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Authors: Howard Engel

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BOOK: A Victim Must Be Found
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“You told us almost everything. There’s something else.”

“Bill, get off my back. What have you been smoking?”

“You’re right,” Chris said. “I can see it in his eyes. Come on, Benny. What are you holding back?”

“It has nothing to do with any of this.”

“Spill it,” Chris insisted, and I felt some pressure on my arm from the Abraham connection.

“It has to do with Pambos, right?” Bill guessed.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with why he was killed. It’s something extra, something that doesn’t lead anywhere.”

“Come on!”

“Christ, Chris, I liked the guy! I saw him lying in his own blood! He brought me into this in the first place. I don’t want to …”

“It has to do with Guenyeli, I’ll bet,” Bill Palmer said. Nobody said anything after that. Anna was waiting for a translation, while Chris was searching his memory for that familiar name.

“What’s Guenyeli?” Anna asked at length.

“It’s a village in Cyprus,” Chris said slowly, as though the place was gradually coming into focus. “A Turkish village on the road from Nicosia to Kyrenia.” After that, he looked at me, still puzzled like the others, and so I told them.

“Pambos had a brother who was killed by the Turks outside that village back in the 1950s. Michael, his name was. The British picked him up with a bunch of young Greeks and let them off in the fields behind Guenyeli. The Turks were waiting for them with knives and axes and clubs. Nine were killed. Bill, here, covered it for the
Times of Cyprus.
Later, here in Canada, another of Pambos’s brothers was killed. This one had got in with the mob. He had always rebelled against authority, the injustice of it all, and came to a bad end. Now Pambos was more subtle. He set about trying to find out who was behind the massacre at Guenyeli. Bill here told him after a lot of prodding.

“On his trip to England with Linda, Pambos went down to Kent, where the British officer who had ordered the Guenyeli massacre was then living in retirement near the coast. Maybe you noticed, Bill, what an expert he was on the coast between Dover and Deal? He was talking about possible landing places for Napoleon. He tracked Tim Bell, the officer in charge, to a house in Walmer and he watched the local pub. One night he caught up to the old man and killed him, probably with a tire iron, and left the body by the side of the road so that it would be taken for a hit-and-run case.”

“That’s terrible!” Anna said, surprising herself when the words in her mind could be heard by the rest of us. “He did that? In cold blood?”

“Yes, he did that,” I said. “But he missed his mark.”

“Uh?”

“He killed Tim Bell’s longstanding drinking crony, another retired officer, another old-timer, another Timothy, as it happened. Bell hadn’t gone drinking that night. He killed the wrong man. Then Pambos drove back to London and continued his visiting of museums and castles with his wife.”

“I guess you know what you’re talking about?” Chris asked without much steel in his voice.

“Oh, yes. I talked to Linda and Bill, here. I got curious enough to make a phone call to the police at Deal. The pub’s the Thompsons Bell. The Dover Road from the village is quiet at that time of night. Closing time. The two Tims were familiar old brothers-in-arms as they wandered back along that road. Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Bell was sick with the flu the night of the murder. He died two months later.”

“Kiriakis behaved like he was a one-man Nuremberg,” Savas said at last. “Even if it was his brother. You can’t take the law …” He didn’t finish. He knew we knew.

“Funny, to think of Pambos being both a victim and a murderer,” Bill said. “And there’s no connection. Nothing. Just his passion for getting involved, I guess. The same way he got involved with Napoleon on St. Helena and fussed about the paintings that hadn’t been returned to Tallon’s collection.”

“To be too busy is some danger,” Anna said, and I thought of Wally Lamb who’d said the same thing. I guessed it was a quotation from somewhere. It fitted Pambos like a cap.

“The very last piece of news I put on the table was the fact that Alex Favell had caught up to me on the doormat, while putting on his rubbers. He announced without looking away from his feet that some pictures had been found at home that weren’t his. He wondered whether they might belong to the Tallon estate. I suggested that he get in touch with George Tallon about it. Favell nodded like he wouldn’t have been able to come to that conclusion on his own. He thanked me and still without looking me in the eye, rushed out into the night with a clear conscience.

I didn’t bother telling them that after Jonah Abraham had waved the rest of us good-night, he went back into the house where, I suddenly remembered, Wally Lamb and Ivy were still sitting and drinking Bloody Marys. Something good may come of that too, I thought.

Chris and Bill went off in Chris’s car and I started to drive Anna back through the city to her father’s house on the hill. Neither of us said anything for a long time. The lights on the highway dulled the powers of speech. Anna snuggled up to my side of the car, making me glad I wasn’t a “four-on-the-floor” purist. Beyond the oncoming headlights, a purplish glow hung over Grantham. For a minute I thought of my old room at the City House, the last of the United Cigar Store on St. Andrew Street and Ella Beames’s coming retirement. I thought of the death sentence Pambos had pronounced on Tacos Heaven. I’d have to wait and see how accurate he was in his prophecy. “I still like him, Anna,” I said. “Is that wrong?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t know. You like what you remember of the man. That doesn’t mean you approve of what he did.” We were quiet again as I came through the shoulders of a cut that led to the edge of the escarpment. After a while she said:

“He made a terrible hash of it, didn’t he? Killing the wrong man. You can’t justify that.”

“No.” We were coming down under the purple haze and into the valley of the old canal. “It’s almost worse because there was no human contact in it. No fight, no argument, no falling out.”

“An execution, that’s what it was.”

“He may have thought so. But where were the judge and jury?”

“Maybe it was Paddy Miles.”

“You believe in a complicated universe, Anna.” The Olds left the highway and came up to St. Andrew Street and its eastbound traffic. “If Major Bell had had his day in court, what would he have said?”

“‘I was trying to shorten the fighting; I was only following orders; I was doing my duty.’ I don’t know.”

“Were they both exceeding their authority? Both Paddy and Pambos?”

“Yes, I think they were. But it’s never easy, is it?”

“No, Anna, you’re right there.” It had started to rain again as I turned off St. Andrew into Court Street. We were heading into April and there was no avoiding it.

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BOOK: A Victim Must Be Found
6.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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