Chapter 30 – Goodbye, Mark Edge
In April Edge was discharged from the hospital in Faro and referred to a local hospital for ongoing physiotherapy. He made a remarkable recovery due to his fitness, determination and cussedness, but more importantly with the love and support of Bia Vargas. But his progress was not as quick and complete as he would have liked and he was on occasions sharp and bad tempered.
He could not walk far to begin with and there was a general weakness in his left hand side. The physio slowly improved his strength as did swimming, much as he found it tedious, and boring. Despite the wetsuit he seemed to be a jellyfish magnet and his hair was bleached a light grey by the salt water and the sun.
His artistic flair seemed to have left him, something that Edge bitterly regretted and although his sketching improved, he would never get back his subtle use of colour and the ability to lay down the gentle washes, he used to build up his water colours. But in one aspect his senses seemed to have become hyper-enhanced. Since his cranial bleed, Edge’s libido seemed boundless. While initially delighted, Bia became worn out with his constant appetite for all matters carnal. She worked part time as a Sous Chef in one of Portimão’s better restaurants and had done cleaning jobs until she met Edge. The head chef was an alcoholic and to all intents and purposes, she ran the kitchen and the management knew it. Unfortunately the head chef was a family member. After a stint in the kitchens, Bia was too exhausted for another stint in Edge’s bed, so she went back to her own little flat and slept soundly to recharge her batteries.
On her days away Edge missed Bia and realised that without really trying, they had fallen in step with one another, two of life’s walking wounded. She had become more confident and no longer turned her face away from strangers, while he was grateful to her for giving him an excuse to stay alive. He would drive down to one of the beaches and indulge in simple pleasures, such as eating an ice cream and looking out as the sun dipped down towards the Atlantic. It seemed obvious as to why the Portuguese in their little country had looked out to their future beyond the horizon, much as the English had done. They were two kindred nations with a shared history that dated back to the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance of 1373.
As he had promised, Morrison visited Edge after carrying out murder. Bia made herself scarce. It wasn’t that she didn’t like Morrison, in fact she would never tire of looking at his handsome face. She was just suspicious that he was from Edge’s other life, a life she was pretty sure she wanted no part of.
Morrison and Edge were sitting on a bench underneath some trees. The Atlantic was a deep blue, dotted with brilliant, white fishing boats, “Now to business. Your name has gone straight in the frame for this, you do realise that, don’t you?”
“Even if your alibi of being here recovering from a brain fart is accepted, they will constantly hound you. OK, so you have to die and your death must be connected with the shooting. You have your alter-ego ready to go?”
“Yes, plus air tickets booked in his name. I had to cancel the flights since my mishap, but I can easily book some more.”
“Right, I’ll need your Edge passport and some cash, preferably in a money belt. There will be no going back, you realise that don’t you?”
“Go back to what?” Edge said bitterly.
“I’ll let you know what happens, but be ready to move. Does Bia know?”
“No. I think it may be easier if she doesn’t.”
But easier for whom?
“Right, I’ll be going. See you once the deed’s done. How do you fancy Helsinki? We’ll both need a holiday. Keep monitoring the Inkspot comms for details.”
“Bloody, gorgeous women in Finland. Did I tell you what’s happened to me since my head exploded..?”
Bia came back that afternoon with two pieces of veal and some mushrooms.
“I thought I might cook some veal tonight. You are probably tired of fish. How is your friend, Mister Morrison?” she asked cautiously.
“Henry is fine. He has once again asked me to thank you for looking after me.”
“He is very handsome, but there is something about you, when you get together.”
Edge sighed, “Sit down, Bia my love,”
He held her hands across the table, “Bia, you have known me for less than two months. I am over forty. I was a soldier for more than twenty years. I have known Henry Morrison for more than ten years, although I have never slept with him in the biblical sense and I do not wish to have his babies. Henry has saved my life on at least three occasions and I have saved his at least twice. Britain has been constantly at war, somewhere or another since God knows when. As far as I’m aware, the last time Portugal fought anyone was in the 1970s and bloody good for you, because war and killing people is horrible.
