Anyhow, the evening of the unwelcome visit arrives and he takes it upon himself to renew conjugal interest and hires in some caterers for an impromptu tete a tete with Mrs Two Toes, so thwarting her planned evening of Bridge with some of the other local well- heeled dames, even though she never expressed any previous interest in such a thing.

No more than a couple of blocks away it is raining and the roads are uncommonly slippery, and the hit guys, not wishing to stay around longer than absolutely necessary, decide to blow Sammy Spark, second cousin once removed down in passing by drilling through the open windows of Tommy Two Toes beloved wheels. Sammy Spark, second cousin once removed is spied pacing the sidewalk in the general area they are led to expect him to be, however, it happens to be just as they turn a sharp corner. The sudden activity causes Tommy Two Toes precious wheels to flip on its side, slide down the slippery road and tangle itself round a hydrant. Sammy Spark, second cousin once removed on the other hand, is completely unharmed apparently, but sees enough to be aware of the general intention as he is the only number pacing the sidewalk.

The unfortunate hit guys somehow end up outside on the tarmac, most probably seriously disorientated and bruised and Sammy Spark, second cousin once removed is able to pick them off with the john roscoe he always keeps at hand, no bother. With no one around to witness what happened, Sammy Spark, second cousin once removed long gone and Tommy Two Toes sitting pretty on a convenient alibi, the Gendarmes impound the car, clear away the stiffs and sit on the available evidence until they figure out who has done what to whom.

Tommy Two Toes , now seriously perturbed, carries on the chinning paying little heed to whether I am listening or not.

“It is my wedding anniversary next week” he says peering into his coffee cup, sunk so low in his seat I consider the possibility he has shrunk without me noticing. “I am throwing a shindig,” he goes on twirling a teaspoon round the dregs, “and I am inviting everyone, “he concludes. “Everyone,” he repeats staring me straight in the eye. “Especially second cousins once removed… Only some guests are going to find themselves permanently horizontal when they leave. ”

I say nothing, it not being wise to comment on family matters.

Done with chinning, Tommy Two Toes checks his watch, passes me what might have been a smile had his demeanour not been so inclement and we part company.

I hear no more of Tommy Two Toes until a couple of weeks later when I have nothing better to do than swill corn around a glass in a local dive and listen to gossip among the usual collection of punks, boobs, boozehounds and broads (who may or may not turn out to be pro skirts as the evening progresses) dipping the bill and getting slowly smoked. Listening to gossip is vital for a guy wishing to stay ahead of the game as the trade in this and that can be fierce and citizens under the influence are apt to flap their jaws on matters business, personal and judicial with gay abandon. Such establishments are often frequented by Newshawk’s and off duty John Laws and many an unwitting, injuriously smoked, jingle brained citizen has unintentionally turned stool pigeon with calamitous results.

On this occasion the guy flapping his jaw is a small and wiry, sitting in a corner not so far away from me downing corn like there was never Prohibition with a familiar cow eyed look about him. I hear the name Tommy Two Toes mentioned with the sort of familiarity that can only be attached to close friends and family and bend a lug to listen, especially as the last chin I had with Tommy Two Toes leaves my curiosity dangling like an inmate on death row.

It transpires that Tommy Two Toes is good as his word. Eager to impress Mrs Two Toes and not inclined to deny her anything, the anniversary shindig is a stylish affair. And it transpires that Sammy Spark, second cousin once removed is invited and that there is fruit punch and a fair smattering of aged relatives with Methodist leanings including a Great Aunt Agatha. Now, despite his obvious disconsolency there is no possibility that Tommy is sap enough to bop Sammy Spark, second cousin once removed in full view of Mrs Two Toes and the rest of the Two Toes clan, not least because, being Methodists they would frown on such carryings on. Tommy Two Toes is unlucky, not stupid. So I am more than a little interested to discover how events unfold.