The Year of the Golden Pig XIV
I go back to the picquet post, ‘phone the Colonel at home:
- ‘Sacking: I need a smoke, send Players.’ He starts to bluster.
- ‘Look it up, sir. I’ll wait.’ He leaves to look up what this means in a book he shouldn’t have in his married quarter, but can’t manage without.
- ‘Ok, Law. They’ll come’
Then I go back to stand outside Hess’s room and wait for someone deniable to arrive from the Embassy.
I think about all the things that have gone wrong tonight. How the British Army in its wisdom assigns a junior infantry officer to a weekly billet in charge of experienced RMPs looking after the last Nazi. How Havelock had to impress his girlfriend scant hours before the handover to the Russians for their month. How no-one goes to see Hess except if they’re escorted by two MPs, be they Russian, Yank, French or Brit. I think about where the two man internal foot-patrol were, while a civilian female strolled across the square. But most of all I think about a beer I didn’t need before I took a call I could have ignored, in a bar where I had not one friend.
One civilian and one Officer arrive. The civvy has the rosy cheeks and AWOL chin I’m expecting. The officer is ten years too old for the rank of Lieutenant. Could be an ex-ranker, or something else entirely. The civvy speaks:
- ‘Warrant Officer Law isn’t it? Barry Smith.
I look surprised at the prole name Smith has given me.
- ‘Ha, ha! Quentin Barry-Smith. Just think of me as “someone who does.” The embassy’s little treasure. I keep things tidy.’ This is Lt… erm.’
- ‘Lt. Jones.’ I keep my face straight.
- ‘Let’s see what we have, shall we?’ says Barry-Smith.
I open the door. Barry-Smith looks in at Hess and the corpse, then at Havelock for the first time.
- ‘Dear me, what will Uncle Michael say?’
Havelock looks on the verge of tears again. I start to tell Barry-Smith what has happened. He gives me a look of utter disbelief.
- ‘Oh no, Mr Law. I don’t care about any of that, I’m here to ‘tidy up'. D’you see?’
- ‘But there’s a crime, we need an ambulance….’
- ‘That we do, but only to help us tidy up, Mr Law. I’m sure there’s one outside already.’
Some very large Queen Alexandra Nurses arrive with a stretcher. Havelock and I are shouldered aside. One of the Army Nurses jabs a needle in Hess. None too delicately. They pile the girl then Hess on the stretcher. It looks heavy, but they’ll manage.
- ‘Dear Rudolf’s had a turn. He’ll be off to his private wing at BMH I expect.’
The British Military Hospital in Berlin has a whole floor just for Hess. I often think about the money that costs, and who pays for it.
- ‘So, I think we need do no more. You Mr Law, will arrest Lieutenant Havelock. Drunk on duty. Terrible. Isn’t it? Lt. Jones here will hand over to the Soviets, when they arrive. Well? Get on.’
I look at Havelock. I imagine that’s what shell-shock looks like.
Barry-Smith gives Jones a nod and all four of us head for the picquet- post. Barry-Smith breezes out, Havelock and I do the security pass for ID rigmarole. The deniable turns to me:
- ‘Close Arrest, Mr Law. Confined to room, Officers’ Mess. No Mistakes, now.’
An ironic little salute and he’s gone.
Back at Brigade in Berlin, I fill in the incident book at SIB. Then I take two RMP Corporals with us to Havelock's room in the mess. Havelock hasn’t spoken since Barry-Smith mentioned Uncle Michael. I ask him for his belt, tie and shoelaces.
- ‘Make his room safe. Corporal McGillicuddy. Suicide risk.’
- ‘Wha? Whit d’ye mean, sir?’
- ‘The Lieutenant’s not himself, anything he might, you know.’
I wave the potential suicide weapons in my hand.
- ‘Sheets and so on too, pack it all in a blanket or something.’
Havelock still looks utterly blank. I ask him:
- ‘Who’s Uncle Michael?’
He names someone whose photograph is very near the top of the chain of command board in Brigade HQ. The enlisted men call this board the ‘Know Your Enemy’ board. It shows the Army High Command, in case someone fails to recognise a VIP and doesn’t salute them. I take his arm and tell him to ask the two Corporals outside if he wants anything. McGillicuddy gives me the blanket full of stuff. I take it out to the Opel and stick it in the boot. I’m just too tired to book it in at SIB.