“What do we now?” asked Tuppy, “it feels like we’re being picked off one by one by a well organised force of people in a clinical, efficient manner.”
“Yes,” said Tompkins, “you’re right, but it only appears that way. They’re picking off the low-hanging fruit, the cherries that are closest to the ground, if you like, the easy targets amongst us. I think I will have to tell the pals this evening from now on they shouldn’t go anywhere unaccompanied. Two or more people at a time, out and about on the streets. Like the old joke about the Polish policemen in the Communist times.”
“Polish policemen, Tomcat? Can you enlighten us?” asked Dry Bob.
“Yes, the joke was that Polish policemen went around in threes. There was one who could read, one who could write, and one who looked after the intellectuals,” said Tompkins slapping his thigh and convulsing in laughter.
“That’s good, Tomcat,” said Dry Bob smiling, “funny story.”
Tuppy Tupton laughed politely as he’d heard it before, although he remembered the last time it had been Bulgarian policemen. Or Hungarian, he couldn’t be sure.
“Anyhow,” said Tompkins, “enough of this frivolity, enough of this hilarity, enough of this fun, we have a serious situation on our hands, because our two pals, Dapper Dan and Spinky Mills have disappeared from in front of our noses and we don’t have a sniff of their whereabouts, but we smell a rat so that’s a start. Let’s have sponge cake at Aunt Jemima’s and hold a discussion about how we can begin the fightback.”
“Right, Tomcat,” said Dry Bob, “do you want a lift to Auntie’s place or do you still want to walk?”
“Well, I will break my rule and say you two go in a vehicle. I will stroll around there brazenly flaunting myself, challenging them to come and get me, at least that way they might show their faces and I can see who and what we’re up against. My guess is they won’t be willing to show their faces when there’s a chance of them being seen by other people.”
“Are you sure?” asked Tuppy.
“I am sure, I might flush them out of their lair this way and then we’ll see them for what they are. That should make things easier for everyone.”
“Well, we can follow you in my roller,” said Dry Bob, “or would that would be too disconcerting, Tomcat?”
“I’d feel like I was walking to my own funeral,” said Tompkins, “I am not sure I like being followed by a slowly moving car, so thanks for the well-intentioned suggestion, but I am not interested.”
“It’s almost like you’re inviting them to come and get you, Tomcat, how wise is that?” asked Tuppy.
“Well, we have to get them to play their hand somehow and this could be one way of doing it. It also shows them that your leader isn’t afraid to be out there, strutting without a concern and with complete disdain for their attempts to stop us doing what’s right for our glorious old country.” Tomcat looked around and watched as four people, two couples, collected their outdoor coats and hats, before heading through the outer doors.
“Hear, hear,” said Dry Bob, applauding loudly, “I agree, that’s inspiring Tomcat, I will walk around to Aunt Jemima’s with you.”
Tomcat smiled and held his hand up – “Well, y’know, Dry Bob, thanks for the appreciation, but they’re less likely to jump three of us or even two, so I hope you won’t be offended if I say, thanks but no thanks.”
“Understood Tomcat, and I am sure you can handle any number of our enemies, but we won’t be too far away, just in case,” said Tuppy
Tompkins looked at his watch – “Right, well it’s time we weren’t here, so let’s get around to Auntie’s for sponge cake and a chat.”
“Yes, Tomcat, see you there,” replied Tuppy.
“You will,” said Tomcat, “I can guarantee it.” With that he slapped Dry Bob on the back, almost knocking him over. Tuppy got away with a firm handshake that still made his teeth rattle and his glasses fall out of his top pocket.
“See you soon, Tomcat,” said Tuppy, getting down on one knee to pick up his spectacles. As he arose, the door opened, and he noticed a pair of shoes in the same position they’d been when the two couples had vacated the premises.
Tuppy indicated to both Tomcat and Dry Bob what he’d seen before saying – “Well, I think my glasses have survived the fall onto the floor.”
Tompkins nodded and inclined his head towards the door. All three men walked calmly whilst making chit-chat about the weather. Tompkins then flung open the door, only to see a figure running away towards Green Park Tube station.
“He’s heading towards The Tube,” said Tompkins, “I’ll chase him and bring him to book, you follow in your roller, Dry Bob.”
Tompkins started to sprint, keeping his target in sight always. The runner made the mistake of heading in a straight line, rather than dodging down a side street, and so stayed in sight of the bounding, athletic Tompkins at all times. Tompkins ran with effortless ease, dodging lamp-posts like he side-stepped rugger players in his student days. In 20 seconds Tompkins was only 10 yards from the man, who was slowing down. With a loud “Got you matey” Tompkins leapt like a cheetah upon a fleeing antelope, bringing the man to the ground. The man, with short black hair and a goatee beard, looked up in horror at the massive weight pinning him to the pavement. He couldn’t understand how such a well-built man apprehended him so easily.
“And who do we have here?” asked Tompkins.
“You have no right to do this,” said the man, in what sounded like a fake East European accent, “if you are mugging me, you won’t find much money about me.”