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Just An Ordinary Sunday Afternoonby Julie Heginbotham
"Fatty, will you stop reading that newspaper for a minute and tell me which of these outfits will be suitable for the wedding." Bets frowned, holding up two suits from their hangers.
With a sigh, Fatty obliged and put the paper down, scrutinizing the outfits Bets was holding. "Either of them will look fine, my dear."
"Which looks the best?"
With another sigh, Fatty looked from one to the other. He knew that if he chose one, then Bets would automatically say, 'what's wrong with this one?' Either way, he wasn't about to give the correct answer, so, a compromise was needed here. "I actually like them both, and you look lovely in either of them. Which one do you feel most comfortable in?" His smile was one of satisfaction, cleverly being able to turn the tables around so that Bets now had to make the difficult choice and so getting him completely off the hook!
Bets looked from one to the other and laid them both down on the settee, pondering. "I think I'll settle for this one," she finally said, with a smile at Fatty.
"Okay dear, you'll look as gorgeous as ever." He smiled, with a twinkle in his eye and picked up his paper to continue his read.
"I wonder what Daisy will be wearing," said Bets, thoughtfully. "After all, we don't want to clash."
Fatty's eyes drew skywards, completely hidden by his newspaper. Fortunately, before he had time to answer, the sound of the back door opening and closing, and Daisy's voice saying, "It's only me," came to his ears.
"In here, Daisy," called Bets, happily. "You've come just at the right moment; I'm choosing an outfit for the wedding."
Daisy came into the lounge, and was instantly greeted by an excited Buster, before he trotted off into the kitchen, to seek out his feeding dish – now having woken from his snooze.
Daisy greeted them both, and sat herself down looking at the outfits that Bets was now once again holding up. "Which do you think, Daisy?"
"They both look nice. Which one are you most comfortable in?"
Fatty grinned behind the newspaper, knowing full well that the choice would be as before, no matter how many times this discussion progressed.
"This one," said Bets smiling, holding up the chosen suit. "It won't clash with your outfit will it?" Bets suddenly thought.
"I've not even given it a thought, what I'll be wearing," shrugged Daisy. "I'll sort out something the day before."
Fatty put his paper down. "My thoughts exactly. After all, we hardly know John Goon, so why he's asked us to his wedding is a mystery?"
"You know why, Fatty," Bets chided. "He was so grateful to you for not reporting him last year to the police."
"That may be so," he returned, "but it doesn't deserve an invite to his wedding."
Daisy grinned at Fatty. "It's not a punishment, old misery guts, it's an honour."
Fatty pulled a face. "One I'd rather not accept then."
"Take no notice, Daisy," said Bets as she shook her head at Fatty. "I think it'll be nice meeting John Goon again. And who knows, we may get to meet more of the Goon family and find out what happened to Theophilus Goon."
"We know he retired at fifty-five," said Daisy. "And left Peterswood for the north, but I don't know where. He would have passed away now, surely?"
"I would have thought so," said Bets, nodding. "He must have been almost forty, when we were children."
"That's the only reason we're going," said Fatty, matter-of-factly.
"I still think it was nice to be invited," said Bets, turning to look at Fatty. "Where's the invite? I want to show it to Daisy?"
"Over on the side board," Fatty indicated with a nod.
Handing the invitation over to her, Bets said. "What do you think?"
Daisy read it:-
JOHN GOON & SARAH THORNTON
"Looks very nice," she said, handing it back to Bets. "I expect he didn't know all our names individually, having put it like that and addressed here."
"Seems odd using our old childhood name," said Fatty, with a frown. "I wonder what's behind it?"
"Nothing probably," said Bets. "Pip seemed very keen, when I rang to tell him. What did Larry say, Daisy?"
"Roughly the same as Fatty," said Daisy, with a grin. "He'll be coming though, with Helen."
"Speaking of weddings," said Fatty vaguely, looking at Daisy with a raised brow. "Have you thought anymore on Paul's proposal?"
"I've thought of nothing else for weeks," returned Daisy, plumping the cushion behind her, in a nervous gesture. "Paul's been very patient, and he's a lovely person, so like Roger in many ways, but marriage, it's a big step at my age."
"Well if you're not sure..." Bets left the words in the air.
"I've been independent for such a long time," Daisy went on to explain. "I love my little cottage, and quite frankly I don't feel as if I want to share it with anyone."
"You wouldn't be tempted then, to move over to where Paul lives?" Asked Fatty, raising a questioning brow.
"Leave Peterswood! Certainly not!" Came her indignant reply. "All my friends are here, and now Larry and Helen."
"Well it seems to me, that you've already made up your mind," said Bets, knowingly. "So why don't you tell Paul that you're very flatted at being asked, but for the moment you'd prefer to remain as good friends."
Daisy smiled with a nod. "I think I'll have to. It's not fair to keep him waiting for my answer. Fortunately, he is a very understanding man, but he does tend to act on impulses, hence the question he surprised me with, the last night of the play."
