Please note, during the next trick, my hands never leave my arms and that the small rodents remain in full view of my audience.
.... drum roll....
Voila! By means of magic (or maybe cunning smoke and mirrors) Part 52 of “A Couple of Tenors Short” is unleashed into my quiet corner of the interweb.
I keep amazing myself by finding quiz questions relating to the part number. The one today verges on the tough, so I better give you the answer.
OK, the quiz question out of the way, here is my mantra. This is a serial. Any new-joiners should start with the opener known as Part One.
The troublesome recap has now settled into its new home. You can find the recap here!
Now read on...
There were about a dozen Buddhist monks picketing the station when Jones arrived. They had made a conga line and were chanting “We will not be mooo-ved” as they went up the ramp and down the steps. A banner in a language Jones, couldn’t read had been tied to the railings.
Jones drove past, into the car park and went into the station through the back door. He hurried towards the stairs and the safety of his office.
“Glynn! Glynn! Wait up” Sergeant Collins shouted before Jones had made the fourth step.
“Yes?” Jones turned wearily to face the sweating sergeant.
“You’re needed out front. Those foreign monks.” Collins jerked a thumb towards the front door.
“Sorry, not my department. You better get the Super out of his pit.” Jones gave a smile and turned away.
“But they asked for you. Said they wouldn’t go until the chief monk had spoken with you personally.”
Jones swore under his breath, sighed, turned and trudged towards the front door.
The conga line didn’t miss a beat when Jones came out of the door.
Standing with his hands on his hips, Jones observed the scene. An enterprising soul had set up a tea stall on the pavement and was doing a brisk trade with the growing crowd. A small rival conga line had started across the street. A group of youths in boaters and lurid blazers were weaving through pedestrians chanting “Some ones goin’ to move yer”. Closer to the monks the crowd sipped tea from flowery paper cups while laughing and pointing at the monks. A man in a top hat and long purple cape was taking photographs.
When his presence at the top of the steps failed to be noticed, Jones took a deep breath, cupped his hands around his mouth and bellowed “STOP!”
The conga line didn’t stop, but one of the monks broke from the centre of the line and climbed up the steps.
“As I informed the sergeant, we will continue our little demonstration until I am able to speak with Inspector Jones.” The monk spoke English like an old-fashioned BBC newsreader.
“I’m Inspector Jones” Jones took a deep breath as he swelled himself up to his full height.
“Hmmm.” The monk took a step back and inspected the inspector. “Are you sure?”
Jones fished into his pocket and fished out his id which he offered to the monk. The monk took it and studied it closely, looking up at Jones’s face and back to the id before returning it to Jones.
“I’m sorry, but you all look alike to me.” The monks face didn’t give any indication if he was attempting irony. “Besides, I was rather expecting somebody with more charisma and presence.”
Clenching a fist, Jones scanned the crowd before returning his gaze to the monk. “Look, if this is about the robbery on your tour bus, I can assure you that it is being investigated, but unfortunately it isn’t my case.”
“No, no Inspector.” The monk waved a dismissive and hand and smiled. “That was an inconvenience, but one that is a mere trifle in the delicate balance of life.”
“No, this is far more serious.” The monk continued. “During our meditations we had a moment of collective enlightenment. It would seem that you have been touched by destiny to save the world and in order to achieve that, you will need this.”
The monk took out a small brass bell from his robe. It was about 3 inches high and attached to a small leather strap. He handed the bell to Jones who cocked his head from side to side as he evaluated it.
“It’s a bell.” Before he could stop himself, Jones stated the obvious. “You believe that I am going to save the world with a tourist trinket?”
“Inspector, that is no ordinary trinket. That is an un-tuned bell.” The monk gave a little bow.
Jones rang the bell. To him it sounded like any other bell. Yet, the two conga lines stopped in their tracks. There were gasps from the crowd. One lady dropped her tea and clasped her hands over her ears.
Jones looked around open mouthed. “So how am I supposed to save the world with this?”
“I have no idea.” The monk shrugged. “To be honest, I’m just glad to get it off my hands. Good day, Inspector.”
With that, the monk turned and walked back to his colleagues. Two monks took down the banner from the railings and then the group walked off down the street. With the main attraction gone, the crowd started to drift away. Very quickly all that was left was the tea seller packing up his stand.
As Jones went to go back inside the station, he noticed a sign on the stand, “Tea – as drunk by Horace Adkins!” Jones swore under his breath.