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Random Act

by  Simon Bates

Posted: Friday, September 12, 2014
Word Count: 6039
Summary: Part of my first novel Synopsis Jack Ramsay’s life is in torment; still reeling six months on from the violent death of his wife and child in a vehicle accident. His business is failing and on the edge of going under. Taking on what appears to be a hopeless case he finds himself drawn into a tangled but seemingly pointless search. A series of unconnected but random events over the following days bring together a small group of people where truth and closure play out in equal measure.

The storm was at its wildest, the rain, whipped up by the wind, stung like a thousand Bee stings on his face.  The up-draught at the cliff edge was laced with the salt from the sea, and burned at his nose as he tried to take a breath.  It was dark, black as pitch so that nothing had form, the sea; the sky all melded together in iron blackness.  Like a regular heartbeat, the light came and went; the piercing light that on a normal night would be seen for miles was no more than a faint pulse of lighter space out there in front of him.  So vague that it didn’t even appear to be there, it was just a lightning and darkening of the sky: like drifting from consciousness into deep sleep.
He stood for a minute, his face against the rain, his eyes closed against the pain.  The biting wind chewed at the raw flesh exposed by the torn and ragged shirt.  His coat was unbuttoned and flapped at his skin, causing him to shudder with every contact.  In his right hand was a bundle of sacking, tied roughly together, wet and dripping, the blood, diluted by the rain trickled through the sacking and was sucked by the wind into the night. 
Suddenly, shouting into the storm, he spun on his feet, turning a whole three hundred and sixty degrees and bringing his arm up to cast the bundle up and out into the blackness.  From the moment he let go, he could see nothing of the sacking.  It had vanished over the cliff and down to the rocks some one hundred and twenty feet below.  .......... The sea would do the rest.
Chapter One
(Wednesday 23rd June, early morning)
Jack put his arm out from under the warmth of the feather duvet and knocked the alarm clock from its position on the bedside cabinet.  It would have fallen to the floor but it landed in a collection of yesterday evening’s assorted items of clothing where it continued to bleat a proclamation of the fact that it was 6.00 am. 
The room was in darkness with just a shaft of light breaking through the small gap between the hastily drawn blackout curtains.  The sounds of birds outside, already about their business, and the crackle of a car’s engine intruded upon the relative silence and brought Jack back to consciousness with the sudden realisation that he was due at work in less than an hour.  He lay there for a few moments, not moving as the nightmare turned again into reality, as he remembered; relived the agony of the truth that had haunted him this last six months.  He remembered why he was here, he remembered why he was alone and he remembered why he had to carry on.
Jack’s room moved with a lazy motion and somewhere beyond his head he felt a grinding vibration as the old boat moved against the jetty.  ‘Somebody must be out and about early on the river’ he thought as he swung his legs off the bunk and reintroduced his feet to his deck shoes which felt decidedly damp.  He shaved, showered and dressed in casual chinos and a polo shirt, both newly laundered but somewhat creased having been crammed into the small wardrobe.
A piece of dry toast and a mug of coffee made with long life milk accompanied Jack as he walked somewhat gingerly across the gangplank and on to the floating jetty that was at least hinged to solid ground at one end.  Getting into his car, the half full coffee mug befriended four others as it was wedged into a space in the passenger foot well.  The beauty of the old MG was that the foot well was within easy reach of the driver and thus made an ideal depository for any, and indeed all, items that seemed to make the one-way journey from the boat.  The car; like the boat, were both in various states of renovation and although much work had been done on both, there were still some small jobs to be completed.  In happier times Jack had joked and said that he was into year five of his ‘three year plan’.  Of late, both projects had abruptly stopped, for Jack life had stopped; or rather it had ceased to have any real significance or purpose anymore.
