Blood Money (chapter fifteen and sixteen.)
The red-faced Morris O’Hara was standing in front of his Dublin mansion, amid a multitude of golf balls. His swing was neither graceful nor orthodox, but it had the desired effect, as he sent ball after ball soaring through the air. Standing at his side was his devoted Irish wolfhound.
O’Hara recognised the Range Rover that was progressing along his lengthy driveway and selected a three wood from his golf bag. He watched contentedly, and smashed another ball across his expansive lawn.
“Still playing that pussie’s game, Morris?” joked Keenan, who stroked the dog affectionately.
“Not much of a tan, Terry have you? Come on, I need a drink.”
The two men strolled towards the mansion and were met by O’Hara’s butler, who was carrying a tray laden with drinks. They rested on a bench outside the luxurious establishment and Keenan rubbed his hands together. “It’s frigging freezing out here.”
“Who’s the pussy now, Terry?” O’Hara dismissed his butler and his face assumed a more serious look. “I never thought he’d have the balls... Chaplin, I mean... You’re certain that the Greek wasn’t lying?”
“He was telling the truth.”
O’Hara poured out two liberal measures of brandy. “You’re getting clumsy, Terry.”
“I told you to bury the body... If Kannellakis’s body is discovered, then the spotlight once more will fall on me. I’m robbed of three million and one of the suspects is found dead. You did make it look like an accident, I take it?”
Keenan hesitated. “He won’t be found believe me. I saw the car disappear beneath the waves.”
“And what about when the tide goes out? I fucking pay you good money, Terry and I expect a professional job.”
“I’ve told you, the body won’t be found.”
O’Hara changed the subject. “So, Chaplin and the three heroes were out to fleece me. Why then would Chaplin rob me?”
“Maybe he didn’t... I mean, it wouldn’t make sense, Morris.”
O’Hara squinted as the sun appeared from behind the grey clouds. “I’ve had Chaplin followed. Jimmy Cochrane’s in London.”
“Jimmy fucking Cochrane?” spluttered Keenan. “That psycho is working for you?”
“Ironic isn’t it that Chaplin once defended Jimmy and got him off? Anyway, Chaplin met with two men in Camden Town recently. One of them is his brother in law, who goes by the name of Dean Schofield. A two-bit private eye, he is.”
Keenan interrupted. “So he visited his brother in law. Nothing unnatural in that.”
“Chaplin tried to lose Jimmy and he parked some way from Schofield’s flat. No, this was a meeting Chaplin didn’t want anyone to know about.”
“So who was the third man?”
“I don’t know. Jimmy, as ordered continued with his surveillance of Chaplin, but he did take a photo of the man as he left the flat.”
Keenan unwrapped one of his lollipops and buttoned up his combat jacket. “I hardly think they’d risk robbing you to save themselves three hundred thousand grand.”
“That’s what I reckoned, so who are we left with? Manaf and Mukhtar. One of them obviously got greedy, and with a little help from their friends, they pulled off the robbery. What irks me though is how they knew about the money?”
Keenan dipped his lollypop into his brandy.
“Christ, Terry Keenan, you’re such an animal,” groaned O’Hara.
“So what do you want me to do?” asked Keenan.
O’Hara lit up a cigar. “Chaplin doesn’t strike me as a brave man. I’ll get Jimmy to question him and then... Chaplin must be emotionally unstable, after all the newspapers are suggesting that he may have had something to do with the robbery. It wouldn’t surprise me if he topped himself.” O’Hara grinned, a glint in his eye.
“You, Terry. You’re off on another holiday. Indonesia or Pakistan? I’ll leave the choice up to you... You may need some help, so I’ve contacted some of the boys.”
“I work alone, you know that.”
O’Hara inhaled on his cigar. “You may be up against three of them, though I’m more than sure that one of them may be lying on a slab in the morgue. I shot the bastard at least twice.”
O’Hara walked towards the mansion and Keenan followed. “Wait here, Terry.”
Keenan stepped inside and smiled at the huge portrait of O’Hara, which dominated the hall. Though O’Hara would never be summoned to Buckingham Palace, he liked to think of himself as Lord of the manor. Two mansions, homes in Madrid, Rome, Miami and Sydney were evidence of his vast wealth.
