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Edge of Midnight Monday: The Tale of Two Prisoners

by Azrael

Case One – The Death of Harry Fontaine

Chapter Ten – The Tale of Two Prisoners

30th-31st October, 1949

So in walks the boss, and cradled in his arms is Shirley, but she’s not looking in a good way with more holes in her than a dutch cheese. I don’t know many people who could take that kind of punishment and survive it, but the boss seems to have hope as he gets onto his boss to have a Doc sent round. I don’t know how the boss is feeling, he’s covering it up pretty well, but I’m gutted, and Rocky is clearly devastated. Despite their little fall out the boss is determined to take care of her, and I find myself wanting to do the same. I like having Shirley around, and she’d sure be missed. Anyways, turns out that Sinclair chap is still out in the van, Rocky and I are sent out to bring him in too. I don’t know what’s up with the guy, he’s not exactly got a lot of blood on him, but he can’t even move. With the boss taking care of those two, and our captives in the bathroom, it’s sure going to be crowded in here tonight.

POV: Shirley Homes – 30th

Jake’s menacing comment about not underestimating him sent a chill down my spine. The threatening tone made me want to bolt, but that wasn’t going to be possible anytime soon, not with all these injuries. At least James was here, hopefully Jake wouldn’t do anything worse than bark with him around. I heard a chair being dragged in the next room, with some the murmurs of soft talking and the occasional whimper coming through the door. Partly to cover the sounds and partly for my own curiosity I expressed to James my horror at his torture. He seemed quite blasé about it, with many an ‘only’ and ‘just’ in his description. He did seem confident he’d be up and walking soon though, I wish I shared that confidence.

We heard some more squeaking coming from the back room. James tried to explain it away as floorboards, and I tried to be equally reassuring, however my heart just wasn’t in it. I’d seen what could only be bloodstains on Jake’s table already, and understood James’ need to fool himself.

To continue talking I asked about what happened at the end of our fight with the Tongs. I wanted a straight explanation, and besides, it’s not like I could remember much after that last shot at me. Turned out that shortly after Petunia exploded, taking a couple of the Tongs and most of the cliff with it. It seemed to me that James was more upset over losing his car than what the Tongs had done to him, he had been rather attached to the old thing after all. Turns out Jake had then turned up with a couple of Patterson mooks who had finished off the last of the Tommy gun wielding Tongs. I was somewhat surprised, and a little touched, that Jake had bothered to show up at all. I thought he’d lost interest in discovering Harry’s killer, well, when it put him in any kind of danger, and in helping me to do the same. Part of me was annoyed though that he’d come along so late though, if was going to be there anyway he may as well have followed Bill and I. I put some of that anger into a blithe comment implying that Jake had been cowardly and resorted to hiding until the situation was safe enough for him to come out and finish it. James was thoughtful for a moment. I realised I still didn’t know how I ended up here and again asked James to fill in some details. He told me as to how Bill patched me up with his first aid kit before putting me in the Tong van which Jake had driven back here while Bill had taken his own car back home.

“How helpful of Bill! And how useful he turned out to be!” I exclaimed. “I must thank him sometime”. James nodded in agreement. “Did he make it home okay?” I enquired.

“I guess so, I think he went to the hospital first…”

“Oh. Well I hope he recovers soon.” I let a puzzled look cross my features. “How come I wasn’t taken to hospital?” James stammered for a moment, he’d obviously not been the one to decide.

I startled slightly as the door was pushed open, revealing Jake standing behind it. “Because hospitals tend to ask questions of people turning up with a lot of bullet holes in them.” I was concerned as to how much Jake had heard, but hoped it was only my last comment.

“I wouldn’t have been in any state to answer questions.” I pointed out.

“No, but a policeman would have waited with you until you were.” I suggested an explanation, which he shot down. I guess he’d done what he thought best, and he had many more years street experience on me. He smiled slightly as I dropped the argument before stalking away, to be replaced by Leo at the door. He didn’t look to happy, and I soon realised just how much of the conversation had been overheard.

“You shouldn’t be talking so badly about the boss, Shirley.” He stated. “If I were you I’d be showing a lot more gratitude. You’d be dead now if it wasn’t for him.” I found myself being chastised by Leo for the second time in as many days. He may not be much of a thinker, but he had a protective streak in him a mile wide.

