Chapter Forty-eight

“In a revolution, as in a novel, the most difficult part to invent is the end.”
Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville

 

Well, the sun is rising and I should, though I probably won’t, get some sleep. I needed to write about today, or rather, yesterday, immediately; not so much while it was still fresh in my mind but rather so that I could look at it all again and put it to rest.

Mary was awake and could talk to us when we all (even Robert Inks) visited with her after concluding our business with Merton; she was pleased.

We left her in Maggie’s hands while the rest of us (but not Inks) adjourned to the neighbours’ place for that pizza. Doors had been repaired, and locks changed on the assumption that spare keys may have been stolen; we hadn’t sufficient time or inclination to make a thorough search.

In case you are wondering, I am writing this longhand in my own Journal, as I most often do; thank goodness for ‘Dropbox’ as I think I had left my most recent back-up drive plugged into my laptop.

Chris was still having doubts about whether or not his stories would be published and whether Gryphon’s interest in them was purely to do with their concern that Mary would sign with them. Robert Inks was helpful; he suggested to Chris that if Gryphon’s were publishing then they had found something useful to them in one or more of his stories. It was then that Chris recalled one of his early concerns, the change of title of one story, the one that Mary had first submitted to Greeves, from ‘Let Mummy Make it Better,’ to ‘Let Mother Make it Better’. Jim Henry said yes, that was intentional, because of the link to Mother Pharmaceuticals, though he had not seen the final comments from Merton’s ‘people’ on required rewrites. Presumably these ‘people’ are the same ones who composed Shakespeare’s stories, so at least Chris might accept that he is in good company. Of course, I don’t mean that they are literally the same people; that would be an altogether different story.

Anyway, I think Chris has had enough of the literary life for a while. His final year of Law will make demands on his time and so will ‘the girlfriend’ as he has taken to describing Jules. I am betting that he won’t get away with that past Christmas.

He has agreed to a six month internship with Lockett, Marchant and Reeves in 2013 as he intends to take up my parents’ offer of an associate’s position with the firm.

Speaking of Law, I had a quiet talk to Maggie after dinner; she says that I would not be the first man to have careers in both law and medicine, so that’s something to think about isn’t it?

Jules is not too concerned with the fate of ‘Da Vinci’s Children’ in the hands of the jury of the Brisbane Film Festival; she has been approached by distributors who viewed it at the opening night screening and is already planning her next project, which may involve some travel; ‘They brought their cheque books,’ she said, ‘and where better to make a film about Henry VIII and his Act of Supremacy, than in his own back yard?’

Maggie is quietly pleased with Jim Henry’s news that he is indeed ready to ‘come in from the cold’ and retire from S.I.D. He is ready, he says, to finally live out his parents’ dream and write the great American novel that they always hoped he would; or at least, try to. They have their eye on acreage at Brookfield, just up the road.

Mary will take time to recover from the broken ribs but she is committed to working with Maggie at RBH and to the lecture tour promoting their book; she says she can’t wait to see Gryphon’s reaction when she announces the changes she has in mind for the second edition. She has also accepted places on the Boards of both St. Jude’s and Great Ormond Street hospitals that will involve ambassadorial roles for both.

Paul and Meredith Cavanagh, my parents, insist that for them it’s ‘business as usual’. They refuse to accept that any fallout from their brilliant success in the suit against Merton should concern them. I am not so sure and neither is Jim Henry.

“You know the old saying about battles and wars,” he reminded them, “and Merton is not the kind of man to let any defeat go unavenged. He is like any bully; he knows that his reputation is a vital part of his armour. He will feel that he has a point to prove to anyone else who might be encouraged to take him on and he may yet decide that your firm should pay. I can give you some contacts that might help you stay ahead of him though.”

We are all getting together again one more time tonight, for a BBQ at ‘The Jacarandas’, Angela’s ‘mansion’. Jules is excited; Brian Almighty will be there though Angela will be late; she will be reading the news tonight and telling the world about the outcome of a certain lawsuit. Incidentally, this will be her last broadcast for Channel Nine. The rumours about ‘Sixty Minutes’ were accurate but Angela has turned down the offer; apparently CNN have a vacancy for an anchor in Northern Ireland and she refuses to confirm or deny that her name is at the top of their list. Indeed.

Wait a bit.

My phone was doing its TARDIS thing again. “Hello, Bug,” I said.

“Good Morning, Doctor,” said my friend.

THE END

(of Part One?)

