Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Journeyman - Chapter 5

Chapter 5

October 81.

I don't know what I expected Jim to do when I left the hotel. And, after the meeting with Butler, then the vacuum of the house, he didn't register for a while. Not till bureaucracy and convention butted in and threatened to smother me.

First the  business of formal identification and, in the absence of Docherty, I was asked to include Ann. It was a cruel farce. I looked at none, merely nodded  to the name I was given, then felt I'd been a coward and let them down. Only to be told I'd won their release. Not said like that exactly, more whispered; ‘Had I made arrangements?’ I hadn't. And it slowly dawned on me, when I’d rang around trying to contact Jim, that I was looking for instruction not confirmation. So,when Frank rang  a  day or so later and offered to handle the arrangements I heard myself giving him the name of the undertaker and put the phone down feeling nothing but relief.. I suppose all this seems understandable but at the time, for me, nothing was.

The old chapel, where Joan and I had been married and Emma and Christine  christened, completed the cycle of liturgical misery. Commiseration's were all from strangers, vacuous after the black despair of caskets given to the earth.  I didn't go back to Franks house, hardly thanked him.  My family being lowered into their grave was the irrevocable confirmation of their loss. I  cursed Docherty for his absence, for the lack of compatible grief.

It was almost a week before I used the key I found in the box of Joan's effects and went back to the scene. Empty, except for curtains and fitted furniture, made the house remote from any memories. Its boarded windows and lack of functioning light bulbs forcing me collect a torch from the car. Props had been erected to support the sagging ceiling and window bay and using them as grid points, I searched floor, ceiling and walls  finding three segments of metal each a straw grey colour. I  made my way round to the front patio and down the five steps to the lawn. In line with the lounge and tucked between the lawn  and patio wall I found a grenade pin.. Slipping the  pieces into evidence bags I circled round the house and found Frank waiting by the car.
'One of the lads saw the car. I didn't want to disturb you so I fed the pony and waited.'
'I'd forgotten about it, sorry. Frank, was there one explosion or more?'
Frank shook his head, 'I couldn't say. The blokes that heard it said it was more like a rolling crump.  It was the alarm going off in the office that warned me something was up.'
'Do you know who was first to get here?'
'Probably sounds daft, but I think it was me. So help me Pat, when I got to the door here it looked as it does now. So I rang the bell and  waited, until sense told me to go in.'
I could see this was upsetting Frank, but I needed every detail, 'Once you were in did you see anything happening out front?'
Frank took time answering, 'I couldn't see anything Pat, I'd to get out.'
'How long before the police were here?'
'Don't know. It seemed a long time but they say it wasn't. Two carloads at first then minutes later another two. After that it got to me, so I waited for you and Jim.'
'Do you know where he is yet?'
I could see he knew I didn't believe him. 'What's happened to all the furniture and stuff from the house?'
Frank looked straight at me, 'I’ve met with him once; he told me to clear the place out. It's the last we've heard or seen of him. What about you?'
I still didn't believe him, 'Nothing.'
'No, I meant how’re you coping?'
I shrugged, 'I don't know Frank. Part of me is searching for threads the rest’s clutching at straws. Do me a favour and find somebody for the pony. It looks lost without a kid on its back.'

I got little response from forensics when I handed over the metal segments; and for some reason I didn’t include the pin. Collecting a thick polythene bag the technician dumped it on the counter and checked its contents against mine . 'Look's the same. We reckon there were either nine or ten used. They’re made in Italy and standard issue to half the world's military, including ours. These might confirm the ten.'
'Have they all been checked for prints?'
The technician slid my three evidence bags to the side, 'All except these.'
  I asked ‘Are there any safety pins in that lot?’
‘None, just fragments.’
‘Tidy lot weren’t they?’
The technician shrugged, ‘I only work on what I’m given. I doubt if you’d get a decent print off them anyway.’