“I may not have been, we don’t know what would have happened…” I pointed out, although I could hear the meekness in my voice. Had it only been James, Bill any myself we would have needed a really lucky break, like the Tong van not being there.

“All I’m saying is that some people’s patience would have run out by now.” He said somewhat ominously before closing the door on James and me.

Despite his no doubt selfish motives for coming to help James, he had turned up. That was twice in the last week he’d gotten me out of a sticky spot, although he’d probably not expected Matthew or Gregor to be packing so much heat. I decided I should lay off being so critical, but I decided that I wasn’t going to give him the opportunity to use me again the same way.

I felt myself doze off, and must have slept for a while as it was quite a bit darker outside when I was woken by Leo. He’d lost his gruff demeanour from earlier, turns out he was going to grab some pasta from a local eatery. I turned down the offer of food, I was still feeling far too beat up to consume anything solid.

“Just some juice”, I requested.

“Aww, come on Shirley, you’ve got to keep your strength up.” He protested. I found myself wondering how someone so caring had ended up working for the Pattersons, and for Jake.

Sure enough a short while later Leo was back with bowls of steaming hot pasta. He placed a bowl next to James and myself, although neither of us was in a state to eat it. He also plied me with some juice, and milkshake he’d picked up.

“Mmm, strawberry – my favourite!” I said as I thanked him profusely.

“That’s alright Shirley, you enjoy that now.” I couldn’t help but smile at the look of pride on his face. He went out to eat with Jake and Rocky, leaving me to slurp at the shake and James to look sullenly at the food.

A short while later Jake wandered into his room, ignoring us, to grab the phone by his bed. I eyed him warily as he went through, and not until the door closed again did the knot in my stomach unravel. A few minutes later he returned and wordlessly put the horn back on his side table. Looking over at James he asked him if he had somewhere safe to spend the night. He didn’t, and Jake decided it was too dangerous for him to spend long outside looking for a hotel and offered for James to use the couch. James seemed quite eager to stay and Jake helped him through. He did appear to be regaining some use of his limbs, I guess he knew what he was talking about after all.

I heard Jake giving instructions to Rocky and Leo about keeping watch. Although I’d rather be in the familiar surroundings of my own office if there was anyone out there still with a grudge I wouldn’t be able to defend myself for long. I hated this feeling of vulnerability. And I hated feeling it here, in this bed. My self-pitying thoughts were interrupted by Jake who wandered in, and without even looking at me sat on the edge of the bed and started to take off his boots, jacket, then the rest of his clothes before lying down in the bed.

The rational part of me said I shouldn’t be surprised, the more emotional side was aghast and frightened. A flurry of thoughts went through my head; he’d been as injured as I was and he still made a point of collecting his payment, would he even care what state I was in? Especially now, when he had an even larger audience to impress, no doubt James’ and my condition had already served as an example to Jake’s other ‘guests’.

As put out as I am I try to keep my voice impassive, and not let Jake know how scared I’ve become of him. I suggest that I stay in a hotel, some small glimmer of hope wanting him to understand that I can’t be in the same bed as him. He had the audacity to tell me it wasn’t safe for me to be roaming the streets at this time of night. I’d been out plenty of times this late, albeit not with Tongs keeping tabs on my movements. Well, I didn’t have to be alone. Gritting my teeth I swung myself out of the bed, wincing at the stabbing pains around my wounds. I took a few unsteady steps towards the door whilst calling out for Leo. He opened the door just as I approached it, I had to concentrate to stop myself from leaning on him for support.

“Leo, would you be kind enough to help me over the road to a motel?”

“Now Shirley, I can’t be doing such a thing unless the boss tells me to, and he hasn’t, have you boss?”

“No I haven’t” confirmed Jake from the bed.

“You’re better off staying here Shirley, you need to rest up” insisted Leo in his slow, ponderous voice. “Now go back to bed. Go to bed!” he insisted.

Resigning myself to the fact that I was going to be staying here I could only see one more option. Taking a pillow off the bed I dropped it on the floor before gingerly easing myself down. My sore muscles protested the movement, but I could relax again once I was laid out.

