Books written by Ray Sullivan

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Da Dan Brown Code - Chapter Twenty Nine

Chapter Twenty Nine
The literary transport problem was irritating Bradford.
‘What’s it to be?  A goddam London bus or an armoured bullion carrier?’  Belsen slunk off – this wasn’t his argument.  Lady Bartholomew didn’t want to be part of it either but she knew the alternative was the tractor and flat-bed trailer, and her licence wasn’t rated for agricultural vehicles.  Bradford was a Yank, so he’d probably been raised driving tractors on his Pop’s farm in Tennessee.

‘Texas,’ corrected Bradford, knowing she was right.  He didn’t want to spend the next chapter travelling to Surly Teabing’s pad either on the back of a flat bed trailer or driving a tractor, but the alternatives were poor.  The London bus required three changes and there wasn’t any valid literary reason to believe they could be allowed anywhere near a bullion carrier, not that that was necessarily an impediment in this genre.  He did know he had to put some distance between the buffoons of policemen as soon as he could, so the decision had to be made real quick. 
‘Surly’s got his own plane, a Bentley and a Land Rover, perhaps he could send something to pick us up,’ he said as he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, pushing the speed dial.  Within a few seconds he found himself speaking to the man who’d helped him solve nearly three mysteries previously. Or, more correctly, had nearly helped him solve three mysteries previously.  In fact Bradford hadn’t actually solved any of them, but he nearly had and Surly had helped.  Confused, he listened to the rude voice on the phone.

‘Bradford you ugly American git,’ boomed the voice from the phone, ‘why are you using a cell phone in the UK?  Call me back on your mobile,’ he said, abruptly hanging up.  Bradford heaved a heavy sigh, which hit the ground and rolled across the pavement towards Lady Bartholomew and Belsen, scattering them both.  He threw his cell to one side and pulled his mobile out of his other pocket.  He punched the numbers in, ducking a retaliatory left hooker from the device halfway through.

‘You’re still ugly, American, and you can add stupid to the list now,’ Surly shouted down the phone.

‘Because I followed your advice to use a mobile instead of my cell phone?’ whinged Bradford, feeling the unfairness well up in him.

‘Because you’re stood outside of my new mansion, you idiot.  Didn’t you get my change of address?’  Bradford turned and looked at the mansion, four storeys high, surrounded by wrought iron railings and flanked by terraced houses.

‘I don’t think I did get that one,’ replied Bradford, confusion rising in him – Surly hated wrought iron.
‘Wanted to get back to my roots so I bought two thirds of this street and had a mansion built,’ Surly shouted through the window, ignoring the phone, ‘Before I open the gates, a quick test.’  Lady Bartholomew and Belsen looked apprehensively as they anticipated another heavy sigh coming their way.

‘Milk and sugar, thick enough to stand your spoon up in, none of that faggy scented crap my countrymen think is representative of what Brits call tea,’ sighed Bradford.  Surly looked astonished.

‘Have I asked you that question before, Bradford?'

‘Every Goddam time,’ muttered Bradford, rattling the wrought iron gates, ‘let us in, there’s a couple of policemen following us.’

‘Buffoons, Bradford?’ shouted Surly, leaning further out of the window to look down the street.

‘Naturally,’ shouted Bradford back as the gates swung open.  All three dived into the driveway, which was flanked by stables to one side and a paddock to the other.  Within a minute they were stood at the door, waiting for Surly’s manservant, Snivell, to open it.  He glided backwards as he swung the door open, inviting Bradford and his entourage into the mansion.

‘Monsieur Teabing will be ‘ere in a moment,’ he said in a dreadful French accent.  At that point Surly descended the grand stairway, taking each step carefully, one leg wrapped in plaster of Paris.

‘Bradford, who is this fine filly you’ve brought with you?’ he asked, casting an appreciative eye unashamedly in her direction.  Bradford half turned in way of introduction before speaking.
‘She’s one of yours, she followed us in.’ Surly looked at the horse stood alongside Bradford, Lady Bartholomew and Belsen carefully before continuing.

‘Good Lord, you’re right, must have slipped out of the paddock,’ he said, turning. 'Snivell, you French faggot, take that damned mare outside then make our guests a decent cup of tea.  And don't forget the biscuits, something dunkable, none of your Frog Bourbons,' he added.  Snivell cast a mean look at his master, meaning to look at the cast instead and ended up just looking mean.  Surly looked Bradford in the eye.

'So, Bradford, I see you’re in a book again.  A Dan Brown lead?’ he asked, riling Bradford.  He knew that it was Bradford’s ambition to be the lead character in a Dan Brown novel.  Anyway, Surly wasn’t through with hearing his own voice.

I’ve just finished writing a book myself, on the physiology of the joints of the middle leg,’ he boasted.  Lady Bartholomew clapped her hands together.

‘When will it be printed?’  She asked, enthusiastically.

‘It won’t,’ replied Surly, ‘it’s a knee-book!’ Then he turned to Bradford and boomed.  ‘What do you need my help with?' he asked, adding, 'hey, are you missing a glint?'  Bradford shrugged.

