Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Journeyman - Chapter 7


The days had passed easily enough for me on the boat. I'd got the message of  Thursday's meet before I’d began to worry too much. What I hadn't done was firmed up anything that could be qualified as a sketch let alone a plan of my intentions. The problem was mainly one of capability. What was I capable of on my own. And what would I be capable of with the backing of an organisation that I could sympathise with it's aims but often not with its methods. How much would they be able, or willing, to help and what would it end up costing me. I hadn't a clue on any of these, so I concentrated on what I reckoned I could cope with; my personal vendetta. 

I'd refined it to three victims. Virus was the director of the power station. He would be the penitent for his mistress, the government. I gave the bank the title Leech. No business could survive once they'd been declared diseased; and none could survive their purgative cures. I'd selected the head of their law department. A position I thought especially apposite since between the bank and the law they'd made sure I hadn't the funds to sue for justice. My last victim was to be the receiver. I called him Vulture for both the job he did and the corrupt way he did it. All three wouldn't make a atom of change to the universe of the system and with luck they'd be dead before they pondered too long on the angst of being a victim. When I considered the misery they'd put me and my family through I felt it was almost humane. Perhaps too humane.

My efforts to capture the interest of the Irish had came up with nothing more than a daydream. A cartoon of anarchy and revolution that would be great if humour was its backbone. But then hadn't I vowed to leave all my scruples behind. I'd let it flow and if that's what they call fatalism, I hoped it wouldn't apply literally.

Ten twenty Thursday the revelation was down to a soft glow and the panache disappeared when two heavy bodies hauled themselves up on the boat causing my gut  to swing with it. Cautiously climbing the companionway my first contact was a boot in the chest. A boot that unceremoniously, but very effectively, launched me on to the port berth. Nor was I particularly enamoured when a sizeable, fairly wafty, backside sat on my gasping chest closer to my nose than was tolerable. Meanwhile the backsides right hand was casually poking something hard and cold behind my left ear. I decided not to struggle and didn't complain when his companion searched the boat without permission. Satisfied, he gave the okay to a third body still in the dinghy. We all listened while the body took a crash course on the fine art of transferring itself from a skittish dinghy. In the meantime the searcher took the bottle and four glasses from the locker above my head. It was that fourth glass that triumphed hope over diarrhoea. I'd begun to feel a bit inadequate. Not surprising when you have a gun in your ear and a arse stuck a yard nearer your nose than its owners. As my third visitor stumbled his way down into the cabin, ballast was instructed to let me up.
Eyeing me in between inspecting the grazes on his shins, the bloke looked more puzzled than me by the situation he found himself in. 'I take it you're Cameron?'
I managed a nod.
'I've a message for you. The thing you've arranged to collect will be with you at five on Saturday morning. You're to leave as soon as it's on board or you wont be leaving at all. Got that?'
I struggled to get any depth in my voice when I confirmed and, for the first time in a warm environment, felt my scrotum pucker.
'We'll c'mon then. You're supposed to have a proposition that Docherty thinks might interest us. Let's hear it.'
I lit a cigarette and a gulp of whisky hoping I would choke and gain a bit more time. I didn't choke, drew a blank on inspiration and found myself repeating, with some additional frills, the outline I'd put forward to Docherty.
'We'll that's a grand job you'll be doing, once you know what it is. Maybe then you can tell us and we can decide whether we want to be involved or not.'
At least they were listening so I tried to up the flow. 'Not involved exactly, more the opposite. Instead of you exporting problems we encourage the home grown. I'm  looking to be trained in the tricks of the trade and I'm sure your organisation will have intelligence that's maybe no use to you but could be used by me. Talk it out amongst yourselves and if I can come up with a scheme that interests you or you have one that could interest me, then give me a method of contacting you.'
I felt quite pleased with myself when they left. Almost smiled instead of looked concerned when the big fella did the splits getting back into the dinghy. His roar was probably heard in Dublin.
Frank was having diffeculty with all this and in more ways than sodding dinghies. Why would Jim be interested in this bloke and his crazy ambitions.. Tie that in with this mysterious item to be delivered on the Saturday. The precise time of the delivery and Jim's promised reappearance on the Monday and something was going down he may regret not knowing about. He made a decision he wasn't happy about but couldn't see any option. 'I'm going to give you a phone number. It's not the normal way we do business, so when your on keep to a normal conversation unless I tell you otherwise. Use it to ring me next Thursday at the same time and, if we decide to use you, we'll set up proper lines of communication. Meantime, you'll be watched until you leave Saturday.'
Frank had a gut feeling he was about to get deeper involved than he'd ever been before. This guy's ideas couldn't be handled within the firm and Jim would have known that, so why involve him? The promise to do nothing until the Monday was irritating though he did have an option. One that he rejected as soon as he'd considered it, he'd  leave it for Jim to decide. Helping Dave return the dinghy while Ronnie collected the wagon, he watched its lights disappear before he realised Ronnie hadn't returned the pistol.

