25. A Job at Spooks’s Detective Agency

25. A Job at Spooks’s Detective Agency

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



Well, Darren, I’ve got a piece of good news for you,” his mother said a few days ater over breakfast. You know how you’re always trying to squeeze a few more pounds out of my purse for goodness-knows what?”

That was true enough. But didn’t she know how much things cost? Decent togs in particular. There he was spending half of his life with Jennifer next door, and wasn’t everything she wore from one of the top and hence more expensive stores in town? And weren’t his from the other end of the price range? He didn’t want to, yet he had to accept that his appearance was second best.

I just need to look decent, mum,” he protested.

You mean, when you’re walking out with that pretty girl next door?”

She’s not so much a girl as a young woman,” he mumbled.

Young woman, then?”

And we never use words like walking out these days, mum.”

That’s besides the point. If you really want to earn a few extra pounds then I’ve found a job for you. Mr Spooks wants a spy.”

Darren sat up when the word spy entered the conversation. Like many of hs generation he rather liked the idea of spies. Of sneaking along behind people, taking photographs, maybe on a miniature hidden camera clipped to his tee-shirt where nobody could see it or skilfully concealed in something as innocuous as a pen. Maybe he’d be paid to follow some desperado who was about to rob a millionaire of sacks filled with his millions, and it was the job of the spy, himself, to prevent it. Maybe he’d be issued with a gun that he’d have to use if necessary.

What sort of spy?” he asked, needing to know more.

Mr Spooks wouldn’t be much of a private detective if he told a mere secretary the details of his more sensitive cases,” his mother said, mysteriously.

So it’s a sensitive case that he wants me to work on? Is it dangerous? Might I get killed or wounded in the name of justice?” Darren’s imagination was beginning to work overtime.

Don’t be silly! Mr Spooks doesn’t deal with that sort of case! They’re for the police or heroes in fiction, like Hercule Poirot,” she said with a smile.

What does it pay, then?” he asked, beginning to allow his dreams to walk on the more sober soils of reality.

I shouldn’t think it would be a fortune,” she told him, “but isn’t something better than nothing? And you’re not getting particularly rich just sitting on a deckchair next door and perving at Jennifer’s legs!”

He did that and knew it. And anyway, besides classy items for his wardrobe he needed to save up for Jennifer’s birthday. She would be eighteen before they started back in the sixth form, and he wanted her to know that he cared enough to buy her something special.

I’ll do it, mum,” he said without knowing any more about it.

Then you’d better come along with me when I go. And that'll be in less than half an hour! Put a pair of jeans on. You don’t want to wear school trousers, and shorts aren’t appropriate, not for a grown up job in a grown up world.”

Starting straight away? I’d best go and tell Jennifer then. She’s expecting me round today. She needs to write an essay on Coleridge and thought I might be able to help, or maybe just sit with her doing work of my own, for next term.”

The latter I should think,” smiled Mrs Rona Bingley.

So it was that very shortly he was seen by Jennifer, looking out of a window in her much larger home, and waving to him, as he walked past with his mother. Their transport would be the number 99 bus. She shook her head and muttered to herself something about their need for a car.

Mr Spooks was nothing like his name suggested, not that it was his real name, but when he’d set up in business as a private detective having resigned from the police force after a dispute over procedural matters with the Superintendent, he’d decided that something a bit different would draw people to his door if they needed a covert spy in their lives.

He was quite surprised that after a lull of several weeks in which nobody came to his door he started to become quite popular in that sometimes he even had two enquiries a week. That was all some years ago now, and after he had solved a particularly baffling case that showed his old Superintendent what a quality detective he’d lost by exercising a citizen’s right to arrest a felon with a pistol, and got his name in the national press, his reputation grew. He also received a reward, which allowed him to tart up his accommodation above a fish and chip shop so that it looked more like the archetypal premises of a Poirot.

But the reality of Mr Spooks was that he was a short and balding man in his fifties who found himself dealing almost exclusively with following the spouses of both men and women if something like faithfulness was in question. He was adept at merging in a crowd so that nobody knew who or what he was, just another ordinary fat man in a crowd, following at a distance with his phone in his hand ready to take as many photographs as he could if the man or woman he was tailing as much as bumped into someone else, and then charging an exorbitant fee when he struck gold.

This is our Darren,” introduced Rona when they arrived at the chip shop and mounted a set of narrow stairs that had about them the aroma of last week’s cod.

Mr Spooks looked up, and smiled a greasy smile at him.

So your mother speaks most highly of you,” he mumbled, “says you’re going into science or something like that. We can’t have enough scientists, you know. What branch of those mystic arts are you intent in joining?”

Astrophysics,” he replied, uncertainly.

That’s big, that is,” smiled Mr Spooks, “Big as anything. Big as a very big thing! In fact, huge.”

Big as the universe, or universes if there’s more than one,” agreed Darren.

Then my little tasks shouldn’t be beyond you. Small they are, very small. I want you to spend as long as it takes to check on a woman called Marion Girdler who her husband suspects is being a very naughty woman indeed. Oh yes she is. Here’s a picture of her. Memorise that and this address,” he handed a photo and a sheet of paper with an address scribbled on it to Darren, “and then off you go! You’ve got a smart phone, I assume?”

He did have one. Not a new one, but it certainly made calls and did just about everything a smart phone can do.

Yes sir,” he said.

Then take pictures on it. Lots and lots of pictures, and when we’ve got the woman bang to rights bring them back to me and we’ll do what we have to do. Yes, that’s it. We’ll do what we have to do. Have you any small change in your pockets?”

Small change? What, he wondered, was that? He hadn’t any change, large or small.

No sir,” he said, “that’s partly why I need a job.”

Mr Spooks pulled a handful of coins from a cash box in his drawer and counted them before handing them to Darren. “It’s called petty cash,” he said, “and I’ve given it to you because you may need a bus. Off you go, then, to that address and hang around without being noticed until you see that woman. Any questions? No? Goodbye!”

And that was his brief introduction to the tiny empire commanded by Mr Spooks.

He was sure he smelt of haddock when he reached the street, confused, uncertain of himself and what he was supposed to do

But Jennifer had a birthday coming up, and he needed to buy her an obviously expensive present. After all, she was going to be eighteen.

© Peter Rogerson 23.05.21


© 2021 Peter Rogerson

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Added on May 23, 2021
Last Updated on May 23, 2021
Tags: eighteen, birthday, detective agency


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

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..