Authors: Carl Leckey
He replies. “Yes the money. As a matter of fact I was getting around to that. You have a great deal of cash in your possession. Where did you get it from?”
Indignantly I answer. “I don’t see that is any of your business Sergeant. But for your information I am over here in the UK for at least a fortnight. I will be travelling about a lot. The money is to cover my expenses.” Angrily I add. “Is it your practice to question every business man about his finance? Do you stop them in the street and search them to see how much money they have on them? This is bloody stupid. Nobody asked me why I had no money and how I was managing when I got demobbed and had bugger all cash to my name.”
He doesn’t answer my question instead he remarks. “You must be travelling in style? You have more cash than this chap earns in a year.” He points at the Constable.
I reply sarcastically. “Maybe he should go for promotion to Sergeant? I have heard they are paid well for buggering people about.” He reacts with a wry smile. He warns. “Don’t push your luck lad.” I continue explaining. “Whether you believe it or not I have no idea how much money I am carrying. All I know is my financial director arranged everything. He handed me my tickets and a sum of money before I left on my trip.” The Sergeant looks at my passport. “Twenty odd years old and you have a financial director? Pull the other one. Come on lad I have been fair with you, tell me the truth. You may as well get it off your chest.” Frustrated I retort.
“What time is it Sergeant?”
“Five o’clock.” He replies after studying his pocket watch.
“Can I have my wallet for a moment I need some information from it.” He questions. “What information?”
“There are a couple of telephone numbers in France you may ring if you hurry. They will confirm who I am and where the money came from.” Hesitantly he replies. “No I don’t think so sunshine. We don’t telephone France from here, it is not done.” Another door closed I try another tack. “Sergeant I have my own business I own about thirty trucks. I have a large house over there and I employ sixty or more people. Why shouldn’t I carry as much money as I want?”
He answers. “It seems highly unlikely a fellow of your age could own a company such as you describe. Not so long ago you were a private in the army. What do you think Fred?”
The Sergeant consults his comrade. Fred laughs. “It could be true Sarg, maybe he saved his pennies I heard those Tommie’s were grossly overpaid for just risking their fool necks for King and country.” I feel myself getting really angry and it must have showed. The Sergeant says. “Take no notice of Fred lad. He was in the thick of it at Ypres. He’s a bit cynical is our Fred. That’s the reason we are inclined to give you the benefit of doubt lad because of your army service.”
The Constable adds. “And we appreciate what you lads in the ambulances did for us. They got me out of the shit a couple of times eh Sarg?”
The Sergeant confirms this. “You’re right there Fred. Look lad I am going to arrange for that solicitor chap to come and visit you. Fred will show you back to your cell. We have fish and chips on the menu tonight along with a nice bottle of wine, should go down a treat eh?”
He leaves the room laughing at his own joke. Fred escorts me back to the cell and remarks as we walk along the corridor. “Don’t let it get you down lad. You couldn’t have a better copper on your case. If there is something fishy old Bob will smell it out. Despite what he told you he wasn’t an ordinary MP as he implied. Bob was in the intelligence mob very hush, hush. In my opinion you shouldn’t have been brought in. It’s all to do with who knows who in high society. Lady Emily is a friend of the chief Constable’s Wife. Constable Bentley is after promotion. See what I mean?” He adds hurriedly. “But I’ll deny that if you quote me”
As the cell door slams shut I can’t help thinking. These two have a weird sense of humour. I am glad it is them I’m dealing with just the same as I recall some of my past dealings with the Red Caps.
I have just finished the fish and chips when I am summoned to the interrogation room again. This time seated at the table is a professional looking man in his early thirties. He leaps to his feet when I enter and introduces himself.
“Mr Bailey? Jonah Wilkes of the law firm. Wilkes, Wilkes, and Wilkes at your service.”
When the formalities are over the solicitor informs me. “Bob Cranshaw has briefed me on your situation. There have been some developments since you were arrested. Let me put you in the picture.
Bob is on his way back to the station from his home. At the front desk is a friend of yours he is waiting to see you. I have had a long talk with him. I can’t give permission for you to meet him until I have cleared it with Sergeant Cranshaw. I believe that won’t be a problem when the Sergeant arrives.”
