The next few days were uneventful. I kept visiting Mrs Scrivener to keep her company and to check that all was OK. Somehow in life one gets caught in these situations. You do someone a good turn and then before you know it you are there doing one good turn after another.
This whole thing started a few days ago when in passing I saw Mrs Scrivener's door open and heard someone shouting for help. I could have walked on and ignored everything ... but no ... I had to go in and check didn't I? I found the house empty apart from Polly the parrot who repeated "François Bordeaux did it ... François Bordeaux did it ... "
And now here I am in a situation not of my making. A stolen parrot, a distraught Mrs Scrivener, the police involved and someone out there allegedly known as François Bordeaux looking for me when he is ready.
"Are you sure this being a Christian thing is a good thing?" I asked myself. Being kind to other people and loving one another doesn't half get me into problems sometimes.
After a few days the phone started to ring in response to the adverts I had placed everywhere. The first phone call was from some idiot who obviously cannot read:
"Hello ... I am ringing about the red parrot you have for sale. £200 is a bit much. Will you accept £50? Does he talk?"
I had to explain that the parrot was lost and the £200 was a reward to anyone who finds him or knows of his whereabouts, not a sale price. As for whether he can talk ...
"Gee £200 if I find him? I'll go looking now!"
The second phone call was a bit well meaning but just as misguided, although in a good Christian way.
"I am sorry to hear you have lost your parrot. Our cat has just had kittens. Would you like one? Only £5 each!"
I had to thank the caller politely and decline her offer of a cat to replace the stolen parrot. Not unless the cat can balance on a perch and repeat, "François Bordeaux did it ... François Bordeaux did it ... " She hung up the phone on me obviously having missed my ill-timed wit and sarcasm.
Mrs Pontifract who runs the St Vincent de Paul Society in church stopped me in the street and syumpathised about the loss of my parrot. I explained that it was not strictly mine but that it belonged to Mrs Scrivener. She offered to visit her and offer some sympathy; which I thought was a nice Christian attitude on her part. She said she will take her a packet of biscuits as a gift to cheer her up. I mumbled under my breath as I left, "make sure they're not dog biscuits!"
A few days further on, in the evening it was, I got a strange phone call which I was not expecting.
"I am calling about the missing red parrot," said the sensual female voice at the end of the phone.
"Oh yes ..." I hesitated.
"I am ever so desolate to hear that he is missing ..." she continued.
"Eh ... thank you ..." I gulped and wondered where this was leading to.
"It is so sad to experience the loss of a pet one has had for a while and grown attached to, is it not?" she purred like a kitten.
"Yes ... yes ..." it is I mumbled as my brain went into overdrive. Isn't it odd how one's brain often thinks much faster than real situations can handle? There you are, talking to somebody, or doing something and your brain is of at a tangent thinking all sort of things some connected and some not with the subject at hand.
For some reason the combination of this woman's sexy voice and the image of the parrot in my mind reminded me of a strip-tease actress I saw once years ago who used pigeons in her act. She ended the show standing there on stage totally naked. For an encore the pigeons took their feathers off!
"I think we should meet," she purred down the phone, "I have information that may be useful in your search for the bird."
I hesitated but took down her name and address and semi-promised to go and see her in the morning; even though I did not mean it. I had no choice. She may be genuine ... or perhaps not. But I cannot afford to miss an opportunity of finding the missing bird.
I took the precaution of telling my family about the phone call I'd received and left them the name and address of the mystery caller. It is always a good idea to let someone know where you are going just in case ... you know ... just in case.
The next morning I drove to the address I was given.
It was a luxurious mansion in the very-well-to-do part of town. A secluded gated area where only the best of the best live. By gated area I mean that a whole load of houses, about thirty or so, all luxurious, were surrounded by a high metal fence. You drive to the gate and a security guide checks your details before letting you in or out when you leave.
I parked opposite the house and knocked at the door.
It was opened by a beautiful dark haired woman in her thirties, wearing a low cut, and very short, tight fitting black dress clinging to every contour of her body. She looked like a vision in many a man's dream. Before I could compose a sentence in my mind she said in her sexy voice I'd experienced on the phone, "Hello ... I am Veronique Sullivan ... won't you come in?"
