The Pen is Mightier than the Nerd (part ten)

Find enclosed part ten of my twitter novel, ‘The Pen is Mightier than the Nerd’.

This part is a bit of a game-changer.  I had enjoyed all the ‘investigating in real time’ stuff, but now I was reaching around for ways to make things less repetitive.  I was, dare I say it, a bit bored with the daily grind.  Imagine my excitement when I realised that there was a second way in which twitter could make the story unique.

I also realised something obvious.  If anyone could follow Mervyn’s twitter feed, then why couldn’t the murderer?

The ‘neutron rapier’ comes from the brain of Alex Mallinson, the genius who designed Mervyn’s book covers.  He added ‘Contains Neutron Rapier!’ on the edge of some action figure packaging, and I was very amused by the brain picture it conjured up.  I don’t know how it uses neutrons to stab people, but it sounds fantastic.

PART TEN

It’s a long train ride home. I treat myself to a cab for the last few miles.

There’s something wrong.

My door is wide open.

Come on! The cabbie is taking an age to give me my change.

They always do that, fumbling about, waiting for the harassed passenger to say ‘keep it’.

But I’m not giving him the satisfaction. Even though my bloody door is WIDE open!

I hang back. I’m not getting smashed over the head with one of my sci-fi awards. Even the rubber ones can kill.

There’s someone in the doorway.

They’re coming out.

It’s the police!

Clive the evidence man is taking out great big crates of my stuff, all packed in little plastic bags.

D.I. Wells is coming out too, talking on his phone.

I can’t decide whether to run away or offer to help.

I think I should g

———————————————————————————————–
Hello.

Sorry about that. Dropped my phone.

Back home now putting my feet up.

BTW quick confession 2 make in case u haven’t worked it out…

I killed Alistair and Craig it was me all along.

I mervyn stone killed them

Ha!

I’m not mervyn stone

But I did kill Craig and Alistair

Note to everyone over 40 out there

1234 is not the most secure phone pass number

I like mervyn but he is such an asshole

Did he really think that he can twitter away and nobody notice?

Did he think that Gary wasn’t on twitter? Did he think the police wasn’t on twitter?

Did he think that I wasn’t on twitter?

I saw mervyn hiding by that wall watching his house

I also saw Gary behind mervyn waiting

He’d been there for a day just waiting for mervyn 2 come home

He was very pissed of cos his girlfriend spent the night with mervyn

I know cos I’m on twitter

Luckily 4 mervyn the police want mervyn 2

And they want him more

They r waiting 2 and they grab him b4 gary stabs merv with a nasty big knife

I think it’s a Klingon knife

4 honour killings and stuff like that

I see mervyn drop his phone in the struggle

He’s holding it when he’s grabbed by gary

They both get pounced on by the police and shoved into a couple of cars

And I pick it up

I’m good at picking up stuff

I think mervyn is going to be out of action for a long while

So your going 2 have 2 listen to me for a while

Ha ha!

Today I’m going to find Dermot

No one says no to me

 

@mikegbell: @mervynstone if you really are reading Merv’s tweets then you’ll know Dermot wont be an easy man to find

 

@mikegbell u don’t know me very well

 

It should be easy to find him

Cos I’ve got mervyn’s phone

Dermot ain’t on twitter – I’ve checked

So this is just our little secret!

Don’t tell him I’m after him – he hates spoilers

 

———————————————————————————————–

 

Yesterday morning I text dermot on Mervyns phone

Simple message

Solved the case. Murderer is being picked up by police. Panic over. Where r u? Mervyn

The answer comes back the second I press send

THANK GOD! At my brothers in Weybridge. Well done Merv! D

Weybridge? Pillock hasn’t run very far

I google – find out dermots brothers name 

How funny – he owns an antique shop in Weybridge. Birds of a feather…

It’s just a short train ride to Weybridge. I got there – and it was still only lunchtime

There was his brothers shop. But where was dermot?

Then I see him. He’s walking along the high street with his bags. I wonder how I can get him where I want him.

He walks into the car park. Unlocks his car. Puts his bags inside. Locks car.

Then I realise. So simple. I sit in the library – read a book. Wait until dark.

 

———————————————————————————————–

 

The waiting is over.

I ring dermot. I use Mervyns mobile.

He answers. He says – mervyn? Obv he’s seen the name come up on the screen.

No. It’s me. Remember me dermot? You wouldn’t sell me your neutron rapier? No one says no to me…

I know where you are and I’m coming to collect. Expect me in weybridge in half an hour

Of course five minutes later he’s out. He’s rushing for his car.

And that’s where I’m waiting. I press the chloroform to his face, fold him up and put him in the back of his own car

I treat myself to a swig of the coffee I bought in the cafe. I’ve put it in a flask.

We’ve got a bit of a drive ahead of us, and I don’t want us to die in a car crash. That would be embarrassing!

 

———————————————————————————————–

 

We r back in dermots shop. Just me and him. He’s all trussed up in a chair and ready 2 die.

But I can’t resist. I have to wake him up, just soes he can see me.

I find a watercooler. Fill a cup. Chuck water in his face

He finally wakes up and sees me. He is astonished. His nostrils flare and his eyes widen as he recognises me

It’s you! he tries to say through the gag. But I don’t give him any more time.

I push the rapier deep into his chest. He gargles as his lungs fill up with blood. And he dies.

And then I leave

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The Pen is Mightier than the Nerd (part nine)

Herein enclosed the ninth bit of ‘The Pen is Mightier than the Sword’.

It really is fascinating, throwing these chunks into my blog, because it’s been two years since I did this experiment, and it was such an hysterical blur, no drafts or rewriting, it’s really not stayed in the memory like books and plays I wrote in the normal way.

The practical upshot is, I genuinely don’t remember what some of the little details mean.  Does the fact that the ‘Retropolitan’ convention is called the same name as a comic shop mentioned earlier in the story mean anything?  Or did I just forget I’d used the name and used it twice?  I’m utterly on tenterhooks here.

PART NINE

So that was what happened on Friday.

‘So how was your weekend, Mervyn?’ I hear you ask.

Well I’m just coming to that.

I’d love to tell you I immediately used my considerable detecting powers to find Dermot.

I’d love to tell you I immediately starting scraping bits off the fake Chelsea boots to find out where they came from.

I’d love to tell you I spent the whole of Saturday solving two grisly murders…

But, to turn a well-known phrase inside-out, ‘man cannot live on the dead alone’.

I had a prior engagement in Middlesex. A little convention called ‘Retropolitan 2011’, and I couldn’t afford to say no to the cash.

That’s why I’m sitting in a hotel room, typing this and listening to the music of the motorway, as it sings to me outside my window.

I got up early to type this, because I don’t want to wake the woman in my bed.

