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Episode Thirteen

Ragen poured himself a stiff scotch as he put the phone down; must remember not to leave the bottle in the fridge, he thought. He stared through the glass at the pile of manuscript on his desk. He thought of the steadily increasing pile of corpses in the police morgue.

Downing the liquefying drink, Ragen made for the door. The door neatly sidestepped and Ragen fell into the broom cupboard - and Petal...

At Petal's flat, Gilbert can find no trace of the girl, save six pairs of unused panties and a rolled up copy of last Sunday's Observer (from which Clive James' Compliments Column was mysteriously missing). Little knowing that the literary criminal had stolen the piece to cop some of the ideas, Gilbert made for the broom cupboard and found Lord Flongord and Marie Carthorse in an empassioned embrace ...

Meanwhile, down at the Yard the chickens were clucking and the cows were mooing.

Meanwhile again, however, Charlie Ragen was at Police HQ with the dazed, confused and slightly raped Petal. Ragen was on the phone. He got off and put the receiver down. "The famous pervert, Clifford Pilchard, has just been picked up at his pied-a-terre shoebox in Balham," said Ragen to the bottle of Redeye in particular and Petal in general. Makes a change, someone picking him up, he thought, remembering his happy days of pounding the poofs in Soho. "And I've a PC2691 call from Islington where his two accomplices Flongord and Carthorse have been done for beating a guy to unconsciousness with a surgical appliance." Regan shot a glance at Petal, it missed and broke the bottle of Redeye. "They were picked up in a flat rented by a floozy called Petal - what's your part in all this?"

Ragen contemplated Petal's many and generous parts. "If you don't answer I might get hard on you."

Petal winced at the undeniable truth of the situation; Ragen hadn't been able to afford a new fly zip since that night at the Stump and Wombat.

"Ok, I'll talk," said Petal. Damn! thought Ragen.

Suddenly the phone rang. Ragen opened the door and let it in.

"What do you want, Phone?" spat Ragen.

Bill the Phone, the Lauries number one informer, writhed from the blow in the kidneys with which Ragen had greeted him. "Argg, ugga, glub, gabba gabba, hey - Morning Mr. Ragen oooh, arrr. Fort you might like to no. The terribly evil Dr. Huw Ah Yuw - head of Backfire Ltd, has acquired the services of the elephantine Rudy an dey have bumped off Ginsberg - the head of the Four, a Clifford Pilchard is being done for the job."

"How do you know all this, son?" asked Ragen, extracting Phones left canine with a pair of wire-cutters.

"I red the bleedin' plot summary, dint I," spluttered Phone.

Ragen pulled Phone upright. "Plot summary? PLOT SUMMARY!! What'd you know 'bout this? Come on, talk or I'll give you a going over you won't forget in a hurry."

"Argg, glub. ramalamadolequeue, be'bop shebop. It's allover the Smoke Mr. Ragen. It's, it's ... the mysterious author killer. E's got this fing abhat authors since the Times never published 'is letters and the Oxford University Press wouldn't publish his fesis on gobbing. E's got it in fer alla yew, e's ... "

Ragen heaved the Phone against the wall and smashed his cranium against the hatstand. "C,mon Phone, don't hang up on me now or you might find yourself engaged for a long time in Parkhurst."

But it was too late.

Phone's pips had gone for the last time. Ragen had been disconnected, Phone had rung off - with a curare-tipped ball point pen stuck up his button B. Shot thru window by the the mysterious author killer.

2B CONTINUED

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