We told our story, or at least it sounded more like a story than a factual statement: T: well, you know my name – oh, sorry, for the tape, yes, ok, right, no problem, sorry Isa, I mean Constable Urquhart – this microphone, right, yes, well I'm Teri, sorry, Theresa Somerville, I live in Souter's Place, off the High Street, you don't need my age or anything, fine, just thought I'd check, right, that's me, oh, sorry, well I'm a Freelance Writer and Blogger and part-time Lecturer in The Art of the Short Story; S: and I'm Sammy, oops, Samantha Linger and I live in Corstorphine, Rebus House, it belongs to the University, I'm a Reader in English Semantics and The Pedantry of Linguistics, oh, and we just met today – I've been following Teri's Blog, you know, The Adventures of Daphne and Maude, on Blogger, and providing a commentary and analysis for my students on the Beowulf Cluster in the Department and thought I'd visit some of the locations for my research and, Wow, I bumped into Teri; T: oh, It was me who bumped into you, Sammy and knocked your coffee over; S: oh, sorry, right, yes; T: so you'll ask questions, Isa and we answer them – and are they open or closed, the questions, sorry, shut up Teri – I'm such a Gasbag; T: yes, we had followed a Man, though we didn't know who he was, or why – other than that he'd come out of Martin Elginbrod's Chambers and at that moment we had the wherewith and it was a change from the regular jog-trot, you know; S: no, we don't know Martin Elginbrod, personally; T: only that he is a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma – or as one of the wee Montelimart sisters put it the other day, “a half-sooked sweetie, wrapped in a tissue, left in a trooser pocket an' pit in the machine on a boil wash – ye tak it oot an' say 'fuck me, wha pit this in ma pooch?'”; S: out of the mouths of babes and sucklings; T: they probably pick them up at school; S: swear words; T: no, sticky sweeties; S: yes, he was walking fairly quickly, kind of steadily, like a policeman, oops, I don't know why I said that, or a soldier, not exactly festinating, but not dawdling; T: I don't think he stopped at all, until just when he came through the back door in Cockburn Street and we nearly bumped into him; S: so, that's right, we had followed him all the way from Elginbrod's to The Malt Shovel Inn; T: then only my Dear Reader, Sammy, had gone into the pub because I can't go in there, because, well, it's just that, erm (long pause) they use Palm Oil and I'm boycotting it; S: are they? T: yes, definitely; S: so I found a seat at a table fairly near the back where The Man joined another guy by the Juke Box and played a few records, which I recall were 'Stand By Your Man by Tammy Wynette, 'Walking Back To Happiness' by Helen Shapiro, 'Always On My Mind' by The Pet Shop Boys, and 'The Policeman's Lot Is Not a Happy One' by Danny Kaye; S: no, I didn't know the second man; S: no, I couldn't hear what they spoke about because their heads were close together and they seemed to be reading the List of Records; S: yes, after the fourth record, The Man left the pub and I joined Teri, who had been hanging about 'incognito', outside; T&S: yes; T: we started to follow him down Cockburn Street when Miss Bernie (sorry, Bernice) Westwater came out of nowhere and moved in front of us; S: without seeming to have noticed us; T: and began following The Man and we followed her; T: yes, we saw them go into the entrance to the Overhead Walkway at Waverley Station and she was; S: maybe 10 seconds behind him; T: no, we couldn't really cross straight away because of the traffic, it was mad just then; S: so it probably took a few minutes for us to reach the entrance; T: and when we got there; S: there was no-one to be seen; T: yes, we checked the stairs down from the walkway, but saw neither Miss Westwater nor The Man; S: yes, we were at the lift when the doors opened; T: and we saw Miss Westwater lying on the floor; S: I screamed; T: then me; T: yes I went to her aid while Sammy dialled 999 and asked for Ambulance and Police; T&S: no, there isn't anything else we can say – so we both signed the handwritten statement and said that yes, we would go to The Grassmarket and Community Policing Hub at early doors tomorrow, to sign the typed statement and look at any Mug Shots or CCTV recordings the entrancing WPC had found by tracing our route, together with the interior cameras in The City Chambers, The Malt Shovel and The Walkway, together, and perhaps, crucially, with that inside the Lift, and other than that they thanked us for being so open and honest, but warned us against following strangers around the city for it could so easily have been one or both of us in that lift, at which we both ran to The Ladies and were sick – the image of Bernie sprawled on the floor, her life ebbing away, had been imprinted on our minds and would not go away for a very long time; and as my flat was the nearer we took a taxi back there and had a cup of Lapsang Souchong and sat huddled together wrapped in a blanket on the sofa feeling shocked and quite distraught, which is why we ended up cuddled up in bed with a couple of hot water bottles and each held tight by the other's arms, not for sex, solely for comfort and security and that was how it came to pass that we both missed all the radio and TV reports and woke up the next morning oblivious to the things that had happened during the rest of the previous day and night, probably the only two people in Scotland (if not the whole world) who had missed all the excitement!
