Learn english through story Three is a Lucky Number (level 1)

{“en”:”At five o’clock on a September afternoon Ronald Torbay was making preparations for his third murder. He was being very careful. He realized that murdering people becomes more dangerous if you do it often. He was in the bathroom of the house that he had recently rented. For a moment he paused to look in the mirror. The face that looked back at him was thin, middle-aged and pale. Dark hair, a high forehead and well-shaped blue eyes. Only the mouth was unusual – narrow and quite straight. Even Ronald Torbay did not like his own mouth. A sound in the kitchen below worried him. Was Edyth coming up to have her bath before he had prepared it for her? No, it was all right; she was going out of the back door. From the window he saw her disappearing round the side of the house into the small square garden. It was exactly like all the other gardens in the long street. He didn’t like her to be alone there. She was a shy person, but now new people had moved into the house next door, and there was a danger of some silly woman making friends with her.

He didn’t want that just now. *** Each of his three marriages had followed the same pattern. Using a false name, he had gone on holiday to a place where no one knew him. There he had found a middle-aged, unattractive woman, with some money of her own and no family. He had talked her into marrying him, and she had then agreed to make a will which left him all her money. Both his other wives had been shy, too. He was very careful to choose the right type of woman: someone who would not make friends quickly in a new place. Mary, the first of them, had had her deadly ‘accident’ almost unnoticed, in the bathroom of the house he had rented – a house very like this one, but in the north of England instead of the south. The police had not found anything wrong. The only person who was interested was a young reporter on the local newspaper. He had written something about death in the middle of happiness, and had printed photographs of Mary’s wedding and her funeral, which took place only three weeks after the wedding.

Dorothy had given him a little more trouble. It was not true that she was completely alone in the world, as she had told him. Her brother had appeared at the funeral, and asked difficult questions about her money. There had been a court case, but Ronald had won it, and the insurance company had paid him the money. All that was four years ago. Now, with a new name, a newly invented background, and a different area to work in, he felt quite safe. From the moment he saw Edyth, sitting alone at a little table in the restaurant of a seaside hotel, he knew she was his next ‘subject’. He could see from her face that she was not happy. And he could also see that she was wearing a valuable ring. After dinner he spoke to her. She did not want to talk at first, but in the end he managed to start a conversation.

After that, everything went as he expected. His methods were old-fashioned and romantic, and by the end of a week she was in love with him. Her background was very suitable for Ronald’s purpose. After teaching at a girls’ school for ten years, she had gone home to look after her sick father and had stayed with him until he died. Now, aged forty-three, she was alone, with a lot of money, and she didn’t know what to do with herself. Five weeks after they met, Ronald married her, in the town where they were both strangers. The same afternoon they both made a will leaving all their property to each other. Then they moved into the house which he had rented cheaply because the holiday season was at an end. It was the most pleasant of his marriages. He found Edyth a cheerful person, and even quite sensible – except that it was stupid of her to believe that a man would fall in love with her at first sight. Ronald knew he must not make the mistake of feeling sorry for her. He began to make plans for ‘her future’, as he called it.

*** Two things made him do this earlier than he intended. One was the way she refused to talk about her money. She kept all her business papers locked in a desk drawer, and refused to discuss them. His other worry was her unnecessary interest in his job. Ronald had told Edyth that he was a partner in an engineering company, which was giving him a long period of absence. Edyth accepted the story, but she asked a lot of questions and wanted to visit his office and the factory. So Ronald had decided that it was time to act. He turned from the window, and began to run water into the bath.

His heart was beating loudly, he noticed. He didn’t like that. He needed to keep very calm. The bathroom was the only room they had painted. He had done it himself soon after they arrived. He had also put up the little shelf over the bath which held their bottles and creams and a small electric heater. It was a cheap one, with two bars, and it was white, like the walls, and not too noticeable. There was no electric point in the bathroom, but he was able to connect the heater to a point just outside the door. He turned on the heater now, and watched the bars become red and hot. Then he went out of the room. The controls for all the electricity in the house were inside a cupboard at the top of the stairs. Ronald opened the door carefully and pulled up the handle which turned off the electricity. (He had a cloth over his hand, so that he would not leave fingerprints.) Back in the bathroom the bars of the heater were turning black again. Still using the cloth, he lifted the heater from the shelf and put it into the bath water, at the bottom end of the bath.

Of course, you could still see it. It looked as if it had fallen off the shelf by accident. Edyth was coming back from the garden: he could hear her moving something outside the kitchen door. He pulled a small plastic bottle out of his pocket and began to read again the directions on the back. A small sound behind him made him turn suddenly. There was Edyth’s head, only two metres away, appearing above the flat roof of the kitchen which was below the bathroom window. She was clearing the dead leaves from the edge of the roof. She must be standing on the ladder which was kept outside the kitchen door. He stayed calm. ‘What are you doing there, dear?’ Edyth was so surprised that she nearly fell oft the ladder. ‘Oh, you frightened me! I thought I’d just do this little job before I came to get ready.’ ‘But I’m preparing your beauty bath tor you.’ ‘It’s kind of you to take all this trouble, Ronald.’ ‘Not at all.

I’m taking you out tonight and I want you to look as nice as – er – possible. Hurry up, dear. The bubbles don’t last very long, and like all these beauty treatments, this one’s expensive. Go and undress now, and come straight here.’ ‘Very well, dear.’ She began to climb down the ladder. Ronald opened the little bottle, and poured the liquid into the bath. He turned on the water again, and in a moment the bath was lull of bubbles, smelling strongly of roses. They covered the little heater completely; they even covered the sides of the bath. Edyth was at the door. ‘Oh Ronald! Its all over everything – even on the floor!’ ‘That doesn’t matter. You get in quickly, before it loses its strength. I’ll go and change now. Get straight in and lie down. It will give your skin a bit of colour!’ He went out and paused, listening. She locked the door, as he expected.

