"Cheese has always been good to me."
Jim Friteuse

Friday, November 30, 2012

Chapter 19: MEANWHILE . . .

Peter Perkins had seen and heard everything and he couldn’t believe his eyes or his ears. His Spinoza-Sense had told him that something was wrong, but Mr Smith had kept his evil intent so well hidden under a lead-lined veil of incompetence that he had been impossible to read. He had heard Mr Smith reveal himself to be Abdullah Fahad Achmed Al Mohammed bin Abdul Faisal Muhammed Fuad Abdullah Aziz Smith aka the super-villain Cheesefinger and he had seen the voluptuous Irene Smedley arrive and a man resembling Mr Smith (but with an Egyptian air about him) leading Jim, Miss Yip and Wulf Sternhammer out of the office at gunpoint.

He had to think fast. He reached into his pocket and found a Teichmuller Tracking Device from his old I-Think-Therefore-I-Am-Man days. The tracker was one of his own inventions and he’d named it after the German philosopher Gustav Teichmuller (1837 – 1888) because he’d found him difficult to follow. Perhaps, thought Peter, now was the time to bring I-Think-Therefore-I-Am-Man out of retirement. He ran to the end of the corridor and left the building through a side door. He skirted his way around the building, moving as quickly as his bulky frame would allow.

He was in luck – he had reached Irene Smedley’s car before Smith and the others had left the building. He bent down, reached behind the rear bumper and attached the tracker just as the factory door opposite him began to open.

He quickly dived behind a large bush on the other side of the road and listened.

“We must take care of them, Irene, my love,” said Smith kissing Mrs Smedley full on the lips. “They must never be seen again.”

“Don’t worry, darling. I think Derek is ready for a nice big meal. It’s been a while since he finished off Charles.”

“Yes, your stupid rich husband - all the time he thought that it was just you and that dog, where in actual fact it had always you and me!” Mr Smith burst into maniacal laughter.

“I know – ever since you contacted me from New Zealand we have been lovers. I never loved my husband – I only loved his money!”

“All right, all right!” said Miss Yip, angrily, “I think that’s enough back story and plot exposition to fill everyone in with your motives. Let’s get this over and done with, shall we!”

The three prisoners were bundled into the back of the car and when they were firmly secured there Irene Smedley sat down in the driver’s seat and started the engine. With his golden gun still trained on them, Mr Smith climbed into passenger side and slammed the door, just as the car roared away.
Peter Perkins emerged from his hiding place and ran full tilt to his office. He closed the door, pulled down the blinds and quickly changed out of his work clothes and into his once familiar brown jacket with patches on the elbows, brown corduroy trousers, striped shirt with a plain collar, spotted tie and comfortable shoes “This looks like a job for I-Think-Therefore-I-Am-Man!” he cried as he left the office.

From the corridor behind him he thought he heard the sigh of female voice saying, “I-Think-Therefore-I-Am-Man? But . . . how?”

Peter ran to his car and started the engine. He switched on the Teichmuller Tracking System and wondered what to do next. And then it suddenly came to him. “Claire! I must go and get Claire!”

Claire was busy typing up the menu for when Jim returned home for his dinner. She had taken all the cans out of the cupboard and they were sat on the side waiting to be opened with her trusty Brabantia. This was to be her first three-course meal in England and she wanted to make it special.

Campbell’s Cream of Tomato Soup
Fray Bentos Steak & Kidney Pie
Tinned Marrowfat Peas
Tinned Baby Carrots
Tinned New Potatoes with Butter
Bisto Gravy
Ambrosia Rice Pudding
Jar Cheese & Biscuits

The doorbell rang as she typed out the last word on the menu. “Whoever can that be?” she thought. “It’s too early for Jim to be home.”

She opened the door to find Peter Perkins standing in the doorway. “Oh, hello, Peter – what on earth are you doing here?”

“Claire!” Peter said urgently. “You have to come with me. Jim’s in a spot of bother.”

“But, I’m just preparing the dinner. I have so many cans to open I’ve been exercising my wrist, although I probably needn’t have seeing as I’ll be using my Brabantia to open them.”

Peter was momentarily distracted. “You have a Brabantia tin opener?” he said in amazement.

“Yes,” replied Claire. “Would you like to see it?”

“Errr,” began Peter, “err . . . no. No. We need to get going before something terrible happens to Jim.”

“What’s the matter? Someone’s not fed him some fresh food, have they? Fresh food always upsets his stomach, you know.”

“No, no, it’s nothing like that. Now, if you could get in the car, we have no time to lose.”

“Oh. Right,” said Claire, as she kicked off her slippers and slipped on the comfortable shoes that she had brought with her from New Zealand. “Let’s get going then.”

Peter switched on the Teichmuller Tracking Device and started the car. The Teichmuller spoke to them in a German accent.

“Go schtrate down to ze ent off ze rote and turn left, zen at ze rountabout turn right, it said.