We both stood, paralysed by indecision and my Dear Reader Companion, in her personality, her essential quiddity – or as we would say, in Scotland, “in herself” - sensitive and emotional, began to laugh slightly hysterically, until I gave her a dig in the ribs with my elbow and urged her to accompany down the short flight to the walkway which runs overhead across the station concourse, with a lift and several more flights of stairs down to platform level – we pressed the button for the lift but did not waste time waiting for it, but ran along and checked the stairs, saw neither Bernie nor the Man, and then I rushed back to the lift and found that it was arriving at the upper level and the doors began to open almost immediately; my Companion was the first to see her, and so she gave the first scream, followed in a heartbeat by me; for Bernie lay slumped against the side wall, a livid gash across her beautiful white neck that I had always envied, and blood drenching her blouse and coat: “call an Ambulance and the Police,” I ordered as I knelt beside Bernie and searched for a pulse – it was there, but very faint, and the blood was still oozing from her slashed neck; I rummaged in my bag for something to staunch it and could only find my scarf, so made do with that as an ad hoc bandage, but it was like trying to hold back the waves – I guessed that the blade hadn't severed an artery, because I had heard that the blood would spray out with the force of the heart's pumping, so if it was a vein or several, and if the Paramedics were quick, we should be able to save her; “oh, Bernie, Bernie,” I said, not knowing if she could hear me but knowing that if I were she I'd want to know that someone cared about me, “we've called for an Ambulance and it's nearly here – I can here the siren,” and at that I could hear feet rattling down the steps and then two Paramedics appeared at the lift door; one helped me up and the other knelt to examine Bernie, she eased away my scarf and then replaced it and applied pressure while her partner pulled out some dressing pads and tape from their bag – at that point I began to feel a little faint and I sat down on the steps where my Dear Reader sat, bent forward with her head between her knees: “you didn't bargain for this when you tagged along,” I said, trying to sound cheerful (for her sake or mine, I really don't know) though I was desperately worried about Bernie and felt I should call her family and wondered if I had a number for either of her cousins – Dixie and Bunty O'Hooligan – and checking my phone, found that I still had one for Dixie and called it and it was answered on the third ring: “who's this,” she said and I would have known her anywhere, even though it had been years since we were in class together, and had spent a weekend camping on a field trip (well, yes, literally) in The Great Glen – two girls to a tent and I drew Dixie and, though we had been classmates forever, we had never been BFF and this was the closest we had ever been, and over the course of the week we got closer – much closer; Dixie was my first lover and for me it was an experience of True Romance and Total Passion, against which all others in my life have been measured and few have surpassed; and it was the closeness Dixie and I came home from that Trip with that turned her cousin Bernie into my tormentress, for she had staked first claim on Dixie and, ever somewhat refractory in her relations with the world around her, unaccepting of what she did not like, was now my sworn enemy and I the recipient of many brickbats from her; luckily, Dixie and Bunty protected me, but it was not a pleasant experience, knowing that someone hated me and would have happily ground me into the dirt; when we left school at the end of that term, I still saw plenty of Dixie, but wasn't aware of Bernie being around, so the tension eased and we had a lovely summer – we didn't go far, and didn't need to, for Edinburgh has some fine parks and wildernesses within it's boundaries and just beyond; we rambled around the Pentland Hills and made love while gazing down at our city, spread below; we walked the Cramond Foreshore, and spent an afternoon on the Island, reached by a causeway at low tide; we walked from there to Portobello another day and played on the sands with other kids – still young enough to toss and catch tennis balls and send frisbees slicing overhead: oh, when Dixie leapt high, her arm outstretched and fingers reaching to grasp the disc and pull it to her, I truly believed I would never see a more wonderful sight (but I was only 17 and we both still had something of the world to see – and not necessarily in other countries) and rarely have, for the eyes of youth have an intensity which can fade as our experiences increase, and the curve of a thigh or breast, which sets the girl's nerves tingling all over her body, will in time become so commonplace that the woman may often fail to notice them, or simply register their existence as a matter of fact; without wonder or enchantment – which is kinda sad really; and Dixie's voice took me back to that summer – our first and last, for I started at University and she went to be a Nurse, and between her shifts and my studies and the fact that we each had a lot of work and studying to do, and were meeting new people and encountering new experiences, and trite though it must sound, we genuinely did just drift apart – all this fluttered through my head as I listened to her voice, so I took a quick breath and told her who I was, where and why I was calling, and that Bernie would be going to A&E at the Royal; that I believed she would be okay and please let me know how she gets on, and Dixie promised she would call me back later once she had definite news; as I clicked my phone off I looked up the stairs and saw two Police Officers coming down, and I recognised them both, for the scintillating WPC Isa Urquhart is my cousin and the newly promoted Detective Inspector Gordon Brevity is married to another cousin of mine, so I helped my Dear Reader to her feet and, the lift being cordoned off with Crime Scene Tape and now being worked upon by their team of SOCOs, we went downstairs with the officers to find somewhere to sit and give them what information we could.