But I can see she’s awake. Stacey has her eyes open and she’s staring at me.

I wonder if Gary is still roaming the corridors looking for her, or he’s gone back to his room to sleep on his tyre-on-a-rope.

I think the next murder I have to investigate will be my own.

I’ve gone into the bathroom, and I’m typing this on my phone. I’m hoping she’ll go back to sleep.

Actually, I’m sort of hoping she’ll contract a sudden burst of amnesia which scrubs the last six hours from her memory…

But I think sleep is the best I can hope for.

I’m going to creep out now, and hide in the breakfast lounge.

I have a breakfast appointment with Jennifer McLaird at nine, so I might as well wait there and read the papers.

———————————————————————————————–

Here she comes, right on time.

But as usual, she’s been waylaid by fans. She’s going to have to spend at least five minutes being adorable for them.

Behind her shoulder is a sullen-looking young man in a too-tight cheap suit and a tartan tie.

He has a drooping ginger beard that makes him look like he’s being savaged by a tribble.

After the fan’s tummies have been well and truly tickled, she bustles towards me with a cheery wave, and we sit down to a traditional British hotel breakfast of reheated porridge, cold eggs and congealed sausage.

‘It’s lovely to see you again, Mervyn,’ she clucks. ‘So soon after our little signing. It’s so nice to keep bumping into old friends.’

The man has eaten a microwaved croissant, and taken his leave after barely saying a word.

Jennifer has introduced him as ‘Gus’, her nephew/manager.

I’ve waited until he leaves before I bring the subject round to Alistair; thankfully Gus seemed extremely keen to get away.

‘Yes, I enjoyed that signing. I always thought Alistair was a very nice man,’ I lie. ‘By the way, did you hear about Alistair?’

‘Och yes, I did indeed’ she says, assuming a serious expression that looks odd on her face. ‘So shocking.’

‘Tae think that someone could do such a thing tae puir Alistair. A family man who wouldna hurt a soul.’

She shakes her head, as if to erase the dark thoughts from her head like an ‘etch-a-sketch’.

I’m certain she’s already refilling her mind with images of kittens, shortbread and china pots of tea.

‘Did you know him well?’ I press on, peppering my conversation with little white lies. ‘He talked about you all the time, after you left.’

‘He brought out an autograph in a piece of Perspex, and showed it to me. An autograph…signed by ‘Gertie McKnutt’..?’

‘Och, did he bring that old thing out? Such memories. I was a beautiful wee girl in those days, when I was just little Gertie…’

‘But we all had to change our names in those days, and I wasnae going tae get far as a Gertie…’

‘Gertrude Stein..?’ I volunteer.

She twinkles at me, and nudges me in the ribs. ‘Och, away with you and drink your tea!’

She sips her own. ‘It’s amazing a piece of tatty old paper with my wee signature is so highly prized…The money he spent on it!’

‘Gus was all for demanding he give it back to me.’

‘Really?’ I say, my ears pricking up.

‘Oh yes. But he doesn’t know how these things work, not like us.’ She starts attacking a mountain of offal on her plate.

‘You do a fan autograph, it’s theirs. Even if they’re cheeky enough to nab a free one out the back of a theatre, well, fair play to them.’

‘Okay Gertie,’ I grin, and push a napkin towards her. ‘Can I have your autograph, then?’

She laughs, and like the loose flesh under her neck wobbles like a panicked turkey. ‘Why certainly, young man!’

She takes out a pen and writes ‘LOT’S OF LOVE, GERTIE XXX’ on it.

I hold it up, admire it, and I raise my eyebrows politely. ‘Thank you.’

‘Now before you say anything, Mr Writer,’ she says. ‘I do know my ABCs, Mervyn. That stray apostrophe is my own wee private joke.’

‘When I signed that piece of paper many years ago, a wee fruit fly landed on the newspaper and I squashed it with my thumb.’

‘I laughed when I saw it, and apologised to the man for my appalling punctuation error, but I don’t think the puir wee boy even understood what I was talking about. I don’t think he would have noticed a stray apostrophe if one landed in his soup!’

‘Ever since then, I’ve put a stray apostrophe in my signature and do you know what? Not one single person has pointed it out!’

‘Ah, the power of fame! It does go to my head!’

I laugh, and I join in. Of all the stars of ‘Vixens’, the most self-effacing and grounded amongst them was Jennifer.

To Jennifer, ‘star power’ meant the battery in her bike light.

‘Yes, you certainly were a diva, Jennifer, with those unreasonable demands of yours – biscuits in your dressing room, your own kettle…’

We both have a good laugh. She really is a nice lady.

———————————————————————————————–

I go back to my room. Stacey is getting dressed.

‘Make sure you’re not seen when you leave,’ I say, a little too brutally.

But I’m terrified of Gary. There’s no telling what he might do. I must be insane.

‘I’m sorry, but you were the only person I could think of. Well, the only person with their own room, anyway.’

She’s finished getting dressed. It hardly seemed worth the effort, as the t-shirt she slept in (my t-shirt) covered more of her body.

‘Thanks for letting me stay,’ she says. ‘When Gary gets mad, he gets a bit…Carried away.’

I feel my stomach, which is still tender from the punch. I believe her.

‘What was the row about?’ I ask. ‘You weren’t very coherent when you barged in last night.’

‘Oh, nothing. Everything. It started about him covering up that note from dad, and I kinda accused him of doing it deliberately…’

‘Then it went on to all sorts of stuff. Mainly about my dad. Gary didn’t like him. He doesn’t like anyone much.’

‘Then I accused him of chatting up my mum, right after we came back. He said he was just being nice and thoughtful to a bereaved person.’

‘But he doesn’t do nice and thoughtful. He was chatting her up. I bloody know it, because I heard the same shit when he picked me up.’

‘Anyway, I’ve taken up enough of your time. Thanks for letting me stay.’

She throws her bag over her shoulder, and heads for the door.

‘Can I just ask…’ I say, as her hand rests on the door. ‘Your new look. The dark hair. The make up. It’s very striking…’

‘Thanks,’ she says, taking my weasel words as a compliment.

‘Does Gary approve?’ My voice is as innocent as it can possibly be.

‘Oh yeah, he’s got no complaints about this. He likes the grungy goth stuff.’ Stacey opens the door. ‘In fact, he suggested it.’

The door clicks shut behind her, and I’m already adding Gary into my mental file of suspects.

Something tells me Gary is only with Stacey because he likes her mum. I wonder at what lengths this violent hothead would go to to get her?

Mikegbell: @mervynstone So who are our suspects? Gary, Jennifer, Gus and Dermot who’s made a well timed exit…

@mikegbell all those, and maybe Stacey too?

