Episode 2. Karma Before the Storm.

The cabal start to investigate why their names would be in a car picked up at an accident site. They in turn find themselves to be the subject of enquiries. Love flickers and passion flares as a tempestuous excerpt of the play is delivered.

Monday 25 September

After the accident, MAC returns to Lower Barton with the recovered vehicle, settling nerves with JEREMY at the Rampant Mare. MAC notes that there has been greater demand for his emergency recovery services in the past few weeks. There seem to be more accidents recently, with an increase in drug drivers being reported both in the local press and anecdotally by his crew.

MAC chooses not to tell JEREMY (who to him appears to be behaving rather strangely) about the list of names he found in the vehicle’s glovebox. Instead, he arranges to meet JASON later that week to discuss the ramifications.

Tuesday 26 September

JASON and MIRANDA celebrate a successful restaurant re-launch with a quiet night in, watching Downton Abbey on Netflix. They reflect on how well people have taken to the refurbishment, in particularly MIRANDA’s artwork. JASON suggests she finds an outlet to exhibit more pieces. MIRANDA asks him to put a word in with NICHOLAS, who works at Lower Barton Library Theatre, about whether she could use that space.

Colman & Son. Shop outfitters.

There is some confusion about where Colman & Son, the re-fit contractors, were sourced from. MIRANDA insists that she got the recommendation from BARRIEMORE having seen the work they had done at the Rampant Mare.

JASON is perplexed why BARRIEMORE would have wanted their contact details, unless he was checking that his recommendation had actually been taken up.

Wednesday 27 September

The police arrive at Mac’s Rescues in the morning to speak with MAC. They bring news that RICHARD CAMPBELL died as a result of the injuries sustained in the car crash. They enquire after JEREMY’s whereabouts in connection with the incident. MAC gives a false address and some information about his ex, NATASHA RINGHORN. When the police go, MAC texts JEREMY to let him know he’s being sought after.

Speckled Jim. Jason Riggs’ supposedly extinct pigeon.

That evening he heads over to JASON’s place to discuss the weird stuff that’s been happening. JASON reveals Speckled Jim, who bows reverentially (and slightly awkwardly being a supposedly extinct breed of pigeon) to MAC.

Their conversation leads to the list of names in the folio, including – misspelt, but almost certainly referring to – both MAC and NICHOLAS, as well as BARRIEMORE CANONBURY and an ALEXANDRIA L. The notebook itself has the name MEREDITH HANSON in the front cover.

JASON searches the web to positively identify that the stamp embossed on the folio notebook points to the British Library, and that it is probably internal stationery rather than gift shop merchandise.

JASON and MAC speculate that Alexandria L refers to the ancient (and famously destroyed) Library of Alexandria, rather than a person.

Searching for social media connections on CANONBURY’s LinkedIn profile, JASON discovers that he is a Non-Exec Director, owner of BC Hospitality and Principal Investor of The Shakespeare Triangle. This turns out to be an investment vehicle behind the development of the Prescot Playhouse, just north of Liverpool, commemorating the historical connection between Shakespeare and the area.

The proposed Prescot Playhouse.

The folio contains no suggestion as to why the names are listed. Thoughts turn to the finding the owner of the car to discover why MAC and NICHOLAS might be named in it.

Thursday 28 September

The next morning, MAC calls the police to get an update on the driver of the recovered vehicle. He discovers she is still in hospital. The officer queries the information previously supplied about JEREMY. MAC gives the police JEREMY’s mobile phone number.

That afternoon MAC and JASON drive to Cheltenham to find MEREDITH HANSON in a coma at the local General Hospital. The orderly on duty advises that while no family has been yet, a colleague has been visiting, and was present every evening since she was admitted. Pressed for time to get back to work, rather than wait for evening visiting hours, MAC writes his contact number next to his name in the notebook and leaves it on the side of the bed.

