shut up!” Smithy snapped.

“Well, I think you should go to see Nigel, turn left at the next set of lights.” The Sat-Nav didn’t shut up. “He would do a great job giving your hair a bit of body, a few highlights, maybe even a touch of colour so it matches that garish moustache.”

Jones ignored the advice and continued to give his own directions. Not discouraged in the slightest, the Sat-Nav continued to recommend various local stylists along the route.

When they reached Southall, Jones guided Smithy up a side street and had him park. Nestled between a Pasty takeaway and a newsagents, was ‘Chopper’s Place’.

The Sat-Nav wasn’t impressed.

Smithy made to get out of the car, but Jones stopped him. “No, I want you to go visit a few of the local ticket touts. Check they are not selling counterfeit tickets for the Light Entertainment Championships and if they are, find out where they got them. I’ll meet you back at the station.”

The Inspector got out and went to the door of the barbers shop. The frontage had seen better days. The brown paint was peeling, the red and white pole grimy, the gold lettering proclaiming ‘Traditional British Gentleman’s Haircuts and Shaves’ dulled. Jones paused, before pushing open the door.

As he entered, Jones turned the cardboard sign around to say ‘Closed’ and latched the door shut. Conversation between the barber and the client in the chair ceased.

“Good Morning, Inspector Jones.” The barber shouted. “How lovely to see you again... INSPECTOR JONES!”

There was the sound of shuffling from behind a beaded curtain that led to the back room and the sound of the back door slamming.

“Good Morning, Chopper.” Jones sat on the red leather bench and smiled.

The young man in the chair watched the Inspector intently in the mirror and beads of sweat started to show on his forehead. Chopper started a conversation with him about Morris Dancing and he relaxed slightly, but didn’t stop watching the Inspector.

The inside of the shop was immaculate. The hardwood panelling glowed with deep, rich colour. The brass fittings and mirrors sparkled under numerous lights and lamps. The place had a comforting scent of leather, soap, sandalwood and rum. Jones started to give a tuneless hum as he flicked through an ancient fishing magazine.

The haircut finished, Chopper held up a mirror to his client who nodded and leapt from the chair as if burned.

“Anything for the weekend, sir?” Chopper asked as he disappeared behind the curtain with the man.

Inspector Jones watched in the mirror as behind the swaying curtain, Chopper produced two balls of yarn which the man pocketed quickly. A few notes changed hands and the man hurried from the shop.

Jones settled himself in the chair and ordered a haircut and shave. Chopper draped a large cape around him and asked if he wanted to keep the moustache. Jones was adamant he did not.

“How’s business, Chopper?” Jones asked with a smile.

“It’s not like the old days, Inspector. But it’s not bad” Chopper started to busy himself on the haircut. “And before you ask, that was Lancashire embroidery yarn. I get it from a friend of a friend in Preston. I have all the invoices if you care to check.”

“But I bet if I get a couple of my constables to check that back room of yours they’d find a few bottles of Bay Rum in there, eh?” Jones gave a little laugh. “But that’s not why I’m here. Tell me the word on the street about stolen generators.”

Chopper had stopped cutting Jones’s hair and taken a step backwards. He ran his forefinger around the inside of his collar and swallowed hard before returning to his trade.

He didn’t answer the question. Instead he talked about how crime no longer paid as it did. How youngsters no longer wanted to follow in their father’s footsteps. How the government had made it impossible for entrepreneurs to make the money like they did in the ‘old days’. Jones listened patiently.

“It is all that Simon Cowell’s fault with his bloomin’ Ex-Factor show. It has turned the whole penal code into a televised circus.” Chopper waved his scissors at Jones’s reflection wildly. “He humiliates the criminal community by making them perform song and dance on the telly, lines his pockets when the public phone in to free their favourite and gets huge ratings when those High Court Judges decide which of the bottom two will have the televised execution. It ain’t right.”

Somewhere inside Inspector Jones’s head, something stirred. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair. Something lurking in the dark recesses of his brain wanted to get out. Under the cape, Jones clenched his fist, screwed his eyes shut and tried to grab the thought, but as quickly as it came, it vanished.

Jones relaxed in the chair and looked at Chopper. “But I want to know about the missing generators.”

Chopper stopped cutting again. “There’s nothing to tell. Whoever is taking ‘em isn’t part of the local gangs.”

“Is Darrius Kipling involved?” Jones asked while observing closely.

Chopper shook his head. “Never heard of ‘im.”

Reaching into his pocket, Jones took out his wallet; he lifted it up in full view of the barber and opened it. Choppers hand shot out and removed the two remaining tickets for the Light Entertainment Championships before Jones could react.

“Word was that Darrius had gone straight. Had got himself a proper job working for Horace Adkins.” Chopper stopped cutting and inspected his work. Terrible thing about Horace Adkins. Lovely guy by all accounts. He did loads of work around here for the kids and that. He’s the one that put up the money to save the Brass Worker’s Hall. He’ll be missed.”

Jones pulled a face swore and snapped back “I want to know about The Baker, not bloody Horace Bloody Adkins!”

“Temper, Inspector!” Chopper wagged a finger then leaned closer to the Inspector and spoke in a near whisper. “But I’m not so sure that Darrius isn’t doing a bit of work on the side. Heard talk that some woman was pulling the strings, but nothing more than that.”

Jones continued to try and pump Chopper about the woman and ‘the work on the side’, but got nowhere. The only consolation he had was that Chopper did give him a name to talk to about the counterfeit Light Entertainment Championship tickets.

With his hair cut and his face clean shaven, Jones walked out onto the street. The first thing Jones did after he left the shop was ring Smithy with instructions to get him two genuine tickets for the Light Entertainment Championships and where to check for the fakes.

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