top of page
  • Bruno Connolly-Eich

My neighbour’s cat Winston

Prologue:
October 7th 1940
Location: London

It was a dark night in London. The regular blackout rules were continuing to be enforced and the rain was pattering onto the windows of the ministry of defence. A dark shadow silently slipped into the imposing building through a side entrance. If anyone had been following the shadow at that ungodly hour, they would have seen the shadow creep up a flight of stairs and open a particular drawer. Anyone brave enough to continue following the shadow would have then seen the mysterious person take out a blade and enter a room. A muffled scream followed by a crash might have been heard, had anyone been listening. But alas fate had decreed that the security guards had fallen asleep that very night and the same shadow left the building unnoticed to slip into the maze of narrow winding streets. At 2am a security guard located the breach and quickly sounded the alarm. Within minutes the Ministry was on high alert and the Prime Minister himself was already on his way. Vital information to the defence of Britain had been stolen and a high standing official in the Prime Minister’s cabinet had been brutally murdered while asleep. If the information managed to get to German spies and leave the country they would be at a crippling disadvantage. Even the country itself might fall...


The next day...

“Ahhhh,”I sighed. "There's nothing better than a hot cup of tea in the morning,” I thought to myself. I had just woken up and was enjoying my breakfast when suddenly unexpectedly there came a knock on the door. I almost fell out of my chair I was so astounded. I had not had any clients since a month. "Coming,” I yelled. I quickly shoved the bills in the cupboard and threw away the milk bottles. I sprang out of my nightclothes and quickly put on my client suit. Finally, I sprinted towards the door unlocked it and opened it only to see a mail carrier just turning the corner of the road having just dropped an envelope through the door. I sighed in desperation and sat down. Let me explain. My name is Moe Carter. I am 38 years old, unmarried and am a private detective. I live in 17 Graham Road and own a rundown flat there. I had wanted to become a detective since an early age and when a couple of months ago my dream finally came true, I was overjoyed. I imagined myself as a clever cunning detective always finding the criminal and sending him to jail. But here I was having failed the only 3 cases I had and every single time I thought I had a new client it was only the mail carrier delivering the usual bills. As usual I looked through them and was about to drop them when I noticed a small brown envelope peek through the masses of bills.

I opened the envelope and noticed an address in north London on the top right of the letter. As I did not know anyone who lived in North London, I was bewildered that someone would send a letter to me. Who could that be? As I Iooked at the letter, I realised that there wasn't a much on it other than the address and a sentence at the bottom saying 6.00 8.10. It was clearly some kind of code. After a while it suddenly hit me. 6 am on the 8th October! I quickly checked my diary and realised that this was tomorrow. Luckily the sender had used a first-class stamp, otherwise the letter would probably have arrived too late for me to make the appointment. I looked again at the envelope to check when it had been stamped. The envelope had apparently only been stamped this morning – surely it was impossible to post the letter in North London in the morning just for me to receive it a few hours later in another part of town. Something didn’t add up and I was now determined to find out what was going on. I had no choice but to get up early tomorrow morning and make my way to the address at the dawn of light.


In the morning

RING RING RING. My alarm went off and woke me up from a perfect dream. Just to be on the safe side I had set my alarm for 4:30, not the best of times on a rainy and windy October day. I had a quick shower, made a tea and grabbed my toast on the way out. I nearly fell over the neighbour’s cat on my way down the staircase – that would have been it already! At this time of day, the tube was still shut and only a few busses were out and about. Fortunately, I was able to hob on an open double decker bus to make my way into town. I still couldn’t get used to the fact that the buses had covered headlights so that they could not be seen by German pilots on their bombing raids. The German Blitz had started only four weeks earlier.

At Piccadilly Circus I jumped on another bus going up north towards Hampstead Heath. Not perfect but close enough. In any case, I decided that I would have to leave the bus at least a mile away from my final destination and then make my way on foot to make sure that nobody followed me. As a private detective I had plenty of experience doing that, While I was considering my options on how to achieve that I noticed a man in the front row of the bus. He was sitting as far away as he could from me, I had not bothered to come further into the bus when I jumped on the open platform which made London buses so convenient, but something didn’t feel quite right. He was reading today’s Times, smoking a pipe and was dressed in suit and tie but why would someone like him sit on a bus towards north London at this time of day? He also looked at his golden wristwatch every minute or so as if he was worried that he was missing something. I decided to keep an eye on him.

At Belsize Park I got off the bus and waited at the bus stop. Did the man get off too or would he stay on the bus? At least I could look up the entire road all the way to the top of the hill, I felt confident that the man wasn't going to jump off anytime soon. It was now 5:30 and I still had a bit of time, The address was only a block or so away. By now there were a couple of dogwalkers on the street. That made me philosophical...why on earth would you have a dog that you had to walk in the morning during a blackout? You had to be pretty serious about dogs. I hated dogs and even more so my neighbour’s cat. I think it was called Winston or something. I looked over my shoulder one more time and then turned into a side street. It was very quiet and so close to Hampstead Heath it was even foggy. A fox ran across the road in front of me on its way home from a long night scouring for food. The two dogwalkers turned into the same side street and followed me in a distance. Both had Dalmatians. I concluded that they must be fashionable in Hampstead, they were probably expensive dogs to keep.