Mikegbell: @mervynstone if Gary likes Mary, are we sure it wasnt HER name he was calling out last week?

@mikegbell good thought!

The Pen is Mightier than the Nerd (part eight)

Find enclosed part eight of ‘The Pen is Mightier than the Nerd’.  Nothing much to say about this bit, apart from I’m (understandably) having trouble with how Mervyn recounts events.

I think it’s probably called a ‘past-and-present-tense nervous headache’.

When you’re tweeting in ‘real time’, reporting events as they happen, as they’ve just happened, and when they’ve happened some time ago all at the same time, it’s not surprising I have/had/am having a few problems.

PART EIGHT

As I went to the station my mind buzzed with the events of the last few days. So I now had two murders on my hands; one strangled by a telephone cord without a telephone, the other bludgeoned to death by an autograph.

This looked like it had all the makings of a surreal killer.

Sorry, couldn’t resist. 

Clive greeted me. He had my boots ready, all secured in one of his evidence bags. I thanked him and stowed them away in my satchel.

I asked him about Craig’s murder, and he was happy to furnish me with some details.

‘He was strangled by a Groolian subspace communicator,’ he said. I looked at him with surprise. He blushed.

‘Sorry,’ he said. ‘Bit of a fan myself.’

‘You lot get everywhere,’ I said, smiling. ‘Does this mean you’ll keep D. I. Wells from re-arresting me?’

Clive laughed. ‘Oh I don’t think Derek will do that. ‘The more evidence turns up, the more your story checks out. In fact, he’s just found out who drugged you that night.’

‘Really?’ I was amazed. ‘Who?’

‘Alistair Guffin,’ he said.

Clive explains that my glass of wine – given to me by Alistair that night – was drugged.

But the bottle and Alistair’s glass had nothing in them.

Ergo: I had either drugged myself or Alistair had drugged me. The question was, was the murderer in on the plot to drug me?

Or was it just dumb luck that he came to kill Alistair while I was snoozing?

—————————————————————————————–
I’ve been living in dread of Mary’s threat to me; waiting for a flood of hate-mail from internet junkies castigating me for playing a cruel sick joke on a poor woman.

My deadline is up. So far, nothing.

Until five minutes ago.

I get a message on my Facebook page.

Just a direct message, mark you, not a public one.

MEET ME AT THE COSTA IN THE HIGH STREET. THE ONE NEAREST THE SHOP. 4PM. MARY

I let loose a sigh. Another trek to east London. Still, it’s a good sign. I’m leaving now. Tweet you later…

———————————————————————————————–

I stagger into the coffee shop; I’m ten minutes late. I look around, and for a moment I think she’s left.

But there she is, scrubbed clean of make-up. She’s twisting a piece of paper in her hands like it’s a stress toy.

She sees me, and waves me to sit, and as I do she asks if I want coffee.

Of course I do. I’m a writer. ‘Free’ and ‘containing caffeine’ are three of the five words guaranteed to get us shaking with anticipation.

Don’t ask me what the other two words are, but if you guess, you’ll be right.

She asks me how I want my coffee – which involves more questions than the process of getting a passport – and then she gets up to buy it.

As she passes she thrusts the bit of paper into my hand.

It’s a letter. From Alistair.

‘April fool!’

‘Did you really believe that ‘Outcasts’ had its own convention? Did you wonder why you didn’t sell any stuff in Coventry?

How an ‘Outcasts’ convention might look.

The whole thing was a fake! Cost me a packet, but it’ll be worth it to see your face!

From your big loving Wookie…Alistair.’

She comes back with my coffee. I can see she’s been crying.

‘I’m sorry,’ I say.

‘That’s okay,’ she says, nodding at the coffee. ‘It wasn’t that expensive.’

At least she’s kept her sense of humour.

We talked at length, and I learned something very interesting, but I’m low on juice, and I have to get home. Tell you later.

———————————————————————————————–

Mary has worked out her husband has died. She’d found the letter pasted to a wall in the office.

It had been stuck up there while she was in Coventry attending her fake convention. Unfortunately, it had been covered up.

Stacey’s Neanderthal boyfriend (name of Gary, apparently) stuck a photo over it. A new photograph of me, Alistair and Jennifer McLaird.

How ironic.

Not only is she fulsome in her apologies to me, but she also asks me to find her husband’s murderer. My reputation precedes me, as usual.

Not for writing, of course. Just my reputation for solving murders as I stumble through life.

I say that if there’s anything I can do to bring the murderer to justice, I’ll do it. She starts to cry again.

Big wet tears falling and dive-bombing the chocolate sprinkle pattern on her cappuccino.

The first thing I ask her, is the matter uppermost in my mind; was there any reason she can think of as to why Alistair drugged me?

‘I can’t even begin to guess,’ she said, snot bubbling from her left nostril.

‘He was pretty pissed about having to give you back your boots. I did a feeling he was up to something, but he didn’t tell me what.’

She thinks hard for a minute. I wait politely, sipping my coffee.

‘But there was one thing,’ she said at last. ‘Just before I left for that huge April fool’s joke of a convention, I picked up a call.’

‘It was from a man who wanted to speak to Alistair. I asked if he wanted to leave a message, and he took a long time to decide.’

‘He said no, then yes, then he said, just tell him ‘boots’. That’s it. Nothing more.’

I pull an ‘interested’ face. ‘Oh, that could be important…’

‘But that’s not the end of it,’ she says fiercely, grabbing my hand and staring directly into my eyes.

‘It was only after I put the phone down I realised I recognised the voice.’

‘It was the same guy who kept ringing and ringing and wanting to buy that Perspex block with that autograph inside.’

‘That’s it!’ she says, pounding the table with her tiny fist. ‘It’s the same guy. He wanted the autograph, and he made a deal with Alistair, they had a fight, and my husband was killed.’

‘This guy murdered my husband because he wanted that bloody autograph.’
‘That could be true,’ I say kindly, ‘but…’

Her face falls like an anvil, and she supplies the rest of my sentence. ‘Why didn’t he take the brick after he killed Alistair? That would have been the obvious thing to do.’

‘Yes,’ I sigh. ‘And let’s not forget the other murder. Craig Jones. Strangled by another piece of memorabilia. It looks like there’s a psychopath out there, rather than an overzealous collector.’

She jacks up an eyebrow. ‘Believe me, sweetie. In a lot of cases that’s one and the same thing.’

She sighs. ‘I suppose it could just have been a burglary gone wrong then, like the police think’.

I sidestep the fact I know it’s definitely NOT a burglary gone wrong and ask; ‘I wonder what’s so special about this autograph?’

She sips her coffee. ‘That’s easy. It’s worth a fair bit, because it’s the only example of a ‘Gertie McKnutt’ signature in existence.’

