After the cadet jumped up and down a few times, frantically trying to get his blood pumping through his veins and then rubbing his hands together as though his life depended upon it, the investigating novice fetched some small sticks, which with the aid of his lighter, along with the current edition of The Police Times which Thomas the man, not Thomas the dog, generously threw at him, he made a fire and squatted before it, fantasising about the polished car door opening with a seductive Kat lying across the back seat, beckoning him to enter. An audible sigh uncontrollably escaped his lips.
At that precise moment, he caught sight of his loftier companion gaping, spellbound at the twinkling flames with upright wisps of smoke passing close to his sight. Being below the eye level of Thomas, the man, not the dog that is, the cadet needed to focus on his report in order that Dampen Hollow could be confined to the morning memory leaving Kat Astrophe filling the imaginative cadet’s afternoon; if not her then a hot bath and several bottles of vodka would not go amiss.
“Well, now, sir, back to business and I’m very thankful you have not sent me to a gulag. Doesn’t sound very nice does a gulag, does it? Yes, I quite understand you don’t wish to answer. Ahem,” that familiar involuntary, nervous reaction preceded his protracted account of his earlier experiences.
“It took quite some time to find the body as it was well camouflaged, being clad in an overall and hat matching the same colour as the fencing panels. It was so good that I and the Captain walked past him three times. It was only after I fetched Thomas could I find him. Thomas, the dog that is and not you, sir, enthusiastically wagged his tail when he saw the body, but alas he thought the thing in our body’s hand was a bone. No, sir, it was not possible to search the man for identification. Both I and the Captain thought something would break off if we did. And something did. Thomas jumped up before I had a chance to stop him. He broke whatever it was in the man’s hand and swallowed it; whole. I can’t say that in my report. Especially as your name is Thomas, sir. My station officer might think it was you who bit off whatever it was and swallowed it. I think it best that in the report I should change Thomas the dog’s name into another name to save any confusion with your name; Thomas.”
The shivering low-life cadet prayed for a hole to appear down which he could escape, as a wide-eyed, visibly steaming, high-status officer screamed from the car. His spittle froze before it hit his face, but his acid words cut holes in his ambition.
“No, sir, I’m not being in any shape, form, or otherwise disrespectful by referring to you by your Christian name. I was merely speaking of Thomas the dog.” Another scathing attack followed his explanation raising the temperature outside the car to almost match the heat inside.
“Oh, dear! I seemed to have stepped in it again, don’t I? How on earth would I know that you’re Jewish, sir? And who on earth would have told me that a Jewish first name is not called a Christian name at all? I’m not Einstein, sir. Sorry again. No offence intended at all, sir.”
As all his hopes of an early and rapid promotion vanished in the vapour that dispersed within inches of the opened window and the thought of the embarrassment he faced on his return to training school was too much to endure, he abandoned the slow deliberate approach he had adopted for one of outright attack. He stood to his fullest height and looked down at his out-ranking opponent.
“Sir, I’m in danger of going the same way as our peeping Tom went. Yes, he died from the cold that’s eaten through my bones whilst he too was standing still as I’ve been required to do by your intransigence. To wrap this case up quickly I am prepared to say that he was peeping through a hole in Miss Kat’s fence hoping to see her undress. I remember her saying words to that effect when I saw her.”
No car door opened to dispel his severe discomfort. Nor was there a hint of termination to his suffering. With no alternative to turn to, he ploughed on.
“Unless we cut Thomas open we will never know what it is that Thomas took from the man. I shall simply refer to it as his whatchamacallit. Yes, sir. I was being serious. Unless we have a complete corpse the autopsy cannot be performed successfully and a coroner’s verdict cannot be guaranteed. Yes, sir, I agree,” he stuttered between the rattling of his teeth.
“Your name should be omitted from the report. That of course, is if I still have fingers to write one.”
Nothing would change this pitiless, unshakable individual. It was as though he was a throwback to the KGB of which the cadet had read so much rubbish about. Resigned to his fate, our selfless cadet carried on courageously.
“There we have it, sir. I’ll write it up as the man who snuffed it without a whatchamacallit whilst being degenerate in the thicket and file it under death due to extraneous circumstances. What’s that, sir? No such thing as extraneous circumstances? Well, there should be in my opinion.”
His haughty onlooker smiled menacingly, then without a minimum of kindness raised the car window, turning up the heat as soon as it was closed. His companion slithered closer to Thomas the man, whilst Thomas the dog snuggled up close across the seat, sleekly moving tightly into Kat Astrophe’s discarded black housecoat.
As the uniformed chauffeur drove the two human occupants and one dog away, its exhaust emissions propelled the nigh frozen junior cadet into the waning embers of his apology for a fire. Racked by fatigue and cold, he lay there dreaming of Kat and the catastrophe of a missing whatchamacallit, hoping Thomas the dog would experience agony in its passing. As the car accelerated across the frozen ground Italian Kat’s rhapsodic voice asked,
“What is a whatchamacallit, Thomas, my love?” Thomas, the dog passed wind and gave a small yelp as Thomas the man took hold of her soft enticing hand and, whilst pinching his nostrils closed, started to explain.
“Allow me first to put before you an offer you can’t refuse, my dear,” he said, in a coarse, gravelly voice attempting to imitate Charles Bronson—-(Was it he who played the clarinet in Once Upon A Time In Peterborough?)
However, the international saga of the deaths by extraneous circumstances did not end on fire in Moscow. Several moons were to pass before all was made known.