Picture credit: Lois Elsden.
Tales from The Strangled Ferret.
9 – The unexpected.
Preparations were well under way for “The Lame Faulks Gratitude Flonk 2016”. Ben had arranged for the big canvas banner to be printed. George had got the Dwile court marked out in the Strangled Ferret car park. Even though it was called “The Three Crowns” because of copyright issues, everyone still called it the ‘Ferret, much to the confusion of tourists who had arranged their visit on the Travel Advizer web site. Jack was helping by keeping Lame away from the site as it was going to be a surprise party for the the “Honoured Guest”. This was a fairly easy task as it was a busy time in Parliament. It was the time of the year that the MPs submitted their expenses so nothing had a higher priority.
The Russian minister for invasions and annexations probably had these few days blocked out in his calendar as a good time to invade the UK if he should choose to do so as there was no one available for decision or war making – unlike just before an election when a current prime minister needed to look statesmanlike and powerful.
With Lame away, the ‘Ferrets could play and they made full use of the opportunity to prepare for the forthcoming Flonk.
There was a bit of a panic as George thought he had seen Lame one evening when he should have been safely ensconced in his London office. There was even more of a surprise when two detectives turned up at the ‘Ferret’s project office and started asking questions about Lame. Jack was on duty so he call George and Ben in to talk to the police.
‘When did you last see Mr Faulks?’ asked Detective Sergeant Haskins.
‘I haven’t seen him around here for about a week but George here thinks he saw him yesterday. Isn’t that right George?’ said Jack.
‘No, I didn’t think I saw him. I did see him down by the river, near the Badger.’ protested George. ‘I’m not completely daft yet you know.’
The detective constable was jotting the replies down in his notebook. This worried Gorge, ‘what’s this all about? Why do you want to find him? Has he done something wrong?’ he asked.
‘We’ve been told by the MP’s expenses department that he hasn’t submitted his expenses claim for some time. This is most unusual and, as none of his colleagues have seen him for some time, they asked us to check up on him to make sure he is OK.’ summarised the DS. ’We thought it was sensible to check in his constituency. If you see him or hear of any news of him, please call me on this number.’ He handed his card to Jack and left the cabin – with the PC in tow.
‘Are you sure it was Lame you saw yesterday, George?’
‘Well, it was dark but I know Lame pretty well so I’m as sure as I can be that it was him. The thing that worries me is that we all know he has been depressed recently and I do start to wonder what he was doing down at the river at that time of night, in the dark, on his own. Do you think we should have a search along the river bank, downstream of where I saw him, just in case…?’
‘Just in case of what? Do you really think he would do himself in?’ protested Jack. ‘I suppose he could have had an accident, or slipped, or something, err, OK then, let’s get the ferrets together and search along the river bank.’
They assembled all the available ferrets who were working on the outlining and setting up of the Flonking court and explained to them what was happening. They all volunteered to join the search party as Lame was very popular around the constituency. They agreed to go home to collect warm clothing and some torches and arranged to meet back in the car park half an hour later. There were a lot of people as some ‘Badgers had joined them. Lame’s plan to get them to consider themselves one group seemed to be working.
Jack got them sorted out and explained the situation and why they were worried about Lame. They set off along the old tow path on the river bank, downstream from the ‘Ferret.. They plodded on for about five miles, checking the bank, bends and clumps of rushes with no sign of anything untoward. They all eventually got back to the ‘Ferret where Jack thanked them all for their help.
Jack, George and Ben then went into the project office where they brewed a cup of tea and sat down to decide what to do next.
‘The flonking match is due in three day’s time,’ said George, I really think we’ll have to cancel…err I mean postpone it until things are a little clearer.’
‘OK,’ said Jack, can I leave it to you to arrange that while I get on with picking up the threads of what Lame had started, we can’t hold up the project as the money will start to run out if we allow it to drift. Could you ring the police, Ben, and let them know about the search we’ve just carried out? Here’s the card the DS gave me.’
‘OK,’ said Ben, ‘but then I’ve got to get back in the bar, those lemons won’t slice themselves you know.’
‘I do understand that your lemons have a high priority, but if you can just make that call? ‘ said Jack – with a quick wink at George.
‘OK then,’ agreed Ben as he wandered off to the ‘Badger.
© Richard Kefford Eorðdraca
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