The vapour ,a case for Sir John James

‘So your back .Retirement not to your taste John.”

‘ May say that Chief Inspector.” He smiled and sat down on the desk edge. ‘You say Lenny was released and that he now came close to killing me. ” The smile still on his lips for Detective John James nothing would stop him bringing back in the criminal who had painted his name across the front of James house front not two nights before.

The uniform branch had lost Lenny Preston at this point in time had no clue or lead to his whereabouts.

‘He wasted no time announcing his return. What an hour after release he is at your place Sir. ”

“Jones relax im just detective James,Recall it do you?”

” Officially your Sir John James. Recall your Knighted ,do you Sir John.”

” Touche I think Sir John suites you detective. Need me ill be upstairs.” The Chief left the room and Jones handed him the photo of interest he had in his uniform top pocket.

” Who took this?” sparked the detective about to pick up the phone to ring his wife.

“WPC Jenny Adams Sir. Took it in Oxford Street about an hour since. Lenny knew she took his image entering the taxi. Reg of that cab I have .”

‘ Good work tell her Jones. Number.”

“Here sir.”

“So it belongs to Stan Armstrongs lot. All start with ST. And not the Saint.”

” He is no Saint sir. Ill call on him to interview that driver. May shed light?”

“Lenny is no fool Jones. He is not called the Vapour for nothing. ”

” No guess he is a hard man to locate. last time I arrested him was over that diamond robbery in Eastmans Row.”

” He wanted to be caught. Four years inside he went for the chance to kill Freddy the mouth. And he did somehow just a day before his release. Found the body an hour later. All cars after Lenny failed as he has vanished. ”

” Not quite he was painting my wall for me hour after getting out. Where were Flying Squad then ?”

” Chasing someone else sir. Lenny is the man now. Cant say he can vanish but his work shows he sort of fades it to the crowd so well we are at a loss to grab him. ”

‘ Thats it Jones. He goes out in disgiuse not inwards. That is his trick Im sure of

it. ”

The day was crowded with phone calls and only at 3pm could Detective James ring his wife at home to reassure her he was working. For that very morning he was sure they would not take him back. From the desk he clipped on the badge and proudly walked out onto the pavement when some one on a bicycle pushed a note into his jacket and sped away around the building corner. James read its working .Typed not hand written. It told him if he was on the case of Lenny Preston he was a dead man walking.

Later that same day Prestons body came down the River from Mortlake on the tide.

“My word seems we have found the Vapour lads. What now Detective Sir John. ?”

“Sir just Detective will do in working hours. Yes it is Lenny Preston I identify him as such. Shot in the stomach .Horrid slow death. Then who sent me this I wonder?”

‘ This was handed to you you say. Bit strong what!”

” Bit fatal id say sir.”

” If not Preston then who else is on your trail Detective?”

The office was in darkness as he sat in the desk chair thinking it out. The phone jumped into life shattering the silence of his mind. ” yes James here. Who?” He placed the receiver down on the phone buttons cutting off the call. It soon rang again but he was out of the office racing back home.
He arrived by taxi just 30 minutes too late as his wifes body lay on the lawn under the glare of street lights.

He fell to his knees at her side mouth wide open he gasped and unwilling the scream came up from deep inside as load as a lion. He called her name ,held up her head and cried his eyes out telling her how much he loved her. Dead still in his arms cold to the touch he held her close as Flying Squad surrounded the scene.
From his side a voice told him “Let loose Horatio. Let me see what is not and what is.”
He knew it was the pathologist his friend but he could not move a muscle. Police helped the detective to his feet trying to confort in any way they could as rain soaked the Doctors looked puzzled. Then the pathologist spoke. “She has been injected with something to put her in coma state. Horatio dear man .She is not dead. ”
In disbelieve Sir John James fell to his wifes side and kissed her in joy.

‘Not Dead then” his voice in a short of echo in his head.

” Let the doctors work. Im a man if your dead they are the men for life Sir John. Dare say she will be back to normal soon. Could be a drug that can freeze the body down to look like death. Ill reserve judgment on that for now.”

The ambulance arrived and as she was lifted by the paramedics on to a stretcher He saw an envelope under her on the wet ground. Quickly he tore the top off pulling the letter inside out in same motion.

“So now you know I can kill you both at any time. Be warned stay retired or face judgement in front of me. ”

He was angered by this and looked all round him hoping to see who did this too him. Then so much activity and sirens he saw nothing but felt he was being watched.

Over the course of the night she came too. She turned her head and there he was, at her side. ‘John your ok! He said he will kill us both soon. ”

“You saw him dear?” He gasped.

” No only on the phone and someone came behind me. I saw his face in the mirror for a brief second .Then all went black.”

” Who was it you saw?”

” Dont know. Some small faced man darkish hair mustache and beady pale blue icy eyes.Never seen him before John. ”

“rest now dearest .Your safe dont worry ill sort this out myself. Who ever it is we know we have two of them at least now. So grateful you are alright.”

Police guard around her room James went back to his office to write a report. The phone rang he picked it up and a voice spoke. ‘Who are you?” He asked.

” Let us say I am the ghost of Christmas past. You caused the death of my wife and hurt me more than I can say. I told you walk away your retired .The bullet I fired at you was not meant to kill you only to get you a pension and lay you up. Seems your stronger than I assumed. Well! John this time I will not miss. Goodbye hope your wife recovers .Then we cant be too careful.Can we. Toodle loo.”

The call could not be traced and so down went the receiver. He decided to spend time with his wife and let the caller think he had taken the advice. From his desk he took the revolver and shells with him.

For six weeks all was peaceful and they had a homely time. News on tv showed a bank robbery in East End of London .A murdered man in Manchester and not much else. Sir John sipped on the hot tea his wife had made but his mind was back on duty. His 55 birthday loomed and all preparation made for it by all who loved him. In a way he rather liked his pipe and slippers day but work hung over him like a beggars shawl.

” Seems your dear lady was injected with something I have no record of John. Sorry and all of that but she is alive which is a bonus. This case is becoming clear we are dealing with an educated lot.”

“You think do you Doctor Dee that I dont know that.”

” Dont take that to heart doctor our Sir John is not himself.”

” No Chief Super he is not and he cant recall my first name even.”

The case was that someone demanded he retired finally and death came as result if he failed to agree. Who the devil was it that was doing this to him. He collected his pens and left the office. In time he arrived at his door .In the side of the rose arch a white paper stood to be noticed. He read it slowly. It said “Good boy enjoy life as retirement is yours. Not a word more. ”


Copyright Kevin Parr Bt.

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