What we are going to do, is you are going to telephone the BBC. Then we are all going to head to the BBC studios and get you onto the television.
You’re going to be a celebrity, Marmon.”
“I’m already a celebrity,” he reminded me.
“Yeah. I know. But this time you are going to be a celebrity for the Good Guys.”
Ch 59 – Get it off your chest.
“Let’s go.” I told them again. Neither of them moved. We were stood in the landing outside of Lady Vanessa’s bedroom. Me. Her. Bixby. Sir Alan was here too. Though he didn’t know it. On account of my having punched his clock for him. He was still unconscious. Slumped by the wall.
“I said, let’s go!” I said again. This time more loudly. Still no reaction. “Pretty please?” I tried.
I was beginning to wish I hadn’t attempted to win them over. Had just been able to keep the pistol on them all, and force them to obey. As Al Capone said, ‘You can get a lot further with a kind word and a gun, than you can with just a kind word.’
“I’m not going to the BBC dressed like this!” Vanessa said crossly. Throwing her arms the length of her designer dress. Intimating that she thought she were clad in sackcloth. Rather than the finest silks. “Nor is Marmon!” she added. “He can’t go onto Newsnight in gym clothes. He’d look like the ghost of Jimmy Saville. I need to get him changed into some decent clothes.”
“What? What do you mean, changed? Are you both mad? The police will be back here any minute! We need to go. Right now!”
She turned on me once again. I’d realised by now that her anger came in waves. Huge crests of fury. Deep troughs of placid calm. The way she had pressed her lips together as she stepped towards me, made me think this wave of rage was going to be the sort of ferocious savagery that a surfer could ride.
“Just shut up! Just.. you..all.. SHUT UP! Stop ordering me about!” She even stamped her little foot as she bawled at me.
“I’ve had it. With all of you. All of you..pigs! Ordering me about, all day and night.
Do this. Say that! Don’t move! Get rid of the police… ‘I’ll shoot you if you don’t bring me a beer!’ You bastards! I’ve had it with the whole bloody lot of you!”
“Vanessa! Stop shouting!” I tried to sound dominating. Failed.
“I’m not shouting!” She shouted. Turned away. Took a step. Then came back. The colour rising along her neck. Up into her cheeks.
“I’m sick of all of you. Especially you!” And she whacked a tiny fist into my chest.
She let out a half sob. Then continued her despairing rant. “I’ve been on the move all day and all night. I’ve dealt with Sir Alan. Attended Marmon. Met with the Law Court. The foreign media. Made statements to The Guardian and Sky. And even dealt with ..Joe!..Sodding!..Malone!” She whacked my chest again with her diminutive open hand. Not quite as much force in the blow this time. She glared up at me. Still burning with pent up rage.
“I made the police leave. Like I said I would! So..you listen to me for a minute! I’ve done my part. For you! So I’m not going anywhere. Not until I have had a hot bath.
Washed my hair. Put on fresh clothes. Done my make-up! No-one! Nobody! Is going anywhere! Until I am ready!”
She strode the few steps to her bedroom. Put a hand on the door frame then turned to speak to her husband. Her usual cool manner struggling to find her among this angry surf of her fears and frustrations.
“Marmon!” She commanded. Managing to reduce the volume of her bark. “Get out of those silly clothes. Put on your Boss suit. And a white shirt. Find your blue and cream, herringbone, club tie. Have a shave. And brush your hair.” She swiftly disappeared inside her bedroom.
“Vanessa..” I started to call after her .. “There isn’t..”
She instantly reappeared. Still fuming. “And as for you!” She almost spat the words.
“You smell like you’ve been in a recycling, food waste bag, for a week. You smell bad! Go with Marmon. He might have something you can wear. He used to be bulkier a few years ago. He still has all his old clothes. Never throws anything out if can help it.” She calmed even as she vented her worry. Just looking at her husband soothed her. Brought a lover’s look to her eyes. Though not really a lovers gaze. More a maternal thoughtfulness.
