This week’s chapter comes to you from N. Wales, where the holiday home’s internet appears to be made of tin cans and string. We made it!
The sound of voices woke Smith. By now he was used to his situation and lay still until he was fully alert.
One voice droned in flat monotones about revenues, projections, credit and debit. Another voice interrupted, that of the man in the white hat, Markus Koponen.
‘Well done, Imelda. Where is she?’
‘In the Mercedes with Dolores and Electra.’
Another voice broke in, the fat man called Jarglebaum. ‘She’d better be in one piece.’
‘Of course she is.’
‘There’s no “of course” with you three.’
‘Enough,’ Koponen ordered. ‘What about our young detective?’
Imelda gave a humourless bark of laughter. ‘Wassiter is as ignorant and confused as the day he was born.’
Smith extracted his notepad and the pencil he had found under the vending machine.
‘The Sea Cucumber is loaded and ready to sail. We’ll pay off our old friend on the way out of Brighton. Mr Jarglebaum will drive me in the Imperial.’
‘How about Dolores drives and I take the Mercedes?’ Jarglebaum said.
‘I want you with me. Any other questions? Very well, let’s go to work.’
Smith’s initial excitement grew into something akin to panic. They had fooled Tim, tricked, hoodwinked and bamboozled him. And now they were leaving. He had to find out where they were going, but how?
The answer was obvious. If only there was enough time. Smith thrust himself along the duct towards the down ramp.
Koponen listened infuriated to the hollow booms and thuds coming from the air conditioning. This was sheer incompetence. This time heads would roll.
The phone was already in his hand. He checked the time then slammed the receiver down. Sacking a useless middle-manager would have to wait. Today there were bigger fish to catch.
A few minutes later the shutters to the basement car park clanked up and the cream Mercedes pulled out onto Trafalgar Lane. Behind it rolled the enormous Airflow Chrysler Imperial Eight, the 4.9 litre engine quietly throbbing and black paint gleaming, and with Jarglebaum at the wheel.
Seated diagonally opposite Jarglebaum on the rear seat Koponen checked his watch again and allowed himself a satisfied smile. Despite difficulty, delay and expense, everything had worked out.
The world would never be the same again.
Curled up in the darkness of the capacious boot between a sack full of lumpy rocks and a cardboard box of agricultural brochures, Persistent Smith rode along with them.
To be continued…