Saturday, September 04, 2010

If You Ever Plan To Motor West

Here is Part 66 of “A Couple of Tenors Short”. 

I have mentioned this before, but from here on in reading the recap then jumping into the middle of the story will rather ruin it. The recap will now start to include some major spoilers on the plot which, up until now have just been hints and clues.

Also, I have to apologise in advance that the updates to the story will be limited to weekends for a while. I have just started a new job in London which looks like being long hours with the added inconvenience of the commute, so it is unlikely that I will be able to give you any updates during the week.

In my search for the oddest of news, I read that article and found myself frustrated. You would have thought that the journalist could have told us if the gambler behaved like this because he was winning!  

Another easy quiz question, so it is more about guessing the artist rather than the song as some may be surprised to find the answer is not what they expected.

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 wine waiter poured the wine into Jones’s glass. As he did so, Jones leant forward, his eyes transfixed. When the glass was a third full, the waiter filled the professor’s glass as Jones’s hand hovered near his own glass.

With both glasses charged, Jones carefully picked up his glass by the stem and swirled the hay coloured liquid before sniffing it extravagantly and letting out a long sigh. He brought the glass to his lips and tasted the wine noisily, moving it around his mouth his eyes closed before he swallowed and he let out a low moan.

“You approve?” The professor watched Jones intently.

“It is everything I expected it to be and more.” Jones grinned. “I’m afraid that a policeman’s wage doesn’t compare to a University Professor’s.”

“For the moment...” Professor Ibsen gave a weak laugh. “I am most fortunate to be blessed with a large expense account which isn’t subject to much scrutiny.”

“Back to the matter in hand!” Jones replaced his glass on the table reluctantly. “When did you last see Sergei Plutov?”

“About three, four months ago. A few days before the fire.”

“Fire?” Jones’s eyebrows shot up.

“Yes, there was a fire in Sergei’s lab, but I am getting ahead of myself.” The professor waved his hand gently.

Sergei had gone to work for Cauldron’s electronics firm at their main R&D centre in West London. He had been attached to the development of new neural interfaces for computer games consoles. For over a year everything seemed to be going really well. His research was well resourced and he felt he was making good progress. Indeed, Sergei had let slip that he had felt he was on the verge of a huge breakthrough.

The story was interrupted by the arrival of the main courses. The professor paused in his tale as the pair tasted their meals and discussed them before continuing.

The next time that Sergei had visited the professor, he was upset. He and all his equipment had been moved out of the main R&D building to a small anonymous unit South of the river. Sergei had met with Sir Terence Cauldron who didn’t seem to understand the results and progress. As a result, Sergei was convinced that his entire project was going to be cancelled just as he was achieving promising results.

A few days after that, there was a fire at his new lab. All his equipment computers and papers had been totally destroyed. At the time there were whispers that it was an insurance job, a way for Sir Terence to recoup some of the money spent on Sergei’s research, but nothing was ever proven.

The professor had tried to contact Sergei, but without success. Someone told him that Sergei had returned to Russia, but the professor knew that wasn’t true because he had seen Sergei’s name amongst competitors in various triathlons in the UK.

“I was devastated, Inspector. Truly devastated.” The professor shook his head slowly. “I tried again and again to contact him to tell him that his position at UCL was always open to his return, but he never answered my calls, emails or letters. In the end, I just gave up.”

“There was no contact at all?” Jones pressed.

“Absolutely none.” The professor shook his head again and took a large draught from his wine. “In hindsight, I should have tried harder. Maybe, if I had, poor Sergei would be alive today.”

“You can’t blame yourself.” Jones stated as he put down his knife and fork, moved his hands to his lap and clenched his fists under the table.

“I know.” The professor nodded and took a mouthful of his risotto. “It is kind of you to say that, but it doesn’t really make me feel any better.”

“It was his choice, but, no matter what, you always feel you could have done something more.” Jones nodded with total empathy.