Jack Higgins – The Savage Day

‘Heh, Meyer,’ I said. ‘What in the hell are you up to ?’

And then I moved close enough to see that he was tied to the chair. I tilted his chin and his eyes stared up at me blankly, fixed in death. His cheeks were badly blistered, probably from repeated application of a cigarette-lighter flame. There was froth on his lips. He’d had a bad heart for some time now. It seemed pretty obvious what had happened.

Poor old Meyer. To escape the Gestapo by the skin of his teeth so young and all these years later to end in roughly the same way. And yet I was not particularly angry, not filled with any killing rage, for anger stems from frustration and I knew, with complete certainty, that Meyer would not go unavenged for long.

The door slammed behind me as I had expected and when I turned, Tim Pat Keogh was standing there, flanked by two hard-looking men in reefer coats who both held revolvers in their hands.

‘Surprise, surprise,’ Tim Pat said and he laughed. “This just isn’t your day, Major.’

‘Did you have to do that to him ?’ I asked.

‘A tough old bastard, I’ll give him that, but then I wanted him to tell me where those firing pins were and he was stubborn as Kelly’s mule.’

One of his friends came forward and ran his hands over me so inexpertly that I could have taken him and the gun in his hand in any number of ways, but there was no need.

io6The Savage Day

He moved back, slipping his gun in his pocket, and the three of them faced me. ‘Where’s Binnie, then, Major ?’ Tim Pat demanded. ‘Did you lose him on the way ?’

The french windows swung in with a splintering crash, the curtains were torn aside and Binnie stood there, crouching, the Browning ready in his left hand.

There was a sudden silence, the one curtain remaining fluttered in the wind, rain pattered into the room. Thunder rumbled on the horizon of things.

Binnie said coldly, ‘Here I am, you bastard/

Tim Pat’s breath went out of him in a dying fall. ‘Well, would you look at that now?’

One of the other two men was still holding his gun. Binnie extended the Browning suddenly, the revolver dropped to the floor, the hands went up.

‘What about Mr Meyer?’

‘Look for yourself.’ I pulled Meyer’s head back.

A glance was enough. The boy’s eyes became empty, devoid of all feeling for a moment, the same look as on that first night in Belfast, and then something moved there, some cold spark, and the look on his face was terrible to see.

‘You did this ?’ he said in a strange dead voice. ‘In the name of Ireland ?’

‘For God’s sake, Binnie,’ Tim Pat protested. ‘The ould bugger wouldn’t open his mouth. Now what in the hell could I do?’

Binnie’s glance nickered once again to Meyer, the man with his hands raised dropped to one knee and grabbed for his revolver. In the same moment, Tim Pat and the other man went for their guns.

One of the finest shots in the world once put five.38 specials into a playing card at fifteen feet in half a second. He would have met his match in Binnie Gallagher. His

When that man is dead and gone

first bullet caught the man who had dropped to one knee between the eyes, he put two into the head of the other one that could not have had more than two fingers’ span between them.

Tim Pat fired once through the pocket of his raincoat, then a bullet shattered his right arm. He bounced back against the wall, staggered forward, mouth agape, and blundered out through the french windows.

Binnie let him reach the bottom of the steps, start across the lawn, then shot him three times in the back so quickly that to anyone other than an expert it must have sounded like one shot.

Al Bowlly was intoMoonlight on the Highway now. I switched oft the cassette recorder, than I walked past Binnie and went down the steps. Tim Pat lay on his face. I turned him over and felt in his pocket for the gun. It was a Smith and Wesson automatic and when I pulled it out, a piece of cloth came with it.

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