Pluto's Child

by DJ

Chapter 26

Everyone except Gypsy stared at him in disbelief. Gypsy showed no sign of surprise at all as Barney went on, "They went to Perbrook Public School, Hampshire. The MacCaffreys have been attending that school for generations."

"So that's how Brian and Peter knew each other:" Ed commented.

"Not quite, there is a stronger link than that. I did some research at St. Catherine's House. Gypsy, did you know Anthony Grafton had been married twice?"

Gypsy nodded "Tony didn't want to talk about his first wife and I didn't press him to. Apparently it was an unhappy marriage, just like the second one."

"His first marriage was to Sarah Cunliffe, Peter's mother. His second marriage was to Ann Marple. I'm not surprised he wanted to forget Sarah. She left him when Peter was seven and died of alcoholic poisoning a year later. On checking Jerry Hine's records I found that he was born and christened Jeremy Cunliffe but changed his name to Hine when his mother remarried."

So Peter's mother was Jerry's sister." Gypsy's eyes glittered with anger. "Surely Edward knew of this, why didn't he say something?"

"I went to see him before coming back here. He knew who Sarah was but not that she had a brother. Edward was pretty shocked at that revelation and has promised to dig a few holes for us in our search for any other links the Cunliffes may have. It's a bit complicated actually. Jerry and Sarah's parents split up when the kids were still young, the girl lived with the father, and Jerry lived with his mother who remarried and gave him her new husband Peter Hine's name. When she was eighteen, Sarah went to live in Paris and that's where Anthony met her. The Graftons didn't like her, didn't want to know her, and it seems they weren't far wrong. There was a big row and Anthony moved out to South America with his bride and the whole thing was swept quickly under the carpet. As far as the Grafton's were concerned she didn't exist. It wasn't until Ann, his second wife, died, that Anthony finally patched up the quarrel with his family , although he never mentioned either of his wives again. I don't know how Peter found out unless Jerry told him, but it took me some time to figure it all out, I can tell you. He must have known for some time because he's been camping literally in Jerry's back yard for a few years, except for the times he has disappeared off the face of the earth. I'm having Interpol check the records in other countries he's been known to frequent. You know him well enough, Gypsy; could he be the one behind all your problems?"

"No, he's not a Gemini."

"Well that's all I've got at the moment; sorry I can't be of more help."

"You did great; thanks." Gypsy nodded his thanks. "Now we'll tell you our bit of news, we had a visitor here this afternoon. James MacCaffrey."

"Go on! What did he want?"

"The film; he said that apart from the photographs I witnessed being taken and the ones I took myself, the shots were of certain notable public figures who didn't know they were being filmed. Also he said if I gave the film to the police, innocent members of his family would suffer and several scandals would tear this country apart. He said if I gave him the film, he would see that it was destroyed and the blackmailing stopped; he has an idea who the culprit is. "

"Didn't you tell him the film is your only guarantee against Bev and Jerry?"

"Yes."

"So what happened?"

"He went away with a film in his pocket."

"What! Well of all the stupid...Gypsy, that was your biggest weapon."

Manuel shook his head at Gypsy. "Don't tease the poor man, tell him what really happened."

Gypsy smiled softly. "I just hope MacCaffrey doesn't have it developed too soon."

Lorna looked puzzled. "Wait a minute, Gypsy, I was here and I heard you ask David to bring you the film and you had no opportunity to tell him to switch the film for another."

"I didn't have to; let's say David and I are beginning to understand each other a bit better these days. I've found that David has quite a receptive mind and I've been using him as a guinea pig for my own psychic experiments for some time. I found it easy enough to put the idea into David's mind that I didn't really want MacCaffrey to have the film and it would be a good idea to swap it for another; although I doubt if Carol will appreciate what happened to the film they took when they went out together last week." This brought a muted laugh from the gathering and Gypsy added, "The real film is still where David has h idden it, and even I don't know where it is. All we can do is hope that MacCaffrey doesn't develop the film just yet; we need time to do some more digging. A chat with the Hines would not be a bad idea, Barney, how about it?"

Ed scowled a warning. "You're not going anywhere."

Gypsy's angry eyes swiveled round to fix him with a stare. "It's me who is being ripped off by all this trouble; I don't see anyone else's hide on the line. I've the right to go and see this thing through."

Ed's eyes challenged him steadily. "The only place you're going is upstairs for a shower, a massage, and an hour on the bed. You've got your hoofers comin' for that run through you wanted in two hours, and you want to be ready for that, right?"

Gypsy looked away from him, and noticed the looks he was getting from Lorna, Manuel and Barney, and realized they would side with Ed. Lowering his eyes he slumped a little, rather like a sulking child. "All right, I guess you'll gang up on me anyway so, okay. It's just that I feel I can't take any more. I've had enough and if we don't clear this mess up pretty soon I am going to burn out, right?" Barney could only feel sympathy for him as he rose to his feet and pulled Lorna with him. Heading for the door at a weary pace he called over his shoulder to Barney, "Go and give the Hines hell for me, Barney, and do it soon."

Manuel, Ed and Barney watched the two lovers leave the lounge, knowing that the ray of sunshine Lorna had brought into Gypsy's life was being clouded over by Gypsy's own inability to do anything about the problems which were wearing him down. That wasn't good.


