Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part 15 Part 16 Part 17 Part 18
The following Sunday, the 10th of June, at about 1:43 PM, Spilman was with Ted in the Green Park, the two of them just relaxing and enjoying a beautiful rare sunny day, when Spilman saw the two men who'd chased him Tuesday night and a couple of nights since. People who'd spent the morning in church were strutting their fine church duds; people who'd been drinking the night before had mostly recovered from their hangovers; people such as Spilman and Ted who'd done neither had been soaking in the beautiful weather since early that morning; and now those two clowns appeared on a bench a hundred yards away or so, clearly watching Spilman and pretending not to, like a very sour note in the lovely symphony which this afternoon had been. Not entirely unexpected sour notes, though. Since Tuesday night Spilman had been enjoying Ted's company more often than usual. Charlie wasn't with them today. He and Latham and many other autistics found the bright sunlight much more harsh than delightful, and were staying indoors. It was the first time since Tuesday Spilman and Ted'd been out together without Charlie; it was the first time Spilman had seen the two heavies in the daytime, the first time he had seen them while Ted was near, and the first time he saw them and felt no need to run. He slapped Ted's knee, nodded in their direction and said, "That's them."
"The two fellows who've been bovering you?"
"Oy. You do mean the two jokers wif matching hats and -- "
"Yes, and matching jackets, and, uh..."
"Yeah, entire matching outfits, they dress in matching outfits a lot."
"You know them?"
"Two of us?"
"Oy, I am very sad to say. I mean, look at them. Is there anything in the world more conspicuous than matching outfits on large grown men? I imagine they were wearing matching outfits too the other times they was chasing you?"
"Disgraceful. Just what you want when you're trying to sneak up on somebody: look like a cricket team. I thought we had some standards. I mean, we don't trust Charlie wif any political business -- you know what I mean. I love the sod, but -- "
" -- Yes, I know exactly what you mean, Charlie's got no sense of what needs to be secret, so we can't trust him with any of our many secrets. It's nothing against him, he's just different. What are they, brothers? I'm simply trying to understand the matching outfits."
"Uhhh... Hah. Hadn't thought of that. No, I don't think so. I think they're just mates, and more than a bit thick. Some pairs of eight-year-old boys'll dress alike, given the opportunity. If they're not particularly bright eight-year-old boys. These two donkeys shouldn't be entrusted with secrets any more than Charlie -- in my opinion. Others clearly see if differently -- and neither one a them ever fixed a watch or a sparrow's nest. Oy!" Ted shouted. His voice boomed and echoed and many people startled, including the two identically-dressed men on the other bench watching them and pretending not to. "Yes, we can see you just fine, can ya see us awright?" They gestured frantically for Ted to be quiet. "What's that? Lower? Awright!" Ted shouted, then shifted from his natural booming baritone to an even more penetrating, deafening false basso profundo, and shouted, "I said we can see you just fine from over here, can you see us awright!" He shifted back to his natural voice and shouted, "Come on over then, we got some stuff to diiscuss, the four of us. No? You don't want to come over? Fine. I'll ask you anyway: why've you two idiots been trying to kill my friend?!" Gasps and half-shrieks were audible from bystanders, and the two in matching Sunday finery were scurrying over to where Ted and Spilman sat.
When they were near Ted snarled, "Siddown," and nodded down at the bench he and Spilman were occupying. It was not a large bench, Ted was sitting at one end, one of the large smashed-faced fellows brushed against Spilman as he sat down, but this time Spilman didn't feel the slightest bit alarmed. "Two on two now," Ted said, "fair fight. Wanna give it a go now? No? Then tell me just what in the sodding Hell has gotten into the two of you. Oh, by the way, don't wear matching outfits when you want to sneak up on somebody. We both agree, it's about as conspicuous as can be. But you were about to explain yourselves."
"E's not yr friend, Ted."
"E is, for a number of years now, and a good and trustworthy soul."
"Bollocks!" said the one of them who'd been talking, the one seated next to Spilman, and he pulled on Spilman's watch chain, pulled the Waltham 1883 out of Spilman's vest pocket, shook it at Ted and demanded, "What do you say to that?!" Spilman took this quite calmly.
Ted replied, "I say you should leave talking in riddles to people much more clever than you."
The man shoved the watch back into Spilman's pocket and asked, "Ya remember Smif? Dark-haired fellow, bit of a weight problem, worked as a clerk over at Parliament, liked to dress a bit flashy, liked to drink a bit of whisky, liked the ladies maybe even a bit more than most -- "
"Yeah yeah I know the guy, but why are you asking me whether I 'remember' him? Somefing happen to him?"
"Ask your 'friend.'"
"What'd I just finish tellin' you about talking in riddles?"
"Nobody I know has seen Smif since about a month ago when some coppers chased im through Waterloo Station."
"That big ruckus in Waterloo Station was over Smif?"
"Dint know it was Smif they was chasin."