5:59

I had arrived at my final destination. The house was rather non-descript in this road of villas and luxury mansions; the garden looked neat enough but not particularly attractive. Shutters in front of the windows left the house in darkness. At least there was now some early morning daylight. I opened the front gate, which made an unpleasant squeak as if nobody had used it for decades, and stood in the front garden. The pebble stones to the front door looked pristine as if they had been placed there only a few hours earlier. I noticed that dogwalker number one turned into the garden to the left of me while dogwalker number two walked to his home to the right of me. Coincidence?

I pressed the doorbell and waited. Nothing. Mmh, it was now ten past six and there was no movement. Was all of this for nothing? Was there no case? I was just about to turn around and make my way home - another disappointing experience to add to my long list of disappointing experiences as a private detective – when the door suddenly swung open and two men smiled at me. “Good morning, Mr Carter, we have been waiting for you. Please come in.”

I had seen these two men before and now I knew where: behind them were the two Dalmatians, happily chewing at some old bones.

I stepped into the house. It was lovely and warm. The two men invited me into the living room where there was a nice open fire. “Mr, Carter, we are so pleased you made it this morning. We really appreciate your effort. Let me introduce my colleague, Christopher Ronald, and myself, I am Erling Harding. We both work for the Ministry of Defence. You must have heard of the brutal murder of Harry Magull; our permanent secretary in the ministry.” I was intrigued. Was this the reason they asked me to come? Could this become my biggest case yet? But what did they actually want from me?

We sat down in the comfortable armchairs in front of the fire. The housekeeper, a certain Mrs Truss, came with the tea. We sat there for a while in silence. Mr Harding eventually broke the silence: “Mr Carter, we have asked you to come here because we have a big problem. And I mean big problem. You know that Mr Magull was murdered but you don’t know why. The murderer stole vital information on our war plans. We have every reason to believe that the murderer will try to hand over the information to German spies here in London. We have unfortunately learnt not to trust anyone. We know there is a network of German spies here operating in Britain. Your mission is to infiltrate this network of spies and make sure that the information cannot be passed on. We will be here to support you in your efforts but of course we need to be careful how and when we meet.”

I was dumbfounded. Here I was, 38-year-old Moe Carter, unmarried, no children, hating dogs and cats, living in a damp cold place in west London and I had just been asked to probably solve the biggest detective case this century. At least this is how it sounded like. Could I trust those two men? I asked Mrs Truss for another tea and assessed my current situation. What had I to lose? I didn’t even know I had a choice in any of that; it sounded like I had been chosen and that was it.


German spies

We agreed to meet again next week, in the meantime I would try to find out more about all those Germans roaming around London. While I chewed at my German Bratwurst at my favourite sausage stall in central London, I suddenly realised that there were Germans everywhere in London. Many of them had changed their names, even the Royal Family was German! I then had to run for cover when the German Luftwaffe started another one of its Blitzes. I managed to get into an underground station and sit it out with a few hundred other people. Survived again!

As I was making my way out of the underground again, I noticed that the woman next to me was mumbling something in German. What a coincidence! She seemed very pleased with the air raid, which made her rather suspicious. There was nothing to be pleased about being bombed to the ground. Hundreds had already lost their lives and more would surely follow. I decided to follow her on the way out; making sure that she would not notice. She walked left, right, then left again and eventually made a U-turn to arrive back close to where she had started from. This didn’t look like a coincidence to me. She ended up in front of a big house in Covent Garden, not that far away from the Ministry of Defence. Looking over her shoulder once, she jumped over the fence and disappeared through the window in the basement.

Silence.

I decided to follow her through the window. I ended up in a laundry room and waited. On the corridor behind the closed door, I could hear German voices. They didn’t sound very nice. Could I by complete luck have stumbled across the German spy network we had been discussing right here under our nose in central London? The luck would be unbelievable. But where was the murderer? While I waited, I heard some noise at street level outside. And then a bang on the front door. I tiptoed to the staircase to find out what was going on. I listened carefully. A man, obviously very seriously injured, stumbled into the entrance area. There was nobody else there, so the front door must have been open. He was full of blood. “I need to talk to Frau Braun, my contact. Where is she? I have important documents for her.” He must have been in so much pain that he didn’t even realise that there was nobody there. He then fell to the floor in and passed out. I figured out that Frau Braun would not be there for a while, sprinted upstairs, searched for the documents and got them. Before anyone would notice I was out of the front door, back in central London surrounded by hundreds of people still in shock by the latest Blitz.

I couldn’t believe it. I had just solved my easiest case.

Recent Posts

See All

Scarlett's Red Ribbon (Part 4)

“I was in a difficult position; your father is a violent man. I decided to take the money, but I have regretted it ever since. I would have come earlier but once your Dad found out I was looking for y

Scarlett's Red Ribbon (Part Three)

When I looked back up at the lady, I felt tears running down my cheeks. When the woman kindly asked me what was wrong, I burst out crying and started to explain why my sister should have been here and

Comments


bottom of page