22. An Ending

22. An Ending

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



Bomb?” asked Mrs Bookworm in a faltering voice, one that told a weary story of a long day in which too much had already happened. Then, after a moment’s logical thought, “don’t be so bloody daft, woman! There are no explosives here!

Now what was I saying about terrorism?” sneered the Detective Inspector, “I know what I’m talking about because I’ve been on a course. Terrorists are the types that have bombs in their arsenals, aren’t they? Terrorists are the sort of person who like exploding things in innocent faces, aren’t they? It’s what they do, what we in the trade call their raisins of etrer. And this, you say, is your shop…?”

It must have been an underground explosion, nothing to do with me,” stammered Mrs Bookworm, ”you hear about them all the time, read about them in newspapers, the ground gives way because, oh, I don’t know because of what, and the pipes get broken and there’s an explosion...”

I’ve never heard such a feeble explanation in all my days!” snapped D.I. Delerium, “I suppose you’re going to say that your doctor friend isn’t in here, putting fuses into canisters and filling them with gelignite? I should think I’ll find that he is and then be able to arrest you and charge you under so much anti-terrorism legislation that you’ll never see the light of day again!”

We don’t have a doctor friend!” snapped Jennifer Dewbery, “not a real one, anyway! We’ve told you. Ours is a fictitious hospital doctor and all he likes doing is making love to lovely young nurses! He has nothing to do with bombs, real or fictitious!”

How perverse,” sneered the D.I., “behaving like that! It might sound all right in fairy tales but it never happens in real life, take my word for it!” And as if to underline the fact her mouth assumed the shape of a scarlet slash under her rather unpleasant nose as she sneered.

In order to add a little extra chaos to the scene a fire engine raced up, sirens and lights flashing in the rapidly failing light to add to the general melee of blue flashing lights. It’s crew leapt out and, watched nervously by Mrs Bookworm, one of them plunged into the shop and disappeared up the stairs.

At that moment Police Constable Humphrey Truman who had been investigating the rear of the property emerged from the still swinging front door holding a fragment of pottery.

As far as I can make out,” he said with a lopsided grin on his face, “is that the guilty party is Mr Bookworm!”

Hey! That was what his ashes were in!” shouted Mrs Bookworm, “I’d recognise it anywhere! He’d been in that, resting in peace, ever since he passed away and got cremated!”

It would seem,” said the constable, waving the shard of earthenware, “that the urn that this chunk belonged to held something a bit more explosive than the ashes of a dead book salesman.”

Rubbish!” called Jennifer, peering through the door into the shop, which was in tremendous disarray with books, mostly elderly and dusty, lying just about everywhere and mysterious trails of grimy water dripping down the walls, “It’s the ceiling! Look: the ceiling has collapsed and with it half a ton of water!”

The fireman emerged from the first floor, climbing down the stairs, taking tremendous care with each step.

Someone left the bath tap running,” he said, “and when it was full it started to spill over onto the floor, and when it had soaked through your nice pink carpet and the floorboards onto the ancient ceiling of your shop, Mrs Bookworm, and built up a considerable weight of water until the old timbers couldn’t stand the strain any longer and gave way. So it was no bomb or anything dangerous like that but a careless moment after someone took a bath. You really will have to be more careful, you know.”

What?” squawked D.I Delerium, “there’s no bomb scare? No sign of any desperate terrorists destroying an enemy fortification with this silly old book woman and her alien doctor planning to take over the world?”

He looked at her sadly. “I’ve had dealings with you before, ma’am,” he said, his voice resonate and suave bearing in mind the testosterone- charged nature of his protective uniform, “and it’s my opinion that you enjoy leaping to the wrong conclusions more often than Homer Simpson on a bad day. Now, if you’ll excuse me and my men...”

Once the source of the disruption was identified the emergency services vanished in less time than it had taken for the bath to fill and discharge its load onto the frail old infrastructure of the elderly book shop, Mrs Bookworm was left with Jennifer Dewberry, looking with amazed horror at her shop and shaking her head in despair.

By then night had shown decided intentions of falling, a crescent moon, barely adequate as a means of illumination, fought with scudding clouds in an effort to highlight the disaster, and Mrs Bookworm shook her head sadly.

When I put Mr Bookworm where I put him he was supposed to guard me against this sort of thing,” she said, miserably, “and now this. It’s the end of the bookshop, I’m afraid, and at the end of its single most important day.”

You think it might have been old Bomber Stanton wreaking his revenge?” asked Jennifer.

Mrs Bookworm shook her head. “But revenge on what?” she asked weakly.

Why, on life of course! That’s what the dead do don;t you think? Want to get back on the living for remaining alive?”

But what will I do?” moaned the bookshop keeper, “and where will I find another Mr Bookworm to guard me?”

Jennifer decided that it should be her who took control of the situation seeing as he friend was in a sorry state.

What would Doctor Flynn do?” she asked, and smiled grimly, “he’d say lock that door, my dear, and come along with me for the night!”

Really, Jennifer!”

What I really meant,” smiled Jennifer, “is I’ve got a spare room and you’re welcome to it or as long as you need it! Now lock up, my dear, it looks as if it might still lock, and we’ll come back tomorrow when nothing will seem as bad. Fot starters, the water should have drained away. That would make a good start. So come on! My spare room awaits!”


© Peter Rogerson 14.07.20

© 2020 Peter Rogerson

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Added on July 14, 2020
Last Updated on July 14, 2020
Tags: fireman, bath water, destruction


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 76 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..