.. perately needed a shower so the group were delayed a further half-hour. The main room was cramped, obviously, only three men would be able to fit along it’s width, but the paint-work played an odd illusion with his eyes, orange and pink, striped horizontally in thick lines along the walls. Mohandas figured Rachel must be talented after seeing some of her work.
He noticed a painting of a white kite with unusual pattern markings on the wall. “Rachel,” Rachel spun her head round from a conversation with an old, solemn-looking black man on the hospice floor. “Uh-huh?” “Who’s the artist? It’s an odd subject matter.” “You’re talking to her.” She got up and stared at the painting. “I did it about a year ago, I tried to sell it but no-one wanted it. It’s of one of those uniform Kent Kite Club kites; my father was a devotee. Every Saturday he’d spend up the common, flying his ‘little white hawk’.” Mohandas gave Rachel an awkward smile, I mean, what does he say? ‘Nice to know your father’s a loony?’ “So, uh, why is that guy here? He looks so glum, is he okay to talk to?” asked Mohandas, pointing at the elderly grey-haired male in the corner with whom Rachel had previously been conversing.
“Billy Marsden, his name is.” Rachel looked both sides then whispered, “If you’re planning to talk to him, tread carefully, he lost his only daughter, the only one that cared for him, in a tragic fire in their home. He used to be a cheery soul, Derrick knew him well. Derrick, needless to say, took him home for the first few weeks, till we found somewhere else, it’s the main reason I decorated this place, other than good publicity, his comfort.” She nodded at him and Mohandas looked sympathetically at the huddled up fellow. He decided to investigate. Mohandas slowly walked east towards the window, near to the man. “Hello, I’m with Rachel,” Mohandas realised he didn’t have a clue what to talk to him about, Billy was staring up at him with tired, red eyes.
“Umm, do you like the Kite painting?” he asked. It was as good an opening as any other was. The man lifted an eyebrow at him, then looked him up and down, and then relaxed his tense shoulders. “No.
Do you, Mr, er.?” questioned the friendly old gentleman. “Rashid. Mohandas, just call me that.” Mohandas filled in. For some reason Billy smiled lightly with fellowship. “Indian, by the sound of it. I’m British,” said the guy rather firmly, “but my parents came from America, North Carolina.
They never explained why they left .. Oh, I’m Billy Marsden. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, brother.” Mohandas smiled, “And as it is mine. Why don’t you like the painting?” queried Mohandas.
Billy looked puzzled. “Er .. it’s horrible. I don’t like the subject matter.” answered Billy. “You don’t like kites? Are you telling me you didn’t fly kites as a kid?” Mohandas sounded shocked, but Billy just shook his head and muttered something under his breath. Mohandas was about to question further, when Derrick and Rachel, arm in arm, waltzed into the room together.
“Are you done looking around, M’hatma?” Mohandas heard Derrick’s loud voice booming into the room. He glanced at Billy, cross-legged on the floor, as if wanting him to reply. “Yep, you’ve done a fine job here Rachel.” complimented Mohandas. “Oh, well ..
” “You’re a star,” commented Derrick as he kissed her on the cheek. “And I love you for it.” He smiled contentedly, then caught sight of his watch. He turned to Mohandas, “Were we gonna check out the Kite Club before they turn in?” he asked. “Mmm, which direction is it?” “Just across the heath. Let’s go!” Chirped Rachel, merrily stuffing Derrick out the door. Mohandas followed them out and turned back to wave goodbye to Billy.
Billy just gave him a strained half-smile for his efforts. Mohandas, Derrick and Rachel went back to the car in order to get the kites before they set off in search of the Kent Kite Club members. As Rachel was getting their picnic hamper out of the boot of the car, the weather seemed to take a U-turn for the worse. It had been a beautiful day, but a storm cloud was drifting over-head.
Just then, as Mohandas was watching the skyline, he noticed some uniformed white kites. “Is that them?” he asked, pointing towards the horizon. Derrick smiled, “Yes, we should just be able to catch them before their lunch break.” He turned to Rachel, “Need some help, my chicken?” Chicken? Unusual pet name, Mohandas thought. Rachel looked up.
“Huh? Oh, no. I’m fine, let’s get going.” She replied. As the three set off Mohandas glanced back to see Billy in the doorway of the two-storey building, shaking his head, Mohandas just waved. After about ten minutes of brisk pacing with little chatter, they reached a clearing where they found ten, maybe twenty young and old men from the local area flying their kites in unison. It was hard to tell exactly how many there were, as some were obscured by trees, but around fifteen kites were in the sky. They walked up to a grey-haired man doing something intricate with his kite, but he just pointed in the direction of another, standing, watching the others.