Habit had me heading for the canteen. I couldn't remember when I'd eaten last and even now I wasn't particularly hungry. Collecting my  change I spotted one of Butlers squad at the far end of the canteen. Joining him I asked, 'How're you getting on with the case?'
Lowering his paper and recognising me he started to fold it, 'Not much to go on.'
'No leads?'
'Not what I'd call leads. We've  collected the usual dead heads. Got the usual load of gumph that all checked out. I'm beginning to think we pull them in so often they're getting better at it than we are. Now we who are left are waiting for the man to perform.'
'How d'ye mean, `We who are left'. Has he any other major case on?'
'Listen, the Super never closes a file. Every job has to be checked against the old files for similarities. In this type of case rarely do we get everybody that's involved so a similarity could be the break we need. Sometimes I think the bugger's paranoid about being beat.'
'What's that got to do with, ”We who are left”?
'It's nothing, just sour grapes.'
'Please, tell me.'
'All I meant was the people left seem to be the second echelon of the squad. There's no obvious distinction; nothing in record or reports as far as I know. But after four years, it's pretty obvious to me that some of my longer serving colleagues get preference. Like the course they're on at the moment. Occasionally one of us get a sniff just to confuse, but never to the detriment of the chosen ones. Anyway, you don't want to hear my gripes. What I can tell you is the pieces you brought in have confirmed the ten and like the rest there isn't a print on them.'
'Christ that was quick it's only a couple of hours since I brought them in and their reception didn't seem to stir a hornets nest of interest. How is it they're processed so quickly?'
'It's what Butler expects., Especially when he heard you brought them in.'
Shrugging I asked, 'What's this course your mates are on?'
'Some special anti terrorist training with the S.A.S somewhere in Wales. One of the fruits of the new  Anglo- Irish so called accords.
Trying not to show my disinterest I asked, 'Who's left on my case?'
'Ridiculous, in fact it's bloody unbelievable. Just you?'
'Thanks. It's the way the man works. He believes if you don't get a quick result, take the large team off incase they're trampling over the clues. Leave somebody to filter through the detail.'
'Forensic must have been slack if I was able to find more bits.'
'They'll probably get it from him but we're all human. Once you get a load of the same stuff you're inclined not to bother with the crumbs.'
It would have been different if there had been prints, but there weren't so I gave it a miss, 'I suppose so. Tell me, in the squads records, have there been any other cases where grenades were used?'
'Not that I can remember.'
Wary of the reaction I'd get to my request made me hesitate, 'Listen. Sorry I don't know your name?'
'McGill, Fred McGill, and I know what you're about to ask. I've been waiting for it and trying to think how I'm going to answer, so here goes. I don't mind telling you what's going on. But I won't be hounded or cajoled into special favours till I end up working for you in a pensionless capacity. Meet me here or preferably in a pub where we can have a chat, but that's it. Butler may be a bombastic turd, but Cinderella or not, he runs the best squad in the country and I intend staying in it. Fair enough?'
'That's great Fred, if I get pushy just tell me to back off.'
'Don't bloody worry I will.'
With that McGill left. Something Urquhart said needed to be checked out.

Butler had quite a record.  I'd a list of a hundred and fifty two cases his squad had handled, which whittled down to forty one where explosives had been used. Thirty four of those had succesfull convictions and glancing at the sentences none of them would be out yet. On eight of the thirty four they'd managed to pre-empt the crime by being ready and waiting. The rest were unsolved, without the case closed stamp. Quite impressive, whatever I thought of the man it didn't detract from his results.

Splitting the forty one into three's or four's I  distributed them amongst my mates asking them to make copies of the files. I'd to wait almost a week, ticking off the list as the copies came back before, giving in to impatience, I went off to find McGill. Of the three pubs favoured by the station it was the third and the grottiest where I found him chatting up one of the computer section girls. Identifying his drink as lager, I ordered two pints and carried them over to a empty table.

