Chapter 3 – 26th June – Morning
“So this is what the world looks like at 10am,” said Tompkins to himself as he barrelled along towards Scotland Yard and Squiffy Wiffy’s office, “I am not sure I could do this regularly, I mean it’s so bright and people seem happy. On the other hand, the only people around are our foreign brethren – I haven’t heard an English accent, an actual, real, genuine, top-of-the-morning-guvnor true cockney accent at all. It’s so sad.”
Topcat mulled over the pigeon news he’d received overnight. Bertie had arrived again and this time there was only a four-word message in the casket – “Muffled – Must Talk – Lunch”. Miss Scarlett had done her work with her usual elan, Topcat was sure of that. Even now Miss Scarlett was heading back to base, leaving no trace of her presence at Stalky’s place in the country. Stalky Stark would soon start the next stage of his voyage through eternity, perhaps as a wildebeeste on the African savannah or a piranha in the River Orinoco.
He’d arranged lunch details with Bertie’s owner and then given the pigeon a decent breakfast before sending it back. The pigeon seemed appreciative of the protein-packed oatmeal he’d eaten, flying vertically for 50 feet before zooming off in a southern direction. Topcat thought there was nothing finer than an English racing pigeon flying through the blue clouds of a summer morning in London. His heart pounded patriotically as he entered the portals of Scotland Yard to meet his friend.
Tompkins strode along the corridor and hammered politely on the Deputy-Commissioner’s door before putting his head around the door and saying “It’s only me” to the startled secretary.
Tiffany Kemble managed to smile at Tompkins. Her heart was thumping against her ribcage. She’d thought the office was being demolished by an earthquake, such was the force of the knocking on the door.
“Hello, Tiffers, how are you?” asked Tompkins, “you look startled, everything alright?”
“I thought the office was collapsing on top of me – do you ever knock gently, Mr Tompkins?”
“Woof,” replied Tompkins, “what kind of question is that to ask a gentleman, an English gentleman with an impeccable bloodline, a close friend of aristocracy? I tapped on the door, Tiffers, anyway is Squiffy Wiffy in, I have some urgent news for him?”
“The Deputy-Commissioner of Police is in his office, but he’s talking to Detective Inspector Ingram about two bizarre murders…”
“Oh, Constable Ingram won’t mind if I interrupt,” replied Tompkins who had half an idea about which murders were being talked about, “I’ll go in, say my piece and leave again, I have a lunch appointment in Knightsbridge, y’know, so I can’t stay long.”
Despite Tiffany’s protests, Tompkins burst into the office and bellowed a loud “Hello Gents” before sitting in a corner chair.
“Well, if it isn’t our old friend Tomcat, how are you?” asked Squiffy Wiffy.
“I’m well,” replied Tompkins, “hope I interrupted nothing of importance.”
“Well, you did,” replied Ingram, sniffily, “but this just might be a serendipitous moment, because I believe you might be able to help in the matter we were conversing about.”
“Well, fire away, ask your questions, grill me Constable Ingram, see if you can get me to admit to the crime.”
Ingram smiled a wan smile, but Squiffy Wiffy laughed the laugh of a hyena who’d just spied a large lunch opportunity lying in his path and couldn’t believe his luck.
“Mr Tompkins, did you know someone called Mr Frederick Stark who lived in Sussex?”
“I might do, I am not sure about the Frederick part, what was the address?”
Ingram told him.
“Why, that’s Stalky’s place, Stalky Stark’s place, I didn’t realise his name was Frederick.” Tompkins mulled over that fact for a few seconds.
“So you know him?” asked Ingram.
“I know Stalky Stark, I never knew his first name was Frederick.”
“And how long have you known him?” asked Ingram.
“About 20 years, we first met at the Varsity, y’know.”
“And in all that time you never asked his first name?” asked Ingram.
“I am sure I did, but once you use a nickname then you get used to using it, y’know, I am not sure I could have called him Fred, Freddie, or Frederick, once I started to call him Stalky.”
“Why did you call him Stalky?” asked Ingram enjoying the slight uncomfortableness he thought he was generating in Tompkins.
“Well, woof, woof, now there’s a question and a half and no mistake – well the clean answer is that his eyes stood out on stalks whenever he saw a pretty girl – he saw many of them, at least he thought he did.”
“And what is the unclean answer?” asked Squiffy Wiffy laughing nervously, like a hyena whose free lunch had been commandeered by a large, fierce lion.
“Well, woof, Squiffy Wiffy, Stalky used to love sticking his stalk into those pretty girls on a regular basis – he got into trouble with various diseases and upset boyfriends, but survived.”
“Well, given what you say, you might be surprised that Frederick Stark has been found dead at his house in Sussex,” intoned Ingram watching Tompkins carefully.
“What?” said Tompkins smacking both hands to his face, an act that would have knocked out many men for hours, but in Tompkins’s case, invigorated him.
“I am sorry for your loss, Tomcat,,” said Squiffy Wiffy.
“Bish and bosh,” said Tompkins, wondering what to say next, “oh, well, that is a surprise, how was it done, I mean how did it happen, whodunnit Ingram?”
“Well, the cleaner found him naked on his bed, he’d had sexual intercourse, but he’d been suffocated, we think by an expert, a naked woman had covered his mouth with her muff and killed him.”
“Was he smiling?” asked Tompkins.