The boy was standing under the elevated tramway when he saw his friend, Beryl, coming towards him. A wide grin lit up his face as he yelled “Watch this!”.
“What?” asked the cat as he reached the lad, then followed with a soft “Oh…”.
The boy had lifted up a strange, bulky looking pistol, pointing it up underneath the rails and pulled the trigger. There was an odd, muted sound from the gun then a sharp bang some way off and an expanding light over the road.
They watched in admiration of the display for a while, then, as the light faded, Beryl asked “Dare I ask where you got fireworks this time of year?”
They giggled together then Tepic responded “well….. there were some crates come through the Docks, late at night… the Chinese blokes wanted em brought in…..without Mr Goa..Mornington knowing…. but……..”
“Oh, Chinese fellows?”
“yep… the Chinese fellas often want stuff brought in on the quiet, an they gave us one of the boxes… turns out theys full of fireworks, big uns!” the boy said, continuing “but this were from a box that were going with the Arctic Expedition, you know, the one the fellas fell out an all stormed off?”
Beryl nodded, it had been one of the funnier incidents of the last year, and an ignoble end to an expedition, then listened as Tepic continued his explanation.
“this thing fires a big bullet that lights up the place, very useful!”
He turned the other direction and fired again, the flare bouncing among the girders of the elevated rails before exploding in glorious colour.
“……course, yer needs a bit o’ space….” he concluded.
“Very useful,” Beryl commented, “Though it does kind of draw attention, bad and good perhaps?”
“yep… but yer fire it over there, an that’s where they’s gonna look!”
He turned towards the side, firing out over the City and they watched as the few passersby in that direction looked up at the unexpected show, none tracking the event back to the pair.
“See? While everyone’s lookin up at the light, we can scarper round the back!”
The gun was indeed a wonderful thing, they both agreed, even though it could only fire once before you needed to reload, and the bullets were rather large. Beryl did question what would happen in case of accident, if the shot could set fire to things and what would happen if the stores should catch fire – the Carnival Tent was maybe not the best place to keep inflamables! Eventually, the conversation came round to their friend Lisa, still working in the Asylum.
It was news to Tepic that she was still working there, and he was distressed to discover she was afraid to leave in case Mr Canergak, the owner, would tell people her secret. He remembered times when it was not safe to let people know he was a fox, and having to keep his tail and ears hidden, so he could understand her fears. But to keep working for that chap was just not right, especially if he was forcing her to.
He thought about his previous encounters with the strange, small man, with his odd way of talking and peculiar mannerisms. The though he was blackmailing Lisa incensed him.
“oh……. still got a few scores ter settle with that gent…..reckon that’s just one more….”
“He’s returned to babbage finally,” the cat said, “and he seemed…happy, well, at least content.”
The boy chuckled, the hint of mischief glinting in his eye.
“maybe we can do sumthin bout that!”
Beryl remembered some of Tepic’s previous plans so tentatively asked “What do you have in mind?”
“yer know, if people think he’s a bit…. odd….they wouldn’t take no notice of stuff he said….”, from the pauses in the boy’s words it was obvious he was thinking hard.
“They definitely think he’s a bit odd.”
“he do say he can see things other people can’t…..” he continued, the cat nodding in agreement, “an i knows, if yer keeps saying stuff like that, they locks yer up in the end, cus yer a bit doolally…”
“Yes, usually..” Beryl agreed, “So they’ll eventually lock him up?”
“all we needs ter do is make sure people remember he’s a nutter, mention it between ourselves where the toffs can hear….”
“So you want to talk about how insane he is, hoping that his staff will commit him?” Beryl asked, slightly amazed at the deviousness of the plan, “Well it’s better than I thought it would be.”
“sounds like a good plan, though yer don’t say he’s nuts, just say stuff bout him seein stuff as ain’t there an such….” the lad said, then added as a wonderful addition “an sayin he don’t have no soul, that would be good ter say near the Church…..”
“Definitely.” Beryl agreed, the thought of a Church investigation into the small man did have a certain appeal.
The boy was warming to the subject, and had another thought they could try.
“he always pays fer stuff on the nail, don’t he?”
”Nail?” his friend asked quizzically, “He provides the checks if that’s what you mean”
“he pays when he buys stuff, or when the bill is due…” the lad expanded, “don’t argue bout price either, not as i can recall….”
“Pretty much..” and “Not really” confirmed those suspicions, then came the bombshell, “He even overpays his taxes.”
Tepic looked outraged at that, taxes did sometimes have to be paid, though he was not sure if he had ever reached that point of desperation, but to deliberately overpay was beyond the pail.
“now… that’s worth mentioning, cus people don’t like that, worries em, yer see….makes em wonder if the cash they’s being given is kosher….”
This line of reasoning impressed the cat, who stated “That’s… valid.” before continuing after a moment’s thought “I don’t know where he gets the money to pay all the doctors their annual salaries…or everyone else.”
With that, Tepic realised it was time for his rounds, so he said goodbye to his friend and set off, happily plotting the downfall of Mr Canergak……