“Its the self made man’s curse,” she continued. “Always concerned. Even expecting.
That one day, every single thing you have worked for, all your life. It will all be gone.
Then back to the gutter you go.” She came forward a step. Put her hands on her hips and glared at us both. “Well, boys. That terrible day is today! So best make sure to have a shower. Have one yourself, Joe. It could be the last one any of us have alone, for a while. Without a gang of inmates in with us.” She turned smartly, and vanished inside her dark bedroom.
I looked over at Bixby. He looked back at me. I said to him, “She’s blaming me. But this is fuck all to do with me! This is your sodding scheme. I’m just a bystander.”
Bixby let out a little laugh. I suppose I had sounded more perplexed than annoyed by her outburst at me. “Oh, I know, old chap. I know. Really I do. But you know how they are. Life changing events for women are best managed by choices. New home, new colours. New job, new hair colour. New lover, new lingerie. Isn’t that so?
Choices made. Actions taken. Its processing. Stress relief, isn’t it?
She just wants to feel a little revitalised. Wants to achieve just a token success. Then she’ll feel better able to take on the other, much harder, stuff, eh? Wash and brush up!
She’ll be right as rain after a quick soak in the bubbles.”
I studied Lord Bixby for a second. This was quite a profound thought he was having.
Even if it was entry level psychobollox. Whatever medicine she had given him, seemed to be working. He’d been about ready for the rubber gavel room, an hour or two ago.
What had he said when she had come back into the house from the Police car?
“I’m feeling much better. I’ve had the Khloroquine tablets. I’m much better now.” I wonder if he had any spare. I could use some myself. My shot arm was so stiff through the wrist I could only make a claw of the hand.
Lord Bixby finished his thesis. “Its just the stress making her like this. So terribly agitated. “He spoke for us all as he said. “She’s frightened, Malone. Frightened for me. For her. For everything we’ve ever believed in. All we’ve ever worked for. Even the tamest animals bite when they are cornered. And this is the very last corner of the trap. She has a lot to lose. We all do.
But think about it! It won’t take long. Quick bath. She won’t have a shower. Hates them. Likes the perfumes, see.
And five minutes won’t make any difference, will it? We can get to the BBC in forty minutes from here. And we will be going on the Vid’Screen. If we turn up looking like Jeremy Corbyn’s rambling association, they’ll whip us straight down to wardrobe and make-up, anyway. We won’t have saved any time. None at all.”
“I suppose, “I said. Preparing to concede.
“There’s another thing too..If you don’t mind my saying so. You stink, Malone.”
The battle in the basement. The stench of the illegal immigrant truck. The clothes taken from a charity box. Running and running all day and night. Blood and sweat on them. Seeped in.
They were both right. Five minutes, or even Thirty minutes wouldn’t make much difference. As long as Bixby made the call now. Then the BBC would be alerted.
That Bixby was rumoured to be alive would be known throughout all of News land in a matter of hours. Twitter and social media would have it long before then. That would afford a little protection. Plus, giving the BBC a heads-up wouldn’t hurt. They responded to an unwelcome crisis even more slower than the EU did. Which was unsurprising as the BBC’s bureaucracy was even more of a labyrinth than Brussels.
The Assistant Department Heads would be crapping themselves once they realised the potential, political, fallout from this story. There would be arse covering on a European wide scale before any decision to air would be taken.
So it really wouldn’t do any harm to give the BBC a little time to wake up those who needed to be informed to authorise such things. And I really was very hungry.
From the corner of my eye I saw Vanessa’s en-suite bathroom light come on. It illuminated her bedroom too. I saw a hint of Vanessa’s lingerie clad, nubile form as she sat at her dressing table. Pinning up her Swedish blonde hair. Before she quickly stood up and strode into her bathroom. I heard the sound of the water start running as she commanded the taps to turn on.
Lord Bixby spoke to me once more. “She’ll be fine once she’s had something to eat. Some decent grub. And a quick soak. She’ll be straight back to her usual self. All sweetness and light again. Just a little bit of the essential oils. And she’ll be her usual, reasonable, placid self again.”