“Hello, I’m Mohandas Rashid. Do you know Derrick?” asked Mohandas. The man stared at him for what must have been at least three seconds, then answered the question. “Erm ..
yes, I do.” He took a quick glance at Rachel and Derrick. “Did you want something?” He asked, noticing the kites. “Yeah, Mohandas here, is an old school friend of mine and he’s only staying for a few days. We brought our kites, as that was our favourite activity in our boyish days.
We wanted to do it again for old times sakes.” continued Derrick. “Oh .. that’s nice. Well, I suppose you could join us .. ” He said, looking over his shoulder. A man in the distance nodded slowly, and the first man handed Derrick a leaflet, which he promptly shoved inside his pocket.
“Great! We’ll just get set up over here then,” said Rachel. The edgy old man looked uneasily about him, then went over to talk to some fellow members. “Well he was nervous, wasn’t he?” commented Rachel. “Yeah, it was like we were going to bite his head off!” replied Derrick.
They spent the whole afternoon up at the common, flying the kites. If it wasn’t for Rachel having to go visit her mother, they’d have probably spent the evening there as well. Derrick had offered Rachel a lift, but she thought it better to walk. Without the female companionship, the boys left fifteen minutes after that. “Well, I’m ready to leave, what about you?” asked Derrick, reeling in his kite. “Yes.
It looks as though it might rain. Shall we pop into your local for a quick pint on the way back?” suggested Mohandas. He turned in the direction of the pub, calculating how long it would take to get there. “Good idea,” Derrick paused to look at his watch, “We’ll probably be back in time for ‘The Bill’ at eight.
Do you watch that?” he asked. “Sometimes. Lets get going then.” As they were walking, Mohandas edged in closer to Derrick in order to ask a question. “Um .. Derrick,” he paused, wondering how Derrick would react to his thought.
“Did you think that the, er, Kite Club members were a bit ‘stand-offish’ towards us? Like they didn’t want us there?” Mohandas lifted an eyebrow to await the response. Derrick shrugged. “Yeah, I noticed that too, but believe me, there’s nothing in it. They’re just eccentric old men with nothing better to do than fly kites. They’re probably just put out that we weren’t invited to their little gathering but turned up anyway,” assured Derrick “They’re always like that.” “Yeah, I suppose you’d know, I just didn’t like their attitude.” Mohandas explained as they entered the pub.
Derrick started to walk up past other wide-eyed, drunken patrons to the bar. Mohandas called out to him, “Derrick, get me a ‘Smiles’. Oh, and can we sit in the corner tonight, by the window?” Derrick spun round in his seat by the bar. “Sure, pal.” he replied. Mohandas sat and looked out the window as he waited. He could just make out what looked like some local hooligans messing around with a bonfire in the distance.
One was dancing around with a stick in his hand, while another one was adding petrol. Derrick approached and sat down. “See anything?” Derrick inquired. “Well, maybe.
Did you know some kids out there are setting a bonfire, on the common?” replied Mohandas. “Oh great! Them again! I’ve been hounding them for three months now, but somehow those kids always manage to slip through my fingers.” Derrick shook his head in despair. Mohandas wondered if he shouldn’t have told him. “This is personal now!” Derrick laughed and Mohandas smiled at his troubled friend. They both took a sip of their drinks and relaxed into the corner bench.
“What are those lot up to?” asked Mohandas, gesturing towards the window. Derrick smirked. “Truthfully, I haven’t got a clue. All I know is that one old lady, Miss.
Rodgers, keeps on complaining about the racket they make. Strange thing is, no other residents have complained. Often in the mornings though, I find great piles of ash in that clearing, on the common. My boss tells me to drop the case, that ‘its out of my field of experience’!” Derrick exclaimed.
“But you’re not abouts to do that, are you?” Mohandas asked. “No! He’s just always had it in for me, you know, when I came, as a Racial Crimes Representative for this division,” “Hey! Hold it, Racial Crimes Representative? That’s a bit like what I do, cool!” Mohandas smiled. “Yeah .. Well, after the introduction, he came up and said that my position ‘wasn’t necessary’ and ‘a waste of English taxpayers money’! Anyway, he has just dismissed any case I follow up since then as ‘insignificant’.” Derrick clearly didn’t think affectionately of this man.
