Mr. Whelan tells his tale
The smell of baking scones greeted George as he descended the stairs. He inhaled deeply, anticipating the taste he would soon consume. The doorbell chimed its welcoming melody.
Right on time, George thought. He stepped to the landing and opened the door.
‘Hello James, Welcome Susan. It’s about time you made the journey to our house. Come in, come in. Win darling, Susan and James have arrived.’
‘George you’re looking younger than the last time we were together! Just how do you do it, at 83? You put us 70 something’s at a disadvantage.’
George beamed. ‘You know what I say, James, take care of yourself, feed your body right – it will take care of you. Sit down now.’
‘Before we go any further you must put Susan and I out of suspense and tell us about this dreadful business last week. We want every detail.’
‘A dreadful business it was. I got the fright of my life. I’ll let Winifred fill you in on her part of the saga as it was her scream that woke me from my deep peaceful sleep. If I can remember correctly, I was reclining on a chaise watching the waves of the Caribbean lap gently along the shore in a happy dream when a loud scream startled me. Winnie’s screaming had pierced my sleep. That and the sensation of her springing from the bed. I opened my eyes in time to see the tail of her nightgown escaping through the bedroom door. A masked man carrying a huge blade strode across the room after her.
‘I flung off the covers about to spring from the bed myself when the unfortunate realization I was not alone confronted me. A knife held by a second masked man was aimed precisely at my throat.
‘In a menacing voice the intruder uttered. “No further moves grandpa, otherwise this knife will have to take its place in your belly. Now cooperate and turn around while I tie your hands.”
‘James you know how much I detest violence and I’m loath to admit I can barely handle the site of bloodshed, most specifically my own. Luckily there was no time to think. My hand shot out and hit his jaw; my leg gave a quick kick to his arm. He stumbled back and, most fortuitously for me, dropped the knife. In a fluid movement I swooped down picked up the knife, grabbed the masked man’s arm and spun it up and behind his back. He let out a yelp of pain and surprise as I pushed the blade of the knife against his windpipe.
‘I could hear shouts. I knew I had to get down to Winnie as quickly as possible. Holding the knife in the man’s back, I forced him face down on the bed. With my free hand I grabbed the handcuffs out of my night table and in a flash he was handcuffed to the headboard. My handy work impressed the police almost as much as myself and Winn…’
‘Sorry, George, but just what are you doing with handcuffs in your nightstand?’ asked Susan.
George chuckled. ‘Yes an extremely lucky coincidence. You know my son, James, is in the force. Well, when the grandkids were visiting, they begged him to bring an old pair to show me and play with. The novelty wore off quickly and when the kids were collected, the handcuffs were forgotten. When I let James know they were still here, he said he would collect them next visit. I decided the best place for them would be my night table. Didn’t want anyone else coming across them, especially Win. You know how fantastic her imagination can be. Remember that incident with the whip …’
‘Hmm. More about that later, George. What happened next?’
‘I dashed from the room and down the stairs at record speed. I rounded the corner into the kitchen, as Winnie, bless her, boomed, “you call that a knife, – this is a knife!” Our large 14-inch carving knife was in her hand and she was lunging it at his belly, feet planted, her other arm held high like an expert fencer.
‘I’m sure there was a look of terror under his mask. He looked from Winnie to my hand holding his accomplice’s knife and with visible resignation dropped his own.
‘I tied the man up with Winn’s old stockings, while she called the police. Fortunately there was a Bobby patrol around the corner and they arrived just minutes after Winn put the phone down.’
‘Good grief George, weren’t you horrified?’
‘Why naturally, of course I was. But there was no time to think. Action was the order of the day. I don’t believe either of us has moved that quickly since the kids were young, if ever. But you know what I always say feed your body right and it will take care of you. Now where is Winnie with those scones?’