Sunday, 8 April 2007

Chapter 71

Danny dropped Harry off by his flat in Rock Ferry. It was maybe 3.30pm. They’d arranged that Danny would collect him the next morning for their trip to the airport. The grey clouds over the Wirral spat a thin, persistent drizzle of rain, and Harry didn’t much feel like going home just now. Despite the debrief with Danny on their journey back, he still had a few things he wanted to figure out.

He walked a few blocks to a local bar, a run-down remnant of a place that he didn’t often frequent: mid-afternoon on a Friday – no one could begrudge him his first drink of the day. He shot the whisky back quickly, glancing round but recognizing no one in the thinly populated room. He ordered another, and took it across to a seat in the corner, where he wouldn’t be disturbed in his thoughts.

And what were they, those ‘thoughts’ that were spinning around Harry’s head? He was thinking about Colin McAllistair. Maybe it had been a bad move to pretend that Lillian McFry was dead? He should have known that a researcher of the calibre of McAllistair wouldn’t easily let go of a potential source of Lillian’s quality. He wondered what McAllistair was thinking about him, now he’d exposed him as a liar. Maybe he realized he’d been protecting Lillian? Nothing Lillian had said about her call from the academic had hinted that he was particularly concerned about the medals. If McAllistair was being honest when he’d rung Harry the day before, then Harry had to accept he may now be an ally. Whatever the position, he could do worse than ring him – perhaps when he got back to his flat?

Thomas McFry was another matter. He was dead, of course, although the knowledge that he’d seen a copy of his death certificate was strangely reassuring to Harry. Danny had been right – Lillian hated Thomas McFry. She’d told them how, on her return to England, she had come to settle in Telford with Thomas. She never explicitly mentioned a marriage, however, and this might explain why they’d never found a certificate. Lillian Blyth might have merely taken McFry’s name.

And Colleen Blyth – Laurel’s mother … the knowledge that she’d been raised in France … well, that might explain Laurel’s idea that she had been a French teacher. Somehow, he didn’t think Stuart McFry was her father. Why would Lillian abandon her young baby to be brought up by a stranger, if she was with the child’s father? It didn’t make sense.

You had to feel more than a little sympathetic to Lillian, he thought. She’d thought she was doing the best for her daughter, in leaving her to be brought up by Philippe Bergerac and his mother. How could she know, even imagine, that France would be occupied so shortly afterwards by the Germans? And yet … Colleen had survived it all, had gone on to marry Philip McFry, Laurel’s father. Surely Lillian knew this – reason shouted out that she must have! Nothing Lillian had said had explained this. Philip was the younger of the McFry brothers – quite a bit younger than Stuart and Thomas. What kind of family was this, Harry wondered, that they could stand by and watch while a niece married her own uncle?

Harry ordered another drink. He took his seat again, lit a cigarette and thought through the conundrum. Stuart McFry, Thomas McFry and Philip McFry. Three brothers, of whom either of the eldest could possibly be Laurel’s grandfather. Unless … and here Harry realized (for the first time), how simple it all really might be ... neither of them were?

1 comment:

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

I am indebted to Proofreader for prompting me to re-write the final sentence of this chapter.

Kind Regards