The MG, or the “Bee” as he liked to call her, was a little out of the ordinary in that instead of the normal 1800 cc cast iron engine of the standard type fitted to most, this was a V8 of 4,000 cc and even more unusual was the fact that this engine had been upgraded by Jack’s cousin Peter who was a serious amateur mechanic.  The engine’s twin carburettors had been removed and replaced with a fuel injection system along with twin turbo chargers. The result was that the car had close to 400 bhp.  “Bee” had also undergone extensive upgrading of the brakes, steering and suspension in order to cope with the additional demands imposed by the fourfold increase in power.
The car had not cost Jack a great deal of money to get into shape as Peter had enjoyed the work and charged him only for the parts required to complete the job.  The labour had been paid for by Jack along with nights out at the pub for a meal, and then the serious business of a few pints to wash it all down.  But that was then, now it was just a means of transport.
The constraints of ship life had meant that Jack had not collected the heaps of junk that landlubbers seemed to gather around them.  The everyday items that most people appeared to collect as necessities were to Jack not only unnecessary, but also a hindrance, especially aboard a boat of finite volume.  There were other reasons too, Jack couldn’t remain in the house; it just wasn’t possible.  The rooms, the colours they had chosen for the walls and carpets, the furniture they had hand-picked, the happy memories just tore him apart; he couldn’t remain there.  The house had been sold, furniture and all.  The young couple could not believe their luck and were thrilled that Jack had let them have the place fully furnished. 
The boat was a different matter altogether.  She was a Moonraker 35  called ‘Moon Dancer’ and although built in the seventies Jack thought she looked just as good as the top notch ‘gin palaces’ parked in the marina.  In fact because she was not so top heavy, she actually looked as if she could take real sea without falling over on the first wave.  She had less exposed glass both in number and square footage and sat in, rather than on, the water.  She was a graceful boat and with her new twin turbo diesels could not only cream along in excess of twenty five knots, but could do it for five hundred miles on full tanks.  He had owned her for nearly five years but it was through circumstance that he now lived aboard.
Jack drove south through the quiet streets of Chertsey and on to join the M25 where he then headed clockwise for the M3 intersection.  ‘All this, and just to be one mile from where I started!’ he thought to himself as he turned northbound towards London and crossed the Thames.  Passing over Sunbury at the end of the motorway he headed on past Twickenham and, crossing the river again at Richmond, he glanced left and saw a couple of boats heading downstream towards the half-lock and the tidal reaches of the Thames. 
Part of Jack’s ‘three year plan’ had been to take his boat downstream, through London, out to the estuary and coast hop around the south east coast and over to France.  The boat was basically ready for such a trip and had been for over a year but, like any boat, there was always a list of jobs requiring attention.  Both car and boat were now the least of his worries, in addition to his personal crisis the business was going through a rough time; and had been for months.  He, along with the other two members of the partnership had recently taken a substantial cut in salary just to keep the company afloat.
7.34 am and Jack was sitting at his office desk having left the “Bee” on a parking meter just round the corner.  He would ask one of the others to move it later unless he had a client to visit early on.  Proper ‘perked’ coffee and a croissant appeared before him three minutes later when Cleo came in with messages she had downloaded from the answering machine.
“Just three messages left yesterday evening on the answer phone Mr. Ramsey” she said as she placed the folder to the right of his coffee cup.
“Please, call me Jack.  After all you have been temping for us for nearly two months”.  Jack stirred his coffee and looked at her, she smiled at him, and saying nothing turned to walk back to her desk which was in the outer office.  Jack sipped at his coffee and looked at the folder which contained yesterdays opened mail; today’s unopened mail and the mini tape from the answering machine with the three messages.
The door in the outer office was opened and the sound of a heated but friendly discussion intruded.  His other ‘partners in crime’ John Dawkins and Steve Bell came into view through the open doorway and waved before collecting their post from Cleo.  ‘God, this place would fold if not for her!’ Jack thought to himself as he heard her instructing his colleagues on the day’s business and sending them off to their desks in the respective corners of their shared office.
