“Oh, boo-hoo,” said Mr Smith, still holding the knife to George Friteuse’s throat. “What a sad tale of woe and misfortune. Can’t you see me filling up? My eyes are stinging with tears.”
“There’s no need for sarcasm,” said Jim’s father.
“Good, because I’m not very good with sarcasm; I can dish it out but I can’t take it. Come to think of it I can’t take criticism either – even when it’s constructive.”
“I hate people like you who dish out sarcasm, but can’t take it.”
“Stop criticising me!”
“There are books available that can help you to be sarcastic and be able to take it when it’s dished back to you.”
“Yes – I have one in my room at the Guest House. Why don’t I just go and get it?”
Mr Smith tightened his grip. “Not so fast. I’m not letting you go to the Guest House. What do you take me for – an idiot?”
“Didn’t I just tell you to stop criticising me?”
“Weren’t you about to kill me?”
“Yes, that’s right. Thanks for reminding me.”
“No worries, mate – but why do you still want to kill me after everything I’ve just told you?”
“Because it was your crazy lot that almost got me killed.”
“Didn’t you pay attention to anything that was in the last chapter? They were not my crazy lot; they were GBH’s crazy lot. But, I suspect the reason you want to kill me is not the reason you just quoted.”
“And what is the real reason I want to kill you?” snarled Mr Smith. Please enlighten me.”
“You want to kill me because I know who you really are.”
“No, you don’t.”
“Yes, I do.”
“And who am I exactly?”
“You are . . .” began George Friteuse.
“Don’t listen to him!” interrupted Mr Smith.
Mr Smith lowered his knife and released George Friteuse. He sat down on the swivel chair behind his desk and opened a drawer to the right of him, out of which he produced a solid gold pistol. After placing the pistol on the desk before him, he reached down to the floor, where he nonchalantly picked up a white Persian cat and began stroking it.
|A White Persian Cat|
“So, you have found me,” he said, his accent changing slightly.
Miss Yip seemed startled by this sudden transformation. “You . . . you mean all the time I was working with you . . . you . . . you were actually working against me.”
“Correct!” Mr Smith exclaimed. He put his hands under the collar of his shirt and started to pull at something. George, Jim and Miss Yip looked on in horror as the latex covering on Mr Smith’s face began to peel away to reveal . . .
“A Klingon!” cried George. “You’re a bloody Klingon!”
“Of course I’m not a bloody Klingon; Klingons are a figment of Gene Roddenberry’s imagination. I’m a bloody Egyptian, you ignorant fool! My name is Abdullah Fahad Achmed Al Mohammed bin Abdul Faisal Muhammed Fuad Abdullah Aziz Smith.”
“I said my name is Abdullah Fahad Achmed Al Mohammed bin Abdul Faisal Muhammed Fuad Abdullah Aziz Smith.”
Mr Smith opened the bottom drawer of his desk and produced a fez, which he placed on his head at a jaunty angle. “Very soon I will have all the secrets of Frontiere’s cheesemaking operation and I will report back to my masters in Cairo who will begin their own production and flood the market with cheaply made inferior cheese. People around the world will think that Frontiere are producing it and will stop buying their products, thereby putting them out of business.”
“But why?” asked Jim.
“How should I know?” said Mr Smith, “probably because it’s essential to the plot . . . or something. . . what I would like to know is how Elroy Hubble here found out who I was.”
“I was sent an anonymous tip-off from someone calling himself Tony Revolver.”
“But Tony Revolver is working for me,” said Mr Smith, just before his office telephone rang.
He picked up the receiver. “Think again, Mr Smith,” said the familiar Australian drawl of Tony Revolver at the other end of the line. “I have never worked for you. All the time you thought I was working for you I was a Double Gloucester Agent working for Frontiere.”
“But all you do is watch television. How could you possibly know that I was Cheesefinger?”
“I saw a BBC documentary about you on Channel 1.”
