Chapter 4

Julia had a little clock on the wall, very much like a cuckoo clock only instead of a bird popping out it was a cat that meowed the hour. The clock was meowing 2 when the front door bell rang.

Answering the door Julia saw standing on the step a tall, impressive man dressed in a business suit. She looked around but she didn’t see a dog with him.

“James Warriner.” The man introduced himself. “I left the dog in the car. I thought we should talk first.”

Julia ushered James into the house and offered him a seat in the lounge. Julia offered tea or coffee, but James shook his head.

Barney was barking loudly in the kitchen, so Julia went and let him out and he came bounding into the lounge. When Barney saw James he ran straight up to him, wagging his tail and rubbing round his legs in order to be petted. James crouched down and his face softened as he rubbed Barney’s ears.

“Hello old fellow.” he said “ It doesn’t look as if your missing your master.”

“You know this dog.?” asked Julia.

“Yes. Michael Shelley is a friend of mine. I’m very sorry to hear that he’s gone missing. It’s Michael I’ve come to see you about actually.”

“How can I help you?”

James sat down looking serious again. Coming straight to the point he said.

”I believe you may have a key that belongs to Michael.”

Warily Julia answered “No. The police took the key. I just brought Barney back with me. Michael left me a message to ask me to take Barney for a few days.”

Julia began to feel uncomfortable as James’s steel blue eyes stared at her unblinking.

“I don’t mean the house key. It’s a red key I’m looking for, and I think you have found it.”

Julia flushed. “I think perhaps you should talk to the police about this. Not me.”

“If you should find such a key, you would find that I could be very generous.” said James, ignoring Julia’s remark.

“Please leave now. I can’t hep you.” Julia rose from her chair and going to the door, opened it.

James stood up, his height making him seem menacing. He walked to the door. His car was parked outside the house and inside the car Julia could see a Husky dog peering out of the window and barking.

“You should leave a window open for the dog.” she said as James left.

James stood for a moment looking back at the house then got into his car. He leaned into the back and said something to the dog and stroked him and ruffled his ears. He then drove a short way up the road and pulled in.

“I want to take the key to the police.” Martin said after hearing Julia’s account of her meeting with James. “I wonder what James Warriner’s interest in the key is?”

“His interest is not so much the key, but the box that the key opens and the contents of such a box.” mused Julia. Alan Roberts said that his key was for an airport security box. I wonder if our key has a number on it?”

She went and got out her purse and found the key.

“Number 25.” said Martin taking the key out of Julia’s hand. “Box number 25.”

“Perhaps we should go to the airport and try and find the box.” suggested Julia.

“I think that should be a job for the police.” replied Martin

“They are rather busy looking for Michael at the moment.” Julia responded. “We could be at the airport in under 2 hours, find the box and be home before tea time.”

Martin laughed, then groaned.

“Then can we go to the police?” he asked.

“Then we can go to the police.” Julia picked up her coat from the cupboard and picked up Barney’s lead.

“No dogs this time.” Martin insisted taking the lead from Julia. “They will only hinder us if we find clues and things.”

“Your not taking this seriously are you? I really think we are on to something with this key.”

“I hope the box holds more than just Michael’s dirty linen.” laughed Martin.

Julia went to put the dogs into the kitchen and showing them their beds and giving them a treat each, she went to close the kitchen door.

“Be good boys and you’ll get a good long walk when we get back.”

Putting on warm coats they locked up the house, got into their car and drove off.

James, sitting in his car which was parked 100 yards down the road, watched as their car rounded the corner and disappeared.

“Can we just get a coffee and a sandwich first.” begged Martin as Julia strode into the airport building. “I’m always starving after a long journey.”

“I’ll go and order the food while you go and see if you can find out where the security boxes are kept.” Replied Julia. “And Martin, please be careful. You never know.”

“Never know what/”

“Well, someone might be watching you.”

“Jules! You’ve got too much imagination.” smiled Martin, “Okay. Okay. I’ll be careful. He raised his hands and wandered off.

At first Martin wandered around aimlessly until he found a map of the airport, and studying it found out that the security boxes were situated in a room in the business section of the airport. He turned to retrace his steps, the thought of a drink and some food spurring him on, when he suddenly spotted someone he knew. Outside the security room, impatiently tapping a paper to his thigh, stood Alan Roberts.

Julia sat at the café table waiting for Martin’s return. The coffee was beginning to get cold and she was becoming increasingly worried.

Martin appeared at her side.

“You were right. Someone was watching.”

Martin sat down and ripped off the lid of his coffee cup. “You know James has that pilot friend, the one with Fred the Bassett Hound, and the quy with the red key, well he was there outside the security room.”

“Alan Roberts? Why has he come back? Could they be in this together do you think.” Julia looked worried.

“He met someone. A woman.”

“And?”

“I followed them and they went off towards the car park.”

“Are you sure that they’re gone?”

“Yes. And I was very careful that they didn’t see me.”

“You’d better drink up and we’ll go and find that box.” Julia was already on her feet.

Martin reluctantly picked up his packet of sandwiches and put them in his pocket.

“You know, I shall want one of your special meals after all this.” He said.

“Thai, Indian or Chinese?”

“Thai.”

“Good choice. Now where are these boxes.”

***

Hands trembling Julia inserted the key into box number 25.

“Let me do it.” said Martin. Taking the key from Julia he carefully opened the box to find inside a package wrapped in bubble wrap.

“Is it drugs?” asked Julia.

“No it feels like an ornament of some kind. Let’s see.”

Martin carefully began to unwrap the package and revealed a most exquisite golden dragon, set with jewels.

“Expensive. Very expensive,” he breathed.

“Put it back. Oh Martin, please pout it back, and lets go.” Pleaded Julia in a very agitated state.

“You were the one who wanted to find it,” said Martin as he wrapped the horse back into the bubble wrap.

They put the package back into the box and re-locked it. Julia took the key and put it back into her purse. They then made their way back through the airport.

“Wait” Julia had spotted a stationer’s shop.

She dashed inside and bought writing paper and envelopes. Finding an empty table in the café, she scribbled a few lines on a sheet of paper. She then addressed the envelope, and wrapping the key in several sheets of paper put it inside sealing it carefully. She sorted in her purse for stamps, and put three first class stamps on the envelope, then looked round for a post box.

“I’ll feel so much better now that I’ve no longer got the key. Tomorrow it will be in the hands of the police.” she said. “Let’s go home now.”

“Can I eat my sandwich first?” said Martin. “I’m really hungry now.”

“Oh Martin I’m sorry. I’ll get some coffee to go with it.” said Julia, and made her way back up to the food counter.


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