Jack turned his gaze to the silver photograph frame on his desk.  Two faces smiled back at him.  He put out his hand to touch the face of the woman and baby and as he did so he felt himself chocking as the lump forming in his throat threatened to close his windpipe.  Tears formed in the corner of his eyes and his body started to shake, causing the hand holding the frame to rattle it on the surface of the desk.  This daily ritual was the only way he could deal with their deaths.  To see them each morning, mourn the loss of them and then turn his mind to dealing with life.  Six months on and still the pain of losing them ate away at him.  The police had made enquiries into the ‘hit and run’ but had discovered little or nothing.  Jack had been so frustrated by their lack of progress that he himself had used contacts he knew to try and trace the owner of the car only to find it had been reported stolen three days prior to the accident.
Jack had failed, he had failed to find and bring to justice the person, or persons who had committed this terrible crime against his wife and son.  He had failed them, both of them.  He had been told that this was natural and he must not blame himself.  His GP had suggested therapy but Jack would not go, he offered pills to help him sleep but he rejected them along with the tranquilisers which were also suggested.  Each and every day since their deaths Jack had put himself through this torture of seeing and holding the picture, hoping that in doing so he could be forgiven for not protecting them, keeping them safe and for not finding the perpetrator of the violent act that had taken them from him.
* * *
(The day before - Tuesday 22nd June)
Bob Smedhurst walked briskly along the bridle path in the early morning air, his old black Labrador striding on a few yards ahead.  He came to a stile that led into an overgrown field, behind the small development of bungalows, where he often threw sticks for Bessie.  She would blunder through the undergrowth at the bottom edge that adjoined the small wood and search until she found the right stick, where upon she would triumphantly run back to where Bob would stand waiting.  Today was much the same as any other, and for Bob it mattered not whether Bessie chased sticks for five minutes or fifty. Being retired meant not having to be forever watching the clock as he did during his forty years in teaching.  He was glad to be out of it, all the changes that had taken place during his career, not all for the better as far as he was concerned.
Bessie dropped the now fairly well chewed stick at Bob’s feet and waited patiently for him to pick it up and go through the motions of pretending to throw it once, twice, and then letting it go on the third throw. People, like all animals, being creatures of habit Bob always let the stick go on the third throw, and Bessie now knowing this, would just wait until the third throw before chasing off after her prey.
“OK old girl, once more and then we’ll head back home.”  Bob threw the stick high and it travelled in a graceful arc, over the barbed wire fence, and fell among the small bushes just inside the wooded area about sixty feet from where they had been standing.  Bessie shot off in pursuit and within a dozen strides was diving between the rusty strands of fencing towards the point where ‘stick’ had fallen.
Bob looked up at the sky and saw just the thin wisp of cloud cover. It would soon burn off, it was only 7.30 in the morning, by 9.00 am it would be another lovely hot, sunny day.  “Come on old girl”. Bob could hear the dog crashing through the branches obviously she hadn’t found ‘stick’ yet.  He was just about to whistle when she reappeared from her search and headed back towards him. “Hey, that’s not your ‘stick’ is it old girl?” he said as she bounded back to him and dropped it at his feet. 
He bent down to retrieve the stick and looked at its rounded ends, its smooth appearance and was rather surprised just how light it was.  Teaching science, and for the greater part biology at ‘A’ level, had equipped Bob with a fairly sound understanding of the human frame.  He realised at once that this bone was not what he had first assumed it to be, some lesser creature, a fox, a dog or a deer.  It was part of a human arm, the humorous to be precise. Not really knowing what to do next he stood and pondered his options.  Well there wasn’t a rush, this person was already dead, and probably for some time judging by the state of the item in his hand. 
He had loathed mobile phones and thus had not pandered to the wishes of Jean, his wife, who tried to make him take hers when he took the dog out.  ‘You may just need it one day!’ she would say, and each time he would contrive to forget to take it with him.  ‘Should I go and look for more bones’ he thought to himself but immediately thought that it would be best not to in case he disturbed the crime scene, if there was one.  ‘What if I was a mistaken about the bone?  What if it really wasn’t human at all?’   He studied the bone again and looking at it in detail concluded that it was in fact human. 
