Hello. My name is Max Wood. I am a Private Dick. I work for hire solving crimes that cops either can't or won't solve. I work out of an office at the corner of 22nd and State in Bone City. I work alone; that's the way I like it. Partners just get in the way. I am a stand up man and always rise to the occasion whenever I'm called upon, sometimes to solve unsolved crimes. Sometimes the job is long and hard but I almost always pull it off. These are my investigative stories.
Episode Four: Max Wood in Shepherd's Bush
A few years ago, before I was a private dick, I was First Lieutenant Max Harding Wood, United States Army—I had a big unit and I was proud of it. My unit met up with a bunch of Brits, amazing bunch of fellows, or blokes as they would say. I struck up a friendship with their lieutenant, Harry Balzac. Harry is the man who taught me the secret of being a detective.
"Stick your nose in there long enough and someone will squeal, Woodie." he would say with his classy accent. Good old Harry.
Three days ago, I got an urgent cable from Harry. I caught a flight on a Stratocruiser from Bone City—TWA Flight 69 refueled in Iceland and landed at Heathrow Airport in England. First time I've been back since the war.
The driver said we were going to a neighborhood called Shepherd's Bush. The area started looking kinda rough, like something from back home—I grew up across the road from Hell's Biscuit, one of Bone City's roughest neighborhoods, I didn't want my old friend stuck in some sloppy hole. I felt better when we crossed the tracks and things got a little nicer. The driver pulled up to a tidy looking house. He let me out and tried to help with my luggage, but no one handles my bag but me. The place looked sharp and clean, nothing too fancy—just what I would have expected from my old friend.
Harry met me at the door, still tall and handsome, his black hair starting to go silver in places. But not a single wrinkle on that Balzac. We shook hands warmly and he showed me in. "So good to see you, Woody!"
"Least I could do, Harry." His place was nice, neat as a pin. We went into a little office, or a drawing room. Whatever the heck they call it here in England.
Harry sat down at his desk and took out a decanter, "Don't suppose it's too early for a nip. Have a stiff one with me, old boy?"
I've never been one to pass up a drink or two—or three. It's gotten me in trouble more than once, but this was good old Harry, so I nodded. I looked at a small trophy case on his wall while he poured. Inside were some mementos: a photo, a few medals.
"Chap in the picture is my uncle, Major Sir John Thomas Cholmondeley-Minge." I looked closer, Harry's uncle was a distinguished looking guy in a pith helmet and one of those long jackets like big game hunters wear. He was with a bunch of handsome native boys, all roasting hot dogs over a camp fire or something like that. "Uncle Johnny is shown there having one of his so-called sausage parties with the lads. Locals always love him so."
A big silver medal caught my eye—a real giant with a maple leaf and a beaver—there was some kind of royal seal on it, real classy looking award. "What's this big silver medal for?"
"That, dear boy, is Queen Victoria's Beaver. For my work training Canadian soldiers in the war." He looked proud.
"It's a hell of a big beaver. She must be a hell of a queen."
He poured a couple of scotches. "She was, in fact. One of our frumpier monarchs. I believe half the landmarks in England are named for her or her beloved Prince Albert."
I sat down at the desk, across from Harry. He passed me a scotch. I sipped and thought about the old days, we'd had to leave in a hurry and I'd never even said goodbye to good old Harry. Apart from a few postcards, I hadn't heard much from my old friend. "Harry, what happened after I left? They pulled my unit out and slid it up the crease into Belgium."
"Well, I had my discharge soon after that. Took a German bullet in my family jewels." I winced as Harry said it, he smiled sadly, "Ruined both of my stones I'm afraid." He reached under the desk and fiddled with something, "Here, let me show you..."
"No Harry, that's really not..."
Harry laid out a beautiful golden family crest, on the desktop. The deep impression where the jerry bullet had torn into the metal showed where the gems had been. "Ohhhh Harry, that's tragic."
