After little too much vino yesterday afternoon, I get lost in back-alleys of Little Ealing and find myself stumbling into the yard of an old carpet warehouse. Delivery doors are open and the carpets look very comfy, so I clamber between rolls of Axminster and Wilton and am soon sleeping it off.
When I wake it must be some hours later as only light come from flicking bulbs in loading bay. I think about getting up and finding my paisan when a stream of headlights pull into bay and many men get out of some long black saloons. I find sudden urge not to move and sink deeper between squashy tubes.
From this vantage I see man I recognise climbing out of largest car. It is Capo Tom "da rat" Watson of the Labouristi, a dangerous man who once beat to death Liberali enforcer in Brummy Town with mobile phone mast.
He draw up table and three chairs and sit at head of it surrounded by Labouristi goon squad.
From the other end of the warehouse, a tiny old man who I not know, walk towards him followed by a train of large men with strange headgear and yellow scarves, swaying from side to side and chanting what sound like "Kali Ma... Kali Ma...". Maybe little old man's mum called Carly?
"Signor Watson, welcome to my small and humble enterprise, say the little man. We apologise for our meagre hospitality but we trust that Don Brown's emissary is pleased to be with us on this night." he say. Maybe Signor Watson visiting his mum?
"Cut the crap Sharma and sit down" say Signor Watson "And make sure those gentleman with you remain in the light where we can see them. We will wait for Signora Nirwal and then we will get down to business. And please do ask them to stop that awful drone".
"I do apologise if my Thuggee and their meditations offend you Signor Watson, I do find them useful though for removing troublesome visitors who occasionally stray into our territory. Perhaps some refreshment will lift our spirits and help you recover from your journey. Ras malai and barfi for Signor Watson" cry the little man, clapping his hands.
One of the tall gentleman, who seem pretty pissy about stopping his mumblings, disappear into the warehouse office and come back carrying tray full of colourful sticky things. I feel pretty hungry, but rumbling tummy not good friend to me right now. Signor Watson though must have eaten, he simply stare at tray with passive face, while the little man tuck in to big orange thing that dribble honey all down chin.
Signor Watson grow impatient.
"Where is Signora Nirwal?" he ask.
"If it pardon the Don's Emissary, I am but a humble servant of the local chapter of this Family and am not privy to the movements of all my paisan's movement." he reply.
Signor Watson does not look convinced.
At that moment I freeze, something is moving in the rug next to me. It can't be one of the tall gentleman, I may be boozy old goomba, but I can count, and I still see everyone who came in earlier. Whatever it is, I give it good hard kick, and it stop moving.
"You are of course aware of why we are here." He say, not expecting answer, "After Capo Khabra's unfortunate run in a large pile of newspapers that mysteriously fell on him from the lifting crane of a local branch of WHSmith, we need a new Capo."
"In his lifetime Signor Khabra expressed the desire that he be followed, by someone unlike himself, a modern woman who grew up here and has powers of persuasion over the young that he felt were lacking amongst his own generation. Don Brown also has sympathy with the wishes of his dear departed friend. So we are here tonight to offer that opportunity to Signora Nirwal."
This does not seem to phase old man in way it might, it after-all seem like snub.
"I of course have the highest regard for the wishes of dear departed Signor Khabra and my Don" he say smiling, "yet there is the issue of reliability. Time is pressing. The Liberali and Conservatori are making trouble on the streets, the businesses are confused and afraid and we have lost many payments."
Signor Watson drum his fingers "Where the hell is Signora Nirwal!"
Carpet next to me start softly moaning. Happily noise is so muffled by thick fibres, I pretty sure no one hear. And second good kick sort out any doubt.
"Well I can't wait here all night," say Signor Watson. "As you say time is pressing and we must restore leadership. The Don will not be happy, but Signor Sharma, consider yourself acting-Capo until we can determine what has happened, and for God's sake man dust those coconut flakes off your suit, you have an example to set."
With that he get up and depart with goon squad. Signor Sharma, smile relaxing for a moment, then pack up table, issue order to Thuggee disciple to pick up 'special carpet', and make way to cars.
Seeing Thuggee come my way I role on other side and dive under a pile of rugs. My strange neighbour, still in carpet, is lifted into waiting van, yellow scarves are tied around both ends. "Kali Ma... Kali Ma..." they echo again. Maybe Signor Sharma's mum get new carpet after she not get to see Signor Watson?
When they gone it give me time to pick out real nice rug for Signora Liberali, who be plenty mad at my late night. Not so sure about the red rose design but maybe good for utility room.