Rory Rogerson is 67; an overweight, unfit, retired ‘protection officer’ (that’s PC for hired muscle). He is also a prolific and, by his own reckoning, successful author of crime fiction.
Penny (60) is his headmistress wife and Charlie Watkiss is the bloke next door.
Together, they make a formidable team!
Rory (ret’d). Chapter four, part two.
Priya came around the following morning and fitted the internal upgrades I’d asked for. These comprised ‘smash’ sensors on every window and movement sensors in every room, upstairs and down. She also installed some sensors in the garage and outhouse. We talked through the placing of additional security lights and CCTV cameras and, after getting the okay from Charlie, I showed Priya what was set up next door. Priya wasn’t familiar with the monitoring system Charlie has and was cock-a-hoop when Charlie suggested that he could upgrade that part of my system at cost and let Priya observe so she’d be able to offer it to other customers.
Chloe came around whilst I was in conversation with Priya and Charlie, so I introduced her. Although only living two doors away, Charlie said he had never seen Trevor or Chloe, let alone met them, but that he would try to be a better neighbour over time. Priya went back to configuring the upgrades and I suggested Chloe, Charlie, Penny and I should chat over a coffee. Chloe looked at me with a quizzical expression but I told her how close Charlie was to this thing and how he could be a great help as we move forward with it.
Chloe explained that she had visited her sister, prepared her and showed her the doorbell footage. Naturally enough, Merry was distraught. Chloe explained to her that there was no police involvement yet and that, if she had good co-operation from her and her boys, this could be made to go away without the police ever being involved. Merry, Chloe told us, undertook to have the boys at home the following evening so we could thrash this out.
“I don’t think we should meet at their home, Chloe,” I said, “I think somewhere neutral, but controlled, would be better.”
“Where do you have in mind?” Penny asked.
“What about your house, Chloe?”
“I’d need to check with Trevor,” Chloe said, “but I don’t expect him to say yes.”
“If I can suggest,” Charlie said, “there’s a side room, usually set aside for small functions or parties, in the Indian restaurant down the road. I’m quite well known there. Shall I see if I can book that room for us?”
“Sounds like a plan,” I said.
“Shall we say eight till ten tomorrow?” I looked at the others. There seemed to be no dissent. I nodded. “Great,” he said, “and, just in case, I’ll have it wired.”
“Is that really necessary?” Chloe asked.
“We don’t know who we’re dealing with yet,” Charlie said, “My experience tells me it’s better to be safe at times like this.” Below my breath, I secretly thanked Charlie for choosing the Masaala Ghar Restaurant – since moving here, it has become not only my favourite restaurant in the area, but also my number one take-away and, as a result, the default that the food delivery app presents when I call it up.