The sound of the siren was no longer in the distance and suddenly a panda car shot round the bend but the trained police driver managed to skid to a stop before the obstructing Escort. One policeman got out of the car and sauntered over to the Escort while his partner remained in the car talking into a microphone, presumably alerting other patrols about the Cortina. Andrew wound down his window.
“Is this your car, Sir?” enquired the policeman with polite authority, looking at Nigel.
“It certainly is Officer,” replied Nigel.
“In that case, Sir, may I see your qualifications as a driving instructor? May I also see your driving licence?” This last request was directed at Andrew.
The relevant documents were passed to the policeman. While he was studying them, Andrew was studying him. He was in his mid-twenties, about the same size as Andrew, blond haired and blue eyed. He was powerfully built and held himself with the confidence of his authority over others. He finished scrutinising the documents and passed them back.
“I’d like you both to blow into one of these please,” he instructed, fishing two plastic bags from his pocket.”
“You must be joking, Officer,” protested Nigel. “How could we have been drinking. There are no pubs open at this time of day?”
“True Sir,” conceded the policeman, “but you may have a nice supply of alcohol at home. So please blow into the bag!”
Andrew and Nigel complied with the request and as they expected the result was negative.
“Well, you are not under the influence, that’s for sure,” confirmed the policeman. “However, you will have to accompany me to the station. Follow me please. We’ll have your car towed in.”
“You haven’t even asked us what happened yet!” stormed Andrew, annoyed at the policeman’s brusque, efficient manner.
“You can tell me all about it at the station,” invited the policeman, turning towards the panda car.
Nigel put a hand on Andrew’s shoulder. “Relax,” he said. “He’s only doing his job.”
“I know,” said Andrew, “but does ha have to be so offensive?”
“I guess not,” replied Nigel. “Come on, we’d better go.”
Andrew and Nigel got out of the Escort and went over to the panda car. The policeman they had spoken to was stood by the driver’s window, having a word with his colleague. He turned to Andrew and Nigel as they approached.
“I wonder if I could trouble you to help move your car from the middle of the road?” he asked.
“It will have to stay here until we can get it picked up,” informed the policeman, when the car was in a safe position by the kerb.
It did not take long to get to the police station, just a matter of minutes. Andrew did not enjoy the ride, he was a little disturbed at having broken the law. It was true that they had been trying to uphold the law by foiling a criminal act but somehow he did not feel that they would receive too much gratitude. He had never been in trouble with the police before and had never had cause to visit the station. It was a small, one storey affair which boasted only two rooms. The main room contained a counter where the public made their complaints, and a few tables and chairs. The other room led off from the main room. It was small and contained only a table and two chairs. This was the interview room and it was here that Andrew found himself being questioned by the driver of the panda car. Nigel was being questioned by the other policeman in a corner of the main room. They were being kept apart so their statements could be compared afterwards.
“Now, Sirt,” said the policeman,” please try to co-operate. It will be easier for both of us. Firstly, can you just give me your name and address?”
“My name is Andrew Redlaw,” replied Andrew, “and I live at The Homestead, Dickens Lane, Poynton.”
The policeman wrote this information down. “My name’s Paul. Do people call you Andrew or Andy.”
“Andrew. I don’t like the shortened version.”
“Right then, Andrew, tell me everything that happened.”
“I’ll try my best,” said Andrew enthusiastically. He liked Paul. He had better manners and was easier to talk to than his partner.
“That’s all we ask,” assured Paul.
“Well,” started Andrew, “it all began while I was having my usual Saturday morning driving lesson. We had just gone through the lights when the car in front pulled up suddenly. I had kept a bit too close so I had to stop as well. The car had pulled up by a girl on the pavement and I thought the driver was asking for instructions. The girl went over to the car and suddenly she began to struggle. I think the driver had hold of her arm. Then a man got out of the back of the car, grabbed the girl, pushed her into the back seat and jumped in after her. The car shot off and we followed it. We chased the car for some time and then we took a short cut to head it off but it got past. The man in the back seat shot out our front tyres and then you arrived. We wee only trying to uphold the law.”
“Yes I see,” said Paul. “Can you give me any more detailers of the girl, kidnappers or car?”
“It all happened so fast that I didn’t see much,” explained Andrew. “The girl was fairly tall and had long, blonde hair. I couldn’t see the driver but the other man was big with short, black hair. The car was a white Cortina, T registration. My instructor took the number.”
“How was the girl dressed,” asked Paul.
“I didn’t notice,” replied Andrew.
“How about her age?”
“I didn’t get a proper look but I would guess she was about eighteen.”
“You didn’t notice anything else?”
“No, I’m afraid not,” said Abdrew, apologetically.
“Well, we have a little to go on,” assured Paul. “I’ll just go and check your statement with that of your instructor. If they coincide with each other then we need keep you no longer.”
The policeman went out of the room into the main part of the station. His partner had just finished questioning Nigel, who was shown into the small room. The two policemen checked the statements which they found tallied with each other. Nigel’s contained a little more information. ‘The girl was about five feet eight, with long, blonde hair and was dressed in a white blouse and blue skirt’ and ‘the car was a white Cortina, registration number BLH204T and should be dented on the right hand side where it bumped into another car.” Nigel put this acute observation down to his army training.
“Well, their stories tie up,” observed Paul.
“I’m afraid they do,” admitted his partner.
“You are too hard on the public, John,” warned Paul. “One day it may count against you.”
“I’m just doing my job, Paul!” said John defensively.
“Okay,” relented Paul. “This is too much of a coincidence after that C.I.D. bloke yesterday enquiring into that other kidnapping. I’m going to give him a ring.”
Ten minutes later Paul went into the interview room where Andrew and Nigel were waiting.
“You can go now,” he informed them. “There’s just one thing I’d like to tell you. You may have read in the paper about the girl who was kidnapped recently. Her ransom was paid and she was freed, but then ten days later she helped a gang rob a jewellery shop. The police were not informed of the kidnapping so a local C.I.D. man came down to investigate. I’ve just rung him with your story. He wants me to send him a copy of your statements and for you to contact him if you remember anything else. His name and number are on this piece of paper.” As he was being given a lift back home in the panda car, Andrew opened the piece of paper. In neat handwriting was the name Bill White and a telephone number. Andrew wondered if he should keep the paper, he wouldn’t remember anything else. He decided to keep it so put it in his back pocket. It was a good job he did because although he did not know it, he was going to need that number in the very near future.
Next time – Chapter 2 begins!