“We are not nice people. Our government didn’t want us to be nice people and now we just want to be like everyone else, and become sort of nice, or at least manageable. But people just won’t let us. So we have to look after each other. Not like you look after me, but to keep ourselves alive.”
“You are nice to me, Adje? You tell me about books and you don’t turn away from my face.”
“Bia, people turn away from the scar on my head. They turn away from a disabled child. They are just disturbed by what is presented to them. A superficial…” she frowned, “They just see a face and it is a deep-set reaction to something they are unused to. Do the people who work in your kitchen turn away from you?”
“Of course not, because they accept you for what you are. They respect you because you keep the kitchen running while the pisshead chef can’t do a simple roux,” Whatever one of those is, “So people are shallow and the first thing they react to is how someone looks. But once they know you, they remember how you speak to them. The way you laugh. How you listen to them and how nice your peitos look in that top.”
“Do you think so, Adje?” she asked looking down.
“Yes Bia, I really do.”
“We could have the veal later.”
* * *
It was a cooler day at the beach of Armação de Pêra, the trailing edge of a tropical cyclone having briefly kissed the Algarve. Bia was working in the restaurant and Edge was sitting on a low wall, feeding a scrawny and greedy little tabby cat with the last half of an ice cream cornet. He shooed the cat away, who went and collected her kittens.
“Bloody kids having kids,” he observed out loud, picked up his stick and walked along the front with his slightly awkward gait. Up ahead there were a couple of kiosks and he bought a small beer and a copy of the Daily Mail newspaper that was two days old. There was only the Mail and the Mirror left and Edge still had a modicum of his strength left. Feeling sullied, he sat at a table, sipped his beer and looked at the front page.
Osborne told ‘austerity isn’t working’ ahead of IMF visit as Britain’s economy revealed to be close to weakest in the G7
He started to hum OOOOhhh the Oakey-Cokey and turned the page.
Benghazi witness: Army commander said commando rescue was scrapped because State Department officials had ‘bigger balls’ than military chiefs
This story Edge read.
The Obama administration denied Special Forces commandos permission to board a military flight to help defend the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi while it was under attack, according to State Department career officer Gregory Hicks, a former second-in-command in the North African country.
He knew that Henry had been up to some very black operations in Libya two years previously.
Recalling the words of a Lt. Col. Gibson, then the military commander at Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA), Hicks said during a House Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday that Gibson said the armed forces should have made the decision about its own soldiers.
‘This is the first time in my career,’ Gibson said, according to Hicks. ‘that a diplomat has more balls than somebody in the military.’
Edge’s lip curled in disgust as he read on.
The Special Forces team was organized and about to drive to a C-130 aircraft with their gear, Hicks testified, when Gibson’s superiors ordered him to tell them to stand down.
‘He got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, “you can’t go now, you don’t have authority to go now”,’ Hicks recalled. ‘They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it.’
Bastards! He angrily turned the page.
Pregnant and proud! Kim Kardashian shows off her blossoming baby bump in a bikini as she proves fat critics wrong
Oh for fuck’s sake! The next page was like someone had poured iced water down his spine:
Prominent Human Rights Lawyer Shot Dead at his Own Home
Police Seek Disgraced Former Soldier
A leading human rights lawyer has been murdered in his Oxfordshire home during the May Bank Holiday. Mr Ronald Gleam was shot and killed by what is believed to be a high powered rifle, while he tended his garden over the weekend. Mr Gleam was a recent winner of the Lawyer of the Year and his legal firm, the Community Legal Notaries, specialises in bringing cases against alleged British Government malpractice, as well as investigating War Crimes allegedly committed by former members of the Armed Forces.
Never afraid of courting controversy, Ron Gleam has represented former Mau-Mau members in cases against the British Government, for alleged brutality in Kenya during uprisings in the 1950s. The Community Legal Notaries has also attempted to bring prosecutions against the Israeli Government for alleged atrocities committed by the IDF in Gaza.
