A Cry For Help
It happened last night. I was on the way to the train station to pick up Florence. Her train was due in at eleven o'clock and she'd been travelling for twelve hours, three of those hours spent waiting at Liverpool Street since she could only afford the cheapest ticket. That's daughters for you.
I was waiting at the traffic lights to turn right into the station when this car drew up alongside. I happened to glance to my left just as the traffic lights in the middle lane changed to green. As the car sped off, I saw a woman in the back seat mouth “Help!” at me.
For a moment I was too stunned to move—and I was stuck in the right hand lane. I had no option but to drive into the station, but as soon as I realised Florence hadn't arrived yet, I shot out of the other side of the station in hot pursuit of that car.
It wasn't long before I caught sight of the Daimler two or three cars ahead of me. Difficult to miss a Daimler, even for me who knows nothing about cars. Besides, there wasn't much traffic at that time of night. I tailed the Daimler through the back streets of Norwich, weaving in and out of parked cars, sliding down side roads, nipping through narrow alleys, even trundling down a cobbled road at one point. I thought we were going on for ever, but at last the Daimler parked outside a three-storey, Victorian villa in a road of three-storey Victorian villas.
I wasn't so stupid as to approach. Hah! You thought I was going to charge in and confront them, didn't you? Not a bit of it, I'm not daft. I held back, but watched as the man—six foot four and big with it—hustled the woman—petite and blond under the sodium lighting—up the steps and in through the front door. He had his arm around her shoulders, clutching her so tight she had no possibility of escape.
I made careful note of the name of the road and the number of the house, then rang the police. Some dolt of a police constable seemed to have difficulty understanding me.
“Is that two Ts or one?”
Whoever heard of Scott—the surname—spelt with one T? Then the spelling of my address was interminable. It's not easy spelling Crescent in phonetic police-speak when you only know Tango, Echo, Romeo, and Juliet.
At last I was able to make my way back to the train station. At least, I attempted to make my way back to the station, but having never darkened this area of Norwich before, got hopelessly lost. Needless to say, I had no map with me, nor any GPS system. It took me ages, twisting and turning, looping and circling, until I managed to get back.
Florence was less than impressed. She looked like thunder. She turned her face away as I reached to kiss her, and she slung her multiple bags onto the back seat without a word. When I explained what had happened, she shrugged and rolled her eyes as though I was a complete idiot.
Huh! I thought. I just might have saved somebody's life, so what's a few minutes wait compared with that? OK, three quarters of an hour, then.
The police turned up next morning. They showed me a photo of a petite blond lady and asked if I knew her.
I studied it carefully and handed it back. “No. I've never seen her before last night.”
“That's odd, Madam, because she knows you.”
“Apparently you met at a dinner dance three weeks ago.”
Oh Lordy! That was when it all came flooding back. A slightly drunken event, the round table where we all had such a riotous time, that lovely couple who were so full of fun.
But I wasn't giving up yet. “Why did she ask for help, then?”
He smiled. It was a pitying, mocking smile. “You don't lip read well, do you? What she actually said was not Help but Hello.”
Florence was less than impressed. She shrugged and rolled her eyes.