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Jennifer Jane PopePart Two - "Lucy At Large"
The sky was beginning to lighten in the east as the three of them finished clearing away the evidence of their visit to the little cabin and kenny was just able to distinguish the buildings outline, before, at Annies urging, he crawled into the back of the van, relieved to find even a brief respite from the towering heels of the borrowed boots, but hampered somewhat by the tightness of the denim skirt that disguised their true length.
To his surprise, what he had thought of as being little more than a rustic shack was quite a neat structure and, but for the all pervading smell of the noxious anti-termite spray, would provide an idyllic little retreat for even the most discerning holidaymakers.
`All aboard and sitting comfortably? Cathy called out from the front seat and a moment later the engine spluttered into life again. `Well go back to my room and Ill have a little snoop around to see if Mister Plodopodous has been lurking about, okay?
Kenny couldnt help grinning to himself at her little joke. Slightly overpowering though her personality could be, Cathy was quite a character and, he suspected, made a far better friend than enemy. It was just very embarrassing, he thought to himself, as the van lurched down onto the unmade track, to find himself in her company dressed as he now was.
It was full daylight and the sun threatening to make its morning debut by the time they pulled into the little walled car park at the rear of the hotel. Cathy switched off the engine and half turned to talk to both of them.
`If anyone asks, she instructed, `weve been skinny dipping over in Marlos Bay. Hide your male clothing under that piece of tarpaulin, Lucy, she added, addressing Kenny, who winced at the use of the female name. `Ill get Milos to burn them as soon as I can get hold of him again.
`Just let Annie do all the talking if anyone does approach you. She opened the door and swung her long legs out onto the concrete hard standing. `Ill be ten minutes at the most, she said, over her shoulder. `If Im any longer, just get the hell out of here. The keys are in the ignition, so just drive around and leave the van at the back of the Constantine and Ill catch up with you in time for lunch at the hotel, okay? Leave the keys on top of the rear off-side wheel.
And with that, she was gone, the sound of her heels clacking on the hard ground sounding unnaturally loud in the early morning stillness. Kenny let out a deep sigh and drew his knees up close to his chest, pressing them against the unfamiliar swellings beneath the stretchy feminine top.
`Just take it easy, Annie whispered, encouragingly. `I guarantee no one would even think you were male now, let alone recognise you from the newspaper pictures. The local plod will be chasing their tails looking for Kenny Miles, whilst pretty little Lucy Butterworth can wander around without starting a hue and cry.
`What if they ask us for papers? Kenny pointed out. `You know what theyre like here, dont you? Annie grinned, flashing her even white teeth.
`They ask lads for their passports and papers here, she said. `Cathy and I walk past these cops every day and never once have they asked us for identification. A date, yes, but never papers. The cops here are almost as bad as the waiters, believe me.
`I wish I felt as confident, Kenny said. `I keep expecting a bloody great shadow to loom up and some booming voice to come out with "Ello, ello, ello, wots a-goin on ere, then?" or whatever the Greek equivalent is!
`Relax, Annie said. `All the local cops will have been in bed by midnight and if not, theyll have gone home. She chuckled at her little joke and fumbled in her bag for her cigarettes. `Your only worry with the cops will be if one of them takes a fancy to you, she added, passing Kenny a cigarette.
Cathy returned before they had half smoked their cigarettes and slipped back behind the wheel.
`They turned up about an hour after you two left last night, she announced. `According to the night porter, they were more interested in looking in my room than finding me. He used his pass key, they took a quick look around and then went off again, apparently quite satisfied. I presume you did a decent job of cleaning up any cups and glasses?
`I took care of that, Annie assured her. `Watched enough spy movies to know about extra crockery and the like. I also wiped around the main surfaces where Kenny - sorry, Lucy - might have left fingerprints.
`Good thinking, Annie said, approvingly, `though they didnt bother going that far. What they have done, however, is to leave a copper walking up and down outside the front entrance, presumably to see whether I come back or not, so Im going to walk round the block and wander in as if I havent got a care in the world.
`They could be watching this side of the building as well, Kenny declared, suddenly alarmed. Cathy shook her head.
`Theyd have been all over us by now if they were, she said. `Either theyre not that bright, or more likely they havent got the manpower. This isnt much of an island, after all. Now, she continued, reaching down for the ignition keys, `Im going to go round the short way.
`You two take a little stroll in the opposite direction and come around into the street from the far end. Theres a little coffee place there, which opens virtually round the clock. Slip in there and have a drink for half an hour and Ill join you when everythings sorted.
`If they ask me about you, Annie, Ill say I dropped you off near your hotel, but youll have to say you changed your mind and went for a walk. If theyre watching this place, theyll be watching yours. Once we sort out and clear the field here, Ill take Lucy back up to my room and you can go back and face it out there.
`Well have to play a game of Pass The Lucy, at least until Laura gets here with a passport for her.
The cafe was deserted apart from its unshaven proprietor, who looked as if he had been on duty all night, and two men dressed in workmens overalls. Annie guided Kenny into a corner booth and approached the counter herself. The owner, despite his appearance, spoke surprisingly fluent English.
`I do the English special for you ladies, he offered. `The bacon and the eggs, no? With the fried mushrooms, the fried bread and the baked beans also, yes? He grinned, revealing a gold cap on one of his front teeth.
`My uncle, he has a cafe in brighton, in England, he said, by way of explanation. `When I am younger, I go there to work for him. Five years in what you English call the transportation café, I think.
`Transport café, Annie corrected him. `Lorry drivers and workmen and late night clubbers.
`Oh yes, their host enthused. `We open the late nights and get all the pretty ladies from the clubs. You not believe it, even the pretty ladies who are really the pretty men, you know? Annie nodded and continued smiling.
`Yes, she said, `I do know. I worked in brighton one summer season, in the theatre on the pier. Do you know the piers there?
`Oh, the piers! the owner exclaimed, throwing up his hands. `Such beautiful buildings. Your Prince of Regent build one with his own hands, I am told.
