Friday, 13 July 2007

Chapter 121

Harry’s call to Laurel McFry went well. Since taking the call from Bill Blunt, she had found the obituary he’d written on her father. Although it wasn’t old, the paper was already yellowed, and the words she read were like an echo. It had been some time since she had read it, but she remembered now how sensitive she had thought it was at the time, a generous tribute to someone she dearly missed. Perhaps, after all, this Bill Blunt fellow might be on her side? He’d mentioned Galloway, and something about some medals. When she’d raised this with Danny Longhurst, he’d feigned ignorance. She hadn’t entirely believed him, so that when, as evening fell, she picked up the phone to find Harry McFry on the other end, she was ready to give him a piece of her mind.

“I’m glad you’ve rung, Harry,” she said. “There are one or two things I wanted to talk to you about.”

Harry had worked out what these might be, but waited for her to outline them.

“How come your friend, Mr Blunt, knows all about Cyril Galloway? And what’s all this about medals?”

“Bill’s a journalist, Laurel. Don’t you forget that. He’s a good one, too. When you told me about the problems with your McFry shares, I asked him to do some digging for me. Seems he’s done more than I expected.” Harry waited for her response which, when it came, was in the form of another question – pointed, this time:

“Did you tell Mr Blunt about Galloway?”

“Absolutely not. I’m going to ring him, shortly, and find out how he knows about him.”

“So – I take it I won’t be finding my name on the front cover of the Birkenhead Beagle this week?”

The question jolted Harry. He knew that the deadline for the Beagle was Tuesday. He realized Bill might, indeed, be planning a story for this week. He’d have to head him off, if he could.

“Absolutely not. I can assure you it won’t.” Harry hoped his assurance was worth something to Laurel, even as he was wondering how he might achieve it.

“And the medals he mentioned?”

“Bill’s put two and two together to make five, I’m afraid. I’ll put him right though, don’t you worry. Now…” Harry said, pausing to change tack. “I have something I need to tell you.”

Danny had been watching as Harry made the call, his glance occasionally straying back to the locals as they continued their promenade around the square. The general hubbub of chatter was punctuated occasionally by the shrill cries of a lottery ticket vendor, which Danny couldn’t make out at first, but which sounded something like ‘ons-ay! He supposed that Harry was about to tell Laurel about her own personal lottery win…

He was right. Harry outlined how, while in Madrid, they had discovered that Laurel was the inheritor of a pre-war bond which was worth a substantial amount of money: far, far more than her shares in McFry & Co had been worth. At first, Laurel found it hard to take in, but Harry had convinced her it was true. It took a while before she asked the obvious question, and when she did it was with an excited tone that Harry hadn’t heard her use before:

“But I don’t understand… a bond … from who?” Harry had anticipated the question.

Laurel, you’re going to have to trust me on this one. Just now, I can’t tell you who. I’m hoping to clear it up in the next few days. But listen – I don’t want you to say a word about this to anyone, you understand? I particularly don’t want you to say anything to Bill Blunt. If he rings you again, tell him he has to speak to me.”

Laurel’s mind was a blur, but she took the warning. Whatever Harry McFry was up to in Madrid, it sounded like he was on her case, had her interests at heart.

“What about Galloway? Am I safe?”

“I don’t know, Laurel,” was all Harry could say. “You read Lawrence’s letter. Just watch out, that’s all. Danny and I are home tomorrow. We’ll ring you tomorrow night, if that’s OK…”

Laurel agreed. As the call ended, she sat back on the sofa and tried to make some sense of it all. Her ‘missing family’ was proving to be a bigger ball-game than she’d imagined.


In Telford, Lillian McFry was contemplating the week ahead. If last week had been a busy one, then heaven knows the one she now faced was promising to be busier still. And, for reasons we perhaps don’t need to go into here, it looked very much as though Tuesday would be the day when everything came out. She tried to remember the order of play for that day. If everything went to plan, Colin McAllistair would be there first, followed on closely by Cyril Galloway and a positive stranger to the game, Mr Morris, from Cardiff. His secretary had been most insistent that he needed to see her – something to do with an investigation into Dr Lawrence. Well, they might as well all roll up, and be done with it!

She wondered what Harry McFry and Danny Longhurst were up to. She expected she'd hear from them, one way or another.

But mainly, she was relishing the prospect of all of these people telling her more – whatever they could - about Jonathan Harcourt, so that the void that had been in her heart for so many years now might, perhaps, be filled. If only just a little.


the domestic minx said...

Oh, I wish it was all as easy as that, with each little puzzle piece falling into place.
But are families ever as easy at that, dear Thomas?
We know better, don't we...
Especially with (mc)frys in the ointment...

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

Yes, you are so right, domestic minx. Gerald Durrell had it right all the time... "My Family And etc etc"

Theresa111 said...

Thomas…it's coming together nicely. Yes!

Fanton said...

Things seem to be all slotting together nicely, like some flat-packed furniture. But more exciting.

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

Thanks Theresa, and fanton. I like the plat-packed furniture analogy! Possibly because I know I've lost a few bits and pieces during assembly so far!

70steen said...

If I lend you my special selection of allen keys (and spare bits of metal clips, screws and stuff I have no idea what they were for).... do you think they would help with the flat pack so I can have my Monday fix :-)

Theresa111 said...

Chanting in the street outside my home…


I might otherwise be upset…but for now I am in accord. I feel the same.

More Chanting but this time in my head
"I WANT HARRY MCFRY!' Over and over………Please make it stop!

Pretty dramatic stuff and fluff. :)
"Sleeping Kitten - Dancing Dog!"

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

Sorry about the absence of anything yesterday! My access to the internet is a little circumscribed at the moment but, thanks to a tip from Bill Blunt, I've been able to post the latest chapter from a branch of Wetherspoons!

THanks, as ever, for your kind comments.