I'd to wait till the girl had gone before he joined me. 'Butler's been giving us gyp this week and he's been nudging some of his own snouts hard. Came in today and said he'd a whisper it's a splinter group from Louth.'
'What's happening with it?'
'There's going to be a snatch between four and six in the morning.’  Fred looked as though he was looking forward to it.
'I've been in the station all day an heard nothing of it. How many are you planning to snatch.'
'Twelve and the reason you've heard nothing is there's only us from the station, the rest are from the districts with one or two of us heading each squad.'  Fred hesitated, 'There's something else. Something you said in the canteen got me thinking. There's one case in our files where grenades were used. Not the high explosives like yours, the ordinary type. It must have been a sod because it's still not closed. A couple killed in their car four miles out of Tullamore. Examiner couldn't say whether they were unconscious before the grenades were thrown in, just  that the windows were all wound down by the amount of glass in the doors. Nobody drives in Ireland in the middle of winter with their windows down. Not with a woman in the car.'
'Have you said anything to Butler on it.'
'I think he's already made the connection Pat. Five of tonights targets were pulled in for that one.'
I already had the file. Five years ago, business man and his wife on their way home from a function. Only my copy wasn't specific on what had been used to kill them. ' I think I remember it. Any chance of getting me a copy of the file and copies of tonight's results.'
Fred smiled, 'Why not, always get mixed up when I do copies. Does the amount wanted include originals or not? Sort of mental blank.'
I sorely wanted to know why the Tullamore files should differ, but by asking now I might give more than I got.

There was a solitary letter to greet me when I opened the door to the house. The agent had three people interested and could I  please make better arrangements for viewing. It was time I went next door to Bob and Mary. Apart from a nod and hug at the funeral they'd respected my privacy but by now would probably be thinking of dropping in.

Mary gave me a hug and kiss before shooing me through to the lounge where Bob was already pouring drinks.
'Knew it was you, Mary's usually longer in the hall with anybody else.'
'Idiot,' Bob got a frown off Mary for his banter, 'We thought you might go away for a while Pat.'
'Can't think of any place to go Mary, or anything to do if I did.'
'You're probably right.' Bob swung the conversation onto everything and nothing until my glass was empty.
'I've decided to sell the house. Thought I'd let you know.'
Bob laughed, 'We could hardly not know.'
Realising the reason for Bobs amusement told me how subjective my thinking had become.
By the time I left Mary had agreed to show people round the house, and as I crossed the front lawn I gave a rueful glance at the ’For Sale’ sign and wondered what else that obvious I'd overlooked.

 I’d to wait another three days before I got the interrogation reports on the Louth raid and there were only eleven. A note pinned to the top sheet explained the missing twelfth. He'd been pointing percy at the porcelain when they'd burst in. Legging it out of the bathroom window he'd failed to connect with the balcony and made it all the way from the fourth floor to the ground. Cynically Fred concluded, “we decided not to interview him.” I recognised him from the attached mug shot. Mick McGahern, may he rest in shit. Butler had lost a snout and I could close my file.  I spent the rest of the evening and well into the morning combing through the interrogations, trying to find a tenuous thread that might lead to a critical path. If there was anything it was eluding me and the suspicion it was my fault fanned a feeling of ineptness.

The insistence of the doorbell woke me. Probably Mary I thought tucking a creased  shirt into creased trousers.
'Morning Pat. Mind if I come in?'
Stepping back, I indicated the lounge, scooping newspapers over the copy reports and files. Butler gave no indication he'd seen them.
'Don't suppose you've heard from Docherty?'
'Nothing. Neither hide nor hair since the hotel. Since he didn't turn up for the funeral  I've practically forgot about him.'
'Pity. Frankly we're getting nowhere fast with this one. I'm beginning to think Docherty's disappearance has got far more to do with it than I originally thought. He's either frightened by something he knows, or dead because he knew. That's why I'm here. We're going to concentrate on him. So, leaving no stones unturned as it were, do you mind if I look around?'
'Help yourself, I'll stick the kettle on.' I hadn't been into our or the girls bedroom since coming back, preferring to use the spare when I wasn’t zonked on the couch. Now listening to the sounds coming from the rooms I felt I'd given permission to a voyeur and wondered why it was Butler doing it. When he came back down I took him to the kitchen for his coffee and asked if there was anything new.