There was suddenly a loud command from her bathroom.
“And Malone! Bring me a glass of bloody champagne! Chilled. Right now!”
She slammed the bathroom door.
I looked at Lord Bixby. He scratched his chin, and added, “… And some alcohol. Yes.
She could do with that. Probably that, most of all. Large flute of bubbly. Right as rain after that, I expect. And she’s had a smoke. At least, possibly, any ways.”
He turned away to look down at the still slumped Sir Alan. “What shall we do with him? Put him to bed?”
“Leave him to me. You wait here a minute, Lord Bixby.” I went into Vanessa’s bedroom. Her navy blue party dress was on the floor. I picked it up and felt the material and decided it was too thin to be used to tie Sir Alan with.
Shame. As I wanted an excuse to ruin it. Tear the beautiful blue dress into thin strips and claim I’d needed it to secure her former partner in murder. Petty spite for all her recent, yelling at me. Not that she would much care. She would have dozens of designer dresses. In all colours and fabrics. But I still wanted some minor vengeance.
None of this was my fault. All of this was hers. But she now expected me to fix her a sodding drink!
Which made me realise she had been right. I was emotional. Not something I usual suffered from. But I was. My anger was clouding my thoughts.
Flittock wouldn’t be returning within the next ninety minutes. I could have a shower.
I had time. Teeth clean. Shave. Fresh clothes. Thirty minutes was all it would take.
Sixty minutes if we ate.
We were heading for a resolution now. One way or another. And the stress was taking its toll on all of us.
Except for Lord Bixby. Who seemed to be improving from his Alzheimer behaviour of a short while ago.
I laid her dress on her bed. Sat down beside it. Rested for a second. I laid back on my elbows. As I had done yesterday when she had invited me here. When she put her hand on my chest, and her lips to mine. What a day it had been. I looked around the room again. Searching from some thing to tie up Sir Alan. I saw what I wanted by the dresser.
I went to the window and found the tie back cord from the curtains. It was a good strong rope. I took it.
Some of the drawers in her dressing table was open. The bottom one held gold cans.
Loads of them. Some lacquer, I guess. The one up had a photo frame, face down in it.
From habit I picked it out and turned it over. It was a shot of Vanessa.
She was wearing a tight, black catsuit. Standing with her back arched. Posed in front of what appeared to be a New York skyline. One hand piling her hair at the back of her head. Lips parted. Teeth smiling. She was a very captivating and beautiful woman.
“Bitch be crazy,” I murmured to myself. I put the picture back into the drawer and went back to find Bixby.
I used the cord to tie Sir Alan Stuart’s huge hands together behind his back. I debated tying his feet. But decided it would be easier if he walked rather have to carry him.
He was a big man. Bixby was watching me the whole time.
When Bixby saw I was happy that Sir Alan was securely tied he said,
“Champagne is in the chiller in kitchen. Huge great thing. Can’t miss it. She likes Cristal. Glasses are on the shelf in the same chiller. Little trick I learned. Keeps the glasses as cool as the wines.”
“Good tip,” I remarked. “I’ll remember that for when I next have the French Ambassador over. I’ll make myself a note..‘Put mugs in ice-box.’ He didn’t notice any sarcasm.
“There’s a shower and bathroom upstairs,” he informed me. “Towels and everything in there. Through the games room. Take anything that will fit from my dressing room. Pants socks..all in the drawers. Suits in the wardrobe. Ties…Well..I’m sure you’ll find what you need…Well..See you in a minute.” He was about to go to his own bathroom.
“Lord Bixby. Before you get changed, I want you to make a telephone call. Tell me, do you know anyone at New BBC Centre, at Ealing?”
He gave it some thought. Then nodded happily and said, “I know the producer of Newsnight. Personal friend. She’s a former Labour MP.”
“Perfect,” I told him happily. “Here’s what I’d like you to tell them.”