Friends and Anger 8.

There was a knock on the apartment door. Manannon opened it and found two men standing there. There’s nothing cops can do to disguise themselves he thought. Are you Mr Manannon, the older one asked.

Yes.

I’m Inspector Pritchet and this is my sergeant. May we come in?

What’s this about Manannon asked, without budging an inch. State your business or I’m closing the door.

Pritchet looked slightly nonplussed at that. He knew Manannon was quite within his rights to just slam the door in their faces and looked like he would. We’re looking into the death of Vincent Doyle, some questions have been raised and we’re just chasing them down. May we come in now?

Manannon waved them in and indicated the chaise longue in front of the coffee table while he sat on a sofa chair on the other side of it. Pritchet’s sidekick made a great show of looking for his notebook fishing out his mobile phone as part of the search and placing it on the coffee table between them. He finally found the notebook but left the mobile on the coffee table.

Before Pritchet could open his mouth, Manannon laid out the ground rules. Before we start, Miss Deville is still recovering from severe injuries inflicted by Vincent Doyle. She may never recover fully. At the moment she’s having her afternoon nap, so I’m not waking her up just to be grilled by you two.

We’re not here to speak to her actually, but you.

Really. And why would that be?

A neighbour said she heard two men talking before Doyle fell to his death. We’re just checking out Miss Deville’s male friends who might have reason to, shall we say, help Mr Doyle over the balcony in retaliation for his assault on her. We were told you and Miss Deville are very close. Pritchet put a hint of a leer in the last sentence, intending to put a tiny crack of uncertainty in the icy composure Manannon was presenting. It had no noticeable effect.

This man has been interrogation proofed, thought Pritchet. Manannon smiled slightly; Pritchet was giving him all the information he had, which wasn’t much he could bring before a public prosecutor, and Manannon was going to give him absolutely nothing in return that wasn’t already public knowledge.

Julia and I have been friends since we were undergraduates, but nothing more than that. We meet up once, perhaps twice a year for drinks, and that’s that. She doesn’t enquire about my relationships and I in return respect her privacy. As for Doyle, I think I met him briefly on two occasions and wasn’t overly impressed.

Hmmm, mused Pritchet, indicating he didn’t believe a word of it. Still no trace of a crack in Manannon’s facade.

What’s your bag carriers name, Manannon asked.

Gerald.

Well, tell Gerald to stop poking around my apartment or I’ll have to ask both of you to leave. If you have a search warrant, fine. Otherwise bring your mutt to heel. Pritchet reeled in Gerald to stand behind him. From the look on his face, Gerald didn’t appreciate being referred to as a mutt.

While we’re at it, why don’t you ask Gerald to step outside and perhaps we can have a more direct conversation.

Pritchet gives Gerald the nod and he stands up to leave the room. His mobile is still on the coffee table. Manannon picks it up to check a suspicion. Yes, it’s running a voice recorder app. He calls out to Gerald, don’t forget your phone. Gerald turns to see him lift the mobile high with both hands and break it into two halves on a corner of the coffee table. One after another, he tosses the two bits to Gerald who catches them. Gerald is not best pleased, but everyone in the room knows what he was doing was illegal.

Now fuck off Gerald.

When Gerald had left, Manannon turns back to take a long hard look at Pritchet while he thought. He has nothing solid, but he’s going to do a fan dance of hinting he’s dug up some nuggets, if only to shake out a few real facts out of me, but one thing was clear – the quiet and unremarkable Mr. Manannon had piqued his interest and therefore would have to disappear quite soon, while one of his backup legends would be reactivated. A momentary inconvenience, but nothing more than that.

It was a life-long discipline, a professional precaution, to only live under a persona for at most a couple of years before obliterating it and moving to an already prepared one. The one exception to that rule was Manannon, which he’d kept alive purely for her sake, but that was always in parallel with his current work name. He’d always kept Manannon spotlessly clean, but knew when he decided to kill Doyle, there might be blowback in the Manannon direction, and here it was.

What’s done is done, he thought. Just handle the cop across from him for the moment.

