Bring Out Your Dead - Part 7
Continued from Part 6
Amber Hamble sat, swathed in coats, jackets and scarves, hunched up against the window of the coach in the rear seat, with a look of determined depression turned to the alien world outside. Lawrence edged his way down the coach, clutching two coffees in paper cups and attempting to balance a selection of pastries, barely contained in a rapidly disintegrating paper towel.
“Here we are, sweetheart.” He said, cheerily, as he passed a coffee and pastry to his wife.
“Humph!” A sound like an audible sulk emanated from the pile of clothes in the corner.
“Don’t be like that, darling” Lawrence said with forced cheeriness, “Here we are, in Spain at last, dawn just breaking, and a wonderful, sunny, Andalucian day ahead of us…eventually.”
“I see they’ve killed another one.” The voice of the coats commented, flatly, between sips of coffee.
“I think that’s a little unfair, dearest. As I understand it, the man they carried off must have passed away more or less as soon as he got on the coach. I hardly think the blame can be laid at the door of our two travelling companions, whatever we might think of them. I’m sure it’s just another unfortunate co…”
“Right” Lawrence realised that this line of conversation was not helping. “The driver says we’re making good time and should be in Alicante by early evening. We could freshen up, go to a sea-front restaurant and treat ourselves to a really nice meal as we watch the sun set over the Mediterranean. How does that sound, darling?”
“Good coffee, isn’t it?”
“What…is…this?” the voice from the coats asked, accusingly, as a hand emerged clutching a rather wilting, long doughnut-like offering.
“Ah, now then…” Lawrence began, happy that Amber was at least taking an interest in something.
“I know what it looks like. It should be familiar to you too” Amber remarked, bitterly, “particularly after ‘a night with the lads’”
“No need for that, darling” Lawrence said, hurriedly, glancing around to make sure no-one was listening. “It’s a churro, sweetheart. A traditional Spanish accompaniment to your breakfast coffee” Lawrence quoted, as if from a guide book.
“Well, you know where you can stick it, don’t you!” Amber growled, ungratefully.
∆ ∆ ∆ ∆
“I never thought, Mr. O., when they talk about ‘chicken in a basket’ down the pub, I never knew it meant…”
“It doesn’t, Archibald” Josiah said, curtly, as they climbed back onto the coach.
“Are you sure, Mr. O.? Cos, when all’s said and done it is a…”
“Trust me, Archibald,” Josiah said firmly, as he lowered himself into his seat and eyed his avian companion warily, “that is something else entirely”
“You can sit with me, if you like, Mr. O. What with that bloke having gone and everything”
“On the whole, Archibald, I think I’ll take my chances with the chicken.”
∆ ∆ ∆ ∆
D.S. Stone sipped, appreciatively, at his strong black coffee and admired the clear blue sky, the even clearer blue sea and the dazzling white sand before him. Even at this, relatively early hour, the beach was beginning to fill with sunbeds, parasols and bronzed (or soon to be) bodies. He had to admit, the gaffer had pulled a stroke getting them into this place. Originally they had been scheduled to stay overnight in a functional business hotel in Alicante City Centre. How the D.I. had ever managed to wangle a transfer to a beach-front place was beyond his comprehension, but (he reflected) it was knowing how to work the system that got you places.
At that moment, the principal object of his thoughts crashed down heavily onto a seat on the opposite side of table.
“God, that Spanish lager’s got some poke to it!” D.I. Wood rubbed his eyes in a doomed attempt to cause them to focus, in spite of the ravages of a monumental hangover and the impact of the bright sunshine.
“Morning, sir.” D.S. Stone said, brightly, “Beautiful day, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, if you like that sort of thing.” D.I. Wood admitted, grudgingly. “Oi, sunshine, let’s have some coffee here, pronto” This last remark was bellowed at a waiter who was quietly clearing a table a few feet away. The waiter nodded, imperceptibly, and carried on with his work.
“Arrogant bastards, waiters!” D.I. Wood grunted, as he struggled to light the first cigarette of the day in the light sea breeze.
“I’m not sure if you can do that…” D.S. Stone began, but faded away in the glare of D.I. Wood’s hardest stare.
“Right. Order of the Day!” D.I. Wood took a deep draught of his newly-arrived coffee, “I say we get ourselves down on one of those sunbeds for an hour or two for a bit of R&R, possibly a medicinal brandy at the Beach Bar, spot of lunch, bit of a siesta and then we hop off to Alicante nick in the hire car, pick up Frankie and then back to Blighty on the late night flight. Sound alright?”
“Well, I was going to have a walk around the old town…”
“Pounding pavements? You want some of that, my son, I can soon have you back in uniform, no bother!”
“No, no, of course, your plan sounds fine.” D.I. Stone agreed, hurriedly “Have you checked in with the Spanish police yet, sir?”
“Rang them last night” D.I. Wood lit his second cigarette of the day and coughed liberally, “I know I’d had a few but I couldn’t make head or tail of what they were saying. Still we can sort all that out later. No point in ruining a nice freebie by worrying about some old lag in a Spanish nick, eh?”
“If you say so, sir” D.I. Stone agreed, dubiously.