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The Fiction of Don Thomasson
Don't Go To Monaco - Chapter 18

The Fiction of Donald William Thomasson
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As it turned out, Geoff was not unduly upset by the Colonel's escape. In fact, he seemed rather relieved. 'It may be the best thing that could have happened. We'll keep a look out for him, of course, but he won't be able to do much without the Council's backing and he isn't likely to get that after this evening. I was rather worried about what we were going to do with him when we got him ashore. He knows too much and he might have spoken out of turn. He's less likely to do any harm if he's on the run.'

The incident made very little impression on the other members of the party, who were less aware of its significance. As they gathered on the quayside, Charles offered to buy drinks all round in celebration of the best entertainment he had found for years, so it was back to the Casino Square for the last time. On the way up the hill, Jimmy heard fragments of conversation reflecting personal reactions to what had happened.

'Good shooting with the rockets, Susan.'

'I had to do something. I can't jump onto people's heads, like Jimmy.'

'You all right, Dave? He shunted you into the barriers good and proper. Must be stronger than he looks.'

'Caught me off balance, that's all. Show us the old one-two again, Barrie. You should have been a boxer.'

'Couldn't afford to hang about. He was twice my size.'

'It was just the right sort of show for you ruffians. Not at all the sort of thing for a gentleman to be involved in.'

'Gentleman, is it? 'Ark at 'im! What about the way you carved me up at Snetterton the other week? Was that the act of a gentleman?'

'No, it was good driving. You wouldn't know anything about that.'

The discussion threatened to become personal, so Jimmy drifted away to walk beside Geoff. It seemed a good moment to mention a point which had been on his mind. 'We can't very well go on pretending to be strangers after this, can we?'

'Hardly'. Geoff was amused. 'I don't know that it need create any serious difficulties. I've got quite interested in motor racing again and we might meet at races now and then. It might be a good place to do business. I doubt if anyone else would notice.'

'It's a thought.'

'Another thing that struck me was the way these young men helped us. They started doing it for the fun of the thing, but I suspect that some of them have got more satisfaction out of it than they might have expected. We had to collect their addresses so that we could keep in touch regarding the photographs, so we could call on them in case of need. You could pretend to be one of the gang, but act as my liaison man on the quiet.'

Jimmy grinned. 'I suppose that's a compliment, really, but I hope you don't expect me to keep them under proper control.'

'I doubt if anyone could do that.' Geoff chuckled. 'Look, shall we pause at Rosie's for a quick one? We can scarcely lose the others altogether and there are one or two things I want to say before the evening gets too hectic.'

Tucked into a corner behind the main entrance door of the Chatham Bar, they found an island of comparative calm where Geoff spoke seriously, his earlier lightheartedness gone as if it had never existed.

'This affair has opened my eyes. At the beginning, I saw it as another routine case and I treated it accordingly. That was a mistake. It wasn't orthodox at all. Fortunately, you seem to have realised that and you used unorthodox methods of your own, which achieved a lot more than mine did. I won't go into details now, but if you're interested in the idea I'd like you to take on more responsibilities and work with me more regularly. You may save me from getting too conventional in my outlook. If we manage a few successes like this one, I won't be at all unhappy.'

'We lost the Colonel.'

'Don't worry about him. We've achieved more valuable results than that. Apart from anything else, you've done wonders with young Simon. He was in danger of becoming an obnoxious bore, but you've humanized him.'

'I think Susan did that.'

'You've given her the chance to. I think you may have made a friend there, if not two. They may not have said anything yet, but I think they will if a suitable opportunity arises.'

The opportunity did arise when they arrived at the Café de Paris, where the rest of the party were already well established in a corner of the garden. Three rounds of drinks were set up waiting for them and there were some ribald suggestions regarding the reason for their late arrival, which Geoff said were highly complimentary to a man of his age. Simon and Susan, sitting close together on one side of the group, both beckoned Jimmy to their table.

Simon held out his hand. 'I want to thank you for all you've done, Jimmy. Susan's been telling me about Brands Hatch. I still don't know whether you were doing it as a job or not, but in any case you've done a good deal more than you had to. For one thing, you've been very patient with me. I'm grateful for it all and so is Susan.'

'I certainly am.' The honey blonde Jimmy had once classed as being worth a second look got up and gave him a sisterly hug, leaving him in a state of thorough embarrassment, from which he was rescued by a passing Grand Prix driver who had evidently heard something of their adventures.

'Got anyone you want chasin'? I'm just in the mood for a flamin' dice, if there's one going'. No, I won't join you, thanks. You've got much more reason to celebrate than I have, from what I hear. You wouldn't know where I can get some puncture proof tyres, would you?'

The next diversion was Tony's return from the Tip Top with his winnings, which he carried as a large and untidy fistful of notes. He claimed that he had no idea of the total amount involved, but when Geoff said that thirty francs at twenty to one should pay for the trip twice over, drinks apart, Tony began to count the notes with greater care, pausing only to order another round of beer.

Tim, the courier, wandered past, warning everyone that the coaches would be leaving in less than twelve hours time. 'One o'clock sharp. Don't be late or you'll be left behind. I hope you've all had a pleasant weekend.'

He seemed slightly surprised by the hilarity which greeted this remark and was even more taken aback when Simon asked if Luciano Mori could occupy his seat for part of the return journey.

'I'm planning to drive back with Susan, here, in the yellow Lotus you may have noticed on the way down. I can't leave her to tackle the return journey alone. We could meet up with you at Halluin, on the Franco-Belgian border and she could take Lucy on from there.'

Tim seemed rather puzzled by the change in Simon's manner, but he said he thought matters could be arranged. 'We won't be able to hang about for you, mind. If all goes well, we should be at the frontier around six on Tuesday morning. Don't be late.'

Exchanging expressive glances with Jimmy, Tim went on his way, obviously suppressing an urgent desire to ask a number of highly pertinent questions. Jimmy rather sympathised with him and made a mental note to tell him the whole story during the homeward journey. There was no point in secrecy now.

After that, they sat and talked far into the small hours of the morning, finishing up by toasting their favourite driver at the Tip Top when most of the other revellers had gone home. Some strenuous work was needed next morning to get everyone on the coach in time for departure, but nobody actually had to be carried. Geoff came to see them off and thank them for their help, a gesture which was much appreciated.

Simon and Susan, incredibly enough, had made an early start. By the time the coaches left Monaco, they were probably lunching in Montelimar, two hundred miles towards Paris, which Simon hoped to reach by early evening. He had remarked, with supreme innocence of expression, that they might even be able to snatch a few hours sleep before meeting the coach at Halluin.

It was a little sad to leave Monaco, where so much had happened in so short a time, but there was plenty of interest along the homeward route. Apart from the reminiscences and discussions of the adventures they had shared, there was much to watch outside the coach. Now and then they saw the big transporters carrying the racing cars homeward and on one occasion were amused to see one transporter passing another on the autoroute, with an appropriate exchange of compliments between the crews. There was even more amusement later when the victorious transporter was seen undergoing a wheel change, but that was rather unkind.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, when they were speeding away from Paris along the autoroute, Jimmy asked Lucy if the Colonel would accept defeat.

The little man smiled sadly. 'It is not likely. He is a determined man and he has other friends. He may decide to work alone. In that case, you will have to go after him again. If you do, I hope you will let me help. It should be interesting.'

It was, but that's another story.

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Mail me © Keith Thomasson February 11th 2002