I don’t know if you’re wearing a wire or not, but since at best we’re going to be dealing in hypotheticals, feel free to ask me any questions and I’ll feel free to make up stuff to fuel whatever paranoid delusional theories you might have about me. I would say though, it’d be very prudent to turn it off at this point not only because it’d be inadmissible but also because it could become a distinct liability to you as a result of this hypothetical conversation.

I’m not recording anything. You’re an interesting person Mr Manannon.

In what way?

According to our research into you, you seem to have magically come into existence at the age of 12. There’s no record anywhere of you before then.

Manannon looks at him and thinks here we go, the fan dance begins, but doesn’t reply.

What references to your origins go back to a births and deaths office that got burnt down years ago with all the paper records. One of the island parishes who send written births and deaths paperwork to Somerset House once a year, if that. Over the years, we’ve came across one or two very interesting people whose birth details went up in that fire. I wonder who set that fire?

Arson isn’t one of my hobbies.

I think that’s my problem with you. Wherever we look for information about you, you’re nowhere to be found.

I don’t do social media, email or use the internet. I don’t do mobile phones or even television.

You don’t do tax returns either, do you?

Time for the warning thought Manannon – Raneligh Gardens, he said.

Pritchet visibly stiffened but said nothing. It was Manannon’s turn to take the conversational initiative and do the talking. He let Pritchet have that magic moment where the hunter suddenly realises they might be the one being stalked. Having knocked Pritchet off his plan and gaining control of the direction the conversation would take, Manannon was now going to steer it in the direction he wanted.

When people take an interest in me, they hit trip wires I’ve placed, so I in return take some interest in them. Manannon’s voice was flat, as if he was reading a file. Raneligh Gardens is where you live with your rather plain wife Edith. You’ve a few MILFy brasses on the side from when you got shunted sideways into vice, who give you a regular freebie sucky fucky to make their latest charges go away, a son at Exeter university in his second year who’s developing a pretty good drugs habit and an eighteen-year-old at home who judging by her school assessments, won’t be in line for any Nobel prizes in the near future.

Reading your personnel file, your career stalled fifteen years ago and wasn’t helped by an earlier blundered investigation that might have prevented the death of a very prominent person. It indicates you were considered a potential rising star of the future, but things started to go pear-shaped when you moved up to plain clothes. Your career plateaued early and now they see you as capable of handling the day-to-day stuff, but anything requiring a deftness of touch or some diplomacy is kept well away from you. Reading between the lines, their assessment of you is you’re now just passing time and making no waves until your retirement ship docks.

Are you threatening my family? Pritchet finally asked.

Are we still being hypothetical?

Yes.

I’d kill the whole lot of them without breaking step. Theoretically speaking.

Pritchet thought carefully before he asked the next question.

Did you kill Vincent Doyle for what he did to Miss Deville?

Doyle killed himself, by all accounts.

He’s playing with me, Pritchet thought. I might as well push back myself. Are you a psychopath?

Do you know what defines a psychopath?

They have no empathy with other human beings, they’re just objects to them.

Then if I were a psychopath, why would I kill someone to protect a woman?

A nice evasion, but you still haven’t answered the question.

The answer to that one is no, I’m not a psychopath. You’ve obviously been on the Saturday night popular psychology course. Drink deeply of the Pierian waters or stay well away from them. I think I would be more correctly categorised as a high functioning sociopath than a psychopath. Do you know what the difference is?

No.

Then let me explain. There are large number of similarities but the basic difference is that psychopaths are born that way, but sociopaths are made that way by adverse events in their lives. They may even have some remnants of empathy that a psychopath could never have. The net effect is the same though.

What do you do for a living Mr. Manannon?

I execute certain specialist services for people who’re about five or six pay grades above you.

With the accent being on execute?

Manannon leans back in his chair and examines Pritchet carefully before speaking. My, my, we are being a touch melodramatic, aren’t we?

The fact that you’ve turned up on my doorstep implies you’re curious about me and speculating I think a bit wildly, but still being in the hypothetical zone, it leads to considering the possible outcomes.

