Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Shadow of Death (Parish & Richards 4) Excerpt


By Tim Ellis

Monday 30th May

 ‘Morning Mrs Parsons. I do believe you get lovelier every time you grace my shop with your presence.’
‘Harry Shanks you’re a rogue. You want to get yourself a nice young wife and have lots of children, instead of buttering up old folks like me.’
‘Other women are mere shadows in the brilliant light of your beauty. What’ll it be today then, Mrs Parsons?’
‘The liver and kidney with the bit of heart you gave me last time was very tasty, I’ll have some more of that if...’
‘Unfortunately, I’ve only got the liver and kidney. The heart only comes in on special delivery.’
‘I’ll have a quarter pound of the liver and kidney then, Harry.’
After Mrs Parsons had left the shop Marty said, ‘Will the new owners keep me on, do you think?’
‘I don’t know, Marty.’
‘So, what ya gonna do?’
‘Well, the first thing I’m gonna do, is find an apprentice that speaks proper English.’
‘Ha, ha. Yeah, good luck with that, Mr S.’
‘I fancy a change, Marty. My heart isn’t in butchering since my old dad died. I think I’d like to try something different.’
‘Like what?’
‘Well, first off, I might do a bit of travelling. Go and see what butchering is like in different parts of the world. Do you know that they eat fried cockroaches in Vietnam.’
‘Don’t be disgusting, Mr S.’
‘You need to open your mind, Marty.’
‘Well, good luck, Mr S. I hope you have a wicked time.’
‘Thank you, Marty... I think.’
  
***

 ‘Good morning,’ Chief Superintendent Abby Kirby said. ‘I know you’ve been through a difficult time since my friend and colleague Walter Day died. However, the Chief Constable has chosen me to replace him specifically because he knows that I’ll respect what Walter built up, and I know there are some good people here.’
‘You haven’t slept with her have you, Kowalski?’ Parish whispered.
‘The face doesn’t ring any bells, but then there’s been so many.’
‘Yeah, good one, Ray.’
‘Am I back with you, Sir?’ Richards said.
‘You won’t be if you keep talking while she’s talking.’
‘Huh!’
After the new Chief had introduced herself, and told everyone she’d walk round the station during the day and meet people, she approached Parish and took him by the elbow. ‘My office, Inspector.’
He followed her along the corridor. In her high heels, she was a couple of inches shorter than his six-foot one. Her hair was finger length, blonde with grey highlights, or the other way round. Anyway, he thought it suited her. He was also pleased that she was thin, probably a bit too thin if he was being honest, but certainly a big improvement on fatty Marshall. There were crow’s feet at the corners of her eyes, and laughter lines round her mouth. He decided that he liked her, but it all depended on what she said to him in the next five minutes.
‘Take a seat, Inspector Parish.’
Certainly a good start, he thought. Not only that, but she’d transformed fatty Marshall’s office back into Walter Day’s office. The carpet and paint were still new, but they’d needed replacing anyway. There was a new pane of glass in the door, and all the furniture had been put back into its familiar places – he felt at home again.
‘Coffee?’
‘Please.’ Yes, he decided that she was as warm as the coffee.
‘And don’t put four sugars in it when I’m watching.’
‘Okay, Chief.’
‘The Chief Constable has told me all about you and Constable Richards.’
He smiled like a used car salesman. ‘All good I hope?’
‘What do you think?’
‘I think you like me already.’
She put the coffee down in front of him.
‘Thank you.’ He put two sugars in the cup, and then when she turned to get her own coffee, he slipped another two in.
She sat down opposite him and smiled. ‘Here’s how it’s going to go, Inspector Parish. I’ll return everything to normal – if normal is the right word to use around you – but you have to promise not to make me look like an idiot before I retire.’
He took a swallow of his coffee. ‘I think I can promise that, Chief.’
‘Good, then I think we can work together.’
  
***

 ‘What did she say, Sir?’
‘She said you can work with me again.’
Richards jumped up and hugged him. ‘How great is that?’
‘But... there were a number of conditions.’
‘Oh?’
‘She said you have to go to counselling without fail...’
‘Okay.’
‘That you have to help me with the YCAP education and training initiative...’
‘Okay.’
‘That you have to stop annoying me, believe everything I say, and make me a coffee any time I ask.’
Richards laughed. ‘I bet she didn’t even mention me.’
‘She did so, Richards. She wanted to know why – when I could have my pick of wonderful partners – I worked with someone who was a pain in the arse and disobeyed orders at the drop of a hat.’
‘And what did you tell her?’
‘I told her that you were my kind of pain in the arse, Richards.’
‘I love you as well, Sir.’
‘I know you do. Right, coffee first, and then we’ll get down to some serious work.’
  
***

 Angkor, Cambodia

 ‘You’re a genius, Harry,’ Adrian said.
They had visited Angkor Wat earlier, not that they hadn’t seen it before a dozen times because they had, but the one thing that King Suryavarman II’s temple had in abundance was tourists – young female tourists especially. In fact, one of those tourists – a twenty-five-year-old American woman by the name of Lia Fairchild – lay naked and strapped to the Mortuary table he’d acquired from a strange Cambodian dealer with a hair lip and a glass eye.
She opened her mouth to scream.
‘You can scream as much as you want to because no one will hear you, but you should know that noise makes me angry, and when I get angry I will want to hurt you.’
She closed her mouth.
He ran his hands over her flat stomach, squeezed her breasts, and then bent down and kissed her lips. ‘That’s a good girl, I think we’re going to have a beautiful relationship.’ He began to chant:


Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil...

 Adrian walked to the other room and switched on the monitor. He sat in the executive leather chair and took out his bishop, which was nearly as hard as it could be. ‘Yes, do her good, Harry,’ he said. ‘Do her good.’

***

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