23 Oct

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Excerpt from Lock Up Your Daugghters, the second novel in the Simon Grant Mystery Series available from  and

As usual, the tutorial had little to do with the subject of trusts, except for a few specific questions regarding a specific trust of his father’s from young Smithers. The death of Steve Biko was still the main topic of conversation as was the future of Rhodesia and the entire southern Africa. Young Carroll sniffed at a couple of bottles, settled on the Merlott and after three glasses and a packet of salt and vinegar announced to the room at large ‘Ich bin ein Shona.’

Cantemerle never came into play that night, as it turned out. Lagging behind the others and with one of the better glasses still in his hand, Carroll hiccupped, bowed, hiccupped several times again and thought better of yet another bow.

‘I think you should know, Sir…’

Dr. Bennett liked the “Sir”. The boy may have been drunk as a skunk, but “Sir” was good. The way it was said, from the heart.

‘I think you should know, Sir, that I have a great regard for your daughter. Regard and respect. If I were a marrying sort and able to take care of a wife and family, I’d ask you for her hand right here and now. I thought you may like to know, that, Sir.’ Carroll stumbled on in the vague direction of the front door.

‘But WHY?’

‘Why, Sir?’

The question evidently required careful consideration. Carroll reached for the little bit of inspiration that was still left in the glass, then deposited the fragile item carefully on the red-carpeted first step of the staircase and sat himself next to it.

‘Because she’s high maintenance. Sir. That’s why.’

‘And that’s good?’ Dr. Bennett had only a vague idea of what “high maintenance” might mean.

‘Yes, Sir, that’s very good. Angel is clean and pure and needy. A man,’ Carroll pointed a finger at his damp forehead, ‘a man needs something clean and pure in his life. I’m a fast food junkie, can’t do without it, but,’ for no apparent reason, he tried to get up on his feet again and Dr. Bennett hurriedly removed the glass from under his wandering feet, ‘but, Sir, mark my words, I know I’ve had a few, and I’m some years your junior like, but mark my words, Sir, a man needs a clean spring to drink from. And he needs to be needed. That’s the trouble with the world these days, Sir.’ The attempt of finding his feet aborted, he sprawled himself across the first four stairs, and acquired a look of comfortable contentment. ‘Men are not needed. We have no real purpose left in the world any longer.’ In the middle of the ramble, the best part of it punctuated by hiccups, Carroll lifted his eyes, sharp and focused, to Dr. Bennett’s. ‘Don’t you think so, Sir?’

Bennett laughed. ‘If you mean that we’re not the undisputed kings of the global castle any longer, Carroll, I’d tend to agree. Many would say it wasn’t before time, either.’ He had a mission to accomplish, though. The condition of the world and the position of the male species in it would have to wait.

‘So, why not Bella?’ he asked, as the boy’s lids were lowering dangerously.

‘Bella lives in a world of her own. I can’t dive that deep for anyone’s soul.’ Carroll looked as if he was sinking irretrievably into his own.

‘And Nicola?’

The curly head, hair ever so slightly thinning at the top, was down on the carpet. ‘Fast food,’ muttered Carroll. He pushed his palm under his cheek and smiled. ‘So much fast food.’

‘Why not Nicola?’ Dr. Bennett insisted. ‘I’d have thought she’d be more your type. Feisty and bright.’

‘St. Finsbury of the Agendas.’ The lids came up and Carroll looked straight back with the same startling astuteness. ‘Too many agendas, too much luggage. Too many scores to settle. I’m too shallow for all that.’ The head dropped back into the waiting curled palm. ‘Too much fast food,’ he wandered off, this time for good.

When the girls came home, one by one, Bella first, then Angel, then Nicola, they had to tiptoe past his prostrate figure gently snoring on the stairs. Dr. Bennett could hear them giggle and whisper on the landing for a while. Before climbing up himself, he threw a blanket over the boy, then on second thought went back into the sitting room again and fetched a small cushion for him as well. Carroll hugged it with both his arms to his chest as Angel used to hug her teddy at the age of three.

By six o’clock the next morning he was gone. The blanket and the cushion were neatly returned to the nearest sofa.

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Posted by on 23/10/2011 in Uncategorized


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