...A further Victorian return

Sunday 21st August ยท 18:00 The Victoria, 110 Grove Road, London

Georges slouched deep into the worn leather chair. Feet up on the old desk in front of him, the smoke from his half finished cigarette slowly rising from his fingers, he studied the wall opposite with its rhythmic divisions of light and shade cast by the streetlamp's glow flickering through the half open blinds behind him. A faint breeze toyed with the peeling wallpaper and the hiss of cars below the apartment drifted softly into the room like a distant ocean through the early evening haze. Not his ideal setting, but it would do for now.

Out of the city's nocturnal murmurings suddenly came the sharp sound of footsteps followed by a rapid knock and a pool of light that spilled across the floor from the narrow corridor. Georges adjusted his shades to accommodate the glare and saw the silhouette of a female figure in the doorway. Leaning lightly against the frame, her shadow reached far into room, stopping short at the desk.

'So, are you the one I've been waiting for?'

'That depends... my name's Velma, Velma Valento, and I've got something I need to talk to you about.'

She went silent, her sultry voice hanging in the air a while after she had stopped speaking, accompanied as it was by the faint sounds of a piano and saxophone drifting in through the window from the bar across the street.

'Well that depends, what is it you want? You know, I'm not accustomed to being disturbed at such an hour without a prior arrangement. This isn't even my best suit.'

'It's about Mr Pontiac, he's gone, vanished, and I really need to speak to him. It's terribly urgent, a matter of grave importance you might say.'

'As it happens I've been looking for him too, he seems to be very much in demand at the moment. But I can't help you, sorry'

'I'm sure you can, I have some information that I'm sure can prove very valuable to both of us'

'You intrigue me. Ok, what have you got?'

'Oh no, no, not here' The shadow shrank back suddenly. 'Meet me on the corner of 5th and Grove. There's a place called the Victoria just down from there, one of those cool new vintage joints, 19th century English style. Meet me there in an hour and we can talk'

Then she was gone, leaving Georges to contemplate the light alone. Rising quickly, he took a shot of whisky, stubbed out the remains of his cigarette, and reached for his coat. He was out of the door a few moments later, something big was about to happen, he could sense it.