Hearing the footsteps, Keenan turned to face O’Hara, who passed over two large envelopes. “Your fee as agreed and your expense money. And for God’s sake, Terry, fucking smarten yourself up.”
Sitting around the breakfast table on Sunday morning, Pauline nibbled on her toast and watched her husband, whose head was buried in his newspaper. She realised that their marriage was becoming unstable. Lately, Sam could not even muster up a cuddle, let alone the act of sex. Little David slammed his spoon repeatedly onto the top of his boiled egg.
“Do you mind?” moaned Chaplin.
“Sam,” countered Pauline. “Just what the hell’s bothering you?”
“You don’t know?” he asked sarcastically. “My friends won’t even speak to me. Half of them believe I’m conspiring with Morris O’Hara and think I’m a member of the IRA, and the other half think I’m a fucking armed robber.”
“Sam! Don’t you ever swear in front of David... All the time we’ve been married, and I’ve never heard you use such language.”
David continued to hammer his egg.
Chaplin knocked over the eggcup with one swipe and the yolk splattered onto the dining room floor.
“Stop it! Do you hear me, stop it!” yelled Pauline.
Chaplin raced for the door.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m off for some cigarettes. I could use the fresh air.” He brushed past the postman, who was in the process of handing him a letter.
The troubled solicitor ignored the early morning drizzle and wore only a shirt. He took a deep breath and tried hard to restrain himself from crying. He regretted treating his family so badly, but what he had not told his wife was that he was about to lose his job.
John Bullard, the junior partner had voiced his concern and blamed Chaplin’s unwanted publicity for their lack of business. Chaplin, in his desperation had hinted to Simon Hector that he knew about his sordid secret, but the threat was brushed aside, with his employer challenging him to prove the allegation. A date in court was the last thing that Chaplin needed, and now he awaited his final notice.
The solicitor heard the sound of a car coasting behind him. He looked around and jogged across the road towards the newsagents. Stopping outside the shop, Chaplin once more turned to view the black BMW that had parked at the side of the road.
Chaplin entered the newsagents and paid for his cigarettes. He slowly approached the door and peeped through the glass.
“Is everything all right?” asked the newsagent.
Chaplin ignored him and focused on the face of the driver. Although he was wearing sunglasses, the face seemed familiar. “Is there a back door out of here?”
“It is locked. The manager has the only key. What is...”
Chaplin was back onto the street before the shopkeeper could finish his sentence. He walked in a different direction and stopped at an electrical store. Looking at the reflection in the window, he could clearly see the BMW crawling towards him. Chaplin faced the driver and the memories came flooding back.
The driver had removed his sunglasses. Jimmy Cochrane, though a little heavier had not changed too much. His once dark beard was flecked with grey, but the same black, lifeless eyes that had stared back at him from across the courtroom remained unaltered. A flat cap hid his wild, dishevelled hair.
Chaplin broke into a run and he heard the BMW accelerate. Crossing the sodden green, Chaplin sprinted towards a church. Without looking back, he went inside and walked swiftly to the front. He shuffled along the aisle, disturbing the Sunday morning worshippers who were singing a chorus of, All things bright and beautiful.
Picking up a hymn book, he nervously checked over his shoulder to see Cochrane standing at the rear of the church. The Irishman wore a black leather coat and gloves. He removed his cap and his eyes searched for his quarry.
Fifteen minutes later and the service came to an end. Chaplin remained seated, unsettled by the presence of the persistent Irishman, who was watching him, arms folded. Several of the congregation chatted to the priest before vacating the church.
Chaplin had made his decision. He walked rapidly towards the front of the church and entered a chamber. Panic-stricken, he fumbled around; searching for an exit that did not exist. Realising he was trapped, Chaplin crouched beneath a table; a feeble attempt to evade his pursuer, but his mind was addled. He pulled down the draping tablecloth in a vain attempt to conceal himself.
He ceased breathing, listening to the approaching footsteps that echoed off the polished, wooden floor. Cochrane was now standing so close to the table that Chaplin could smell the newly polished shoes.
“Come out, come out wherever you are, Sam,”
teased Cochrane. “Who’s been a naughty boy then?”
Chaplin remained motionless.
