Here is the fourteenth part of my Mervyn Stone novel, painstakingly tweeted for ‘da kids’ on ‘da internet’.
This is the bit when Mervyn fights back. I think everyone enjoys those moments. I certainly do. It’s always nice when re-active, passive characters start to come out on top. My favourite episode of ‘Yes Prime Minister’ is ‘The Key’, and my favourite ‘Prisoner’ is ‘Hammer into Anvil’ precisely because of that. It’s cheap and it’s facile but it’s enormously satisfying.
I like Mervyn running too. It’s a way of showing how serious things have got. It’s amazing how you can generate tension in a novel, just by having a slightly overweight man break into a gallop.
The Act III convention mentioned at the end is, of course, real. I was scheduled to go there myself to sign autographs and do some panels, and I thought it fun that Mervyn accompany me for the climax. I had a scheme that was so crazy that it might just work, and in the end proved not crazy enough, so it fell flat on its arse.
That was four days ago, and this is now.
I’ve rung the shop. Nothing. Just casual staff who promise to pass on my message. But no-one calls back.
So I’m here.
I’m standing in ‘Buy the Gods!’. Where it all started.
I don’t know what I’m going to do. I was half hoping the shop would be closed. No such luck. It’s quite busy.
I’m looking around at the shop, all blissfully unaffected by the events that started to unfold on April the first.
Apart from a Gary-shaped space where he used to glower by the door, all is much the same.
It’s depressing to be back here, because it brings it home to me, how little progress I’ve made.
I’m no nearer to finding out who the murderer is. Oh sure, there are lots of people who could have done one murder…but who would want to kill all three?
The only reason why Gary, or Stacey, or Mary, or Gus, or even Jennifer might want to kill three cult shop owners was to confuse as to the reason for Alistair’s murder.
Like the tweets on my phone, to make it look like a nutty collector getting revenge for the owners not handing over his desired knick-knacks.
But if that was the case, why did the killer not take the knick-knacks? The Perspex brick? The phone cord? The sword?
That would have made it look much more convincing. It just doesn’t make sense.
So it’s either a series of murders with no motive, or a series of robberies with nothing taken.
Mary is by the till. She’s noticed me. She’s coming over.
‘I’m glad to see you’re up and recovering. Has Gary’s information helped you find my husband’s killer?’ she asks, straight to the point.
I smile unconvincingly. ‘It’s in hand. I’m working on several leads as we speak.’
‘So is that why you’re here?’ She unlocks a glass cabinet by the wall, stuffed with near-naked plastic figures fighting each other.
‘Not exactly. It’s about Jennifer’s autograph. Or as the police would call it: exhibit A.’
‘What about it?’ she says.
‘I wonder if there was any chance of you getting it back? I’d quite like to buy it.’
She laughs. ‘Not a chance.’
‘Why not?’ I ask. ‘I’m sure it was only Alistair’s pride and joy. What do you care about it?’
‘You’re right,’ she shrugs. ‘I think it’s a hideous thing. Pointless and obscure. At least Buffy signatures are on photos of pretty people.’
‘So you’re just being perverse,’ I say, my temper flaring. ‘You’re just going to stick it in a box and forget about it.’
‘Is that what you think?’
She snorts with derisive laughter and disappears into a back room. ‘The police have finished with it, actually.’
Sure enough, she’s holding the Perspex brick.
There’s still blood on it.
I struggle to say something, but she’s not really paying me much attention. She puts it in the cabinet, alongside a plaque.
It says. ‘THIS AUTOGRAPH CRUELLY TOOK BELOVED HUSBAND AND FATHER ALISTAIR GUFFIN FROM US. 1.4.11. BIG AL. ONCE MURDERED, NEVER FORGOTTEN.’
A couple of the people in the shop were already gravitating to the cabinet, gawking at the contents.
‘Do you like the blood?’ she says casually. ‘I think it adds a touch of drama.’
I stare dumbly at her.
‘This is going to be a huge draw,’ she smiles. ‘With this and the money for your boots, we’ll probably be able to open a chain of shops’
‘This time next year we could be bigger than @ForbiddenPlanet .’
I’m wandering into the back of the shop now. I don’t quite know what to think.
Perhaps this was the plan all along? I wonder if there are special places reserved in Craig and Dexter’s shops?
Gruesome exhibits to draw the punters?
But who would contemplate such a ghastly plan? Mary? Why would she help the other shops? Would Stacey even care? The whole thing’s bonkers.
I’m wandering back to the murder weapon now.
The crowds have subsided a little. I stare at it long and hard. As if trying to unlock its secrets with the power of thought.
There was a lunatic who had my phone. A lunatic demanding Alistair sell the autograph.
Just like Gus.
But Gus didn’t take it – something in his twisted mind prevented him. Why didn’t the murderer take it either?
Why didn’t he or she take ANYTHING?
Or is that what we’re supposed to think?
Someone wants to look at the little semi-naked figures in the cabinet. A member of staff is unlocking it so the punter can cop a feel.
Now the punter wants to buy one of the figures.
Okay. That wasn’t very clever.
I’m running now.
Guess what I did?
The member of staff walked away with the punter to the till.
Leaving the keys to the cabinet hanging in the lock.
And I reached in and took the Perspex brick. I’ve stolen it, and I’m running.
Because I’ve worked it out. I know your game whoever-you-are.
And now you’re going to have to take it off me.
Come on out. Don’t be shy.
U shit. U fat shit. U r so dead mervyn. U r so going to die
There you are. I didn’t think it was that hard to work out my twitter password was ‘vixens’.
Don’t follow me home Mr Murderer. I’m not going home. I’m going to find a hotel.
And then I’m going to the Act III convention tomorrow, as planned. I’ve been booked. And while I’m there I’m going to sign autographs…
Talk about old TV shows…
…and expose you to the world.
Because I think you’ve made a mistake. And if you’ve been reading all my tweets, you KNOW you’ve made a mistake.
So see you tomorrow! Unless you’re too scared to show up, of course…
Ta ta for now! Or should I say ‘Ta ta 4 now’? Best wishes, Mervyn.