‘Who’s Gertie McKnutt?’ I ask.

Mary smiles. Her face blossoms through the tears, like flowers opening after a rain shower. ‘Don’t you know that?’

‘I don’t know a lot of things, ‘ I say. ‘It gets pointed out to me more and more each year.’

”Gertie McKnutt’ is the original name of Jennifer McLaird.’

‘Really?’ my face stretches in surprise.

‘I had no idea.’

‘She had it for about a week, when she was a dancer for the Gillie Girls, then her agent changed her name for spotlight.’

‘That autograph is believed to be the only professional signature she did as Gertie McKnutt. So it’s quite prized among people who care about those sorts of things.’

I rack my brains to think of more things to ask Mary. ‘Did he have any arguments with anybody else before you left?’

She shrugged. ‘He had a bit of a shouting match with Stacey, but they’re always butting heads. He doesn’t like Gary much.’

‘Thinks she can do better. But Stacey loved him…Oh God, she doesn’t know. She thought the same as me. That it was just a big joke.’

‘I have to go and talk to her.’

She gets up to leave and practically runs for the doorway. I follow. It’s just a short walk to the shop, and when we get there Stacey is at the till. Gary is mooching around the graphic novels, and as soon as he sees me his eyes burn…

But then he sees Mary with me, and withdraws into the back of the shop.

Mary takes her daughter to one side. ‘Stacey, I’ve got to talk to you. In Private.’

Stacey shrugs off her mother’s arm. ‘What? No. I’m busy. Leave me alone!’

‘Don’t bloody argue with me,’ Mary snarls. ‘I’ve got something to tell you.’

Gary advances, but Mary holds a finger up. ‘Don’t even think about it, lover boy. You stay here and mind the shop.’

She leaves, dragging her still-protesting daughter out of the shop.

I’m left alone with Gary.

I don’t know if I should leave quietly or wait for the women to come back Mary has just asked me to find Alistair’s killer, after all…

But I don’t like the looks that Gary is giving me. He obviously has anger issues.

I look around nervously, trying to avoid his stare.

Then I see Dermot.

The owner of ‘Battlestore Galactica’ cult shop is lurking behind a cardboard cut-out of Wonder Woman.

He beckons to me.

I saunter over, keeping one eye on Gary, making sure he doesn’t notice what I’m doing, but he’s busy serving a customer who seems to be buying about half the shop.

‘I know I’m next to die,’ he hisses.

‘So I’m getting out of here. Packing my bags and I’m off. Catching a flight tonight.’

‘What? What do you mean?’ I crouch by Wonder Woman’s cardboard buttocks so I can hear Dermot better.

‘Look,’ he whispers. ‘I know we all hated each other, Alistair, Craig, me, we’re rivals .But we’re all in the same business.’

‘I KNOW that Alistair was getting calls from a guy wanting that autograph. And Alistair wouldn’t sell.’

‘I know that…’ I say.

‘Yeah, maybe you did. But did you know that Craig Jones was also getting phone calls? A guy was demanding that Craig sell him one of his prized collectible items. A Groolian subspace communicator.’

‘Something that looks like an old telephone cord?’ I mutter, my stomach plunging so far down it’s about level with Wonder Woman’s boots.

‘Yeah,’ he hisses. ‘So Craig’s dead. Strangled with it. And Alistair’s dead. Killed with his autograph. And guess what?’

‘I’ve been getting phone calls from a guy. Demanding I sell him Arkadia’s Neutron Rapier from season seven.’

‘But this is amazing,’ I say, I little too loudly. ‘If he’s coming for you – that means we can trap the murderer!’

‘You can piss off,’ Dermot stands up, ‘I’m going. No-one’s going to use me as bait.’

‘I only told you so you can get the murderer while I’m sunning myself far, far away. I’ll be back when you’ve cracked the case.’

And he walks out of the shop, his eyes twitching in every direction for a potential psychopath.

But as we’re inside a shopping centre, everyone looks like a potential psychopath.

I run after him.

…Only to have my way blocked by Gary.

‘I thought I told you not to come back to this shop,’ he says.

I’m sorry, but sometimes I can’t resist. ‘No, you didn’t say that. You just ran after me.’

‘Perhaps you just thought you thought you said it. Or perhaps you like to think you think. Either way you’re mistaken.’

And he punches me in the stomach. Hard. I go down heavy.

All I can see from down there is boots and shoes. His, the customers, Wonder Woman’s. I’m trying to focus. I’m staring at his boots.

Big ugly black things. Scuffed and worn. The toe is damaged where, presumably, he’s been kicking small fury animals.

And then an idea occurs to me. But it’s not a good time to have an idea, because I need to concentrate on finding that next breath.

And then there are more shoes around me. Trainers, sand shoes. I hear voices. Lots of voices.

‘You can’t do that.’ ‘That’s Mervyn Stone. He created ‘Vixens from the Void’.’

‘He wrote ‘Expiration Point’. That one’s my favourite.’

While Gary is cornered by a wailing wall of Nerds, I stagger to my feet and leave. I have to go home and check out my idea.

Once home, I get out my Chelsea boots. The ones returned to me by the police. I put them down on the table and examine them.

As I suspected. The scuff marks on Gary’s boots made me realise something was up. The toes on his were worn through, presumably from the way he behaved – putting the boot in, so to speak.

My boots always wear out on the inside of the heels first, because of my peculiar duck walk.

The boots on my table were worn through on the soles, and the heels were pretty much unscathed.

If a collector stole my boots, then I find it very unlikely he’d wear them, and even if he did, he’d hardly do that and repair the soles.

These aren’t my boots!

The Pen is Mightier than the Nerd (part seven)

Find enclosed part seven of the Mervyn Stone Mystery ‘The Pen is Mightier than the Nerd’, the first (as far as I know) novel ever written on twitter in real time.

As you’ve probably guessed, I do enjoy inventing tacky names for comic shops and conventions.  In Mervyn’s very first book, the name for the ‘Vixens from the Void’ convention was ‘ConVix’, and at the moment I’m working on one centred on a ‘Vixens from the Void’ exhibition that the owner has enterprisingly called ‘The Vixperience!’

I’m not really a fan of puns, but they’re not just puns to me;  like the convoluted names given to hairdressing salons, they are also a window into the soul of the owners, more telling than what they wear and how they speak.  This is a marker saying ‘I have this much taste and this much imagination.  I have thought long into the night and this is the best retail/space/haircut hybrid name I can think of.  Will this do?’.

I loved imagining the incipient hostility between ‘The Starshop Enterprise’ and ‘BattleStore Galactica’, one can almost see them deliberately locking horns, coming up with their rival puns.  Not just a tacky pair of shop names, more a declaration of war…

My favourite self-created sci-fi pun is the name of the Birmingham Sci-Fi Convention in ‘The Axeman Cometh’, but you’ll have to buy the CD to discover what that is (ha ha).

