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the man with three thumbs – chapter 2 of 3

The story so far : Les Aitken admitted to hospital after being assaulted. He is suspected of having three thumbs. The Police and his mother arrive to see him.

chapter 1 – here

Large bundles

‘ Mr Aitken! Mr Les Aitken! ‘

Curtain screens had been drawn around Les Aitken’s bed and the two policemen and doctor standing beside it. In the next ward Eric lay silent and tense, his eyes as bright as a sparrows and his ears straining for every word uttered.

One of the policemen had begun the questioning.

‘ Are you Mr Les Aitken of 15 Bidura Crescent Eden? ’

‘ Yeah. ‘

‘ Do you remember being brought in here at about twelve forty-five last night? ‘

‘ Nuh. ‘

‘ Do you recollect your whereabouts the previous evening? ‘

‘ Say what? ‘

‘ Do you have any recollection of the places you may have visited on the previous evening? ‘

‘ Not followin’ you there mate, sorry. ’

‘ Where was yer drinkin’ yesterday Les? ‘ This was harshly asked by the senior constable, who until then had been silent.

There was a pause as Aitken broke into a coughing spasm. When he stopped he groaned.

‘ Well? ‘

‘ Plenty of places, one of the blokes had won a packet at the races and we was helpin’ him spend it. ‘

‘ What bloke? ‘

‘Mate of Spotters, don’t know’im meself but he had it in large bundles. ‘

Eric drank it all in, waiting for the conversation to turn to the thumbs.

It was only a matter of time.

Downstairs Mrs. Aitken stood at the front desk of the Hospital and waited for the receptionist to look up from the book she was reading. The long exposed walk from the bus stop to the hospital doors in the steady rain had saturated her best coat and a large pool of water gathered silently around her feet.

Her thin hair was plastered flat onto her skull and she knew that the small itchy catch in the back of her throat was a precursor of another dose of the chills.

She waited.

‘ I’d like you to confirm that these articles are yours Mr Aitken. They were removed from your person last night in Casualty and placed in safekeeping.

Eric leaned far out from his bed and heard the rustle of an envelope being opened and shaken out, the rattle of small change as it was emptied onto the bed table, then a sharp intake of a breath.

‘ This item is of particular interest to us Mr Aitken and we would appreciate an explanation. ‘

The ward doctor looked at Les Aitken’s face a little anxiously when he saw him suddenly pale. He moved quickly to assist as Aitken attempted to sit up while the two Police stood motionless as they too quietly watched Aitken’s reaction.

– and Eric fell out of bed with an almighty clatter.

(final chapter here, the third thumb revealed)

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