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Chapter Forty-seven

“See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little.”
John XXIII

Lord Merton appeared, head and shoulders, on the screen; he was looking relaxed, dressed as though for golf and that was confirmed when he changed the angle of his own camera to compensate for the glare. Allowing for time differences it should have been early morning in Britain but when Merton raised a glass of wine in welcome I guessed that like ourselves, the man was somewhere in the Southern hemisphere and at a longitude not too distant from our own.

“Thank you William,” he said to Greeves who now stepped away from the computer. My father stepped forward, “Good evening Lord Merton, thank you for agreeing to take our call personally. We hope not to keep you from your exercise too long.”

I believe that was an opening shot across the bows so to speak from my Dad; a veiled reference to Merton’s age and a reminder to him that no one is invincible when it comes to the passing of time. We all have our use by date, regardless of how powerful we may become in this life.

Merton disregarded it. With a sweep of his fingers through his silver hair he removed his sunglasses and faced us clear eyed and remarkably youthful looking for a man who presumably was close to eighty years of age.

“That’s quite alright Mr Cavanagh; my personal trainer is satisfied with my efforts for this day. Twenty-seven holes of golf without the luxury of an electric cart should keep the insidious creep of time at bay, at least presently.”

I could think of only one insidious creep that should be kept at bay and that not just presently but forever. The man was making no attempt at all to mask his confidence that we were about to crumble and drop our suit against him and his companies.

My dad was settling into the game; he intended that it should be brief.

“My clients (chiefly Mary and Maggie but ultimately all those who have been affected by Mother Pharmaceutical’s malfeasance) have authorised me to negotiate a settlement,” he said and his tone was clipped and should have left no doubt in Merton’s mind that the gloves were definitely off.

“A settlement, Mr Cavanagh? We see no grounds for any settlement; I expect you to drop this frivolous litigation without further delay. My lawyer is here with me; he has suffered one defeat already today and I am sure he is not in any mood to accept another. What do you think could possibly incline me to make a settlement in any way favourable to your clients; other than to agree to proceed with the publication of their book, and to confirm our promise that all the profits will be granted to your Royal Brisbane Hospital, of course.”

My Dad looked up from the computer. The first face he saw was that of William Greeves and his expression was complacent, if not smug. Like his boss, Greeves was completely confident that they had foreseen every possible move that might be made against them.

But Paul ignored him; he looked to Jim Henry for the final nod to proceed to the conclusion they had planned months before and which apparently they had managed to keep secret from the opposition as they had hoped to.

Remember that Maggie had let slip to Jules and me that ‘the Americans’ were ready to step in and play a crucial part in bringing Mother Pharmaceuticals in particular but all of Merton’s related companies, including Gryphon Day, to face at least a measure of justice for their role in Michael’s death.

“Of course you will do that too,” said Paul to Merton, “however my clients expect more. In fact they insist that nothing less than the withdrawal of all Mother’s products from markets outside the United Kingdom and of the compounds mentioned in the suit from production absolutely, will satisfy them; and they insist that I claim, on their behalf, all the costs of this action to date as well as punitive damages not only in respect to the death of Michael Makepeace but in respect to the also named 1247 other claimants in the amount of $15.5 million dollars, per claimant.”

My Dad stopped, not for breath but for effect and so that we all could watch Merton’s reaction. “It should be worth seeing,” he had told us earlier, while we still had not heard the claims that he would put or even knew of the leverage he believed he had that would carry the day.

Merton’s face froze on the screen; he made no witty reply. He was clever enough to know that a threat of this nature would be entirely out of place unless it could be backed up.

We watched as his eyes moved from the camera so that he appeared to be looking at and listening to someone else present with him; presumably his lawyer.

Jim Henry had assured my father that the firm of Fox, Urquhart and Associates whom Merton had entrusted this case to, were ready to ‘play ball’.

He said, “For any firm in the United States, an unannounced visit from the Director of a major intelligence agency in tandem with agents and lawyers of the Internal Revenue Service is a game changer. But for a legal firm whose clients include a dozen of the largest corporations in the country all of whom live in constant dread of the havoc that a tax audit would create in their internal affairs, it is effectively game over. Besides, Merton isn’t the only one who has been able to infiltrate his opponent’s bunkers; the good guys can play that game as well.”

Merton directed his attention to the camera again. His eyes continued to scan the single sheet of paper in his right hand; the lawyers had been doing their sums.

“On what grounds do your clients make this outrageous claim?” he asked.