In contrast to our previous meets he was almost affable, 'No doubt you know as much as I do. We're holding two from the Louth raid, but for their involvement on another job. Try not to get too down you know it's more often than not the most irrelevant snippet or sighting that lets everything start to click. When it does we wont miss it.'
Seeing him out, I asked, 'Is there any similarities between this case and others you've handled?'
Butler slowly turned from me as though surveying the road, 'Apart from the results, can't think of any. Not exactly similar.'

Rushing a shower and a change of clothes, I managed to catch McGill during his break. Telling him of my visitor, I saw a frown beginning to worry his face. 'Everything we've pieced together on Docherty leaves him clean. Unless he's thinking Docherty commissioned it.'
It was a thought I'd allowed sufferance days before. And, for a while, enjoyed  the solutions it offered, 'Fred I don't know where Docherty is or why he's disappeared. I wish I did, something then could begin to make sense. But he wouldn't let the rain fall on any of them.'
Fred nodded, 'That's how I read it. Still doesn't explain Butlers visit.'

Fred and I met six or seven times in the same number of weeks, reviewing a situation that lacked nothing but developments. Gradually the squad had started easing off in my company, cracking jokes and demanding I join them for the odd drink. It was well meant, but for me remote and meaningless, I was an island of introspection in a smoky haze of chattering fatuity. Even the weekly curry with Bob and Mary was a reasonless habit. I searched for meaning in everything. Night after night, I'd deny  failure and scour the files again. Resenting the veneer of empty normality time was forcing on me.

Bob was waiting as I parked the car, 'Looks like you've sold the house. The agent wants you to ring with the name of your solicitor. Come in for a drink.'
Refusing the offer, I let myself into the house. Pillock, why the hell hadn't I thought of it. It had been Docherty's suggestion that we'd used his solicitor to tie up the contracts when we bought the house. Tomorrow I'd ask for the same bloke to handle the sale. If Docherty was or had been in contact with him it could be something.

The day started well enough. Ringing the solicitors office I asked for an appointment with the partner who handled Mr Docherty's affairs. Giving my name the receptionist was back within a minute, I'd an appointment with Mr Fernyhough for four that afternoon. What I did next confused me and buggered the rest of it.
Normally I'd have said nothing until I'd something to say. Approaching Butler and saying,' I might be able to tell you today whether Docherty's alive or dead.' was not only stupid but fawning.
'Will you know where he is?'
'I can't promise that.'
'You didn't promise the other. When you can let me know.' Turning, he closed the door on my face. By his reaction I'd failed to gain any brownie points and felt the better for it.

Fernyhough hadn't changed in the years since I'd  met him. Most solicitors I met in the course of my job seemed to struggle to conform to their profession. Fernyhough had the look of somebody not in it but above it and it looked completely natural. He got straight to the point, 'Diabolical business, it seems for little sense and less reason. One or two things need clearing up. It's only paper so I didn't bother incase you didn't feel up to it.'  Seemingly Ann had left a small legacy to Joan and the situation being as it was it would go straight to me. Misinterpreting my blank look Fernyhough went on to explain. 'Remember we had wills drawn up for you both when we handled the house purchase.'

I nodded without remembering, 'I've only made this appointment to ask if you'll act for us, me, on the sale of the house.'
'I see. Give me the name of your agent and a date when its reasonable for you to vacate.  My secretary will be in touch when the papers are ready.'
'There's one other problem. Can you tell me where Jim is?'
Fernyhough didn't hesitate, 'No, I can't.’
'Can you say if he's still alive?'
'I've no reason to consider him dead. Have you?'
'They can't find him.'
'Are you asking as his son in law or in your professional capacity?'
'He never turned up for the funeral of his wife, daughter and granddaughters. Doesn't seem to make relationships to him very significant. But, I'm getting the impression you're saying won’t, not can't.
'No, can't is accurate. However if we'd any reason to suppose him dead we would have to take steps to protect his estate. Do you have any reason to suppose that might be the case?'
'He's vanished, not a note or a word. Are you saying he's alive but you can't tell me where he is?'
Fernyhough leaned back in his chair, his tone softened but still matter of fact. 'I'm not taking the easy option and if you do have any knowledge that indicates he may dead I'd like to hear it.'
 Knowing I'd been expertly fielded, I was getting up to leave when Fernyhough added. 'Pat, I'll help in any way I can. That applies to anything except questions on Docherty's confidential affairs.’

