by Dawn Knox
Martini, stirred not shaken
Previously… After paying his court costs, Eddie is broke. He now wants to start a new life on the coast. If only he could get his broken-down van to start...
“Oi! Move that rustin’ heap ‘o junk!”
A brown and white hamster wearing a peaked cap stood with legs apart and paws on hips on the far side of the car park.
“Mind your own business!” shouted Eddie.
“It is my business, mate. I’m the car park attendant and you’s gotta do what I says.”
“I’d like nothing better than to move my van, but as you can see, while it was parked under your nose, in your car park, someone has removed the wheels.”
“Yeah, shocking! I noticed that. You’s need a good mechanic. And lucky fer you’s, I know one. Want me to call him?”
“No,” said Eddie but the car park attendant had disappeared into his hut.
There was no point calling for a mechanic because after paying the damages in court, Eddie had nothing left - except a broken-down van with no wheels, resting on bricks.
Perhaps he could sell the bricks.
The van was worthless. It had let him down when he and the Three Wise Monkeys were on their way to the Spudwell Music Festival but he’d hoped that Fortune might smile on him, and in his absence, while it had a sloppy grin on its face, it might also have fixed the engine. And if Fortune hadn’t smiled on him, and the engine still didn’t work, then he’d move into the van and at least he’d have a roof over his head.
A brown and white hamster wearing a green bobble hat emerged from the car park attendant’s hut.
“I hear you’s need a mechanic,” he said, “and I’m yer ‘amster.” His markings were astonishingly similar to the car park attendant’s. In fact, one might say they were identical.
“No,” said Eddie, “I haven’t got any money.”
“Well, I don’t see as you’s got much choice. Either you’s pay me to sort out yer wheels or you’s pay a parkin’ fine. It’s up to you’s.”
Eddie waited until the mechanic had gone back in the hut. He had two options. He could wait until the car park attendant returned and demanded money, or, he could run. He got his trainers out of his bag and put them on.
Eddie swung round but there was no one there. If the van had a tyre, Eddie might have assumed it had a leak.
A pig emerged from the shrubs at the edge of the car park. Straightening his bowtie, he brushed a leaf off his dinner jacket with a manicured trotter.
“I do beg your pardon but I couldn’t help overhearing your predicament. I wonder if I might offer some assistance. You see I need a lift to Great Puddington urgently, so perhaps I could help you… and you could help me.” He took a cheque book out of his pocket.
“Don’t mind if I do,” said Eddie, thinking that perhaps Fortune was smiling on him after all.
They shook trotter and wingtip.
“Gideon Guttle…” said the pig, “and you are?”
“Eddie the Bald Eagle.”
“Pleased to make your acquaintance, Eddie. Well, no time like the present…” he said and beckoned the car park attendant who’d just emerged from his hut, adjusting his peaked cap. The hamster stuffed something green and woolly into his pocket.
“Would you be so good as to call the mechanic, please, my good hamster. We need to find out how long it’ll take to fix this van,” said Gideon.
“When do you’s want it by?”
“As soon as possible,” said Eddie, “but it may take a few days to order the correct wheels. This is a really old model and I don’t suppose many garages stock them.”
“I’m sure it won’t be a problem,” said the hamster.
Seconds after the car park attendant had gone into his hut and shut the door, the mechanic emerged, pulling his green bobble hat down over his ears. He went round the back of the hut and appeared seconds later rolling a wheel.
“Are you sure that’ll fit?” asked Eddie, “You can’t possibly have the right wheels in stock.”
“Trust me, it’ll fit like a glove,” said the mechanic jacking one side of the rusty heap up off the bricks.
As it tilted, there was a scream and a thud from inside the van.
Eddie opened the back doors to find Brian on his back, staring up at him.
While the mechanic went to fetch three more wheels from behind the hut, Eddie and Gideon dragged Brian and his guitar out. “I hope you don’t mind me using the van, Eddie. I was desperate.”
“But I thought you were working in the cheese mine.”
