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THE WEDDING
DAISY STORIES by Crystal Jones ©
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The Wedding

PART 1
“I'd prefer a registry office wedding,” replied Daisy.
“And an unconventional wedding breakfast - maybe vegetarian!”
Inspector Morris Singleton, better know as Ted, nodded, “That's fine by me, but when?”
“Let's go to the registry office tomorrow and see when we can get married so that you won't be… singleton any longer!” Daisy quipped.
Everything was finally fixed for the second Wednesday in May.
Daisy telephoned Mr. Winter, her dear antique dealer friend, and asked him if he would give her away and accompany her to the registry office.
Mr. Winter joyfully accepted.
Then Daisy rang her friends Pam and Sonia to invite them to the wedding.
Sonia said she was just leaving for Africa on a two-week trip for her paper, but would be getting back in time and when would Daisy's hen night be?
Pam invited Daisy to come round to tell her all the gossip.
“I'm so happy for you, Daisy.
Well, at last!
I was beginning to think you two were never getting married!
Like in The Betrothed!”
Daisy laughed, “Well, there's no Don Rodrigo to kidnap me or anything, so put on your glad rags, girl, and come and be my witness!”
A couple of days later Daisy and Pam met up at the Best Buy Shopping Centre.
“Have you decided what sort of thing you want to wear?” asked Pam.
“I haven't got the least idea - I don't want to wear the traditional white dress, I'm sure about that!” replied Daisy.
“Well, do you want to wear a costume?”
Daisy shook her head, “I haven't the faintest, Pam, maybe that's why we never managed to decide on the date to get married - I just couldn't imagine what I would wear!” Daisy laughed.
The first couple of hours were spent going into all the dress shops in the centre, having a quick walkaround and on to the next one.
Pam was getting anxious.
“Daisy, don't forget that I too have to buy something, and I can't choose anything until I know what you are going to wear!
Why don't you at least try something on?”
“Ok, Pam, but first let's have some calories - my brain isn't working well at all!”
The two friends sat down at the Food Court and had a late full English breakfast.
“Ah, that's better,” said Daisy drinking her black coffee.
“Come on Daisy, back to the grindstone!” Pam urged.
As the two friends were walking out of the food court, Daisy suddenly grabbed Pam's arm.
“That's what I want to wear!” Pam looked around but couldn't see anything in particular.
“Look at that Indian woman sitting over there!
What a wonderful green and gold sari she's wearing - Pam, I'm going to wear traditional Indian clothes!”
Half an hour later Daisy was trying on saris of many different colours in an Indian shop in the Centre.
“Oh Daisy, I think you've had a really good idea.
What colour sari do you think you'd prefer?” asked Pam.
“Not one with very vivid colours, as I've got a fair skin.
Hey, how about this light peach and gold sari with this beigy blouse with gold thread motifs?” Daisy held the sari up against herself.
“That certainly suits you, Daisy.
Well, if you are sure that's how you want to dress, I'd like to buy you a real Indian bag for your wedding.
I can see that they've got some marvellous hand-beaded ones,” suggested Pam who had very good taste in clothes.
Next it was Pam's turn.
“I'm going in for something which slims me down.
I fancy that trendy skirt and blouse and waistcoat we saw at Fashone's.
I think it was in pale lilac and grey - oh, let's go back and do the rounds of the dress shops again!”
A few weeks later Daisy organised her hen night which was in a pub nearby and Ted arranged his stag night with 'the lads' from his division up in London.
The hen night was a riot with Pam, Sonia, Daisy's journalist friend, Lena, the antique shop owner who Daisy had once saved from a violent thief, and several of Daisy's young friends who turned up in rather skimpy clothes and made a lot of noise.
Lena surprised Daisy's teenage friends when she joined in the conversation with them about the charts.
Apparently she had played in a band in her youth and followed all the latest trends.
Sonia handed Daisy a small packet saying it was something she could keep in her bag.
“Thanks, Sonia,” said Daisy unwrapping the packet.
“Oh, perfume!”
“Not quite,” said Sonia smiling.
“Have a closer look!”
Daisy looked puzzled, but examining it more carefully realised that it wasn't an ultra modern perfume bottle at all!
“Oh, I see!
That's really cunning.
It looks like a bottle of perfume but it's really a mobile phone!
- I've never seen one like it before!
It's so glamourous!
Thanks again, Sonia, it's beautiful.”
“When I saw you fumbling with that old bit of scrap iron which beeps like a barge, I thought it was time you entered the new era.” Sonia explained, “This mobile is also a camera, a digital recorder and a video recorder too, you know!”
All the girls were fascinated by this original present and everybody said they wanted one as well!
“Remember,” said Pam, “you must turn up tomorrow with something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue!' Well, here's something borrowed - the pearl earrings Henry bought me for our wedding.
They'll go beautifully with your - whatever you are going to wear tomorrow!” said Pam, as she handed the future bride a small box with the earrings in it.
Opening the box Daisy said, “Thanks a million Pam.
They're lovely!”
“Daisy,” broke in Lena pulling an old jewellery case out of her bag, “I would like you to try this on.
May I?” as she put something around her neck.
“It's a locket.
I do hope it goes with your dress tomorrow - if not - well, you can wear it on other occasions.”
“It's absolutely beautiful, Lena.
I've never had anything like this before.
Thank you so much!”
“Once, a woman carried the picture of her beloved in it, as you know!” explained Lena.
The girls immediately fell in love with the locket.
“Oh Daisy, how romantic!
You'll have to put Ted's photo in it!” suggested Rachael, one of the young girls.
“Well, are you going to tell us at last what you're going to wear tomorrow, Daisy?” asked Sheena, who was a beautician.
“Sorry, it's still a secret - you'll find out tomorrow at eleven o'clock!”
“Well Daisy, I thought this might come in handy!” Sheena handed Daisy a small package.
All the girls watched while Daisy unwrapped the package.
It was a cheeky blue garter!
Everybody howled with laughter and made jokes.
“What have you given Ted as a wedding present, Daisy?” asked Sonia.
“One of those super tech watches he admires, with a really modern steely look to it.
Don't ask me what it does exactly, but it looks pretty impressive.
Unfortunately we had to have the metal strap changed to a normal leather one 'cos of the stab wound Ted got to his wrist last year.
Anyway it still looks very stylish!”
“And what did Ted give you?” Pam asked.
“Nothing yet 'cos I couldn't make up my mind what I wanted.
So we decided to leave it till after the wedding.”
Daisy had already explained that her hen night wouldn't go on very late as she had… a rather important engagement the next morning, so the party broke up at ten-thirty and everybody went off home to have their beauty sleep for the following day.
Before going to sleep Daisy called Ted to say goodnight.
“Hello, Ted, it's me.
Can see you aren't answering your phone.
Till tomorrow - kiss!”
The next morning when Mr. Winter rang the doorbell, Daisy was all ready to leave for the registry office.
“Oh, what a surprise.
You're wearing a sari!
Daisy, you look beautiful!”
Daisy was pleased when she heard this.
“I didn't know whether I'd made the right choice.
Thanks Mr. Winter, you've given me the confidence I needed, I was feeling a bit shaky!”
When Mr. Winter arrived with the bride at the registry office all the guests were there and as Daisy got out of the car, they all cheered her and said how stunning she looked.
There was Luigi of the ice-cream parlour, Lena, Pam with her husband and two children, the young girls who had celebrated at Daisy's hen night and Sonia, who was standing next to Andrew and Sandy, two Scotland Yard officers who worked with Ted.
Andrew's parents were from Ghana and Sandy was a hefty-looking, towering Scotsman dressed in a colourful kilt.
Once inside the registry office Daisy looked around for her fiancé but couldn't see him.
“Isn't Ted here?” asked Daisy.
“No,” replied Sandy.
“We - I mean Andrew and I - arrived an hour ago, when Ted was supposed to have turned up too.” When Sandy was nervous his Glaswegian accent became very pronounced.
“I phoned him but he didn't answer, so I thought you two might be coming together.
Hasn't he called you, Daisy?”
Daisy's heart jumped right up to her throat.
“No.” Horrible thoughts ran through her mind, that Ted had done a runner or that something dreadful had happened to him.
She got her old mobile out from inside her new Indian bag and dialled Ted's number frantically.
“He's not answering!” Daisy could hardly speak.
“I'll try the number again too,” said Sandy, while Andrew was trying to reassure her.
“Ted's Stag Night went off well - he had a few drinks but he wasn't drunk or anything.
I saw him getting into a taxi as he knew he'd be over the limit and had left his car at home - but he was perfectly all right!”
Now Sandy was phoning Ted's office to see if there was any news of him there but there wasn't any.
“Ah!
Miss Hamilton - we're all ready for you,” the kind-looking lady who had taken all their details down when Ted and Daisy had applied to get married at the registry office appeared, and looked around the group of friends assembled there.
“Hasn't Mr. Singleton arrived yet?”
Andrew took charge, “There's been a delay, I'm sorry.
Can you just wait a bit please?”
Seeing the expression on Daisy's face the kind lady nodded, “Yes, of course!”
“Can you send someone to his flat immediately?
Have him call me as soon as he gets there.” Andrew was now asking a colleague over the phone.
“Let's all sit down a minute!” suggested Lena.
No sooner had they done so, when Daisy's old mobile rang.
As Daisy replied to the phone, she was aware of a moment of silence.
“Hello, is that you, Ted?” Daisy asked breathlessly.
“Are you getting married today?” asked a man with a very harsh voice.
There was a slight pause and the voice continued threateningly, “I don't think so, my love!
Goodbye!” Then a horrible laugh.
Then a click.
Then nothing.
Daisy paled, “T-that was Rowles' voice - the criminal I helped capture on the ferry boat!”
Sandy shook his head, “William Rowles, the bank robber?
It can't be - he's in prison!
In fact, he's in a high security prison in Sheffield, nobody ever escapes from there, I assure you.”
“Look Sandy, I'd know that laugh anywhere.” Daisy replied, “I had to give evidence at his trial.
When he was sentenced, he just laughed defiantly, threatening Ted, saying he'd get even with him one day.”
Sandy was trying to prove his point, “Daisy, you're all worked up at the moment.
Many voices sound alike.
Besides, even if it were him, he could still have phoned you from prison.”
“Let's have the call traced,” suggested Andrew.
“Good idea,” said Sandy.
“Daisy, give me your mobile number and I'll have it traced right away.”
Sandy began phoning his headquarters while Daisy shakily repeated Rowles' horrible words to herself.
Sonia put her arm round her and Pam went to get a glass of water for her.
The rest of the wedding party looked on in disbelief.
Andrew was on the phone reporting back to Daisy, “It seems Ted's not answering the door.” He continued speaking on the phone, “Is there any other way of getting in, Sergeant?”
Andrew began to loosen his tie.
“Well, break in!
Yes, it's my responsibility.
Just do it!”
Daisy held on to Pam's arm.
“What's happening, Andrew, tell me!”
“They are saying he's not there, Daisy.
His bed hasn't been slept in and there's a suit hanging on the wardrobe!”
Daisy began to shiver, “He didn't even go home.
Something terrible must have happened to him!”
Sandy came over to Daisy and Andrew, “I was wrong, Daisy.
It appears that William Rowles did escape from custody - yesterday!”
“Custody?
He's in a high security prison!” replied Andrew.
Sandy explained, “The fact is, he was allowed out of prison on compassionate grounds as his mother was very ill in hospital - a heart attack.
There were two prison warders with him but still he managed to escape somehow.”
Andrew's phone rang, “Yes!
Oh really…thanks!” The Scotsman turned to Daisy, “Rowles' call has been traced to Bilbao in Spain!”
Daisy could hardly speak, “So he's hopped the country - after… killing Ted?” Daisy was in a sorry state.
Sonia tried to comfort her, “We don't know any such thing, Daisy.
Maybe Rowles' escape has nothing to do with Ted's disappearance.”
Daisy decided it was time to pull herself together and stood up, “Sandy, which hospital is Rowles' mother in?”
“St.
Martin's Hospice.”
“That's near here!” she remarked.
“ What have you got in mind, Daisy?”
Although she had been to hell and back, the detective in her was coming to life again.
“Oh, nothing!”
“Please try and keep calm, Daisy, Scotland Yard is on the case now.
In fact I'd better get back there to see what I can do.
You go home now!”
“Sandy, you will let me know immediately if…?” Daisy could not continue.
“Of course.
Pam, will you stay with Daisy?” Sandy asked pretending to be more calm than he actually was.
“Count on me!” replied the ever reliable Pam.
“I'll get my husband to look after the children.
I'm not letting Daisy out of my sight for one minute!”
PART 2
A rather nondescript middle-aged woman with grey hair and heavy-rimmed glasses who was carrying a bulky pile of papers in her arms walked calmly through the wards in St.
Martin's.
Finally she found what she was looking for:
the staff room.
Once inside the staff room the woman searched through a pile of discarded uniforms which was in the corner and found exactly what she had hoped to find - an identification badge someone had left there by accident.
She took the existing photo out of the badge and replaced it with her own.
The badge now read Edith Wilson - Almoner - Hospital Management.
The woman hung it around her neck, then went upstairs and looked for a room guarded by two policemen with a No Entry sign on the door.
“Officers, could you tell me how our patient is today?”
“You can't go in there, madam,” one of the policeman replied immediately barring her way.
“Oh, I know!
I'm hospital management - the almoner.
I'm supposed to see all the patients, but of course in this case I know it's not possible.
I only wanted to ask her how she's feeling and if I could get her anything.
Poor old lady with nobody to comfort her!”
