Dampatch: 22 – The Disengagement


The following few days passed very slowly for Walter, Riesling, Claire and Steve Bawtree. Walter was not getting enough inspiration to progress his CarCom invention; Riesling had typed and retyped the text she needed for her forthcoming meeting with Claire; Claire was bursting with excitement about her inheritance and made little progress on her plans to murder Walter; while Steve Bawtree was waiting for his wife’s bail money from Claire.

On Sunday 13 January, Claire was getting frustrated waiting for Tuesday to come along so, she decided to drive to Newport and see if she could get some ideas on how to dispose of Walter. She drove around the empty streets of Newport and checked out the train station, bus stations, the hospital, the local police station and the major exits out of the city. She wanted to plan her escape route and devise alternative plans in case she gets pursued by the police. She then drove to Maesglas Crescent and was unable to get any ideas there. Claire drove to the Patent Office buildings less than a mile away. She parked her Nissan Micra on Cardiff Road, got out of the car and began to inspect the area.

Tredegar Park is a huge area of woodlands and green fields. Cardiff Road runs through the south side of the park as it winds its way south west towards Cardiff City. On the south side of Cardiff Road is the business park where the Patent Office and the National Statistics Office are located. On the north side is the main part of the park with children play area, tennis courts, a golf course, playing fields and the River Ebbw which meanders south towards the bigger River Usk, which in turn travels on towards the Severn and the Bristol Channel. By the entrance to the business park is a large and busy roundabout that receives and distributes traffic from the business park itself, Cardiff Road, Lighthouse Road and Docks Way. To the north of the roundabout by the entrance to Tredegar Park is a small two storey pavilion house which must have been the park ranger’s lodge in the past. A sign on the side of the house declared:

For Rent or Lease

Baggs, Lowlife & Scumm

Please call: 01633 633 633

Claire’s mind went into overdrive and she began to formulate an assassination plan. She drove off with a big grin on her face and she promised herself a new pair of very expensive shoes when she gets her inheritance in a couple of days’ time.

Riesling woke up early on Tuesday morning; she made breakfast for Walter and took a taxi to the train station. Riesling caught the 8:59 train, which went direct to Cheltenham Spa and arrived at 9:56. This gave her an hour or so to get to the Queens Hotel and find a quiet corner for her very important meeting with her enemy.

Claire on the other hand, woke up late that morning. She didn’t have to go far because she had arrived at the Queens Hotel the night before and booked herself a room for the night. Claire got out of bed at around 9:30, had breakfast in bed before having a leisurely bath. She got out of the bath at 10:30, dried her hair, put on make up and wore the new blue suit she recently bought at Cribbs Causeway. She felt this life of luxury suited her very well. She thought if the money she inherits is large enough, she would never ask Gill Bates for another penny so when he sees that she doesn’t need him or his money, he might decide to marry her after all.

At 10:57 a.m. precisely, Claire Belinda Hiscott, previously of New Haven Sussex, opened her hotel bedroom door and walked out looking and feeling like a million dollars. At 11:27a.m., she opened her hotel bedroom door again and walked in looking and feeling like 25 cents!

Riesling sat in the Queens Hotel lounge and steadied her nerves by making anagrams of her assumed name of Caitlin Older. When she saw Claire approach her, she stood up and the two women’s eyes met; there was an exchange of very complex feelings and thoughts neither of them understood entirely. Riesling introduced herself as Caitlin Older and Claire gave her real name. They sat down and Riesling asked Claire if she would like a coffee or tea. They exchanged pleasantries about the weather and how quaint Cheltenham was until the coffee, biscuits and bacon butties arrived. Claire thought it odd that a solicitor would have bacon butties with her coffee, but she let it pass; she was pre-occupied with her inheritance at the moment. Finally, Riesling decided the moment had arrived to get down to the “matter in question”. She asked for proof of identity and Claire gave her passport, which Riesling inspected and declared it to be in order.

Riesling: Ms Hiscott, I regret to tell you that we have been instructed by Mr Gill Bates to serve you with an N.O.D

Claire: N.O.D? What is that?

Riesling: Notice of Disengagement Ms Hiscott

Claire (feeling panicky now): what is that?

Riesling: Ms Hiscott, in layman’s language, our client Gill Bates wishes to terminate his engagement to you as soon as possible, isn’t it?

Claire: you are joking me!

Riesling: I am afraid I am very serious Ms Hiscott. Now the terms of the N.O.D are as follows…

Claire: wait a second here missy, he can’t do that, surely

Riesling: my name is Caitlin. According to the Australian Family Law Act, he most certainly can

Claire: the son of a…

Riesling: please Ms Hiscott, I am just doing my job! Now the terms of the N.O.D are all detailed in this letter I have prepared for you together with the official N.O.D document. In brief, Gill Bates will pay you £10,000 four weeks after you sign and return the N.O.D to me in the envelop provided. Thereafter, and providing you never contact him again under any circumstances, you will receive £100,000 per annum for as long as you shall live. Is this clear Ms Hiscott?

Claire (dazed and confused): I, I think so. Sorry, what do I have to do?

Riesling: it is all written down for you here on pages 11, 12 and 13 of the document. Any other questions?

Claire: yes. Have we met somewhere before?

Riesling: I don’t think so pet

Riesling walked out of the Queens Hotel feeling the interview with Claire has gone as well as can be expected. She was sure now that Claire will turn on the diabolical Gill Bates and inadvertently help her and Walter defeat him. As she crossed The Promenade, she noticed the “ShowSee Shoes” shop where Walter bought her those amazing boots a couple of months ago. As a reward for her clever scheming and acting ability, Riesling decided to go in and treat herself to a pair of lovely shoes. Rosy the proprietor was there and she explained to Riesling the various design ideas and inspirations she had when designing the shoes on display. Every time Riesling tried a pair of shoes on she gave her usual exclaim of “oooh, they are lovely, isn’t it?”. Finally, Riesling found a nice pair of yellow and black patent shoes that made her oooh three times in a row so she kept them on and paid for them before catching a taxi to the train station.

Around the time Riesling was ooohing over the shoes, a few yards away in the Queens Hotel, Claire was aaahing and crying over the deception by her ex fiancé. The N.O.D document was quite clear that “Gill Bates hereby gives notice of termination of engagement to Claire Belinda Hiscott effective within 4 weeks of receipt of the notice”. She was astonished that such an outrageous law could exist and even more astonished that her fiancé of over 20 years should enforce this law on her after all she had done for him. By the time she finished her 4th double whiskey, Claire had made 3 decisions:

  • She must speed up her plans to dispose of Walter before she can focus on the next two decisions;
  • Gill Bates has wasted 20 years of her life for nothing. She will get her revenge on him by hitting him where it hurts; his pocket and his reputation. She was glad she kept that application for the iPatch;
  • She will sign the N.O.D document and return it to the weird solicitor immediately so that she can get her disengagement money to fund her next steps.

Claire packed her things, checked out of the Queens Hotel and ordered a strong coffee and sandwiches to be served in the lounge. She sat at the same corner she had her meeting with Riesling a couple of hours earlier.

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