... or Melissa goes in search of his roots
...or four red herrings and some doggerel
A nice little balcony in the sunshine
somewhere in the world.
Bookworm was sitting in an easy chair, feet up, with the daily paper, nose stuck into a crossword puzzle. Melissa was practicing his ‘figure of 8 manoeuvre’.
"Well, I never imagined that I'd be saying this" said Melissa, "but, this was a really good idea of yours."
"Hmmm... what?" deep in thought, Bookworm’s face bore the usual agonized expression. Looking up, the scowl was transformed into a beaming grin. "Oh yes, this is the life! A spot of R and R is exactly what’s called for. A change is as good as rest and all that. You know, I really love all those great books but sometimes you just want to switch off. Getting half way through the quest deserves a reward in the relaxation department. The room is great. You know I’m really secretly glad that Slimjam insisted on a separate room. He’s a real bathroom hog..."
Melissa continued practising the aerial acrobatics.
Bookworm made a double thumbs up gesture "Hey, Melissa you’re getting to be really expert at that figure of 8."
Melissa retorted "Nonsense!" but was secretly pleased, and smirked "It’s what I do!"
"It was great seeing your cousin Anastasia yesterday and your Auntie Ida, Melissa. "
"Anastasia and Ida, yes – they’re from the cecropia side of the family. "
"Fantastic trip round that cave! Loved all the archaeology and mythology! So this is where you have your roots, Melissa, amazing!"
Bookworm’s returned again to the crossword puzzle again, features once more screwed up in concentration. Then, blurting out in exasperation: "Can’t get 1 across. I can’t get 1 down ...2 across or..."
"How many clues have you actually got Bookworm?" Melissa enquired. "Um, none, actually" Melissa sighed loudly, "Alright, give it here, let’s take a look ..."
1A Drink without end for worker
2A Sounds like Not ACDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
1D Busy Insect
2D Spelling contest
Melissa raised his (rhetorical) eyebrows, and sighed again. "What newspaper are you reading?"
"It’s ‘The Daily Bee’. Why?"
"Oh, nothing. Maybe you should have a rest from the mental exertion. Why don’t we go out and enjoy the sunshine?"
"Good idea!" Bookworm leaped up eagerly and then looked troubled. "Hey! I don’t remember seeing Uncle Slimjam recently."
Melissa frowned (again it was a rhetorical frown). "You’re right; in fact I haven’t seen him since breakfast yesterday."
The companions looked at each other. A steady look that implied that each could read the other’s mind. "You’d best keep that newspaper for another time. I think we should track him down." said Melissa.
"Righto! Let's find him before he hatches up some bother." Bookworm laid the paper down on the table next to the easy chair and then noticed an advert in it. "Look at this, Melissa! Slimjam’s selling time-shares! And look at the name he’s using!!!!"
Tenthleaf International Enterprises“LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES”
Red Hot Time-share Apartments!
Make loads of money quick!
Unique pyramid selling opportunities!
No experience necessary!
Contact: The honourable Slimjam Boathunky Esq..
PO Box 12345
"Oh no! This is a disaster! What’s a reputable broadsheet like ’The Daily Bee’ doing running an ad like that? Hurry! We’ve got to find him."
"Wait Melissa, I’ve got an idea". A strange, smug expression spread over Bookworm's face. "Let’s check his room. There might be some clues we can use to help us track him down."
"You’re right, that is a good idea. Very well done Bookworm; you never case to amaze me."
Bookworm thought there was a slightly tart note to Melissa’s retort but decided to say nothing. "It’s a good thing we’ve got adjoining rooms! Let’s see what we can find."
The companions open the door to Slimjam’s room. "Nothing in here." said Bookworm, "Actually it looks pretty much untouched. I didn’t think Slimjam was so neat..."
An "Echhhh!" came from the bathroom. Bookworm rushed over to see what Melissa was fussing about. "What a mess! Oh, deary, deary me!" said Bookworm. The bath is full to the brim and it’s slopped over the side. And where did he get all these toy ducks from?" "Never mind that", said Melissa, "Where did he get all this DUCKWEED from?"
"And look here, he’s left us a note!"
Hi de hi! gang,
Just a little note from your buddy Slimjam. Well peeps, I just got a little bored with all this sun and sea and doing nothing but crossword puzzles so I'm gonna have some fun.
This is a great place to settle so I’m seeing if I can make a bit of loot. Hope you don’t mind me using the tenthleafenterprises domain name but I need a bit of street cred.
I got a loan from a guy just down the street (he’s offering a great rate of interest) and no questions asked except he said he needed someone to offer security... so, I gave your name, Bookworm. Hope that’s OK with you hoo.
You don't need to drop by as he said that if you didn’t turn up in the next day he’d come looking for you with company. That sounded so nice, as I know you’re such a people person. Anyway, you'll easily recognize him as he’s about 6 foot 2. Very difficult to miss because of the fluorescent tattoos.
Cheers mateys! Catch me if you can!
Your pal, Slimjam.
PS Feel free to come and visit! If you’re smart you can work it out from this:
HIS PERSONA WAS BONES
Tee hee. Be Seein’ ya (not)
"Bookworm you are going to be toast unless we can grab Slimjam and get that loan back from him".
Bookworm was sitting on the edge of the bathtub, head in hands. "That... that... that... CARP! Y y y you don’t think we’re going to have to find the guy with the t t t tat t t t toos?!"
Melissa buzzed angrily. "Slimjam! That rogue! We should have left him in chapter 5! What did the ad say? A post office box! He managed to get things set up mighty quickly seeing we’ve only been out here since Saturday! It’s as if he’s been planning this for some time! Has he ever said anything to you about it?