"Yes, we were all a bit shocked," said Fatty, with a grin. "What have you done with the ring?"
"I told him to hold on to it," said Daisy. "It wouldn't be fair for me to wear his ring, without giving him an answer."
"When will you see him again?" Asked Bets.
"I'm not sure. He phones most evenings."
"Well who knows, maybe this forthcoming wedding will be catching," said Fatty, throwing Daisy a wink.
"I wouldn't hold your breath," was the returning answer.
* * *
The church bells could clearly be heard around Peterswood as the Find-Outers and partners walked to the church. Many guests were already entering and being asked by the usher if they were here for bride or groom. Fatty told the smartly dressed young man 'groom' and they took their seats towards the rear of the church.
Bets glanced around her to see if there was anyone she recognised. But unfortunately didn't. Fatty sat back and thought of his dear friend, Ern. If only he was here to see his own grandson being married. How cruel life was sometimes. He began to wonder whether Ern's wife and possibly other children were here. Unfortunately, they had never met his wife. The last time they'd met up was at his and Bets wedding, and Ern wasn't married then.
The sound of the organ starting to play interrupted his thoughts and everyone stood as the bride walked down the aisle in a beautiful bridal gown that brought gasps of delight as she glided by, before coming to stand by the side of John Goon for the wedding service to begin.
"I now pronounce you, man and wife," the vicar finished off with a smile, and everyone clapped and cheered, watching the sealed kiss. Once outside it was hustle and bustle as everyone stepped forward to congratulate the newlyweds – whilst the photographer took charge organizing the photos.
Fatty sighed at all the fuss, and Bets gave him a nudge. "Try and look as if you're enjoying it," she whispered.
"But I'm not," came the fierce whispered reply.
Standing besides Fatty, Daisy couldn't help but smother a grin. "Just think of the buffet tea waiting for us, at the hotel," she said, with a smile.
Fatty cheered up immensely, when he was approached by a middle-aged couple, and the man introduced himself as Brian Goon, Ern's only child. Fatty pumped his arm up and down with such happiness, at meeting Ern's son and his wife.
"Dad spoke so highly of you, Mr. Trotteville," he said. "The stories he told us of the Find-Outers and Dog, were incredible, and were all passed down to my son, John."
"It's an honour to meet the son of my very good friend," said Fatty, with a smile, introducing everyone else. "We only learned the sad news of Ern's death last year, from John."
Brian gave a sad smile. "Yes, Dad died four years ago now, cancer. He's still greatly missed."
"I'm sure he is," returned Fatty, seriously.
"Anyway, nice to have met you all," Brian said, with a smile, before he and his wife joined the family, who were all grouped by the church door for more photos.
At long last, the endless photo session seemed to cease and a horse and carriage appeared at the gates of the church, ready to take the bride and groom over to the Tally-Ho Hotel. Most of the guests walked the short distance and one or two went over in their cars.
As the Find-Outers entered the hotel, along with Helen and Mary, they were met by John Goon and his new wife, Sarah, as they welcomed their guests to the buffet tea.
"Thank you for coming, Mr. Trotteville," he said, with a warm smile, shaking Fatty's hand, and greeting all the other Find-Outers and their partners. "Please enjoy the rest of the afternoon. I know that one or two of the Goon family are just longing to meet you."
They all smiled pleasantly, after congratulating the couple, before making their way to the huge dining room, laid out with the wedding buffet tea. Decorations adorned the walls, and weighted down balloons were placed randomly around. A musical group was playing softly over in one corner and many of the guests were grouped together in conversation.
Waiters walked amongst the guests offering champagne, and after picking up his glass from the tray, Fatty nodded over to a table in the corner where the others followed and sat around.
"Are you hungry, Helen?" Larry asked his wife, looking over towards the long table full of appetising goodies to eat.
"I know I am," said his sister. "Come on, Helen, let's see what there is."
"Bring me something," called Larry, after them.
"I'll go and bring you something back, Fatty," said Bets, putting down her drink and rising from her chair. Turning to her sister-in-law, she said. "Coming, Mary? We can bring something for Pip, too."
Fatty watched her walking over towards Daisy and Helen, then turning back to Larry and Pip, said. "I don't know about you two, but once I've had this food, I think we'll get back."
Larry and Pip nodded. "I think we'll be joining you," said Larry. "I wasn't bothered about coming really. It's not as though we know the family in any way."
Fatty agreed. He looked around him at the guests, some chatting with plates of food in their hands, others sitting at various tables that were scattered around the edges of the room. "You can certainly spot the relations of Mr Goon," he said.
Pip and Larry looked around them. Pip vacantly shook his head, whilst Larry said, "How do you mean?"
"Their eyes," Fatty returned, with a grin. "Many of them have those frog-like eyes, that Goon had, and rather round faces."
Larry and Pip laughed. Fatty was right, it was certainly easy to spot the Goon side of the family. They were still laughing gently, when the women returned to the table, laden down with plates of food.
