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The Lead-Filled Snow-Shoe

The final part of the Return of Inspector Thumb.

'Fifi Todger, Hampton Wick N.S.C.C., pink lane'. Another announcement by Coxie on the PA stopped everyone in their tracks. The name rang loud bells throughout the club, and immediately focussed all attention on the driver's podium. X's eyes nearly fell out of his head. He'd seen stuff like that on various websites of course, but he'd no idea such things really existed. The sight had a strange effect on him. His hunched body stiffened- he grew another six inches and stood tall and erect for the first time in his young life. For an exhilarating moment he forgot about his slot car and the chances of taking the Cat Ass Trophy back to Eltham to fulfill his ambition to revitalise his home town's long-forgotten place in the history of slot-racing. He felt slightly dizzy, just as he had when he'd taken his first lungful of fresh air outside the flat. Suddenly he felt his knees buckle, and he lunged for support. 'Oh for heaven's sake. You men!' It was Chloe Wintergreen, ever popular West Hamley club racer, who he accidentally made contact with. 'Anybody would think you'd never seen a naked woman before! That Fifi calls herself a naturist. From Hampton Wick Naturist Slot Car Club. Showing-off I call it. I could stand there in the altogether if I wanted too. I just don't happen to feel the need.' X turned to look at his new friend and his brain boiled. He tried to utter the first words he'd used to a fellow human being for several years, but it just came out as 'Nnnnnnnnnnnnnghuhuhnnnn.' 'Per-leeeese. Don't dribble on me. Are you marshalling here or not?' X tried again. 'Mmmmaaaashshsh?' ' Yes. That's what I said. You'll have to concentrate. Watch the track, not the drivers. Or that driver in particular. Here, I'll sit next to you for this race and guide you through the procedures. I'm in the next heat, so you'll be on your own then.'
And so was born a strange and wonderful relationship. Working together in turn 4, X and Chloe fell into a natural rhythm, their hands synchronistically reaching out for crashed cars, occasionally finding themselves wrapped together and their hot breath falling on each other's cheeks. Chloe felt a motherly instinct for this pale faced and obviously under-nourished youth. And X found a new and previously unimagined pleasure in the close proximity of another human. Their fate was sealed when Chloe's car failed to start in her heat. 'Use mine!' X had at last found his voice, and quickly threw his Shadow with the frictionless guide across to Chloe. Starting two laps behind the pack, with a totally unfamiliar car and a slightly mis-matched throttle, Chloe nevertheless found the new machine a revelation, and within a few laps had not only overhauled the other five cars with ease, but was pulling out a comfortable and race winning lead. As the final lap was called, the two young people fell naturally into each other's arms with a whoop of selfless joy and disappeared out into the night.

'That's not supposed to happen' said the three-armed man, watching developments from his desert HQ. There was a slight hint of concern in his voice, which the Camel-boy noted. 'Never mind, Three. It's Thumb vs. Fergie in the next round. Should be a needle-match.' 'Hmm.' replied his enigmatic boss.