"Oh I was unmanned over it for a bit. But you know, it's not as bad as what happened to Private Pullet. Little Willie got hit by German schrapnel. After that, he was One-Eyed Willie." Harry looked serious.
I held up my scotch, "To everyone who made sacrifices."
Harry took a drink, "Hear hear."
A moment later, we got down to business. "My old friend, Sir H.G. Wrection has been badly assaulted in his home at St John's Wood. Some fools think it was a back-door burglary, but I suspect more dire motives."
"What kind of motives? Who is this guy?"
"Sir Hugh is a good friend of Mister Churchill, and a member of Parliament. I can think of many possible motives, but we've turned up not a single clue. I need you, Woodie."
We decided to go up to Cockfosters and see this Sir Hugh guy in the hospital. We finished our scotch and went to Harry's car. As we drove through the crowded streets of London, I thought about my little wiener.
I was told that I couldn't bring my wiener dog, Bangkok, to England with me, so I had to leave my little partner behind with my cousin Anita. She's a swell dame, but she has a dangerous pussy. I wasn't really comfortable having Bangkok around that cat, but Anita promised that her crazy pussy would never touch my wiener. I felt better, but still, it felt strange leaving my little wiener behind. I feel somehow incomplete without man's best friend.
Harry plowed his car through traffic like a champ and then eased into a tight space behind North Middlesex University Hospital. It was a nice place, a lot of it looked clean and brand new. "Took a lot of damage in the war," Harry told me as we walked. "We're trying to get back to business as usual."
We reached the ward. A couple of cops were there, in their neat checked caps. They saluted Harry, "Good afternoon, Inspector Balzac."
"Good afternoon lads. This is my old friend Max Wood, from the States.
The officers nodded to me and I addressed Harry, "So what happened to this guy, anyway? What kind of assault was it?"
"A brutal one. He was beaten, seemingly with fists." Harry looked very sad.
"Oh," the younger officer, Hertz by name said, "Poor Mister Wrection was beaten up something horrible sir," his accent was what I think of as Cockney. "If I were him, my head would be throbbing from such a whipping!"
Harry looked kind of jaundiced at the enthusiastic young cop, "We need to see Sir Hugh. Any change in Sir Hugh's status?"
"None sir," the elder officer said smartly as he let us into the room. Harry leaned close to the officer and spoke in hushed tones for a moment.
Sir Hugh was a big man, chubby and tall. He looked limp and flaccid there in the hospital bed, with his intravenous tubes and bandages. "Officer Bender will bring the nurse round so that we might speak with her."
I moment later, an angel entered the room. She was tall, with auburn hair and green eyes that seemed wise and joyful at the same time. A real doll. "Inspector Balzac, I am nurse Fanny Phillips, I've been looking after Sir Hugh." Her accent sounded classy and intelligent.
"Ah nurse Phillips! Do come in, this is my associate, Mister Wood from America." Harry smiled and ushered the dame into the room, closing the door behind her.
She smiled at me without a hint of shyness, "A Yank? Mister Wood, it's my pleasure." A pause, "How may I help you gentlemen?"
"Nurse Phillips, I need to know if there has been any change at all in Sir Hugh's status." Harry looked serious.
The pretty dame met his gaze levelly, her voice was gentle, "No sir. Doctor Dickens doesn't have any idea how long he will be in this state."
Harry stroked his chin, "Has he said anything? Perhaps spoken in his sleep or murmured anything?"
"No sir, sorry sir."
"Have there been any visitors?" Harry asked.
"His sister, Lottie, comes round almost every day. And his friend...manservant, whatever he is exactly, Mister MacRoyn, pops round frequently." Fanny was thinking. "That's all."
"Ah yes, Holden MacRoyn," he turned to me, "he's Sir Hugh's right-hand man."
"I wouldn't mind squeezing MacRoyn for some information," I said.
Harry smiled wolfishly, "Quite so. I thought you might say that, old boy. Let's get off then." He spoke to Fanny, "Now, miss, might I use your telephone for a moment."