“Let’s not play fucking games, Sam. I only want to speak to you. You have nothing to fear from me, after all, you did successfully defend me didn’t you, and I owe you a favour?”
Chaplin heard someone else enter the chamber.
“What are you doing in here? This room is off limits.”
“Relax Father,” said Cochrane. “I swear I saw a frightened rat run into here, and so like the good Catholic son I am, I decided to pursue the poor creature.”
“Please leave or I’ll be forced to call the police.”
Cochrane faced the priest. “Now why you would you want to do that? I’m merely carrying out a compassionate act. The rat looked in some distress, Father.”
“Go now,” threatened the priest.
Chaplin closed his eyes in relief, as he heard the Irishman leave.
“You can come out now.”
The solicitor struggled to his feet. “Thank you, Father.”
“Why is this man chasing you?”
“It’s a long story... Is there another way out of here?”
The priest ignored the plea. “You’re not a fugitive are you?”
“No, of course not... Listen, Father, that man means to harm me.”
“Do you want me to call the police?”
“No! Please, is there another way out of here?”
The priest led Chaplin along a corridor until they came to an exit.
Chaplin opened the door and searched the area with his eyes. “Thank you, Father, I owe you one.”
The solicitor sprinted across the green, towards the subway. He considered his family and slowed down, reaching for his cell phone. He had to warn Pauline and David. Before Chaplin could make his call, he heard the roar of the engine as the black BMW sped across the green. The frightened man increased his pace, the incident now attracting a handful of curious spectators.
The vehicle veered in front of Chaplin, causing him to topple onto the bonnet. Cochrane ignored the witnesses and vacated his car, menacingly waving his pistol at Chaplin. “Get in, Sam! Stop fucking me about and get in the motor.”
Chaplin obeyed his wild-eyed tormentor. The BMW pulled away and Cochrane looked across at his captive. “I’ll give you credit, Sam; you’ve got balls. It certainly took spunk to even consider robbing old Morris.”
Chaplin sighed. “Sorry to disappoint you, Jimmy, but I had nothing to do with the robbery.”
Cochrane smiled. “Oh, we know that. Well, not the actual robbery, but you still planned along with the paki, the Greek and the slant to fleece Mr O’Hara out of his money.”
Cochrane grinned sadistically; noticing the look of surprise on Chaplin’s worried face. “Oh, come on, Sam; surely you must have had an inkling that we’d rumble you; after all, three million is a lot of money.”
“So what happens now?” asked Chaplin, checking behind him hopefully, half expecting one of the witnesses to have contacted the police.
“Well, that’s down to you, Sam. Let’s just say that your welfare is in your own hands.”
“Meaning what? I don’t know where the money is.”
Cochrane checked his mirror and Chaplin realised that they were heading towards his own home.
“I really do believe you, but I’m merely a pawn in Mr O’Hara’s employment and I have to follow his orders.”
The BMW pulled into Chaplin’s driveway and the non-appearance of Pauline and David worried the solicitor.
“Oh, not expecting your wife and kid are you, Sam? They’ve been conveniently dealt with. I phoned your wife earlier and told her that you’ve been involved in a motor accident. At this moment, I reckon she’s on her way to the hospital.”
Threatened by the Irishman’s weapon, Chaplin was urged to open the garage door, and Cochrane steered the car inside. After closing the garage door, Cochrane invited Chaplin to sit beside him in the passenger seat, before turning off the engine.
“Okay, Sam, I’ll give it to you as straight as I can... Mr O’Hara is a romantic and the love of his life is his fucking money. Putting two and two together, he reckoned that either you, Manaf, Mukhtar or Darius had to have robbed him. The Greek, who incidentally is now a banquet for the crabs, betrayed you, Sam. We’re almost certain that he had nothing to do with the robbery, so that leaves just the three suspects.”
“I’ve told you, Cochrane, I had...”
“Don’t fucking interrupt me... It wouldn’t make sense you planning the robbery, after all, you stood to make a hefty profit without resorting to anything so drastic, but Manaf and Mukhtar certainly had a motive. What did you offer them? One hundred grand each? Why are you solicitors such a greedy breed?”
Cochrane closed the windows of the BMW. “Mr O’Hara, although a proud man, is reluctantly willing to overlook your foolishness if you can help him get back his money.”