"What's so funny?" said Bets, as she handed Fatty his plate.
Fatty repeated what he'd told Pip and Larry. They too had a chuckle at the family resemblances. "We shouldn't laugh," said Bets, shaking her head, "it's not very polite. It would be nice to know though, whether or not Ern's twin brothers are here, Sid and Perce."
The others nodded in agreement.
"We could always ask Brian," said Larry, picking up a tiny pork pie with his fingers. "Did you bring any cutlery, Helen?"
"Here, in front of your nose," came the reply.
As they were tucking into their buffet, Fatty saw John Goon approaching, and with him was someone, who bore such a resemblance to Mr. Theophilus Goon, that Fatty took a shocked intake of breath. The others hearing Fatty's gasp of surprise, looked at the approaching John Goon and the man at his side. They too were most surprised at the resemblance and quickly looked at each other with raised brows.
"Mr. Trotteville," began John Goon, stopping at their table. "There's someone here who would be honoured to meet you all. May I present William Goon, the son of Theophilus Goon who was policeman here when you were youngsters?"
* * *
This was indeed a surprise for the Find-Outers, one that was completely unexpected. Fatty rose from his chair and shook hands with William Goon. The family resemblance was most amazing. He was instantly transported back to his childhood, facing Mr. Goon, the village policeman, or as he'd been nick named by the Find-Outers, old 'Clear-Orf'.
Fatty invited him to join them at their table and introduced everyone. "We lost touch with Mr. Goon, many years ago," began Fatty, "but we do know he retired from the force at fifty-five."
William nodded, glancing around at everyone. "Yes, Dad moved to Derbyshire, in 1965, he met Mum there and they got married in 1967. Mum is sixteen years younger than Dad was, and I was born in 1969 when Dad was fifty-nine. He died in 2000, at the age of ninety, so he didn't do too badly."
Everyone said how sorry they were to hear this, but had always thought that Mr. Goon was no longer with them.
"Is your mum here?" asked Bets, intrigued by William's account of what had happened to Mr.Goon.
William shook his head. "No. Mum's eighty-three now, and not in the best of health, so couldn't make the journey down."
"Have you any family of your own?" asked Daisy.
"No," William shook his head. "I live at home. I take care of Mum, and Dad before he died."
"Did you follow in your father's footsteps and join the force?" Larry asked.
William shook his head. "'Fraid not. I work as a caretaker in the primary school in Great Longstone."
"Is that where you live?" Fatty enquired.
"I'm in the next village, Little Longstone."
"A lovely part of the country," said Pip. "Mary and I took a holiday in Derbyshire, a few years back."
William merely smiled at everyone, before saying to Fatty. "I don't know whether you'll be interested, but Dad was very methodical in keeping a diary of his police work whilst he was here in Peterswood, and wrote memoirs for his own references which I came across a few years back after he died. I wondered whether you'd be interested in reading about some of his experiences?"
Fatty was silent for a moment, before saying. "I don't think it would be right to read anything so personal."
"I'm sure he wouldn't mind. There are lots of references to the cases he worked on with your help when you called yourselves Find-Outers."
Fatty glanced at the others, who were also amazed that William would want to share such personal details belonging to his father.
"I brought them along purposefully for you all to see," William carried on. "They're only in the car. I can give them to you before you leave. You can go through them tomorrow, and I'll collect them on Monday, before I set off for home."
"Okay," nodded Larry. "I think it would be interesting. As long as you're sure you don't mind?"
William smiled. "I'd be delighted for you to read them. It will bring back happy memories for you all."
Fatty was still very doubtful. Why would William want them all to read Mr. Goon's personal memoirs? The others seemed to relish the idea and not wanting to dampen their spirits and upset William who seemed more than delighted to share his father's works, he nodded saying, "That's very good of you. Thanks."
* * *
Buster greeted them as though they'd been away for three days, not three hours. Bets was glad to take off the shoes that had been hurting her feet for most of the afternoon, and flopped onto the settee with a exhausted sigh as though she'd run a marathon, rather than the gentle stroll back from the hotel.
"Pop the kettle on, Fatty," Bets called, as he hung up his jacket in the hall.
"Just got a quick phone call to make first," came the reply.
Fatty picked up the phone and called his eldest son Thomas, who he knew would now be at work on his evening shift and gave him the information about William Goon that he wanted checking out.
"Another gut feeling?" came his son's amused tones down the line.
"You could say that," Fatty returned, "but this gut feeling is really ringing the alarm bells, so do a thorough check, right down to the colour of his first bike."
"Okay, Dad. No worries. I'll ring you tomorrow."
Fatty sighed as he replaced the receiver, and then walked into the kitchen to brew some tea.
* * *
It had been arranged for the other Find-Outers to come over to Fatty and Bets the following afternoon, so that they could all look through the memoirs that William Goon had handed over to Fatty, on leaving the hotel.