“I was but I got the sack. They said I was taking too much sick leave. Well it wasn’t my fault the cheese was giving me migraines. Anyway, I jacked it in. What I really want to do is be a singer-songwriter but with Mr Krapowski still after us, I don’t dare perform. And I’m broke. I don’t suppose you could lend me a few bob, could you?”
“I’m skint,” said Eddie.
They both looked at Gideon.
“Me too,” said Gideon.
“But I thought you said you were going to pay for the repairs to the van!”
“No, I merely said we might be able to help each other and then I waved my cheque book about.”
“But the mechanic’s not going to let us go without payment.”
“Leave that to me, dear chap.” Gideon pulled a gold pen out of his pocket and unscrewed the cap. A dart shot out of the nib, whistled past Brian’s ear and buried itself in a tree trunk a few yards behind.
“Blast!” said Gideon. “Wrong pen. Sorry old chap.”
He took another pen from his pocket and unscrewed the cap. Eddie and Brian ducked.
With tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth, Gideon wrote on the cheque, tore it out carefully and blew the ink dry.
“If that cheque bounces, they’ll track you down…” said Eddie.
“Oh, it won’t bounce, my dear chap.”
“But you said…”
“I’ve written the cheque in disappearing ink and by the time it fades, invisible ink that’s already on the cheque will become visible. It will instruct the bank to pay the bearer one ducat. It’s fool proof. By the time the mechanic takes it into a bank, we’ll be long gone. I’ll be in Great Puddington and you two will be… well, wherever you want to be.”
“I don’t know where I want to be,” said Brian sadly, “I just want to be out of Mr Krapowski’s reach.”
“Me too,” said Eddie.
“Well, I may be able to help,” said Gideon, “you see I’m a professional spy. Gideon Guttle 00P, licensed to kill.”
“You mean you kill people for a living?”
“Only when I have to. I don’t make a habit of it.”
“I’m not sure I’m happy about hiring a hit man…” said Brian, “It’s not right…”
“We can’t afford it anyway,” said Eddie.
The van engine suddenly burst into life and the mechanic appeared, wiping his greasy hands on a rag.
“Rightio. It’s all done. You’s owe me 100 ducats,” he said holding out his paw.
Gideon handed him the cheque.
“This is made out for 125 ducats,” said the mechanic, his eyes bulging.
“Consider the extra, a tip, old chap,” said Gideon.
The mechanic kissed the cheque and with a cheery wave strode off to the hut. “I’ll send the car park attendant out to you’s. You’s got a parking fine to pay.”
“Perfidious hamsters!” shouted Eddie pushing Brian and Gideon in through the passenger door. “C’mon, let’s go!” He clambered into the driver’s seat, pressed the accelerator to the floor and shot out of the car park on two wheels.
A hamster ran out of the hut, angrily waving his peaked cap in one paw and a green bobble hat in the other.
The van, containing Eddie, Brian and Gideon, was in the Tropicana Hotel’s car park.
“There is no such place as Great Puddington,” said the sat nav firmly.
“The stupid thing can’t find it,” said Eddie, stabbing at the buttons and scratching his head.
“I’m not surprised, dear chap,” said Gideon, “It’s a top-secret location. Don’t worry about programming the sat nav. I’ll direct you. Simply head towards Spudwell and then turn north just as you come out the other side.”
“Isn’t that the way to the Meringue Mountains?” asked Brian.
“Isn’t that a dangerous place?”
“Mm, a bit,” Gideon said airily, inspecting his manicured trotter.
“People go missing in those mountains. There are often chocolate avalanches and people get smothered,” said Brian.
“Not if you know where you’re going,” said Gideon.
“Eddie doesn’t know where he’s going,” said the sat nav smugly.
“Well, it’s lucky that I do,” said Gideon, “But first things first. I said I’d help you with your problem.”
Gideon got out of the van and strode into the Tropicana Hotel’s reception while Eddie pulled up outside with the engine running. Brian ducked out of sight.
Minutes later, Gideon emerged, looked left and right, then walked briskly to the van.
“If you’d care to step on it, Eddie old chap, I’d be most obliged,” he said scrambling in.
