Time to share with the world part 59 of “A Couple of Tenors Short”. Looking at my outline, it seems that there is still a lot to write, but I have so far completed over 50 000 words (Although I have posted a bit less than that). I spent some time at the weekend reading back what I have written and decided that the beginning is a little flabby and needs a ferocious edit – yet there are a couple of scenes that need adding which will undo any good work achieved by the edit!
So, even when I get to the end, it looks like I will need to keep writing.
I find myself in China again for the little snippet where the world continues to deliver things that I could never dream up for inclusion in “A Couple of Tenors Short”. It is a funny old world.
Amazingly, I have found a track related to the number fifty-nine and it is another track I quite like. I’ve never heard of the band, but I give you the answer anyway. I fear that my lack of musical knowledge is shining through now. Virtually every quiz question is about a band I have never heard of.
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...
The lodgings of Sergei Plutov were in a tree lined street of three storey Victorian houses. Most of the houses had been converted into flats. The front gardens were largely untended.
Smithy had to park the Zephyr down the street and the four of them walked up the road. A few of the residents eyed them suspiciously from behind curtains. At one point in the walk up the road, Smithy paused at one of the tended gardens to admire the Garden Gnome installation. Jones grabbed his arm and hauled him back to the group.
“Look at that, Guv! A Gnome Tennis Player!” Smithy paused at one of the well tended gardens, pointing at a gnome that was lifting its white tennis skirt to attend to a troublesome itch on its left buttock.
“Come on!” An irritated Jones grabbed his arm and pulled him back to the group. “I want you to do all the talking. That’ll allow me to poke around a bit.”
The garden of the lodgings of Sergei Plutov was in the well tended category, but was devoid of any decoration. At the gate, Jones despatched Brown and Johnson to knock on the doors of the neighbourhood to see what they could discover.
The door to the house was opened by Mrs Ford, a woman in her mid forties. Her dark brown hair was in a tight perm and didn’t sit well with a pale complexion, even though that complexion had been aided by the liberal application of makeup.
“Oh. It’s you lot.” The broad smile on her face vanished in a trice.
Jones and Smithy introduced themselves and showed their warrant cards.
“I suppose you’ll want a proper look at poor Mr Plutov’s room.” Mrs Ford turned without checking their id and headed up the stairs.
Jones and Smithy stepped inside and followed. On the pretence of shutting the front door, Jones hung back and observed the hall. It was clean, tidy and very ordinary. Jones ran a finger across the top of the mirror hung in the hall and inspected it. When he found it clean, he pursed his lips and gave a nod before following Smithy and Mrs Ford up the stairs.
“You’ll not find much in his room. As I told the other coppers, Mr Plutov’s a very frugal gentleman.”
“Other coppers?” Smithy cut in as they started up another flight of stairs.
“Yes, they came on Wednesday afternoon.” Mrs Ford continued up to the second floor.
“Did they show you their warrant cards?” Smithy asked as Mrs Ford stopped in front of a door and withdrew a key from a pocket.
“No need, dear.” Mrs Ford paused and brushed some fluff from the collar of Smithy’s blazer. “You could tell as soon as look at the, The one in charge, sharp as a pin, but dressed like an explosion in a paint factory and swore under his breath a bit too often to pass in polite society. Then there was his sidekick, in the latest designer clobber, but ever so slightly dim. No offence.”
“Do have guests in these other rooms?” Jones asked, ignoring the insult and waving a hand to the other three doors on the second floor landing.
“Well, number one is Mr Wesley. He’s in sales. He rents the room for the week, but is usually only here for two or three days. Nice man. An absolute martyr to lumbago. Keeps his medication in a silver hip flask.” Mrs Ford made the appropriate gesture and gave a wink. “Number three was Mr Yoruba, but I had to let him go. I think he went back to Nigeria. Not that we will exchange Christmas cards.”
“And the other door?” Smithy asked.
“That’s the bathroom dear.” Mrs Ford opened the door to Sergei Plutov’s room.
Sergei Plutov’s room was indeed Spartan. There was a bed, a large dark wooden wardrobe, a pine chest of drawers , a couple of bookcases, a desk and an easy chair. There were few personal touches.
“Have you cleaned in here recently?” Jones asked Mrs Ford, while looking at the nearly empty bookcases.
“Oh no, dear. I don’t clean for my guests. They have to do that themselves.” Mrs Ford pulled a face. “Not that I had any problems with Mr Plutov, he was impeccable in that regard and despite being a foreigner, he never left a ring round the bath.”
Jones grimaced and walked over to the bookshelf, snapping on a latex glove as he went. He looked at the outlines made by missing items in thin layer of dust on the shelf .
“Stuff has been taken from these shelves.” Jones announced. “Did those other police take anything out of the room?”
“No, dear.” Mrs Ford gave a tinkling laugh. “They didn’t stay long at all. As soon as I told them about Mr Plutov’s lady friend coming to get some of his stuff, they used some very un-gentlemanly language and left.”