As The Crow Dies

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Chapter 11

A Respectable Number

Lochlan got into his car, composed himself and let the day’s revelations creep in before starting the three hour drive back to Dumfries. He’d learned so many things in the last day that troubled him deeply. He couldn’t help but think,

What type of man does these things to a child? Is he a man? Or is he no better than an animal? I must continue to have nothing but disdain for this group. Thomas Paine extoled the Rights of Man, but these men have no rights.

Arriving home around nine o’clock in the evening, Lochlan was greeted at the door by Kenna’s warm embrace and loving kiss. After he settled in with a cup of Chamomile tea, he began to relax. He needed to talk about this day to a sympathetic ear who would never divulge the conversation and help him get his anguished mind right with the world. The retribution he’d planned for his solution troubled him as his commonsense side said to keep his affairs within the due process, but his justice side was adamant about instant and final punishment. After a period of uncomfortable silence his wife, or “morality sponsor” as he saw her, broke the ice.

“Tell me, honey” she said as she patted his knee. “Something has scared you, I can tell, and I’ve never known you to be panicked by person or perpetrator. Come now, out with it.”

“Let me tell you, love, there’s a side to me you do not want to see. Even I am terrified of the thoughts I am having,” he answered, head bowed.

“Would a little bit of the Pinch help you? I meant whiskey.”

“No. That is the last thing I need now. I must have a clear head about myself,” he said, even surprising himself with the refusal of some spirits. “I must tell you there are a highly organized and efficient group of men operating in our country. They have one purpose and one inspiration only and it is the elimination of all child molesters in Scotland and then beyond. Those four men—and the accompanying crows—were killed by them and they are, at this point, unstoppable. And I must tell you, my love, I am in no hurry to bring a halt to their mission. What does that say about meself?”

“It says,” Kenna answered as she sat straight up, “that you are an honorable and forthright man. I have long known this about you and tis one of the reasons I love you so much. Who’s to say what manner of amends is proper for men of such problematic character? Is it not your sworn duty to protect the innocent? Can the removal of these shysters be of anything other than a benefit to humankind? I think not, and I have long suspected we have men in the positions of authority who are among this ilk and never will give the guilty proper recompense for their atrocities. I … rest my case.”

Lochlan was taken aback at his wife’s reasonings. It was Churchillian in content and William Wallace in delivery. Lochlan always knew his wife had more common sense than should be allowed by Scottish law but her reasoning now supplied the purpose he so desperately needed. He rose, went to the liquor cabinet, retrieved a bottle of Scotch and two glasses, pouring a liberal amount for each.

Kenna looked surprised when Lochlan served her. “I thought you said no to this?”

“I meant no to my feelings on this subject, but after contemplating yours I decided it was time to celebrate. You are quite the statesperson. Cheers.”

Kenna smiled as she acknowledged the toast and took a mere sip. Lochlan was ready to make his move.

“I remember you said that was one of the things you loved about me. What was the other?” he asked.

“Well,” she answered as she took a big sip. “You do give a fantastic back rub when you wants to, and I sorely need one tonight. Shall we?” she asked, looking at the staircase.

“Most certainly. I will be up in a minute.”

Kenna always did have a way to keep her husband … straight.

***

After their little “party” was over, Kenna laid on her right side and began to fall into a deep slumber. Lochlan, on the other hand, was as wired as ever. As he was sitting up in bed, and envisaging the day’s events, a piece of Senryu flashed past his mind.

To gaze upon the day

And relive its dire events

Makes my conscience slowly sway

To forgive is divine

To forget is not at hand

Tie the rope and let them hang

He wrote the prose in his private journal and fell fast asleep.

-2-

Rising early, being physically and emotionally refreshed, Lochlan ate his exquisite breakfast and kissed Kenna goodbye. He needn’t tell her what time he’d be home; as with any murder case, his was not a nine to five job. Walking to his car, he grabbed his cell to call Nathan only to witness a large and sleek Rolls Royce, with blacked-out windows, pulling across his driveway. He was unarmed, as was most of Police Scotland, and this could be his last steps. He’d argued long and hard for the right to carry a gun, but to no avail. Old traditions had a way of hanging on forever.

The limo stopped and an elderly man of innocent-looking character exited the back seat. He was dressed as country gentleman, possibly in his sixties wearing a brown fedora with a white band above the brim. The white shirt, black tie, tan, pin-striped suit complete with vest suited him to a tee. Their eyes met and the man took five steps forward.

“Chief Inspector Kincaid. I come to you this drab morning as a friend. Might we have a chat?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“We all have our preferences, sir, Yet you can do as you like. Suffice to say I have, at my disposal, means to bring about your instant demise, Yet I choose not to. Shall we?” he said as he pointed to his car.

“Aye, we shall,” Lochlan said as he walked with him. Hearing a door opened he looked to see Kenna in the driveway looking troubled at the situation. It didn’t look kosher to her.

“Excuse me for a moment. I will handle this.”