There comes a time in any civil action when the balance is tipped one way or the other and I am sure that in my father’s mind this was that moment. He had the look of a boxer who had been taking a beating but suddenly saw the weakness in his opponent’s defenses and knew that he had the punch that would send him down, and out.

“Lord Merton, if you would open the document that I am about to send and confer with your people, I believe you will understand that neither our grounds nor our claims are outrageous in the least degree. You may even consider our terms quite generous,” said Paul.

With that, he pressed the send button with probably just a little more flourish than any self- respecting and emotionally neutral Q.C. should have done, but as he would tell us later. “I was certainly emotional but I was never neutral!”

If Merton was expecting pages or even chapters of legal argument and precedent for his lawyers to pore over, he was in for a surprise. The document he received, or at least the digital facsimile of the original document (which was locked in my father’s safe) was brief.

But it was the seal at the head of the document that sent a shudder through him I am sure, and even though his lawyers knew what was coming even they were probably laying eyes on such a document for the first time, at least in connection with a client of theirs, no matter how powerful he might be.

‘The Seal of the President of the United States’ is quite impressive at any time but when it arrives in support of the sort of claims that Mary and Maggie were making it probably speaks eloquently enough on its own.

You see there is an obscure law on the books, centuries old, dating to the American War of Independence in fact, that has never been removed because when it was enacted the ‘founding fathers’ so enacted it that to remove it would be considered an act of treason against the United States, an act of ‘comfort to the enemy’.

It was this law that Jim Henry’s Agency had invoked when making their case to the President’s Special Counsel; it had to do with the President’s authority to seize the assets of any corporation or state, held within the borders of the United States or within the borders of any independent state allied to the United States, and to retain those assets, ‘frozen’ at ‘the pleasure of the President’.

Effectively, such a law, applied to Merton, would include assets of all his companies with any assets whatsoever in the United States.

Merton’s lawyers would be directing his attention to the essential paragraph of the document, the one that alleged conspiracy by Merton and his Directors to defraud the Treasury of the United States through tax evasion and to threaten the security of the United States through selling ‘materials of war’ to any third party deemed by the President and Congress, at any time, to be inimical towards the United States or any of her allies. The materials of war in this case were exemplified by Robert Inks’ software for textual analysis and since the President of the United States himself, and so Congress too, was affirming that the software was in fact the property of Inks then he would have sufficient argument to lodge a new claim for patent rights in the United States.

When he was told about this he was grateful of course but still suspicious of Jim and his government so that he asked, “What do you expect in return?” to which Jim replied with a friendly smile and a warm pat on Inks’ back, “Oh Bob, I’m sure we’ll think of something.”

My father still had his eyes fixed on the screen. He watched as Merton disappeared without further comment and was replaced in front of the camera by his lawyer who said, “These terms are acceptable to Lord Merton,” and immediately concluded the call.

“Who wants pizza?” asked Chris as he speed-dialed the number for Eagle Boys into his phone.

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Chapter Forty-six

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

 

“Hello Robert,” said Maggie Wilmott.

Inks was silent as Maggie walked into the Boardroom on the twelfth floor of the hospital but he stood from his place at the table as she approached him and when she offered him her hand he took it.

“Hello Maggie. It’s been a long time,” he said.

“Yes. I wish we were meeting again under happier circumstances though. You have met Jim. I hope we can see this through together, for all our sakes. I am sure you agree?” asked Maggie who still had not let go of Inks’ hand. She placed her left hand over the top of their handshake and stepped towards him. Inks shuffled back but the table prevented him from going far. Had he ever imagined meeting up with Maggie again? If what we had been led to believe about his behaviour towards her was correct, perhaps not.

In physique as well as in character, Robert Inks is a small man. I had not noticed until that moment how small. I suppose that when we were children we endowed him with a degree of substance that was multiplied by our fear of him and the power that he seemed to hold over us in those school days. Our fear was coloured by our imaginations too; I am sure about that but nevertheless even now there was an air of distrust and anger about him that was palpable.

It may sound ridiculous but the best comparison I can make so that you have any idea of the man, the nature of him if not the appearance, is to remind you of Gollum, from Lord of the Rings. Perhaps I still see him through my childish eyes but that’s as may be.

Keep that in mind as I tell you that Maggie, who really is a quite tiny woman, now seemed to tower over him in as striking a picture of the impotence of evil in the face of genuine goodness as even Tolkien could conjure up. To my mind at least, she simply dominated him and I believe he felt it because when Maggie finally let his hand loose he drew it quickly behind his back. He tried to cover his unease by making out that he was reaching for his chair.

