Vernon’s on an errand for boy wonder.

Section 142 can’t put anything in writing

When Vernon got home it was late in the day; his mind was in turmoil and the restlessness threatened to swamp him, to douse his wanderlust and replace it with a foetid sense of helplessness. This dismay was compounded by the letter on the doormat, formal in appearance and terse in its tone; an appointment with DC Constable; a summons to the Police Station the following day. Things were getting worse. Late though it was Vernon had something urgent to attend to. He had to get word to Jean Luc and it had to be verbal.

He grabbed a couple of biscuits and an apple from the kitchen, and quickly drank a glass of milk. It was a beer he craved; beer and peace and quiet. As he reversed the car out of the drive it occurred to him to wonder, were they watching him, would his emails or phone calls be monitored, would they be following him? With stern words he forced himself to calm down and drove as quickly as he dared to his friend’s place.

Jean Luc was at home, he explained that he had just sat down to some marking and, unsurprisingly, he displayed a mixture of relief and impatience at being interrupted.  His speech was somehow a little frantic, Vernon thought, as if he was building a barricade against the quiet.

“Vernon… Funny time to call. Is everything alright? Did you get your visa as planned; don’t say they also refused British currency? The name Charles doesn’t have the cache it once did.” Jean Luc forced a wan smile.

“Hi Jean Luc. I can see you’re busy I won’t trouble you for long.”

They were still on the doorstep and Vernon was struggling to concentrate. The neighbour’s barking dogs, Jean Luc’s jazz, pulsating out of the living room, his own tumultuous thoughts; it was hard to be coherent.

Vernon agreed with Jean Luc; they were both beginning to think like spooks.

Vernon agreed with Jean Luc; they were both beginning to think like spooks.

“I’ve seen our absent partner but I can’t put in writing anything he said so I’ve called to see you face to face. Can I come in briefly?”

“How cryptic. Yes, yes of course… for a while. Ari’s out.” Nothing new there then, thought Vernon, he was still public enemy number one.

They stepped inside the door but Jean Luc did not take him into the lounge.

“This is becoming something of a merger between a spy movie and a farce Vernon. Don’t you think so?”

Jean Luc’s rhetorical comment set up an awkward, expectant pause, the soundtrack of which was still an unrelenting Jazz crossrhythm.

Vernon found his worried heart was pounding in time to the syncopated beat coming from the lounge.

Vernon found his worried heart was pounding in time to the syncopated beat coming from the lounge.

To prevent Jean Luc filling the airwaves with his nervous clamour Vernon hitched up his fraying thoughts and told Jean Luc the little he knew and the little he surmised.

“I met him in Hull. He’d travelled in by plane. Iberia I reckon if you know what I mean. He said he loves you, both. He told me he’s taking care and the role model for his modus operandi is Robin Hood. Did you – did you catch all that?”

Jean Luc looked at Vernon bleakly, like a starving dog glad of any scraps thrown his way all of which were swiftly consumed.

“Did he look well? He’s a cocky boy but he overestimates his abilities sometimes. Do you think he’s safe?”

“For now Jean Luc …He plans to behave in such a manner that Mudrock will want to employ him when this is all done. Beats me how he’ll manage that. He insists he’s covering his tracks. His final comment was ironic I think. He says he’s always wanted to be a super hero or a mathematical genius and now he’s both.”

Jean Luc let out the breath he’d been holding in with a sigh.

“Thank you Vernon. Let’s hope he’s right. And you? Are your contingency plans working out?”

“I got permission to enter Thailand with smiling Thai-Canadian efficiency but I won’t know till tomorrow perhaps whether I have permission to leave the country.”

Jean Luc looked puzzled now rather than weary. “Why?”

“I’ve got an appointment at the Police Station at DC Constable’s convenience. Who knows how that will go.”

Jean Luc made a face indicating fellowship in suffering; “You know what boy wonder would say to that, only, I mean it sincerely, ‘soz’.”

Check out the rest of the story on The Novel page.

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