Bookworm reddened. "Um, now you mention it..."
"Cretin! Out with it!"
"Well, you know, that time when I went out in the snow with him..."
"You mean, that time you almost killed me.....?"
"Come on, spit it out!"
"Well, I said, ‘you know, Slimjam, I really fancy a holiday, somewhere warm and sunny with loads of beaches somewhere like .......’"
Just then a plane roared overhead and Bookworm’s final word was drowned out by the din.
"You did WHAT? You NINNY!"
"Yes you are."
"Look Melissa. I’m really sorry but think about it. That big gorilla isn’t after your blood is he? It’s me that’s going to get roughed up if we can’t get the money back. Isn’t it?"
"Oh OK" said Melissa. This thought had evidently cheered him up quite a bit.
For once Bookworm’s normally placid features lost their composure. "Hey you don’t need to be that relieved!"
Melissa thought things were getting out of hand and, to calm Bookworm down said, "Let’s go out and see if inspiration dawns."
So, the companions left the hotel and walked down to the dock and stood for a while in silence watching the ferries and the occasional passenger liner and the small boats going to and fro. Every now and then a plane passed by overhead noisily.
Bookworm suddenly shouted. "I’ve got an idea!"
"Ohhh! nooooo!" Melissa managed to infuse so much sarcasm into the two words that he could scarcely get them out.
"Look. What we are going to do is this. We are going to go to the post office where Slimjam has set up his box. One of us is going to have to be disguised and pretend to be Slimjam. We’ll get some cheap fake tan to give an orange complexion which should look like Slimjam. Then we can read his mail!"
"Melissa, I don’t know why you think that I look more like Slimjam than you. Why is it always me that has to do all the humiliating stuff?"
Melissa said crisply, "If you think that I am going to dress up like a carp to save your bacon, you can forget it! You’re lucky that I’ve offered to come along to back up your story."
"This fake tan is never going to come off! " wailed Bookworm.
"There there," Melissa said unctuously, you look very nice. Just like a carp!"
Bookworm glared. "Come on let’s find the post office."
The two companions made their way through the busy streets of the capital. After a bit, they asked for directions and got a few odd stares in return for their trouble, but eventually, the Post office hove into view. They entered, and luckily it was fairly empty; they approached the counter.
"Yes, how can I help?" said the assistant.
"I’ll pretend I’ve got a cold" whispered Bookworm to Melissa. Melissa took out a pocket handkerchief and said "Hold this up in front of your face to disguise your voice"
Bookworm studied the handkerchief. "It’s a bit small..."
"Get on with it!" hissed Melissa.
"Umm" Bookworm began, trying to sound like Slimjam, "Hi buddy, my old matey.. Cough, cough. It’s like this cough, cough, I’ve come to collect my mail..."
The assistant looked up from the blotting pad where she had been making a tiny doodle of a of a man with a bull's head. She looked very closely at Bookworm, narrowing her eyes for a moment, and then beamed broadly. "Oh yes, of course. It’s the honourable Boathunky isn’t it? We don’t often have royalty in the post office..."
Melissa’s eyes widened "Royalty?"
"One moment sir or madam I’ll get your mail straight away."
Melissa’s eyes widened even wider "Sir or madam?"
The assistant went into the back room and then called back over her shoulder "I didn’t recognise you under all that fake tan. "
Bookworm winced. "Melissa... I am NOT happy!"
"Shut up Bookworm, she’s coming back!"
"Well your majesty, you’ve just got four pieces of mail. Here you are"
Bookworm and Melissa peered at the documents closely.
So here we leave Bookworm and Melissa examining Slimjam’s mail. But before we go, let’s see what the letters said:
My dear Boathunky,
One is so delighted that you graced one with your presence and allowed my husband and I to pay for all the food. It is rare for us to uncover new relatives but Philip wouldn’t spare any expense once he knew. Of course, it has cost a fortune kennelling all the corgis but what’s that? This has turned out to be quite another annus mirabilis for us. We are forever indebted to you! We intend to buy several time-shares. One for me, one for Phil, and one for all the kids and hangers on, just so that we can be close to you whenever we feel the need.
By the way, One took a look at the Tenthleaf website and posted a message there to let one’s friends know where you are so that they can come and visit you. Of course, it’s bit cryptic as one doesn’t want loads of riffraff! :)
One can’t wait for the building work to start!
One has found you out! One is posting in a forum to warn all the nice people about your scam! One is very disappointed in you!
Dear the "honourable" Boathunky,
Well, the location of your proposed time-share is really quite a coincidence, but you really can’t expect Steve to endorse it. Come on! And really, what did you mean by "there’s something in it for him"??? For goodness sake! Please don’t write to us again!
Steve’s Fan club
I’m getting fed up trying to contact you by email so I’m trying your post office box as a last resort. I don’t know what you are getting at by these cryptic messages! What on earth does
HE COLLECTED PLANTS
Tell me plainly where you are! That’s the last time I lend you any money!
Your (annoyed) niece
After some time Bookworm and Melissa gave up. Which is a shame because they have all the clues they need to find where Uncle Slimjam wants to build his time-shares.
Clearly Bookworm and Melissa desperately need your help if they are to salvage anything from this holiday. If you can track down the forum where Liz put her post, you’ll find some more instructions (and the aforesaid item of doggerel verse!)
When you have the answers click here and see if you are right.
PS there is a deliberate error somewhere on this page. Bookworm is donating a bag of rotten tomatoes and a picture of Uncle Slimjam to the first person who can guess the right answer and post it on the forum!
Thank goodness! You have saved Bookworm from a spot of bother! To register your claim for the Hall of Fame, click here.