Foyle's Army

Detective Superintendant Foyle tackles his most perplexing murder case when a member of the local Home Guard is found dead.


7. Chapter Seven

            Ten minutes later we approached the Novelty Rock Emporium, next to the remains of Walmington's Victorian pier, which had been blown up in the middle to prevent enemy ships from landing.

            “It's such a shame they had to blow the pier up,” commented Sam, her long, golden hair billowing in the sea breeze. “I hear Frambourne's has been blown up as well.”

            “Oh yes,” said Godfrey. “I can remember before the war. My sisters and I used to go down the end of the pier and see the shows they used to put on.”

            “And they had a café, too,” Jones reminisced. “You could go and see a show, then come out and have a supper of fish and chips and ice cream and a cup of tea and still have change from two bob. Mind you, the shows were rotten and the food wasn’t very nice.”

            “Look!” exclaimed Hodges as we reached the shop. “He's still got that light on. Put that light out!” he yelled again. As he spoke, another light appeared on the horizon, out at sea.

            “Wilson, take half the men and watch the rear entrance,” commanded Mainwaring as we “The rest of us will stay here and guard the front.” Wilson did as he was told. “In the name of the King, I order you to come out of there,” Mainwaring yelled through the letterbox of the shop. “You are surrounded.” Nothing happened. We waited for over fifteen minutes but still the fugitive did not come out.

            “Permission to speak, Sir,” asked Jones.

            “Yes, Jones, what is it?”

            “That upstairs window is next to where a telephone line enters the building. I'd like to volunteer to climb the telegraph pole, walk along the line, break in through the window and chase him out of the shop.”

            Mainwaring rubbed his chin again. “I think you're getting into the realms of fantasy there, Jones,” he commented. “No, there's only one thing for it. Fix your bayonets, men.” He walked up to the door. “I call on you again to surrender. If you have not come out by the time I count to five, I will break the door down. One....two....three.... four....five.” Mainwaring threw all his weight against the door, then came away clutching his shoulder in agony. Foyle turned to me.

            Foyle glanced at me, I nodded back and together we broke the door down, then stepped back to let the platoon in. Mainwaring and Jones reached the doorway simultaneously, wedging themselves, until the remainder of the platoon pushed them through, Mainwaring falling to the floor and being trampled by the others. The platoon raced through the shop but there was no sign of the fugitive.

            “Has he come this way?” Mainwaring asked Wilson when we all reached the back of the shop.

            “I haven't seen him,” Wilson replied. “I've been so busy stargazing. Such a lovely evening, don't you think so, sir?”

            “Stargazing!” Mainwaring exclaimed. “A Nazi parachutist on the run and you're stargazing! Pull yourself together, Wilson. He could be anywhere by now! Jones. Fall the men in. Let's make sure we're all here before we decide what to do next.”

            “All present and correct, sir,” reported Jones, presently.

            Foyle and I turned at the sound of footsteps behind us. Another man in Home Guard uniform was making his way towards us through the shop.

            “I'm sorry I'm late,” Godfrey explained. “But the constant sound of the sea has a terrible effect on me.”

            “Jones! I thought you said all the men were present and correct.”

            “They are sir, twenty two men.”

            “But Godfrey's over here. We've picked up another one somehow.”

            One of the men jumped out of line and held a detached bayonet to Hodges's throat. “Help me, Napoleon!” screamed the hostage as the platoon turned, their rifles aimed.

            “You would be ill-advised to shoot me,” the hostage-taker stated in a broad Bavarian accent. “In the time it takes you to fire the rifle, I can slit this man's throat. I have already killed one of your men. One more makes no difference to me.”

             I glanced to Foyle, then to Mainwaring and back to Foyle, wondering who was going to make the first move.

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