I didn't feel tired. In fact watching the dinghy's progress through the fingers of the reflected shore lights, with my glass refilled and hope resealing my arse, I considered it a great night. A night for reflection. 
Some time before, in a maelstrom of confusion grasping for a purpose I'd looked up the word 'anarchist'. It said one who believes in and advocates anarchism. So I looked up anarchism. That it said was a theory that all forms of government are incompatible with individual and social liberty and should be abolished. Now what's theoretical about that. I would have thought that was  perhaps the only, fundamental fact in history. It then went on to define anarchy as first; absence of government. O.k. Utopia. Second lawless confusion and political disorder. Both normal every day facts and ambitions of political life, so why define it as purely pertinent to anarchy. Then I found a heading called philosophic anarchism. This, seemingly, is the advocacy of voluntary co-operation and mutual aid as a substitute for the coercive power of the state. 
So there you have it, not from me who has diffeculty interpreting the esoteric meanings behind the scripted abbreviations, but from the wizards of academia. A pre-defined constitution to make all states redundant. The ultimate goal of an advanced humanity once they've overcome apathy and defeated the fuckwits of raw power. I had, without straining too much in thought, in fact almost flippantly, completely redefined myself. I would, after I'd killed the Virus, Leech and Vulture, adopt non violent means to achieve my objectives and become a philosophic anarchist. . God forgive me, I could have got drunk on power, but having none, I got drunk on whisky instead and wondered how my  thesis would have gone down with my Irish friends.

