February 27th, 2007

International Kittens of Mystery

Pergonini MD: Part Three (The Estate Agent, The Fax and The Garage)

To recap: it's September 1995. We'd just survived eight months in France and then this happened. Someone stole my identity and grabbed our life savings. Now it's Monday and I need a fax number...

I ran into the study. My desk was in its usual mess. Twenty seconds later it entered new levels of untidiness as reams of papers were picked up, shuffled and thrown aside. It had to be here! Somewhere! Where was it?

And then I found it, a letter from the estate agent who’d sold us our house. And there was his fax number on the letterhead. He was only a half hour's drive away and I was sure he wouldn't mind. It was a crisis after all.

I ran back to the phone and gave the details to Simon. He'd fax the papers through immediately.

This was getting quite exciting. Even enjoyable. It was like living in your own whodunit. Everyday a new letter, a new clue, a new twist. It was better than TV.

I rang David Jarvis, our estate agent. I thought I'd better warn him before his fax filled his entire office with forged correspondence.

But he wasn't there. So I left a message on his answerphone.

And then I went straight for the telephone directory - there's no rest for the amateur detective - what was that doctor's name? Pergonini?

I scanned Aurignac for Pergoninis. Nothing. Not even anything close.

I then checked Cassagne just to see if doctors were ex-directory. Ours wasn't, I could see his entry, with médecin after his name. No hint of an MD.

And the name had to be false, didn't it? Otherwise it meant he'd seen our passports - which was impossible, we'd never let them out of our sight.

Had we?

A quick sprint back into the study and a mad search through our box of files. Household Accounts, Insurance, Medical ... Passports! There they were. Both of them, safe and snug. Thank God for that.

Which meant no Pergonini could have seen our passports.

Unless someone used forgeries.

About half past four the phone rang again. It was David, our estate agent. He'd stepped into his office and almost tripped over a box of fax paper that had spewed out from his machine. What had happened? He'd heard my message but was it really true?

I assured him it was and gave him a quick précis of events so far. He was amazed.

And not sure if he'd received the complete fax message. There were pages of my fax interleaved with other faxes all over the place. He'd checked the name on the fax header and rung up Simon to ask for the fax to be re-transmitted. In the meantime, he'd decollate what he could and make sure it went into that evening’s post. We should have it tomorrow. And could we keep him informed? He was intrigued to know how it all turned out.

I replaced the receiver and collapsed onto the settee, wound down my internal detective agency and thought about tomorrow. We had the car booked in for a service. I'd have to get the documentation together and prepare a script.

And then I remembered that other garage. The one we'd bought the car from. The one with the 'Get out of Jail free' cards. They'd had Shelagh's passport for a month. February through March.

A garage in Boulogne sur Save.

(next instalment: Fraud and Warp Coils)