Four Milk Maids stood meekly in a row as the two police officers approached, but looked blankly at her when the inquisitive WPC Isa Urquhart asked them if they had been on duty between 8 and 10am that morning – one yawned widely, another stuck her tongue out, the third scratched her head under her mop cap, while the third whistled what might have been a tune; Farmer Farmer spoke up: “I'm sorry, Sergeant, but these girls are either Czech or Slovak and don't have a word of English between them, other than 'piss off' or 'fuck off' which seems to be de rigueur these days, I might suggest speaking with the two Mature Milk Maids, over there,” and he indicated two sonsie lassies standing by the door of the Milking Parlour; Isa made a quick decision: “I feel in my waters that this may be a dzud, with a dearth of reliable information and a whitewash to follow, but we'll just have to do our best – Gertie, you have the one in Red and I'll tackle the one in Blue, 30 minutes tops then we'll compare notes,” and they took the women to opposite ends of the plant; Isa studied hers for a minute, and then got stuck in: “what's your name?” “Meg, whit's your'n?” which Isa, professional to her roots, ignored; “how long have you been a Milk Maid?” “since ah wiz nae mair'n fower or faive,” “where did you train?” “Xanadu,” “where's that?” to which Meg indicated South-East with her thumb, adding: “ma Faither's Fermentation, aboot twal mile ower thae hulls,” “and how old are you now?” “fuck aff, ah'm urny tellin ye!” “there's no need to be impertinent!” “nor's ther ony need fer yow tae be so impident, asking a daecent body her age!” “it's a more than decent body, Meg, and I apologise for venturing where you feel I shouldn't, though perhaps if I explain to you, then you may feel more inclined to help me,” “whirraboot?” “a man,” “ah hate them! hate them aw! an thon Fairmer Fairmer, he's the wurst o them aw, a greedy pig, ye ken he wurks us till oor hauns is bleedin, tak a luik at thon,” and she showed the sympathetic WPC two hands, scrubbed red raw, chapped and scabbed where they had bled, “he'll no let us use ony moisturisers, jist carbolic soap, Carbolic Soap! in this day an age? whaur's yer Elfin Safty at Werk wen itz needit? nae-fuckin-whaur! yin pair of disposable gluvs a week, each, coz oor jist weemin, an thae Checks and Slaveys, urny in the Unyin neeva, they cannae tok tae us n oo cannae tok tae thaem, it's Divide n Fuckin Rool, that's yon Fairmer Fairmer's wey, beleev ye moi, its Asset Strippin, thon's whit's gaunin oan heer! aw they Wankers wi their fuckin massif omnibuses like pigs in a truffle an him cryin hissel a Goormay Fairmer, he's yin o they ithir thingies, yow'll ken, Sargent!” this last with a wink, and Isa winked back, “you mean gourmand, greedy pig you said,” “too fuckin right, he's oot tae gourmandize his ain fuckin pockets on the backs o the wurkurs, me n Bess n them poor Checks n Balances, he's got The Instychute peyin him ower the oads fer his weed patches an wha gets tae sell the mulk tae the Whale Sailors, Fairmer-fuckin-Fairmer thatz wha,” “would you like me to ask our Fraud Squad to investigate?” “aye, invest-aw-ye-like, it'll aw be in sum taxi van like thae Seashells, bit gie him a couple of sleppless nichts if ye like, Hen,” and Isa knew she had won the Milk Maid over; “when the cows came in this morning, did you see an injured man, he'd been involved in a car crash in the field where the cows were and we think he might have perhaps used one to help him make his way from the vehicle,” “aye, ye shood've seyd ye wiz looking fer him, his heid wiz aw bashit and there wiz blud aw ower him,” “where did he go?” “nae whaur,” “do you mean he's still here?” “aye,” “where?” “in oor rest room – itz the ainly facilitation The Instychute gied us, soas we kin hae a wee lie doon when we've wir periods,” “can you show me?” “aye, it's jist alang heer,” “in here” “aye, jist push ton door, that's it,” but when she got there, the cupboard was bare, though there were signs that The Man had lain on the bed, streaks and stains of blood and vomit on the starched white sheet, on the gleaming white towels, even on the intense white walls, a Hand Print, but of The Man, nothing, she turned to find Meg almost pressing against her, trying to see over her shoulder, full and vibrant breasts pressing against Isa in the doorway, lips only inches from her own, “is there another rest room?” “aye, next door, dae ye want a wee lie doon? itz the Men's yin bit ther's nae men heer less ye coont Fairmer Fairmer an he nevva cums inside, cum oan Hen, ah'll gie ye a haund,” and the door closed behind them with a satisfying click as Meg turned the lock, and in the remaining twenty minutes Isa conducted a thorough in-depth investigation of Meg and discovered all her secrets of Milk Production!