I'd little to do on the Friday other than wonder why everything that looked so grand and clear the night before looked plain stupid in the morning. That and stocking up the boat. Paying for the provisions made me realise, grand plans apart, I'd soon have to do something about my currency reserves. I decided to use the week before I heard from them to come up with a solution then, in defiance, spent the evening in the steak house. 
Saturday morning and sober, I had the boat alongside the jetty by four thirty. The rest of the time I filled in setting tides and course to Bardsey, not that they were needed but it was better than chain smoking and nail chewing. Five and there was the thud of a delivery landing on deck before the heel of the boat told me someone was following it. Easing my head out of the hatch I saw Pat struggling to get a suitcase threaded through the rigging. 'What the hell have you got that thing for?' I asked, well it was five in the morning and I wasn't that sober.
'Just take the bloody thing off me will you.'
Doing as I was told, I dropped the case on the cabin sole and waited for Pat to catch up with his box of canned beer.
'Bloody knackered me carrying that lot from the ferry terminal. Just give me a minute to get my breath.'
Ushering him down below because the way he was dressed made him look like a pig in a boutique, I prodded the case with my foot and asked, 'What's in it? I know what I’m expecting, but it didn't need this to carry it and I don't drink beer.'
'We want you to do us a favour. if you agree you get your two hundred back.'
Fuck, I should have known, bastards want me to smuggle a case packed with explosives in to Wales. Not the start I hadn't planned for. 'Sorry it's not on, I asked for a gun and paid for it, I'm not taking chances like that for a couple of hundred.'
Pat shoved his hand in the pocket of his sports coat, 'Chances like what?'
'That bloody case, there could be anything in it.'
He laughed, 'Calm down, the only thing in that case that would cause you any problems is the gun and its rounds. The rest is clothes, and that's the favour. We want you to take me over with you.'
I tried to sort this one out, the request sounded reasonable which made it all the more puzzling. No it bloody wasn't, this bloke was on the run. Though that didn't seem to tie in with his attitude on the Sunday and Monday. Then he was trying to get into the U.K. by the back door. Which didn't particularly bother me but it gave me a reason to ask, 'Why? If you go by ferry you'll find it quicker and cheaper and more in keeping with the way you're dressed.'
'It's a long story and don't worry I'm not in trouble with the police. I simply want to get out of Ireland in the least conspicuous way possible.'
'That's  the reason I asked why? You still haven't answered.'
'I can't tell you except it's nothing you need worry about.'
'Christ man, you keep chuntering on. I tell you we're not moving till I'm satisfied.'
Sighing Pat tipped the clothes out of the case and collected the pistol. I know it's cliche'd but it was all in slow motion. I remember thinking I still had time to get on my knees and beg for mercy, but I never moved. I knew then heroics was funk. He started to talk, that was at normal speed and almost kindly.
'Look, I can't prove I'm not in trouble but that's not your problem. Your problem is what you're going to do about it. Are you going to stay here, start off, try to throw me off or get the police to throw me off.' To add considerable weight to his argument he showed me how to fit a silencer on to the muzzle, 'You're getting this free.' he grinned.
Thinking, there was perhaps a lesson to be learnt in this, I opted for the opportunity to absorb and possibly utilise it. Telling him to stay below until we'd cleared the harbour, I spent the next half hour setting sail and course and generally working out my rage on the boat. Eventually I reasoned I'd hardly been in a position to argue and if they were taking advantage of me, that was exactly my intention with them. Settling down I overhauled the sheets and set the boat shouldering deep into the short choppy sea. At least it would make the sods ride in the cabin a struggle between where to park and where to puke. Sort of idiots interpretation of, Sic Transit Gloria. We were off South Burford before I'd time to glance down at my victim. The gun was thrown back amongst the clothes and, whistling through his teeth, he was trying to light the cooker.
'Thought I'd make us some coffee but I can't get this to light.' His tone normal, almost cheerful.
I gave up and pointing out the gas cut off valve, eased the sheets then told him how I liked my coffee. Five minutes later he handed me the mug then joined me in the cockpit saying nothing to break the peaceful solitude of a yacht facing the open sea. I left it for fifteen minutes before I went down below. The gun was still amongst his clothes and the fact he seemed unconcerned told me just to leave it. Fiddling with the VHF as an excuse I gave the other contents of his case the once over. Three items looked out of place and apart from the gun none could be called threatening but, maybe that's what I was supposed to think.
'Bloody great thing on our left. What is it?'
Bloody great things on our left, coming out of Dun Laoghaire are either bloody great ferries going in or going up to Dublin docks and since they're the dolphin and you're the sprat and how far left isn't specified. You tend not to spend too much time guessing what it could be, though this time it was no more than the expected Kish light. 
'Not a bad life this sailing, though there seems a lot more to it than you'd think with all these ropes.'
I shrugged, mainly because this was getting ridiculous. First I'm threatened and forced to do something I don't want to do then made to feel like a spoilt kid having a fit of pique and I couldn't quite keep it out of my voice. 'It's like everything else I suppose, simple enough once you understand.' Oh huffy, so I offered him a cigarette in my normal voice and hoped he'd know he'd nothing to worry about. 
We were three hours out and about quarter way across before I was turning the pistol over in my hands. I'd been told the name and calibre but I was absorbed by the feel of the thing. The sharp machined edges matched the cold precision serration's of the handle, every part designed to maim and draw blood. Except for the trigger, it introduced sensuous curves as though seducing the finger to explore and squeeze. I'd to remind myself this was a lump of metal, an inanimate tool with neither care or motive, that was my job and, if it was supposed to give a feeling of power it didn't. Though I have to admit it was better holding it that feeling it held against you. With Ireland a haze beyond our wake and nothing else in sight I decided it was time to learn how to use it.
'Pat grinned, 'You'll have to load it first. There's a couple of packs of rounds in the side pocket of the case. Here's the key.'
'You mean it's not loaded?'
'Do I look the type who'd go around waiving loaded guns about.'
As it happens he did, 'You sod. That's twice its happened to me in the last few days and it's not very pleasant. Happens again and my nerves will be too shot to get anything going.'
'What thing's that Brian?'
'Nothing, just leave it.' I tried a few shots using rubbish that would float for targets. Then I decided I was being too hard on myself and tied a fender to a line and towed it about twenty feet back. Half a packet of rounds later the fender was returned to its locker untouchedt. My childhood lay in tatters. Saturday's and their matinees, a church of lies. The spinning gun from the outlaws hand was because he'd thrown it and the stupid bloody grin on the face of the Irishmen wasn't any encouragement either.
'Not so easy is it? They reckon the average shooting with a hand gun, if its to stand any chance, has to be around two meters and then it's usually the shock that kills.'
'Aye well with me it looks as though I'll have to rely on fright.'
'What do you want the thing for anyway?'
'The answers the same as the one you gave me when you came onboard this morning.'
'Touch'e, it's just that you don't look the type.'
If I was being honest with myself I could have told Pat I didn't feel like the type either, but I wasn't ready to give in yet, ' Maybe not and probably I don't look like a bum either.'
Pat ignored the sharpness, 'Do you know most professionals use the point twenty two.' the bastard smiled when he saw the look on my face. 'It's more effective for the close stuff and if you only want to wound the shock won’t kill and if it's to kill the bullet won’t pass through. Shoot somebody in the head with that thing you've got and it could leave them uncomfortably close but still with a chance. But the little twenty two gets in but it can't get out so it rumbles all about. Its other advantage is the bullet subsonic. Only a sharp pop, no need for a silencer.'
'Bloody hell man, you seem well up on all this.'
'Takes years of experience before you know all the tricks.'
'Shit, an here was me just beginning to believe I'd nothing to worry about ferrying you across.'
'Yup, fifteen years in my profession and you can't help picking up snippets like that. Just thought it would help to pass a couple on.'
Ok, this was surreal but not enough to be comfortable, so I had to ask, 'You're a hit man then?'
'No a policeman.'
I don't know how I looked as a gawp, but it obviously tickled Pat and by the time  he spluttered back to earth his mirth had affected me.
'I'm sorry, oh jumpin Jesus, I was raggin you.' More laughs as breath was sucked in. 'But the look on your face, Jesus,' then eyes wiped with the back of the hand. ' Christ Brian, this's something I haven't done for ages. Look I left the force more'n a year back and I'm not kidding when I tell you I'm not in any trouble.'
I was calming down a bit but still not entirely convinced, 'Were you an expert on firearms then.'
Pat shook his head, 'No, we all got training on how to use them but they've never interested me. When you aim point low and squeeze don't pull the trigger. That and after you use them clean them is my entire education on these things.'