“But how? I don’t know who took his bloody money.”
Cochrane waved his pistol. “Tell me about Manaf and Mukhtar. How did you recruit them?”
Chaplin swallowed, his throat dry and sore. “As I told Mr O’Hara, I read about Manaf on the internet. I travelled to Indonesia and met with him,” lied the desperate solicitor. Believe me, there’s no way he’s involved with the robbery.”
“How can you be so sure?” probed Cochrane.
“Manaf merely wanted to rebuild his village. There’s not a bad bone in his body.”
“Perhaps, but do not be fooled by appearances... So, then you travelled to Pakistan to meet Mukhtar?”
“So you just happened to choose your three accomplices from the internet?”
“You told Mr O’Hara that Lance Peebles suggested that you nominate Mukhtar?”
“It wasn’t so much a suggestion.”.
Cochrane lit up a roll-up and glared at the Englishman. “You’re fucking lying, Sam!”
“Shut up!” Cochrane slapped the passport down onto the dashboard.
“Where did you...How?”
Cochrane ignored the question. “Yes, you visited Pakistan, but Indonesia and Greece? Why are you fucking lying to me, Sam? Who are you protecting?”
Chaplin remained silent.
“Your brother in law, Schofield; is he in this with you?”
Chaplin shook his head. “Dean? No, of course not.”
Cochrane held a photograph of Joe Pepper in front of the flustered solicitor. “How about him? Who is this ginger twat?”
“He’s a friend... Look, they know nothing about my scheme. Why would I confide in them?”
Cochrane drew heavily on his cigarette and Chaplin coughed and reached for the window.
“Don’t!” threatened the gunman. “Let’s just say for argument’s sake that your brother in law and ginger did know about your scheme. Perhaps over a drink you boasted to them that you were fleecing the famous Morris O’Hara? The greedy bastards could then have planned the robbery, unknown to you.”
“No... I never uttered a word about the money.”
Cochrane stubbed out his cigarette. “You’re making me a very angry man, Sam. Don’t fucking take the piss. I saw you visiting your brother in law’s flat, along with ginger. You deemed that the meeting was to be so secretive that you parked several streets away.”
“Jimmy, have you tried parking in..?”
“For the last time, shut the fuck up... You’re feeding me bullshit, Sam... You’re trying to tell me that even if they weren’t your accomplices, you failed to mention to them that you were representing Morris O’Hara in a lucrative deal? Fucking bullshit.”
There was a prolonged silence and Cochrane fiddled with his firearm.
“It’s got to be Mukhtar,” offered Chaplin. “I never trusted him from the beginning.”
The Irishman listened patiently, whistling Danny Boy as he considered his options.
Chaplin, for whatever reason, recalled his rendezvous with Schofield in Trafalgar Square. He remembered the two Asian men who sat beside them. “Of course.”
“Talk to me, Sam.”
Chaplin realised his error and somehow had to omit his brother in law from his explanation. “It was Mukhtar, I’m certain of it. Two Asian men, Pakistan or Indian followed me. At first, I made nothing of it, but now it makes sense. Mukhtar you bastard.”
Cochrane pondered. “Peebles may have had a profitable interest in Mukhtar... So how did they know that cash would be used and not a cheque, as reported in the newspapers?”
Chaplin was speechless. The more he tried to absolve Schofield and Pepper, the more complicated it was becoming. His head ached and he was so thirsty.
Cochrane rested his feet on the dashboard and sighed. “In my profession, Sam I deal in death and dishonesty, as well you know. I lied about Mr O’Hara’s clemency, and I’m sure that you already know that. Morris is a proud man and if it ever came out that a pen pusher and three foreigners tried to scam him, he’d be a laughing stock... Yes, he ordered me to attain the identity of the robbers from you, and then he told me to terminate your life, Sam.”
“Please, Jimmy, I have a wife and son.”
“And the Queen shits. Sad, but I’ll get over it... Listen, I’m not so heartless that I cannot send you to your maker without affording you a little security and peace of mind to your memories. I was going to let you do the honourable thing and kill yourself here in the garage. If you didn’t, then I was going to take the life of your pretty wife and child. However, I believe you’re a yellow-bellied coward and so I can’t take any chances.”
