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Thompson’s Lost Plimsole

Part 47

Billy sat alone in his hotel room contemplating that afternoon’s events. The meeting with Madam Deville had stirred up a lot of past emotions and memories. What would be the point of punching Shadwell Crump, why bother bringing more trouble down upon himself? He could still sing and tell jokes and so far, no charges had been laid against him. To be truthful, he’d already been the one on the receiving end of most of the pain. He resolved to visit the theatre, collect his costumes and props, apologise to the manager and to make his peace with Shadwell.

It was common knowledge amongst the criminal fraternity that the Drays had been double-crossed. The twins were ready to pay for any information that would lead them to the whereabouts of Lenny Price. With the information garnered, or beaten out of their prisoners, fingerprints and other evidence gathered from the old farmhouse and Clarence Butterfield’s excellent detective work, the police had put together a good case in order to arrest the twins.  Eyewitness statements from several individuals who had seen Derek Dray wearing a large ruby ring that matched the description of one stolen in the bank raid, also strengthened their resolve to bring the Drays in.

At the school, Mr McQueen was also contemplating his future. The school hadn’t had a Deputy Headmaster for a few years, and with there being no way of knowing how long Mr Davies would be absent, this might be the ideal time for him to show his worth. Also, like the Headmaster, Colin hadn’t really taken a lot of notice of Miss Fudge. She had always seemed to be a little dowdy and unapproachable. There was no doubt that she was an excellent school secretary, in fact, she virtually ran the school. Efficient, that was a good word to describe her, quiet and efficient. However, something had changed and now Colin was seeing Emily through different eyes. “I wonder if she likes yodelling”, he thought to himself.

Billy telephoned the theatre to let them know that he would be in later to collect his things. A few minutes later, Donald Dray picked up the receiver in his office. “Oh, he will, will he, good, we’ll be there at 7.00.”  At the theatre, stage door keeper, Albert Parsons, replaced the receiver of his phone.  At the police station, Sergeant Grout answered the telephone, it was an anonymous caller. “Thank you”, said the Sergeant and then replaced the receiver.

Billy finished his evening meal at his hotel and purchased an extra bottle of wine. This would be a small peace offering for Shadwell, maybe he’d share the wine and they could then have a good laugh about the whole business. The fog outside had not lifted all day, it was a real peasouper. Billy entered the theatre through the backstage door and walked straight up to Albert’s little office. “Oh hello, Billy”, said Albert. He was going to ask Billy if he’d had a nice trip but thought better of it. Billy reached into his pocket, took out his wallet and removed a five pound note. “I want to apologise to you, Albert. I’ve been to this theatre numerous times and I’ve always taken advantage of your services and never thanked you once, please take this as a small token of my thanks”. Albert was dumfounded, he didn’t know what to say. Had the fall from the window addled Billy’s brain? “Er, thank you, Mr Nutmeg, thank you very much”. Billy started to walk away but turned back to Albert. “John, you can call me John, that’s my real name”. Albert watched as Billy walked towards the stairs to the dressing rooms. He called after him. “You might not want to go up there, John”. It was too late, Billy had a spring in his step, he felt happier than he had done for the last thirty odd years. Albert looked at the five pound note in his hand and then down at the poison pen letter that he had just finished writing to Billy. “Maybe he isn’t such a git after all”, Albert thought to himself. He pocketed the fiver and tore up the letter

The twin’s car was parked in the narrow lane at the side of the theatre. It was being guarded by Jackie Fanshaw, the testicle punching dwarf. Three police cars were parked on the main road at the front of the theatre with four officers in each car, all armed.

Billy walked up to Shadwell’s dressing room door and knocked. The door opened. Shadwell stood there blocking Billy’s view into the room. “I’ve come to apologise about all of the fuss, it was entirely my fault. I’ve brought some wine, I thought we might have a drink together after the show.” Shadwell remained silent but he kept nodding his head to one side as if he’d got some sort of nervous twitch. “What?”, said Billy. Shadwell gave a little cough and nodded his head again. This time the door was flung wide open and Shadwell was thrown backwards. Donald and Derek Dray replaced Shadwell in the door frame. “We want to have a little word with you”, said Derek, “about our cousin, the one you got sacked”. Billy thrust the bottle of wine into Derek’s hand, turned on his heels and ran as fast as his legs would take him.

He sped down the three flights of stone stairs from the top dressing rooms to the side of the stage, with the Dray twins hot on his heels . None of these three men were used to regular exercise. The Norman sisters were on stage going through their various contortions. Billy stopped for a moment in the wings just to get his breath back, but he could hear the twins close behind him. He ran behind the back cloth, avoiding various piles of coiled ropes and other stored detritus. There was no exit on the other side of the stage, so the only way back would be across the stage. As the brothers made their way over the ropes, tripping over as they went, Billy took the opportunity to run across the stage. As soon as the audience spotted him there was an uproar. Three quarters of the audience regulars started meowing. Billy ran off the other side but quickly came back on, looked at the audience, raised both of his hands and made a cat clawing motion. The audience howled with laughter. Billy ran off to the strains of his name being chanted. The Dray twins followed Billy across the stage to loud booing. Derek Dray tripped over the outstretched leg of Peggy Norman and went flying. This gave Billy time to exit the building. He ran towards the Dray brother’s car. Jackie Fanshaw recognised him and opened the car door. “Here mate”, Jackie said, “If you want to hide from whoever it is that’s chasing you, hide in the back here, put the blanket over you and I’ll let you know when they are gone”. In a state of panic and breathlessness, Billy leapt into the car and pulled the blanket over himself. Jackie climbed into the back of the car and shut the door. Billy could hear the twins outside of the car. “He’s given us the slip”, said one of the twins breathlessly. “Don’t worry”, replied the other, “We know where he’s staying”. The twins got into the car and sat for a moment to catch their breaths. Jackie tapped each of the twins on their shoulders and pointed downwards to the blanket. The brothers looked at each other and smiled.


Published by crispinunderfelt

All round good egg. Humanist and red wine drinker.

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