[Don’t miss the Music treat at the end. A revised version of this story will be posted in full after the Challenge for those of us that like to read everything in one complete telling,]
ZOO – Wednesday Five Minutes to Midnight
“Zakuski, zucchini, zwieback, zereshk, zrazy, ziti, zander, zerde, zabaglione –”
“With Zinfandel wine,” adds Kama. “You planning a Zenith Party? Dancing? Zamacueca, zambra, zapateado and zydeco?”
“Distracting myself from mnemonic overload. A party sounds great when we’re done with this case. And a Polish inspired zebra –”
“Wait and see, thozhi. Ship ahead.”
Will our disguises work? The customs uniforms from Stefan and Ivan are a loose fit in places but adequate.
As we heave closer, Pia hails us – in Swedish.
“ Har du ädelstenarna?”
‘Adeltsarna’ must be the stones, so we give a thumbs-up.
Peder throws a line from the stern and we haul ourselves in. The ladder is familiar, and we climb aboard, heads lowered.
Pia is waiting in the cockpit as Peder punches buttons to raise the sails.
I toss over the three jewel pouches.
She stares at us, eyes flicking between the two zombies.
“Your colleague was meant to finish what we started.”
“As ineffective as your explosives. So, we’re here with the gems instead of your inept divers.”
She hesitates then picks up the pouches.
“Well, you have a price as well. We thought DC Utkin was a rare find. Three in one force is somewhat – American.”
We let her open the pouches as I arm my Taser X26, and Kama unfastens her Savuku belt.
Pia tips out the costume jewellery as I step beside Peder.
“Fakes – like you two bitches. Where are the real gems?”
“On their way to the lawful client in Bangor with another courier. Too many decoys these days.”
I zap Peder and he slumps to the deck. Kama’s whip curls around Pia’s wrist before she can draw her hidden pistol. Then she restrains the Swede with an arm lock.
We handcuff them and read them their rights.
“Uthyr, one pirate vessel secured,” I say on my radio. “The canisters are exactly where we left them. My guess is – gnome trinkets.”
More deceptions – like Lagens väktare, the illusionary Guardians of the Law.
The glass of White Zinfandel compliments the zany cosmopolitan spread. I savour the strange blend of raspberry, coconut, spices and fish. But I miss my velvet favourite – and the heat of Kama’s Ennai Kathirikai Kulambu.
As the sun sets with reds and oranges over the Bae Ceredigion and the Llŷn Peninsula, I turn to Ffion, who is balancing her glass on her plate of select morsels.
“One more case resolved – 10 more to tackle.”
Paperwork alone never ends – especially all the justification demanded for every penny spent
“As your tad always reminded us, ‘crime never sleeps – even during Chapel.’ Did you get the email?”
My mind scrolls through the questions, comments and helpful spam messages.
“The security company handling the shipping of the gems – from France.”
“Yes. They thanked us for ensuring the safety of the Azure Stones. The message said we came recommended. But not by whom. Just that Zoo Sécurité would be in touch. Do you know more?”
A new mystery. The name meant nothing to me or Kama. Who suggested us?
Ffion shakes her head and frowns. “Can’t bear to have you two leaving my team. Being head-hunted by a security outfit is serious.”
“Thought you were thinking of joining my unit,” says Uthyr, bringing over a bottle. He tops up our glasses.
Kama takes my arm. “Sparkle and I are committed to helping CID for a good few years. Dawn swimming from the nearby beach is all we need.”
Our future draws other concerned friends.
“You acquired that Aberdaron boat,” says Wiley, arm around the PCSO from Bangor hospital. “That’s more than swimming.”
“It cost us – the accounts department wanted blood for it,” Our friends laugh, but it’s almost true. I lift my glass to my cousin and his partner. “Now, we’ve a regatta to practice for – when Guto and Padrig have repaired her. And next year – watch out.”
The strutting of our jackdaw, Negesydd announces the start of the serious dancing at our Zenith celebration. Zithers, drums and flutes echo into the Welsh night.
Midnight approaches and disappears. Nobody leaves. Is crime asleep, or just lurking in the shadows? Dancing to its own rhythm.
Kama pulls me closer, and her scent of vanilla and bergamot embraces me.
“Must I wait to discover about this Polish-inspired zebra? Or can we sneak away?”
“Ti eisiau dawnsio noeth?”
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And now for something completely different.
“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” William Congreve – The Mourning Bride