The British Library stamp in Meredith Hanson’s notebook.

Before leaving, they find some personal effects in the bedside cupboard among the ripped and bloodied clothes from the accident. They include confirmation that HANSON is employed by the British Library and her driving license, including a London address.

On the way back JASON suggests renting a limo for a special date with MIRANDA, and wonders if MAC has some contacts. The idea develops into getting a stretched limo for the drama society group and their significant others. It could be a good way to relieve the stress of recent weeks, take a break from some of the weird stuff that’s been happening, and to strengthen the bonds within the group.

Friday 29 September

Amy Bassano. Colleague of Meredith Hanson at the British Library.

MAC receives a phone call from a woman identifying herself as AMY BASSANO, a colleague of MEREDITH HANSON from the British Library. She enquires about whether MEREDITH had already made contact with him or NICHOLAS. As they have not, they agree to meet for lunch at Miranda’s to discuss what MEREDITH was on her way to see them for, which may help explain why their names are in the notebook.

There are a handful of customers at Miranda’s enjoying a late or extended Friday lunch, when AMY arrives, stepping inside just ahead of MAC. She has a forthright manner when they introduce themselves, before taking a table at the front window, where they are shortly joined by JASON. She presents as someone who is keen to get down to business rather than dwell on the unfortunate situation that her colleague is in. AMY explains that they understand the drama group have come in the possession of an Elizabethan play manuscript, and that the British Library, who she and MEREDITH represent, are interested in its provenance and cultural value.

She presses MAC and JASON on where they have got the script from, its completeness and to understand the story content. A rapport builds between her and MAC, who reads the interest she shows as a shared love of the genre. JASON is more cautious about her intention, reading her to be fishing for more information than she is sharing.

AMY moves the discussion on to how the script played out. Without going into any detail of the weird things that ensued, MAC suggests they instead perform a short passage from the end of the second act.

The nautically themed Miranda’s Fish Restaurant.

JASON delivers a perfect cue for MAC to pick up from to give a rousing speech as the inspirational Captain of a lost ship stranded in a turbulent sea in the middle of a storm.  As MAC recites the speech, he describes the scene through the words of the Captain. He finds a stride, and as he does, they begin to feel like they are actually on a lost ship – a sensation enhanced by the maritime decor in the restaurant.

Outside, a trio of seagulls sweep in front of Miranda’s, and as they pass, behind them the scene outside changes as if a curtain is being drawn across the window, revealing the sights and smells of the sea in their wake. Around their table in the restaurant, it’s more like the eye of a storm – intensely calm. As the Captain’s speech builds, MAC and AMY are transfixed. Their gazes lock on each other. The presence and sound of everyone and everything else cut out. The drama of the scene unfolds in the highest definition within her eyes. The psychic feedback generated by the connection between them amplifies their state of rapture.

As the passage climaxes, the unnatural effect of what happens overwhelms JASON, who knocks over his chair and flees the restaurant, disbelieving that they are on a ship lost at sea, that AMY’s eyes are visionary pools and perhaps that MAC is really that good an actor. He runs for nearly fifteen minutes towards the River Avon, before he stops to catch his breath and realise he is still on land.

In the restaurant, the emotional intensity of the performance has left MAC spent. Entranced, he slumps in his chair, and, reaches for a drink on auto-pilot. A few minutes later he is stirred by AMY trying to bring him out of his fugue. She lauds him for the power of his performance, and urges him to not delay in showing her the manuscript, so she can make her necessary assessments.

At that moment, MAC’s phone rings, as JASON calls from near the river. They confirm what they feel to have experienced, and that, other than the strangeness of it, neither seem to be hurt. JASON asks MAC to let MIRANDA know he is fine, and that he is on his way back, which he does. MAC stalls AMY on seeing the manuscript. They agree to wait for JASON to return as they will need to pay a visit to NICHOLAS, who is keeping the manuscript safe within his collection.

* END *

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