Sunday 12 – Tuesday 14 July 2015
Monitors and machines beeped and buzzed in the hospital room that would be home to Phillipa Benchley for the next few weeks. She was dressed in a hospital gown, and her bruised and battered body was lightly covered up to her shoulders with a sheet. Her swollen face showed no signs of life. Duncan Stirling, who had been by her bedside from the time she was admitted to the ward, stepped outside of Phillipa’s room to make the phone call, and despite being some distance away from her, was almost whispering into his phone.
‘Get a BOLO for Darcy Holmes, may be going by the pseudonym Darcy Entwhistle. Make it known that he’s gone rogue, and he’s likely armed and dangerous. Possible that he’ll use his agent ID to get in and out of places. He’s to be apprehended, taken alive. I want him alive. He’s going to pay for what he’s done to Benchley and the agency. Get it done now, Lee.’
A passing nurse stole Stirling’s attention from his cell phone. She smiled sympathetically, an expression she’d obviously perfected from wearing it day in, day out when dealing with the loved ones of patients.
‘You look like you could use a cup of coffee, and something to eat, sir. Why don’t you head down to the cafeteria, and take a little break? We can page you if there’s any change in your friend’s situation.’
‘Yeah, yeah, that’s . . . that’s probably a good idea,’ he replied. Reaching into the inner pocket of his jacket, Stirling pulled out a business card, and held it out to the nurse. ‘My card. My cell number’s on it.’
She took the card with the same sympathetic smile, nodded, and continued on down the corridor to the nurses’ station. With a last look at Phillipa, Stirling took the nurse’s advice, and headed to the elevators.
* * * * *
By the time the local police had found the body, and then informed the agency, the man they had identified as Darcy Entwhistle had been lying dead in the filthy hotel room for at least four hours. Stirling had sent his two best agents out to the hotel to recover the body after the local coroner had released the corpse. Under instruction from the agents, the local boys photographed, bagged and tagged every piece of evidence in the room. Notably absent were the two briefcases that Darcy and Phillipa had used in the sting to get Albert Monroe, and the two paintings that they had purchased with the cash.
‘Stirling’s going to be pissed if we can’t find the money. He’s supposed to get it back by tomorrow night at the latest.’
‘Trevor, we can’t make the money materialise out of thin air. If it’s not here, Stirling will have to deal with that himself.’
‘Indeed,’ Trevor replied. ‘Let’s speak with the manager, see what he knows, and then we’ll check out the other patrons. Who knows, they might remember something they forgot to tell the locals.’
* * * * *
The news of Darcy Holmes’ death travelled quickly to Carlton Barlow. Standing in front of his team, he relayed the information.
‘Local boys called in a body a few hours ago. The deceased was identified as Darcy Entwhistle, better known to us as Agent Darcy Holmes. He had been undercover, as you all know, assisting our guys in flushing out Albert Monroe. His partner, Phillipa Benchley, was picked up some hours prior by a cabbie. She’d been badly beaten, and is currently in hospital. Not sure if she’s going to pull through. Duncan Stirling is at the hospital with her. Now, the two paintings that Holmes and Benchley purchased from Monroe are missing, as are the two cases full of cash that the agents had in their possession. According to Monroe, Holmes demanded both cases back which, allegedly, Monroe complied with, and then Holmes and Benchley legged it. Seems the agents went rogue. We’re not sure what happened between Holmes and Benchley absconding and Benchley being picked up by the cabbie. Nor are we able to say what happened in the Holmes’ assault and murder. The director, however, has called us in to investigate this as a whole case – the art thefts, and the assaults on Benchley and Holmes, and of course, Holmes’ murder.’
Barlow paused, allowing his agents the opportunity to absorb the information. A few sighs, some shuffling of papers, the tapping of computer keys, and the scraping of chairs shifting ensured that they were not sitting uncomfortably in silence.
‘Listen, boys and girls, this is going to be a tough time for the department. Nobody expects you to be immune from feeling hurt or angry or disappointed or sad. Some of you know these agents well, some of you don’t know them at all, either way they’re part of our bigger agency family, so be gentle with each other. However, that does not mean that you cut corners on this investigation. We will get whoever is responsible, and that means that if we happen to prove that Holmes and Benchley are bent, so be it, but we get to the bottom of this mess, and we do it by the book.’
He eyeballed every agent in the room, and only then noticed the absence of Hineman and Moore.
‘Where are Laurence and Matthew? Anyone seen them?’ Barlow barked. A low murmur filled the room, as the other agents looked around for the missing agents.
‘Hineman and Moore, where are they?’ Barlow snapped again. ‘Someone get them on the phone. NOW!’
* * * * *
With the US-Canadian border behind them, Hineman finally relaxed.
‘We’re safe now,’ Moore said.
‘We won’t be safe until we’re out of this country, and in one that has no extradition agreement with America. Canada will only be safe for a few more hours, I’d imagine. You know what Barlow’s like – he won’t stop until he’s turned over every stone to find out what happened, and when he realises that it was us, he won’t stop until he’s got us in his precious interrogation room.’ Hineman chanced a glance at the back seat. The paintings and briefcases were sitting on the backseat for all to see.
‘It’s okay, Laurence. Nobody really pays any attention to the stuff that’s right in front of their faces because they’re too busy looking for the hidden stuff. Just don’t keep looking at it, and nobody will question what we have.’
Hineman grunted in reply. Moore was right. They’d passed through border inspection without the customs officers taking so much as a second look at the backseat.
‘You should get some sleep before you take over the driving,’ Moore suggested.
‘Yeah. Wake me in a couple of hours will you?’ Hineman reclined his seat just enough to comfortably rest as Moore took on the bulk of their crossing of Canada.
* * * * *
It was the fact that he could no longer feel the motion of the car that woke Hineman from a relatively deep slumber. He set the seat back to its upright position, and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Moore had pulled the car into a truck stop, and was stretching his legs a few metres from the vehicle. Hineman get out of the car, and joined his partner.
‘You should have woken me, Matty,’ he said.
‘It’s okay, buddy. I think I’ve got a couple more hours of driving left in me. Just needed to get the kinks out. Figured it’d be better to stop where there wasn’t anyone around in case Barlow’s on to us already.’
Hineman liked Moore’s thinking. ‘Good idea. Gotta admit too, the view is pretty spectacular.’
They both looked out into the wilderness beyond the truck stop. At the edge of what Hineman thought might be considered a cliff, the steep descent gave way to a thick forest below the parking spot.
‘I reckon if you fell down there, you wouldn’t be found for days, maybe even weeks,’ Hineman said.
‘My thoughts exactly, buddy,’ Moore replied.
Smitten with the view in front of him, Hineman was unaware that his partner had moved, and was standing directly behind him, gun in hand, and levelled at the back of Hineman’s head.
‘My thoughts exactly,’ Moore repeated as he squeezed the pistol’s trigger. A through and through, it was unlikely that the bullet would ever be found by anyone investigating Hineman’s death, should they ever find his body. Hineman collapsed dead at Moore’s feet, and without much effort, Moore rolled the body over the edge of the cliff, and watched it pick up speed as it rolled down the steep slope. As an added benefit, by the time Hineman’s corpse reached the bottom of the cliff, his face would be unrecognisable, and the authorities would have to really on DNA to identify him.
‘Later, buddy. Thanks for the help, but I don’t need you to help me pull this off any more.’ He threw the pistol with enough force that it travelled out over the cliff, and landed somewhere in the forest below.
‘Time for a new start somewhere else in the world. And this time, instead of being a hard working government employee, I’ll be a rich man.’
. . . The end . . .