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Authors: John Brady

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A Carra King (4 page)

BOOK: A Carra King
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The woman looked familiar. The big glasses on her put Minogue in mind of a frog. He tried to place her, believed he was coming close, but soon gave up trying. Lawlor seemed to be explaining something complicated to her. She didn't often return his smiles. She nodded every now and then, but her eyes went often to the ruck around Kilmartin.

The weather woman and her maps disappeared in a flurry of stars. She was replaced by sliding words and the twirling logo of Radio Telifís Éireann. The gloss on that, Minogue thought, we're international now, we have everything. And why not. Taxpayers, a lot of them probably German taxpayers still, would be paying for Kilmartin's junket to the States. He'd be visiting Quantico of all places, to get the low-down on how the FBI profiled their serial bad guys. He wondered what they'd have made of the likes of Dublinman and all-around thug, drug dealer, vandal, robber and scut Larry Smith.

Kilmartin was well into his joke now. The taxi driver had been informed by his passenger that she had no money for the fare. A face appeared on the screen, a telephone number below it. Kilmartin's voice was louder but Minogue still caught most of the words from the announcer. Touring the west of Ireland in a rented blue Ford Escort.

“No sign of your man yet,” Malone said.

The snapshot looked like the regulation crop of a group scene. A wedding maybe. The large, even teeth, the tan, they could only mean American. Minogue wondered what exactly it was that made the face so easily typed. The beefy neck? Some stock expression of ease and entitlement. Well after all, he'd grown up and belonged to people who owned the planet more or less. Cheap petrol, big cars. Hamburgers, planes that went to space and back. Big smiles, genuine a lot of them, guns in every house. Prosperity. And Daithi Minogue, whose letters came less frequently now, and who hadn't been back for a visit lived there. The pang sliced hard across Minogue's chest and he felt suddenly almost desperate.

“That Yank, the tourist,” Malone repeated. “What's his name again?”

“Shaw-nessy,” Minogue said.

“What do you mean Shawnessy? Shock-nessy.” Minogue eyed Malone.

“That's how they say it over there.”

“How do you know?”

“There was a fella on
Miami Vice
once. A crook, a lawyer. Shawnessy, they pronounced it.”

Malone looked up from his work balancing beer-mats and frowned.

“Now do you believe me?” Minogue asked.

Malone's house of beer-mats collapsed. He shrugged and swore and grabbed his glass. Stress, Minogue thought as he yawned with a sudden aching weariness, another meaningless word. The screen filled with burning buses. A lanky teenager throwing a rock froze and shrank, and was yanked back in miniature to a corner of the screen. Was that Derry? Minogue wondered.

“Jesus Christ,” said Malone. “Is that going on tonight? It fucking well better not be.”

“It's archival footage.”

“What?”

A British army Land Rover sped over a roadway littered with stones. A petrol bomb burst against its roof.

“History, Tommy. It's old stuff.”

Someone with a scarf wrapped around his lower face was caught and frozen in place as he hoisted a petrol bomb. He too was dispatched as a fading, still shot to the bottom of the screen. The making of a great athlete, Minogue believed, that kid. Probably in his thirties or even forties by now, with kids, a few pints in the local, a half-decent house paid for by Her Majesty, the trousers getting too tight on him. The pictures slid back to reveal a dimly lit studio, where four people sat around a table.

“Maybe the locals ate him,” Malone said. Minogue turned to him.

“The American, like.” Malone nodded toward Kilmartin.

“They did say the west of Ireland, didn't they?”

“Our American cousins are here to enjoy history, Tommy. Not to live it.”

He looked back at the television. Spotlights revealed the panelists one by one. Minogue sighed. God, not that windbag from the university again. Worse, that hairy, know-it-all journalist what was his name, the one who wrote about Ireland disappearing. As if.

Then Kilmartin's fist crashed into his palm. One of tonight's designated gobshites to edify, a detective with a long nose that he constantly rubbed with the same paper hankie, made a solemn nod. Kilmartin's eyes were hooded now. He pulled back his thumb, pointed his finger at his head, dropped the thumb. He eyed the red-faced Sergeant who began to nod slowly himself.

“Smih' goh' hih',” said the Sergeant.

The phrase was a take on another Dublin criminal family member's reaction to the news of Larry Smith's murder. Together with a mostly mangled Dublin accent, it had done the rounds of Garda stations for months now.

“Play hard, die hard,” said Kilmartin.

“Damned right, Jim,” said the Sergeant. “That's the way she goes. A-okay.”

“One hundred percent effective,” Kilmartin said, his voice gone soft now. “Yes, sirree . . .
The Larry Smith
Solution
.”

Minogue looked around the room. He'd missed the transition from hilarity to gravity. The woman with the glasses, frog-woman, hadn't. She was watching Kilmartin intently. Lahlah's smile had faded. His eyes shifted from the group to the barman leaning on the bar listening to Kilmartin.

Sure that his message had reached and clutched and held the minds of his colleagues, and surer still that they'd hold it forever, Chief Inspector James Kilmartin arched his back over the counter. He looked with a lazy defiance from face to face. Murmurs of approval ran through the group of policemen. Glasses went to mouths, a flick of the head from several. The red-faced Sergeant put his fist on the counter and pulled an imaginary trigger. The brotherhood, thought Minogue, the clan.

“Job well done there, Jim,” said the red-faced Sergeant. “No complaints here, let me tell you.”