And so I sat outside The Malt Shovel Inn, but rather than typing up my account as I had let you, Dear Reader, believe, instead I watched Bettany Hughes' discourse on Socrates on the BBC iplayer:
Oh, I never knowingly miss her when she is on Television and of all the women I would dearly love to meet, she is the foremost – so intelligent, so enthusiastic, so lucid in her descriptions of ancient history, she is in herself a revelation and utterly auroral, bringing the dawn light to bear on me (but Hush! no word of any of this to my dear Aunts and former Tutors, Daphne and Maude, for to speak thus might be seen as a betrayal, but it is not, for it is only through the wonderful insights which they gave me when, as a young student, barely able to read and write, they nurtured me, caressed my mind and inspired in me such a love of the past and an ability to see it alive and thriving and creating the possibility for the time yet to come, and without their guidance I would never be in a position to appreciate the teaching of Bettany Hughes) and breathing life into the ideas and teachings of those long-dead visionaries; and she is also Gorgeous, with a fine countenance, an ample figure, with lovely legs and a bosom to lay one's head upon; so absorbed was I and so overwhelmed by my interest in what I saw on-screen, that I quite failed to miss the departure from the pub of the Man I had been following – of course, I knew nothing at this time of his Size 13 Boots and their links to other things, only that his connection to the evil Martin Elginbrod must signify something; but when my Dear Reader and Companion of the day came out and placed a hand somewhat intimately upon my shoulder I gave a start and an involuntary cry: “what is it?” I asked and my Companion, my Watson or Tonto, quietly pointed to the figure just disappearing round the bend of the street down to it's junction with Market Street: “oh!” I cried, “we must make haste and follow him”- and in horror I saw that my cry had been too loud, and had carried over the heads of the tourists and stravagers ambling up Cockburn Street, to reach the ears of our quarry – he turned and looked up the way, but fortunately neither I nor my Reader were so tall or significant that he caught our eyes, and as he quickened his steps we we were about to hasten after him when – I suddenly became aware that we were not his only trackers, for there, just across the road and moving swiftly in pursuit, was my old school tormentress, Bernie Westwater, but I could think of no reason why she should be so engaged; nevertheless, it gave me an idea – I would let Bernie move ahead and act as our shill, by following the Man, while I and my Dear Reader could drop back, and all we had to do was keep Bernie in our sights and where she went, we would follow, in the certain knowledge that our quarry was leading the way and if he became suspicious, it would be Bernie he might notice, rather than us (that would give me time to constellate and think up some justification for being wherever we might be, should Bernie herself turn and see us behind her – I hope this is not confusing, but you will understand that I was thinking on my feet, not a practice that comes naturally to me) further back; at the foot of Cockburn street, where there’s a little roundabout, we saw Bernie turn right, and as we reached the corner, we saw her hurry across the road, just past the Photographers Gallery, and turn left, down the steps leading to Waverley Station, “run,” I urged my companion,” but she was no faster on her pins than I, and we had to wait for several taxis and a Post Office van which were coming up towards the roundabout, before we were able to dash to the Station entrance and, as we paused at the top of the short flight, we could see – no-one!
And what of the man with the size 13 Boot, spotted by Lord Linkumdoddie entering the Chambers of Martin Elginbrod QC, observed on CCTV by the perceptive WPC Isa Urquhart handing an evidence bag to the hapless lab technician Simon Symms, and – would you credit it – just now, this very moment, emerging from Elginbrod's Chambers like a deflated balloon, a shadow of his former self, no longer pugnacious, no longer confident of his power and strength – physically or psychologically; what one might call 'a broken man' and we cannot but wonder at what may have occurred within to debilitate him so – and yet, and yet, there is still an air of purpose in his movements, in his steps, perhaps simply the act of walking has brought him back to his sense of his own identity, for it is said, is it not, that once a man has acquired the regulation stride and pace of the Police Service (you see it is no longer a 'Force' and we are all 'Customers' and the crooks are all 'Persons of Interest' prior to Conviction or Assessment and afterwards, if found that they require a 'Period of Support', become 'Service Users' and the Jail in which they benefit from the Service is now a 'Support and Rehabilitation Centre', to help them get back on the Path towards Salvation) he will maintain that discipline for life, and Look! See! he seems to know just which direction to take and, as he crosses Parliament Square, the very Heart of Midlothian itself, his steps are unerring and lead him on a beeline, Eastward, until he comes to the venerable City Chambers of Edinburgh which he enters without breaking his stride – see, he is nodded through by Security Officers who clearly know him and defer to him – so there is no doubting that he is a man of Rank; hush, just once, he has glanced round to see if he is followed but we have put our heads together, seeming to consult a guide book and he is not interested in a chit of a girl (me) and her companion (you – whoever you are) and so he continues and slipping past the doorkeepers we track him along corridors, through doorways, down stairs, sticking to him like paper clips to a lodestone (when I worked for Edinburgh Council, oh, many years ago now, but not so many that you calculate my age too highly, every public counter was provided with just such a thing so that we poor girls who were from time to time deputed to staff the counter did not have to fret over where the paper clips might be, for they were always to hand – I always wanted a lodestone for myself but have yet to find, or receive one – hint, hint, nice idea for a birthday, eh?) and doubling back on himself as he descends further and further until he opens a large wooden door and steps out into broad daylight – of course! we have come out the Back Door and are now on Cockburn Street, holding back, for we do not want to bump into the imposing figure who actually blocks our way as he has stopped on the doorstep and is standing stock-still and looking up to his right, up towards the top of the Street, where my dear old Grannie used to shop at Patrick Thompson's (PT's was an institution with Edinburgh Ladies, but sadly both it and they are gone) hush! Can he feel our breath on the back of his neck? no, it seems not, for he has stepped across the pavement and the road to the other side and is entering a Public House – oh Lordy, Lord! it is The Malt Shovel, from which I have been barred ever since the 'Shocking Incident of the Knickers in the Lunchtime' which, to my eternal shame, made front page in The Sunday Post complete with a photograph which clearly showed my face and my rear, together with the name of the Pub above the door and is now kept behind the counter so that new bar staff can identify me if I show my face – or bottom; so – what to do? quite clearly I cannot enter and must remain outside, and will therefore be unable to report on any activity or conversation occurring within, while you, on the other hand, may freely enter, use your eyes and your ears and report back to me, that I may scribble my lines; which may not be strictly ethical, to report entirely hearsay, but we are not giving evidence in a Court of Law, so that which would be Inadmissible Evidence will, I feel, be quite OK with my Editor (she is my Cousin, after all, and quite prepared to give me a little licence from time to time, and surely this is truly a time for that) so – do not delay, get you into the pub and pin back your lug'oles, Dear Reader, and constellate what you may see and hear while I take a seat outside and make good use of my time by typing this morning's exploit into my Tablet and when you may, haste ye back to my side and fill me in before the sun reaches my post, for I am not much given to heliolatry and do not want another red face in the vicinity of this Pub!
