‘A couple of miles. There’s a road to the right which takes us up into the hills. Tanbrea, they call the pkce. We’ll be met there.’
We were almost at the end of the straight now and when I glanced back, the police car seemed if anything, to have closed the gap.
‘They’re moving up,’ I yelled.
‘Then discourage them a little, for Christ’s sake.’
When it came right down to it, I had little choice in the matter. As far as the police or the army were concerned, I was an IRA terrorist on the run, or as good as, so they would have no qualms about putting a bullet into me if necessary.
I wondered what the Brigadier would have said.
ijzThe Savage Day
Probably shoot the policeman and be damned to the consequences on the grounds that the end justified the means.
But life, after all, is a matter of compromise, so when I drew my Browning, turned and fired back through the shattered rear window at the pursuing vehicles, I took care to aim as far above them as possible.
The policeman who fired back at us out of his side window had understandably different intentions and he was good. One bullet passed between Binnie and me, shattering the speedometer, another ricocheted from the roof.
We skidded violently, Binnie cursed and dropped a gear as we drifted broadside on into the next bend. In the end it was his undoubted driving skill that saved us, plus a litde of the right kind of luck. For a moment things seemed to be going every which way, but when we finally came out of the bend into the next straight we were pointing in the right direction.
The police car was nothing like as fortunate, bounced right across the road, turned in a circle twice and ended half way through a thorn hedge on the left-hand side of the road.
Binnie could see all this for himself, for strangely enough the rear-view mirror had survived intact, and he laughed out loud. ‘There’s one down for a start.’
‘And two to go,’ I shouted as the first Land-Rover came round the corner followed by the second.
A signpost on the left-hand side of the road seemed to be rushing towards us at a rate of knots. Binnie braked violently and dropped into third, the car drifting into another of those long-angled slides and then, miraculously, we were into a narrow country kne that climbed steeply between grey stone walls.
Things became a little calmer then. Such were the twists and turns that he had to drop right down, for it was the sort of road where thirty miles an hour would have been construed as dangerous driving in some places.
‘How far now ?’ I demanded.
‘To Tanbrea ? Five miles, but how in the hell can we stop there with the British Army snapping at our heels and the Small Man waiting ? Might as well serve up his head with an apple between the teeth. We’ll have to drive straight on through.’
I leaned out of the window and looked down through the mist and rain to where the road twisted between grey stone walls below. I caught a brief glimpse of one of the Land-Rovers and then another. They were several hundred yards in the rear now.
I said to Binnie, ‘Is this the only road through the mountains ?’
He nodded. ‘On this section/
‘Then we’ll never make it. I’ve got news for you. Marconi has very inconveniently invented a thing called radio. By the time we get to the other side of the mountains they’ll have every soldier and policeman for miles around waiting.’ I shook my head. ‘We’ll have to do better than that.’
I thought about it for a moment and came up with the one obvious solution. ‘We’ll have to die, Binnie, rather nastily, or at least make them think we have for an hour or two, and preferably on the other side of Tanbrea.’
Tanbrea was a couple of streets, a pub, a small church, a scattering of grey stone houses on the hillside. The only sign of life was a dog in the centre of the main street, who