Now we were all together, except for Mary of course; Chris and Jules were back from the cafeteria and my Mum arrived shortly after. She was sitting with my father while Jim Henry stood at the far end of the boardroom table.

Maggie moved to stand with him and was rewarded with a hug. Jim turned to face us and at the same time turned the screen of his laptop computer so that we all were able to watch.

“Before we make this call I think you need to hear from Mr Inks. He has suffered more than any of us can guess over a lot of years,” Jim said and then he looked directly at Inks as he went on, “Much of what he has suffered has been brought upon himself. It may be better understood though not excused in the light of his evident and severe illness. I have spoken to him today and he admits his responsibility for his actions. Just what those actions include, well, that you don’t know and you may never know other than this; that he has played what we in the business call ‘a double game’.”

Jim paused for a moment and watched our faces for signs that we understood him correctly. Satisfied that we were keeping up, he said, “In 1995 when he approached Gryphon Day with a view to the publication of his thesis about the true authorship of Shakespeare’s works, he was rejected and, understandably, shattered; his already fragile state of mind took another hit. He was not to know that the series of events which unfolded around him over the ensuing twelve month period were the work of desperate men and women afraid because he had innocently uncovered a truly inconvenient truth. In rapid succession he suffered the theft of his brilliantly designed software, a program that lifted the analysis of text out of the Stone Age and into the twenty-first century. He may be forgiven for believing at first that this was the work of significant foreign interests as the program had vital security applications. I have assured him that though that was a reasonable assumption it was not the work of my government though there are many in its ranks who would wish that it had been. My agency discovered that Merton was behind the theft and sale of the program into Asian hands, so that Robert was left without any option of securing patent rights.

“Further to that, Robert’s self-administered superannuation fund dissolved into nothing over night and his wife’s business was forced into receivership; she was fighting in the courts to answer allegations of tax fraud.

“He was denied promotion within the education system and all his appeals have been unsuccessful. Any questions so far?”

We were all too stunned I think and because we were so intent on Jim’s revelations we failed to notice the change that came over Inks who looked like he was reliving all of these events in the present; he was bent over himself in his seat and his knuckles were white as he clenched the edge of the table.

My Dad, who is used to seeing clients under stress, suggested a break but Inks would have none of that. “No! Finish this now! Please,” he said.

Jim continued, “Now as you have been listening to me I would not be surprised if someone has made connections with more recent events. Let me put your mind to rest on at least one matter. My best intelligence is that the attack on Mary was in no way related to the lawsuit recently lodged in The Hague.”

Chris stared intently at Jim and it was obvious that such a thought had indeed passed through his mind. I was wondering myself and to tell you the truth I am still not convinced on that point. It seems far too convenient to Gryphon’s that Mary is unable to fulfill their demands for a lecture tour because of her injuries.

Anyway, before Chris could say anything, Jim went on, “However, the same cannot be said for the break and enter spree that included your homes today. Thanks to the cooperation of your Queensland Police Service and a discreetly placed phone call to my boss back home, I was able to sit in on the interview of the young man arrested at the scene. I am assured that normally in these cases those involved are known to the police already and though they may be well organised and even professionals of a sort, they rarely have lawyers on speed dial as this individual did. He spoke not a word, literally, during the two hour ‘interview’. He most certainly is a ‘pro’ but a pro of an altogether different sort. I have no doubt that were it not for the police dog that put the bite on him so effectively, we would all be convinced that the motive was purely theft and the victims indiscriminate, chosen for their affluence alone. I am convinced now that two homes were targeted and for two reasons. First, to uncover any helpful information in respect to your case against Gryphons but secondly as a message that you are not beyond reach; as Robert Inks found, the preferred weapon of these people is intimidation, not, if it can be at all avoided, physical violence.”

“So, where does that leave us at this moment? I want to let Robert share something more of what he knows about Gryphons and the so-called Abbots conspiracy,” and Jim held out an introductory hand to Inks, though he added, “briefly, please, sir.”

