The next instalment for Murray Barber P.I. Chapter 1.
Murray half opened his eyes. Someone was talking to him. The young sounding woman's voice was coming from across the other side of the bedroom, a bedroom which didn't look familiar... but somehow did? The voice didn't sound familiar either. It wasn't Jenny... infact it didn't sound like Michelle neither. Had he got himself very drunk the previous night? Murray couldn't remember. Just then a very pretty blonde strolled into his vision wearing just her bra and panties and holding a pair of dark green cord trousers in her hands.
".... Are you listening to a word I'm saying?" she asked sweetly.
"Erm... sorry, I'm not awake yet." Murray humoured her. Maybe he wasn't awake yet and this was just a pleasant dream? Though it somehow felt very real. He was feeling confused and the young lady was about to add to his confusion.
"Well, you'd better wake up now. You promised to drop me off at the market square so that I won't be late for work. Some of us have to work Saturdays!" She pulled on knee length socks and the cords and then grabbed a frilly white blouse, covered in tiny orange flowers, from the chair in the corner of the room. "Come on Adam! Up!"
'Adam'? Murray felt dazed but could only think to play along until he could remember what had happened the night before. Maybe he had told her that was his name? He still couldn't place when or where they had met.
He struggled out of bed and bashfully clutched a pair of jeans from the floor and headed out the door and into the bathroom which he found directly opposite. There things became even less clear, for as he glanced in the mirror he found a strange face staring back at him. Dark shoulder length hair and FACIAL hair? What was going on? Was he having an odd out of body experience? An 'in someone else's body' experience? The only good thing about this stranger he could see in the mirror was that he looked a few years younger than Murray's thirty years. Twenty-four maybe? Maybe he did look familiar? Ok, this had to be some kind of weird dream so he was just going to enjoy it until someone woke him up! He washed, no need to shave it seemed, and dressed. Finding a set of keys and a wallet in the jeans pocket, he took a moment to find out who he was. Adam Cannon-Leigh, born 14th March 1951. Ok. 1951? Not as young as he thought? He then glanced at the keys in his hand. Ford? No button on the fob to unlock or disable an alarm so must be a basic or old model? No doubt he would find out when he went outside. He turned and stepped back into the bedroom where he found his new friend brushing her long hair and tying it into a loose ponytail.
"Ready?" she asked as she grabbed a brown leather shoulder bag from the end of the bed.
"Whenever you are." A coffee would have been nice but maybe you just don't need to eat or drink in dreams? She kissed him full on the lips before she walked out through the door. He got a clear taste of cherry, this was the weirdest dream he'd ever had!
Outside, he found himself on a street of Victorian terraced houses. It seemed either him or her, he hadn't yet remembered her name, had a bedsit on the first floor of number 17. She was waiting for him next to a navy blue Ford Cortina, a classic from the early seventies! Murray wouldn't call himself a 'petrol-head' but he did know a bit about cars, just like most men! He climbed in and started up the engine, it started on the first turn of the key which made him smile, and as 'Miss X' climbed in next to him, Murray stared out of the window at his surroundings. Furrows appearing on his brow as he took in the other few cars in the street. They were all classics. A Hillman Avenger, Vauxhall Viva, another two Cortina's and an Escort and at the far end of the row he could swear he could see a Morris Marina. Murray sat for a moment thinking about the clothes they were wearing, about the fittings in the room, about the blanket and sheets on the bed which he had slept in. Somehow he felt completely calm. But this was certainly odd even for a dream....
It was a clear day, the sun being quite high in the sky. Summer Murray assumed? He wasn't sure how, part of the dream most probably, but he knew exactly how to get to the market. Pretty Miss X had chatted away enabling him to learn that she worked at the Bookies around the corner from the market and that he, Adam, was actually in a relationship with her boss’s daughter Janet. Maybe this dream was a 'wake-up call' about his own behaviour regarding long-term girlfriend Jenny and recent bit-on-the-side Michelle? The enjoyment he had been feeling started to feel a little tainted.
The market clock showed two minutes to ten. Miss X jumped out of the car saying she was about to be late. She stopped briefly to smile at him through the open passenger window and wish him a good day-off and to be careful what he said if he came in to place any bets. Murray replied with an 'I'm always careful!' which surprised him but he was getting into the role of Adam now. He watched her disappear off into the busy market before deciding to find a parking spot and go in hunt of a coffee shop, maybe a good old fashioned market cafe? Whether by his own imagination or by some other method, Murray found that very same 'old fashioned market cafe' and headed inside for a well-needed cuppa.
He was just sat gazing out of the window at the busy stall-holders, enjoying the rich taste of full cream milk in his coffee when he realized he was being waved at by another young lady. A dark-haired, tall girl wearing a long yellow summer dress and navy cardigan, came bounding in the cafe door and planted a full-on kiss on his lips before flopping down in the seat opposite him.
"You're in town early Darling?" Murray wondered whether or not this was Janet? It was probably a safe bet to say 'yes' considering that kiss but he decided to play safe and refrain from using any names.
"It's a lovely day! Silly to waste my day off. Where are you off too?" he smiled waving towards the waitress for a second cup for his guest.