As she stood beside the Hub Panda, waiting for Farmer Farmer to climb into his enormous black and chrome 4 Wheel Drive Gentlemen Farmers' vehicle of choice, the hawk-like WPC Isa Urquhart noted him speaking on his mobile – and as she climbed into the police car, she remarked to her Trainee WPC Gertie Mountcastle: “I bet he's calling the Milk Maids or someone at The Institute, I told him not to tell anyone we were coming to the Milking Parlour!” and Gertie's eyes shone: “do you suppose he's married?” she asked, and Isa shot her a glance: “if he is, I pity the poor woman, he's so fastuous and a dyed-in-the-wool chauvinist, and probably the opposite of uxurious, whatever that is. . .” and Gertie piped up: “how about 'mulish'? I know it isn't specifically descriptive of a husband's unreasonableness towards his wife, but he does look like a mule – oops, I shouldn't pass judgement on people, should I?” she had blushed to her roots and with her tummy feeling like a whirlpool was on the verge of hyperventilating, not to mention tears, so Isa soothingly replied: “this car isn't wired for sound, Gertie, and what is said between a Trainee and her Mentor, is strictly between ourselves, unless, of course, you are confessing to a criminal act or the intention to commit one – you aren't, are you?” and Gertie shook her head so violently her Trainee WPC Standard Issue Cap fell off over her eyes and she stamped on the brakes so suddenly that the car squealed to a Starsky and Hutch stop which flung gravel over Farmer Farmer's Gentlemen Farmers' Pink Wellies, and Isa murmured, “sweetly done, Gertie, that's put him on the back foot,” and patted Gertie's thigh reassuringly, “and I do believe those strapping young ladies are the Milk Maids!”
The Man's fever caused him to debacchate, slurred sounds, incomprehensible as words, issued in a stream of apparent invective, offering glimpses into his confused perceptions, cries to God and Christ mingling in a kind of henotheism with appeals to Allah and HaShem, Thor and Wotan; his listeners picked up references to their own penetralia – he seemed to know intimate details of their lives, interspersed with wild ramblings, and then after threshing his limbs ineffectually, he sank into an exhausted torpor; Bernie and Tammy held a conclave with Thomas – their other patients were still in the 'sick bay'.
The Man's ragged breathing was stridulous, he seemed as in a fever, flushed, his skin burning to the touch – whether this was caused by the heavy blow struck by Tammy in the Tower Cell which had shattered his skull, or some infection which had made contact with the exposed viscera, none of them could say, they were not doctors; but it was generally agreed that Tammy's blow had probably foreshortened his life, though by how much was moot, and this was to both Bernie and Tammy who had suffered each at his hands, splendiferous – Vive La Nous! though they would like to know why he had tried to kill them!
And it was just at that moment, when her eyes skittered over the luminosity of the Spiral Nebula, glowing across the vastness of the Universe, that she heard a dull whump behind her, like the popping of a distant cork, and, turning. brought her vision down to the bathos of a naked man on the floor of the Cavern and a flash of gratulation made Bernie jump as if touched by electricity and she grabbed The Hunter's dory, fashioned with a spear-head at one end and a spike at the other and it was only the hand of Tammy that stayed her, and she knew that Tammy had also recognised The Man and if he was to die it would be by their Joint Enterprise!
