Vanessa studied him now. Really looked at him. Possibly seeing him for the first time, in the way that I always had. As a devious words twister. An imp, than could spin straw into gold. In exchange for her first born. Guess my name!
“No,” She told him. “It just isn’t credible. The other plans. They could have worked.
But this wouldn’t. It’s not..convincing.”
“That’s because he only just made it up,” I explained to her…“He never had a plan to bring Lord Bixby back into society. As he was never intending to have too. I told you before. Marmon will never leave this house alive.”
Ch 53 – How to win friends and influence people.
Vanessa looked at me for what seemed a long while. Then at him. She seemed to be uncertain. The fear and realisation that her husband, Lord Bixby, might be in real danger was settling over her.
She hadn’t yet figured out the half of it. She was in just as much danger as he was.
She knew he was alive. Knew about the entire plan to pretend a top ReJoiner had been murdered by the forces of Leave-EU.
If Lord Bixby suddenly wasn’t around any more, she probably wouldn’t be either.
Sir Alan sensed he was losing. So he made his final pitch and piled in.
“Vanessa! Joe! Think about it! No one will care. Whatever the story. No one will be interested. As soon as Lord Bixby is found alive, and the tale is told, the news will move on. It always does. And if it doesn’t, I will move it on.”
He rested an arm on his knee. And leaned in to confide in us.
“Do you know, Joe, just how many dark secrets I have in my files? I have hundreds.
Fat and ugly, paedo politicians! Gambling debts the size of the GDP of Georgia, Mayors! Expenses stealing government officials. Extra marital affair MPs. Celebrity, ethical, vegans with shares in abattoirs? BBC ex-children’s TV presenters, homoerotic gimp parlours? Five in a bed vagina painting with those, oh–so-many, now ohso-former, news-reading women?
I can drop those stories at any time. I can move any story on. I have before. I will again. You know I can. And I would. So the Marmon story isn’t watertight? So what?
It doesn’t need to be.”
He took a breath. “You know my power. And so does he.” He nodded at me as he said the last bit. Not liking me any more. No longer trying to be my buddy. Not one bit.
“The police won’t believe the story,” I told Sir Alan.
Actually they might. They were very politically aware. Would do whatever they thought their political masters would like them to do.
I wouldn’t. But if it wasn’t assigned to me to look into, would I care? Would I ask around and do a little digging. Not likely. I would have a hundred other cases to deal with.
“The police, Joe, are very busy. They will be surprised to find Marmon alive. Will have to explain how that could have happened. The Press will want answers. As will the government. But I would have made it simple for them.”
Vanessa thought about it for quite a while. Bixby was still silent. He was humming something to himself. Sounded a little like ‘When I fall in love.’
“I..I..think.” She sighed. Not really sure what she thought now. She was bright and insightful. But she was Remain. She wanted Sir Alan to be telling the truth. She wanted to believe in him and not in Joe. She wanted to be on the side of Good. Not Evil.
“Stuart,” I shook my head in the negative as I spoke. “There is no way that anyone is going to fall for that coincidence led load of horseshit. No way.”
But I could see Vanessa was thinking it over. She nodded to herself. As if she had concluded that it could work. She wasn’t realising that the world’s foremost liar was telling her a tale.
“It would work, Joe,” Sir Alan said. Back on the first names. “Would work just fine.
Who would object? All the police have is a mystery body, unidentified. The man they thought was dead, Marmon-Herrington Bixby, turns out to be very alive. And not related. In any way, to the dead man at all. So that’s the end of it.”
“What about me? What happens to me?” I asked him.
“Nothing happens to you, Joe. You were a suspect. Because of the Tommy letter and the tip off. And your Leave credentials. And your prints at the scene. And so on. But that can all be straightened out.
Lord Bixby is alive. Your prints in the cellar are because you heard a noise. That’s all. Heard a noise and went to check. And unfortunately a police raid, unrelated, caused you to flee the building. That’s all.
Not wishing to be rude, Joe. But no one cares even remotely, about you. Its Marmon they care about. And if he is fine. Then the story is over.”
“It’s Bullshit, Sir Alan.” I told him. Because it was. “It’s obvious deception. The coincidences are too incredible to be believable. You know it wouldn’t work. And under questioning, Marmon would slip up. And it would all come out. You know it would.”
“Not at all. He would just say he had suffered trauma. Shock. Loss of memory. He already has his Condition on record.”
“I’d like some more wine,” Said Lord Bixby suddenly. Looking bright and happy.
“Red this time. Red. Like the Labour rose.”
He hadn’t said very much since we’d all sat down. Something was very wrong with him. Surely not just from when I’d punched him. I should ask them what this Condition was. He wasn’t behaving normally.
Vanessa ignored her husband and drew on her e-cig. After a while she finally spoke through the sweet cloud.
“I suppose it might have worked. Probably. No one would really care what happened once Marmon was found, would they, Joe?”
“Of course they wouldn’t!” beamed Sir Alan. Now massively relieved he had her back onside.
“Couldn’t give a stuff. And! Vanessa, we would use our people. Our Remain Judges. Our Rejoiner police. Like Chief Inspector Flittock. Our ReJoin newspapers.
Our ReJoin European allies.
All aiding us. All shutting down the aspects we want shut down. And playing on the ones we want opened up. You know how the BBC works! They won’t outright lie.
But they will, quite simply, not mention a story at all. The disappearance of Lord Bixby would be a huge story today. And forgotten completely by next week. Memory
He turned his big smile onto me. Wanting to give me some carrot so I would behave.
“And you, Joe. You would be rewarded. Lady Bixby would make a very generous settlement for your trouble. You’d have a little bit of notoriety. Your unplanned injuries. The police now owe you for your experience at their hands. You are going to be in receipt of some very large compensation, Mr Malone. It won’t be contested. I can see to that. Your office will be refurbished to a very high standard. Tax free. Or moved, if you so desire. To a more..uhh..upmarket location. I told you Joe. We are all going to come out of this as winners!”
He really was very good. Very persuasive. Utterly believable. I looked at Vanessa, She seemed to be taken in completely. But maybe not quite. Because she asked,
“I can see that working to a point. But..How did the compactor get into the basement? Wouldn’t someone want to know?”
She was smart. It was a good question to ask. I’m going to bet there is a receipt for it in my office. Ordered by me or by Dacia. Payment and contract in my name. Now in the police files for the murder case.
“And.. Also..” She said softly. Suddenly thinking of some other inconsistency.
“What about the fact that….”
But she didn’t finish. A buzzer sounded. Then quickly shut off. Then buzzed again.
A voice said “Hello? Is?..Is anybody there? Hello?”
The voice sounded familiar. I had a quick look over my shoulder. The sound was coming from the Hallway. It was the speaker by the door. The buzz had been for the gate. Someone was pressing the button on the gate entrance intercom. The voice came through the speaker again.
“Lady Bixby? This is Chief Inspector Flittock. Of the Metropolitan police. Would you open this gate please. I would like to come in and have a word with you.”
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file