`Something like that, Annie agreed, her smile widening to a grin. She ordered two bacon sandwiches and two mugs of tea and both were surprisingly good when they finally arrived on their table. Philip, as the café owner introduced himself, had certainly not wasted his time in brighton, they both agreed.
`I hope Cathys all right, Kenny said, in a hushed whisper, between bites of sandwich. He tried not to notice the dark red lipstick stains that he was leaving on the remaining bread each time.
`Cathy can look after herself, Annie assured him. `But it looks like I need to look after you. Take smaller bites of that and try to act a bit more ladylike.
`Im having enough trouble keeping my hair out of my mouth, Kenny scowled, but he did as she said and continued eating in more delicate nibble-sized mouthfuls. Annie smiled across the table at him and raised her tea mug.
`To Lucy, she said, quietly.
The uniformed policeman made no attempt to accost Cathy as she made her way up the five stone steps to the hotel front entrance, but ten minutes after she had shut the door of her room behind her, there came a sharp knock and, when she opened it, she recognised the figure standing there from the courtroom: it was the plain clothes detective who had arrested Kenny in the first place.
`Miss Sullivan, is it? he asked, in clipped English, flashing some sort of identification card so quickly that Cathy didnt even have time to compare his face with the photograph on it.
`If it isnt, Cathy retorted, `then youve just caught yourself a burglar. What dyou want? I was just going to get myself some sleep.
`Youve not been to bed all night? The detective looked pointedly past her, towards the neatly made bed. Cathy shrugged.
`Not in my own bed, anyway, she said. `Not that anything I do is any of your business. Who are you, anyway? I know youre a cop, but you havent introduced yourself and that bit of old card could be your granddads bus pass, for all the look you gave me of it.
`I apologise, Miss Sullivan, the man said. The card reappeared in his hand as if by magic and this time he allowed Cathy a longer look at it. It was printed mostly in Hellenic script, but his name and rank were duplicated in English.
`Inspector Costaditis, she repeated. `Sound like a skin complaint. So, Inspector Costaditis, what do you want with me? She stood aside and motioned him to enter.
`You know a Kenneth Miles, I believe? he said, turning in the middle of the room. Cathy nodded.
`You know I do, she replied. `You saw me in that courtroom and Im sure even your police force know enough to know that were employed by the same company. What of it?
`Kenneth Miles made a bid to escape from the court yesterday, Costaditis said. `Were you aware of that?
`More than a bid, as I heard it, Cathy drawled, not bothering to disguise her smile. `The way I heard the story, he jumped out the khazi window and legged it before your boys had any idea he was gone.
`Pardon me? Khazi? the detective echoed. Cathys grin widened.
`The bog - crapper, loo, toilet, lavatory, she expanded. `Little boys room.
`Ah, of course. You English and your strange words.
`Its Arabic or Hindi, or something, actually, Cathy said. `Or is it Italian? I can never remember. Never mind. She walked across to the small table and picked up her cigarette packet. `I take it you think I might have poor old Kenny hiding under my bed, then? she said. `Be my guest - take a look around.
`That wont be necessary, Costaditis said, primly. `I merely wish to ask you a few questions. Cathy yawned, deliberately long and wide and made only a half-hearted attempt to cover it with her hand.
`Ask away, she said, taking out a cigarette, `but be quick. Im dropping on my feet here.
`You were not in this room all night, Costaditis said. `Would you mind telling me where you were and who you were with?
`Certainly, Cathy replied, flicking her disposable lighter into flame. She inhaled deeply and then let a long plume of smoke drift out, some of it escaping down her nostrils. Costaditis waited.
`Well? he said, eventually. Cathy raised her eyebrows.
`Well what? she said, innocently.
`Where were you last night, Miss Sullivan?
`Ah! Cathy drew another lungful of smoke. `You asked me if I minded telling you that and I said yes, meaning yes, I did mind telling you, she replied, casually and this time all the smoke billowed from her nostrils. `I dont think its any of your business, actually, she added.
`Ah, you were with a man, I take it? Cathy closed one eye and regarded him steadily out of the other.
`Why would you "take" that? she asked. `I was with a woman, actually.
`Ah. Costaditis waited. Cathy waited.
`A friend of mine, actually, she said, carefully. `A very good friend, if you know what I mean? She winked, ostentatiously, but suddenly became serious again. `Not that its got fuck all to do with you, Stavros, she said, brusquely. `And now, if youve finished, I want to get some sleep. or do you want me to do a strip tease in front of you?
`One final question, Costaditis said, turning in the doorway. Cathy grinned.
`You watch too much Columbo, friend, she said.
`Columbo? he said, clearly puzzled. Cathy shook her head. `Maybe not, she said. `Nor Kojak, either, eh? Never mind, she added, `just my funny sense of humour. So, whats your final question?
`When did you last see Kenneth Miles?
`Quite possibly around the same time you did, Cathy lied, glibly. `Maybe a bit after, come to think of it. I was standing out in the hallway and he walked past me to go into the toilet. He never came out again, at least not through the door, she said, truthfully this time.
`Our Mister Plodopododous is either totally thick, or else hes a good actor, Cathy said, when she finally joined Annie and "Lucy" in the café. `But at least he didnt leave his man watching.
`You werent followed here? Lucy/Kenny demanded, in an urgent whisper. cathy shook her head.
`No, she said. `I came by a very roundabout route and took several blind turnings, so Id have seen if anyone was following me. Maybe I managed to convince him I wasnt involved. Theres nothing to connect me with you, apart from the fact were work colleagues. I made it very clear to Plodopololous that I found his whole line of approach perfectly tedious.
`You were rude to him? Annie suggested.
`I was to the point, Cathy said. Annie made a face.
`You were bloody rude to him, in other words, she said. `Poor bugger - I almost feel sorry for him.
`I dont, Lucy/Kenny muttered. `Bastards a sadist. If youd seen his face up at that prison, when they whipped that poor girl ...