Inks thought to stand but it wasn’t in him so he pushed his chair back from the table so that he could see us all. In an agitated, broken voice he said, “Briefly, then,” and he looked at Jim, “William Shakespeare was, to the day he died, a convinced Catholic and an agent of the Abbots. The works attributed to him are not so much opposed to Henry’s England and his Church as they are not openly opposed to Rome. This is by design though already the Abbots had realised that the printing press and even popular culture if you like, were not only a means to propaganda but a means of securing great wealth. They have pursued both goals relentlessly for the last four hundred and fifty years. Within the first fifty years their motivation had become, and still remains, entirely secular though they continued in the Church for the benefits it provided; in the Church of Rome for the powerful connections it offered internationally and in the Church of England as subversives, out of pure malice towards Henry and his ‘heirs and successors’.

“Since then the cult of the Abbots has reinvented itself countless times and in the process has woven a cloak of near invisibility around its activities. Suffice to say that in the present day, with Merton as the ‘titular’ head, there is no institution in the world that is without some connection to the Abbots; many even unawares. The great religions, the great cultural institutions, the great democracies all carry the stain to some degree or other of the worldly ambitions of that first angry trio of Abbots whose livelihoods were taken from them and whose colleagues they saw executed or imprisoned and starved to death, so that their King could have his women and their wealth, unquestioned.

“So, yes, much of what we recognise as great literature, even music, at the popular level as well as the classical, has been manipulated by this cabal as an instrument of social engineering. Education as we know it, the system of schools and universities, was designed to instil social obedience, to construct and maintain an ordered world, favourable to anyone wise enough to climb on board certainly, but first and foremost, to the Abbots; they impart the idea of independent thought though not the reality.

“I regret that I offered myself to them but it seemed my only choice. I lost so much and they offered so much in return. But remember this, all of you, whatever happens to me, these men and women are, above everything else, liars.”

By then, Inks was completely exhausted; Jim spoke again,” I think the most helpful comment I can make is that though I don’t accept all of Robert’s conclusions, I do accept the central truth of them. My own country, founded on the basis of religious liberty, I have to admit, has long since embraced secular humanism as its creed.”

“We cannot resolve these issues today, nor can we dissolve the powers that are at work in our world. We can, however, make our own contribution to the efforts of good men before us who have opposed them with some success. I have arranged a conference call with Lord Merton,” Patrick will you please go to the door and ask Mr Greeves to join us?”

At the mention of Greeves’ name, Robert Inks actually jumped out of his chair and moved to stand behind my father; Greeves had been Inks’ ‘handler’, the director of his work for the Abbots, since he joined them and he was afraid of him. The picture we showed him was proof enough that Greeves mistrusted him and to be out of favour with William Greeves could prove dangerous indeed.

I let the Englishman into the Boardroom and he walked coolly to where Jim Henry stood. He said, “With your permission,” and keyed in the call to Merton on the computer,”

We watched the screen and waited.

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Chapter Forty-five.

“The suspense: the fearful, acute suspense: of standing idly by while the life of one we dearly love, is trembling in the balance; the racking thoughts that crowd upon the mind, and make the heart beat violently, and the breath come thick, by the force of the images they conjure up before it; the desperate anxiety to be doing something to relieve the pain, or lessen the danger, which we have no power to alleviate; the sinking of soul and spirit, which the sad remembrance of our helplessness produces; what tortures can equal these; what reflections of endeavours can, in the full tide and fever of the time, allay them!”

Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

 

I cancelled my appointment at Uni Q because by that time (2 p.m.) Maggie was with Chris and Jules at the hospital. She confirmed that there would be no need to place Mary in an induced coma; they had erred on the side of caution in respect to her head trauma and were now happy to say that severe concussion would be the worst of it.

So, while Dad stayed at the house to arrange for repairs to doors and locks at both our home and Chris’s, I headed back to RBH. Jim Henry, on the other hand, managed to convince the police officers attending the break-in that he should ride with them to the hospital where they were taking their prisoner for treatment; never argue with a police dog!

I stopped for breakfast/lunch (there’s no way that ‘brunch’ covers the amount I ate at Hungry Jacks) on my way to the hospital. When I arrived at Mary’s ward around three o’clock I stopped by the lounge area first but there was no sign of Chris or Jules. I went to the nurses’ station and was told, in a good natured way, that I should ‘wait my turn’. Apparently the stream of visitors from within the ranks of the hospital staff alone had been so constant that a halt had been called to all but family.

I was walking back to the lounge when Jules ran up behind me. She was followed not too much later by Chris. Both of them seemed much relieved. Jules said, “You never know with head injuries; I was just happy that she recognised us!” Jules whispered this; I suppose to avoid letting on to Chris that all her reassurances had been, for the most part, wishful thinking.

