Blood Money (chapters thirty five and thirty six.)
One month had passed since Pauline had made her proposal to O’Hara. She had, over the following weeks withdrew large quantities of money from her account. For obvious reasons, her brother could not accept a cheque or a transfer, and it was for this reason that she had in the boot of her brand new BMW, half a million pounds.
For the last ten minutes, she had not set her eyes on another human being. She followed the confusing, unintelligible signposts of West Wales, guiding her to Dolgoch, Carmarthenshire. She drove slowly, occasionally glancing at the directions that Dean had jotted down.
The sun made a welcome appearance from behind the cluster of clouds, radiating the lush, serene surroundings. She now realised why her brother had opted for the anonymity of this area, a location to suit his purposes.
A large, weather-beaten sign, reading Valley Farm heralded her arrival. She manoeuvred her car across a stone bridge and followed the secluded road towards the farm. The flock of sheep ignored their visitor and grazed peacefully.
The farm was situated in a wooded, picturesque valley where two rivers met. A row of oak, beech and ash trees lined the path on the approach to the farmhouse.
Schofield, on hearing the approach of a vehicle, reached for his shotgun and watched from the safety of the barn hayloft. The BMW came to a halt, and satisfied that his sister was alone, Schofield descended the ladder. He greeted her with a broad smile.
“Have a nice journey?”
Pauline looked like a movie star; her designer sunglasses and smart clothes showing off her new found wealth.
“Is the shotgun necessary?” she moaned, kissing her brother on the cheek.
“Security, sis, security.”
Pauline grimaced when she set her eyes on the shabby farmhouse. “You live in that hovel?”
“It needs a little work, but I got it real cheap.”
The one storey farmhouse was devoid of paint, and overgrown ivy covered its dour walls. The windows were covered in a film of dust and the roof was in serious need of repair.
“A bit of work? That’s an understatement if ever I heard one.”
Schofield leant his weapon against the car, placed his hands on his hips and proudly surveyed his new home. “The old man who lived here accepted two hundred grand. His daughter actually persuaded him to sell and he’s now living with her. Of course, the deal was done confidentially and without paperwork... Sis, here nobody cares who I am. In fact, the nearest neighbour lives two miles away.”
Pauline looked unimpressed. “I bet the daughter was delighted... You’ve been robbed, Dean Schofield.”
“You think so? Granted, it’ll take a bit of work, but it has potential. Look, I even have my own well.”
Pauline cautiously peeked into the abyss. “You drink from this?”
“Of course. I even generate my own electricity. This place is so secluded; no authorities, no nosy tourists... Do you know, this place was once a mansion in the Middle Ages? Minstrels, poets and entertainers used to travel from afar to perform here.”
“Less of the history lesson, Dean, I need a cup of tea.”
Schofield led his guest indoors. The odour of paint and the reek of disinfectant were unpleasant to Pauline’s nostrils. She had to admit that with a bit of work, the interior of the farmhouse indeed did have potential. It was like stepping back in time, the stone fireplace and the stove catching her eye.
“Well, what do you think?”
Pauline nodded. “It’s not a palace, but with a lick of paint, new curtains, new light fittings and furnishings, then perhaps it could be actually habitable.”
She relaxed in a shabby armchair, lit a cigarette and focused on her brother. “You think you can stand all of this isolation, Dean?”
“It suits me just perfect. I’ll live off the land and embrace the lifestyle. Have you noticed, I haven’t even got a TV? This is how I want to live, without interference from the outside world.”
Pauline was unconvinced. “Bullshit. You love attention, Dean, and the bustling lifestyle of London. You don’t have to pretend to me... I have in my boot your share of the money. Okay, live here, but live in luxury.”
Schofield smiled. “You’re looking at the new Dean Schofield; Lord of the manor and soon to be owner of select livestock. Forget those scrawny-looking sheep out there. Soon, this place will be thriving with cattle, select livestock and maybe even a herd of horses. I have everything I want here, sis.”
Pauline waited until her brother had returned with a cup of tea before asking something that had been on her mind for a while. “Dean, when I met with O’Hara, he happened to mention that you had two million pounds of his.”
“Rubbish... I blackmailed Mukhtar and Rasheed out of one million. What happened to their share, I don’t know... Wait a minute. You think that I...”
“No! It’s just playing on my mind... I know that I should now feel happy, but I don’t. I’ve lost Sam, and no matter what you tell me, I know that you’re unhappy. A loner you’re not, Dean... O’Hara’s money; it’s brought nothing but death and misery. It’s as though it’s cursed.”
She gazed at her brother and did not recognise him. His hair was now long and his beard, thick. How he had aged in the last year.
“You sent the message to Manaf?” asked Schofield.
“Yes. He knows nothing about your predicament... Are you sure you want to give him such a large sum of your money?”
Schofield nodded. “I want you to take one hundred thousand pounds out of my share and to set up an account for Manaf. He could do a lot with the money.”