"On my way to see Daddy. He wants me to go and pick out something for Mummy's birthday. There's enough staff in that place for him to go and get something himself but I just don't think he trusts either of them."
"Maybe he doesn't trust his own judgement? About the present I mean."
"Oh you are sweet Adam. I'm very lucky to have a man like you." The waitress brought the coffee over. "We are still going to Freddie's party later aren't we? It's only that I've just seen the most wonderful dress over on Danny's stall. Maybe you could treat me?" she had leant forward and was making fluttering eyes at him. Murray sipped his coffee and tried to think like a 1970's man.
"If you show me which one, maybe I'll think about it?"
"Oh you Darling! Danny knows which one. Could you drop it off into Daddy's for me so I have it for tonight?" She took a gulp of her drink and stood up. "I'd better go else Daddy will wonder where I am." She kissed him once again and then paused before she left. "What time will you pick me up later?"
"Erm... what time's the party?"
"Never starts before ten!"
"I'll pick you up at ten then."
"Lovely!" she beamed and then ran out of the door before Murray realized he had no idea where he was meant to pick her up from. Hopefully this dream would also enable him to find his way to Janet, and the party, just like it had helped him find the market?
Having finished his coffee, Murray wandered around the square looking for a dress stall. From behind him a man's voice called out the name Adam. Turning, he spotted a man of similar age to himself beckoning him over. The fair-haired man was wearing a red polo shirt and flared jeans and was holding a newspaper in his hands.
"Janet wants this one." He smiled. "I take it you're buying it for her?"
"Apparently so." Murray replied glancing more at the newspaper than the dress. "How much is it?" he asked.
"Sort it out later mate. You see Liverpool have made Paisley their new manager? Fifty-five he is! Mind you that is five years younger than Shankly but he'd been with the club for fifteen years!"
"Mmm." Murray wasn't sure about Liverpool F.C. history but he was pretty sure they won the F.A. cup in 1974 with Bill Shankly as their manager? He was trying to see the date at the top of the paper.
"Still, long as they keep Keagan they should be alright. You wanna take this now mate?"
"Er, yeah please. She asked me to drop it off in the bookies with her Dad." Ah, Saturday 27th July 1974.
"He seems to like you. Better make sure he don't find out about you and Melanie!" Murray cast a quick glance at Danny. Was Melanie the name of Miss X? "She'd certainly be out of a job and you'd never be seen again!" Danny was laughing but Murray wasn't sure it was so funny. "Anyway, catch you at Freddie's later? Best parties in town!"
Murray took the now bagged dress and headed back across the market square in the direction of the Bookies. As he pushed open the door and walked in he was met by Janet's Daddy shouting from the door behind the counter which looked like it led into an office. He was a large balding man wearing a shirt and waist-coat which was unbuttoned. He stopped and looked at Murray as he walked in the door.
"You seen Melanie?" he shouted. Murray wasn't sure what to say at first. Had he been found out? "She's not turned up for work. Not like her at all." Murray stood with his mouth open. He had only dropped her off around the corner not more than half an hour ago. Where could she have possibly disappeared to? He couldn't say anything so he just shook his head and lifted the bag with Janet's dress in over the counter. The other man behind the counter was middle-aged and was busy writing on a white-board, a cigarette smoking away between his lips. He seemed little interested in the whereabouts of his co-worker.
"Do you want me to go look for her?" Murray asked.
"Can do. But if she's not here by eleven, she hasn't got a job anymore!" Daddy turned and shut himself in his office taking Janet's dress with him. Murray looked to the other man.
"You didn't see her on your way in then?" The man didn't answer at first, just drew on his cigarette and raised his eyebrows at Murray before glancing over at the office door.
"You want me to tell him who's car she climbed out of?"
"So where did she go?" Murray asked not wanting to get into a conversation about the previous night.
"Dunno. Didn't stop to watch the whole show. You should have a better idea than me." He then turned back to his board and continued writing up the odds for the coming races at Sandown and Newmarket. Murray walked back out into the market square and stared around him. There wasn't any sign of Melanie in her green cords and flowered blouse amongst the mass of morning shoppers.
He found his way back over to Danny's stall. He was busy giving a couple of girls a lot of fancy talk about how gorgeous they would look in one of his many dresses. Murray waited until Danny had successfully completed his sale and then caught his eye and asked him if he had seen Melanie walk across the square?
"Yeah, I saw her. Asked her if she was going to Freddie's tonight. Said she might but she'll have to watch it if you have too much to drink, you might forget who you're with!"
"Hmm. Which way did she go?"
"To work. Why?"
"She didn't get there....."
"Murray! Murray! Are you alright Murray?" It was his Aunt Pam's voice that was drifting into his head. Slowly Murray opened his eyes and roused from his slumber. He wasn't in bed however, as his Aunt peered down at him with a worried expression upon her face, Murray found himself staring up at her loft hatch which was open. He went to sit up but a throbbing pain shot between his eyes. He lay back down for a moment and then glanced around him. He was laying on Pam's landing with a ladder on the floor one side of him and a man dressed as a paramedic on the other. Pam had one hand on his chest and held his hand with the other. "Oh, you're alright!" she sounded relieved. "I just heard this almighty crash and when I ran up here you were flat out on the floor. Out cold!"
"Uhh, what happened....?"