Twists and Turns – Part Three
By: Peter Astle

1990.

Lenny rang Trevor later that afternoon. He was back at his flat in Normanton having discharged himself from hospital. The breakfast portions were so small he had to get out of there. A full English breakfast was sizzling on his stove in the background as he spoke. Trevor reminded Lenny about The Neptune gig on Friday and Lenny said he'd ring before then.

He never did.

Neither did Danny.

By Thursday, Trevor started to panic. He'd telephoned both Lenny and Danny a dozen times over the last three days, all calls went straight to answer machine.

"Maybe Danny's been arrested," Claire suggested.

Trevor shook his head. "Andy's not back from Spain for another five days. The police won't know anything about the robbery until then."

"You said he had a broken rear light. Maybe he got pulled over again and the police looked in the back of the van this time."

"Danny would have found a way to call."

"What's Lenny say?"

"Can't get hold of him either."

In the end, Trevor decided to pay a visit. Danny Simpkins and his girlfriend, Rachel, lived on the ground floor of a block of flats on the edge of Chaddesden's sprawling council estate. No one was home when he buzzed the intercom. There was no sign of Danny's Bedford in the small carpark.

Trevor waited in his Cortina in the carpark for over two hours. Lots of comings and goings, to and fro, but no sign of Danny. He was about to give up when a City Cab pulled into the curb. Anna, Danny's next-door neighbour, climbed out the rear seat lugging two huge shopping bags. Trevor rushed over to give her a hand.

"Hi, Anna," Trevor said. "You seen Danny or Rachel lately?"

"Yeah. I think they're away on holiday?"

"Holiday?"

"Yeah. No idea where they've gone, but they both had suitcases when they drove off in the van last night. I heard them before I saw them, actually. The suitcases they had made one hell of a racket. They were those new ones, you know, with the wheels on the bottom."

*

Trevor rang the office of Sedgewood's Insurance at nine o'clock the following morning. He'd driven to Lenny's flat in Normanton yesterday afternoon, straight after speaking to Anna. There was still no sign of Lenny. Far as Trevor knew, Lenny never missed a day at work.

"Can I speak to Lenny Scott," he asked the girl on reception. "Has he come in yet?"

"No, he hasn't," she said brightly. "And he's unlikely to be coming in anytime soon. Lenny gave in his notice on Wednesday and cleared his desk. We haven't seen him since."

*

Trevor paid a personal visit to The Neptune on Friday afternoon. Geoff, the pub manager, scratched his straggly beard when Trevor told him the band would not be performing that evening.

"I'm really sorry," Trevor said. "Some sort of stomach bug. Both Danny and Lenny have got it. Nothing I can do."

Geoff, always generous, pulled Trevor a pint on the house anyway. "Thanks for letting me know, Trevor. I'll call a few agencies, get a stand in. If I'm lucky, I might get Andy Stuart."

"I don't think so. Andy's on his holidays right now."

"Shame. That new Karaoke stuff doesn't half bring in the crowds."

*

It was three weeks later when the postcard dropped through the letterbox.

Trevor sat at the kitchen table filling in a new job application for the Royal Mail. With no sight nor sound of Lenny or Danny since then, Trevor had no choice other than to cancel all upcoming gigs.

Claire fed Billy another spoonful of gooey baby food as he sat waving his arms in the highchair. "You hated that job, Trevor. The early mornings, the cold winters. Surely there's other things you could do."

"I was already doing that. Writing songs, playing in the band. I never expected all this to happen."

Claire touched his arm. "There's other drummers and bass guitarists out there."

"It wouldn't be the same. I've known Lenny and Danny since school. And why suddenly abandon me when Andy Stuart's off the scene? It doesn't make any sense. There's loads of work out there for proper musicians now."

Andy Stuart reported the theft of his laser Karaoke equipment the moment he returned home to England two weeks ago. The Derby Evening Telegraph gave the burglary a full-page spread. Mainly because Andy was the local star who frequently appeared in the What's On advertising section, but also because there were plenty of photographs available from local venues where he'd performed at over the last year.

They both exchanged a glance when the letterbox rattled.

Claire bought the postcard to the kitchen table and placed it beside Trevor's application form. The glossy wide-angled photograph on the front showed a sunny beachfront with a skyline of high-rise hotels to the left-hand side. In the lower righthand corner, printed colorful italics a single word: Benidorm

Trevor flipped over the postcard. On the right was his address. On the left was the message in large scrawled handwriting: Wish you were here. Danny and Lenny. Turns.

Trevor threw down his pen. "What the hell is this about?"

Claire shook her head

"Benidorm?"

"That's what it says."

"What does 'Turns' mean?"

"A place, maybe."

Trevor sat back in his chair, both hands behind his head. "We're going to have to find out."

"I can ask Chloe. She's went to Benidorm for her honeymoon. Maybe she'll know."

"No," Trevor said. "I mean us. We're going to have to go there. Find out for ourselves. Track them down."

"But you don't fly."

Trevor met her eye. "On this occasion, I'll make an exception."

Claire blinked.

Trevor pushed away the application form. "I could throttle the pair of them."

*

Three days later, Trevor and Claire sat on a stone bench on the busy promenade of Levante beach, looking out at the blue ocean.

Claire's parents were looking after Billy for the three days they planned to be away. Before them, the sun-drenched beach was packed with tourists, colourful bathing costumes complementing their tans. Behind them, the towering skyscraper hotels stood like giant grey monoliths, blocking out much of the sky.

