Chapter One No Man is an Island. 3
Chapter Two If you Keep your Head 8
Chapter Three Entire of Itself 18
Chapter Four If You Can Trust Yourself 24
Chapter Five A Manor Of Thy Friends 32
Chapter Six Don't Deal in Lies. 43
Chapter Seven Any Mans Death Diminishes Me 51
Chapter Eight Don't Give Way to Hating. 62
Chapter Nine Because I am Involved in Mankind 73
Chapter Ten Don't look too good, nor talk too wise 78
Chapter Eleven Risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss. 96
Chapter Twelve Meet with Triumph and Disaster 106
Chapter Thirteen The Bell Tolls 123
Chapter Fourteen If Neither Foes Nor Loving Friends Can Hurt You. 131
Chapter Fifteen It Tolls For Thee. 141
Chapter Sixteen Sixty Seconds' Worth of Distance Run. 145
Chapter Seventeen If No Man Is An Island. 160Chapter One No Man is an Island.
The room was silent and had abandoned feel to it.
The walls were covered with warm wooded panels and the floor was covered with a thick soft piled carpet.
The desk set that sat on the solid oak was in the modern Art Deco style and set carefully to form a balance of elements.
A bow fronted cabinet against the wall was full of trophies for sporting achievement ranging from Football and Baseball to athletics and swimming.
On the top of the cabinet were shields and cups for more scholastic achievement. In the centre was a Nobel prize for Chemistry. Age of the recipient fourteen years old.
The grand piano had awards for music standing on it, age eight.
On the far walls were diplomas for several degrees, amongst them were those for Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and for Divinity, Music, Medicine.
Twelve doctorates all obtained by the age of sixteen.
On the wall was a framed newspaper praising the wonder child millionaire in their midst. His name is Terrance, Terry, Sloan
And where was the subject of these accolades?
Sitting on the cold parapet of the Freedom Bridge looking down into the icy sluggish waters of the Hudson that flowed through the capital city of Lincoln DC.
What do you do when there are no challenges left?
Terry from childhood found everything easy.
A Chess Grandmaster in his early teens to a maestro of music he found a natural affinity to all subjects.
But now the easiness felt no longer a boon but a curse. If nothing seemed difficult there was no satisfaction in over coming it. No thrill, no pride and no feeling of achievement.
Terry massaged the bridge of his nose to try and alleviate his slight head ache.
As he did so he became aware of a car pulling up and its door slamming.
He peered around the girder that held up the arching roof of wires. Mounting the parapet was a beautiful young woman in tears.
Wracking sobs shook her whole being.
Terry couldn't help himself.
"Hello. It's really cold tonight isn't it?" He said. "I'm sorry if I startled you."
What was the chances of two people independently deciding to end their lives at the same spot at the same time.
Terry's ingenious mind had already worked out the odds and it was mighty small.
The woman gave another sob but seemed frozen to the spot like a rabbit in the cars headlight.
"It is a long way down to the water but I don't know if's far enough to give a clean kill. The last thing we want to be doing is floundering around fighting for breath before we drown."
He had reached her now and managed to slide a comforting arm around her shoulders before passing a clean handkerchief to dry her tears.
"I'm Terry Sloan by the way."
Her eyes widened.
"The millionaire?" She stuttered.
"Yes for my sins. Money doesn't by happiness just comfort." He gently steered her away from the edge.
"And you?" He asked.
"Wendy. Wendy Wilson. Nurse at the Royal Free hospital on the junction of twenty third and third." She said through chattering teeth. "My brother is to be executed for something he didn't commit and it's all my fault."
"Wendy. Wendy Wilson, nurse at the Free, we can either hold hands and jump into the river and hope it kills us cleanly, or we could go and have a coffee and you could tell me all about it."
Wendy looked up into his eyes and said quietly.
Their was a ripple of light laughter as a woman dress in a tight red cat suit with a blue stylised 'S' on her hip dropped from the sky to land before them.
"I should take him up on the offer of the coffee. After all its not often that you have a coffee with the most eligible bachelor on Forbs rich list."
Superwoman stood proudly with her hands on her hips.
"Did you use a car Terry?" The heroine asked.
"No." Terry had walked from the nearest subway. He didn't want to give anyone any hassle by coming to remove it.
"The pair of you get in Wendy's and I'll fly you to a coffee shop I know."
They did as they were instructed and soon found themselves at Lippy Louis Diner.
The waitress didn't blink an eyelid as Superwoman led them in.
"Martha three cappuccinos and three ring donuts."
"Coming right up Red." For a moment Martha actually stopped chewing her gum, a split second I know but it was enough to be spotted by Terry.
In that split second he had assessed her. From the health
point of view it was obvious from her yellow nicotine stained teeth and fingers that she had not long ago stopped smoking. Mentally she had obviously, that is to Terry's eyes, live a hard life in the ghetto's.
They slid into the seats of a booth and sat silently a moment wondering what to say.
"Why were the two of you upon the bridge?" Superwoman asked.
"In my case it was having no real challenge in my life. I find everything easy, too easy." He took Wendy's cold hand in his. "And you? I think we should concentrate on your situation."
"Just start at the beginning." Superwoman said gently smiling at the pair.
"It's my brother he's been arrested for murder." Wendy said emotionally.
"You said he couldn't have done it, why do you think that?" Terry asked his long fingers touching her wrist lightly.
"My brother is so gentle he wouldn't hurt anyone. He has the mental age of a child of seven. He doesn't see things the same way as we do."
Terry nodded and took his fingers from her wrist. He had been monitoring her pulse rate and that, along with involuntary micro muscle movements and tone of voice, convinced him that she was telling the truth as far as she knew it.
Who is the person he's supposed to have murdered?" Terry asked taking a sip of the hot coffee trying not to watch as Superwoman polished off her donut voraciously.
"A socialite, Mary Wells. I hadn't even heard of her till he was arrested."
"I have." Terry said stroking his bottom lip in deep thought. "She a waspish critic for the Mirror group of magazines. She normal targets the young and beautiful and I don't doubt she has made many enemy's."
Superwoman looked up a moment.
"I'm sorry I'll have to go duty calls." She smiled a secret little smile at Terry. "It seems you have your challenge Terry."
In a blur she had gone.
"Can I have the bill please." He said of the waitress who was lounging against the bar railing.
"No charge big Red paid." She laughed. "She told me to tell you that she is having the Daily Globe send you what they have on the case."
"She thinks of everything doesn't she?" Terry joked.
The woman shrugged.
Terry laughed feeling more alive than he had for months.
His heart raced with excitement rather than anxiety.
The man of a thousand talents had awoke from his slumber.Chapter Two If you Keep your Head
Wendy was sitting up in the large four poster bed when there was a gentle polite tap on the bedroom door.
It opened and Terry's butler entered with a breakfast tray.
He was a tall slim, spare looking, man with thinning grey hair and bright twinkling grey eyes.
"Good morning Miss Wendy." His voice was cultured English. "I hope the section is to your liking."
On the tray was a small pot of hot coffee, a rack of toast and marmalade, lastly a soft boiled egg.
"Master Terry asks if you could join him in the study when you are ready miss."
He left her to her breakfast.
As Wendy poured out her coffee she couldn't believe what had happened to her. One moment she was contemplated ending her life and the next she is staying at the apartment of one of the richest eligible bachelors in the city.
She even had a coffee with the famous Superwoman.
She shook her head as she finished her egg.
He stomach churned as she realised that this man, this stranger was going to help her brother.
She sniffed back a tear.
When they had left the diner Terry had used the pay phone to call his man servant to pick him up at Wendy's apartment.
When they pulled up at her apartment block with Terry at the wheel he must have noticed her reticence at going back inside and suggested she stay at his town apartment. He went in with her while she packed some essentials.
The word apartment just didn't cover the plush two floors at the New Brunswick Hilton that were his.
Wendy was only well aware of her slight figure and diminutive stature as she entered the large room that was labelled as a study.
Terry was at the baby grand playing a gentle melody.
It was the first time that she had got to really look at him.
The morning sunlight lit up his blond hair and his artistic features giving him an angelic glow.
His clothes were casual but of immaculate fabric and cut.
His long fingers gently stroked the piano keys bringing Elgar's Nimrod to its conclusion.
"Good morning Wendy." He said without looking around.
"Good morning." She stumbled over his name. "Err Terry."
"It's alright I don't bite." He turned and gave her a radiant smile that lit up his entire face.
His pale blue eyes and athletic build made him look like some hero from a gothic novel. As he crossed the room Wendy noticed that he didn't so much walk over, so light on his feet he was, that he appeared to be dancing.
"Did you sleep well?" He asked.
"Yes thank you. You?"
"I had the best sleep I've had in months."
The door opened and his manservant, the man who delivered her breakfast, entered with a silver tea tray on which was an expensive tea service.
"You've met my butler and good friend Albert Beasley. His brother is the Wayne's butler Alfred and his sister is Ted Knights equivalent. So you could say he is from manservant royalty, that it runs in his blood."
Albert bobbed his head modestly.
"The news papers from the Daily Globe have arrived sir. I've laid them out for you on the table." He said as he poured out three cups of tea. "I took the liberty of turning them to the relevant pages Master Terry."
"Thank you Albert."
Wendy noticed there were three cups on the tray and wondered who the third one was for.
Terry beckoned her to sit. He passed one to her and the other to Albert.
"Tell us all about it? Right from the beginning?" Albert pulled out from his apron a Pitman shorthand note book and pencil.
"I'll try but there is not much I can tell you." Wendy felt in some surreal world as she sat there in the lap of luxury opening her hear for these two strangers to see.
Wendy's apartment was small but it was enough room for her and her brother Rick.
Though it didn't boast fine art it was warm and homely.
Wendy had made hash browns and eggs sunny side up for the pair of them.
Rick was already in his chair rocking gently backward and forwards as was his habit.
He looked up at his sister and smiled.
She smiled back at him.
"Go on eat it all up it'll make you big and strong."
"I'm already big and strong." He simply as he cut into his breakfast. "I hope Cynthia is in today. We make masks and do painting."
Cynthia was one of the art therapists at the day centre where Rick attended.
Rick was twenty five but his mental age was around seven.
Cynthia didn't do everyday but Rick was better when she was there.
As usual Wendy dropped Rick off on her way to the hospital.
The Royal Free had been very understanding about her position allowing her to work days only.
On this particular day she was nursing in the Cardiac Ward.
One of the reason for allowing such leeway was the fact she was an excellent nurse. Conscientious with good personal skills, her good humour cheered up patients and staff alike.
"The ward she was in was full of men feeling very sorry for themselves. One of her jobs was to monitor their blood pressure and pulse rate.
It was early afternoon when she noticed a stunning woman leaving the private room of one of her patients.
She bustled her way into the room with a beaming smile.
"I hope she wasn't getting you too excited Toni."
Don Toni Maroni was a small time Mafia boss working for one of the bigger families but to Wendy he was just a patient.
"Chance would be a fine thing." Toni grinned at her. "Besides you know I have only got eyes for you nurse."
He grimaced as she shoved a thermometer into his mouth and began taking his blood pressure and pulse.
"You have got to drink more water." She said as she pulled out the thermometer and took its reading. "You're a little dehydrated."
"Have a heart nurse the only water I normally drink is in my whiskey."
They laughed and spent a few moments on idle chat before she left to care for the other patients.
It was three o'clock when two police officers entered the ward.
"Excuse me Matron we have come to see one of your nurses. A Wendy Wilson? It's about her brother." The taller of the two officers asked.
"If you must you must but you'll do it in private not in front of my other staff and the patients. You'll use my office."
One Wendy recognised as Colin Crabtree, a friend of hers. They always have a lively banter when he comes in to check up on his injured officers.
The other was tall almost skeleton like in his slimness. There was something of the night about him that sent a shiver down Wendy's spine.
"I'm afraid there is no easy way to tell you this." Colin said hesitantly.
Wendy's stomach dropped into her shoes while her racing heart made a lump in her throat.
"It's Rick isn't it? Oh God something has happened to him hasn't it." She was visibly shaking. "Is he alright."
Colin took her hand and helped her to sit.
"Wendy this is Lieutenant Kline of Homicide."
"Homicide? I don't understand?"
"Your brother is in police custody." The Lieutenant told her.
"He's going to be charged with murder Wendy." Colin said holding on to her hands as a means of offering support.
"He is going to be charged with the murder of Miss Mary Wells." The lieutenant said with some relish.
"No! No! He couldn't have, he wouldn't hurt a fly."
"We need to interview him but because of his limitations we need a responsible adult with him. We need you to be there to keep him calm."
After a few more minutes for Wendy to get her clothes etcetera they left.
For the second time in so many days she dried her tears on Terry's handkerchief.
"What was the interview like miss?" Albert asked as he poured out another cup of tea.
"Horrendous. Colin managed to tell me why he was going to be charged. He was found in Mary Wells car, covered in blood holding the blooded knife that had been used to kill her. She was in the front passenger seat. She had been stabbed to death."
The precinct interview room had the same smell as the hospital ward, that of bleach, vomit and piss.
Rick was dressed in a old baggy boiler suit and sat hunched up, his eyes down cast.
"Hello Rick." Colin said gently. "You're in a bit of a mess aren't you. I don't know, what are we going to do with you.
Now this gentleman is going to ask you some questions. He is a Lieutenant so the questions are going to be very important.
Now your sister is here so you have nothing to be frightened of."
The Lieutenant scowled at him.
Wendy took Ricks hand and gave it a squeeze.
He looked up at her and smiled.
"Now Rick you were found in that ladies automobile can you remember how you got in their?" Colin asked. "You do want to tell us don't you."
"Yes I do. She asked me to get in. She said it was a special car that could make lots of people happy." His voice was slow as if he was finding it hard to articulate his feelings. "She said I was a good looking boy. We made love."
"Get that checked out will you?" The lieutenant asked but Colin didn't budge. "Now please?"
Colin got up crossed to the door opened it and called to the uniformed officer stationed out side and passed over the request.
As he returned to his seat he reported.
"The pathologist doesn't start for an hour yet so it'll be awhile before we find out." He turned to Rick. " Now what happened after you made love. This is really important so try to remember."
"She told me to hide and put a blanket over me. When I came out again she didn't want to play so I cuddled her but I don't think she liked it." Rick was nodding to himself as he remembered. "She had been playing with a knife which is naughty. I took the knife and told her off. Like how you told me off Wendy when you found my knife."
"And then?" The Lieutenant lent forward.
"The police came and told me off."
"I have never heard such rubbish. The truth is that when she didn't want to have sex with you you lost your temper and then stabbed her to death. That's the truth isn't it?"
The Lieutenant shoved his face belligerently close to Ricks. "You're no more brain damaged that I am. The truth is that you murdered her in cold blood."
"No I didn't. Tell him Wendy tell him I didn't do it."
"Lieutenant what are you doing?" Colin called in obvious shock.
"My job which is more than I can say for you!" The Lieutenant raged. "A woman lies dead and he is giving us the run around.
You killed her Rick didn't you. She wouldn't play ball so you thought you'd turn her into a pin cushion. She was stabbed eighteen times which is a lot in anyone's book. you must have been really angry at her to do that much damage. Well Rick did you kill her, come on, come on I haven't all day."
"Yes I killed her, I killed her!" Rick was in tears and had wet himself.
"Read him is rights and get him locked up. I can't stand the sight of him."
"No you can't he's innocent, he's innocent."
"Look I feel sorry for you having a dumb nut for a brother but that won't stop me doing my duty and seeing him in the chair for it." He turned to Colin. "Get her out of here, I don't care what you do with her just get her away from here."
"I take it the court case wasn't any better?" Terry asked.
Wendy looked down at her hands which he held so gently.
"He pleaded guilty and neither I nor the lawyer that was assigned to us could make him change his mind. Not that the lawyer tried that hard."
"I assume he went for diminished responsibility on the grounds of his mental health."
"No he didn't he just let the prosecution do what they wanted. He was sentenced to death by electric chair. He's in death row waiting his turn."
Wendy had begun to sob again and with out any embarrassment Terry took her into his arms.
"Why do you blame yourself?" He asked gently.
"The day centre was understaffed with Cynthia and two others out with flu. Normally I swap shifts so he doesn't have to go in but I knew we had the Matrons inspection so I didn't." Wendy gave a deep sniff.
"And that was why you were up on the bridge?"
She nodded mutely.
"It was a good job I happened to be there myself then. We would have lost you both which would be a crime."
He lent back.
"I will get this transcript typed up for your approval sir." Albert said.
"Thank you Albert. I think we'll have a Shubertade tomorrow night." Terry said
"Very good sir. If you'll give me the names of those you wish to invite sir I'll prepare the invites and send them via courier."
Wendy was puzzled.
"The composer Shubert had special evenings where he would invite members of the artistic community that were his friends. They would read their poems and showed their paintings and would listen to his latest composition. I hold one like it once a month." Terry explained.
"Oh!" She said obviously unsure what he meant.
"I'm going to invite those that had been on the end of Wanda's critical tongue. If Rick didn't kill her someone else did and it could be one of them."
Wendy's eyes lit up with the realisation of what he said.
"You are going to help? Truly?"
"Yes. I can not promise I'll find him innocent if he isn't but I do promise to give him a fair chance."
He crossed to the phone.
"And to that end I'm going to call in some favours." He dialled a number. "Hello. Oh hello Dinah it's Terry Sloan here. Is Larry available?
Yes please, thanks."
He lowered the mouth piece.
"Larry Lance is one of the best private eyes in the business.
Yes I'm fine and you.
Good. Larry I've a commission for you. I want you to find out what you can about the police officers, lawyers and judge on the Rick Wilson case.
Yes I know most is in the public domain but a little background won't go amiss.
No that's fine."
He put the phone back into its cradle.
"Well that's started the ball rolling." He felt alive, so much so he felt he could feel the blood flowing through his body. "Can you get a visitors pass to see your brother? I'm assuming he is allowed visits."
"Yes. Can I borrow the phone?"
"By all means." Terry crossed over to the desk and began examining the news papers.
It didn't take him long to realise that they were demonising poor Rick as a lunatic psychopath. Even the normally sensible Globe had fallen into the trap.
If he was to prove Rick innocent it would be a up hill struggle.
The Chinese proverb went that a journey of a thousand miles started with a single step.
Terry's and Wanda's journey had just begun.Chapter Three Entire of Itself
New Brunswick was once the capital of the Union but had lost it's place to the newly built city of Lincoln DC that was just fifty miles away.
Abe Lincoln had succeeded where Washington had failed. After the civil war he successfully negotiated with the British government the United States independence before that fatal night in the theatre, when he was killed by an assassins bullet.
America had the British Monarch as head of state but to all intends and purposes it was totally independent and joined with Canada, Australia, New Zeeland and South Africa as the core of Queen Victoria's Common Wealth of countries.
In the old parliament building a meeting was taking place.
"I see the job has been done?" One shadow said.
"Yes. He won't get away with it. He'll be dead by the end of the month." The other shadow said.
"Payment as agreed." A wrapped parcel was dropped onto the table. "Count it if you want."
"No I trust you." The figure picked up the package and walked away.
He was in his car just pulling off the freeway when the package exploded blowing him and the car to pieces.
"The loose end has been tidied up sir." A voice reported to the shadowy figure.
In minutes the building was empty again.
The prison had a smell all of its own, one that was hard to get out of your nostrils.
A feeling of pent up violence fill the air creating its own unique atmosphere.
Wendy and Terry sat at the school desk waiting for her brother to be brought in.
Shackled hand and foot he shuffled in, his face haunted, his eyes darting to and fro.
He sat down and looked at Wendy through tearful eyes.
"Can I come home please Wendy? I don't like it here." He pleaded.
"No not yet, but soon, soon." Wendy choked back a tear.
"Hello Rick. I am a friend of Wendy's. I'm called Terry." He smiled at the pitiful creature before him. "I need you to tell me everything that happened up to when the police found you."
"I went to see Wanda. She likes me and sometimes we made love in her car."
"Do you see her often?"
"No. If Cynthia was there I didn't go. Cynthia lets me draw and paint."
"But this time she wasn't there so you went to see Wanda?"
"Yes." His heavy face screwed up in concentration. "I did not hurt her. I loved her."
"But you said you killed her Rick?"
"I must have. The policeman said I did and they tell the truth."
"Not all of them do, far from it." Terry leaned forward and looked deep into Ricks eyes. "After you had made love Wendy told you to hide."
"Yes. I hid under the blanket in the back of the car. She said she would tell me when I could come out but she didn't" Rick nodded his head.
"What happened next Rick?"
"I wanted to play again so I cuddled her but she was angry with me because she didn't talk to me."
"Did she have blood on her?"
"Yes. She must have cut herself on the knife. I picked it up to throw it away. Like you did with my pen knife Wendy."
"Yes I remember." She said.
"And then the police came?"
"They said I was naughty."
A hour later they were sitting in a plush up market coffee house called the Black Cat.
Wendy felt out of place with all the smart set in their chic casual wear. She felt positively dowdy in her homespun.
Terry ordered three coffees, two regular and one espresso.
They had barely sat down at their table when a tall gangly man appeared. If Wendy felt out of place here, the newcomer stuck out like a sore thumb.
A tatty brown raincoat was draped over his slight frame exposing the frayed collar of his shirt. His shoes looked like they had never seen a bit of polish.
Somehow, it seemed to Wendy, even though the clothes were thread bare that it was made to create an effect rather than being natural wear.
Terry raised his hand and beckoned him over just as the coffee's arrived.
"Wendy this is one of the best private investigators in the city, Larry Lance. Larry this is our client Wendy Wilson."
After an embarrassed hello Larry sat down and sipped his coffee.
"Beautiful as ever. Not that I get much chance to enjoy it as the management only tolerates me being here if I'm with you."
"What can I say, they are good judges of character." The two men grinned at each other. "What have you got for us Larry."
"The two arresting officers were Officer Colin Crabtree and Lieutenant Kenneth Kent Kline."
"K.K.K. now that's ominous."
"Your not far wrong concerning him. Crabtree is a good officer, a decent man. He is heavily involved in the recreation and healthy pursuits for young offenders down in Hells Kitchen. Married, two children."
"And the lieutenant?"
"Totally opposite. A career officer. He doesn't care who he stamps on to reach the top as long as he does reach the top. They reckon he's a shoe in for the post of Chief of Detectives. Has had some disciplinary investigations against him in his early career over the use of violence in questioning of suspects.
His view on race and the insane are on public record. If he was to get his way he would neuter all the blacks and euthanasia for all the physical and mental patients."
"Nice man." Terry muttered.
"I know Colin Crabtree. Not well, but I do know him." Wanda said feeling a little braver. "If an officer gets injured he pop's into see them and our paths invariable cross
We have some banter and joke with each other before we go our own ways."
"Hmmm yes." Terry actually stroke his chin while he said it, Wendy had only seen sleuths do that in films not in real life.
"The Judge who presided over the case was Judge Wallaby. Seem's straight enough but known for his harsh sentences. Most crooks immediately plead guilty if they know they are going up before him.
Barrister for the prosecution was Doug McKinley which to be honest was a surprise."
"The man is an alcoholic and womaniser, and has a reputation for making mistakes.
The man defending your brother was even more suspicious. His name is John Jacks and he is a very very lowly wig jockey for a posh law firm on boulevard. He's defended a small select crowd of criminals and girls of horizontal pleasure. He's just ahead on the verses state five to the states three."
"So Rick goes to court against a judge who doesn't believe in leniency. He should have got off because of the pickled state of the prosecutor so they made sure the lawyer defending Rick was even more incompetent."
"You reckon like me that it was a stitch up." Larry said.
"Yes. Anything on Mary?"
"Mary Wells an English citizen been in the US about five years. Started as a hack on the Enquirer. She had an uncanny knack of finding dirt on the celebrities and industry leaders. She went freelance and sells the scandals she uncovers to the highest bidder. I don't know how rich she is but she doesn't have to worry if she wants a new expensive dress."
"A touch of blackmail on the side?"
"Possible. She was a female predator when it came to her sexual needs. She'd slept with film stars, men and women. Taken part in orgies and has been know to go with the rough of society. She got a kick out of the danger.
That's about it Terry."
"Thanks Larry." Terry said draining his coffee cup. "I've a party organised for tomorrow night for the artists of Greenwich Village. I'm also inviting over a few businessmen. I'm going to shake the tree and see what falls out. See if any of them will admit to knowing Mary."
"Go luck with that. If you need anymore help just call me." Larry said his goodbyes and loped out of the room.
"I had some doubts over your brothers court case and his innocence to be truthful but not now. If Larry says it stinks that's more than good enough for me. Your brothers innocent and I'm going to prove it."
Wendy looked up at him through tearful eyes.
Knowing that Rick was innocent was one thing proving it was another.
As they got up to leave Terry casually looked out of the huge window out on to the street.
A black limousine rounded the corner slowly its black rear windows half wound down. A pipe like affair in the window glinted in the sun.
All these things Terry saw in a split second and in that moment reacted, pulling Wendy down to the floor and shielding her with his body.
The staccato rat tat tat of the weapon could be heard and the window shattered into a thousand pieces as the bullets ripped through it.
Then it was over and silence ruled once again.
Shaken he got to his feet and called out.
There was no reply.
He turned to see the carnage that had been wrought.
Four customers lay dead in pools of their own blood while the waitress looked accusingly at them from where she was propped up against the counter a third obscene eye sitting in the middle of her forehead.
Terry hugged the shaking Wendy to his chest before they both checked for life signs of the other victims. But it was too no avail.
Anger contorted Terry's hansom face.
"I will get you for this! I will avenge them!" But the sky was deaf and dumb.Chapter Four If You Can Trust Yourself
"You're toying with dangerous people Mr Sloan." Crabtree offered. "They play for keeps."
"People are dead officer, are you going to do anything about that?"
"There are many black saloons in this city." Kline snarled.
"What! I have given you the make, name and licence plate along with the star crack in the passenger front light, what more do you need for God's sake." Terry was furious.
"It has probably been dumped in the river." Crabtree said trying to calm the situation. "And we don't have any other witnesses."
