Hello, I’m now back after two blissful and very productive weeks writing and relaxing on the beach. Thank you for your patience, the story now continues….
Tim tried to lose himself in work. On the surface the car job had been a good deal, well paid and ultimately easy work and he still had most of the money. Although he had no way of contacting Dolores, he was sure she or one of the others would call on him soon.
He was equally certain that if they didn’t visit for a few more days he wouldn’t mind. Perhaps he should keep an eye on the car in case it was moved. He could let down one of the tyres, though he’d need Foxy’s help to get out the car park.
Before that, the door frame needed repairing and Persistent Smith needed calling off. If no other work turned up there were all those leaflets to distribute.
He found a reputable carpenter and called the office number. The carpenter’s wife took a message. ‘He’s very busy, dear. No, I don’t know when he’ll be back. Yes, you are on his list. Tara, pet, someone’s at the door.’
Next, Tim called Persistent Smith’s home. When there was no answer he decided to walk over and put a note through the door. Perhaps he would get lucky and see a missing cat or two on the way.
He glanced wistfully at the door bell as he went out, his finger drifted over the button. He shrugged, smiled. The sun was shining, it was a nice day, he’d been indoors too long.
As he walked he thought about Morse, that playful, partially competent and strangely water-loving cat who had been his inconstant companion and unwitting provider of emotional support for the past five years. It came as a shock to realise that he wasn’t missing his cat quite as much as he had a few days ago.
The Smiths lived in a street of box-like semi-detached houses. Several stood behind high privet hedges, others had turned their front gardens into parking bays for sports hatchbacks with fat exhausts, over-sized people carriers, or rusting classics up on bricks and down on their shocks.
Some might say the Smith’s front garden was a relic from a golden age, others that it was living testament to the abuses of plant breeding.
Beds of purple pansies, pink button daisies and orange marigolds surrounded a perfect diamond of dandelion-free lawn. The flower bed between the path and drive was a strip forest of shoulder-high lemon-yellow and blood-red dahlias.
The front door was of imitation white wood and frosted glass. The doorbell button said ‘Press’, just like his own.
Tim pressed it.
Westminster chimes dongled serenely inside the house. Nobody came. Tim tried again.
There was still no answer. He slipped his note through the letterbox, returned down the garden path and out onto the street.
‘Coo-ee! Mr Man,’ a woman called behind him.
Tim turned and saw Violet Smith hurrying towards him. The sun shone but she had dressed for winter. Emerald green bobbles danced on her hand-knitted woolly hat, her purple coat was buttoned up to the collar. A wicker shopping trolley bounced behind her.
‘Hello Mrs Smith,’ Tim said. ‘It’s Tim Wassiter, we’ve met before. You remember Derek sometimes works for me.’
Violet Smith’s knuckles were white against the trolley handle. ‘Have you seen him? Do you know where he is?’
‘No, I haven’t. What’s happened?’
‘Oh dear.’ Violet seemed to deflate. Small to begin with, she looked like a strong breeze would blow her away. ‘I had hoped…’ Her eyes filled with tears. ‘I thought…’
‘Let’s go inside.’ Tim put his arm round her shoulders and steered her up the garden path.
Violet led the way into the hall. Tim carried the trolley over the threshold. Violet pulled a hanky out of the cuff of her coat, dabbed her eyes and blew her nose. ‘Look at me going all unnecessary. I must look a proper mess.’
‘You look fine. Now, tell me about Derek.’
Violet clasped her hands together. ‘He’s missing. We’ve had to call the police.’
To be continued…