Bobby Lucas (The Kidnap of Lilly Beauchamp) - A twenty one chapter novel
He walked into The Ship, a dark
gloomy pub with its small windows and dull decoration and dark low ceiling
beams and had to stand at the short bar next to a smelly old man in a black
grubby jacket to wait to get served. It was so depressingly gloomy in there the
curtains might as well have been drawn. The old man looked at him and smiled
with brown teeth, then said, “old Sid’s down the hole changing a barrel.” Then
he turned back to chew his cheek while studying his empty glass sitting on a
brightly coloured beer mat tapping out a rhythm with chewed down fingernails.
Robert Lucas thought some old men had a look that kind of made them seem sad
and this old man seemed sad. Sad and pale. His hands shook a bit and the
greying stubble on his chin was patchy like he only had a blunt blade that
skipped a bit here and there. That stubble giving him a kind of whitish mouldy
look. His eyes had that sort of watery look some older sad people have, looking
as though he might be tired, a worn out look and they had a faint redness.
Black bags under. That made Bobby shiver. Was he seeing his destiny? He had a
dread of a cash strapped old age and a slow decline into that same sad look and
saw himself sitting with thin white legs poking from a dead man’s charity shop
coat huddled around an open fire as he slowly burned his own furniture
struggling to keep warm. He had been forced to suspend his pension payments and
that was a worry. Seeing the man's thin lank hair he ran his fingers through
his own hair kind of absentmindedly checking its thickness.
The door from out back opened
letting in some desperately needed light and a sharp breeze that cleared the
air around him. The light a reminder of a hot sunny day that needed dark
glasses and a smear of sun-slap to stop his nose burning and going all crusty
which then seemed futile when the door closed.
“There you go George,” old Sid said,
pulling the new flow through until clear then filling the empty glass with a
tall white foamy head. Old Sid had a proper landlord look. Bobby imagined him
standing behind the bar drinking the stock with his wide flabby red face
chortling at his own jokes and his hands on his hips looking like he was
holding up his overlarge stomach. Yup, he had a great landlord look alright.
“Is it a pint you want?” he asked
Bobby, looking him in the face and showing a pair of smile worn eyes.
“Yes please,” Bobby, flicking his
hair that had shifted to hang over his face. His dark hair shortish down the
sides and quite long on top so it could be brushed up and around to make a kind
of floppy quiff. “A pint of the best would be great. Do you have any food and
what about a garden?”
“Food stopped at two,” he said with
one of those slight apologetic shrugs. “Gloria could rustle you up a sandwich
though but that’s all we can do at the moment. What would you like? I think the
choice will be cheese or ham or cheese and ham and the bread’s going to be
white but fresh. She don’t take with that brown stuff. There’s no garden but
out front there’s a couple of benches if you want.”
“Well ham and cheese it is then if
that’s ok, on white of course but none of that brown pickle if she might be
thinking of adding that,” although he suspected pickle was never an option.
“I’ll be out front.”
The two benches one each side of the
door up against the wall on the narrow heat soaked pavement with a slip road
and busy main road maybe twenty feet further away. Lots of loud traffic noise.
Both benches had that stolen from a park look with the green paint peeling on
the over-thick woodwork. A small table next to the chunky arm that might have
been knocked up from an old apple box. The heavy chains bolted to the wall
preventing them being stolen back, if they had been stolen in the first place
that is. With the sun flat out into his face his wrap-around darks made him
look like a downhill skier shading his steely blue eyes, not the piercing type
of blue eyes though but having a soft feel that exuded the impression he was a
trustful sort. They could be described as kind eyes that matched his youthful kind
looking face that masked the fact he was just hitting the forties.
Bobby sat on the bench on the right
and it was hot and he had to kind of shuffle about a bit until it cooled
enough. The seven eleven next door was busy and a continuous stream of cars trying
to park in the slip road gave him a bit of chaos to watch. His car a bit
awkwardly parked and getting in the way, kind of taking two slots but without
any markings. It was just too close to the corner to get another car parked
without jutting out. His car, a worn out black Ford that represented just about
all the wealth he had left. He had been living on the Rolex Oyster, a present
at twenty one, not one of those rare ones though and the couple of grand he had
got not going far when you are broke. The digital petrol station throw away he
picked up with the change of a fifty when he filled up kept good time but did
not have that great watch look that he missed.
The door banged and the sandwich
appeared in the hands of a slim young lady, about thirty something with a pile
of blond hair. Quite tall. Not what he had been expecting at all. “You really a
Gloria?” he said. He did like the way she had her hair all ruffled up and her
strong looking face with one of those bubbly smiles always seemingly happy people
In maybe a bit of a stroppy way with
an almost frown, she said. “Why not. Anything wrong with that?”
