The bar was
often referred to by its regular patrons, the men who really didn't want to go
home to their wives, as the 19th hole.
It was an in-joke that had long lost its comedic value.
propping on the end of the bar, the end that overlooked the 18th hole, where
sometimes there was a little excitement as the scorecards were tallied and
money changed hands, sometimes a lot of it.
There had also been a few heated arguments.
was a great believer in having incentives to do their best, putting wagers on
the outcome of a hole, something Harry never took up because he would always
end up with the most strokes, and Robert accepted because he thought he was
better than everyone else, and invariably proved otherwise.
His IOU to the
father amounted to thousands, and Harry doubted he would ever pay up.
But Robert was
a golf fanatic, getting a round in with his cronies who had nothing better to
do, nor had a job to go to, whenever they called. They didn't work for a living, but Robert
never let the fact he had a job interfere in his leisure time. Harry couldn't see Robert's friends, and since
Robert was dressed in a suit, there had to be another reason why he was
propping up the bar.
onto the stool next to his brother.
Robert gave a sidelong glance then went back to staring at the amber
liquid in the bottom of the glass. He
picked it up, swirled the glass so the ice rattled, and then drank.
He put the
glass noisily on the counter and signalled for another when he caught the
barkeeper's eye. When the barkeeper looked
at Harr he just pointed at Robert's glass.
No need to
start a tab, the barkeepers knew everyone, and the drinks went on the bill
automatically. Harry shuddered to think
what Robert's bar tab would be like, the club was his second home.
a fish out of water, Harry."
expression for his brother when he embraced the trappings of a family Harry
didn't really want.
should be at the office."
my own hours."
Dad's not there, you mean."
sideways again at his brother. "What's
Sherlock Holme's dumber brother doing here?"
thought, that joke was getting a little tired, but it humoured his brothers,
all of who had contempt for his chosen profession.
you haven't noticed, he's not here."
you here a month back when he had a brain fade after a phone call?"
was here, it was probably an irate husband, in fact, there are only two types of
calls he gets these days. Irate clients
and irate husbands. Then we all have to
clean up the mess."
not going well?"
knows. It's a war between Dad and that
dreadful woman Grandfather left behind.
Neither of them will do anything unless it outdoes the other. To be honest I'm sick of being caught in the
dropped the two drinks in front of us with a nod. A bit early to be drinking, but if I guessed
correctly, it would be the equivalent of liquid gold.
Harry took a
sip. Liquid gold, indeed. And a hefty dent in his bar tab.
of anything he's been working on currently that might be, say,
Dad. All cloak and dagger, to him. The last time he was Luke this, he was seeing
that Argeter chap. Never liked him,
cheats at golf, and that sets the mark as far as I'm concerned. Why Dad tolerates him is anyone's
Harry had seen
him from time to time. And his mother was equally adamant the man was bad news.
And, exactly what he was after. A lead.
look into him."
my advice, don't. I reckon he has some
very dangerous friends, none of whom would take kindly to a private
investigator snooping around."
more reason then."
funeral, Harry. I thought the last time
you stared death in the face you'd come to your senses. Apparently not."
If he was
looking to get Harry to leave him alone, he had touched the right
nerve. On top of his brother’s contempt
for Harry's chosen profession, he seemed to think Harry's recent brush with
death was a wake-up call to return to the fold.
It hadn't, and paradoxically, had only made him more determined to
the job Robert. You could also finish up
on the wrong end of a gun yourself if you follow in Dad's footsteps. Just think about that."
his drink, gave his brother one last glare, and then left.
room was not the most awe-inspiring place.
Harry had a collection of mixed memories of the place, where men
gathered in groups in various stages of dress, on their way to and from the
showers, most without any sense of decorum.
in disparaging yards of their wives, girlfriends, work colleagues, and life in
general, a place where they believed they could speak freely.
always been surprised by it all, learning all too quickly that the world was
never quite what it seemed behind the polite discussion and sympathetic smiles.
Today or was
almost too quiet, with the odd golfer on his way out onto the course, and no brash
conversation. Ideal, in fact, for what
His father was
one of those members who had his locker out of view of the CCTV cameras, put
there because of a flare-up after one afternoon's rather intense u
sportsmanship spilling over into the room.
divided on the measure, but when the insurance company threatened to pull its
cover, they agreed to limited access.
Harry had the
door open inside a minute, and took another three, to analyse its
contents. He had assumed his father
would use this sacred space to hide anything he didn't want anyone else to see,
and, to a certain extent, he was right.
A shoe box, at
the bottom. Under several old pairs of shoes, a box no one would give a second
He pulled it
out, lifted the lid and saw a book, what looked like a diary, and several
Not the place
to take a look. He'd brought a plastic
zipper bag and placed the items in it, then tucked it under his shirt,
smoothing out the wrinkles, so that it didn't look as though there was
something there. Everyone except
Cecil. He'd noticed Harry had suddenly
put on weight, so he'd have to use the back exit.
Box back, door
closed, he was in and out under five minutes.
© Charles Heath 2020-2022