The Farmer was a ruddy faced man named John Farmer – Farmer Farmer; and was not overjoyed to see the two WPCs approach across his clean and tidy yard, but was enough of a Gentleman Farmer to invite them into his office, offering insincerely fulsome praise of Police Scotland Officers whom, he knew were doing a “wonderful job in difficult times”; when Gertie slid the screen shot of a line of cows crossing his field at Hillend, below the Ski Slope which dropped from the height of the Eastern-most Pentland Hill, he laughed – a rich baritone, cut short when Isa spoke, her voice as cold as ice: “you told us, sir, that you kept no cows in that field, can you explain this?” and Farmer Farmer had the good grace to blush; “my apologies, I assure you; I don't know what you are working on and when I received the call from your Constable Clutterbuck, she sounds very pretty, indeed you all look very pretty, and she was enquiring if I kept cows in that field, I told the truth – I keep no cows in that field and have not for several years; if my pedantry has caused you any difficulty I am truly sorry – but the fact is I lease that field, in fact all of my land, to The Roslin Institute,” and the omniscient WPC Isa Urquhart suddenly knew what Farmer Farmer was going to say: “Dolly, the Sheep?” she asked; “exactly,” said Farmer Farmer: “or in this case Robbie the Robot!” and Gertie squeaked in confusion: “you mean those are Robot Sheep?” - Farmer Farmer poured three measures of Irn Bru, although he had the look of a three-fisted whisky drinker himself and handed one to each of his visitors; “not sheep, cows; but not strictly cows either – think Billion Dollar Man and you are getting closer: let me explain,” and Isa nodded encouragement; “these are hybrids; a dairy cow is really just a biological machine for turning grass into milk; so these are the next step in combining machine and biology: they are robot milkers (if you will excuse the nominalization) manufactured to resemble Belted Galloways, just because someone at the Institute happens to like Belted Galloways, and they contain a cloned digestive system so that when they chew the cud – or graze on grass, to reduce it to a degree of bathos which sums the entire process up – it is turned into milk, and as they do not sleep, they can do this all day and night long; the staff from the Institute milk them perhaps six times a day, rather than the traditional twice, morning and night; and unlike conventional high production indoor Milking Plants, they look just like cows in a field and this soothes the mind of environmentalists and tree-huggers, if you will forgive my slip there; every day at a time which is programmed into them, they make their way to the Milking Parlour where two pretty Milk Maids are waiting for them; after the last Milking yesterday they were transferred to a different field: because they are eating grass all day and night and have to be rotated regularly to allow the field to recover;” Isa stood: “thank you Farmer Farmer, can you take us to the Milking Parlour, we will need to speak with the Milk Maids rather urgently, or PDQ if you prefer!” and Gertie leapt to her feet too.
And, as she drove the Hub Panda South, towards the vicinity of Hillend Farm, Trainee WPC Gertie Mountcastle had her own internal narrative: she wondered if she would ever have the charisma of her Mentor, the enthralling WPC Isa Urquhart, who seemed to function as an intrapreneur within the Division, not by virtue of her rank, but rather of her indisputable gifts and talents (“don't hide your Talents under a Bushel,” Gertie's old Grannie used to say, but she wanted to ask “whit Talents. Grannie? When thon things wiz haundit oot by the Guid Lordie, he left me penurious, oh, ah kin sing in the Gaelic and tie Feeshermaun's Knots as Auld Papa Mountcastle tocht me when ah wiz wee, but ma thinkin is trite, ma writtin lacks a certain je ne sais quois'adoxography, ma demeanour too timid and ruly, if no doonricht bathetic an ah look aboot 12,” to which her Grannie would have given her a withering look, sniff and replied: “I don't know where you pick up such Gallus Langwidge, Gertrude Mountcastle, maybe you have School Chums from Corstorphine, but you won't hear such common dialect in Morningside, colourful though it may at first appear to an impressionable child!” – I saw the photo one of the DCs took of DI Brevity trying to show me how to work the computer and I played along until he was just so, so wrong that I had to explain it all to him instead and he looks like a Grandfather and I look like a First Year, it is too, too embarrassing) which is, of course, why, with such a stellar record of achievement in every branch of Modern Policing, the empyreal WPC Isa Urquhart has been inducted into the Police Scotland Hall of Fame and got her picture in The Edinburgh and Leith Police Gazette, The Daily Record and The Sunday Post, to boot! and Gertie glanced to her left and admired for a brief moment the indefinably stirring profile of her Mentor, the justly Proud and Imperial WPC Isa Urquhart!!! (and Teri gave a little prayer of thanks to the Microsoft Engineers who came up with 'Copy and Paste' and 'Drag and Drop' without which life would be so utterly tedious, poured another measure of Highland Park into each Coffee mug, added boiling water and stirred the concoction before floating a swirl of double cream on top, murmuring, “tonight I am free as a bird,” to which Nikki responded: “Amen to that”).
