Sky-red – blood red – falling – hit ground hard – not too hard – office – golf club – red carpet – books and books and books – grey safe – easy money – alone – Cai presence outside – falling – vultures – watching – goading – sneering – flying and falling – flying and falling – “destroy the ungodly” – 6 stars – 6 daggers – 1 angel – 3 sticks, vertical like stumps – mother – Mary – stick – gopher wood – battered old goose-necked putter – Bobby – Mary – Molly – Malone – cockles and muscles alive alive-o – her ghost wheels her barrow through the streets – “Sam” – “Wake up “ – Run Sam run – “Who built the ark, no-one, no-one. Who built the ark, brother? No-one built the ark”– “Wake up” – Bob – Mary – Sam
1. the lady confesses
It started with a dame. It always started with a dame. Well sometimes it does. This dame was different and unique – like they all were. She was older, a lot older. She was the treasurer, the golf club treasurer. She was respectable, church-going and old. How old? Very old.
It was an ordinary morning, as they all are until something happens. I was walking along grey and grim Malakoff Street and although I didn’t know it I was about to be asked to investigate the possible murder of Cai Tywysog.
What was particularly unusual about this possible murder was that I had dreamt that Cai was dead. I had also dreamt that the sky was on fire. I was looking out of the window when I saw someone fall from the roof. It was Cai and his face cracked as he hit the ground. I wasn’t sure if the fall had killed him or something had happened before. Neither option mattered too much to him at that particular moment. I also dreamt about an empty safe. Apparently this could signify loss, lack of security or a secret getting out. Or even an empty safe.
Unsurprisingly I felt a little tense this morning.
I knew that Cai wasn’t dead as I had seen him just five minutes ago. I had been in the corner shop talking to Mrs Evans’ when he had walked in. I picked up my packet of Lucky Strikes and a pint of milk from the counter, gave an assertive nod in Cai’s general direction and walked out of the shop. He looked a little pale, but definitely not dead. I walked to the end of Malakoff Street and turned left onto Alma Road.
Alma Road was quiet. Mynydd Eimon was quiet. Not just because it was a Friday morning, but because Mynydd Eimon was quiet. It was boring. It was dull. Mynydd Eimon was a typical Welsh valley village. It looked exactly the same as any other Welsh valley village at any time since the early Victorian Age. It was grey, cold, dull, quiet – calcified in an indeterminate age. It was home. My home.
I walked slowly toward my office. Perhaps office was a little grand in that it was two small rooms on the ground floor of my house. It didn’t look much like an office but it was. It was the office of Sam Watcher, private investigator. That’s me. I was a bone fide ‘ditectif preifat’. I had a business card and everything.
I smiled at the exquisite lettering on the door of the office, “Samael K. Watcher … Investigations”. I didn’t have a middle name but thought the K added a touch of class. I went to unlock the door to the outer office, formerly a coalhouse knocked through, but found it had already been opened. I stepped inside and looked at my little universe. The room contained an old black Davenport, two old, old, grey chairs, a bit of carpet and two doors – one to the outside, real world and the other to my inner sanctum. Everything was neat and tidy just as I needed it. There was the light grey carpet and dark grey walls. I had designed the room myself based on films I had seen.
What the room didn’t contain was my secretary who I had assumed had unlocked the door. I moved carefully toward my private office and opened the door slowly expecting an intruder. I was correct.
My office and refuge being invaded me nervous. I liked things to be where they should be. My visitor was a dame. She had moved a chair. I looked around to see if anything else had been disturbed. Her coat and bonnet were hanging on the coat stand. I looked around slowly, carefully. I didn’t notice anything else. I breathed. The room had a similar colour scheme to the outer office with a larger desk, a fireplace, a Reliable wall safe and a little state of the art, Prestcold fridge, a violated coat stand and a moved chair.
I looked hard at the dame in the chair. She was a frail old woman dressed in a long black dress, grey shawl, and tight bun with a lethal looking hair slide. From the back she seemed very peaceful as she stared into the empty fireplace. Her coat and bonnet were hanging up on the oak coat stand near the door and she had made herself completely at home. I walked across the room in a business-like manner and placed myself in my chair behind my desk. I turned my chair to face her. I reached in my pocket to get a cigarette, looked at the dame and thought better of it. I picked up a pen from my desk and started twirling it in my fingers.
I breathed. “Aunty Mary.” I said a little too loudly, “What are you doing here?”
“It’s about a murder, cariad, I’m ashamed to say. It’s about the murder of young Cai, my nephew.”
“Cai!” I feigned astonishment for some reason, “but I’ve seen him just now in Mrs Evans’.”
She thought for a minute. ”Well the murder may not be Cai and anyway it’s not today.”
“I see.” I clearly didn’t. I sucked hard on my pen in a way that I thought may convey serious thoughtfulness.
”So what is it you want from me?” I inquired.
“I need some information, some advice if you will.”
“How am I looking if I were to murder someone?” she asked thoughtfully.
I sat down and continued working on my thoughtful expression, “I imagine you would be put in jail Aunty Mary.”
“Ah,” she paused, “I thought as much. But what about my soul?”
“Well.” I paused. “That would be one for you and the priest to negotiate.”
She looked disappointed.
“And the soul of the victim?”
“Again your priest would be the one to talk to there.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“And I would definitely go to prison.”
I paused to consider the question, “Very, very likely.”
She sighed, “So how long would I get?”
“Probably 10 years or life.”
We both silently assessed who would win that particular race.
“I’d like you to investigate the murder, when it happens. Would you do that for me?”
I nodded professionally.
“Thank you Samael,” she continued as she stood up, “You’ve been very helpful. Now how much do I owe you?”
“Aunty Mary you know I couldn’t take money off you.”
“You’re a sweet boy.” she said as she ruffled my hair and handed me a shilling piece, “Now take it and let’s hear no more about it.”
I took it and helped Aunty Mary put on her ancient grey fur coat and black bonnet. I shivered slightly then I walked Aunty Mary out.
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