The cold hard floor wasn’t as comfortable as the bed had been, but I didn’t want to sleep anyway, not with Jake so nearby. As time passed I tried to think back on Harry’s case, but I was feeling too weak and my mind kept on throwing up memories of meeting him with Josh, and the time we spent together afterwards…

Jake’s voice interrupted my thoughts. I realised that he hadn’t yet fallen asleep either, and was offering me a bottle of scotch. Probably not what the doctor ordered, but I was eager for the warmth and pain numbing effects a few sips could give me. I took a couple of mouthfuls before holding the bottle up to return it to Jake. He told me to keep it and I set it down next to me, against the bed’s leg. I soon felt a soothing numbness and giddiness as the whiskey began to take effect. I took a couple more gulps, even my melancholy mood began to lift and my thoughts dissipated.

I found myself drifting back into consciousness, realising that I’d fallen asleep. I then realised that I’d somehow been relocated to the bed, Jake was lying next to me, his stertorous breath in my ear, and his thick arm resting around my chest.

I couldn’t help but think back to the last time he had his arm around me, also here in this bed, as he handled me like a trophy in front of Rocky. I had been too shocked to have done anything about it then, but not now. I flung his arm off and away from me, wishing I could so easily fling away that previous memory with it. Jake didn’t stir, and I eased myself to edge of the bed, planning to drop down to the floor again. However even that slight movement was almost too much to bear, so I remained balanced on the edge until I fell asleep again.

POV: Shirley Holmes – 31st

I was awoken again some hours later, although this time feeling as if I’d had a deeper, more refreshing sleep. The first thing I noticed was the singing coming into the room. I assumed it was a radio until I remembered that Jake didn’t own one. Listening for a few moments I recognised Rocky’s voice, he certainly had the talent for opera, I’d just never thought he’d take an interest in it. I then felt Jake’s arm laying across my abdomen. He’d moved closer to me, but his breathing was softer at the moment. I looked briefly at his face in the dim light making it through the cracks in his painted window. It was rare to see such a relaxed expression on his face, and I’d never seen him so… vulnerable. Even when I’d gotten into bed with him with all his injuries he’d been awake and defensive. The moment stirred something within me, reminiscent of the feelings I’d had for him less than a week ago, and that part of me wanted to reach over and gently brush away the strand of dark brown hair that had fallen onto his eyes. Or tenderly stroke his cheek. I sighed, partly at the loss, but mostly at my own stupidity for letting myself feel that way about some selfish, low down mobster. I moved his arm off me as softly as I could so as not to wake him.

Shortly after Leo came in to wake Jake up. He didn’t waste time getting out of bed and dressed. After putting on his jacket he reached into the breast pocket and pulled out a spent bullet. Holding it out to me he said, “would you like a souvenir from yesterday?” I shook my head at what I perceived to be a sick concept. Shrugging indifferently he merely placed it upright on the bedside table before heading out. Maybe it’s some Patterson tradition, either way I’d have the scars to remind me, I didn’t need anything physical.

I heard strands of discussion amongst the guys in the main room, I gathered Jake was heading out and Leo was going on a laundry errand. Soon enough he came through to help me out of bed and onto the couch. James was still here, but looking much better, moving and walking around just fine. Well at least the night’s sleep had helped him. He spent some time checking over my wounds, adding a new stitch in a couple of places and redoing my bandages. I really was in a sorry state, and asked Rocky if he’d be able to pick up some clean clothes from my office down the road. He wasn’t going to leave Jake’s basement and decided it was too dangerous for either James or I to go. We got Sammy to collect some things instead, including my mail and a notepad and pen – I really shouldn’t have been surprised there wasn’t one at Jake’s place. Settling down on the sofa I began my final report for Valentine.

Leo was the first to return, he’d also brought me some chocolates, flowers, fruit and another strawberry milkshake for me on his way back. It was so touching for him to think of me and bring me gifts, a really heartfelt gesture. One day if he got a job with proper hours I could see him settling down with a really sweet girl. I found myself wondering how he’d fallen in with the Pattersons in the first place as I slurped on the thick, fruity liquid. It was nice and cool going down, and I certainly felt better for it.

I continued on my report a while longer, until Jake returned. He looked thoughtful, and obviously had quite a lot on his mind. Helping himself to a doughnut he sat down at the table and started chatting to the guys. The conversation quickly switched round to Mr G, and his currently unknown identity. Jake and James seemed to know a little more than I did, possibly from information gained from the Tong? Either way I listened eagerly to the ideas being bandied around. My ears certainly pricked up as the discussion moved around to why Harry had been investigating him, the Patterson bugs that had been found, and the speculation as to who his wife, and Harry’s final employer, was. I crossed out the last couple of paragraphs on my report and began a significant rewrite.