“Wow,” said Claire, “that’s amazing. Have you ever thought of patenting it – you’d make a fortune. Anyway, what did it say?”

“Shutup!” said the Teichmuller, “I vill ask ze qvestions!”

“It needs a bit of refinement,” said Peter. “A couple of months ago I wanted to go to Leeds and it directed me all the way to Poland and told me to start the invasion. I was thinking of patenting it under the name of TeichNav, short for Teichmuller Navigation System, but after the Polish incident I think a better name for it would be TwatNav.”

Keep goink schrate down zis rote until you get to ze ent and zen turn right.
As they followed the instructions given to them by the Teichmuller, a car sped past them travelling in the opposite direction. Peter recognised the driver as being Mrs Irene Smedley.

“That’s them!” he cried. “That’s them who kidnapped Jim and Miss Yip and Wulf Sternhammer!”

“Where are they going?” asked Claire. “Shouldn’t you follow them?”

“No. No. We need to get to Jim. He may be in some danger by now, along with the woman I love.”

“Oh, that’s nice, rushing to save the woman you love. Who says romance is dead?”

You vill reach your destination in von mile,” said the Teichmuller.

As the car reached the brow of a hill Peter could see the cottage in the distance. “Please, please, let’s not be too late,” he mumbled to himself.




Wednesday, November 21, 2012


You’ll have to excuse the shaky handwriting and the blue ink of the pen – I’ve always been wary of men who prefer blue ink, always thought that they were in some way effeminate. It’s a fault in my character I know, but then if I didn’t have any faults I wouldn’t be me, and I suppose it’s my faults that have led me to where I am at this moment. And where am I? Well, I’m coming to that.

Hold on, while I get another scrap of wallpaper.

Here’s a nice bit – this should last me for a while.
Wallpaper can disguise a multitude of sins. Irene told me that before she went away for the weekend with Derek. She was always telling me useless things like that, always stating the bleeding obvious, always criticising.

Three weeks have passed since she went away for that weekend with Derek. As she left I tried to kiss her but she pulled away before my lips could connect with her cheek; Derek didn’t want me to kiss her either and he let me know in his own inimitable way. Irene gave me a look of disdain (or maybe it was disappointment) as she turned the key to the ignition on the Ford Capri. A thought crossed my mind as she drove away – if she died in the wreckage of her Capri on the way to wherever she was going she’d take Derek with her. The thought of her and Derek ending up in a multiple pile-up on the motorway always put a smile on my face. It would have been a shame for all the other people involved but hey – what did I care? I was past caring.

Back inside the cottage I filled a bucket full of warm soapy water and fished out the wallpaper scraper from under the sink; I already had two tins of lilac paint hidden under the stairs. It seemed odd but despite my hatred of the bitch I still wanted to please her. Like some performing dog, I was waiting for a biscuit and a pat on the head, some kind of reward to show me that she at least still cared for me. I don’t know why I bothered – it was never going to happen. Not in a million years. Not after I had discovered about her association with Cheesefinger.

After I had finished stripping the wallpaper and painting the walls lilac I was leaving and never coming back. I’d show her that paint can cover up as many sins as wallpaper – especially when it’s a lilac colour, which I knew she hated. It would be waiting here for when she returned – an empty lilac room filled with hate.

That was what I thought at the time. But, you know, things don’t always go as planned . . .

I suppose I should tell about the circumstances that brought me here and once I’ve found a decent sized scrap of wallpaper I will.

OK – where was I? Ah yes – me. I was happy once, you know – deliriously happy – but that was before I met Irene.
Back in the good old days I worked as a consultant, setting up systems of work for department stores and warehouses throughout the country. Of course all the places I was called into had their own people who could do the kind of thing I did but there always seemed to be a lack of trust – no, that’s not the right word – confidence (that’s better) in their own staff’s ability to see the big picture, which was fine by me because it made a lot of money and by the time I was forty I was able to retire. But, like an aging career bank robber, there was one last highly paid job that tempted me out of retirement. And that’s where it all went wrong.

I met Irene whilst I was working on the development of the Frontiere Cheese Factory in Braintree. She was bright, funny and absolutely gorgeous with a figure that reminded me of those photographs of Marilyn Monroe when she was in her prime. And man, she was sexy – she taught me things that I’d only ever read about in the pages of Hustler. She seemed too good to be true and rather than let her slip through my fingers I asked her to marry me. She said yes and a month later (two years ago) we were married in Braintree Registry Office and we moved into this cottage, which now serves as my prison.

The change in her was barely noticeable at first, but as we entered the first year of our marriage it became much more pronounced. This was after I’d found out that she was seeing a man who went by the stupid name of Cheesefinger. The sex stopped and her overreaction at any mistake I made was just crazy. In the universe according to Irene the scale of the mistake didn’t seem to enter into the equation – to her a mistake was a mistake and I should be humiliated for it.
All the mistakes I’ve made pale in comparison to the one I made when I let her bring Derek home. Derek has seriously buggered up my life. He’s over in the far corner of the room at the moment, staring at me with his mad eyes.