On their return to The Grassmarket and Cowgate Cowgate Community Policing Hub, the effervescent WPC Isa Urquhart and detective Inspector Gordon Brevity were surprised to find Professor Carolina Moonbeam awaiting them: she was in a thoroughly apologetic state of mind and did neither take a seat in Brevity’s Office, nor accept a cup of coffee, for she had, she said, no time to waste: she informed them that one of her lab technicians, Simon Symms, had been restrained and arrested after attacking her in the Staff Room and then running amok in the Lab; then, after being cautioned, he had made a quaggy statement about being overworked, underpaid and highly sexed, claiming that Professor Moonbeam was the object of his affections and desires, that he only wanted her to return them, but that he was being bullied and black-mailed by police officers continually asking him to do extra work, even through his tea-breaks, and expecting him to 'multi-task' as though he was 'just a woman, without a man'; and on investigation it seemed as though he had put aside the work on hair, blood and soil samples, which he had been told to prioritise, as they were part of the investigation into the serial-killer – who, it was believed, would prove to be the man matching his description in every regard, whom WPC Urquhart had apprehended just this morning; instead, Symms appeared to be working on the identification of a red hair which had no paperwork, and no chain-of-custody tags – no-one knew where it had come from, nor who had given it to Symms, and he, when asked about it, had started burbling but forming no words, then snarling and baring his teeth like a dog, and then shouting “bang, bang, you're dead,” as children might when playing at 'Cowboys and Indians' (in my day, added Professor Moonbeam or 'Special Forces and Taliban' now); WPC Urquhart commented that she had been concerned that the non-arrival of the awaited results might have delayed the search for the perpetrator and could certainly shed no light on the errant red hair, and DI Brevity asked if the CCTV at the lab might shed some light on it, but the Professor said glumly that the CCTV seemed to have been switched off for an hour and no-one was admitting to having done it, while all Symms had said was that the 'Big Man' had done it, but to whom he was referring it was impossible to say – “it certainly wasn't an Act of God!” said Moonbeam, laughing bitterly, but there was no evidence available to shed any light on the matter; after she had left, Brevity suggested that perhaps WPC Urquhart – something of a dab hand in these matters, might be able to constellate something up from the CCTV outside the labs – that is, not part of the internal system; and it wasn't difficult to atend enthusiasm in the vivacious WPC so, before long, Isa called him through to the surveillance room, where she indicated some images of the car-park from a camera across the street – she excitedly pointed to the figure of Symms, easily identifiable from a full face presented as he walked across, glancing furtively around, and stood by a car seen side on; the driver was hidden by the roof, but at one point he reached across to pick up something small and shiny, “an evidence bag,” said Brevity, and the lower half of his face was visible; then he sat back in his seat and Symms appeared to take the evidence bag from him, turn, and walk back to the Lab; “that must be the one with the hair,” said Isa, rewinding to see if there was any clearer view of the driver, but there wasn't; then they watched as the car moved out of shot, and moments later saw it turn towards the exit – it's number hidden by other vehicles, before turning into the street and disappearing from view; Brevity congratulated Isa on her keen eye and suggested that she try to pick it up on street cameras in a radius of a mile from the Lab, maybe manage to see it's plates and even a head-on shot of the driver, for he was sure that she was right, though he didn't say that he was sure he recognized the driver from the brief glimpse of his lower face, and hoped that he was wrong, for if he was not, well, it hardly needed saying, the shit would really hit the fan!