Excited I ask. “Who is it?” He replies without revealing who the visitor is. “Now then let us remain patient shall we? Now the reason Bob er Sergeant Cranshaw advised you to engage me is because I am aware of the situation with Lady Angelique and Lady Emily.
I will explain that later if things go as I believe they will. Now until the Sergeant arrives I can’t go any further. Have you been treated well? Have you any complaints against the police?”
I complain. “Apart from the fact I was dragged out of bed and brought here against my wishes and these ridiculous allegations. Yes I have been well treated.” He nods approvingly.
“It is only what I expect from the Sergeant. He is a good copper.” Jonah pushes a packet of cigarettes and a box of matches across the table and sits back. It appears the briefing is over. Well at least I know the visitor is male I guess it is my old mate Toot.
Two cigarettes later the Sergeant arrives. Dragging a chair from the far side of the room he sits opposite me. “Adam Bailey I have consulted my superiors I have made a decision in your case. You will not be going in front of the magistrate in the morning. I will allow your friend Jim Hartley to talk to you as long as I may remain and listen. Of course Jonah may stay as well. Is that agreeable?”
Jim Hartley! Toot! It is so long since I heard his real name. My mind goes back to the bunker during the big push when I first saw tanks used. There I go again flashbacks to the past I wonder how long will these will continue. That was another close brush with death. My Guardian Angel saved my bacon yet again that day. Seemingly from a distance I hear a concerned voice ask.
“Are you alright Son?” It is Sergeant Cranshaw enquiring. I must be doing something I have witnessed before in veterans. I am experiencing a kind of day dream or day nightmare to be correct. The oddest things trigger it, the mention of Toot’s name on this occasion. Dragging myself back to the present I retort.
“Of course I am. It is I have told you before I have nothing to hide bring Jim in let’s get this nonsense sorted out.”
What a sight for sore eyes he is as my old pal enters the room.
We must appear an odd couple to the policeman and solicitor when we delightedly hug each other. Another seat is provided for Toot and he begins to reveal events leading up to and after my arrest. “It was when you sent that diary the whatsit hit the fan Scouse” He informs me. “The two Ladies had a terrific row. Lady Emily wanted it reported to the police there and then. Lady Angelique refused to go along with her. Anyway they never spoke for ages.
One day out of the blue Lady Angelique told me to take her to the station at Dover. Lady Emily was away for the day at one of her posh social functions. When I carried her bags inside I heard her making enquiries about trains to the place you came from Scouse. Birkenhead that was it! When she noticed I had overheard she made me promise not to tell Lady Emily where she was going. That was two weeks ago. Lady Emily went berserk when I got back. She even threatened to sack me because I wouldn’t tell her anything. It was only Mr Humphrey’s intervention that saved me. I tell you something Scouse? If Lady Angelique doesn’t come back I’m looking for another job. I love it there and my family are very happy but believe me that woman is out of control. The sooner she finds her Sister the better for everyone around her.
Anyway it was the young gardener lad that spotted you in the pub the other night. Poor kid didn’t mean to do no harm he just casually mentioned it to one of the house maids. She was gossiping and Lady Emily overheard. We were all summoned to a staff meeting. She had all Lady Angelique letters from you on her desk. I am not kidding you she frightened the shit out of me. I would sooner face the Boche again rather than go through another session like that with her. When I heard you had been arrested I got here as soon as possible. I couldn’t come during the working day I had to catch a train when I finished work.” I interrupt him and make a request. “Toot will you verify for the Sergeants benefit Lady Angelique knows nothing about these charges brought against me? Will you also tell him I have my own transport company in France” He replies. “To answer your first question, no Scouse, she certainly does not. It is definitely Lady Emily’s doing. Lady Angelique was dead set against going to the police.
Anyway she is not here she’s still up north as far as I know. Although I can tell you this Scouse, Lady Angelique is desperate to meet with you.
Now for your benefit Sergeant, yes he does have his own trucking company in Le Havre and it is doing very well. The lucky bugger even has his own Rolls Royce Silver Cloud.”
