Friday, 9 February 2007

Chapter 20

Despite the drizzle, Harry decided to walk to his office, rather than take a cab. He needed to clear his head, and the half hour it would take him would be good ‘thinking time’. He set off at a brisk pace, his route taking him directly across the huge and rambling block of municipal greenery that was Birkenhead Park. It was a route he knew well, and he could often be found on Saturday afternoons in the summer sitting on one of the many benches dotted around the place, reading the day’s papers. He knew that the good burghers of New York City had, when considering developing a city park for themselves, visited Birkenhead, and that Central Park was modeled closely on its layout. He sometimes wondered whether there were the scouse equivalents of a Woody Allen and a Mia Farrow, living their separate lives on opposite sides of the vast expanse. If there were, they probably hadn’t named their child ‘Satchel’, he thought.

He couldn’t believe that brother of his. Alan had known how much Ana had meant to him but, like siblings the world over, he just had to go one better! He wondered if Ana knew? Of course she would. That’s not the kind of thing sisters keep from each other, and anyway, he knew that Alan had kept up some kind of contact with Ana after Harry and her had split up.

‘Forget it, Harry,’ said that old, reliable voice in his head. ‘What’s done is done – and you’ve got work to do’. He could brood about Ana later. For now, he knew he had little more than an hour to get something together that would show Laurel McFry that he hadn’t wasted the day. Harry enjoyed nothing more than a deadline, but even he knew this was pushing it.

As he pulled open the door to Meldew Buildings, Henry, the janitor, was in the foyer, hanging a picture on the wall opposite the stairs. “Had a visitor earlier, Mr McFry,” he said, as he stepped back to check the straightness of the picture. A young lad, asking if anyone knew where you were.”

“Do you know what he wanted?” Harry asked.

“Wouldn’t say. I told him you’d be back earlier. Didn’t seem to want to leave a message.” Henry noticed Harry glance at the door that led to Mrs Shipman’s flat, and smiled. “It’s alright – she’s out shopping somewhere, I should think.” And he’d winked at Harry as he gave the picture another fractional adjustment.

The door to his office was unlocked, but he was sure he’d locked it on the way out. Harry could smell something wasn’t right. His PC was still switched on – ‘Stupid, Harry – you’ve got to be smarter than that,’ he thought. As he glanced around the room, everything seemed in order, and it took a few moments for him to realize that the leather portfolio he’d picked up at the library last night wasn’t on his desk where he’d left it. Everything else seemed OK. Feeling just a little uneasy, he took off his coat and hung it on its usual home, dropped the file onto his desk and took up his post in front of the PC.

He knew that whoever had warned him not to go to the library was also connected to the medals, and that the medals must somehow be connected to Laurel McFry. Now, he started to wonder whether there might not also be a connection to ‘DKL’, who had dropped the portfolio in the corridor outside the local history room. If that was the case, he’d better make contact with the mystery caller as soon as he could. And with that thought, he sprang up and headed across to the coat rack, fishing out from his pocket the crumpled notepaper with the number he’d been asked – told – to ring. ‘Time we started slotting these pieces together, Harry,' that voice in his head was saying, 'or someone's going to get hurt'.


Theresa111 said...

Tis I again. Please what is a scouse? Webster's did not have that word. Thank you.

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

Hello Tis You Again,

Scouse is actually a food, made up mainly of stewed beef and potatoes. By extension, because it's a popular dish in Liverpool and Merseyside, it has led to the term 'scouser' - someone from that area.
And someone from that area can be said to have a 'scouse' accent.
Hope this helps.
Kind Regards