In the hall way I noticed two wonderful red parrots on their perch in an open space leading to a large garden.
"Would you like some Crème De Menthe?" she said as she poured two glasses on the table beside her. She was obviously expecting me to turn up, even though I made it clear on the phone the previous evening that I may be too busy to go and see her.
The Crème De Menthe tasted like cough mixture and a very minty mouthwash. But I was polite and sipped it a little at a time and pretended to enjoy it.
"I have read your story in the newspapers," she continued, "it is terrible what has happened to this Mrs Scrivener, losing her pet parrot like that."
I nodded politely and said nothing.
"I love parrots, especially red ones," she said sitting down opposite me crossing and un-crossing her legs sexily.
I smiled and tried hard to look her in the eyes ... not much lower because of her décolleté.
"I do recognise the parrot in the newspapers!" she revealed crossing her legs once again.
"How so?" I mumbled as the Crème De Menthe went the wrong way.
"The markings on the face ... the feathers markings ... I'd recognise that parrot anywhere. He belonged to my uncle," she declared as she lent forward.
I lent forward towards her expecting her to whisper softly some secret which she did not want anyone else to hear, and that's when I realised she was wearing no bra. I lent back again pretending not to have seen down her dress and somehow my backside slipped off the armchair and I landed on the floor spilling the Crème De Menthe all over her breasts. She stood up and cleaned herself with her hands and then asked, "are you all right? Did you hurt yourself?"
"No ... no ... I'm OK" I said as I sat back on the armchair.
She picked up my glass from the floor and asked, "Do you want another Crème De Menthe?"
I shook my head, "it's probably too strong for you," she smiled, "besides, it's better if I fill another glass and pour it all over myself; it'll save you the trouble!"
She sat opposite me again and crossed her legs trying to pull her very short dress down. Why do some women wear very short dresses then spend their time pulling them down? She knew I was getting uncomfortable and was probably enjoying it.
"You were saying you recognise the parrot from the newspaper photo!" I said.
"Yes I do ..." she replied, "he belonged to my uncle. He lived in Cambridge and had him at home. I used to visit my uncle often during the school holidays and he introduced me to parrots. I love them. Especially red ones!"
"But how do you know this is the one!" I asked.
"I recognised him from the photo. I had the photo enlarged ... here have a look!" she said as she showed me a very large photo, "look around the left eye ... there are some feathers missing. This happened in a fight with the cat. The cat scratched him and nearly injured him badly. I was at my uncle's when it happened. The parrot, Archibald the Third is his name, survived the incident minus a few feathers which never grew back."
"Yes ..." I mumbled, "I can see the missing feathers in this photo. What happened then?"
"My uncle died some three years or so ago. He had no relatives. The solicitors settled the estate and sold all furniture and belongings. When I checked with them about the parrot they said they sold him to a pet shop and added the amount to the estate of the deceased. I went to the pet shop and they said the parrot was sold for cash to a man ... they didn't have a name ... all they said is that he was very short!"
"I understand ..." I said, realising that this does not take us one step forwards towards finding Polly or Archibald the Third.
"I want you to find Archibald for me," she declared, "I am willing to pay you well. £1,000 up front plus another £1,000 when you bring him here; plus expenses! I have a cheque ready. All it needs is your name on it!"
"But ... but ... I am not a missing persons detective," I said, "I am a friend of Mrs Scrivener and promised to find her Polly ... whom you say is Archibald eh ...?"
"Archibald the Third," she said, "do you want more money? £1,500 up front?"
"No madame ... Mrs ..."
"Call me Veronique," she smiled.
"Yes ... Veronique ..." I smiled back remembering not to lean too much forwards, "I'll do my best to see what the adverts I printed will result. Let's move on from there. You keep your money for now."
She smiled again. "You are an angel," she said, "I'd do anything to find this precious bird ... anything!"
I stood up to leave. As she showed me to the door something made me ask ... I don't know what it was ... a sixth sense maybe ... but I asked her ...
"One more thing ... what is the name of your uncle in Cambridge who owned the parrot?"