We met in the lobby, Harry smiled, "I have a uniformed copper to drive us up to St. John's Wood where Sir Hugh lives. We can see if Holden MacRoyn is there."
I nodded. We were silent for a few moments and then Harry spoke, conspiratorially, "You like Nurse Fanny, don't you?"
"She's a doll. And I'm betting she's full of spunk." I grinned.
Harry looked a bit shocked, but not for long. He elbowed me, "Bet you'd like to be the one who puts it there, eh?"
"Well, I do like my dames spunky."
"Good lord Max! I'd missed your wit!" He grinned a Cheshire Cat grin under his pushbroom moustache. "You should see about knocking her up."
Now it was my turn to be a bit shocked, "Well, I barely know her. I mean, maybe in time."
"Ha! That's a boy. Give her a tinkle sometime."
I raised an eyebrow and Harry laughed, "At least drop back by and have a cup of tea with her. Never know what may come from a good teabag." I shrugged, he winked as we walked outside. A uniformed officer saluted him and opened the car doors for us. "I've never known you to have a trouble with the fairer sex. Keep your pecker up, old man."
"Ha! Guess that's the idea, Harry." I got into the front seat. British cars are built the opposite way around from American ones, so I kept feeling like I was in the drivers seat the whole way out to St. John's Wood.
As the car pulled through the streets of London I could see where the doughty English were still repairing the damage from the Blitz. Somewhere over near Buckingham Palace, Harry pointed to a shop sign, "That's where I stock my wine cellar."
"Quite. When you want a little wine, pop in the Balls, I always say." Same old Harry.
His driver opened a cigarette case, "Fag, Mister Wood?"
"Me? No." There was an awkward silence as he lit his smoke. I decided to show these sophisticated Brits that we "colonists" could have open minds. "Don't mind em though. Just did a job for a couple of them."
Harry seemed shocked, "Good lord, man! You work for fags?"
That didn't seem like good old Harry at all, "Yeah. What's wrong with fags, Harry?"
"Didn't they pay any money?" He was concerned.
"Yeah, they paid me."
"Oh I see. Very well then," he seemed satisfied.
London must have a real serious problem with deadbeat fairies or something.
"We're quite keen on them here," Harry said, which jibes with everything I'd heard. "Men walk openly with one here," he paused, "Not my sort of pleasure though. I'm more of a pipe man, myself."
I love British slang, but it took me a few seconds to figure out what kind of "pipe" my dear old friend might be talking about. I grinned, "Well Harry, I think maybe I'm a bit of a pipe man myself." He grinned. This was a totally different side to old Harry Balzac than the buttoned-up Leff-tenant I'd known in the war.
The driver smiled, "Nossir, not for me. Give me a good fag anyday. It's quick, it's easy, and you can have 'em anywhere."
Man, these Brits are open about it.
Sir Hugh's house was definitely what we'd call a mansion back in Bone City. A tall, well groomed man with red-blond hair answered the door. "May I help you?" His accent sounded Scottish to me. He was handsome and had perfect manners, so I instantly mistrusted him.
"Holden MacRoyn, I presume?" Harry greeted MacRoyn with a firm grip of his hand, who nodded. "I am Inspector Balzac, of the Yard."
"Aye. Please do come in." His manners were as crisp as the pleats in his dark grey slacks.
"This is my associate, Mr. Wood, from the United States."
He shook my hand, a big, strong handshake, "Mister Wood." He showed us inside the big home. Everything was as polished as this mook, the maid must spend all her time polishing knobs around this joint. "Inspector Balzac, I really can't tell you anything I've not already said."
"Oh, it's quite alright," Harry said charmingly. "I wonder if we might have a poke round Sir Hugh's office?"
There was a young man in a schoolboy uniform in the living room. The kid stood and approached us. MacRoyn introduced us, "Gentlemen, this lad is Sir Hugh's ward, Master Jack Bates. This is Inspector Balzac from Scotland Yard, and his colleague Mister Wood, from the United States."
