A Jolly Good Show – Episode 37

OH, Nesbo,” Delia said, “are we interrupting? If you want to carry on we could come back a little later.”

“No, thank you. Miss Flynn and I are finished for now. I shall disappear with my clanking chains like Marley’s ghost.”

Enid shook her head.

“Don’t talk like that, Nesbo, please. People are frightened enough without you saying such things.”

Her husband intervened.

“There’s nothing to be frightened of. I don’t want anyone to be frightened. Will Griffiths and I have checked everything, all the lights, flats and trapdoors in the entire theatre.”

“Yes, Cyril,” Enid said, “but there are other ways. Like that pygmy with a blow pipe in that Sherlock Holmes story.”

Cyril slapped his hand angrily on top of the piano.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Enid. Don’t make matters worse.” He took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, dear.”

“We are all a bit on edge, that’s all,” Kate said.

Nesbo smiled at Enid.

“Don’t worry, Enid. I’m quite sure that letter was just bravado. From what did Fabio say? a cracked pot.”

Enid returned his smile.

“I’m sure you’re right, Nesbo. Thank you. Now this won’t do at all. Where’s my music?”

Nesbo began to walk away, carrying his chains. Kate went with him and they were almost in the wings when Delia caught up with them.


He turned.

“That was nice of you with Enid. She’s a bag of nerves just now.”

Nesbo shrugged and Delia continued.

“Nothing else will happen, will it?”

Again he shrugged.

“Who knows?”

Kate stood watching them both. Was there some sort of secret message passing between them? Was Delia looking for an answer to an unasked question?

For the rest of the day Kate tried to get further on with the short story she was writing, a romance this time. As she looked at her characters on the page, she mused about how much simpler life would be if you could manipulate real people into finding happiness into seeing what was right for


But who was she to decide? Where was the romance in her life? She thought about what Maggie Brown had said when she met her again in Woolworths two strangers journeying on two separate paths towards each other. Perhaps it should be Maggie writing romantic fiction.

* * * *

That night at the theatre there was a full house. As arranged, a large policeman was in the foyer as the excited public, just a little bit nervous, crowded in. It was a little bit like one of those thrillers Miss Agatha Christie was writing.

Lennie, that night, was wonderful. Kate always enjoyed his act. He brought the audience into it.

“I’m not worried, ladies and gentlemen. I’ve died on better stages than this, I can tell you.” Then he went on. “In the old days, you know, if a comic was dying on stage, a big hook would come out of the wings and they’d yank him off. Of course it’s not like that these days.”

As he said this, a long pole with a huge hook on the end of it, began slowly to emerge from the wings behind Lennie’s back. The audience howled with laughter. As Lennie began a joke, the hook would get closer and closer, then as the audience laughed, it would retreat, then the sequence would be repeated until Lennie was finally hooked and dragged off the stage to wild applause.

Fabio and Rosa’s act did not go down as well. As Kate stood with Nesbo waiting to go on, it was clear that they were nervous, Fabio in particular. In their juggling sequence he dropped a club. When it came to the knife throwing, Kate could see beads of sweat glinting on Fabio’s face.

Rosa stood spread-eagled against a wooden board. With a silver flash the knives flew through the air thud, thud, thud. The audience gasped at how close they were to Rosa, one a bare half inch from her neck. Then another knife flashed and Kate saw her wince and a thin trickle of blood meandered down the board from where Rosa’s upper arm had been pricked.

When they came off stage, Fabio was distraught.

“My poor Rosa! Never before have I done this. Never!”

“’Tis but a scratch!” Rosa said. “Do not worry.” She kissed him.

The rest of the show went off without incident and the audience went home happy. No tragedy had occurred, although blood had been spilled on stage and they were unaware of it.

Kate and Delia had got changed when there was a knock at their dressing-room door. Delia opened it. Nesbo stood in the corridor.

“I was wondering,” he said, “because of the present situation, if I could escort you and Miss Flynn to your digs. It would be no trouble at all.”

Delia smiled at him.

“Thank you, Leopold, that’s really kind of you, but . . .”

“Actually, Nesbo,” a voice said behind him, “I’ve already offered my services.” It was Max Reynolds. “But we are grateful to you, aren’t we, Delia?”

Nesbo turned his head to look at Max. He slowly nodded.

“Are we?” he said. “I see. I’ll say goodnight, then.” He began to walk down the corridor.

Delia called after him.

“Thank you, Leopold.” He did not turn round.


Used to make posts more anonymous, eg a criminal case where you don’t want to expose the actual journalist.