`Well, never mind that just now, Cathy said, assuming control again. `You and I will go back to my room and Annie can go and sort out whatever Plodopopolous theyve left at her hotel. Then, I suggest we all get a couple of hours shut-eye and meet up down by that kiddies paddling pool at the end of the bay.
`We can walk up to the hotel from there and have a word with Stella in the salon. She has a little private rest room at the back, so we can waste a few hours there, at least until the show starts. Oh yes, she said, suddenly remembering. `We need to get you some more sensible shoes, dont we Lucy? There should be enough left on my plastic, so well sort that out first.
`Yes please, Lucy/Kenny breathed. `These heels are starting to cripple my poor feet.
The small shoe shop was open, but it was still such an early hour that the place was deserted, apart from one yawning female assistant. Once again, they were in luck with the language situation; the girl was Spanish, spoke excellent English and was more than happy to accommodate them in a discreet corner, where Kenny could remove one boot and try on the various shoes she brought them.
`Such beautiful boots, commented the girl, whose name was Maria. She picked up the discarded one and turned it over lovingly. Kenny swallowed nervously and looked down, sure that she would discover his main secret at any moment, but Maria was far more concerned with his footwear than she was with him.
`Oh, she said, in awe, `how I should love a pair such as these, but on what I earn in a year, it would take me forever to save for them. You are very fortunate, senorita, or perhaps you have a kind sponsor?
`Theyre only borrowed, Cathy said, hurriedly. `Lucy, my friend here, she lost part of her luggage and with it all her shoes. Thats why weve come here. She looked at the four pairs of shoes Maria had brought out for Kenny to try on. `Are these all you have? she asked. The girl looked apologetic.
`In the senoritas size, yes, she replied. `The senorita has a long foot. Kenny felt his cheeks beginning to burn again. What she said was painfully true: his feet were on the small side for a man, but for a woman they were verging on that area where shoes to fit would need to be specially ordered and he was surprised that a small shop on a holiday island had even these four pairs to offer.
Three of the styles were completely unremarkable. One pair of leather court shoes with a small, stumpy heel, one pair of strappy summer sandals with a slightly higher heel and another pair in a brogue style, sensible shoes for walking around in most weathers. The fourth pair, however, almost met with Cathys approval. They were open-toed sling backs, in white and with a heel that was still thin enough to be classed as a stiletto, yet sturdy enough to offer the possibility of resistance to continued wear on uneven surfaces.
Kenny tried each style in turn on his stockinged foot, though he made no attempt to walk in any of them whilst the skyscraper heeled thigh boot was still on his other foot. Cathy enquired the price of each in turn and then sat for a moment making some rapid calculations.
`Ten thousand drachma for the lot, she said, finally. Maria looked surprised at this and had to do some mental arithmetic of her own. Finally, after a brief hesitation, she nodded, but not an immediate acceptance.
`Twelve thousand, she said. They split the difference and Kenny gratefully began unlacing the second boot, anxious to continue in any of the four new choices and not really caring which shoes he wore back to the hotel. In the end, they settled for the most sensible of the lot and, folding the boots carefully into a large carrier bag provided by Maria, they resumed their broken journey.
`Better now? Cathy asked, as soon as they were out of earshot. Kenny nodded. `Fine, Cathy said and looked down at his feet. `Now just relax and take smaller steps. The skirt will stop you taking your usual stride, but you need to make a conscious effort to walk more like a girl.
There were a few more people on the streets now. though it was still far from busy, as the majority of the population were still either sleeping or just beginning the morning routine of recovery from the night before and Kenny began to feel as if all eyes were now on him as they made their way back towards the hotel. A trip that would normally have seemed but a short hop now took on the proportions of an epic journey and he walked, head lowered, looking at the uneven flagstones of the pavement beneath his feet, grateful at least that he no longer had to navigate in the high heeled boots.
`Stop looking so damned furtive! Cathy hissed. `Just relax and take it nice and easy. Well be there soon and anyway, no ones paying you very much attention, other than the usual looks from the dirty old men. These bubbles are a vile lot and they get worse as they get older.
`Bubbles? Kenny echoed. Cathy looked sideways at him and laughed.
`Sorry, she said, `I was forgetting - youre a scouser. Its cockney rhyming slang. Bubble and squeak, Greek.
`Oh, Kenny replied. `So bubbles are Greeks, eh?
`Among other things, Cathy agreed.
They finally made it back to Cathys room, where Kenny flopped down onto the bed gratefully, his heart rate gradually settling back to something nearer normality. He accepted the proffered cigarette and inhaled deeply.
`I dont think I can go through with this, he muttered, eventually. `I mean, dont think Im not grateful for everything the two of you have tried to do for me, but it really isnt going to work. Ever since we got out of the van, Ive been expecting someone to see through all this lot.
`Maybe, Cathy said, `but the point is, they didnt, did they? And do you want to know why? Come on, stand up and walk over here, by the wardrobe. Its a bit tatty, but the mirror on the inside is fine and the light here is as good as youll get anywhere.
She swung the wardrobe door open and, as the mirror on the back of it came around, Kenny let out a small gasp. There again was the image that had confronted him in the half light of the cabin a few hours earlier, but this time, as Cathy had said, there was more than enough illumination for him to see the results of the girls efforts perfectly and no way of blaming the light for anything. Before him now stood a girl, unmistakably feminine in appearance, with a narrow waist, slightly flaring waist and two prominent mounds thrusting against the elasticated fabric of her top.
Her blonde hair framed a slightly tanned face, from which two large eyes peered out at the world in slightly startled fashion, the effect emphasised by the carefully drawn lines above and below, the thick eyelashes and the way in which the dark red lips were formed into the beginning of a question.
`You see? Cathy said, softly. `Would you think that was anything but female? Fair enough, the skirt isnt flattering, especially without the boots and the shoes - well, we can do better than that - but youre looking at Lucy there, not someone called Kenny.
`It ... it is hard to believe, Kenny admitted and took two shuffling steps closer, peering at his reflection from point blank range. `Yes, he agreed, `it would be hard to tell. But keeping up a deception like this for a few hours and getting away with it for what - maybe weeks? He shook his head. `I dont know, he finished, lamely.
