Jack Higgins – The Savage Day

Binnie glanced at me briefly. I nodded and he got up and went out, followed by two of the guards. Dooley stood by the door watching me woodenly, his Sterling at the ready. I pulled on the trenchcoat,

Barry took a couple of packets of cigarettes from his pocket and shoved them across the table. ‘For the journey.’

He stood watching me, hands in pockets, as I stowed them away. ‘Very nice of you,’ I said. ‘Now what do you want?’

‘Binnie is inclined to be a little emotional where Norah is concerned, but not me.’

‘I must say I had rather got that impression,’ I said.

‘As far as I’m concerned she’s just a medium of exchange. You make that clear to Cork, just in case Binnie doesn’t get the message across.’ He turned and nodded to Dooley, who went out of the room immediately. ‘The first sign of anything untoward at all, Dooley puts a bullet in her head.’

‘In other words you mean business ?*

I hope I’ve made that clear enough,’

‘And Norah?’

‘She’s okay,’ he said callously. ‘When last seen she was giving herself an injection from that bag of hers. Of course she’ll have a fair old scar from now on, but then I always say that kind of thing gives a person character.’

He was baiting me, Ithink, but I playedhim at bis own game. ‘Just like a broken nose?’

Exactly.’ He laughed, yet frowned a little. *By God, but you’re a cold fish, Vaughan. What does it take to get you roused ?’

“That usually comes half way through the second bottle of Jameson,’ I said. “There’s this click inside my head and…’

He raised a hand. ‘All right, you win. We’d better see how Binnie is getting on. You haven’t got much time.’

The garage had obviously been the coach house in other days and stood on the far side of the courtyard. Binnie was checking the engine of a green Cortina GT when I went in, watched impassively by the guards. He dropped the bonnet and wiped his hands on a rag.

‘Where did you knock this off?’ he demanded.

Barry grinned. ‘According to the papers in the glove compartment, it’s on loan from a car hire firm in Belfast, which is exactly as it should be. When they’re in plain clothes the Field Security boys don’t like to use military vehicles.’

‘You think of everything,’ I said.

‘I try to, old lad, it’s the only way.’ He glanced at his watch. ‘It’s just after four so you should be there by seven at the outside. Six o’clock tonight is your deadline. Nothing to come for after that, which I trust you’ll make plain to Small Michael for me.’

Binnie slid behind the wheel without a word and I got in the passenger seat. Barry leaned down to the window. *By the way, Field Security personnel are supposed to go armed during the present emergency so you’ll find a couple of Brownings in the glove compartment. Army issue, naturally, only don’t try turning round at the gate and coming back in like a two-man commando. That really would be very silly.’

Binnie slipped the handbrake and took the Cortina

away with a burst of speed that wouldn’t have disgraced the starting line at Monza and Barry had to jump for it pretty sharply.

The needle was flickering at fifty as we left the courtyard and it kept on climbing. The result was that we were skidding to a halt in a shower of gravel at the private gate giving access to the main road within no more than a couple of minutes.

I got out, opened the gate and closed it again after Binnie had driven through. When I returned to the car, the glove compartment was open and he was checking a Browning, a grim look on his face in the light from the dashboard.

I said, ‘I wouldn’t if I were you, Binnie. He meant it. Dooley is her shadow from now on with orders to kill at even a hint of trouble.’

For a moment, he clutched the Browning so tightly that his knuckles turned white and then something seemed to go out of him and he pushed it into his inside breast pocket,

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Categories: Higgins, Jack