Lochlan walked to her and eased her mind a bit. She kissed him goodbye and then sort of eye-balled the stranger, which brought a smile to his face. Lochlan got into the spacious back seat and surveyed his surroundings. He’d been in more luxurious limousines but this one had an aire of all business. The stranger sat in a leather, swivel chair across from Lochlan who sat on a sofa-type bench. To his right was a large television/computer screen sitting atop an oak table complete with a coffee-tea-expresso machine on its second shelf. The climate was temperate but pleasing considering the downpour of rain outside. The man asked if Lochlan wanted anything be he declined. His host pour himself a rich-smelling cup of coffee and he put a shot of expresso in for good measure. He took a sip and placed the cup on its saucer.

“My name is Charles Ellsworth Phillips, and I represent a group of alarmed citizens in our nation,” he said with a pronounced English accent. “It has come to our attention—”

The window between the driver area and the coach started to roll down automatically and the driver, unseen by Lochlan, had an urgent message for his boss.

“Guvnor, there’s something happening you should look at.”

“Thank you, James,” Charles answered as the window rolled up. Charles took his iPad, apologized to Lochlan for the interruption and read a few lines, then answering by typing a few of his own. He laid his computer down and turned to his “guest.”

“My compliments, Lochlan, on the gift of a woman who dearly loves you,” he said as he lit a cigarette.

“How do you mean?” Lochlan asked.

“Fifteen seconds after your wife retreated to the house she called your Police Station expressing her concern. Two cars were then dispatched to this address, a hurried code 10-42, but they’ve been recalled. I only wish I had a wife who loved me as much as yours does.”

The window rolled down again.

“Guvnor. We have a man circling our vehicle and he looks angry.”

Charles turned on the computer screen, and sure enough, there was Nathan walking the perimeter and looking pissed off. Lochlan long suspected his partner carried a weapon in an ankle holster, and he didn’t want Nathan trading potshots with this man.

“Please, sir, before you act, this man is no threat to you. He must have heard the call but ignored the calling off. Let me speak to him. He is a good man and very protective of his partner.”

“By all means,” Charles said as he rolled Lochlan’s window down. “I was going to consult him later, but now’s as good a time as any.”

Lochlan leaned out, and with much urgency, told Nathan to stand down. Nathan slowly walked over to the limo and peeked in. Seeing the two gentlemen sitting there relaxed, he posed a question Lochlan knew he’d ask.

“Top of the morning to you all. Is that coffee I smell brewing? I could really stand a cup.”

“Come on in,” Charles said, “and have all the caffeine you need.”

The truth be known, Nathan should have been put on a decaf lifestyle years ago. Lochlan opened the door and Nathan crawled in like he owned the car. Immediately he poured himself a cup and added two shots of expresso. Lochlan looked at Charles and rolled his eyes back.

“Nathan,” Lochlan said. “This man is … Mr. Phillips and he is a friend of mine. I am in no danger, but you might be unless you put your ankle gun here on the table by me.”

The look Lochlan gave him was all business and very persuasive. Nathan stalled a second, then pulled his .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver out from under his right pants leg and put it where directed.

“Now. Where were we?” Lochlan asked.

“Like I said, it has come to the attention of the people I represent that this child molestation ‘infection’ has become more prominent than ever. If left unchecked, it will spread to England and elsewhere in the British Empire; that is, what’s left of it. I assume you are aware of why those four men were terminated?”

“We are,” Lochlan said. “And we have shed no tears for them. And might I say we are in no hurry to find their killers, if they are considered that. I prefer to call them dispatchers.”

All three got a chuckle over that one, and they tension seemed to diminish some. Feeling free to speak his piece, Lochlan continued.

“What is me and Nathan’s concern is how we can eradicate these types from our country. From what I know about men with these impure desires is it never leaves them. The experts have said when released they will do this again and again. Even the honest one’s who know they have this problem say that. How can I, or any other responsible adult, say to our children we are going to ‘Protect and Serve’ when we know we can’t. To have them all put away for life—however short that is—is my solution. This is where I stand.”

“The same from me too, Guvnor,” Nathan said to Charles. “I could take what’s on that table and send them to see their Maker meself. Anything I can personally do to help in this I’ll do.”

“Anything, you say?” Charles said as he sipped his coffee and took a drag from his fag.

Anything” the Dumfries Duo said, in unison.

“Capital then. I’m going to arrange a mission for you two and you will be contacted shortly,” Charles said.

Nathan, the pessimist, just had to put his two sixpence in. “Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but how do we know you ain’t working for the perverts and are setting us up for the kill?”

Lochlan tensed up so tight you couldn’t pull a sixteen penny nail out of his arse with a John Deere tractor.

Shut up, man, shut up! he thought. You have no idea who you are dealing with.

Phillips swiveled quickly in his chair.

“Let me tell you this, Inspector Dunbar. The people I speak for have but one direction; that is, to see to it their game plan works by any means possible. Now that you two have been drawn into this scenario, if we wished your demise you’d be taking the ‘Big Dirt Nap’ as they say. Young man, trust someone who’s been around longer than you.”

“Can I at least ask who it is you embody?”

“Aye. I epitomize the needs of everyone who matters, both here and abroad. Is that sufficient?”

After Lochlan kicked his impatient partner in the foot, Nathan answered with a single “Aye.”

“Good then. You’ll be seeing me before nightfall. Have a good day, gentlemen,” Phillips said as he pressed a button and the door opened.

Lochlan and Nathan got in their respective cars and headed for their office, both convinced of one thing.

They’d just met 001.

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