Meanwhile the lad Jake had pulled out of his trunk yesterday was taken off somewhere. Shortly after that Leo and James were sent off to dispose of the Tong truck, and Rocky was dispatched somewhere with the Golden kid who’d told us about the fish packing operation the Tongs carried out. Then it was just Jake and me in his apartment.

He grabbed a coffee from the machine, stirring it in such a languid, casual way he’d insult men and have women swoon at his feet. I don’t know if he felt the tension or if it was simply imagined on my part, but I needed to break it. I was the first to speak aloud by thanking him for bringing me back from the cliff. He told me I was welcome, although in his opinion I didn’t deserve it as I’d shunned his help. I denied doing so, I merely hadn’t accepted his offer. (Partly as it had been such a surprise I’d let my own feelings get in the way of a rational decision). He’d taken my comment about Bill as being a rejection (male pride!). The discussion had taken a turn for the worse, and didn’t improve when I pointed out the cowardly way he’d waited until the end of the fight, then swept in so he could steal the glory. And that if he was so determined to come he could have just followed us. He replied he hadn’t as he didn’t have much confidence in my detecting skills. A harsh insult, but not one I could take too seriously as I knew I’d proven myself in this case.

I guess he saw that his remark didn’t cut as much as he’d hoped as he pointed out he had other contacts that could have been useful, and had I not stormed out…

At this point I interjected, I wasn’t the one to leave first! He conceded that I was right, and a heavy silence descended.

I decided to try again; and told Jake that I appreciated him arranging the doctor, but that I really should go elsewhere tonight. When he asked where I planned to go, I merely said that I had friends. I was thinking of Benton, but if he was indisposed I’m sure Jacky Stapleton would keep an eye out for me, that guy was paranoia incarnate after all. Jake asked who out of everyone I knew I could trust not to be connected in some way to Mr G. I had to concede – no one. Jake nodded in agreement, his point made. It worried me slightly as to why he was so determined to keep me here.

“I guess you’ll want a favour in return for allowing me to stay here…” I said, trying to draw out his motive.

“Indeed,” was all he replied. Was he confirming that he was expecting a favour, or that I was guessing? I couldn’t tell from his stony expression. I offered to help discover the real identity of Mr G, if Jake wanted my detecting skills along (after his earlier insult). He accepted.

As things were being said that seemed overdue, and the air was being cleared, it seemed as good an opportunity as any while we were still alone to apologise to Jake. I told him that in light of the recent discussion I’d realised that just because Patterson bugs had been found in mine and Harry’s phone it didn’t necessarily mean they had been placed there by the Pattersons, and I wanted to apologise for any offence I may have caused. Jake accepted the apology, but acknowledged that I had insulted him, especially by implying he’d been the one to plant it. I pointed out that he hadn’t denied it, and we descended to arguing once again. It seemed like me taking a step to clear the air between us was in vain – we were just as angry and possibly worse off as we’d expressed what had been on our minds adding further insult to injury. I was surprised that Jake then reiterated that he’d find my detecting skills useful on the Mr G case. I pointed out that he’d not expressed much confidence in them regarding finding James. He at least conceded that I had gotten to James first.

Well, it was nice to get some acknowledgement, even though he’d been lording over how injured I’d gotten without him there.

As he said that the door opened and James himself walked in. He’d been able to successfully get rid of the Tong van, something to do with blaming the university students as far as I could tell. Leo wasn’t with him though and James didn’t know where he was. I could tell Jake was a little disgruntled by one of his boys taking off like that on his own initiative, but to be fair they were obedient most of the time, and he didn’t have to keep a tight reign on them.

A while later we heard a honking outside. Jake put his eye to the spyhole and looked up to the street. “Oh my god!” he exclaimed. James dashed over to a window to look out. “it’s petunia!” he exclaimed excitedly. He went out to look, and sure enough, right down to the plates it was as if the car had been resurrected. James’ initial joy was hampered though by finding several clues as to who had previously owned the car. Leo explained using some exquisite thuggish logic how James deserved to have it instead. Slightly mollified, James accepted.

POV: Jake Bullet

I close the door, leaving James and Shirley in my bedroom. Both of them are incapacitated; even so it was more trusting that they probably realise. Though in their current state I don’t expect them to poke around. Looking around the front room, I try to find something to focus my pent up frustrations upon, and my gaze falls upon the bathroom door.