PART SEVEN

Of all the things I expected from Mary, I didn’t expect her to say that to me. Scrub her from the suspects list…

That chat with her was one of the most surreal conversations of my life.

—————————————————————————–

Okay, I’m awake. I’m sorry, I flaked out again, but it was a mad evening.

I opened the door, and sure enough, it was Mary. She was much more striking in real life. My eyes were struggling to take her all in.

The hair, the fingernails, the…everything.

‘Mervyn Stone?’ she said.

I just nodded. She walked in and supplied one of my many, many questions, as she threw my wallet on the table.

‘I came back a few hours ago. I was just tidying up after my bloody daughter when I found this behind my sofa.’

‘Funnily enough, I also had a Mervyn Stone as my Facebook friend. I don’t think we’ve ever met, have we?’

I shake my head. I’m trying to work up to words, but I’m not having much luck yet.

‘The police told me you were the one found in the flat with the body of my husband.’

‘Okay,’ she sighs. ‘Enough’s enough. Where is he?’

‘Where’s who?’ It’s the first thing I manage to say.

‘Where’s Alistair? Come on, this is getting really annoying.’

‘I…Don’t know where they take the deceased,’ I mumble. ‘I’m sure the police…’

‘Oh yeah!’ She scoffs. ”D.I.Wells’ will help me.’ She makes big exaggerated finger quotes around the man’s name. ‘Christ, you boys… Can’t you work out when a joke’s run its course?’

She comes in and throws herself on my sofa, putting her huge boots on my coffee table.

‘Whatever Alistair is paying you, I will give you extra if you just tell me where he is. It’s been five days now, and I had a big laugh, but the joke’s over.’

‘Give me where he’s hiding. I promise I won’t kill him for real.’

I wonder if the shock has sent her into denial. ‘I’m sorry to tell you, but your husband’s dead,’ I say gently.

‘I woke up beside his body on Friday morning.’

She looked at me with pitying eyes. ‘Yeah right. You woke up beside my husband’s dead body on April the first. Ha ha ha.’

‘His bloody jokes get more elaborate every year.’

‘Last year he moved the whole shop without telling me. Just moved it overnight, the whole stock.

So when I came in to work, all I found was a cuddly gorilla, a fisher price till, and a packet of cotton buds.’

Her eyes bore into my head. ‘But you know all this. You must have been laughing like skunks when you planned this – when? When you did that signing? I know who you are, Mervyn…’ She started shouting, so that if Alistair was hiding in the house, he’d hear.

‘If you don’t produce my husband in twenty four hours, I’m going to tell the world via Facebook and Twitter what a wanker you are. And that’s not a threat. That’s a promise.’

And she left, almost taking my front door with her.

———————————————————————————————–

So I’m guessing that Stacey and her pet boyfriend think the same way as Mary.

I’m in the incredible situation where there’s been a murder, and none of the suspects think the murderee has died.

I have to find a suspect who actually thinks he’s dead. Hmm.

I’m thinking back to the news article of Alistair’s death. Craig Jones gave a rather moving comment. I wonder if he was just playing along with an assumed joke – or he actually knows that Alistair is dead? I think I’ll pay a visit to the ‘Star Shop Enterprise’.

There’s not much call for the red ones, sir…

@mikegbell: @mervynstone wondered when you’d get round to him. You off there today?

@mikegbell I’m thinking about it – if I have time. I’ve got biscuits to finish.

———————————————————————————————–

I’m off to Craig Jones’ shop, which if anything, is smaller than ‘Buy the Gods!!’

It’s in another tatty mall, no more than thirty yards from it’s bitter rival, ‘Battlestore Galactica’.

Craig is an affable Welshman, giving off bonhomie and body odour in equal measure.

I have to be careful he doesn’t touch me.

———————————————————————————————–

I expect you’re wondering why I didn’t give you updates on my visit to Craig Jones’ little shop.

Well there’s a reason for that.

I got there late yesterday afternoon, but the shop was closed. I thought that was very unlike Craig. He lives for his shop.

In fact, he doesn’t just live for his shop; he lives in his shop. He’s got a room in the back. Not a lot of people know this.

I look inside, and it’s dark. No movement. There’s post piling up on the door mat. I’m a nosey parker so I press my face against the door to see if I can read the envelopes through the glass panel.

And it opens!

Pushing it open, I’m instantly aware of the smell.

It’s not your ordinary Craig Jones kind of smell. This is something a lot riper. A lot stronger.

He was there in the back room. Dead.

Murdered.

His face is a deep blotchy purple, his eyes are wide open, and there’s what looks like a telephone cord biting deep into his neck.

I phone the police.

It doesn’t take long before they show up. With my luck, of course it’s D.I. Wells. He’s brought lots of policemen in baby romper suits.

Tinky Winky…Dipsy…

Clive the evidence man is there too; he’s brought his little bags, and his big bags to put his little bags in.

I’m steered away from the shop to a cafe, where I’m asked a lot of questions by a bored policewoman. D.I.Wells glares at me from the shop

I’ve got a feeling he’d like to arrest me a second time…

But I’m guessing – only guessing, mind – that Craig’s murder co-incided with my very long stay down the cop shop. I’m in the clear.

Over the policewoman’s shoulder, I see Clive taking his boxes out of the shop, one by one, filled with all manner of evidence.

I see the telephone cord thing being held gingerly in a little plastic bag. He’s treating it like it’s the most precious thing ever…

Then Clive glances over, smiles, and walks over to me.

‘I’ve got your boots, if you want ’em,’ he grins.

I’m stumped by this. In the madness of the past few days, I haven’t the faintest idea of what he’s talking about.

Clive adds. ‘Your Chelsea boots, that you said were stolen? The ones you were after getting back when you went to Alistair Guffin’s place?

‘Well we found them. You can have them back, if you want to claim them.’

I look at him dumbly. ‘But won’t the family want to contest ownership of my boots? Alistair said he bought them fair and square…’

Clive shrugged. ‘I got someone to ring up for you, and his widow didn’t seem to care. She seemed to think it was all one big joke.’

‘She said, and I quote, ‘yeah, whatever. Whatever you want. Tell Alistair I’m giving everything away, unless he gets his fat arse back home pronto. I didn’t quite understand what she meant.’

I think about explaining the whole Apri Fool’s thing to Clive, but I really can’t be bothered. He seemed a nice bloke, and I didn’t really want to burden him with my woes.

I noticed that Dermot Bryce, owner of ‘Battlestore Galactica’ was watching the comings and goings from the doorway of his shop, arms folded.

Almost triumphant.

