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Excerpt from 'The Eighteenth Panda'

Chapter One

 

 

Several months had passed since the invasion of our offices by Eve Bowen and her thugs, and apart from some minor work in the form of a few divorce cases, nothing of note had come through our doors during that time.

The fame that I had garnered during several high profile cases seemed to have evaporated and along with it, so had work. I have to say that I am getting bored, so much so that I am seriously thinking of chucking the whole thing in, and the only thing that stops me, is the sense of responsibility that I have toward my two adopted kids. I’m pretty sure that they would support any decision that I made, but that really isn’t the point. It’s how I would feel that really matters.

 

Both Harry and Margaret chose me and Penny to be their parents and the reason for that still eludes me, but let me introduce myself. My name is Larry Dexxman. Well to be completely truthful, it is Sir Lawrence Dexxman, and I am a seventy-six year old private detective. I am married to Penny, who, at 50 odd years younger than me, had to force herself on me before I could see the wood for the trees, and agree to marry her. The girl has to be cracked as a loon, but what the hell, I know a good thing when I see it.

Harry was the son of Malcolm and Natalie Firth, and after asking us to find his mother, had ended up orphaned, and eventually persuaded Social Services to let us adopt him.

Margaret on the other hand, had been the girlfriend of the previous Home Secretary’s son, who had been murdered. Her mother had fallen foul of the authorities through her philandering, and as a consequence, and on the verge of being taken into care, Margaret had asked whether we would adopt her as well.

It was Saturday, and Harry, not being at school, was watching some cartoon movie on the fifty-five inch plasma screen that adorned one wall of the office. He was a considerate young man, and so as not to disturb us too much, he was catching the soundtrack through a set of headphones. It wasn’t all that successful, as the brightly coloured images kept drawing our eyes to the screen. Sally, who so far this morning had ignored me, was curled up at his feet.

I must have done something seriously wrong, because under normal circumstances she would not leave my side. She was a tiny, well small rather than tiny, Shih Tzu/Yorkshire terrier cross, and my constant companion. I have to admit though, that since I had adopted the two kids, she did try very hard to keep us together, but failing that, made a real effort to split herself between the three of us. Her eyes still followed my every move, and I’m sure that if I made any attempt to go out, she would be at the door before me. Me getting my stick from the stand was her usual indicator of my intention.

I was sniggering to myself at a particularly engaging piece of slapstick that I could see on the TV, when a soft tap, tap, tap sounded on the outside door. I looked toward the monitor, could see no-one, and a sense of déjà vu washed over me. It was then that I remembered. It had been just like that when Harry had arrived to ask us to find his mother. I got up from my seat, walked to the door, and opened it to discover a pretty little blonde girl of five years or so staring up at me.

“I want to report a kidnapping, Mr Dustpan.” she said, seriously.

“It’s actually Dexxman, with two ‘x’s’.” I replied, “But never mind that, who has been kidnapped young lady?”

“I prefer Mr Dustpan,” muttered a voice from the room.

“Oh sorry Mr Dexxman,” she said, and tears were starting to well up in her eyes, “someone has kidnapped Mr Choo.”

“Come on in Miss, and take a seat.” I said.

She followed me in, and climbed up to sit alertly on our sofa.

“Is Mr Choo your daddy?” I asked naively when she was settled.

“Oh no!” she said, quite indignantly I thought. “Mr Choo is not a person. He’s my Panda.”

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