"That's because they are dead and lying in the morgue."
"Yes they are! And all because of your meddling!" The Lieutenant stormed. "I'm just sorry I can't book you for manslaughter. You've probably started a new turf war.
Crabtree get them out of here before I do something I'll regret."
"Like investigating the death of Mary Wells properly or is fitting up a man who can't defend himself more up your street. How much did they pay you!"
"Get them out of here!"
Crabtree ushered them out into the car park where the patrol cars sat.
"Officer Crabtree you must know that Rick Wilson's arrest and trial stinks to high heaven?"
Crabtree hesitated before answering sadly in a low voice.
"Yes. I know he didn't kill her but we have no proof to show anyone else did."
"Did you look for any evidence?"
"Yes I did before the lieutenant took over the case but no one witnessed the killing." He hesitated again. "I was warned off."
He opened his hand to reveal a door key.
"It the spare from Mary's set. It's the best I can do. Good luck."
The men shook hands passing the key over in that gesture.
"Thank you." Terry said before leading Wendy out to where Albert waited with the Rolls Royce.
As they pulled away Terry gave a deep sigh.
"Whatever happened both the police and the mob want it hushed up."
He lent back into the leather seat and steepled his fingers before his eyes with the key swaying hypnotically between them.
"Someone wanted her dead and stabbed her whilst Rick was hiding."
"He would think the noise was part of the game." Wendy offered.
"Someone stabbed her while she sat in the passenger seat at the front. Way did she sit there?" Terry was confused.
"I may offer an opinion sir?" Albert asked.
"Go ahead. I trust your judgement."
"Well sir. What if she saw her assailant coming. She made Rick hide himself and quickly went round to the front and got in to drive away."
"Yes, but she didn't get in the drivers seat?" Terry said.
"Yes but back in England that is the drivers seat. If you remember when we visited London last year all the cars were driving on the left."
"Of course. In her panic she got in the wrong side and it cost her her life.
Thank you Albert."
"My pleasure sir. And if pleases you sir, Miss Wendy, I have asked my sister Bella to join us at the apartment to look after you Miss Wendy."
"That's perfect Albert."
"She is preparing us a light lunch as we speak sir. A pasta dish I believe." Albert took the ramp onto the freeway. "We are being followed sir, by a police motor vehicle."
Wendy pulled out her compact and opened it such that the police car was reflected in it.
"It looks like K.K.K." She said.
"Probably making sure we don't make a nuisance of ourselves." He put away the key.
"After tonight's gathering I intend to go visiting."
"Yes sir. We thought you might so Bella and I have laid out a set of dark clothes and equipment we think you'll need."
Bella was a statuesque's woman in her forties with hansom features with a compact fit body. She tended to the masculine rather than feminine attire.
The lunch of pasta was excellent.
Though Wendy found it strange as once again they were joined by Albert and his sister at the table.
Afterwards they all sat in the drawing room with their coffee's.
"Our victim may have stumbled on something they preferred hidden sir. It would explain the attack sir." Albert conjectured. "Oh by the way sir a police car is parked up outside the apartment block."
"The same one that followed us?"
"No sir it has a different number."
Albert and Bella got up and cleared away the coffee things.
"Do you need Miss Wendy for the moment sir?" Bella asked politely.
"No I have no plans for the moment." He replied.
"Thank you sir." She straightened up her butlers waistcoat and adjusted her thin western bow tie. "Miss Wendy if you would accompany me to your bedroom I will show you what Albert, Alfred and I have done."
She followed the woman into the bedchamber with trepidation.
On a mannequin was a beautiful pale green dress of the correct style for the evenings meeting of minds, as Bella explained.
"Tonight Master Terry is holding one of his famous art evenings. The invitees dress in clothes that were prevalent when Beethoven and Schubert were alive hence your dress. They spend the evening discussing art in all its forms as well as displaying their newest work for constructive criticism."
She crossed over to the wardrobe and opened the white and gold doors.
Inside were expensive dresses, coats and casual clothes.
"We hope we have correctly estimated your size and the styles you would like."
Wendy stood with her mouth wide open. Stunned.
"Can we do a fitting of tonight's dress Miss. It's so I will have enough time to do any alterations."
An hour later the two women re-entered the lounge. Wendy looked stunning in her silk blouse, pale grey slacks with a eggshell blue cardigan tied loosely around her neck by the sleeves.
Wendy was self conscious but at the same time thrilled to be wearing such clothes.
Terry was spying out of the window at the road below.
"Is the police car still there Terry?" She asked
"Yes they are in mid change over." He looked back into the room. "I'm going out for awhile. Albert take the Rolls out for a drive and make sure you don't shake of the tail."
"Very well sir. And what will you be doing while I'm doing this subterfuge may I ask?"
"I have a key to a lock and it would be a waste to not use it." Terry told them. "Bella look after Wendy for me will you? You are prepared?"
Bella smiled and pulled a Walther PPK pistol out of her butlers apron.
"Yes I'm prepared. But may I suggest another level of subterfuge sir. If Albert went out alone in the Rolls it would possibly raise suspicions but not if he had a passenger."
"I'm not going to risk Wendy's life!" He snorted.
"I'm glad to hear it as I'm going with you. This woman had been taking advantage of my brother and I want to see this out to the end."
"I think you misunderstand what I am suggesting Miss Wendy. I am suggesting that I take Master Terry's place with you beside me. That way we would allay any suspicions."
"I must concur with my sister. Miss Wendy would be safer in the car, it is bullet proof after all, and we could care for her."
"Bullet proof?!" Wendy said in disbelief.
"Well being rich in this city has its disadvantages and it pays to be careful." Terry said.
"We could go to the Wayne manor on the outskirts of Gotham and visit Alfred. The Wayne's are away so it should prove an ideal opportunity."
"Why do I get the feeling that I'm being steam roller into this." Terry said with a sigh.
"That's because you are, both of us are." Wendy said with a wry smile.
"Then lets get to it." Terry decided with a sinking feeling in his stomach.
Terry watched from the shadows as the Roller pull out of the private underground car park he had had made beneath the apartment block. The car slowly filtered into the traffic only for the police car to start up and follow.
Satisfied Terry crossed to the motorbike and kicked it into life.
A few minutes later he was pulling up in front of Mary's apartment block.
The apartment block was in the trendier part of town and owed its design and décor to an earlier age.
He swiftly removed the over trousers and bikers leather jacket. He neatly folded them and stored them away in his bikes pannier.
We walked across and entered the building as if he had always been there.
The apartment was well furnished with expensive pieces of furniture and fine art. To Terry the whole thing jarred the senses, as Art Nuevo and Art Deco rubbed shoulders with the British arts and crafts movement and Realism.
On the wall was a Art Deco poster, an abstract called flowers and a surreal etching of false perspective where a man it walking down stairs but ends up above where he started.
The last one intrigued Terry and he had to shake himself to stop staring at it.
He stood there in the centre of the room with no real idea of what to do next.
"It's not as if she would write the name of her killer down would she?" He muttered to himself. "Then again would she?"
He crossed over to the telephone table and picked up the address book and thumbed through it. Row's of telephone number were written down in Mary's neat copper plate but beside them were only initials. He toyed with it a moment before pocketing it.
The apartment was open planned with only partitions separating the different area's.
By her bed was a diary full of tiny writing.
He turned to the day that she died and read the following.
'Pay Cynthia for a day off. Meet big boy.'
Terry shook his head.
He wished with all his heart that Cynthia had said she couldn't take the day off.
He put the diary into his pocket.
The closet was full of expensive designer clothes.
Terry noticed a shoe box at the bottom that didn't seem to be lined up like the others. When he tried to move it he got the shock of his life. It wouldn't budge.
He took the top off the box to reveal a safe door inside.
He put his left hand against the tumbler and began to manipulate the dial. His sensitive hearing and fingers soon helped him to open the safe up.
In side was some legal papers and a small box of expensive jewellery. He carefully put everything back and close and locked it.
Once satisfied that everything was back in its place he crossed to the desk with its typewriter. In the out tray was an article she had written while the in tray held notes about a scandalise affair.
They were pocketed and joined the diary and the address book.
Once outside of the apartment he carefully locked it up. He was about to leave when he heard voices coming up the stairs.
Not wishing to meet anyone he looked around for an escape route.
He tried the door of the apartment beside Mary's only to find it was unlocked.
He slipped in to find it empty save for some workmen tools, mugs and drink glasses sitting on a saw bench.
The apartment was in the throws of being updated.
He opened the door a crack and watched the stairway.
Two women appeared and crossed to Mary's apartment. They were deep in conversation.
"The Lieutenant wants us to pull out any incriminating evidence before the forensic department seals it off." The blond said.
"But I thought we had got the weirdo who had done it bang to rights." The brunet replied. "He's sitting in death row for goodness sake."
"He didn't order a forensic investigation so he's having them in now to cover his back." The other said. "Yes we have got him locked up but the Lieutenant doesn't want anything that may cloud the issue being found if it goes to appeal."
"I bet he doesn't." Terry muttered.
He had realised straight away that they were policewomen. There was something in the way they held themselves and in the way they walked. He couldn't explain it even if he wanted to.
Once they had gone in he slip out of his hiding place and made his way quickly down to the motor bike.
The evidence took the place of the bike gear and he was motoring back to his apartment.
It was with some pleasure that he noticed the patrol cars absence. Five minutes later the Rolls Royce turned into the private car park.
As the three of them got out of the car Terry watched the Green and White pull into the parking space again to carry on the vigil.
"Any luck Sir?" Albert asked.
"Yes. The Lieutenant sent some of his team in to make sure there was no evidence that could protect your brother Wendy." She looked down cast. "It's a good job I got there first. Lets go up. I have a party to organise."Chapter Five A Manor Of Thy Friends
The Shubert inspired evening was in full swing when, on Bella's suggestion, Wendy made her grand entrance.
She looked beautiful.
The dress had been skilfully altered to emphasise her narrow waist and her bust. Her hair was piled up like a Greek Goddesses.
Terry was at the piano playing a gentle nocturne of his own composition but he gave her a radiant smile as he brought the music to a close.
He crossed over and took her by the hand and led her over to a chair.
"Where have you had her hidden?" The deep voice of Matt Matthew rolled over them.
Matt was a giant of a man in all meanings of the word. He stood well over six foot tall and with his muscular frame reminded Wendy of a blacksmith from a romantic gothic novel.
Terry laughed good naturedly.
"May I introduce my friend Wendy."
There was some good natured banter that made Wendy blushed.
"Ignore them my dear. They are like little boys, like most men they never grow up."
Wendy was stunned when a woman's voice spoke to her because she had assumed that she was a he.
They shook hands.
"Not George Gordon the writer of 'Heart Ache Hall'?" Wendy asked in amazement.
"Yes the same.
Shame about your brother."
The woman only stood five foot or a tad under with a slight boyish frame. She was dressed as a man of the period and had a monocle in her left eye.
"Take no notice of Gorgy she just likes to shock." Matt said with a beaming smile that lit up his whole face.
Matt was a famous sculpture. In his hand was his latest creation a bronze of a nude flapper in a most provocative position. Mary couldn't help but be amazed at the perfect detail of the flappers lithe frame, every muscle, sinew, stood out in stark relief adding to its beauty though Wendy did blush when she spied it's perfectly depicted genitals. It looked like a woman in miniature so perfect was she.
"I call her the spirit of liberation." He said. " This is only a model if you like. The original will be life size. I'm hoping that it will go on the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square in London England."
"I don't think the stuffy Brits are ready for you yet." Laughed a thin rake of a man.
Wendy recognised him straight away.
He was Frank Fossy a dancer and choreographer for the new Ballet Romance on the south side.
His most famous work was on Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.
All around the room were the cream of the artistic society.
Stan Laurel read his new poem which to Wendy's ears was excruciatingly bad.
"That was so bad you're in danger of replacing the Great McGonagall as the worlds worst poet."
They all laughed good naturedly.
Wendy realised that she was the only woman dressed in clothes of the period. Well as a woman that is.
Across the way on a lounger was Sarah Bern, the famous dancer and actress, dressed, in the loosest terms, in diaphanous silk veils that emphasised her semi naked body beneath.
"People I have a problem that I need your advice on." Terry said.
The room fell silent.
"I was being black mailed by Mary Wells the newspaper critic. She had threatened to blacken my name and pull my new arts competition to pieces."
"You to?" Matt said. "She's threatened to expose my relationship with my model. Do you know want she wanted to shut her mouth. A pearl necklace. It practically broke me."
"She tried to do the same with me but I gave her short shrift. My partner is a woman and I don't care who knows it." Sarah retorted angrily.
Two of the group were not artists but were high powered industrialists. Wendy recognised them but couldn't place their names.
"I have had a nasty visit from her a couple of weeks ago." Len Goodman said. "She threatened to print in the newspapers that I had raped a female colleague. The poor woman can't answer for herself she's in a hospice with the later stages of cancer."
"I don't understand what you're worried about she was murdered wasn't she?" Gorgy said with a frown.
"Yes but I have no alibi for the time, I was on my own." Terry said worriedly.
"But they have someone for it haven't they? They got Wendy's brother."
"Yes but the poor soul is innocent."
"You are in a cleft stick boy." Matt said rubbing his chin. "I was in my forge finishing this beauty with Jenny, my model. I could say you were with me I suppose."
"No that won't work Matt your model could give us away. What's her name by the way?" Terry replied.
"Jenny, Jenny Éclair, Pierre's daughter."
"Good God Matt she is only sixteen?"
"Seventeen actually." Matt said awkwardly.
"When did it happen Terry?" Gorgy asked. "I know little of what happened."
Terry told them.
"You can say you were with me then Terry." She said. "I'm going to put my first novel on the stage and I was going to ask if you could do the instrumental music for it anyway."
"Nearly all of us have reason to hate the bitch. So it could be anyone of us." Sarah snorted. "Perhaps I smashed in her skull with this."
She tapped her artificial leg.
"No I don't think so Sarah." Terry sighed. "I'll just have to deal with it somehow."
He crossed to the piano and began to play softly.
"Come on and give us a song Jordan?" He asked.
Wendy had not taken much notice of the non descript man who sat silently in the corner.
He stood up and crossed to the piano. He opened his mouth and this incredible tenor voice came from him. It was so beautiful it brought Wendy close to tears.
Sarah got to her feet and began to sway provocatively to the music. Slowly she took of her dress of veils until she was practically naked.
For the next hour there was music and poetry and deep discussions on the meaning of art and on the meaning of meaning.
By ten o'clock they had all gone leaving an exhausted Wendy behind.
"Do you think one of them killed her Terry?" She asked trying to stifle a yawn.
"Before the fun and games of tonight I would have said no but now I'm not so sure. I missed something tonight and I don't know what. It'll come back to me by the morning I hope."
Albert came in with a tea tray of tea and cookies, while Bella brought in a small plate of fondant fancies.
"Did you have any luck with the address book and the diary?" Terry asked.
"Yes some Master Terry." Albert sat and poured out the tea. "I thought originally that it was some sort of code but it was much simpler than that. It was the initials of the person."
"I notice two telephone numbers I recognised sir and that was what gave us the break we needed sir." Bella added.
"We have managed to deduce six of them sir but that still leaves us eight others." Albert offered the plate of cakes to Wendy who took a piece of Mountbatten. "Two were of our guests tonight, Matthew and Sarah. The other four are evenly split between her newspaper contacts and the police sir. Specifically Lieutenant Kline."
Terry raised an eyebrow.
If she was blackmailing the police man it was possible that he could be involved. This was getting very messy with to many people as suspects or she could have been using him as a way to frighten her victims.
Later after Wendy had gone to bed the three of them finished their coffee.
"I'm going to visit our suspects so don't wait up for me." Terry had made up his mind.
"We thought you would sir so we have prepared what you need." Albert lead him into the changing room which was attached to the bed room.
A little later Terry stood very self-consciously in a dark green leotard with a dark red cowl and integral mask. On his feet were his rock climbing boots.
Albert was explaining things to him.
"The costume is woven to be warm in winter, cool in Summer and can not be penetrated by a knife."
Bella clipped a belt around his waist that was full of little pouches.
"These contain all you will ever need. I hope!" She said.
She settled his leather bikers jacket over him.
"I took the liberty of putting your ideology on the sleeves and back sir."
Picked out in red on the sleeves was the saying he tried to live too. It said 'Fair Play'.
"Your motorbike is ready for you sir. It has a full tank." Albert adjusted the jacket until he was satisfied.
A few minutes later he roared away.
Len yawned and turned over. He snuggled up to his partner and gave his naked shoulder a loving kiss.
With a sigh of contentment he rolled over on to his back and stared up into the intruders face.
Len jumped out of his skin and clutched his chest, his heart racing.
The intruders eyes looked like two icy blue chips.
"I'm investigating Mary Well's death and somehow the fickle finger of fate points your way." Fair Play smiled. "Was she blackmailing you over this?"
He indicated the young man sharing his bed.
"She wasn't paid off was she, she kept coming back for more? How much more?"
"She never asked for much just a few thousand or so. But it was like being slowly bled to death. I was going broke."
"That seems a good reason to kill her. Where were you when she died by the way."
Fair Play watch all those tiny giveaway signs that would tell him whether they were lying or not.
"I was at a…party?" Len stammered.
"A gay party?"
Len nodded his head in shame.
"I am not here to judge. In the future I hope you won't need to hide your life style." He sighed. "Will you give us a couple of names and addresses. I promise to be discrete."
He gave names and address's straight from his memory.
"Thank you and good night." A small green pellet dropped out of one of Fair Play's pouches to land into his palm.
It was flicked swiftly on to Len's chest where it erupted into a green vapour that swathed his head. He slumped back in a deep sleep.
"One down and several to go."
Some of the rich and famous of New Brunswick owed their fame to their skill and philanthropy, whether on a sports court or the cut and thrust of business, but Giorgio Cantrell owed his to organised crime.
He had become a role model for the many young men looking for a job and an evil spectre to those that have occurred his displeasure.
A lithe figure appeared on top of the ten foot wall that surrounded the Mafia barons home.
It crouched there for a little while as it scanned the immaculate lawns for danger.
As he dropped to the grass he lowered a special pair of goggles that allowed him to see in the infrared end of the spectrum, the torch's infrared light beam lit up the area. To any other watcher they would see nothing different.
As the figure approached the house he stopped and took in the crisscross pattern of the infrared beams that blocked his approach.
After studying them a moment he backed up and took a run up. He launched himself through the air and cleared the beams like an Olympic high jumper doing a Fosbry flop.
With a quick dash he was at the French windows.
Taking a slim piece of wire he circumvented the alarm around the door. Once that was done it was only a matter of seconds to get inside.
Giorgio entered his billiard room in high dungeon. His entourage followed him reluctantly.
"Someone has over stepped the mark and shown disrespect. Find out who did and nail them to the wall!" Giorgio raged.
"I'm checking our people but have drawn a blank so far." Carlo answered nervously.
The Don poured himself a whisky.
"What are you standing there for go and find who did it."
They couldn't get out fast enough.
"Oh I agree. That's the problem Giorgio you just can't get the staff these days." A voice mocked as the fireside chair swivelled round to reveal Fair Play. "Good evening Don Giorgio. Working late are we."
"I don't know who you are or how you got in here, but you're going to suffer for it."
The Don reached under the table for the panic button that would summon his guards.
"Don't press that my friend. It won't do you any good I've disconnected it, well not so much disconnected as rewire it to give you a shock on the third push. Oh dear late again."
Giorgio shot backward as the voltage hit him.
Fair Play walked over and offered a hand to help him up.
"If we've finished beating our chests to prove we are alpha males we can sit down and have a proper conversation."
The Don shook himself.
"Agreed." The Don picked up his glass. "Drink?"
Fair Play indicated his refusal.
"Have to keep a clear head."
"I often do." He smiled. "Someone shot up the Black Cat killing innocent people. I get annoyed with things like that."
"So do I. If your asking if I condone what happened I don't. It was amateurish. Gives us all a bad name." He sipped his whisky. "I've got my boys out to teach them a lesson."
Both men watched each other like cats, each one sizing the other up.
"Why was you name and number left by Mary Wells? Did you ice her?"
"She was an embarrassment. Like an itch you can't reach." He eased himself in his seat and reached for his pistol in his shoulder holster surreptitiously. But he found nothing. The holster was empty.
"I emptied it when I helped you up." Fair Play said while spinning the pistol round on his finger like some gunslinger in a movie. He laid the gun on the counter top and slid it across to the Don.
"No shells I suppose?" Giorgio said with a broad smile.
"Good grief no, a loaded gun is to dangerous. You never know when it will go off."
Fair Play smiled back. "So you didn't have Mary killed?"
"If I did it would be less obvious. But no I didn't, but I'll check just in case one of my family got above himself."
"Are you sure you won't have a drink" He poured himself another whisky he turned around to find himself alone. Fair Play had gone leaving the guns shells and other bits and pieces he had pick pocketed.
The Don raised his glass in salute.
"To you my friend. I have a feeling you and I will cross swords again someday."
His right hand man entered the room to find a amused Don chuckling to himself.
Giorgio waved to the man to join him.
"I've had a visitor and I'd take it as a personal insult if he manages to escape the grounds Toni."
Toni rushed out to organise the chase.
Fair Play sneaked across the patio and rounded the corner to find himself confronted by a big bruiser.
The big fellow made to grasp his tunic which was mistake number one. Fair Play spun on the spot sending the man hurtling over his hip. Mistake number two was trying to get up again as a booted foot to the chin knocked him out.
His assailant was off like a grey hound out of the slips. Dodging the gun fire by zigzagging randomly he reached the wall. Without slowing his pace he erupted upward in a somersault that landed him feet first on the wall for a split second before he dismounted with a perfect lay out.
By the time the mobsters got outside he had gone. The street was empty save for a pair of rough sleepers huddled against the wall singing drunkenly.
After they had gone one of the drunks stood up and took off the coat he had borrowed.
"Thank you old friend." Fair Play said.
"S'orate" Was the drunken reply.
"Do you want a lift to the hostel?" The old man shook his head. "I thought not. Take care old friend."
He turned and trotted into the shadows and was away.
The old man had forgotten him as he dropped into the drunken haze.Chapter Six Don't Deal in Lies.
The morning broke clear and bright with a bright blue sky and a light breeze.
The decision was taken to have breakfast served out in the roof top garden.
The sound of tickling water from a small fountain eased their souls.
Wendy joined them in a white towel dressing gown over her silk nightdress.
On the small metal garden table was a tray of toast and a pot of steaming hot coffee.
Terry in his white slacks and shirt looked like a matinee idol. The blue jumper tied around his neck set it off.
Bella and Albert were seated at the table with him discussing the days affairs.
Bella spotted her.
"Good Morning Miss Wendy." She pulled out a chair at the table for her to sit down on.
"Thank you Bella."
"My pleasure miss."
Albert poured her a coffee.
"If you would prefer anything else Miss Wendy let me know, a scrabble egg possibly." He said with a friendly smile.
"What you have here is more than enough Albert."
"Thank You Miss."
Terry looked surprisingly fresh for someone who didn't get home much before two in the morning. Even though he walked in quietly on stocking feet it was enough to rouse Albert to see if his master needed his help.
"Welcome home Master Terry. Is their anything you need sir?"
"The only thing I need right now is my bed. I'll tell you all about it over breakfast."
"Very good sir. Goodnight sir."
Terry looked across at Wendy with a gentle smile.
He took her slim hand and bestowed a loving kiss on it.
"We have French croissants if you prefer." He said looking deeply into her eyes.
Her heart beat went a little fast as she said she had plenty enough in front of her.
Reluctantly she let go of his hand to enjoy the breakfast.
"You were telling us of your successes last night Master Terry?" Albert reminded him.
"Pardon? Oh yes." He took a sip of his coffee to give him time to gather his thoughts. "I've managed to eliminate many of my friends that were being black mailed. They had alibi's."
He watched a hawk that had landed on the rooftop rail and begun preening himself.
"The families may have done it but if they did it wasn't sanctioned by the Don. Like wise with the shooting up of the café.
He wasn't happy and promised to find out who had done it.
"Could they have hired a 'Hit Man' I believe they are called to do the execution for them?" Albert asked.
"So we are no nearer to finding out who carried it out?" Wendy sighed and looked crestfallen.
"We will Wendy I promise. I'm going to stir things up for our Judge, Lieutenant and Defence council. I want to know why they were so convinced your brother had killed Mary."
He put his arm around her and drew her to his side. She looked up into his face as she snuggled deeper in to his chest.
He let over her and gave her a loving kiss.
At the French window the two servants watched the scene with satisfaction.
"You could be joining us in a more permanent position sister." Albert whispered.
"I wouldn't mind brother, Ted Knight doesn't really need me." She told him as the door bell chimed.
Terry and Wendy separated and lent forehead to forehead.
"I think I've fallen in love with you." Terry said.
"I know I have fallen in love with you." She replied.
"Oh good that's alright then."
A polite cough brought them back to reality.
"Sorry to disturb you Sir, Miss but we have a Officer Crabtree wishing to see you both." Albert said.
Wendy stood up.
"I'll go and get changed. Then I'll come back and finish this excellent breakfast."
"Are you alright Wendy?" Terry asked with a worried frown.
"Yes lover I'm fine, just fine." She kissed his cheek before taking her leave with Bella bringing up the rear.
"I'll see him out here please Albert."
"Very well sir."
A few minutes later he lead the obviously nervous police officer out into the sunshine.
"Take a seat Officer Crabtree. Would you like a coffee." Terry pointed at the still steaming coffee jug.
"Yes please. Black, one sugar." He told Albert.
Their was an awkward moment as Terry poured out the coffee instead of Albert.
Terry watched the man intently as with a slight tremor he took the proffered cup.
Crabtree's lips were white and his throat was dry that was obvious but why he was so nervous Terry couldn't at that moment guess.
"Is Miss Wendy Wilson staying with you Mr Sloan?" Crabtree asked the jumping pulse in his neck giving a lie to his calm delivery.
"Yes, my fiancée is staying with me at the moment. Why?"