Well, he and Craig had been bitter rivals for years, so I suppose that’s one more suspect, at least. God knows what any of this has to do with Alistair’s murder.

I consider going over to talk to Dermot, but quite frankly, I was exhausted.

I watch the police pack up, I watch them close up Craig’s shop, and then I find a pub and go and get pissed.

That was yesterday.

Today, I’m going back to the Police station to get my boots. Hey, why not? It’s something to do.

The Pen is Mightier Than the Nerd (part 6)

Find enclosed part six of ‘The Pen is Mightier than the Nerd’.

Most of this bit is sorting out a mistake I made in my earlier tweets, where I accidentally called ‘Stacey’ by her mother’s name.  I will now spend a thousand words digging myself out of this hole, but luckily it did come out as quite a nice sub-plot, where Mervyn mistakes Stacey for Mary, assumes Mary has been having an affair, and pegs her as a suspect for the murder of her husband.

As for the Mary/Mara thing, well, hurray for the internet.

Mervyn signs off, telling his followers that his phone is low on battery.  I’m sure that excuse covers a multitude of sins, but I’m better it’s never been used as a reason to think up another chunk of thriller before.

PART SIX

I’m awake!

This is the second time in three days I’ve woken up in this bloody flat.

I’m peeking over the sofa. They seem to have gone. My guess is that they’ve retired to one of the downstairs bedrooms.

Well I’ve learned precisely nothing during this expedition, apart from the fact that Klingons like to be noisy.

That saved me, because they probably didn’t hear me snore when I finally nodded off.

Time to get out of here quickly and quietly, with the minimum of fuss.

————————————————————————-

Well I managed to get out of there.

They hadn’t locked the back door, thank God. That was the good news.

The bad news was, I was in the garden, and I felt for my wallet…

Not there!

I was going to go back, but the thought of tiptoeing through their discarded underwear made me queasy.

Apparently the man’s affection for ‘Star Trek’ extended to his choice of underwear.

‘Phaser set to stun’ indeed. Most amusing.

I could hear voices, so I launched myself over the wall…

Right by the dustbin I’d crushed last night.

At last! A discovery related to the case!

The contents of the bin had been vomited all over the back street…

And lying there in among the old banana skins and tin cans, was a phone, a watch, and a roll of twenty pound notes.

The stuff that was supposedly ‘stolen’ by this burglar.

So that wasn’t the reason why Alistair was killed. It wasn’t a burglary gone wrong. I stuffed the evidence in my pockets and left.

I’m ashamed to say I used a bit of the money to get home, as my missing wallet contained my oyster card.

But it’s all in good cause. I’m sure Alistair would understand.

Off for a nap now. Alistair’s floor was very cold and drafty. Need a proper sleep without Klingon noises.

——————————————————————————————

 

So I’m sitting here thinking: if the burglary wasn’t a real burglary…why attack Alistair? Was he the real target?

I think the answer might lie back at the shop.

——————————————————————————————
So far my list of suspects stretches to precisely…One. Mary Guffin. Point one: She sounded like she didn’t care when Alistair was killed.

Point two: she was obviously in London when she was supposed to be in Coventry – or was it Stoke?

Point three: she has a Klingon boyfriend.

So I’m waiting outside ‘Buy the Gods!!’ cult shop in the mall, watching from an internet cafe.
I’m screwing up my nerve to go in and confront her, and demand to know why she doesn’t care about Alistair’s death.

This is not going to be pretty, and every cringing English instinct in my body is screaming at me to go back home, have a cup of tea and watch ‘Eggheads’.

Okay. Off I go. Wish me luck.

———————————————————————————————–

Well that didn’t go quite as planned.

I walk in there, and of course the customers notice me and try and get free autographs off me.

One smelly guy wants a free photo, and I get imbedded in his acrid armpit while his girlfriend lines up the shot.

Reeling from semi-suffocation, I see Mary Guffin at the till.

Only it’s not Mary. It’s Stacey. She’s had her blonde hair dyed jet black since last week. She looks very similar to her mum now.

The conversation goes like this: Me: Hello, is Mary in today?

Stacey: she’s not back ’til this afternoon. Can I take a message?

Oh. I mentally scrub point (2) from my list. I don’t know what to say next, so some words just tumble out of my mouth.

Me: it’s just she was putting something aside for me…A Perspex brick with an autograph in it? Signed by ‘Gertie’?

She suddenly gets angry. She gives me a black look, ably assisted by inch-thick layers of black eye-liner.

Stacey: so it’s YOU who keeps ringing up about that bloody thing, is it? For the last time it ain’t for sale. Jesus, you guys don’t take no for an answer, do you?

Her raised voice alerts a man with muscles crammed into a black t shirt. It’s the Klingon fetishist from the flat.

He comes forward protectively, interposing himself between me and Stacey. He’s the aggressively chivalrous type…

The type of man who steers his girlfriend along pavements by the small of her back.

Man: problem darling? Stacey: no, he was just leaving – weren’t you mate?

I nod, dumbly, and stumble to the door. The man follows me for the three feet it takes to leave the tiny shop, and glares at me until I disappear back into the Internet cafe. Stupidly, I wave. Why did I do that?

And he comes after me.

I scamper out of the mall. He runs for a couple of metres, and then he walks back triumphantly to his girl, like he’s just killed a mastodon, rather than just chase a middle aged fat guy past ‘Specsavers’.

I’m back in the cafe now, and I’m confused. If it was Stacey and her Neanderthal in the flat, why did he call her ‘Mary’?

Or now I think about it, was it ‘Mara’?

A couple of minutes googling, and I find ‘Mara’ was a female Klingon who got captain Kirk a bit hot and bothered in the 60s.

Tell me about his human thing called ‘Kissing With Tongues’ , Captain… .

I shouldn’t feel silly – I shouldn’t have to know this rubbish – but I do.

So Mary doesn’t have a bit on the side and she didn’t return home early. My only suspect is dwindling into the distance.

But she DID show no regret at her husband’s death. At least according to Stacey. I still have that. Time to regroup, I think.

A cup of tea to help me think. I wonder if ‘Eggheads’ is still on?

———————————————————————————————–

Okay I can watch ‘Newsround’ but I’m not watching ‘The ‘Weakest Link’. I’m going for a walk.

No I’m not.

There’s a knock at the door.

Looking out the window.

Bloody hell!

It’s Mary Guffin! At MY door!

Phone out of juice. Will talk to you later. If I can.

The Pen is Mightier than the Nerd (part five)

Find enclosed part five of the novel I wrote for twitter.

Okay, I’m staying up in the middle of the night so I can tweet Mervyn breaking into a house in real time.  This is when I went a bit mental.

PART FIVE

Okay, I’m ready.

Got fresh batteries for my torch, and I’ve made sandwiches. What time does it get dark these days?

