Chapter Twenty Six

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I had not had a balls-out, full-blown hangover for several years.

In truth, I didn't drink very regularly and I'm not the kind of guy who nips down the pub every night for a couple of pints after dinner. Consequently, when I do have a few too many, I tend to be well aware of it the following morning.

This morning in particular was characterised by a conglomeration of a thumping head, churning stomach and that pervasive feeling of weakness throughout my limbs. I lay in my bed with my eyes screwed tight for several hours, offering the occasional whimper, or groan, up to the fresh morning air of the hayloft.

Around ten, I heard the crunch and skid of Ty's Land Rover pulling-up outside. I sat up a little too swiftly and immediately regretted it, as a wave of nausea swept over me. Ty leaned on the rover's horn and a bolt of pain exploded in my head. I replied with a loud stream of cursing; mostly directed at his parentage.

Moments later, the dark mop of his hair poked over the top of the hayloft, a broad grin on his face.

"Morning!" he shouted unnecessarily cheerfully. "How are we feeling today?"

"Hunky-Fucking-Dory," I replied. Ask a stupid question...

"Well, I guarantee that I can fix your hangover right up. get your arse out of bed and let's go to work." His dark hair disappeared back down the hayloft ladder.

"Where's Martha?" I asked him.

"I ran her into town earlier. I just got back. Now go get a shower." He replied from out of sight. I crawled over to the edge of the hayloft and peered down at him.

"Shoot me now!" I moaned just as Ty was leaving the barn. He turned and flashed a smile at me.

"I wouldn't waste the bullet mate, another night like that and your liver will be climbing up out of your throat and looking for a new home."

I was standing in the shower, letting the icy water sting the more painful parts of my naked body, when I heard my mobile ringing in the pocket of my trousers that were hanging on a nail.

At first, I was inclined to ignore it and let the answerphone get it, but then the thought occurred to me that it might be Martha. I leaned out of the cow stall and fumbled with my pocket, trying not to get the material too wet. Cold water and suds ran off my torso and pooled at my feet. I finally withdrew the phone and hit the green button.

"Satchmo..." It was Walker and the tone of his voice made me forget the pain in my head. It was something I had never heard before. Walker was scared.

"Walker? Is that you?" I asked, smoothing water and soap from my eyes.

"Listen to me Turner; whatever the fuck you have got into, I don't want any more phone calls from you. You don't exist, you're nobody to me capiche?" 

Normally I would have smirked at his use of the movie Mafioso language, but listening to him now just made my blood run cold.

Walker spent his working life working with scum, and I strongly suspect that a good deal of his private life was taken up in similar company. In short, he dealt with the dregs of society; drug dealers, child beaters, petty criminals, bail skippers, vandals and gang members. He received death threats on a weekly basis and shrugged it off with the slimy confidence of a man with the power of the law at his back and an illegal WWII Polish service revolver in his desk drawer.

"Walker, what in God's name has got into you?" I asked, a little alarmed that something had rattled him so deeply that I could hear it so clearly in his voice.

"OK Turner. I just received a visit from some very large and persuasive men. They were asking me a lot of questions, mostly about you. Let me just say that I was inclined to answer all of their questions, in fact I would have sucked them both off if they had asked me too," he said.

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