When Anatoly had left for work Bill got up, stretched, and decided to do his best at giving himself a clean down. He also wanted to get some more coffee before he went out to costume up and look into travel plans for him and children.
After two cups of very strong coffee he locked up and walked to the tube station, taking a tube towards central London. He was on high alert at all times – he was always on alert but even more so right now – and his eyes scanned left and right constantly, looking for trouble.
He didn’t see any, not on the tube, nor on his walk to Simon Edgar’s house. Simon was an old friend. They had attended boarding school together, many many years ago. Bill had lost touch with most of his old school friends, but had run into Simon again as a young police officer. He wasn’t altogether above the law, but he was very useful and it was hard not to like him.
Simon was a small-time criminal. He worked for a theatre mostly, providing costumes and props as a mainly legitimate job. He also ran small hustles, hosted illegal gambling and wasn’t above handling goods that had ‘fallen off lorries’. He had helped Bill a few times over the years, providing information, mostly, and Bill felt he would be a good person to approach if he was looking for a brief change of identity.
His friend was not an early riser, so he was still in his dressing gown when Bill arrived on his doorstep.
“Well well well, William!” he said with a smile, stepping aside. ” I haven’t seen you in a long time! What can I help you with?”
Bill entered the cluttered hall, careful not to look too closely at any of the boxes lest he see something that would prick his conscience. “How do you know I’m after help?” he asked with a wry smile.
“Because you only ever darken my door when you’re in a spot of bother,” Simon replied.
Bill smiled a little, “Well you are right, I do need your help.” He moved into the living room. “I need a disguise. A good disguise. Have you got anything in that sort of line?”
“Well,” Simon eyed him up and down. “Depends what you want to disguise yourself as. I’m guessing that a pantomime dame ain’t what you’re looking for.”
“Nothing that will stand out,” said Bill with a chuckle. “Something like a teacher, something where we can obscure my face, perhaps.”
“Teacher I can do, but not a fancy one. Nice pair of glasses, maybe. I’ve got some good false beards as well. Come upstairs and you can try a few things out.”
“A false beard could be good,” smirked Bill.
“How about a nice wig, cover that glaring egg head?” Simon said with a broad grin, leading the way back into the hall and then up the stairs.
“You’re one to talk,” Bill laughed. “I can see your bald spot from here,” he teased.
“Least I’ve still got more hair than you,” Simon shot back.
“I can’t fault you there,” Bill agreed. “How have you been anyway, Simon? Any more close encounters with London’s finest?”
“Oh you know me, always ducking and diving!” Simon opened a door on the upper landing and Bill followed him into a room crammed with rails of clothes of all colours and styles. Sequins shimmered, both on garments and on the floor, there was lace and velvet and taffeta and various fabrics Bill couldn’t identify by name. All were slightly shabby and past their best, hence the number of sequins that had parted company with their costumes and fallen to the floor like so much rainbow snow.
What was interesting was that Simon had led a reasonably privileged life, privileged enough to go to attend private school even if it wasn’t one of the top ones. Yet he had submerged himself in the seedy underworld of London and played up to being a grafter, one of the lads, and somehow he fitted in just perfectly.
Simon went though his racks of clothes, pulling things out that might suit and fit Bill.
“How long have we got to get an outfit together?” asked Simon as he handed Bill a load of clothes on hangers.
“I want to use it today,” Bill said, though he didn’t go into any further detail. He could trust Simon not to let anything slip about his visit, but it was prudent never to give away anything more than was necessary. He flicked through some of the items he was now holding and immediately discarded the most garish of the options. He kept hold of some trousers; one with a patch on the knee, a few blazers and shirts and jerseys.
“Today? Well we will have to make sure it all fits straight away,” said Simon, raising an eyebrow. “Your sticky mess is that bad then if you need it today. Do you need to walk out of here in it, then?”
“It’s fairly bad,” he agreed mildly, thinking over his options. “No, I’d best not wear it out of here. People might be confused to have seen me come in and some old teacher leave. I’ll take it and change somewhere.”
Simon nodded. “Well you get trying those clothes on then, and I’ll look through which hair pieces I’ve got, and the hats while you find something that fits.”
To be continued…