Murder at the Royal Wedding

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CHAPTER FIFTEEN

St James’s Park

London

Thursday 28th April

Kenny Thorne was too excited to sit. Instead, he stood, gripping the aluminium rail of the scarlet double-decker. The bus shivered, crawling forward in the traffic and Thorne stared out at Buckingham Palace. He waved a hand as the bus slipped passed. Thorne walked the top aisle heading for the stairway, rolling his gait for balance, gripping the handrails as the bus jolted to a halt. He leapt off, striding to the wrought-iron gates of the royal park, leaving behind the diesel fumes from the tour buses to walk on the soft grass.

The deep, metallic ring of a military band drifted on the chill, April wind that shifted the burgeoning branches of the oaks and chestnuts. Thorne hesitated, unsure if the sound was in his head. He looked to the Mall and saw a column of Horse Guards. They were followed by the Foot Guards of the Grenadiers, the clatter of hooves in counterpoint to the crisp marching of their boots.

Thorne trembled with excitement. The anger rose from within him and he screamed out in his head,

Remember her! You will remember her!

He felt for the .38 Special in his belt but it wasn’t there. He was lost without it but the Voice told him to be cunning. A chance security check here at the rehearsal would wreck his plan, so he left it in his rooms. He stared across the park to the soldiers on parade, watching them carefully. A flock of pigeons pecked at scraps on the footpath. He walked through them.

In a blur of wings they rose, flapping across the lake but he didn’t see them.

Thorne became enchanted, staring out mesmerised towards the soldiers on the roadway. The empty red and gold State Landau, gilded in gold with four white horses, traversed the royal route. Outriders from the Household Cavalry jangled at a trot beside it. Two scarlet-liveried coach assistants stood on the rear box, only to be obscured by a squadron of Life Guards. He heard a Sergeant Major bellow. The sound of boots crashed to attention as the coach moved on through the ranks of Foot Guards.

For a moment he was transfixed, hypnotised by the shimmer of silver and gold that flashed from the breastplates in the pale morning light. He swayed on his feet, struggling to keep his balance, and tried to control the Dream but it was lapping now, like golden waves, against the shores of his skull. He wanted to reach out, to touch the coach across the grass. Was it real or in his mind?

He felt, rather than saw, the figure standing close beside him. A familiar figure he knew had always been there, yet he had never seen before. A calmness emanated from it, a peace that soothed him, bathing away his fears. He felt a tranquillity that transcended all doubt. He turned to speak to the image of himself. His own face, smoothed and shining, like a pale moon, looked back at him and spoke to him without words.

What she did to your Princess! Your Diana paid with her life. Your beautiful, smiling Princess, dead in a darkened tunnel! Foreign hands laying her to rest. She will pay. You are her avenging angel, Kenny. Then everything will be fine. The Princess can rest. You always knew that, didn’t you?

The familiar face smiled like a beatified saint and Thorne felt suddenly tranquil, as though standing before a furnace with an open door. But no heat came from it, just soft shafts of moonbeams. He repeated out loud. “Yes, I always knew that.”

The Voice was velvet that wrapped and caressed him.

After tomorrow we can go home. You would like to go home, wouldn’t you, Kenny?

He mouthed, ‘Yes’ and the apparition faded, following the shimmering, translucent Dream like a genie going back into a bottle.

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