Bets had made sandwiches and a cake and a large pot of tea and it was decided that Fatty read from the scripts, until he got tired and someone else would take over. Buster was curled up in his usual spot by the fireplace. But no logs were burning, as the day was warm and sunny and the lounge window was open slightly for ventilation.
"Are we all ready?" asked Fatty, putting down his finished cup of tea and picking up the script.
Everyone nodded with a chorus of 'yes'.
Fatty turned to the first page and read aloud. "April 25th, 1943, a fire broke out in Haycock Lane, which turned out to be a workshop in the garden of Mr. Hick. My first encounter with Frederick Algernon Trotteville was to see him throwing a bucket of water towards the flames of the burning workshop, but his aim wasn't too good and some of the water went over Larry Daykin who was close by. He was there with his sister, and two other children, the Hiltons. These children who called themselves The Five Find-Outers and Dog were to become the bane of my life as I tried to do my job as the local policeman. They became friends with my superior, Inspector Jenks, for their ability to solve any mystery that came into my patch. I was left with 'egg on my face' many times, as the Inspector sided with them and I was left to do the laborious paperwork. The burnt cottage was proven to have been started by Mr. Hick himself. That toad of a boy had worked it out by Mr. Hick giving himself away with something he said. Apparently, whilst those kids were talking to Hick, a group of Tempests flew over and he mentioned they'd flown over a few days previously. That's how he gave himself away. How could he have heard or seen those planes when he was supposed to have been on a train? Frederick Trotteville was lucky, that's all. If I'd have been talking to Hick instead of them kids, then I would have solved the mystery. Just sheer luck for them and bad luck for me."
Fatty looked up at the others. "Shall I carry on?" he asked. Everyone nodded silently.
Fatty continued. "July, and those pests are on summer break. This time a valuable cat is stolen and surprise, surprise, that toad of a boy solves the mystery again. He put down false clues in the cat's pen. One being a peppermint, and when I showed my clues, that devious toad had the same clues, to prove they weren't relevant to the case. What really humiliated me the most was when 'that boy' said we don't need the clues anymore and may as well eat the peppermint. I could have strangled him. The cat thief turned out to be the very person I was befriending, Tupping. He led me a fine dance, just as much as that Trotteville boy did. The Inspector wasn't pleased with me. He said that I hadn't shone at all in this case, and that I'd made enemies of those who were on the right track. How could I ever become friends with those interfering kids?"
Fatty looked up at everyone as he paused for another fill up of tea, which Bets poured for him and the others.
"These are rather sobering thoughts," said Pip, softly. "As kids you don't understand how the other person is feeling."
"Let's not forget that Goon was rather incompetent and I doubt whether he'd have qualified for the force these days," said Fatty, matter-of-factly.
"We were helping, not hindering," put in Larry. "If he had been a little more obliging we could have worked with him, not against him."
Everyone nodded, this was true. "Shall I carry on?" asked Fatty.
"Yes," came the chorus.
Fatty read on, and they listened to what Mr Goon had to say about the 'Secret Room' mystery and the 'Spiteful Letters', more or less repeating what had been read previously.
"Summer 1944, August," Fatty continued. "'Missing Necklace.' This is one mystery where I really did shine. I had the great idea of posing as the wax policeman that stood in the waxwork hall, amongst the many side shows down by the river. My aim was to listen to the gang, who were to meet that Tuesday evening at 9pm. Little did I know that Frederick Trotteville was already there, dressed as the wax figure Napoleon. I gave the game away by sneezing, that's how Trotteville was discovered and locked in a cupboard. It wasn't intentional; I didn't know he was there. But at least it gave me the opportunity to finish my job without that interfering toad. Only trouble was the necklace was still missing and 'Mr Clevercloggs' found it. Or at least those pests said that it was Elizabeth Hillton that came up with the idea of where it could be. It was around the wax figure of Queen Elizabeth. My good work was soon to be smothered though, as Inspector Jenks was most annoyed that I had left that toad locked up in the cupboard. I got a severe warning for that, one I didn't deserve as far as I'm concerned."
Fatty continued to read each mystery they'd solved written by Mr Goon, and how he had come worse off with all the credit going to The Find-Outers and Dog. With the last version finished, he put the script down and rubbed his tired neck.
"I think it's time for me to brew some more tea," said Bets, rising from the chair, and heading off into the kitchen.
"I'll help," said Daisy, rising from the settee, "I feel as though I've just been put through the wringer."
"I know how you feel," said Larry. "Can I have a read through, Fatty?"
Fatty passed the sheets of paper over to Larry, who flicked through them, reading some of the passages himself.
"I don't know what to say about those memoirs," began Pip. "I can understand Goon's point of view, and I know he never liked us much, but all we did was help as Larry's already said."
"Goon was entitled to his opinion, whether he was right or wrong," said Fatty. "Sometimes, when you write something down like Goon did, it often puts everything into perspective. He may have felt cheated, but I think he had enough common sense to see that we were working for the same side."
