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The Island 12: The plot thickens

Friday 2nd March 2012

Dennis Corrs and Barry Jenks sat side by side on the plastic hospital chairs, clutching their coats on their laps. Dennis was trying not to look at the tea trolley which had come to rest at the foot of the bed opposite the one occupied by his friend Sally Thomas. He knew the tea was for the patients, but he didn’t half fancy a piece of cake. Barry was looking very intently at Sally and he leant towards her as he said:

‘Have you remembered anything yet Sal?’

‘No, not a thing. It’s no good badgering me, Barry. I’ve tried my hardest but I can’t remember anything after I put the rubbish out.’ She clutched her night-dress to her throat as she spoke. She had known Barry and Dennis since they joined the Island Ramblers 10 years previously. The nurses had told her she owed them her life, as it was they who had found her at the foot of the stairs drifting in and out of consciousness with a great bump on her head, abrasions on her face and her ankle broken. They had called the ambulance and since her admittance they had been very dear about visiting. But that didn’t mean she felt comfortable with them seeing her in a state of undress.

‘But the rubbish wasn’t out, was it Dennis? WAS IT DENNIS?’ He nudged his friend, whose attention was now drawn to a comely young nurse.

‘At least not ‘out’ in any proper sense of the word. It was dropped in the back doorway and the contents were scattered all over the place.’

‘All over the place,’ echoed Dennis, focusing now on the conversation. He too leant forward, eager to join in. ‘As I said to the policeman: ‘At least one person has been through that sack……’

‘But how do you know?’ said Sally. ‘You’ve got no proof.’

‘No…. Well…..’ said Dennis. Both he and Barry remained silent. It was true, they had no proof. And apart from the rubbish in the door-way and Sally herself, all battered and broken at the bottom of the stairs, the little cottage had appeared to be in its usual immaculate state. But when – while they were giving their statement - the police had mentioned a mysterious break-in at the Bien Venue guest house in Sandown, it had all seemed to fit.

‘Nothing’s missing is it?’ demanded Sally.

‘Not that we can see. But we haven’t looked in cupboards or drawers – we didn’t like too,’ said Barry.

‘I should think not!’ She let go of her night-dress so she could use both hands to push herself up in the bed. Being lower than her visitors made her feel at such a disadvantage. ‘Anyway, I think I’m going to be allowed home tomorrow. I shall be able to see for myself.’

‘Tomorrow is it?’ said Barry. ‘Would you like us to give you a lift? We could stop by the Co-op on the way back and Dennis would pick you up a few bits and pieces to eat.’

‘Well… ‘ Sally paused. Approaching 70 and unmarried all her life, she was fiercely independent and hated to be beholden. But a lift with the boys (as she always thought of them) would be better than arriving home in an ambulance which would set all the neighbours talking. ‘Thank you. That would be very kind, very kind indeed.’ She smiled and reached out a thin hand as if to pat Barry’s knee but at the last minute thought better of it and patted the bed-cover instead. ‘You’ve been dear friends and I am very grateful to you.’

‘Not at all, anything for a lady.’ Dennis pushed his chair back, stood up and bowed, his usual high spirits restored at the prospect of release from the stifling ward.

‘We’ll see you tomorrow then,’ said Barry, pushing his chair back too.

‘Just one more thing before you say goodbye…’ Sally hated to ask yet another favour, but this was important. ‘You won’t forget to feed Tiddles will you?’

Made on the Isle of Wight, Bullen Mead, Bullen Road, Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 1QE
01983 564949