The policeman had a kind heart, “Well, if we were present, I think you could speak to her for a moment.
Poor old thing.
With a son like that…”
The first thing Daisy saw was that Rowles' mother was clearly still suffering from a heart condition.
Then she noticed her hands.
There were no rings on her fingers, and her fingernails were very badly kept and dirty.
“Mrs.
Rowles… Susan, are you feeling better?”
The old lady had just woken up and blinked her eyes.
“What did you say?”
Daisy insisted, “Mrs.
Rowles, how are you?”
The old lady tried to focus on her visitor.
“I'm feeling a bit sleepy, dear.
They tell me that I've had a bypass or something, but that it went well.
Now I'm all right, in fact I haven't got that pain any more!”
“Do you need anything, Mrs. Rowles?” asked the visitor kindly.
“No, - but thanks all the same.
The only thing I need is a nice warm room for the night - and I suppose I've got that so long as I'm here!
Besides I think you've got more urgent things to do.”
“Would you like me to telephone somebody, Mrs. Rowles?”
“Ah, telephone… mm… no, but there is something you can do for me, if you don't mind.
Can you tell my friend, Old Reg, that I'm all right?
He'll be worrying about me.
I felt so ill and he insisted on my going to hospital when those two from the Samaritans offered to take me to St.
Martin's.”
“Samaritans, Mrs. Rowles?” asked Daisy.
“Yes, they said they form part of a group of volunteers who help homeless people.”
“I see, Mrs. Rowles.
Yes, of course I'll try and get in touch with Old Reg - he's a friend of yours, you said…”
“Yes, there are a lot of us who sleep in the old railway station - there are no more trains there and Old Reg always shares his food with me.
You know, I haven't the courage to beg any more!”
Daisy thought to herself, “So Rowles' mother is a homeless!”
“Don't worry, I'll have your message sent to Old Reg at the old railway station this very evening.
Would you like me to do something else, Mrs. Rowles?”
“No, thank you.
You're really very kind, my dear.
And by the way, my name's not Mrs. Rowles.
It's Rosemary Armstrong!”
Daisy was taken aback, “But didn't your son come here to see you?”
“My son?
I haven't got any children, my dear,” the old lady replied.
Just to make sure she had got the facts right, Daisy insisted, “Don't you remember, the man who came to see you…?”
“You mean, the man who pulled a gun out from under my bed?
Never seen him before.
I'd just woken up and was feeling pretty awful from the anaesthetic when this strange man with a gruff voice leaned over me and called me Mum.”
The two policemen who were listening to the conversation looked at each other in amazement and one of them began making a telephone call, while the other politely asked Daisy to step outside.
Pam rushed to the front door when she heard Daisy putting her key in the lock.
“Daisy, where on earth have you been and why are you dressed like that?
After you took those drops the doctor gave you, you fell fast asleep so I went home to get some clothes…”
“Dear Pam, sorry to have worried you,” answered Daisy, “but I woke up in a terrible sweat and just had to try and see Rowles' mother at St.
Martin's… it was the only clue we had!”
Daisy took off her wig and glasses and washed off her aging make-up while she told Pam the whole story.
“Now I'd better telephone Sandy about it, it's not much to go on for the moment, but it might lead to something…”
“While you do that, I'll prepare something to eat.”
Daisy rang Sandy's number and turned the television on.
All channels were reporting the news about her Ted, the missing policeman.
A photo of William Rowles, the dangerous criminal who had just escaped, was shown to the public who was warned not to approach him but to telephone 999.
“Hello Sandy, I went to see Rowles' mother.
You might like to know that the old lady isn't his mother at all - actually, her name is Rosemary Armstrong and she's a homeless person!”
“I know that already, Daisy, the policemen who were guarding her put through a call to Scotland Yard immediately when they found out.
But now, let me guess:
you were the mysterious almoner who went to see the old lady.”
Daisy smiled guiltily.
“You shouldn't have done that, Daisy.
I told you to leave everything to us.”
“Well, Sandy, as Ted hasn't been found yet, please just let me get on with things in my own way!”
“Look, Daisy, it's not as though we've just been twiddling our thumbs.
In fact, we immediately got in touch with Old Reg, Rosemary Armstrong's friend at the railway station and by chance we came across a homeless lad, an artist, who happened to have witnessed the whole scene of Rosemary being taken away to hospital by the Samaritans.
So the lad came to the police station with us and drew the two men!
Well, one of them we recognised at once as Tiny Collins, who - it seems - is basking in the sun in Spain at the moment.
As to the other one, I hope it won't be long before we identify him too.”
“That's wonderful, but it still doesn't tell us what's happened to Ted.
Look, do you think I could have a peep at Rowles' police record - you know, something might come to mind!” Daisy asked.
“Daisy, how many times do I have to tell you - it's dangerous, leave all this to us!” Sandy replied trying to sound firm, but Daisy was a very convincing person and he finally gave in.
“All right - but don't tell anybody!”
Daisy went along to the police station and met a very different Sandy to the one she had seen on what was to be her wedding day.
He clearly hadn't slept much and his eyes were red.
“Daisy, here's a printout of Rowles' police report but remember, mum's the word, for heaven's sake.”
“Sandy, I want to read it as a criminal profiler would.
You never know - something might suggest something…”
Daisy flicked over the pages of the report.
“Mm… it says here Rowles' mother died when she was twenty-nine!”
Sandy grabbed the report, “Whaaat!
Someone really slipped up big time.
To let him out to see his 'mother' in hospital, what a shambles!”
PART 3
A secret hideaway, concealed underground, was where Rowles kept his prisoner seated on a very old ramshackle wooden chair chained by both wrists to an old radiator.
It was a public bathroom - or had been once, but Ted could see clearly from the spiders' webs and dust that no one had set foot there for many a year.
“Here's a packet of sandwiches!” said Rowles putting them on a small rectangular wooden table in front of Ted.
“But if you start yelling I'll have to gag you again!
- not that anyone can hear you - so now I'll leave your left hand free!”
“Thanks - but why on earth are you keeping me here?
You know that they'll give you a longer sentence when they find you!” Ted exclaimed.
“They definitely won't be giving me anything of the sort, Singleton, I can guarantee that!
Eat your food - and here's some coffee, too!
I've even brought you another blanket, as you might have noticed
that there's no heating on!” replied Rowles trying to smile cynically but looking a bit tired, as he sat down on another wooden chair.
Ted noticed that the coffee Rowles had brought him was in a typical paper cup from an automatic machine.
This suggested that they were indeed in some sort of public building.
“So you're going to kill me, that is, if I don't die of cold first?” asked Ted still trying to work out what was going on.
“We'll see, we'll see!”
“You do know the chloroform you gave me could have proved fatal, don't you?” Ted was still trying to ask all the right questions.
“Oh, rubbish!
That couldn't have happened - unless you were very unlucky.”
“So you knew what you were doing?
You've had experience of anaesthetics before?”
“Yes, yes.
We're very sharp today, aren't we?
Actually I didn't chloroform you - er, someone else did.
Now I've already told you too much, shut up otherwise you'll smell chloroform again!” threatened Rowles, looking rather drawn.
The bank robber suddenly got up and left the bathroom where Ted was chained to the radiator, but returned half an hour later looking a bit better.
He was now wearing workman's overalls and carried a bin bag.
As he was talking, he picked up what was left over from Ted's meal and put it inside the bag.
“Singleton, you must be wondering why I should bother to kidnap you.
Er… let's say I wanted you to find out what it was like to be confined in a small space.
Actually, prison is much much worse.
In the space you are in now there are usually two or three people!”
“I see, revenge!” commented Ted.
“That too!” Rowles guffawed horribly, “I certainly ruined your wedding, didn't I?
I told you I would get my own back some time ago!”
Ted tried to keep himself in check, “Then why are you bothering to feed me?”
Rowles laughed again, “Well, I'm certainly not paying for your food, don't worry!” Rowles looked at his watch, “Now I'm afraid I'll have to leave you for a while - don't get lonely, will you?”
Ted, now alone, talked to himself, “Mm…, he's changed his clothes, he's dressed in overalls of the type maybe a plumber would wear.
I wonder why.
And where has he gone now?
Isn't he frightened of being recognised and arrested?”
The bathroom Ted was in had a very high ceiling.
There was a bent grating which seemed to be blocked from outside and now Ted heard a scratching noise coming from it:
something or someone was there.
Bits of earth fell into the room and suddenly a cat jumped down.
She came up to Ted and rubbed herself against his trouser leg.
“Miow, miow,” she said.
“Looking for something to eat?” Ted said affectionately, “Unfortunately I haven't got anything for you.
There's nothing left from my sandwiches.” Ted reasoned, “So you came through that hole in the grating.
Maybe if I shouted long enough someone would hear me.
Or Rowles could hear me and finish me off sooner rather than later!
Anyway, now I'd better kick the earth under my chair, so that he doesn't realise it comes from the grating up there.”
Then Ted, looking at the cat, had an idea.
PART 4
Back at home Daisy went for a walk along the high street to get some fresh air.
As she passed a florist's she remembered that there was a sick old lady in hospital and decided she would buy her a few flowers.
Daisy thought that if there were still some policemen guarding Rosemary she could leave the flowers with them anyway.
On the way she passed the Registry Office where she should have got married and averted her eyes as she couldn't even bear to see the place.
She then wended her way along St.
Martin's Street to the hospital.
As she walked up the grey steps to the entrance a cat ran past her out of the door, a beautiful black cat with marvellous green eyes.
Once inside the old hospital she noticed some ancient framed photographs which were hanging up in the entrance hall.
Nurses of long ago were dressed in their starched collars and important-looking doctors in three-piece suits.
Daisy checked to see when visiting hours began, which turned out to be in half an hour's time, so she decided to have a cup of coffee and a snack in the canteen, which was almost empty of customers.
She had had very little lunch and thought it was about time she tried to pull herself together.
She put extra sugar in her coffee to give herself some energy and began reading the police report on Rowles which Sandy had given her.
He had been taken to Dr.
Barnardo's after his father died in an accident, his mother was an alcoholic and had already left the family… died at the age of twenty-nine.
Worked as a builder, arrested for petty theft… convicted… arrested and convicted again.
Worked in a street market, arrested for possession of stolen goods.
“This is really harrowing,” Daisy thought to herself as she continued reading the report.
Put on probation and worked as a Health Care Assistant.
Implicated in stolen property, returned to prison…
Daisy ate some of her toasted sultana bun and sipped her coffee.
She knew that Andrew was back at Scotland Yard following other lines of investigation and Sandy was also wearing himself out too.
Everything that had happened kept running through her mind.
The wedding that wasn't. And would she ever see Ted again?
Daisy, still sitting in the hospital canteen, fiddled with her mobile to find Pam's number as she wanted to reassure her she was all right, but Pam's line was engaged.
“I may as well copy the phone numbers in my old mobile into my new perfume bottle one,” Daisy thought.
“Oh, damn it!
I keep pressing the wrong keys.” Suddenly Daisy heard Rowles' scary voice coming from the tiny speaker of her old mobile and nearly jumped out of her skin, “Are you getting married today?” And then, even more menacing, “I don't think so, my love!
Goodbye!”
The same words he had used when he had telephoned her!
Daisy froze, then realised she must have recorded the fateful call made by Rowles in the registry office by accidentally pressing the record button of her mobile.
Still feeling very shaky, she drank the rest of her coffee to pep herself up, then she pressed the play button again and listened to the recording very attentively.
There were three sentences spoken by Rowles but Daisy noticed that the background noise suddenly stopped at the end of each new sentence leaving a gap of complete silence.
This, in Daisy's experience, could only mean one thing.
She got on to Sandy immediately, “You can tell your officers that it's useless their hunting for Rowles in Spain, he's not there!”
“But Daisy, we had the call traced and it definitely came from Bilbao,” Sandy insisted at the other end of the line.
“That was Rowles' trick!
The call probably did come from Spain but it was only a recording of Rowles' voice, not him actually speaking to me, as there are two gaps of silence between the three sentences, which wouldn't be there, had he been talking to me viva voce.”
Sandy exclaimed, “If that's correct, it means he wanted to lead us off the track and make us think he'd gone off to Spain!”
“Yes,” confirmed Daisy, “and for this reason I think he's still very much here in England!”
“Great Daisy, I'll get back to you later.
I must inform the others immediately!” concluded Sandy excitedly.
Daisy, still in the hospital canteen, felt a little stronger and decided to buy a corned beef and tomato sandwich.
Clearly it was a clever idea on the part of Rowles to make the police believe he had escaped to Spain, so they would not bother to look for him in the UK.
Logically, Rowles could be just anywhere, but, just as logically, he could still be in England, and if so, what might be the reason for his remaining here?
Now Daisy was almost back on track.
As she was paying the cashier, her eyes fell on his watch.
It looked just like the one she had bought Ted.
“There must be lots around now - it was advertised on television!” she remembered.