"And that's your opinion, is it?" came the sound of an angered voice by the doorway.
Fatty turned towards the door, as did Pip and Larry, to see Bets and Daisy being pushed into the lounge by William Goon, who was behind them, and in his hand was a revolver.
* * *
Buster, suddenly alerted of the danger, shot up and started a volley of barks and growls, the hackles on his back raised in anger. In a flash, Fatty took hold of his collar before Buster could make any heroic attempts of hurling himself onto the intruder, and getting himself hurt in the process.
"Wise move," said William Goon, with an evil smile. "This gun is loaded and I will use it if necessary."
He looked around at the little group, their faces showing, horror, concern, and even fear could be seen in their eyes. His own steely eyes smiled at his achievement of putting fear into the 'Find-Outers'.
"It's customary to be invited into someone's home," Fatty shot at him, in angered tones, his insides churning with a mixture of confused emotions. The gun being held so precariously was Fatty's worry. Looking at William Goon's expression showed that he was a man with a mission, unafraid to use the weapon, and not fearing any consequences of his actions. Fatty's main concern was his friends and his beloved Bets. How on earth had he allowed this to happen?
"I think you'd best put that animal into the kitchen out of the way, for his own safety," William Goon growled, closely watching the way he was trying to escape the clutches of his master.
Still holding tightly to Buster's collar, Fatty picked up his wriggling dog. Goon stepped to one side allowing Fatty through the door, and said. "Don't try anything heroic, like making a hasty retreat through the back door, I've locked it and have taken the key."
Fatty threw him an evil look as he passed and popped Buster into the kitchen. Quickly closing the door he returned to the lounge and taking a seat next to Bets, took hold of her hand. She gratefully looked at him, her face pale and confused and at that point Fatty knew he would have gladly pulled the trigger at Goon.
"What's all this about?" he asked. "You owe us that at least."
"I owe you nothing," William Goon snapped. "You've all read my father's memoirs. It's about getting justice for him. All of you and that Inspector Jenks treated him terribly. He made it no higher than a village 'bobby' because of you five."
"That's rubbish," said Larry, turning to look at William Goon, feeling angry towards this man, who seemed to be enjoying himself at terrorizing five elderly people. "He was never promoted because he wasn't intelligent enough."
Pip looked firstly at Larry, then at William, thinking how brave Larry was to stand up to a man with a gun. A man who was watching them all in turn, through cold evil eyes. He moved away from the door and took the chair that Fatty had vacated, to sit next to his wife. "He wasn't given the chance," came the sharp answer. "You lot saw to that."
"This is ridiculous," said Daisy, looking at the others, then over to William Goon. "You're talking about when we were youngsters. It was a different world back then. You weren't even born!" Daisy felt frightened herself, and was sure the others were too. But wasn't about to let anyone know how she felt.
"What exactly do you intend to do, William?" asked Fatty, in a calm voice, trying out the tactic of getting William to let down his guard. "You can't hold us hostage forever. You'll get into serious trouble, and frankly I really don't think you want to go down that route."
"I'm not really interested in what you think, ex-commander Trotteville." William watched them closely, still pointing the gun at them.
Fatty's mind was racing – this wasn't about how the Find-Outers had always come on top, when they were younger, this went deeper. William Goon, was obviously a mentally disturbed man, but for what reason? Fatty decided to try out another tactic and said, "This isn't about us, is it William?" Fatty's voice was still calm as he studied the man's face and saw just a flicker of truth. "It's about you, and your father, Mr. Goon."
William glared at Fatty, a muscle tightening along his jaw. "You're really quite clever, ex-commander. I can see why your career rocketed."
Bets squeezed Fatty's hand. She felt frightened and didn't want him to antagonize the man sitting opposite, who'd now come to sit forward his the chair, the gun pointing directly at Fatty.
"What was it, William?" Fatty carried on. "Did your father want you to join the force and you didn't want to, or maybe you tried and got turned down?"
The others looked at Fatty, all of them thinking the same thing. What was he doing? Couldn't he see the gun pointing at him?
"Both," William confirmed. "I didn't want to join the police, Dad kept on and on at me, pushing me all the time. And so I tried, but failed miserably. All I ever heard from him was, Frederick Trotteville. How good you were. How your career had gone from strength to strength. How proud he was of you and all you achieved. He even had the utter gall to say he wished he had a son like you."
Everyone listened intently, hardly believing their ears. Goon, proud of Frederick Trotteville, after the memoirs they'd just read.
"I don't understand," said Pip, lightly. "Goon hated us all."
"He followed Trotteville's career through Inspector Jenks. He was always talking about him with such admiration, and when he learnt you'd become commander, I heard nothing for week and weeks. When he died, I found all this earlier paperwork." William picked up the sheets and waved them in front of the others. "This is just a tip of the iceberg. There's more at home. When I read all this I was so angry. He'd spent most of my teenage years telling me how good you were and how he wished you were his son, and when I read this..." William threw the papers on the floor. "How hypocritical is that? For years I had to listen to this old man going on and on at me."
