Donald and Derek Dray were still smarting from the loss of their loot. They still had a small amount of paper money, but the gold and jewellery would have netted thousands of pounds. They had no contacts in the London area, but they had paid informants working at the police headquarters and they could make enquiries on the twins’ behalf. Billy Nutmeg had phoned forward to his hotel to alert them of his arrival and the hotel manager had been asked to keep the police informed should Mr Nutmeg make contact with the hotel. Two officers were waiting for Billy when he arrived. He had no idea why he had been arrested, something about a bank raid and certain of his belongings being found in an empty shop. Sitting in his cell waiting to be questioned, Billy could hear what sounded like someone having seven bells knocked out of them. Thud, thud, thud, followed by groans and more thuds. The door to Billy’s cell opened and Sergeant Grout stood before him. The Sergeant’s knuckles were covered in blood. “Come with me”, he demanded. “We need you to answer a few questions”. Billy was reluctant to leave his cell, but Sgt Grout was a big man, with large blood covered hands. On passing the cell next to his own, Billy could see, through the open door, two policemen lifting a body off the floor. At this moment in time, he was ready to answer any questions and quite possibly, to admit to murder!
The brothers Dray had similarly been made aware of Billy’s return to Hallifield and they would also be wanting to ask him a few questions, such as, who he thought he was and did he think he was a bit of a hard man, bullying backstage staff, and did he realise that it was their cousin that he had caused to be sacked from his job at the theatre? The way that things were shaping up, it was going to be a long day for Billy.
It was late evening before Billy was released from custody. It had taken all of his persuasive powers to convince the police that he had nothing at all to do with the bank robbery. His fingerprints had not been found anywhere else but on the items that Gordon Cringe, the sacked stagehand, had placed in the empty shop opposite the bank. Billy’s appointment with his nemesis would have to wait, but as the old adage goes, revenge is a dish best served cold.
The following morning was very cold, and a heavy fog had settled in. A serious accident had occurred between two lorries on one of the minor back roads out of Hallifield. Several direction signs had been uprooted and a section of dry stone walling had been demolished. Council workmen had spent the best part of the morning clearing the debris away in order for the road to be reopened.
Billy had plenty of time to kill before the theatre opened its doors. He would wait until the show was well on the way and then he would make his way towards Shadwell Crump’s dressing room. He wouldn’t be expecting Billy to turn up so soon, so Billy would take him by surprise and knock his bloody block off! That joyous moment would have to wait, so Billy set off on a walk around town. Standing outside a newsagent’s window, Billy perused the notice board containing small business cards and local announcements. A small card drew his attention. It read, Madame Esther Léonie Astrid Deville, Palms read, Fortunes told, Tarot and tea leaf readings. Ever the sceptic, Billy chuckled to himself. “Why not?”, he thought, “It should be good for a laugh”. Billy scribbled down the details, availed himself of the nearest telephone and rang the given number. A husky, and slightly mysterious sounding voice answered his call. “Yes, can I help you?”. “I’d like to book a reading this afternoon if possible”, said Billy whilst trying to suppress his laughter. “Would 2.30pm suit”, enquired the voice. “Excellent”, replied Billy. “I look forward to seeing you then”. Billy put the phone down and then laughed out loud. He had seen and worked with dozens of variety artistes who passed themselves of as Gypsy fortune tellers or genuine mediums, delivering messages to loved ones from beyond the grave, and he knew each and every one of them to be a charlatan. He would have a little fun at the expense of this woman as a primer for the top of the bill, the destruction of Shadwell Crump.
Four coal miners had been brought into the police station for questioning, and each in turn, had been placed in the same cell as the Dray twins’ badly beaten accomplice. Each of the men had been advised that this man’s injuries were a result of not answering questions. It had the desired effect, as all four of the men sang like canaries, each implicating the others and naming the Dray twins as their paymasters. Two detectives had also been assigned to follow the Drays and keep the station apprised of their whereabouts.
