Pluto's Child

by DJ

Chapter 32

"What?" Sandy stared at her stupidly, "but -."

"No, not then, silly.'" Trish laughed openly, "I've been feeling rotten for some time now and Dad realized something was wrong and made me see a friend of his. Daddy told me the news this morning as he drove me to the station. I'm due the beginning of January."

Sandy did some hasty calculations. "But that means -."

Trish nodded, her eyes sparkling with joy. "I was pregnant before we split up; what fools we've been!"

"Oh, Trishie bach!" Sandy hugged her to him. "Fools isn't the word for it; we've been bloody idiots." He waltzed her round the lounge while Manuel watched them with a happy grin on his face. When they came to a breathless halt beside him, Sandy said, "Let's go and tell Gypsy, he'll be tickled pink."

Manuel coughed politely. "I don't think that will be necessary. Knowing my son, I think he already knows."

A look of surprise filled Sandy's face. "Well damn it, that's why he told me to ring you, Trish."


"Tuesday, of course." Sandy pecked her on the nose. "The crafty devil, it was him told me to ring you. Hell, Trish, I'm so happy, I want to tell everyone." He turned to Manuel. "Where's Jo and Lorna?"

"Lorna was so captivated with this old theatre, Derek Bessey took her and Erica on a guided tour. Gypsy is sleeping, so it would not be wise to go into the dressing room just at the moment, but there is someone who would be happy at your news. Erskine is prowling the theatre looking for someone to lean on, and didn't look too happy the last time I saw him. Why don't you go and find him, your news could be just the thing to cheer him up."

Sandy and Trish found Erskine ten minutes later, in the stage manager's office, looking as if he had the world on his shoulders. The manager's desk littered with empty coffee cups and full ash-tray told that someone had been doing some hard talking.

"Anything wrong?" Sandy asked.

Erskine eyed the manager who nodded his head. "We've had the police here about the doll."

Trish looked puzzled. "About what doll?"

Sandy hushed her and said to Erskine, "What did they say, then?"

"Not much about the doll, but they did say that Brian MacCaffrey was found dead in Bev Hine's cellar flat about an hour ago; looks like an OD case. He's been dead for some time."

Sandy's throat constricted. "Drugs, you mean?"

Looks like it. A syringe was found by his body."

"Oh, Christ!" Sandy collapsed into a chair, utterly shattered. "Remember what Gypsy said when you told us the cops were lookin' for Brian? Gypsy knew, like he knew about the doll!"

"Yes; like 'e knows damned near everything else and there isn't a thing he can give the police that'll stick as evidence. I've sat here for the last hour trying to explain things to them but the bloody cops say we've got no concrete evidence they can use! My God, how I stopped myself hitting that Inspector Todd I'll never know! Bloody nasty piece of work in blue, if ever there was one!" He looked directly at Sandy as if they had only just arrived. "Sorry kids, shooting my mouth off as usual. If there were a manual written for pop-star managers, the first rule would read 'Don't get emotionally involved with your clients'. With a kid like Gypsy, who can blame me? Now, what did you want to see me about?"

Sandy felt Trish give his left hand a warning squeeze. "It's all right, Erskine; it's nothin' that won't keep." As he rose to his feet, Erskine was already nodding absently at him, his mind on Gypsy again.

Outside the office, Trish grabbed Sandy by the arms. "All right, Davidd Sanderson Roberts, what's going on?" On their way back to the prima dressing room and in as few words as possible Sandy told her the whole story. On reaching the entrance to the scenery dock they found themselves in the way of the busy stage hands so they hurried past and were about to turn into the corridor when Trish stopped and said, "Look, if Gypsy is asleep, Ed won't want us around so why don't we go for a walk?"

"Is there anywhere you'd like to go?"

"Yes." Trish turned him back towards the stage door. "I'd like to go and buy a new doll for Erica."

Sandy thought about the idea and liked it. "Okay, you always were a sucker for dolls, why don't we buy something for our baby at the same time?" and they walked out of the theatre with their arms about each other, talking softly and smiling as they planned for the new addition to the family.

At three minutes to six, Ed rose from his chair to wake Gypsy and saw him suddenly jerk awake, his eyes wide open with shock. As Ed reached him, he took a deep breath and wiped sweat from his brow. "Are you all right?"

Gypsy nodded and steadied his breathing. "I had a bad dream about Erica. Where is she?"

"Still doing a lap of honour about the place, I guess." Ed eyed his charge with misgivings while he wondered what Gypsy had seen. "Two of Barney's men are keeping them company and they'll be back in no time at all. Jo's gone to see if old Benchley's got things going out there; you ready for some tea?"

Gypsy shook his head and lay down again. "Not really, I am not hungry, but I suppose I should eat something."

"You want me to have Arthur rustle you up a tray?"

Gypsy shrugged his shoulders. "I suppose, but go and see that Erica and my girl are all right, first."