"William," said Bets, softly. "That's not really Frederick's fault. Nor yours, so why don't you put the gun down before you hurt someone."
"I'm angry!" he shouted. "You've no idea what life was like for me!"
Buster suddenly started a volley of barks hearing the shouts which seemed to disturb William Goon, even more. "Shut him up," he yelled. "Or I'll shut him up permanently."
"He'll stop, if you keep calm," said Fatty, suddenly fearing for everyone. This man was at the end of his tether, mentally, and needed treatment. He continued to talk to William Goon as calmly as he could, saying he did understand, but was suddenly interrupted by the shrilling of the telephone, that made everyone jump and look at William.
"That will be our son," Bets informed him. "We'll have to answer it or he'll keep on ringing and ringing. He rings the same time every week." Bets crossed her fingers at her side for using the white lie.
William nodded gently. "You answer it." He pointed the gun at Fatty. "No tricks, I'll be at the door watching you and them."
Fatty nodded in agreement and rose from his chair.
* * *
Lisa was staying with her grandmother Hilary, for a long week-end – not expected back at her teaching post until Tuesday – and so decided to go for a nice long walk, seeing as the afternoon was a gloriously warm, sunny day. She walked along the river and came to the village of Peterswood. Remembering Frederick Trotteville lived here she decided she'd call, unless they had guests.
Stopping outside Fatty's house, she noticed a car parked along the front, whilst Fatty's car was parked on the driveway, which ran alongside the house. He's got visitors, she thought. But just to check she made her way along the drive, until she came to the side of the large bay window, slightly open, but covered with a net curtain. Taking care not to be seen, she peered through the covered glass and was amazed and shocked at what she saw. A man was sitting in a chair, pointing a gun at Frederick. Stepping back and taking a few deep breaths, she decided to try and listen to what was being said. After all, it may not be as it seemed. Maybe they were acting out yet another play? Crouching just below the opened window, Lisa listened and was then totally convinced that this was no rehearsal for a play. Frederick and his friends were in danger. Taking the mobile from her pocket, she dialed for the police, and quickly reported her findings. Their instructions were for her to move to safety, but Lisa didn't want to leave before trying to see if she could help. Making her way along the side of the house towards the rear, she turned the corner and looked into the first window which was a kitchen. Slowly turning the door's handle, she found it was locked. Suddenly from inside, she heard a dog barking loudly, and moved quickly away, fearing she'd alerted the man inside who was holding the gun.
She quickly spotted a shed and hid inside. After a few moments, of nothing happening, she decided it was time she tried to enter the house. Looking around the shed she saw some garden rope that was hanging on a hook. That might come in useful, she thought, and took it down. Leaving the shed, taking care not to be seen, she cautiously made her way around the edge of the garden, looking up to see if any of the windows were open. As luck would have it, she saw an opened window, and thankfully a sash window, which was raised slightly. Not far from the window was the drainpipe, and so without giving it a thought, she placed the rope over her head to free up her hands and started to climb, thankful that she'd put on her flat pink and white pumps that went with her pink cropped trousers.
The window opened further without any noise and Lisa climbed in. Her pumps made no sound on the thick carpet as she looked around the room for something else that might come in handy to disarm the man with the gun. On a dressing table she spotted a glass paperweight and picked it up. It was quite heavy and would probably come in useful. Cautiously she made her way from the room out onto a landing. Walking quietly along, she noticed the curved spindled stairway and walked towards it. To one side of the stairs was a gallery area, and leaning on the spindled rail she looked over it – at the same time as the telephone sitting on the round table below her started to ring.
* * *
Stepping away from the rail, so as not to be seen she listened as the receiver was lifted from its cradle, and heard Frederick's voice. Good, now she could let him know that she was here, and willing to help.
"Hello son," said Fatty, glancing over to where William Goon was now standing by the opened lounge door, his gun still pointing towards the others in the room as he glanced from them over to Fatty.
"You were right about William Goon, Dad," he heard his son say. "He's had a few mental problems and has been in and out of a sanatorium."
"Fine, thanks son," Fatty interrupted him, wanting William Goon to think he was having a perfectly innocent conversation, and hoping it would alarm Thomas enough for him to jump to the right conclusion. "The others are all here too."
"Is something wrong?" came Thomas's concerned voice.
"That's right, son. Larry's here too. How's your clay pigeon shoot going?"
"Shoot? Dad, are you in danger?"
"Yes, yes, I'll come along with you, I promise." Fatty glanced over at William Goon, who was still watching the others, and glancing over at Fatty, still unconcerned with the phone conversation.
"Are you being threatened with a gun?" came Thomas's anxious question.
"Yes, I told you, I'd come. I'll have to go now, son, and I'll see you very soon, hopefully." Fatty placed the receiver, knowing that Thomas would now get things underway. He wiped a hand across his forehead and glanced up slightly, and was completely amazed to see Lisa crouching low and looking at him through the spindles of the gallery. She mouthed to him to 'leave the lounge door ajar'.