Then it came to her.
The cashier's watch, like Ted's, didn't have the original metal strap but a leather one!
Almost overwhelmed by this discovery, Daisy nearly dropped her purse.
“It must be Ted's!
And if it is, he might still be alive!
I must keep calm,” she said to herself, her heart thumping.
“Excuse me, I was admiring your watch.” Daisy said trying to appear casual.
Handing him the money for her sandwich, she then asked, “Where did you buy it?”
The cashier, who was a young man of about eighteen, reddened as he took the money and became very embarrassed.
“Er… my father bought it…”
Seeing the young man's unease, Daisy took a chance and put on a stern expression, “I don't think so!
If you don't want to get into very serious trouble, tell me where you got it, otherwise I'll call Security!”
“I didn't steal it, I promise you.
I found it!
I'm not a thief,” he stuttered.
“You found it?”
“Y-yes, I swear.
It was around a cat's collar!”
“A cat's collar?
What do you mean?” Daisy asked.
“Er… she's a beautiful green-eyed cat - I believe her name is Mitzi.
She's always roaming around the hospital.
I'm fond of animals and I stroke her sometimes and give her something to eat.
I started work at midday today and there she was waiting for me to give her some milk.
As I stroked her, I noticed there was something fixed around her collar.
It was this watch!
I swear - I know it sounds phoney but it's the God's honest truth!”
Then in a flash Daisy remembered something in the police report - Rowles had worked as a Health Care Assistant - and here she was, in a hospital where a cat had been carrying around Ted's watch attached to her collar!
Therefore Ted might probably be somewhere there in the hospital!
“A breakthrough at last!” Daisy thought to herself.
Now the lad was almost in tears.
“All right, all right, don't worry!” Daisy was still quivering with excitement, “I haven't got time to explain now, but actually you've done me a big favour.”
“So you're not going to call the police or anything…?” said the young man looking relieved.
“No, no, I promise.
Is there anything else you can tell me about when you found the watch?”
“No, not really - except there was a small piece of paper folded up under the buckle of the cat's collar.
When I saw what was written on it, I just threw it away.”
Daisy's heart beat furiously, “What was written on it?”
The lad shrugged, “Just some… stupid words.”
Daisy nearly burst with impatience.
“And what were these 'stupid' words?”
“I don't remember - as I said, I just threw it away - here in the waste bin!” He bent down to pick up a piece of paper which had been screwed up into a ball and read the words out aloud.
“The old toilets - it must be a joke or something.”
Daisy snatched the piece of paper from him and perused it carefully.
Yes, it seemed to be in Ted's handwriting.
He probably hadn't had time to write any more.
“Look, I'm a private detective - here's my card - please tell me where the old toilets are!” urged Daisy.
“As far as I know there are no old toilets.
Everything has been renovated.”
Daisy suddenly felt desperate.
The young man thought for a moment, “Unless you mean - you know - the… old toilets, that is the old toilets in the air raid shelter.
My grandfather used to work here in the hospital during the Second World War and told me that during the bombing they put the patients into what had used to be the nurses' sleeping quarters, which was below ground level.”
“So where is this air raid shelter?” asked Daisy rather nervously.
“It's right next to the boiler room.
If you turn right, out of the main door, and continue walking for about three minutes until you pass the Newton Ward, there are a lot of bramble bushes and thick hedges.
Behind all that lot, there are some steps which lead down to the old entrance of the air raid shelter.”
“Thanks a lot!” said Daisy putting her purse away in her shoulder-bag.
“You're not going to try and get in, are you?
It's all been sealed up for years!” the young man exclaimed.
“And Miss - what about the watch?”
“Er… keep it for the time being.” Daisy was now in a daze.
She picked up her wrapped corned beef sandwich, put it in her bag and walked out of the canteen determined to find Ted - leaving the flowers she had bought for Rosemary on the table where she had been sitting.
PART 5
Rowles seemed in a better mood than before.
To Ted's surprise he was dressed in a nurse's uniform this time.
“Is this a hospital?” asked the enchained policeman.
“Well done, Detective-Inspector Singleton, it is indeed,” answered the bank robber.
“Don't tell me you're here so you can feed your habit!
When did you
get hooked onto drugs, Rowles?
There is nothing in your record that mentions it!”
Rowles' eyes flickered.
“I'm not hooked onto anything, Singleton!”
“But you took something about an hour ago, and now your mood has changed completely!” Ted said accusingly.
Rowles didn't snap at him as he expected.
He looked hesitant as though he didn't quite know what to say, then he changed the subject.
“Singleton, why don't we talk about how you are coping with all this?”
“Rowles, stop playing mind games with me.
What are you up to?
Surely you're not hoping for a ransom… nobody I know has a lot of money.”
“No, it's not that, don't worry, I've got a bit put away already!” replied the bank robber sarcastically.
Ted realised that he must steadily make Rowles angry to get something out of him.
“You're not going to stay here for the rest of your days - and with a prisoner to boot!”
Rowles raised his eyebrows, but didn't answer.
Ted continued his strategy of provoking him, “You know they won't just put you away - this time they'll just lock the door and forget about you…”
“What do I care?
That's what's happened to me all my life.
First my mother - always sodden with drink, then the home, then the reformatory…” Rowles finally burst, “Yes,” he yelled.
“Until the end of my days!”
Then he realised he had said too much and became silent.
Ted softened his tone understanding that Rowles had let something out at last which might be the clue to why he'd been kidnapped.
“You're taking something for pain, aren't you?
You're ill!”
Rowles sat down on the other chair in the bathroom.
“They'll never put me away again…”
“It's not that you…” Ted couldn't finish the sentence.
Rowles nodded slowly, “I've only got about a month to live!”
There was a strange silence as though time had stopped, then Ted took a long breath.
“So that's why you escaped and hid here - a hospital.
A place where there is all the medicine you will need.”
“Yes, Singleton, so I can spend my last days in freedom, well, semi-freedom, and settle my debts!”
PART 6
Daisy went in search of the old air raid shelter.
She had decided not to phone Sandy yet because she knew hundreds of policemen would be surrounding the hospital in a twinkling, and that might mean Rowles would kill Ted in revenge.
She followed the young man's instructions carefully and walked past the Newton Ward but by now it was beginning to rain and was quite dark.
Fortunately Daisy had a small torch which she always kept in her bag.
She pulled the strap of her bag over her head onto her right shoulder so she could be more free in her movements and shone a light around, but could see only brambles and close knit hedges.
Daisy looked around for a stick to help her get through the brambles.
She managed to find one and pushed some of the brambles to one side but got badly scratched on the thorns just the same.
“I must be bleeding all over my clothes,” she thought.
When at last she got through to the other side, Daisy found herself in front of the roof of the air raid shelter all thickly covered with ivy.
“Right, now I have to find a way of getting inside!” she said to herself.
“I wonder if there's a window anywhere - after all it wasn't a proper air raid shelter - it was originally a nurses' home!”
Daisy prodded through the wet foliage for quite some time when suddenly her stick seemed to go through something.
She cleaned the area of wet leaves and discovered there was a grating through which she could see a light.
Daisy got down on her knees, shone her torch through and saw Ted looking up towards her!
Daisy's eyes misted over and she wanted to shout out to him but remembered that it wasn't a very wise thing to do as he might not be alone.
Instead, she turned the torch on herself so Ted could see who it was peering down.
When Ted recognised that it was Daisy, he shook his head vigorously as though to warn her.
Daisy shone her torch on and off to signal that she had understood and replaced the foliage, so that light couldn't be seen from the outside.
Daisy was thinking of what to do next when suddenly someone appeared from behind the brambles and shone a blinding light onto her face.
“So it's you again!
how fortunate!”
Daisy recognised the voice instantly.
It was Rowles with a revolver in his hand!
Daisy wanted to shout for help but Rowles made an ugly gesture with his gun and told her to walk to the left as far as the end of the old nurses' home.
Here, almost in the dark, Daisy could scarcely make out that there were some steps leading downwards.
The bank robber indicated with his revolver for Daisy to go down the steps, at the end of which was a massive iron door.
“Now open the door - it's not locked,” Rowles ordered.
He seemed to know the place well, even in the semi-dark.
“Don't you want to see your fiancé?” asked Rowles ironically, shining his torch inside the shelter.
“Go along ahead in front of me.
Your bridegroom is waiting for you!”
After walking through the doorway, Daisy could see there was an unlit corridor full of spiders' webs.
Rowles closed the door, then locked it from the inside.
Walking along the corridor, they finally arrived at a room which revealed itself to be the toilets where Ted was seated chained to the radiator.
“Oh no, Daisy, you've been caught too!” he exclaimed in horror.
“Ted, are you OK?” asked Daisy anxiously, with tears in her eyes.
“I'm all right, Daisy - are you injured?” said Ted frightened at seeing Daisy's scratched and slightly bleeding hands.
“If you've hurt her, Rowles….!”
“Yes I know, I know, you'll kill me.
But this time, Inspector, I'm not guilty!
She must have scratched herself on the brambles!” replied Rowles.
Daisy nodded that it was true.
Now he pushed her onto a chair near the radiator.
“Sit down here,” he said and grabbed her right wrist roughly and chained it to the cold radiator.
“Now, I'll have to steal more food, as there are three of us,” said Rowles enjoying the theatricality of the situation.
First he felt in Daisy's jacket pockets, “You're not armed, I imagine - but you have got a mobile,” he said ironically.
He then moved the small table in front of them further away and spilled the contents of Daisy's shoulder bag onto it.
He then picked up Daisy's mobile and pocketed it.
Rowles looked at the bottle of nail varnish and shook his head.
“Never did like painted nails!” He turned to his prisoners and laughed, “Now you are practically chained to each other, you can say your vows at last!” Rowles chortled at his own joke, “And you can have all the privacy you need - see you both later!”
And with this the bank robber made off.
“Ted, sorry I got caught so stupidly…”
“Daisy, it's me who should say sorry, because of me you've got into this horrible mess.
Look, your poor hands are all covered in blood!
But now there's no time to waste, my love… the man's terminally ill and if he doesn't kill us first, he may die and we'll be left here to perish just the same!”
“Rowles is terminally ill?” echoed Daisy not being able to work out if this latest information would make things better or worse for them.
“Yes, he is and we are stuck here chained to the radiator!” said Ted dejectedly.
“Wait Ted, try to pull that table nearer us with your foot,” said Daisy, “but be very careful you don't knock the table over!”
Ted couldn't understand why Daisy had said this, but realised that there must be a good reason for it.
He tried first with his right foot, but found he couldn't reach the table.
“No, I don't seem to be able to, Daisy.”
He then crouched down into his chair, extended his left leg as much as he could and carefully managed to budge the table by an inch or two with his foot.
He repeated this several times until he could wind his left foot right around the table leg.
As the table got nearer to them, Ted tugged a bit too violently and it nearly overturned, but Daisy managed to steady it stretching her left leg out and then pulled it gradually towards herself with her foot.
At last she was able to reach out with her left hand and pick up an object which was on the table.
Ted was baffled at seeing what Daisy had lifted up, “It's a bottle of perfume, Daisy!” he exclaimed incredulously.
“Ted, look, it's a bit awkward with one hand but you have to flip it open...
like this.”
“Oh!
Good heavens, it's a mobile phone!” cheered Ted taking the phone with his left hand.
“Well done, Daisy!
Now I can ring Scotland Yard - but tell me where we are exactly first!”
Daisy furnished the information while he was dialling the number.
Suddenly they heard a noise in the corridor leading to the toilets.
“Ted, put the mobile away into your pocket, quickly, Rowles is coming!” hissed Daisy hastily, hoping the bank robber wouldn't sense anything amiss.
“Ah - the love birds!” exclaimed Rowles half-laughingly.
“Mm, you've moved the table!” Daisy immediately pretended to have an attack of sneezing and picked up a tissue from the table to distract him.
“Here's your supper, love birds.
Two hot hospital dinner packs.
Enjoy it!
With the courtesy of St.
Martin's.”
Rowles opened their warmed pre-packed food containers, stuck two plastic forks in them and put them onto their laps.
“Did you ever imagine spending your honeymoon in hospital - all expenses paid?” Rowles thought this was a huge joke and laughed heartily.
Ted and Daisy started to eat their food.
“How come we've got electric light and running water if this place hasn't been used for years?” Ted asked.
Rowles boasted, “That was the easy part, I used to work in a building firm and I learned a lot from an electrician, so I found the old wires and connected them to the ones in the boiler room!
The water was rather simple too.
It had been turned off years ago and the whole thing was rusted up a bit, but practically all I needed was a wrench!”
There was a brief pause in the conversation whilst Rowles opened two cans of fizzy drinks for his prisoners.
While Daisy and Ted were drinking thirstily, Rowles announced, “I suppose you are wondering how I managed to escape from prison.
Well, let me satisfy your curiosity.”