Superintendent Lawlor tweaked his nose and turned to talk to frog-woman. I know her, Minogue thought, I do. Who the hell was she anyhow? He watched her feign an interest in what Lawlor was saying with some newfound fervour. Her eyes went toward Kilmartin again. Lawlor kept talking. She looked down at the empty glass Lawlor was pushing around on the countertop. Lawlor's face eased when she reached for her bag. He nodded to Minogue as he passed on the way to the door.

Derek Mitchell turned away from the gusts. He looked at the sky again.

“Make up your bloody mind,” he groaned.

The raindrops were beginning to bead and run together on the car roofs now. He'd come back around by the long-term car park again, on the trot this time. Ahead of him were the rows of cars he had passed earlier. It'd be no use saying that it was raining. Five minutes and he'd be finished, anyway. Or drowned, shag it.

He slowed to look in the window of a newish Volvo. The stick thing must be a control for the stereo. The CD holder was probably in the boot and… his hat flew off and sailed over the roof. He watched it bounce off the roof of an Opel. He was beyond being annoyed. There was a certain elegance to it, he had to admit. It rolled down onto the bonnet and fell on the tarmacadam. He stepped around the front of the Opel in time to see the hat on the move again. It rolled on the edge of its crown, wobbled and changed direction. Drops of rain hit his forehead. The hat began to roll in a circle, it rebounded off a wheel and it fell over. Gusts still stirred it.

He took his time strolling over. He picked up the hat and rubbed it with his sleeve. To hell with that stupid folder of regulations: this bloody hat was staying under his arm until he got back indoors. He looked down at the mossy growth already working its way into the tarmacadam here. Then he slowly returned to his hunkers. He stayed there for a half a minute, moving from foot to foot, staring at it from different angles. He had already decided to call in. He just didn't want to make an iijit of himself.

No, it wasn't the colour that had caught his eye, he thought while he waited for the Shift Super to show up. It wasn't even red, for God's sake. But somehow he'd known right away what it was. That was before he'd checked the car, even. It was only after he'd stood up again that he'd realized it went right back under the bumper of the car anyway. He'd walked around the back of the car, seen the sticker: Emerald Rent-a-car. The Emerald Isle, he murmured: if this was what he thought it was, this was trouble. His fingers kept the hat rotating in his hands. He hardly noticed the rain soaking into his hair.

He looked over at the Escort again. It looked different now, as though everything had moved away from it and it stood alone, changed. It wasn't what might be in the car that was getting to him. It was how normal everything seemed, how weirdly ordinary and dull and boring. More than creepy: the hairs were still standing on the back of his neck.

No sirens, no squad cars. Where the hell were they? He tugged on the antenna, rolled the volume dial until it hissed. No one was talking, why not? He didn't want to call in again. It'd sound like he was losing it or something. The drone of lorries slowing on the dual carriageway carried over the hiss of traffic. He watched a jet rise above the terminal and followed the quivering trail from the exhaust. The rain was getting heavier.

When he looked back he saw Fogarty and two Guards heading his way. Fogarty, the fat bastard, was huffing and puffing. Derek Mitchell stepped back to the bumper of the Escort and thumbed his notebook open.

“All right there, er,” he heard Fogarty call out. “Derek?”

Mitchell watched squad car lights flicker from across the car park. More of them, well
finally
, like. He held onto his hat. What if it wasn't blood though? The two Guards looked him up and down. A handset came alive with a staticky country accent. Fogarty gave up on the hair.

“Over there,” he said to Fogarty. He had to clear his throat again. “In there, under the exhaust pipe. You have to get down here to really see it.”

Malone hit eighty in spots on the Airport Road. Minogue didn't ask him why he was driving like a bloody lunatic. Maybe he was trying to keep pace with two unmarked Opels that had passed them near Whitehall. The Nissan leaned hard into the bend as they closed on the roundabout at the entrance to the airport. Minogue felt the tires bite. He looked at the shredded supermarket bags fluttering in the hedgerows.

“They're after shutting the whole airport down?” Malone asked again.

Another unmarked, a Granada, came up behind, flickering light askew on the roof.

“That's what they told me,” Minogue said.

Maybe he could get a sandwich. But the grub in the terminal restaurant always had a peculiar taste. It had taken a few years to dawn on him that the taste of everything he'd eaten or drunk there over the years had something to do with him sitting across the table from his son with the minutes winding down for the boarding call. The lump in his throat, Daithi Minogue's pale, slack face. Hangovers, the dull and persistent pain that came up his chest to his throat. Daithi's “it's only six hours away Ma” didn't wash with Minogue either. Well, it wasn't six any more, it was more like twelve to the West Coast.

The Minogues' only son liked the States. Kathleen Minogue still sent him the Positions Available every Wednesday. He was in no hurry to get married. Semiconductors seemed to be most of his work. Why not head back to Silicon Valley here in Dublin, the new economy? Well . . . Daithi Minogue was sure he was being earmarked for an operation in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley was where it all came together, Daithi had explained.

“So it's a full scale thing,” said Malone. “Because of that incident with your man. In Monaghan?”

“I suppose,” said Minogue.

The tires began to growl. Malone let the steering wheel drift a little. The Nissan tilted suddenly to the right as Malone turned off the roundabout.

“Brian Whelan,” Malone said. “Right?”

Minogue nodded. Garda Brian Whelan, two years on the force, had been making what he and his partner believed was a routine check of a vehicle parked on a street in Castleblaney, County Monaghan, two weeks after Christmas. The car had disintegrated when Whelan opened the passenger-side door. The remains of Joseph Brogan, known as a tout of checkered reliability to the RUC and the Guards, were found amongst the wreckage of the car. The talk was still that it was settling scores and staking out territory for a gang made up of IRA men. This was during a cease-fire.

BOOK: A Carra King
13.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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