Find enclosed part eleven of my Mervyn Stone novel ‘The Pen is Mightier than the Nerd’, a book written a tweet at a time, specially tailored for the twitterverse.
As you’ll see I’m incorporating the idea that everyone in the story would have also been able to read Mervyn’s tweets; the killer, the suspects, potential victims, etc, and using it to create plot points. The fact that twitter is a public way of communicating is a pretty obvious assumption you might say, but not one that occurred to me when I started tweeting.
I suppose I was still setting the goalposts as to how realistic the story would be and my conscience wouldn’t allow me to wave my fingers and go ‘oh, let’s just say nobody’s reading Mervyn’s tweets’. I reluctantly conceded that would be a bit of a push.
As I reprint this book here, It’s constantly amazing me how little of this story has sunk into my memory; the hysterical method of tweeting a book seems to prevent my brain retaining most of it. As I re-read this section, I had absolutely NO IDEA why Gus wanted Mervyn’s boots, and Jennifer’s McLaird’s dark secret. I read on out of interest, just to find that out…
My next visitor is Stacey. She sits down by my bed gracelessly.
The clatter from her bracelets alone is enough to win a nasty look from bag-of-bones.
‘Sorry,’ she says. She doesn’t follow it up with anything, so I guess that’s pretty much all she wanted to say.
I counter-apologise like a good Englishman. ‘That’s alright. I’m sorry Gary caused you so much trouble.’
‘I’ve had it with him,’ she fumed. ‘I’ve told the police everything I know about him. I hope they lock him up and throw away the key.’
‘Do you have any idea where he is?’ I ask.
She throws her hands in the air, eliciting a further clatter from the bracelets. ‘God knows. Not a clue.’
‘What about your mum?’ I say innocently. ‘Does she have any idea?’
She gives me a look, like she’s taking me seriously for the first time during the whole sorry episode.
‘Why should she? And I’ve read your tweets by the way, and you’re full of shit. He did not fancy my mum.’
I shrug. Which hurts like buggery.
‘It’s bollocks,’ she adds for extra emphasis.
There’s really nothing more to say, so I close my eyes and wait for her to leave.
I open them and she’s still there.
Only I realise that it’s not Stacey. It’s Mary. I’ve been asleep for hours.
‘Are you still tweeting?’ Mary asks. ‘I mean, will our conversation end up in likely chunks on everybody’s laptop?’
‘Probably. I guess so,’ I start to shrug again, but remember the pain. ‘The police want me to continue, to see if the killer reacts.’
‘Good,’ she says fiercely. ‘Then write this down.’
‘Gary came to me right after he stabbed you. He told me he knew why Alistair drugged you.’
‘He bugged the phone in our home. You were right. He told me he was crazy about me. Got a huge kick out of listening to my voice, and me not knowing nothing about it.’
‘He heard a phone call he shouldn’t have. About you.’
‘That weird looking guy with the beard – Jennifer McLaird’s nephew – had been visiting the shop for weeks, wanting to buy your boots. God knows why. But he’d finally made an offer Alistair couldn’t refuse. Silly, silly money.
The shop is always hanging by its fingernails onto solvency, and the money meant he wouldn’t have to worry for a whole year. Imagine how pissed off he was when you asked for them back.’
‘Alistair was stuck. He couldn’t risk you making a fuss, and things going all litigious, but he couldn’t say no to this cash.’
‘So he made a deal…’
‘He made a deal with someone to make a copy of your boots. He found someone who would forge stuff.’
‘He thought he could give you your boots back, and sell Gus the fake ones. He’d get his money, and everyone would get their boots.’
‘Everyone would be happy.’
I sank deeper into my pillow. It did cross my mind that Gary found out a hell of a lot from eavesdropping on a couple of phone calls.
But I didn’t press the matter. Perhaps Gary’s eavesdropping was more than mere lovesick tomfoolery.
But that wasn’t important right now. What was obvious was that something had gone badly wrong with Alistair’s plan – and I had got caught right in the middle of it.
She was looking at me expectantly, with her black rimmed eyes and round face, she looked like a lovesick panda.
She was waiting for me to do some detective work; to sort this mess out. I had nothing to offer her.
At last I said: ‘You said Gary knew why I was drugged…’
‘Oh yeah,’ she said. ‘The last thing he heard was Alistair on the phone panicking, because you were coming over and the fake boots weren’t ready. This forger still had the originals, and he was still ‘roughing up’ the copies to match them up.’
That made sense to me; it explained why the soles were scuffed wrongly.
She continued. ‘Alistair panicked, rang his forger, and the forger rushed both sets of boots over to the house.’
‘In the meantime, Alistair said he would ‘stall’ you somehow…’
I knew what THAT meant. I could still feel the ache in my head. But that was due to confusion rather than the trace of drugs in my system.
She asked me if I could make any sense of it all but I said I was as confused as the man in the next bed; the one who likes wearing his hospital dinners(the sanest one here, in my opinion).
She looked disappointed, and left. I watched her go. I waited until she was completely out of sight, and then I hauled myself out of bed.
I don’t know what exactly happened while I was unconscious in Alistair’s flat…
… But at least I knew there was one other person who had reason to be there that night.
That’s why I’m standing outside a rather dilapidated house in Chiswick, holding my ribs and whistling through the pain.
I’m not going in to see him.
Because I’ve already been in there. I’ve talked to him.
And I know Jennifer McLaird’s dark secret.
I feel so utterly violated and betrayed. But I have to continue, otherwise, none of this stuff will mean anything to anybody.
And this sadness is just a worthless hobby.
I’ll tell you later, but first to bed…