There was a kind of teasing smile on
his face as he said, “Nope, if all Glorias look like you that’s fine with me.
Makes me want to up my understanding of how a Gloria looks.”
“Really and just how d’you think a
Gloria should look then?” putting down the sandwich on the wonky table.
“My upgraded thoughts think they
should look like you of course. It’s definitely the way they should look
“Previously though before you saw
me, how should they have looked then?” She now had a kind of scowl, cute he
thought, one of those enquiring sort of scowls.
“Glorias were women with fine
clothes and a long string of natural pearls with that sort of twenties flapper
girl look, shortish, stylish hair and a cloche hat. But that’s all gone now and
I’m right up to date.”
“But why the twenties look then?
What’s that all about?” with a little shrug of slender shoulders. The scowl
gone and replaced with a tight smile.
“Gloria Swanson. You know the movie
star. You’ve heard of Gloria Swanson?”
“Of course, who hasn’t. She’s one of
those silent screen stars, isn’t she?”
“You’d be surprised how many haven’t
and the worst thing is they say they have when they haven’t. Say to them she
was a movie star they go all blank like their brain’s seized up. Those old
movies, they’re the best and she was the best. You seen any of her movies?”
Bobby was getting enthused with talking his favourite subject.
“What, all that black and white and
no talking stuff?” she said with a laughing huff, “No I haven’t, it would never
occur to me to watch any.”
“Yeah black and white and silent,
some colour though in the later ones. She was a great actress like in that one
Sadie Thomson about a prostitute and this guy, Davidson, played by Lionel
Barrymore, you heard of Lional Barrymore?
and she shook her head, “well he was probably one of the best old-film
actors and he kind of falls for her but then kills himself. Bit of a sad ending
really. You know she was Academy Award nominated for that. The first ceremony
as well. She got another nomination for Sunset Boulevard later though after she
got into talkies. You seen Sunset Boulevard? She stars in it but it’s a
“Don’t think so. Remind me, what’s
it about?” Her interest was not fake.
“Sunset Boulevard's a real great
film, one of her best, that’s why she got nominated. It opens with William
Holden floating face down in the pool with all the cops about the place. He’s
been shot by Norma Desmond, that’s Swanson, but you don’t know that till the
end, that she shoots him. Bang, bang, bang, shoots him three times in the back
and that’s what it’s about, why he ends up getting shot. Like the chimp who
died as well….”
“What chimp? How’s a chimp get into
it all? That sounds a bit weird.” and there is that cute frown again that sort
of creases her eyes, slightly shutting them and kind of sexy and makes him
Bobby holds his hand up in a kind of
I will get to that sort of way and says, “She plays this washed-up silent movie
star who’s losing it a bit. He’s a struggling script writer who for one reason
or another moves in with her. At the end he says he’s leaving her so she says
she’s going to kill herself and shows him a gun but just shoots Holden instead
as he walks away and that’s when he falls in her pool. You have to see it to
appreciate it. She’s got this pet chimpanzee that dies at the beginning and
that’s how she meets Joe Gillis, that’s Holden, because she thinks he’s the man
bringing a coffin for the chimp. Holden’s character parallels the monkey,
that’s why they both die. So it’s all a bit deep in parts and that makes it
interesting, picking it apart. So anyway you see now where Gloria came from?”
“Yeah I can see that but I’m not
sure if all this is a compliment or if I should be getting annoyed. Should I be
“That’s up to you, how you see it
all. You see she was a star and beautiful and that takes some beating and
coming from me that’s a definite compliment, that your looks beat Gloria
Swanson. How about I show you sometime? You can come to my place. I've got all
the films. We can watch the movies and eat popcorn. Then you’ll see. You like
popcorn at the movies?”
“Sure I do, who doesn't? Sounds like
it’s not my thing though but maybe I could be up for being convinced.” she said
with a I fancy you because you’re different kind of look. “Give me your name
and number and I’ll call you when I can sort out with Sid a night off. Oh, I
forgot to ask. You want pickle with that?” And she got a screwed up face. “I’ll
take that as a no then shall I,” she laughed as she walked off.
Maybe things were not all as bad he
thought as he watched her go through the door. He took a bite and the sandwich
was better than it had sounded, much better in fact, with the fresh crusty
bread and hand cut ham and that tangy cheddar cheese you get from the posh deli
counter. As it happens he liked a cheese and ham sandwich. You could say he was
a bit of a connoisseur. Then his phone rang and buzzed in his pocket and was
blinking Donny when he pulled it out.
This was Donald Caruthers the guy
with the name that brought out thoughts of big game shooting and Tarzan and
posh blokes heading off to war starching their upper lips and speaking all
Etonesque. He was dapper all right but his south London accent suggested a
different story. The kind of fella with an air of mystery.
“So what d’you do then?” Bobby had
asked when they first met.
