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 eleven, part five.
The meeting went okay and we got through all the business we needed to. I was exhausted by the end of it and excused myself to go to bed. Penny said she’d finish up the paperwork and tidy up before coming to bed. Charlie said he’d stay behind to help. I must have fallen asleep straight away, as the first thing I knew was the next morning when Penny cheerily brought me a cup of coffee in bed.
“You must have come up very quietly last night, I didn’t hear you come in. What time was it?”
“Late,” she said.
“Poor you. You must be exhausted now – getting up early, too.”
“No, I’m fine. I have a lot to do today, so I might leave early.”
“Okay. I’ll probably lie in for a bit. See you this evening.”
Penny gave me a brief kiss and left. When I awoke again, my coffee was cold so I must have slept for a while. I called Charlie but got no reply so decided to stay indoors and work on my current novel. It was quite heavy going as the action was so parallel to what was happening in real life and I had no idea how that would play out. I wondered for a moment whether I should have written the outcome I’d most liked to have seen and hoped that life would continue to imitate art.
Charlie came around just before lunch.
“You look like hell, mate,” I said on seeing his appearance, “if I didn’t know different I’d have said that you hadn’t slept for a week.”
“Have to admit I feel like it, too. Must have overdone it last night.”
“Why? What were you doing?”
He fidgeted a little. “Nothing much really, just reading up on various things. Didn’t get to bed until nearly four o’clock. How was Penny this morning?”
“Fine, why do you ask?”
“She seemed a bit tired when I left is all.”
“When did you leave?”
“Not long after you went to bed. Anyway, why all the questions all of a sudden?”
“No reason, just interested. So – where do we go from here?”
“My contact in the police says he has written to the authority recommending they fast-track us for licensing on the basis of the work I’ve done for them over the years and it seems he knows you, too – read all of your books and loves them. He practically called me an idiot when I told him I hadn’t!”
“Clearly a discerning individual. Do you think it’ll help, putting a word in?”
“Can’t do any harm, can it? He knows how we think and how we operate.”
“Don’t we still need to pass some kind of exam, though? They can’t give an investigator’s license without knowing we can meet the standards the profession dictates.”
Turns out I was right. Happily, it had recently become available on-line, so we could complete it without having to go to some stuffy exam room at a time decided by someone else. The nature of the exam was, of course, mostly multiple-choice, but there was one section where detailed responses were required to ‘what would you do if…’ kind of questions. We both passed the multiple-choice sections but the results of the prose sections would be advised later, after they’d been assessed.
Whilst we were waiting for our certification from the authority, Billy got in touch with us from France to say that he’d received another pick-up order. He forwarded the text to me and told us exactly where the drop-off point was. Charlie and I went to the shop where Billy was to collect the item and stayed with it for some time. People were coming and going in the shop but there was no-one obviously waiting for us to leave. We took the item home, removed the item from its container and took the empty box to the drop-off point. We left it and positioned ourselves close by. After an hour or so, a young woman approached the drop-off point, picked up the box, weighed it in her hands, looked at it and shrugged her shoulders. Moments later, the yellow cabriolet turned up. The young woman threw the box onto the back seat and jumped in beside the driver. The car sped off – but not before we’d taken a note of its registration number. It wasn’t the same number as was on the car last time we saw it.
Back at home, Charlie ran a check on the registration and found it to be from a car that had been scrapped some months earlier. So no help there. He called through to one of his contacts and advised them to keep a look out for a yellow Peugeot cabriolet with a red top – its registration plates could well not belong to that vehicle. Hopefully, that would cause Mr E some inconvenience and, if the empty box didn’t bring him to our door, the police taking an interest in one of the cars he uses should.
A week or so later, the final exam results came in – we both passed. Once all the formalities were completed and we’d been granted our licence, we put a nice shiny plate on the front door. A few days later, a woman called, told us that her principal wanted to see us and gave us directions as to when and where we should meet.
“I’m afraid that’s not how it works,” I said, “If your man wants to see us, he should make an appointment and come to our offices.”
“You clearly don’t know who my principal is,” the woman said.
“Since you haven’t told us his name – no, we don’t. But whoever he is, he should make an appointment and come to our offices.”
“You haven’t heard the last of this.”
“I hope we haven’t. We can’t afford to turn down a potential client.”
“Client? What do you mean? Aren’t you just a retired bouncer?”
“Madam. I am a published author of crime fiction. I am also the Chairman, CEO and Lead Investigator of RRW Investigations Ltd, licenced investigators. Now, who is your principal?”
The phone went dead.
I told Charlie and Penny about this call when they came back from another of their abortive shopping expeditions.
“I don’t know why you put yourselves through all this,” I said, “I mean, you spend hours searching the shops for things you never seem to find – it would be so much easier to just buy what you need on-line and have it delivered.”
“Yes, but you know how I like to touch and feel things,” Penny said, “I’m a very tactile person.”
“I’ll vouch for that,” Charlie added with a sideways glance at my wife.