`Well, we wont get away with it unless you make a real effort yourself now, Cathy warned him. `Annie and I can help you dress, do your make-up, hide you in small crowds of us and do most of the talking for you, but you really have to try to think like a female.
`And how am I supposed to do that? Kenny retorted. `Whatever you put on the outside, theres still a lifetime of man on the inside. I dont see I can change that overnight.
`Maybe not overnight and maybe not all of it anyway, Cathy conceded, `but what we are, how we act and react, that all has to come from inside - from in here. She tapped herself on the forehead with two fingers. `I know itll be embarrasing, at least to start with, but you have to be sort of at ease with your new self, proud of it, even.
`Let your hips wiggle a little when you walk - not too much, or you could end up with a whole new career - just enough so that it tells the world you know youre attractive. Move your weight more onto the balls of your feet - most women walk with their weight forward, whereas most men tend to stomp along with their weight on their heels.
`You mean I should mince along like a ... like a -?
`Dont say it! Cathy warned him. `Besides, not all gay men mince around, as you put it and those that do seem to overdo it most of the time. Just let yourself feel a little less ... well, a little less macho. Smaller steps, little bit of a hip swivel, shoulders back so youre telling the world youre proud of having nice tits and you expect men to stare at them.
`Dont scowl the way you have been doing, but dont smile too widely, either, or youll have a queue of bubbles following you all round the island. A nice little enigmatic smile will do nicely. We can have a practice later.
`Ill just feel a fool, Kenny grumbled. Cathy raised and lowered her eyebrows.
`Listen, she said, `you can at least have a proper go at it, right? This isnt just about you now, you daft tart - theres several of us now could be looking at a couple of years apiece in that grotty bubble lockup, as accessories after, or whatever they call it.
`All you have to do is think like an actor. Ever do any drama at school?
`Not really, Kenny confessed. `I was a spear carrier and a third man in a small crowd scene. First one was non-speaking and the second I just had about half a line.
`No matter, Cathy said, undaunted apparently. `Just start thinking as yourself as trying to perfect a role. None of us will take the piss out of you, so forget about your ego. Look upon it as a challenge, with us all as members of the same cast, all keen to help you put on the performance of a lifetime.
At last, Kenny tore himself away from his reflection and turned back to face into the room. He took a deep breath, felt the waist cincher dig into him as he did and watched the way his breasts rose and fell slightly.
`You really think I could learn how? he asked, quietly. Cathy smiled at him.
`I think you could give it a damned good try, she replied. `You certainly look the part - better even than I thought you would. She paused. `Tell you what, she said, `lets get down and find Stella. Bugger having a nap - I dont think I could sleep now if I tried and I dont like hanging around here too much, just in case Plodopopodopolous comes sniffing back here again.
`You trust this Stella, do you?
`Absolutely. She used to do my hair back in London and it was me who put her onto this little number. Shes solid gold, trust me.
`I dont have much option, do I? Kenny said, philosophically. `Theres just one thing, though. My ears - you werent serious about having her pierce them, were you?
Annie had barely closed the door of her room behind her, when she heard the heavy steps on the landing outside, followed immediately by a very business-like knock. Like Cathy earlier, she recognised Costaditis, but this time, she saw, he had a uniformed officer with him, who took up a position just outside.
`Youll be wanting to know if Ive seen Kenny Miles, no doubt? she said, before the detective could finish introducing himself. `Well, youd better come in, but dont make yourself too comfortable. Im going out to get my hair done shortly and I need a shower first.
`Miss McNaughton, Costaditis began, stepping over the threshold, `you do realise that it is a serious offence to harbour a fugitive?
`Of course, Annie replied, sweetly. `Same as it would be back in England. But Im not harbouring any fugitive, am I? Youre welcome to take a look around. It shouldnt take you long - this place is hardly bigger than a shoe box anyway.
`That wont be necessary, the policeman replied, stiffly. `We know he isnt in this hotel. However, I suspect that he will try to contact one of you, if he has not done so already. You would do well to advise him to surrender himself, before he makes things far worse for himself.
`Worse for himself, is it? Annie mused. `Thatll take some doing. The way I see it, hes up to the ears in really smelly stuff already.
`Yes, he is, Costaditis agreed, `but the court could easily impose another ten years on top of his sentence and any chance he might have had for a clemency appeal would be destroyed, unless he comes to his senses.
`Ill be sure to tell him, if I see him, Annie said, `but I expect you and your policemen friends will recapture him before long anyway. This isnt a very big island, after all and his face is plastered all over the newspaper, I saw last night.
When Costaditis finally left, a few minutes later, Annie stripped off and walked across to the small shower room and stood under the fitful stream of tepid water for five minutes, thinking carefully. She hadnt needed the Greek detective to tell her how much trouble she was courting by helping Kenny, but now, in the light of day, certain things were beginning to present themselves differently to the way they had during their midnight adventure.
She turned off the water, stepped out, wrapped a towel around her and walked across to the French window, which opened up onto a tiny third floor balcony overlooking a swimming pool that was already beginning to fill up with hotel guests.
`Milos asked me to give you this, Stella said, when Cathy and Kenny eventually walked into her salon in the Alexander hotel. The place was empty still, the main trade usually coming in the late morning and afternoon and Stella ushered them through to the tiny rest room area at the back.
She was a small girl, barely five feet tall, with sparrow like features and perfectly groomed black hair framing a perfectly made up face, an excellent walking advertisement for her expertise. She wore a skirt that barely covered her buttocks and a top that was little more than two squares of red fabric and a series of red laces, over which she had pulled a thin, pale blue overall.
`Milos said to give it to you immediately I saw you, she said, pressing the folded paper into Cathys hands. `He said its important and hell be waiting for you. Kenny recognised the slight lilt of a Welsh accent when she spoke.
`What is it? he whispered to Cathy. He eyed Stella warily, but the petite beautician-hairdresser merely smiled at him. Cathy unfolded the slip and read it quickly.