"I'd prefer to tell you both rather than having to repeat myself."
"That will not be necessary officer Crabtree. Please begin?"
Wendy entered the roof garden like a Royal boarding a yacht. She looked a picture in her floral summer frock that was tightly clenched in at the waist by a broad pale grey belt. Pale grey gloves finished the ensemble.
Crabtree waited for Wendy to take her seat beside Terry before continuing.
"I am on what is commonly known as 'Gardening Leave'."
"Sorry?" Wendy had never heard of that saying so was naturally confused.
"It means he has been suspended indefinitely. Am I right Officer Crabtree?"
"But why?" Terry continued to gently press for answers.
"Officially because I'm being investigated for corruption."
"An unofficially?" Terry thought he knew but preferred the man to spell it out so Wendy understood.
"Unofficially because I have been looking for evidence that would clear Miss Wendy's brother even though I had been warned off."
The policeman shifted uneasily in his seat.
"I thought blow it I might as well be hung as a sheep rather than a lamb."
"Commendable." Terry said. "If we are to work together I'll need a first name rather than calling you officer Crabtree?"
"My name is Colin and I'm glad you'll let me work with you." He took out of his portmanteau an official looking form. "I managed to intercept this, this morning. It's the order to carry out your brothers execution. I am sorry miss."
"I'm Terry, my fiancée is Wendy and my personal servants and old friends are Albert and Bella." Terry cast a quick eye over the paperwork.
"You'll see Terry that our favourite judge has authorised it."
Terry passed the document to Albert who studied it carefully.
"How much time have you bought us do you think?" Terry asked.
"A day perhaps two."
Colin pulled out of his case a sheaf of papers.
"The Medical Examiners report, my initial interview of Wendy's brother, scene of crime report."
"Won't they be missed?" Wendy asked.
"Not for awhile as these are the original reports not the doctored ones that went to the prosecutors office." Colin sipped his scolding coffee. "The reports haven't been altered whole sale they have just played down or don't mention evidence that moves a verdict away from your brother. I believe your brother is innocent, always have, but I couldn't find any evidence to prove he was and I have been stopped from investigating further."
Terry got up and placed four chairs in the a rough shape of the interior of the car.
"Colin sit in the passenger front seat of the car." He waved at the chairs.
Colin complied as Terry sat behind him.
"The coroners report said the knife blows were in the right side of her chest." Terry mimicked the stabbing. "Is it possible for Rick to reach round the seat and stab her repeatedly? He'd be stabbing blind."
Albert was studying the coroners report.
"Forgive me Master Terry he couldn't have done it with his right hand while sitting in the rear seat."
"You've seen it too." Terry looked at the other pair and could see only confused frowns.
"I suppose its to much to ask for an explanation?" Wendy asked.
"The gap between the side of the car and the seat is to small to allow him access. Was the car window open Colin"
Colin looked at his notes.
"No it was shut. There was a lot of blood on the inside of the door so any turning of the handle to shut the window after her death would leave fingerprints and smearing of the blood."
"The door furniture would get in the way stopping a right hand attack. Is Rick left handed Wendy." Terry asked.
"A left hand attack from behind the passenger seat is possible but it would be difficult to successfully hit the right of the body. It would be easier stabbing the centre or left side of the body."
"Perhaps he stabbed her from outside of the car." Colin said with a frown.
Terry got out of the imaginary car opened the invisible front passenger door, and once again mimed the stabbing motion.
"Yes an assailant could lean in and stab her with his right hand but a left hander would find it difficult and would more likely strike her right back and side rather than the front."
"Were was Rick found Colin?"
"He was in the passenger seat with her, cuddling her, the knife in his hand." Colin told them. "I ruled out him stabbing her while in the drivers seat as there was no evidence of blood on that side."
"So what have we got. Someone she knew caused her to panic and rushed round to get in the front of the car to drive away but in her fear she got in the passenger side, the side that the driver would sit in the UK. He or she opened the door, lent in, and stabbed her to death."
Terry carried out the course of actions.
"Why wasn't this evidence used in court. It would have created doubt in the jury's mind."
"Because evidence like this was ignored. It wasn't ever entered as evidence for the trial. We'd already got the confession." Colin said in shame.
"It was 'buried' along with any Scene of Crime evidence that contradicted with the damming of Rick." Terry said deep in thought. "I'm going to call in some favours and see if I can get a stay of execution."
"We had proof of his innocence but not enough to release him. We had no other suspects."
"True but we have evidence of a conspiracy. I think my Mystery Man friend should pay the Judge and the defence council a visit."
"You mean The Bat and The Cat?" Colin was impressed.
"No Fair Play."
Colin was less impressed.
"Two of you would be more impressive." Albert observed.
Colin stood his face a picture of embarrassment as Albert and Bella fussed around his costume.
Colin was dressed in a dark blue all in one with a steel cap to protect his head. Silver tight shorts and gauntlets finished the ensemble.
He felt particularly weedy against the visiting Fair Plays perfectly athletic frame.
Wendy chuckled as she helped Colin get a grip of his silver shield.
"You look very dashing Colin but we need a name. Any ideas?"
"The Guardian. It fits in with his role as a police officer."
"Manhunter sounds better." Bella suggested
Colin shrugged as he started to put his mask on.
"I hope you know what you are doing Fair Play?"
"I want to know what it takes to corrupt our legal system." Fair Play said slowly. "Shall we go."Chapter Seven Any Mans Death Diminishes Me
Judge Steven Wallaby put down his golf clubs with a smug smile and a hundred dollars the richer by his office desk.
His opponent was an inveterate gambler and took the bet over the match but he was probably rueing it now.
Steven hated the subterfuge but it had to be done for his wife's sake.
Steven basically lied over his handicap.
Lying had come naturally to him, though he didn't like it.
"I take it that you won Judge?" Fair Play spoke calmly from the shadows.
Steven swung round to be confronted by two strangely garbed men.
Mystery Men the news papers call them but the judge preferred the name vigilante. Dangerous people with agendas of their own. They could seriously upset the status quo.
"Get out of my office!" Steven yelled.
"No I don't think so." Fair Play replied calmly. "I am Fair Play and this is my colleague The Guardian.
I believe in Fair Play but so far their hasn't been any for poor Ricky Wilson."
The Judge seemed stunned but Terry could see his mind was racing, looking for a way out of his predicament.
"Now let's have the truth shall we?"
"I don't care who you are or what you want! Just get out of here before I call the police!" Steven yelled hoping someone in the outer office would hear him.
Fair Play smiled.
"You don't have to yell there is no one out there to hear you. Apparently you gave them all the day off. Most considerate of you."
Fair Play crossed to the golf clubs and pulled out the sand wedge and gave it a practice swing.
"Nice club, expensive too. No you wont phone the police for two reasons. The first is that your bank account shows some large withdrawals to pay the black mailer. The second is that you also have large payments in to your bank account from a business with connections to the mob."
Steven removed his hand from the telephone.
"You know then. I can't make any more payments to the bitch or you."
"The case of Ricky Wilson was unsound and yet you ruled out three important files, three important facts!" The Guardian dropped the paperwork on to the Judges table with an audible thud.
"Let us review the facts shall we." Fair Play said pulling out another club and ball from the bag. "One who ever killed Mary did so from the front. Two he or she was right handed."
He suddenly flicked the ball straight at the Judge who caught it deftly.
"And so are you." Fair Play said softly.
"Mary Wells was blackmailing several people including you." The Guardian lent in closely and raised his voice aggressively. "You deliberately had evidence withheld! Who told you to do that or did you do that off your own back!"
He thumped the desk top hard to emphasise his points.
"I must apologise for my colleague he hasn't the restraint that I possess." Fair Play laughed. "Where were you when Mary was killed. You weren't at your club I checked or at your golf club. So where were you?"
Fair Play had been pulling out the clubs from the bag one by one and giving them a test swing until he had two four woods in his hand.
"I thought to myself what hold could a newspaper critic have over a Judge of the land. Could it be your drug addiction." He put one four wood away and unscrewed the head of the other from its shaft. He tipped it over and brown Cannabis tablets fell out onto the table. "No I don't think so. If you come clean the public would have sympathy for you."
"But it's more likely that she threatened to expose your corruption!" The Guardian roared in high dungeon.
The Judge had moved slowly round behind his desk.
"What do you know about it! The Cannabis is for my wife not me! It's the only thing that eases her pain. She has Multiple Sclerosis."
"You have my sympathy." Fair Play said truthfully. "But that won't stop me if you are guilty."
The judge pulled out his pistol from its special holster under the desk top.
"I could kill you. Both of you are trespassers threatening my life after all."
The Guardian snarled and jumped forward slamming his shield into the desk top just in front of the guns barrel. "Go on pull the trigger I dare you. The shrapnel will tear you apart and a lot of good you'd be to your wife dead."
Steven dropped the gun onto the desk.
"What happens now is that you tell us why you were so desperate to get a conviction? That would be a good place to start, and don't try and lie as I'm particularly good at spotting them." Fair Play said urbanely sitting himself on the table.
"When I heard that Mary was dead it seemed as if a great cloud had lifted off my shoulders."
"I don't know how but a letter black mailing me to get Rick Wilson convicted arrived but it was written by Mary. I recognised the hand writing."
He opened the draw and pulled out the letter. Fair Play took it and flattened it out on the desk top.
"Do you have one of Mary's earlier letters?" He asked.
"Yes." He opened the draw up and pulled out another letter. "This was the last one I had before she died. She was asking for a thousand dollars or a pearl necklace.
She knew I had one that my mother had left us because she had seen Anna, my wife, wearing it."
Fair play flattened it out beside the other.
"Did you give her the necklace?" He asked.
"No. My wife loved that one. I was going to pay her the money but she was killed before I could."
Fair play was studying them both carefully.
"The new one is a forgery. A good one but a forgery none the less."
The three men crowded round to see.
"The top of the 'tee's' are flatter and less free flowing. The 'ees' are heavier. See here on the original as compared with the fake?"
"I'll take your word friend as I can't see the difference." The Guardian said.
Fair play stood up.
"How did you pay her? A drop off point?" He asked.
"No nothing so mysterious. I used a bankers draft to pay it straight in to her account. Trinkets were always hand delivered by a courier. "
"This evidence could free Rick. At least put doubts in the mind of the jury."
"It's to late far to late." Steven slumped down in his chair.
"What do you mean too late. What have you done?" The Guardian asked in horror.
"I signed his death warrant this morning." The Judge took his head in his hands. "He is due to be executed in an hours time."
The Guardian was about to mention the intercepted order but Fair Play forestalled him.
"The telephone is there judge all you have to do is phone up and tell them you have a stay of execution." He lifted the telephone. "All it needs is a few words from you."
"I can't. If I do they will publish what they have on me. It will destroy my wife."
"Give me the number!" Fair Play asked irritatedly.
Reluctantly Steven told him.
Fair Play dialled the number.
"Judge?" He held out the phone receiver to him.
Steven shook his head and looked at the ground.
"Very well." He turned off the voice distorter. "Hello this is Judge Wallaby.
I am bringing a Stay of Execution on Ricky Wilson. Yes that is right. I will bring the required paperwork over personally.
He put the phone down and but didn't click his voice distorter on.
Steven was horrified and the Guardian amazed. The whole sequence on the phone was done perfectly in Stevens voice.
"I think it is time we were leaving. The Judge has much to do.
Do you know I wouldn't be surprised if the Judge here releases a press bulletin that he is stepping down to look after his ill wife, and to create a research charity into the illness with Terry Sloan the millionaire or Bruce Wayne. I happen to know they are both looking for a new charity venture."
Once outside the Guardian turned to face Fair Play.
"I thought you had disconnected the telephone?" He said.
"Thank you for reminding me I better reconnect it before the Judge realise he has been tricked." A few moments at the grey telephone relay and it was reconnected. "With any luck he is filling out a stay of execution form as we speak."
"I was surprised you didn't arrest him?"
"He has suffered enough with his wife's illness."
"What about the payment's from the mob?"
"They were funding the wife's treatment on a no strings basis."
"How do you know that?"
"The Don told me and I trust him in this.
Last year the Don's son was involved in an accident, a car crash. The judge was the first on the scene. Bruno, the son, had stopped breathing so the Judge did CPR and brought him back from the undiscovered country."
"Do you think he will retire and take up a job offer."
"Yes I think so. He's basically a good man in a horrible situation. Who would say they wouldn't do the same if they were in his situation."
"Where to now?"
"A couple of more visits I think." They crossed to their car. "But I think I will do this one on my own. I'll drop you off at the Sloan's."
Soon the alley was quiet again save for the sound of someone crying.
Getting back into the Sloan apartment was far from easy with the police car sitting outside the apartment. They tricked the patrol away by the virtue of Wendy been taken out in the Rolls. As before the patrol car rolled away from the curb to follow.
Once inside the policeman gratefully removed the costume and dressed in his own clothes.
"Not thinking of staying as the Guardian?" Fair Play laughed.
"No. It's not in my blood I'd much rather be a policeman."
"Keep the costume you never know you may change your mind."
"Thanks but I think I'll pass it to my cousin young Jim Harper. He's a patrolman in Hells Kitchen and more likely to use it."
"I've got to go out but I'm sure there's a coffee jug on the table in the garden."
Fair Play made for the door. "You can brief the others when they come in."
Colin smiled warmly at him.
"Don't worry Terry I'll make sure they know."
"How did you know?" Fair Play asked concerned.
"You forgot to turn on the voice distorter when we left the judges place until we got to the motor bike. I recognised your voice."
"So much for my feted super intelligence." Terry sighed.
"I'm not going to say anything Terry."
Terry left him to his own devices.
A short time later he was at the offices of Guilder and Guilder where he found a scene of utter carnage.
He had gotten access to the building from a rather rotten back window.
Once inside his senses were assailed by a metallic odour he knew to well. The odour of fresh blood.
He let himself into the main office area to find the mangled bodies of the staff. After a quick check for life signs he came to the conclusion there was no survivors. Someone had thrown hand grenades into the room.
His superior hearing picked up the faint sound of movement near the shattered window.
Lying on the floor was the body of John Jacks the defending council.
He had some protection from the blast from the table but he was in a bad way.
In the distance he could hear the two tones of the emergency vehicles approaching.
And this gave him a quandary. Should he leave the way he came before they arrive, should he get changed so they find Terry Sloan here, or stay as he is and take the risk of being arrested.
Johns eyes flickered open and in doing so made Fair Play's mind up.
Working swiftly he reclaimed the bag with his clothes in and changed back into Terry hiding his mystery persona under his normal clothes. The whole thing lasted only a couple of minutes.
He bent down and with utmost care checked over John's body. He could feel the broken ribs and left arm.
"You're going to be alright son just hold on help is coming." He said urgently.
"Can't breathe." John muttered. "So much pain."
Terry ripped Johns shirt open to reveal an open wound to the chest cavity. Air being sucked noisily in through this hole was collapsing his lung.
Frantic for something to help Terry's eyes spied a woman's cardigan over the back of a chair. He grabbed it and made a pad of it and pushed it over the hole stopping any more air being sucked into the plural sack.
"Hello anyone here?!" A voice in the hallway called.
"In here! The main office!" Terry yelled.
"Hold on we're coming."
"Hurry I've a man critically injured in here."
The door swung open as the ambulance crew pushed their way in.
They stopped in shock at what they were seeing.
"Here behind the desk."
Shaking himself out of his shock the doctor hurried around the desk and squatted by the afflicted John.
"He has a sucking wound to his chest, four ribs broken, compound fracture of his arm and a large amount of splinters in his skin." Terry told him. "Probable internal injuries. Liver and spleen.
I'm afraid you can't do anything for the others they are all ready dead."
The doctor nodded his understanding.
"Are you a doctor?" He asked.
"Yes." Terry got his doctorate of medicine when he was only fourteen.
"Then he is a lucky man." The doctor stood up and beckoned to the stretcher bearers. "We need to get him into the ambulance now." For a few moments all was organised chaos then silence fell on the room once more.
Two police officers entered the room but the youngest didn't stay long as he rushed outside to be violently sick.
Terry was slumped against the wall the adrenaline seeping out of his body.
"Are you alright sir? Come on let's get you out of here." His face was pure white and he was having trouble not being sick himself. Once outside he took great deep breaths to clear the stink from his nostrils.
Terry stood silently allowing his body to settle back into its normal state.
"Can you tell us what happened?" The officer asked after taking down Terry's particulars.
"I've no idea. I had an appointment with the elder Mr Guilder. We agreed because of my high profile that I would enter through the back door." Terry told him. "When I came into the main office it was to find what you discovered. I'm a trained doctor but there was nothing I could do for most of them. Then I found the young man behind the desk."
The ambulance crew were loading the stretcher as they talked. The medic stopped the bearers and after a quick cursory check shook his head and pulled up the sheet to cover the head.
Terry let out an audible groan.
The policeman turned to look and gave a involuntary shake as if he had been dipped in ice.
"A bad business." The officer said.
"But why? All those deaths for no reason?" Terry said horrified. "If they had wanted to kill someone why not a gun or a knife in the dark."
"There are plenty weird people about sir. You'd be surprise sir."
Terry looked back at the Jacks body.
"'And every death diminishes me.'"
Terry vowed silently to get justice for Jack and the Judge.
A little latter, after collecting his motorbike and putting his Terry Sloan's clothes back into the secret pannier, Fair Play roared down the back alleyways toward the Sloan household.
His heart was as cold as ice.Chapter Eight Don't Give Way to Hating.
Terry sat quietly in the roof garden watching a early Bumblebee visiting the early spring plants.
In front of him were sheets of paper on which he had put his notes.
"Is he alright Albert?" Wendy asked very concerned.
"I have seen him in this mood before Miss Wendy and thankfully it doesn't last long." It was obvious that Albert was concerned for his master.
Terry stood up and stretched. Every sinew, muscle rippled with the effort.
He looked like an Adonis in that filtered sun light.
The perfect blend of athleticism and intelligence.
"Someone has gone to a lot of effort to destroy those connected with Rick's trial. " Terry said out loud. "Black mail the Judge, kill the defence council, try and kill the criminals sister. It is only logical that he or she will try and destroy the Lieutenant who was leading the case and the prosecutor who put Rick in prison. That's assuming they aren't the ones carrying out the crimes themselves."
"Would you like a coffee Master Terry?" Albert asked passing the evening papers to him.
"Yes please Albert."
Terry took the papers and speed read all three of them in mere moments.
He stopped at the last one at the private message's page.
Working quickly he found the same notice in the other two.
As Albert entered the room with a tray of coffee and cookies being followed by the other three, it was to find a smiling Terry looking up at them.
"We have an invite to visit Don Giorgio." He laughed.
"Are you going Sir?" Albert asked.
"Oh I think so don't you."
Mary and Colin were studying the notices.
"It's pretty cryptic." Wendy said.
"It would have to be." Colin said.
"I want to go with you Terry?" Wendy asked.
"I will need Colin to come. Do you still have your shield, your warrant card?" Terry asked Colin.
"Yes." Colin said slowly. "You're not going to arrest the Don?"
"No. At least I don't think so."
Terry said thoughtfully.
"I need the patrol car to follow us." He carried on peaking over the parapet to check the car was still there. "Wendy you'll be in the Rolls with Albert and Bella. Colin you'll be on the motorbike with me.
Albert, Bella I need you both to be prepared and at the slightest whiff of trouble you get out and come back here. Promise me?"
"You have my word sir." Albert said sniffily as he collected a Berretta pistol and a shot gun from the locked gun cupboard.
"Sorry old friend. I know you will but Wendy has become very important to me."
"I understand sir."
At eight a clock in the evening the Rolls Royce pulled out of the underground car park and began to filter out into the south bound traffic.
A few moments later the patrol car followed.
The motorbike roared up the slope and disappeared down the back streets the pillion passenger hanging on for grim death. In a few minutes it pulled out into the main traffic a few cars ahead of the Rolls.
At the quay where the tourist paddle steamers were berthed Fair Play let the motorbike silently coast to a stop. Securing the vehicle he checked his surroundings before crossing over to where his sharp eyes had spotted someone squatting.
"The Don sent for me." He said.
The man didn't move but there was the sound of a step behind him. He turned around to see Carlo, the Dons right hand man, approaching.
"Good evening gentlemen. If you'll follow me the Dons waiting." He was immaculately dressed in a expensive Italian suit but it didn't take a Sherlock Holmes to see the bulge of the holstered pistol.
They were escorted to a dilapidated wharf building which made them decidedly nervous.
They entered and began walking down the racks of fish boxes to where light pooled around the entrance of the huge freezer.
The Don was waiting puffing on a large cigar.
Terry stopped short and bowed to the Mafioso.
"Greetings old friend. We don't need such formality you and I." The Don smiled warmly.
"True old friend. This is Officer Crabtree of the murder squad. What have you got for me?"
Giorgio signalled for them to follow him into the freezer.
At the centre hanging upside down from meat hooks were two naked forms. Both carried bruises that clearly demonstrated how they had been treated.
One was a woman the other a swarthy Italian.
"The man is a man who deals in Vendetta's. A paid hit man. His name is Carlo Minuet. The woman is Lucy Van Halen." The Don explained. "They are cheap hoods that work without the family's permission."
"May I have a word with them?"
"Be my guest. Wake them up Eddie."
A man in a blood splattered laboratory coat touched the live leads off a car battery to the woman's wet nipples.
She woke up screaming.
Eddie lifted the woman head.
"Now Lucy I want you to answer this gentlemen's questions honestly. I don't want all that fuss and lies you gave us earlier. Understood?!"
The woman tried to nod but the hand holding her hair stopped her.
The left eye was practically closed by swelling tissues but the right one swung round to look at Fair Play fearfully.
"Lucy I need to know, did you kill Mary Wells?"
"No." The voice was slurred by the pool of blood in her mouth. She spat some at the floor.
Fair Play nodded watching her micro muscle movements that told him if she was lying.
"Did you attack the coffee shop?"
"Did you bomb the solicitors?" He was trying to give her the option to answer in one word.
"No I didn't think you had." He looked up at Giorgio. "Don Giorgio my old friend how long have you had our friends here in protective custody?"
Giorgio looked across at his number two.
"Well answer the man."
The second in command looked across at the pitiful scene.
"About two hours or just over." His Italian accent was strong.
"Thank you." He turned back to the woman. "How did you get your targets details? How did you get your payment?"
The answers came with a struggle.
They were paid by picking up the money in a left luggage box at the New Brunswick's main railway station, the Lakeside. It was also how they got the information for the hits with an advance.
Fair Play rocked back on his heels.
"Her partner doesn't say much." He said rhetorically.
"That's because he's dead." The torturer replied without any sign of emotion. "Or as near as dam it."
"Before he succumbed to his injuries he managed to tell us that he killed the prosecutor for being greedy."
"He's on leave up in the mountains shooting bear." Colin said puzzled.
"Unfortunately he met with an accident while on his way. Apparently his car was blown up. He was using false papers so he could skip the country into Canada that's why no one realises that McKinley is dead." The Don told him.
"Thank you old friend. I don't think I'll get anything useful from them if I was to continue."
The woman suddenly screamed making them all jump.
"Please don't leave me here they will kill me." She sobbed.
"Did you give any thought to those innocents you killed in the coffee shop!" Fair Play said angrily.
"I didn't do it I was just the driver." She was sobbing now.
"Just the driver!? If you think that exonerates you, you are so wrong." Fair Play was furious with her and more furious with himself for hating her.
"He made me do it and placing the bomb under Sloan's car. When we missed her at the café."
"The bomb works how? Tell me?" Fair Play asked angrily.
"I don't know." Eddie moved forward scalpel in hand. "It's wired to the odometer such that when they reach a certain mileage it will trigger a timer. If the car slows down or the bomb fiddled with it will explode."
Terry and Colin looked each other in horror knowing that the Rolls Royce was cruising around the dock area. Any moment the odometer would reach 20'000 miles and the car and its contents could be scattered to the four winds.
"I'll get my boys out to the Sloan residence and warn them." The Don offered.
"Thank you my friend but I know they are driving round the area ready to pick up our police officer here." Fair Play sounded more confident and calm than he felt.
"Get the boys out to find them." The Don yelled to his second in command.
"How will we recognise the car?"
"How many Rolls Royce Silver Clouds do you think drives around this area you idiot!" The Don swore in Italian. "What do you want us to do about this scum?"
Fair Play looked at the two dangling figures his heart full of hate for the casual way they killed people.
He took one of his calming deep breaths.
"Officer Crabtree read them their rights and then book them murder one. Get their confessions written signed and witnessed." He looked up at the Don. "Afterwards dispose of them how you see fit."
"It has been a pleasure doing business with you?"
"And you Don Giorgio. We must go to the opera together. I understand that you enjoy Mozart, they're doing Cosi Fan Tutte at the metro."
"That would be nice." He said as Fair Play vanished back the way they had come.
19998 miles on the clock.
Fair Play ran and jumped onto the motor bike and roared away.
He knew where he would probably find Albert and steered in that direction. Praying that he would be in time.
Albert steered the vehicle back along the harbour road for the sixth time. Woman of horizontal pleasure were plying their trade openly on the broadwalk making lewd gestures to them.
"I hope we don't get arrested for curb crawling." Bella uttered.
"Yes indeed." Albert replied accelerating the car slightly.
As he turned the corner Fair Play appeared roaring out of a alley like a bat out of hell.
He roared beside them with no indication of slowing up.
Albert rolled the window down.
"Don't slow up! You've got a bomb on board."
Fair Play clambered up onto the seat of the motorbike like a circus performer and using his foot to steer the bike he neared the Rolls.
Suddenly he launched himself across the gap and landed on the running board. He scrabbled for a grip his feet slipping on the polished wood. Finally he managed to get a grip of the open windows side.
The motorbike shot across the road and piled into a mound of rubbish sacks.
"The bomb will got off if you slow up. I need you to drive at a constant thirty mile an hour." Fair Plays mind was racing with probable outcomes and strategies. "Can you do that Albert?"
"Yes sir and I know just the place. I'm going to have to smash my way in." Albert took a screeching turn down a narrow back road to reappear close to the New Brunswick Lilly race circuit.
