I moved down the final steps of the staircase and went across to him.
“Hello Lord Bixby. I’m with Russian Meerkats Life Insurance. I’m here about a fraudulent sudden death claim.”
His eyes showed that he didn’t understand what I was saying to him. And he opened his mouth. Perhaps to ask for some explanation. But I quickly closed it for him.
By making a fist of my good hand and punching him hard in his surprised face.
Ch 47 – Whatever happened to Boris?
Vanessa let out a small scream. Shocked at the violence that had occurred in front of her. Lord Bixby had fallen backwards against her when I hit him. He slumped down and she grabbed his velour top. Holding him as the fabric stretched. Sir Alan took a step towards me. Reacting to the blow I’d given Bixby. He was a big man and I seemed to remember reading he had a Full Blue as he had Boxed for his university.
But that might be one of the very many false stories that he had circulated about himself, when he was creating his image.
He looked like he might know his business though. So I pointed the pistol at him.
He might not have seen it when I came down the stairs. I’d come down pretty quickly. And lamped Bixby one. So I twisted my wrist about so he’d get a good look at it from some different angles. Know it was a handgun. He stopped moving and stood still in the hallway. His eyes looking from me to her.
Lord Bixby was slipping. She couldn’t take his weight and had only succeeded in slowing his drop to the floor. He sank down her dress, moaning slightly, it seemed.
Though I couldn’t hear over the sound of the still blaring alarm from her security safe. He ended up sitting on his arse on the marble. Looking even more surprised than he had when I had hit him.
There was just a little trickle of blood. I hadn’t hit him very hard. It had been an anger punch and I’d pulled it at the last second. Just bashing his gums. But he hadn’t been expecting it and it had caught him on the side of his face. He was looking a little dazed.
That was OK. Some water would sort him out.
Vanessa was bent over, looking into Marmon’s eyes. Her hands left his top and moved around in front of him. She put them each side of his face to examine him.
Looking carefully into his semi glazed eyes. I reached out and pulled on the purple lace of her sleeve so she would look at me.
“Why did you do that?” she shouthed above the noise. Shocked and angry. “He’s a sick man. He has a condition!”
Not one that I’d seen I thought.
Nothing Abnormal Detected.
I put my mouth against her ear. I yelled what I wanted her to do.
“Go upstairs and put your code into the digi-pad in your bedroom. And your retina and fingerprint scan. That will shut off the alarm. Do it now. If you aren’t back down here in ten seconds, I will shoot them both.”
She looked at me with wide eyes. Clearly appalled. The fright rising in her eyes. She saw the thin trickle of blood from Bixby’s jaw. He must have felt it too as he began dabbing at it with the back of his hand. She realised I meant it. And if I had actually had two bullets in this gun, I just might have.
She raced off up the stairs, like a frightened woodland creature scenting smoke.
“Get him up,” I instructed Alan. He might not have understood the words over the deafening bells, but the jerky upward motioning of the Beretta was clear. Sir Alan went across to Lord Bixby and helped him regain his feet. He stood beside Stuart, a little unsteadily. Propped up by the big man.
The alarm shut off and all was quiet, except for the after effects of its ringing in our ears.
Vanessa might have used a duress alert code to silence it. One that would suppress the alarm but still inform the monitoring service that there were intruders. She might have another pistol in her bedroom that I didn’t know about. Might come down shooting. If she did it would be a quick gunfight. I had no ammo for mine.
But I didn’t think she would do either. She had looked genuinely frightened rushing up the stairs. Frightened from my unexpected appearance in her home. The sudden outbreak of violence. Fearful of what would happen to her husband if she didn’t comply.
“Come back here, now! Quickly,” I called out over my shoulder in the general upstairs direction. I didn’t want to take my eyes off Bixby and Stewart. I waited until I heard her heels on the steps coming down and moved myself in front of the main door so they would all be in my field of vision.
“It’s not what you think,” Sir Alan said to me. He had recognised me by now. I could tell when his eyes had suddenly popped in surprise.
“It never is.” I said back.