`Just an address, she said. `Its a small bar down near the beach, I think. He took me there the night I first met him. Will it be open yet, I wonder?
`Milos said to go through the alley at the side and knock on the yellow door, Stella said, in answer. `Just ask for him, he said. She looked from Cathy to Kenny. `Your, er, friend can stay here with me, if you like. It might be safer. The pigs are wandering around more than usual this morning.
`Right then - Lucy, isnt it? - shall we pierce your ears? Stella said briskly, when Cathy had departed. She looked at Kenny and grinned, impishly. `If you dont mind my saying, Id never have guessed. Kenny goraned, inwardly.
`How many more people know about this? he demanded.
`Only people who can be trusted, Stella assured him. `Dont worry, I shant breathe a word to anyone. Now, come back through into the salon and take a seat.
`Is it really necessary? Kenny whined. `These clip-on things are enough, surely? Stella shook her head.
`I wouldnt do anything you didnt really want me to do, she said, `but I think the girls are right. Its little things that might give you away and little things that help complete the picture. Clip-on earrings are all right, but theyre a bit old fashioned nowadays.
`Tell me, when did you last see a girl who didnt have her ears pierced? Kenny paused, hesitated and tried to think. `You see? Stella chirped. `You cant remember, can you. Its one of those things that are just taken for granted. Dont worry, it doesnt hurt at all.
Two sharp clicks and two very slight pricking sensations later, Kenny sat before the mirror staring at a "girl" whose ear lobes each now sported a single gold stud. A moment later, before he could stop her, Stella added a second stud to the right lobe.
`Hey! he exclaimed, alarmed. `What are you doing?
`Embellishing a bit, Stella replied. `See, I have three studs in each of my ears. Useful for those big gypsy earrings and the like.
`Youre not putting three studs in my ears! Kenny protested.
`No, just two will be enough, she said. `Ill have to do the other one on the left now, whatever you may think, otherwise itll look very odd. She had a point - Kenny remembered hearing somewhere that two studs or rings in one ear and one in the other meant something in the gay community - and he sat there uneasily while she inserted the fourth stud.
`Very nice, Stella said, putting the piercing gun down. `You shouldnt really wear anything except studs for a couple of weeks, but I have some small rings that will be okay, just so long as you make sure you keep cleaning the holes whilst theyre healing and dont fiddle about with them at all.
`Now, before the masses start descending on me, lets go through and make a cup of tea, shall we? Ive got a couple of paperbacks somewhere, if you want to pass the time a bit and theres a door out onto a private little patio. Its not very big, but its nice and cool and theres a lounger out there you can use. She shook her head as Kenny rose to his feet again.
`We really ought to sort out some halfway decent clothes for you, too, she said. `That outfit is okay as far as really casual goes, but you need something with shorter sleeves and a lot higher hemline. If people see you walking around like that in the heat of the day, theyll think youre a bit odd.
`Theyd be right, Kenny muttered, bitterly. `Only they wouldnt know just how right they were!
Milos himself answered Cathys knock. He was tall and dark, almost stereotypically Mediterranean in appearance and his eyes never seemed to rest. He pulled Cathy inside, looked out to check that there was no one else at either end of the narrow alleyway and then closed the door again and bolted it securely.
`Come through, he said, urgently. `There is a small sitting room in the rear. Dont worry, this place is owned by my uncle and run by my two cousins. They know nothing of this matter, though, so we must be discreet.
`What on earths the matter? Cathy said, when they were finally ensconsed in an almost claustrophobic little chamber, with only one tiny window to provide light and illumination. `Has something gone wrong? Milos sat back in one of the two battered leather armchairs that dominated the confined space and steepled his fingers.
`Catherine, he began, clearly choosing his words with care, `this Kenny, your friends friend, how well do you know him?
`Not that well, Cathy admitted. `I only met him when he and Annie joined us at Heathrow airport. Why do you ask? Milos narrowed his eyes and appeared to be thinking.
`But you say that Annie has known him for some little time, yes?
`Yes. About a year, I think. Whats up?
`The story he told you about the prison - the girl?
`The girl who was flogged?
`Yes. Milos hesitated, then, `You know there is officially no corporal punishment in Greece? he began again. Cathy shrugged.
`I assumed that the different islands had a certain amount of ... latitude?
`Perhaps, Milos conceded. `As I say, there is no official corporal punishment. However, this Kenny, he told you that he saw this woman whipped up at the old prison here? Cathy nodded confirmation.
`Yes, thats right, she said. `That policeman, Costaditis, he took him out there to watch it. Kenny thinks it was to try to frighten him.
`You are sure this happened? Cathy looked across at Milos curiously.
`Yes, of course, she replied. `Youre not suggesting Kenny made it up, are you? What would be the point of that? Milos looked thoughtful again, his eyes troubled.
`No, of course, he said. `There would be no point in making up such a tale.
`So why did you ask?
`The old prison, Milos said. `I never really thought of it before. You told me so many things and in such a rush, I never had time to order my head around it all. I even wondered if perhaps I could be wrong, but I checked this morning and no, I was not wrong.
`Not wrong about what? Cathy urged, impatiently. Milos scratched the side of his nose.
`The prison, he said. `The prison has not been in proper use for ten years now. For a while it was used as a storage facility, but no prisoners. All prisoners now go either to the mainland, or to one of the larger islands. The prison here was not thought economic no more, you understand?
`Yes, well it isnt a big island, Cathy agreed. `There cant ever have been that much crime to warrant a prison in the first place.
`Originally, Milos explained, `the prison here served several islands, back when there were only small villages here, but then came the tourism and it was thought that a prison full of criminals would not add to the attraction and it was a very old building anyway.
`So youre saying that the prison isnt really a prison at all? Cathy exclaimed, open-mouthed. `But then Kenny -
`Could not have seen what he claims to have seen, Milos finished for her. `Yet you trust him enough to believe that he did see this - this punishment.