“An example, a case where he said this.” Mohandas requested. “Well .. There’s been a series of disappearances in this area, and I spotted the obvious connection, that every single one was a member of some racial or religious minority; a Sikh, a Hindu Indian, a Black North-American tourist, er .. and Martha Marsden, Billy’s Black wife.” “Billy’s? Poor guy .. Wife and daughter gone. Do you have any leads?” Mohandas asked, concern clearly showing in his eyes.
“Yeah, several. Thing is, when I phone base to tell them what I’m up to, I’m suddenly phoned back by our good Boss with ‘an urgent and pressing matter back at the station.’ He is a complete and total pain in the butt! Thanks to him and a wall of silence, I’ve got nowhere.” Derrick glanced at his watch, and jerked back in surprise. “We ought to go, it’s half-eleven, we’ve missed ‘The Bill’. We can cut across the common to save time. I’ve got my torch on me.” “Always the efficient one!” Mohandas laughed. “Damn! The torch is going!” Derrick said as he hit the batteries in a futile attempt to alleviate the darkness.
“Looks like we’ll be a while getting home then. Hey, do you want to investigate the bonfire?” Mohandas asked, pointing in the direction of the only prominent light through the trees. “Umm .. All right, maybe I could get a positive ID on one or more of them. Let’s try our best to remain inconspicuous though.” Derrick advised as they started to head in the direction of the fluctuating light flickering on the trees.
They came to about ten metres away from the fire and hid behind a conveniently placed bush to observe the following events. Derrick squinted in order to view the participants. They didn’t look like kids; these were adults, even more to the point he recognised some of them. “Derrick,” Mohandas whispered “Are those the same gentlemen we saw earlier at the Kent Kite Club gathering?” “Yes, I recognise them too. I wonder what they’re up to .. Hey look, over in the corner, those guys are getting a case from behind that bush.
This is odd,” commented Derrick. Mohandas and Derrick observed closely as the case, around 2ft by 4ft, was opened. A large collection of Kent Kite Club kites were removed from the interior. The two men sorting out the case started to lay out the kites in rows.
“It’s a bit too late for flying, I wonder if they’re planning to attach them to that stake in the fire, some kind of ceremonial burning, perhaps?” suggested Mohandas half-heartedly. “I don’t know. Look, they’re transforming them, folding them along those lines. They’re removing the sticks!” exclaimed Derrick. “That one’s putting his ‘kite’ on his head!” cried Mohandas.
“Lets take a look at that leaflet they gave me.” Derrick reached into his pocket and removed the folded piece of paper. Mohandas looked over his shoulder. The crumpled leaflet was hard to read with only the firelight, but Derrick noticed that ‘Kent Kite Club’ was spelt differently to what he had previously assumed .. “Kent Kite Klub?” commented Derrick. Then Mohandas said what they were both thinking, “KKK.
Ku Klux Klan.” Mohandas and Derrick stared at each other for a few moments, then at the paper. It wasn’t a hard point to miss if you were looking for it, the ‘KKK’ was in extra large, and different coloured letters. Just as Derrick and Mohandas prepared to leave, a surprising, sinister voice boomed over them. “Strangers in our mist!” the large voice blared over them. All the KKK spun round, and a more calm, grand man, started to walk over.
Derrick and Mohandas turned to the first man, who stood over them till the Grand Master got there. The Grand Master immediately created an impression of superiority. “Well we are lucky, we usually have to fetch our targets,” Mohandas noticed the man was carrying two potato bags. “They don’t usually come to us.” Mohandas ducked, as a bag was thrust over him. Other KKK members rushed over, he could hear them, but not all, as some were still standing around the fire, chanting. Around five men grabbed him and tied up the opening in the bag.
“You really must learn to mind your own business.” Mohandas could hear the Grand Master saying to Derrick. The Grand Master tapped Mohandas on the back. “And you .. ” Ten seconds later, Mohandas felt a searing pain in his arm, and promptly lost consciousness. Derrick briefly came to some time after that, he had no idea how long he had been out of it though. He noticed two things, a thumping headache, and a burning sensation.
Derrick was also paralysed from the neck down. He looked down, and saw flames leaping up at his feet, through the flames he noticed a pair of feet the other side of the stake. Mohandas! Derrick thought. He tried to see if he was conscious, he had no idea, his head looked limp. He turned back round and saw a familiar face staring back at him.
“You!” Derrick gasped. “Yes, it’s Me.” declared Chief Inspector Rowland. Engineering Reports.