Rowles sat back relaxed enjoying every minute of it, “While I was behind bars, I wrote a letter to my imaginary mother telling her where I was and that I was thinking of her constantly.
A letter full of the love of a son for his dear mother!” Rowles chortled with amusement.
“I didn't post it, of course, I got a friend who was leaving prison to give it to my friends outside.
This was the letter the police found in that old lady's pocket, who I suppose you know by now was a homeless.
The two Samaritans who took her to hospital were of course my friends who had been looking for an ill woman of the right age who couldn't express herself properly.
After they found the old lady, they dumped her at the Accident and Emergency Department of St.
Martin's and disappeared, but, anyway, this certainly saved her life!”
Daisy and Ted looked at each other signalling their surprise at this complicated but ingenious trick.
They also noticed that Rowles seemed sincerely proud he had been instrumental in saving the old lady's life.
The bank robber continued his marathon speech, “It didn't take long before the nurses found my letter in her pocket and informed the police, who let me out on compassionate grounds.
Naturally, my friends returned to the hospital later, found the room in which the homeless lady was recovering from her operation and left a gun and a bag strapped under her bed.
In the bag there were all the things I would need, a torch, some overalls, some rope and some tools.
When the warders took me to the old lady's room, she was only half conscious.
I immediately pretended to embrace her but in reality I felt for the gun under her bed, freed it and then pointed it at the two warders and managed to shut them in the adjoining bathroom.
I then tied one end of the rope to the old lady's bed and threw the rest of it out of the window so that they would assume I had escaped this way.
In reality, I changed from my prison clothes into the overalls, which were of the type used by the hospital maintenance staff, and then I was able to wander around the hospital unhampered.
So I reached the boiler room, got a hammer out of the bag to dislodge the old rusted bolt and walked through the communicating door which led into the old nurses' home.
At last I was free!”
Now Rowles looked at his prisoners as though he wanted to be applauded.
Ted concurred, “What an ingenious plan.
You've even got your medicine here in the hospital!”
“Yes,” Rowles smiled ironically.
“I used to work here twenty years' ago or so.
I was going to qualify as a nurse but… well, fate took me in another direction!” For a fraction of a second, his face clouded over with sadness, then immediately he reacted and continued his bravado speech, “So I know the place like the back of my hand.
I can steal food, medicine and anything I need - and not pay a penny for it!”
“You're saying you never left the hospital,” Ted observed, “therefore you couldn't possibly have kidnapped me.
So who did?”
Rowles roared with laughter, “The two Samaritans, of course!
They dutifully kidnapped and chloroformed you the night before your wedding, put you, still unconscious, into a body bag and brought you here, where I was to kill you in my own time!”
Daisy was aghast, “What do you mean - you're planning to kill Ted?
You monster…”
Rowles shook his head, “Don't jump to conclusions, Miss Hamilton.
I'm not through yet.
As I was saying, the deal was:
they spring me from where I was banged up and in return I kill Singleton, so that they could set up a watertight alibi for themselves.
I even persuaded the Samaritans that it would be easy for me to dispose of your body in the mortuary, Singleton.
Now, if you don't mind, I'm tired and I'm going to lie down next door.
You'll have to wait a while for the next instalment.
Bye bye!” Rowles looked very strained now, as he laboured to get to the door.
Ted swiftly pulled out Daisy's new mobile phone from his pocket and immediately started dialling his friend's number.
“Andrew?
It's Singleton!
Daisy and I have been imprisoned by Rowles in St.
Martin's Hospice,” Ted spoke frantically.
“It's a ten minutes' drive from the registry office, in a sort of cellar, or air raid shelter, where the nurses' home was once, next to the boiler room.
Andrew, now I must put the phone down, Rowles could come back any time.
Remember, he's extremely dangerous!
Andrew, can you hear me?
Andrew…”
Ted looked at Daisy in dismay, “The line's gone dead - the battery's probably run out.
I am afraid Andrew didn't hear a word I said!”
“Oh no, Ted, we're back to square one!” said Daisy unhappily.
The Detective-Inspector put the mobile back into his pocket disappointedly.
Daisy thought for a moment, then whispered to Ted, “There's a small nail file in the inner lining of my bag.
It's our last hope!”
“Well, I could try and file through a link in the chain but it'll take ages.” Ted didn't sound very convinced but Daisy searched for her nail file in the inside pocket of her bag and gave it to him.
Ted started working on his chain vigorously, but with Rowles next door he was afraid the bank robber might hear what they were doing.
Ted kept filing away, but it was a slow job.
“This is going to take forever, Daisy.” Then hearing footsteps, he lowered his voice, “That's Rowles coming back again!
Hide the file in my bag!” whispered Daisy.
Rowles arrived in the toilets, “Hello my little ones!
Hope the food was to your satisfaction!” he joked in his usual style.
“Well, Miss Hamilton, your coming here is most fortuitous.
I have a pressing problem and now I feel you will be able to help me solve it.”
Ted and Daisy looked at each other questioningly.
Rowles sat down as though their conversation would take quite a time.
“First of all, I'd like to tell you that I was pretty angry when you two had me arrested on the ferryboat - but - I don't really bear grudges!” he laughed.
“But you promised to get your own back on Ted when you were convicted - I call that a grudge!” retorted Daisy.
“No, it's not like that at all, my dear.
When I knew I was going to prison again I had to look tough in the eyes of my future cellmates!
You have no idea what it's like being in prison.
You have to defend yourself day and night!
Starting in the courtroom…”
“And you ruined our wedding - that's revenge on both of us!” added Daisy.
Rowles nodded, “I always did have a strange sense of humour.
But as you see, I haven't treated either of you too badly.”
“What are you trying to say, Rowles?
That you just wanted to spend a few days with me, and that using chloroform on me was justified?” Ted asked sarcastically.
Rowles was serious again, “Let me explain.
Miss Hamilton, you will have found out that I haven't much time to live,” he said quietly, almost reverently.
“When the doctor told me, I decided to try and escape.
I put the word out and two… friends let me know that they would help me - at a price.”
Rowles continued, “There was already a plot out to kill Chief-Inspector Ted Singleton…”
“And you expect me to believe that?” broke in Ted.
Ignoring this interruption, Rowles explained, “As I told you, I was commissioned to do it in exchange for my freedom.” Seeing the fierce expression on Daisy's face Rowles growled, “Wait a minute, Miss Hamilton.
Personally I don't believe in killing anybody, and I certainly don't want a murder on my conscience.
So, as I knew I was going to die anyway, I promised to do the deed.
They were happy with that and told me to go ahead with the escape plan.
I had to be very clever not to let them know that I only intended to kidnap you, Singleton, not kill you, and then, when the time came, to let you… free.
And the funny thing was, that your getting married was merely a coincidence!”
Daisy and Ted were stunned at hearing this.
“Is this really true, Rowles?” asked Daisy a little skeptically.
“Yes, it is - believe me, and do believe me when I tell you that someone will try to kill Singleton once I'm dead!”
The prisoners looked at each other trying to make sense of this apparent change of character on the part of Rowles.
“The fact is,” Rowles took a deep breath, as though he was getting tired again, “I'm a bit of a softie, I always remember favours done to me.
Your fiancé once saved me from being stitched up by a colleague of his who wanted me to go down for murder!
Remember, Singleton?”
Ted nodded slowly.
“I imagine, though, that you are not going to tell us who's planning my death.”
“I can't grass on them.
It just isn't done in my world,” Rowles answered curtly.
Then the tension eased and the bank robber continued, “As I was saying before, I'm really lucky to have you here, Miss Hamilton.
You can do me a big favour!” Rowles laughed cynically.
“As there are two of you, I want you to witness my will - my last will and testament!
- and I want you, Singleton, to be my executor!” Even though Rowles was laughing, Ted and Daisy could tell that he was in earnest.
Rowles stopped laughing abruptly.
“I have a daughter, Clare, who is now fifteen.
She's a beautiful girl and lives with her adoptive parents who are good to her.
She knows nothing of me - and she must never know anything.
I've stashed away quite a few quid, and I want it all to go to Clare for her education.”
Daisy and Ted could hardly believe their ears.
“But you could have found someone else to be your executor,” Ted pointed out, “your solicitor, for example.”
“I had to keep it secret that I was going to die, didn't I?”
Rowles suddenly bent over in pain and went deathly white.
“Sorry chaps!” he gasped and took out a packet of pills from his inside pocket, swallowed one and took a swig at a small bottle of water which he kept in his pocket.
A couple of minutes later the pill seemed to have worked and Rowles managed to sit comfortably back in his chair.
Then he began to look very ill again and became doubled up in terrible pain.
“Sign my will, please!
I feel really bad.
This is the end for me!” groaned Rowles pulling out a piece of paper and a pen from his pocket.
Ted looked at Daisy, “Shall we?” he asked.
Daisy nodded and they both signed.
Rowles was now ready to free them.
He put his hand back into his pocket, pulled out the key to the padlock on the long chain which imprisoned Ted and Daisy and between spasms of great pain managed to give it to them.
He then collapsed, unconscious, onto the floor.
Ted had just managed to free himself and Daisy when the door burst open with a S.W.A.T.- like team all ready to shoot.
Two of them jumped onto the unconscious Rowles pinning his arms to the ground.
“Chief-Inspector Singleton I believe.
You telephoned your colleague, who relayed the information to us.
Are you two all right?” asked one of the police officers, who seemed to be in charge.
“This man is ill….” Ted started to explain.
“Yes, yes!” the officer replied thinking that the Stockholm syndrome had hit the Chief-Inspector.
He pulled Rowles' arms behind his back and handcuffed him.
Ted insisted, “Officer, this man is seriously ill and must be taken up into the hospital immediately otherwise he will die.
Let us go with him.
We must explain to the doctors that Rowles has been taking morphine… before they give him anything.”
The officer looked at Ted not really believing him.
However, he thought twice about it and said to the other officers, “OK boys - we haven't got a stretcher here, so let's carry him up to the A&E!”
The two fiancés were finally able to embrace each other, but Ted was obviously exhausted and Daisy had started crying.
As Ted and Daisy went up to the Accident and Emergency Department to be checked over, they could see the hospital was now surrounded by the police.
The doctors who examined them pronounced them fatigued and said they had to stay there for the present.
Ted was given a drip and began to feel a bit stronger.
He had asked to be put near to Rowles, who was still unconscious, so he could explain about his taking morphine for a terminal illness.
The doctors examined the bank robber and then sent him to be X-rayed.
Later on Rowles was brought back and another more senior doctor, Mr. Akashi, was called.
“Excuse me, but might I have a word with you?” said Mr. Akashi turning round towards Ted.
“I believe,” the doctor looked for Rowles' name, “I believe William Rowles has been with you for the last few days.
What did he tell you exactly about his health?”
“That he had a terminal illness and was dying - he had been examined in the prison hospital, I think…”
“Mm… yes, that's what they told me.
But there must have been a mistake.
It's not unheard of - it can happen.
He is certainly ill, but not terminally.
He has a perforated ulcer and, of course, if we don't operate right away his life is at risk.
Thank you.”
Ted and Daisy had permission to visit Rowles after his operation.
The bank robber was tired, but in good spirits.
“They told me that you insisted on my being taken to A&E immediately - so you saved my life, as I had a perforated ulcer.” Rowles smiled weakly.
Ted quipped, “We always seem to be saving each other's lives!”
Rowles nodded his head solemnly.
“You do realise that there'll be a contract out on you when they discover I didn't kill you - and probably out on me too, as I didn't keep my part of the bargain?”
“I don't think we have to worry about that,” replied Ted, “as the fake Samaritans aka Tiny Tim and Bro Joseph have been located and dealt with!”
“Now you can have all your legal matters sorted out properly - you know, about that young person you mentioned?” said Daisy referring to Rowles' daughter.
“You can appoint your solicitor to do everything.”
“You are right, anyway, thanks to both of you.” replied Rowles.
He looked tired but better and grinned at Ted and Daisy.
“I know I'll get another sentence for what I did but… well, I'll just have to escape again, won't I?”
Ted and Daisy fixed another date for the wedding and all their friends turned up with the addition of Rosemary Armstrong and her friend Reg who, thanks to Daisy, now lived together in a small council flat.
The homeless lad who had put the police onto Tiny Collins and Bro Joseph's tracks was also there.
He was attending a digital photography course and, thanks to Ted's encouragement, was now hoping to enrol shortly in the police force.
Daisy had insisted on Ted staying with her the night before, so this time they arrived at the registry office together!
Daisy noticed that Andrew and Sonia held hands at one point and smiled to herself.
When they waved goodbye after the wedding breakfast, Daisy turned round and threw her bouquet in the direction of Sonia, who promptly caught it.
“Where are you going on honeymoon?” shouted the various friends as no one had managed to find out yet.
“Send you a postcard,” replied Ted, as he and Daisy drove off on their way to a fabulous time in… India!
THE END