I was sure that Chris was feeling better after seeing his Mum awake and communicative. That was confirmed when the first thing he said to me was, “Do you think the cafeteria is still serving lunch?”

We were waiting at the elevators when the doors opened and we found ourselves face to face with someone we certainly had not expected to see there and then.

William Greeves, immaculate as ever in navy-blue pinstriped suit, ultra-white shirt with a pale blue tie and a smile that was just a bit too obviously forced, stepped towards us. Chris was thrown off stride; his mood which had been improving, even more with the thought of lunch confirmed, took a dive. Before Greeves could say anything at all Chris placed a curiously protective arm around Jules’s shoulder as he pushed past the Englishman; he muttered, “Got to go; see you.”

I was prevented from joining them in the lift by Greeves who placed a curiously pleading hand on my shoulder. I looked at him as he asked, “Please, I need to talk about Doctor Makepeace.”

As the door to the lift was already closing I caught just a glimpse of Chris. His expression said, “Sorry,” and I am inclined to think he meant it. Jules simply gave me a double thumbs up and a ‘you can do it’ smile.

To his credit, Greeves waited for me to speak next and that gave me time to come up with an acceptable (to me) option.

“There’s a lounge just down here,” I said and started to walk that way. Whether that was acceptable to Greeves bothered me not even slightly. He followed but as there were other folk in the lounge he moved back into the corridor and we stood in the glare of the afternoon sun through the plate glass.

He said, “I am led to believe that Doctor Makepeace will make a good recovery,” and he paused, I guess for me to confirm that. I nodded, “Yes, in time, thanks to Maggie and her staff.”

“Wonderful,” said Greeves, “that’s the important thing.”

From the way he stood, eyes down with a slight nod of the head, I guessed that there was more to come. I was right.

“Publication of the Doctors’ book will proceed of course. A medical text does not require the same sort of author involvement in promotion though we were planning a lecture tour of major teaching hospitals in Australia, Britain and the USA sponsored by ‘Mother’.”

Of course he meant Mother Pharmaceuticals; whether ‘the Doctors’ had already agreed to this, I did not know; but I was sure any such agreement would be under protest.

“Then what’s the problem?” I asked and I was surprised at just how abrupt  I sounded, even to myself.

“The problem,” said Greeves, just a fraction less affably than he had been, “is to do with Christopher’s book.” He looked at me, waiting for some sign of understanding. I had none to offer; I didn’t understand. He went on, “Mr Makepeace’s book does require some effort on his part in promotion and our marketing people wanted that to begin in conjunction with the first of Dr Makepeace’s lectures, at this month’s Conference in Melbourne.”

He was referring to the expo of medical hardware, pharmaceuticals and teaching materials which Mary had described on more than one occasion as an ‘end-of-term boozer’ where, she said, ‘pockets are relined and the next year’s (complimentary) holidays are planned, all under one roof’.

I was getting angry and I was not even sure why. I said, “Do you mean that you are not going to publish Chris’s book after all?”

Greeves made a good fist of appearing shocked at the thought but he said, “Ultimately, as long as publication is still mutually desired, of course we will go ahead. It becomes a matter of timing.”

I waited for him to go on. Perhaps he thought I was considering his comments carefully but really I was just stunned at the thought of what this would mean to Chris.

“I really should speak to Christopher in person and with his lawyer present I think. Yes, that would be best. Our own legal people will need to sit in too. There are issues…”

I interrupted him then, “Issues? What issues?”

Greeves could see that I was angry. Now, I think that was what he wanted to achieve.

“Your father can best answer that perhaps, Patrick; the world is such a small place these days and nothing of note happens anywhere without ‘ramifications’ even on the other side of the world. You know what they say, ‘a butterfly beats its wings in the Amazonian rainforest and a tree falls in Brisbane’; a law suit is filed in The Hague and the presses stop running in Britain.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. I had heard enough to know that I was out of my depth; this was absolutely a matter for the lawyers and I knew another thing too; if this creep was expecting to see Mary and spit his venom at her in her present condition, he would need to think again.

“Doctor Makepeace is heavily sedated; she may have no visitors but Chris. I will see that she knows you were here and I will arrange for my father to contact you for a meeting. What’s your number?”

I was pretty sure I had his number already; he was looking for leverage against Mary’s lawsuit. In terms of the chess game my father was playing with Gryphon et al, I believed I could see Dad already rubbing his hands together at the prospect of ambushing Greeves in that meeting.

Greeves held out his business card but as Iwent to take it he pulled it back and let it hover as he said, “You are an educated young man Patrick; I wonder, do you know your Seneca?”

I could barely conceal my contempt for him at that point so was pleased to say simply, “I am not familiar with him at all.”

I think Greeves was disappointed at my self control. I am sure that he cultivated the superior attitude of the English Public School Boy for times like this and he would have known that it is particularly effective in getting under the skin of Australians.

“Ah,” he said as he offered his card again, “Manus Manum Lavat, Patrick,” and as he walked away towards the elevators, “One hand washes the other.”

It was just as well Chris had avoided that conversation, I decided.

As Greeves disappeared behind one set of doors another set opened to reveal my Dad with Jim Henry and Robert Inks.

It was still not five p.m.

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Chapter Forty-four.

“Coincidences are spiritual puns.”       G.K.Chesterton


I asked Chris, while we were waiting for further news about Mary’s condition, whether he had contacted Jules. He looked at me and the expression on his face said more about his state of mind than words could have. He moved his lips but no sound came. He closed his eyes and fell back into his seat. We were in a small lounge area, one of those quiet spots for families to wait. Chris raised his hands, still with his eyes closed and the open palms wavered in the air before the effort beat him and he let them drop to his side.

“No,” he managed, and though you might expect that he would offer some thought or other about how we might remedy that, he did not, or rather, I am sure, he just could not.

“If you like, I’ll call her. I suppose she’s at home?” I said and Chris nodded but then he remembered something and his face twisted again.

“I was supposed to meet her at Brett’s Wharf Ferry Terminal at twelve; she wanted to ride the City Cat to Southbank for lunch. I forgot. I’ll ring…” said Chris but before he finished his thought my phone went off. It was Jules.

In his rush to reach the hospital, Chris left his phone at home. When he didn’t answer her calls or return her messages (it was one o’clock by then) Jules overcame her first inclination to ignore him (for his own good, of course) and now she was glad she had.

I finished the call and explained that Jules was on her way to the hospital. “Her exact words,” I said, “were, ‘Tell Chris I am on my way and that if he moves before I get there he will need to check into a ward too.”

I didn’t try explaining to Jules that I would have been surprised if her boyfriend even moved from his chair before she arrived. I simply said, “Look, Chris, I’m sorry but I need to go to Uni for my interview with the Head of Department. That’s at two o’clock and…” and again my phone rang.

It was my Mum; I thought she must have heard about Mary but she had not. She said, “Patrick, where are you? Your Father wants you to pick him up from the office and take him home. The police called; there’s been a string of break and enters in the street…”

I interrupted her, “You’re kidding…what about Chris’s place?”

“I don’t know, but it’s likely. The police said it was some sort of targeted hit on the street and even cars parked in the road were broken into. They say it was an organised job. Your Father is worried about his safe,” she added and immediately I understood Dad’s concern. His ‘safe’ was no tin box but pretty much the real deal, set into the floor and the size of a bar fridge laid on its back. He used it for work ‘product’ and at times he held sensitive material on disc, ‘back-ups’ of confidential clients’ instructions and contracts; even some video of interviews; even some cash.”

I could not go without mentioning Mary. I explained where I was and waited for a break in the silence as she no doubt thought how to organise herself to be there for Chris. The break was a while coming so I said, “Listen, Mum, Maggie’s here, Jules is coming and the Doctors say it will be hours before Mary is awake. In fact, they may need to induce a coma to help her recovery from the swelling in her brain.”

As I said that, I was watching Chris. He sat forward in his chair and buried his face in his hands; he started to shake, fighting back his emotions.

Mum was relieved, I think, to know that Maggie and Jules were there, so she said, “I see; alright. But you tell Chris I will call in this afternoon even if he is not there; just in case. I don’t believe this…”

I leaned down beside Chris; all I could do was pat him on the back while I told him the news from home. I didn’t mention the possibility that his place was also broken into and, I suppose because he was already in overload, he didn’t think to ask.

I said, “Jules will be here soon. She called a cab…”

“Jules is here now,” I heard her say as, in one of those typically Jules moments, she folded herself down to the floor beside Chris and reached out to him. She gently prised his hands from his face and with tissues from her bag set about mopping up.

I told her quickly why I needed to leave. “Go,” she said, “I’ll wait here. If you can’t make it back, we’ll talk later.”