I apologise to Toot. “I’m sorry for dropping you in the shit pal. I know I have handled it badly It’s just? Well I won’t bore you with the details. The sooner I see her and sort it out the better.”
I turn to the policeman. “Well what do you think now Sergeant?” The Solicitor intercedes. “Before we go any further I am able to verify Mr Bailey’s credentials. I took it upon myself to telegraph the two addresses you gave me Bob. I have had no reply from the Le Havre transport depot. Presumable it was closed for the night by the time the telegraph arrived. But I did have two replies from the Hotel OSCADA. One is from the proprietor and another one from a Mr Gunter Cogan. They both verify as true the information Mr Bailey has given to the police.
Mr Cogan I understand is the company’s lawyer, has offered to personally travel here immediately to sort out any problems if Mr Bailey requests his presence.”
Jonah places the telegrams in front of the Sergeant. The Sergeant makes a strange remark when he heard Gunter’s name. “Hmmm! This is an odd coincidence. I had dealings with a Gunter Cogan when I was in the army during my time in Palestine. There can’t be two lawyers of that name surely? This is very interesting!
Right this is what I propose. I will release you but will retain your passport.” Jonah objects.
“No Bob I am not having that. There is no reason to hold either my client or his passport. He should be released immediately with an apology for wrongful arrest.”
I chip in. “Hold it Jonah. I have no objection to the Sergeants terms. It is my intention to travel north I have to see some people and if possible find my Mother. But God knows where she is? When I sort things out l will be coming back to St Margaret’s I want to meet my mates family for the first time. Whatever happens I will be coming back anyway to get the ferry back to France. As for an apology I don’t want one from Sergeant Cranshaw. He was only doing his duty. Without his help I could have been deeper in the shit. It’s that other idiot Bentley that needs to apologise, but I am not that bothered. No leave it as it is and let me out of here.”
“Don’t you like our nick then Mr Bailey?” The Sergeant enquires with a smile.
I reply. “My name is Adam to friends Bob. The reason I don’t like your nick is I didn’t get my bottle of wine with the fish and chips as you promised.” He responds with a laugh. “Sorry about that. On second thoughts you may retain your passport Adam. You are free to go. I would personally like to know the outcome of your mission to find your Mother. Pick your bag up from the desk Sergeant.” He extends his hand, we shake warmly he pushes my papers and belongings across the table. Pointing to a page in a book he says. “Check your gear and sign for them here lad if you please?” This task completed he is about to leave when Jonah requests. “May I use the room to have a few words with Adam Bob?” He agrees. “No problem just let the desk Sergeant know when you leave. I’m heading home it’s been a long and not very fruitful day in the life of a copper thanks to that daft bugger Bentley jumping the gun.”
When we are alone Jonah addresses my mate. “Righto! Should I call you Toot or Jim?”
Toot smiles. “I have been called Toot for so long I’m stuck with it.”
“Alright I will take you back to St Margaret’s in my car I live there. What about you Adam where do you intend going now you are a free man?”
“I am heading up north as I said before to the Sergeant. I definitely want to visit a couple of my army mates. However I think I will have another night at the pub in St Margaret’s I want to have a talk with Toot before I go. Now about your bill do you want cash or a cheque?”
Jonah replies. “Look Adam there will be no fee on this occasion. I have ambitions. I don’t want to be a small time lawyer for ever.
You might consider my next request to be presumptive but here goes.
Will you consider me to be your UK legal representative for the OSCADA Company? I have not been idle since Bob notified me you required my services. I have made enquiries about your company and yourself through my contacts in France. I have also heard about Gunter Cogan. He is well respected in the law circles I move in. I should very much like to meet him and work with him if the occasion arises. Would I be too bold if I asked you to mention my name to him? When I received the telegram from Mr Cogan of all people you have no idea what a thrill it gave me.”
Surprised at his statement I reply. “Jonah there is nothing wrong with ambition. I don’t have any business in the UK at this time but who knows in the future? I certainly will mention you to Gunter and I will tell him how you came to my assistance in my time of need. If he chooses to use you in the capacity you request I will be more than pleased. But all decisions on legal matters are in his hands from now on. Rest assured I will recommend you.”