October 11, 2014

A search-and-cajole mission

In which detectives Tuk Tuk and Boom Boom go to find a miffed colleague

"I'm telling you the PCB is always discriminating against me. I specifically asked for pima cotton towels and this is obviously Asiatic" © AFP

Detectives Afridi and Misbah have been sent on a dangerous mission in their country's hour of need and are wandering through an unknown jungle location.

Afridi: I'm hungry, bro.

Misbah: We don't get to eat our first set of rations until 08:15 precisely

Afridi: What time is it now?

Misbah: About two minutes after you last asked me.

Afridi: But I'm hungry!

Misbah: You will get your official PCB water biscuit ration at 08:15 hours and not a second sooner, Detective Afridi. Wait, what's that noise?

Afridi: My stomach.

Misbah: No, that other noise.

They find themselves on the edge of a jungle clearing. Ahead of them is an old abandoned shack from which a suspicious humming noise emanates.

Misbah: I think this place might be booby-trapped.

Afridi: Why?

Misbah points to a sign that says "Warning: This Place May Be Booby-Trapped"

Afridi: Ah, they just put that up to scare people away.

Misbah: Detective Afridi, wait!

As he sets foot in the clearing, there is a whirring noise and from a hole in the ground rises a tall mechanical contraption

Misbah: Oh no, a bowling machine!

The bowling machine bleeps and begins to fire medium-pace outswingers at them. Misbah unpacks his bat and begins to block. This goes on for some time.

Afridi: I've had enough of this.

Misbah: What are you doing?

Afridi: I'm going to destroy the bowling machine.

Misbah: But how!

Afridi: With the power of the slog!

Afridi takes out his bat and jumps in front of Misbah. He smashes his first ball straight up in the air. It knocks a sloth out of the tree above them which lands on his head.

Afridi: Ah! I can't see!

Misbah: Use the force, Detective Afridi!

Afridi lashes out wildly sending cricket balls flying in all directions. Eventually he connects properly with a delivery that flies back into the bowling machine and disables it.

Misbah: Seventeen miss-hits and one on target. That's about your usual average.

Afridi: Well, if we'd done it your way, we'd still be here next week.

They enter the hut. Inside it is dark. Suddenly they hear a low and menacing voice.

Voice: Be gone intruders! You are in grave danger! Turn back while there is still time. This is your final warning… oh it's you clowns.

A figure steps from the shadows. It is former Detective Younis Khan

Younis: I should have known they'd send you two.

Misbah: It's been a long time, Younis.

Younis: At least a fortnight.

Afridi: Police Chief Waqar sends his regards.

Younis: I've got nothing to say to him and I've got nothing to say to you either.

Misbah: What have you been doing with yourself?

Younis: I keep myself busy. Been doing a lot of needlepoint.

Misbah: Needlepoint eh? How's that working out?

Younis: I stabbed myself in the thumb a few times. But I'll survive.

Afridi: Your country needs you, Younis.

Younis: Yeah? Well, I don't need them. I told you, I'm finished with the PCB. Fourteen years in the department and what thanks do I get? Not even a certificate of long service. I'll tell you what I told Chief Waqar. I'm done with cricket.

Misbah: I'll let you be vice-captain.

Younis: Do I get a badge?

Misbah: Yep. And the second best peg in the dressing room.

Younis: I'm in.

Afridi: You said I could be vice-captain!

Misbah: I said you could be vice-captain when you're mature enough to handle it.

Afridi: I'm 34!

Misbah: Yes, well when you act like a 34-year-old, people will start to treat you like a 34-year-old.

Younis: Hey, Detective Afridi, what's your batting average these days?

Misbah: He's hoping to get into double figures soon.

Younis and Misbah exit, laughing.

Afridi: That's not fair! I'm always batting with the tail! My batting average is not a true reflection of my impact value! Are you listening to me? Can I have my biscuit?

Andrew Hughes' latest book is available here and here. @hughandrews73

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