On the way back it was Fernyhoughs offer that was claiming my attention and, not wanting to repeat my gaff of the morning, I pulled into a hotel forecourt. Ordering a drink I wieghed the offer against the brush off I'd got from Butler in the morning and wondered if I was being swamped in a diversity of other peoples interests. It was some seconds before I realised the stool next to me had been taken and its occupant was talking to me.
'Sorry, I didn't catch what you said,' initially hiding my annoyance, then wishing I hadn't.
The salesmen, suffering from hotel fatigue, wasn't fazed by my lack of contribution to the conversation. Blackmailing me with a drink he managed to jabber on for the next half hour without giving one opening for me to decently leave. I almost began to admire his technique but managed to break it on his next drink offer and managed to escape clutching the obligatory business card.

There was little I could do but confirm my failure to Butler the following morning.
'So all you're saying is, you're gut’s telling you Docherty's still with us.'
I shrugged, ' It looks that way, but I've no way of proving it.'
'Been to a seance have you. Or is your source solid enough to be questioned?'
For all the acidity I sensed I wasn't about to be pressed,  Butler seemed to have more on his mind. 'If I thought you would get more I'd tell you.'
'Alright, I wont press it but don't fuck with me. Get anything and keep it from me and then there'll be trouble. Meantime I'm heating things up for Mr Docherty’.
Butler’s promise was made public that same evening. Surrounded by the usual papers and the debris of a fish pie I was half watching the news only to shoot awake when  Docherty smiled from the screen. A younger Docherty than the one I'd left at the hotel. Lifted from the photo that had him looking like a fair haired Sinatra. We had the same photograph in the house but it included Ann and had been taken at Emma's christening. I caught up with the news reader – “missing after the tragedy some eight weeks previous - police are anxious to trace - any information etc.” Bemused, I found himself listening to the rest of the news as though it still applied to Docherty.  When the thought struck me I went up to our bedroom. Joan had kept the photo on the dresser. The frame was there, empty and face down. He could have Docherty, but Anne was holding Emma. Bastard wasn't a voyeur, bastard was a thief.

'I see we've gone public.' my attempt at flippancy didn't amuse Fred McGill.
'You saw it last night then, more than I did. I was all set for a good night with a warm companion, then five minutes to signing off and I'm told by the Super to get my butt over to the Manor Hotel and take a bloke in for questioning. Four in the morning before they let him go, an Jesus, the techniques. They frightened me and I was only looking on.'
'Anything to do with my case?'
'What else.'
'You get anything?'
'Not a bloody light. The bloke had no record, wasn't anywhere near on the day. Lives in Cork and works from home for a Swiss tool company. Not that that impressed Butler. He wasn't happy till he'd half of Bern up and got confirmation. All the time the questions came back to - did he know Docherty - where was Docherty - what was Docherty's position in the firm - what were his dealings with Docherty. Then a couple of times, did he know you. Christ Pat what's going on are you and Docherty in the Provos?'
'I think you know better than that Fred.'
'Then what the hell's the Super getting at, I just don't get the line he's taking. Best steer clear of him today he's in a foul mood.'

I was back at my desk before the thought struck him. Breaking the rule I rang Fred, 'That bloke you pulled in, what’s his name?' The name was repeated on the card I fished from my jacket-the sales rep from the hotel. I'd been followed which explained the lack of interest as to who my source was. It gave me some satisfaction to think I'd been the cause of Butlers vile mood, then confusion as to why Fred didn't seem to know about my tail. Or did he?