He walked slowly to the electricity box, and forced himself to wait another minute. ‘How is it?’ he shouted. ‘I don’t know yet. I’ve only just got into the bath. It smells nice.’ His hand, covered with the cloth, was on the controls. ‘One, two … three,’ he said, and pulled the handle down. A small explosion from the electric point behind him told him that the electricity had gone off. Then everything was silent. After a time he went and knocked on the bathroom door. ‘Edyth?’ There was no answer, no sound, nothing. Now he had to prepare the second stage. As he knew well, this was the difficult bit. The discovery of the body must be made, but not too soon. He had made that mistake with Dorothy’s ‘accident’, and the police had asked him why he had got worried so soon. This time he decided to wait half an hour before he began to knock loudly on the bathroom door, then to shout for a neighbour and finally to force the lock.

There was something he wanted to do now. Edyth’s leather writing-case, which contained all her private papers, was in the drawer where she kept her blouses. He had discovered it some time ago, but he had not forced the lock open because that would frighten her. Now there was nothing to stop him. He went softly into the bedroom and opened the drawer.

The case was there. The lock was more difficult than he expected, but he finally managed to open the case. Inside there were some financial documents, one or two thick envelopes and, on top of these, her Post Office Savings book. He opened it with shaking fingers, and began reading the figures – 17,000 … 18,600 … 21,940 … He turned over a page, and his heart jumped wildly. On 4th September she had taken almost all the money out of her savings account! Perhaps it was here, in these thick envelopes? He opened one of them; papers, letters, documents fell on the floor.

Suddenly he saw an envelope with his own name on it, in Edyth’s writing. He pulled it open, and saw in surprise that the date on the letter was only two days ago. Dear Ronald, If you ever read this, I am afraid it will he a terrible shock to you. I hoped it would not he necessary to write it, but now your behaviour has forced me to face some very unpleasant possibilities. Did you not realize, Ronald, that any middle-aged woman who has been rushed into marriage to a stranger will ask herself about her husband’s reason for marrying her? At first I thought I was in love with you, but when you asked me to make my will on our wedding day, I began to worry. And then, when you started making changes to the bathroom in this house, I decided to act quickly.

So I went to the police. Have you noticed that the people who have moved into the house next door have never spoken to you? Well, they are not a husband and wife, but a police inspector and a policewoman. The policewoman showed me two pieces from old newspapers, both about women who had died from accidents in their baths soon after their marriages. Both pieces included a photograph of the husband at the funeral. They were not very clear, but I was able to recognize you. So I realized that it was my duty to agree to do what the inspector asked me to do. (The police have been looking for the man since the photographs were given to them by your second wife’s brother.) The inspector said the police needed to be sure that you were guilty: you must be given the opportunity to try the crime again. That’s why I am forcing myself to be brave, and to play my part.

I want to tell you something, Ronald. If one day you lose me, out of the bathroom, I mean, you will find that I have gone out over the kitchen roof, and am sitting in the kitchen next door. I was stupid to marry you, but not quite as stupid as you thought. Yours, Edyth Ronald’s mouth was uglier than ever when he finished reading the letter. The house was still quiet. But in the silence he heard the back door open suddenly, and heavy footsteps rushed up the stairs towards him.. “}

As found on Youtube

Neuro Linguistic Programming in Brighton

Learn English through Funny story Mr Bean (level 2)

{“en”:”It was Mr. Bean’s birthday, and he wanted to enjoy it! What could he do? ‘How can I make this important day a happy day?’ he thought. ‘I know. I’ll go out to a restaurant for dinner this evening! I’ll enjoy that. ‘ Mr. Bean didn’t often eat in restaurants. They were sometimes very expensive. And he sometimes did things wrong when he was in a new or strange place. Oh dear! Life wasn’t easy for Mr. Bean! That evening, Mr. Bean put on a clean shirt. He put on his best coat and trousers. He put on his best shoes. Then he drove to a restaurant in the centre of town. He arrived at eight o’clock and went inside.

It was a very nice restaurant. Everybody was wearing their best clothes, and there were flowers on every table. ‘I’m going to like it here, ‘ thought Mr. Bean. ‘This is a good restaurant for my birthday dinner. ‘ The manager met him at the door. ‘Good evening, sir, ‘ he said. ‘How are you? Would you like a table for one?’ ‘Yes, please, ‘ said Mr. Bean. ‘Follow me, sir, ‘ said the manager. He walked across the room to a table, and Mr. Bean went after him. ‘Here you are, sir, ‘ said the manager. ‘This is a nice table. ‘ He pulled the chair away from the table.

Then he waited for Mr. Bean to sit down. Mr. Bean looked at him. ‘Why is he taking my chair away?’ thought Mr. Bean. ‘What’s he doing?’ And he pulled the chair away from the manager and sat down quickly. When the manager went away, Mr. Bean sat quietly for a minute. Then he remembered something. He took a birthday card and an envelope out of his jacket. Next, he took out a pen and wrote ‘Happy Birthday, Bean’ inside the card. Then he put the card into the envelope and wrote his name on the outside of it. He put it on the table, and put his pen back into his jacket. After a minute or two, Mr. Bean pretended to see the card for the first time. ‘Oh! A card – for me?’ he said. He opened the envelope and took out the card. He read it carefully. ‘Now that’s nice!’ he said. ‘Somebody remembered my birthday!’ And he stood the card on his table.

The manager arrived with the menu and gave it to Mr. Bean. Mr. Bean started to read it. ‘Oh, dear!’ he thought. ‘Everything’s very expensive! What can I have?’ Mr. Bean got out his money. He had a ten-pound note and some coins. He put the money on to a plate. ‘How much have I got?’ he said, and he moved the money round on the plate. ‘Ten, eleven… And forty, fifty, fifty-five! Eleven pounds and fifty-five pence. ‘ He looked at the menu again. What could he eat for eleven pounds fifty-five? The manager came to his table. ‘Are you ready, sir?’ he asked. ‘Yes, ‘ said Mr. Bean. He put his finger on the menu. ‘I’ll have that, please.

