Welcome to our online mystery story. This is Chapter 1. Another four chapters will follow every Tuesday for the next five weeks. Hope you enjoy reading them. Perhaps my work might even inspire you to have a go at writing your own adventure. If it does, be sure to enter our competition. The prize for the winning class will be an author's visit from me.
The main theme and setting of the story is the seaside. I have recently moved to Scarborough from Saltaire and I love writing by the sea. Tick Tock Cafe is based on a real place where I write a lot. It's called The Clock Cafe and it does amazing scampi lunches and cakes. Perhaps you might have been there yourself. There is also a second theme to the story, a very important one, but it will not become clear till later on in the story. There are, however, some very strong clues in Chapter 1. See if you can figure them out.
TICK TOCK CAFE
a detective story in five parts
SANDWICHES AND ICE-CREAM
‘Excuse me,’ called a boy’s voice. ‘Do you have ice-cream, or are you shut?’
Minnie put down her tray. The sun was in her eyes. But she could see a tall boy at the other end of the terrace. He had a straw hat on, and baggy shorts.
Minnie looked up at a clock in a tower above the cafe. ‘It’s 6.30. We’re shut.’
The boy pointed to two men at a table. One of them was eating a sandwich. The other was tucking into an ice-cream.
‘How come you gave him some, then? It’s not fair.’
The boy in the baggy shorts was called Albert. He came from London and worked for a famous singer called Mr. Tonio. His job included carrying the singer’s luggage, fetching his meals and making him vinegar drinks to gargle with.
Mr. Tonio was performing at The Spa Theatre on Scarborough Seafront. His shows were a sellout.
Minnie lived in the old part of Scarborough. During the summer holidays she worked at Tick Tock Cafe next door to the Spa.
The Tick Tock Cafe was the coolest cafe in Scarborough. It was named after its clock, which sat in a red brick tower and ticked very loudly.
The cafe had a lovely terrace overlooking the sea and Scarborough Castle across the bay. People sat there to eat crab sandwiches and ham salad with tangy sauce. Its home made ice-creams were quite famous too.
When you could get some, thought Albert.
‘Mr. Roberts and his brother Paul ordered their food before we closed,’ said Minnie. ‘I’ll ask my sister Jean if you can have an ice-cream, though. She’s the assistant manager.’
Albert sat down at a table to wait. Mr Rogers and his brother went on eating. Paul was the younger. He had a burn mark down the side of his face. The ice-cream spoon shook in his hand.
‘Are you enjoying that, Paul?’ asked Mr. Rogers.
His brother shook his head. ‘I don’t really like strawberry.’
‘I’m sorry they don’t have your favourite here,’ said Mr. Rogers.‘But it’s nice to try something different sometimes. Don’t you think? We’ll I’ll get some of your favourite ice-cream tonight.’
Another man was sitting on a bench close by. He was not eating an ice-cream. He was slurping a cup of tea very noisily. He had a woollen cap on even though it was hot. There was a scar on his arm.
Minnie came out with an ice-cream in a dish. ‘Only strawberry left, I’m afraid.’
‘You’re a darlin’, said Albert. ‘I love strawberry.’ He tucked into the ice-cream, which was delicious.
A plane buzzed overhead. Paul looked up, the spoon shaking in his hand. The man with the scar on his arm finished his tea.
‘Good afternoon, Minnie,’ said Mr. Rogers, helping his brother to his feet. ‘We’ll see you tomorrow.’
‘They’re staying in one of the beach huts below the cafe,’ said Minnie. ‘They come to Tick Tock Café every day. You should come back tomorrow too, Albert. We make a lovely cooked breakfast with spam fritters.
‘Righty ho, then, darlin’. Albert paid for the ice-cream and left a very generous tip. ‘See you tomorrow bright and breezy.’
The next day Albert got up early. He was looking forward to his breakfast, and to seeing Minnie again. He thought he might ask her to go to the cinema with him. A matinee. It would be nice to have a friend in Scarborough.
A police van screeched away as Albert ran up the steps to Tick Tock Cafe.
‘Oh Albert,’ cried Minnie. ‘Something awful’s happened. A thief stole the hands off our famous clock.’
Hope you enjoyed that chapter, folks. We ended with what's called in the writing business, a cliffhanger. Did you see it coming? Did you guess what was going to happen? Don't forget to tune in next week and see what Albert and Minnie are going to do next.