McCrumble on the run!
Let me bring you partially up to date.
Dolores had sent Ravel to fetch me from the courthouse after the bail hearing. He turned up on time, and I phoned home to say I was with Ravel and everything was OK. The court was about 25 miles away from the Institute, and I fully expected to be enjoying a home-cooked meal within the hour. Ravel was immensely pleased to see me, and promised to make sure that I never went to jail again. I did try to explain that this was only just the beginning of a long process to clear my name, but he didn't seem too interested in the fine details.
The first problem we encountered was a traffic jam due to some totally unnecesary roadworks about half way home. I tried to phone, but couldn't get a signal. Rain began to fall, as it often does in this part of the world at this time of year, then the radio signal failed. Ravel hit the radio a few times but, bizarrely, this didn't seem to help at all. I shrugged my shoulders and resigned myself to arriving at the dinner table half an hour late.
Or so I thought.
We eventually managed to squeeze through the roadworks. A very sullen looking man operating a stop-go sign waved us through and we were on our way. About ten minutes later Ravel received a phone call. Nothing suspicious about that, I thought, until after a few minutes of speaking in Bulgarian my research assistant turned to me with a serious face and said 'Miron is near. He wants to speak'
I felt myself visibly blanche at the sound of the name. For those of you who don't know, Miron is the somewhat mysterious (and frankly sinister) brother of Ravel. We had a brief encounter some time ago - check out the main blog. I wasn't expecting to come across him so soon - in fact he was somebody I never intented to purposefully meet ever again. 'What does he want - money?' I asked.
'He didn't say. He sounded....how you say....'
'Evil?' I suggested.
'Serious', said Ravel, his brow furrowing.
'I'd rather not go, actually', I said. 'Our last encounter didn't leave me with much confidence in our ability to interact in a mutually agreeable manner'
'I don't like your brother very much Ravel, and don't want to meet him'
'Oh, that is a big shame boss'
'Because he stands in layby just there. I need to stop and talk with him'
'Oh, bollocks' I said, suddenly feeling a little uneasy. I could see a man standing not far ahead, leaning against an old black saloon car. His bulk suggested that it could be Miron, but his cropped blond hair drew a blank. I raised my camera-phone and zoomed in to take a picture for the record.
As we drew up to the layby Miron stepped away from the car. He walked a few steps towards our approaching vehicle and put his right hand inside his jacket. What he pulled out shocked me into immediate action. We were still a hundred metres or so away, but I could just make out what he was holding.
It was a gun.
'DON'T STOP!' I shouted at Ravel, who was already braking and pulling into the layby. 'He's got a gun Ravel. Keep driving!'
'He just want to talk boss. That isn't a gun, it's a....'
'Don't argue Ravel, just keep driving!'
'PULL OUT NOW!'
Ravel steered the car back out into the traffic as instructed. We sped past the waiting Miron who looked at us in disbelief. He put the gun back in his jacket pocket and got into his car. At that point I lost sight as we rounded a corner.
'Step on it Ravel. I don't want him catching us up'
'That wasn't a gun boss. He...'
'Don't try to cover for him Ravel. He's bad news. I don't want to be found strung up in the woods with a bullet in my head thanks. Get us out of here.'
'No buts Ravel. Take the next left.'
Ravel moaned and started saying something in Bulgarian. I was too busy looking for signs of Miron following us to take much notice of the level of vitriol or insolence in his tone. As we were turning left, Ravel's phone rang.
'Don't answer it!' I shouted, and pulled the phone out of Ravel's hand. I looked on the screen to see that the caller was indeed Miron. This was a good opportunity, I thought, to tell his brother where to go. But as I pressed the answer button, Miron must have ended the call. I looked at the screen, which had gone blank. A small battery sign was flashing.
'Your battery's dead' I said, passing the phone back to Ravel. I instinctively looked at my phone to make sure we still had communication with the outside world and noticed that it too had switched off. With an inward groan I remembered that it had been beeping when it was handed back to me at the police-station. Making one phone call and taking that picture had drained it completely.
I looked behind to see that Miron had also taken a left turning. He was clearly intent on catching us, which made me somewhat more determined to take evasive action. Fortunately I knew where I was, as I had used this area for testing an experimental drug on grouse parasites some years ago. If we could just lose our pursuer, I could lead us to safety in an empty croft. A plan started to form in my head as I gave Ravel instructions to drive faster......