At precisely 2.25pm, Billy found himself standing outside a large Victorian house in a slightly more up-market part of the town. Everything about the house gave off an air of mystery. The thick fog still persisted and seemed to hang over this house like a shroud. Billy opened the gate and took a few steps towards the front door. The gate closed slowly behind him by itself. Billy looked back at the gate and shuddered slightly. The main body of the door knocker was a very realistic impression of a goat’s head, the actual knocker itself, hung down from the goat’s horns. Billy paused for a moment, unsure as to whether he should use the knocker in case it took a bite out of his hand. As he raised his hand towards the knocker, the door creaked open. Billy waited for a moment expecting a face to appear from behind the door. A disembodied voice called from somewhere in the house. “Come in, Mr Nutmeg”. Billy was taken aback for a moment, had he actually given the woman his name, he couldn’t remember, he must have done, or how else would she have known? Billy cautiously stepped inside the hallway, took a few steps forward, then two quicker steps before turning around to see the front door close by itself. “Come into the drawing room”, the voice said. Billy entered the room where he assumed the voice had come from. It was decorated in high Victorian taste, very heavy, deep red curtains, dark brown furniture, and ornate framed mirrors reflecting the light from the fire and the numerous lighted candles. Madame Deville motioned towards several plush chairs, “Please take a seat” she said, “I’ve taken the liberty of making us both a cup of tea, it is three sugars isn’t it, Mr Nutmeg?”. Again, Billy was a little surprised. This woman seemed to know a lot of things about him. “Err, yes, it is, thank you”. Billy made to sit down in one of the chairs only to quickly rise to his feet again when something on the chair hissed at him. “Oh dear”, chuckled Madame Deville, “that’s Prometheus, he likes to keep warm by the fire, he’s very friendly”. Billy moved over to another chair. “I’m not really a cat person”, he said, “more of a dog lover, although I’ve never owned a dog, it wouldn’t seem right dragging one round from theatre to theatre”. “I very rarely attend theatrical productions”, said Madame Deville. “Although I hear from friends that there is a wonderful act at the variety theatre involving cats”. Billy grunted, “Huh, I shouldn’t bother if were you, from what I hear it’s a load of old rubbish!”.
Madame Deville sat at her table arranging her Tarot cards. “Bring your tea to the table”, she said. Billy drained his cup and picked a few tea leaves off the end of his tongue. Madame Deville took the empty cup and saucer from Billy, swirled the cup around a few times and then turned it upside down onto the saucer. She then looked into the cup in order to read the message in the leaves. “Do you drive a motor car, Mr Nutmeg?”. “Err, no”, Billy replied. “I don’t, I’ve never had time to learn how to drive”. “Oh good”, she said, and then put the cup to one side. Billy was starting to feel a little uneasy about the situation that he had placed himself in. It was supposed to have been a laugh but there was something different about this woman. Madame Deville leant forward and took hold of Billy’s hand. “Let me read your palm“. She held onto Billy’s hand for a few moments. “There’s a definite break in your lifeline, have you had a recent accident?” “Aye, you might say that”, Billy grunted. Madame Deville traced a bejewelled finger along the lines on Billy’s hand. “Oh dear”, she gave a deep sigh, and without giving him an explanation, let go of Billy’s hand. “I shall give you a three card reading today”, she said, “One for past, present and future. “Billy was visibly rattled. “What! what did you see?”. Madame Deville shuffled the Tarot cards and offered them to Billy with the instruction to take three. “I always find that I get a better reading with the cards, not so many mixed messages”. Billy took three cards from the pack and laid each one face down. Madame Deville turned over the first card which was ‘The Fool’.
To be continued…….
6 thoughts on “Thompson’s Lost Plimsole”
Oh my Something bad is going to happen
Laugh! It just makes sense
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Hmmm, I feel I’ve got ahead of the plot. Ah well, that was always on the cards when you start late. I’ll catch up!
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Right. Well I’ve been following this saga since day one (and, in fact, in a number of episodes) but I have no idea of what is to come. How do you do that? PS – I do know that something bad is going to happen though… 😉
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It’s hotting up for Billy and the twins…
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I’m just now catching up and am very intrigued. Bad things often happen to your characters but what things?
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I’m pleased that you are still with me, Herb.. It’s been a long journey but there are many more roads to travel. I hope that you will enjoy the piece that I have just finished writing which I’ll post tomorrow. Bad things will happen to bad people, but maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel for at least one….
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