Totally confused and bewildered at seeing her, he quickly moved towards the lounge, not wanting to give her away. What on earth was she going to try, he thought? The last thing he needed right now was another person to feel responsible for. This was turning out to be one big nightmare he was finding hard to keep under control.
Back in the lounge, Fatty left the door slightly ajar, hoping that William Goon wouldn't notice, but he was back sitting in the same chair as before and indicating with the gun for Fatty to do the same. Once again Fatty took his place next to Bets and squeezed her hand for added comfort throwing her a reassuring smile, his blue eyes trying to convey that everything was going to be okay.
* * *
Taking the rope from around her neck, and putting down the heavy paperweight, Lisa made a lasso as best as she could, trying to remember how her mother had once shown her. Picking up the paperweight she made her way cautiously and quietly down the stairs and over to the lounge door. From inside she could hear the unwanted guest talking to the others, but couldn't make out the conversation. If she was going to do anything to help, it had to be now. With the door being left slightly ajar she was just able to make out where the gunman was sitting, still in the same place as when she'd peered through the window. Taking a deep breath and clutching the paperweight in her right hand, ready to take aim and throw, she kicked open the door and without thinking threw the paperweight at the man's hand and successfully saw him drop the gun as he shouted out with the pain that had suddenly struck him.
Fatty, who had been waiting anxiously, and wondering what exactly Lisa had planned, saw the gun falling from William Goon's hand, as he cried out with the sudden pain. As quick as he was able, he grabbed the gun and standing upright now pointed it at the groaning man, who was clutching his injured hand with the other. This had happened so quickly, that everyone was totally shocked and bewildered at what had just happened. Lisa was attempting to throw the rope around the injured man, but with no luck. Seeing what she was attempting, Larry rose from the settee and grabbing the rope from Lisa went to help, as did Pip, and between them they managed to rope William Goon around his middle, trapping his arms tightly to his side, as he still clutched his injured hand with his other.
Amongst all that was going on inside the house, the sound of a helicopter hovering overhead came to their ears, and Fatty knew that help must have arrived and was waiting outside. Daisy left the settee and went over to the bay window, moving aside the curtain to see if she could see anything. Further down the road, she could see a police car parked across the roadway, blocking any other vehicles' entrance and seeing as there was no activity outside on the roadway at all, she figured that the other side of the roadway was probably cordoned off as well. She reported her findings to everyone inside the room.
"I took the liberty of phoning the police," Lisa informed them, with a smile.
"Thank heavens, for that," sighed Bets, feeling much happier knowing the police had arrived, and Fatty was in charge of the revolver, which he still had aimed at William Goon.
"You're going to find yourself in a whole lot of trouble, Goon," said Fatty, sternly.
William Goon was still groaning and clutching his hand, unable to move his arms. Lisa, Larry and Pip had done a very good job of securing him with the garden rope.
"I'm sure you've broken my wrist, you stupid woman," he growled over at Lisa, who was looking pretty pleased with herself at the way everything had been sorted so quickly.
"That'll teach you not to mess with the Find-Outers," said Daisy, moving from the window. "We don't take too kindly to threats."
"Can you go to the door, Pip and tell the police it's safe to come in without any danger," said Fatty.
Pip nodded. Just as he entered the hall the phone rang, and Bets followed him out to answer it.
"Well I don't know how you come to be here, Lisa, and in the house," said Fatty, with a raised brow, "but once the police have taken away our friend here," indicating to William Goon, "I think you've some explaining to do, too."
"Thank heavens, she is here," said Daisy, with a grateful smile at Lisa. Larry said the same.
Pip came back into the lounge, and said the police were coming in. Bets entered too, saying the call was from Thomas, and he was on his way over. Buster, still shut in the kitchen was barking frantically at all the commotion, wanting to be a part of whatever was going on. Bets went to reassure him that everything was fine, and he'd be let out shortly, just as two armed police officers entered the house and a plain clothes officer.
Fatty instantly took charge of the situation, with a great air of authority, commanding attention. He told the plain clothed officer that he would gladly give a full statement the following morning, as he handed over the revolver. But at that precise moment, they all needed a bit of space and a strong brandy. "Oh, and question Goon here about a man called John Goon, who I suspect also had something to do with this little incident. If he had, then I want him charged as well as this fellow," finished Fatty.
"Will do," nodded the officer, indicating for the other two to take him away. William Goon, showing no resistance, looking rather pale, and securely tied was escorted from the house. As they went through the door, Lisa followed after them, saying in amused tones. "Don't forget to let Mr. Trotteville have his garden rope back. He may need it for repairing his spade, or tying up his roses, or something. You know what these pensioners are like?"
The officers grinned, but the loudest laughs came from inside the lounge.
* * *
As Lisa walked back into the lounge, the others almost bombarded her with the questions they'd longed to ask. "How did you get in?" – "Talk about timing." – "I've never been more grateful to see anyone in my life." – "I could kiss you."
