Part twenty-three of “A Couple of Tenors Short” arrives after a short break caused by a rather busy week. With my support garments now firmly in place, I am able to pick up the threads and try to knit a ski mask for my gecko.
Remember boys and girls, this is a serial. Any new-joiners should attempt the standard loin girding and start with Part One.
Should you be rejoining the story, or do not have the inclination to read the previous parts, allow me to recap. Disclaimer: There has been so much going on that this summary is proving very difficult to keep to reasonable length. It could be that I miss important facts!
The world has gone mad, but Inspector Glynn Jones believes that everyone else is out of step not him. After finding the man from the State Security Services in his kitchen dressed in a green lycra body suit, he tried an experiment with the engraving on his wedding ring and discovered that it mysteriously changed when Pippa gave a different wedding day for their marriage than was on the ring.
Although he had no recollection of any marriage, he found himself hitched to Pippa Hucknell, an investigative journalist, in an arrangement he is enjoying. Other events are not so pleasurable. He has 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.
Then there are the strange cases he has to solve, 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.
Since the case started, 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. Darrius works for Horace Adkins, the beloved Barbers Shop Quartet impresario who is presumed dead after a massive explosion at his Georgian Mansion which the local police have suggested was suicide.
It turns out that the missing author, Archie McRamie did not write ‘The Cat Crowed at a Little After Two-thirty’. The main character in the book appears to be 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. Vera Adkins had gone there to instigate a defamation case, but her sister Violet arrived and talked her out of it.
Jones has had a meeting with his Superintendant and a man from the State Security Services who were 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. The State Security man has also suggested that he does not believe the book is the cause of the defamation case.
See, I told you about the need to start from the beginning.
Now read on...
Jo Schooner fanned herself with one hand, her face flushed.
“Are you OK?” Jones asked.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.” Jo reached into a fold in her voluminous red dress and withdrew a handkerchief which she dabbed on her brow. “I seemed to lose the plot there for a moment.”
“I’ll get you a cup of tea.” Jones patted her elbow.
Jones got up slowly and went out to the office. A constable was sat at his desk conducting an imaginary orchestra while studying some sheet music gave a start when Jones tapped him on the shoulder and barked out an order for two teas. Jones gave a chuckle as he watched him scurry off towards the canteen.
When Jones returned to the interview room, he caught Jo studying his notepad. Jo’s head snapped round when the inspector entered and hurriedly replaced his notepad. Jones raised his eyebrow and gave her a stare.
There was no apology from the agent. Instead she started to talk about how she first met Archie and started on a stream of anecdotes of his antics on the literary circuit. Jones found himself laughing, which served to encourage Jo to continue.
Jo suddenly stopped mid-anecdote. “Archie is alright, isn’t he?”
Jones gave a cough and straightened himself in his chair. “We’ve got nothing that suggests otherwise.”
“Oh.” Jo examined her hands. “Something has happened to him, Inspector. I know it. He just wouldn’t abandon Elspeth without a word. He would find a way to contact her, let her know he is OK.”
“Look, we will find Archie; you have my word on that.” Jones looked Jo directly in the eyes with as much conviction as he could muster.
“Thank you.” Jo grabbed one of the Inspector’s hands and squeezed it tightly. “That means a lot to me.”
They were interrupted by a constable in full dress uniform entering the room with a tray. The constable set the dray down on the table and poured two cups of tea into flowery bone china cups from an ornamental teapot shaped as a country church. After serving, the constable stood to attention, saluted and then did a short soft shoe shuffle before turning and leaving the room.
Jones shook his head slowly before picking up a plate of biscuits and offering them to Jo Schooner.
While they drank their tea, Jones had Archie’s agent run through the dates and locations of Archie’s various escapades. He carefully noted them all down on the notepad. At first glance none matched up with the dates and locations mentioned in ‘The Cat Crowed at a Little After Two-thirty’.
The interview ended with Jo enveloping Jones in a hug and thanking him. Jones blushed as he rubbed lipstick from his cheek, but promised to keep Jo abreast of any news and progress.
The two of them walked together in silence to the entrance of the station and exchanged a handshake. Jones watched as Jo hailed a luridly decorated llama carriage and climbed in. As the carriage pulled away, narrowly avoiding two boys carrying a large wedding cake on a litter, Jo gave the inspector a wave. Jones instinctively started to return it, realised what he was doing and hurriedly clasped both hands behind his back.
When the carriage was out of sight, Jones went back into the station and started to walk back to his desk.
“Sir, Sir!” the uniformed constable who had promised to review the CCTV footage shouted at Jones as he reached the stairs.
Jones stopped and turned.
“I have found something on the CCTV footage, sir.” The constable pushed out his chest in a way that threatened to make lethal weapons of the shiny buttons on his tunic. “I think you might want to see this.”