4. THE GIRL IN THE TENNIS DRESS

4. THE GIRL IN THE TENNIS DRESS

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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An eventful first day.

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It might have been August, the smiling television news anchors might have predicted glorious sunshine until the end of summer in their sombre BBC voices, but the boys’ fist complete day in the tent was a wet one and neither of them felt in any way motivated to go to the small lake and row a boat on its rain-spittled waters.

And the very worst thing about it was the lack of anything to do that might interest them. Even the ridiculous, like reading books whilst on holiday, was out of the question because they hadn’t even dreamed of needing anything like a book and anyway their luggage, in bags hanging from their cycles, had already needed pruning down to the bare minimum before they’d set out.

I-spy can’t entertain teenage lads for very long, and by lunchtime they decided that, to hell with the rain which was still falling relentlessly, they’d wrap up in whatever they could find that was waterproof, and go out.

Neither of them had anything remotely waterproof. Not even a hat.

I’ve got my trunks,” said Taylor when a light suddenly glowed somewhere in his brain, “they’re actually designed to get wet!”

So have I,” sniffed Ricky, “though I’ve never been that keen on water.”

So you said, and anyway it’s a drop of rain, that’s all. Nothing deep enough to drown in!”

We’ll catch our deaths of cold,” muttered Ricky, “even in summer getting wet makes you cold. We did it in science in school. It’s all to do with evaporation.”

But the weather’s warm,” Taylor told him, “come on, we don’t need to go far, but anything’s better than being imprisoned in this tent pretending that we enjoy I-spy!”

With my little eye, something beginning with r,” grunted Ricky.

Rain?” queried Taylor.

No. Have another go,” said Ricky, pulling his trousers off whilst doing his best not to come into contact with the tent’s canvas knowing that if he did water would start dripping through.

I give up,” mumbled Taylor., struggling with the button fly of his own trousers.

My Raleigh, and it’ll be going rusty soon enough if the rain doesn’t stop.”

My bike’s already mostly rust.” pointed out Taylor, sadly, “anyway, our bikes are out of sight so you can’t see yours with your little eye.”

Ricky scowled at him as he pulled a dark blue pair of swimming trunks into place. “I still know it’s there,” he muttered.

Knowing isn’t seeing,” said Taylor, carefully wrapping his camera in a hopefully waterproof bag, “come on, let’s see what this dump’s got to offer and I’ll take some pictures so that we’ve got a reminder about never going on bicycle holidays in the rain.”

Cycling in swimming trunks in the rain,” grinned Ricky, “I reckon to have done quite a lot of things in my fifteen years, but this one is new!”

I pedalled home from the baths once, in my trunks whilst it was almost raining,” Taylor told him, “and it wasn’t fun, I can tell you.”

The day that promised to be a wash-out got ten times worse when they went to fetch their bikes only to find them not where they’d left them.

My Raleigh!” wept Ricky.

My precious bike!” echoed Taylor.

Ricky ran to the elder tree where they’d leant their bikes. There was no sign of them ever having been there.

Mine was just here in the night, when I sneaked out for a wee,” said Taylor slowly, “I almost tripped over it.”

Someone’s nicked them,” exclaimed Ricky, stating the obvious, “let’s go and see what that scruffy bloke, what was his name, Grossman, has to say. It’s his field and he might know something about what goes on, with local thieves and the like.”

It was far from pleasant in the pouring rain and dressed only in swimming trunks, traipsing across the field, and both feeling more miserable than they’d ever felt before.

You’ll be getting wet, lads,” the owner, Sam Grossman, said when he saw them, “I think it might be raining!”

It was at this point that Ricky came into his own. He had inherited or assimilated by imitation an air of righteous confidence from his own father, and he used it then and there as he faced the scruffy Sam Grossman.

I don’t know what kind of site you run here,” he said, his accent suddenly markedly middle-class, “but it seems that there are thieves in every corner of the place. Our bicycles have been stolen, and mine is an expensive new Raleigh!”

Sam Grossman was experienced when it came to dealing with complaints and he was about to lambaste the two lads for leaving their bicycles unattended and unsecured when a florid police constable on a bicycle of his own trundled through the gate from the coast road.

A new Raleigh, you say?” he grunted, clearly struggling for breath.

Ah, Colin,” bristled the site owner, “it seems there’s been some thievery going on around here. Just the job for you, I’d have thought.”

Don’t tell me,” grunted the policeman, “bicycles again?”

Sam Grossman nodded. “These two lads have had theirs nicked,” he said, “better see what young Davey’s been up to.”

It’ll be him, all right,” nodded the constable, “not right in the head, is young Davey. Never has been, and a burden for the Reverend to bear.”

He does well, though, seeing as his good lady ran off with the Insurance man. Most unchristian of her.” said Grossman thoughtfully, “It wouldn’t be my idea of fun, bringing up a loony son on my own.”

I’ll take a ride to the vicarage then, should have them bikes of yours back here in a shake,” assured PC Garney, “now, as I’ve got me breath back,” he added with a sudden florid grin.

Both Taylor and Ricky were in a state of some confusion. Their bikes had been stolen, they knew that much, but it also seemed that the local policeman knew who had stolen them and that it might even be something that happened quite often.

It’s the vicar’s lad, Davey, a sandwich short of a picnic, we all know that round here, good lad and all that but reckons that anything without a label on it belongs to him,” explained Sam. “So there was no need for you to get all uppity, young man, what’s been done can be put right. Young Colin there, PC Garney to you, will have them back in a trice.”

That’s all right, then,” said Ricky, allowing his accent to revert to normal.

Then Taylor saw his chance. He wanted to know about the girl who’d taken their photograph, the girl who’s image was hopefully on the film in camera, waiting to be exposed by the developing experts at the chemist’s shop back home.

There was a girl here, in a car with her parents,” he said nervously, “at least, I think they were her parents. In a white tennis dress, long hair, a nice looking girl…?”

Ah, young Angela, and a treat for sore eyes,” grinned Sam Grossman, “that must be who you mean … played on the court by the beach whenever she could, and a fair sweet player she was, too. Went home yesterday. Angela Hardacre, that’s who you mean...”

Thanks,” stammered Taylor, “I wondered what she was called, that's all.”

Just in case you see her again, you mean?” smiled Sam, “and you want to call her by her name? Want to call her Angela?”

Taylor nodded, but remained silent.

Ten minutes later Police Constable Gurney returned, more out of breath than ever, with two bicycles and a well-dressed boy of about eleven in tow.

Here’s your thief!” he announced, “and your bikes,” he added.

I’m not a thief, sirs,” mumbled the boy, “it’s just they were there, so I took them to be mine. I never stole them!”

© Peter Rogerson 08.08.19



© 2019 Peter Rogerson


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Added on August 8, 2019
Last Updated on August 8, 2019
Tags: camping, rain, theft, bicycles, policeman


Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing