The Shepherd File

The Shepherd File by Conrad Voss Bark

Book: The Shepherd File by Conrad Voss Bark Read Free Book Online
Authors: Conrad Voss Bark
way. Where did he get the drink?’
    ‘He called at a pub — The Feathers at Windsor.’
    ‘Probably there.’
    ‘Then he went to meet Nina Lydoevna — ’
    ‘At Runnymede: ten minutes by car. Talks to Nina for, say, another ten. Doubt if they’d risk more. Twenty altogether. The stuff begins to work. He gets queer, gets illusions, hallucinations, sees the river. Bong.’
    Morrison frowned. ‘What do you mean — bong? Do be sensible. This is only a theory. There’s no evidence — ’
    ‘Damn evidence,’ said Holmes. ‘We’ll find that later. It fits in. Both cases. Forty-five minutes from the Mall to the Reading motorway. Perhaps a bit longer. Dear me, I hope not too long.’
    Holmes reopened Pendlebury’s file. ‘Ah, good,’ he sounded relieved as he found the reference he wanted. ‘That’s it,’ he said. ‘That’s it. After taking LSD, nothing happens for as little as fifteen minutes or as long as two hours,’ he closed the file. Two hours is plenty of time. That makes it simple.’
    Morrison was filling his pipe. He looked thoughtfully and with a certain bewilderment at Holmes’ eager face, the bright eyes shining, the parted lips; and absorbed with admiration the radiated excitement. But Morrison was sceptical. A Presbyterian background and a policeman’s training were strong influences on him. ‘Do I take it,’ he said, ‘you’re suggesting the men in the motorway crash were doped?’
    ‘That’s it,’ said Holmes. ‘I actually saw it myself. Every detail. I sat there, you know, Joe, and watched, I actually watched — and all the while I was thinking “this isn’t natural, this isn’t normal,” and there it was happening perfectly normally except for one thing. Their faces. It was that which convinced me. Otherwise it could have been drink. But, a drunken man, even an incapable man, at least knows when he’s driving off the road. He sees danger, even if he only sees it too late. If the steering fails or a tyre blows out he will at least be visibly disturbed. He will respond somehow. He’ll wrestle with the driving wheel. There’ll be at least some movement, some expression. But not in this case. There they were, doing ninety plus, sitting, both of them, like dummies, no sign of fear or of any emotion at all — no sign of anything. They hit the grass, swerved back on to the road, back to the grass again, and they didn’t notice. Their faces were blank. It was terrifying, Joe. They weren’t in the car at all. They were in a trance. They were seeing things. Drunks don’t behave like that.’
    ‘There’s no evidence — ’ began Morrison.
    ‘Of course there won’t be any evidence,’ said Holmes. ‘Either in the motorway crash or, as we already know, in the Shepherd case. No evidence at all. The stuff is metabolized After half an hour, isn’t it? LSD goes into the body and is absorbed without trace. That’s precisely why they’re using it. No awkward questions asked at inquests about a deposit on the stomach lining because there isn’t any. Very convenient, Joe, mental assassination. It’s not even murder.’
    ‘We’ll see about that,’ grunted Morrison. ‘It seems to me, he went on, ‘that it’s worth looking at. I think so. It’s certainly one explanation.’
    ‘You’re most kind,’ murmured Mr Holmes. ‘Generous,’ he added. ‘Most generous.’
    Morrison stared. Holmes took no notice. He was moving round the room, hands in pockets, looking round at things, but not at anything in particular, staring abstractedly into the air, screwing up his eyes, jutting his lower lip.
    Morrison recognized the signs. ‘What do you want now?’ he asked.
    Holmes came back into focus. He looked across at Morrison. His manner was almost apologetic. ‘Of course,’ he said, ‘it’s none of my business. Not really. I mean — I deal with policy and all that, and it’s you and Lamb who are, as it were, in charge of the operation itself, but — ’
    ‘Don’t be funny,’

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