"Excellent to make your acquaintance, Master Bates." Harry smiled at the kid.
"It's my pleasure, sir," Bates returned the smile," he seemed excited at meeting us. "Mister Wood, it's nice to meet you." He shook my hand. "We don't meet many yanks, sir."
"So do you like Yanks, Master Bates?" asked Harry playfully.
"I do! I'd like to come over and see the Brooklyn Dodgers play sometime!" He was a cute kid.
I gave the kid a grin, "Yeah, if they play the Bone City Cockerels, I'll take you to the game!" Harry and I followed MacRoyn to the office. It is a hell of a big house this guy has, apparently Ministers of Parliament or whatever they call their politicians over here, do okay for themselves.
He left us alone to snoop through Mister Wrection's desk. We were pretty quiet, thinking that squirrelly character could be listening at the door.
"You know, Harry, the way our lives go, that cute kid should probably be our prime suspect." I chuckled.
"Quite so, Woodie." He laughed, then a pause, "You know, he probably should."
"Nah, he's just a kid." I thought, "Well, there again, maybe he should."
I noticed something just as Harry said, "Seems the lads may have found all the evidence."
I rummaged around in Wrections drawers while Harry examined something with the carpet. In the back of his desk drawer was a bit of discarded blotter paper. Having noticed some suspicious smudges, I hurried to a mirror and held it up. "Hey Harry, does this mean anything to you? B-O-U-looks like O or D-I-C...ummm...not sure?"
"Sounds like Boudicca, queen of the Iceni tribe...ancient warrior from about these parts. What have you found?"
"Not much, couple of words on the blotter. Looks like 'Big Pole' and this 'Boudicca' and ..." I squinted at the mashed-up letters, "Iced Tea?"
"That's what it says. Here, look." I offered the paper to Harry, who came over.
"Curious." He held the crumple of blotter paper up to the light, "I suspect the the reference to Queen Boudicca could mean her statue near Westminster Bridge, or perhaps her alleged burial site at King's Cross." He paused, musing, "The Big Pole is a mysterious character, some sort of underworld fellow."
"Naturally. Surely you've noticed all the foreigners." Harry said.
"I had wondered. Has to do with the war, doesn't it?"
"Indeed," Harry was solemn. "We've had quite the wave of immigration. It's blasted hard to keep track of all these people."
"What about that last line: iced tea? Mean anything?"
Harry grinned playfully, "Apart from the ruination of a perfectly good cup of tea, not a thing." A long pause, "Curious, I think we should go to see Boudicca tomorrow morning. You'll be staying with us." It wasn't a question.
"That'll be swell, Harry. I get to meet this dame of yours?"
"Oh yes, she should be home from a long day with her ass," he said mysteriously. Good old Harry.
The trip home was pretty quiet. Harry gave the cop his car keys and asked him to bring his car round in the morning. I think we were pretty disappointed that our visit to St. John's Wood brought us up empty-handed.
We got back to Shepherd's Bush and were met by one of the hottest dames I ever laid eyes on. Blonde and cute, with that regal look that some English broads seem to have. She embraced Harry and kissed his cheek. I grinned—that's the Harry Balzac I hoped I'd see.
She extended a hand, "Mister Wood, it is such a delight," she had a great handshake for a dame. "Harry often speaks of your time together." Violet had one of those English accents that make us "yanks" feel rough and crude.
"Best thing about that bloody war." Harry smiled at his wife, "So love, how is the ass?"
"Sore, by now, children playing with it and swatting it." She sounded cross, who could blame her?
"Poor thing," Harry said as she whisked into the kitchen. "Everyone loves Violet's ass."
She giggled prettily from the kitchen, "Poor thing indeed. Some old man tried to ride it today!"
"Ride your ass?" Harry harumphed. "Surely it's too small to have a man riding it."