 

THE WEDDING

10802 words

 

PART 1

 

“I’d prefer a registry office wedding,” replied Daisy. “And an unconventional wedding breakfast – maybe vegetarian!”

Inspector Morris Singleton, better know as Ted, nodded, “That’s fine by me, but when?”

“Let’s go to the registry office tomorrow and see when we can get married so that you won’t be… singleton any longer!” Daisy quipped.

Everything was finally fixed for the second Wednesday in May. Daisy telephoned Mr. Winter, her dear antique dealer friend, and asked him if he would give her away and accompany her to the registry office. Mr. Winter joyfully accepted.

Then Daisy rang her friends Pam and Sonia to invite them to the wedding. Sonia said she was just leaving for Africa on a two-week trip for her paper, but would be getting back in time and when would Daisy’s hen night be?

Pam invited Daisy to come round to tell her all the gossip. “I’m so happy for you, Daisy. Well, at last! I was beginning to think you two were never getting married! Like in The Betrothed!”

Daisy laughed, “Well, there’s no Don Rodrigo to kidnap me or anything, so put on your glad rags, girl, and come and be my witness!”

A couple of days later Daisy and Pam met up at the Best Buy Shopping Centre.

“Have you decided what sort of thing you want to wear?” asked Pam.

“I haven’t got the least idea – I don’t want to wear the traditional white dress, I’m sure about that!” replied Daisy.

“Well, do you want to wear a costume?”

Daisy shook her head, “I haven’t the faintest, Pam, maybe that’s why we never managed to decide on the date to get married – I just couldn’t imagine what I would wear!” Daisy laughed.

The first couple of hours were spent going into all the dress shops in the centre, having a quick walkaround and on to the next one. Pam was getting anxious. “Daisy, don’t forget that I too have to buy something, and I can’t choose anything until I know what you are going to wear! Why don’t you at least try something on?”

“Ok, Pam, but first let’s have some calories – my brain isn’t working well at all!”

The two friends sat down at the Food Court and had a late full English breakfast. “Ah, that’s better,” said Daisy drinking her black coffee.

“Come on Daisy, back to the grindstone!” Pam urged. As the two friends were walking out of the food court, Daisy suddenly grabbed Pam’s arm. “That’s what I want to wear!” Pam looked around but couldn’t see anything in particular.

“Look at that Indian woman sitting over there! What a wonderful green and gold sari she’s wearing – Pam, I’m going to wear traditional Indian clothes!”

Half an hour later Daisy was trying on saris of many different colours in an Indian shop in the Centre.

“Oh Daisy, I think you’ve had a really good idea. What colour sari do you think you’d prefer?” asked Pam.

“Not one with very vivid colours, as I’ve got a fair skin. Hey, how about this light peach and gold sari with this beigy blouse with gold thread motifs?” Daisy held the sari up against herself.

“That certainly suits you, Daisy. Well, if you are sure that’s how you want to dress, I’d like to buy you a real Indian bag for your wedding. I can see that they’ve got some marvellous hand-beaded ones,” suggested Pam who had very good taste in clothes.

Next it was Pam’s turn. “I’m going in for something which slims me down. I fancy that trendy skirt and blouse and waistcoat we saw at Fashone’s. I think it was in pale lilac and grey – oh, let’s go back and do the rounds of the dress shops again!”

 

A few weeks later Daisy organised her hen night which was in a pub nearby and Ted arranged his stag night with ‘the lads’ from his division up in London.

The hen night was a riot with Pam, Sonia, Daisy’s journalist friend, Lena, the antique shop owner who Daisy had once saved from a violent thief, and several of Daisy’s young friends who turned up in rather skimpy clothes and made a lot of noise. Lena surprised Daisy’s teenage friends when she joined in the conversation with them about the charts. Apparently she had played in a band in her youth and followed all the latest trends.

Sonia handed Daisy a small packet saying it was something she could keep in her bag.

“Thanks, Sonia,” said Daisy unwrapping the packet. “Oh, perfume!”

“Not quite,” said Sonia smiling. “Have a closer look!”

Daisy looked puzzled, but examining it more carefully realised that it wasn’t an ultra modern perfume bottle at all!

“Oh, I see! That’s really cunning. It looks like a bottle of perfume but it’s really a mobile phone! – I’ve never seen one like it before! It’s so glamourous! Thanks again, Sonia, it’s beautiful.”

 “When I saw you fumbling with that old bit of scrap iron which beeps like a barge, I thought it was time you entered the new era.” Sonia explained, “This mobile is also a camera, a digital recorder and a video recorder too, you know!”

All the girls were fascinated by this original present and everybody said they wanted one as well!

“Remember,” said Pam, “you must turn up tomorrow with something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue!’ Well, here’s something borrowed – the pearl earrings Henry bought me for our wedding. They’ll go beautifully with your – whatever you are going to wear tomorrow!” said Pam, as she handed the future bride a small box with the earrings in it.

Opening the box Daisy said, “Thanks a million Pam. They’re lovely!”

“Daisy,” broke in Lena pulling an old jewellery case out of her bag, “I would like you to try this on. May I?” as she put something around her neck. “It’s a locket. I do hope it goes with your dress tomorrow – if not – well, you can wear it on other occasions.”

“It’s absolutely beautiful, Lena. I’ve never had anything like this before. Thank you so much!”

“Once, a woman carried the picture of her beloved in it, as you know!” explained Lena.

The girls immediately fell in love with the locket. “Oh Daisy, how romantic! You’ll have to put Ted’s photo in it!” suggested Rachael, one of the young girls.

“Well, are you going to tell us at last what you’re going to wear tomorrow, Daisy?” asked Sheena, who was a beautician.

“Sorry, it’s still a secret – you’ll find out tomorrow at eleven o’clock!”

“Well Daisy, I thought this might come in handy!” Sheena handed Daisy a small package.

All the girls watched while Daisy unwrapped the package. It was a cheeky blue garter! Everybody howled with laughter and made jokes.

“What have you given Ted as a wedding present, Daisy?” asked Sonia.

“One of those super tech watches he admires, with a really modern steely look to it. Don’t ask me what it does exactly, but it looks pretty impressive. Unfortunately we had to have the metal strap changed to a normal leather one ‘cos of the stab wound Ted got to his wrist last year. Anyway it still looks very stylish!”    

“And what did Ted give you?” Pam asked.

“Nothing yet ‘cos I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted. So we decided to leave it till after the wedding.”

Daisy had already explained that her hen night wouldn’t go on very late as she had… a rather important engagement the next morning, so the party broke up at ten-thirty and everybody went off home to have their beauty sleep for the following day.

Before going to sleep Daisy called Ted to say goodnight. “Hello, Ted, it’s me. Can see you aren’t answering your phone. Till  tomorrow – kiss!”

 

The next morning when Mr. Winter rang the doorbell, Daisy was all ready to leave for the registry office. “Oh, what a surprise. You’re wearing a sari! Daisy, you look beautiful!”

Daisy was pleased when she heard this. “I didn’t know whether I’d made the right choice. Thanks Mr. Winter, you’ve given me the confidence I needed, I was feeling a bit shaky!”

When Mr. Winter arrived with the bride at the registry office all the guests were there and as Daisy got out of the car, they all cheered her and said how stunning she looked. There was Luigi of the ice-cream parlour, Lena, Pam with her husband and two children, the young girls who had celebrated at Daisy’s hen night and Sonia, who was standing next to Andrew and Sandy, two Scotland Yard officers who worked with Ted. Andrew’s parents were from Ghana and Sandy was a hefty-looking, towering Scotsman dressed in a colourful kilt. Once inside the registry office Daisy looked around for her fiancé but couldn’t see him.

“Isn’t Ted here?” asked Daisy.

“No,” replied Sandy. “We – I mean Andrew and I – arrived an hour ago, when Ted was supposed to have turned up too.” When Sandy was nervous his Glaswegian accent became very pronounced. “I phoned him but he didn’t answer, so I thought you two might be coming together. Hasn’t he called you, Daisy?”

Daisy’s heart jumped right up to her throat. “No.” Horrible thoughts ran through her mind, that Ted had done a runner or that something dreadful had happened to him. She got her old mobile out from inside her new Indian bag and dialled Ted’s number frantically.

“He’s not answering!” Daisy could hardly speak.

“I’ll try the number again too,” said Sandy, while Andrew was trying to reassure her. “Ted’s Stag Night went off well – he had a few drinks but he wasn’t drunk or anything. I saw him getting into a taxi as he knew he’d be over the limit and had left his car at home - but he was perfectly all right!”

Now Sandy was phoning Ted’s office to see if there was any news of him there but there wasn’t any.

“Ah! Miss Hamilton - we’re all ready for you,” the kind-looking lady who had taken all their details down when Ted and Daisy had applied to get married at the registry office appeared, and looked around the group of friends assembled there. “Hasn’t Mr. Singleton arrived yet?”

Andrew took charge, “There’s been a delay, I’m sorry. Can you just wait a bit please?” 

Seeing the expression on Daisy’s face the kind lady nodded, “Yes, of course!”

“Can you send someone to his flat immediately? Have him call me as soon as he gets there.” Andrew was now asking a colleague over the phone.

“Let’s all sit down a minute!” suggested Lena.

No sooner had they done so, when Daisy’s old mobile rang. As Daisy replied to the phone, she was aware of a moment of silence.

“Hello, is that you, Ted?” Daisy asked breathlessly.

“Are you getting married today?” asked a man with a very harsh voice. There was a slight pause and the voice continued threateningly, “I don’t think so, my love! Goodbye!” Then a horrible laugh. Then a click. Then nothing.

Daisy paled, “T-that was Rowles’ voice – the criminal I helped capture on the ferry boat!”

Sandy shook his head, “William Rowles, the bank robber? It can’t be - he’s in prison! In fact, he’s in a high security prison in Sheffield, nobody ever escapes from there, I assure you.”

“Look Sandy, I’d know that laugh anywhere.” Daisy replied, “I had to    give evidence at his trial. When he was sentenced, he just laughed defiantly, threatening Ted, saying he’d get even with him one day.”

Sandy was trying to prove his point, “Daisy, you’re all worked up at the moment. Many voices sound alike. Besides, even if it were him, he could still have phoned you from prison.”

“Let’s have the call traced,” suggested Andrew.

“Good idea,” said Sandy. “Daisy, give me your mobile number and I’ll have it traced right away.”

Sandy began phoning his headquarters while Daisy shakily repeated Rowles’ horrible words to herself. Sonia put her arm round her and Pam went to get a glass of water for her. The rest of the wedding party looked on in disbelief.

Andrew was on the phone reporting back to Daisy, “It seems Ted’s not answering the door.” He continued speaking on the phone, “Is there any other way of getting in, Sergeant?”

Andrew began to loosen his tie. “Well, break in! Yes, it’s my responsibility. Just do it!”

Daisy held on to Pam’s arm. “What’s happening, Andrew, tell me!”

“They are saying he’s not there, Daisy. His bed hasn’t been slept in and there’s a suit hanging on the wardrobe!”

Daisy began to shiver, “He didn’t even go home. Something terrible must have happened to him!”

Sandy came over to Daisy and Andrew, “I was wrong, Daisy. It appears that William Rowles did escape from custody - yesterday!”

Custody? He’s in a high security prison!” replied Andrew.

Sandy explained, “The fact is, he was allowed out of prison on compassionate grounds as his mother was very ill in hospital – a heart attack. There were two prison warders with him but still he managed to escape somehow.”

Andrew’s phone rang, “Yes! Oh really…thanks!” The Scotsman turned to Daisy, “Rowles’ call has been traced to Bilbao in Spain!”

Daisy could hardly speak, “So he’s hopped the country – after… killing Ted?” Daisy was in a sorry state.

Sonia tried to comfort her, “We don’t know any such thing, Daisy. Maybe Rowles’ escape has nothing to do with Ted’s disappearance.”

Daisy decided it was time to pull herself together and stood up, “Sandy, which hospital is Rowles’ mother in?”

“St. Martin’s Hospice.”

“That’s near here!” she remarked.

“ What have you got in mind, Daisy?”

Although she had been to hell and back, the detective in her was coming to life again. “Oh, nothing!”

“Please try and keep calm, Daisy, Scotland Yard is on the case now. In fact I’d better get back there to see what I can do. You go home now!”

“Sandy, you will let me know immediately if…?” Daisy could not continue.

“Of course. Pam, will you stay with Daisy?” Sandy asked pretending to be more calm than he actually was.

“Count on me!” replied the ever reliable Pam. “I’ll get my husband to look after the children. I’m not letting Daisy out of my sight for one minute!”

 

PART 2

 

A rather nondescript middle-aged woman with grey hair and heavy-rimmed glasses who was carrying a bulky pile of papers in her arms walked calmly through the wards in St. Martin’s. Finally she found what she was looking for: the staff room.

Once inside the staff room the woman searched through a pile of discarded uniforms which was in the corner and found exactly what she had hoped to find - an identification badge someone had left there by accident. She took the existing photo out of the badge and replaced it with her own. The badge now read Edith Wilson - Almoner - Hospital Management.