'Glint's been misappropriated by her Ladyship,' he said, flicking his head towards Lady Bartholomew, who ducked it.  Belsen caught it as it curved down and headed it straight back.  'What I need from you is help with a Crap Text.'
'Crap Text eh? Illiterati?' asked Surly, avoiding italics.  Bradford wondered if he was the only character who bothered with protocol.  He showed Surly the text message.

'Chapter twenty-seven, eh?' commented Surly, noticing that it came from a buffoon of a policeman, 'Service issue phone, too,' he mused, turning the page over a few times.  'Nice misuse of moonbeans,' he added approvingly.  He led the three guests into the drawing room, sweeping a pile of crayons off the table as he entered. They each chose an easel and sat down.  Snivell entered the room, placed a tray of tea and biscuits down and left, backwards, tripping up twice in the process.

'It's not the text that's important,' Surly said, searching for words.  Eventually he found them under a pile of drawings.  'It's the reason for sending it.  Did you notice who had sent it?' he asked, looking back at the page again.  Bradford shrugged his shoulders, mainly because he couldn’t shrug any other part of his body.

‘Somebody called Al Bino,’ he said, recalling the name.  Surly’s eyes lit up, causing Bradford to check that Lady Bartholomew hadn’t started playing with her Zippo again.

‘I dropped it in the mobile library,’ she complained, her temper flaring, causing a secondary fire on the easel alongside her.

‘Sorry,’ said Belsen, ‘I picked it up from the burned out wreckage when I was having the shit kicked out of me.’  Bradford threw a tumbler of water over Surly’s eyebrows and Lady Bartholomew’s temper before continuing.

‘Is the name relevant?’ he asked.  Surly drew a deep breath, using a crayon he’d found on the easel.

‘In a story like this?  Almost certainly.  Nothing’s irrelevant or wasted, no matter how stupid or out of place it seems,’ he answered.

‘What about the guy in Blackpool?’ asked Lady Bartholomew.  Bradford shook his head until the crayon he’d lost fell out.

‘Like I said, needs to be edited out.  Stupid plot lines and characters only count in the published version,’ he said, popping his head back on, checking it for a secure fit.

‘But that leaves you with the attempted literary murder charge,’ stated Surly, pouring the tea and handing the biscuits out.  Bradford dunked his biscuit and immediately pulled it out; he knew his upbringing hadn’t prepared him for the ultimate British challenge of dunking until just before the biscuit fell into the tea.  He knew that Lady Bartholomew wouldn’t know how long to leave a biscuit in either, but she had a loathsome manservant to dunk for her.  Lady Bartholomew accepted the biscuit Belsen passed her, ignoring the slug of Rich Tea that slid down her chin and pitched in.

‘And if he is written out, what does that do to this chapter, or the previous ones?  We wouldn’t have the first buffoon of a policeman needing to chase us, we wouldn’t necessarily be on the run at all and Belsen wouldn’t have had the shit kicking of his life,’ she said, trying to hook the slug of biscuit before is slid onto her chest with her tongue.  That swung it for Bradford, the Blackpool guy had to stay.  He could do without the extra buffoon and the diversionary plotline, but the kicking was worth it.  Then he ruefully admitted that the diversionary plotline did beef it up a bit too.

‘I quite like the idea of two buffoons, actually,’ he added, chivalrously scooping the slug of biscuit that had just plopped into Lady Bartholomew’s bosom with his index finger, feeling nauseous when he realised the tongue was mixed up with it too.

‘So,’ said Surly, ‘we’re back to the evidence provided so far,’ he added, keeping a wary eye out for chapter thirty, aware that the south facing windows were open.  ‘Let’s pretend I don’t know what’s gone on so that any reader with Attention Deficit Disorder managing to read this far can have the plot regurgitated.’  Lady Bartholomew put her hand up, partly because she had a point to make but mainly because they never provided enough wee breaks in novels – the Blackpool diversion had saved her from embarrassing herself on at least two occasions already and she, for one, was glad Bradford hadn’t vetoed those chapters as she hadn’t brought a change of ball gown.

‘I could do with a bit of a recap as it’s all a bit of a blur now,’ she said, adding, ‘but could you make it short and arrange for a chapter I don’t appear in to follow, because I’m bursting,’ she said, blushing.

‘I could do with a break before I piss myself too,’ added Belsen.  Surly caught Bradford’s confused look, rolled it around his hands a few times and lobbed it back.

‘Rest room,’ he explained, understanding that smart non Americans knew piss to be, well, piss and not to be confused with being pissed, that is drunk, not angry.  But starting with a P, it was outside of Bradford’s studies.


Missed the beginning? Click here to go to Chapter One

'Da Dan Brown Code' will be published in early January as 'The Last Simple'. Anyone who is registered as following either my blog or Twitter account will receive instructions on how to obtain a free e-copy of 'The Last Simple' shortly after it is published.

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