And while Frankie and Jock chewed their crumpets and sipped their coffee, each lost in their own thoughts of the possible meaning of that most peculiar visit spotted by Lord Linkumdoddie earlier – he reflecting on the divers ways in which tellurians behave on their little blue dot in the vastness of the universe, and she reflecting on the oobleck which fills the negative space between objects and beings, at times allowing them free movement and at others – oft-times quite unexpectedly – binding them together with it's tenacity; for they were in their own ways, moral philosophers; and all the while, not so very far away, indeed quite close in relative measurements of both time and space, it was the perspicacious WPC Isa Urquhart who jumped from one moving car at the bottom of The Mound, to another moving car and, fearless in the face of danger, clung tenaciously as the driver accelerated wildly and drove recklessly against the on-coming traffic but was powerless to prevent the daring WPC who, ignoring his contumacious language and behaviour designed to imperil her and cast her to a bloody and violent death was able to clamber into his vehicle, overpower him, seize control and bring his mad dash to an abrupt end as the car braked, skidded into the top of Market Street and came to a halt just below the historic offices of The Royal Bank of Scotland, where she was able to cuff her suspect to the Princes Street Gardens railings, summon back-up with her radio, and formally charge the utterly defeated and deflated man whose reign of terror she had ended with her legendary determination and bravado: “it's all up, Chuck,” she told him, “you'd best get ready to spend the rest of your days in Perth or Peterheid, cos you ain't never gonna find a 'Get Out Of Jail Free Card', after what you've done, and mind you don't turn your back on the other inmates, cos the screws ain't gonna be protecting you,” for her prisoner was one of the most dastardly serial killers in the history of Police Scotland's Zero Tolerance of brutality and murder – Archie Kilmardinny might look a fit and dapper Scout Leader (which he was) but behind this façade, he had preyed on vulnerable women of all ages who, when they had found themselves alone and helpless and had turned to this apparent Knight Errant riding to their aid, expecting succour and support but, too late, had realized that they were in the clutches of a sadistic and callous, bloodthirsty brute, who had savagely tortured them, raped and abused their bodies while tormenting their minds until they gave way under the horrors he had subjected them to before finally slaughtering them and casting aside their broken and bloody remains like the left-overs of a Chicken Balti cast in the gutter by a Saturday Night Drunk, for the scavengers to pick over; but the self-critical WPC did not consider her apprehension of the killer to be the result of diligent police work – painstaking collection and collating of evidence, interviews with possible witnesses, skilled analysis of forensic clues picked up by SOCOs and worked on by the dedicated technicians at..... she frowned, for the lab tech had been supposed to call her this morning with the result of the hair, soil and blood samples from the most recent murder, and hadn't; she was suddenly angry, very angry, and the volcanic WPC Isa Urquhart is like Vesuvius and no-one wants to be in the vicinity and right now, only one person was, so she turned and swung a fist at him (now Isa Urquhart's right hook can break bones, and if it had connected she would truly have blown her Police Career) but luckily, Detective Inspector Gordon Brevity – in whose car she had been travelling when she glimpsed and recognised Kilmardinny in his vehicle, had just arrived after safely parking his car and he swiftly intercepted Isa's fist and turned her attack into a congratulatory embrace, whispering: “well done, lassie, you were like John Wayne in 'Stagecoach' and for me, you had the edge,” at which she grunted, “John Who?” and Brevity laughed, then noticed her hands were shaking and asked her what was wrong, and she said she didn't know, she couldn't control them, she couldn't tell which was which, and Brevity reassured her: “it's just ambisinister – the opposite of ambidextrous – it's shock, delayed reaction, you just have to sing: 'the right hand's connected, to the left brain; the left hand's connected to the right brain; now hear the word of The Lord!”
And, strange to relate, it was just at about that same time that Lord Justice John Linkumdoddie, having been for his morning paper – The Scotsman, of course – and returned to his flat above the High Street, not far from Parliament House and the Court of Session, had brought in a tray with coffee, crumpets and jam to his lover, Frankie Leigh, who was just beginning to wake and whose hair was still tousled and framed her shiny, still sleep-puffy face, with a jungle of auburn curls; she noticed, though, a serious look on his face and was instantly alert, giving him a questioning glance; “two things, hen,” said the eminent Judge, in his mellifluous voice which she could listen to all day and night, and giving his lover a kiss, “yon Tammy Shanter's spread about me and Tavish being the Mystery Men on the Stone of Scone Heist – as she keeps calling it; we're not particularly concerned about it, though there will be two large and vociferous camps: the Nats who'll want us elevated to the Pantheon of Martyrs and Heroes along with the others involved, and those self-same others involved (who were, after all, the principals, while we were just drivers) together with other strange kindred spirits, like the Tories, Liberals and Socialists still all tarred with the 'NO' brush, who will question why we should go unpunished when several served time for their parts; I'm honestly not concerned for myself, but if this Shanter lassie instigates a wider frenzy and the red-tops get stuck in, making a cacophony like a million cicadas they might uncover some connections to The Justice League of Edinburgh, which would be unfortunate for my nephews and nieces; oh, and the other, rather more important, thing is that I just saw a police officer in plain clothes – you can always tell them by their boots – going up to Elginbrod's Chambers with a fishy look about him, as if he had a bad smell under his nose, perhaps of sulphur, certainly of venery, for he had the look of a huntsman following the scent of his quarry,” and when Frankie asked what was odd about a Bobby going to see an Advocate, Linkumdoddie told her which Bobby it was and her eyes widened in shock!
And yes, at that particular moment, way. way, faraway to the West, if we travel at meteoric speed to the darkest reaches of the Grassmarket and Cowgate, where the wearer of the Size 13 Official Issue Policeman's Beat Boot was leaving the upper flat which his team had now finished processing; for he had called in a few favours, made a few threatening remarks and twisted a few arms – and, with his inherent metaknowledge of the motivations which impel human beings to engage with the most mundane or esoteric of tasks, he had greased a few palms as well; the two apartments had been dusted thoroughly for fingerprints and those of the resident and the owner, though the technicians new not his name, were eliminated, leaving just several sets of prints made by persons wearing gloves, and therefore unidentifiable; next a thorough and detailed sweep had been made which picked up no bugs or cameras, for The Economic Migrant – who was laughing as he watched all of this on his computer monitor, while drinking a can of Irn Bru – had supplied only top of the range cameras to The Shottstown Ladies Quick-Draw Club, with no metallic parts these were undetectable by either the naked eye or the mediocre tracing devices used by Police Scotland; in fact the only clue as to what had happened was the discovery of a single red hair in the lower apartment' which was even now being examined furtively by a technician who should have been concentrating his energies on the search for the murderer of a prostitute whose body had yesterday been found in a downstairs cellar in the New Town; so it was with some trepidation that the wearer of the boot with the singular print and its companion was making his way towards the Chambers of Martin Elginbrod QC; he knew that Elginbrod was a man who did not accept, and usually avoided, failure, and demanded his employees ensure that whatever he wished done, was done; the Boot Man was a strong-willed and strong-armed man himself, who had been in the employ of Elginbrod for almost twenty years – during which time also an Officer of Police Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Police before the amalgamation; but he could not help a feeling of anxiety – normally something which never afflicted him – which caused a certain quickening of his heart rate and sweating of his palms as he tried to prepare a report with a positive spin in his mind; the final tests were due to produce results within the hour, though what those would be he was uncertain – there had been an aroma in both flats, an aroma which tickled the nose of the Boot Man as that of a musicologist entering a St Orleans Brothel who senses the zydeco which has provided its rhythms for the activities carried on within the walls – and he had air samples taken which were being analysed at a very expensive private laboratory on the other side of the Pentlands and he only hoped they would produce some leads which he could follow up, for the smell had a mixture of machine oil, some equestrian tang and a strong sense of leather, which he was sure he had encountered before but the source eluded him, and this only made him angry and that anger at least suppressed his anxiety and did not allow it to become fear; so with the confidence of the psephologists who convinced themselves to believe what electors had given as their voting intentions for the General Election in May and ebulliently predicted a 'Hung Parliament' and another Coalition Government, he convinced himself that he could persuade his Master that he was, indeed, 'hot on the trail' of the perpetrators and expected to return the stolen property with no delay – but perhaps he should have felt some fear as he entered the ground floor lobby and climbed the stairs to the Chambers, for fear would have prepared him for the reception he got as soon as he entered Elginbrod's private office!