The woman hung it around her neck, then went upstairs and looked for a room guarded by two policemen with a No Entry sign on the door. 

“Officers, could you tell me how our patient is today?”

“You can’t go in there, madam,” one of the policeman replied immediately barring her way.

“Oh, I know! I’m hospital management -  the almoner. I’m supposed to see all the patients, but of course in this case I know it’s not possible. I only wanted to ask her how she’s feeling and if I could get her anything. Poor old lady with nobody to comfort her!”

The policeman had a kind heart, “Well, if we were present, I think you could speak to her for a moment. Poor old thing. With a son like that…”

The first thing Daisy saw was that Rowles’ mother was clearly still suffering from a heart condition. Then she noticed her hands. There were no rings on her fingers, and her fingernails were very badly kept and dirty. “Mrs. Rowles… Susan, are you feeling better?”

The old lady had just woken up and blinked her eyes. “What did you say?”

Daisy insisted, “Mrs. Rowles, how are you?”

The old lady tried to focus on her visitor. “I’m feeling a bit sleepy, dear. They tell me that I’ve had a bypass or something, but that it went well. Now I’m all right, in fact I haven’t got that pain any more!”

“Do you need anything, Mrs. Rowles?” asked the visitor kindly.

“No, – but thanks all the same. The only thing I need is a nice warm room for the night – and I suppose I’ve got that so long as I’m here! Besides I think you’ve got more urgent things to do.”

“Would you like me to telephone somebody, Mrs. Rowles?”

“Ah, telephone… mm… no, but there is something you can do for me, if you don’t mind. Can you tell my friend, Old Reg, that I’m all right? He’ll be worrying about me. I felt so ill and he insisted on my going to hospital when those two from the Samaritans offered to take me to St. Martin’s.”

“Samaritans, Mrs. Rowles?” asked Daisy.

“Yes, they said they form part of a group of volunteers who help homeless people.”

“I see, Mrs. Rowles. Yes, of course I’ll try and get in touch with Old Reg – he’s a friend of yours, you said…”

“Yes, there are a lot of us who sleep in the old railway station – there are no more trains there and Old Reg always shares his food with me. You know, I haven’t the courage to beg any more!”

Daisy thought to herself, “So Rowles’ mother is a homeless!”

“Don’t worry, I’ll have your message sent to Old Reg at the old railway station this very evening. Would you like me to do something else, Mrs. Rowles?”

“No, thank you. You’re really very kind, my dear. And by the way, my name’s not Mrs. Rowles. It’s Rosemary Armstrong!”

Daisy was taken aback, “But didn’t your son come here to see you?”

“My son? I haven’t got any children, my dear,” the old lady replied.

Just to make sure she had got the facts right, Daisy insisted, “Don’t you remember, the man who came to see you…?”

“You mean, the man who pulled a gun out from under my bed? Never seen him before. I’d just woken up and was feeling pretty awful from the anaesthetic when this strange man with a gruff voice leaned over me and called me Mum.”

The two policemen who were listening to the conversation looked at each other in amazement and one of them began making a telephone call, while the other politely asked Daisy to step outside.

 

Pam rushed to the front door when she heard Daisy putting her key in the lock. “Daisy, where on earth have you been and why are you dressed like that? After you took those drops the doctor gave you, you fell fast asleep so I went home to get some clothes…”

“Dear Pam, sorry to have worried you,” answered Daisy, “but I woke up in a terrible sweat and just had to try and see Rowles’ mother at St. Martin’s… it was the only clue we had!”

Daisy took off her wig and glasses and washed off her aging make-up while she told Pam the whole story.

“Now I’d better telephone Sandy about it, it’s not much to go on for the moment, but it might lead to something…”

“While you do that, I’ll prepare something to eat.”

 

Daisy rang Sandy’s number and turned the television on. All channels were reporting the news about her Ted, the missing policeman. A photo of William Rowles, the dangerous criminal who had just escaped, was shown to the public who was warned not to approach him but to telephone 999.

“Hello Sandy, I went to see Rowles’ mother. You might like to know that the old lady isn’t his mother at all – actually, her name is Rosemary Armstrong and she’s a homeless person!”

“I know that already, Daisy, the policemen who were guarding her put through a call to Scotland Yard immediately when they found out. But now, let me guess: you were the mysterious almoner who went to see the old lady.”

Daisy smiled guiltily.
“You shouldn’t have done that, Daisy
. I told you to leave everything to us.”

“Well, Sandy, as Ted hasn’t been found yet, please just let me get on with things in my own way!”

“Look, Daisy, it’s not as though we’ve just been twiddling our thumbs. In fact, we immediately got in touch with Old Reg, Rosemary Armstrong’s friend at the railway station and by chance we came across a homeless lad, an artist, who happened to have witnessed the whole scene of Rosemary being taken away to hospital by the Samaritans. So the lad came to the police station with us and drew the two men! Well, one of them we recognised at once as Tiny Collins, who – it seems – is basking in the sun in Spain at the moment. As to the other one, I hope it won’t be long before we identify him too.”

“That’s wonderful, but it still doesn’t tell us what’s happened to Ted. Look, do you think I could have a peep at Rowles’ police record – you know, something might come to mind!” Daisy asked.

“Daisy, how many times do I have to tell you – it’s dangerous, leave all this to us!” Sandy replied trying to sound firm, but Daisy was a very convincing person and he finally gave in. “All right – but don’t tell anybody!”  

 

Daisy went along to the police station and met a very different Sandy to the one she had seen on what was to be her wedding day. He clearly hadn’t slept much and his eyes were red.

Daisy, here’s a printout of Rowles’ police report but remember, mum’s the word, for heaven’s sake.”

“Sandy, I want to read it as a criminal profiler would. You never know – something might suggest something…”

Daisy flicked over the pages of the report. “Mm… it says here Rowles’ mother died when she was twenty-nine!”

Sandy grabbed the report, “Whaaat! Someone really slipped up big  time. To let him out to see his ‘mother’ in hospital, what a shambles!”

 

PART 3

 

A secret hideaway, concealed underground, was where Rowles kept his prisoner seated on a very old ramshackle wooden chair chained by both wrists to an old radiator. It was a public bathroom – or had been once, but Ted could see clearly from the spiders’ webs and dust that no one had set foot there for many a year.

 “Here’s a packet of sandwiches!” said Rowles putting them on a small rectangular wooden table in front of Ted. “But if you start yelling I’ll have to gag you again! – not that anyone can hear you - so now I’ll leave your left hand free!”

Thanks – but why on earth are you keeping me here? You know that they’ll give you a longer sentence when they find you!” Ted exclaimed.

“They definitely won’t be giving me anything of the sort, Singleton, I can guarantee that! Eat your food – and here’s some coffee, too! I’ve even brought you another blanket, as you might have noticed

that there’s no heating on!” replied Rowles trying to smile cynically but looking a bit tired, as he sat down on another wooden chair.

Ted noticed that the coffee Rowles had brought him was in a typical paper cup from an automatic machine. This suggested that they were indeed in some sort of public building.

 “So you’re going to kill me, that is, if I don’t die of cold first?” asked Ted still trying to work out what was going on.

“We’ll see, we’ll see!”

“You do know the chloroform you gave me could have proved fatal, don’t you?” Ted was still trying to ask all the right questions.

“Oh, rubbish! That couldn’t have happened – unless you were very unlucky.”

“So you knew what you were doing? You’ve had experience of anaesthetics before?”

“Yes, yes. We’re very sharp today, aren’t we? Actually I didn’t chloroform you – er, someone else did. Now I’ve already told you too much, shut up otherwise you’ll smell chloroform again!” threatened Rowles, looking rather drawn.

The bank robber suddenly got up and left the bathroom where Ted was chained to the radiator, but returned half an hour later looking a bit better. He was now wearing workman’s overalls and carried a bin bag. As he was talking, he picked up what was left over from Ted’s meal and put it inside the bag.

“Singleton, you must be wondering why I should bother to kidnap you. Er… let’s say I wanted you to find out what it was like to be confined in a small space. Actually, prison is much much worse. In the space you are in now there are usually two or three people!”

“I see, revenge!” commented Ted.

“That too!” Rowles guffawed horribly, “I certainly ruined your wedding, didn’t I? I told you I would get my own back some time ago!”

Ted tried to keep himself in check, “Then why are you bothering to feed me?”

Rowles laughed again, “Well, I’m certainly not paying for your food, don’t worry!” Rowles looked at his watch, “Now I’m afraid I’ll have to leave you for a while – don’t get lonely, will you?”

Ted, now alone, talked to himself, “Mm…, he’s changed his clothes, he’s dressed in overalls of the type maybe a plumber would wear. I wonder why. And where has he gone now? Isn’t he frightened of being recognised and arrested?”

The bathroom Ted was in had a very high ceiling. There was a bent grating which seemed to be blocked from outside and now Ted heard a scratching noise coming from it: something or someone was there. Bits of earth fell into the room and suddenly a cat jumped down. She came up to Ted and rubbed herself against his trouser leg. “Miow, miow,” she said.

“Looking for something to eat?” Ted said affectionately, “Unfortunately I haven’t got anything for you. There’s nothing left from my sandwiches.” Ted reasoned, “So you came through that hole in the grating. Maybe if I shouted long enough someone would hear me. Or Rowles could hear me and finish me off sooner rather than later! Anyway, now I’d better kick the earth under my chair, so that he doesn’t realise it comes from the grating up there.”

Then Ted, looking at the cat, had an idea.

 

 

PART 4

 

Back at home Daisy went for a walk along the high street to get some fresh air. As she passed a florist’s she remembered that there was a sick old lady in hospital and decided she would buy her a few flowers. Daisy thought that if there were still some policemen guarding Rosemary she could leave the flowers with them anyway.

On the way she passed the Registry Office where she should have got married and averted her eyes as she couldn’t even bear to see the place. 

She then wended her way along St. Martin’s Street to the hospital. As she walked up the grey steps to the entrance a cat ran past her out of the door, a beautiful black cat with marvellous green eyes.

Once inside the old hospital she noticed some ancient framed photographs which were hanging up in the entrance hall. Nurses of long ago were dressed in their starched collars and important-looking doctors in three-piece suits.

Daisy checked to see when visiting hours began, which turned out to be in half an hour’s time, so she decided to have a cup of coffee and a snack in the canteen, which was almost empty of customers.

She had had very little lunch and thought it was about time she tried to pull herself together. She put extra sugar in her coffee to give herself some energy and began reading the police report on Rowles which Sandy had given her.

He had been taken to Dr. Barnardo’s after his father died in an accident, his mother was an alcoholic and had already left the family… died at the age of twenty-nine. Worked as a builder, arrested for petty theft… convicted… arrested and convicted again. Worked in a street market, arrested for possession of stolen goods.

“This is really harrowing,” Daisy thought to herself as she continued reading the report.

Put on probation and worked as a Health Care Assistant. Implicated in stolen property, returned to prison…

Daisy ate some of her toasted sultana bun and sipped her coffee.

She knew that Andrew was back at Scotland Yard following other lines of investigation and Sandy was also wearing himself out too. Everything that had happened kept running through her mind. The wedding that wasn’t. And would she ever see Ted again?

Daisy, still sitting in the hospital canteen, fiddled with her mobile to find Pam’s number as she wanted to reassure her she was all right, but Pam’s line was engaged  

“I may as well copy the phone numbers in my old mobile into my new perfume bottle one,” Daisy thought. “Oh, damn it! I keep pressing the wrong keys.” Suddenly Daisy heard Rowles’ scary voice coming from the tiny speaker of her old mobile and nearly jumped out of her skin, “Are you getting married today?” And then, even more menacing, “I don’t think so, my love! Goodbye!”

The same words he had used when he had telephoned her! Daisy froze, then realised she must have recorded the fateful call made by Rowles in the registry office by accidentally pressing the record button of her mobile.

Still feeling very shaky, she drank the rest of her coffee to pep herself up, then she pressed the play button again and listened to the recording very attentively. There were three sentences spoken by Rowles but Daisy noticed that the background noise suddenly stopped at the end of each new sentence leaving a gap of complete silence. This, in Daisy’s experience, could only mean one thing.

She got on to Sandy immediately, “You can tell your officers that it’s useless their hunting for Rowles in Spain, he’s not there!”

“But Daisy, we had the call traced and it definitely came from Bilbao,” Sandy insisted at the other end of the line.

“That was Rowles’ trick! The call probably did come from Spain but it was only a recording of Rowles’ voice, not him actually speaking to me, as there are two gaps of silence between the three sentences, which wouldn’t be there, had he been talking to me viva voce.”

Sandy exclaimed, “If that’s correct, it means he wanted to lead us off the track and make us think he’d gone off to Spain!”

“Yes,” confirmed Daisy, “and for this reason I think he’s still very much here in England!”

“Great Daisy, I’ll get back to you later. I must inform the others immediately!” concluded Sandy excitedly.