‘ The manager looked at the menu. ‘The steak tartare, sir. Yes, of course. ‘ ‘Yes, ‘ said Mr. Bean. ‘Steak. ‘ The manager took the menu and went away. Mr. Bean sat and looked round the restaurant. There were a lot of people in the room. There was a man and a woman at the next table. They ate and talked. Suddenly, a waiter arrived at Mr. Bean’s table with a bottle of wine. ‘Would you like to try the wine, sir?’ he said. ‘Oh, yes please, ‘ said Mr. Bean. The waiter put some wine in Mr. Bean’s glass and Mr. Bean had a drink. It was very nice! He smiled, and the waiter tried to put more wine into the glass. Of course, the waiter was right. First, the customer tries his wine. When he is happy with it, the waiter gives him more wine. But Mr. Bean didn’t know this, and he quickly put his hand across the glass. ‘No, thank you, ‘ he said. ‘I don’t drink wine when I’m driving.’ The waiter looked at him strangely – and walked away.

He didn’t say, ‘Why did you try the wine when you didn’t want it, you stupid man!’ Mr. Bean took the knife from the table and started to play with it. He pretended to be a bad man. He pretended to push the knife into somebody. But he didn’t really want to kill anybody, of course. It was a game. The woman at the next table looked at him angrily, and Mr. Bean quickly moved the knife. Next, he hit the glasses and plate on his table with it. Ping, ping, ping they went! And after a minute, he played the song ‘Happy Birthday’ on the glasses. He smiled and thought, ‘I’m very clever!’ But the woman at the next table didn’t think, ‘That’s clever!’ or ‘Oh yes, that’s funny!’ She thought, ‘That man’s really stupid!’ And she looked hard at Mr. Bean. Mr. Bean put the knife down and looked at his napkin. ‘It’s a very nice napkin, ‘ he thought. The waiter saw Mr.

Bean looking at his napkin. He didn’t say anything, but suddenly – flick! – he opened it for Mr. Bean. ‘That’s clever, ‘ thought Mr. Bean. ‘I’ll try that!’ And he began to move his napkin. Flick! Flick! Flick! Suddenly, the napkin flew out of his hand. It flew across on to the next table. The woman at the table looked round again. But Mr. Bean pretended not to see her. His face said, ‘It’s not my napkin!’ A minute later, the waiter arrived with his food. There was a large cover on the plate and Mr. Bean couldn’t see the food. But he gave the waiter the money on the table. Customers don’t usually give a waiter money when he arrives with the food. But the waiter didn’t say anything. He took the money and put it in his jacket.

Mr. Bean was happy. ‘I’m doing everything right, ‘ he thought. The waiter took the cover off the plate and walked away. Mr. Bean looked at the food in front of him. He put his nose near the meat and smelled it. Then he put his ear next to it. ‘What’s this?’ he thought. He put some of the meat into his mouth. Suddenly, the manager arrived at his table. ‘Is everything all right, sir?’ he asked. ‘Are you happy with everything?’ ‘Mmmmm, ‘ said Mr. Bean. He smiled. The manager smiled, too. He walked away – and Mr. Bean’s face changed. There was no smile now. ‘Aaagh!’ he thought. ‘They didn’t cook this meat!’ But he had to eat it. ‘I don’t want people to think that I’m stupid,’ he thought. ‘But I’ll never ask for steak tartare again! Never!’ He pushed his plate away. But then the waiter went past his table. ‘Is everything all right, sir?’ he asked. ‘Oh, yes,’ said Mr. Bean. He smiled. ‘Yes, everything’s very nice, thank you.’ He smiled and pretended to eat some meat.

But the waiter went away before Mr. Bean put it into his mouth. ‘What can I do with it?’ he thought. ‘I can’t eat this. Where can I hide it?’ Then he had an idea. Carefully, he put the meat into the mustard pot and put the cover on it. ‘Where can I put some now?’ he thought. ‘I can’t eat it, so I’ve got to hide all of it. Oh, yes, the flowers!’ He took the flowers out of the vase. But then the manager went past, so Mr. Bean pretended to smell the flowers. ‘Mmm, very nice!’ he said. The manager smiled and walked away. Quickly, Mr. Bean put some meat into the vase and pushed the flowers in on top of it.

He looked round the table. ‘Where next?’ he thought. ‘Yes! The bread!’ He took his knife and cut the bread roll. Then he quickly ate the middle of it. Now he could push some meat inside the roll. He did this, then he put the roll down. He looked at the meat on his plate. ‘There’s a lot of it, ‘ he thought. ‘Where can I hide it now?’ He looked at the small plate on the table. Perhaps he could hide some meat under the plate. He looked round. ‘Nobody’s watching me, ‘ he thought. So he took more meat from the big plate in front of him, and put it under the small plate. Then he pushed down hard with his hand. The waiter walked past his table again. Mr. Bean smiled at him and put his arm on the plate. After the waiter went away, he pushed down on the small plate again. ‘That’s better, ‘ he thought. ‘Now you can’t see the meat. Good. But there’s more meat. Where can I hide it?’ He looked round the table. ‘The sugar pot!’ he thought. ‘But it’s got sugar in it. What can I do?’ He thought quickly, then he put some sugar into a wine glass.

Next, he put some of the meat into the sugar pot. Then he put the sugar from the wine glass on top of it. ‘Good!’ he thought. ‘Nobody can see it in there. ‘ Suddenly, Mr. Bean could hear music. ‘Where’s that coming from?’ he thought. He looked round – and saw a man with a violin. After a minute or two, the man came across to Mr. Bean’s table and played for him.

Mr. Bean smiled. ‘This is nice, ‘ he thought. Then the man saw Mr. Bean’s birthday card, and the music changed. The man started to play ‘Happy Birthday’! The people at the other tables looked round when they heard the song. ‘Who’s having a birthday?’ they thought. Then they saw Mr. Bean and smiled at him. Mr. Bean smiled back at them. He pretended to eat some of the meat, but he didn’t put it into his mouth. The man with the violin walked round Mr. Bean’s table and watched him. He played his violin and waited for Mr. Bean to eat the meat. And he waited… and waited… and waited… ‘I’ll have to eat some,’ thought Mr. Bean. ‘He’ll only go away when I eat it. ‘ So he put the meat into his mouth. And the man with the violin turned away to the next table. The meat was in Mr. Bean’s mouth, but he didn’t want to eat it. He wanted to put it somewhere. But where? He looked at the man with the violin. He moved quickly. He pulled open the back of the man’s trousers and opened his mouth. The meat fell inside the trousers! He smiled.