War Crimes Committed in Iraq
However, it is Mr Gleam’s pursuit of serving and former members of the Armed Forces, which has caused the most controversy and outraged Armed Forces Ministers and veterans’ groups. These allegations against British military personnel have been described as: “vexatious, trumped-up and wholly without foundation,” by the Secretary of State for Defence, but he added that: “no Service man or Woman is above the law and all allegations are taken seriously and must be investigated. However, we owe a great debt to these brave men and women, who regularly put their lives on the line for us.”
There has been criticism of Mr Gleam’s conduct and it has been alleged that representatives of the Community Legal Notaries actively solicit in Iraq for cases and that the Iraq Historic Abuse Tribunal (IHAT) fail to conduct rigorous tests on the validity of these claims. IHAT teams have been accused of door stepping Service personnel in their own homes and while off duty and questioning them with no legal representation.
Violent Former Soldier
The murder is currently being investigated by Thames Valley Police with specialist support from the Counter Terrorism Command. It is believed that a Mr Mark Edge is being sought as he was one of the more prominent alleged war crimes cases, passed to IHAT by the Community Legal Notaries. Mr Edge, a former soldier, has a criminal record for violence and it is believed that has links with Far-Right extremist organisations.
When Mr Edge’s property in North Devon was searched, police found Nazi paraphernalia and a number of books and publications linked to the WW2 Nazis. Mr Edge was convicted of the assault of a local man in North Devon and a violent assault on a German Police Officer, during a drunken rugby tour.
Shootout with the Police
Mr Edge is understood to have fled abroad, but the police believe that he could return at any time, as he still has family ties in North Devon. Detective Chief Inspector Tanner of the Counter Terrorism Command issued a warning to the public. “Mr Edge is an extremely violent individual who is believed to have committed murders both at home and abroad. Under no circumstances should he be approached by members of the public, who if they believe they have seen him should notify the police immediately.
During his getaway, Mr Edge is believed to have opened fire on a police helicopter and members of a specialist firearms support team. A number of officers were injured during the shoot-out, some seriously. It was believed that the shooter remained in the area, but an extensive police search failed to find his whereabouts or any trace of the weapons used.
Mr Gleam’s murder has been met with profound sadness by the human rights legal community. Tributes have been paid by the head of Liberty and the Law Society. The Leader of the Opposition was moved to state: “Ron Gleam was a paragon of virtue and a fearless seeker of truth and justice. His courageous stance ensured that the politicians and importantly the MoD and Generals are held accountable for their conduct on military operations”. Mr Gleam was a significant donor to the Labour Party and regularly attended Labour meetings and the annual conference.
Edge ripped out the page and dumped the paper in the bin, ripping the story into shreds, which he deposited in several bins on the way back to his car. Back in the apartment he switched on his laptop and sent a short message to the Inkspots’ email account:
Operation Quorn Mince.
* * *
On 25th May, a small, hired sailboat was found adrift, five kilometres off the coast of the Algarve. The boat had been hired by an Englishman for four hours, but by the evening neither the Englishman nor the boat returned to Faro. Three days later a money belt and document pouch washed ashore near Huelva in Spain. The local police were called and made a cursory search of the items, where a passport and other documentation was found. The Spanish authorities notified the British Embassy, who in turn notified the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The British police have a penchant for mounting investigations in the Portuguese Algarve and obscene numbers of the Thames Valley Service and the Counter Terrorism Command descended on the area around Faro and the south coastal region. They interviewed Bia Vargas, Monsieur Béringer and staff from the Hospital Particular do Algarve, who told them in no uncertain terms that they were delusional if they thought that Mr Edge had murdered someone in England, when he had been seen most days in Portugal.
“So where the hell is he, then?” they asked.
Bia was in no doubt, “He is dead and you coming here killed him. He was getting better until you came. Bastardos! He drowned himself because you named him in the English newspapers. He left me a note.”
The police took the note until the Portuguese police made them return it to them. They copied it and the already strained relations between the Portuguese and British police took a nosedive. Still, the Algarve was a nice place for some off-duty R&R and the English police filled their boots.