Making a mental note of his position in the field and where the ‘stick’ had landed, he and Bessie headed back along the bridle path.  Home and a phone call to the police at Newport were decided upon as the best course of action to take.
* * *
 (Tuesday 22nd June)
Clare Layton just loved the freedom of being able to fly, or at least to pilot a small aircraft which in her opinion was just about as close as you could get to flapping your arms and doing it yourself.  She took great pride and satisfaction in her progress towards her private pilots’ licence.  She had about six hours of flying time so far and was just about to add another 30 minutes before she set off for work in Ryde. 
She enjoyed living on the Isle of Wight or ‘The Island’ as it was referred to by the indigenous population.  She did not mind the fact that for six months of the year it was packed with holiday makers and thus you couldn’t get anywhere at any time, and for the remaining six months it was desolate with everything shut down for the winter.  During the summer the night life was interesting and varied, but in the winter it ceased to exist, everyone seemed to go into hibernation.  She didn’t mind the quiet period, ‘recharging for next summer’ she would say. 
She was twenty seven years old, had left school with two ‘A’ levels, and within four years had created her own business selling computer systems to small companies who appeared incapable of organising themselves.  She had found a gap in the market and exploited it to the delight of her parents who had benefited substantially with a new bungalow for them and a Rover for the garage.  Although her business had taken off and was currently doing exceptionally well, she had not lost touch of her roots.  She didn’t see the need to move her business to the mainland; she wanted to remain based on the Island that she loved.
George Clarke was the chief instructor at small airport at Bembridge and had known Clare all her life.  He was a personal friend of Clare’s father, having met in the RAF and become instant friends.  They played golf, both badly but George more so, on a fairly regular basis at the club near Lake just a few miles inland from the seaside town of Sandown. 
He watched as she walked round the plane, giving it both a visual check and also tapping and pulling to make sure all was as it should be.  He didn’t let on that just before she had arrived, he had done exactly these checks.  He was pleased to see that she didn’t miss anything.  She turned to George and asked,
“How much fuel are we carrying, George?”
“Three quarters full, equal amounts in each wing tank, we’re OK.” replied George.
 Exchanging a grin and a nod Clare climbed into the tiny aircraft. George followed and sat on her right.  Seat belts were secured and George made himself as comfortable as he could.  The cockpit of the Cessna was not particularly wide, unlike George who had ‘Put on a bit!’ as he would freely admit.  When people asked him if he ever felt nervous or scared he would reply, “Drivers never like being driven by somebody else, do they?” 
One day he would pack it all in, he had been instructing for more years than he could remember. It wasn’t that the enjoyment had gone out of the job, far from it, but George realised that he was beginning to get just that bit slower in his reactions it probably was time to turn his attentions to improving his golf handicap!
Static checks completed and the area around the propeller checked, finally the plane’s engine roared into life, deafening the wildlife for hundreds of yards in all directions.  George looked at his watch and then at the sky above the little plane as Clare nosed her out to the far end of the grass runway.  Back for 9.00 am and a cup of coffee before taking the holiday makers on endless ‘Tours of the Island’, still there were worse ways to earn a living.  A brief word with the control tower and the plane was off, bouncing on the undulating grass until she had achieved sufficient ground speed for the wings to take over and lift her clear of the ground. 
Immediately the ride became smoother, the ground fell away sharply, as the plane rose to about 200 feet. Clare checked for clear airspace and began to bank round to head north.  She loved the take-off best of all, the sudden release from the ground and the feeling of freedom and power to soar through the clouds.  George did not share Clare’s enthusiasm to the same extent, being that much older, wiser and the instructor meant that he had to retain some degree of reserve on such matters.  He did secretly however get just the same kick as he always did when leaving the ground behind.
“OK, what’s it to be today?” said George as he shuffled in his seat. “Once round the Island?”