But Thumb was no-where to be found. The start of the race was held up ten minutes as people pretended to search for him. But everyone knew, and no-one had the heart to tell Coxie that Thumb had left some while ago, arm-in arm; no, let's be blunt, hand-in-underwear, with his new love, Coxie's own wife, Lil.
It took Fergie to break the embarrassed silence. Indicating the gap by his side on the driver's podium he called out. 'Won't nobody here give me a race? You limeys all chicken or what? One of my darn huskies could put up a better show! C'mon!
Coxie looked around, an innocent smile still lingering on his face. 'I say chaps and chapesses! Someone could step up to the rostrum, surely? Anyone want to take Inspector Thumb's place? Sergeant Argent! You're his second in command. Make a race of it for our Canadian guest. Come up and step into the breach!'
'Well, I'm not going to get into his breeches after all, so I might as well, I suppose.' Argent stood up, unhitched his glitter-strewn cape, and picked Thumb's Bentley Speed 8 from it's pitbox, where it sat, lonely and forlorn- once the Inspector's pride and joy, with it's radical slot guide and lovingly worked components- all now forgotten in the Scalextric Detective's loved-up distraction. Argent moved towards the track and wedged himself tightly in beside the huge mass of Fergie.
'Hi fella. Glad to meet. Here, I'll budge up a little.' 'Oh no- not on my account. I like you just the way you are, you sweet thing!' 'And you're quite the sweetie yourself. I dig the pink jumpsuit!' Fergie's free hand came down from a massive height and whumped into Argent's back in what was meant as a friendly gesture. The poor sergeant was flattened. Sprawled across the track, splayed out like a pink X across the straight. 'Oh my God!' bawled the Mountie. 'I think I killed him. Poor little guy. He needs mouth-to mouth. Don't worry, I'm trained to do this.' He flipped Argent over and buried his fur fringed face in Argent's. The hood of his seal-skin parka fell over them both, and everything went quiet for quite a while. It was hard for the anxious crowd to see what was going on, but after a time, Argent's limp body was seen to quiver and a rush of relief ran through the club. Then Argent's arm raised itself slowly, and fell down again over the mountie's back. Then it got to the point where no-one could politely ignore the slurping noises.
'Ahem' came Coxie's voice over the PA. 'I think we'll have to cancel that heat, ladies and gentlemen. Gentlemen! Could I have your attention. Could we clear the track, please?' The intertwined mass of fur and pink latex gradually eased itself up from the main straight. Fergie gave a cough and announced triumphantly, 'We Mounties always get our man!' Argent looked up into his weather beaten face. 'You didn't have to try hard- I wasn't running away, sweetie. I feel like I've been hit with a lead-filled snow-shoe. Nice. I never knew how good that could be. You don't have a spare huskie collar do you? I always liked diamond studs. Tell me all about your log cabin.' And so with such small-talk, the extremely odd couple walked blissfully away under the stars of a West Hamley night.

'Curses!' muttered the three-armed man. There seemed to be no-one left in West Hamley to race. He put his head in his hands, and his other arm round the camel-boy. 'I've been planning this for years! And now it's all unravelling before my eyes!'
'Well, y'know boss, the best laid plans of mice and three-armed men oft gang awa', as the poet said.'
'But this- this isn't what I wanted at all!' The Three-armed man gestured at the row of VDUs, all showing a cavernously empty West Hamley Club room, a few distracted figures shambling around the silent track, all from different but forlorn angles. 'I need racing! You know me, Fish-in-a-hat. You and Camel-boy have been my faithful pit crew for years. We've won everything. Our cars have been the toast of the slot racing world. Accurate, innovative, fast. In fact, unbeatable. We did ourselves out of a job in the end, didn't we guys? But we can't live without slot racing. The only way we can enjoy it now is through this global spy network. We watch the new guys race. And we get the benefit. Sometimes it's necessary to feed a few new ideas into the system, keep things stimulated, rolling along. Like we did with the frictionless guide. I really thought that would help things. Racing had got a bit stale lately, don't you think fellas?' The camel boy and the fish nodded gravely. 'But this has all ended horribly. Months and months of work, careful planning and co-ordination to set up this race meeting and give it some spice. And what do they do? Slink off and snog each other. Where's the gratitude?'
'Ahem.' Camel-boy coughed lightly. 'Monitor 6, Boss. Something's happening.'