Predictably, Edge broke Bia’s heart. He had touched her life, given her confidence, hope and a simple love and left his legacy, a clump of cells in the wall of her uterus that was rapidly dividing and subdividing. He would never see his son, but he did hear that Bia had given birth and later married a local businessman who had been recently been made a widower. Every month from the following February, an amount of €1,000 would be deposited in Bia’s bank account. The amount steadily rose with inflation, but apart from originating from a bank account in Brunei-Darussalam, nothing could be found about this account and why money was being sent to Portugal. When the Euro collapsed and Portugal returned to the escudo, the deposits changed to match the new/old currency. Bia wisely used the money to educate her son and lived with her loss, sadness and new life. On rare occasions she thought she saw someone she knew watching her from afar, but this was obviously just silly wish fulfilment. She knew she wasn’t Pelagia and that she would never see her Captain Corelli again.
* * *
In the October of the year he drowned, Edge walked up Steep Hill from the railway station and by the time he got to the top he was blowing out of his arse. He passed Lincoln’s beautiful Gothic Cathedral on his right and went into the Ball Gate and the maze of narrow streets to the north. On St Paul’s Lane he stopped with the castle walls behind him and regarded the two-storey building that looked not unlike an old workshop or blacksmith’s forge. To the right of the door was a Brass sign.
Horace Cutler QC and Associates
Edge had come to visit the nearest living person he had to a father and he was expecting the mother of all bollockings.
* * *
Almost eight years to the day that she had accosted Edge in the middle of doing some hedging around his property, the prematurely old lady noticed a flashy car driving up the lane towards her property, the last one on the right. The car stopped and a well-dressed, professional looking woman stepped out. She glanced at the mud disdainfully and walked towards the front door. The old woman opened it before the woman tried to ring the bell, which didn’t work anyway.
“Are you Ms Cynthia Penrith?”
The woman held up a briefcase, “In which case I have some news that may surprise you. I represent a firm of solicitors in Barnstaple, here is my card. May I come in?”
Well over three hours later, the solicitor had left and the old lady was reading some documents and a letter that had been in an envelope with a wax seal. It was the last will and testament of Mr Mark Edge, together with a letter. Actually it was more like a synopsis of his life, why he did what he had done and why he had left all his worldly goods to an ex-junkie whose name he hadn’t even known when they first met… Or was it the second?
Mr Mark Edge had been well-off in his own right and an estimate put his property at over 250K. The will had been contested unsuccessfully by his widow, Moira at her father’s insistence. She would later receive a separate settlement. The house and savings were for Cynthia to do with as she wished, provided she looked after Monty, the Edge’s cat until either one of them died. On Miss Penrith’s death, both hers and the Edge’s properties would pass to Moira, or if she were deceased, her children. Cynthia had been well aware of the contents of the will, because Edge had discussed it with her before he disappeared. But it was the last lines that made her dab her eyes.
I didn’t want to take my own life, but if I went into the British Prison System, I would have been conveniently dead in a matter of weeks. If I had killed myself in Britain, I would have been cremated and erased from history. I’ve decided to commit myself to the ocean so that the British State could not delete me, like an old Soviet photograph. To be honest. I just couldn’t stand the headaches any longer.
Use the money wisely, but enjoy it. Don’t waste it all on a bloody cats’ home or spoil Monty. He’s a selfish, furry little shit, but he does like you putting your hand under his chin and rubbing his jowls. It makes him dribble.
My old RSM said that I would make a fuck-up of my life. He was right wasn’t he? Spend the money on you. Have a good rest of your life and stay away from heroin. You should be able to have a good retirement. And for fuck’s sake get some dental implants and do something with your fucking hair.
“Oh God, Monty,” she said to the tabby that had perched his arse on her kitchen table. The cat was older, distinguished with a grey beard and jowls. Now he walked slightly stiffly, but the white scar still ran from his right eye to his nose, “He was such a bloody, silly boy.”
She bent forward, trying not to cry on the documents. The cat moved forward and gently head-butted her forehead.
© text & images Blown Periphery 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file