Chapter Three of Nick Scott’s novel Temple’s Job. The story so far: a convicted criminal, a private investigator, a ghastly murder, and an improbable professional partnership in post-quake Christchurch.
This week Joe Wigram and Ian Temple seek information: Ian and Joe are at the offices of Bulldog Construction (landlord of the potential murder suspect Dr Alvin Taylor) with its Manager Robert Green. Searching for information the behaviours of Ian and Joe become nasty…
“Listen carefully to me,” said Ian “You don’t look like the kind of man who exercises much. I’m willing to bet that you’ve never had a broken leg?” Robert Green muttered “I just give orders.”
“Well,” continued Ian (picking up a steel pipe from the shelf behind him and hitting it against his palm), “I can fix that that for you. So here’s a new experience for you, tell us the truth.” Ian glanced sideways at Joe expecting a vigorous shake of the head. Instead he nodded and mouthed the words “go for it.”
“Now listen carefully, you might just learn something” Ian began to recite another of his favourite poems.
Half a league, half a league,
half a league onwards
All in the valley of death rode the six hundred
“Pass me your gun” Ian whispered. With a slow and deliberate motion Joe passed the handgun to him. Green would have to be stupid not to understand how serious the situation had become. Ian pointed the gun at him and continued:-
Cannon to the left of them
Cannon to the right of then
Cannon in front of them.
Volleyed and thundered
Stormed at with shot and shell.
Boldly they rode and well
Into the jaws of death
Into the mouth of hell.
“Do you know why the light brigade failed? They were listening to the wrong people. You’re listening to a voice that is that is telling you to stay quiet. A voice from someone else. Or you think it’s common sense. You’ve a chance now to say “no” to that voice and to tell us what you know”. Ian levelled the gun directly at Green.
“I don’t believe you’re that crazy” Green said but there was panic in his voice.
“Oh yes he is” said Joe. His voice was disappointed and he sighed as if discussing a troubled child.
“How do I know that the gun is even lo..” Ian had expected this question. He fired a shot over Green’s shoulder shattering the window. He aimed the gun at Green’s chest. “What about my leg?” “I can break it when you’re dead” Tell us what was in Taylor’s office. Ian’s voice was calm, a lecturer’s voice. “Would you like it in your head or your chest? You will suffer less if I shoot you in the head.”
“Ok, Ok”, said Green, tripping over his words as he spurted them out. “I was running another business from there, some people may have considered it to be illegal.”
“More details please” Joe said his voice that of the soft and sensible “good cop”.
“I was selling drugs from there and all my records were in there. “Angela was a personal courier.” “She knew too much, so you killed her? “No,no, not me. She was such a nice girl.”
“You have copies of these records?” “Yes, of course, I can’t stand having everything on a computer.”
“A real old-fashioned guy, aren’t you. Anyone who keeps computer records needs to have hard copies of everything.” “I’m not stupid!” said Green “Where are they?” Ian asked. “On the moon” “You’d better tell us, you’re not exactly in a position of strength” “I know that, but he is”.
The door in the far end of the room opened and the most intimidating man that Ian had seen since prison strode into the room. “Ha!” said Green “I pressed the panic button”. “Put your hand on the table, NOW” said Joe The bad cop suddenly turn bad., He picked up the steel pipe and brought it down with a loud crack on Green’s hand.
“That’ll take a while to heal, said Ian in a calm, almost caring voice as Green screamed. “It happened to me in prison.” “You can’t press buttons with broken fingers”. “You’re forgetting that I don’t need to do it again”
“Oh yes” Ian said “ I forgot the brute behind me”. Taking the gun from his pocket he shot the man twice in the stomach. His body fell backwards and hit the floor. His head hit the base of the door. Green’s thug was not completely dead but soon would be.
A poetic eulogy came to Ian’s mind. Not a favourite poet, but one his students had studied. He recited:
The glories of our blood and state are shadows, not substantial things,
There is no amour against fate,
Death lays his icy hand on Kings.
O.K, so this thug was no king but Ian loved to recite poetry. He had the voice for it – low and resonant. There had been some some students in his university classes that were there because they loved to hear his voice. Even some of the prisoners had requested poetry readings.
Green was now beyond being just a worried man. He ran toward the window. Joe tripped him and looked down at him with a sense of pity. “You have one hope, Green. You have business records and we need them.” “Let me guess, said Robert Green in a tired voice, You intend to tear this office apart, until you find them.” “Well, that was the plan. Ian could unleash some of his dark side on you”.
Green was at the stage he’d agree with anything. “OK, you two psychopaths , these keys open everything in this office. I’ll leave them on the desk if you get out of here and never return.” Looking around Ian realised the amount of locked cabinets and file drawers in the room. Joe was was about to correct Greens’ statement by saying that he was just the psycohpaths’ minder, but he grabbed the keys. “Why did you break his hand?” asked Ian.
“I understand that you have a girlfriend, Joe” said Green with sense of triumph at having found Joes’ potential weakness. “If you’re looking for a killer , at some stage she’ll become a target herself.”
Joe thought back to the crime scene photo, with the butchered body, and he shuddered. He reached for the cell phone in his pocket and thought that the call he was about to make was one of the worst that a man could make.
to be continued…..
Nick Scott Nick Scott has a B.A from The University of Waikato where he studied film under Sam Edwards. Nick has retained a keen interest in cinema. He studied Te Reo Maori at Te Wananga O Aotearoa part-time for 3 years and then from 2014 to 2016 Nick collaborated in writing “The Traveller’s guide to Maori Place Names”. Nick is a regular Film Reviewer on ARTbop.
You can read Nick’s latest film review The Personal History of David Copperfield. Nick has been privileged to be provided with some cinema tickets by the Rialto Cinema, Tauranga.
And the recently published content on ARTbop: Part II Busted: Auckland & Black Asterisk Rosemary’s trip to Auckland to visit Ponsonby gallery Black Asterisk; and Nick Scott’s review of The Personal History of David Copperfield; The Sunday Series and the work of Hundertwasser (and don’t miss the archives of The Sunday Series).
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