"It was Smif. Chased im but dint catch im. Minutes after that, Inspector Raymond's on the case, lookin round the station. You know Raymond."
"All four of us know Raymond."
The man paused, it really seemed as if he needed a while to count how many of them there were on the bench. Spilman and Ted exchanged a glance, Ted with his palms raised in entreaty toward Heaven. The man continued, "Apparently Raymond was trying to find Smif before someone else did and help him disappear. But it seems someone else found poor Smif first."
"Bill, I swear by our dear beloved semi-reactionary Queen, if I have to tell you one more time about talking in riddles."
"The last time anybody saw Smif he was wearing that watch." Bill poked the Waltham 1883 in Spilman's pocket several times.
"Don't touch him again."
"E was wearing that watch," Bill said. "And your 'friend' ere, the high and mighty Mr Spilman, who acts and talks like a gentleman but is just as much a dirty Cockney as you or me, started wearin Smif's watch the day Smif disappeared."
"Bill, to call you a sodding moron would be an insult to sodding morons everywhere. That's not Smif's watch. Charlie Evans just happened to be on the platform when Smif was chased through it."
"The famous idiot."
"Bill, I swear to God, I will kill you just for exercise, and then I'll kill your only friend George just for spite. Shut up now. Spilman here is my friend. Charlie is too. And you're a famous idiot. Charlie's daffy about watches. Can spot one a hundred yards away in the dark for half a second and tell you the brand and model. E saw Smif's watch. My other good friend Albert Latham -- "
"Yeah, the, uh... Charlie Evans works for the Lathams now," George piped up. "They make those posh watches."
"I have worked for the Lathams for a long time, Albert Latham is my boss and also my very good friend. I swear to Christ, shut up, the pair of ya, shut up and listen for once in yr lives, ya... The police called Latham in to talk to Charlie about Smif's watch. That's how Latham met Charlie. Latham brought several watches like the one Smif was wearing, so that Charlie could point out the one looked most like it. He gave that one to the police, and he still had the others in is pocket when he happened to meet Spilman ere later the same day, who happened to be looking for a decent watch, and so Latham gave im..." Now Ted pulled the Waltham out of Spilman's pocket by its chain "...this one. I didn't know Smith'd gotten into trouble."
"I had no idea the man they were looking for there was one of us, was your friend," Spilman said to Bill and George. "I'm sorry."
"Fanks," Bill said. "Sorry about trying to arm you. Bit of a fuck-up there, no doubt."
"Oh, please don't give it another thought," Spilman replied, "it could've happened to anyone."
"Fanks," Bill said, and George nodded his wide-eyed thanks. Neither gave the slightest sign of having detected the sarcasm in Spilman's reassurance.
"I'm sorry about Smif too," Ted said. "I hope he's awright. Good that Raymond was on the case so quickly, I'm sure that gave Smif a better chance. But look, the two of ya. This is a perfect example of why you should talk to other people and get their advice first, before you go off on your own and try to settle things. Was anybody else at all aware of your plans to do Spilman in?"
The two of them were staring at the ground, they couldn't meet Ted's gaze. Bill just shook his head.
"Well I'm not surprised. I'm very disappointed in the two of ya, but I'm not surprised. Did ya learn somethin here? Please tell me ya learned something."
"Ahh," Bill said, and cleared his throat, and said, "talk to somebody first," still staring shamefacedly at the ground.
"Oy. Very good. Now sod off and let me and me friend enjoy this lovely afternoon."
They mumbled several more "sorry"s and shambled off. For a long time Spilman shifted his gaze back and forth between Bill and George walking away, and Ted watching them retreat with his lower jaw thrust out in annoyance. Finally Ted said, "They aven't learned a fucking thing. They never learn anything. They're a perfect example of good intentions paving the road to Ell. What donkey ever initiated them to be two of us?"
"I had no idea that man with all the coppers chasing him through Waterloo Station was a friend of yours. It made the papers: a mysterious chase, and none of the police would talk about it."
"Yeah. Yeah. I had no idea it was Smif. Poor sod, hope he's okay now. More of just an acquaintance to me. Bit of a silly fucker, the way he dandied up like a peacock. For the ladies, just as Bill said. I think maybe the ladies would've liked him more if he'd worried less about is clothes and done a few sit-ups now and then instead. Eh. That depends on which ladies it is, I suppose. Maybe Smif was actually onto something."
"So why was he in trouble?"
"Sod me if I know. Fucked a big shot's wife or daughter, maybe? I've no idea."
"What is it?" Ted asked.
"Raymond's been behaving very strangely lately."
"Yeah, I've noticed that too. So what?"
"Mm... I don't know what. Seems like I had half a clue about something there for a second, and then I lost it again."
"Well, if it's important, chances are it'll come to you again. Sometimes you figure something out as soon as you stop trying to, know what I mean? Tell you what, Spilman, whyn't we have a beer to celebrate your aving cheated yet another completely senseless death."