Ahead was the large fence gates. Without slowing down he crashed through them, threatening to dislodge his master. Within seconds he was on the circuit proper.
Fair Play crawled onto the fender and opened the hood to allow access to the engine. In seconds he had detected the bombs wires to the odometer and the speedometer. Trying not to burn himself on the hot interior he pulled out a Swiss army knife from a pouch. He tried to open it one handed only to drop it. He watched in despair as it bounced off the tarmac.
The passenger door at the back of the car opened up enough for Bella to slide out. Precariously she slid along the car until she reached Fair Play. She swung herself around him and grabbed the edge of the engine compartment. Bella's arms were now on both sides of him.
"I've got you sir!" She yelled above the roar of the engine.
Fair Play let go and could feel Bella taking the strain.
Pulling another knife from his pouch he lent back into the engine space and stared at the wires. For all of his great physical and mental prowess we had never attended a course on bomb disposal. It was something he'd have to remedy should he survive.
Shaking himself out of his brain fug he reached in and traced the lines to their source. Twice burning his hand in the attempt.
The knife cut through the yellow wire with ease. The bomb didn't go off.
The next wire was the blue one or was it the red one?
A cold sweat flushed down his body as he cut the red wire. The connection to the odometer was severed. Working swiftly he spliced the wires together thereby keeping the electrical circuit connected.
The one connected to the speedometer was going to be much more difficult to deal with.
Bella's arms were screaming in protest as she took Fair Play's weight again as he lent into the engine compartment once more.
Careful not to earth them he paired off the protective covers and twisted the wires together to create a circuit.
He signalled to Albert to slow the car. He did so very carefully his foot ready to return to the accelerator if need be.
The car rolled to a stop.
The bomb made an ominous clunk.
"Everybody out!" Fair Play screamed.
Bella let go of the engine housing and threw herself onto the floor.
Albert threw himself out of the drivers side to join her. Fair Play dashed to where Wendy was having difficulty getting out. He swept her up into his arms and ran a few steps before throwing her to the ground and dropping on top of her to take the blast.
The bomb made a horrendous fart sound and shot a blast of steam upward. After a few more moments they came to realise that nothing more was going to happen so they regained their feet.
Wendy untangled herself and looked deeply into Fair Plays eyes.
"Terry? Terry!" She sank into his arms as he pulled back the hood.
He leaned over her and gently kissed her before releasing her into Bella's care.
"Albert we'll need to jack the old girl up so I can get underneath and remove the bomb."
"Sir the circuit has an inspection pit in the pit lane." Albert climbed back into the car and very slowly drove it into the pit lane. The third garage had the inspection pit. He pull in over it.
When the others had walked over it was to find Albert underneath the vehicle.
"The bomb shorted out sir but it has severed a coolant line. There is sufficient equipment here to resolve the problem sir.
Terry jumped into the pit and examined what Albert had discovered.
Ten minutes later Terry climbed out of the pit carrying the bomb.
"It's a crude device but effective."
He carried it over to where an old derelict stock car sat forlornly.
He placed it inside. He attached a long line to it and walked back to join the others.
"Shall we see how effective it would have been." He tugged the line sharply.
For a split second nothing happened. It was long enough for Fair Play to wonder if he had got the set up right.
With a colossal roar it detonated.
When the dust settled they could see that the automobile was peeled apart like a ripe fruit.
"Oh dear." Albert said with typical understatement. "Home sir."
"Yes Albert home."
A police car, sirens whining, drove rapidly into the circuit and pulled up beside them a few seconds later.
"Is everyone alright." Colin asked his face a picture of concern.
In the back of the green and white were the handcuffed bombers.
Colin saw Fair Play look and shrugged.
"The Don let me have them. I've charged them with murder, attempted murder and for six other counts. I've got their confessions down on paper."
Fair Play nodded.
"I think we'll have a chat first then we'll visit the lieutenant. I want some answers to all this." He looked across at the patrol car. "Where's the patrol driver?"
"Enjoying the Don's company while waiting to be picked up."
"In that case go and pick him up, if no one has got to him first, then go to the precinct house to deliver our prizes. I'll follow on the motorbike."
"That's assuming it's fit to be ridden." Albert said with a smile.
"Yes I did leave it to its own devices." The two men both smiled at the personal joke.
When they had recovered the bike it was to find it intact if covered with rubbish.
"She'll need a good clean sir." Albert said taking some squashed tomatoes out of the front wheel with a look of disgust.
"Yes but not now I'm thinking." Fair Play replied.
Albert took a hose out of the boot and connecting it to a fire hydrant he hosed the bike down.
His butler nodded to himself. It wasn't perfect but it far better than it was.
In moments Fair Play roared away leaving the others to make their way home.Chapter Nine Because I am Involved in Mankind
The precinct house was organized chaos as usual but it fell silent as detective Colin Crabtree and patrol man Mike Lemar led the two naked captives in.
The duty sergeant looked up from his desk and lifted a questioning eye brow.
"Now what have we here detective?" He asked.
"Book them George murder one. Oh and find them some clothes will you?"
"Who have they murdered?"
"The clients of the Black Cat coffee shop and the deaths of Wendy Wilson and Terry Sloan."
The woman started.
"No we didn't get to them in time." Colin snarled as he passed over the charge sheet with their written confessions.
The sergeant began taking down particulars when a harsh voice spoke.
"I thought you were on leave Crabtree?"
"I was lieutenant but this fell into my lap." Crabtree answered.
"I see. You better tell me all about it. My office now!"
"My pleasure sir." He turned and gave the desk sergeant a wink and a grin. "No mistakes now George."
"Of course not." The sergeant. "Back to work you lot haven't you seen a nude person before."
He turned to the young patrolman and gave him some keys.
"Get some boiler suits out of the cupboard son. We don't want our guests complaining now do we."
The Lieutenant led the way in to the office slamming the door behind them.
"What the hell do you think you are doing?!" He yelled. "You are on leave pending an inquiry. You are not supposed to be carrying on making inquiries!
You're already in a lot of trouble and now you made it a hell of a lot worse!"
The vein's stood out starkly in his neck.
"Oh don't blame him he was only helping me." Fair Play spun round in the lieutenants chair and put his feet onto the desk. "My names Fair Play by the way KKK. That is what you sign yourself as isn't it."
Kline flinched slightly.
"I though so." Fair Play said urbanely. "How long had Mary Wells been blackmailing you for?"
"Are you stupid or something?!" The Lieutenant went to the door but was stopped as Marys phonebook landed on the desk with a thump.
"Oh and don't think of destroying it or losing it as I've microfiche copies of it." He smiled. "You were paying her a thousand dollars at a time. Was that for services rendered? What hold did she have over you I wonder?"
"What I do in my private life is none of you business."
"Oh but it is when it means an innocent man will go to the death chamber for it." Terry was warming to his theme. "You were one of her cash cows. One of those she knew she could dip into for some cash or some jewellery. Her diary makes interesting reading, ah but you couldn't break her code, could you?"
"No." Kline replied.
"And it was so simple too. Her name followed with the rest of the alphabet. It took me mere seconds. Perhaps you would like me to read a few choice extracts to you."
The police officer deflated like a balloon.
"That is crucial evidence I could throw the book at you." He blustered.
"No you won't." Fair Play got up and stood over the man.
"Shall I tell you what happened? You couldn't break the code but you managed to read the bit that was in clear. She was going to meet big boy and you couldn't stand the thought that she was with someone better than you. So you followed her and saw them romping together, having sex. She wouldn't have sex with you would she? She wanted it to be a business transaction. Did she ask you for some pearls by the way?"
The police officer nodded.
"She is nothing more than consistent." Fair Play continued. "She saw you didn't she? She panicked and run round to the passenger side as if she was in a British car. When she realised her mistake she tried to lock the doors but she was too late. You pulled the door open and stabbed her repeatedly. You killed her and realising you needed an alibi you panicked and grabbed officer Crabtree to witness your 'discovery'.
"I didn't kill her, I wanted too." The change in the police officers persona was marked. "I tried to pull her out but it was no good she was already dead. I knew how it looked so I got Crabtree to come with me and find her."
"You used me as your alibi!?" Colin was far from pleased.
"Yes I had to." Kline said pitifully.
"And the hold she had over you?" Fair Play persisted.
"I let slip that I had done some work for Cantrell. Losing some evidence to a gang land hit or burying it." He took a shuddering breath. "Just minor stuff. She said she'd expose me in her rag if I didn't stay sweet on her."
"But it came to be too much. She was slowly bleeding you dry."
"Well her M.O is consistent." Colin said. "I could arrest you for hindering a police inquiry? But what would that achieve?"
"I didn't kill her?" He said pleadingly.
"No you didn't." Fair Play said thoughtfully. "But you started panicking when Terry Sloan and Wendy Wilson started kicking up a fuss over the arrest and court case of her brother. You knew a pair of small time hoods who would do the job for you.
You had to get rid of the Prosecutor as he had been bribed to make sure along with the Defender John Jacks that Wendy's brother went down for it.
But McKinley was too greedy he wanted more so you had them kill him. You had set them to kill Terry and Wendy too but they fouled up, missing their targets but killing the staff instead.
You needed them out of the way so you had them plant a bomb under the Sloan's Rolls Royce didn't you? Didn't you!?"
The Lieutenant nodded his head.
"She made me. She sent me a note threatening to expose me if I didn't kill you."
"Have you still got the note?"
The officer pulled it from his jacket.
Fair Play looked at it carefully.
"It's a forgery like the other one." He said. "Didn't you feel suspicious when it arrived after her death."
"Yes. But it is her hand writing. Or should I say the same hand who wrote the others. I assumed it was her maid carrying on sending the letter out. Oh I don't know what I thought, I just knew I had to obey it."
"Kenneth Kent Kline I am arresting you for conspiring in the death of Douglas McKinley and the attempted murder of Terry Sloan and Wendy Wilson."
McKinley looked up sharply.
"Oh yes I managed to save their lives, only just, but I succeeded." Fair Play turned around to a cupboard. "And just in case you feel like denying it I took the foresight to have a wire pool recording of the events in this office taken."
The man slumped back shattered.
"I suspect your finger prints are on the left luggage locker at 'Lakeside' so it wont be difficult to prove your guilt." He sighed. "I leave you to organise that Officer Crabtree. "
Fair Play stopped the recording and passed the reel to Colin as evidence.
Colin had turned the crushed police Lieutenant round and handcuffed him.
He then led him out down to the desk sergeant.
"I don't know what you did to that pair you brought in but they are singing like a couple of canaries." His voice petered out as he took in what he was seeing.
"Book him Sergeant. Conspiracy to murder, perverting the course of justice to start with, I give the others later."
"My, you have been busy for someone on leave Officer Crabtree."
"Just a little." He smiled at sergeant. "Just a little."
It was to prove to be a very busy day for the both of them.Chapter Ten Don't look too good, nor talk too wise
It was late evening in the Sloan household.
The five of them sat in front of a painters easel which had a board on it. The board was covered with small pieces of paper interconnected by pieces of ribbon.
Colin got up and tried to explain what it all meant.
He pointed at the central picture, that of Mary Wells.
"Mary Wells. Critic for the enquirer and several other papers.
They say her tongue could make or break people.
She had several lovers including the chief suspect Rick. Who you'll be happy to hear is no longer on death row.
The District Attorneys office is looking into the prospect of a retrial. So good news there.
Mary had four cash cows which we managed to expose three of them."
He took a sip of water.
"The Judge at Ricks trial was one. He was being blackmailed over getting cannabis for his sick wife.
The arresting officer Lieutenant Kline was another. He at the moment is being held in custody for organising the attempted murder of Terry and Wendy.
The defence council was selected for his lack of experience. He was subsequently murdered by Kline during the bombing of the lawyers office's.
The prosecuting council was bribed but got to greedy and was murdered."
He took another sip of water.
"We have eliminated all of them for various reasons from murdering Mary. But they are all implicated in the miscarriage of justice in the trial of Rick.
Two of them received excellent forgeries after Mary's death in what appeared to be Mary's hand writing.
The letters told them that they had to find Rick guilty of Mary's murder.
So we are no further forward in finding who actually killed Mary.
I think that's everything."
He sat down relieved that it was all done.
Terry massaged the bridge of his nose.
"Yes thank you Colin." He said sadly. "So despite the conspiracy, as Colin said, we have no idea who X is, the murderer. Albert have you had any luck with the telephone numbers in her address book?"
"We have managed to eliminate all the numbers but for the last three. Which don't look like phone numbers at all."
Terry examined the numbers while Bella went out to make some tea.
After a few moments he passed them across to Colin and Wendy.
"They are not telephone numbers. A code perhaps. No its too random. She's already got a code so why use another one.
You take the first one. 13r5l8r17r. If you replace the numbers with letters is still makes no sense." Then suddenly his face lit up as he realised the significance of the numbers, his eyes bright and sparkling.
"Or does it. 13 right, 5 left, 8 right, 17 right. It's a safe combination."
"Yes I supposed it's possible. What about the other two?" Colin asked.
Terry leaned back and brought his steepled fingers to his lips.
"We may find that out when we open the safe." He paused to collect his thought. "There was one in her apartment but I don't remember its combination being this one."
"Perhaps it is the combination to a safety deposit box in her bank, Master Terry?" Albert mused.
"It could well be. Colin could you find out if she had any?"
Colin yawned mightily.
"I'll look into things tomorrow and let you know. The D.A.'s office is bending over backwards to help. I wonder why."
"Thank you Colin."
"Well I'm off home before my wife divorces me for neglect."
"I'll ask Albert to take you."
Albert got up ready but Colin waved him down.
"I'll get one of our patrol car's to pick us up. If I may use your phone."
"Of course. It's my fault for keeping you so late."
At this point an agitated Bella entered the room and crossed to the radiogram.
"The News has an article on Judge Wallaby sir." She said.
The radio burped and rasped as it came to life before the tinny sound of the news reader Bernard Levin could be heard in the room.
"Good evening. Here is the late news and I am Bernard Levin reading it.
This evening the justice department produced a statement from Judge Wallaby.
It is as follows.
'I Daniel Wallaby will be retiring from the bench as Judge, effective from tomorrow, so I can spend more time with my wife, Rosemary, who is suffering badly with the illness, Multiple Sclerosis.
The strain these past few months has led to several cases of bad judgement on my part especially in relation to the case of Rick Wilson.
I have put forward to the District Attorney my report suggesting that that case and two others should be reviewed as the convictions may be unsound.'
This document is signed by the Judge."
The news reader paused a moment before continuing.
"The case in point is over the death of Mary Wells the gossip columnist.
In another twist on the case is the arrest of detective lieutenant Kenneth Kline the investigating officer for murder and hindering the course of justice."
"Thank you Bella." Terry smiled a weary smile. "It seems we will have a second chance to prove Rick innocence. I'll get my solicitor to take up the case after vetting him of course."
Wendy had tears in her eyes.
"Thank you, all of you."
She left them to it as she got ready for bed.
A few minutes later only Terry, Albert and Bella remained nursing their brandies.
"We may have done enough to save Ricks life but we have no idea who killed Mary and sent those forged notes." Terry said.
"That's assuming they are one in the same and not someone taking advantage of the situation." Bella said. "And we still need to find the other cash cow."
"And all that can be dealt with in the morning." Wendy said from the doorway.
She was dressed in a sheer black nightdress over which was a silk dressing gown.
She looked beautiful as she stood nervously there. "Are you coming to bed Terry?"
Terry smiled at her and downed his glass of brandy.
"Goodnight Albert, Bella." He said as he got up out of his chair.
"Goodnight Master Terry, Miss Wendy." Albert said.
Terry felt strangely nervous as he followed her to the bedroom.
She took his hand and squeezed it gently.
Terry took her face gently in his hand and tilted it upward to receive a loving kiss.
Wendy stared up at the ceiling contemplating her fate. She couldn't believe how her life had changed.
A short while ago she was standing on a bridge contemplating taking her own life over the trial of her brother. Now here she was sharing her bed with one of the wealthiest, eligible, bachelors in the city. The man who had found evidence of her brothers innocence.
And how or why she didn't know save that she knew that she loved him.
He was gently breathing by her side .
She carefully stretched out her hand as if frightened it was all an illusion, a dream.
His flesh felt warm to her touch. He turned over and smiled at her.
She nestled her head on to his chest and eventually fell a sleep with his strong arms around her.
She sighed contentedly.
Terry took a look at her and kissed her forehead before dropping back into a deep restful sleep.
When Mary awoke it was to find herself alone. Her heart sank.
There was a knock on the bedroom door.
"Yes. Come in." She called.
She expected it to be either Albert or Bella with her tray but it was neither.
Terry bounced into the room with a breakfast tray and single yellow rose between his teeth.
He grinned and tried to say good morning but it came out a garbled mess.
He took a deep breath and tried again. This time showing off his ventriloquist skill.
"Good morning darling. Could you take the rose out of my mouth before I end up swallowing the thing."
"I've a good mind to leave you like that for the peace and quiet."
He said nothing, he just put the tray on the bed and kissed her. Transferring the flower over in the process.
She took out the flower and put it on her tray.
"You will be happy to hear my love that Wallaby's statement is the talk of the news this morning. Colin is doing a good job of leaking out our evidence. Even the Enquirer is rerunning the case. They want a complete pardon for your brother."
He stopped chatting nineteen to the dozen and let Bella in to deal with her mistress.
A little later in the breakfast room things looked much brighter.
Colin couldn't come in person but telephoned with news.
Mary did indeed have a safe deposit box and if Terry could meet them at two O'clock at the First Provincial bank the pair of them could take a look.
Things were moving fast but there were still things to do and people to see.
But first there was a far more important task to carry out.
They had just finished breakfast when Terry got out of his chair and got down on one knee.
"Wendy. I know we haven't known each other that long but." The great man was floundering like a school kid. "Wendy would you consider marrying me? I know that didn't come out right but."
Wendy put a finger to his lips.
"Yes I would love to marry you but Rick needs me."
"He'll be here with us darling. I wouldn't expect you to abandon him."
She dropped to her knees in front of him and fell into his arms.
"Yes, yes, yes." She smothered him in kisses.
Albert and Bella smiled private smiles of satisfaction.
"Congratulations Master Terry, Miss Wendy." Albert shook both their hands in polite joy.
Bella gave each of them a peck on the cheek.
"Bella." Wendy said nervously. "Would you consider joining the household as my personal servant, my equivalent of Albert?"
"I would be honoured Miss Wendy. Master Theo Knight has had little use of me so I'm sure he will release me especially as brother Arthur is between posts at the moment and would be more suited to the Knight household.
I will start making the arrangements."
She made to cross to the telephone.
"Oh I am glad that has been settled as I'll be needing a bridesmaid."
"Ah." Bella said with a look of horror.
The two men stifled their laughter.
"It'll be a little while as I'm assuming you'll want Rick with you on the day." Terry eventually said.
"Darling? Yes I like the sound of that. We have time before we meet up with Colin so how about visiting Rick and telling him the good news If you think that is a good idea that is." Terry was very embarrassed. "Sorry jumped the gun a bit there."
"That's alright darling I understand." She kissed his cheek "We will need to take it steadily. But yes a visit could be useful."
Rick looked down at his shackled feet and hands despondently.
"Rick?" Wendy said gently.
Rick looked up at them and smiled.
"Rick this is my friend Terry. Do you remember him?"
"Yes." He said with a nod.
"Well he is going to help to bring you home."
"I want to come home. They moved me and it isn't so nice." He lent forward and whispered as if telling them a great secret. "I don't like here anymore."
Terry smiled at the man.
"Hello my name is Terry, remember." Satisfied he carried on slowly, carefully. "When you leave here you will be coming home with me and Wendy to my apartment. We will all live together. Would you like that?"
"Will there be ice cream?"
"Yes. 'Toni and Tony', only the best for you." Terry said warmly.
Rick turned to Wendy and startled her with what he said next.
"I like him he smells nice. You should marry him Wendy. He's a good man."
Wendy sat there a moment fighting down the tears and calming her voice.
"Terry has asked me to marry him Rick, and I've said yes. Is that alright with you?"
"Yes. He makes you happy. I want you happy. He smells nice." Wendy stifled a tear.
"You marry him."
Rick stopped a moment and wrinkled his brow in thought.
"Will I still have ice cream?" He said eventually.
"Yes of course you will."
It was later on over a coffee that Wendy let her guard down.
"How do you think he knew about us wanting to get married?" She said clearly puzzled.
"Rick is slow in his thinking but he isn't thick. He could pick up signs from our body language." He took a sip of his coffee. "Tomorrow we will shop for an engagement ring but this afternoon, in less than an hour to be exact, we will hopefully be discovering a fact to all this."
"I would like to come, she is the reason why my brother is in prison after all."
"I understand darling but two detectives investigating the safe deposit boxes would look less suspicious than two men and a woman." He sighed as he looked at her resolute face. "Besides I have some important work for you to do with Bella. I want the pair of you to go to the left luggage locker in Lakeside and see if you can find anyone who noticed anything suspicious also check if it is empty?"
"Very well Master Terry." Bella said. "Our best bet is to ask the stall holders and shop owners near the lockers."
"I'll be guided by you Bella" The request did much to calm her irritation.
"When you have done that Bella take Wendy to Liberties to start looking for your wedding dresses. That is Wendy's wedding dress and your bridesmaid's."
Terry put down his coffee cup and called for the bill.
"While I'm with Colin Albert I want you to work out who we can invite to have a drink for our engagement. We will have a proper party later my dear this is just to check on my friends."
"I understand darling. But you cannot believe your friends are involved?" Wendy asked.
"I have checked the alibis of a few of them, but I need to know about the others.
Are there any from other walks of life that I've missed."
"Half of Brunswick I should imagine sir. She seemed to have a knack of upsetting everyone she meets." Albert mused. "Then there are those from the enquirer and other papers that could have a motive."
Terry paid the bill.
They separated into two groups and left the café all contemplating what needed to be done.
Terry met Colin in the foyer of the bank dead on time.
"Hello Colin have you any news for me?" He asked as they walked up to the reception desk together.
"I've convinced the hierarchy to open the case. I've spent the morning going over the crime reports. Those that had been used and those that had been ignored. One thing is obvious?"
"And what's that?"
"I need you or to be more precise your brain." He smiled. "I've got them to agree to you coming on board for this investigation."
This wasn't what Terry wanted at all.
"When I say you, I mean your alter ego. I had to come up with a name."
Terry got a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.
"Taking all your attributes into account I, err, called you Mr Terrific."
"I'd have preferred 'Fair Play.'"
Colin laughed lightly.
"Be thankful I came up with that one. The others were much worse."
They were at the reception desk by now.
Colin showed his police badge.
"Acting Detective Lieutenant Crabtree and this is Terry Sloan. Mr Wilson is expecting us."
Mr Wilson came out of his office. He was a tall slim man with a vague appearance.
Colin showed him his badge.
"You know that this is most irregular." The manager moaned.
"Yes we know it is and we can't thank you enough for your help." Terry said smoothly.
"We are investigating the death of Mary Wells. The case has been reopened."
That bit of news quietened the man down.
They were shown down several bland corridors before going down into the bank vault proper.
"Did Mary Wells come here often?" Colin asked.
"No, that was the strange thing." The bank manager replied.
"She wasn't a normal member of this bank, she had no personal accounts with us at all. She came in regularly to put things in her boxes."
They stopped at a little office affair.
"If you will wait in the office I will get them personally."
True to his word he returned after a few minutes with two of the metal boxes.
He placed them on the table.
"When you have finished gentlemen use the telephone and I will come back down to put them back."
"Thank you sir."
The boxes were a dull green and about a foot long and two to three inches deep. At the front was a combination lock.
"Hmm, now which one shall I try first." Terry muttered to himself. "This one I think knowing that by Murphy's Law it will be the other one."
After a moment fiddling with the lock he laughed.
"Yep it's the other one."
After a few moments the box clicked open.
Inside were a couple of oilskin wrapped parcels.
Terry carefully took them out and laid them by the box.
He slowly unwrapped them to reveal three etched metal plates in each. He passed one over to Colin.
"What do you make of them?" Terry held them up to the weak light coming from the light bulb.
"It's a dollar bill plate." Colin said looking over Terry's shoulder. "I've a fifty and I wouldn't bet you that that is a hundred dollar bill.
"I don't know."
Terry pulled out his wallet and took out a new fifty dollar bill. He held it beside the printing plate and compared them critically.
After what seem like an age he eventually put the plate down.
"I couldn't find any difference. I think these are real not fakes." He concluded.
"Then that posses the question how did she get hold of them?"
"That mystery may be held in this second box." Terry gently took the boxes tumbler and ever so carefully manipulated it. His slim fingers feeling the combinations every click.
After ten minutes it clicked open.
Inside were stacks of different denomination notes crisply printed and another pair of plates.
"It looks like a major counterfeiting ring." Colin said as he laid the notes out in their neat piles.
"Yes and no. Is a note counterfeit if it is printed with legitimate plates." Terry stroked his chin. "If enough of these entered into normal life it could tumble the government and ruin the economy."
He took a fifty dollar bill off its pile and once again began to compare it with the printers plate.
After a few minutes he replaced it back onto it's pile.
"That note matched the plate."
"Each pile contains twenty notes so that makes it?"
"$3220 in total." Terry said doing the mathematics in his head in a split second.
"Well yes that's right." Colin said a little miffed.
"Sorry my friend." Terry was slowing putting things back into their relative boxes.
"I suppose we should contact the hierarchy with what we have found. But who, FBI, IRS or the CIA? Or all of them?"
"Or none of them?" Terry replied.
"If we get those authorities involved too early it will only lead to confusion. They would muddy the waters."
With the boxes shut he whirled the tumblers locking them.
"They are safe here and I've just realised what the other numbers are."
"Do pray tell?" Colin mocked gently.
"The numbers of each denomination."
"Oh dear God!" Colin said as it all sank in. "Where are the others?"
"I don't know, not yet, but we have got to find them and fast." He picked up the phone. "Hello. Yes it's Terry Sloan. We have finished down here. Thank you."