This came from Pip, who threw his arms around Lisa almost in a bear hug, so thankful that she'd managed to save the day. The others each in turn, hugged and kissed her, so grateful for her intervention of the situation.
Lisa looked over at Fatty, through lowered eyes, who was standing by the fireplace not yet having hugged her. "Are you angry with me, Frederick?" she asked, softly.
"I don't know whether to strangle you, or kiss you," he said, gently shaking his head. His insides were in turmoil at all that occurred. Even with Lisa's intervention the situation could have turned out so differently, with anyone of them getting hurt. In his career he'd faced a lot of dangerous situations, but it was something completely different when the danger involved your family and friends. With a smile he came towards her and hugged her strongly. With his lips close to her ear, he said. "Bless you, my dear."
Lisa smiled, feeling pleased, but remained silent. No words needed.
"I think I'd better let Buster in," said Bets, suddenly, still hearing his loud barking. Released from the kitchen, Buster almost went wild with excitement and rushed around everyone, making sure they were all okay. When he'd finally satisfied his doggy mind that all danger was past, he settled down by the fireplace.
"Well, that was all a bit too close for comfort. I don't want to go through anything like that again," said Bets, sitting back down on the settee.
The others agreed, and looking at his wife's pale face, Fatty started to pour out a brandy for everyone. "Here, drink this, my dear," Fatty said, gently to her.
"It all seemed to happen so quickly," said Daisy, accepting her drink. "One minute Bets and I were making tea and in burst William Goon, brandishing a gun and ordering us in here."
"He's one troubled man," said Larry, downing his drink almost in one go. "I expect all that will be taken into account."
"Nevertheless, the situation could have turned out to be a lot more serious than it was," said Pip. "I think we've got Lisa here, to thank for that."
The others all agreed. "So, young lady," began Fatty, trying to sound a lot sterner than he felt, beginning to feel a little more relaxed now – sitting back into his favourite chair, a brandy in his hand. "I think you've some explaining to do."
Lisa looked around at their inquisitive faces, and began to tell everyone of how her gentle stroll into Peterswood, had turned out to be their saving grace, once she'd saw and heard of the uninvited guest, brandishing his revolver.
"Lucky I'd opened that spare bedroom window for a bit of fresh air," said Bets, sounding relieved. "And look at your poor pink trousers, they're all marked."
Lisa laughed gently, brushing them with her hand. "They'll wash. One can't climb up a drainpipe without some dirt."
The others grinned, feeling a lot calmer now that the brandy was working its magic.
"It goes to show just how tough these paperweights are," said Fatty, leaning forward to pick up the one by his feet, that Lisa had thrown. "Not a mark on it."
"Good job your aim was spot on," said Pip to Lisa.
"It's the only thing I could think of to get him to drop the gun."
"We're lucky it didn't go off," said Daisy, softly, the thought just occurring to her.
"Doesn't bare thinking about," returned Bets, with a shudder. "I have to confess, I've never felt so scared in my life."
The others all agreed, that was one frightening experience they wouldn't want repeated.
"Do you really think that John Goon, was involved, Fatty?" asked Pip.
Fatty shook his head vaguely. "I really don't know, but if he is, I'll press for charges, even though he has only just got wed."
"What a turn up for the book, though, Mr Goon actually turning his dislike of Fatty here, to one of admiration," said Bets, almost in disbelief. "Who would have guessed at that one."
"Life's full of surprises," said Larry. "Let's hope there's no more like the one we've just had."
"It puts everything into perspective when you're faced with a danger like that," said Daisy, softly. "You begin to appreciate a lot of things."
The others nodded. "And I'll tell you something else," continued Daisy. "That fright has helped me to make up my mind about Paul. I'm going to grab the opportunity for happiness and accept his proposal."
Everyone was overjoyed, hugging and congratulating Daisy on her choice. "Pour some drinks, Fatty," Bets smiled. "Time for a celebration."
"I'd better leave you to it," said Lisa with a smile, raising from the settee.
"No, you must stay," Fatty insisted. "You're a good friend of the Find-Outers now, Lisa. My son will be arriving soon, and I want you to meet him."
Lisa smiled looking pleased. "If you're sure?"
"Of course, we are," confirmed Bets. "Thomas will be pleased to meet you after your heroic feat."
Lisa blushed, feeling really proud and accepted the sherry that Fatty had poured.
"To Daisy and Paul," he said, raising his glass.
"Daisy and Paul," came the chorus.
Daisy smiled with pleasure. "I'll just wait to say hello to Thomas, and then I'll go and phone Paul."
"I don't know," said Lisa, shaking her head slightly. "What exciting lives you all seem to lead. Crime solving when children, marriage proposals, held hostage by a gunman, police helicopters flying overhead."
Everyone smiled. "Oh, I don't know," said Larry, lazily, "for Fatty here, it's just an ordinary Sunday afternoon."
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