Saturday, June 09, 2007

Jailhouse McCrumble part II

The story so far...

The local police inspector requested me to host a suspected thief for the night in my supposedly secure Art Institute (in truth, a portacabin). You can find part one of the story below this post. I pick things up at the point where the suspect arrives at the Institute, accompanied by an officer of the law.

'The inspector sends his apologies for any inconvenience caused, Dr McCrumble', said the constable as he promted the suspect to leave the car. The man emerged rubbing his eyes, which were quite red. Hayfever? I wondered.

He was a large chap, dressed in short-sleeved shirt and shorts, head almost completely shaven apart from what looked like goatee stubble. He looked American, a hunch confirmed when he opened his mouth and said 'So you're McCrumble then, huh?'

'Dr Joseph McCrumble, yes. I'm the director of this Institute - the Cumbernauld Inst...'

'Sure', interrupted the man, stretching his rather hairy arms. 'I need to pee like a racehorse. Where's the john?'

'I've put a bucket in your, er, room', I said.

'Huh?', growled the American. 'Look sir, I don't mean to be rude, but I'm not pissing in a bucket. When I go, I really go. You want splash back on your nice floor?'

He had a point, so I asked the officer if it would be ok for the man to use the toilet inside the main building. The constable didn't make any objections - indeed he seemed rather keen to hand the suspect over to me and get back to the station, citing a very busy charge sheet as his excuse (I found out the next day that the cells were full of scantily-clad female partygoers who'd decided to put on an impromtu 'show-and-tell' at the local May Ball. The policemen spent the evening trying to find out what the 'show and tell' involved.)

'What if he makes a run for it?', I asked as we walked towards the Institute bathroom.

'That's very unlikely Dr McCrumble. We have his passport and wallet back at the station.'

'Can I ask what he's in custody for?'

The American answered, 'they think I stole the priest's barbecue. It's a pile of bull. I was putting it back. We already used it. The priest gave us permission before he left on holiday. These clowns couldn't work it out so they arrested me.'

We walked the rest of the way to the toilet in silence. Once there, I was minded to ask if the suspect should be accompanied, as I knew the window was open. But a quick mental reckoning made me realise that the barrel-shaped torso of our new house guest would be unable to fit through the small square window.

'We'll be back at 7:30 or thereabouts to pick him up', said the constable as we waited. 'I suggest you keep an eye on him using your cctv. If he does cause any trouble, just give us a call. Though if it's after 3am we might not be able to send anyone in a hurry, or at all.'

'Great,' I sighed, looking at my watch. It was now 12:30 am. Everyone else was asleep, and they would not appreciate being told that they had to take turns guarding a suspected barbecue thief. It would have to be me, I decided, my heart sinking further at the thought of another sleepless night.

Once the American had emerged, we took him over to the Art Institute. He was polite enough not to make any disparaging remarks, and even complimented me on the abstract design of the duvet cover. At this point the policeman made his excuses and departed, jogging to his car.

'Are you likely to need the toilet again?', I asked of the American as he lay down.

'I sometimes get loose bowels in the early hours - it's not for certain, but if I need to take a crap I'll wave at the cameras. You'll be watching me to make sure I don't push through one of these walls and run for the hills, won't you?'

My resolve to do my duty was already thinning. The American did not give an air of a persistent offender, and his story was plausible - the priest often took pity on visitors to the area in need of facilities. I as also feeling very tired, and knew I would not be able to keep my eyes open all the time, waiting for the sign of the impending poo.

'Look', I said at length, 'As far I see it, I'm not actually bound by any law to keep you in here all night. If you promise not to make a run for it, I can't see any reason why I should lock you up in here.'

'Hand on heart, sir.', said the suspect, a broad grin on his face, offering his hand.

'OK, let's go. You can sleep in the boy's bedroom. They are at boarding school.'

I led the American (his name was Donald, but he said everyone since college called him Curly, on account of penis having a slight bend when erect) to the main building. En route, he told me his story. It turned out he was in the UK researching his family history, and was visiting the village to find the grave of his great-great grandfather. The priest was about to leave the village to see visit a friend in Cornwall, but had met the American in the churchyard. Curly had told the priest that he wanted to cook up a big steak for his dinner, but didn't have access to the kitchen at the bed and breakfast he was staying. The priest had said he could borrow the church barbecue, and even threw in some charcoal and lighting briquettes. Having cooked the steak, Curly had been walking back to the vicarage when he was spotted by the police, who thought he was a vagrant, and arrested him on suspicion of theft, pending contact with the priest to confirm his story.

'Typical', I said in response to his tale. 'They wouldn't spot a real criminal if he walked into the station carrying the head of their latest victim, but they seem very keen to arrest innocent people like you and me for no reason at all.'

Standing at the entrance to the boy's room, we shook hands once more and bade each other goodnight. I told Curly that Ravel would bring him a cup of tea at 7:00am, so that he would be better prepared for the police when they came to pick him up at 7:30am. I went straight to bed, and listened only for the clicking sound of the boys's bedroom door to indicate it had been closed.

My dreams that night were extremely vivid. Curly made a brief appearance, trying to persuade me to measure the curvature of his spine, before turning into a football and bouncing into a nearby lake. The baby slept soundly, and I did not wake until Ravel brought tea at 6:30am. I told him of our house guest, and instructed that tea should be given. Two minutes later, I heard a gentle knock at the boy's bedroom door. There was no answer, so Ravel knocked again. 'Go in,' I whispered loudly, and I heard Ravel open the door. A few seconds later, my research assistant was at my bedside, holding not only an un-delivered cup of tea, but a note. It read:

'Dear Joe

Thanks for putting me up last night. I gotta skiddadle as I'm meeting an old friend and I need to catch a train. I'll go to the police station myself - hope you don't mind but I'll use your bike to speed me along. regards Curly.

'Phone the police!' I shouted.

To cut a long story short, Curly did not go back to the police station. He took my bike, cycled to the nearest train station, and is now somewhere unknown. The police suspect his passport is a forgery, and his wallet belonged to someone else entirely. Why they didn't check that when they arrested him, I have no idea.

He doesn't appear to have taken anything from the Institute, at least, probably on account of my good acting as a good samaritan. So as far as I'm concerned, it's case closed.

1 comment:

hazel love said...

Dearest McCrumble...you don't half drop yourself in it. May I recommend that you look into the possibility of taking an Assertiveness Course? Or at the very least, purchase a better padlock for your bicycle.

Thank you for your time.