Opening one eye, and sensing morning, Teri groaned, having failed to send her copy in last night - for despite all of her brilliant adoxography, the pain had been severe and demanded prescribed sedation on top of her nightly 'fortified' coffee and, as a result, she slept the whole night through until a stabbing sensation in the vicinity of her left knee drove dreamy vestiges from her head and told her that, costs be damned, she would not allow penury to control her life, for now was the time for this particular literati to sink down into a steaming, hot, fragrant and bubbly bathos!
The philosophical WPC Isa Urquhart sat in the passenger seat of the Panda driven by Trainee WPC Gertie Mountcastle as they sped out of the City Centre towards Fairmilehead, thinking of the onomastical pressures which must have surely affected Mr John Farmer in his decision to become Farmer Farmer of Hillend Farm, below the heights of the towering Pentland Hills; the report from WPC Clare Clutterbuck, a cousin of Isa's who had made the initial contact, had described him, in characteristic fashion, as “a whisky-sodden slugabed, previously a Hedge Fund Manager before turning to his present occupation which he describes as that of a 'Gentleman Farmer' so no horny handed Son of Toil,” but then Clare is a Daughter of The Manse, so her opinions can be peppered with hot and fiery Wee-Freeisms, reflected the magnanimous WPC, musing on the ways in which Faith finds it's niche in so many of us, and recalling her old Tutor, Professor Gloriana Tumblety, informing her class of eager, shining faces that “there is no Universe other than that which we perceive for ourselves, as you will learn when you read Bishop Berkeley and jolly old Jeremy Bentham, although the caveat which we may apply to the ultimate solipsism that we are each the Centre of our own Universe, is that it does not in itself deny the existence of the Creator God, for it can be argued that she first created the Mind and within it's illimitable space, she then created the Universe and all that we perceive of it, so enjoy your Powers my Bright, Young Things, and write me an essay each on the Discrepancy between First-Hand Knowledge and Third-Person Hearsay in the Understanding of Materialism within the context of Deism (you can choose your own Gods if you must) by Friday next, Toot Sweet and off you scurry”; and Isa, arm in arm with her cousins all, Roxy and Trixie, Goldy and Ginger, Leigh, Elvira, Clare, Teri and the rest clattered down the spiral stone staircase of what had once been a Kerr of Ferniehirst Town House and so the spiral was the wrong-way-round for those who were right-handed in those days before Political Correctness did away with such distinctions on the theory that the opposite of 'Right' is ever 'Wrong' and who dare call one who is 'Left Handed, Wrong Handed'?and so the search for an alternative still goes on apace, and Isa sensed, rather than saw, their passage over the City Bypass and drew herself together, letting her reveries tear and scatter like the clouds in a Westerly Breeze, girding her loins – as it were – for the soon to be encountered Mr Farmer Farmer!
Farmer Farmer was represented to WPC Isa Urquhart as an unreconstructed Panglossian, so surrounded by an impenetrable fedge as to believe himself to be absolutely inviolable, which, to her rapier-like mind, meant he would have neglected to give himself an outro!