“Cochrane removed some tie wraps from his glove compartment and fumbled behind his seat for a length of tubing.
“How much, Jimmy?” pleaded Chaplin.
“Sam, Sam, I’ve seen your finances remember... Like I was saying, I’ll make you a deal. The identity of ginger for the lives of your wife and son?”
Chaplin bowed his head. He contemplated trying to overpower the Irishman, but all of his resolve had been drained by the unfortunate circumstances that had befallen him. “Jack Pepper,” he muttered. “He works for the Daily Mirror.”
“I’ll keep my word, Sam. Your family will not be harmed. Of course, I’ll have to have a chat with your good wife first. If she reported the mysterious telephone call about your so-called accident, then it wouldn’t look too good for me now would it?”
Cochrane motioned for Chaplin to get out of the vehicle and led him towards his own car, which was parked behind.
“Make yourself comfortable, Sam,” uttered the killer, who proceeded to bind the solicitor’s hands to the steering wheel with the tie raps. “I’ll be outside, and remove the tie wraps just as soon as you’re gone.”
“Please,” begged Chaplin with tearful eyes. “I’ll take my life voluntarily. I may be a coward, but I love my wife and son. Please, Jimmy.”
The Irishman nodded. “I must be going soft in my old age... Okay, Sam... A tip mate; take big breaths.”
Cochrane put on his gloves and inserted the tubing into the exhaust pipe. He then handed the end of the tubing to Chaplin, who held it in place with his window.
“Oh, I almost forgot, Sam. Your phone please. I wouldn’t want you to get any ideas now would I?”
Cochrane nodded and Chaplin reluctantly turned on the engine. The killer shut the garage door, leaned against the wall and nonchalantly smoked another cigarette. It was an emotional vocation, but somebody had to do it.
The downpour added more misery to the sombre occasion in the cemetery. Schofield held Pauline’s umbrella over her and held her hand. His sister, although understandably distraught, seemed so distant and secretive. The private detective sensed that Pauline was holding something back, but now was not the time for probing. David was being comforted by his grandparents; his sobbing audible above the driving rain.
One by one, the family and friends of Sam Chaplin stepped forward and tossed a handful of earth onto his coffin. Schofield, seeing Morris O’Hara perform the respectful act had to exercise all of his will power not to intercept the Irishman. Schofield doubted that his brother in law would take his own life, and O’Hara had both the motive and the resources to end Sam’s life.
Schofield felt warm breath on his neck and the odour of garlic repulsed him.
“Can I have a word in private, Dean?”
Schofield turned to face a pock-faced man. “Do I know you?”
The detective produced his ID. “Chief Inspector Bruce, CID.”
Schofield turned his attention to a younger, blonde man, not much older than himself, who was wearing a long leather coat. His immaculately groomed hair and his film star looks made this man stand out in crowd; a definite disadvantage, given his vocation.
“This is Inspector De Vries from Interpol.”
“Interpol?” Schofield kissed his sister on the cheek before joining the two detectives. They detached themselves from the mourners and a rainbow appeared ahead; promising a change in the weather.
De Vries produced a batch of photographs. “Mr Schofield. Do you recognise any of these men?”
The Londoner browsed through the photographs. “I don’t recognise any of these men.”
“Take another look, Mr Schofield,” urged De Vries.
Again, Schofield shook his head. “I don’t know these men.”
DCI Bruce joined in. “That man there is Mukhtar Ahmed. You haven’t met him?”
“No, why should I have?”
The Chief Inspector led his companions towards an old gravestone. “My parents. It seems only like yesterday when I buried them.”
“Can I go now?” asked Schofield. “I ought to be with my sister.”
DCI Bruce frowned. “Mukhtar Ahmed was one of the men nominated by your brother in law to receive one million pounds from Morris O’Hara.”
Schofield appeared bemused. “Of course. He did mention Mukhtar to me, but I never met the man.”
They walked on. “Do you think Sam killed himself?” asked Bruce.
“What sort of a question is that?”
The detective continued. “Only two people knew about the three million pounds in O’Hara’s van, and one of them was your brother in law. Now believe me when I tell you that Morris O’Hara is not the smiling, caring man he appears to be on his advertisements for his supermarkets.”