I think the most dangerous part of this expedition is relying on London public transport on a Sunday.

I’d better check National Rail Enquires to see if I can get there, first.

A miracle!

Hell’s bells, the Metropolitan and the Hammersmith lines are completely all right today. A miracle! The Gods are smiling on me tonight.

Okay, the tubes are fine, sunset’s at 19.40, and I’ve even checked Mary Guffin’s facebook page to see if she’s still at the convention.

God knows how burglars managed before the internet…

Looking at her facebook page, Mary is quite a strikingly attractive woman.

She’s got a lot of scary goth accessories; streaks in her hair, nose rings, black fingernails – but it doesn’t quite disguise how beautiful she is.

She and Alistair make – made – an odd couple.

@BadWolfLil: @mervynstone you got a walkie talkie?

@BadWolfLil Why should I have a walkie talkie? I’ve got no-one to talk to! Apart from twitter followers, of course.

Balaclava! I might need a balaclava!

I haven’t got a balaclava.

I’ve got a ski hat and goggles. I could wear them.

If I’m stopped, I could pretend I’m a Scandinavian tourist.

I thought about climbing over my garden wall a few times, just to get some practice, but I think that might look suspicious.

So I went to the kid’s soft play area at the bottom of my street.

It’s a man’s life in the ballpit.

Strictly speaking, you’re not allowed to play in it if you’re an adult.

But if you look harassed, and shout ‘Dominic, we’re going home now!’ every few minutes, they let you clamber around inside for hours.

Well it’s 7.40 and it’s still light outside. That’s the last time I believe the internet.

I’m setting off anyway. TFL says it’ll take about an hour and twenty minutes. I’d better take a book.

———————————————————————————————–
I’m here. Just a short walk from the tube, and I’m outside Alistair’s place.

I’ve decided to forego the ski hat. I’m just turning my collar up. Nothing suspicious about that.

Shit!

Shitshitshit!

Oh. Okay. Now I feel a bit of a nana.

Sorry about that. It was an automatic light. I though I’d been discovered before I’d even started to ‘case the joint’…

As we house breakers say.

My lightning reflexes kicked in, and I slammed myself against a wall. I’ve got stuff all over my jacket.

Corduroy and masonry dust are deadly enemies. I hope I can brush it out.

So I’m facing his flat, trying not to get impaled by the glare from the streetlights…

Now I’m looking at it, Alistair’s place is not really a flat, more like a three-story maisonette, if there is such a thing.

With the kitchen, sitting room and master bedroom on the upper floors, and more bedrooms and main bathroom in the ‘basement’.

You have to go down steps to get to the front door, then through the hallway, past bedrooms and bathroom, and then up the stairs to the big room adorned with sic-fi collectables. And from there, there are more stairs leading to the big bedroom, the one with the disturbed drawers.

I wonder why Mr burglar picked this place, of all places?

So…what now?

I’m feeling really conspicuous standing here.

Perhaps I should buy and eat a kebab, or have a drunken wee against a tree or something.

Anything to make it look like I have a good reason for loitering.

I can’t just stand outside this flat looking gormless

Like I’m one of those in-bred property show presenters.

I’ll go round the back.

Okay, there’s a high wall and a locked garden gate. No houses overlooking this part.

Here goes nothing…

This is where my crack training with a dozen of London’s meanest six year olds will come in handy.

Let’s drag a dustbin across to the wall, and use it to bunk over.

Up, up and away!

Note to all prospective burglars: using a dustbin to bunk over a wall may work…

If you live in the 1930s and the bin is made of metal…

But not if you’re in the 21st century, where the bins are all made of some floppy, rubbery, flimsy plastic.

I’m getting out of the bin.

Okay, there must be something I can use…

Ah!

Who needs dustbins when there’s a handy SmartCar in the vicinity? Just the right size to stand on.

I’m standing in the Garden

There’s nothing much here. No gnomes. There are little stone Orcs instead. They are all pointing at each other, frozen in mid-snarl.

There’s a shed. With ‘Hobbiton’ written above the door. So far, so predictable.

What? Oh that is just ridiculous!

The back door – wide open?

I thought April the first was last Friday.

This is just too good to be true. Or maybe the phrase should be ‘this is just too bad to be true’? Because now I have no excuse, do I?

I said I was going to investigate, and now I find I’m pushing at an open door. Har har.

Bugger it.

In I go. Wish me luck…

It’s dark. Of course it’s bloody dark, you idiot. There’s no one here.

Or maybe the burglar’s come back!! Steady Merv…don’t let your bowels fail you now…

There’s that Xena sword hanging on the wall in the sitting room. If I’m quick I can grab it and use it as a weapon.

What are you gibbering about, brain? It’s a sword! It’s already a weapon! You’re going to grab a weapon and use it as a weapon? Duh!

I’ve got the sword. It’s hard to twist with it in my hand so I

There was a voice downstairs.

A man’s voice. It said something about pizza.

I’m hiding behind the sofa.

The man is in the room. He’s shouting about pizza. He’s calling for Mary to come upstairs…

Mary calls back; she’s on her way up. I feel like such an idiot. The man must have popped out for pizza – he didn’t have keys so he left the back door open. He must have bolted the gate and did what I did – climb over the wall.

Mary must have been here all the time – in one of the bedrooms below.

While he’s waiting for Mary to come up, the man is looking around the room. He sees the Klingon head on the wall and pulls the mask off…

He’s putting it on. Now he’s looking for somewhere to hide! Please God! Don’t pick behind the sofa!

He’s gone behind the curtains.

Mary has arrived…

He’s leapt out and grabbed her, and she’s squealing. He’s growling and making noises – I don’t think he speaks Klingon…

Oh no. They’re going to have sex.

Right by my head.

It’s going to be dirty Klingon-on-human sex.

This is going to be a long night.

—————————————————————————

The Pen is Mightier Than the Nerd (part four)

Find enclosed part four of ‘The Pen is Mightier Than the Nerd’, my twitter novel.

As you can see at this stage I’m experimenting with how I present speech on twitter, I’m vacillating between using ‘script speech’, speech marks and reported speech depending on the length of the conversation.

And here I introduce another character from the original TV show, Jennifer McLaird.

I wanted all the female cast members to contrast one another, and even years ago, when I wrote Vanity Mycroft in ‘Geek Tragedy’ as the ageing diva, swimming in designer labels and – literally – botoxed up to the eyeballs, I could see Jenny in my mind’s eye as the complete opposite to Vanity.

Tara Miles, another Vixen, was also in ‘Geek Tragedy’ for a time (I edited her out) and I can see in my mind that she is also completely different from both Vanity and Jenny.

Another character for another day…

PART FOUR

Well that was an odd conversation!

