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 nine, part two.
When Penny finally arrived, she was clearly exhausted. I hadn’t prepared anything for dinner because I expected her back earlier and fresher. She just came in and flopped into her favourite armchair.
“Big day?” I asked.
“Ofsted,” she said, “kept us back for ages, sifting through the minutiae of daily school life, couldn’t be made to be happy about anything or so it seemed and had us go over the same stuff again and again. I’m wrecked.”
“Did they seem happy when they left?”
“It’s impossible to tell. We’re going to be on tenterhooks now until their report comes in, not knowing whether what we’re doing is okay or not. Of course, we believe we are doing a decent job; we’d do things differently if we thought we weren’t, but do they agree? What’s for dinner?”
“Haven’t thought about it,” I said, “shall I call in a takeaway?”
I fired up the food delivery app, made our selections and sent the order. Delivery in one hour, it said. Whilst waiting, I brought Penny up to date with what Charlie and I, or more accurately what Charlie’s software had uncovered. I pulled my laptop over, brought up Google Earth, searched for the coordinates Charlie had given me and pointed to the spot.
“That’s …” she began.
“The very definition of the middle of nowhere,” I continued, “I know. But there’s something there. Something that’s important enough or valuable enough to kill for.”
“Shouldn’t the police deal with that?”
“What, like they should have investigated our break-in, instead of glibly saying they didn’t have the resources?”
“You can’t hold that against them, dear.”
“I can and I intend to carry on doing so. The police can’t be bothered to look into crime, so I guess it’s down to us.”
“You, me and Charlie.”
“Are you seriously asking me to take time off school to go on a wild-goose chase in the middle of the South African desert?”
“Sounds like it, doesn’t it?”
“In that case, let me ask you something.”
“When do we leave?”
“Fabulous,” I said, grabbing her and planting a kiss on her head. “I’ll tell Charlie.”
“Rogerson, Rogerson and – what’s Charlie’s surname?” she shouted after me as I was leaving to go to Charlie’s house.
“No idea. I’ll ask him. Why?”
“Missus wants to know your surname, Charlie,” I said from the bottom of his stairs as I entered his house.
“Why?” he shouted down.
“Maybe she wants to add me to her Christmas card list. Anyway, is she in?”
“Excellent. Let’s start making some plans. I’ll research the geology of the area, customs, politics, tribal no-noes and so on. Will you do the practical stuff?”
“On it already. What is it, anyway?”
“Pleased to meet you, Mr Watkins,” I said with an exaggerated bow.
“Not Watkins, Watkiss. David Aloysius Watkiss, that’s me. Everybody has always called me Charlie, though; ever since I was a lad.” I looked at him quizzically. “No idea why.”
“Something else we have in common then,” I said, descending his stairs and leaving his house with a chuckle.
Back in my own living room, I told Penny.
“Hmm. Rogerson, Rogerson and Watkiss. No. Doesn’t sound right. RRW Investigations. That sounds better.”
“Now who’s getting ahead of themselves?” I asked, walking out to answer the doorbell and hoping it was our dinner arrived. It was. Great, we could eat.
I carried the bags in, cleared the table, put out the cutlery and laid the food out and called through “Come and get it!”
With all the excitement and worry of the past few days, we probably enjoyed that meal better than any we’d had recently.