At the Ski Slope, the forceful WPC Isa Urquhart had Trainee WPC Gertie Mountcastle's heart swelling with admiration as her Mentor quickly swept aside protestations of 'confidentiality' and 'breach of trust' proffered by a pimply youth who described himself as the venue's Security Officer (“even if there was real snow here, I doubt he'd leave much of a sitzmark if he landed on that skinny bum,” said Isa to Gertie sotto voce, and the Trainee WPC giggled) and obtained access to the relevant surveillance discs for one of the Security Cameras – “really only for Health and Safety matters relating to our Staff and Customers, we don't snoop on who they may be interacting with” said the embarrassed boy and Isa was tempted to ask him if he ever glimpsed galanthophiles cavorting among the snowdrops, but was too generous of heart to cause him further embarrassment – and they returned to The Cowgate and Grassmarket Community Policing Hub where the pair squeezed into two chairs, and Gertie found her leg pressed tight against Isa's. giving her a glow throughout her body and turning her freckled face crimson; “look here,” said Isa, pointing at the screen, and the picture, from a distance, showed Dr Frangible Arbuthnot, easily identifiable in his pink tutu, standing by the roadside, opposite the empty field, on the opposite side of which they could make out the crashed car wedged into a clump of bushes; and as Isa rewound the video at twice normal speed, they gasped simultaneously, for, sure enough, they saw a file of cows walking backwards into view, to form a small herd around the car and further backward, The Gadfly scampered backwards down the hill, stuck his head into the vehicle, slammed the door shut and retraced his steps to his own car at the roadside; on replaying the entire scene forward, to the time when The Gadfly had taken up his post to await the Emergency services, they immediately spotted a grainy figure emerge from the vehicle in the bushes, surround himself with the small herd, and accompany it out of shot – the cows moving in single file with the inconnu mostly hidden on the far side of one of them; “he was telling the truth,” gasped Gertie; “indeed he was,” responded Isa; “The Gadfly is proving to be our Talisman on this Case; I think we need to confront that Farmer, who was obviously lying through his teeth.”; “Blues and Twos again.” asked the excitable Trainee WPC: “you betcha sweet bippy,” laughed Isa, hortatory in voice and action, and Gertie once more blushed crimson to her roots!
Later, after the luxurious WPC Isa Urquhart had accompanied Dr Frangible Arbuthnot AKA The Gadfly to The Cowgate and Grassmarket Community policing Hub, where he was cautioned again, this time by Sergeant Goldy Brevity, photographed and fingerprinted for elimination purposes and had signed the statement containing the key quodlibetal 'cows or no cows' which he had given voluntary to the gallant WPC, and was wrapped in a towelling robe while his hand took the shape of a poculiform as he held a steaming mug of Grassmarket Tea and his diaphanous pink tutu was despatched to Professor Carolina Moonbeam's Forensic Science department for analysis and comparison with that found in the boot of the inconnu's car, which was proving difficult to identify as all serial numbers, chassis, vin and engine block had been professional filed off to slow down the hunt for where and when it had been purloined, the plates were quickly ascertained to be a match with those of a Bentley currently residing in the Morningside garage of a multi-millionaire Russian 'Oilygarch' (in the Edinburgh patois) named Boris Goodenuv who was believed to have a penchant for pre-teen girls dating back some 30 or more years of his residence in the UK (first as a KGB Handler) and latterly as the Chairman and CEO of a batch of Blue Chip companies (a number of which were currently engaged in people trafficking of several distinct sorts: viz under-age girls from Eastern Europe for buyers in every major city of the land; and refugees fleeing from the many and varied wars in the Middle East and north of the Indian sub-continent, whose smugglers lost all interest in their cargo once every drop of cash or disposables had been squeezed out of them and were especially satisfied if they perished in containers or on the Mediterranean, on the principle that 'dead men tell no tales') who hobnobbed with D-List Celebrities of dubious taste and limited intelligence; but they were unable to source the plates, aside from stating that they were professionally manufactured, and despite Arbuthnot's claim that the driver had been bleeding, no sample had been procured, from the car, the mobile phone, Dr Arbuthnot's pants, where he had carried the phone, in the absence of pockets in his tutu, and as for the phone itself: strenuous efforts were being made by every member of the investigating team to identify what calls had been made and received and to plot it's location every step of the way back from that field just beyond the City Bypass at Fairmilehead, indeed, almost directly below the Ski Slope - which was what gave that undisputed tyro of a WPC Isa Urquhart the germ of an idea which had her grab Trainee WPC Gertie Mountcastle from the tea urn and race with her to their Panda and shoot out of the Hub's Parking Bay in the direction of Lothianburn - Blues and Twos!
“hi Tam, whit's up?”
“see ra nicht o Abigail?”
“we wiz fludded oot!”
“aye, ittiz, so ittiz,”
“bit you're uppa hull!”