She came in with a tray of hot breadsticks, "Oh quite. I got him distracted, though."
"Showed him the boobies then?" Harry smiled.
"Always turns their attention." Violet looked back at Harry with such love in her eyes. Harry deserves a swell dame like that.
Harry looked at me, "When the war was raging and the Blitz was on and all that, Londoners moved the animals out of our zoos to private land in the country. They have brought most of them back by now, there's a little place in Dorking where Violet takes care of some birds and a pretty old ass," a pause, "or perhaps you might call it a burro. Also that silly little gazelle."
"Dik-dik," Violet corrected.
"And boobies," I raised an eyebrow.
"Oh yes, a mated pair, she has the loveliest pair of boobies. Everyone enjoys looking at them." Harry had some pride in his wife's boobies.
"Say," I thought, "Violet, you got any of those little birds...what are they called...Titmice?"
"Oh, my cute little tits!" she laughed. "How ever did you know? You are quite a detective Mister Wood."
"Just a lucky hunch." Harry and I took our breadsticks and headed back to his study. Violet came along. Usually having a broad along to talk business is bad news, but a spunky broad like Violet Balzac is okay in my book.
We sat in Harry's office and told Violet the story of our day. She put a dash of dill in the breadsticks, they were pretty swell. We had a cup of tea and munched on some dill-dough sticks and talked for an hour or so.
"Well, old fellow. Why don't you go upstairs and unpack? We'll start dinner. Proper English food, We thought we'd have a bit of toad in the hole, then we'll all have spotted dick."
I was learning to trust Harry again, so I nodded and headed upstairs. Turned out the weird English food was pretty damn tasty, despite the names. They said we would have something called 'bangers and mash' tomorrow...I just hope it's better than it sounds.
The morning sun was barely above the horizon when Harry and I walked out to the Westminster Bridge. The giant clock tower and that fancy-pants Parliament building was behind us as we approached the big black statue of the woman and her chariot. I whistled. "What a lady."
"Indeed. Gave the old Romans quite a hard one." Harry said. We stood around for a few minutes and then a souvenir stand caught both of our eyes.
The little push cart said "CSI: Clever Souvenirs, Incorporated." on a neat sign. "Say Woody. Isn't incorporated what you say of a company in the States?"
"Sure is. Not only that, look what he's drinking." The pudgy guy behind the cart picked up a glass of orange liquid. I could hear the ice cubes from across the street. "I think we should talk to this chump."
"Say Woody. I had a thought about that." Harry looked serious.
"What if he is called 'Iced Tea.' You know, as a nickname. It would mean everything on the blotter was a name."
Without another word, I walked across the street and put on my thickest Bone City accent, "Heya, Iced Tea, whatcha doin' today?"
The mook swung around before he could stop himself. He looked at me strangely, "Hey there, bloke," his accent sounded like Chicago to me, "What you doing out here at 6 'N the Mornin'?"
I got close, then got tough with him, "Seems like we have a mutual friend, name Hugh Wrection mean anything to you?"
He looked scared, I knew he'd be a cream puff, "Hey, I don't want no trouble."
I got up close, "You already got it, mac."
"Hey hey, pal. I don't know nothin'...Look around you, there ain't no high rollers out here this mornin'." His eyes were wide. Suddenly, he spun fast, thinking he'd make a break for it. Harry was there.
"Not so fast, Sonny Jim!" Harry could be pretty menacing when he tried. Iced Tea backed up against the railing, far below, the dark waters of the Thames churned ominously. Harry snorted, "Come on, 'Mister Tea.' Tell us why Hugh Wrection came here, or people will remember you and say 'I pity that fool.'"
My turn, "They will all say that you played yourself, Tea." I sounded like I meant it. I did mean it.
He knew he was in a bad spot, "Look, fellas, Sir Hugh came to see me—it's true. But I don't get involved in beatin' up no MP. He thought I might know the guy what was out to get him."
"The Big Pole?" We spoke at the same time.
