Binnie stood over me, reloading the Browning. I held up the Smith and Wesson, ‘Let that be a lesson to you. Never fire an automatic from your pocket. The slide usually catches on the lining so you can only guarantee to get your first shot off, just like our friend here.’
‘You learn something new every day/ he said.
From inside the house the phone started ringing. I went back in at once and found it in the darkness of the hall on a small table.
I lifted the receiver and said, ‘Randall Cottage.’
Norah Murphy’s harsh, distinctive voice sounded at the other end. ‘Who is this ?’
‘Is Meyer there ?’
‘Only in a manner of speaking. I’m afraid the opposition got there first. Three of them.’
There was silence for a moment and then she said, ‘You’re all right – both of you ?’
‘Fine,’ I said. ‘Binnie handled it with his usual efficiency. I hope our friends have got funeral insurance. This one’s going to be expensive for them. Where shall we meet?’
‘Back at the boat/ she said. ‘I can be there in fifteen minutes. We’ll talk then.’
The receiver clicked into place and I hung up and turned to Binnie. ‘All right, back to Strarnore.’
We went out into the rain and I paused beside the van, ‘Are you okay ? Do you want me to drive ?’
‘God save us, why shouldn’t I, Major ? I’m fit as a hare. You sit back and enjoy your cigarette.’
As we went down the farm track, his hands were steady as a rock on the wheel.
The green Vauxhall still waited on the grass verge at the side of the road as we passed, would probably stand there for some time before anyone thought to do any checking, although that was not all that probable in times like these.
About five miles out of Stramore we had a puncture in the offside rear tyre. Binnie managed to pull into a lay-by and we got out together to fix it, only to discover that while there was a reasonably serviceable spare, there was no jack.
He gave the offending wheel an angry kick. ‘Would you look at that ? Two quid that dirty bowser took off me. Wait, now, till I see him. We’ll be having a word and maybe more.’
We started to walk side by side in the heavy rain. I wasn’t particularly put out at what had happened. I needed a time to think and this was as good a chance as
When that man is dead and gone
any. I had a problem on my hands – a hell of a problem. Meyer had been the pipeline to the Brigadier, had probably spoken to him as soon as he had heard from me if Tim Pat Keogh and his friends had given him time.
So now I was nicely adrift, for the Brigadier had made it plain that under no circumstances was I to get involved with the military. Whichever way you looked at it, it seemed obvious that if I was ever to get in touch with him at all, which seemed pretty essential now, I would have to disregard that part of my instructions.
I suppose we had been walking for about half an hour when we were picked up by a travelling shop. The driver was going to Stramore and was happy to take us there if we didn’t mind a roundabout route as he had calls to make at a couple of farms on the way.
The end result was that we were a good two hours kter into Stramore than I had calculated and it was past six o’clock when the van dropped us at the edge of town. We had to pass the garage on the way down to the harbour and as it was still open, Binnie went in and I waited for him. Five minutes later he emerged, face grim.
‘What happened?’ I asked him.
He held up two one pound notes. ‘He saw reason,’ he said. ‘A decent enough man with the facts before him.’
I wondered if the Browning had figured in the proceedings, but that was none of my affair. We went down the narrow cobbled street together and turned along the front.