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 one, part three.
She had a point, but I wasn’t about to be deterred by legal niceties. “Don’t care,” I said, “We’ll gather enough evidence without that. It will, anyway, tell me a lot about them and their phone – where they are, whose name the account is in and a lot more, provided they don’t use a burner. It’ll give me something to work with.”
“Before we go any further, Rory, can we talk about your writing and your characters?”
“Christopher and Samantha?”
“What about them?”
“How much of what you have them do – not that I’m criticising or anything – but how much of it is researched and how much is made up?”
“You’ve never actually seen me writing, have you?”
Penny relaxed back into the sofa. “No. I’m always at work. You’re ever so good, always here for me when I’m home. You never disappear into the study on me like a lot of men do.”
I matched my wife’s relaxed pose, crossing my legs for added nonchalance. “There’s a reason for that. I like being with you. Writing is a selfish business; it takes me over and I can’t give any attention to anything else. That’s why I’d rather do it when you’re not here. Can you understand that?”
“Of course. And I appreciate it, but that doesn’t answer my question.”
“Okay. If I spend eight hours in the study, usually only about one hour is actually writing.”
“So what do you do for the other seven?”
“Probably two hours of specific research, maybe a couple closed-eye thinking and the rest background reading.”
“Isn’t that what you do in the evening while I’m marking papers and doing lesson prep?”
“No, that’s general reading, which you told me I should use to explore other authors’ methods and use of language. Background reading is linked to research but is non-specific. For instance, if I’m setting a scene in, say, Bradford, I read everything I can about that city so I can be more realistic.”
“And how does that differ from what you called specific research?”
“Okay, here’s an example. I’m setting a scene in a dentist’s surgery in Bradford. The people in the waiting room, even the dentist and his staff, will be talking about Bradford things. Background reading will let me make their conversation authentic and accurate.” I uncrossed my legs and leaned forward. “However, when the dentist is talking to her assistant or to her patient about the procedures she’s doing, she bases what she says on years of study and practice. It’s technical and uses specific, focused language. Research lets me write authentic and accurate technical stuff. See the difference?”
“So you’re saying that the peripheral stuff is constructed using background reading and the specifics of what Christopher and Samantha do as sleuths are made authentic through research.”
She raised her eyes slightly and peered over her glasses. “Detailed, specific research?”
Leaning back again, she said, “Good enough for me. What do you want me to do next?”
“Let the alarm guys in, I think it’s them I’ve just heard come up the drive.”
We walked around the house to the front and met Priya from the alarm suppliers. She had a couple of guys in tow: a locksmith called Errol and handyman Rob, who could do a solid repair to the damaged door and frame as well as replacing the damaged control panel ready for Priya to configure. I watched while Priya carefully removed the damaged control panel – wearing the disposable latex gloves I gave her, of course – and dropped it into a lockable freezer bag. We then left Errol and Rob to do their work, while we walked carefully around the house with Priya and took her ideas on improvements to the security system. We accepted her proposals and quote, although she couldn’t programme the work in for a couple of weeks. That suited me. It meant we could leave everything untouched for a while longer. Priya and the guys did an excellent job and, an hour later, we were as secure as we had been before the break-in. It being a little before seven in the evening, Penny and I took the crew for a thank-you drink at the local hotel. I left them briefly with my wife, whilst I went through to reception and checked into one of their few available rooms for three nights with the option to extend to up to seven.
We eventually said our goodbyes to Priya and the lads, thanking them for their work, for coming out promptly and for not relieving us of too much of our money for the privilege. Penny and I went to our room, where our ICE bags, the constantly refreshed suitcases with enough of everything we need for an unplanned seven-days’ absence had already been carried up by the hotel staff.
I sat in one of the easy chairs, opposite Penny in the other, leaned back, sighed and said, “Okay, Mrs Rogerson, let’s think about our next move.”