Technically, it's Sunday now and I'm late again for the Wordzzle game this week. Don't Feed the Pixies gave us a selection of words associated with the Rolling Stones's album, Exile on Main Street and some of them were tricky, to say the least (took me forever to dispose of Rip This Joint).
Anyhoo, go to Raven's Nest for next week's words and this week's other players.
The Mini (wine, plundered, signifying, river, survivor)
"Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing!" brays celebrated wine critic Nigel Ingram-Baynes in that annoying, adenoidal voice of his. He sets down the empty glass, scribbles something – derogatory, no doubt - on his clipboard and moves on to the next contestant's offering. It's always the same. Every year, I enter my best bottling into Le Gourmet magazine's fine wines competition, and every year that fat, smirking, imbecile slurps and smacks and then condemns it with some hackneyed witticism. Last year it was: "I have sampled wine so fine it must have been plundered from the wine cellars of heaven itself," pause for dramatic effect, "Unfortunately, this one cane from a very different place." The thing is, my wines are among the best and I'm not just saying that because they're mine. Ingram-Baynes knows this perfectly well, of course, but his bitterness will not allow him to acknowledge it. We were friends once. I was just starting out as a grower and he was a wine writer for the local paper. Both our careers were on the up: the Cherry River valley soil was giving me some excellent grapes and he was making his name as a critic and connoisseur. Then one night, everything changed. I was driving him back to town after a convivial evening at my place. It was dark, it was late, and the valley roads are notoriously narrow and twisting. I didn't see the other car until it was too late. I swerved and we went over the edge, rolling over and over, finally coming to rest upside-down in the dried-out bed of the Cherry River itself. The emergency services got us out eventually, telling us how lucky we were since they'd expected to find not one single survivor. True, we had survived, but we were not unscathed. Amongst other things, I lost the sight in one eye, but he lost something more – his sense of smell. Smell plays the major part in the sensation of taste and, as such, is a wine critic's worst nightmare. He's clever, though, is Nigel, and keeps himself well-enough informed to keep up the pretence of being able to taste. Over the years he's developed a flamboyant and colourful presentation style which has netted him his own TV show and no end of book deals. I have kept his secret all this time, but he has never forgiven me for what happened that night and every year, he makes sure I know it.
The 10-worder (rocks, rip this joint, casino, tumbling dice, frayed, angel, cup, on the run, ventilator, face)
New to Harold? The story so far is here.
"So what do we do now?" Prada wanted to know. "The demon's disappeared and, let's face it, we're no nearer to solving this thing than we were before."
"Can you not track him down," asked Teatime, "the same way you did when he and I were on the run from you before?"
"No," sighed India, "We were only able to catch up with you that time because I planted a tracking device in the demon's backpack – which, as you can see, is sitting right over there."
"We're not completely out of leads yet," said Othello. "We've still got our traitor to find plus something that occurred to me while we were sitting around with those UPS guys." He turned to Reverend Box.
"You said you worked on project Dynamo with another agent - Mark Rainbow. If he's still around then maybe whoever is trying to revive the project has approached him. Do you know where he is now? Maybe would could talk to him."
Box looked less than happy at this turn in the line of enquiry. He scratched one of his large ears for a moment before answering.
"Rainbow and I didn't exactly part on the best of terms." he began, "We'd worked on the project for ages, thrown our whole lives and a lot of OGS resource into it, and had got pretty frustrated at our lack of progress. Then he had this crazy idea that instead of Dismissing the next demon OGS came across, we should just Bind it and keep it around for study. I was totally against it – as was the OGS hierarchy when I told them, so the project was canned. Our relationship became more than a little frayed after that, shall we say. The way he saw it, I'd sabotaged his life's work, but it would have been far too dangerous – a Bound demon is still a demon after all."
Prada, who had been fiddling with her phone as Box talked, suddenly spoke up.
"Your Mr Rainbow wouldn't be related to the Rainbows of Rainbow Industries, would he?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact, he is," replied Box, "He's Jonathon Rainbow's younger brother and because of him OGS was able to buy quite a lot of equipment from Rainbow Industries for the Dynamo Project. When it was canned I think he got some heat from his older brother for allowing a lucrative arrangement to come to an end."
"That's very interesting," said Othello, "I don't know why we didn't think about this before. Rainbow is well-connected and might well be motivated to try to complete his life's work, wouldn't you say?"
"It's possible, I suppose," admitted Box, scratching his ear again, "But, last I heard, he was badly injured in a climbing accident at Casino Rocks. There's a part of it called Tumbling Angel, where you have to climb along hanging upside down from a roof-crack like Yosemite's Separate Reality. His safety wasn't hammered in hard enough and he fell a good forty feet. He was lucky to be alive, but the accident left him paralysed and, while his mind's OK, he's permanently on a ventilator now. I suppose he could be trying to finish the project, have one last throw of the dice, as it were, but it seems unlikely."
"He could have handed over the project to someone he trusted, though, someone able-bodied, maybe." said Othello. "Rainbow could be bankrolling it and providing guidance..?"
"I guess," Box acknowledged doubtfully.
"We have to check him out, surely." said Prada, "If only to eliminate him."
"And what of our traitor," added Teatime, "If this Rainbow chappie is really behind everything then our traitor must be connected to him in some way, keeping him informed of our movements and so forth. Is it worth looking again at those files you downloaded - or at Rainbow's own file for that matter?"
"Monkey's got a point," said Mercury, "It's something tangible to look for at any rate." He stifled a yawn. "It's been a long time since any of us slept. I suggest some of us take a nap while the others get another cup of coffee and start searching the records. We can take turns."
"Shouldn't somebody keep watch?" asked India.
"Fat lot of good it did us last time," said Prada. Then, seeing a faint bloom of red blossom under Othello's dark skin, she patted his shoulder, "Sorry, Othello, that was out of line."
"It's OK," he sighed, "I shouldn't have opened the door, it was stupid."
"Well, those guys got what they wanted, so I don't suppose we'll be seeing them again." said India. "I'll keep an eye out though, just in case. Let me just go and splash some cold water on my face first."
Meanwhile, Othello had booted his computer and was accessing the OGS system once more using Opal's password.
"What was Rainbow's codename as an agent?" he asked Box.
"Oh, it was Wood," replied Box, "after Ronnie Wood from the Rolling Stones. He was a huge fan of theirs, always playing their stuff while we were working. Boy, if I never have to hear Rip This Joint again it'll be too soon."
Othello's fingers tapped keys and brought up Agent Wood's file. An image of the agent stared out at him from the screen. Othello frowned.
"What's up?" asked Box, seeing the change in Othello's expression.
"It's probably the tiredness kicking in but there's something really familiar about that face and yet I'm pretty certain I've never met this guy."
"Well, he does resemble his older brother, Jonathon." said box, "You've probably seen him in the media about a million times."
"I suppose that could be it," said Othello, "But I'm sure I've seen a face like this just recently, but I can't put my finger on who it is or where it was." His fingers drummed lightly on the table as he tried to remember. "Nope," he said, after a while, "It's not coming back to me."
At that moment, the doorbell rang.