Lochlan the police officer wanted to arrest Oliver jolly on the spot, but Lochlan the man thought better of it. This was an old friend. A man he’d trained with at the Academy. A mate he could tip a few with and talk of things that never left the pub. He could not arrest him. He thought he could pick his brain and find out the Faireachaile’s plans and techniques. He decided to sympathize —against his better judgement—with the Faireachaile to gain his comrade’s confidence, because Arnott’s “Aye” was emphatic and unashamed.
“Then let me tell you this,” Lochlan said as he lit a fag. “The older I get the less stringent I have become. I hate to admit—is what we say staying in this room?”
“It tis, Chief Inspector. You have my word as a Scot,” Arnott stated firmly.
That was plainly enough for Lochlan. “I’ve found … I’m almost envious of these men. They are doing, at a risk to their own livelihoods, what we cannot. It has been my fear for a few years now that some of our judges are way too lenient with these sexual offenders. It is like the whole judicial world—here and abroad—is giving these animals a pass. Am I going daft here?”
“No, you are not. Do you have any inkling as to why that is?” Oliver said as he added a little Irish to his coffee while offering Lochlan more, which he declined.
“… I dare not say what I’m thinking.”
“Then let me say it for you, my old friend. Those who are the least little sympathetic to them must be pedophiles themselves, or have the tendencies of one which means, sooner or later, they will act upon their desires. The men I know—the one’s responsible for these executions—believe the Earth is better rid of them in any way possible. This latest display was a message to all child molesters in Scotland and around the world. Don’t even think about plying your evil intentions in our country; your very soul is at stake. Does that clear things up for you?”
“Pretty much,” Lochlan said. “But how does Boyd Thomson enter into all of this?”
Oliver dropped his head and shook it back and forth. “I knew Berwick could never keep his mouth shut. I’ll deal with him later.”
“I would take it as a personal favor if you did not.”
“Well, that’s me partner and I’ve got a right to discipline him.”
“Berwick told this to my partner, and Nathan is a close friend of mine now. Let it lay, mate, until we see which way the wind blows. And by the way, give me some more Irish,” Lochlan said as he offered up his cup and hand signaled just one finger this time. “It looks like I will be here a while.”
Oliver poured him his request and re-supplied his own as he was at his croft, so he didn’t need to drive anywhere. They sat and studied each other for a few seconds, and then Oliver snapped to attention.
“Boyd was a mate of mine, and a good one till I found out about his personal life. We both went to university together. He was a middler and I a senior. In the summer we both worked at construction. Hell, Lochlan … we dug ditches together and he was a hard worker. He just never … seemed the type, that’s all. I tried to warn him one day, but he claimed I didn’t know what I was talking about, so I dropped it. I figured if I was right then the blood would be on his head, not mine. Only I didn’t know it’d be that way. I dunno, old friend, what to do now.”
Lochlan sat quietly and sized Oliver up. Oliver was generally mad at himself; one could tell. Lochlan made a decision he hoped wouldn’t come back and bite him in the arse.
“Let me say this, mate, with all the earnestness in my heart. I no longer seek arrest for these men. It would be to no avail, as others will follow their lead for obvious reasons. Yet, their methods on that night puzzle me.” Then Lochlan looked Oliver straight in the eye. “Would it be possible to meet one of these members, just for a chat on techniques?”
Oliver sat back in his chair with a look of amazement. “Surely you jest,” he said, softly.
“No. I do not. I just need a man to tell me how this was all possibly done in one period of darkness.”
Oliver scratched his chin and contemplated the request. “If I can arrange this, and you turn on this man, do you know what will happen?”
“Aye. My life will be as useless as Bermuda shorts on a Highlander.”
Lochlan had just instituted his Rule Number Three on interrogations; make the interviewee laugh once in a while. They both had a chuckle over that comment, but Oliver shortly became serious again.
“I’ll make the call,” he said.
A few minutes later Oliver returned, smiling. “It’s all set up for you. The man I know wishes to talk to you too, but in a safe setting. He suggested the Dunn Glen Inn. He says he’ll be there around noon and he will only sit outside, weather conditions permitting of course. Do you know the way?”
“Vaguely,” Lochlan answered as he held his empty teacup upside down, hoping Oliver would take the hint, but he didn’t.
“Then you can follow me up the A82 and I’ll get you off the exit, then I’m coming back. I know this man. He only talks to one officer at a time. Would you consider spending the night?”
“I will if you and I can finish that Irish and then I have to make a phone call.”
“Might I give you a shred of console?” Oliver asked.
“By all means.”
“Call your wife first. You have that ‘two sheets in the wind’ look about you. One more cuppa tea and you’ll be three.”
“You are so right. I call her on my cell.”
He called Kenna, told her the situation and she was alright with the stayover. She’d been married to him long enough to tell by the tone of his voice if he was genuine or not.
But today, his tone sent a shiver of fright up her spine.
Doris fixed a delicious dinner of Haggis, a savory meat pudding, accompanied by mashed potatoes, turnips (known as ‘neeps’) and a whisky sauce. Scots dearly loved their spirits, in a dish or a glass. She set him up in their guest room, a generous allowance holding a king sized bed, a private bathroom and plenty of tall dressers to accommodate his change of clothes. As he laid in his spacious berth, his mind went Senryu. He thought about this day’s summary, then grabbed his journal and put it to pen.
My mind was as stone
Morality at its core
Yet, it did not fade
But dogs me forevermore
Is there right in this
To watch the innocent struck
Or find the abyss
Where the guilty run amuck
His sleep was fitful, but he rose and refreshed himself at Doris’ breakfast call. She fixed them a scrumptious offering of scrambled eggs, link sausage, tattie (potato) scones, wheat toast with thick, Scottish butter and strong coffee. Oliver and Lochlan ate as if they were on Death Row consuming their last meal. They finished and Lochlan heaped praises on Doris’ culinary abilities, as custom he learned from his father. They sat back, lit their smokes and slowly finished their coffee.