I was just into the house when Bob rang asking him to come round. His tone telling me it wasn't his usual desperate for a drink invitation. Mary was even less succesfull at hiding her concern. 'Are you in any sort of trouble Pat?'
'Trouble? What makes you think that.'
Bob took over, 'Mary had some visitors today. Two colleagues of yours, wanted to know if you had any visitors. What your movements were. Had there been anybody staying with you. In fact anything she knew by the sounds of it. They were pretty brusque, it shook her up a bit.'
'Probably a couple from the anti terrorist mob, I'll have a word with them. You just relax.'
Keeping my thoughts to myself I allowed a decent interval before taking my leave. Back in the house I put the lights on in the lounge fired up the box then closed the curtains leaving the rest of the house in darkness. For the second time since Joan's death I went into our bedroom and watched from behind the window nets. Twenty minutes gave no sign and a equal time at the rear the same negative result. I checked the phone, no clicks or slushy echo. I went over the house, feeling, opening, searching for bugs only to feel melodramatic when I found none. Tomorrow I'd ask McGill to find out who visited Mary and why. His answer might give me a indication of how much use he was to me. It wasn't yet time to confront him with the tail until I knew who it was tailing me. I let the files lie idle without any feeling of guilt for ignoring them. Maybe the very things that were plaguing me, Docherty's disappearance and my own inactivity, had worked for me. Flushing them, whoever the 'them' were into a reaction.

I put an hour in at work the next day before making my way to the hospital's casualty department. Giving my name and imaginary ailment to the receptionist I waited till I was called. Ignoring the cubicles I followed the signs for X-ray then ducked out a service door. Positioned to scan both the main entrance and service door, I waited for my disappearance to cause more than clinical annoyance. Nothing. Still playing the game I flashed my warrant card and hitched my way out in a contractors van.

My first  call was to the bank then, from a call box, to Fernyhough. If the solicitor was curious he made no comment other than to say it would be done. Most of the day was then given over to coffees, papers and taxi's before I found what I wanted not half a mile from work. It was five years younger the Joan's car but, apart from details, almost identical. Giving the dealer Fernyhoughs office address I paid the deposit and asked for the car to be serviced and ready for collection in two days. Next stop was Listowel Road police station and my old desk sergeant. There I made arrangements to park Joan's red car, ostensibly till the estate had been cleared up. And, thinking I’d been handed the thread I was looking for I got him to get my grenade pin checked out for prints.

Apart from tying up the cars purchase and parking it at Listowel road my next ten days were simply days. Fred had nothing for me other than the names of the two dicks who'd visited Mary. . Beginning to feel my arrangements had been unwarranted, I felt my mind once again surrendering to depression. Settling in front of the box with a six pack tranquilliser I heard the words seconds before the picture crackled to life.

Explosion at the home - Droggan, prominent business man - details still coming in  with the promise of more on the regular news bulletin.

Noting the address I drove straight to it. The scene was all too vivid. Holding to the background I waited to see if  Fred was about.
'That room, '  Fred pointed to the centre of the carnage,' was the dining room. So far we reckon three were having dinner at the time,  Droggan, his wife and a younger female we haven't identified yet. It looks..'
Turning I found Butler behind me.
Fred got the brunt of it, 'You. Start taking statements from the neighbours.' For a moment I thought I was included, until, ‘Just happened to be passing were we Urquhart? I want a report on your movements today, on my desk, first thing in the morning. Now fuck off.’ . The bastard was treating me as a suspect. Fuming, I went back to the station, wrote the report, made a copy for my boss, along with a request for a replacement warrant card, explaining I’d destroyed  my present one. Butler's report had a note requesting a meeting the following morning.

I waited two days for the meeting and the wait didn't bother me. The following night I'd gone back to the station hoping to catch Fred when Butler wasn't about. Swinging into the car park a car coming out forced me to brake hard, but not before I noticed the car behind me park opposite the entrance. I didn't bother with Fred,  a couple of minutes and I was out again, before they'd have time to change cars. On the way home I played with the idea of giving them something  to chew on. Rejecting it in favour of finding out how committed they were to persevere on boring detail.

 The third body had been identified as Droggan's daughter. A laughing face filled the screen - the couple's only child. Followed by the eulogies of neighbours to excite pity then Butler live. Serious, sonorous, omnipotent, the speaker with authority and I realised my hate for him was visceral and couldn't understand why. 'Fuck you,' was hurled at his image. Stupid, but the sod was getting to me.

