Bring Out Your Dead - Part 14
Continued from Part 13
D.S. Stone was dreaming. He was dreaming of being encased in an insufferably hot duvet whilst someone (he wasn't sure who, but he strongly suspected D.I. Wood) was attempting to cut off his legs with a hacksaw. He shuddered as each rasping stroke brought his dismemberment closer. Oddly enough, although it was definitely uncomfortable, he felt no pain. Eventually the combination of the oppressive heat and the noise of the hacksaw brought him to a sort of grudging consciousness.
The first thing he noticed was that the jacket he had arranged as a sort of makeshift blanket had taken it upon itself to convert into a straitjacket, so that his arms were now pinned by his side, also the morning Spanish sun had contrived to turn the car into a miniature greenhouse, both of which went some way to explaining his dream. What was less easy to understand was why the noise of the hacksaw was continuing, even though he was now fully conscious. A glance at the back seat answered this question. D.I. Wood was curled up there, his jacket under his head, sleeping like a baby, which, as D.S. Stone reflected, meant making a heck of a lot of noise and looking as if he had wet himself. He decided that sleeping in a car was bad enough without this additional torture.
"Sir!" He nudged his superior's shoulder, which just seemed to act like a volume control, increasing the sound of the snoring to an unbearable level.
"Sir! Sir!" This time he shoved D.I. Wood as roughly as he dared.
"Wha'? Wassup? Eh? Roger that!" D.I. Wood wakening was a sight to see. His eyelids hauled themselves, reluctantly, partially upwards allowing part of the bloodshot pupils to peer guardedly out at the world. A snail-like trail of saliva had clearly inched its way from the corner of his mouth, down his chin, at some point, and had now dried to form a sort of closed bracket. His hair, what there was of it, resembled a poorly-made bird's nest and the overall impression was that of a reanimated corpse.
"You were snoring, sir" D.S. Stone responded, flatly.
"You woke me up to tell me I was snoring?"
"Not exactly, sir. It also seems to be morning."
D.I. Wood risked opening his eyes a little further to check on the veracity of that statement.
"Oh yeah, I guess it is." He fumbled around in his pockets for his cigarettes, found them and greedily sucked on the first of the day.
"I was surprised to find you here, sir. I thought you were on a promise with Maria?"
"Ah, yes, well…" D.I. Wood looked as near to embarrassment as D.S. Stone had ever seen him. "You know that big bloke on the Concierge desk? Looks like a depressed gorilla."
D.S. Stone nodded.
"Turns out he's her husband. You wouldn't believe how he carried on when he found us having dinner" D.I. Wood took a long, reflective drag on his cigarette, "very temperamental these Latin races you know"
"I'm sure you're right, sir." D.S. Stone smirked, "So, are we heading back into the hotel for a wash and breakfast?"
"Ah, no, I don't think so." D.I. Wood salvaged the crumpled heap that was his jacket and struggled into it, "we really need to press on. A quick whizz round with the electric razor should do the trick and then we'll stop at a bar on the way for a cup of tea and a fried slice. They should have a toilet where you can splash a bit of water around, if you're fussy."
D.S. Stone sighed and opened the window to try to add some oxygen to the smoke-laden air. This was clearly going to be a long day.
On the terrace of the hotel, thankfully far away from the mobile fog and acrimony that surrounded Messrs. Stone and Wood, Amber Hamble was enjoying a hearty breakfast in the sunshine. She was actually rather enjoying herself, although she was being careful not to let Lawrence know that. At that moment she spotted her husband apologetically weaving his way through the breakfast tables. He seated himself heavily on the other side of the table and smiled weakly.
"Well?" Amber's eyebrows did most of the questioning.
"I've spoken to the Tourist Information Office…" Lawrence began.
"Yes, and? Do we, for example, have a bed for the night?" Amber buttered a piece of toast with some violence.
"Yes and no" Lawrence ventured.
"WHAT!!" Amber's shriek rattled teacups four tables away.
Lawrence sighed wearily and embarked upon an explanation.
"The Tourist Information Office confirmed what we already knew. There's nowhere to be had in Benidorm. It is the peak holiday season, sweetheart." He explained, reasonably. Amber snorted and butchered a sausage with some venom.
"Could we stay here? I think I could just about tolerate this place, provided those homicidal maniacs aren't staying." She asked.
"If you mean those two undertakers, they've just checked out. They were ahead of me in the queue for Reception. However, I've spoken to Maria on Reception and they don’t have any availability either." Lawrence confirmed, miserably, "we have to check out this morning."
"And go where, pray? Do you propose that we should live on the streets?"
"No, dear. I think I have a solution. Maria's brother has a Pension…"
"Lucky him, we'll be lucky to have two halfpennies to rub together when I retire if we keep wasting money on disastrous holidays like this!"
"It means a sort of B&B over here, dearest." Lawrence explained, patiently, "the main thing is, he has a room we can have."
"And this is where?"
"Castiliano de la Ribera. It's a quaint little place, just a little up the coast, heading toward Murcia. Rather unspoilt, apparently. Still has quite a lot of 19th Century architecture."
"Hmmm." Amber sounded unconvinced.
"It's very cheap, too." Lawrence hoped this might clinch the deal.
"Well, I suppose it will have to do." Amber agreed, grudgingly. "How will we get there?"
"I'll have to hire a car."
"Huh, more expense!"
Lawrence trudged back toward Reception. On the whole, he thought, that could have gone a lot worse.