The Postcard (OS033)
Previously: We spent a couple of days in Ghent, Belgium and Pam attempted to get me to appreciate art (in vain). However, I did appreciate the wine in the art gallery café though but the associated Dutch courage led me to write a blunt postcard to Mal Evolent (my ‘challenging’ lodger) hoping to get him to move out. However, the next day, when I was hosting a blinding headache and my more familiar cautious nature, I thought better of sending it. Too late, Pam had posted it….
“You posted it Pam?” I questioned.
“Well, that was the idea.”
“Yes, it was the idea after the wine, when I was feeling invincible.”
“Well it’s an ill wind which blows no good.”
“What does that mean? Do you mean there’s no good, so it’s a really ill wind or there is some good that I’ve not discovered?”
“Well, maybe he will move out. which would make it less windy. At the end of the day, what’s done is done.”
I’m sure Pam had the best of intensions posting the card. However, to prevent the issue of further proverbs and sayings I decided the best thing was to enjoy the trip and deal with the consequences later.
We parked up in Cadzand. Great beach and interesting canals. Not too warm though, so we grabbed a sandwich and pressed onto Dunkirk. This was a special place to Pam since her Great Grandfather had been killed there, in the second there were row upon row of war graves; the stillness and calmness of the place was unbelievable. It put any minor worries in perspective including obsessing about something as trivial as whether the postcard had arrived. We stayed a while and then Pam spotted another art gallery. I’d seen enough art for a while so I stayed in the café (and bought no postcards). I kept checking the doorbell video to see if the postman had delivered the card. I missed the postman but the doorcam rang, just as Pam returned to the café. It was Mal, in full view. He proceeded to rip up the postcard and throw it onto the grass. He then wheeled the dustbin to the front lawn and pushed it over spilling the contents.
“He knows I love that lawn!” I bleated. “What else is he going to do?”
Neither of us spoke for some time.
“I’m going to have to go back Pam, to convince him to leave.”
“The problem is Oliver, what has he actually done? I know he’s running up the electricity bill and that he tipped rubbish on your lawn but with no evidence that he slashed your campervan tyre. You will have a problem evicting him.”
“I know but he could be wrecking the house …. and he’s not paid his rent.”
“Why don’t you get the ex-geologist / private detective you met (in Blog 22) to go around and check out what’s happening” suggested Pam.
“Good idea. He can say he’s picking up something for me.”
So, that’s what we did. I rang ‘Con Glomerate’ and explained the situation. I must admit, my faith in this solution went down a notch (or five) when talking to him. I was trying to tell him where the spare key is.
“It’s under ‘Ethel’ the statue in the back garden.” I said.
“Sorry, it’s a bad line. Can you spell that for me.”
“Sure, E for Echo. T for Tango …”
“How do you spell that?”
“Well, it’s T for … I don’t know … Tyrannosaurus.”
Pam butted in “It’s T for what dogs do on the pavement” she said laughing.
“Oh ‘P’, so that’s EP” he said losing track of what we were spelling, “I can only think of one ‘Ephrodites’”
Pam whispered, “I think he means ‘Aphrodites’ but just say yes.”
I did as instructed, “Yes, that’s it Con, good guess.”
I whispered to Pam “There are only two statues in the garden anyway and the other one is a Gnome, called Marcus, who is pushing a wheelbarrow.”
“My mother said she brought it back from Rome when she was on holiday but I’ve seen them at the local garden centre.”
“That really would be excess baggage.”
Pam helpfully took over the conversation with Con. “Anyway Con there is only one statue in the garden, apart from the gnome with the wheelbarrow and it’s not that.”
“Ok got it. I was just trying to get as much detail as possible in my detective notebook. So that’s Ephrodites and Marcus. Very important to record details but no matter I can fill it in the rest when we get a better line. I should be able to go around tomorrow and I’ll ring you back.”
I must admit it played on my mind the rest of the day, what he might find when he gets to my home.
As it happens events came to a head later that day. The doorcam rang again.
Two serious looking policemen stood on the doorstep. I thought, what now? Maybe they were calling in relation to the incident when the walker scraped my campervan with his face and the other one leapt into the Hawthorn hedge.
Mal opened the door.
“Mr Mal Evolent?” enquired one of the officers.
“Oh good, it’s not about the walkers. I hope someone has reported him for the littering.” I said, relieved.
My relief was short lived when the officer said “You’re under arrest for Cybercrime.”
“What?” said Pam and myself simultaneously.
I heard Mal say “Just a second whilst I lock the car.”
He removed a key fob from his pocket and pressed the button.
Suddenly, there was a loud explosion and the officers and Mal were blown over and clouds of debris showered down. Mal got to his feet quickly and raced down the path. He grabbed the handlebar of a child’s tricycle which had been blown onto the grass verge by the blast.
“He’s blown my house up.” I exclaimed.
There was a deafening pause. It was some time before Pam said “You’ll have to go home Oliver, to see what’s happened and fix the damage. It’s such a shock. I can’t believe that he was involved in that sort of thing……”. “Look on the bright side. At least we probably won’t be seeing him again.”
“It’s not that Pam. They might think I’m involved.”
“That’s crazy. Why would they think that? There is no evidence linking you to that sort of thing, is there?”. “Oliver….Oliver, there isn’t is there? You’re not speaking. I know you. You wouldn’t be involved in anything like that?”
“I wouldn’t. I mean I was an ethical hacker before working at the biscuit factory and I do know a thing or two about it.”
“Well, that’s OK. That’s your work.”
“Yes, but unfortunately, before that, I was just a kid, a stupid kid, fourteen or fifteen and I did try to hack a few places, just to see if I could.”
“Oliver, you idiot ….. Still that was a long time ago and that’s all behind you now. “
“Well, I don’t think I have any of the software anymore. There may be some information downloads on my PC and a book about hacking. I kept meaning to bin it but didn’t get round to it. I never did any damage though. I once hacked an ice cream company to get a delivery of cookie dough ice cream for me and my mates and a cinema to get free tickets to a rubbish Sci-Fi film. I’d have asked for money back if I’d have paid for it in the first place. Oh, there was once when I did try to access somewhere else. That worked out badly and I’ve done nothing since. It’s all in my book. You should read it. I’ll give you a copy….if I ever get home.”
“Can you prove you had nothing to do with whatever Mal was doing, Oliver?”
I wasn’t convinced that I could.
“Actually, this is quite exciting. We’re on the run, like Bonnie and Clyde.”
“You be Clyde. What now Clyde?”.
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