I instruct Rocky to bring me Donnie, and seat him on one of the wooden chairs at the table, with his hands pressed flat to the tabletop. My initial plan is to take the hammer to him and pulverise many of his bones and joints to jelly as an incentive before I start asking any questions, but at the last moment I change my mind and decide upon another tack.

I pull Donnie up out of his seat and push him into the bathroom, grabbing his hair to keep his head pointed at the tong before I pull up his blindfold. I give him a few moments to take in the sight of the traumatised tong kid, especially the mangled hands, before pulling the blindfold back over his eyes and pushing him back to the main room and the wooden chair.

With my hands gripping his shoulders tightly, I lean in close and start to talk. I whisper to try and make my voice less distinctive, and explain to him that I have been having him observed over the past few weeks, and that I know what he’s up to. I carefully explain to him that he is going to be giving me all the information he has, and the moment I hear a lie from him, I’m going to smash up his fingers one by one. Not only will I mutilate him, but he’ll give up his one shot of getting out of this alive. Donnie is already shaking, and when I calmly explain that afterwards his mother will suffer the same treatments that Donnie does, he loses control of his muscles and soils himself.

At this point I’m pretty sure that Donnie is going to tell me everything I need to know. But to make sure I yank him out of his seat and throw him in the bathroom to torture himself with his thoughts.

I then sit for a while with my thoughts, my attention drifting this way and that until I hear Shirley asking James why she was brought here rather than been taken to hospital. James doesn’t seem to have an immediate answer for her and I find myself standing up, walking over to the door and poking my head around to give an answer of my own.

“Hospitals tend to ask a lot of questions when people turn up riddled with bullets,” I tell her, “they also tend to inform the police!”

I’m about to pull my head back from around the door when Leo joins me in sticking his head around to say to Shirley, “You should be more grateful to the boss, you’d be dead if he hadn’t been there!”

I return to the living room, while Leo starts asking everyone if they’re hungry. He determines that the best food to get would be Italian, and heads out. When he returns, he hands everyone their meal. I’m happy eating mine, but James and Shirley are too incapacitated to eat theirs.

After eating I have Donnie brought back out and I whisper into his ear that I am about to un-gag him, and that he will suffer intense torment if he tries to scream, beg for mercy, or indeed do anything expect quickly and efficiently tell me everything he needs to about his collecting Patterson money and siphoning off some for the tong. When I do un-gag him he very quickly tells me everything he knows. he doesn’t implicate his boss Vito Andretti, but does insinuate that Vito is too hung up chasing ‘his women’ to care about the day to day business, and has been oblivious.

After eating I walk back into my room, ignoring both James and Shirley, pick up the phone and return with it to the main room where I proceed to call Silas and arrange to meet the next morning. After placing my call I return the phone to my back-room, once again ignoring both James and Shirley, returning to the front room to chat to Leo and Rocky.

With evening well and truly settled in, I can no longer put off thought about sleeping arrangements, and so I step into my back-room and ask James if he plans to spend the night here. He seems quite appreciative of the offer, and so I tell him that he can have the sofa. As it’s Leo’s night to stay up and ‘on guard’ that means Rocky is going to have to take the floor, but he doesn’t seem to put out, he understands the extreme circumstances.

James steps out to the front room, eager it seems to get to sleep and put this day behind him. This leaves me alone in the room with Shirley, and she’s watching me closely. I can tell she’s suspicious, and though I have no further intentions, she immediately starts objecting when I get into bed beside her. To give her a little credit, she doesn’t demand that I get out of my own bed, but she does start making noise about going to a hotel for the night. I give her no assistance, and so she calls on Leo for help, but he tells her quite clearly that unless I sanction it, he isn’t helping her. He also adds that she shouldn’t be moving, and is better off resting.

She’s determined though, it seems, to not be in the same bed as me. I guess I can’t blame her, the last time she lay in this bed with me wasn’t a good experience for her. If she thinks there is going to be a repeat, especially in her injured state, she must be quite frightened. She grabs a pillow and throws it to the floor, getting down with some difficulty and finally laying on the floor. Maybe she’s trying to guilt me into swapping places with her, but I’m not going to be manipulated that easily. I give her a little time for the discomfort to settle in, and then pass her the bottle of whisky to help ‘ease her pain’. She takes a few swigs, and soon succumbs to the alcohol upon the injuries and passes out.