“So, what happened?” asked Brian.
“I have all the copies of the contract and suffice it to say, Mr Krapowski won’t be bothering you again.”
“You didn’t… you know… you didn’t kill him, did you?” asked Brian.
“That’s hard to say. It rather depends on whether the dart was tipped with poison or not.”
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking, Eddie?” asked Brian.
“I don’t know. What are you thinking?”
“Well, I’m thinking that if Mr Krapowski is dead, we’re accomplices!”
“Oh, I’m sure it won’t come to that, dear chap!” said Gideon, pulling some papers from his inside pocket, “Here are all the copies of the contract. I bought them for 20,000 ducats. He drives a hard bargain does your Mr Krapowski…”
“Drives or drove a hard bargain?” asked Brian anxiously.
“…Anyway, by now, the ink on the cheque should have disappeared and the invisible ink should be appearing, showing Mr Krapowski the bank will pay him one ducat,” said Gideon, ignoring Brian’s question.
“I don’t understand,” said Brian, “you got the contracts, why did you have to shoot him?”
“Well, I only shot him slightly. I got the wrong pen out when I made out the cheque. You’ve no idea how hard it is getting your head round all this spying equipment. I’ve got pens for this and pens for that. Look, take this,” he said, pulling a pen from his pocket, “you unscrew the top and it turns into a radio transmit ̶ Ow! Blast! You see what I mean?” He pulled the dart out of his thigh and slumped against Brian.
“Eddie, stop the van! We’ve got to run for it! We’re now responsible for two deaths! We’re wanted! We’ll be hunted down and ̶ “
Eddie braked sharply and swerved.
“Ow! Watch it, old chap!” said Gideon as his head hit the dashboard.
“I thought you were dead!” said Brian.
“For a moment there, I wondered if I might be. But it seems I’m not, and after that bump on the head, I remember forgetting to order poisoned darts. I packed the ones tipped with sleeping drugs instead.” He sagged against Brian again, snoring loudly.
“Right turn in fifty yards,” said the sat nav.
“What? There is no right turn!” said Eddie screwing up his eyes and peering at the stretch of road ahead.
“Just thought I’d provide a bit of light relief. And see if you were paying attention,” said the sat nav, “it’s actually straight for two hundred miles. Oh, and good luck. You’re going to need it.”
“Eddie!” whispered Brian over the sleeping pig, “Shall we get rid of Gideon and then run away?”
“You mean kill him?”
“No! Of course not! I mean get him out of the van and drive off.”
“It’s tempting but we need to make sure he’s okay, because if we drop him off somewhere and he’s found dead, the car park attendant and the mechanic will be able to identify us. And the trail will lead to Mr Krapowski, who might or might not be dead. No, we need to deliver him to Great Puddington and then keep going until we reach the coast. Then we’ll be safe. No one’ll find us there.”
“Did you say the car park attendant and the mechanic?” Brian asked.
“Yes. They both saw us.”
“Eddie, they were the same hamster with different hats on.”
Eddie was silent for a few seconds. “I knew that,” he said.
“The chicken’s right,” said the sat nav, “it’s best you keep going. Anyway, it’s obvious you’re not a responsible driver, so I’ve taken control of the central locking system and you’re all locked in until we get to Great Puddington. Make yourselves comfortable. This is going to be one helluva ride.”
Links to previous stories in The Macaroon Chronicles series
The Macaroon Chronicles Prologue and the Three Wise Monkeys - http://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-macaroon-chronicles-prologue-and.html
ChickenInCustard - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/02/chickenincustard.html
The Fine Print - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/02/the-fine-print.html
French for Cheese - https://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2020/02/french-for-cheese.html
About the author
Dawn’s latest book is ’The Basilwade Chronicles’ published by Chapeltown Books and she enjoys writing in different genres and has had romances, speculative fiction, sci-fi, humorous and women’s fiction published in magazines, anthologies and books. She’s also had two plays about World War One performed internationally. You can follow her here on https://dawnknox.com , Facebook here DawnKnoxWriter or on Twitter here https://twitter.com/SunriseCalls