Chapter Six

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It was two days later. I had received several phone calls from Walker Pelc, he was demanding the money I owed him for the work on the Edge case and threatening a slow and bloody death if I did not cough up.

It was standard technique for Walker and after he had vented his spleen on the phone several times he would add the cost to the notional tab that we had running between us.

In practice I did favours for him; chasing down leads for his cases or giving him some juicy gossip to titillate his prodigious darker side, all of which carried a charge. We tended to threaten each other periodically, but settle for the fact that in the long run we were probably quits.

I had a very impressive forehead; I looked as if some mad surgeon had sewn a large purple egg under the skin. A vicious raised welt ran across the swelling like a fattened earth worm. The lump had a life of its own; it throbbed and pulsed with all the menace of the eerie meteorite at the bottom of a B movie crater.

Bizarrely, it had got me an abnormal amount of attention from Priya. It seemed to have awoken a maternal instinct buried deep within her that had been previously so well hidden as to belie its very existence.

She had cooed and fussed over me a little, she even brought me a bag of frozen peas last night which provided me an interesting dilemma. On one hand I had not wanted to shun her peas recognising them to be the same bag that I had held to my face some days before, on the other hand the excruciating agony I underwent when frozen vegetable met bump felt like someone pushing rusty nails into my eyes.

I manfully took the pain for about five minutes until I thought I might repeat the infamous scene from Scanners, and then surreptitiously moved the bag out of sight.

Life in the office had gone from bad to worse.

Joan steadfastly refused to believe that I had found Tyrone Edge and would not release another file to me. I felt like the Yeoman brothers were using this to plot something. I sat and stewed in my cubby-hole; drinking a lot of water and completing precisely four crossword clues.

I had found an old framed picture of my sister Mary and busied myself with hanging it. She had been a beautiful woman, with my mother's soft eyes and wavy hair, but no matter how much I looked at the photo I couldn't shake the image of her lying in the mortuary. Her eyes in the photo gazed at me now, full of sadness at the cock-up I was rapidly making of my father's business, and the backwater my life had drifted into.

It was a little after noon when I first heard it. It was a noise I had never heard before; a horrifying rattling, whooping neigh.

I peered around my door to see the unbelievable sight of Joan laughing. It wasn't a lilting tinkle of a laugh, more like the sound of offal gurgling down the slaughterhouse drain. Strangely, despite the hideous noise she was emitting, Joan was completely transformed. The act of smiling took thirty years off her and I saw in her a little of the woman my father had.

Standing loosely in front of her desk was a tall, clean-shaven and smiling Tyrone Edge.

"Ah, Satchmo!" Joan cried, tears running from the corners of her eyes "Mr. Edge was just telling me about his heroic rescuing of you."

"Really, how charming." I was pleased to be vindicated by the arrival of Edge, but a little ill-at-ease at the manner of his coming. "Perhaps you'd like to come through to my office, Mr. Edge."

"Of course." He flashed Joan a smile and strode into my 'office'. To his credit he didn't so much as blink at the state of the shit-hole. I obviously hadn't used my enforced free time to tidy anything. In fact I had added to the mess with recent copies of the Mail, Independent, Times, Economist and Private Eye, articles from all of which I had clipped and strewn around the few available flat surfaces.

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