“Yes, I think clock-wise today.  We did anti-clock last week.”  Clare replied.  She was checking fuel and temperatures before informing the control tower at Bembridge of her intention to fly east towards the ‘Nab’.  Generally around the Island was easier as there was restricted airspace over Newport in the centre of the Island because of the prisons near to Parkhurst forest.
The sun was high enough in the sky not to be of any nuisance as they flew east towards the ‘Nab’, the eastern marker for the Island and Solent Water.  The Cessna, having a high wing meant that visibility below was good.  Planes that had their wings set low on the fuselage had restricted view below, but of course that meant that they had excellent vision above.  ‘Swings and roundabouts’ was George’s view and to him it was just like getting out of a Ford and into a Vauxhall.
On reaching the ‘Nab’, Clare turned the plane onto a south westerly course and followed the line of the Island past the cliffs at Culver and into Sandown Bay.  Within a few minutes they were over Ventnor and the lighthouse station at St. Catherine’s Point, the most southerly part of the Island.  It was exactly halfway between London and Cherbourg according to the plate set into a stone marker on the cliff path.  Clare decided to do a circular loop and turned the plane in a wide and slow arc out to sea. 
“You won’t see any yet.” said George, “I expect it’s too early in the year for them; sea’s not warm enough.”
“What’s that then?”  Clare replied and pointing down to the left. 
“All right, you’re right again, as usual.”  George looked down at the sea and saw the shape of a large fish swimming slowly just a few feet below the surface of the water.  The basking shark was probably around sixteen to eighteen feet long and was feeding on the small sea life that made up its diet.  It was completely oblivious to the plane as it roared noisily overhead at a height of about two hundred feet.
 As the plane continued its circular detour out to sea, Clare saw that there was a yacht in the water below and that their arc would take them  directly over the top of their mast.  Approaching almost head on she could not make out any name on the bow, but she did notice that there were two people on deck.  The figure standing in the cockpit vanished and reappeared almost immediately with something in his hand. George froze as he recognised the small black object that was being raised and pointed towards the plane.
“Christ, change course Clare, I think that idiot’s pointing a gun at us.”
No sooner had George opened his mouth he could see flame spurt from the barrel.  There was no sound; it was almost as if he were watching a slow motion film with no soundtrack.  The barrel spurted flame again and this time George was aware of something passing through the cockpit floor behind the seats.
“Shit, steer away from the crazy bastard.”  George need not have given Clare any encouragement to do so the plane was already turning sharply to the right, taking them away from the danger of the madman on the boat.
“Get the name of the boat George.” said Clare as she quickly checked the instruments in front of her.  George looked round but the boat was too far away for the name to be easily deciphered.
“Can’t read it, sorry.” said George as he strained round in his seat.
“Shall I turn round and see if we can get a closer look at the name.”  Said Clare who: had appeared totally unflustered by the events of the last thirty seconds.
“Not bloody likely, and risk getting shot at again!”  George looked at Clare and was amazed at how calm she appeared.  She turned to meet his gaze and smiled.
“It’s all right Uncle George; we’re OK, aren’t we?”  She often called him ‘uncle’ because he had no family of his own and had become adopted family by her parents.  He looked at her and suddenly his expression changed as he caught sight of a trail of vapour exiting from a large hole in the starboard wing.  She turned instinctively and peered at the fuel pouring out of the wing tank.  George decided that the lesson was going to be cut short, one way or the other!
“I’m going to radio Bembridge and tell them we have a problem”.  George looked at Clare who was now fast turning pale and said, “I’ll take us back, just sit back and relax, it’s going to be all right.”
* * *
It was nearly nine thirty before Bob managed to speak to anybody at the police station; the phone always seemed to be engaged.  Eventually persistence paid off and he was put through to Detective Sergeant Harper who said that he would come and speak to Bob personally within the hour.
Fifty four minutes later the doorbell rang and Bob’s wife Jean showed the two visitors into the front sitting room.  Bessie was excited and trotted in circles around the four of them wagging her tail as they made to sit on the sofa and two armchairs.