‘That was clever, ‘ he thought. The man with the violin moved round the next table. He played a song to the man and the woman. The music was very beautiful. They listened and drank their wine. They watched the man with the violin, so their eyes weren’t on Mr. Bean. Nobody’s eyes were on Mr. Bean. He saw this, and he had an idea. Mr. Bean quickly took the woman’s bag from the floor. He opened it and pushed some meat inside it. Then he put the bag on the floor again. But when he did this, he accidentally put his foot out. The waiter walked past with some plates of food – and he fell over Mr. Bean’s foot! The plates fell on to Mr. Bean’s table, and on to the floor. There was a loud CRASH!, and the people at the other tables looked up quickly. ‘What happened?’ they said.

Then they saw the waiter on the floor. ‘Oh, dear!’ they said. Now Mr. Bean had another idea. Here was the answer to his problem! He moved very quickly. He pushed the meat from his plate on to the table with the other food. Then he pretended to be very angry. ‘Look, you stupid man!’ he said to the waiter. ‘Oh, look at this!’ The waiter got up from the floor. ‘I’m sorry, sir, ‘ he said. ‘I’m really very sorry. ‘ The manager arrived at the table. ‘I’m very sorry, too, sir, ‘ he said. ‘Oh, the food-!’ ‘Yes, it’s everywhere!’ said Mr. Bean. ‘Look! It’s in the mustard pot. It’s in the bread roll. It’s in the vase of flowers.’ He took the woman’s bag from the floor.

‘And it’s in here!’ He pulled open the back of the violin player’s trousers. ‘And here!’ The waiter couldn’t understand it. ‘Go back to the kitchen, ‘ the manager told him, and the waiter went away. Then the manager turned to Mr. Bean. ‘Please, sir, ‘ he said. ‘Come with me.’ ‘What?’ said Mr. Bean. ‘Oh, yes, all right.’ The manager took Mr. Bean to a clean table. ‘Sit here, sir, ‘ he said. Mr. Bean sat down. ‘Thank you, ‘ he said. The manager opened Mr. Bean’s napkin. Then he got the birthday card from the other table. He put it on Mr. Bean’s clean table. ‘Thank you,’ said Mr. Bean. The man with the violin came across and played ‘Happy Birthday’ to him again.

Mr. Bean smiled. Now everything was all right. ‘Now I can start again, ‘ he thought. ‘And this time I’ll do everything right.’ The waiter arrived at Mr. Bean’s table. He put a plate in front of Mr. Bean. The manager smiled and took off the cover. Mr. Bean looked down. And he stopped smiling. There, in front of him, was a very large plate – of steak tartare!”}

As found on Youtube

Hypnotherapy in Brighton

Learn English Through Story Subtitles: Goodbye, Mr Hollywood (Level 1)

CHAPTER ONE; Mystery girl It all began on a beautiful spring morning in a village called Whistler, in Canada – a pretty little village in the mountains of British Columbia. There was a cafe in the village, with tables outside, and at one of these tables sat a young man. He finished his breakfast, drank his coffee, looked up into the blue sky, and felt the warm sun on his face. Nick Lortz was a happy man. The waiter came up to his table. ‘More coffee?’ he asked. ‘Yeah. Great,’ said Nick. He gave the waiter his coffee cup. The waiter looked at the camera on the table. ‘On vacation?’ he said. ‘Where are you from?’ ‘San Francisco,’ Nick said. He laughed. ‘But I’m not on vacation – I’m working. I’m a travel writer, and I’m doing a book on mountains in North America. I’ve got some great pictures of your mountain.’ The two men looked up at Whistler Mountain behind the village. It looked very beautiful in the morning sun.

‘Do you travel a lot, then?’ asked the waiter. ‘All the time,’ Nick said. ‘I write books, and I write for travel magazines. I write about everything – different countries, towns, villages, rivers, mountains, people . . .’ The waiter looked over Nick’s head. ‘There’s a girl across the street,’ he said. ‘Do you know her?’ Nick turned his head and looked. ‘No, I don’t.’ ‘Well, she knows you, I think,’ the waiter said. ‘She’s watching you very carefully.’ He gave Nick a smile. ‘Have a nice day!’ He went away, back into the cafe.

Nick looked at the girl across the street. She was about twenty-five, and she was very pretty. ‘She is watching me,’ Nick thought. Then the girl turned and looked in one of the shop windows. After a second or two, she looked back at Nick again. Nick watched her. ‘She looks worried,’ he thought. ‘What’s she doing? Is she waiting for somebody?’ Suddenly, the girl smiled. Then she walked across the street, came up to Nick’s table, and sat down. She put her bag down on the table. The bag was half-open. ‘Hi! I’m Jan,’ she said. ‘Do you remember me? We met at a party in Toronto.’ ‘Hi, Jan,’ said Nick. He smiled. ‘I’m Nick. But we didn’t meet at a party in Toronto. I don’t go to parties very often, and never in Toronto.’ ‘Oh,’ the girl said. But she didn’t get up or move away. ‘Have some coffee,’ said Nick. The story about the party in Toronto wasn’t true, but it was a beautiful morning, and she was a pretty girl.

‘Maybe it was a party in Montreal. Or New York.’ The girl laughed. ‘OK. Maybe it was. And yes, I’d love some coffee.’ When she had her coffee, Nick asked, ‘What are you doing in Whistler? Or do you live here?’ ‘Oh no,’ she said. ‘I’m just, er, just travelling through. And what are you doing here?’ ‘I’m a travel writer,’ Nick said, ‘and I’m writing a book about famous mountains.’ ‘That’s interesting,’ she said. But her face was worried, not interested, and she looked across the road again. A man with very short, white hair walked across the road. He was about sixty years old, and he was tall and thin. The girl watched him. ‘Are you waiting for someone?’ asked Nick. ‘No,’ she said quickly. Then she asked, ‘Where are you going next, Nick?’ ‘To Vancouver, for three or four days,’ he said. ‘When are you going?’ she asked. ‘Later this morning,’ he said. There was a letter in the top of the girl’s half-open bag. Nick could see some of the writing, and he read it because he saw the word ‘Vancouver’ – .

