Jack Higgins – The Savage Day

Stacey saluted and turned to leave. Binnie and I had both been handcuffed and I held out my hands. ‘What about these ?’

‘Sorry,’ he said. ‘I’ve had my orders.’

The door closed, the key turned. I moved to the window, and tried to peer outside, but there was nothing to see for the glass was misted with rain and it was almost dark.

Norah Murphy said softly, ‘Are we wired for sound ?’

‘In this place?’ I couldn’t help laughing. “That only happens on stage six at MGM. Get me a cigarette. Left-hand pocket.’

She put one in my mouth and gave me a light, then took one herself. ‘All right, what went wrong?’

‘Tim Pat Keogh and a couple of Barry’s goons were waiting for us.’

‘What happened?’

‘They killed the old man,’ Binnie told her. ‘Burnt his face with a cigarette-lighter to make him tell them where the firing pins were. And that bastard Tim Pat tried to justify it.’ He spat in the corner. ‘May he roast in hell.’

She turned back to me. ‘What did happen to the firing pins, then ? Are they still at the cottage ?’

“They’re in Scotland, sweetheart,’ I said. “That’s the irony of it. In an old garage Meyer rented in Oban. We intended bringing them over with the rest of the stuff on the second trip if everything had gone all right this time.’

Her eyes widened in horror. “Then Meyer died for nothing.’

‘Exactly.’ I moved to the window and peered out again. It was quite dark. ‘Of course the really interesting question is how did they know where he was ?’ When I

turned she was watching me closely, a slight frown on her face. ‘Or to put it another way – who told them.’

Binnie had been sitting on one of the beds. He stood up quickly. ‘What are you trying to say, Major ?’

Norah Murphy cut him off with a quick gesture. *No, Binnie, let him have his say.’

‘All right,’ I said. ‘It’s straightforward enough. I was the only one who knew Meyer’s address until I gave it to you in the pub on a piece of paper Binnie didn’t even see. In fact he didn’t know where we were going till we were on our way. In any case, as he’s knocked off four of Barry’s men by now, he’s hardly likely to be working for him.’

‘Which leaves me?’ she said calmly.

‘The only possibility. You even knew there was plenty of time for action because Meyer didn’t want to see me till three-thirty. A quick phone call was all it took. It also explains how they came to be waiting for us in Bloody Passage last night, which was also reasonably coincidental. I mean, we’d hardly advertised the trip, now had we ?’

All this, of course, was right out of the top of my head. It made sense, there was a sort of logic to it and yet I was whistling in the dark to a certain extent, attempting, more than anything else, to provoke some kind of reaction.

I was totally unprepared for the violence of her reply. Her face was contorted with rage on the instant and she flung herself at me, one hand catching me solidly across the face, the other on the rebound, and she could punch her weight.

‘I’ll kill you for saying that,’ she cried. Til kill you, Vaughan.’ She grabbed me by the lapels and shook me furiously.

I couldn’t do all that much to defend myself, what with the handcuffs and the unexpectedness of the attack, but

as she clawed at my face again Binnie moved in behind her, pulled her away with both hands and got between us.

He looked at me over his shoulder. ‘You shouldn’t have said that, Major. You’ve done a bad thing here.’

She collapsed on the bed, dry sobs racking her body, her face in her hands and Binnie crouched beside her like a dog, his handcuffed hands in her lap. She ran her fingers through his hair. After a while she looked up. Her face was calm again, but the eyes were somehow weary and the voice was very tired.

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Categories: Higgins, Jack