to dismiss all this as a fantasy. Others remain on the look out for any sign of that treasure. Because if it ever existed, then all the evidence points to someone stealing said treasure away.’
Snapping his head around, Cavan stared directly at Crombie.
‘And you Derek, were one of the few men left standing on that fateful day five years ago.’ He gave a gentle smile as though Crombie were a mischievous younger brother, caught with his hand in the biscuit barrel.
‘Wren Prenderson. Rhyllann Jones.’ He rolled the names around his tongue. Adding incomprehensively. ‘Welsh.’
Crombie bristled, about to protest when Cavan waved a languid hand to bat him away.
‘Come on Derek, I’m only joking.’ But this time the smile didn’t seem so gentle. ‘You do know what it means when used as a verb don’t you Derek?’
Rising to his feet, Crombie gathered up the mutilated photos and swept them into a pocket, his hand curling into a fist around the memory stick. ‘Yes I know what it means to welch. I’m sorry to have troubled you.’
After a pause he added ‘Sir.’ As he paced towards the exit, the solid wooden door appeared to retreat while still growing larger, eons passed before the clammy brass handle was beneath his hand, his other hand still thrust into his pocket, gripping the memory stick so tightly it burned against his skin. As the door finally swung open, Cavan’s plummy voice carried clearly to him.
‘Be careful Crombie, lie down with dogs, you’ll rise with fleas.’
After a moment’s deliberation Crombie decided he had nothing to lose here anyway and turned around. Cavan stood at one of the glass walls, watching the Thames roll by, hands clasped behind his back.
‘Sir. With the company you keep, I suppose you’ve become an expert on vermin.’ With that he clicked the door closed softly, mentally calculating the years to his retirement.
In the outer office, Marcia glanced up from her keyboard, to confer a regal nod.
‘Thank you for the coffee.’ Crombie said, hoping for another smile for some reason, pleased when she obliged. He wanted to ask where the men’s restroom was but something about the young woman’s fragrancey deterred him. Instead once out in the internal corridor, he paced in the opposite direction from the lifts, opening the first likely looking door he came across.
Realising he’d inadvertently stumbled into an unoccupied office, Crombie was about to duck out again when a voice sounded through the wall, the vowels rounded and every word distinct.
‘That really is most awfully generous of you. Are you quite certain the Royals won’t be using their box at the All England Club?’ After a rich fruity chuckle the voice continued: ‘Well, until a decent Englishman comes along, I suppose we’ll have to support the Scottish fellow. Pray he can defeat the Spaniard, or that Serbian chappie. The wife will be very happy, you have my thanks.’
There was a pause. Crombie stood poised to flee should the intercommunicating door open. ‘No, I’ve put the DI back in his place. He won’t give you any more trouble. He and I have an understanding now.’
Crombie shook with anger, he had the strongest temptation to fling open the door and bellow his rage. But instead turned and slunk down the stairs, feeling dirty himself somehow.
Crombie's mood wasn’t improved when he was obliged to wait in stockinged feet for his boots, mobile phone and keys to be returned to him. Crombie tried not to glare at the ancient security guard, who apologised over and over again for the mislaid items, when he wasn’t reassuring Crombie that his “personal effects would be located soon.”
Instead he bit his tongue; he wanted to say “Your security sucks, you missed a memory stick. In any case the biggest threat is already inside.”
A Long Bad Friday.
Crombie just wanted to get home and take a good long shower under scalding water, but when he eventually got his smart
Jerry B. Jenkins, Chris Fabry