"But how will we find out where the printing press is or who is operating it." Colin said agitatedly.
"There are two options.
The first is that Mary blackmailed someone who could get access to the plates and somehow set up a press to print those notes. Whether to blackmail further the provider of the plates or simply to give herself spending money I don't know?"
"The second is that she is working for a foreign power to destabilise the country. Thus making it impossible for the US to support the UK in anyway."
"Which do you lean toward?"
"Neither at the moment. There are to many unanswered questions."
At this point the manager returned and took away the boxes.
Once again the five of them were seated in a diner supping strong coffee's sharing what they have found.
"The problem we now have is whether Mary was murdered over the plates or is that another side issue?" Terry offered.
"I think a good place to start is at the Enquirer Master Terry. They would have the resources needed to carry out the printing of the currency. The Enquirer is noted for its backing of the Nazi government." Albert offered.
"True. It's worth checking out later tonight." Terry pulled out a flier and matchbook and laid them on the table. " Have you heard of the 'Tuton'.
Wendy shook her head.
"I know of it Terry. It's a night spot used by those in the German quarter and the elite that have right wing views." Colin told him.
"A front for Nazi's?" Terry said.
"How did you get on ladies?"
"We found out quite a bit actually Terry." Wendy smiled at him. "Well Bella did."
They arrived at the station just after the morning rush hour was drawing to a close and the great unwashed masses had gone.
'Lakeside' as its name suggests was situated by a gleaming lake where during the summer months regattas were staged and open air concerts.
The station was a marble edifice that echoed hollowly as they crossed to the small mall of shops.
The railway tracks left the station at three different levels. The uppermost where the long range trains to the different cities of the US left from. They were generally luxurious carriages.
The medium height were the commuter trains to the outlying districts and trains from the nearby cities came in and out of.
The lowest were for the subway trains that snaked their way underneath the city.
Each had their own set of left luggage lockers.
Surprisingly Mary's was on the top level.
Bella led them unerringly to Mary's locker and opened it up.
"What the?" Bella said catching herself before she could swear.
In the locker resting on a pile of bank notes was a 9mm Luger pistol.
There was a typed page explaining the target and mission.
Bella working swiftly emptied the luggage locker into the holdall left inside.
She quickly locked it and made Wendy follow her over to a flower seller's stand.
"Hello." Bella said. "I wonder if you could help us?"
"If I can miss." Came the guarded reply.
"You haven't seen anyone at my locker have you? Locker twenty one."
"No. Why miss?"
"Someone has tampered with it. Nothing was taken but I feel someone was there." She shuddered visibly. "We don't want Wendy's drunkard of a husband to find her."
"Well now that you have mentioned it I do recall a man and a woman at it."
"Can you describe them? I don't want to jump the gun."
"He was tall and heavily built. I noticed because they were such a mismatched pair. She was only five foot to his six foot odd." The florist explained.
"That's the swine, Jerry, and he's had the cheek to bring his floozy with him." Wendy ranted.
"Come away dear." Bella led her away with a word of thank you and purchase of some flowers from the vendor.
Bella took a sip of her coffee as Wendy concluded their joint report.
"It was the same with other vendors to a greater or lesser degree. The man is large and tall normally dressed in a dark suit. She is much smaller only five foot tall dressed in more conservative suit."
"But they were not the only ones to visit it. A couple very like those that tried to kill you master Terry paid a couple of visits." Bella added.
"To get payment and instructions I should think." Terry said quietly.
"Yes sir." Bella pulled out the package but left the luger safely tucked away.
Terry looked inside and gave a low whistle. Inside were a large wad of notes.
"It seems that the going rate for a hit is escalating." He pulled out a sheaf of paper and studied the neat typing. "Oh dear."
"What's up darling, neither Bella or I could read it as it was in code?" Wendy asked.
"It is a manifest of sorts detailing with were the false notes were to be sent when the signal arrives. Within days the currency of the United States would collapse." Terry explained. "There's a list of important people she had a hold over. She was to use them to cause more confusion.
And there are instructions for a hit."
"Who's the target?" Colin asked. "I may be able to get them police protection."
"That's kind of you but Albert and Bella with do just fine."
Colin looked at him with a puzzled expression then the penny dropped down his deep well of consciousness.
"Oh it's you is it?"
"Yes but not now, not now." Terry's brows furrowed in thought. "I could feel quite insulted that I'm so cheap."
Terry took a deep breath.
"There can not be any doubt now that Mary was a Nazi sympathiser if not one of their agents." He said. "But whoever has taken over with those letters is not connected with the Nazi's."
"Why do you think that?" Wendy asked but it was Albert that answered.
"They would have used professionals not pressurised the Captain into hiring someone."
"Oh I see."
Terry pulled out the flier and a match book again and laid them on the table.
"These were in the security case of Mary's. Do any of you recognise them?"
Colin picked up the match book and examined the lurid cover which depicted a square jawed hero, sword in hand, standing on the blooded corpses of Jews.
Wendy passed the flyer across to Bella with a look of disgust.
"Do people really believe this?" She shuddered.
"I'm afraid some do." Terry said sadly.
Colin passed the matchbook back to Terry.
"It's from the nightclub run by the American Aryan Association called 'The Teuton'.
A high class club by all accounts with a casino attached."
"I wonder if she had a contact there?" Bella asked.
"Probably." Terry replied. "There's a article about 'The Teutonic League'?"
"I've heard of them sir they are more secretive than the Masons." Albert told them.
"Really?" Terry smiled.
"Yes sir." A sinking feeling in Albert stomach hit him.Chapter Eleven Risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss.
Wendy looked stunning in her cocktail dress of pale blue and white scarf. Her hair had been expertly brushed until it shone.
She held an expensive fawn clutch bag.
It would be hard for anyone from the old days to recognise her. She nervously looked up at Terry.
Terry had raided what he joyfully called his play box.
Terry's hair was thin and white blond in a tight crop, his cheeks more prominent, his eyes startling icy blue.
He was dressed in an expensive if a somewhat conservative double breasted suit.
Albert dressed in a natty tuxedo opened the passenger back door to the Mercedes for Wendy.
"Thank you Albert." Wendy was both scared and excited at one and the same time, an explosive mixture.
"My pleasure Miss Wendy."
Terry opened the door and slipped in beside her.
Bella dressed in a fashionable trouser suit slipped into the front.
"Looking forward to driving the old girl again Albert?" Terry asked with a laugh.
"Absolutely sir. She is a dream to drive." There was a pause for a heart beat. "Where too sir? You have neglected to inform me of our destination or why we are dressed in this fashion come to think of it?"
"Why we are going to 'The Teuton' as Sir Anthony St John Smithe, his wife Georgina and his friends Albert and Bella Woods."
"It seems that it is not only the car that has come out of retirement."
"No Albert." He turned to Wendy. "I have created six different personalities to allow me to monitor peoples feelings and to check up on my board members. I shouldn't have to but it is useful."
The night club was set out in the style of German Beer Keller though that was merely a veneer. Scratch the surface and you would see the expensive comfort beneath.
The small tables and long forms were scatted around in front of a small dance floor and the band stand where an orchestra was warming up. Mind you calling it an orchestra may be going a step to far and to call them a band would be an insult.
When they arrived at the door to the club they were met by a huge bruiser who's bicep was as large as Terry's head.
"Good Evening Sir, Madam" His voice was deep and melodic. "Are you a member sir?"
"Oh how frightfully annoying." Terry said in the plumy sound of the British aristocracy. "Can't we join now? Everyone say it's the real place to be, so much better than boring old 'Chinneries'.
The door man grimaced. That was all he needed, a group of mouthy limees, to spoil his evening.
Bella was drawing circles on the mans bulging biceps
"Not even for little old me?" She looked up at the man mountain coyly.
He looked the group up and down a moment before with a satisfied grunt he opened the door to the club proper.
"When you're inside go to the information desk and Helga will sort out your membership cards." He said with a grin. "Have a good evening Sir's, Ladies."
Once all the rigmarole at the reception desk had been dealt with they were shown to a table by a dapper man in a waiters suit.
"My name is Gregor Lutz, the manager, and your waitress for the evening is Sally Barnes." He indicated a young woman in Bavarian Lederhosen and a white blouse that barely kept her large breasts in check.
With a polite nod Gregor moved away.
"Now while you're looking at the menu is their any drinks I can get you?" Sally's strong Brunswick accent seemed at odds with her German costume.
"Four steins of beer please oh and a 'Gluvine ' for me." Terry told her smoothly in German.
The girl blinked and frowned.
"I'm sorry sir my German isn't that good I'm afraid."
"No, no, don't apologize its my fault entirely."
They swiftly gave her their orders. Selecting theWiener Schnitzel and Apple strudel. To drink they joined Terry in a Gluvine, a heady mulled wine.
The food was good and hot. In fact it was that good that Terry contemplated coming back again.
The club was filling up now with people wanting to eat like Terry's party or those who came for the music.
The table was cleared and fresh drinks ordered as a beautiful young woman in her late teens early twenties dressed in the German Dirndl came to the microphone and began to sing.
The songs, some in German some in English, where old folk songs from the Bavarian forests. It absolutely enchanting.
The next song every one knew.
Within a few beats of the song Terry was up on his feet and joined in with his magnificent tenor voice.
Glass of Gluvine in his left hand he encouraged others of the patrons with his right to stand up and join in.
Such was the atmosphere in the club they didn't need much encouragement. Even those like Wendy and Bella who didn't know the words la la to the tune.
'Lili Marlene' had never been sung with such gusto, such power before and probably never will be again.
The sound was phenomenal.
The song came to its natural end, and Terry toasted the singer with his raised glass as the other members burst into thunderous applause.
Terry sang out loudly a short drinking song.
"Eine Prosit, eine prosit." Or something like that before downing his drink in one with a large cry off. "Prost!"
The others in the hall joined him.
It took quite a time for the audience to quieted down.
The manager crossed over to them while two of the waitress's brought over a bottle of champagne and an ice bucket.
"The compliments of the management sir." The little man said as he placed champagne flutes before each of them. "I have never heard that song sang any better. The way you managed to get every one up and singing was truly amazing."
"Why thank you. The names Anthony, Anthony St John Smithe. I have my dear departed mother to thank for that. You may know her." Terry pause as the manager slowly eased the cork out of the bottle. "She was called Mary, Mary Wells?"
For a mere moment the manager paused in what he was doing and his face registered his surprise but like an expert everything began to flow again as if the hiatus had never existed.
The cork popped, the wine foamed before being poured into each of their glasses.
"I'm afraid I don't recognize the name perhaps if you told me what line of business she was in, it might jog the memory."
Terry lent back and watched the Manager like a cat plays with it's prey before delivering the killer blow.
"Oh she was into lots of things, blackmail, extortion and spying. But it was her financial dealing that interest me. You could say that she had a license to print money." Terry pulled out a package and laid it on the table. "After she died that right passed onto me."
He tapped the parcel meaningfully.
The manager was about to say something but was cut short by a young man in a military style black shirt. The boy carefully took out a record disk and put it on the gramophone someone must have brought on for him.
"Good evening comrades, I am Major Kristof Adle of the American Wunderkin or youth army. And I tell you your children are better off than with the weak Jewish controlled boy scouts movement." He indicated the record. "We have just received this recording of our leader giving a speech at a Nuremburg rally."
The record started with a hissing burble before a tinny sound of Adolph Hitler could be heard. A young woman quietly translated it into English.
It was a rabble rousing speech that had racked up the mood of the club.
When it had finished Terry got to his feet and gave the German outstretched arm salute with a rousing cheer of.
The room roared in thunderous noise as everyone copied Terry once again.
The side doors of the room were folded back to reveal the casino.
Roulette, Craps and Blackjack tables were revealed. Terry got up and with the others following like sheep entered the area and sat at the Blackjack table.
Within minutes his winnings were mounting up.
Passing a large denomination chip to the croupier he crossed to the craps table.
Again luck seemed to be with him. As dice throw after dice throw was a winner. Even the Roulette wheel favoured him.
As he regained his seat the manager hurried back over.
"Excuse me sir but the owner of the club would like a word. If that is at all possible?"
Terry nodded as the rest of his party looked worried.
"The plate stay's here. Let's say it's my insurance policy." He got to his feet. "Lead on dear sir, lead on."
Terry was led outside to where the empty barrels of beer were kept, ready for replacing.
Sitting on one was the corpulent frame of the owner, sucking on a fat cigar as if it was a children's pacifier.
The man looked up at Terry under thick bushy eyebrows.
"Talk? What do you want?"
"Mary Well's was blackmailing me." Terry began.
"She was blackmailing many people." The fat man said laconically.
"Yes true, and I suspect there are many people breathing a sigh of relief now she is dead. And that wasn't anything to do with me I hasten to add." Terry walked round as he talked his eyes taking in everything and missing nothing. "After her death I found, while looking for incriminating evidence on myself, where she kept the plates and the currency. Now I know she was working for you with the blackmail and money counterfeiting but I don't know what the arrangements were for the dissemination of the money around the country?"
"Thank you for telling us about what happened." The voice was clipped. "I don't think you will tell us voluntarily where the rest of the plates and money are."
"No. They are my insurance. While I have them and you don't I get to carry on living."
"Boys take him and bring him back when he is more talkative."
There were four heavies and a thin weasel of a man who was directly behind him.
Terry assimilated those facts in a split second and with a gymnastic leap he grabbed the light fitting above him and swung himself round on it.
The weasel of a man stabbed at Terry's exposed back but his momentum took him a few paces forward such that the swinging hero came down behind him.
Terry used his feet to lift up the man and throw him into two of the heavy weights making all three collapse in a heap.
Terry let go of the light fitting and landed lightly on one of the barrels. What followed was like a ballet with the goons constantly missing their intended target.
Terry blocked a blow from one and then struck with his clenched fist into the gut of another. Poleaxe he dropped to the floor out for the count.
Terry gave the next a judo throw that sent him crashing into the wall knocking him senseless.
The knife man rushed Terry only to find himself sailing through the air into the gut of the last heavy. Together they slumped to the ground.
Satisfied Terry turned to the owner who had sat impassively on his barrel through the whole thing. He had a luger pistol pointed at Terry's midriff.
"Interesting." He said in a bored voice. "You are going to tell me where the money and plates are or."
He left the rest unsaid.
"Or you'll shot me? I though you had more intelligence than that. If I'm dead you will never find it. Is that why you had Mary killed? She wouldn't tell you where the printing press was so you had her killed!" Terry said angrily.
"Now who is being stupid. Mary's death was a nuisance. You are correct in surmising that she hadn't revealed the location of the press. We assumed it's whereabouts was lost with her death but then you come along and offer the plates to us for a price.
No I'm not going to kill you but by the time I'm finished with you you will be begging for the release death can bring you."
The manager watch puzzled as Terry reached behind his neck and pulled his dark red hooded mask over his face.
"Will you come in please?!" Terry said loudly.
The door opened to reveal Albert and Bella in domino masks pointing Luger pistols at the manager.
"Did you get the recording of what was said old chap?"
"Yes sir all of it." Albert replied.
"We will take over now Mr Terrific. Thank you for your help." Colin said leading a small group of hardened men and women in.
"My pleasure Officer Crabtree."
One of the men took out his warrant card.
"Agent Mould F.B.I." He said.
He was a short burley man with a face and attitude that made you want to give him a slap, though Terry couldn't tell you why.
"Commander Band. Military Intelligence." Another said. He was tall with a athletic frame. He was devastatingly hansom and unfortunately knew it.
"Agent Skull I.R.S." Said the only woman. A squat lump of a woman that looked like she was chewing a wasp. A hard bitter face.
"It seems that we have you all ways. I think your going to be in for a few interesting days." Fair Play curled his nose up as if he could smell a terrible stench. "I don't know about anyone else but I need some clean air in my lungs."
He took the microphone set from his coat and passed it over to Colin.
"The poor fool that passed over the printing plates and helped Mary was a Peter Mandleson. He was black mailed over his bigamist marriages to two women. I delivered him down town earlier with his signed confession." Terry told him.
"Thank you Mr Terrific. We are processing him as we speak." Mulder said.
"Go easy on him, he's just a poor sap who got out of his depth."
"We know how to proceed." Mulder replied.
"I'm sure you do." Fair Play led the others out of the area back into the night club proper to see police men taking statements.
He felt dirty and in need of a shower, though he knew he was spotlessly clean.
"Get the car please Albert? Take us home."
"Yes sir." With long strides Albert disappeared into the crowd.
A rooky policeman went to approach them, pad in hand before reassessing the situation and beating a hasty retreat.
"Are you alright?" Wendy asked.
"No, not really." He sighed. "I tell you why when we get home."
Terry's heart was heavy and the taste of failure was bitter in his mouth.Chapter Twelve Meet with Triumph and Disaster
It was a sombre Terry that stared out into the city's lights. A glass of brandy dangled from his hand.
Wendy slipped her arm around his body and wrapped his arm around her.
"We did good today didn't we?"
He looked down into her loving eyes and the black cloud lifted a little.
"I'm afraid I haven't been much use in all this. I've let you down." He said sadly. "I'm afraid I'm not your Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christies Poirot."
"No you're not, your something better, you're Terry Sloan, you're Fair Play personified." Wendy said encouragingly. "You have brought about the downfall of corrupt public officials. You have broken a counterfeiting ring and uncovered a nest of Nazi spies. And you have brought about my brothers probable retrial.
And most importantly you have given me a reason to live. You have given me a man I could love.
So don't you ever say that you're a failure!"
Terry bent his head and kissed her. At that moment all doubts were washed away and the only thought was about each other.
Music was playing from a gramophone. Slowly in their deep embrace they began to sway gently to the rhythm.
Bella watched from the shadow of the door and nodded to herself.
Master Terry was alright again, Miss Wendy and the music had lifted his soul again.
Staying still she watched him sweep Wendy off her feet and carry her to the master bedroom.
A single tear ran down Bella's cheek.
"Silly cow. You getting sentimental in your old age." She chided herself as she joined her brother Albert in the dinning room.
The pair of them prepared for the nights party without uttering a word, both lost in their thoughts.
It was nine o'clock and the cocktail party was going well.
Beside those who had been at the Subertade was the Police Commissionaire Tobias Vaughn, Father Michaels the pastor of Terry's church, Martin of the Fields.
When they all had a glass of Champagne Terry went to the bedroom and collected the very nervous Wendy.
"Thank you Bella." She said as she stood up.
She looked radiant in her simple white and gold dress. Her hair shone from the attentions of Bella.
Terry thanked Bella too before taking Wendy's hand and leading her through to where the others were waiting.
The muttered conversations petered out as the group waited for the announcement.
"Ladies, Gentlemen and Rouges." You could hear the capitals as he said it. "I have asked this day if Wendy Wilson would do me the honour of being my wife and I'm happy to say she has foolishly agreed."
There was a cheer from the crowd.
Carla Kent Lane the Crime Editor of the Daily Globe lifted her glass and said in clear ringing tones.
"Ladies and Gentlemen a toast. To Terrance and Wendy."
Everyone lifted their glasses and repeated the toast with gusto.
"My boy let the poor girls hand go before you crush it." Tobias laughed.
Wendy cleared her throat and licked her dry lips.
"Not long ago I felt all alone and distraught but now I am blessed not only with the man I love but with all of you that I am proud to call friends." Suddenly Wendy became calm and smiled radiantly at the assemble group.
Tobias walked forward and nobly kissed the back of her hand.
"My dear young lady. You see before you a chastened man."
"How so Commissionaire?" She asked.
"The police have done you and your family a grievous wrong. That it happened on my watch is unforgivable.
I can only assure you that a deep, thorough, investigation into your brothers conviction will be carried out." Wendy could see how earnest the man was.
"Thank you. I know you will. It is to be hoped that my brother will soon be freed to join us."
Terry waved for silence.
"My friends, as you are no doubt aware of, Wendy's brother is languishing in prison, and because of that situation we, my future wife and I, have decided to delay our wedding until after Ricks retrial in the hope he will be free to give Wendy away."
Everywhere there were nods of understanding.
Their moment in the spot light over they began to mingle with guests. Getting kisses and having their hands shaken as they went. Matt didn't believe in all that and swept the two of them up in a crushing embrace.
When they had been released Terry asked how the latest creation was getting on.
"I heard that your muse had left you?" Terry added.
"Her father is a philistine." Max growled irritated.
"How so Max?" Wendy asked.
"Her father called round to see her." Max explained. "She was sitting for me at the time."
"Nude I supposed?" Wendy asked but already guessing the outcome.
"Yes, and what's wrong with that? I was making a clay model of her. When its done it gets dipped in liquid rubber to make a mould ready for the bronze."
"And her father took exception to this?" It was Terry's turn to ask.
"Yes the fool. He wouldn't listen not even when I showed him the finished bronzes of her." Matt sighed. "He went mad and tried to smash them.
He dragged her away even though she was naked.
Without my muse I can't work."
"Can't you find another model?" Wendy asked.
"Yes but it won't be the same. Lucy was in perfect proportion." He sighed once more. "I suppose I'll have to go grovelling to the man and probably have to arrange a chaperone for her."
Terry laughed lightly.
"You do get yourself in a pickle don't you old man."
"Just a tad my boy, just a tad."
"Have you had another blackmail letter?" Wendy asked casually, as if out of politeness rather than any wish to really know. Which was far from the truth.
"Not since I refused to pay up."
"Hence the reason Lucy's father turned up." Terry said.
"You could be right my boy, you might be right."
Terry and Wendy left the man contemplating his fate.
"Whoever send those letters must have a high level of skill to copy her handwriting so closely." Terry mused.
"Why write them in the first place? She must have a typewriter to do her journalist work?"
"Yes you have a good point there. Was it because the typewriting could be traced to her machine. No that doesn't make any sense you couldn't get more easy to trace than her handwriting.
She wasn't being subtle about hiding who she was in the letters."
As they reached the Lane's a thought struck him.
"What if she wasn't the black mailer, it was just someone copying her handwriting. No that doesn't work why was there a difference in hand writing from the old ransom notes to the new ones."
"It sounds as if you have a conundrum there Terry." Cara said as they drew near.
Without hesitation Terry and Wendy told the newspaper woman of their findings making sure Terry's alter ego wasn't mentioned. "Yes interesting. Wendy I've set one of our best investigative journalists on to your brothers case. There is a great human interest in it."
"I'm the journalist she's talking about Wendy." Louis Lane piped up.
"I try not to praise him to much for fear of giving him a swollen head. Isn't that right Louis?" She teased her partner by pronouncing his name the female 'Louis' rather than the masculine 'Lewis'.
He gave a mock cringe.
"Yes that is right dear. " He smiled at Wendy. "If I could come round tomorrow sometime to firm up on some facts?"
Wendy looked up at Terry before giving her decision.
Cara lent forward and kissed both of them on the cheek while whispering.
"Superwoman told me all about you two and I know she would be pleased with the outcome. Living life together is so much better than dying." She lent back. "Do you have any one in mind for the blackmailing?"
"Yes." Said Terry indicating the room. "It's someone that's in this room."
"One of the people in this room killed her." Terry said with great certainty. "All the rest was a smoke screen that hid the reason she was killed. She was a secret agent for the Nazis, yes, and she had blackmailed people of influence both secular and artistic yes. But she couldn't have blackmailed people from the grave to make sure your brother took the wrap for her murder. None of the suspects that were blackmailed into making sure your brother was imprisoned could have been the second blackmailer.
This shadowy figure killed Mary in a frenzy, in a fit of rage.
Your brother Rick was the perfect patsy."
"That still doesn't tell you who had carried out the murder." Wendy said.
"All the people you see here have a secret, a secret they are desperate to keep hidden."
"What even me Terry?" Cara sipped at her champagne.
"Especially you Superwoman."
Cara lifted an immaculate eyebrow.
"You disguise your voice well but you make mistakes when you say everyday words such as like, and, if and yes.
You make yourself look taller as Superwoman, with lifts built in the boots no doubt.
You wear a blond wig as Cara, It just sits a little bit to correct to be real."
"I see I'm going to have to be more careful around you young man. Do you know what I'm thinking?"
"Yes." Terry said. "You have balanced up the dangers of me knowing or me not knowing after a bit of hypnotism."
"Correct?!" Cara said. "I am very impressed, very impressed indeed."
"So who is it you suspect?" Louis asked.
"All of them!" Terry said earnestly. "As I said one of them is the murderer but which one at the moment your guess is as good as mine."
"That good hum?"
The group separated and carried on mingling with the crowd.
The artistic group were huddle together as if for warmth.
They congratulated the couple before entering into small talk.
Len and the singer Jordan were stuck together like limpets to a rock.
Gorgy Gordon the writer was bending the ear of her companions about her latest novel. Frank Foss, the dancer and choreographer, Stan Laurel and Sarah Bern were listening as if it was some sort of medieval torture.
"I was just saying to these three that the role of chapters in a book has gone. Nothing should fence in the creativeness of the writer, there should be no constraints." She said.
"I couldn't agree more in certain works but in others they serve to guide the story on." Terry said with a grin. "I've a story to tell myself."
"Do say old boy."
"I think the person who murdered Mary is in this very room." Terry told them. "Which brings me to you Frank. Where were you on the day Mary was killed?"
"You can't think it was me?"
"No but I need to eliminate you from my inquiries."
"Oh right. Let me see, oh yes I was in the Citrus studio doing limbering up exercises before taking the lesson in the afternoon."
"The police would ask if you had a witness, well have you?"
"I haven't the faintest idea. I was too busy preparing the lesson in my head to notice anyone. But there were other classes that day so someone in those groups may have seen me."
"I see. What about you Gorgy?"
"I was finishing my book off in my study, my housekeeper Mrs Hudson may be able to confirm."
"Yes, like Frank, I was to wrapped up in my own world to notice."
"I suppose I'm next?" Sarah said angrily. "If it's any of your business, which its not, I was up to my neck in female flesh belonging to two friends of mine and no I'm not going to tell you who they were.
And why would I kill the stupid cow anyway her attacks in the papers only stoke up my notoriety."