The first would be the people who’ve availed themselves of my, shall we say occasionally questionable services over the years, might decide it’d be better if I disappeared permanently, so my corpse would end up being fed through a wood chipper and the bite-sized bits of me being dumped in the middle of Lake Windermere. That’s an unlikely outcome, since for years I’ve lived in a world where I’ve trusted absolutely nobody.

My insurance policy, which I’ve always made known to my clients afterwards, is that I’ve documented my work meticulously and it’s all on a dead man’s hand switch that has to be reset periodically. Too many of them occasionally entertain the thought of getting rid of the only connection between them and events they’d rather not be associated with. When I retire to a tiny island somewhere off the Florida Keys, it all gets deleted. If I mysteriously disappear before then because someone wants to clear up some loose ends, it all starts getting published on that mysterious internet thing I know nothing about. It’s not a likely option.

The next one is that instead you and your little pointy-headed friend with the broken phone get fed through the wood chipper, but that’s overkill and unnecessary, especially when something like a tragic car accident involving both of you would achieve the same end result without raising any suspicions, and all I’d have to do is erase the breadcrumb trail I left out to alert me someone like you was sniffing about.

However, there’s a lot of policemen out there to replace you. If you had anything more than an idle suspicion, we’d be having this conversation in a police station interview room with a PACE recording going and my lawyer present. And I’d be saying “no comment” for a few hours before my lawyer said charge my client or we’re out of here. I’d be out in a couple of hours.

The third outcome, and I think the most likely, is that in the next day or two, your boss will pull you in to have a quiet word with you. A message has come down from on high that I’m to be excluded from your investigations. All notes are to be destroyed, all computer records deleted and if anyone asks, even a colleague, you’ve never heard of me. He won’t know exactly who originally sent the message down the chain of command, but it’s been made abundantly clear to him that it’s not only your bollocks on the chopping block, but his as well.

If you walk away, you can retire to some seaside town on that generous police pension with Edith in a few years. If you don’t, your boss will make a decision between both of your careers going down the toilet or just yours, and we both know how that will play out. He’ll find an excuse to suspend you and after a bit of time sitting on the bench, you’ll be fired. Bye, bye full pension and the plush retirement plan.

You can leave now.

Pritchet thought about the options being presented by the man and offered a fourth one. How about if I nailed you for murder?

Manannon smiled. In your dreams Pritchet, we both know you’re middling to average mediocre in your job, and I’m very definitely not. If by some miracle you managed to cobble together some evidence of me murdering Doyle to present to the Director of Public Prosecutions, you’ll find he’s no interest in proceeding further with the case, no matter how good your evidence is.

How about if I mentioned my suspicions to her?

I’d kill someone in your family.

Pritchet looked at him and realised it was true.

Two other things before you go. First, and to repeat myself, I’d nothing to do with Doyle’s unfortunate demise, though the world is certainly a better place without a piece of shit like him in it. Second, if I ever again get a sniff of you conducting any more fishing expeditions around me, your days as a policeman will end abruptly. I lead a nice simple life and let’s be frank, your interest in me has nothing to do with Doyle; you’re just being nosey about me. If you interfere with my simple life again, you’ll find your life will get very complicated, very quickly.

As I said earlier, you can leave now.

Pritchet stood up and left the apartment.

The very next day his boss called him into his office for that quiet word. The conversation ran exactly along the lines Manannon had outlined. Manannon was no longer to be a person of interest and any and all references to him were to be permanently erased from computer records, paper and even interview notebooks. The same applies to your sergeant and you’re both to keep your mouths shut about ever having heard of him. Is that clear?

Yes Sir.

©Pointman

Click here for all currently written chapters of Friends and Anger.

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Comments
3 Responses to “Friends and Anger 8.”
  1. Janie M. says:

    Excellent, pointman. A cat toying with the mice.

    Like

  2. hunter says:

    Thank you. Reading your fiction is so enjoyable.
    Your sharing this as a work in progress is really appreciated.

    Like

  3. donaitkin says:

    Lovely piece. Quite engrossing! Cheers,

    Don Aitk

    Like

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