The door flung open, almost coming off its hinges. The man who stood before them was armed; his pistol aimed at Schofield.
“De Vries.” Schofield looked towards his sister.
“She didn't betray you,” uttered the Dutchman. “Let me explain.”
The detective sat on a rickety chair; his weapon still trained on Schofield. “I read about O’Hara’s strange donation to your sister and thought, why? O’Hara obviously knew that Sam was out to fleece him, and no doubt, he knows that you have his money, so why would he donate money to your sister? Then it clicked. It all fell into place. You had to be blackmailing him, but Pauline here wouldn’t have the balls or the know how to do this herself, so I reckoned that you had somehow returned to England.”
“You came here alone?” asked Schofield. “Not usual Interpol procedure is it?”
“Let me finish and all will be revealed,” continued De Vries. “I watched Pauline and placed a tracking device on her car. You see, it wasn’t too difficult finding you.”
“I’m sorry, Dean,” moaned Pauline.
Schofield sighed. “Blackmailing O’Hara was all my idea. Pauline had nothing to do with what went on in America. Let her go. You still have your arrest.”
De Vries laughed out loud. His eyes were wide and unblinking. “You think I care that you blackmailed the Irish twat? A little secret, Schofield; I’m not even bothered if you did murder Peebles. You see, I’ve toiled and sweated blood for Interpol for so many years, and my reward? A pat on the back and a promise of promotion... My intention at the outset of this case was to recover the money before it fell into the hands of Sipah-e-Sahaba, but as time went on, I raised the crossbar. My ambitions now differ.”
“You’ve turned tea leaf,” interrupted Schofield.
De Vries frowned and waved his pistol. “A phrase I’ve never come across, Deano. However, I think we understand one another.”
“Take the money and let Pauline go,” insisted Schofield.
“Don’t! Don’t make demands... Before I tell you my plans for you, please tell me where the money is.”
Pauline ground out her cigarette. “It’s in my bank account.”
“I think not,” countered De Vries. “I’ve watched you make so many trips to the bank lately, and although my patience was wearing thin, I anticipated why you were amassing so much cash. So please tell me where the money is?”
De Vries aimed his weapon at Pauline.
“Wait!” yelled Schofield. “The money’s in the boot of her car.”
“Splendid. And the money that you acquired from Mukhtar and Rasheed?”
“How did you know about that?”
“I’m a fucking detective. If my mathematics is correct, then I presume that the sum was one million pounds. I know it was you who met with them by the East River. What happened, Schofield? Did you and your brother actually plan that robbery? Did Mukhtar and Rasheed betray you, and that was the reason for you being in America?”
“You’re so wrong, De Vries... What I told you in Florida was the truth.”
The detective narrowed his eyes. “So why then would they hand you over such a large sum of money?”
“Work it out for yourself, Sherlock.”
The expression on the face of De Vries changed. “How much is in the boot?”
“Half a million,” said Pauline.
“And the money you procured from Mukhtar and Rasheed?”
“In the cellar,” mumbled Schofield.
De Vries got to his feet. “Okay, lead the way... You first, Pauline.”
“No,” said Schofield.
“What? You’re in no position to argue.”
Schofield looked towards his sister. “I’m realistic enough to know that you have to kill us both... There may be another solution.”
“The million in the cellar is yours. Leave the money in the boot and you have no reason to kill us. Besides, I’m certain that you’re no cold-blooded killer.”
De Vries pondered. “And what’s to stop you from reporting me, once I’ve gone?”
“Get real, De Vries. I’m not about to hand myself in now am I, and besides, you now know where I live.”
The detective nodded. “Okay, I agree... Lead the way, Pauline.”
She hesitated; her fear of entering the claustrophobic crypt unsettling her.
Schofield acknowledged his sister’s fear and directed her towards the cellar. The Englishman flicked the switch and they descended the steep steps, the stale odour of dampness unpleasant.
“Okay,” said De Vries, his pistol pointed at the midriff of Schofield. “So where’s the money?”
Schofield motioned with his eyes towards the large barrel that was standing in the corner.
“Do me the pleasure,” insisted De Vries.
Schofield removed the lid of the barrel and reached inside. He removed a large wad of notes and tossed it in the direction of his abductor.
“More,” grinned the greedy detective.
Schofield continuously flung wad after wad of the money towards the hysterical De Vries.
Content that De Vries was distracted, Schofield gripped the sawn-off shotgun that was concealed in the barrel and swiftly directed his aim at the Dutchman.
Pauline screamed, amid the deafening explosion, watching the body of De Vries as it slammed with great force against the wall of the cellar, depositing blood and entrails all around.
Schofield stooped over the bloody body, but already knew that the detective was dead. The trembling Pauline approached her brother and proceeded to beat at his chest with her fists.
“Why? Why, Dean?”
Schofield hugged her. “I had no choice. Don’t you see? There’s no way we were going to leave this cellar alive.”