 Our relationship didn't improve with the meeting. Butler started on about tip toeing round peoples feelings, about Docherty’s absence; my interference and lack of professionalism. I called him a pompous arsehole, adding. 'The only thing you've got going for you is that you're fair. In case you think that's a compliment, I mean by fair your probably a bastard to everybody.' Slamming the door I didn't care whether Butler wanted the right of reply or not. That came later when my D.I sent for me.
'Pat, its been decided you're to take the months compassionate now. You're understandably under stress and it's reflecting in your attitude.'
'I take it I've no choice.'
'None. Butler wanted suspension, this's the best I could do.' Softening his voice to indicate the instruction was over he added, 'Pack a bag Pat and get off to the sun. I know it'll solve nothing but it'll put distance between you and by the time you get back it'll have blown over.'
'Did you see the bastard asked me for a report at Droggans. All my movements for the day. What's he thinking, I've killed my own family?'
'Nobody thinks that Pat. I think you just rub one another up the wrong way.'
I ignored the travel agents on the way home. One thing was clear, if I was a suspect my boss wasn't in on it. Suspects were rarely advised to take trips to the Sun, so why bother tailing me? My phone started ringing as I put the key in the lock, Fernyhoughs secretary wanted to know if I could be at the office for three that afternoon. I made it easy for any tail on the way to the solicitors. There was no reason to show my hand on a open errand. After quarter of an hour I thought I'd got to the bottom of the pencilled crosses waiting for my signature and was ready to leave. Fernyhough advised me I wasn't quite finished and asked if I'd mind waiting. Three twenty his desk phone rang and asking the receptionist to hold he handed the phone to me and asked for me to wait until he was out of the room. As the door closed the line was connected.

'Hello Pat, it's time we had a talk.'
Memorising the instruction, I warned him I was being followed.
'I'll leave you to handle that.'
Trying to select one from the million questions I wanted to ask left me stumbling in silence, a fact appreciated by Docherty.
'Not now Pat. Not over the phone, we'll have plenty of time when we meet.'
Fernyhough came back as I was replacing the phone, his expression the essence of probity. ' Thank you for coming in Pat. It  looks as though we're finally getting connections.' My brain was too confused to ask what he meant by that.

Now I did go to the travel agents. Showing my warrant card had me conducted to the rear exit. At a gents outfitters I bought a coat. Reversible, one side a neutral grey the other a tweedy check, I got accessories of a tweed hat and a pair of pigskin gloves. A tobacconists yielded a fairly prominent pipe along with a short lesson on how to prime it. From the chemist, I got a pair of sunglasses. The type that reacted to the light and in the winter dull of Dublin would look like ordinary glasses. I did the switch that evening. Parking in my normal slot and with the coat showing its least conspicuous side I ambled past the watchers car.  Ordering a double in the pub, I lingered over it for twenty minutes until the rush of thirsty bodies told me it was time to move. With the coat reversed and the props added, I stood in the door and lit the pipe in full view. Awarding him zero for observation I adopted a military stride and struggling with the pipe marched right past him and on to the embankment for a taxi. It was the same driver, obviously they weren't bothered with shift changes. At Listowel Road I cursed myself for the oversight. The engine was turning slow on a nearly flat battery. Closing my eyes and forcing myself to relax I refused it permission to play on my stupidity. The mind supreme, I turned the key, got a growling burp and it fired. Using only sidelights, I was on my way.

Finding a niche between wagons towards the rear of the transport cafe I’d ten minutes to wait before a truck with enough lights to flood a football pitch did a complete sweep of the park, then start to reverse towards me stopping about five meters in front. The driver gave a quick check to the units side door for the benefit of any onlookers before squeezing through, opening the rear and sliding out two ramps. Car and I were inside within a minute and I was told I'd find dungarees and donkey jacket in the cab and to get them on. I was still pulling on the overalls when the driver climbed in and completed the parking. It seemed we were going to eat before going on to wherever it was I was expected.

© under author's copyright

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4


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