11 Ladysmile Lane – Episode 50


“They are the same ones that have been here every day this week, I’m sure they are.”

Alone in her little office at the back of her brother-in-law’s garage, now rented out to some new people, Mel turned away from the window.

She’d been hoping to see Harrison when she was doing her usual hour’s work at Number 11, to see what he made of it. But she was there first thing in the morning, and he was not normally one to arrive at the crack of dawn.

“He might be there now, though.” She continued muttering to herself as she looked at her watch. “This time of the afternoon he often is.”

Grabbing her jacket and bag, she hurried out to her van. In truth, these days, she was glad to be away.

Harrison was in his room when she arrived, swivelling round in his chair and gazing at the lovely stained-glass window the way he often did.

“So where’s your newly appointed trainee private investigator today?” she asked.

“On his daily trip to the post office with such mail as he has diligently typed. Though I suspect there may also be a young lady involved somewhere.”

“Oh?”

“Before he goes, he tidies his hair, brushes his jacket, and today even applied some aftershave – dreadful-smelling stuff, I don’t know where he got it!” Harrison paused. “It’s someone he sees at about this time because it’s always now he takes it on himself to go.”

Mel laughed. Typical Harrison, missing nothing!

“Could be. The postmaster, Jeff, has a very pretty daughter at college but she helps out in the shop for the last hour or so. But it’s going OK with Ewan?”

Looking about her as she spoke, she answered her own question. Formerly always in a state of chaos, the place was now all spick and span. She hadn’t even needed to move a load of papers from the chair she’d sat down on!

“He was distraught,” she continued, “when he came to see me, feeling he’d let me down by leaving my employment so soon to take the job you’d offered him. But I’m just glad he’s got something he’s interested in and can get his teeth into. He’s a bright lad, and very hard-working.”

Harrison nodded his agreement, then asked how she was.

“I heard from Ruth about the new premises for your business that you’re buying.”

“Yes, her law firm’s going to do all the legal stuff for me. So you were talking to her, then?”

Even as she spoke, Mel was aware this was another pointless question. Harrison spoke to solicitor Ruth most days – in a professional capacity.

That Ruth would like more than that, Mel was sure. But Harrison’s feelings were harder to read. Impossible, in fact.

“She’s going to try to hurry it up for me,” she resumed. “I’m keen to move.”

Harrison gave her a knowing look.

“Ewan said when he came to see you that your brother-in-law’s tenants seemed a mite unfriendly.”

“To say the least! They’re only putting up with me in my little shack at the back because Des insisted. They don’t like me being there. And listen to this . . .”

With Harrison still watching her face, Mel explained how it was the same vehicles that were coming to the garage every morning.

“There’s several of them. When I noticed the first, I thought it had just been kept overnight, maybe waiting for a spare part. But it isn’t that. They all go away at night, seeming to be fine – they’re all new – but then they’re back again next day.”

“What sort of work are they having done?”

“No idea. They drive into the workshop and the doors are closed.”

“Odd.” Harrison frowned. “Usually they’re left open in garages, for ventilation. What sort of vehicles are they?”

“Vans, various makes. All large. What do you think?”

Harrison smiled.

“I think, Mel, tonight I shall take myself on a walk down that way.”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.