"Not lost, but..." (Bring Out Your Dead series - Part 9)
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Continued from Episode 8 'Oh!'
The story so far (you can read from the start at 'Board Stiff!'): Josiah and Archibald, our two Undertakers, are on a mission to Spain to collect the mortal remains of Sir Lewisham Carnock. Now in their, bright yellow, hired transit van (reminiscent of The Mystery Machine in Scooby-Doo) they are en route to collect the remains from the local mortuary, coincidentally at the same time as Detectives Stone and Wood are due to pick up their escaped convict from the local Police Station.
Oddly enough, just a few streets away from the Police Station where Detectives Stone and Wood were attempting to arrange a pick-up, a similar scene was in progress.
"Ah, here we are, Archibald. The mortuary. Thank heaven for satellite navigation and the global positioning system." Josiah stretched his arms behind his head and attempted to massage the back of his neck, stiff with tension from the twin challenges of driving an unfamiliar vehicle on the continent, and listening to Archibald Thurble's repeated rendition of the 'Scooby Doo, Where Are You?" theme tune. "I will introduce myself and deal with the necessary documentation, if you will just drive the van up to the gated entrance over there. Presently, I will arrange for the gates to be opened, then there will, presumably, be some form of loading bay or some such, where we can collect the remains of Sir Lewisham for onward transit." Josiah climbed out of the van and was about to close the door, when he heard the unmistakable sound of Archibald thinking.
"Yes, Archibald.” Josiah sighed, “Is there a problem?"
"Well, you know as how they've put the steering wheel on the wrong side of the van, like?"
"I do indeed, Archibald. Although, of course, from the continental point of view, this is, in fact, the correct side of the van"
"Hmmm." Archibald considered this remark carefully, "If you say so, Mr. O. Only, I was just wondering if it meant that everything else was the wrong way around an' all?"
"I don't think I quite follow your reasoning, Archibald"
"Well, like, is the accelerator where the clutch should be and are the gears all to co…all messed up?"
"Oh, I see.” Josiah chuckled, “Your concern is, that by transposing the driver's position in the cab this has formed some sort of mirror image of all of the controls?"
"Yeah, well, summat like that" Archibald frowned.
"Not at all, Archibald. You will find that everything is in its usual place, other than that the gear lever and handbrake, of necessity, will be to your right, rather than your left."
"Don't really see why they have to mess about with it at all, Mr. O.” Archibald sulked, “Why couldn't they leave everything where it should be?"
"It may not have escaped your notice, Archibald, that vehicles in this country are driven on the right-hand side of the carriageway and not the left-hand side, as is our practice"
"Yeah, well that's just dangerous I think" Archibald said, firmly.
"Be that as it may, Archibald, the fact remains that the driver needs to be seated near the crown of the road for maximum visibility, hence the transposition of the driver's seat."
Archibald looked at him quizzically but nevertheless, climbed from his passenger seat and gingerly took his place behind the steering wheel.
"All you have to do,” Josiah explained, patiently, “is to drive into that entrance just a few yards along the road and wait by the gate for further instructions. Is that understood, Archibald?"
"Yeah, ok Mr. O." Archibald gripped the wheel and stared fixedly through the windscreen.
Josiah set off up the path to the doors of the mortuary, accompanied by the crunch of gears, huge over-revving of the engine and the sound of a large van making kangaroo-like leaps up the road. He shook his head, decided that to look back was only to invite further unease, and pressed on.
A few minutes later, he was exiting the doors with a distinctly preoccupied expression.
"He's not there!" D.I. Wood swung himself into the passenger seat and covered his face with his hands.
"What do you mean, 'he's not there'?" D.S. Stone asked, dragging himself from his careful inspection of the car's instruction manual.
"What particular part of that sentence are you struggling with, Stone?" D.I. Wood asked through gritted teeth, "HE'S… NOT… EFFING… THERE!"
"God knows!" D.I. Wood muttered from behind his hands, "all of their documentation says he should be there, all of our documentation says he should be there, but is he? Is he buggery!"
At the same time, a dejected Josiah had re-joined Archibald in the bright yellow van.
"Not there?" Archibald asked, incredulously.
"That would appear to be the nub and the gist of it, Archibald." Josiah agreed, miserably.