To describe the party's escapades on The Bass Rock would takeup 700 pages of foolscap covered in tiny writing and of such multifarious detail and full of such 'inside baseball' references that only a social scientist or prurient seeker after what he might call aberrant or perverse behaviour would be interested in – suffice to say, the Rock was a sans mans enclave that entire day and the ladies all thoroughly enjoyed themselves, with the entire Ship's crew together with Effie and her staff all joining in: you might call it a saturnalia, but, in truth, Saturn had fuck-all to do with it for this day, Venus Rools was writ upon the Rocky Crag and even Tuffy Bathgate's rendition of Bonnie Tyler's 1977 Disco Classic It's a Heartache with her own mondegreen lyrics – no-one ever managing to persuade her that she had misheard them on her first encountering the song - “It's a Hard Egg, Nothing bit a Hard Egg” was unanimously voted the Karaoke Top of the Pops for the day, but, for the nonce, Teri was so active and pre-occupied that she barely had thyme to thype these words before she was wheeched off in another frenzy of activity and pleasure and just managed, as she abandoned her tablet on a rocky shelf, to click on Submit
Which was just as well, for out at sea, in the bleak fastness of the German Ocean, where the waves roll in thunderous motion, rain and sleet fall in sheets that would slice a man in two – no thanks, one is more than enough, and so say all of us lah! – the hardy adventurers had come, had seen and had conquered: the approach had been choppy, perhaps not quite so perilous as Teri might lead you to believe, but certainly several members of the Ship's Company got slightly splashed with the spray; the landing was well enough effected once Lulu had leapt ashore and tied the ropes to the stanchions so that The Lady, comfortably moored, simply rode the tide; and Phemie led the party up the path to the cheery sight of The Bass Rock Tearoom and Hostel where they were all made welcome by Phemie's cousin Effie, honestly not a pseudonym for they were both named Euphemia by their twin sister mothers, and logically chose variations of the pet form to avoid confusions, who's neat little waitresses scurried around making sure that everyone was cosy and comfy and taking orders – quite a lot of cocoa, and a few double whiskies for starters and Irn Bru for the red-heads in the party; outside – and the view really was spectacular with the sea spreading away beneath them in all directions while they sat atop this craggy eminence: “rather like a big toe sticking up at the foot of the bath,” said Lettice Pumpherston to many laughs, cat-calls and a number of hoots, but it broke the silence and soon every was chatting away and when the drinks arrived and they had all warmed up even Lulu and her three chums seemed to visibly relax and become rather less atrabilious, and Maude realised that, although they lived right beside the seaside, and certainly Lulu was full of a pugnacious bravado, they none of them had ever been on a boat and this was in fact therefore their first trip to The Rock and when she found a moment she touched Lulu gently on the arm and thanked her for keeping her charges safe on board and tying the boat up at the quay, adding, “it's our first time here, too, you can still be a virgin at some things, even at our age,” indicating her Edinburgh friends,” and Lulu gave her a wink, and a nod, in acknowledgement, saying “well, you're a pretty game bunch, but we'd best all be careful on the rocks,” and Maude shook her hand; and though there were maps and drawings and photographs of the rock (and even a road sign giving the speed limit as 1 mile per hour, though Effie said they'd have to work out for themselves what proportion of a mile they might manage to walk over the rocky Bass, “or Toe,” and she grinned at Lettice who accepted the acknowledgement graciously) and at last Phemie said that if they all felt up to it, she felt it was high time they did their exploring and photographing and whatever else they wanted, and everyone agreed and got themselves ready to brave the elements again, and the sun shone down merrily on the assorted party (or Dolly-mixtures as Lulu dubbed them all) as they emerged from the tea room and gazed in wonder at the prospects which spread golden, and blue and silver and steely-grey, and there were double rainbows on two sides and it was breathtaking!