“Damn those BBC documentary film-makers! They told me that film would never be shown. Who knows about me?”
“Everyone. Except Miss Yip and Jim Friteuse, of course.”
“Well she knows now. And hang on a minute, how did you know to ring me at the precise moment that I said that you were working for me?”
“We’ve had you under observation for months now. Before they sent you to Braintree they fitted the place out with bugs and hidden cameras. We knew that you were Cheesefinger but we had no idea of your real identity . . . until today.”
“Damn those bugs and hidden cameras!”
“Your big mistake was underestimating the resourcefulness of the average Australian bloke.”
Tony Revolver projected the image of the laid back Australian to perfection. In order to gain Mr Smith’s trust he had convinced him that he was the only Australian in the history of the antipodes who had no idea how to barbecue food. This part of his cover was relatively easy because Tony Revolver was in fact the only Australian in the history of the antipodes who had no idea how to barbecue food.
He had been a constant disappointment to his father who was the barbecue king in his local town. Tony Revolver’s father could barbecue anything and had won many prizes doing so. His crowning glory was when he barbecued an entire beached whale and a plague of locusts in under three hours – a record that he still holds today.
Tony’s inability to cook even the simplest of food on an outdoor barbecue (or even to light a barbecue properly) drove his father to distraction. “You have brought shame on this family,” he said as his son lifted the burnt ostrich sausages from the grill and threw them into the bin with the charred remains of two koala burgers and a kangaroo twizzler. “You must leave now and not return until you have proved yourself worthy.”
|A rare photograph of Tony Revolver burning minced beef on a barbecue|
Tony packed his collection T-shirts, shorts and flip flops and headed off into the unknown, determined that he would prove himself worthy of returning to the family. Sadly, once he arrived in New Zealand and was employed by Frontiere as an analyst, all thoughts of barbecued food deserted him and he began the mammoth task of analysing TV programmes that may contain hidden messages.
He sent Christmas cards home each year but he was too ashamed to include a round robin letter in the envelope as his father would have blown a gasket if he knew that his son was cooking the festive turkey in an oven!
His resourcefulness and enthusiasm for his analytical role in Frontiere, however, gained him rapid promotion within the organisation.
“Damn those average Australian blokes and their resourcefulness!” said Mr Smith, slamming down the telephone.
He picked up telephone and dialled a number. “Is the room ready Mrs Smedley?” he asked.
“Yes,” said Mrs Smedley in her sultry voice.
“Good. Bring the car round to the factory.” Smith picked up his solid gold pistol and threw a length of rope each to Jim and Miss Yip. He instructed Miss Yip to tie Jim’s hands behind his back and George to do the same to Miss Yip. Finally he ordered George to turn around a face the wall, whereupon he bound his hands tightly.
Ten minutes later Mrs Smedley arrived and the three prisoners were led outside to her waiting car.
They were driven out into the country to a deserted cottage and led into a room where they were told to sit. It looked as if it was in the middle of a redecoration; wallpaper was peeling off the walls and there was a red stain on the mouldy carpet. The windows were barred – there was no way out.
Mrs Smedley smiled. “There’s some rather amusing reading material over there,” she said pointing to a pile of torn wallpaper strips on the sideboard
She left the room and closed and locked the door behind her.
Jim managed to free himself from the rope that bound his wrists together. He untied George and Miss Yip and then picked up the top sheet of wallpaper from the pile. It was a fleur-de-lys pattern but on the reverse, written in neat blue handwriting was what appeared to be a letter.
It began with the words ‘THE LAST TESTAMENT OF CHARLES SMEDLEY.’
As Jim began to read it, he thought he heard a low growl coming from behind the locked door. The growling grew louder as he read further into the document and he, along with his two companions, began to realise that they were in deep, serious trouble.
DON’T MISS Chapter 18: THE LAST TESTAMENT OF CHARLES SMEDLEY or THE WALLPAPERED ROOM!