`Well, I thought I did, yes, Cathy said. `Yes, of course I trust him, she added, hastily. `He was terrified of the same thing happening to him and he said to Annie that the man - Costaditis - seemed to be some sort of sadist and actually enjoyed watching it happen.
`Then we must assume that it did happen as he told it, Milos said. He fell silent again, once more obviously thinking. `The policeman, Costaditis, he continued, eventually, `he is a very powerful policeman, did you know?
`Well, I assumed he was fairly high ranking, yes, Cathy said. `Some sort of drug squad chief, I guessed.
`He is more than that, Milos said. `I myself know little of the man, except that he is seen here from time to time and that he is more than just a drugs detective. I made two telephone calls earlier and asked some discreet questions.
`About Costaditis? Milos nodded, solemnly.
`Indeed, about Costaditis. It appears that he is a senior commissioner in our worthy police force and that he is in overall charge of the policing of more than twenty of the islands, mostly the smaller ones in this area. That makes him very powerful and potentially very dangerous.
`I also discovered some other interesting facts, perhaps not directly concerning Costaditis, but perhaps they are. That I cannot say.
`Whatever it was, you seem very troubled by it, Cathy observed, sympathetically. `Are you going to tell me these interesting facts, or do I have to guess? She smiled, encouragingly. Milos gave a little laugh.
`I think that you would not guess these facts, he said, smiling himself now, `so I shall tell them to you, as much as I know of them. He paused yet again and took a deep breath before continuing.
`On four of the other islands in this area, he said, `there have recently been arrests similar to this Kennys situation, young holidaymakers found with drugs hidden in their luggage and each time the same story, that they had no idea they were there.
`In each case, the accused was granted bail, as Kenny was, which is quite unusual with such serious charges, even though to get off these islands unseen would be almost impossible.
`And then what? Did all the others make a run for it too?
`Two did, Milos nodded. `Both were later shot, whilst resisting capture. Both died.
`Oh. Another brief silence. `The remaining two?
`One disappeared over the side of the boat that was taking him to a mainland prison. Apparently there was a struggle and he jumped. His body was washed ashore several days later and the post mortem showed that he had died from drowning.
`The last one? Cathy waited, with bated breath.
`The last one is also dead, Milos said. `He was sent to a prison on Arrakos Island, a small establishment, mostly used for short term prisoners. There was a fight, apparently with another prisoner and he fell down the stairs and broke his neck. He was pronounced dead by the doctor who was called in.
`And no one has thought any of this suspicious? Cathy exclaimed. `Four foreigners - I assume they were foreigners? Milos nodded. `Four foreigners, all arrested on the same sort of charges and all now dead, two before they were even tried?
`Yes, all four dead, Milos said, `and no, no one has thought it suspicious, or, more likely, if they have thought it so, they have seen the wisdom in not voicing their suspicions too loudly. As I said, Costaditis is very powerful.
`And was Costaditis involved in all the cases directly?
`He was the arresting officer in each case, Milos confirmed. `Each time it was an alert from the airport security and each time he followed up and arrested the suspects with the contraband still in their possession. Kenny was the fifth suspect.
`And the only one still alive, Cathy said, thoughtfully. Her mind was working overtime now and any residual fatigue from earlier had vanished. `Which makes Kenny unique, she continued.
`And his future less than good, Milos added.
`Yes, Cathy said. `Id say the odds are that if Kenny is recaptured, even if he does make it to a prison, he wont live very long, or am I being too pessimistic here? A sudden thought occurred to her. `But what about that Spanish girl, the one he saw being flogged? Is she a sixth one, another survivor?
`Not from any information I have been able to get, Milos said. `However, some months ago there was a Spanish girl went missing on another island. She was thought to have been swimming at night and got into difficulties.
`And drowned, presumably, Cathy said. `But let me guess, she continued immediately, `theres not been any sign of her body yet?
`No, there has not, Catherine. Officially, she is still regarded as missing, presumed dead. Normally, when people drown, their bodies turn up on one or other of the islands within a few weeks at most. This time, however, I suspect there will be no body, not on a beach, anyway?
`The prison here, Cathy asked, `is that still a storage building?
`Apparently not, Milos said, shaking his head. `The friend I spoke to did not have any details, but the information he does have is that it was bought by a company that builds hotels. They bought both the prison and all the land on that peninsula, presumably for redevelopment, although there is no sign of any work commencing just yet.
`And probably nobody bothered about it either, Cathy said. `It would be an easy matter to circulate a story that the development company had run short of money, or else were having second thoughts as to viability. Which gives them a nice private building all to themselves.
`But to what purpose? Milos demanded. `To whip a girl occasionally, just to frighten a suspected drug courier into giving information to the police? That makes no sense, Catherine, Im afraid.
`How about as some sort of headquarters? Cathy suggested. `And how about if the idea of letting Kenny see the girl being whipped wasnt really to force him into giving information, but to push him into making a run for it?
`So that he could also perhaps be shot whilst resisting arrest? Milos said. `Maybe, he conceded, `but the question still remains - why?
`Im not sure, Cathy admitted. `Its all a bit sudden and a bit involved, but there has to be a logical reason somewhere. Perhaps all these people knew something that someone didnt want to risk being made known?
`Like what? Kenny says that he has no idea how the drugs got into his case and so, apparently, did all the others. None of them seems to know or have known anything at all, so why kill them?
`Maybe they did know something after all, Cathy suggested, `except they never had time to think and realise what they might know, if that makes sense. Maybe there was something, some little clue, from which they might eventually have been able to give the police an idea as to who really was responsible for the drugs.
`But why should the police kill them for that? Milos demanded. `Surely that is what they want to know? Why kill off their only possible leads?
`Maybe, Cathy said, slowly, `they already do know and maybe, just maybe, they didnt want to risk anyone else finding out.
`You mean you think the police themselves could be behind this smuggling? Milos cried, eyes wide with disbelief. `No, that is too impossible to believe!
`Maybe not all the police, Cathy said. `Maybe just one or two of them and maybe one of them in a position where he can deflect suspicion and cover up any mistakes. She looked at Milos unwaveringly. Eventually, her words seemed to sink in.
