Tompkins’s heart pounded patriotically in his chest. He hoped the police were wrong about the murderer of Spinky Mills because that would mean Miss Scarlett had swapped sides. That would be abominable as she might have killed Stalky Stark because he was on the same side as Tompkins. He shook his head and tried to work out whom he could trust. This proved more difficult than it first appeared.
Tompkins performed some balancing exercises on a Bosu Ball, squatting down and then standing up 100 times, whilst holding the dog out in front of him. Tiredness, laziness, and docility combined to make Marvin easy to handle. The exercise made Tompkins’s thighs ache, but in a good way, and by the end, he’d decided he could only trust Filly and Daisy. This saddened him no end, because he’d been pals with most of his group for over 25 years.
For the second part of his exercise, Tompkins would take Marvin to Aunt Jemima’s where he could be looked after by the staff. Whilst he was there, he’d also try and contact ‘Black Watch’ for an update on the Dapper Dan situation.
Before he left, Tompkins checked Filly’s schedule. She was due to be heading over from Newhaven to Dieppe before leaving the passengers in the outskirts of Nantes. She was the back-up for this trip and might only drive after the drop-off was made when the minibus would have to quickly vacate the area before the local police made their discovery. Tompkins admired her determination. He picked up Marvin, placed him under his left arm, and locked the door behind him. He checked the post box and found two items of mail, which he placed in his jacket pocket before jogging off towards HQ.
Marvin’s tongue lolled out as the buildings, cars, and railings passed by at an ever-increasing rate. Tompkins was gaining speed as he got closer to his destination although he no longer felt compelled to dodge out of people’s way at the last minute, as he used to do when he was training to be a Rugby Union winger in his school and university days. Besides, Marvin was far larger than any rugger ball Tompkins had ever seen and so wasn’t fit for purpose.
Cuthbert Prendiville let Tompkins in to Aunt Jemima’s. Cuthbert placed Marvin in a dog basket in the kitchen and gave him food and warm water.
“Webster, Toby, and Daisy are in the games room,” said Cuthbert, “although Daisy still feels nauseous after the revelation last night how Stalky and Spinky died. She can’t imagine being able to do that herself.”
“No,” replied Tompkins, “Daisy is more of an intellectual and would never consider that parts of her body could end the life of a lover in a matter of seconds. I should apologise to her, however, as I hadn’t appreciated she was of a delicate disposition.”
“She’s not going to want to talk about it for a few days,” replied Cuthbert, “I am not sure she slept too well.”
“Right, well, I won’t mention it in that case, I didn’t think it would make so much of an impression on the poor girl – anyway, I won’t mention it, I promise.”
“Won’t mention what?” asked Toby, appearing in the doorway, “oh , wait a second, I think I know what you’re referring to, yes, best not mention anything for a few days. She’s still delicate.”
“Right, well I get the message,” said Tompkins, “I will go into the Games room and not mention anything about last night at all.”
Tompkins strolled straight ahead, opened the door, and peered inside. Daisy was talking on the phone and Webster Smythe was staring at a large screen. Tompkins inched inside, trying to avoid staring at Daisy. Instead he fixed his eyes on the screen.
“Hello, Webster,” he whispered, “what do we have on the screen?”