I’d been in police work for ten years or more. And a P.I. for another five. It was never what I thought it was. From the bound hands of the children on the dirty mattress. To the knickers on the bedpost of the motel. To the accountant stuffing the cash into a briefcase. To the mound of white powder and coin bags. It was always Not what you think.
“Who else is in the house?” I asked Vanessa.
“No one,” She answered. A slight tremor in her voice. I thought that was true.
Anyone else would have appeared by now to see what the alarm was all about. And anyone else who was here would have had to have seen the supposedly deceased Lord Bixby. And he wouldn’t have wanted that.
“Let’s all move into the living room,” I told them. “Take Bixby in there and sit him down. Get him a tissue or something for his face. Vanessa, get drinks for everyone.
We are all going to have a little chat. Get what people like. And get them very, very quickly.”
Vanessa moved off without protest. Not getting angry at being singled out to do ‘feminine things.’ Knowing I needed to keep Sir Alan in sight. He was the physical danger. She was just a danger. She’d do something if she could. But I thought she would wait and see what the others did first.
“Bring me a beer. Don’t open it. Just a bottle and an opener,” I called after her into the kitchen. Suddenly mindful she might have some drug she could use. Some medication that would effect me.
We all moved in to the living room. The one with the silver sofas and the very woke Frack-Free plate on the gas fireplace. There was a smaller, closer together sofa, of a fine silver-grey leather, in one corner of the huge room. We all sat down over there.
Sir Alan and Marmon on the long sofa. Me on a single chair.
Vanessa soon came back in with a tray. Two bottles of wine and four glasses. A small jug of water. A bottle of beer. She put it all on a side table and handed a wad of kitchen towel to Lord Bixby, who thanked her. He dabbed again at his lips, but the bleeding had stopped. I hadn’t whacked him as hard as I should have. It was more for effect. So they would know I was serious.
I took the bottle of beer and opened it a little awkwardly with the bottle opener, as I had a Beretta in my other hand. And the bottle opener hand was the one that didn’t work very well. On account of being shot.
I settled back into the not as comfy as it looked chair and pointed back in the general direction of the three of them.
Vanessa sat on the other sofa. Away from the other two.
“What isn’t what I thought?” I asked. Mainly to Sir Alan. “That the late Lord Marmon-Herrington Bixby; the man everyone believes I was somehow involved in murdering, is in actual fact quite alive and quite well? That the missing, believed abducted, Lord Bixby, is in fact padding about in his gym clothes, in the home of the very person who hired me to search for him?”
I looked at Vanessa. She just looked back, nervously. Her bright nails glinting in the lamp light. Biting her bottom lip a little. A blonde curl fell across her cheek.
I looked over at Sir Alan and Lord Bixby, and continued to ask of them,
“In the company of one of the two men, who told me they were highly concerned he might have been abducted, or worse. By some far right fantasy revenge group, called The Sons of Tommy.”
None of them spoke.
“How is any of this, “Not what I think?” I asked.
Still no one said anything. So I helped them.
“I’m going to want the story. The real story. Right now. Or I’m going to start shooting.” I looked over to Marmon. Looked directly into his eyes.
“Starting with you, Lord Bixby.”
“Oh my!” Bixby exclaimed, his voice high and light. I guess the punch had frightened him.
“He won’t shoot you, Marmon,” soothed Sir Alan while looking over to me.
“Malone’s just bluffing.”
“Am I?” I asked back.
“Yes. You were a Detective for the Department.. You wouldn’t kill him.”
“I was an Inspector,” I corrected him. “And why not? When I last watched the news, he was already dead.”
That stopped him. Stopped all of them for a second as they thought about that. I let it sink in. Let them see just how much trouble they were in.
Heck! How much trouble we were all in.
I wasn’t any safer than they were. Sitting in the Bixby home, holding three people hostage with an unloaded pistol. There could be dozens of alarm switches about the house. The monitoring stations might be watching us all now. The security might already be on their way.
They could rush me and overpower me. Vanessa could have come back from the kitchen with a tray of sandwiches and a carving knife. A Le Creuset pot would crack my skull as well as any mallet.