She sobbed and pointed at the shotgun.
“Precautions, sis. I have firearms hidden all around the farmhouse. You never can be too sure can you?”
Two days after returning from Wales, Pauline was still suffering. She had been unable to sleep and her nervousness was perceptible, as she viewed every stranger as a potential policeman.
Schofield had tried to reassure her that it was hardly likely that De Vries would have confided in his colleagues about his plans to travel to Wales, but she was unsure. She was now an accessory to murder, and her fear of imprisonment stemmed from an incident when she was a child. Pauline had unintentionally separated from her friends and had managed to accidentally lock herself in a derelict warehouse. That she was found within six hours of going missing did not lessen her phobia of enclosed spaces.
David exited his mother’s car and sprinted towards their home, armed with two school library books. Pauline scurried after her son and unlocked the front door. The reek of expensive aftershave was alien to the household and instinctively, she knew that her home had been violated.
“David!” she shouted. It was too late.
The boy cocked his head to one side, wondering who the two visitors were.
Pauline scowled at Morris O’Hara, who was seated in Sam’s favourite armchair. His companion, who she did not recognise was relaxing on the sofa, sucking on a lollypop.
“Hello, Pauline,” droned O’Hara. “And this must be little David.”
Pauline placed a protective arm around her child. “How did you get in here?”
“It wasn’t difficult. I thought that with your newly acquired wealth, you would have secured your home more adequately.”
Pauline snarled. “I left the alarm on. How did...”
“Calm down, Pauline and take a seat... My, you look so tired. Don’t you think so, Terry?”
Keenan nodded and addressed the boy. “Would you like a lollypop, little one?”
David melted into his mother’s embrace.
The killer persisted. “What’s that you’re reading? The Wind in the Willows? That’s one of my favourites.”
O’Hara interrupted. “It appears that you’ve been telling me fibs, Pauline.”
“What are you talking about?”
The Irishman raised his voice and his stare was hostile. “There was never ever a letter left with your solicitor was there?”
“How absurd. Of course there was.”
“And you deposited it with Hector and Bullard?” continued O’Hara.
Pauline nodded frantically. “Haven’t I already told you that?”
O’Hara paced towards her and reached out for David. He wrestled the child from her grasp and returned to the armchair. He perched the frightened child on his knee. “Where is your brother?”
Pauline held her head and wept, her long brown locks partly concealing her face. “Please don’t hurt David.”
Again, I’ll ask. Where is Dean?”
“D...Dean? How should I know? I paid him his share of the money and he left.”
O’Hara ran his stubby fingers through the hair of the child. “You dare to fucking blackmail me, telling me some cock and bull story about a none-existent letter. You’re making me so angry, woman.”
David was now crying and struggling to reach his mother. She stepped forward and Keenan intervened. “Back off, lady.”
O’Hara pulled fiercely on David’s hair, causing him to scream out in pain.
“Mr O’Hara!” protested Keenan.
“Are you going soft, Terry? Don’t you ever dare to challenge me with your objections... Now, Pauline, you have a decision to make. Your son or your brother? It‘s your choice.”
Pauline wept openly. “W...What if I was to return your money to you?”
O’Hara chuckled to himself. “Return my money? My dear, I will take my money back regardless, but you misunderstand me. Perhaps it’s because you’re a woman that you fail to grasp the concept of a man’s pride... You and your brother fucked with me, and not even the Brit soldiers could attract so much of my hatred as I have for you... Have you reached your decision or do I have to pull every hair from your brat’s head?”
Pauline put her hands together in prayer. “I’m begging you, Mr O’Hara; I don’t know where Dean is.”
The angry Irishman reached into his pocket for a penknife and held the serrated blade against David’s tiny throat.
“No!” yelled Keenan, advancing towards his employer.
“I’ll tell you where Dean is!” screamed Pauline.
O’Hara folded the penknife and Keenan backed off.
“First of all, I need to know what you’re going to do?” sobbed Pauline.
“Isn’t it obvious? I’m going to kill your brother and take back my money.”
O’Hara swivelled his eyes towards the ceiling. “Of course, I will want my money back, and then shall we say, I’m willing to offer you a pardon... Listen, I love children and what happened just now could have been avoided with your cooperation. Take me to your brother and you have my word that you and your son are free to go.”
“God forgive me,” whispered Pauline.
Keenan crouched down and whispered into the ear of his boss. “Let me deal with Schofield, Mr O’Hara. Never before have you wished to witness an execution.”
The bottom lip of O’Hara trembled erratically. “This is personal, Terry. Nobody has ever dared to blackmail me before and I want to pull the fucking trigger myself.”
O’Hara pointed to Keenan’s tattoo. “Do you even remember what that stands for? We succumbed to a bunch of bumbling, geriatric politicians, but the warrior spirit inside us still burns fiercely... Now, Pauline, you will show us where your brother is.”