. . and we can meet at the Empress Hotel, Victoria, Vancouver Island, on Friday afternoon . . . ‘So she’s going to Vancouver too,’ he thought. Suddenly the girl said, ‘Do you like movies?’ ‘Movies? Yes, I love movies,’ he said. ‘Why?’ ‘I know a man, and he – he loves movies, and going to the cinema,’ she said slowly. ‘People call him “Mr Hollywood”.’ She smiled at Nick. ‘Can I call you “Mr Hollywood” too?’ Nick laughed. ‘OK,’ he said. ‘And what can I call you?’ She smiled again. ‘Call me Mystery Girl,’ she said. ‘That’s a good name for you,’ said Nick.

Just then, the man with white hair came into the cafe. He did not look at Nick or the girl, but he sat at a table near them. He asked the waiter for some breakfast, then he began to read a magazine. The girl looked at the man, then quickly looked away again. ‘Do you know him?’ Nick asked her. ‘No,’ she said. She finished her coffee quickly and got up. ‘I must go now,’ she said. Nick stood up, too. ‘Nice to-‘ he began. But the girl suddenly took his face between her hands, and kissed him on the mouth. ‘Drive carefully, Mr Hollywood. Goodbye,’ she said, with a big, beautiful smile. Then she turned and walked quickly away. Nick sat down again and watched her. She walked down the road and into a big hotel. ‘Now what,’ thought Nick, ‘was that all about?’ The man with white hair watched Nick and waited. After four or five minutes, Nick finished his coffee, took his books and his camera, and left the cafe.

His car was just outside the girl’s hotel, and he walked slowly along the street to it. The man with white hair waited a second, then quickly followed Nick. From a window high up in the hotel, the girl looked down into the road. She saw Nick, and the man with white hair about fifty yards behind him. Nick got into his car, and the man with white hair walked quickly to a red car across the street. Five seconds later Nick drove away in his blue car, and the red car began to follow him. When the girl saw this, she smiled, then went to put some things in her travel bag. CHAPTER TWO; A hand in the back That evening, in his hotel room in Vancouver, Nick could not stop thinking about the girl in the Whistler cafe.

Why did she come and sit with him? She didn’t know him, and that story about a party in Toronto wasn’t true. And she was worried about something. But what? And that kiss! It was nice, of course, but why did she do it? ‘Maybe she liked my face,’ Nick thought. ‘Or my brown eyes. But I’m not going to see her again, so it doesn’t matter. Forget it.’ He put some money in his pocket and went downstairs to the hotel restaurant. But there were no free tables, so he walked down to Gastown and found a restaurant there. After dinner, he went for a walk. Vancouver was a friendly city, and Nick liked walking through Gastown and Chinatown, looking in the shops and watching the people. It was nearly dark now, and it was a busy time of the evening. There were a lot of cars, and a lot of people.

After a time, Nick began to walk back to his hotel. He came to a busy street, and waited, with a small crowd of people, to go across. A tall woman in a blue dress stood next to him. She turned and smiled at him. ‘It’s the first warm evening of spring,’ she said. ‘It’s nice to be out, after the long cold winter.’ ‘Yeah,’ said Nick. ‘It’s great. It’s-‘ Suddenly, there was a hand in his back – and the hand pushed Nick into the road. Nick fell on his face, in front of a big green car. People screamed. But the green car stopped, only inches from Nick’s head. The woman in the blue dress ran into the road and pulled Nick to his feet. ‘Are you OK? What happened?’ she said. The driver of the green car shouted angrily at Nick, but Nick did not hear him.

‘Somebody pushed me,’ he said to the woman. ‘I didn’t fall – somebody pushed me!’ ‘Pushed you?’ said the woman. ‘Who? I didn’t see anybody.’ Nick looked at the faces of the people near him, but he didn’t know them. Then he saw a man’s back. The man was tall and thin, and had very short white hair. He walked quickly away down the street, and did not look back. ‘Hey, you!’ Nick shouted. ‘Wait!’ But the man did not stop, and he was soon lost in the crowds.

‘Did he push you?’ asked the woman in the blue dress. ‘I … I don’t know,’ Nick said. ‘Do you know him?’ she asked. ‘I don’t know his name,’ Nick said. ‘But I know that short white hair. Now where did I see it before?’ The woman began to move away. ‘I must get home,’ she said. ‘Are you OK now?’ ‘Yeah, I’m OK,’ Nick said. ‘And thanks. Thanks for your help.’ ‘That’s OK.’ The woman smiled. ‘Be careful now!’ Back in his hotel, Nick sat on his bed and thought. ‘It was an accident. Nobody pushed me, it was an accident. Nobody wants to kill me. And there are hundreds of men in Vancouver with white hair.’ It was one o’clock in the morning, but Nick couldn’t sleep. He listened to the cars in the road, and he looked at the night sky through his hotel room window.

Then he sat at the table and tried to write some more of his book about mountains, but he couldn’t think about his work. He got back into bed. There were four or five magazines in the hotel room. They were not very interesting, but Nick sat in bed and opened one . . . and saw a photo of Mystery Girl’! He looked at the picture very carefully. But, yes, it was her! Jan, the girl from the Whistler cafe. She was next to a man of about fifty or fifty-five, and they were in the garden of a big, expensive house.

They smiled at the camera, and they looked very happy. Canadian millionaire, Howard Hutson, and his daughter, Meg, it said under the picture, at their home in Toronto. Meg Hutson! Not Jan. Not Mystery Girl. Meg Hutson, the daughter of a millionaire! Nick read it again. ‘Why did she come and sit with me in the cafe at Whistler?’ he thought. ‘Millionaires’ daughters don’t sit with strangers in cafes, and then give them a big kiss when they leave! Why did she do it? What did she want?’ He thought back to the cafe in Whistler, and the girl next to him at the table. Then he remembered something.