"Yeah, that's the guy," he looked a little bit confused.
"What'd you tell him, Tea?" I snarled.
"Hey, this guy's a real big shot, I never ran into the Pole. I just heard some stuff around the city, you know? I ain't no original gangster, I just like being around, you know, money, power, and women. That's how I'm livin'."
"Yeah," I said, grabbing his jacket and pushing him against the railing, letting him think about the long fall into the river below, "and if you don't start singing, then I'm your pusher."
"Alright, alright, steady on, mac. Alls I know is that no one knows who the Pole is or what he looks like. Supposed to be a master of disguise. They say he's got a big beef with some MP, maybe Sir Hugh, the Pole's selling secrets to the Russians or something. His real name is Vasily Leonev, but of course, he could be anyone."
"Vasily Leonev, sounds like a slippery character," Harry sneered. "We assume he's a big Pole, but he could be a skinny Pole or a big fat one. We can't get a handle on this one."
Suddenly, it hit me—master of disguise, getting close to Sir Hugh. It had to be that shady Scotsman. I dropped Tea, who stumbled, but didn't go over the railing, "I got it! I got the Pole! Let's go!" I took off at a trot.
Harry came running behind to keep up with me, "What is it, Woody?" He called out.
I shouted back to him, "Holden MacRoyn! He is Holden MacRoyn!"
For some reason, the tourists took a second out of gawking at that big clock tower to stare at us as we went racing by.
We stopped at Harry's office, he got a couple of coppers to follow us, and he said he picked up something that is a sure fire detector. I didn't ask, I was running over the whole case in my mind. This MacRoyn guy comes in and acts as Sir Hugh's secretary, no one figures out he's really a Pole who is selling secrets to the Russians. Givin' em the business, right under Sir Hugh and his kid's noses.
Harry pulled it out and showed it to me. It was smaller than I'd expected: a little piece of paper with weird Russian writing, about three paragraphs worth on it. "What's that?"
"Supposedly the funniest joke in the world, written in Russian. If he knows Russian and reads it, there's no chance he won't at least snicker...titter. Something!" Harry seemed proud.
"Harry, you're serious?" I examined the paper, "What's the joke?"
"Don't know, old boy. I don't read Russian." He smiled and thought for awhile. "Got it from some Russian troops. I think it's about a dog. If that fails, I have an alternate strategy, follow my lead." Good old Harry.
We left the uniformed boys in their car, and Harry took the lead, soon as MacRoyn let us in, Harry said, "We seem to have found a vital clue!" He sounded like he wanted MacRoyn to give him a hand. "Do you know anything about this?"
Harry handed the guy the piece of paper, and the big Scot never even blinked, no smile, no nothing. Didn't even read it, just glanced and set it on a table nearby. "No, terribly sorry. It looks like Russian or somesuch. Have you gotten it translated?" He was cool as a cucumber.
Harry seemed urgent, MacRoyn actually backed up a bit as my old friend closed in, "Listen, something was said about a vessel for vodka. Do you know where Sir Hugh keeps that?"
MacRoyn seemed completely perplexed, "A vessel? For vodka?"
I figured Harry was trying to see if he pronounced v's like w's the way some Russians do. But this guy was spot on with his Scottish accent. Sounded perfect, but then the Pole was supposed to be a master of disguise.
I leapt in, "What was it supposed to be, Harry? Kept in a violet, velvet ..." A laugh sounded behind us, caught me up short. It was high pitched, like a kid, but it was definitely not a child's laugh. It was a big belly laugh like an adult might have. We whirled. Bates stood there with the joke in his hand, his smile fading. A strangely adult gleam was in his eyes, he dropped the paper and rushed through a door.
There was no time to think, I ran after the weird kid at top speed, crashing through the door and into a long corridor. He was hoofing it fast to the far end. I chased him for all I was worth. I shouted, "Game's up, Leonev!"