The heat was intense. Fiercer than Trevor had expected, but he didn't complain. This was the furthest he'd ever been away from home. The first time in his life he'd left the country on an aeroplane.

"Whatever happens," Claire said, squeezing his hand. "Just being here … This is amazing."

Trevor grinned. When he stepped off the plane at Alicante airport at nine o'clock that morning, he had to stop to catch his breath. He'd finally done it. He'd flown through the skies.

Claire kissed him on the cheek. "What's the next part of the plan?"

"Book into our hotel, get our bearings, then start asking questions."

"We can't book in for another hour."

"Then we'll just watch the sea."

Their two large suitcases stood at the side of the stone bench. Neither of them had wheels.

*

They booked into the Hotel Helios at just gone noon, unpacked their suitcases in their room and still made the hotel restaurant in time to grab something for lunch.

The self-service continental buffet-style restaurant was new to both of them, but Trevor managed to fill his plate with English-looking food.

Claire was more adventurous, loading her plate with Tapas, twirls of coloured pasta, breadcrumb-coated fish, sliced vegetables and lettuce. The restaurant bustled with holidaymakers of all nationalities, the hotel staff and tour reps all recognisable by their own distinct uniforms with white plastic nametags pinned to their lapels.

Trevor made sure they sat at a table next to a couple of tanned twenty-something tour reps wearing canary-yellow jackets. The guy was eating fish and chips, the woman some variation of spaghetti bolognaises. It was a safe bet they were British. Trevor waited until the couple had finished their meal before leaning over.

"Hello," he said. "We're looking to find a place called Turns. At least we think it's a place."

The female rep smiled. "That's the new Karaoke bar on the corner of the strip. It's only been open for a week."

The guy gathered their plates. "Huge place, can't miss it. Busy as hell. You'll struggle to get a seat, even in the afternoon."

"Can you tell us where it is?" Trevor asked.

"Not far from here," the woman said. "Five minutes' walk." She dug into her work bag and produced a large tourist map. She circled the Hotel Helios with a pen and sketched the quickest route to a street a few blocks away. She pointed with a painted nail. "Calles Gerona, just here."

"Thanks," said Trevor, taking the map. "You say it's open right now?"

"Absolutely. The DJs work from noon till midnight, sometimes beyond that. If you leave now you might get a song by three o'clock."

"I don't think I'll be singing," said Trevor. "Karaoke's not my thing."

"You might change your mind when you're there," said the guy. "It's kind of addictive."

*

They heard the music long before they saw the bar.

They passed dozens of open-air bars and restaurants along Calles Gerona, many flying British flags. Sun-bleached menus stood outside, advertising the food on offer, but most of the bars were only half-full, some with no customers at all.

Turns was something different. They slowed as they approached the bar, astonished at the number of people packed on the broad off-road terrace. The unshaded terrace was the definition of a suntrap, cooking those who sat shirtless in chairs in the full blaze of the high June sunshine. The place was so busy, the pavement had become the additional seating area, but no one seemed to care. Kids sat cross-legged on the street, sipping cans of fizzy pop, licking ice creams, their parents close by drinking beers or wine or fancy cocktails. The glossy black and red signage over the terrace was big, bold and glittery: Turns – Benidorm's Premier Karaoke and Live Music Bar.

Someone inside the club was singing 'My Way' when they reached the entrance to the bar, but it was impossible to see who from the street. The sun was so bright outside, the interior was rendered black behind the sliding uPVC doors at the back of the terrace.

Inside, Turns was a darkened, cavernous room with black-painted walls, dozens of occupied tables and a long, crowded bar at the side of the room stretching at least twenty-five feet. A small raised wooden stage, maybe five-feet square, stood next to the enclosed DJ booth at the end of the bar, closest to the entrance.

Standing on the stage, gripping a microphone for dear life, a middle-aged man gave it his all in the closing bars of 'My Way'. The crowd whistled and clapped and cheered in what looked like genuine support. The guy held onto the last note way too long, clearly in his element.

Trevor spotted half a dozen monitors spread around the room, displaying the videos and words for the songs. There was no doubt they had come from Andy Stuart's garage. The speakers closest to the stage we're Andy's too. The guy on the stage handed back the microphone to the DJ in the enclosed box adjacent to the stage. Trevor and Claire stepped forward for a closer look.

Danny Simpkins took the microphone from the man. Just behind him, half bent over, sorting through discs, Lenny Scott's familiar shape was visible in the shadows.

"Give a big round of applause for Harry," Danny said. "Next up, we've got Marriam. Marriam, are you ready? Marriam—after this." Danny fiddled with some knobs on the mixing desk and The Village People's 'YMCA' blasted from the speakers.

"And don't forget," Danny continued, "if you want to give us a song, check out the big song book. Fill out the little white slips and drop them in the bamboo basket on the side of the bar. We'll get around to you … soon as."

Scattered around most of the tables were the same thick Laser Karaoke books Trevor had helped Danny and Lenny steal from Andy Stuart's garage. White slips of paper and tiny pens sat in small clear plastic cups in the centre of each table.

"How do you want to play this?" Claire said

"Let's get a drink first. They haven't spotted us yet. Let's sit in the far corner. Watch and wait."

"Shouldn't we just go straight up to them? See what's going on?"

"Don't worry," Trevor said. "I have a plan."

To be Concluded …

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