He remembered a man at a table near them in the cafe. A tall thin man, about sixty years old. A man with very short white hair. Nick didn’t sleep much that night. CHAPTER THREE; A walk in the park The next day was Thursday. Nick stayed in his hotel room and wrote about mountains all morning. Then he drove to Stanley Park in the afternoon. He sat and read a book for an hour, then he went for a walk under the tall trees.

There was nobody here. It was quiet, and he could walk and think. He thought about Meg Hutson, and about the man with white hair. Did he know Meg Hutson? Did she know him? He remembered Meg Hutson’s last words. Drive carefully, Mr Hollywood. Why did she say that? Why did she call him Mr Hollywood? He didn’t understand any of it. Suddenly, he heard a noise. He stopped. ‘That was a gun!’ he thought. ‘There’s somebody in the trees with a gun! There it is again!’ Then something hit the tree over his head.

‘Somebody’s shooting at me!’ Nick thought. He turned and ran. And somebody began to run after him. Nick ran through the trees. There was no sun in here, and it was half-dark. And there were no people. Nobody to help him. ‘I must get to my car,’ Nick thought. ‘Find some people. . . the police. . .’ He ran on. He could still hear the gunman behind him, so he ran faster.

After three or four minutes, he stopped and listened. Nothing. It was all quiet. Nick was afraid. ‘What’s happening?’ he thought. ‘Why is somebody shooting at me? First a hand pushes me in front of a car, and now somebody’s shooting at me!’ He waited another second or two, then walked quickly back to his car. He was very careful. He looked and listened all the time. But nobody came out of the trees, and nobody shot at him. Then he saw people – women with young children, some boys with a football, two men with a dog. He began to feel better. ‘Nobody can shoot me now,’ he thought. ‘Not with all these people here.’ Ten minutes later, he was back at his car.

There was a letter on the window. Nick read it. It said; I’m going to kill you, Mr Hollywood. Nick drove to the nearest police station. He waited for half an hour, then a tired young policeman took him into a small room. Nick told his story, and the policeman wrote it all down. ‘So what are you going to do?’ asked Nick. ‘Nothing,’ said the policeman. ‘Nothing!’ said Nick. ‘But somebody shot at me, and-‘ ‘Mr Lortz,’ the policeman said tiredly.

‘How many people are there in this town with guns?’ ‘I don’t know,’ said Nick. ‘But . . .’ ‘You didn’t see the gunman. Was it a man, a boy, a woman? Colour of eyes? Long hair, short hair? You don’t know, because you didn’t see anybody. Maybe it was an old girlfriend. Maybe somebody doesn’t like your travel books, Mr Lortz.’ ‘But what about the man with white hair in Whistler?’ said Nick. ‘The girl, Meg Hutson, called me Mr Hollywood in the cafe, and this man heard her. And now I get a letter to Mr Hollywood on my car.

Who is this Mr Hollywood?’ ‘We all want answers to our questions, Mr Lortz,’ the policeman said, ‘but we don’t always get them.’ Questions. But no answers. Nick walked out of the police station and drove to his hotel. He was angry, and afraid. ‘How did the man with white hair find me in Vancouver?’ he thought. ‘Did he follow me from Whistler? Is he following me now? Maybe he’s staying at my hotel, too.

In the next room. With his gun.’ CHAPTER FOUR; The man with white hair Nick stopped his car in front of the hotel. He looked carefully before he got out, but there was nobody with white hair near the hotel. He half-ran through the hotel doors and went to the desk inside. ‘I’m looking for a man with very short white hair,’ he said to the woman behind the desk. ‘He’s staying here, I think. He’s about sixty years old, and he’s tall and thin.’ The woman did not look very interested. ‘There are a lot of visitors in the hotel,’ she said. ‘Do you know his name?’ ‘No, I don’t,’ Nick said. ‘He’s, er, a friend of a friend, you see. He arrived in Vancouver yesterday, and I must find him. It’s very important. Please help me!’ The woman looked at him.

‘There are three hundred and fifty rooms in this hotel,’ she said, ‘and maybe thirty or forty men with white hair. How can I remember all their names?’ She turned away to answer a telephone call. Nick walked away from the desk. ‘A drink,’ he thought. ‘I need a drink.’ He went into the hotel bar, got a drink and sat down at a table. ‘So what do I do now?’ he thought. And then he remembered something. A letter in the girl’s half-open bag in the Whistler cafe. . . . and we can meet at the Empress Hotel, Victoria, Vancouver Island, on Friday afternoon . . . And tomorrow was Friday. ‘I’m going to Victoria, on Vancouver Island!’ he thought. ‘To the Empress Hotel!’ And tomorrow was Friday. ‘I’m going to Victoria, on Vancouver Island!’ he thought. ‘To the Empress Hotel!’ Nick had dinner in the hotel that evening. He finished eating and got up from his table . . . and saw the man with white hair. Nick moved quickly. The man was at the hotel desk. Nick could see the white head above the other heads near the desk.

‘Excuse me!’ said Nick. He pushed past the people in the hotel restaurant. A small boy ran in front of him and Nick ran into him. The boy and Nick fell down on the floor. The boy began to cry. ‘Hey!’ said a woman behind Nick. ‘I’m very sorry!’ said Nick. He got up and helped the boy to his feet.

‘Are you OK?’ he asked the boy. ‘Be more careful next time,’ said the woman. Nick moved away quickly, but when he looked back at the hotel desk, he couldn’t see the man with white hair. He pushed through the crowd of people. ‘That man!’ he shouted at the woman behind the desk. ‘That man with short white hair. Where did he go?’ The woman looked at Nick. ‘Mr Vickers?’ she said. ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Vickers? Is that his name?’ said Nick. ‘What’s his room number?’ ‘I’m sorry, I can’t tell you that,’ the woman said. ‘But I need to-‘ began Nick. The woman turned away to answer the telephone. After a second or two, Nick went upstairs to his room. ‘Vickers,’ he thought. ‘Does Meg Hutson know Mr Vickers? I need some answers, and I need them quickly!’ CHAPTER FIVE; Vancouver Island Tsawwassen was about twenty-three miles south of Vancouver. Nick drove there in his car the next morning for the one o’clock ferry to Vancouver Island.

