TWO SIMON GRANT MYSTERIES
HIDING THE ELEPHANT – Chapter 48
Emma tried to reach Branton from the main road but was unceremoniously turned back by two boy policemen. She drove on, turned into a circular road, passed a burning car and a group of youngsters around it who mercifully ignored her, carried on past several semi-circular buildings that went under the collective name of Branton Crescents and reached the first tower block by driving along a narrow path between two long rows of lock-ups. Like all the others, the tower block had a name but most letters were missing. Among the graffiti she managed to make out a big letter N above the entrance door. At the bottom end of a side street on the right a turbulent crowd of bodies was pushing away towards some invisible target. The noise penetrating the tightly shut car windows sounded like singing. Cheering. There was a strong smell of smoke and the sky above the row of some ten or so two-story houses with their own small lawns was red. An ambulance appeared in her rear view mirror, its lights and siren on full blast. Screeching, it turned somewhere left. As she was leaving the last of the still working streetlights, Emma reached into the glove compartment and fixed her DOCTOR ON CALL plate onto the windscreen.
The road was littered with broken furniture, oil drums, overturned rubbish bins, cans and bottles. She put her long lights on and concentrated on driving. Several quick moving figures ran across the road in front of her, disappearing into the darkness. She pressed the door locks down. On two occasions she had to climb the pavement to get round the obstacles on the road. As she passed Block J a figure stepped in front of the car and she stopped with a jolt. She lowered the window only when her headlights caught the fluorescent yellow POLICE patch on his chest.
‘Is your visit absolutely necessary?’ He had seen the plate on the windscreen and she silently blessed her own foresight.
‘Of course, Constable. No one would come here tonight from choice.’
‘You’d be surprised. Where are you going?’
‘Follow me.’ The young PC dissolved into the darkness and within seconds she heard the engine of his motorbike, and the single, powerful beam of light came on. He was careering in front of her, turning right and left through the maze of concrete buildings and she followed the best she could. It took them ten minutes to reach Block C. It was mostly in darkness and looked deserted.
‘Most of the action is in the west crescents. I won’t be able to wait for you. Will you be all right?’ He did not turn the engine off and urgent noises were coming out of his radio.
LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS – Chapter 48
The TV room was quite small, twice as long as it was wide and felt cushioned in. The ground floor of Little Manor featured a mix of stone flagged and parquet floors covered with rugs of one kind or another, depending on the nature of the room. The TV room was carpeted wall-to-wall and the heavy, lined curtains seemed to be permanently drawn together. Apart from the recliner, there was also a corner suite covered in something stripy, a line of bookcases with certain amount of unused space, a non-descript occasional table with a number of video cassettes on the bottom tier and, of course, a TV set on its own aluminium stand. With a small indoor aerial it would have looked more appropriate in a museum.
‘Lucky I’ve got my own upstairs,’ Angel whispered into Grant’s ear. ‘If one could get a sound on this set it would be probably taking in Middle English.’
Pippa giggled and said that her father would have probably never replaced his old set if it hadn’t broken down and he couldn’t watch golf any longer.
Not many people came to watch. According to Angel’s whispered report, Rufus’ first session of the evening involved Bunty Friel, the female Bunty as distinct from Bunty de Wilde. The one Andrew Retz used to call Female Bounty, based on the experience of a series of one-night stands over the period of four years. Virtually everyone had flocked in and the session had to be moved to the sitting room to accommodate the audience. With a little help from Rufus,Bethanyaka Bunty Friel travelled all the way back to the thirteenth century continentalEurope, exact location unspecified, to be burned to death at the stake.
‘I’d bet she and Rufus had rehearsed it over and over again beforehand,’ Angel concluded. ‘But Bunty’s agony was very convincing. The audience was deeply satisfied. I’ll give them that.’
Bella’s act was promising a lot less excitement and had to compete for attention with the arrival of fresh trays of food. Only a few sauntered in and most of those seemed more interested in the content of their own and everyone else’s plates.
‘Must be well over twenty per head,’ said someone Grant couldn’t see. ‘Have you been asked for any contribution yet?’
The answer was inaudible.
‘They make me sick,’ Angel grumbled louder that the politeness of a hostess should have allowed. ‘The Old Man has never asked anyone for a contribution. He does it all off his own back.’
‘Why?’ asked Grant.
‘Showing off,’ said Alex.
‘I wish Mr. Smithers would get on with it. Get it over and done with,’ Grant heard Ransome speak for the first time. He stood by the door as if he wasn’t sure he was welcome.
Rufus looked around, his eyes demanding silence.
‘Are you ready?’ he asked.
Bella nodded. The pendant on her chest was rising up and down fast.
Rufus bent over her and brought his golden medallion with emerald trimming closer to her. ‘You know who this is?’
She nodded again. ‘Stinky,’ she said.
‘And you want to travel back to say good bye to him?’
She hesitated a little but nodded eventually. ‘Yes, I suppose so.’
Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/shZvJq
Kindle US: http://amzn.to/scZ1cw
Kindle FR: http://amzn.to/uRu02G
Kindle ES: http://bit.ly/unx9jU
Kindle IT: http://bit.ly/tC4zd