Knowing Gypsy would pester him until Erica was back in the dressing-room, Ed went in search of Barney. When he got back to the dressing room lounge he found several of Gypsy's retinue already assembled and eyeing the food Arthur Benchley was preparing to serve. Erskine met him with an angry scowl. "What's up with our shining star, now? He's got a real paddy on, all right:"

"Is Erica back yet?" When Erskine shook his head, Ed frowned. "That's the problem. I guess he's worrying about nothing. I've just checked with Barney and he says Terry and Roly are with her. Gypsy's got no cause to worry."

"Well, you'd better tell that to him in there, I don't like having my head bitten off, star or no star!" Someone hissed at them and they turned to see Gypsy emerge from the inner sanctum looking as confused as someone waking up from a sleep walk. All talk stopped as he let his eyes wander over the people assembled there. He still had only his bathrobe on and he clutched it to him as if he were cold. He moved stiffly into the middle of the lounge, staring now at the telephone. "Manuel not back yet?" he asked no one in particular.

"Not yet," Ed said quietly. "You okay, Gypsy?"

"What?" Gypsy blinked at him, frowned and said, "Oh, yeah, I... I'm sorry...I'm worried about Erica...and my…" He went straight to the phone and dialed a number, finally got Manuel on the line and asked what was keeping him. After Manuel spoke for a minute, he said, "Dad, I want you to bring Butch back with you..." and when Manuel obviously questioned his reason, he said angrily, "Don't argue, Dad, just bring him!" Slamming the receiver down, he marched back into the dressing room and slammed the door shut.

Erskine and Ed looked at each other with uneasy feelings in their stomachs. Gypsy knew something and they did not. With an angry rumble in his throat, Erskine hurried out of the lounge and yelled for Barney.

The theatre Sandy and Trish left had been peaceful and orderly. It was a totally different one they came back to, with the theatre in an uproar and everyone from the stage manager to the most junior stagehand wandering around with worried looks on their faces. As they made their way to Gypsy's dressing room they heard distant voices calling somewhere high above them, and in the lounge they found Erskine and Manuel talking with Ed and Jo, and Jo was in tears.

Without waiting to be asked, Erskine turned to them. "Erica and Lorna went walkabout with Derek Bessey and they haven't returned yet. Bright boy in there thinks they've been snatched. He's had Butch brought in and he's blaming everyone within snarling distance for their disappearance."

Manuel nodded at this. "He has tried to reach them with his mind and can't make any link at all."

Sandy stared at them. "The prophecy; Oh God!"

Erskine caught hold of his arm as he started to walk towards the inner sanctum. "If you know something, laddie, you'd better spit it out; this is serious, my son!"

Sandy was aware of Trish's white face and Manuel's warning gaze. "No, it's nothin', Erskine. I was just thinkin' out loud, see?" He hurried into the dressing room with Manuel close on his heels. They found Gypsy already dressed in sweater and jeans and about to slip his feet into a pair of trainers. Butch lay at his side, waiting quietly for orders from his master. He pricked his ears up as Sandy walked towards them, saying, "We're with you, Gypsy, me and your Dad. What do we do first?"

Gypsy straightened up. "We let Butch smell them out, although I think we're too late." He took the lead off Butch's collar and let the dog sniff Erica's anorak, then let Butch lead the way out, his nose close to the floor. Ignoring everyone and not caring if anyone followed them or not, Gypsy walked slowly after the dog, out into the corridor past curious stage hands who stepped well back from those strong canine jaws, following Butch as the dog led him along the path Erica and Lorna had taken. It led them across the stage and through the left hand wings, up the stairs to the five floors above, the dog searching each level before coming back down the right hand stairs, by which time Gypsy had quite a following, including Manuel and Sandy.

On the fourth floor they bumped into Barney, almost in tears as Gypsy confronted him. "I'm sorry, lad, this place is like a rabbit warren. There are places on these floors that haven't been opened for years, according to the manager. Erica could be hiding anywhere; you know what she's like for playing hide and seek."

"With four adults in tow?" Gypsy rewarded the unhappy man with a withering glare. "She's been taken, Barney, and I'm holding you responsible."

Butch suddenly moved forward with his snout to the floor, raised his head and whined for Gypsy who turned to follow him. Barney shrugged his shoulders helplessly at those trailing behind, and joined the end of the line. On the second floor Gypsy stopped suddenly and sniffed the air. "I smell paint." Butch had stopped as well, and stared up at him. Gypsy placed one hand on the dog's head and stared into his large eyes. "What are you trying to tell me, Butch?" The dog whined again and those behind him gave each other amused glances, all except Manuel and Sandy who knew what was happening and fully believed it. Gypsy sniffed again. "Not here, further down." He and the dog went on their way at a quicker pace, descending to the ground floor. At the bottom of the stairs Butch turned towards the rear of the stage and led the human crocodile round the back and through a huge door into a cavernous place full of back cloths and old scenery, costumes and props. Gypsy turned to a grey haired stagehand. "What is this place?"

The stagehand shrugged his shoulders. "It's the place we store anything that isn't needed. Some of this stuff's been here for ages, but not for much longer. Health and Safety regulations say we've got to find somewhere else to house them or get rid of them. It's a fire hazard you see."

A voice behind Gypsy said, "Quite a place to play hide and seek."

Gypsy turned his head and rewarded the speaker, another stagehand, with an icy look. "Or to hide a child and an adult?"

