Following on from episodes 1-5 (March 28th) in which our hoovering heroes twiddled thumbs and solved muffin mysteries, here are episodes 6-10. This time we find Zoza and Xoxox embroiled in rather more serious stuff as they make their way in the uncertain world of hoovering detection.
Zoza found Xoxox stood at the front door one morning, his eye pressed to the spyhole, clutching the hoover.
“What on earth are you doing?” she asked in her pyjamas.
“Waiting for the binmen,” he replied.
“Oh. And then what?”
“Then I’m going to hoover the bin out,” he wielded the nozzle. “I’m keeping my eye in, you can tell a lot from hoovering a bin out.”
He didn’t have to wait long. Ten minutes later the binmen had been and gone and Xoxox ran out to collect the bin, hoover dragging behind him. From the window Zoza watched as he enthusiastically hoovered the inside of the bin, a huge grin plastered across his small face.
“So what did you find out?” she asked when he returned, happily out of breath.
“What did you find out from hoovering the bin?”
“Oh… yes! Um… yeah, nothing to report today,” Xoxox did his best to look disappointed.
The phone rang.
In the waiting room Xoxox sat twitchily at Zoza’s side. She had forced him to leave the hoover in the car and now he was wishing he had insisted on bringing his sucky friend. But this was a big job, the job they had been waiting for, they had to appear professional. So, no hoovers. Up on the seventh floor the time seemed to drag.
Eventually a tall man in shades and a sharp suit came to collect them. It was clearly a very sharp suit as tiny cuts were visible at the cuffs and neck. “Come through to my office,” he told them, and they did.
“You two are detectives, yes?”
“Yes,” replied Zoza.
“Hoovering detectives,” cut in Xoxox.
The man in the sharp suit looked confused.
“Yes, we are detectives,” Zoza clarified.
“Look, I don’t care what methods you use,” the man was becoming irate. “I just need you to find this woman and bring her here, do you think you can do that?”
Zoza nodded by reflex.
“Her name is Belle Alexandera, she’s an inventoress. It is very important that we find her,” he passed a picture across the desk, the sharpness of his suit showed how serious he was.
“Does she invent vacuum cleaners?” asked Xoxox.
“Don’t worry,” Zoza cut in. “We will find her, don’t you worry,” she stored the picture in her jacket.
“OK, well. Go to work. Do… whatever it is you do. Payment when you bring her in,” the man in the sharp suit indicated that the meeting was at an end and the pair of hoovering detectives got up and made their way back to the car.
They drove home in silence and as soon as they were inside Xoxox got on with giving the stairs a good clean.
Ducks pecked around the crumbs at Xoxox’s feet whilst balloons of various colours and sizes hung in the air and a strange film in a language he didn’t understand played on a screen. Sometimes he just didn’t quite understand art instillations.
He was sporting an identical beard to the man sat beside him and this could lead people to suspect they were brothers. They would be correct but if truth be told Xoxox had only grown his identical beard because he knew he would be seeing his older brother.
Oxoxo crunched his way through a packet of crunch creams and the ducks were quick to catch the crumbs.
“Are you allowed to eat here?” asked Xoxox.
“I dunno,” Oxoxo bit down on another biscuit. Whilst Xoxox’s childhood travails in the cleaning cupboard had left him with an obsession with vacuum cleaners, Oxoxo had picked up a dependency on biscuits from many hours spent stuffed in the biscuit cupboard. It also went some way to explaining why he was so short.
“Do you think I’d be allowed to hoover in here?”
“You have a hoover?” Oxoxo looked up at his younger brother in disbelief.
“Just a small pocket vacuum.”
“They probably wouldn’t be too keen on you hoovering in the middle of this art. You’d be imposing some kind of order on the chaos they’re creating in this space.” Oxoxo explained.
“Is that what’s going on here?”
“Yup. I think so.”
Xoxox stayed quiet, watching crumbs from biscuits fall on his brother’s lap. He fidgeted, desperate to pull out his vacuum and clean up the mess. But he didn’t want hoovering to lead to him being ejected from another of these things.