“All right Bessie, out you go now, to the kitchen.” said Bob.  The dog looked at Jean and then back at her master before picking up her ‘squeaking’ bone and walking out of the room.
“This is Detective Inspector Janet Hill and I’m Detective Sergeant Raymond Harper.  Now Mr. Smedhurst, what exactly have you found and where?  Let’s start with your walk with the dog this morning.”
“Well, it’s as I said on the phone earlier.” said Bob.
“They need to know exactly what you did, step by step, dear.” Jean got to her feet.  “While you recall the events, I’ll make us all a drink.” She looked at the visitors.  “Can I get you tea or coffee?”
Coffee for all was agreed and Jean went off to prepare a tray.  Bob slowly and methodically recalled the walk, the Sergeant made copious notes while the Inspector listened, occasionally asking questions.  Jean placed the coffee on the table and they all stopped briefly to drink.  The description of events concluded with Bob producing a plastic bag containing the bone that Bessie had retrieved.  He passed it to the Inspector who studied it through the clear plastic for a couple of seconds, passing it to the Sergeant who placed it into his briefcase.
“Did you touch the bone at all?”  The Inspector looked at Bob.
“Yes, of course I did, I had no idea what it was, and I thought it was the stick I had thrown for Bessie.  She carried it in her mouth, so we both touched it.”
“Well, all that remains now Mr. Smedhurst is for you to show us where you and your dog found the bone.”  The Sergeant pulled a large scale map from his briefcase and placed it on the coffee table; Jean moved forward and removed the empty coffee cups making space for the sergeant to unfold the map.  Bob leaned forward, and having studied the map for a few seconds, placed his finger on the location.
“There, it was right there, and Bessie ran into the copse just about here.”  He moved his finger slightly to indicate where the dog had vanished into the undergrowth. 
At that moment, as if she had been listening, waiting for the right time to plan her entry, Bessie ran back into the room carrying her bone.  The Inspector put her hand down and gave the dog a friendly pat, then looking at her watch, decided that the interview had come to an end.
“Well, thanks for your help Mr. Smedhurst, and thank you for the coffee Mrs. Smedhurst.”  The Inspector and the Sergeant both stood up to leave.  “We’ll contact you again, if that’s all right, should we have any further questions.”
As they crunched down the short gravel drive and onto the pavement, Mr. and Mrs. Smedhurst watched from the doorway, Bessie sitting between them, her ‘squeaking’ bone clamped firmly in her mouth.
“I hope that’s the last we hear about it, strange business.” said Bob as he turned to close the door.
* * *
The mini cassette was placed into the dictating machine on Jack’s desk.  Two of the telephone messages were fairly ordinary, the first, which was timed at five forty in the evening, was from a client to say that he no longer required his services and for Jack to put his bill in the post.  He would ask Cleo to make up an invoice and get it in the post.  Jack strained to make out some of the speech, the machine and tape both being well passed their ‘sell by’ date.  The second, ten minutes later, was from a girlfriend that he had met up with again after three years, just to say that she was not available for the dinner date that they had planned at the weekend.  ‘Probably had a better offer.’ thought Jack to himself.  He listened to the third message which was left at two minutes past eight on the Tuesday evening.
“Mr. Ramsey,  err,...It’s Mr. Clarke, may not remember me but your father and I were chums many years ago, I was at his funeral, introduced myself to you and your mother.  Anyway, knowing the business you’re in, I wondered if you could telephone me.  I need someone to find out a name....get some information for me.  Look if you could spare a few days, please give me a call on 07970 234543.  If you could, I would be most grateful.  Thanks.......” 
Jack replayed the third message again.  ‘Well, not a lot of info there.’ he thought to himself.  It was not an Island number, they all start with the Portsmouth code he remembered; it was a mobile phone.  He decided to try and phone the number and see if he could get a little more information about what exactly this Mr. Clarke wanted.  He vaguely remembered meeting a Mr. Clarke, a rather chubby individual with a moustache, a pilot if he remembered correctly.  
