Saturday, 5 May 2007

Chapter 85

Danny didn’t have long to wait until he met Yolanda, Alan McFry’s ‘partner’. After Harry had disappeared for his date, Alan had left Danny alone in the lounge, while he busied himself with something in the kitchen. He’d turned the TV on for him, saying Danny might enjoy watching the highlights from a bullfight, something that seemed to be on one channel or another at any time of the day in Spain. But Danny hadn’t been interested. Instead, he tried to relax, and stop himself getting annoyed at Harry’s obviously pre-planned decision to leave him in the company of a stranger for a couple of hours, even if he was ‘family’. He heard a phone ringing, then Alan’s muffled voice as he answered it.

He couldn’t make out anything Alan was saying, though his tone sounded casual, so he busied himself looking at the spines of the books on a shelf in the corner of the room - trying to get a sense of the kind of person Harry’s brother was. A lot of cookery books, he noticed, a mix of English and Spanish ones, and a mixed bag of novels that seemed to span a couple of centuries of English literature. It could only have been a couple of minutes until he heard a key turn in the door down the hallway. He heard, too, the click of the phone receiver from the kitchen, and guessed that Alan had ended his call quickly. ‘Interesting…’ he thought.

Then, he heard a woman’s voice, speaking heatedly in Spanish, and Alan’s equally forceful response to her. Whatever the argument was, it didn’t seem to last long, and their voices got quieter. Even if he’d spoken Spanish, the commentary on the bullfight would have made it hard to make out what they were saying, but he thought he heard the word ‘Harry’ a couple of times, and then his own name.

Shortly afterwards, Alan came back into the lounge, followed closely by a young woman of striking good looks. She was dressed smartly, her immaculate make-up failing, however, to hide her flushed face.
“Danny – this is Yolanda,” Alan said, and Danny had the good manners to stand up to shake her hand, noticing that Alan, too, looked a little red in the face. She smiled at him, which helped diffuse his discomfort (if only a little). “So you are Harry’s friend,” she said, “and we will entertain you until he has done his ‘business’!” Danny wondered whether she had a clue about the euphemism, but put the thought of Harry the Beagle out of his mind as quickly as it popped up.
“I believe so,” he said. “Thank you.”
“Well, why don’t we take you out for a while, Danny?” Alan asked. “I can’t believe you want to spend your first night in Madrid sat in our lounge … come on: let’s see if this city can seduce you like it has me.” Then he said something in Spanish to Yolanda, who smiled. They both turned to leave the room - Danny’s cue to follow, collect his jacket from the study, and make his way out with them into the early-evening of the Saturday bustle of the Plaza Dos de Mayo.

*

If Harry McFry wasn’t much one for keeping up with the news, Cyril Galloway was quite the opposite. He knew exactly how important that piece of paper of Lillian McFry’s was – had spotted it immediately when he’d first been asked to value the medals. He’d seen at least two or three articles about the search for it in the weeks before. It wasn’t exactly front page news, but it had made the international section in a couple of what used to be called the ‘broadsheets’, until they shrunk them to fit the commuter lifestyle, that was.
Now all he had to do was pick his moment to ring Lillian McFry. He’d spent the day wondering about that one, and was finally coming to the conclusion that Sunday might be best. He’d have to be careful, though, since he’d sensed she didn’t like him. Maybe sending Dacre Lawrence to see her had not been an exactly inspired idea, either? He wondered how his friend was faring: thought, perhaps, that he might even schedule a visit across the Pennines to see him next week. But not before he had his hands on Lillian’s treasure. Oh, no. He would have to sort that first. And Dacre Lawrence wouldn’t need to know anything about it, either. The good doctor could think what he liked about him, Galloway mused, even supposing he recovered from his stroke. It would be too late then. He poured himself a large glass of port, and began to mull over his strategy for approaching Lillian McFry.