Jarris untied the sack revealing its human contents. “Stone the crows – it’s a man!” shouted his accomplice, Scudder, who dropped the tray of sprats with a clang of metal and a softer fishy splat.
“Oh course I’m a man!” shouted the freshly released man, “what did you expect?”
“Well, a penguin” confirmed the confused Jarris.
“A penguin! Well, I was in a penguin house when one of you clods coshed me, but as you can see I’m all human bloody being, and not a very happy one at that”’ He gingerly touched the egg on the back of his head. “Which one of you whacked me?”
“Erm… he did” said Jarris and Scudder together, each pointing at the other, both a little disconcerted that the beast they had abducted in the dark was somehow now an indignant man, rather than a sanguine penguin.
“Idiots!” he shouted so loudly that his assailants – neither of whom were the sharpest bit in the safecracker’s drill, were scared of this man who should be a penguin. “Now tell me what this is all about.”
Jarris and Scudder were almost embarrassed to tell him that they had broken into the zoo under cover of darkness to steal a penguin on the instructions of their boss, who was known to supply exotic and illegal animals to order for the unscrupulous element of the wealthy. Scudder told the man how they have previously abducted snakes, chimps, lion cubs, porcupines and even a giraffe from various zoos and emporiums, all now believed to be living in well-to-do houses in Surrey.
“But clearly you’ve never kidnapped a human before!” shouted the man, “and now you expect me to eat mackerel!”
“Erm, sprats” corrected Jarris.
“SPRATS!” fumed the man. “Without dill or even a squeeze of lemon” he added sarcastically before kicking at the broken fish, the crashing of the tin dish making his kidnappers jump. “Do you know who I am or what you’ve done?”
“‘Err, not really” said Scudder who looked at Jarris blankly, both confused by the mystery of it all.
“Well, you two buffoons” – at this the men looked quite hurt – “have gone and kidnapped Guy Guinpen, world renowned naturalist. Don’t you recognise me from my TV shows?” The men looked no more enlightened – Scudder never watched any programme that didn’t star Ant and Dec, whilst Jarris preferred antique shows. “There I was, crouched in the penguin house, observing their nocturnal behaviour ahead of my next series of ‘Beast’, when next thing I know there’s a whack on my head and I’m out cold. Now it seems I’m here, wherever here is having seeming been taken hostage by you two dumb-clucks who apparently took me for an Emperor penguin.”
“Ah, so you were in the penguin house – but weren’t being a penguin” calculated Jarris, rather pleased to have solved this particular conundrum.
“In the dark”.
“Well, they weren’t all sitting up reading their books in bed by candlelight were they!”
“Penguin books!” quipped Jarris, surprisingly rather sharply.
The other two scowled at him. Jarris apologised.
“So you could say it’s your fault we coshed you really” tried Scudder.
“My fault? MY fault!” enraged the man who was not the least bit penguin. “Question is: how are you going to compensate me?”
“C-compensate you?” bemused Jarris.
“Too right. When I regained conciousness in the sack in the back of your motor I heard you two muttering. I know who your boss is. I know everything! And now I want compensation or I’m off to the Bizzies to tell on you. And I warn you, with my contacts with the National Geographic Channel they’ll be making documentaries about you and your freshly commenced prison lives in no time at all. Oh, and another thing about your boss, maybe I should tell him too, just for good measure.”
Hell holds no fear for a pair of rubbish robbers like a comeuppance from the boss, and their begging not to tell tales of their ineptitude to Kiss-Curl Keith, who ran the Dorking Massive was pitiful, but perhaps understandable if you knew his notorious method of exacting revenge on those who crossed him. Keith forced them to drink 5 bottles of elderflower presse at the Box Hill National Trust café before pushing them off the steep side of the hill on a tea tray to meet their fate. Yes, Keith was pure evil and all the local thugs were terrified of him. It was mooted in the underworld that even the Surrey Hills Rambling Society had switched routes to Headley Heath, tired of stumbling across the cadavers of Keith’s victims, identifiable by the severe chaffing of their elbows and knees as well as distended bladders and a frothing of elderflower at their mouths. Surrey Police had their suspicions that Kiss-Curl Keith had a finger, or more likely someone else’s finger, in most of the crime in the Dorking and Leatherhead postcode areas, but had never been able to pin him down as the perpetrator of these brutal killings.
Well versed with the workings of blackmail, our villains saw no option but to pay off this angry man if they were to avoid the wrath of Keith and so keep the skins of their knees intact and their kidneys unexploded. “How much do you want”’ asked Scudder.
