Cumbria Times
Weekend Edition
Duncan Johnstone
Literary Correspondent
9:03 PM 6th December 2023

Sheila In Danger Again - Part 2

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Sheila, in her semi-doped state, was forced unceremoniously into the back of a van with her fellow victim.

Meanwhile James and Eric waited in the car park, as did Peter and his fellow officer. They are not to be faulted for not anticipating that Sheila and her captors would exit elsewhere because they had seen Welby turn up in his van with two passengers. He had parked not far from them and had assumed they would be returning to the van with Sheila and another girl in a drugged state.

And still they waited. After some time Welby came out and got into his van - but he was alone! Where were the others?

Eric, with the speed of a ferret, rushed up to the van and hauled the unsuspecting Welby from it as he was about to start the engine.

James, who was by nature a quiet man who didn’t enjoy violence, was somewhat perturbed as Eric declared that he would find out from Welby where Sheila had been taken “one way or another!”

At this point it would be good to mention a little about Eric. He was not a man to easily make friends or to trust others - but when he did, he was totally loyal. He had known James for a good while now. Although he still called him “Mr Grant”, or “Sir”, he saw Grant as a friend on whom he could rely. He had come to know Sheila too, and because she was a friend of Grant’s she was also his friend.

Eric was not a naturally violent man, but in spite of his comparatively small stature he was very strong, and could be ruthless.

“Go and see your policeman friend and make sure ‘e don’t come over ‘ere”, said Eric. James didn’t like the idea that Eric might be less than gentle with Welby - but then Sheila’s freedom, and possibly her life, was at stake. He went over to Peter Foster and explained what had happened - that Sheila must have exited the pub by another entrance. Peter said he would send out a description of her and see if she could be located. That was all he could do for now. And so he departed.

Back at the van Eric was pleased with himself.

“Mr Welby will kindly show us where they’ve took ‘er.”

James looked at Welby who certainly seemed the worse for wear.

“Don’t worry”, said Eric, e’ll be OK in a while - but Mrs Welby won’t be required to fulfil her marital duties for a bit!”

James wondered if she ever fulfilled them!

James set off for his car - but Eric stopped him.

“We’ll go in the van”, he said, then if they are on the lookout it may not be obvious we’re after ‘em.”

“What about Welby?”

“E’s told me where to go. We‘ll put ‘im in the back - just in case ‘is directions ain’t right”. Eric produced a pair of handcuffs which he put on Welby before forcing into the rear of the van.

“Where did you get those?” queried James.

“What you don’t know you can’t tell”, was the reply.

Welby’s directions had evidently been pretty clear, for Eric, who drove, soon found the location where he had elicited from Welby that Sheila would have been taken. It was somewhat of a surprise. Back to Welby’s own house!

They duly arrived.

“Let me go first”, said Eric.

They knocked on the door - three taps, a pause, and then two more, as Welby had been persuaded to tell.

The door was opened. Eric was quick at recognition - and even quicker in action. The man who opened the door was one of those he’d seen getting out of the van at the beginning of the evening. Eric didn't hesitate. One blow in the solar plexus doubled the man over, and a rabbit punch on the neck felled him completely.

The sound of what was going on brought the second man to the door. He had no idea how quick Eric could be when riled. And so he received the same treatment.

“In we go”, said Eric.

Inside they saw Mrs Welby, holding a gun. Eric was about to hit her too, but when he saw it was a woman, he hesitated. Eric didn’t hit women - no matter how evil they might be. But he was quick enough to knock the gun from her hand.

They heard sounds from the next room. Sheila was there. James took her in his arms with a sigh of relief then, when he realised what he had done, he quickly released her. She was a little woozy from the drugged wine - but had managed to avoid drinking most of it. The other girl was also there, unconscious, it seemed, but otherwise unhurt.

So - the Welby’s, or more likely Mrs Welby was the leader of the gang.

“I’ll get Welby out of the van”, said Eric. “You’d best call you copper mate.”

Which is what James did.

And so the Welby Affair was finally concluded.