Sorry for the delay in writing this second part of the happenings in Kings Lynn. It was down to a bout of espionage by a disgruntled employee, combined with having to finish a particularly exciting experiment involving Ravel’s tapeworms. For those of you who don’t remember, my no.1 research assistant is host to some tapeworms that appear refractory to every drug to which normal tapeworms are susceptible (Read the original story here). In the present experiment, I was determined to finally remove at least one of their number using an experimental compound from ground dung-beetle carcasses. Ravel should make a full recovery from the side effects of my latest tincture within a week or two.
But I digress. Please read Part I before going any further. Here is part 2 of the story…We were all standing in the gents toilets at Kings Lynn magistrates court, wondering why Denise, my shy but somewhat masculine receptionist, was insisting that we should pay close attention to what happened next, and not to judge the situation until we were aware of all the facts.The door of the cubicle swung open, slowly. Denise motioned to whoever was inside to come out, with firm but gentle words. After a few moments of coaxing, we were presented with the sight of someone, ostensibly male, who looked both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. Someone smaller than myself, of stocky build, dressed in black leathers from head to toe, dark aviator-style sunglasses, black cap perched at an angle on the head (those of you familiar with the characters of the late and lamented Kenny Everet may choose to recall the image of Sid Snot at this point) Nothing particularly unusual so far, but then I noticed 1) that the person’s hands were tied in front of the body with a black silk scarf, and 2) that the person was sporting a gag (also made of black silk). <‘Dr McCrumble’, began Denise, in her trademark low-pitched voice that some of you may recall from her video. ‘This is your former accuser, Toby Hancock-Jones. Or, as I prefer to call him, Dog-worm No 3. He responds to that name now, don’t you Worm?’The emotion of astonishment does, I have to admit, visit me on occasion, but never quite with so much of a left hook as this double-whammy. I was momentarily hit by such fierce confusion that I had to look at Dolores to check that I was still standing on terra firma. She too was open mouthed, and from the wide-eyed expression of Ravel, I felt at least sure that I hadn’t misheard anything. ‘Toby, is that you?’, I asked eventually.
Toby nodded, but said nothing.
Denise lent towards me and whispered, ‘I would remove his gag, but I’m not sure he wouldn’t scream yet. He’s almost gained my trust Dr McCrumble, but we’re going to take no chances given the situation. Isn’t that right Worm?’
Toby nodded again.
‘What the…how…where..how..’, I stuttered, unsure of where to begin with the heap of questions that had started to form in my mind.
‘I haven’t got time to explain here Dr McCrumble', said Dolores. 'I’ve written it all down and posted a letter to the Institute. All you need to know right now is that the charge of assault has been dropped. You are free to go home, Dr McCrumble, and you too Mrs McCrumble, and you too Ravel. You can all go home. Toby isn’t going to cause you any more trouble. But you must go now. We have to leave.’
‘Denise…I…’, I tried to say something, but the gravity in her voice (which was pitched even lower than usual) made me unsure that I could say anything that wouldn’t sound stupid. Something profound had happened, and I was immediately filled with a scientist’s curiosity to find the answer, but somehow I recognised it was neither the time nor place to start an interrogation. In any case, Dolores already had hold of my arm and was pulling me towards the door. I could hear my wife muttering something about tampering with the witness as we crossed the threshold. I looked back to see Denise waving at me. I wasn’t sure, but I thought I could see a tear streaking down her heavily made up face.
We encountered my solicitor in the corridor outside the court. I could tell she was agitated by the way she was shouting at her assistant to ‘eat the bastard’s cock for breakfast.’
I didn’t bother to enquire as to whom she was referring, and chose instead to stand some distance away until she turned round. As my solicitor caught sight of us, she clamped her mobile-phone shut and made in our direction, her tight features betraying an underlying tension.
‘There you are Dr McCrumble. Good news. You may like to know that Mr Hancock-Jones has just instructed his solicitor to tell the court that he no longer wishes to continue with this case, and has withdrawn the allegation of assault. You have no charge to answer, and are free to go home. I have been told that Mr Hancock-Jones has apologised for causing you any previous harm, and wholly accepts what happened was a misunderstanding. Frankly I’m surprised, I have to admit, as until this morning I was convinced….well, never mind.’
I was tempted at this point to return the gents toilet, but Dolores must have read my mind. She grabbed my arm as I began to turn and told me that we were all going to have a nice cup of tea before we headed back to the hotel. Sitting in the small cafeteria, we sipped our tea from polystyrene cups in silence, each of us mulling over the extraordinary sight of Denise and Toby in the gents toilet. It was a bit bemusing and unsettling. What I couldn’t yet understand was how these two complete strangers had met, nor what Denise had done to Toby to make him withdraw the accusation. Then there was the somewhat disturbing use of both a bind and a gag...
‘Kidnap!’ I blurted as the squares of the picture puzzle in my head suddenly fell into place. Several heads, some wearing helmets, swivelled in my direction.
‘Shhh,’ hissed Dolores. ‘Do you actually want to leave here a free man?’
I began dissembling something about Robert Louis Stevenson to divert the helmets' attention away from the idea that a crime had just been committed. But the idea was now firmly rooted in my mind. I became increasingly agitated as we finished our drinks. Part of me wanted to run over to the policemen and confess to what I had just witnessed. But my sense of self preservation was also strong, and I could envision all manner of untoward consequences of reporting this apparent ‘crime’. In the end it was Ravel who drew a line under my philospophical tussle. He said, ‘in my home, this happens all the time. We shrug our shoulders and say thankyou for small mercy. We put past behind our asses and look with our eyes into the future. Let’s go home boss.’
I looked at Dolores as she put her hand on our arm. ‘Lets go dear’, she said gently. ‘You can try and work everything out…silently… in the car on the way home.’
I was forced to accede to their persuasions and gestured that we should depart the magistrate's court. As we were exiting, we passed my solicitor, who once again was shouting into her mobile phone. Outside, the rain was lashing down. I sighed upon realising that I had left my umbrella in the car. Ravel must have read my mind, for he told us to remain standing whilst he brought the umbrella. It occurred to me as we stood there, that I had not one but two of the most loyal employees anyone could wish to have. What was going to become of one of them - Denise - I had no idea. As for Ravel - well I was already planning an experiment to address a long-term problem of his that would offer a substantial improvement in his quality of life. Just before leaving the Institute I had received a box from
*****TO BE CONTINUED*****