7 o'clock that evening

When Sandy peeped into the practice room, he saw something he had never seen before; Gypsy smoking a cigarette? His friend stood by one of the windows, gazing down at the front driveway where six two wheeled roadsters stood waiting for their riders, inert monsters ready to grant their owners the thrill and excite ment of speed, risk and terror. His face was impassive and his eyes seemed not to be focused on the bikes at all, but on some inner turmoil, thoughts chasing t houghts through the mystic tunnels of his mind. Sandy went to him and didn' t exactly put his arms round his shoulders , more like leaned on him, matey fashion. "Remember the first time I asked my dad if I could 'ave a bike?" He laughed and added, "Mam wouldn't speak to me for a week!"

"You got your own way though, even if you did have to wait until your birthday. Do you still ride?"

"Yep; got myself a five hundred CC Bonneville, a real mean machine! Who do those belong to?"

"Some of my dancers; I've ridden pillion with them a few times. Tha t' s what I would like to do right now, go for a ride."

"You wouldn't get 'alf a mile before you were recognized."

"You want to bet?"

"Yeah, if you like."

"Right, put your money where your mouth is."

Sandy realized he was being got at. "Oh, no, you're not gettin' me into trouble.'"

"Oh, come on, Sandy! What's the harm in a little spin on the back of a bike?"

"We ' aven' t got a bike."

"Leave that to me, are you game?"

"No, definitely not."

"You're a wet blanket, do you know that? I'm supposed to be on my backside, aren't I?. Who cares if it's on a chair or a pillion?"

"Ed does."

"I can handle him."


Fifty miles north of Chilvers, a biker steered his gleaming one thousand CC Suzuki into a filling station and got off the bike leaving the pillion rider sitting on the rear seat while he filled the Suzuki's tank up. Both were in black leathers, one tall and muscular, the other slim and petite. The young driver of a red van smiled at the pillion- rider and almost spilled the petrol he was supposed to be aiming into his tank as the pillion wiggled some fingers at him and blew him a kiss. They waited until the van had driven off before they took off their full-face helmets and burst out laughing.

Gypsy said at last, "It is the best disguise I've used so far, I must use it more often. No one thinks of looking twice at a biker and his girl going for a spin."

"Well it certainly got us away from Chilvers." Sandy eased the collar of the borrowed jacket away from his neck. "What now?"

"We're heading north."

"Oh, no!" Sandy knew he had been conned again. "I told Ed I'd 'ave you back 'ome in an 'our, isn't it?" He glanced at his watch.

Gypsy shrugged his shoulders. "You go back if you want to, I'm going north. " He hitched himself forward onto the front seat and reached down to switch on the ignition.

Sandy grabbed his wrist. "Just tell me first, what crazy notion you've thought up this time:"

Gypsy looked up at him. "I will if you promise to come with me. You want to see Trish, don't you?"

"Why? Where are you off to?"

"Trentham; where else?"

"Now I know you're losin' your marbles. Why Trentham all of a sudden?"

"Because, my dear Sandy, I've a feeling the clue to all my problems is right where it all started." Gypsy settled back on the rear seat and patted the front one.

"Park your backside and let me chew your ears."

Reluctantly Sandy leaned his rear against the bike and folded his arms across his chest. "I suppose your mystic mind has been at it again?"

Gypsy nodded and looked serious." You remember me telling you about MacCaffrey's visit, and what he said about the film?"

"Well?"

"He was lying."

"'Ow d'you know?"

"That was a thirty six shot film, and there were only five shots used when I started to use it. While I was acting like a paralytic, I heard Peter come o ut of the bedroom and change the film in the camera. Now why did MacCaffrey lie? I guess Pete didn't tell him he changed the film; so it looks like Peter's got the film MacCaffrey wants, not us. And another thing, I tried to probe his mind and it was shut tighter than a safe. He has something to hide."

"MacCaffrey? Get off with you, man."

"All right, listen to this one then! MacCaffrey wrote out a list of all the male guests who were at Northwood, and today I made a list of all the people connected with all of this. The only name missing on both lists was his. And remember, he was at the party and Dad and Dad gave him a tour of the house. It could have been him who crept upstairs and unscrewed the bolt on that window." Sandy scoffed at him and Gypsy said, "All right then, I'm looking at a house in Trentham with no other buildings around it. It's painted blue and white and the front door is solid oak with a large lion's head knocker. The drive has been newly graveled. What's MacCaffrey's house like?"

Sandy frowned, trying to remember. "Ordinary, double fronted, grey pebble dash, half glazed front door, lawns front and back; garage on the left."

Now it was Gypsy's turn to frown." I' m being drawn through the hall to the stairs. I am being urged to go up those stairs to the rooms above."

Sandy shook his head again." I can't remember a house like that in Trentham."

"Well it's there. The only way to prove it is to go and see it. Will you take me there?"

Sandy gave him a sly smile. "What about your idea of takin' off on your own, then?"

"On this monster?" Gypsy spread his arms in a gesture of' helplessness. "Look at me; my toes can only just reach the ground! If I had a spill, it would take three men to lift it off me!" He looked a t his watch. "If we get going now, we'll be in Trentham by ten."

"Yeah," Sandy replied dryly as he got astride the bike. "In Trentham mortuary!"

Talk about this story on our forum
Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily. Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. If the email address pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]