Coxie let his microphone fall limply to his side. He'd tried several times to call heat 12, but no-one had come forward. The few people left in the club were gazing into each other's eyes, murmuring, hands darting nervously out and finding a happy place to lie. The romantic mood had caught up with everyone. Well nearly everyone. Coxie inspected his clipboard again, wondering if sufficient heats had been run to establish a fair winner. And if that winner was still in the club room, or out spooning beneath the silvery moon like all his other star racers. He'd never known the place so quiet for the finals of the Cat Ass Trophy. He wandered distractedly up to the table where the celebrated chrome plated sculpture of a tom-cat in heat that was the Cat Ass Trophy itself rested, and plied his fingers across it for comfort. As his hands ran over it's upturned hindquarters, his mind turned to Lil. Where was she? Such a good timekeeper, he needed her to make sense of his timesheets. Perhaps he should have given her a little more attention recently- he'd been much distracted by race preparations, the organisation of the club… so many things. But his thoughts snapped back from this unfamiliar feeling of self-pity as he heard the unmistakeable sounds of a car sweeping round the track behind him. He turned and saw Fifi Todger alone on the rostrum, her long hair tumbling over her bare shoulders, her hand throttle discreetly placed at waist height, that sweet little dimpled navel just visible above…..
It had a galvanising effect on Coxie. He seized his beloved Vanwall and British Racing Green MRRC 25 ohm, and in a flash was beside her on the rostrum. Fifi slowed her Alfa Romeo to allow Coxie's Vanwall to draw level on the start line, and then hit the throttle with a flash in her eyes and a tight smile drawn on her lips. Coxie and Fifi were at it like knives for fifty laps. At the end, Coxie came first. Fifi turned to look him in the eye, a flush of redness on her chest and a faint bead of sweat on her brow. She bit her lower lip lightly and spoke in a husky voice. 'Don't worry Coxie. I'm used to it. I had my fun anyway. Would you like to do it again?' Coxie fought away the sudden need to sleep, and reached in his pocket for his Benson and Hedges. 'I usually like a smoke at this point. How about you?' Fifi nodded shyly, and Coxie put two filter tips in his mouth and sparked them up with one flip of his lighter. He drew lightly on them both and turned his head away to exhale the smoke before offering one to Fifi. She took it in a slightly tremulous hand. They leaned back against the wall together, wordlessly consuming their cigarettes. 'Ready for another round?' said Coxie, as he absently stubbed his filter-tip against the trackside. 'Yeah baby!' said Fifi with a wild twist of her head, sending her long black locks sweeping across Coxie's brow. 'Let's try another position this time, honey. You take blue lane, and I'll take red!'

The Three-armed man, the Camel-boy and the Fish-in-a-hat watched their monitors hungrily as the last two drivers in West Hamley set off again on an enduro- jostling for position, lapping each other relentlessly and long into the night. The three companions exchanged happy grins. 'I hope you're taping this, Fish?' 'Sure am, Three.' 'Just shows you boss. It was all worth it. There is more to life than slot racing' said the camel-boy.
'Yes', said the Three-armed man sagely, 'but not much
 

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Brian Ferguson
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My response has been slow on this. Careful and measured. Time taken to allow all of the inferences and ramifications to truly settle in.

WHAT?
Fergie and the reconstituted Argent?
Do you have any idea what this has done to the image of the Yukon Mountie here? People are running in all directions! Not because they're upset, but because no one is willing to ask a Mountie for directions anymore, in case he points down!! And the slurping?! Good grief! No one can chow down on a walrus flipper without reliving the image of Fergie and Argent sprawled across the track!! Clothing stores are starting to carry pink spandex jump suits, right next to the fake fur displays!!

Literature! Who needs it??


PS -
 

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Maybe we should have inserted the old 'any similarity between the characters depicted herein and any persons living, dead, or slot racing are purely coincidental' line.

Apologies for any international diplomatic crises that may have been precipitated.

Just love the one you're with, do-do-do-do-do da do-do, in a groovy Steve Stills kinda way.

Sergeant Argent costumes are now available. Very popular disco wear, I'm told.
 

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Relax??!!

Where have I heard THAT song before?

I think the little guys clinking beer glasses would go well here, plus the one with the wobbly eyes and the strange smile. Mostly the big cheesy grin though. But I'm not sure how you make 'em work. Your sense of humour is highly appreciated, believe me!

Had a big stack of pancakes 'n maple syrup for breakfast this morning, Fergy. Ready for anything now... (most likely a massive heart attack in actual fact)
 

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Maybe so, JP, maybe so- but I'm never going to St. Alphonso's pancake breakfast again.

And Fergy- at least one of those cute little dancing guys has already got his Sergeant Argent pink jumpsuit on! The glitter cape costs extra though.
 
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