When we left our intrepid travellers at the end of episode 1 they had just been waved past the crashed car of a chap who had seemed determined to run them out of town – or at least out of The Calanche! We must catch up with the van’s progress towards a safe place to snug down for the night………….
I drive on, resisting the urge to speed up. The sharp bends continue to loom in our headlights …… and then suddenly there are more lights approaching from behind! As the vehicle reaches us its lights flash and I slow more and indicate for it to pass, but it makes no attempt to do so, just holds its position whilst continuing to flash its lights.
I am wondering what to do, and then the horn starts blaring. I continue, trying to behave as though none of this is happening whilst urging myself to think …. to make a decision! I come to the conclusion that I need to stop just as I hear a downshift and the vehicle, a van, pulls quickly past us and then slows to a halt in the middle of the road. I have no choice but to come to a stop just behind it. A man gets out of the driver’s door and walks round to my window. I can see him clearly in my headlights and my stomach lurches. He leans against my door looking straight in at me through the opened window.
‘Ah, Mr Vanditos’, he sighs and shakes his head sadly, as though this is all so unfortunate and regrettable.
I gulp, ‘Hello Luigi.’
‘And ……’ he looks past me, ‘Mrs Vanditos, I assume …..’ he grimaces … ‘in different circumstances ……’
‘What do you want Luigi?’ I manage to croak through a very dry mouth.
He grimaces, ‘Our money back’.
I shake my head, ‘Is there a problem?’
He stares at me, ‘Yes … there is a problem.’
‘I gave you the information.’
‘It was nonsense!’
I can only mumble ‘What?’
‘Nonsense …. none of it adds up!’
I try my only line of defence, ‘I’m not responsible for that, I just delivered it.’
‘No you didn’t, we’ve been checking up on you…,’ he paused, ‘where’s the money?’
‘Sorry Luigi,’ I lie, ‘we sent it on as ordered.’
‘Please get out of the van whilst we check’.
Another man emerges from their van, it is Leonardo. ‘Hello, Mr Vanditos …. remember you don’t need to frisk me!’ he laughs and then enters through the side door of our van and searches systematically though all the cupboards and lockers while we stand stupidly in the road. He looks under the bonnet and then crawls under the van with a torch, emerging to shake his head.
Luigi sighs, ‘You must give the money back ….. or ……’ he grimaces again.
I say nothing, what is there to say?
We stand in silence for a few moments, both engines idling and headlights casting huge shadows across the road.
‘OK,’ Luigi seems to come to a decision, ‘We keep your van until you give us back the money, or we find it ….’ he nodded at the van, ‘then we can talk about expenses – it took us a while to catch up with you.’
I shake my head to protest but Luigi isn’t going to listen to me. He hands me a mobile phone ‘Use this to sort it out and to contact me when you are ready,’ he leans forward and looks me straight in the eye, ‘you’ve got two days.’
He nods to Leonardo who climbs into the driver’s seat of our van and we watch as they drive away, leaving us standing in the middle of the road in pitch blackness – in our pyjamas!
We listen to the engines of the vans fading in and out as they make their winding descent until there is silence, the sea below just audible. I don’t know what to say – but think there is surely something I should be saying .. so I have a go .. ‘I … er … I … um … wish I wasn’t wearing the giraffe print jim ja…..’
‘Where the hell did Mr and Mrs Vanditos come from?’
Before I can reply another engine can be heard coming down the road towards us, a set of headlights appears and a car pulls up next to us. Through the open window a woman looks out us and then bursts out laughing. She opens her door and walks over to me….. pointing at me. Initially I assume she is pointing at the giraffe pattern but then she reaches forward and takes the mobile from my hand.
‘They give you this?’
She lobs it away into the darkness, ‘You’ll not need that,’ then opening the rear door of the car, ‘you’d better get in.’
In a bit of daze we climb into the back seat of the car, to find a familiar figure already sitting inside.
‘I tried to warn you …. You can not stay ere!’
We conclude our story at this point – but if you are wondering how a couple of retirees on a holiday in Europe ended up in such a pickle – don’t worry, there is a prequel! – don’t miss part 3 on 17th December.