The phone was picked up and I heard a lot of voices, the bleep of a till.

If I didn’t know better the shop was open today!

A woman’s voice answered. A young woman, she didn’t sound upset. She sounded almost bored.

There was a squitch-squitch-squitch noise as she chewed gum as she talked.

The conversation went something like this:

Voice: Yeah?

Me: Hello is that Mary Guffin?

Voice: Nah, Mary’s away. She’s doing ‘CultCon Eleven’ in Coventry. Or is it Stoke? She won’t be back ’til Tuesday.

Me: Oh.

Voice: Can I take a message?

Me: Well…I was just calling to offer my condolences.

Voice: About what?

Me: Erm…well…About her husband’s death?

Voice: Oh that!

Me: Yes. That.

Voice: Nice one!

Me: Hasn’t she heard?

Voice: Oh yes, she got rung up yesterday. It took her three hours to stop laughing.

Me: She got hysterical.

Voice: Hysterical like a newt. She got so pissed that night she almost forgot she was in Coventry. Or was it Stoke?

…She rang up today and she was still laughing. Alistair getting murdered was the best thing he’s EVER done, if you ask me.

Me: Right…

Voice: As I say, Mary will be back Tuesday. Whether she’ll be sober enough to talk to you is another matter.

Me: Okay, thanks very much erm…

Voice: Stacey. Stacey Guffin. I’m their daughter.

Me: Well, thank you very much Stacey. Um. Condolences to you too.

Voice: Yeah, and happy Xmas to you and all, mate.

I don’t know what to make of it. Do you?

I went for a walk after that, to clear my head.

I was thinking about what happened a week ago, and the reason why I went to Alistair’s flat in the first place.

I said I’d tell you about that, didn’t I?

So this time last week I was in Alistair’s shop, ‘Buy The Gods!!!’ somewhere in the nether parts of East London.

Every time I go there the shop seems to have moved somewhere nastier and seedier, as it’s looking for a fight.

At the moment, it’s cowering in the corner of a shopping mall, the smallest shop there.

The customers have to edge perilously close to each other to look at the products.

Given the body odour of some of them, you take your life in your hands whenever you go there, I can tell you.

Given Alistair was so large, and his shop so small, it was a constant battle for survival between man and building.

The front door was the worst.

Whenever he went through it, it was always touch and go as to whether he or his shop ended up on the inside.

I, of course, had been asked there because I was co-creator and script editor of that appalling old piece of 80s kitsch ‘Vixens from the Void’.

I also used to wear pixie boots, staypress trousers, and I drove and Austin Maestro…

All those things I did in the 80s and I’m also deeply ashamed about, but ‘Vixens from the Void’ is the only thing I’m not allowed to forget.

In the shop, I was partnered up with Jennifer McLaird.

As you probably remember, she was one of the stars of ‘Vixens from the Void’, the big Scottish red-haired one that towered over the others.

Like all actresses from ‘Vixens’, she used to be a leggy, attractive big-bosomed woman,

and like many tall women she’d been able to hold back the drip-drip of time better than most,

prompting the usual ‘you look much better now than when you were in the series’ and ‘you must have a portrait in the attic’ comments from the fans.

But then, sooner or later, something gives way, gravity makes a fist, and I was sitting beside a cheery little old lady, fat, grey and curled over like a startled woodlouse.

She wasn’t unaware of the fact, but she didn’t seem to mind. She was one of the few cast members who seemed to have unreserved affection for her time spent on the show.

She talked to each fan endlessly, when all I can usually manage is a grunted ‘who’s it to?’ when asked for an autograph.

She was clucking over her photos, admiring her younger self, and signing ‘LOT’S OF LOVE, JENNY! XXX’ in big friendly capitals.

As the day trudged towards four o’clock, Jennifer leaned over to me and hissed; ‘Do you think he’ll let us go soon? I’ve got cats tae feed!’

I said he would…Eventually. But like Columbo, there was always ‘just one more thing’ with Alistair. One extra thing he’d ask you to do.

For a man that large, I said, you wouldn’t think he’d need another pound of flesh, but that’s what he’s always after…

Sure enough, Alistair huffs up, tells us we can go, but…

Would we mind if we posed with him for a photo? It’s for his big wall…

He pointed to a wall, where there was a sea of faces; celebrities from ‘Star Trek’, ‘Battlestar Galactica’, ‘Blakes 7’ and many other shows,

pulling anguished faces to the camera as they stood next to a smiling Alistair.

It looked like a wall in a public square after a disaster, where people congregated to put up photos of lost friends and family.

Alistair ushered a girl forward, who I now realised was his daughter, and she took a photo, while half a dozen customers gawped on.

Much relieved to be set free, Jennifer left, still chatting and flattering the customers in the shop.

She was gone, with only the faint smell of ‘Lux’ soap to mark her passing.

I was about to leave too, but Alistair wanted ‘just one more thing’.

Can I sign my boots too?

I looked at my boots. Well I think I’ve signed everything else in the shop, so I might as well…

He laughs. I’ve misunderstood him. He says he’s bought my old Chelsea boots on e-bay.

The ones I wore while on location for the classic episode ‘Expiration Point’.

Now I get a bit annoyed. You mean the ones I had STOLEN while I was on location for the classic episode ‘Expiration Point’?

Now he gets shifty. He knows nothing about that. He bought them in good faith. Certificate of authenticity, blah blah blah…

I’m cross now. I tell him I’m not signing the bloody boots. Furthermore, I want the bloody boots back, thank you very much.

They’re probably unwearable now, but it’s the principle of the thing.

He starts making funny scared noises in his throat, and says he’ll call me in the week and we’ll talk about it.

I’m glad I’ve given him a scare, and I enjoyed watching him squirm, and I was going to let it go…

But hell’s bells! He only rings me in the middle of the week and offers to give them back to me, no strings!

I’m glad there’s no strings. They were slip-ons. Har har.

So that’s what brought me to Alistair’s flat yesterday. The promise of old Chelsea boots.

I don’t know why he was killed, I don’t know why I was framed, and I don’t know why his wife is so cool about it.

But there is one thing I DO know.

I know his Wife isn’t due back until Tuesday.

So tomorrow night, I’m going back to the scene of the crime, and I’m bloody well going to find out what happened there.

Even if I have to break in to do it.

‘Night all.

@thenicolabryant: @mervynstone Merv, I know you’re good at this detective stuff. But just so I know, you were only joking when you said you might break in- right?

@thenicolabryant It’s just going to be a little recce. Nothing’s going to happen.

After all, the place was sealed up tighter than a drum on Friday…

@thenicolabryant I don’t think I’ll be able to force a window.

@thenicolabryant: @mervynstone now where have I heard that before? Take care Merv.