I never wanted a dog; it was Irene’s idea, but I reluctantly agreed in the hope that she would have sex with me. I am, to my eternal regret, like all men and any sensible thoughts involving reason or practicality simply evaporate at the prospect of a bit of heavy breathing and an exchange of bodily fluids.

Derek came to us a puppy from a, suave well-dressed man called Clifford Kirberly, who was the managing director of the recently opened Kirberly Chemicals plant which was situation on the other side of Braintree. We met him in his office, which was filled with all kinds of gadgets for all kinds of activities. “I like to have only the best,” he told us as he handed over a small bundle of fur with a screwed up face and big take-me-home eyes.

Susan bonded with Derek the dog immediately, but he never warmed to me. He would snap at me and bare his small sharp teeth whenever I went near him. And he barked at me  all the time – somehow he knew exactly where I was at any given time and he would bark suddenly and loudly, making me jump and my heart race out of control. Whenever he was in the garden and I looked out of the window he would start to growl at me.

Derek grew up fast; his rate of growth was completely disproportionate to his intake of food, and as he grew that cuteness that had been his selling point disappeared and was replaced with an ugliness that was just short of repulsive. His teeth were enormous and unmercifully sharp. I hated him.
It was heaven when Irene took the bloody stupid thing away and I started to redecorate the room. The wallpaper came off easily and I started to pile it up on top of the sideboard. I was halfway through this task when I heard Irene’s Capri pull up on the drive outside the cottage. What the hell was she doing back so early? Had she forgotten something?

I heard her open the front door and enter the house accompanied by the heavy footfalls of that bloody awful dog. The lounge door opened and she stepped in with Derek beside her. She didn’t say anything – she just looked at me with crazy eyes, before releasing Derek from his lead. “Inside,” she said.

That was the last word I heard her say before she left the and locked the door behind her. As Derek skirted around the room I heard the Capri’s engine start up and tyres crunch on the gravel as Irene drove away. “Come on, Derek,” I said, trying to sound cheerful and not terrified like I obviously was, “let’s go for a walk.”

It was worth a try, but he was an intelligent animal – he knew why he had been put in this room. He didn’t bark – instead he uttered a low growl, baring his teeth at me at the same time.

I looked over at the window. Outside I could see the well-tended flowerbeds and the sycamore tree by the fence. I thought about making a dash for it and jumping through the window, but something told me that I’d never make it. If I’d made it to the window I’d have to smash my way through the thick glass, something that looked easy in the movies, but in reality would have slashed my body to ribbons. And even if I’d made it through the glass Derek would have been on me before I’d reached the end of the garden. So I just sat down and watched Derek as he watched me.

That was three weeks ago. I’m tired. I haven’t slept – at least I don’t think I have. I know that I daren’t go to sleep. Lack of proper sleep and food and water is starting to affect my mind. Derek knows I’m feeling weak. I pee in the bucket that had the warm soapy water in it but that’s full and the pain in my kidneys is excruciating. Derek just squats down wherever he likes – his eyes never leave me for a second as he sits there straining one out. I won’t squat down in a corner like Derek – I like to think I still have some degree of civilization left in me. The only thing that’s kept me going is my belief in the resilience of my own humanity.

That . . . and the flowers.

I’ve kept myself alive by eating the flowers and drinking the water from the vases. By rationing myself I made the flowers last two and half weeks. I’ve still got a few drops of water left – it tastes bloody awful, but at least it keeps me going.
My pen is starting to run out, but I think one more scrap of wallpaper will do it.

Derek’s growling at me now. He’s hungry and he’s thirsty and he’s weak but he still has more strength than I have. We’ve spent the last three weeks trying to stare each other out, but Derek knows the balance has shifted and he is the leader of the pack in this room. I think he’s always known it. He looks more dangerous now than he’s ever looked and I know that it is time. I watch him lift himself up off the floor and shake the foam from his mouth and start walking towards me. His teeth are bared. His lips are drawn back in a grotesque mockery of a smile. I try and smile back at him, to reach some kind of compromise, but it’s a stupid and futile gesture because here, in this wallpapered room, only Derek has any good reason to smile.

At least he knows where his next meal is coming from.

As Jim read Charles Smedley’s final sentence the lounge door opened and the large ugly dog that George Friteuse had seen in the barred room at the Hollybank Guest House stepped in. “Enjoy your final moments” laughed Mrs Smedley. 

A few moments later they heard the engine of a car start up and the crunch of tyres on gravel. As they watched through the window they saw Mrs Smedley driving away with John Smith sat next to her. In the back seat was a well-dressed man, whom none of them recognised. They thought about who he might be until the growling of the huge ferocious dog stopped them in their tracks.

“Any ideas, anyone,” said George nervously.

“Ermmm . . .” replied Jim.


Saturday, November 10, 2012


“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.”

“Oh really?”

“Yes, really?”

“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.”

A Fez

“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.


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.