I spent the next half hour doing exactly that while Pat juggled with the radio to get the Irish news. He listened all the way through with enough concentration that towards the end began to look like a frown. He switched off when the sports reporters began to entice the supporters with the dramas taking place in Irelands arenas that afternoon. He asked
'Can you get the station in England?'
'Don't know about that, but you can get it clear as a bell on the Welsh coast. You were obviously expecting to hear something and haven't?'
'It's a bit early yet Brian. But if I hear nothing by Sunday night I'll have to head back.'
'We'll, if you do it'll make it an expensive trip. Which is my way of reminding you that you haven't gave me the money back.'
Having drifted into a daydream Pat apologised, handed the same notes I'd paid with back, then got on with his thoughts. I used the space to try and weigh up the man. Whatever he'd been listening for was none of my business. Yet by the look of him it was all he cared about. It made me wonder, if you had two loners  in a isolated spot, did you half the loneliness or double it. Coming back from my own daydream the conundrum had lead me into I found Pat had reversed the roles and was watching me.
'You any family Brian?'
'Oh, I'm sorry.' And I knew he meant it.
'The same.'
'Then I'm sorry as well. Is that the reason for the jewellery box and the two teddies in the case.'
Pat seemed to consider for some time and still seemed to be considering when he began to answer. Hearing his story I realised I still had something compared to Pat. I had something to aim for whatever the cost, he'd nothing. I didn't grudge him that laugh. Going below I poured two hefty snorts and handed him his.
'Here's to the pair of us. I don't know why you're here, but I'm on my way back and this time it's on no buggers terms but mine.'
Pat gave a slow smile, 'Good for you. All I've to do now is wait and if I get the news I want to hear I've little to kick back at. If not I'll have plenty to kick and at the moment I'm not sure which I prefer.'
'When do you expect to hear?'
'Perhaps later on today but more likely Sunday, Monday latest. If I hear nothing by then I'll head back.'
'You said Sunday before. Look Pat it's entirely up to you but if you want to make it Monday we can hang about on the boat. Then if there's no news I'll take you to Holyhead for the ferry.' The concession forced me to change the plan. Once through the sound I steered behind the headland and dropped the hook off Aberdaron. We'd stay the night, leave for Abersoch around midday then another night on the mooring. That evening, having dressed Pat more appropriately we headed in to the pub as the Sun gave its promise to the morning and I realised I know longer regarded his precence as a threat.
On the Friday night Brian was eating at the Steak house  Jim Docherty was almost satisfied with the latest version of his written statement. Included with the reports and files they made a damning but useless indictment until they could give the names of the damned. It would have been easier to compose if he hadn't had to worry about exposing the movement which also prevented him from incorporating the killing of Fred McGill. Feeling guilty for his exclusion he then made a completely separate, report of it. At the last moment, he signed ten blank sheets and included them in the package. If Fernyhough was involved, perhaps he could compose a more wrinkle free document. He'd asked Ronnie to get him a tape recorder and had spent some time testing its ability to record from varying distances. Five minutes to four, Saturday morning and he heard the soft footsteps of Ronnie just as the kettle began its keening whistle, he felt almost human when he answered the quiet tap on the door.
'Everything's fine Ronnie and thanks for all your help. Have the car running about twenty past and when I hear you back inside I'll leave.'
Pouring the tea he glanced at the medicine bottles, four full and enough left in the fifth for a last swig and the tea to wash it down. Watching the minute hand swing to the vertical he hoped it would kick in before he had to speak. He'd rehearsed what he hoped to say but it was both too much and not enough. Praying for the wisdom of Solomon he knew he'd have to struggle with the wisdom of Docherty. He took a breath before he picked the ringing phone up.
'You all right Jim? It's me Pat.'
Docherty closed his eyes and forced his words through a closing throat, 'Pat it's all arranged and I know he's at home. Don't worry if you hear nothing for a while, they may try to cover it up so don't be hasty. Believe me I'll get it done for both our sakes.'
'One thing I want you to know Jim. I was wrong; it wasn't your fault any more than it was mine with Fred. Get it over with and I'll see you soon.'
'Yes Jim.'
'I loved them all you know, you included. All the best to you Son.' He broke the connection and left the phone off the hook. Less than a minute to say good-bye to the last of his family. He'd to give himself five minutes before he could start on the rite of justice.
'Wicklow 3894.' the voice slurred with sleep.
'Sorry to disturb you Mr Quinn, it's Jim Docherty.'
'Who? Oh yes Jim,' struggling for sense, 'just a minute Jim, I'll take the call downstairs. Won't be a minute.'
Waiting, Jim heard a click then a voice that had gathered authority, 'Right Jim what's so urgent you have to ring me at this hour. I thought you were having a well earned retirement.'
He lathered on the unction, 'Yes I'm sorry about the time Mr Quinn but it's imperative I speak to you. It's about a policeman called Butler who I can prove
engineered the murder of my family and Droggans.' pausing for effect he got the shaky voice he wanted.
'Are you sure about this?'
'Absolutely and, what's more, we know it's your friend Mrs Dellows who's feeding the information to him.'
'How do you know about? No never mind, you obviously do so it doesn't matter.'
Got him, now polite but harder. 'I'm not interested in you're infidelities Mr Quinn, I want the bastard who destroyed my family and a bitch shut up who's using you to destroy the movement. Now since it's going to take me some time to get there I suggest we meet at her house around six tonight and get the truth out of her.'
'Does anybody else know about this?'
'That's part of the problem, it needs somebody like yourself to decide how best to tackle it without exposing yourself or the movement.'
'Yes I can see that Jim and appreciate you calling me. I need time to think but for now let's agree to six.'
Not for now Mr Quinn, that's when I'll be there. If you agree I'll be on my own, if not I'll take some people and handle it.'
'Your right, I will be there by six.'
'Thanks Mr Quinn. Oh, one other thing, could you do me a favour and get some medicine for me. If you could bring it with you I'm sorely in need of it.' Reading out the name on the bottle, he heard it repeated, then thanking him rang off. He reckoned it wouldn't be many minutes before the line heated up between Wicklow and Dublin and the time he'd given them put him a long way away and the medicine said he was ill. If, as he hoped, Quinn checked it out it should stop them from worrying at all. He put two coat liners on as padding before drowning himself in Pats jacket and coat. The medicine bottles he distributed round the inside pockets the pistol and spare rounds was in his right hand coat. Pats hat was several sizes too large, but the rolled ski mask could be hidden under. A quick check told him his appearance stopped short enough of ridiculous to be acceptable at a glance. Hearing Ronnies door close, he gave the room and himself the once over and left.