Donny had pushed his hand through
his ruffled blonde hair and said, “an Estate Agent Bobby, that’s what I do. I
sell houses to the rich and famous.” And his face cracked a grin disguising a
lie. One of those cheeky ones that lit up his rough but handsome features.
Bobby chewed the last bite as he
heard, “hey Bobby how’s your luck then? Still brassic are we and jobless. You
out tonight? You know it's a Friday.”
“Sure, I’m in need of a few and a bit
of a laugh.”
“Where’s it at tonight then?
Where’re you now?”
“In The Ship, you know that great
looking little pub in the centre of Ripley. Thought I’d give it a try. At the
moment I’m sitting outside in the sun. Inside is real gloomy. I’m having a
sandwich and been talking to Gloria.”
“Sounds good. I’m on my way. There
in about half an hour.” and he hung up.
They had met about six months ago at
the crowded bar in a club with the bass-up beat booming chatting up the same girl who
had dithered so Bobby had said, “you can have her,” but Donny replied, “nah,
she’s yours.” so she just shrugged and muttered something negative about
ping-pong and walked away. Then Donny had said, “want a beer?” and Bobby had
said, “sure, why not.”
Bobby had gone straight round
Donny’s place when he left work on the Friday a few weeks after they had met
after he had stood in the office with the few others when the owner,
accompanied by a tall serious looking man in a mac, had said, “sorry guys I’m
bust and your jobs have gone. The office closes tonight. No good shouting at me
about money because there isn’t any.” Which was remarkable considering they
were financial advisors who knew everything about money, where to invest it and
how to protect it. It turned out the owner was great at investing for others,
rubbish at running a business and great at spending the other's cash. He’d
spent the bank account and the client’s money and was destined for a long spell
looking out a barred window.
Bobby had flown into Donny’s in a
rage. “It’s a bloody nightmare, a travesty in fact,” he shouted, “that
bastard’s down the crapper and taken us all with him. The best I can hope for
is some small redundancy from the official receiver. That won’t last long, will
it? I’ve only been there four years. And the timing could not be worse with
this economic downturn and all. Jobs are scarce. No one’s employing.”
Donny, unusually was a bit lost for
words. In fact struck almost dumb. The best he could manage was, “that’s a
Bobby said, “Thanks for that.
Nothing better to say?”
“Hey, don’t take it out on me. I’m
just your Friday night let’s go out and have good time fella and newly acquired
“I’m sorry mate. It’s just I don’t
do shocks too well especially if they’re about to pauperise me. You have any
“What you got in the way of savings?
How about selling the house? You can move in here until you get sorted. There’s
a few for starters.”
“I’ve got a bit saved and some
investments I’ve just started that I can cash in. The house is mortgaged up
though. I’ve only just bought it and with maximum finance but you know that,
don’t you? There’s a bit of equity but that would go in costs I’m sure and of
course house prices are down so I’ll be lucky to even get my money back.”
“Renting? Then move in here.”
“Thought of that but all the rent
and some would go on the mortgage and fees. I’d be worse off.”
“Well you would know, being a
financial advisor. Why not sell anyway and move in here. At least you're saving
the payments. How about that?”
“That would work I suppose.”
“Course it will and then you get a
new job and start again.”
Now, six months later, he was down
to his last thousand or so and jobless. Sure he had tried to find work but the
demand for financial advisors was low and he was doubting he would find
anything soon. His house was sold and just waiting for all the legals to be
completed but, as he had suspected, any equity was rapidly being sucked up by
legal fees that just grew larger with every email. It seemed to him that’s what
the legal people were best at. Finding problems and sending loads of emails.
Was he becoming desperate? Only one answer to that and that was, yes he
certainly thought he was.
He lit a cigarette then stubbed it out. He knew it was stupid and something not affordable but that is what he did these days. Spent tons on cigarettes, then lit them, then put them out. It was either that or patches that also cost a ton but kind of chewed his skin up with a rash as though he had scrubbed his arm with one of those half blunt rasps that a carpenter might use when they half smoothed a lump of rough wood. His doctor had told him he was allergic to the stuff that made the patches sticky. He had a kind of sticky induced rash, or so the doctor had said anyway. So he just lit up to get a whiff then stubbed them out. He had tried gum of course but that pulled a filling with this awful pain resulting in him being robbed by an emergency dentist who turned out to be a quack who only recommended extraction at an extortionate emergency extraction rate but who, after a conversation of a particular kind, agreed to a filling but at the same inflated extraction rate. That basically is where most of his savings had gone, to break a habit and pay a dodgy dentist’s mortgage and of course what was left would fund the kidnap of old Lilly Beauchamp.
This is the first chapter of a 21 chapter book. Click on the link on the HOME PAGE or the one below to read more.