It was three days since Zoza and Xoxox had been to see the man in the sharp suit and they had yet to start work on finding the elusive Belle Alexandera. Zoza spent hour after hour staring at the picture, the inventoress mocking her feeble attempts at finding her. If Zoza was honest she didn’t really know where to start.
“I don’t see why we’ve taken on this case,” Xoxox complained to her. “There’s no hoovering involved, we’re hoovering detectives.”
“Maybe we can solve it with hoovering, I don’t know. You’re always telling me that there’s nothing that can’t be solved by hoovering.”
Xoxox trudged off, leaving Zoza grasping for a lead. She stared at the picture again. Belle Alexandera was quite pretty really – she had piercing blue eyes, a wide grin that stretched across her face and dirty blonde hair pulled up in pigtails. There lay another problem – she was pretty, an inventoress and, depending on what she was in the habit of inventing, pretty close to being Xoxox’s ideal woman. Zoza could do without feeling a surge of jealousy towards her already taunting fugitive.
She was no closer to getting started on the case when Xoxox reappeared.
“Well, I’ve hoovered the whole house again and she isn’t here,” he said in a rare moment of sarcasm.
“Ok, ok… here’s what we’ll do… we’ll,” she grasped, “make our way into the inventing world, undercover and we’ll… use your modified hoovers, get to know some inventors and see what we can dig up on her. What do you think?”
Xoxox beamed for the first time in days. “Can we take the alphabehoover?”
“Which one’s that?”
“The one that alphabetises the collected dirt inside the machine.”
“Does it work now?”
“Um… kind of.”
“Yes, we’ll take it with us,” Zoza could tell that this was the only answer that would make Xoxox beam even more. He hugged her and landed a kiss on her cheek.
“I’ll go and get it ready to roll.”
Zoza was proud of her plan and, re-energised, sat down the next day to create an exhaustive index of inventors and inventoresses in the area. She researched hard in the phone books and the internet, on teletext and the local press, anywhere she thought might be of help. She could find no mention of Belle Alexandera which was a little dispiriting but she felt like she was beginning to build up a good picture of the inventing world in which the hoovering detectives would soon delve.
Xoxox had spent the day three cities away at a hoovering convention, leaving her in peace. It was late in the evening when he arrived home and had some important news to impart.
“I’m going to be in the UK 100m hoover finals,” he announced proudly to bemused silence. “Oh, and I met Belle Alexandera.”
“What?!?!” Zoza nearly spilt her orange juice.
“I’m going to be in the UK 100m hoover finals,” Xoxox repeated. “The heats were today and we came second in our race which means we get to go to the finals in Warwick. Will you come with us, we can have a day at the seaside.”
“Warwick doesn’t have a seaside dear,” Zoza patiently explained. “But yes, I’ll come with you. Well done. But, um, you were saying that you met Belle Alexandera?”
“Oh, yes. She’s lovely, very pleasant. And get this – she does invent vacuum cleaners, I’m so glad we took this case.”
Zoza wrestled the green-eyed monster and tried to stay focussed on the case. “You know, we have to take her back to the man, not just meet her, don’t you?”
“Yup. I got her phone number.”
“You got her number? You got her number? Why on earth did you get her number?”
“Um… because it’ll help us find her again,” Xoxox was confused now. “I thought that was what we were trying to do.”
“Oh… yes. Good work. Meanwhile you’ll be pleased to see that I’ve been busy creating this exhaustive index of all the famous inventors who could help us find the elusive Belle Alexandera. Of course now that you’ve found her that will be… completely useless.”
There was a moment of silence in which Xoxox did not reassure Zoza that her index woule be useful in some way at some point. It was Zoza who spoke next.
“So. Now we need to rearrange when we will next meet Belle.”
“Well, she’ll be at the national finals. She came first in the race, you should see her hoover – it is a machine. Blimey, I was eating some dust behind that thing. Of course, it was actually very efficient at taking up all the dust on the track. And of course we’ll be training together before the big day too.”
“Training together? So, we can bring her in then, close the case. When is your next training session?”
“Before the race?” Xoxox was visibly shaken by Zoza’s proposal. “We can’t catch her before the race! What if it interferes with her being able to take part?”
“That’s just an unfortunate consequence,” Zoza fixed Xoxox with a steely gaze. “Next chance we get, we’re bringing her in.”