Ten to five, he'd recognised the house and on Pat's instruction parked by the sub station. They'd gone over the layout but now he wanted to get it three dimensional. Avoiding the gravel he made his way between the garage and the house and on to a pristine lawn that muffled his steps and led round to a garden of landscaped proportions. As they'd suspected the rear was it's best aspect, with a conservatory running the length of the ground floor matched by a balcony out from the first. The side light of a French window on the right was open about six inches. Rejecting any possibility of burglary he continued round the house and rang the door bell. He'd to ring twice more and wait five minutes before a female voice asked who it was.
'Police Madam, I'll put my warrant card through the letter box.'
He breathed a sigh of relief when he heard the security chain being removed before the lock turned. It was Pat who told him people always take the chain off if they're confident of who they're opening the door to. He didn't know if there was anything else they should have thought of but everything relied on the next few seconds.
As the door opened beyond its frame he kicked it hard catching her off balance and exposed. Stepping through he grabbed her, swung her round till her back was pressed to him and kicked the door shut.  She was fitter than him, probably stronger with a healthy pair of lungs. If it wasn't for the pistol pressing into her breast he'd have probably felt disadvantaged. Trying to hide the effect of his exertions he said, 'Mrs Dellows it's up to you. Do as you're told and there's no need for you to be hurt. Quick now, back to your bedroom.'

The room, as with the little he noticed of the house on their way upstairs was frilly chintz with the brass four poster as its centrepiece. Her surprise was turning into sobs of fear and now he'd to complete her submission. Raising the muzzle from her back to the nape of her neck, he kept his voice to a whisper.
'Take off the dressing gown Mrs Dellows.' Then gritted his teeth as the night-gown was revealed,' And the gown please.' he saw the sobs racking into trembling flesh and her knees begin to falter. Still in the whisper, 'Lie on the bed Mrs Dellows, face down and towards the bottom with your hands through the bars.' Her face pressed to the covers muffling her sobs he slipped the cuffs over her wrists. He'd taken the ground, now he'd to prepare the trap.