Daisy, still in the hospital canteen, felt a little stronger and decided to buy a corned beef and tomato sandwich. Clearly it was a clever idea on the part of Rowles to make the police believe he had escaped to Spain, so they would not bother to look for him in the UK. Logically, Rowles could be just anywhere, but, just as logically, he could still be in England, and if so, what might be the reason for his remaining here?

Now Daisy was almost back on track. As she was paying the cashier, her eyes fell on his watch. It looked just like the one she had bought Ted. “There must be lots around now – it was advertised on television!” she remembered.

Then it came to her. The cashier’s watch, like Ted’s, didn’t have the original metal strap but a leather one! Almost overwhelmed by this discovery, Daisy nearly dropped her purse. “It must be Ted’s! And if it is, he might still be alive! I must keep calm,” she said to herself, her heart thumping.

“Excuse me, I was admiring your watch.” Daisy said trying to appear casual. Handing him the money for her sandwich, she then asked, “Where did you buy it?”

The cashier, who was a young man of about eighteen, reddened as  he took the money and became very embarrassed. “Er… my father bought it…”

Seeing the young man’s unease, Daisy took a chance and put on a stern expression, “I don’t think so! If you don’t want to get into very serious trouble, tell me where you got it, otherwise I’ll call Security!”

“I didn’t steal it, I promise you. I found it! I’m not a thief,” he stuttered.

“You found it?”

“Y-yes, I swear. It was around a cat’s collar!”

“A cat’s collar? What do you mean?” Daisy asked.

“Er… she’s a beautiful green-eyed cat – I believe her name is Mitzi. She’s always roaming around the hospital. I’m fond of animals and I stroke her sometimes and give her something to eat. I started work at midday today and there she was waiting for me to give her some milk. As I stroked her, I noticed there was something fixed around her collar. It was this watch! I swear – I know it sounds phoney but it’s the God’s honest truth!”

Then in a flash Daisy remembered something in the police report – Rowles had worked as a Health Care Assistant – and here she was, in a hospital where a cat had been carrying around Ted’s watch attached to her collar! Therefore Ted might probably be somewhere there in the hospital!

“A breakthrough at last!” Daisy thought to herself. Now the lad was almost in tears.

“All right, all right, don’t worry!” Daisy was still quivering with excitement, “I haven’t got time to explain now, but actually you’ve done me a big favour.”

“So you’re not going to call the police or anything…?” said the young man looking relieved.

“No, no, I promise. Is there anything else you can tell me about when you found the watch?”

“No, not really – except there was a small piece of paper folded up under the buckle of the cat’s collar. When I saw what was written on it, I just threw it away.”

Daisy’s heart beat furiously, “What was written on it?”

The lad shrugged, “Just some… stupid words.”

Daisy nearly burst with impatience. “And what were these ‘stupid’ words?”

“I don’t remember – as I said, I just threw it away – here in the waste bin!” He bent down to pick up a piece of paper which had been screwed up into a ball and read the words out aloud.

The old toilets – it must be a joke or something.”

Daisy snatched the piece of paper from him and perused it carefully. Yes, it seemed to be in Ted’s handwriting. He probably hadn’t had time to write any more. “Look, I’m a private detective – here’s my card – please tell me where the old toilets are!” urged Daisy.

“As far as I know there are no old toilets. Everything has been renovated.”

Daisy suddenly felt desperate.

The young man thought for a moment, “Unless you mean – you know – the… old toilets, that is the old toilets in the air raid shelter. My grandfather used to work here in the hospital during the Second World War and told me that during the bombing they put the patients into what had used to be the nurses’ sleeping quarters, which was below ground level.”

“So where is this air raid shelter?” asked Daisy rather nervously.

“It’s right next to the boiler room. If you turn right, out of the main door, and continue walking for about three minutes until you pass the Newton Ward, there are a lot of bramble bushes and thick hedges. Behind all that lot, there are some steps which lead down to the old entrance of the air raid shelter.”  

“Thanks a lot!” said Daisy putting her purse away in her shoulder-bag.

“You’re not going to try and get in, are you? It’s all been sealed up for years!” the young man exclaimed. “And Miss – what about the watch?”

“Er… keep it for the time being.” Daisy was now in a daze. She picked up her wrapped corned beef sandwich, put it in her bag and walked out of the canteen determined to find Ted leaving the flowers she had bought for Rosemary on the table where she had been sitting.

 

PART 5

 

Rowles seemed in a better mood than before. To Ted’s surprise he was dressed in a nurse’s uniform this time. “Is this a hospital?” asked the enchained policeman.

“Well done, Detective-Inspector Singleton, it is indeed,” answered the bank robber.

“Don’t tell me you’re here so you can feed your habit! When did you

get hooked onto drugs, Rowles? There is nothing in your record that mentions it!”

Rowles’ eyes flickered. “I’m not hooked onto anything, Singleton!”

“But you took something about an hour ago, and now your mood has changed completely!” Ted said accusingly.

Rowles didn’t snap at him as he expected. He looked hesitant as though he didn’t quite know what to say, then he changed the subject. “Singleton, why don’t we talk about how you are coping with all this?”

“Rowles, stop playing mind games with me. What are you up to? Surely you’re not hoping for a ransom… nobody I know has a lot of money.”

“No, it’s not that, don’t worry, I’ve got a bit put away already!” replied the bank robber sarcastically.

Ted realised that he must steadily make Rowles angry to get something out of him.

“You’re not going to stay here for the rest of your days – and with a prisoner to boot!”

Rowles raised his eyebrows, but didn’t answer.

Ted continued his strategy of provoking him, “You know they won’t just put you away – this time they’ll just lock the door and forget about you…”

“What do I care? That’s what’s happened to me all my life. First my mother – always sodden with drink, then the home, then the reformatory…” Rowles finally burst, “Yes,” he yelled. “Until the end of my days!”

Then he realised he had said too much and became silent.

Ted softened his tone understanding that Rowles had let something out at last which might be the clue to why he’d been kidnapped.

“You’re taking something for pain, aren’t you? You’re ill!”

Rowles sat down on the other chair in the bathroom. “They’ll never put me away again…” 

“It’s not that you…” Ted couldn’t finish the sentence.

Rowles nodded slowly, “I’ve only got about a month to live!”

There was a strange silence as though time had stopped, then Ted took a long breath. “So that’s why you escaped and hid here – a hospital. A place where there is all the medicine you will need.”

“Yes, Singleton, so I can spend my last days in freedom, well, semi-freedom, and settle my debts!”    

 

 

PART 6

 

Daisy went in search of the old air raid shelter. She had decided not to phone Sandy yet because she knew hundreds of policemen would be surrounding the hospital in a twinkling, and that might mean Rowles would kill Ted in revenge.

She followed the young man’s instructions carefully and walked past the Newton Ward but by now it was beginning to rain and was quite dark. Fortunately Daisy had a small torch which she always kept in her bag. She pulled the strap of her bag over her head onto her right shoulder so she could be more free in her movements and shone a light around, but could see only brambles and close knit hedges.

Daisy looked around for a stick to help her get through the brambles. She managed to find one and pushed some of the brambles to one side but got badly scratched on the thorns just the same.

“I must be bleeding all over my clothes,” she thought.

When at last she got through to the other side, Daisy found herself in front of the roof of the air raid shelter all thickly covered with ivy.

“Right, now I have to find a way of getting inside!” she said to herself. “I wonder if there’s a window anywhere – after all it wasn’t a proper air raid shelter – it was originally a nurses’ home!”

Daisy prodded through the wet foliage for quite some time when suddenly her stick seemed to go through something. She cleaned the area of wet leaves and discovered there was a grating through which she could see a light. Daisy got down on her knees, shone her torch through and saw Ted looking up towards her!


Daisy’s eyes misted over and she wanted to shout out to him but remembered that it wasn’t a very wise thing to do as he might not be alone. Instead, she turned the torch on herself so Ted could see who it was peering down.

When Ted recognised that it was Daisy, he shook his head vigorously as though to warn her. Daisy shone her torch on and off to signal that she had understood and replaced the foliage, so that light couldn’t be seen from the outside.

Daisy was thinking of what to do next when suddenly someone appeared from behind the brambles and shone a blinding light onto her face. “So it’s you again! how fortunate!”

Daisy recognised the voice instantly. It was Rowles with a revolver in his hand!

Daisy wanted to shout for help but Rowles made an ugly gesture with his gun and told her to walk to the left as far as the end of the old nurses’ home. Here, almost in the dark, Daisy could scarcely make out that there were some steps leading downwards. The bank robber indicated with his revolver for Daisy to go down the steps, at the end of which was a massive iron door.

“Now open the door – it’s not locked,” Rowles ordered. He seemed to know the place well, even in the semi-dark.

“Don’t you want to see your fiancé?” asked Rowles ironically, shining his torch inside the shelter. “Go along ahead in front of me. Your bridegroom is waiting for you!”

After walking through the doorway, Daisy could see there was an unlit corridor full of spiders’ webs. Rowles closed the door, then locked it from the inside.

Walking along the corridor, they finally arrived at a room which revealed itself to be the toilets where Ted was seated chained to the radiator.

“Oh no, Daisy, you’ve been caught too!” he exclaimed in horror.

“Ted, are you OK?” asked Daisy anxiously, with tears in her eyes.

“I’m all right, Daisy – are you injured?” said Ted frightened at seeing Daisy’s scratched and slightly bleeding hands. “If you’ve hurt her, Rowles….!”

“Yes I know, I know, you’ll kill me. But this time, Inspector, I’m not guilty! She must have scratched herself on the brambles!” replied Rowles. Daisy nodded that it was true.

Now he pushed her onto a chair near the radiator. “Sit down here,” he said and grabbed her right wrist roughly and chained it to the cold radiator.

“Now, I’ll have to steal more food, as there are three of us,” said Rowles enjoying the theatricality of the situation. First he felt in Daisy’s jacket pockets, “You’re not armed, I imagine – but you have got a mobile,” he said ironically. He then moved the small table in front of them further away and spilled the contents of Daisy’s shoulder bag onto it. He then picked up Daisy’s mobile and pocketed it. Rowles looked at the bottle of nail varnish and shook his head. “Never did like painted nails!” He turned to his prisoners and laughed, “Now you are practically chained to each other, you can say your vows at last!” Rowles chortled at his own joke, “And you can have all the privacy you need – see you both later!”

And with this the bank robber made off.

 

“Ted, sorry I got caught so stupidly…”

“Daisy, it’s me who should say sorry, because of me you’ve got into this horrible mess. Look, your poor hands are all covered in blood! But now there’s no time to waste, my love…  the man’s terminally ill and if he doesn’t kill us first, he may die and we’ll be left here to perish just the same!”

“Rowles is terminally ill?” echoed Daisy not being able to work out if this latest information would make things better or worse for them.

“Yes, he is and we are stuck here chained to the radiator!” said Ted dejectedly.

“Wait Ted, try to pull that table nearer us with your foot,” said Daisy, “but be very careful you don’t knock the table over!”

Ted couldn’t understand why Daisy had said this, but realised that there must be a good reason for it. He tried first with his right foot, but found he couldn’t reach the table. “No, I don’t seem to be able to, Daisy.”

He then crouched down into his chair, extended his left leg as much as he could and carefully managed to budge the table by an inch or two with his foot. He repeated this several times until he could wind his left foot right around the table leg. As the table got nearer to them, Ted tugged a bit too violently and it nearly overturned, but Daisy managed to steady it stretching her left leg out and then pulled it gradually towards herself with her foot. At last she was able to reach out with her left hand and pick up an object which was on the table.

Ted was baffled at seeing what Daisy had lifted up, “It’s a bottle of perfume, Daisy!” he exclaimed incredulously.

“Ted, look, it’s a bit awkward with one hand but you have to flip it open... like this.”

“Oh! Good heavens, it’s a mobile phone!” cheered Ted taking the phone with his left hand. “Well done, Daisy! Now I can ring Scotland Yard - but tell me where we are exactly first!”

Daisy furnished the information while he was dialling the number. Suddenly they heard a noise in the corridor leading to the toilets. “Ted, put the mobile away into your pocket, quickly, Rowles is coming!” hissed Daisy hastily, hoping the bank robber wouldn’t sense anything amiss.

 

“Ah – the love birds!” exclaimed Rowles half-laughingly. “Mm, you’ve moved the table!” Daisy immediately pretended to have an attack of sneezing and picked up a tissue from the table to distract him.

“Here’s your supper, love birds. Two hot hospital dinner packs. Enjoy it! With the courtesy of St. Martin’s.”

Rowles opened their warmed pre-packed food containers, stuck two plastic forks in them and put them onto their laps.

“Did you ever imagine spending your honeymoon in hospital – all expenses paid?” Rowles thought this was a huge joke and laughed heartily.

Ted and Daisy started to eat their food. “How come we’ve got electric light and running water if this place hasn’t been used for years?” Ted asked.

Rowles boasted, “That was the easy part, I used to work in a building firm and I learned a lot from an electrician, so I found the old wires and connected them to the ones in the boiler room! The water was rather simple too. It had been turned off years ago and the whole thing was rusted up a bit, but practically all I needed was a wrench!”