`You mean Costaditis? he said, his tone shocked. Cathy nodded.
`Yes, she said. `I mean Costaditis.
`Its all very well, Kenny said, plaintively, `but with this wig on, you cant even really see my ears anyway, so why bother piercing them?
`Well, your hair moves all the time, Stella explained, `and also it means you can tie it back in a pony tail, especially when its hot. Thats what most girls would do out here. It was now just past noon and she had dealt with two customers, leaving her two assistants, one Greek girl and a younger French girl to take care of a couple of non-booked ladies, whilst she herself slipped out to join Kenny in the cool of the patio.
`Whats your real hair like underneath? she asked. `Maybe I could do something with it. That wig must be a bit warm by now.
`It is, Kenny said. He put down the well thumbed paperback copy of the latest Frederick Forsyth thriller and sung his legs over the side of the lounger. `Unfortunately, he added, `my own hair is pretty short. You wouldnt be able to make that look feminine if you tried. Stella seemed undaunted.
`Oh, I dont know, she said. `The skinhead look is still pretty fashionable for girls, you know. Sinead OConnor lives and all that. It depends upon your bone structure and the shape of your skull, of course. Here, no one can see us and Ive locked the door - just slip it off a minute and let me see.
Reluctantly, Kenny peeled back the wig, feeling even more self conscious, sitting there now in full make-up and feminine attire, but with his near cropped head on full display. Stella studied him from the front, then from one side and then from the other.
`Youve got a nice shaped head, she commented. `And your hair isnt that short. Ive seen girls with their heads shaved right down to the skin. I reckon I could do something. Maybe if I bleached it white and just shaved higher up the back of your neck. That way, itll look as if youre just going a bit over the top with your look.
`But whats the point? Kenny protested. `Why not just stick the wig on and keep it on?
`Well, you could do that anyway, of course, Stella agreed, `but say a sudden gust of wind was to blow the wig off. Wouldnt it be better if you had some sort of feminine style underneath? People would then just assume that you used the wig just for a change of style. Thats not so uncommon as you might think.
To Kennys utter astonishment, neither of the women customers in the salon gave him more than a passing glance when Stella sat him in the chair and the two assistants attending them seemed far too engrossed in what they were doing and keeping up a steady conversation with their respective clients (probably in the hope of receiving a bigger tip) to pay much attention either.
Stella went to work quickly and efficiently, clipping and snipping and then shampooing in a sticky gelatinous substance that very quickly removed all traces of colour from Kennys hair, leaving him with a gleaming white skull cap that really did look feminine. He was back on the private patio by the time Cathy finally returned and she stood there, mouth open, staring at him for several seconds.
`Bloody hell! she exclaimed, finally. `Annie Lennox as I live and breath! That is really stunning, Lucy! You look beautiful, you really do.
`I stand out like a sore thumb now, you mean! Kenny muttered. `You could use my head as a warning beacon for shipping now.
`You may stand out, true, Cathy agreed, `but that could work to our advantage. No one would expect any bloke on the run to look that individual, would they? The local plod will just put you down as another freaky English bird! Stroke of genius on Stellas part, I reckon.
`I still think Ill put the wig back on before we go out of here, Kenny asserted. `I need time to get used to all this anyway, let alone walking around like some punk rock tart.
`Well, you do whatever you feel comfortable with, Cathy said. `Meantime, theres a few things I have to tell you and a question or two you may be able to answer. You may well be in even deeper trouble than we first thought. Quickly, she outlined the discussion she had had with Milos and Kenny listened, without interrupting. By the time she had finished speaking, his face looked pale beneath the tan make-up.
`You really think theyd kill me if they caught me? he asked, his voice quavering. `Surely there must be someone we can tell your suspicions to?
`Like who? Cathy demanded. `The nearest British Consul is hundred of miles from here and I doubt theyd help you unless you gave yourself up. It may be a bit moody, but as far as theyd be concerned, youve been found guilty by a properly consituted court.
`Which brings me to the first question. How much did they set your bail at?
`Fifty thousand drachmas, Kenny said. `In my own recognisance, or something. I didnt actually have to hand over any cash.
`Not a lot, is it? Cathy mused. `Doesnt seem as if they were that worried about you legging it, does it? And when you were taken up to that prison, she continued, `who else went with you, apart from Costaditis?
`One bloke in uniform, Kenny said. `One bloke carrying a fucking great gun, as it happens. I wasnt going to try anything, believe me.
`And inside the prison? Did you see any other prisoners, apart from the girl being whipped in the courtyard? Kenny thought for a few minutes and then shook his head.
`No, he said, slowly, `I was taken in through a small side door and up some stairs into an office area.
`What about guards, warders?
`Just a couple of guys in uniforms and I think there was a bloke in a suit. He just sort of nodded to Costaditis and went on down and through another door. Another office, I think.
`And how did the offices strike you? Cathy asked. Kenny shrugged.
`Nothing special. How do you mean, exactly?
`Well, were they tatty, clean, used looking, or maybe sort of abandoned?
`Well, they looked as if someone was using them, Kenny confirmed. `I saw desks with filing trays on and paperwork in them. There was a jacket hanging up in the office where we watched that poor girl from, I remember it now. Pale cream colour, the sort of lightweight suit a man would wear in these temperatures.
`And the girl herself? Cathy probed further. `Are you sure they were really whipping her? Could it have been a put-up show for your benefit? Kenny shook his head vigorously.
`No, definitely not! he exclaimed. `I could see the marks appearing on her back. I had to look away in the end, it was so horrible!
`You do know theres no official corporal punishment in this country, dont you? Cathy said. kenny looked confused.
`No, he said. `I didnt know that. I sort of just assumed -
`As you were supposed to assume, Cathy nodded. `And did anyone in the actual court suggest your sentence might include a flogging?
`Not in the courtroom, no, Kenny said. `At least, I dont think they did. Costaditis was the one who kept bringing that up, but only when we were alone, or whenever that other cop was there.