The old stagehand started to open one of the costume baskets but Gypsy stopped him. "Not in there, somewhere small, a room within a room, where there's paint."

"Oh, you mean the paint room." The stagehand smiled brightly. "We used to keep the scenery paint in it, and stuff like that. Nowadays, most of the scenery comes ready to set up so it isn't used much now." He led the way between the jumble of stage debris until they reached the far left-hand corner of the room where Butch scratched at an old door and started to whine franticly. Gypsy hauled him out of the way and the stagehand pulled open the door. He stared in surprise at something inside. "Christ Almighty!" He dived inside and dragged out a dusty and well trussed figure, dumping it at Gypsy's feet before diving inside to drag out yet another.

Derek blinked up at Gypsy, his face white with shock. As the second figure was hauled out, followed by a third, Gypsy unfastened the gag from round Derek's mouth and he croaked weakly, "Oh, my head! Don't ask me what happened; we were up on the fourth floor when Erica started feeling sleepy. One of the guards was carrying her downstairs when Lorna started feeling ill as well, then someone hit me from behind and I came to in that... that place. Oh, my, I never want to smell another tin of paint again as long as I live!" As soon as Gypsy had untied the ropes that held him, he sniffed the sleeve of his jacket and wrinkled his nose in disgust; then he looked down at the other newly released men. "Who are these two?"

Barney, who had been busy releasing them, said, "These are my men, Terry and Roly."

Derek stared at them and shook his head. "But they're not the men who came to look after Lorna and... Oh, Lord, My head!" He slumped forward with his head in his hands. "I feel so bloody awful."

Gypsy did not move; he just stared down at Derek and the two guards who were rubbing hard at their wrists to get the circulation back into their hands. Stunned into frozen silence, he did not feel Erskine put a comforting arm round his shoulders, nor did he hear his father speak gently to him in Spanish.

Everyone listened while Terry told Barney what had happened to them. "We were on our way upstairs to escort Miss Bassett and Erica when we bumped into three stage hands, or at least they identified themselves as such. Then they attacked us and herded us into a room on the first floor. The brought us down here later on and taped us up. A bit later they brought Mr. Bessey in; we thought he was a gonner at first"

"That makes three of us," Derek muttered as he tried to stand up. "Does anyone mind if I go now; to say I'm weak at the knees is putting it mildly."

As two of Barney's men led Derek away, Gypsy turned round slowly to face the door. Butch was padding towards it with his snout to the floor, lifting it suddenly and whining for Gypsy to follow him, but Gypsy seemed too dazed to move at much more than snail's pace; and Manuel and Erskine exchanged worried looks. Erskine said quietly, "Now perhaps the boys in blue will do something."

Barney nodded his agreement. "I'll get onto them, right away."

Manuel nodded his agreement. "You do that, Barney, and while you are at it, give Monclare a call."

Barney spun on his heel to walk stiffly away. He knew it was his fault the child had been snatched but did not like being reminded or the fact.

At seven twenty, Sandy came back to the dressing room after showing Trish and Jo to their box, and found the T.V. cameras already being organised outside the door. The director caught hold of his arm as Barney's guard opened the door to let him in. "Look, will you get someone in there to pull their bloody fingers out. We're supposed to be filming Gypsy preparing for the show and all we're getting so far is the door slammed in our faces. Crisis or no crisis, the show goes on, right?"

Sandy pushed his face down into the director's. "I wouldn't go anywhere near Cardiff Arms Park if I were you, mate, they might mistake you for a rugby ball; old leather on the outside, nothing but stale wind on the inside!" and before the astonished man could retaliate, Sandy pushed his way through the narrow gap between door and frame. As the door shut behind him he was met by the sombre stares of Erskine and Manuel. Sitting in an easy chair, Barney tried to look calmer than he really was.

"Any news yet?" Sandy asked, but the expressions he received answered for them. "How is 'e then?"

Gypsy's father shook his head. "Hanging on by the skin of his teeth; he's taking it all pretty badly. Butch showed us where the kidnappers took Erica and Lorna out of the theatre, as Gypsy said he would. The police are doing all they can but they have very little to go on."

"What about those three guys who jumped the stage hands, then?"

"It's obvious they were not anyone hired by the stage manager. Derek's trying to help the police make some photo-fit pictures of them but he should be in hospital having his head looked at. He's not a well man."

"Can't Gypsy 'elp?"

"He is too confused and upset, and he has the show to think about. As it is, I have had to call Monclare but he's tied up with an emergency at the Rosscroft. He's sent a locum until he's free; he's with him now."

Sandy glanced towards the inner door. "Can I go in to 'im?"

"Not just yet." Manuel's reply was a little too quick, and Sandy saw an uneasy look in his eyes.

"Somethin' you're not tellin' me, is it?"

With great reluctance, Manuel said, "It is nothing, really. The doctor's concerned about Gypsy's mental state, as we all are. We don't even know if he will be able to do the show at all without help."

"Drugs!" Sandy recoiled in horror. "Hell, 'e doesn't need 'em; you know 'e never touches 'em." He stormed into the inner sanctum, ready to tear the doctor from his mate.

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.]