Boy Dies In Mishap; Enigmatic Woman Sought For Questioning
London (Reuters) Scotland Yard is investigating a bizarre case in the heart of London, after a child fell to his death under mysterious circumstances. Michael Banks, 8, son of banker George Banks and his wife Winifred, plunged to the street from a height of over a hundred feet last evening. His sister Jane, 10, was a witness, described as hysterical after the fact.
How it precisely happened is still a question mark. Witnesses at a distance described the appearance of a staircase in the smoke from chimneys over the scene in the moonlight. “Right as rain, guvnah!” butcher Charlie Collins told reporters. “It was right up there, it was, guvnah! Four people, walking up a staircase full of smoke, like it was solid, right against the moon, guvnah! And then one of them just fell right out the bottom side, guvnah!”
Raymond Tarleton, a physician on his way home for the evening, saw the same event from another perspective. “A peculiar thing if you ask me,” the doctor informed this reporter. “Certainly one can always expect a good deal of smoke and fog on a London evening- perhaps too much. From a doctor’s point of view, all this smog can’t be that healthy. But I digress. I just think it’s an odd thing to see smoke take the shape of a staircase. And then to see people walk up that staircase. I mean, that defies the laws of gravity and physics. My word... to see a child fall through that smoke... for the rest of my days I shall never forget the sound of his scream.”
The Banks household is in mourning. George Banks is a long term employee of the Dawes Tomes Mousley Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, which suffered a public relations fiasco yesterday during a bank run by citizenry. His wife Winifred is associated with the Vote For Women movement. Their residence on Cherry Tree Lane is a quiet place that had, in recent weeks, been the scene of unexplained occurrences.
“An ill wind,” neighbour and retired Navy Admiral Thaddeus Boom yelled at this reporter from his rooftop, where a replica of a Navy ship, complete with cannons, has been built onto the manor. His assistant and retired sailor Mr. Binnicle was busy preparing the cannons for a reason this reporter didn’t quite understand until after the fact. “Strangest nanny I’ve ever seen started working there when the wind turned to the east. All prim and proper, but flying around- literally flying around- with an umbrella, talking to dogs, and those children following her around saying things about jumping into sidewalks. Very strange. Now, it’s just about time, so... Mr. Binnacle! Are the cannons prepared?”
This was followed shortly thereafter by one of the cannons being fired, right at the stroke of eight AM, creating a ghastly boom that resonated through the area. Another neighbour, speaking on condition of anonymity, was irritated. “My nerves are at a knife edge. Twice every single day, that senile old bastard is up on that roof, blasting away with those cannons. I’ve never met anyone whose death I would celebrate, but when Boom finally ceases to breathe, I assure you, sir, I will pour a glass of fine champagne and toast the end of his miserable existence.”
Local constable Arthur Jones, whose walking beat includes Cherry Tree Lane, was downcast. “Oh, I know those children well,” he told reporters in a nearby park. “Just as well as I know crazy old Admiral Boom. Who, by the way, should be put in a retirement home and banned from getting anywhere near field artillery. The Banks used to have all sorts of problems with keeping a nanny in the household. Those kids, bless them, well, they were just being kids, getting into the odd bit of mischief like kids do. I brought them home from the park the odd time when they managed to get away from whichever nanny was in the family’s employ, but you know, at heart they’re both good children. I mean, well, poor young Michael, in his case, he was a good child. Hard to think of him in the past tense. But anyway, there was a problem retaining nannies. The one before last, well, if I can use a colourful expression, was a real battleaxe. Katie Nanna, they called her. This last one, this Miss Poppins? A real odd duck, if you ask me. Still, she seemed to keep the kids well behaved. At least I always thought so. Didn’t figure she was doing anything like what people are now saying she was doing. I mean, who thinks of witchcraft in this day and age?”
Scotland Yard is looking for the nanny in the wake of the tragedy. While Jane Banks is seeking solace in the company of her parents, and while funeral preparations are underway for Michael Banks, who met something of a gruesome end, the nanny, one Mary Poppins, vanished in the wake of the child’s fall. How she created a staircase out of smoke is a mystery. As is the question of how Michael fell out of it. She is described as slender, five foot eight, with black hair, a bewitching smile she rarely shows, a stern but fair demeanour, impeccably dressed, and carrying an umbrella and valise bag that contains more than it appears. She is also self-described as “practically perfect in every way.”
On a related matter, her accomplice, a Cockney chimney sweep and street entertainer answering to the name Bert, has been arrested. Bert, it turns out, is an alias for his true identity, Albert Geoffrey Wentworth III, the long missing heir of the Wentworth shipping industry. He is being held as the prime suspect in the so called Autolycus case, the infamous series of robberies of priceless jewels and art over a ten year period in which an estimated forty seven million pounds sterling valued items were stolen from galleries, museums, and private residences across Britain and Europe. Found stewing in a holding cell at the Yard by reporters, Wentworth simply shrugged, lacking the exaggerated Cockney accent he has been known for in recent years in the vicinity of Cherry Tree Lane, instead speaking in a refined tone. “Would any of you gentlemen care to wager how long before I can escape from here?”