Every five minutes, he looked behind him. The road was busy – black cars, white cars, red cars, green cars. Maybe Vickers was in one of them. At Tsawwassen Nick drove his car on to the ferry. There were a lot of cars and crowds of people. Nick got out of his car and walked up and down the ship. He looked for a man with white hair but he didn’t see one.

Soon the ferry began to move and Nick felt better. He found the ferry restaurant and got something to eat. More people came in. Nick looked at the faces of all the older men. Some had hats on, so he looked for somebody tall and thin, but there was nobody. ‘Maybe he’s not on the ferry,’ Nick thought. ‘Maybe he’s back in Vancouver.’ Later, Nick walked around the ship again.

Once, he thought he saw the man with white hair in the crowds, but he could not be sure. Ninety minutes after leaving Tsawwassen, the ferry arrived at Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island, and Nick went back down to his car. Swartz Bay was twenty miles north of Victoria. Nick drove quickly, and again, looked behind him every four or five minutes. Once, he saw a red car about two hundred yards behind him. ‘Did I see that car on the road from Vancouver to Tsawwassen?’ he thought. He drove more slowly, but the red car still stayed two hundred yards behind him, and Nick couldn’t see the driver’s face or hair. Soon he was in the busy streets of Victoria, and Nick didn’t see the red car behind him again. Victoria was a city of gardens and beautiful old buildings.

Nick liked Victoria very much, but today he wasn’t interested in gardens or buildings. He found the Empress Hotel, went inside and walked across to the desk. ‘Can I help you?’ a young man asked Nick. ‘I’m meeting a friend here this afternoon,’ said Nick. ‘Miss Hutson.’ ‘Hutson?’ said the young man. ‘Wait a minute.’ He went away and came back. ‘Sorry, but there’s no Miss Hutson staying here.’ Nick took something from his pocket. It was the photograph of Meg and her father, from the magazine. ‘This is her,’ he said. The young man looked at the picture. ‘Oh, right. You mean Howard Hutson’s daughter,’ he said. ‘She’s not staying here, but I saw her ten or fifteen minutes ago. She was with somebody – a man. He asked me about the tea room.’ ‘The tea room?’ said Nick. ‘Where’s that?’ The man with short white hair was tired.

He couldn’t sleep and he couldn’t eat. He thought about only one thing, all the time. He drove and he watched, and he waited and he followed. When he drove into Victoria, the streets were busy, and suddenly he lost the blue car in front of him. Angrily, he drove around the city, past all the big hotels. ‘I must find him,’ he said. ‘I must do it. Today.’ Then he saw the Empress Hotel, and in the street outside it, a blue car. He drove past the hotel, left his car, and ran back down the street. He went across the road and walked past the downstairs windows. There was a big room with tables and chairs, and a lot of people. He looked carefully at all the faces. ‘There she is!’ he said suddenly. There were two men with the girl. He couldn’t see their faces, only the backs of their heads, but one of the men was in a green shirt. ‘Mr Hollywood,’ the man said, and smiled. ‘Goodbye, Mr Hollywood.’ People in the street turned to look at him, but the man did not see them.

He walked up to the doors of the hotel and put a hand into his pocket. Inside, the gun was cold and hard. CHAPTER SIX; A tea party Nick looked through the doors of the tea room in the Empress Hotel. Meg Hutson sat at a table with a man. The man was about thirty, or maybe a year or two younger. He was tall, and brown from the sun. He wore a white shirt, white trousers, and white shoes. He said something to Meg, and she laughed. She looked very happy. A waiter came up to Nick. ‘Can I get you some tea?’ he asked. ‘No, thanks,’ said Nick. ‘I’m with the two people over there.’ And he walked across to Meg’s table. ‘Hello, Mystery Girl,’ said Nick.

‘Remember me? We met at Whistler. Your name was Jan then. But maybe today it’s Meg Hutson.’ Meg Hutson looked up at him. ‘Oh,’ she said, and her face went red. ‘Who is this, Meg?’ asked the man. ‘This is Nick,’ said Meg. ‘He’s a writer. Nick, this is Craig Winters.’ ‘Sometimes called Mr Hollywood?’ said Nick. ‘Maybe. But how did you know that?’ asked Craig Winters. ‘I guessed,’ said Nick. ‘And I think I’m beginning to understand. Can I ask you a question, Mr Winters? Does somebody want to kill you?’ Craig Winters’ face went white. ‘Kill me?’ ‘What are you talking about?’ asked Meg. ‘Before I tell you, answer this question, please,’ said Nick.

‘You called me Mr Hollywood in Whistler. And you wanted the man at the next table, the man with white hair, to hear you. Is that right?’ Meg Hutson did not answer at first. Then she said quietly, ‘Yes.’ ‘Why?’ asked Nick. ‘I wanted him to follow you, and not me.’ ‘Why?’ Nick asked again. ‘I think he’s a detective,’ said Meg. ‘And I think he’s working for my father. I saw him soon after I left Toronto. He followed me.’ Meg put her hand on Craig Winters’ arm. ‘My father doesn’t like Craig. A month ago, he told me not to see Craig again. I’m not happy, and he knows that. I think he guessed that I’m meeting Craig. And now he wants to find Craig and stop him seeing me.’ ‘Stop him?’ said Nick. ‘Or kill him?’ ‘No!’ Meg Hutson said.