Out of her bedroom, he'd known the part he had to act would be abhorrent, but that didn't make it any easier. His priority now was to check they really were alone and then find out her arrangement for today. A quick tour proved the house was empty and confirmed a more detailed inspection advisable. Before going back into the bedroom he pulled the ski mask back down then taking the dressing table stool he set it in front of her and walked round to her side.  Slowly, almost caressingly, he let the guns muzzle feather down her spine until it nestled at the valley of her waist. He'd watched the muscles tense and heard the sobs turn to a keening wail before the slump and silence told him she'd fainted. That's just about the least of your worries, but he didn't say it out loud though she wouldn't have heard if he had. Settled on the stool he waited till her head lifted and the moan said she'd recognised reality. He used the whisper again.
'Right Mrs Dellows, are you going to behave or must I make it more uncomfortable for you. No don't answer that. You're not in a position to say no, are you really. We'll see how you pass the test. First thing's first, have you had a phone call from Mr Quinn this morning.'
The shaking head gave him her answer.
'That's fine Mrs Dellows. Now tell me all of your plans for today. Everything, friends expected or expecting you, appointments, cleaning woman or gardener. Everything you can think of and anything that might happen.'
'What are you going to do to me?' The words were shaky but there was a shimmer of spirit in the eyes.
By not answering he challenged that spirit, by keeping his voice low and cold he confirmed her humiliation, 'Mrs Dellows just answer my questions quickly and truthfully.'
Her words stammered as the confusion in her mind tried to remember  trivia. As they'd hoped, by choosing the weekend he'd have no problems with gardeners or cleaners. She'd a lunch appointment before going to her hairdresser then dinner with friends in the evening. Jim knew the friends from Pat's previous efforts. Mistaking his silence she'd quickly added, at their place not here.
'Then nobody's expected here?'
'No, but people do drop in.' The shimmer was back.
He gave himself time to think. The chance visitor needed to be catered for and in a way that would reassure rather than alarm. According to the bedside clock it was five forty three, if he moved now he could have her car in  a garage and be back in little over an hour. That didn't cover the problem of Quinn ringing while he was out. 'When you go out normally do you take a car?'
'Unless I'm playing golf or just going round to a friend I take taxis.'
'Where do you keep your clubs?'
'The boot of the car.'
'Car keys?'
'In the car. I never bother to take them out. Unless it's the Merc you want they're in the drawer of the hall table.'
'Has Quinn a set of keys and what's his normal arrangement when he's due here?'
'He rings first and tells me when he expects to arrive. He doesn't mind if I'm here or if I go out but, if I have any visitors or any are expected I've to get rid of them.'
'You mean men friends?'
'Good lord no. If I've understood you correctly, I mean plain simple friends.'
'Good Mrs Dellows, you are being very sensible and helpful. Who else has a key, for instance does Butler have one.'
'No he only comes round when Liam's here. Usually they go straight through to the dining room and discuss whatever it is they're meeting about. Occasionally I'm invited to join them if they're celebrating something, but I'm never told what it is. That's about all I have to do with Butler.'
'You've no idea what they're celebrating?'
She shook her head, 'They never talk about it and it isn't that often.'
'I hope you don't Mrs Dellows. For your sake, I hope you don't.' the pistols black eye pointed between her own brought the wall of control she'd been building crashing down.
Lightening his voice he gave her back some hope, 'I expect you'll get a call from Quinn today, could be quite soon. It's very important you act normally and don’tt give the slightest hint that I'm here. You must answer exactly as I tell you. Have I made myself clear Mrs Dellows.'
Getting the 'Yes,' he wanted he took the phone and checked it's lead was long enough to reach her head then replaced it. 'How do you like your tea Mrs Dellows?' 
She looked at him, her confusion condensed by the mundane question as though her answer was the key from her here or her eternity. 'It's coffee. It's black coffee I drink. With one sugar.'
'Black with one sugar it is then. I don't need to tell you it's useless struggling and I doubt anybody bar me will hear you if you shout. Try either and I'll be forced to gag, spread-eagle and bind you. It'll only add to your discomfort.'
Checking the French doors were locked he confirmed her inability to reach anything to either raise an alarm or prise her free. Once clear of the bedroom he prised off the infernal mask and made his way out of the house to the garage. It was the work of minutes to remove the clubs from the Renault boot and slide them beneath the Mercedes, another minute had the Renaults front nearside tyre flat as a fluke. Back in the house, he latched the door and the security chain, eased out of his padding, set the kettle to boil and started his survey. 
The first floor landing had eight doors leading off it. Three were to bedrooms similar to the one Dellows was in, three to smaller bedrooms without the advantage of ensuites. Of the two remaining, one was to a large airy bathroom, the other into a small landing then the stairs to the attic. Downstairs the dining room was to the right of the panelled hall. The wall between it and the lounge that made up the rest of the right side of the floor, had double sliding doors allowing the rooms to be opened into one. Making his way through the lounge with it's antique mahogany and walnut furniture, he checked the door in the conservatory was locked and bolted. The left hand had a smaller sitting room with French doors to the conservatory, he checked these and found them locked. Next to it was a study and beneath the stairs was a door that lead to the utilities lobby. On one side a cloakroom before it went on to the kitchen and pantry. A dull hollowness to his footstep and a brass ring flush with the floor told him he'd found the access to the cellar. Most helpful of all was the rack behind the stair door and the neatly labelled keys that filled it. You could tell the quality of the older house by the keys employed to ensure its privacy. Except for the door to Dellows room and the one under the stairs he locked every door in the house. Once he'd the coffee perked and nicely tray'd he locked the door under the stairs as well.