Schofield removed his tie. “Are you trying to tell me that O’Hara suspected Sam of carrying out that robbery?”
“Why not?” shrugged the Chief Inspector. “Your brother in law was having financial difficulties... Nothing however can convince me that Sam masterminded this. First of all, he would have had to recruit someone to carry out the robbery; someone he could trust.”
“I’m not liking the vibes I’m getting here,” moaned Schofield.
“Don’t worry, Dean. We know where you were at the time of the robbery.”
“What? You know...”
“We’ve been following you for some time,” said De Vries.... “Let me explain shall I? Mukhtar Ahmed, we’ve had under surveillance for two years now. He along with the other two men in the photographs were involved with Sipah-e-Sahaba, Pakistan.”
“SSP as they’re known, are a Sunni sectarian outfit, who target the minority Shia community in Pakistan. Their aim is for Pakistan to be declared a Sunni state. To attain their goal, they murder prominent opponent organisation activists and often attack worshippers in mosques operated by opposing sects.”
“I don’t understand where this is leading?”
“Let me finish, Mr Schofield and all will become clear,” demanded De Vries. “Mukhtar and his friends were small fish. They liked to think they were terrorists, but they were merely errand boys. As I told you, we had them under surveillance, and many arrests were made because of this.” The Dutchman foraged through his inside pocket and produced another photograph. “Do you know this man?”
Schofield screwed his eyes up and studied the face. “No.”
De Vries retrieved the photograph. “He’s Lance Peebles, a Red Cross worker who was a close friend of your brother in law.”
Again, Chief Inspector Bruce intervened. “I interviewed Sam and he told me that Peebles put forward Mukhtar’s name for O’Hara’s donation. Inspector De Vries arrived at the station and lo and behold, the name Lance Peebles came up again. Interpol has also been keeping tabs on him for some time. He seems to spend an awful lot of time with Mukhtar.”
Schofield glanced at his wristwatch. “Why are you telling me this?”
The detective grinned with satisfaction. “Mukhtar, if he planned the robbery was taking one hell of a chance; after all, he was due one million pounds himself. Inspector De Vries here has a notion that Mukhtar and Peebles, who may also have links with SSP, were trying to impress them. They would deliver the three million and command respect, maybe even climbing the ranks in the terrorist organisation.”
“Again, what has this to do with me?”
De Vries ignored the question as the rain eased off. “I was in Islamabad when your brother in law met with Mukhtar. Because of that and his friendship with Lance Peebles, Chaplin was marked as a potential terrorist.”
“That’s crap and you know it.”
“No, we don’t know it,” countered Bruce. “We had Sam followed, and when he met with you and Jack Pepper several times, we had you followed too. That’s how we know you were bedding a certain Sharon Pickering at the time of the robbery.”
“You think I’m involved with this SSP?”
“No, I do not,” smiled De Vries. “I also believe that your brother in law was innocent... What we were hoping was that you could tell us something about Peebles or the men in this photograph. It seemed feasible that Mukhtar’s friends carried out the robbery, but you say you never met the man, so it seems our questioning is pointless.”
“So why don’t you arrest Mukhtar?”
De Vries seemed embarrassed by the question. “Because, Mr Schofield, we don‘t know where he is... He’s no doubt by now left the country with a false passport... Mr Schofield, I must warn you that you are bound by the Official Secret’s Act and you must not disclose what you have heard today.”
“Not even about O’Hara?”
Chief Inspector Bruce spoke. “Leave O’Hara to us, Dean. Witnesses say they saw someone resembling Sam being chased by a car on the morning of his death. A priest has also come forward, stating that Sam was hiding in his church. He’s gave us a good description of an Irishman who he confronted. We’ve a good idea by the car and the description, who he is.”
“And what do I tell my sister?”
“Nothing, Dean; you tell her nothing. Let her mourn her husband, and God willing, her grief will be short... Good morning, Dean.”
Schofield, in his mind recalled the photographs of Mukhtar’s associates. The last time he had seen the two men was in Trafalgar Square.”
Schofield had to admit that he failed to recognise the majority of the mourners at Sam’s wake. Pauline was understandably subdued; wandering around as if in a trance, and even ignoring her own son.