The Bixby’s might keep a baseball bat handy by the back door, to deal with any foxes, the way Remainers like to do. She might have appeared with an AR-15 rifle they kept hidden in the broom cupboard to deter the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I didn’t know much more about this place than the general layout of the rooms.
“You want to tell me your tale, Sir Alan?” I said. Switching targets to him. “I assume you are the mastermind behind whatever this thing is.”
“I ..Well..I..look…Joe, may I have a drink?” He asked.
“Sure,” I said. “Help yourself. Pour one for the others too.”
He stood up. His tall frame towering over us. I should have kept him seated.
“May I smoke?” Vanessa asked me. Her voice small, like a child’s in a room full of strangers. “The vapes are in a box on the sideboard.”
I saw a thin metal box on the glass topped cabinet. Silver. With some family crest on the lid. Possibly the Bixby’s own. It was like an old fashioned cigarette box, but a little bit deeper. She leaned to it and flipped it open. There were vape juice bottles and batteries and electronic cigarette tubes in there.
“Help yourself,” I said.
I was quite enjoying this little bit of power. The Elite asking Me if They could do such and such. Have a smoke or go to the bathroom. I hadn’t felt this much of a seismic shift since the 24th June, 2016. When the political plates shifted just a fraction.
Vanessa took an E-cig and began to prepare it. Sir Alan had poured a white wine for Bixby and red for Vanessa and he handed them to each. He put the bottle back on the side console. Careful to use the silver plated coaster. He appeared more worried about wine ring stains than getting shot. He had recovered much of his poise, just in the everyday act of pouring drinks. He looked a lot less worried than he had when I’d thumped Bixby.
He was a fiercely intelligent man. Had been Tony Blair’s spin doctor. He was one of the current chief architects of the entire continuity Remain-Rejoin movement. He was said to have been behind half a dozen of the best Remainer plots.
The one to hold the third referendum.
The one to get MP’s salaries linked to MEP’s salaries. So they would get an immediate 50% increase in pay if the UK just remained within ‘The orbit mechanism’ of the EU. That was the clever trick that broke the Johnson united front. He even used EU gold to pay for it.
It was him who used the Scottish courts to injunct the government’s mandated by law, Brexit deadline. Six times!
He was even said to have been heavily involved in the ‘Russian Strippers Incident.’ The one that had ended the Johnson premiership. Hilariously as it turned out.
A flustered Boris Johnson had been door-stopped leaving a young ladies apartment in Mayfair, by a trench coat wearing Andrew Marr. Dressed as if he were a master sleuth, complete with floppy hat and turned up collar, the BBC man pounced.
What really made Marr famous was as the hapless Prime Minister protested his innocence and tried to motion his security, that he had instructed to wait behind, to now quickly come to his aid, he pulled a handkerchief to dab his face.
The bright lights of Marr’s camera crew both fuelled and captured the outbreak of nervous sweat under the Prime Minster’s thinning blonde mop. And caught, on live TV, was the moment of terrible shock when Boris realised he was patting his brow with a pair of red and black, lace, Lovehoney’s couture range, crotchless panties. The vent had caught around his ear, tugging it. And making it clear to everyone who had ever seen a pair of these knickers, just what they were.
“What is that, Prime Minister?” asked a bewildered Marr. In his strange, strangulated vowels. “What is that? Hanging from your ear?”
The bumbling Prime Minister took them from his face and stared at them, aghast.
Before flinging them from his hands, towards his racing security detail. Recovering just enough poise to unconvincingly explain to Marr,
“Oh those…those …are…mine..”
And then being quickly, bundled away.
Marr finally had his revenge for all those times he had been snubbed.
Sir Alan was as clever as he was devious. As charming as he was ruthless. He was a very dangerous opponent. If I didn’t want to end up like those same panties, that had disappeared without trace that same evening, despite huge rewards offered by The Sun and The Financial Times, I would have to take great care.
So we all sipped our drinks. And stared at each other and said nothing.
Until I decided that seeing as I had the gun, I should probably lead the discussion.
So I said to Sir Alan, ”I’ll give you ten seconds to begin telling me everything you know, and if you don’t, I’ll kill you all.”
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file