Mask and padding in place, he slid the tray on the stool and without thinking put the cup and saucer in her hand.
'Will you take it till I sit up.' Kneeling as modestly as she could, she crooked her elbows round the top bar and keeping her eyes averted from him began to sip. He couldn't help but notice she was a well built woman as the crease marks on her breasts, belly and thighs where she'd lain on the crumpled covers began to ease themselves out. Her bold front, in the rhetorical sense, shamed him but she hadn't earned any reason for hope yet. Waiting till she'd finished and telling her to make herself comfortable, he left to do the same thing on the couch in the landing. Now he'd baited the trap, all that was left was to spread the lure.

The face in the cauldron was that of a stranger. Dead, bloated, dull warted eyes, the leering lips grimacing round the abyss mouth. He was there in the trap with the cauldron drumming to the cantor, steaming without any sense of fire or heat only hate. The grey horse swept by swollen, naked torsoed people, featureless faced, knowing yet uncaring and unaware. Spiked balls of metal gripped in their hands. Ann was beside him his hands on the reins and he knew it was her. Cloaked from head to toe, a depth of infinitey under her cowl but knowing her presence, just as he knew the track they were travelling. He was wondering why her voice could come from where there was no face and why the limbs ranged round the cauldron like long dead flowers looked familiar. He could feel the sweat, see it pearl on the hands that held the reins as the cowl of Ann turns towards him and the drumming becomes......, a ringing. He let it ring till reality had focused and he'd wiped the sweat from his face and hands. 

Masked up, he reminded her of how she was to react and waited with his finger on the cradle and every molecule of his being crossed for luck. This was one of the its. A screamed warning or unknown code and he'd be left with killing her and probably leaving it to others, hopefully not Pat, to hunt down a warned prey. Lying next to her, ear to ear, he tensed as she gave her number.
'Yes Butler, what is it?'
'Quinns been on. He's expecting a visitor at your place to day, wants you out by four.'
Shielding the mouth piece Docherty whispered, 'Tell him you're going out anyway but you'll have to back around seven to change for the evening.'
Her rendition was flawless.
'I don't know when he wants you back. I suggest you wait until half seven before you ring to see if it's clear.' Butler broke the connection.
'Apparently Mr Butler doesn't think much of you Mrs Dellows, any reason for it?'
'Haven't a clue, doesn’t seem to think much of anybody.’
'Never mind Mrs Dellows. Sometime between four and seven thirty and it'll all be over. Until it is, your choice is whether to be a co-operative and quiet Mrs Dellows or a dead Mrs Dellows. I'm not interested in you, but if you're not co-operating, your threatening. Can't have that, so I'll kill you.’
Apart from two calls, easily handled, they were left to their separate fears. Resting as much as he could without allowing sleep to torment him Jim left it till two before making a snack for them both. That was a struggle by the lack of food in the house. So cold meat and some suspect bread made palatable, though doing his gut no good, with some dressing had to do. Back at three he told her this was probably the last chance he would have to let her use the toilet and, genuinely embarrassed, kept his back to her. Once he'd secured her on the bed, he threw the sheet over.

Butler swung into the drive at six minutes past four. He rang the bell once and getting no answer went back to his car to wait. Docherty could hear the strains of Beethoven's sixth dancing through to him. Not particularly apt for Butler but perhaps for him the joy of the harvest. He was in position, shielded by the lobby door to the cloakroom. The front door acting as a blind until it was fully open and the dining room in full view. If Dellows had told the truth it would be the room they made for, if not, well with all the doors locked it wouldn't matter. Butler would be the one most like to be carrying a piece. Checking his own he cocked it then eased the safety and felt the thump of his heart pump the adrenaline through him. Trying for calm was useless, he'd just have to hope it kept pumping. The crunch of tyres on gravel and a car door closing. He pictured Quinn paying the taxi. His mass of shining silvery hair the honest welcoming face. Beethoven was silenced, the crunch of feet on gravel, voices grumbling. The rattle of keys then voices suddenly clear as the door swings open.
Quinn, 'Bloody nuisance this, I'd practically forgot he existed. Did you getanything on that son in law of his?' Quinn was in, turning to wait for Butlers answer, the front door clicked closed when the bark of the pistol surprised even Docherty. He'd got the bugger. Didn't know where or how bad, but Butler was down and going nowhere. Quinn seemed to take minutes to realise. He turned, eyes wide and frantic found Docherty and gave a quivering smile, 'Jim, I.' Docherty fired twice thinking the first had missed but it hadn't, merely shrouded by the coat still clutched to his gut. The second had taken his right shoulder blasting shattered bone then him against the wall. His legs collapsed each pivoting awkwardly. The smell of piss and shit competing with that of cordite for pride of vileness. Whether Quinns whimpers were conscious or unconscious didn't matter he was out of the game. It was Butler that demanded his attention. Finding the gun still clipped in its holster he took a second set of cuffs and slipped them over Butlers wrists. Only then did he notice the wetness of the left arm pit and the bloody course beginning to pool in the cupped hand.