“ah ken, bit,”
“ah left ra tap runnin in ra baffroom, wirra plug plugged in, so ah did,”
“so, nuffin tae dae wi ra quodlibetal, thon Abigail, then?”
“naw reely, burrit wiz thon same nicht, so it wiz!”
“whirraboot yer calamondin tree doonsterrs?”
“jeez, whirra bummer!”
“aye, ye'r richt – nae equanimity therr!”
“So,” breathed the indefinable WPC Isa Urquhart, towards the pink-faced man opposite her, “let me recap the quodlibetal and see what we can agree on and where we differ: you saw the car leave the road and cross the field before ploughing into the stand of bushes,” and The Gadfly nodded; “you approached the car and spoke to the driver – did you touch any part of the car?” he gulped; “I wrenched the driver's door open – Oh My God! my fingerprints!” but Isa shook her head gently, sympathetically; “don't worry, they will be on file with Carolina's department – you work there?” and he nodded, relieved; “okay, and you spoke to him and he spoke to you?” again he nodded, barely, almost imperceptibly, but nothing escaped the searching gaze of the dedicated WPC; “I told him I would call the emergency services from The Steading, but he gave me this phone – which I rather thought was strange for such a man, it having a pink case and him being so, erm, Manly,” and Isa could have sworn she saw a blush creep over his face; “and when you left him, do you think it possible he could get out of the car unaided?” and she saw The Gadfly's mind working as he tried to recall every detail of the inconnu and his situation: “I should think not, and as I walked back to the road I checked, that is to say I glanced back every few yards just to be sure everything was okay and I could see him still there, with the cows standing around seeming also to be watching him,” and Isa felt like they were two persons sharing a common language but such different dialects that there was no possibility of reconciling each other in this bipartisan discussion, as though The Gadfly's tongue was Romanesco while she was Neapolitan; “there were no cows when the Paramedics arrived, I've checked with them and they confirm – the field was empty, no cowpats, no trough, and we have checked with the Farmer, there have been no cows there for 15 months,” and she fancied that The Gadfly was about to cry, so handed him a Standard WPC Issue Tissue from the gadget belt that encircled her waist; “and there was no man in the car, the keys were gone from the ignition, and they checked the boot, it only contained, beside the spare tyre and a toolkit, a pink tutu!”
And it was in a cafeteria on the Front at North Berwick, over a steaming saporific pot of Camomile Tea that The Gadfly told his tale, of seeing a car drift off the Edinburgh Biggar road and push through a hedgerow, cross a field of cattle and end nose first in a wild tangle of bushes; as he had been driving in the opposite direction, out of the City, he had parked not quite level with the gap thus created in the hedge, and, still wearing only his pink tutu, scampered down the track formed by the passage of the other car in the direction of it's stop in the clump of bushes, how he had spoken to the injured motorist and, with the man's mobile, summoned assistance; then waited at the roadside; and after the arrival of the team of emergency vehicles, he noticed that the cows had disappeared; and that was when the seemingly imperturbable WPC Isa Urquhart asked him to describe the man: “but you've seen him,” The Gadfly squeaked”; “humour me,” murmured Isa majestiously”; “big,” said Dr Frangible Arbuthnot, “very big, and bloody, but not from the collision, it was a bloody big dunt on the back of his heid,” and Isa noticed him slipping into the vernacular, no doubt occasioned by shock, and she looked him straight in the eye: “there was no man, nor any cows,” the words slipped softly from her lips and and hung in the silence between them as the eyes of Dr Frangible Arbuthnot opened wide, with their turquoise irises, and he seemed to have difficulty in processing the information she had given him, looking rather like the holder of a sinecure on being asked to do some work and finding himself ill-equipped for the task, or a frightened rabbit caught in the twin headlights of Isa's hypnotic gaze: “but there were cows, and he was, he was there, he could hardly speak or move, “and,” he scrabbled inside his tutu, into the pink pants it was attached to, and pulled out a mobile telephone, “here's his phone,” and slid it across the formica-topped table, though having seen where he had kept it, Isa was reluctant to touch it, and possibly contaminate any prints or DNA evidence it might present and against which she may not be sufficiently inoculated!
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