Schofield gazed through the patio doors at little David ,who was playing on his swing. The private detective was not surprised by the six-year-old’s apparent ignorance to his father’s death. Although tears had been shed after being notified of his death, David now seemed calm. Schofield had witnessed it many times before, including the result of the death of his own mother. Perhaps delayed shock or a child’s incapability to take in such a drastic event in their life, contributed to their confused mind.
David looked towards his approaching uncle, his face impassive.
“Hello, David. Need a push?” Schofield looked up at the darkening sky. “Looks like rain again... How about we go inside?”
“I don’t want to.”
Schofield continued to push his nephew. “I too lost my mother when I was about your age, David. In time, you will get over your loss. Your father was a good man and one-day I’m sure you’ll do him proud.”
The young boy turned his head towards his uncle. “Did the Scottish man kill my father, Uncle Dean?”
Schofield ceased his pushing. “Scottish man?”
David nodded his head. Schofield stepped in front of David and crouched down. “Tell me about the Scottish man, David.”
David cocked his head to one side. “I heard him talking to my mother.”
“You heard the Scottish man talking to your mother? When?”
“When we came back from the hospital.”
Schofield frowned. “The hospital?”
“What did you hear, David?”
The Scottish man told mother that it would be better if I went inside, but I listened at the door... He told her he would hurt me if she went to the police.”
Schofield hugged his nephew. “Nobody is going to hurt you, David... Does your mother know that you heard them?”
“No. You won’t tell her will you?”
“No, I won’t tell her, David.”
Schofield continued to push David, considering what he had been told. Sam’s father joined them, and after offering his condolences Schofield returned indoors. He watched Pauline returning from the kitchen, carrying a tray of teacups. Being a curious and impatient man, Schofield approached his sister and whispered into her ear. “We have to talk.”
“Would you like a nice cup of tea, Dean?”
Schofield ushered his sister into the deserted parlour. “What’s going on, Pauline?”
Pauline was far away, judging by her nonchalant gaze. “Are you sure you don’t want a cup of tea?”
“Who’s the Scotsman?”
“David told me that some Scotsman threatened to hurt him.”
Pauline smiled, her eyes glassy.
“David? He’s always fibbing. He’s just...”
“Tell me, Pauline... I know something’s wrong; I can sense it.”
Pauline attempted to pass by her brother who barred her way.
“I’ve lost my husband and David’s lost his father. Yes, something’s bloody wrong, Dean.”
The grieving woman sobbed uncontrollably. Schofield hugged his weeping sister.
“What happened, Pauline? Who is this Scotsman?”
She looked up at him with reddened eyes, her lips quivering and her hands trembling. “Not a Scotsman, Dean. Not a Scotsman, but an Irishman.”
“My God... O’Hara?”
Pauline shook her head. “No... I received a telephone call on Sunday morning. I was told that Sam had been involved in a road accident and to make my way to Paddington hospital immediately... When I got there, nobody knew about any accident.”
“Go on,” urged Schofield.
“When we arrived home there was a man waiting at the door. He told me that Sam had killed himself. Of course, I didn’t believe him, but he insisted. He said that he made the hoax call so that he could be alone with Sam in order to talk him out of killing himself. Of course, I’m not stupid and told him to get off my property. It was then that he threatened to kill David if I reported the hoax call or mentioned the meeting with him.”
“Had you ever seen this man before, sis?”
“His face was familiar, but from where I don’t know... He said that Sam was dead and there was nothing I could do about it but get on with my life. Again, he swore that he would kill David if I spoke to the police. He suggested that I phone them and report finding Sam.”
“O’Hara,” mumbled Schofield.
Pauline dabbed her wet eyes with her handkerchief and sobbed. “Does that stupid Irishman really think that Sam would rob him?”
Schofield resisted temptation to tell his sister about their original plan.
“What am I to do, Dean?”
Schofield pondered. “Nothing. Absolutely nothing... There’s no sense in risking David’s life, and I know that these people don’t bluff... Believe me, Pauline when I tell you that Sam’s death will be avenged. O’Hara will get his comeuppance one-day, I swear it.”
Schofield left Primrose Hill that afternoon, more intent than ever to first of all locate the robbers of the three million pounds, and then to execute the killer of his brother in law.