"Where is he then?"
"Some god-forsaken one-horse town up the coast called…" D.I. Wood consulted his notes, "Castiliano de la Ribera. He's in a local lock-up. Apparently, it's near where they nicked him on…" His finger traced the unfamiliar words in his notes, "La Manga. Some strip of land where the nobs hang out. He'd got himself a villa there.” He shook his head, dolefully, “Just shows we're in the wrong game, you and me, eh?"
"Castiliano. Castiliano de la Ribera. His mortal remains are still at the local undertakers’, for reasons best known to the powers that be." Josiah sighed, "There is nothing more we can do at this time. We will have to seek accommodation for the night, abandon our flight plans, and I will telephone Ms. Knight and advise her of developments, as soon as we have acquired the necessary rooms.” Yet another telephone conversation to which he was not looking forward.
“Cor, it’s gonna be a proper holiday after all, then!” Archibald grinned.
“It is NOT a holiday, as you well know, Archibald” Josiah snapped, easing the van away from the mortuary and back toward town.
“Well, yeah, I just meant we’re going to get to stay here, instead of rushing back, like” Archibald explained, “How come Sir Doo-Dah’s at this Castilly place, then?” He asked, changing the subject, deftly.
“Well, Sir Lewisham met his untimely end on La Manga, you know?” Josiah replied, “It's an exclusive resort area near to Castilliano, just across the Mar Menor lagoon."
"What's he doing there, then?"
"Not much, I shouldn't think" Josiah muttered, gloomily.
On a table by the window, overlooking a twinkling sea, speckled with little fishing boats, Lawrence Hamble sipped a glass of chilled white wine and reflected on the last couple of days of his holiday. It had certainly been eventful, and not a little stressful.
However, sitting here, now, with a nice meal on order, a lovely glass of wine to hand and a beautiful woman just across from him, her face illuminated by the dying rays of the sun and the flicker of the candlelight from the table, it all seemed worthwhile.
And she was beautiful, he thought, despite her rather short temper and sharp tongue.
He relaxed back in his chair, feeling distinctly mellow and at one with the world. He thought about when he and Amber had first met. What had been 'their' song? It seemed such a long time ago, now. Certainly, it was one of those 1980s classics…what was it?
"O…M…G!" Amber's interjection crashed into his train of thought like a block of concrete hitting an express.
"No, I don't think so dear" Lawrence mused, still considering 'their' song, "I always found them far too gloomy. 'Enola Gay' and such. What was that joke about them? Something to do with Andre Previn and a vacuum cleaner, wasn't it? I was more of a Haircut 100 man, myself"
He snapped back to reality, and sat up sharply, when he realised that Amber was glaring at him. Clearly, he had said the wrong thing, somehow.
"What are you blithering about, Lawrence?"
"I thought we were talking about music. You said something about OMD, didn't you? Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark?" A thin film of sweat formed on his forehead as his comfortable world of a few moments ago, crashed around his ankles.
"I said nothing of the sort! I was referring to those two homicidal maniacs striding over to Reception"
"Homicidal maniacs? Which homicidal maniacs would those be, dear?" Lawrence asked, inadvisably.
"Just how many homicidal maniacs do we know, Lawrence?" Amber's eyes flashed, "I mean the two that have been dogging our footsteps ever since we started this damned holiday. They're over there. You must be able to see them. There's the one that looks like a vulture with piles and that half-wit assistant of his, the one like an ape in a suit"
Lawrence allowed his gaze to wander over to the lobby of the hotel and saw, with a sinking feeling, the two undertakers dragging their meagre luggage toward the Reception Desk.
"They promised me that we'd seen the last of them. ' My associate and I will be returning to the U.K. with immediate effect'" She mimicked Josiah's remark quite accurately, "Well that doesn't look like them returning to the U.K. to me!"
"I'm sure they're perfectly harmless, dear…" Lawrence began, without much hope.
"Harmless, are they? Then why are the Police following them eh? Just tell me that!" Amber pointed accusingly to the Reception Desk, where D.I. Wood and D.S. Stone had just joined the queue behind Josiah and Archibald.
Now read the next exciting episode - Part 10
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Oh dear! Can things get more
Oh dear! Can things get more anymore confusing. Now I'm interested to find out more.
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