“Are we ready?” Oliver.
“Whenever you are,” Lochlan answered as he rose to find his coat.
Oliver put his dark blue, BMW in gear and away they went, Lochlan doing his best to keep up. They traveled north on the A82, which was the main artery in Eastern Scotland, and Lochlan was impressed with the terrain. The beauty of Loch Levin, the majesty of the Highlands and the quaintness of the small crofts along the way would’ve made for a pleasant experience at another time, but today his mind was all business. After ten miles or so, Oliver exited at the C1203 and pulled into a wide spot, leaving his car and sitting in the passenger’s seat of Lochlan’s. He seemed a little uncomfortable at first, but Lochlan knew how to quickly break the ice.
“Does this man have a name?” Lochlan.
“Aye, he does. But, you won’t believe me at first.”
“Try me. I can be quite the listener.”
“All right, you asked for it. He calls himself … 005.”
“As in double-zero-five?”
“That is correct,” Oliver answered, with a stone face.
Lochlan tried not to laugh but failed. “What the hell are you talking about? Next thing you will tell me he is Ian Fleming’s grandson, and James Bond is his big brother.”
Yet, Oliver made no move to answer that. He sat calmly and starred at his mate. “Lochlan, I would not spoof you. These men are deadly serious, as you plainly know.”
Lochlan took that to heart, because he knew it to be true. “How will I know this man?”
“He will know you by your look and your gate. You are seen as a copper from a mile away, and that is a compliment. Just sit at an outside table, order something and wait. He will present himself in due time.”
“Can I ask one more stupid question?” Lochlan inquired.
“Is there a … 001?”
“I assume there is, but we will never find out. Let’s just say I think it’s a man of high security and stature. Let’s leave it at that. Turn right and the Inn is a stone’s throw from here. Good luck,” Oliver said as he shook Lochlan’s hand. He drove in, sat at a table and waited to be served. Within a minute a young man, say thirtyish, came to the table with menu in hand.
“What may I get for you, sir?” the dapper waiter asked.
“Oh, just a coffee; light and sweet.”
“Alright, one coffee coming up. If you are hungry here is a menu. The best food in on page double-o-five.”
The wide-eyed and well-dressed man gave Lochlan a stare of complete sincerity, and Lochlan knew he was the one.
005 came back with a tray filled with two coffee cups, cream and sugar on the side. He suggested they move to table a bit back from the road, for more privacy. They sat down and mixed their respective cups, with Lochlan belaying any talk and preferring to let the “Numeric Man” speak first.
“So, I’m told,” 005 started, “that you have many questions. Some I can answer, some I never will. Are you compliant with that?”
“Good then. What puzzles you the most?”
“How were these four men transported to their ‘burial’ sites in one night?”
“I cannot answer that from personal knowledge, but I do have a theory,” 005 said with a grin as he sipped his coffee.
Lochlan knew then how this would play. 005 would never admit to first-hand knowledge, but if Lochlan went with the ruse, he’d get all the information he craved.
“Then by all means, enlighten me.”
“It is my conjecture the only way to do this unnoticed is by four different helicopters.”
“I see,” Lochlan said. “Was it a three or four man operation?”
“I suspect it could be done by two men. A pilot and another man to drop the bodies.”
“All four were found shot in the forehead, execution style. Was that done off site first?”
“I would imagine. If it wasn’t the ride would’ve killed them. But I have a hunch, as professional as these people are, that they were shot first, then delivered. After all, these men are not animals, per se, but probably see themselves as justice warriors. I assume you know now the victim’s background?”
“I do. And can I take you into my confidence?” Lochlan asked, ready now to make his play.
“You most certainly can.”
Lochlan sighed, cleared his throat and began. “The older I get a might more lenient I have become since I was a younger man. I have no love lost for a child molester. In theory.” Lochlan said with a wink of his eye, “this planet could be rid of them all. I personally would never arrest such a champion for sending these decadents to their rightful level of Hell,” Lochlan said with direct eye-to-eye contact.
005 gave Lochlan a bow of respect with his head. “Is there anything else I can tell you, Chief Inspector?”
“Aye, one more question. When was the white stake … installed?”
“I’d say on site.”
“But, there was no blood on that particular wound.”
“Probably because a fifty millimeter hole was drilled into their backs off site with a powerful hammer drill. Time is of the essence in situations like these, as you can plainly see.”
Everything about the murders was as Lochlan had suspected. Yet, he had one more request to make before they parted, because a plan was forming in his mind he could not stop.
“I have something more to ask of you. What is the significance of the dead crows nailed to the ground?
“That is old Gaelic. It means the bad times have ended, and a new beginning is at hand,” 005 said.
“Can I ask you … a favor?
“That depends on the subject.”
“I desire a ninety day reprieve on any further actions by the vigilantes. Give me and my partner that amount of time to see if we can come up with a solution to this problem. I can swear I will be ever diligent in that amount of time in unraveling this, possibly forever. What say you?”
“You have thirty days and no more, and you will be contacted by this time tomorrow,” 005 said.
“The we have a deal,” Lochlan said as he rose and shook hands with his informant.
“Capital then.” 005 said as he clenched Lochlan’s hand. “As for now, I must get back to work. Until we meet again, and I’m sure that will happen … someday,” 005 said as he cleaned their table and went back to work.
Lochlan turned and walked away from 005, knowing in his mind he meant every word he said now about the “solution.”
And it didn’t seem to bother him at all.