"Still it must be difficult for you as a man." Terry said watching Sarah's eyes grow dark and menacing. "It's the hold she had over you. You're a man in women's clothes after all. Your wooden leg gave you away strangely enough."
"I had Albert comb the hospital records and news papers about your accident. But strangely there didn't seemed to be one, at least one of you losing the leg. When you burst on the scene you already had a wooden leg.
Captain Bernard Sarah on the other hand had lost his in a daring raid on German fortifications during the war.
As a woman you could put up with all the name calling in fact as you said you thrived on it but if you were exposed as a man that was a different matter."
"Am I guilty of some hideous crime Terry. Do tell I'm all ears?" Stan piped up.
"Other than your crime of murdering poetry I have found nothing but I know you were also blackmailed. But why? Perhaps you would like to explain?"
"No I wouldn't. But I'm not going to get a moments piece if I don't tell you." He took a deep breath. "Two years ago two thugs broke into my mothers house and raped her and my sister. I was asleep up stairs but I was woken by the noise. I picked up my mothers pistol and went downstairs. When I saw what they were doing I saw red and shot them both. We panicked. We put the bodies in the back of the truck, drove to the bridge and chucked them into the river.
Four days later we reported the break in and the rape. The police found the abandoned car but not the bodies.
The whole thing was more than my sister could bear. She showered, scraping at her body till it bled. She dressed in her Sunday best came down and sent a letter to her friend, put the gun in her mouth and pulled the trigger."
"Her friend was Mary Wells?" Terry asked sadly.
"Yes. Some friend! Mother had a breakdown and is still in the asylum. She doesn't recognise me so I've stopped going."
They all stood silently for a moment before Terry continued.
"Well my friends I must tell you that I'm near to breaking Marys code that will not only reveal who murdered her but also who is carrying on with the blackmail. One more night is all I need."
With that Terry led Wendy away.
"You didn't say you had broken her code? In fact I didn't know their was a code to break." Wendy said.
"More than you now think there is one. They will have to come and get it."
By the door into the kitchen stood the four butlers.
Alfred was the oldest, slim with receding hair into a widows peak. His eyes sparkled with intelligence. He was watching everything missing nothing.
Beside him was Arthur, the second oldest of the four. He was thick set erring on the side of portly. His hair was streaked with grey.
Albert came next resembling his brother Alfred in many aspects. Bella was last.
As Alfred told him the servants become invisible in affairs of this sort which allows them to listen in with impunity.
Albert crossed over to where Terry and Wendy stood.
"Drink sir, Miss Wendy."
"A Manhattan please Albert." Wendy said with a relaxed smile.
"I'll have a Vodka Martini please Albert."
"A wise choice Master Terry, Miss Wendy." Albert smiled up at them and added quietly. "I happened to over hear, as one does whilst serving, that Mr Laurel was having a heated few words to the writer Miss Gordon about how you have found out about their secrets and what you were going to do with that information. He seemed most aggrieved sir especially as Miss Gordon show little or no interest.
She was of the opinion that you would keep the secret to yourself as you were, in her words, a good egg."
"Did you notice if Mr Laurel was playing with the signet ring on his left hand?"
"I don't believe he was Sir."
"And did Miss Gordon keep running her finger over her right eyebrow?"
"Yes sir she was. Is that all Master Terry?"
"Yes thank you Albert."
"Does that mean anything to you?" Wendy asked.
"Yes. Yes it might do." He replied in a preoccupied manner.
At that moment Albert reappeared with the cocktails.
"Albert do we have dossiers, files, newspaper cuttings about, Mr Laurel and Miss Gordon?"
"Your drink Miss Wendy." Albert made sure they couldn't be over heard. "I believe so sir. Is there anything I can do Master Terry."
"Yes. See what you can find out about them before they surfaced into our group last year. I wish I could be more specific for you Albert."
"I think I understand." He said.
"Could Bella and Arthur circulate with the Canapés and the cheeses please?"
"Of course sir."
Terry drink in hand wandered over to the piano that sat on its dais in the corner of the room.
His long fingers stroked life into the instrument. Shimmering notes silenced the guests as they stopped to listen.
Having been playing for over five minutes he called over to Jordan to come and give them a song.
Shyly he crossed over to the piano and began to sing, his voice lifting the mood of all that listened.
Fifteen minutes later it all came to a quiet conclusion.
"And now Ladies and Gentlemen we have the distinguished poet Stanley Laurel with us tonight. Stan come up here and give us one of your poems?"
"I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint you as my friend should know I can not create poetry at the drop of a hat."
Terry laughed merrily.
"I don't expect you to create one tonight. I've copies your early poems on the side here. Please read one?"
He sighed heavily.
Jordan took one of the poems and began to read.
The words flowed and open you up as if he could see into your soul.
As he read Terry gently played the piano.
Frank Fossy, the dancer, and Sarah Bern took to the floor. They moved in perfect harmony around the small dance area.
Once the poem was finished Terry lead the guests through some popular songs and finished with the Star Spangled banner and God Save The King.
The evening came to a close as with expressions of good luck the party goers wended their way home.
Within minutes the plates and glasses were whisked away to be washed and returned to their places on the shelves.
"Master Terry, Miss Wendy could you spare us a moment please?"
"Certainly Arthur. Please lead the way?"
Arthur led Terry into the drawing room where the others were waiting. Strewn around on every surface was newspapers and dossiers.
Alfred came forward.
"Master Terry what we have discovered is worrying, very worrying." Albert said with a shake of his head. "Mr Stanley Laurel was involved in a serious car accident a year ago in which his face was burnt. If you look at these two photographs, before and after, you will see how dissimilar they are assuming you give them a longer look than a quick glance."
"During this year up to the present date he hasn't published any works. Before the accident he was publishing poetry every quarter." Bella explained.
"Many would put that down to him suffering a trauma." Wendy said. "We've had accident victims at the Free who's personality has change markedly because of it especially if there has been any brain damage."
Terry examined the two photographs carefully.
"I understand what you are saying darling but I don't think so somehow." He pointed at the later photograph. "The faces are similar but in this one the nose is longer and the face thicker set. "
"Yes I suppose so." Wendy said begrudgingly. "What are you saying?"
"I'll get to that in a moment my darling. What was your view of the poetry reading?"
"Boring. Much to my shame I kept drifting off into other thoughts." Wendy admitted.
"I had the same problem." Terry conceded. "That should have never happened. The poem is one of the most passionate ever written and it was reduced to a monotone soporific. The reader had never read the poem out loud before and yet I know he has read it many times before. When I was finishing my last three degrees I went to a reading of the poem with some friends. It was so powerful, so moving, that it reduced us to emotional wrecks by the time he finished reading it."
"But that would mean…" Wendy's face was a picture as she realised what Terry was saying.
"That he isn't Stan Laurel.
Stan Laurel died in the crash with his young wife."
"But how was that possible?" Bella asked as Alfred answered the door.
"Stan had a car crash on a deserted road with no other cars involved. It was assumed that getting a flat tyre threw him off the road down the bank.
The car rolled a few time before settling at the bottom of the bank where it caught fire. Stan crawled clear suffering from burns but his family never got out."
Terry took a breath his mind racing.
"The whole family was strapped in, probably out for the count from ether or chloroform, and the car rolled down the bank in some fashion. Once there it was set alight.
Stan's body was removed and the ringer put in his place as the survivor."
"Yes I can see the logic of it Master Terry, but?" Albert said.
"Yes there's a but there always is. In this case a simple one. Why go to all that trouble to replace a poet? What is he going to do read bad poems at the government until they surrender.
I thought he was a ringer when you told me he wasn't playing with the ring on his finger. He always did that, it was a nervous habit."
I'm missing something, something that is on the tip of my brain." He shuddered. "Someone walked over my grave.
I don't supposed we have any useful information on Gorgy Gordon?"
"Yes I do believe we have Sir." Alfred was carrying a parcel back from the door. "I took the liberty of contacting our cousin Trig, Trig Person, she's a collator and archivist with the NBPD, about Miss Gordon. She said she would look into it and would send me a copy of what she found.
I stressed the need for haste and she said she would start straightaway." Alfred lift up the parcel for all to see. "It looks like she has been successful."
Alfred tipped the contents onto the table top until eight small piles of documents tied up with string laid there.
"Right each of us take a stack and work through it. Place the documents back on the table in three piles. Unconnected, possibly connected and lastly connected."
Terry organised them.
Soon the piles began to rise.
"I don't know what you've got but I have observations of a communist cell. Her name appears in some but then so do you Master Terry?" Bella observed.
"What the club called?" Terry asked.
"The Glorious October Master Terry."
"I don't recognise the name, oh wait a minute, isn't that where I was invited to lunch with Matt Albert?"
"Yes sir I believe it was. You were not impressed with the place if I remember correctly."
"I've have had several police reports about Gorgy Terry I put them in date order on the pile. It seems they were watching a gentleman called Vandal Savage and Gorgy's path crossed over his several times.
I can't find anything to suggest anything untoward." Wendy said wearily.
"Gorgy's political views are questionable, she has communist leanings, which if exposed would ruin her.
A powerful reason for murder I should say."
The others agreed.
"So we have got Matt who's been blackmailed over his relationship with his underage model. Possible alibi there.
Len over the fact he is gay but he has a good alibi which would destroy him if it became public.
Sarah over the fact she is actually a he.
Jordan has a perfect alibi, he was with the Sinfonia Orchestra rehearsing for his concert at the end of the month.
Gorgy for her political views.
Frank Fossy like Jordan has a perfect alibi. Several students saw him limbering up ready for his dance lesson.
And that brings us to Stan who's a ringer. Nazi or Soviet? We don't know yet, or why he has been replaced."
"It's getting late for all of us. We will resume tomorrow." Terry stifled a yawn himself. "Thank you Alfred and Arthur for coming to my rescue. And thank you Bella and Albert for a splendid party."
"It has been our pleasure Master Terry, Miss Wendy." Arthur said with a little bow.
"I think the answer you seek is what other tasks they do above their art." Alfred said with a smile and a twinkle in his eye.
"I will sleep on what you have said Alfred. But one question before you go. Do all of your family hold positions of trust like your cousin Trigg?"
"Oh yes sir. You could say it is our blood."
"Good night all." He said.
He linked arms with Wendy and still laughing he escorted her to her bed room.
Shyly she took his hand and led him through.
Back in the main room the servants were making their own farewells.
"It seems you have a new mystery man on your hands." Alfred said as he put on his heavy coat and picked up his hat.
"I meant to ask how the Wayne household is?" Bella asked.
"They are fine Annabelle. They are flying home from Texas tomorrow.
Master Bruce and Mistress Selina have been to several presentations on the environment, while Miss Rachel visited some old school friends." Alfred helped Arthur into his coat. "I stayed behind to help young Miss Robyn with her exams."
They said their final goodbyes.
And soon all was quiet as sleep became the order of the day.
In the bed room of Wendy two souls moved gently together, their breathing deep, their bodies shaking in silent euphoria.
For that all too brief moment there was not two people but one in two bodies.
Cuddled up together they to fell into the arms of Morpheus.Chapter Thirteen The Bell Tolls
It was early morning and Matt's muse Jenny was doing stretching exercises clad in only a tight fit leotard.
Pierre watch his daughter with a mixture of pride and concern.
"I know you're there daddy." Said as she took some ballet steps. "I am going back to Matt as his model. He can't finish the work if I'm not there."
"Over my dead body!" Pierre growled. "Anyway you've got a visitor."
Fair Play stepped forward and greeted her.
"Hello Jenny I'm Fair." He stopped and gave a cough. "I'm Mr Terrific and I'm investigating the Mary Wells murder.
Can you tell me where you were on the day Mary was killed? You're not a suspect it is just to tie up some loose ends." Terry spoke gently and warmly "Are you classically trained by the way?"
"Yes. I majored in art history and ballet." The young woman said as she slipped on a woollen dressing gown. "I was with Matt that day. I was his life model in the morning. He was finishing a commission for someone."
"Do you remember who?"
"Yes it was for Mary Wells. She should have paid up in advance but it seems he was making it for free."
"Did she come to the studio on that day?" Fair Play asked.
"No. But she would have got short thrift from him if she had. God he was in a foul mood concerning her. He said he wasn't going to pay her anymore that she could publish and be dammed." Fair Play had to admit the girl was pretty. "He calmed down after that and carried on through the whole day except for a break for a late lunch."
"Did you go out for lunch?" Fair Play asked.
"Yes we went to Finlay's Diner on second. No wait a minute that was the day before. He went to Enrico's Deli. He was gone about half an hour or so."
"Thank you Jenny. If you are going to go back to being Matt's model I suggest your father goes with you a few times to satisfy himself that all is above board. I'm sure Matt will be amenable."
Her father muttered in the back ground.
"I don't think any parent would wish to stop their child fulfilling themselves any more that not being concerned for their safety. It's part of the unwritten contract they sign up to when they become a father.
Now I really must go.
Good luck in your chosen career."
Fair Play pause by her father and whispered something she couldn't hear before leaving.
"Give Matt a ring girl. If he agrees for me to be your chaperone for awhile you can carry on. In fact he can show me the whole journey from the model to the bronze."
Jenny squealed and ran over and gave him a hug. He bent and kissed her hair.
"I do the things I do out of love not out of spite daughter. But it's so hard with your mother gone."
She squeezed him harder.
"I know you do and I know mum is looking down on both of us." Jenny sniffed back a tear. "And she knows your doing a good job. I love you dad and wouldn't knowingly hurt you. We will get through life together."
She picked up the phone and began to dial.
"Perhaps Matt could do a nude bronze of you." She said cheekily.
"Over my dead body!" He retorted with a laugh.
Terry stood in the road that led through a wood where the car and Mary Wells and Rick were on that fatal day.
It was a spot well used by courting couples.
He looked along the road to where it came out into a small shopping district.
In his minds eye he could see the car and its passengers.
Mary was probably riding on top when she saw her murderer coming from the shops.
She panicked ran round to the wrong side of the car… and it didn't work.
She would have had time to shove herself to the driving side and drive off.
He knew that she would be distracted but not that distracted. The thrill of possibly being exposed would have added to the excitement but at the same time make her watchful.
There was a wooded path that went in amongst the trees. Terry followed it until it came out behind several houses including that of Matt. He could see his kiln and studio's.
He turned and walked back to the street and up to the shops, to one in particular, the deli.
A little bell rung as he entered.
A small figure of an Italian woman came out the back.
"Good morning sir." She said. "Is there something you would like."
Terry smiled at her and replied in Italian.
He told her that Matt had recommended them to him and was here to buy Matt's usual order and something for himself.
The woman laughed before replying in English.
"Matt is a very naughty boy. He keeps asking me to be his nude model but I keep telling him no. I am a good Catholic girl but he always flirts with me." She didn't seem to mind his flirtations with her on the contrary she seemed to look forward to them.
She began preparing Matt's order.
"Do you know of the terrible thing that happened?" She said with a fearful look on her face that didn't fool Terry for a moment.
"What terrible thing is that?" Terry pretended he didn't know and leaned in closer.
"That newspaper woman, she was stabbed to death in her car in the woods just up the road from here. They were up to no good I can tell you."
"Si. They were making love when her lover stabbed her many times." She shook her head sadly. "Poor master Matthew went white when I told him. He was in here on that day. I served him but he must have passed the car on his way here and home with out seeing what had happened."
"Fancy that." Terry shook himself as if from the cold finger of fate that had run down his back.
"Is true. Would you like some olives?"
"Would you like some olives? Master Matt always has some."
Terry eyed the oily fruits with a look of dismay, he couldn't stomach them.
"Err no thanks but I will take some parmesan cheese and some more pastrami." He said trying to divert her attention.
Soon he was making his way down the road and along the wooded path to Matt's studio.
Matt was on glowing form as his inspiration had comeback albeit with her father.
As they ate together Matt held forth with an explanation of how he made the bronzes. He also explained how and why Jenny's figure was so perfect for his art.
Jenny's father was finding it hard, but to give him his due he did seem honestly interested in the process, he just wished it wasn't his daughter's nude body that he saw everywhere.
Terry said he's goodbyes and left them to it.
A little later he was at the home of Gorgy wondering how to proceed.
As Terry walked up the driveway to the house he could hear the clicking of the typewriter as a new book was being created.
He rang the doorbell.
Her pinched face peered at him around the door.
"Hello Terry. What can I do for you?" She asked. "What am I thinking, come on, come in."
Once in the lounge she crossed to the drinks cabinet.
"Would you like a drink." She offered.
"Yes that would be nice. A whisky would be nice."
Terry noticed some hand written notes on the table.
"Yes please." Terry idly turned them round so he could read them before just as casually put it back in its place.
Gorgy returned with the whisky and a Vodka and Orange for herself.
"This is a nice place. I don't think I've been here before?" Terry said as he took his glass from her.
"No. You came to my old apartment on Broad Street. You were away when we had the house warming for this one."
"That's right I remember now. I was upstate collecting my diploma in modern language's.
I like this room it's very you."
"Why thank you dear sir."
Terry was telling the truth. The room was uncluttered and furnished in the angular Art Deco style. All the lines were clean and unadorned.
Her desk with the typewriter on it was positioned in the centre of the room. To the left was the bar area with its neat column of spirits. To the right was a bookcase full of books and by the French Windows out into the garden was a baby grand piano.
The pair of them sat down on the comfy sofa.
"Do you know I really admire you. I wish I could write like you or create pieces of art like Matt." He said wistfully.
She nodded in understanding.
"Your talents lay elsewhere. You seem to be able to learn things so easily? How many doctorates is it now?"
Terry had got up and had wandered over to the piano.
"I forget how many, I've lost track." He sat down at the piano. "I can play Mozart."
He began playing Mozart's Musical Joke.
Seamlessly the music had move to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.
"Even Johan Strauss."
The strains of the Blue Danube filled the room before the music petered out.
"I can paint a Constable or a Turner but I can not create. That's why I envy you and Matt. You can create new things."
"Felling sorry for yourself old friend."
Terry gave a wan smile.
"Today I visited where Mary was killed. I always thought it was somebody coming from in front of her down the road that frightened her and killed her but it wasn't it was someone from behind her." Terry shook himself and looked up with a smile. "Did you know our resident poet before the accident by any chance?"
"Only by reputation. Why do you ask?"
"His poetry has become so bad I wonder if he suffered some brain damage of some sort." Terry sat back down and sipped his drink.
"It's more likely to be emotional trauma. He did lose his wife and his two daughters in the crash." Gorgy sat beside him. "To be honest I hope he's got his wits about him."
"Well his presenting the arts awards with the President tonight."
"Is he by God then why haven't I been invited?" A cold hand clutched Terry's heart.
"None of us has been. We are not elite enough." She laughed at that. "Mind you he could have, it was planned a year ago, before the car crash."
The next fifteen minutes was taken up with trivialities before Terry got up and passed his empty glass to her.
"Thanks for the drink."
And turned to go.
"Are you ambidextrous?" He asked over his shoulder.
"Oh no reason I just thought you were." He smiled at her when he reached the door. "Must go people to see and the final piece of evidence to put in place."
"So you know who killed her then?" She asked.
"Oh yes. I think I've always known but didn't realise it." He sighed sadly. "I shall finish things tomorrow night but first I've got to visit a certain poet to boost his confidence."
"Well you better hurry the awards ceremony is tonight at the Coliseum of Art."
"Typical of him?"
They both laughed.
Terry walked down the road a pace to his car.
As he got in he pulled out two sheets of paper from his pocket with Gorgy's handwriting on it. He had pilfered it from the pile that sat on the piano.
It was to check against the note he had in his other pocket but in his heart he knew what he would find.
As he drove away he considered how he was going to stop Stan from murdering the President.
Fair Play sat up in the rafters of the stage area watching all the guests coming in and been shown to their tables.
It was the meeting of the great and the good of American society.
The new undisputed heavy weight champion of the world, Ted Grant, sat a little self-consciously, with the Local District Attorney and the Art Critic Piers Morgan.
The Chief of Police was at another table with more dignitaries.
If the hall was to be blown up with a bomb it would disrupt American life and probably stop the US entering the war.
Satisfying himself that there was nothing amiss in the auditorium itself he had begun searching the stage area, but he was running out of time.
He dropped down to the back of the stage area via a rope that would pull up or down some scenery.
His mouth was dry.
He had no proof that Stan was going to kill the President, just assumptions and he knew where they could lead from a saying his English lecturer drummed into his head.
'Do not assume anything because if you do you will simply make an Ass of U and Me. Do your homework first to prove it.'
He laughed silently about remembering it.
He disappeared under the stage.
He had hoped to catch Stan in his dressing room but he was nowhere to be seen. That fact alone worried Fair Play.
He knew the security services had made a sweep of the area but that seemed almost cursory. Just something they had to do rather than something they should be doing.
It was then he found the first device.
The mike stand was wired to the main electricity box and to a rocker switch hidden under the stage. It was arranged such that someone on the stage beside the president could operate it.
A cold sweat dampened his brow. It wasn't the only thing connected to that electricity box.
Up above he could hear the rousing music of the Star Spangled Banner being played and the sound of Old Glory being raised.
In the auditorium the lights dimmed and a spotlight picked out the President Franklin D Roosevelt and his dog Fala, which went everywhere with him, being led to the top table.
As he sat people nearest him saw the metal leg braces that peaked out from under his trousers, the result of contracting polio many years earlier.
Up on the stage the host for the night crossed to the microphone and called out to seated assembly.
"Well friends." He said with a knowing wink. "Welcome to this special evening where we give praise to the arts. There will be several categories ranging from New Comers in Music and Dance to the Best Drama Production and finally the Special Presidents Award for The Most Inspirational Contribution of the Arts by someone who has overcome physical or mental limitations.
But first tonight the company with perform a medley of songs from the musical Showboat.
Ladies and Gentlemen I give our boys and girls."
He left the stage as the lead, a tall hansom coloured man called Paul Robson, walked on in costume and began to sing.
Their was an audible sigh from the audience as his deep bass voice filled the auditorium.
He did a slow nod of appreciation.
Under the stage Fair Play gave an sigh of relief.
The microphone and rocker switch was wired in place such that if interfered with it would send a current down a wire that disappeared through a drain cover into the sewers beneath the stage.
With no little effort in the cramped conditions he managed to lift the grating up and slide by the wire into the sewer itself.
The first thing to hit Fair Play was the stench. It threatened to make him gag.
It took him a few moments to find the wire again as it had been artfully covered up such that in the dim light it looked like the wall.
Working carefully along we followed it. At a branch of the pipe it to branched.
Following the wires he crisscrossed under the theatre finding primed explosives at each turn, quite literally.
He could hear the musical interlude finishing and the first of the awards to be announced.
At the Presidents table sat the pale form of Stan Laurel who was applauding loudly. Too loudly.
"There's more explosive down here than Guy Fawkes had when he attempted to blow up the houses of parliament." Fair Play had reached the centre of the group where a mass of explosives were piled up together.
It wasn't going to be an easy job, if you can call any job easy around that much explosives, of just removing the detonators. Sitting in the centre of the pile was a German Gustaff bomb and ten large incendiary devices.
He would have to defuse them one by one which would be no mean task as they were sure to have anti tampering devices attached. Basically they were booby trapped.
The master of ceremonies was back at the microphone.
"To announce the first of tonight's awards I give you our own our very own Undisputed Heavy Weight Champion of the World 'Our Boy' Ted Grant.
The auditorium erupted with applause as the President himself led the standing ovation.
The huge man shyly lifted his great big right hand up and bobbed his head in appreciation.
He stood at the mike and gave one of his deep trademark chuckles.
"The Award for the Best Young Artist goes to." He looked across at the MC.
"The four main contenders are. Joseph Longman with his work the 'Brunswick Angel', Lillian Harry 'Domestic Bliss', Mark Landaus work 'Squares at the Heart of Time', and finally Victor Pledge's "Money"."
"And the winner is." Ted undid the gold envelope and read. "Joseph Longmans 'Brunswick Angel.'"
It must have been a popular choice by the sound of the reception the young man was getting.
On a screen behind those on the stage was the image of the painting. It depicted a street walker plying for trade at the foot of the giant statue depicting a female angel with wings unfurled. The statue was a familiar one to anyone that frequented the new marina.
Not that Fair Play was that interested.
He had quickly surmised that any attempt to move the sack and barrels of explosive would tip the bomb. It was a 250kg with four mercury switches to bobby trap it to stop the fuse being withdrawn.
Albert had insisted that he wore the belt with all the little pouches on. From one he removed a short jemmy.
The prongs fitted into the lugs of the fuse. Carefully he began turning the tool knowing that one slip could be goodnight and thank you for all the fish, not only for him but for all those above him in the theatre. But he didn't have a choice the wires from all the others ended up in a device below the bomb.
Fair Play laid his head on the casing listening out for the tick of the timer.
The jemmy slipped out of his sweaty hands hitting the bomb with a clang and disappearing between the barrels and sacks that the bomb was stacked on.
He swore, a thing he tried never to do, but he forgave himself on this occasion.
He knew that he wouldn't be believed if he tried to warn the audience. He would just be frog marched off. In the confusion Stan could operate the peddle and kill them all. It all depended if he was a primed suicide jockey.
Fair Play couldn't take the risk.
He pulled himself over the barrels and sacks carefully to avoid jarring the bomb itself. His long arm slipped between them and his fingertips just brushed the surface of the metal jemmy.
He shifted his position and the barrels clamped agonisingly on his arm.
He moved round to release his arm only for his foot to strike the bomb.
He stopped and carefully eased his leg over it.
His breathing ragged he tried again to reach the jemmy. His fingertips touched the metal once more. He walked them along the metal shaft till he could grip the up turned prongs. Slowly with it dangling from his fingertips he withdrew his arm until it lay safely on the top of a drum.
Carefully he moved his leg back over the bomb. Finally he had both feet on the ground. He listen to the bomb but thankfully heard nothing.
He bent over and grabbed his shaking knees and let out a long ragged breath.
Upstairs in the auditorium the applause for another award being given out reminded Fair Play how little time he had.