“The number you are trying is temporarily unavailable, it may be switched off, please try again later.” 
“Sod it!” he said to the ‘un-listening’ recording, and put the phone down.  He wrote the number into his pocket book and decided that he would try later in the day.
The phone in the outer office rang and Cleo answered it in her professional manner.
“This is the office of ‘Ramsey, Dawkins and Bell’ How may I help you?”  There was a slight pause.  “Can you hold just one moment, I’ll see if he is available.”  Cleo called through to Jack, “Do you want to speak to a Mr. Clarke?”
“Yeah, put him on, thanks Cleo.”  Jack picked up the phone and put it to his ear.  He heard Cleo speaking to the caller and then the line was connected. 
“Hello, Mr. Ramsey?  Mr. Jack Ramsey?”
“Speaking.” replied Jack.  There was a crackle and the voice on the other end of the phone faded out.  A couple of seconds later the line went dead.
“Cleo, phone that number back for me please.”  Jack sat back in his chair, stretched his legs forward and rubbed his eyes, he suddenly remembered. ‘Shit, the “bee” needs moving off the meter!’ At the same moment Cleo put her head round the corner of the doorway.
“I tried to get back but it’s a mobile number and I think it’s either switched off or the battery’s dead, sorry Jack.”
“No worries, but if you could try later, and get a response, then let me know.”  Jack stood up from his chair and took the set of keys from the desk, “Listen, I’ve got to go out and move the car, back in five.”  It was only when he was getting into his car a couple of minutes later that he recalled that Cleo had actually called him by his name.
* * *
George looked at his phone in disbelief, ‘Bloody battery, I only charged it yesterday’ he said to himself. Putting the phone back into his pocket he walked along the cliff path back to the car park.  He had gone for a drive, ended up in one of the car parks on the old military road on the western side of the Island, and had stood looking out to sea.  At low tide you could see the remains of a petrified forest, actually just a few stumps of rock sticking out of the sand, but it was another of the Islands many attractions according to the guide book !  He unlocked the car and sat in the driver’s seat, relieved to get out of the wind.  Even on a summer’s day you could always fly a kite along this part of the Island!  Reaching into the glove-box George removed the car phone lead and plugged one end into the phone and the other into the cigar lighter socket.  The phone lit up and he decided to leave it switched on while it charged, it would take longer but he was hoping that he would receive a call.
He turned the radio on and listened to Radio Solent, somebody was complaining on a ‘phone-in’ about the crop of garlic this year being down by as much as 40%. Bob was trying to understand the crackling and somewhat strangled sounding voice on the poor telephone line to the radio station when his phone suddenly rang.
“Hello, George Clarke.”  George could never remember his own number and therefore found that it was easier just to say who he was.
“Hi, it’s Mr. Ramsey.  You phoned my office and left me a message.  I did try to get back to you but your phone was switched off.”
George decided not to go into some long explanation about how his phone battery was playing up and just decided to leave it.  “Thanks for getting back to me Mr. Ramsey.”
“Call me Jack.” He replied.
“OK, Jack.  Look, I had a bit of a scary experience yesterday and I want to try and find out what is going on.  I don’t want to go to the police, well not at the moment anyway.  I wondered if you could spare me a few days to do a bit of digging.  I’ll pay the going rate, plus expenses.”
“OK Mr. Clarke, let me just check my diary and with my secretary, I’ll get back to you within the hour.”
“Thanks Jack, and cut the formalities, call me George.  I’ll look forward to hearing from you later.” 
George put the phone on the passenger seat, clipped his seatbelt and started the engine.  In the time it would take him to drive the twelve miles back to the airport, the phone would be charged up again.  He smiled to himself as he turned out of the car-park and headed back the way he had come.  His voice had sounded just like his father’s, forty years earlier when they had both met for the first time.
* * *