The little man got through a door at the end of the long hall and slammed it before I could get there. I didn't hesitate, I kicked the thing in. Master Bates stood there holding the biggest piece I'd ever seen. "The game is indeed up, Mister Wood." His voice sounded weirdly grown-up now, with a Slavic-type accent. His eyes held an almost demonic malevolence that was totally adult. I realized in an instant that he was a midget, one who was good enough to pass himself off as a kid. I knew I was done for, so I dove for him for all I was worth.
The gun went off while I was in the air. If I'd been a half second slower, I'd have been a goner, but he hesitated and I punched that midget with everything I had before he could get off another shot. Hit the big armoire behind him like a ton of bricks. Or sixty pounds of bricks. His head smacked the knob and the Big Pole was down for the count.
I threw the little guy over my shoulder, remembering to use my handkerchief to pick up his huge revolver. Bone City cops call guns with fingerprints 'dirty' weapons, and they get really mad at us for messing them up. My old friend Officer Sanchez got an insulting nickname for messing up the 'dirty' weapons.
I carried him out where Officers Kerr and Butts were interrogating the Scotsman. "Hey fellas, bet you didn't expect the Big Pole to be a little squirt, didja?" I smiled.
I set the little guy on the couch and Officer Kerr came over to cuff him. I set the big gun on the table, "Watch out for that magnum, it's dirty, Harry." Then I smiled at the cop, "Good job officer, what do we know?"
"Please call me Juan. The Scottish fellow says he doesn't know anything." Kerr nodded toward Holden MacRoyn, who was nearly in tears.
"By my sainted Grandmother MacGuffin's name, I swear I had nothing to do with this plot!" MacRoyn cried out.
The boys carted off MacRoyn and the tiny, limp Pole. Harry and I walked out into the daylight, thinking about the queerest adventure we'd ever shared.
The next night, Harry and I took his swell wife to the local pub to wrap it up to her. We sat at the comfy and leather-bound Old Twig and Berries and drank a pint and had some big steak fries, which these folks call 'Potato Chips' for some reason. I love English slang.
Harry was explaining the midget mastermind to his wife, "So, as it turns out, Holden MacRoyn had nothing to do with it, he was as bamboozled as dear old Sir Hugh."
Violet finished a sip of beer, these English broads can drink. "Here's what I don't understand. He was a tiny fellow, how did this Leonev bloke knock out a big, healthy Englishman like Sir Hugh?"
Harry wiped his moustache with his napkin, "Indeed, we'd wondered that too. Turns out that Vasily Leonev was just one of his many aliases. His original name seems to have been Jerzy Mahdikenbalz, from Warsaw. When the Nazis captured him, they put him in a work camp." He leaned close, "Now get this, he survived by boxing, of all things!"
I almost spit lager at my old friend, "No way! That little pipsqueak?"
Harry laughed, "Indeed! They called him the 'Mighty Mite,' or the 'Tiny Titan' or some such. I don't know, they probably said it in German." He sipped beer, "Anyway, he was undefeated, he'd knock out the bigger men with a single blow usually. In the news clippings I looked at, it said he even boxed a clown one time. Incredible."
"Wow. So MacRoyn wasn't guilty, just..." I trailed off.
"Cheesy, I think would be the term. Sort of like a bad character from cinema." Harry chuckled. We all ate our chips and drank our beer for a moment, then he said, "Given any thought to seeing Nurse Fanny again?"
I thought about it, "Yeah, that seems like a great idea, Harry. I ah...gave her a tinkle, once I found out what that meant. Turns out she lives somewhere called Ponder's End."
Violet beamed, "Oh, that's right on the rail. Ride the tracks to your Fanny, bring her round, we can double."
"Sure, that'd be swell," I smiled at Violet.
"Well, if you are going to pop round, make sure to get some rubbers, in case it's a wet night." Harry cautioned.
Man, these Brits move fast, "Yeah, I wouldn't want to knock her up or anything!" We all laughed, even though Violet seemed a little bit confused.