Read Still Bleeding (A Jack Nightingale Short Story) Online

Authors: Stephen Leather

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Still Bleeding (A Jack Nightingale Short Story) (7 page)

BOOK: Still Bleeding (A Jack Nightingale Short Story)
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‘You swabbed my
DNA?’

‘Your story
sounded fishy even back then,’ said Nightingale. ‘We’ve already had
the DNA profiled through a lab we use and we’ve got decent
fingerprints off the business card you gave me. And on the cup you
drank your coffee from. This tape is more than enough to have you
sent to prison for a long, long time.’

Connolly nodded
slowly. ‘And I’m guessing there’s a reason you haven’t already
called in the cops?’

‘You read my
mind,’ said Nightingale. ‘Can you figure it out for yourself?’

‘You want to
take the pressure off the girl.’

‘She has a
name.’

Connolly
nodded. ‘You want the dogs called off Tracey. And you need me to do
that. Right?’

‘Got it in
one,’ said Nightingale. ‘You tell your bosses that she’s faking it.
She made up the whole thing to attract attention to herself. Most
of the cases you look at are fakes, right?’

‘That’s
true.’

‘So that’s what
they’ll be expecting to hear,’ said Nightingale. ‘You tell them
that it’s over. You do that and this recording stays in a safety
deposit box along with the CCTV footage and the DNA profile, and a
full statement from me just in case something happens to me. Can
you do that for me, Jonah?’

Connolly said
nothing for several seconds, then he forced a smile. ‘It doesn’t
look like I have much choice, does it?’

‘My Plan B is
to call the cops now and have you and your pals charged with
conspiracy to murder and to go public with as many TV and newspaper
interviews as I can give over the next few days. There’s a fair bit
of hysteria out there about what’s being happening to kids
recently, and I think we can both agree that the Catholic Church
has had more than its fair share of bad publicity.’

‘I hear what
you’re saying, Nightingale.’

‘And we have a
deal?’

Connolly nodded
slowly. ‘We have a deal.’

‘Get up slowly.
And sit down at the table.’

Connolly did as
he was told.

Nightingale
grinned. ‘Cool. Now inject that into your arm and we can all go our
separate ways.’

‘Are you
serious?’

‘Deadly
serious,’ said Nightingale. ‘But if you don’t want to do it, we’ve
still got Plan B.’

Connolly stared
at the plastic box and then slowly opened it. He took out the
syringe, put the box on the bed and carefully pulled off the small
orange plastic cap off the needle. ‘You don’t have to do this. It’s
a sedative.’

‘Then you’ve
nothing to worry about.’ He gestured with the shotgun. ‘Don’t spill
any. And Jonah, maybe you should think about another line of
work.’

‘Offering
career guidance now, are you?’

‘You need to
ask yourself why the Virgin Mary would appear to a little girl and
not someone like you. And then you have to ask yourself what side
of the fence your actions have put you on, and what the
repercussions to that might be.’ He wagged the shotgun at the
priest. ‘I have to say that the Virgin Mary is one lady I wouldn’t
want to get on the wrong side of.’ He shrugged. ‘I’m just saying,
that’s all.’

Connolly pulled
up his left sleeve, then tapped on his arm to expose a vein. He
opened his mouth to say something but Nightingale shook his head
and pointed the shotgun at his face. Connolly sighed, inserted the
needle into a vein and gently pushed the plunger and slowly
injected the contents of the syringe into his arm. When he’d
finished he removed the needle, replaced the orange cap, and put
the syringe back into its box. Just as he closed the box his
eyelids fluttered and he slumped forward. A few seconds later he
was snoring softly.

Nightingale
left the house through the front door, hiding the shotgun under his
raincoat. He waited until he was back in his MGB before he phoned
Ricky Hamilton. ‘Where are you?’

‘Almost at the
cottage,’ he said. ‘It’s been a long drive.’

‘It’s over,’
said Nightingale.

‘Are you sure?’
asked Ricky.


As sure
as I can be,’ said Nightingale. ‘But you have to keep her away from
South London. For a while, at least.’

‘That’s not a
problem,’ said Ricky. ‘She can stay with me for as long as needs
be.’

‘No one can see
her, you know that?’ said Nightingale. ‘The Vatican will be told
that her stigmata was a fake. If she attracts attention again they
might send someone else. So no healings, no Press, no nothing.’

‘Will they send
someone else?’

‘I don’t think
so,’ said Nightingale. ‘I put the frighteners on the guy, and he
knows that if anyone else threatens Tracey I have more than enough
evidence to go to the police.’

‘Evidence?’

‘I have him on
tape, but I also span him a line about CCTV, DNA and fingerprints.
He’ll run off with his tail between his legs and he won’t be back.
And the deal we’ve done is that he’ll tell his bosses that the girl
is a fake.’

‘And they’ll
believe him?’

‘Ninety-nine
per cent of stigmata cases are fake, that’s what they expect to
hear,’ said Nightingale. ‘But you have to keep her under the radar
from now on.’

‘I hear you,’
said Ricky. ‘I’ll take care of her.’

‘I hope so,’
said Nightingale. ‘And Tracey? How is she?’

‘Still
bleeding,’ said Ricky.

 

 

THE END

 

Jack
Nightingale appears in the full-length novels Nightfall, Midnight,
Nightmare, Nightshade and Lastnight. He has his own website
at
www.jacknightingale.com

###

 

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