I call in Leo and get him to help me gently return her to the bed, and I once more slip in beside her. This time she’s unable to object, and I fall asleep, waking only when I feel her throwing my arm, which had found itself possessively laid over her, to one side.

I don’t know what wakes me up the next morning. Either Rocky singing in the shower, of Shirley once again flinging my arm aside. I ignore her gesture, and instead pick up the almost intact bullet from the bedside table that the doctor gave me yesterday. The bullet that had been pulled from Shirley.

“Do you want this as a souvenir? ” I ask her, trying to make small talk, but she flings the gesture aside a emphatically as she did my arm moments ago.

I wait patiently until Rocky is done in the shower, and then I take my turn, washing up before my appointment this morning. Just before heading out I tell Leo to carry Shirley to the couch and to take the blood-stained bedding to the laundrette.

With instructions given, I head out to meet Silas, explaining to him all that I have discovered about Vito Andretti and the betrayal of Donnie and his other guys over the money collection issue. Silas is quite interested, says he’ll get back to me, and drops a hint that i may well take over from Andretti if what I am saying turns out to be true.

I’m told to get Donnie on side, and then to release him again while Silas undertakes an investigation of his own. Silas then turns the conversation around to ask why I needed a doctor the previous day. I explain that I had finally discovered who had killed Harry and why, and that during the discovery of that Shirley had been involved in a gunfight and had needed medical attention. That brings Silas’ attention back to the matter of Shirley and he reminds me that he’s still keen to have his date with her on the coming weekend.

I return back to my place, pondering how to handle Donnie. I decide to remind him just how much trouble he’s in, and then let him know that he’s lucky i’m going to let him live. I explain how his truthfulness has saved him, and his only hope is to follow my instructions. Which are to return home, not tell his friends anything about what happened to him, and to not try to warn them. I give him a change of clothes, and then I take him out on a drive and drop him off near his home before returning once more back to my place, where Shirley and James are still holed up.

The place is a little crowded and so I send Leo and James out to dump the tong truck, then I head to the bathroom to talk to the tong prisoner. I explain to him how his life is in my hands, and how I have decided to let him live. I explain that this means he owes me. He seems convinced, but that’s the impression I’d be trying to give if i was in his shoes. Still, it’s worth the gamble, and I send Rocky out to set him free near Eastowne.

Then i find myself alone with Shirley. It’s a relief to not have the place packed with people, but the mood is tense. Shirley makes the first move by thanking me for bringing her back from the cliff, and I’m less than polite when I respond that she is welcome, but that she hadn’t deserved it due to shunning his help in the first place.

A ‘you said, I said’ discussion ensues for a while, with things getting a little tenser that before, to the point of Shirley accusing me of being cowardly and wanting to take the glory and turning up at the end. That if I had been so determined to help I could have followed her.

I have to point out that she had had no idea where James was, and so to follow her wouldn’t have been all that helpful. Also I add that I didn’t have faith in her being able to find James. That setting out on my own with my own investigative leads had turned out to not have been all that bad a plan in the end.

Finally Shirley relents a little and points out that she appreciates my having found a doctor for her, and adds that maybe it would be best if she spent the night elsewhere.

I ask if she has any good alternatives, any friends or family that couldn’t conceivably be discovered by Mr G. Shirley admits she has not, and gives in to my suggestion she stays at my place another night. She has the nerve to suggest I’ll be wanting a favour from her, and while I had no such intention, I don’t think she deserves for me to disabuse her of the notion.

Shirley offers to help me discovering the identity of Mr G… if I want her help, and I quickly accept her offer. She even seems to be coming to her senses, as she notes that she has realised that just because the bug in her phone was of Patterson design, didn’t mean it was placed there by a Patterson. She even apologises for any offence she may have caused. I tell her that I had indeed been offended, but that I accept her apology.

On the matter of accepting her help discovering who Mr G really is, Shirley reminds me I had earlier dismissed her investigative skills. I have to admit I had indeed doubted she’d find James, but I add that she did actually find James – showing that my doubt was not well placed. This seems to calm the waters a little, and we have a coffee while waiting for James and Leo to return.

They do indeed return. it seems Leo has ‘obtained’ James a replacement for Petunia. James doesn’t seem to know if he’s grateful or not, but Leo isn’t taking no for an answer and is forcing the replacement car on the horrified historian.

Originally authored by: Alice, Azrael, & Skimble

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