Thursday, 26 July 2007

Chapter 126

The messages on Harry’s answer phone were all very predictable: Bill, Laurel, Danny. He cursed himself for not clearing it before he’d left for Madrid – he might have saved himself a problem or two.

Only the message from Carrie herself was unexpected, left earlier that day. Her languorous drawl hid implications Harry felt it better not to unpick just now:

“You back yet, Harry? I hear you enjoyed your time in Madrid. I think we’ve got some unfinished business, don’t you? Why don’t you give me a call?”

He shook his head, silently wondering at the stupidity of the night he’d spent at Carrie’s. It had tilted him off balance, and he guessed now that Carrie knew a thing or two about Ana that she hadn’t seen fit to tell him. The whole thing had been a big mistake, that much was for sure: even to spend the night at her place, regardless of what might have happened, had been his folly.

As he made himself a coffee, Harry knew at last what he had to do – and ringing his brother’s ex-wife had to be last on his list. It took a certain courage, which we shouldn’t underestimate, for him to resolve, there and then, to turn his back on his own family – forget about the sorry mess of them – and to turn his attentions, instead, to Laurel McFry. He wanted to know how she was faring.

He’d had the presence, while in Madrid, to jot down Laurel’s number, and he fished his small notebook from the pocket of the jacket he’d thrown over the back of a chair when he’d returned to his flat. Dialing her number, he wondered how she might be f feeling. He knew the news of the bond must have un-nerved her.

“Hello?” she answered. She sounded a little tentative (wary, even) and certainly not relaxed in the way you might expect someone who was about to come into possession of around £20 million. There was a tiredness, what might be construed as a tension in her voice.

“It’s Harry, Laurel. How are you?”

“Oh – thank goodness you’ve rung!” It was like she’d been roused from a sleep. “I … what I mean to say is … all this about the bond. Is it true?”

Harry wondered why she might have doubted him, but tried to put himself in her shoes. Maybe it was just a little incredible, to get a call out of the blue, as she had done last night, telling her the news about the Spanish bond.

“Yes, it’s true alright. It’s sitting in a vault in Madrid. But I can assure you it’s yours.”

“But you still can’t tell me how this has come my way? I hope you appreciate that I haven’t slept a wink, Harry. Is it something to do with my father?”

Harry wondered if he dare tell her his thoughts. He knew it would put her mind at ease. But his thoughts, for the moment, were only a theory, What was more, he knew he had a duty to Lillian McFry not to reveal her existence until such time as she wanted to. If, that was, she ever did.

“No. Nothing to do with your father – at least not directly. All I can say is, I may be in a position to tell you more tomorrow. Danny and I are back in Birkenhead now. Maybe we could see you in the morning?”

“So you’re condemning me to another sleepless night, Mr McFry?” Laurel replied, but she sounded lighter now, as if hearing Harry’s assurances about the bond had somehow made it sound more real.

“Seems this case is causing quite a few people sleepless nights, Laurel!” Harry said, smiling. He hadn’t had more than a dozen hours sleep himself over the last four days, he thought, ruefully – but then, that had been pretty much of his own making. There was a pause, during which Harry imagined (correctly) that Laurel was flicking through her diary.

“That’s fine. Do you want to call around about 10am, or how about I come to the office?”

The office would be better, Harry thought, and arranged that Laurel should call to see him there.

“And Mr Galloway? You told me to watch out for him. Do I still have to be worried?”

Harry hadn’t expected the question, but knew he’d have to be circumspect.

“Let me be candid, Laurel. I don’t know what Galloway is up to, but from what I do know about him, you just need to be careful. Now,” he said, “I need to ask you a question, if you don’t mind…” He didn’t wait for her to reply.

“Danny’s been doing some digging on the Lawrences – with a view to seeing how Dacre Lawrence fits into the picture.” He consulted his own notes, drafted quickly after he’d got back to Alan’s flat the previous evening.

“He says you told him that Anne Lawrence – who married James McFry – had a brother, John James Lawrence, and that he married an Amy Peterson. You could save us a bit of work if you’ve got the certificate for the Lawrence – Peterson marriage…”

“Don’t make me feel more of an amateur than I already am, Harry – please!” Laurel sounded short, almost angry. He hadn’t appreciated how his ‘interrogation’ of her the previous week had made her squirm, particularly when he’d revealed her willingness to jump to conclusions without proper evidence. “Of course I don’t have it.”

Harry hadn’t meant to come across that way, and pulled himself back.

“OK – no offence meant, Laurel. The thing is, though, Danny’s found a couple of other references. He was looking into Dacre Lawrence. It’s possible – and we’re still waiting for the certificates to back this up – that his mother was a Margaret Speilmann and his father was John Lawrence. Ring any bells?”

Laurel was thinking. There were no bells ringing. But…

“Speilmann. That sounds like it might be a German name, Harry.”

If she’d been in his flat, Laurel might have seen how Harry’s eyebrows raised, just a fraction, when she inadvertently placed another piece in the jigsaw that was her missing family.


Shinade said...

I really must start at chapter one and read this---because I am already interested and we are yup to chapter 126---may I add sir yet once again I am very impressed with your writing skills. have you always been a writer? Or, did you take this up after leaving the fashion industry----because you have a wonderful way of expressing and descibing what is taking place.P.S. (also it's not pretentious---my infamous post when I was spammed by someone with a rather rude remark)~jackie

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

Well, Jackie, I've never really written much more than a grocery list before now. I've always enjoyed reading, and writing letters, however. Your comments are very kind.