Once the shaking of the ground had stopped, Madam Penny and Lucas Frump leaned forward, staring down at the beak of Alonzo Bellini, which was sticking into the air like a proud flag. His eyes were closed peacefully and his mouth gaped open, still steaming from the fire within his stomach. The silence returned for a few long, horrified seconds.
“Oh my God. He’s dead.” Frump gasped pulling his legs back and crouching on the chair.
“Dead?!” Penny cried, “Dead? How can he be dead?”
“I don’t know,” wheezed Frump, “I guess the stress just got to him.”
“Oh no. Oh no, no! This is our fault!”
“Our fault? How can this be our fault?”
“We drank all the tea, we pushed him over the edge,” Penny’s voice broke, shuddering and pitching.
“Now just calm down a second now…”
“I can’t go to jail,” she growled, “I’m too young and pretty to go to jail!”
“Fine! Fine,” Mr Frump conceded, “We’ll just pretend we didn’t realise he was dead.”
“What, we didn’t know that there was a guy lying on the ground, motionless with his eyes wide open?”
“Okay, then we’ll “Weekend-at-Burnie’s” it.”
“Here, help me get him up.”
Thirty seconds later, under the watch of the big brown dog, Bellini was sat in the chair next to Madam Penny with his mouth drooping open and his big black aviator sunglasses crossed over his eyes. His back was slouched and legs spread open, and his arms flopped flaccidly by his side, onto the dog carriers.
“This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Madam Penny cried, covering her face with her hands.
“Keep yourself together, woman,” Frump griped, “We’ve interfered with a dead body now. That’s a real crime, so we’re in this together.”
“Of course, of course,” she said, and at that the door cracked open and a thin, black-haired young woman strode in. Penny tensed, pushing the palms of her hands against her knees as she sat.