The prongs of the jemmy clicked back into place.
Slowly, steadily, he unscrewed the retainer cap.
Once it was clear it revealed the detonator beneath.
On each side of the detonator was a notch where specialist tongs could grip it and pull it free.
Fair Play emptied out his pouches putting the items on the top of one of the barrels.
He picked up a set of skeleton keys and tried them to see if they would fit.
In the auditorium the events were coming to the high point of the evening, when the President handed out the 'Life Time Achievement' award.
Slowly FDR got to his feet and with Fala, his dog, trotting along self-importantly beside him he mounted the specially provided ramp up to the stage.
The whole of the audience got to their feet and applauded this frail and yet unbowed man who led their nation.
The MC announced over the mike.
"Ladies and Gentlemen. The President of the United States!"
If it was possible the noise increased echoing eerily down to Fair Play far below.
The fuse was three quarters of the way out before he felt the resistance. Could the detonator be tethered at the bottom somehow, such if it is pulled any further it would set it off, or was it just stuck a little and needed a slightly harder pull.
He made his mind up and gave it a stiff pull.
It was awhile before the MC could speak over the microphone.
"Friends, and I mean that most sincerely, before the prize for Life Time Achievement is awarded we will have a few word's from our own poet laureate.
Ladies and Gentlemen Stanley Laurel."
Stan walk on with the dish shaped award in his hand up to the mike stand. He placed his foot next to the hidden rocker switch and with the faintest of movements cleared the locking pin away to release it ready for use.
He bowed to the audience before speaking into the microphone without touching it.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this years 'Life Time Achievement' award doesn't go to a person but to a dream of one person, a dream still carried on by his son." He paused to let the applause drop. "In nineteen twenty the renown industrialist and millionaire Tomas Wayne along with his wife Martha created the Wayne Art Foundation to encourage new art and artists. They awarded bursaries to many a struggling artist.
I include myself in that lucky number.
Six years ago Tomas and Martha were viciously gunned down in the street in a crime that horrified the whole of America if not the world.
It could have been simple to wind up the fund but their young son young Bruce wouldn't hear of it.
Ladies and Gentlemen the 'Life Time Achievement' Award goes to the Wayne Art Foundation."
There was a burst of applause.
"And in honour of the two men I shall giving a reading of their favourite poems. 'No Mans an Island' by Emerson for Tomas and Kipling's 'If' for Bruce."
He opened the book of poems that was on the lectern beside him and began the poems.
Fair Play stood still a moment to regain his composure.
The detonator hanged loosely from his hand the metal cable swinging beneath the device.
It was a booby trap device but his sudden jerk on the fuse had split the cable leaving the bomb safe, that's if bombs can ever be safe.
With infinite care he slid the bomb onto another keg before sliding over the area where the bomb had been himself to try and get to the main detonator.
"You'll be a man my son." Stan came to the end of the reading to be greeted by rapturous applause.
He bowed and stepped back so his foot was close to the rocker switch.
The idea was to slip away in the pandemonium of the president dying and then once away from the venue set off the bombs by radio control.
He watched as the President walk slowly and carefully up to the mike stand, Falla at his heels.
The President took hold of the microphone stand and used it as a stick to support himself.
Falla came round him and to Stan's horror sat on the rocker switch.
It was evident that her weight was not able to trigger the rocker switch.
The irony of the situation was not lost on Stan who picked up the book of poems and felt the butt of the luger hidden inside.
"My fellow Americans. Today we celebrate the endeavours of our artistic community." The President said holding on to the mike stand like it was a walking stick. "Their skill lifts the spirit and gladdens the heart."
Falla got up and moved round to the other side of her master freeing the rocker switch.
Stan saw his chance and moving forward depressed the rocker switch.
He waited for the mains electricity to surge through Roosevelt's body making him shake and writhe. Nothing happened!
He clicked the switch a few times before the realisation that it had failed hit him.
With all eyes on the President Stan slowly withdrew to where the MC stood with his mike.
When the President had finished his speech Stan took the MC's microphone.
"Ladies and Gentleman the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, the Wayne Foundation."
Bruce Wayne stood up and took his girlfriend's hand. He was a tall hansom young man, about six foot tall and nineteen years old, with an easy style. His girlfriend, Selina Kyle, was stunning.
The applause was loud and long as Bruce escorted his partner up the slope to the stage.
Stan had slipped behind the stage and took out his luger from the secret compartment in his poetry book.
Carefully he screwed on the silencer.
He parted the back curtain and slid the barrel through taking aim at the Presidents back.
He idly wondered if he would have time to kill Falla for her interference.
His finger tightened on the trigger. His breathing settled into a low rhythm.
In a second the President of the USA will be lying dead on the stage.Chapter Fifteen It Tolls For Thee.
There was the sound of a swish followed by a meaty thunk as the disc of the award spun out of the darkness and collided with Stan's hand! It bit in making it bleed.
The impact made Stan stagger back and the gun dropped out of his grasp.
Fair Play burst out of the shadows but Stan was already fleeing.
A security guard, having seen what had happened, pulled out his gun from his shoulder holster and dashed after the two men.
Just ahead Fair Play just heard over the sound of applause and cheers from the auditorium a door closing.
In seconds he was at the door to the massive props room where the scenery flats were kept.
He knew that on opening the door and entering the room he would be silhouetted for a few fleeting moments but long enough for someone to shoot him.
As he lay flat against the wall on the right hand side of the door formulating a plan to put out the hall light a shape thudded into the wall opposite.
The guard was a muscular coloured man who looked like he could crack walnuts with his eye lids.
In his right hand he held a snub nose Colt.
He raised his left hand in acknowledgement.
He signalled silently with his free hand that, after they go in, Fair Play should go right while he went left.
Fair Play nodded his understanding.
It seem odd to him not being the one in charge of the situation for once.
Crouching down so not to be seen through the frosted glass in the upper part of the door he reached for the door handle, and began to turn it.
The big man squeezed his shoulder in a gesture he had used himself many times to convey companionship.
The door was free and with a push he opened it.
Once it was opened far enough the two men slipped through.
Running almost silently Fair Play reached the deeper shadows of a large stack of black cases.
Nimbly he climbed them until he was at the top. He paused to listen.
He could hear the heavy tread of the guard on his left but also nearer too the furtive sound of their quarry.
He stepped back to give himself as much room as he could for a run up.
He jumped, sailing across the corridors made by the stored equipment, he grabbed the arm of a old street lamp.
He looped round it to land lightly on the top of a large scenery flat.
He stayed still for a moment and once again heard the stealthy movement below.
The fugitive was circling round to get behind the guard!
Fair Play ran along the thin rail the canvas flat was attached to like an Olympic gymnast.
When only half way across he twisted round and jumped to another that was at ninety degrees from the first.
He noticed that it was one of a pair showing the White House and the slogan 'Keep 'em Flying. By War Bonds.'
It's strange what you notice when your in fight or flight mode.
He dropped silently down a rope and padded forward.
A rack of costumes where in his way.
Crouching low he parted them and slipped through.
Just ahead was his target.
All was well until the guard crashed into stack of cooking pans knocking them flying.
A gun barked to be returned by another. The flashes from their muzzles lit up the space blinding Fair Play in the process.
All he could see was the after glow brightly etched on his retina.
Cursing silently to himself he edge forward trying to hear his prey.
As his eyes grew accustom to the darkness again. He heard a faint sound. The sound of metal on metal as a putrid smell wafted under his nose.
Abandoning any attempt to hide his footsteps Fair Play charged forward to where the source of the odour came from. He reached it in seconds but it was to late Stan had pushed aside the cover and vanished down it into the sewers.
A few seconds more and the guard was kneeling by his side peering into the dimly lit sewer at the stacks of explosives and the fuse wire that looped from it.
"He's going to the main source to try and detonate it manually." Fair Play told him. "Go and get everyone evacuated, I don't care how you do it just do it. I'll try and stop him."
"Tiny." The mans deep voice said.
"I'm called Tiny."
"Mr T" He stopped a moment before continuing with a broad smile. "I'm called Fair Play. Well Tiny don't just stand there, there is a building to evacuate."
Tiny leaned across him and with his pistols butt smashed the glass of the fire alarm by his head. The button that had been constrained by the glass now sprang forward making the circuit.
The fire alarm sirens began screaming out their warnings.
Fair Play disappeared down the man hole as Tiny vanished back the way they had come.
He had only minutes to save everyone in the building above him he just hoped Tiny was successful in evacuating them.
He pulled the detonator's out of the explosive barrels before thundering after them.
If he was going to die it was going to happen doing something not sitting crying to himself in the corner.Chapter Sixteen Sixty Seconds' Worth of Distance Run.
Down the sewer Fair Play thundered until he came to an intersection of four tunnels. Which of the other three should he follow?
He cursed and strained his hearing hoping to hear his quarry but it was one of his other senses that gave him a clue.
He detected the faintest odour of expensive Cologne wafting out of tunnel three.
Without hesitation he entered the darkness.
The sewer ran downward for awhile before emerging high up in the monstrous main sewer. The walls were wet with condensation and the rank smell had increased making Fair Play fight not to gag.
Down the side of the wall was a metal ladder that went down into the main sewer.
Fair Play swung himself out and grabbed the ladder and slid down it avoiding the rusty and broken rungs.
At the bottom he paused.
There was a spot of blood on the floor. Fresh too.
Tiny must have winged Stan.
Like a blood hound on the scent he followed the trail to another sewer.
Up he went stopping only to disarm another satellite explosive cache.
The sewer turned into territory he knew.
Just up ahead was the central mass of explosives.
Stan must have had quite a shock finding the bomb disarmed and the timer on the main pile of explosives disconnected.
Mind you not as much of a shock as Fair Play had when he was lying full length over the barrels of explosive trying to disconnect the clock mechanism. He had just managed to disconnect the device as the electricity from the rocker switch arrived giving Fair Play a heck of a shock catapulting him into the sewer wall.
Fair Play peeped around the corner of the passageway and to his horror saw Stan using his teeth to bare the wires that led to the countdown clock.
"I shouldn't if I were you." Fair Play said calmly, more calmly than he felt. "It's over Stan the audience must have all been evacuated by now. Give it up."
Stan laughed at him.
"If I give in to you I will be hung for treason. I'm a dead man which ever way I go." He laughed again. "I might as well go out as a hero."
Fair Plays eyebrow lifted quizzically.
"Hero?" He asked.
"Oh yes. A true hero of the people. We are controlled buy a filthy Jew, and the corrupt Senate." The man pretending to be Stan spat. "We must not enter into the war in Europe we must wait until Hitler has conquered Europe and then join with him to destroy the communist horde.
He will be our saviour, he will rescue us from the growing tide of the blacks and gypsies and the Jews."
His eyes stared manically .
"Soon he will unleash Nacht und Nebel, Night and Fog, and the United States of America will become truly the land of the free. Free from taint, free from communism."
The wires sparked between them. Fiery arcs of electricity.
Fair Play could see the wound in Stan's side had produced a red stain on his clothes.
Fair Play could also see what Stan was going to do.
He was going to thrust the sparking wires into the bombs open detonator housing. These sparks would set off the charge that blew the bomb up which in turn would ignite the drum and sacks of powder around it.
The explosion would collapse the sewer bringing down with its satellite explosions the buildings in the area.
Fair Play walked slowly forward all the while as he talked.
"What happened to the real Stan? He never survived the crash did he? He died with his family. You set up the crash didn't you?"
"He didn't die in the crash. We had captured the family earlier and used them as a lever to get him to teach me how he walked and talked, all about his life." Stan had pulled out a small derringer and was aiming it at Fair Play's gut. "That wasn't that hard since he had Nazi sympathise himself.
You should have seen his face when he realised we had drugged them all.
While the others slept he managed to keep awake. Enough to know what we were going to do to them all.
We put them all in the car and then jammed the accelerator. We had the lorry make the impact and the car sailed over the edge off the road into the gully. You should have seen it. It went perfectly end over end. It burst, as we planned, into flame killing them all.
Stan was catapulted out of the car on impact. I grabbed him and lifted him up so he could watch his family die. When the fire was at its highest we threw him paralysed but just about alive on the prier.
I looked at lot like our dear poet, perfect for substitution.
My masters didn't think it was perfect enough.
They thrust my face into the flames.
It was agony but it was worth it."
He lowered the sparking wires to the bombs opening.
On the barrel near Fair Play was one of the awards. Stan must have carried it down with him for some reason.
Stan saw him look and laughed.
"That's the award I took for myself. The selfless hero award."
Fair Play took the disc out of its holder, he needed to keep him talking till an opportunity to disarm him came about.
"See this?!" Fair Play roared. "This is give to those people who can make us laugh, cry or feel proud, and a hundred other emotions! They remind us about the depths of our very souls!
They symbolise all that is good in us! What makes humans special!
All this." He swept his arm round to encompass all the barrels, while the disc nestled into his fingers like a discus on the sports field.
As he spoke Fair Play was making swift calculations and observations.
"And you want to pull all this down into anarchy."
"Not anarchy. Those above were specifically chosen to cause the maximum shock and awe. With the need to provide a stable government and military our agents will take over imposing martial law.
This will tie up those who would defy us into keeping the peace, making it impossible for them to work against us.
The replacements would trickle in over the next six months."
"There are innocent people up there have you thought of them?" Fair Play drew his hand and arm back.
"Collateral damage." Stan said. "All the fire doors and those out of the building have locked down. No one will escape?"
Fair Play saw in his eyes that all conversation was over.
With a screech of effort Fair Play launched the disc.
Stan laughed as it disappeared and clattered against a wall in the darkness.
"Not so 'Terrific' after all." Suddenly he frowned as he heard the sound of metal against the brick wall of the sewer as the disc clattered into another wall.
Stan didn't even have time to take in what it meant before the disc shot out of the gloom behind him and cut deep into the back of his neck, logging itself there.
As he collapsed Fair Play jumped forward and wrenched the wires out of his grasp.
Sucking in great gasps of air Fair Play lent over a barrel in shock. He had taken a gamble and it had payed off.
Suddenly shaking, he rushed to the open part of the sewer and was violently sick.
As he wiped his mouth he heard a sibilant his.
He turned round in absolute horror, he hadn't played for time with Stan, Stan had played for time with him.
He dash forward just in time to see the fuse splutter igniting six others that were tied to it. Further down twelve more were tied to each of the six.
His mind went into brain fug mode.
It was like trying to think through molasses.
His body was working purely on instinct as he forced his heart, nerve and sinew to serve their turn even though they had gone.
He wrenched out the flaming strings of fuses from where they were secreted.
He couldn't dunk them in the waters of the sewer to put them out, they wouldn't stretch that far.
He even contemplated urinating on them in hope of putting them out.
He burnt his finger tips trying to snuff them out.
Stan was laying over a barrel the disc still stuck in his neck.
Fair play wrenched it out and with a downward sweep used its razor sharp edge to cut off the burning part of the fuses.
They dropped to the ground where he, like he was dancing some manic flamenco, stamped them out.
The hairs on his neck lifted in a cold sweat.
He turned to look down the barrel of the derringer.
Stan stood with foaming blood dribbling out of his mouth his neck partly severed.
The cold calculating part of Fair Plays mind wondered how Stan could still be alive, the other half wanted to scream.
The sound of a pistol shot roared deafeningly in the enclosed space.
An obscene third eye appeared in Stan's forehead, he frowned a moment before dropping down dead. Behind him stood the bulky form of Tiny, pistol raised in his left hand.
"What took you so long?" Fair Play asked with a smile.
"I had to open some doors." The big mans right arm hung down loosely and obviously was giving him a lot of pain. The mans dark brown skin had a grey hue to it. "They didn't want to open."
"Ah I see."
Tiny fumbled with his left hand into his pocket and withdrew his warrant card.
He held it up so Fair Play could see it.
"Special agent Fowler, F.B.I."
"Fair Play. We did good today Tiny. We did good."
Fair Play took the gun from the big man and put it back in its shoulder holster for him.
"Thank you." The big man said.
"What happens now? You arrest me?" Fair Play asked. "I'll come quietly."
"I know you will." He said. "Skedaddle before the rest get down here. Don't worry I'll make sure you get the credit."
The big man pulled out a card with his personal contact details on it.
"If you want to join us just give me a call."
Fair Play took the card and gave a mock salute before vanishing into the gloom.
"My report will be on your desk by tomorrow night." Fair Play called as he disappeared.
Tiny grunted partly in pain partly in appreciation.
"Of course it will, of course it will."
He could hear voices getting closer.
"Down here!" He yelled.
Soon a group of uniformed officers led by the Police Commissionaire charged into the area.
"Dear God!" The Commissionaire said as he took in the amount of explosives.
"F.B.I. Fowler." Tiny grunted.
The Commissionaire took in the sight of Stan's body.
"Well done Agent Fowler."
Tiny shook his head.
"It wasn't me it was Fair Play that had done most of the work. I just got here in time for the finale. If you want to praise or reward someone then it better be him."
"Another costumed vigilante that's all I need. We will keep him out of it for the moment."
"Not if I can help it sir." Tiny replied with a grimace holding his damaged arm.
"That's for later. Lets get you fixed up first." The Commissionaire turned to two of his men. "You two Agent Fowler is injured take him topside and make sure he gets medical attention."
The curtain was brought down upon the scene only to raise on another just as deadly one.
The Sloan household was quiet and still, shrouded in darkness.
A deeper shadow padded across to the door that led to the bedrooms.
Then silently turned the knob.
The corridor was relatively short with doors on the right leading to the two bedrooms. A door at the other end led out to the servants stairs, which in turn led to the rooms of Albert and Bella as well as the wine cellar.
The slim hand opened the first door.
The four poster bed was empty.
The intruder shut the door quietly.
The next door opened into the master bedroom. The bed was as empty as the other.
The figure shut the door quietly.
The shape returned to the lounge. Standing still it listened for awhile.
This was not going to plan. Terry and Wendy must have either gone to a late night club or gone to his country retreat.
The figure didn't even bother with the kitchen, dining room or study.
"Hello can I help you?" A voice asked from the darkness. "If you're looking for Terry Sloan or Wendy you're going to be disappointed. I had them taken to a safe house."
A standard lamp came on giving a pool of light in the darkness.
"I'm Fair Play by the way." He said conversationally.
The intruder was slim and wore dark clothing.
Black pumps peaked from under trendy black slacks, a black roll necked sweater clung tightly to the torso. And finally the black balaclava.
"You might as well take off your balaclava. You will breath much better without it." Fair Play laughed. "It's not as if I don't know who you are."
The black garbed figure fired at where the voice came from.
"Tsk Tsk. I do hope you haven't damaged Terry's Louis Cans chair, he'll be very upset." The voice came from behind the intruder.
The figure spun round and fired again.
Another lamp came on to the right.
It spun round to cover that area but there was know one there.
"Oh dear getting a little disorientated are we." The voice of Fair Play said in front of them.
A hand sliced down from behind the intruder hitting the wrist making them drop the gun.
The figure reacted quickly grabbing the arm and performing a perfect shoulder throw.
Fair Play rolled up into a tight ball before hitting the floor allowing himself to regain his feet instantly.
"Oh you're good. It's a long time since I had a good work out."
Fair play saw the gun at the same moment as the intruder. They both dived for it.
Fair Play missed the pistol but managed to grip his opponents wrist. With all his might he slammed the hand down on to the floor to get them to let go of the gun.
Once, twice, three times he tried to get them to relinquish the weapon but to no avail as the intruder held onto it like grim death.
A sharp elbow was driven into Fair Plays stomach winding him.
The figure rolled away and got to its feet.
Fair Play rolled upright to face the intruder.
"You fight well. You must tell me who taught you."
Fair Play fainted to his right before swinging to the left with a sharp kick.
The figure rolled with the blow but too late it realised it had left itself open and Fair Play was in like a knife with two bladed hand blows.
He heard a rib crack under the onslaught.
The figure tried to execute a flat palm drive upward at his nose. He rolled away before rolling back with blows of his own.
The gun had been dropped in the scuffle and Fair Play had managed to kick it under a chair.
Judo, Karate, Jujitsu and Savate were used in the fighting that carried on between them but with nether getting the upper hand.
Twice Fair Play got the figure on the floor only to find they had wriggled out of his holds.
The winner was going to be the one that could carry on for the longest, either that or had luck on their side.
Blows were blocked and retaliated.
Then blind luck gave Fair Play the chance he was waiting for.
He had been sent crashing into the stand that held Terry's pool and snooker cues.
He whipped a pool cue out and with a flourish swept his attacker off their feet.
Pressing down with the cue he held his enemy motionless.
"Shall we see your face my dear." Without relenting on the pressure he bent and pulled off the balaclava. "Hello Gorgy?"
Gorgy's face was flushed and she was breathing heavily.
"Where did you learn to fight like that? Don't tell me it was your communist friends wasn't it?" Fair Play laughed.
"They have helped it's true but I found a Dojo master in Lincoln." She spluttered as he let her up. "How did you know it was me."
"Oh that wasn't that difficult. I had Terry visit you and give you the idea that he had almost cracked Mary's code which would reveal your name." He gestured to the paper work on the coffee table. "But he did one better and removed from your piano musical notes about the composer in your handwriting, both right hand and left.
It wasn't that hard to see the similarities between the forged note and your left hand."
"And I thought I was so smart." She whined.
"You were the fourth and last Pay Cow." Fair Play told her. "I checked your bank account against Mary's.
She was black mailing you to find dirt on the others. She knew that you were a communist and was going to expose you."
"I'm not a communist but my Nazi paymasters wanted to know what they were planning. It was easy to infiltrate them."
"And she found out?"
"So you killed her?"
"Yes! Don't waste pity on her she was the scum of the earth!" She said vehemently. "She didn't care for anyone! She used people like a spoilt child uses a toy only to discard them!"
"You knew where she was that day."
"No! That was pure luck. I was coming back from a signing session and spotted her car. I parked up further down the road." She gave a sort of sob. "She was using poor Rick like a sex toy. I don't know what came over me.
I carry a knife in my bag to deter muggers."
"You saw Matt come out of the wood's and saw Mary's reaction to him and you saw your chance.
She got out of the back seat and run round to the front passenger side in a panic."
The two of them were moving around each other as they talked. They were assessing each other looking for an opening to finish it.
"When Matt had passed by you wrenched open the car door and stabbed her again and again!" Fair Play hand went to one of his pouches that were on his belt.
"I stabbed her once that was all!" She protested. "She was dead and I panicked. Leaving the knife in her body I fled."
"You must have been relieved to hear that Ricky had been arrested for her murder.
You made sure with blackmail notes that he was found guilty.
But then you got greedy." Fair Play told her. "You forged those other letters so you could live off the poor unfortunates that were in her web. You even tried to blackmail some new ones."
A knife appeared in her hand as she jumped forward to slash Fair Play open.
He just managed to swing out of her way at the last moment.
Regaining his balance he delivered a rabbit punch to her kidney.
She rolled right and gave a savage kick at his knee. He stumbled from the impact dropping down on one knee.
The knife slashed down only to be blocked by a short metal jemmy.
Fair Play surged upward to regain his feet pushing Gorgy backward.
With a twist he spun round and delivered a heavy blow to her solar plexus getting a long thin cut on his arm for the pleasure of doubling her up.
A swift chop to her neck knocked her senseless.
As she laid sprawled out on the floor Fair Play removed some handcuffs from a pouch and clamped them round her wrists.
Unceremoniously he hauled her up and dumped her in a chair.
She shook her head and looked up into Fair Plays cold eyes as he thrust his face close to hers.
"Humour me why did you do the forgeries? It can't be for the money you're a best seller on the book shelves."
"I have a little habit that has become expensive." She said calmly.
"Cocaine." She laughed. "Sorry it isn't more exciting. I needed the money for my pleasures. No political or high minded reason. I killed her so I could take over and take the money for myself.
It was so easy to pressurise the policeman, the judge, and the councils to get the verdict I wanted."
"Have you heard enough Lieutenant Crabtree, Agent Fowler?" Fair Play called.
The room lights came on blinding Gorgy a moment. When she could see she was aware of several small speakers around the room.
She began to laugh when she realised that that was where Fair Plays voice had come from. One had a bullet hole in it, testimony to her accuracy.
"You are under arrest for the murder of Mary Wells. You are not obliged to say…"
As she was read her rights by Colin she began to laugh and sound of it made Fair Plays skin crawl.
After she had been taken away Colin joined them in the roof garden.
"She's confessed it all but she was still saying that she stabbed her once." Colin said as he took the whisky Terry was offering. "I suppose she is still trying to blame someone else."
"Probably." He said.
"Care to explain? Oh we found the printing equipment where you said it was. How did you know it was there?"
"I dropped in to check before this evening. The basement of the Enquirers printing presses was an obvious place to hide it. The noise of the presses above hid any noise they made printing the notes."
"I'm still confused about it all?" Wendy said shaking her head as if to clear it.
"Mary Well's had turned blackmail into an art form. At first she threatened to attack peoples reputations through the paper and then when she was working for her pay masters the Nazi's she blackmailed the poor sap into giving her the printing plates.
They intended to flood the market with the currency she had printed destabilising the government.
She had made many enemies but they couldn't touch her."
"Her Nazi paymasters had removed Stan Laurel and put in a ringer to carry out the assassination." Colin added.
"She got greedy in as much as she wanted to be the one to distribute the currency. Also she knew that if she kept the location of the press and currency secret her paymasters could not have her killed." Terry carried on.
"We found out that neither the mobs or the Nazi's were involved in her death.
Now she was dead Gorgy took up the baton so to speak.
Gorgy killed her. She supposedly came across her by chance but I doubt that.
Mary saw Matt coming down the woodland path and so did Gorgy.
Mary panicked and got in the front passenger side of the vehicle where in England would be the drivers side.
She had hoped to drive away but now she couldn't.
She was probably going to slide over to the drivers side when Gorgy opened the door and stabbed her to death.
She ran off but not before calling Rick to come to the front, probably she mimicked Mary's voice.
She knew that Rick would climb in the front with Mary covering himself with blood.
