“Richard. Richard!” Hyacinth Bucket sat bolt upright in bed.
“Yes, Hyacinth. I’m right here. What is it?” Richard rolled over from his side of the bed, not opening his eyes.
“Did you hear that?”
“I’m sure I heard a loud roar and a grating noise -- like metal on metal -- coming from the street.”
“It’s probably some drunk driver’s got himself in a wreck again, scraping up against someone’s chainlink.” Richard rolled back onto his side of the bed. “Now go back to sleep.”
“Richard, I must call the police this instant.”
Hyacinth removed the covers from herself. Her fluffy pink bathrobe, the full-length Egyptian cotton variety with her name embroidered in Persian silk, and the bunny slippers from Taiwan, which kept her sensitive feet warm at night, still looked pressed and presentable despite her obvious upset. Had she been wearing anything less, the sateen sheets from Pakistan would have given her just as much comfort. It felt good that she was supporting those poor unfortunates in the Third World by purchasing such finery.
“It’s two in the morning,” Richard said, allowing his eyes to open, however slightly. “I suspect they’ll have more urgent demand on their time.” Hyacinth could see Richard was still half-asleep.
“Nonsense,” Hyacinth said. “They know full well that our streets cannot have drivers racing up and down them, crashing into poles or people or, heaven forbid, the rubbish receptacles. But this did not sound like a drunk driver.”
“Well, before you call, might I suggest you look out the front window to make sure that you make a factual report. The last time you called, you falsely accused that poor man from the Garden Club of being up to no good.”
“Well, he was up to no good. I can’t have everyone nosing about my petunias.”
“He was contracted, Hyacinth. Contracted to spray during that insect infestation.”
“Nevertheless,” Hyacinth insisted. “The police must hear of this!” Hyacinth made a beeline to her slimline telephone – there would be no checking the windows like some commoner. And should she not be able to reach the police on the first try, her telephone’s automatic redial capabilities would not be wasted.
She daintily picked up the receiver and gently, but firmly, dialed the police. It took several moments for them to pick up.
“Good morning, officer…My name is Hyacinth Bouquet…and there has been a disturbance in our neighbourhood…Please send someone quickly.”
“What sort of disturbance?” the officer asked. The officer’s audible sigh at the end of his question did not sit well with Hyacinth, but she pressed on nevertheless.
“A loud disturbance…”
“As in, rowdy neighbours?” the officer asked.
“Well, no. Not exactly…”
“Perhaps a loud cat outside yer window, then?”
“Well, no, certainly not. It was more like…”
“Then, perhaps it’s someone playing loud music at all hours.”
Hyacinth was getting nowhere, and this officer was being rather rude, interrupting her.
“No. Nothing of the sort. There was a loud metallic scraping noise that woke my husband and I from our beauty sleep…”
“It’s the cats, I’ll bet. Getting into your rubbish bins again.”
“It is not the cats!” Hyacinth said, perspiration just barely edging out of her otherwise powder-dry brow.
“Look, Mrs. Bucket…”
“Bouquet…” Oh, the insolence of the police! Had she not pronounced her name correctly when she called?
“…This is the eighth call you’ve made in the last 24 hours complaining of something or another – Let’s see…one about the lamppost being an off colour, the sidewalk needing herbicidal spray, the neighbour’s vehicle needing to be moved some centimetres from your property line…and so forth it goes. Might I kindly suggest you investigate the matter and call us back when you’ve got more evidence and clarity.”
“Yes, but isn’t that your duty?” Hyacinth said, mildly flustered, to which the officer on the other end just hung up on her. Thank heavens for redial. She located the redial button and gingerly pressed it.
“My dear officer,” Hyacinth began. “That was rather rude of you to hang…” She wasn’t able to finish the sentence as the officer had, once again, disconnected her.
“Bother the police,” she said to herself. She checked herself in the looking glass, making sure her curlers – meticulously managed the evening before – were still firmly in place. She was grateful they were. But it just would not do for her to be looking out of the front window – or the front door – with the curlers still in her hair. Something would have to cover them up.
Heading back to the bedroom, Hyacinth was careful not to wake the snoring Richard – so cute, those snores…unless he were to snore in public. She found her way to the wardrobe, where she kept her hats neatly arranged and labeled by occasion. Ones for church, ones for a country outing, one’s for a neighbourly visit. Unfortunately, there was none labeled for this particular occasion. None for covering one’s rollers while looking out the window – as if spying were something to which she would need to stoop. And then she saw it – Richard’s winter nightcap.
She wasn’t sure it would fit around her rollers, but it did – with a bit more room that kept her rollers in their meticulous place, while also suggesting that Richard’s head was larger than hers. Strange, but it didn’t seem so.
Not much later, Hyacinth felt confident enough to make her way to the front window, to look out into the street for whatever it was that had made that loud crashing noise.
What she saw next could only be considered a sick, inconsiderate, and rather personal affront! Someone would certainly be hearing about this!
She stormed away from the front windows toward her immaculately white slimline. But she paused, considering with whom she ought to speak concerning this monstrous breach of decorum – not to mention affront to the Christmas gift her beloved Sheridan gave her last year!
She reached for the receiver.
No. How did that one officer treat her? Why, it was shameful. Shameful! Hyacinth could only imagine that this officer had something to do with it.
She touched the receiver.
No. The MP was only one voice in a chorus of belligerent naysayers. She needed someone with a sense of action!
John? Yes, John would hear of this! Why he’d said as much hadn’t he, that auspicious day she had shaken his hand. She hadn’t really planned on being at his house, but there he was – and there she was. Never mind she had clambered her way to the front after hearing him thank those benefactors and volunteers. She had even been able to get a personal guarantee, hadn’t she, of his fidelity to her and all Britons? And if this effrontery was to be satisfied, John would certainly be the one to address it!
Without hesitation, she dialed that number that she had dialed only rarely – but had memorized nonetheless for just such occasions. A pleasant sensation lifted her British bosom upon hearing the ringing on the other end. The satisfactory sound of a removed receiver on the other end, and that very British bass – John’s secretary, no less – greeting her call, even at this Hour of Greatest Need.
“Good Morning. Hyacinth Bouquet speaking. I have a very important message for John….”
“John? You mean the Prime Minister, Madam?”
“Yes, yes. John Major. Tell him that I find it quite offensive that our British Police are now resorting to malicious tactics.”
“Quite right. Tactics of the most egregious sort. This morning, I was awakened, rather rudely, I might add, to the most awful roar of grating metal I have ever heard! I woke up, rushed to my window, and found a blue police box blocking our driveway. And I am sure that the man running from it was from MI5. How shall I ever get our Mercedes Benz out so that people can admire us as we drive through town?”
The secretary was such a polite man, took down her name and number, and assured her that John would do everything he could to rectify the situation.
But even after she had replaced the receiver in its cuddly cradle, the matter of the police box remained.
Walking back to the bedroom, Hyacinth wondered how she would ever explain all of this to Richard, Elizabeth, and her dearest Sheridan!