“A thousand” said the abductee coolly, the cards well and truly in his hand.
“A grand! a naffin’ island dressing!” said Scudder, disbelievingly. “We were only getting paid a Proclaimers for nicking a bloody pingwing in the first place” (he had always struggled to pronounce the word ‘penguin’ correctly).
“Ha! You sold your souls to Kiss-Curl Keith for a pathetic five hundred? You two are bigger morons than I thought. Tell you what, I’ll knock a thrifty off if I get to watch you eat that plate of raw fish! I’ll have a laugh and think of the good that Omega 3 will do for your scaly skins.”
This seemed a fair offer to the two cranium-challenged crooks, though understanding the alleged health benefits of consuming complex fish oils was well over their heads as they munched the ghastly sprats to Guinpen’s clear delight.
Jarris and Scudder left their den, quite cross at the man’s mocking tone as he gave them only 4 hours to come back with the readies or else he’d ‘sing like Billy Joel’, Scudder quite liked the thought of this, being quite a fan of the singer-songwriting talents of the 6-time Grammy award winning New Yorker, but he wasn’t going to chance it.
And so our crass criminals embarked on a two-man crime spree along Dorking High Street to extort money. Trade was particularly slow for the local shopkeepers, it being Wednesday, and their heists raised only £80 from the dry cleaners, £120 from the bookshop and £38 (plus a saveloy and chips each) from the fish and chip shop. Frustrated and with the fear of the local rozzers on their tails, they headed for Headley Heath to hold up any wealthy and potentially bejewelled dog walkers in the manner of two modern-day Dick Turpins.
Now on the Heath, lurking among the gorse and bracken, they heard the swish of footsteps through the grassy paths and leapt out to pounce on an unsuspecting group of walkers, all with long socks over their corduroys, bobble hats and each with a packed lunch of a corned beef sandwich, one apple and a thermos of strong tea in their knapsacks. To Jarred and Scudder’s misfortune they had stumbled on the Surrey Hills Rambling Society, still fresh from their yomp from Betchworth, led by Kiss-Curl Keith no less. With the other walkers being members of the Dorking Massive, they were all headed for an alfresco lunch at Leith Hill. To their horror, Scudder and Jarris saw that their numbers included such desperadoes as Tony the Shrew, Colin the Greek and Arson Alison. They instinctively sensed that a short struggle would ensue followed by their grizzly end.
Tea Cake Theresa was a big noise in both the National Trust Gift Shop and the Dorking Massive and had heard rumours of undercover police planted in the cafe to catch the gang and thus the real reason the Rambling Society had moved from Box Hill was to throw the local fuzz off their scent. So with his preferred location for punishment out-of-bounds, it was left to Kiss-Curl Keith to devise a new, even more fiendish end for these two would-be highwaymen.
They were taken to the nearby River Mole and given a black bin bag each to fill with polystyrene cups and burger cartons previously jettisoned into the prickly hedges by picnickers. These were lashed to their belts to keep them buoyant before they were cast into the water, to be nibbled by minnows before having their arms broken by the mobs of swans they would surely encounter on their gentle downstream glide through the serene countryside.
But the Rambling Society had not taken into account one thing. DI Burbot was on his day off and was bankside, binoculars in hand, hoping for a glimpse of a reed warbler, or maybe even a kingfisher when the feckless felons drifted by.
He ran downstream to the cattle-drink and eased them ashore with a fallen branch. They coughed up quantities of river water and then to his delight, their story. Burbot smiled. He had the Massive cracked at last.
A few weeks later, outside Epsom Magistrates Court where Jarris and Scudder were booked to give evidence, they were surprised to see a handcuffed Guy Guinpen being led from the dock from the previous case.
They found out his name wasn’t Guinpen at all, but Pete Spraggs. He wasn’t even a penguin expert, but a confidence trickster who operated across the Home Counties separating the vulnerable from their money. The only time he had been on TV was the CCTV shot from nearby Chessington Zoo on Crimewatch that had finally incriminated him. Turned out he had been concealing his ill-gotten swag in the penguin house at night.
How Jarris and Scudder laughed as they left the court as free men, Guy Guinpen then Kiss-Curl Keith having been sentenced their just desserts.
I hope you enjoyed that story. If you have 2 mins spare, add a comment to let me know what you think, if you have 5 minutes, add that comment then find another story on my site – there’s plenty to try.