فصل 06

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فصل 06

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CHAPTER SIX

The Bodyguards

There was a moment of silence on the set. Rik and I stared at the blonde woman on the floor. Then people came running from all directions. Rik took charge.

‘Stand back!’ Rik shouted. ‘Get an ambulance!’

I was quickly pushed to the back of the crowd of actors and technicians who came and stood around the woman. I walked slowly away from them. There was nothing I could do.

‘Gail is dead,’ I thought. ‘She died in front of me, and I’m the man who was going to protect her.’

I felt terrible. I had wanted to protect Gail Lane. I had only met her once, but I had liked her very much, even if I didn’t admire her choice of boyfriend.

Sadly, I walked towards some other sets which were not in use that day. After a minute, I came to one which was like the inside of a Japanese home. It looked like a real room, but there was no ceiling and there were only three walls. There were several doors which didn’t open - there was nowhere to go. And I had nowhere to go now! Because of Gail’s death, my job had finished before it had really started.

I left the Japanese room and walked slowly on, through half-built sets, and across open spaces. Studio Nine was the size of an aircraft hangar, and several Boeing 747s could have been parked inside it.

Ten minutes later, I saw something that I didn’t believe! I saw her - Gail! Just for a moment, I saw her bright blonde hair, as a door near the end of the building opened and closed.

I couldn’t believe it! Slowly and carefully, I walked towards the door. Soon I realized that I was looking at a row of dressing-rooms - the rooms where actors change their clothes and wait during shooting. Each dressing-room had a door and a window. There was a light on inside one of the rooms, though all the others were dark and empty.

I stepped quietly over to the lighted window and looked in. Gail Lane was sitting at a table with a cup in her hand. Her face was wet and her eyes were shiny. She had been crying.

I didn’t have time to think about what I could see. As I looked through the window, someone grabbed my right arm and twisted it behind my back. I turned round and tried to grab my attacker. That was a mistake! My feet were kicked from under me. I fell to the floor and my attacker jumped on top of me. I struggled and I tried to get free. But my face was pressed against the floor, and the attacker was still holding my right arm. And now they had their knee on the back of my neck.

I tried to turn over. That didn’t work. But my left arm was still free, so I reached behind my back and grabbed hold of a foot. I twisted the foot as hard as I could. There was a scream of pain from my attacker, and I quickly pushed them off my back. Then I dived, grabbing the person from behind. I forced the attacker to stand up with both arms held behind them.

The attacker suddenly started kicking my legs.

‘Stand still or I’ll really hurt you,’ I said.

‘Oh yes?’ a voice said behind me. It was a woman’s voice.

Then two fists hit me, low down on my back. The pain was terrible. Next, someone’s fingers stabbed at the base of my neck, just above my shoulders. I let go of the person I was holding, and turned as quickly as I could. I turned just in time to receive a kick to the head. I spun around and fell heavily to the floor. Then I knew nothing!

When I woke up, I was still lying on the floor. A woman was sitting on my chest, holding me down. Another woman was sitting on my legs.

‘Let me get up,’ I said. ‘I can explain why I’m here.’

‘Josie’s just been injured, and you’re here looking into Gail’s dressing-room window,’ the woman on my chest said. She had shiny dark hair and was wearing a suit. ‘And you haven’t got a pass,’ she went on. ‘You’ll stay where you are until someone from security comes’

I lay on the floor for what seemed to be a long time. Then I heard footsteps.

‘So you think you’ve caught him,’ a voice said. I knew that voice. It was Rik.

The women got off me.

‘There he is,’ said the dark-haired woman. ‘Take him away!’

I looked up at Rik.

‘Sorry, Rik,’ I said. ‘I got lost. And then,’ I pointed at the two women, ‘these animals attacked me.’

‘Fine,’ Rik said. ‘Let me introduce you to Annie and Arabella, Miss Lane’s bodyguards.’ He pointed at the women in turn. ‘I told you they were good.’

Annie was the one with dark hair. Arabella had red hair and she was wearing a suit like Annie’s.

‘And who is he?’ Arabella asked angrily.

‘His name is Lenny Samuel. He’s an adviser for Miss Lane,’ Rik replied. ‘He’s going to advise her on how to behave like a private detective.’

‘Oh, really!’ Arabella laughed. ‘What does he know?’ We caught him easily enough!’

‘Wait!’ I interrupted. ‘What’s happened? Gail Lane can’t be in two places at the same time. If Gail is here in her dressing-room, who was that over there on the set?’

‘The person who had the accident is called Josie. She’s not dead, but she’s quite badly injured. She was Gail’s stunt-double - someone who did the most dangerous parts of Gail’s acting,’ Rik explained. The rope she was attached to broke. It was a terrible accident.’

‘Or a warning,’ I said. I stood up slowly. My back and neck hurt. I shook hands with Annie and Arabella. ‘I can see that Miss Lane is well protected,’ I added.

‘Yeah - when she wants to be,’ Arabella replied angrily.

‘What do you mean?’ I asked.

‘Sometimes she goes out at night without us,’ Annie said. ‘We can’t protect her then!’ She was angry too!

‘Perhaps, after this accident, she’ll be more careful,’ I said.

‘I’d like to introduce Mr Samuel to Miss Lane,’ Rik said. ‘But perhaps this isn’t a good time.’

‘Gail is very upset about Josie’s accident,’ Annie said. ‘But I’ll ask her if she’ll meet Mr Samuel for a few minutes. I guess there won’t be any more shooting today.’

Annie went into the dressing-room and closed the door behind her. We waited outside in silence. Then the door opened.

‘Miss Lane will meet Mr Samuel for a few minutes. She can’t talk for long - she doesn’t feel well,’ Annie said.

I followed Annie into the dressing-room. Gail was sitting at a table, holding a handkerchief. She looked up, and those green eyes were full of worry. She held out her hand.

‘I’m pleased to meet you,’ she said in a low voice. ‘I’m sorry, I’m very upset. Josie was a friend as well as my double.’

‘Mr Samuel will be advising you on how private detectives behave,’ Rik explained.

Arabella laughed quietly.

Gail looked at me again more closely. I could feel her beautiful eyes staring at me.

‘Haven’t we met before?’ she asked.

I thought for a moment. Arabella and Annie got angry when Gail went out without them - when she went out with Mike Devine, for example.

‘No, Miss Lane,’ I replied.

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