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|Monkey Nuts (standard:mystery, 9117 words)|
|Author: Peter Ebsworth||Added: Nov 07 2003||Views/Reads: 1953/1539||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Sir Edmund is enjoying a quiet evening at his London club when he receives an unexpected visit from a stranger recently returned from Africa. The man claims to know the fate of Edmund's parents who were lost on an expedition sixty years before. A fate tha|
It was a bitterly cold night. So when Sir Edmund arrived at his London club he selected one of the red-leather wing chairs close to the fire. The Royal Society Club had recently installed a central heating system that had been intended to remove the need for open fires. Young blood on the committee had argued that it was 1932 and not 1532, things had moved on since Henry VIII so there was no reason for the place to continue to feel like one of his drafty palaces. Older members had been sceptical, not believing that circulating hot water around the building would make much difference and that it was a misguided invention that would never catch on. Tonight’s cold weather seemed to be proving them right. Caste-iron radiators generated an ineffectual, tepid heat that left the enormous oak-panelled lounge uncomfortably chill in spite of the gargantuan efforts of the coal furnace in the basement. However, the inefficient heating system was of little concern to Sir Edmund who was being warmed by the seasoned apple-wood logs burning in the wide Georgian hearth. Opposite to where he sat was a vacant chair identical to his own. Although it was a quiet night, Tuesdays always were, he was still surprised that none of the scatter of other members sharing the lounge had been lured to occupy it. Perhaps they were avoiding him. Margaret, his wife of forty years, had told him on many occasions that he was an old grouch. Perhaps she was right, for he never would have built his tea empire if he had been prepared to suffer fools gladly. On his lap lay a half read copy of the Times. One more sip of his brandy, then he placed the glass carefully on the knee-high occasional table beside him, intending to spend the next hour ingesting the remaining half. Now that he had retired, there was the time available to read practically the entire paper every day. Except, of course, the advertisements that covered the front and back pages. If he ever became bored enough to read those, it would truly be a sad day. Raising the paper, he turned to a fresh page, angling the journal to best catch the light from the standing lamp behind him. Although he still refused to become dependent on spectacles, his eyes were not what they used to be. Immediately, his attention was caught by an article headed ‘Ship’s passengers eaten by giant apes’. A keen amateur naturalist since boyhood, he was fascinated by the grainy photograph which showed two pure white gorillas, huddled together in a iron-barred cage standing on Greenwich dock. ‘Suspicions were aroused,’ the feature began, ‘when an unnamed Lady and her Gentleman companion failed to disembark from the ‘Chelsea Lady’ after completion of her ten day voyage from the West African protectorate of Gabon. On receiving the report that not only had they failed to appear on deck but that the Purser could elicit no response from their quarters, Captain Charles Laker instigated a search of the ship. Crewmembers found the two white apes roaming the corridors in the accommodation section. Both how the apes came to be onboard and the whereabouts of the missing passengers still remains a mystery. Although some discarded clothing was discovered nearby, police constables attending reported that there were no signs of foul play. Nevertheless, First Mate Jim Gibbons, told this reporter that in his opinion it was “bloody obvious that the monkeys ate ‘em, how else do you explain”...’ Just then he was distracted by the sound of a raised voice emanating from the reception lobby, where Charles, one of the Society’s longest serving stewards, was on duty. ‘...BUT I TELL YOU THAT IT’S A LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP...HOW CAN IT BLOODYWELL EXPIRE!’ Lowering his paper, he cocked his head to listen. On the edge of his hearing were Charles’ cotton wool tones in response, the actual words indistinguishable. ‘OFF COURSE I CAN PROVE WHO I AM...THERE...DOES THAT SATISFY YOU.’ Following this outburst, there were more conciliatory sounding murmurs from the steward then an extended silence, long enough for Edmund to wonder whether the troublemaker may have given up and left. A few more moments, then satisfied that even if he hadn’t left he must have gone through to the bar, he returned to the article. Before he had time to continue reading, the rattle of the heavy metal handle to the lounge door made him look across the room to see who he assumed to be the culprit, enter in an energetic, slightly bewildered manner. The disruptive fellow was dressed in a style that immediately singled him out from any normal member. Completely out of context for both the Club Click here to read the rest of this story (913 more lines)
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