Detective Inspector Bloatmingle had been in worse predicaments. Unfortunately, he couldn’t remember any since his memory had been rendered momentarily useless, possibly due to the biting cold, equally possibly by his standing without his trousers on the edge of the Clifton Suspension Bridge with the nose of a single-barrel shotgun pointing at his groin. Inexplicably. Last time he looked, he'd managed to insinuate his pork sword inside the barrel of the gun, followed closely by an evacuation of the three pints of Snorgwall’s Gutter Swill he’d drunk earlier that evening, all rendered more aromatic by the ingestion of Mrs Wangle’s fish and asparagus pie.
The air was suddenly filled with lead and noise and pungent steam. The Swede struggled to breathe as the vaporised asparagus worked like a blinding gas. Bloatmingle had lived many years with Mrs Bloatmingle whose passion for sardines and pickled eggs ensured he was immune to all mortal smells. It gave him enough time to land a sharp right followed by a heavy left onto the Swede’s chin.
The Swede recovered quickly and they were soon dancing upon the edge of the bridge, exchanging blows but it was Bloatmingle who was beating the Swede back. Finally the small man missed his footing and fell backwards, his desperate fingers finding the waistband of Bloatmingle’s shorts. For a moment Bloatmingle thought it would save the man, but in that fraction of a second he remembered he was wearing his Friday Night specials, the lime green silk with the slack elastic and sweat-weakened gusset. The sound of silk ripping was all he heard before the Swede fell backwards into the night.
The last thing that Bloatmingle saw of Torg Fllapstang, thief, eel smuggler, and notorious ringleader of the Helsinki Herring Ring, was his own underwear flapping like an inefficient parachute in the soon-to-be dead Swede’s hand.
Bloatmingle stood back from the edge and breathed deeply, glad to be alive and looking forward to feeling the embrace of Mrs Bloatmingle’s muscular arms. As he stood naked from the waist down except for his socks and Scotland Yard issue boots, he reached into his pocket for the comforting feel of his pipe.
Behind him he heard the sounds of cars and the distinctive flashing of the blue lights at the head of the royal procession. He picked up the red blinking eye of the bomb's trigger and placed it carefully in his pocket, at the same time picking out his pouch of Beryl’s Old Shag. He quickly thumbed a pinch of the rich tobacco into the briar’s bowl and lit it with a match.
‘Now, this might be a little bit awkward,’ muttered Bloatmingle as a cloud billowed around his less-naked half before he turned towards the approaching cars and presented them with his very best formal salute.