`The same cop who went with you to the prison?
`Yes, it was, as a matter of fact. Cathy looked thoughtful.
`It is some sort of scam, she said, at last. `Quite what, or how big, I dont know, but the way theyve been killing off the other poor mugs, I reckon you must know something yourself, something they dont want to risk getting out.
`But I know nothing at all! Kenny wailed. `I already told them that. I cant think how anyone might have got at my suitcase. I put it on the carousel at Heathrow and then took it off again at Athens. I remember, because mine was last through and I was left waiting.
`Yes, we all had to hang around in that café, waiting for you, Cathy agreed. `We thought maybe it had been lost altogether.
`Maybe that was when the customs guys realised there was something in it, Kenny suggested. `No, hang on a minute, he said, `the guy with the dog was later, by the barrier. I walked through that carrying the case, after that porter guy went looking for it for me.
`What porter guy? Kenny shrugged again.
`Dunno, he said. `Some Greek lad. I asked him if he could make enquiries for me and he went off to see what he could find out.
`And he brought it out for you, did he?
`No, that was another guy - a good bit older, probably fortyish. He had a cabin staff uniform on and he spoke fluent English. The first guy was barely out of his teens and was wearing that plain coverall uniform the airport workers all seemed to be wearing. And his English wasnt that good, either. Took me ages to make him understand what I wanted.
`Well, I dont claim to be Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple, Cathy said, `but I reckon thats when the stuff was put in your case. It wasnt in your case during the flight, I dont think. That steward bloke probably had it hidden on the airplane and then kept your case back when they started unloading from the hold. Did he say anything to you when he handed it over to you?
`Just something about being very sorry, that the baggage handlers had left it in a corner of the hold and that hed report the matter to the captain and the airline might send me a free voucher as compensation for my inconvenience.
`And I bet you gave him the name of the hotel you were staying in! Cathy exclaimed. Kenny nodded.
`Well yes, he admitted. `He said theyd need to know where to send the voucher, so of course I told him. But, if what youre saying is that he put the stuff in my case, why send the police round instead.
`He didnt though, did he? Cathy said. `That sniffer dog alerted the customs bloke and he informed the police, who followed you, apparently to see if you contacted anyone to pass the packet on.
`Well, they certainly didnt wait around for long, Kenny said. `Not much of a surveillance operation, was it?
`Quite, Cathy said, tersely. `Thats another point Milos made. He also said that its not that usual for them to use the sniffer dogs in the arrivals department of that particular terminal. Apparently they tend to concentrate on flights coming from the east, though every now and then they put on a show at random.
`And caught me, Kenny said.
`Not just you, it would seem, Cathy said. `Youre just the latest in a string of unfortunates.
`Five of us, you reckon, Kenny ventured. `Just unlucky.
`Exactly, Cathy agreed. `Just unlucky and no way that steward guy could know in advance thered be a dog there, either. But then, if Costaditis did the follow-up, they wouldnt really be losing their consignment, would they? Take out enough stuff to analyze and then - well, I doubt its the real stuff that finally gets incinerated.
`And meantime, most of their little shipments come through without any bother anyway.
`But what happens when some poor unfortunate discovers the stuff in his case and decides to tell the law himself?
`The law is Costaditis, dont forget, Cathy reminded him. `Put yourself in the scenario - either you find the stuff yourself, or maybe a copper - possibly Costaditis again, possibly one of his henchmen - comes knocking on your hotel room door and demands to search the place.
`You plead innocent - which you are - and good old cuddly Stavros-features decides hell give you the benefit of the doubt. But he also warns you that if you breathe a word to anyone, your feet wont touch the ground, because maybe hes on the trail of the real smugglers and he doesnt want them tipped off. What would you do?
`Keep my lip firmly zipped! Kenny stated, fervently.
`And so would anyone with half a grain of sense or self-preservation instinct, Cathy said. `Result - Costaditis walks off with fuck knows how much worth of goodies and no one is ever any the wiser. Poor schmuck sweats out the rest of his holiday and cant wait to get back home again.
`And the only problem that ever arises is if they happen to have a dog at the terminal when a consignment is coming through, Kenny concluded. `Very neat. very neat indeed.
`Except that whoever they are forced to arrest may work out just when and where the stuff got into their baggage and also be able to identify the guy responsible. So bye-bye possible incriminating witness.
`But I couldnt prove that steward did it, could I? Kenny said.
`No, but stir up enough shit and the place starts to stink, Cathy replied. `So why take the risk when you can dispose of the problem with no questions asked.
`Well, now we do have something to take to the authorities, Kenny said, his face suddenly brightening. Cathy raised her eyebrows.
`Yep, she said, slowly. `We have a theory, a possible suspect and bugger all else. We also have no way of knowing which police, if any, we can trust. Corruption tends to spread out like mad in these out of the way places. The only thing I suggest is that we wait until we can get to a British Consulate.
`Couldnt one of you get a ferry back to the mainland? Kenny suggested.
`We could, Cathy agreed, her expression inscrutable. `And then someone would know that there was something funny going on, that maybe youd realised what they dont want you to realise. Whoever made the trip simply wouldnt get to the other end, I reckon.
`No, well have to wait and see if the real Lucys sister is willing to carry a message for us. meantime, you just start getting used to being Lucy. Its your best chance of staying alive, I reckon. In fact, she added, darkly, `its probably your only chance of staying alive.
`So, she said, `lets get your wig on, blondie, if thats what you prefer and lets go and find Annie and tell her what we think we know. Maybe shell have some ideas of her own.
To be continued again ...
So, will our gallant heroines get out of this tight corner and defeat the powers of Mediterranean corruption? Will Lucy ever get back to being plain old Kenny again and why has she still not started to appreciate the wider wardrobe choice her new personna offers her? Dont some people just make you want to slap em?
Tune in to this station again soon, for the next exciting episode of
For US readers having trouble with the various Britisms and slang in this story, dont forget that there is now available my very own Glossary of Britisms and Idioms, downloadable from this site (in my story section).
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