There was a brief pause in the conversation whilst Rowles opened two cans of fizzy drinks for his prisoners.

While Daisy and Ted were drinking thirstily, Rowles announced, “I suppose you are wondering how I managed to escape from prison. Well, let me satisfy your curiosity.”

Rowles sat back relaxed enjoying every minute of it, “While I was behind bars, I wrote a letter to my imaginary mother telling her where I was and that I was thinking of her constantly. A letter full of the love of a son for his dear mother!” Rowles chortled with amusement.

“I didn’t post it, of course, I got a friend who was leaving prison to give it to my friends outside. This was the letter the police found in that old lady’s pocket, who I suppose you know by now was a homeless. The two Samaritans who took her to hospital were of course my friends who had been looking for an ill woman of the right age who couldn’t express herself properly. After they found the old lady, they dumped her at the Accident and Emergency Department of St. Martin’s and disappeared, but, anyway, this certainly saved her life!”

Daisy and Ted looked at each other signalling their surprise at this complicated but ingenious trick. They also noticed that Rowles seemed sincerely proud he had been instrumental in saving the old lady’s life.

The bank robber continued his marathon speech, “It didn’t take long before the nurses found my letter in her pocket and informed the police, who let me out on compassionate grounds. Naturally, my friends returned to the hospital later, found the room in which the homeless lady was recovering from her operation and left a gun and a bag strapped under her bed. In the bag there were all the things I would need, a torch, some overalls, some rope and some tools. When the warders took me to the old lady’s room, she was only half conscious. I immediately pretended to embrace her but in reality I felt for the gun under her bed, freed it and then pointed it at the two warders and managed to shut them in the adjoining bathroom. I then tied one end of the rope to the old lady’s bed and threw the rest of it out of the window so that they would assume I had escaped this way. In reality, I changed from my prison clothes into the overalls, which were of the type used by the hospital maintenance staff, and then I was able to wander around the hospital unhampered. So I reached the boiler room, got a hammer out of the bag to dislodge the old rusted bolt and walked through the communicating door which led into the old nurses’ home. At last I was free!”

Now Rowles looked at his prisoners as though he wanted to be applauded. Ted concurred, “What an ingenious plan. You’ve even got your medicine here in the hospital!”

“Yes,” Rowles smiled ironically. “I used to work here twenty years’ ago or so. I was going to qualify as a nurse but… well, fate took me in another direction!” For a fraction of a second, his face clouded over with sadness, then immediately he reacted and continued his bravado speech, “So I know the place like the back of my hand. I can steal food, medicine and anything I need – and not pay a penny for it!”

“You’re saying you never left the hospital,” Ted observed, “therefore you couldn’t possibly have kidnapped me. So who did?”

Rowles roared with laughter, “The two Samaritans, of course! They dutifully kidnapped and chloroformed you the night before your wedding, put you, still unconscious, into a body bag and brought you here, where I was to kill you in my own time!”

Daisy was aghast, “What do you mean – you’re planning to kill Ted? You monster…”

Rowles shook his head, “Don’t jump to conclusions, Miss Hamilton. I’m not through yet. As I was saying, the deal was: they spring me from where I was banged up and in return I kill Singleton, so that they could set up a watertight alibi for themselves. I even persuaded the Samaritans that it would be easy for me to dispose of your body in the mortuary, Singleton. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m tired and I’m going to lie down next door. You’ll have to wait a while for the next instalment. Bye bye!” Rowles looked very strained now, as he laboured to get to the door.

Ted swiftly pulled out Daisy’s new mobile phone from his pocket and immediately started dialling his friend’s number. “Andrew? It’s Singleton! Daisy and I have been imprisoned by Rowles in St. Martin’s Hospice,” Ted spoke frantically. “It’s a ten minutes’ drive from the registry office, in a sort of cellar, or air raid shelter, where the nurses’ home was once, next to the boiler room. Andrew, now I must put the phone down, Rowles could come back any time. Remember, he’s extremely dangerous! Andrew, can you hear me? Andrew…”

Ted looked at Daisy in dismay, “The line’s gone dead – the battery’s probably run out. I am afraid Andrew didn’t hear a word I said!”

“Oh no, Ted, we’re back to square one!” said Daisy unhappily.

The Detective-Inspector put the mobile back into his pocket disappointedly. Daisy thought for a moment, then whispered to Ted, “There’s a small nail file in the inner lining of my bag. It’s our last hope!”

“Well, I could try and file through a link in the chain but it’ll take ages.” Ted didn’t sound very convinced but Daisy searched for her nail file in the inside pocket of her bag and gave it to him. Ted started working on his chain vigorously, but with Rowles next door he was afraid the bank robber might hear what they were doing. Ted kept filing away, but it was a slow job. “This is going to take forever, Daisy.” Then hearing footsteps, he lowered his voice, “That’s Rowles coming back again! Hide the file in my bag!” whispered Daisy.

Rowles arrived in the toilets, “Hello my little ones! Hope the food was to your satisfaction!” he joked in his usual style. “Well, Miss Hamilton, your coming here is most fortuitous. I have a pressing problem and now I feel you will be able to help me solve it.”

Ted and Daisy looked at each other questioningly. Rowles sat down as though their conversation would take quite a time.

“First of all, I’d like to tell you that I was pretty angry when you two had me arrested on the ferryboat – but – I don’t really bear grudges!” he laughed.

“But you promised to get your own back on Ted when you were convicted – I call that a grudge!” retorted Daisy.

“No, it’s not like that at all, my dear. When I knew I was going to prison again I had to look tough in the eyes of my future cellmates! You have no idea what it’s like being in prison. You have to defend yourself day and night! Starting in the courtroom…”

And you ruined our wedding – that’s revenge on both of us!” added Daisy.

Rowles nodded, “I always did have a strange sense of humour. But as you see, I haven’t treated either of you too badly.”

“What are you trying to say, Rowles? That you just wanted to spend a few days with me, and that using chloroform on me was justified?” Ted asked sarcastically.

Rowles was serious again, “Let me explain. Miss Hamilton, you will have found out that I haven’t much time to live,” he said quietly, almost reverently. “When the doctor told me, I decided to try and escape. I put the word out and two… friends let me know that they would help me – at a price.”

Rowles continued, “There was already a plot out to kill Chief-Inspector Ted Singleton…”

“And you expect me to believe that?” broke in Ted.

Ignoring this interruption, Rowles explained, “As I told you, I was commissioned to do it in exchange for my freedom.” Seeing the fierce expression on Daisy’s face Rowles growled, “Wait a minute, Miss Hamilton. Personally I don’t believe in killing anybody, and I certainly don’t want a murder on my conscience. So, as I knew I was going to die anyway, I promised to do the deed. They were happy with that and told me to go ahead with the escape plan. I had to be very clever not to let them know that I only intended to kidnap you, Singleton, not kill you, and then, when the time came, to let you… free. And the funny thing was, that your getting married was merely a coincidence!”

Daisy and Ted were stunned at hearing this. “Is this really true, Rowles?” asked Daisy a little skeptically.

“Yes, it is – believe me, and do believe me when I tell you that someone will try to kill Singleton once I’m dead!”

The prisoners looked at each other trying to make sense of this apparent change of character on the part of Rowles.  

“The fact is,” Rowles took a deep breath, as though he was getting tired again, “I’m a bit of a softie, I always remember favours done to me. Your fiancé once saved me from being stitched up by a colleague of his who wanted me to go down for murder! Remember, Singleton?”

Ted nodded slowly. “I imagine, though, that you are not going to tell us who’s planning my death.”   

“I can’t grass on them. It just isn’t done in my world,” Rowles answered curtly. Then the tension eased and the bank robber continued, “As I was saying before, I’m really lucky to have you here, Miss Hamilton. You can do me a big favour!” Rowles laughed cynically.

“As there are two of you, I want you to witness my will – my last will and testament! – and I want you, Singleton, to be my executor!” Even though Rowles was laughing, Ted and Daisy could tell that he was in earnest.

Rowles stopped laughing abruptly. “I have a daughter, Clare, who is now fifteen. She’s a beautiful girl and lives with her adoptive parents who are good to her. She knows nothing of me – and she must never know anything. I’ve stashed away quite a few quid, and I want it all to go to Clare for her education.”  

Daisy and Ted could hardly believe their ears. “But you could have found someone else to be your executor,” Ted pointed out, “your solicitor, for example.”

“I had to keep it secret that I was going to die, didn’t I?”

Rowles suddenly bent over in pain and went deathly white.

“Sorry chaps!” he gasped and took out a packet of pills from his inside pocket, swallowed one and took a swig at a small bottle of water which he kept in his pocket. A couple of minutes later the pill seemed to have worked and Rowles managed to sit comfortably back in his chair. Then he began to look very ill again and became doubled up in terrible pain.

“Sign my will, please! I feel really bad. This is the end for me!” groaned Rowles pulling out a piece of paper and a pen from his pocket.

Ted looked at Daisy, “Shall we?” he asked.

Daisy nodded and they both signed.

Rowles was now ready to free them. He put his hand back into his pocket, pulled out the key to the padlock on the long chain which imprisoned Ted and Daisy and between spasms of great pain managed to give it to them. He then collapsed, unconscious, onto the floor.

Ted had just managed to free himself and Daisy when the door burst open with a S.W.A.T.- like team all ready to shoot. Two of them jumped onto the unconscious Rowles pinning his arms to the ground.

“Chief-Inspector Singleton I believe. You telephoned your colleague, who relayed the information to us. Are you two all right?” asked one of the police officers, who seemed to be in charge.

“This man is ill….” Ted started to explain.

“Yes, yes!” the officer replied thinking that the Stockholm syndrome had hit the Chief-Inspector. He pulled Rowles’ arms behind his back and handcuffed him.

Ted insisted, “Officer, this man is seriously ill and must be taken up into the hospital immediately otherwise he will die. Let us go with him. We must explain to the doctors that Rowles has been taking morphine… before they give him anything.”

The officer looked at Ted not really believing him. However, he thought twice about it and said to the other officers, “OK boys – we haven’t got a stretcher here, so let’s carry him up to the A&E!”
The two fiancés were finally able to embrace each other, but Ted was obviously exhausted and Daisy had started crying.

As Ted and Daisy went up to the Accident and Emergency Department to be checked over, they could see the hospital was now surrounded by the police. The doctors who examined them pronounced them fatigued and said they had to stay there for the present.

Ted was given a drip and began to feel a bit stronger. He had asked to be put near to Rowles, who was still unconscious, so he could explain about his taking morphine for a terminal illness. The doctors examined the bank robber and then sent him to be X-rayed.

Later on Rowles was brought back and another more senior doctor, Mr. Akashi, was called.

“Excuse me, but might I have a word with you?” said Mr. Akashi turning round towards Ted. “I believe,” the doctor looked for Rowles’ name, “I believe William Rowles has been with you for the last few days. What did he tell you exactly about his health?”

“That he had a terminal illness and was dying – he had been examined in the prison hospital, I think…”

“Mm… yes, that’s what they told me. But there must have been a mistake. It’s not unheard of – it can happen. He is certainly ill, but not terminally. He has a perforated ulcer and, of course, if we don’t operate right away his life is at risk. Thank you.”

 

Ted and Daisy had permission to visit Rowles after his operation. The bank robber was tired, but in good spirits. “They told me that you insisted on my being taken to A&E immediately – so you saved my life, as I had a perforated ulcer.” Rowles smiled weakly.

Ted quipped, “We always seem to be saving each other’s lives!”

Rowles nodded his head solemnly. “You do realise that there’ll be a contract out on you when they discover I didn’t kill you – and probably out on me too, as I didn’t keep my part of the bargain?”

“I don’t think we have to worry about that,” replied Ted, “as the fake Samaritans aka Tiny Tim and Bro Joseph have been located and dealt with!”

“Now you can have all your legal matters sorted out properly – you know, about that young person you mentioned?” said Daisy referring to Rowles’ daughter. “You can appoint your solicitor to do everything.”

“You are right, anyway, thanks to both of you.” replied Rowles. He looked tired but better and grinned at Ted and Daisy. “I know I’ll get another sentence for what I did but… well, I’ll just have to escape again, won’t I?”

 

Ted and Daisy fixed another date for the wedding and all their friends turned up with the addition of Rosemary Armstrong and her friend Reg who, thanks to Daisy, now lived together in a small council flat. The homeless lad who had put the police onto Tiny Collins and Bro Joseph’s tracks was also there. He was attending a digital photography course and, thanks to Ted’s encouragement, was now hoping to enrol shortly in the police force.

Daisy had insisted on Ted staying with her the night before, so this time they arrived at the registry office together! Daisy noticed that Andrew and Sonia held hands at one point and smiled to herself. When they waved goodbye after the wedding breakfast, Daisy turned round and threw her bouquet in the direction of Sonia, who promptly caught it. 

“Where are you going on honeymoon?” shouted the various friends as no one had managed to find out yet.

“Send you a postcard,” replied Ted, as he and Daisy drove off on their way to a fabulous time in… India! 

THE END