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Thompson’s Lost Plimsole

Part 33

The crooks had made it harder for the police to access the tunnel by collapsing a short section. They had also made it difficult for the bank employees to access the deposit box room. The door to the room was locked and all of the internal keys were missing. The bank manager, Hilton scroop, had been straight on the phone to his head office in London and the head of security was on his way by train with duplicate keys. A ladder also had to be found so that Detective Sergeant Smith could be rescued from the bottom of the escape shaft. The sight of an ambulance and police officers outside of the closed bank had drawn a large crowd. Agitated customers were berating these officers demanding an explanation as to why the bank was closed. Joining this boisterous throng was Clarence Butterfield, reporter for the Hallifield Globe. Clarence was a slightly rotund gentleman with a penchant for tripe and onions, faggots in gravy, braised liver and pints of Guinness. His dietary choices added greatly to his frequent habit of burping and belching whilst interviewing people for his paper.

The thing about Clarence, though, was that he knew everybody, well at least everybody worth knowing, and if he didn’t know them personally, then he probably knew someone who would. He had a dogged determination about him, which had often helped him to solve cases long before the local police ought to have done. This hadn’t endeared him to the local constabulary as he had made them look a little inept on a number of occasions. There was a clamber for the doors as they opened in order to let the ambulance men out with DS Smith on a stretcher. This gave Clarence the opportunity to slip past the two officers guarding the front doors which swiftly closed behind him.  Another police officer approached him, but he quickly raised  a conciliatory hand. “It’s alright constable, I’ve spoken with the Chief inspector”. He hadn’t of course, but it was enough to stop the officer in his tracks. Clarence noticed the concrete dust and the footprints, and he also heard muffled voices coming from one of the offices. Standing and looking down into the hole in the manager’s office he started to make mental notes of the position of the hole, the size and depth, the neatness of the construction of the shaft. “The chaps who dug this out, certainly weren’t amateurs”, he thought to himself. He then heard voices again, so there was obviously someone at the bottom of the shaft.

Clarence availed himself of the recently sourced ladder and made his way down and into the tunnel. “Definitely not amateurs” he said loudly and then belched. “Who the hell let you down here?” growled Detective Constable Brown. “Miners”, he replied. “Whoever it was that dug this out, had to have been miners”. DC Brown snapped back, “What would you know about it, when were you ever down a pit?”. Clarence stood for a moment as if trying to find the right words to answer this unwarranted put down, opened his mouth to speak and then belched again. “You don’t have to go down a coal mine to recognise the work of a coal miner. When I was in the trenches, my regiment served alongside a company of tunnellers. All former coal miners, so yes, I do know what I’m talking about”. Clarence burped, then belched, then broke wind. “Bloody hell”, exclaimed DC Brown, “You’ll have the flaming roof down on us if you carry on like that. Brown pointed in the direction of the collapsed section of tunnel. “You weren’t down here earlier, were you?”  “Oh yeah, very funny”, replied Clarence. He’d seen enough for the moment and he had a good idea for the leader for his article in the late edition. ‘The Great Drain Robbery’.  

It would be hours until the spare keys were here, so Mr Scroop wouldn’t know what had been stolen until then and the bank would have to stay closed. He would need to go outside and speak to the customers. “I don’t think that would be a good idea, Sir”. pleaded his assistant. “There’s a lot of angry people out there“. Mr Scroop put a hand on his assistant’s shoulder. “My dear Jennings”, he said “I’m sure my calming voice will give them some reassurance”. The assistant manager stepped back and watched as his boss opened the front doors and stepped out onto the street, closing the heavy doors behind him. A few minutes later, the doors opened again, and the Manager staggered in, minus his toupee, bow tie and the gold, engraved fountain pen that he had been presented with as a recognition of his twenty five years of faithful service to the company. This pen normally sat in the top pocket of his waistcoat; however, the pocket was also missing. His spectacles were broken and twisted, and the lapels had been torn from his jacket. He shuffled past his assistant without looking at him. Jennings called after Mr Scroop. “Would you like a cup of tea, Sir, two sugars?”. Mr Scroop stopped, turned to face Jennings, drew himself up to his full height of five foot six inches and replied., “On this occasion, Jennings old chap, I think three sugars might be in order”.


Published by crispinunderfelt

All round good egg. Humanist and red wine drinker.

7 thoughts on “Thompson’s Lost Plimsole

  1. I like Clarence already, although I don’t think I’d like to be down a mineshaft with him. “The Great Drain Robbery” caused me to do a spit take. What a great line.

    Liked by 1 person

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