She had set up her scapegoat and using the hold she had gained from Mary over the Judge, Prosecutor and managing to procure a inexperienced defending council, she made sure Rick was found guilty.
And so he would have remained if not for a chance meeting on a bridge."
Terry lifted Wendy's face and kissed her gently.
It was an ending of sorts but also a new beginning.Chapter Seventeen If No Man Is An Island.
"Extra! Extra! New Mystery Man exposes counterfeit gang and corruption in high places. Globe exclusive." The newspaper boys yelled from their vendor stalls.
A month later.
"Extra, extra! Read all about it! Jury to give verdict in Mary Wells murder case!"
COURT ROOM 1
The judge lent forward over his desk and looked down into the pit of the courtroom satisfied with what he could see."
He turned to the spokesperson of the jurors.
"Have you reached a verdict to which you all agree?"
"Yes My Lord." The person that was to give the verdict was a hansom young woman who had definitely caught the judges eye.
"What is the verdict on the count of Murder of Mary Wells.
Guilty or Not Guilty."
A collective sigh of relief swept the courtroom.
The judge rapped his gavel twice on the desk top.
The room fell to a deathly hush.
"Rick Wilson you have been found not guilty of the murder of Mary Wells. You are free to go."
Rick's face was a picture of incredulity before turning into a beaming smile.
With tear's in her eyes Wendy went forward to collect her brother.
After all these months he was finally free.
"Extra! Extra! METROPOLIS Opera Company open the renovated Opera house."
Don Giorgio sat back in the plush chair and arranged the creases of his immaculate suit trousers.
He idly watched the audience pile in for the nights performance. The Metropolis Opera House was a grand building that still held on to its Rocco design.
It was ornate with cherubs peaking round every corner.
The opera that the company was performing that night was one of the Don's favourites, Mozart's Cossi Van Tutti.
Beside his hand was a small table with a champagne bottle sitting in an ice bucket and two champagne flutes.
The orchestra was tuning up and the lights were dimming when he heard his host's chair creak a little.
"I hope you didn't mind old friend but I've upgraded us to the royal box. More fitting don't you think? Champagne?" The Don popped the cork and poured some into his glass. He then filled and passed over the other glass.
"I will share a glass with you old friend." The shadowy figure said quietly.
"I'm glad. I didn't relish drinking it on my own. There's some chocolates on the table, help yourself. It will be my treat next time."
"I look forward to it old friend. Shall we say every two months?"
"Agreed." The mafia boss tapped his glass thoughtfully with his finger tip. "An old acquaintance once said 'Let us talk together as men'. He was very wise."
The shadowy figure dipped his head in a form of nod.
The Orchestra struck up with the overture and both the Don and Fair Play sat back to enjoy the evening knowing that when it was over they would be once more on different sides of the law.
"Extra, extra! Society Wedding of millionaire Terry Sloan to Wendy Wilson. Read all about it."
The church was full to capacity on this warm day.
The scent of roses, honeysuckle, and lily of the valley filled the church.
Terry sat nervously with his best man Matt beside him.
"A good turn out Terry." Matt said oblivious to his friends agitation. "The great and the good are here."
This was true.
On the brides side sat the Police Commissionaire, Lieutenant Colin Crabtree and the Mayor.
A few rows back from the pew that Matt and Terry sat in were the Wayne's.
Bruce was whispering something to his beautiful wife Selina Kyle while his younger sister Rachel took the mickey out of Robyn Grayson Bruce's ward.
Opposite on the brides side sat Ted Knight and his girlfriend and Wesley Dodds and his girl friend Dian Belmont.
Directly behind Terry and Matt sat the four servants.
Alfred, Arthur, Albert and 'Trig'. Trigs real name turned out to be Beatrix which to Terry's mind was far better than her nickname. Apparently it came about because as a small child she couldn't pronounce her own name.
Terry's mouth was dry and his tongue was stuck to the roof of his mouth.
Suddenly with a strong cord the organist began playing Elgar's Nimrod.
Terry stood up all concern gone. She was here, and that was all that matters.
He turned slightly so he could watch her progress down the aisle.
She was beautiful.
The white wedding dress was covered in lace and pearls. The fashion icons that sat in the pews nodded their heads in approval as they stood up.
Clara Kent had won the right to photograph the wedding and was marshalling her young photographer Jenny Olsen to the right place for the best shots. Clara was ahead of her time selecting her staff on their merits not what sex they were.
Clara was going to syndicate it after producing a glossy supplement for her paper.
Rick looked spectacular in his dove grey frock coat, he was beaming.
Behind Wendy were two of her nurse friends from the hospital as brides maids while Bella looked magnificent as the Matron of Honour in a cream trouser suit and white silk blouse.
"Do you Terrance Peter Sloan take Wendy Wanda Wilson to be your lawful wife…"
The service was wonderful full of life affirming songs and readings.
The reception was being held in the New Brunswick Astoria. A grand place with seating for a hundred guests.
The toast master tapped the side of a glass to get everyone's attention.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, the Groom." His voice penetrated the room easily.
"Ladies and Gentlemen Wendy and I would like to thank you for coming.
Well what can I say.
Before I met Wendy my days were dark and pointless but not now, not now as her light has filled in those corners.
I know I am very lucky. Wendy is more than a wife to me, she's my best friend, my nurse, my critic and my lover."
"Like most women!" Someone called up from the back of the room.
"True." Terry replied. "Sorry getting maudlin. I give you my lovely bride, my Wendy."
"The toast is Terry and Wendy."
Later after the cake was cut and everyone was on the dance floor Rick was sitting under the main table.
He had the sharp knife that was used to cut the wedding cake in his hand. He was passing it intricately from hand to hand. He seemed fascinated by it.
He stopped and suddenly pretended to stab someone violently in the chest.
He laughed eerily as he ran his finger down the blade.
"Mary wouldn't play with me." He said to no one. "She wanted an ambulance but I knew better she just wanted to play."
He nodded to himself.
His face became cruel and twisted.
"I wonder if Bella would like to play." He said lifting the knife in his right hand.Preview of 'Midnite'
GabrielSilverbackChapter One Prelude to Darkness
Have you ever wondered what would have happened if you had never gone to the Inn on that fatal night when you met your husband or wife.
A ripple in time would move outwards like an eddy of the rising tide.
The larger the historical change the bigger the ripple and a new Earth appears to compensate for the change in history.
A world separated from our own by only the different vibration of Hydrogen at rest.
For the need of clarity let us call the blue green planet beneath us Earth Seven.
It is a world only slightly different from our familiar one.
On this world the USA didn't win the war of independence but gained self rule thanks to the skilful negotiations of President Lincoln after the US civil war before his life was cut short by an assassins bullet.
Though they kept the British monarch as their figurehead in all other ways they were self governing.
They joined Canada, Australia, New Zeeland and South Africa as the bed rock of Queen Victoria's commonwealth of nations.
The first world war had come and gone but a new one was looming over the horizon, a war the US were unsure they wanted to be involved in.
The Royal Free Hospital in Lincoln was the first of the modern up to date facilities spring up in the towns around Boston.
The hospital was built to serve the people of Lincoln regardless of race, colour, religion or wealth. It relied totally on charitable donations but that hadn't stopped it attracting the best surgeons, doctors and nurses to its doors.
One such doctor was Charles McNider. Charles was only in his early twenties but he already had become the foremost expert in the conditions and diseases of the eye.
He was doing his ward round with his personal nurse, Sister Myra Mason, who acted as a P.A. to the great man, taking notes, reminding of appointments and she had fallen helplessly in love with him.
Charles was quite a catch for any woman. He stood five foot ten with an athletes build and a flashing smile and finally a pair of the warmest brown eyes.
The corridor's were bright and antiseptically clean.
"Good Morning Doctor McNider." Myra said with a bright smile.
"Good Morning Myra." He replied with a grin.
Myra's white nurses uniform augmented her fair complexion and blond hair, turning her into any hot blooded males dream.
"I have your list here doctor." Myra passed over the clipboard with the sheet of paper and his notes on it."
"Thank you Sister." After a quick scan he looked up and gave one of his bright smiles. "Good morning Matron. Did you get to see your Godchildren over the weekend?"
The Matron was a formidable looking woman in her forty's who had been known to reduce grown men to quivering wrecks, but Charles could turn her into a blushing teenager.
"Good morning doctor McNider, Sister." She paused a beat. "Yes I did see them over the weekend. Milo sends his best wishes."
Milo had a squint which Charles had managed to correct for him. The boy and Charles had become firm friends through their love of comics.
"Spotlessly clean as usual Matron." He gave her another smile. "We will start with Tommy Lane please Matron."
The Matron led them to the bed of a teenager.
"And how are we today young man?"
"Alright doctor." The boy lent forward and whispered. "I'll be glad to go home. The food in here is terrible."
"I know." Charles whispered back. "Think of me I have to eat here."
He slipped a Hershey bar under the covers to him as if the others couldn't see what he was doing.
"Lets have a look at you eye shall we."
Myra carefully unwrapped the bandage that held the lint pad into place.
Tommy like Milo had a squint though in Tommie's case it was more pronounced.
Myra bathed the boys eye.
"Now Tommy I want you to open that eye and I want you to tell me truthfully if it hurts in anyway." Charles held the boys head still.
The boy looked up into the beaming face of the good doctor.
His eyes were straight if a little unfocused.
"Follow my finger with your eyes Tommie, that's a good boy." He then turned to Myra and Matron. "The stitches look fine and the eyes look straight. I would like to keep him in for another forty eight hours. For the rest of today have his eyes washed and soothed with saline drops. Tomorrow have Doctor Goodman test his eyes. I think he will need glasses.
Myra contact his parents and tell them the operation looks like a success, no was a success, tell them he will have to be monitored for awhile.
Myra took the instructions down.
"Now young man I want you to listen carefully to me. There some scarring around the eyes but I don't want you to worry as they will fade in time.
If you start getting pain if your eyes you are to tell the duty nurse or Sister straight away, like wise if your vision becomes blurred. Is that understood?
"Will do doctor, and thanks."
As they walked away from the boys bed he pulled out the chocolate bar and tried unsuccessfully to unwrap in quietly.
"Don't gorge yourself on that young man. I don't want you make yourself sick." The Matron said warmly over her shoulder.
Charles was at the next bed where a hansom young coloured man lay.
"Hello Simon." He said cheerily.
"Hello doctor." He replied trying to pretend he felt the same.
"I've some good news and some not so good news for you."
"The good news is that I've managed to reattached the retina and bad news is that any blow to the head could undo all the work we have done." Charles paused a moment. He hated this part. "I'm afraid you won't be able to box again. I'm sorry."
"Whatever for doctor. You've saved my sight.
I was going to pack up the fight game anyway. I got to be the United States Light Middleweight Champion and that is good enough.
There's an old gym down in Queens I've had my eye on.
My last purse should be more than enough to buy it.
And I'll be able to see more of the girls."
"How old are they now?"
"Amie is thirteen and Angela is eleven." He took his wallet off the side table and pulled out a photograph of himself with the girls and another of the girls with his wife.
"They look a credit to you both." Charles said honestly.
"Thank you. Here doc I hear that you keep yourself pretty fit." Simon said with a grin that lit up his whole face.
"Yes I do my best to keep in condition." It was true the Charles did keep himself fit. He also was learning unarmed combat to learn how to keep yourself focused.
"If come down to my gym I'll give you a good deal." Simon continued.
"Drumming up trade already. I might take you up on that young man." The fact that Charles was only a few years older than him made it sound peculiar, not that Charles was worried about it.
Charles's energy and zest for life often left others trailing in his wake.
"Simon's family are waiting in the reception area doctor, shall I let them in?" The matron asked.
"Yes I don't see why not. Remember Simon no knocks to the head and no sudden movements for awhile, so you'll have to warn those boisterous girls of yours to take care."
"Will do doctor."
"Matron I'll be seeing to our VIP guest while you're collecting the girls. Please rejoin us when you can."
"I won't be long doctor."
"Do rush Matron we can manage for a while." He turned to Myra. "Make a note that I'm to train both surgeons on reattaching the retina please Myra."
Myra note it down.
They left the main ward and crossed over to one of the four private rooms.
Outside on a chair sat a thick set police officer.
"Good Morning Officer Bradley." Charles lightly. "We come to see my patient."
"Okay doctor." There was great respect shown in those two words.
The officer unlocked the door and followed them in.
Sitting in a fine silk dressing gown sat Carroll Ponte a minor Mafioso.
"Hello doctor how are you to day?" Carroll's Italian accent was strong.
"I'm fine. I'm just going to have a final look in your eyes to satisfy myself that I'm right."
Carroll had been caught by the police and immediately did plea bargaining to get a lighter sentence.
The police had squirreled him away in a safe house to keep him safe till the trial. But problems with his eyes led to him being in the Free.
Incongruously Carroll was a pleasant witty man which belied the evidence of cruelty that lay at his door.
Charles got him to sit in the chair by the door so he could examine the eyes with his torch.
Satisfied he put the torch away.
"It's bad news I'm afraid. You have Sorsby's Macula Dystrophy."
"Does that mean I'm going blind?" The cheerful persona was dropped to show how worried the man truly was.
"We have caught it in the early stages. I can't cure it but I can slow down it's progression. The centre of your vision is going to be lost but peripheral vision will be unimpaired.
It's a genetic fault that has been passed down the generations from a single source. There is only one other family affected and they live in Syracuse in Sicily.
I'll need to check you children, brothers and their children."
"You mean they will get this Macula thing?" The Mafioso was a white as a sheet.
"It is passed down through the female line only. If a child takes after their father there is a greater chance they will be clear of it." Charles explained.
"You said you couldn't cure it?"
"Yes I did but I also said I could slow it up, possibly arrest it so your eye's won't get any worse. It's an injection behind the eye and eye drops. The injection needs to be administered every two months and the eye drops daily.
I'll teach you how to do this before you leave."
Charles turned to the policeman when suddenly the window shattered as an object was thrown through.
There on the floor behind the bed was a hand grenade.
As if in slow motion Charles yelled at them to get down. He quite literally threw Myra onto the floor.
He grabbed the bed and upended it to create a protective wall between them and it.
As he began to duck down it exploded.
Fragments whistled through the side of the bed straight into his face.
As if from far away he could hear screaming of someone in agony and then realised it was his own voice as the blood poured down his cheek from his eye sockets.
He could feel Myra cradling him to her chest.
He felt the Matron come in scream in horror before exiting yelling for medical aid.
He felt Browne, his number two, getting him on a stretcher and wheeling him away to the operating theatre.
Passing in and out of consciousness he eventually came to in a bed in his own eye ward.
He lifted his hand to his eyes and felt the heavy bandage that was wrapt around his head.
"Myra? Myra I'd recognise that perfume anywhere."
"I'm here Charles." She took his hand in hers.
"Are you alright?" He asked his voice full of concern.
"Yes I'm fine save for a scratch on my cheek." Myra's other hand automatically went up to her right cheek where a two inch wound was closed up many sutures. She was lucky that she didn't lose the eye.
"Officer Bradley and Carroll?"
"They are fine Charles save from a few cuts and bruises. You save our lives Charles." Myra kept her voice neutral but tears ran down her cheeks.
Charles drifted off but Myra staid put.
A little later matron came round and put a cup of tea on the locker by her arm.
"You should go home and get some rest, you'll be no good to him if your exhausted."
Myra saw the sense of this even though she was loathed to leave Charles's side.
The matron placed a hand on her shoulder.
"He is a very strong man, he will get through this but he's going to need all our help."
Myra nodded and said thank you for the tea.
Quarter of an hour later the matron passed Charles bed to find Myra had fallen asleep in the chair.
The next day Browne was making his rounds and stopped off to examine Charles's eyes.
Myra carefully removed the bandage from around Charles's head and the eye pads. She washed them with sterile saline water.
Even she inhaled with shock at the sight of all the stitch cuts radiating out from his eyes.
"Right Charles I want you so try and open your eyes? Nice and slow now." Browne asked.
Charles screamed in pain as bright light seared his eyes.
Myra took his hand and squeezed it, barely conscious of what she was doing.
"Michael what can you see? Speak to me?"
The eyes were bright red alien looking things.
Michael Browne was in total awe of his boss but it went up a notch as Charles took command of his condition.
"Your eyes are bright red, blood shot. Both the Vitreous and Aqueous Humour are full of red colour making it difficult to see the retina."
Charles closed his eyes.
"What could you see Charles?" Michael asked worried about his seniors cold delivery.
"Nothing except a blinding white light that was extremely painful to endure." Charles gave a ghost of a smile before becoming all efficiency. "Is the Theatre free?"
"Yes I believe so, why?"
"Because I'm going to operate on my eyes using you as my hands and eyes. Myra?"
"I'll need you in theatre to take notes. Right scrub up everyone."
In the theatre Charles's right eye was numbed by a local anaesthetic and even though the white light he endured was incredibly painful he grit his teeth and concentrated on the operation.
"Describe what you can see Michael?"
And so it began the strangest operation that had ever been carried out.
Charles gave the instructions which Michael nervously carried out.
Once the work was done Charles had them carry out the same procedure on his left eye.
"Right Michael tell me what the retina's looks like?"
"The retina's are both intact but their rods and cones look odd as if they had merged together."
"No trauma or ruptures? Nerve damage?"
"Good. Do you know I'm feeling quite tired. Wrap me up my friends we are done here."
Myra had stood in the corner recording everything that was happening, invisible. She knew Charles knew him better than he did himself. The calmness he was putting up was a front, she had seen it before when Charles had failed to save someone's sight.
Charles was taken back to the ward with his eyes swathed up.
He hadn't been back long before he had a visitor.
"Doctor." Tommie said as he stood by Charles's bed.
"Hello Tommie isn't it? How are you young man?"
"I'm doing fine Doctor." He lent forward and whispered into Charles's ear. "I've got you a Hershy bar so you won't have to eat the foot here."
The boy slipped his hand with the chocolate bar under the covers.
"Could you do me a favour Tommie?"
"Yeah sure doctor."
"Could you unwrap it for me?"
The boy carefully unwrapped the top and put it into Charles's hand.
Charles took a bite and relished its sweet flavour unaware of the tears in the boys eyes.
Next morning the wrappings were removed from his eyes.
Myra took his hand once again.
When he opened his eyes they were clear of the blood redness and had returned to their bright green.
Michael looked into the eyes and gave a grunt of approval.
"Has the blood gone?"
"Yes Charles but I'm afraid the damage to the retina is still there. What can you see?"
"The whiteness isn't so painful and I can see shadows in it now." Charles took a deep breath. "I'm blind aren't I?"
"Yes. I am so sorry."
"Extra, extra! Read all about it. Famous Eye Doctor blinded by Mafia hitman." The news paper boys yelled from their stands.
Charles was sitting up in bed and could hear clearly what the boy yelled through his open window.
A little earlier a strange thing had happened. He had been visited by both the Mafioso and the police guard.
They thanked him for saving their lives. It appears that neither suffered more than a few cuts and bruises.
"Keep them Flying Doc." Carroll said earnestly quoting the War Bond slogan from the last world war.
"Good luck doctor." Bradley said. "All of us at the precinct are routing for you."
They soon went leaving Charles to his silent darkness.
To anyone looking at him they wouldn't realise he was blind, his green eye's were clear and steady. It was only the way he held his head that was the giveaway.
The name was enough to give anyone a shudder.
To be precise The Arkam Asylum for the Criminally Insane sat squarely on an small island in the river in one of the more rundown area's of Gotham.
There were six powerful cities no more than a fifty miles apart in this part of America.
Metropolis, Central City, Coast City, New Amsterdam and the countries capital Lincoln DC and finally Gotham.
And you couldn't get more different city's.
Gotham was gothic in design and subject to freezing winters and boiling summers. It made the city somehow threatening rather than welcoming.
To reach Arkam the staff had to go across a narrow bridge affair that could be lifted at a moments notice.
Razor wire filled the space between the island and the shore to discourage any swimmers.
On the shore side of the bridge was the award winning Arkam Psychiatric Clinic. It was where the Psychiatric worked when they weren't looking after the prisoners.
Two doctors were walking down the gaily coloured corridor to their consulting rooms.
One was a tall woman called Judy Patmore the other a short man call Clint Devonshire.
"Who have you got this morning Judy?" Clint asked.
"I've got Rose Mary Cutter. A strange case." Judy's voice was husky and full of sexual overtones.
"I remember her from the staff briefing. She has Body Dysmorphia hasn't she?"
"Yes but compared most of the others it's in reverse.
Where many of the Bulimics and Anorexic see themselves fatter than they really are and ugly, Rose sees herself as taller and better looking."
Judy looked at the watch that hung from her white doctors coat.
"I better hurry or she will get their first. See you later?" Judy increased her stride before turning round and walking backward. "You didn't say who you are seeing."
"Carl Perkins. And if he becomes anymore depressed I'll be the one slitting their wrists."
Judy gave a laugh and disappeared around the corner to her consulting room. To an outsider their humour may seem odd and misplaced but it served its purpose in keeping them sane.
She reached the room just as a male nurse came out.
"Have you managed to do as I asked?"
The consulting room had a full length mirror against the far wall and on tables and chairs were other reflective surfaces.
Judy adjusted a warriors metal chest plate such that who ever sat in the patients chair would be reflected in it.
There was a knock on the door.
Rose was a short, slightly tubby, woman with pale blond hair done in a bob. Though she wasn't a stunning beauty like those in the films and fashion magazines she wasn't ugly either.
"Would you like a drink, coffee or tea?"
"No thank you just water please." Rose sat in some discomfort on the patients chair. Every where she look the saw herself reflected back.
"Shall we start? Are you ready?" Judy asked passing a cup of water over to her patient.
Rose looked down at her hands a moment before standing up.
Her body language changed subtly as she crossed to the full length mirror. She seemed more confident, more assertive somehow.
"Tell me what you see Rose. Take a deep breath and take it nice and slow. There's no rush. Just tell me what you see?"
"Not me obviously. That woman look's nothing like me at all." Roses face crumpled in anger. "I'm six foot and I doubt she makes it much over five. She's top heavy unlike me. I've a body to die for."
"Try and describe what you see." Judy persisted.
"She a fat dumpy nothing whilst I have the body of a starlet, all the curves in the right places. She's blond while I'm a red head." She lifted her hand up to her hair and stopped as her image repeated the action. "Stop copying me you ugly cow!"
"That is the real you Rose. Look at all the reflections are they all lying?"
Rose began walking around the room getting angrier with each step.
Until she was directly behind the Psychiatrist.
"Well Rose are all of the reflections lying? Is even the water lying?"
Rose laughed a nasty short laugh.
"You set this all up to drive me insane! Well it won't work!" Rose's hands tightened. "You see I know what I look like. And no one not even you are going to tell me otherwise."
There was a loud crack as Roses arms convulsed.
Rose took a deep calming breath and looked down at Judy who was slumped in her chair her neck lolling loosely as she slipped to the floor.
Rose undressed her and swapped clothes.
"The thing about a white coat is no one stops you, they think you should be there."
She roll Judy's body under the side table and arranged the cover to hide her body.
Rose stopped to look at herself in the mirror and grunted in satisfaction.
Reflected in the mirror was a slim willowy red head dressed in green and browns resembling a plant. Instead of nails she sported long thorns.
Standing beside was the figure of Rose in the doctors clothing. She looked terrified.
In front of them stood a little girl with a vicious looking knife.
"When can I come out to play." The child asked her little girls lisping voice coming out of Rose's mouth.
"Soon, soon my lovely and then we will punish the medics that lie to their patients." Thorn replied.
"Oh goody. I shall look forward to that."
The images of the Thorn and that of the child merged with Rose's.
Her eyes held a haunted look as she picked up the clipboard and left the room.
"The doctor had made a mistake Rose wasn't suffering from a body perception problem she was suffering from multiple personality complex.
Their killing spree had only just begun.
Near the Mexico boarder on the US side was the small village of Santa Cruz. On its outskirts was the villa. A white antiseptic long low building sat a couple of meter's away from the entry gate.
A nondescript sedan pulled up in front of it.
The passenger door opened and a tall woman in fatigues stepped out. She was slim but perfectly proportioned with a shock of blond hair.
From the drivers side a very tall athletic build man got out and joined the woman.
Any one with half a brain would realised they were brother and sister.
The man lead his sister over to the villa and opened the door for her.
In the back room waiting for them was a short ugly fellow. He sat like a frog on a lily pad sizing up it's prey.
"Herr Hans Klock and Frauline Hildegard Klock I am Otto Kinsman your contect."
He slid a dossier over the table top to the couple. "You have new passports, id and currency.
You are now Henry and Hilda Lock and have an apartment in the wealthier part of the city.
You are to set up a secret press and distribute propaganda.
And you will use your special skills to carry out assassinations. We will periodically send you information about your targets."
Hilda looked a Henry and saw his slight nod.
"You will set up a base in New Brunswick from which to work from.
At an airfield an hour from here as the crow flies is a British Lysander air craft ready to take you to a small airfield between Brunswick and Gotham.
All the paperwork you require and instructions are in that dossier. Guard it well.
Soon the time of Nacht and Vebel, Night and fog, will be on us and we must not fail."
Otto suddenly looked fearful.
Right before his eyes Hilda's body was turning into a black miasma that flowed over the walls and ceiling like ink.
It crept up his body plunging him into the blackness.
It wasn't just dark it was total sensory depravation. He could hear nothing, feel nothing, taste nothing and see nothing.
How long he was left in that condition he could not say, it was as if time stopped in that place.
Suddenly light pierced the vale and he swam towards it.
A couple of powerful strokes later he was outside the inky blackness gasping for breath.
He watched in horror as Henry's body became the host of fog like vapours.
Where before he was in inky darkness this time he was swathed in a white fog making it difficult to see where he was.
The agent thought he was dreaming. It had that sort of feel to it.
A crushing pain in his shoulder and jaw made him stagger before with a scream he dropped to his knees to keel over quite dead.
"Destroy the building brother. No one should be able to say we have been here."
"I have the materials outside."
As they drove away the building erupted into flame.
Nact and Vebel had begun.