Any thoughts he had of prolonging Quinns agony had gone by the time he returned to the pathetic quivering heap sprawled amongst its own blood and mire. The eyes showed abject terror as the muzzle was placed between them. Quinn probably never heard the words Jim said over him. They watched the finger whiten where it edged the trigger then glaze with the frosting of death when the bullet cracked the already shattered head against the wall. In awful fascination Jim watched death dance out the nerves before adding his own vomit to the mire. Shaking he collected the lounge key and tried to drink the liqueur straight from the decanter. A combination of shaking hands and its thick neck sending more down his front than his throat. Finding a glass he tipped it down. Whisky or brandy he couldn't tell as it burned with the bile in his throat. How long he stood there, hands on the table for support while his chest heaved for air, he didn't know till the groan from Butler told him he hadn't finished and he wished he had.

He'd to close his eyes as he pulled the coat from its late owners grasp. The chances, if he'd bothered at all were high of it being smashed by the fall or a bullet. Chance was on his side. Slapping Butlers face he held the bottle to his lips. 'Here take a sip, it'll help deaden the pain.'
Pliantly Butler did as he was told. Even trying in a unco-ordinated way to help himself as Docherty slid him to the other side of the hall. Only when he was propped in the corner did he realise he couldn't get the sight of Quinn out of his eyeline. Jim gave him another sip before going to the kitchen to get  a towel to stuff around the armpit. Done none too tenderly, Butler passed out and the waiting made Jim crave for a smoke and realise he hadn't had one all day. Surprised he went back to the lounge and collected the box by the decanters. Whether it was the flash of the lighter or not, the glimmer in Butlers eyes said he was back with him and weighing him up. Inhaling deeply, Jim waved the pistol in front of him.
'Well, well Butler. Let me come to the point, now that your little games over I want a confession from you giving all the details to the murder of my family and Droggans. Then to save us both time, and possibly your life, a simple statement of your responsibility for the eleven, or is it twelve other massacres you've committed.'
His words were thick, craving but expected, 'I'd nothing to do with the killing of your family. Christ man I'm a Chief Superintendent.'
'I know what you are Butler, you're hurt. For all I know bleeding to death. Now I couldn't give a toss, I just want your confession then you can lie there and die or get to a phone and get an ambulance here, quick as you like.'
'I don't know anything.'
Crack. The shot leaving his eyes bulging to confirm the bullet lodged somewhere in the floor between his legs.
'My fault Butler, I haven't explained the rules to you. You Butler have no rights, but you do have a choice. I know you killed my family and I know why you did it. That's why you have no rights. However make the confession into the machine and you chose to spend the rest of your life in jail, probably never to taste freedom again. I wouldn't like to live like that, but as they say, where there's life there's hope. On the other  hand, if your thinking of being difficult, I'll be forced to shoot your appendages until you behave or die. And since I want to give you every chance to see sense I'll start with the minor things. Like toes and fingers and yes, ears. I'd completely forgotten about them.' 
The little monologue excited Butlers imagination and made him intensely aware of each beat of his heart converting blood to splintered glass and pain in his arm pit. The fear of being shot by pieces was beyond credence but the stench of his own sweat told him he believed. He tried to concentrate. The tape would be inadmissible- made under duress- threatened with his life- in the clutches of a madman. Killing Quinn would show how mad he was and with him dead there'd be no conflict of interest. Guile  thickened to hope. He'd give him the names of the people involved and afterwards claim he's simply gave the names of the people who investigated the crimes. They seemed to be the ones Docherty wanted to hear. Anything else would be words put into his mouth. It would be his and the squads word that would be believed. He tried to smile but it formed as a leer. 'My arms aching can I have some more of that stuff.'
Docherty obliged, giving only the one sip. 'What's it to be?'
'I'll talk.'
'Then the sooner you get started the better. My case first then Droggans and for your own good don't fuck me around and try and miss things out. Right go ahead.'

The tape was on its reverse side by the time Butler finished and Jim gave him a nod of satisfaction. Twice during the early stages he'd to stop Butler and tell him to start again. The second time he'd emphasised it with a sharp poke to the armpit. Using the banister to pull himself up, Jim looked at the slowly revolving tape as though it held all the guilt of humanity and was waiting for its sentence.
'Butler I have to tell you I lied. Christ there's no words capable of describing what you are. You're lower than a snakes belly and for what.' His head hung, slowly shaking, still looking at the revolving tape as though expecting its answer.
Butler tried to concentrate, he mustn't incriminate but he could plead. He needed the help Docherty had promised. Jim lifted his brimming eyes and shot him twice through the head.

It was over. Done. Pocketing the tape he shambled to the car, not caring whether he was seen or not. The spring evening doing little to douse the aura of carnage encapsulating him. Killing was a hollow revenge, a victory for defeat taunting the living. Better him than Pat having to live with its cheating shallowness. Perhaps that's what his nightmare through the years had been telling him. Death was a small event and the cauldron that wasn't- the empty drum of revenge that exorcised nothing.

Now all he'd to do was drive around till it was dark, then go home.

To be continued next Sunday evening


Related Posts with Thumbnails