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Excerpt From 'The Ordeal'

Chapter One



Six months had passed by since I had retired and passed Dexxman Investigations into the hands of my adopted daughter at the end of my last major case. I was out walking with Sally and thoroughly enjoying my day, the sun was shining, a slight breeze was blowing, and people nodded amiably as they passed. What more could a retired PI want, unless of course it was to roll back the years and to be young again?

Sally was getting to be an old lady now, having reached seventeen several months ago. She had lost most of her hearing, and her sight was failing, but she still had her nose, was still active, and looked forward eagerly to our morning walks together.

Maybe there wouldn’t be many more times that we could enjoy them, so we needed to make the most of it while both of us still could. I have to admit, that stepping away from the job had been difficult at first, but with Jenny’s help, I had learnt that there were other ways for life to continue to have meaning.

I was still around if the girls should need any advice, but as they became more experienced at running things by themselves, their requests for help had started to peter out. Most of the cases that I had pursued in the last few years had been downright dangerous, though manageable because of my MI6 connections. With my retirement, the backup that the security services provided had effectively retired as well, so when I had stepped away, I had encouraged Margaret to concentrate on divorces, and finding lost people. My thinking had been that this would make the job a lot safer for them, and so far this had thankfully proved to be the case.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Larry Dexxman. Well more accurately, it is Sir Lawrence Dexxman, and I used to be a private detective. I had made the decision to retire about six months ago, due mainly to my disquiet at the number of bodies that I had managed to accumulate, or had accumulated around me, over only about three years or so. Sally is my little dog, is a Yorkshire/Shih Tzu cross, and as I mentioned earlier getting to be an old lady. Margaret, my adopted daughter, works hand in glove with Denise, who is the daughter of a previous Home Secretary.

I had met Denise when I had been investigating the death of the Home Secretary’s son, her brother, and had been so impressed with her that I had offered her a job at the end of the case. She had immediately accepted, and has worked for me ever since.

That just leaves Jenny, who lives with me, and the two kids Harry and Tanny. Harry is my adopted son, and Tanny is Jenny’s daughter. The pair of them get on very well with each other, and most of the time can be found together, that is when Harry is not following his big sister around, as a self-proclaimed chaperone. Even then, Tanny is usually tagging along not very far behind.

The warmth of the morning was mitigated by the breeze, but not so much that I was not comfortable in the light coat that I had chosen when we came out. We were sheltered from the breeze as we approached the area of the railway station, and it started to warm up a little. So, I undid a couple of buttons on the coat, and then clipped on Sally’s lead, mainly for her own safety, but also to stop her jumping up at every pair of legs that she came across. There were a couple of cars outside of the station, presumably picking up or dropping off passengers, and quite a throng of people milling around and obstructing the pavement.

I gave a gentle tug on her lead, and guided her across the road to skirt around the crowds, not that she would have chosen that route, but for the moment I was in charge, so apart from a dirty look, she trotted along obediently. A large lorry was parked next to the pavement on our side of the road, and a fairly tall but substantial brick wall bordered the other side of the pavement. Walking between them both was a bit like walking down a tunnel and my claustrophobic dislike of the underground caused me to pick up speed a little. Perhaps that was what saved my life.

We were only a few yards in when the explosion occurred. It was massive, and had it not been for the lorry shielding us from the full force of the blast, Sally and I would have died right then and there. The lorry was knocked sideways, tipping onto its nearside wheels and falling toward us. As it tilted toward us, it reduced the force of the shock wave under it, but our legs were still knocked out from beneath us, and Sally and I ended up in a heap against the wall. As we cowered there, waiting to be crushed by the lorry, I thanked God when it came to a stop resting on top of the wall. Some of the coping stones on top of the wall were dislodged by the impact, but apart from small pieces of masonry which rained down around us, the larger stuff fell well clear.

The huge explosion had not been silent, and the concussion had deafened me, so the clatter of falling masonry was virtually silent. God knows what the noise could have done to Sally’s ears, but fortunately she was almost deaf due to her age, so was spared the worst of it. Even so, she must still have been able to hear enough, and feel enough, to be significantly affected by the blast.

It seemed to me that we were in the safest place that we could be if there were to be any further explosions, so I settled down with my back against the wall. I lifted Sally on to my lap, checked her over for damage, didn’t find any, and turned my attention to myself. Probing my legs, I didn’t find any there either, as I couldn’t see any blood I cuddled a quite terrified, and trembling, Sally to me and we stayed where we were.

My hearing slowly returned as we sat there, and through the whistling static, I vaguely heard the sound of sirens. Help was on the way!

We didn’t have to wait long before the place was swarming with uniforms, and I was just thinking about coming out of my hidey hole, when a head poked around the end of the lorry.

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