Which is why, later that same day, two industrious Revenue Officers made their way – not to Rose Street, but to Young Street and The Oxford Bar, for the O'Hooligan Sisters had gone there at lunchtime and had found the company so convivial that they had stayed through the afternoon, at a table with two Police Scotland Inspectors – Gordon Brevity and his erstwhile superior, Bruce Bruse; all four of then had tackled every puzzle in Bruse's morning newspaper of choice and by the time Annabelle and Traci pushed their way past the smokers outside and entered the Bar, the four puzzlers were toasting themselves and proposing to form a Pub Quiz Team and perhaps even enter the TV Eggheads competition; so it was with some slight awkwardness that the sisters-in-law drew up two more chairs and joined the quartet, “my goodness,” said DCI Bruse, gazing somewhat enigmatically at Annabelle, “what a fine head of True Scarlet, you have there, it's one I'm sure many would envy,” and Annabelle, her shoulders squared and her bosom fine and proud, acknowledged the compliment and thanked Bruse – calling him by his given name, because she had assisted him on several of his cases, when he needed to know something of a victim or suspect's financial situation, most particularly and spectacularly when he had been investigating the suspicious death of a prominent businessman and Councillor in a brothel near York Place, where the Inland Revenue Special Investigation Team was based; and then the two police officers rose from the table, for they both had places to go, but assured the O'Hooligan sisters that they weren’t levanting and they paid for the afternoon's drinks before leaving – Brevity to home, where his wife Goldy was expecting him, and Bruse back to his duty for he had suspects to investigate; and this left the four women alone, during which time Traci exungulated her already perfect fingernails, for want of any other innocent way of passing the time, until a few minutes later they were joined by Bernie Westwater; and after some commonplace remarks, it was Traci who 'cut to the chase' and explained – without naming him, Lionel's desire to spy on the notorious QC and perhaps plant a surveillance camera in his bedroom; the three O'Hooligans burst out laughing, and it was Dixie who first regained control of her mirth and explained to the two Revenue girls that they already had that all set up: she told them about a system The Economic Migrant had established, by hacking into the computer network in Elginbrod's house and also his telephone system – both landlines and mobiles; and all without having to set foot inside the building; and as proof, Dixie produced a folder of colour prints taken from every room in Elginbrod's house that had either a Smart TV, PC, laptop or tablet – the two Revenue Officers were amazed and delighted, but something troubled Traci, and she voiced it: “all of this means that if my friend were to gain access, he would be caught on camera,” and Bunty nodded, “yep, sure as eggs is eggs, I'm afraid, but I'll tell you what, The Economic Migrant will know of the 'dead times' when there's no-one meant to be in the house, so I could ask him, well, pay him, to switch the cameras off for, say, an hour, if you could let me know exactly when” - now, it will be understandable that Traci MacGillivray felt rather uneasy about the position Lionel would be in if there was any photographic evidence of him being in Elginbrod's home, so she told the O'Hooligans (which is to include Bernie, a cousin of The Twins) that she would have to think carefully about this as she had some doubts about the ability of her friend to enter and leave such a house without leaving any incriminating evidence, having no experience of housebreaking and, being an ordinary honest person, no contacts with anyone who did, and that she was in a mind to ask him to abstain from such a risky enterprise, but Dixie tried to cut through the ballyhoo and offered her own services to assist Traci's friend; she had considerable experience as a 'cat burglar', she said and both Traci and Annabelle were impressed when she laid out her credentials; Traci felt somewhat mollified and said that she would speak to her friend later and maybe they could meet with Dixie again tomorrow – at which everyone joined in heartily when Bunty proposed a toast to the success of the venture and the downfall of the Elginbrod Empire!
To what, sweetheart, do I deserve the honour of being called a Strawberry Jelly?” asked Annabelle, adjusting her bra straps and looking archly at her Supervisor; “could it be because of these?” and she glanced down at her breasts, “it's ages since you showed them their due appreciation and respect,” and she laughingly spooned a generous portion of jelly into her mouth; “oh, darling,” sighed Traci, “I'd never show them such disrespect as to use a euphemism for them, since our Green Gown afternoon, do you remember, out by the source of The Water of Leith, when we had been to Rullion Green, I have only cherished them with love and devotion – you know I always make sure that my fingernails are well exungulated before touching them, lest I should scratch the snowy whiteness of your delicate skin,” and Annabelle snorted, almost choking as a sliver of jelly went down the wrong way and gasped as another landed on the sheer alabaster of one of them; “do you know how many times we have made love?” she asked, “since that first time, when you took my virginity,” and her long-time lover, supervisor and, now, sister-in-law gazed at her in amusement: “have you been keeping count?” asked Traci, surprised that she had not thought of doing so herself – but then she had also experienced a goodly number of other lovers, while she knew that Annabelle had always been faithful to her, she secretly now felt guilty, that she, herself, should have been more loyal, monogamous even, then Annabelle said: “the last time, why it brought us up to MCMXCIX,” and Traci could not conceal her amazement: “one thousand nine hundred and ninety nine times?” she stammered, “really? almost two thousand,” her eyes were wide in astonishment, “are you sure?” and Annabelle laughed, her breasts quivering just like the forgotten jelly, “this is the Revenue department,” and both laughed together, “we never lose count of what truly matter,” and they set aside their coffee cups and tumbled into each other's arms, whispering words of devotion co-mingled with the more raunchy words of love, lust and lechery; oh, and later, when they toasted