‘Daddy doesn’t-‘ ‘The man with white hair pushed me in front of a car in Vancouver,’ Nick told her. ‘And he shot at me in Stanley Park.’ ‘What!’ said Meg. ‘Tell – tell me about this man with white hair,’ Winters said suddenly. Nick looked at him. ‘He’s about sixty, and he’s tall and thin,’ he said. ‘Do you know his name?’ asked Winters. ‘Vickers,’ said Nick. Craig Winters suddenly looked ill. ‘Did he – did he follow you to Victoria? Did he follow you here?’ ‘I don’t know,’ said Nick. He watched Winters. ‘You’re afraid of him. Why? Why does this man Vickers want to kill you, Winters?’ Before Craig Winters could answer, Meg’s face went white. ‘Oh, no!’ she said. ‘Look! Look over there, by the door!’ Nick and Craig Winters turned to look. At the door of the tea room stood the man with white hair. He looked up and down the room, and then he saw them, and began to walk across to their table.

His hand was in his pocket. For a second or two the three people at the table did not move. Then Craig Winters jumped to his feet. ‘That’s Mr Hollywood!’ he screamed. ‘That man there!’ And he pointed at Nick. The man’s hand came out of his pocket – with a gun. ‘This is for Anna!’ he shouted. Nick moved very fast. The tea table went over, and Nick was down on the floor in a second. The shot went over his head, and Meg screamed. At the same time Craig Winters shouted out and put a hand on his arm.

There was blood on his white shirt. Then more people began to scream, and two waiters pulled the man with white hair down on to the floor. ‘Get the police!’ somebody shouted. CHAPTER SEVEN; At the police station It was p.m. Nick and Meg were in a room at the police station. The man called Vickers was in a different room, with three detectives. There was a doctor with him too. Craig Winters was at the hospital. The door opened and a detective came in with two cups of coffee. He put them down on the table, and turned to go out again. ‘Detective Edmonds,’ Meg said, ‘did the hospital call? Is Craig going to be all right?’ ‘Winters?’ Detective Edmonds said. ‘Yes, he’s going to be OK.’ ‘Can I call the hospital now?’ asked Meg.

‘I’d like you to wait,’ said Edmonds. ‘Detective Keat is going to be here in a minute. He’s just coming from the airport and-‘ He looked through the open door. ‘Ah, here he is now.’ A second detective came into the room, and behind him was a tall man with dark hair. Meg stood up quickly. ‘Daddy!’ she cried. ‘What are you doing here?’ ‘The police called me,’ said Howard Hutson, ‘and I flew here at once.

Detective Keat met me at the airport. Now, sit down, Meg. I want you to listen to me.’ He did not look at Nick. Meg sat down and her father took her hands. ‘Meg, last week Johnnie Vickers came to my house. He wanted to talk about his daughter. You remember Anna, Meg? Three months ago she jumped off a bridge in Boston and died. She was young, beautiful, rich – and she didn’t want to live.

Why? Because she loved a man, and the man took her money, ran away and left her. And the man was called-‘ ‘No!’ said Meg. ‘NO!’ ‘Yes, Meg, yes. He was called Mr Hollywood.’ ‘No!’ shouted Meg. She began to cry. ‘That’s right, Miss Hutson,’ said detective Keat quietly. ‘To you, he gave the name Craig Winters. When Anna Vickers knew him, he was Carl Windser. But he liked all his . . . er . . . girlfriends to call him Mr Hollywood.

He took nearly 50,000 dollars from Anna Vickers. And there was a girl before that. . .’ ‘No, it’s not true!’ Meg shouted. ‘It is true, Meg,’ said her father. ‘Winters – Windser – gets all his money from rich men’s daughters. Johnnie Vickers loved his daughter. He went to her house in Boston after she died. He read her letters, and learned about the money and the name Mr Hollywood. And when he came to my house, I told him about you, Meg. I said, “My daughter’s got a new boyfriend, and she calls him Mr Hollywood. I don’t like him, but I can’t stop her. She’s going away to meet him next week, I think. What can I do?” Johnnie put his hand on my arm, and he said, “Don’t be afraid for your daughter. I’m going to find that man – and stop him!'” Meg said nothing. Her face was very white. For a minute or two nobody spoke, then detective Edmonds said ‘Vickers told us all about it, Miss Hutson.

He followed you to Whistler, and saw you with-‘ Nick began to understand. ‘With me, in the cafe! And Meg called me Mr Hollywood!’ Howard Hutson looked at Nick. ‘You’re the travel writer guy, right?’ ‘Lortz. Nick Lortz,’ said Nick. ‘Vickers nearly killed me. He shot at me twice, and-‘ But Howard Hutson was not very interested in Nick. He looked at his daughter again. ‘How much money did you give him, Meg?’ he said. ‘I -I gave him 25,000 dollars,’ said Meg. ‘Only for two or three months, he said. Then he . . .’ She began to cry again. ‘Well, you can say goodbye to that money,’ said Hutson angrily. ‘What’s going to happen to Vickers?’ Nick asked detective Edmonds. ‘Hospital, I think,’ said Edmonds. ‘OK, he shot at you and about fifty people saw him. But he’s not a well man. The doctors are going to put him away in a hospital.’ Howard Hutson stood up. ‘OK, Meg, I’m going to take you home.

My plane is waiting at the airport.’ Meg followed her father to the door, then she remembered Nick and turned. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said. ‘I got you into all this. I called you Mr Hollywood. That was wrong. But I didn’t know-‘ ‘It’s OK,’ said Nick. ‘You know everything now. And it’s better to learn it now, and not later. 50,000 dollars later.’ CHAPTER EIGHT; A nice smile Nick took the evening ferry back to Vancouver. He was tired and hungry, so he went down to get some dinner in the ferry restaurant. The restaurant was busy and there was only one free table. Nick sat down quickly and began to eat.

‘I must get back to work tomorrow,’ he thought, ‘and forget about millionaires’ daughters and men with guns.’ ‘Excuse me,’ somebody said. ‘Can I sit with you?’ Nick looked up. There was a pretty girl next to his table. He got up. ‘It – it’s OK,’ he said. ‘You can have this table. I don’t want it.’ And he began to move away. ‘Please don’t go,’ the girl said. ‘Stay and finish your dinner.’ She smiled at him. It was a nice smile. But Nick knew all about nice smiles. ‘I’m not hungry,’ he said. And he walked quickly out of the restaurant..

As found on Youtube