their reaching the double chiliad, it was Traci who changed the subject, for she had an enquiry that she thought Annabelle might be able to help her with, “it's about this person I've been seeing a bit of,” she started to explain, in that tone Revenue Officers use when they are using the shield of confidentiality to avoid giving too much detail on the person they are discussing, and so she was slightly surprised when Annabelle said, “the guy you've been shagging, like a pair of lovestruck rabbits on Viagra?” and laughed – “it's hardly a secret that you lock the door every time he comes in to see you, and his business went down the plug-hole months ago, so you can't have any professional interest in his affairs now, can you?” and she winked that wink which tells you, and clearly told Traci, that she's been rumbled – she blushed crimson to her roots, and threw her hands in the air: “bang to rights,” was all she could say, then:” well, down to the nitty-gritty,” and Annabelle put a hand on her knee, “we've just been there, sweetie, but if you really want another round, I'm your girl and you're my Boss,” and it was all Traci could do to restrain herself and stick to the matter she wanted to raise: “well, he's got good cause to detest Martin Elginbrod, as, I know, do also a whole Legion of other clients of ours, but it's almost personal – not almost, it is; and he has a plan to get in to Elginbrod's house and I was wondering – you are quite close to the O'Hooligan girls, aren't you?” and Annabelle grinned and rolled her eyes, “I'm pretty close to Bunty and did you know that Dixie's back in town? just a few weeks, but I've also had a few encounters with Bernie, who's now shacked up with, wait for it, Tammy Shanter! do you remember that odd bird Tabby at uni? some kind of counter-espionage thing, according to Teri, well Tammy is her daughter, and she's working at The Scotsman, but that's not all, she's done an expose of the two mystery men involved in the Stone of Scone heist, I know it's before our time, but anyway, I'm told there's going to be a big naming, if not shaming, of the two who didn't get caught,” but Traci stopped her in mid flow with a deep kiss, which was really the only way of stopping Annabelle, once she had the bit between her teeth, and when they broke for air, Traci said, “hushabye, lover-girl, let me tell you what I want – Lionel, oh, forget I mentioned his name,” - “what name? “ - “if someone wanted to plant a bug, or a camera in a person's house, to transmit to another, can that be done?” - “well, now you mention it, I do hear from Bernie that The Sisters have a contact called – wait for it – The Economic Migrant – who can eavesdrop anywhere, anyone, anytime; have you had this office swept?” - “of course, the cleaners come in every night, oh, I see what you mean, no, who would be bothered with us,” then she remembered what they had been doing less than an hour ago and Traci blushed crimson all over again, and Annabelle said that she would have a word with Bunty, they were meeting that very evening, in Rose Street, “why don'tcha come along too, it's been ages since you saw them,” and Traci agreed, because she had always enjoyed Bunty and Dixie's company and if Bernie was there too, so much the better – she clapped her hands in anticipation and Annabelle gave her a last, lingering, tongue kiss, and swept out of the room with the empty mugs and jelly bowl, a beaming smile on her face too.
Why don't you Go to Hell?
In your Titanic Vest.
You're just an Anapest,
And, when you Masticate
Loudly, you sound like Kate,
It's so hard to tolerate;
But that seems to be my Fate,
Now you're married to Jeremy,
My Brother's polysemy
Wife's my dear Relative,
I must find an adjective
I can use as a sedative
To deaden my senses,
Relax all my tenses,
Erect some high fences,
To keep you at bay
For just one whole day,
Think of – Sweet Annabelly
As Strawberry Jelly,'
and Traci MacGillivray added her name and sent the e-mail via the Revenue's Intranet to her sister-in-law and deputy, Annabelle MacGillivray (nee Arbuthnot) whose own office was just across the corridor and it was just a few seconds later that she heard a Whoop and gurgling laugh which told her it had been received and appreciated and just a few minutes passed before there was a knock at her door, a polite wait for to call “enter,” and Annabelle's head, topped by flame-red hair appeared, followed by the rest of her, indeed wearing a 'Titanic – Accident or Conspiracy?' tee-shirt, filled the doorway, carrying two mugs of coffee and a large bowl with quivering strawberry jelly and two spoons - “Annabelle, you know me so Well,” said Traci, rising to kiss her and relieve her of the bowl and one of the mugs.
Tired of regurgitating her excuses all over again, Teri typed a descanso and addressed it to the heirs of the twitterpated resident of the Hermitage, stating simply: "a stop is not a comma and a Capital is not lower case and I renounce my membership of the Honourable Company of Sub-Editors of The City of Edinburgh Pro-Tem!" and as there was no post-box on The Lady she handed it to Eunice with a request to send it by Oceanic Mail, and so it was popped over the side of the vessel into the Foamy Brine (yet again) below!
Theresa wasn't feeling too well; she thought she was dying – and if RIP were written on her descanso. It would stand not for Requiescat in Pace, but rather, Regurgitate in Pieces – like the diced carrots which are always there, no matter that you haven't eaten them for yonks; and her feverish imagination, so twitterpated felt she, wondered what it would be like to live in a hermitage on a desolate rock in the turbulent seas, with no world beyond the cliff edge to fret her; and she typed 'Theresa wasn't feeling too well' into Google Images and one of the pictures was of Theresa May in a bilious green jacket and a skirt far too short for her knobbly knees, and Theresa grabbed another sick-bag and spewed again – then haltingly typed: “ah've wrotten wottah've writ butta cannae wricht nae mair,” and hit submit.
Quadrivial Quandary (QQ) is owned and operated by Rudi Seitz.
Sentences submitted to QQ are the property of their authors. See our page on Copyright Information for details.
Dictionary definitions are the property of their respective sources, presented here via public RSS feeds or otherwise with permission.
All other material is copyright 2015 by Rudi Seitz, all rights reserved.
Use of this site is governed by our terms of service.
Contact: rudi at quadrivialquandary dot com.