It took me twenty minutes to reach ‘One One One’ Eagle Street. My Dad was standing (surprisingly patient) at a bus stop. I pulled up; he opened the door and threw his briefcase into the back seat as he sat down. “Your Mum rang me; any news about Mary?”

There was none of course, or at least none that I was aware of so I told him that and went over the details of the attack on Mary as I drove us home to Kenmore. I won’t tell you what he said exactly but it wasn’t what you would hear in any court of law ; well not from any Q.C. at least. He was angry and you know, in some strange way that did me good. I was so caught up in the events of the last four or five hours that I hadn’t been able to take it all in. Now, I was angry too but anything further would have to wait. We were home and I think we were both taken back by the scene in the street. The police don’t usually respond in numbers for a break in, if they respond at all, but now there were three cars and a dog unit as well as an ambulance on the footpath about three houses from ours. Its doors were open so we could see the paramedics working over someone on the inside; a neighbour or one of the baddies; we weren’t able to tell.

I couldn’t park in our driveway as it was blocked by the dog unit van so I pulled up in the road. Dad grabbed his briefcase and we approached one of the officers to explain who we were.

“Can we go inside?” my Dad asked and the officer nodded as he finished writing up his notes.

“You won’t need a key,” he offered in what I suppose was an example of policeman’s humour.

The glass panel in the back door was smashed but the dead bolt must have frustrated the burglar because he had then proceeded to kick the door in as well. I followed Dad to his study and watched his relief as he saw that the carpet covering the safe in the corner of the room was untouched. He lifted it back to check on the safe itself. It seemed untouched but his desk top computer was gone; the cables remained though as did the others from the TV in the lounge along with the PVR. His ‘vintage’ Sony sound system (Reel-to-reel tape deck and turn-table were there but not untouched. In one of those pieces of mindless vandalism that you see but never understand, these had been removed from their cabinet and apparently thrown with force against the wall.

My own lap top was missing as well as the smaller TV from my room. It would be hours before we could be certain of all that was taken. I went next door to Chris’s place and it was the same story there. All the electronics were missing certainly, or at least all that I remembered seeing there. Whether it was the same idiot who smashed up Dad’s stereo or some other idiot I couldn’t tell but in Chris’s study all the drawers in his father’s roll top desk had been pulled out and thrown around the room; books were pulled from the shelves and even Michael’s journals were scattered about. As for the whiteboard I described earlier, the notes in marker ink were smeared beyond reading and most of the paperwork had been removed and crumpled up or torn with the exception of the central figure of Henry who now was circled by one of those red rings with a diagonal line across it. This beggared belief really. You imagine that ‘smash and grab’ is really ‘smash and grab and run-as-fast-as-you-can’ but here were thieves who took time for historical commentary. I would have been surprised if they even knew who the robed figure was, unless they remembered a vaguely similar character from an episode of The Simpsons. Later, we would have reason to rethink my prejudice.

I did my best to close the kitchen door but proper repairs would need to wait for someone who knew what they were doing. I walked through the open gate between Makepeaces’ place and ours but was distracted from going inside by a familiar voice calling my name from the street. I looked up to see Jim Henry standing beside the same officer we spoke to.

“Hey, Patrick. Will you tell the officer you know me so I can visit with your Dad please?”

Now, in happier circumstances and especially if Jim had asked this of Chris rather than myself, you may be sure that the first words out of Chris’s mouth would have been something like, “Cuff him, constable; never seen him before in my life. A proper shady customer he looks too.”

Not today though; the policeman, busy enough as he was, accepted my wave and nodded Jim on into our yard.

“Sorry to hear about Mary, you two,” said Jim as we sat him at our kitchen table with a sandwich and black tea (Jim is one of the increasing number of Americans who prefer tea to coffee, even without the fresh lemon juice he was used to adding).

Of course, Jim was to have met with my parents and Mary and Maggie for lunch to throw some light, if he could, on the law firm, Fox, Urquhart as the advocates for Gryphon Day; that would have to wait now.

“If it’s true that bad things always happen in threes, I’m wondering what’s still to come,” I said; not that I believed that myself.

“Never have believed in coincidences,” said Jim, and he looked straight at my Dad as he said it.

“No such animal,” said my Dad.

“I would dearly like a minute or two with that cowpoke in the ambulance,” drawled Jim, and he added, “I don’t suppose your standing as an officer of the court runs to granting that sort of wish, Paul.”

“Sorry, but let’s ask anyway,” said Dad.

Outside we were too late; the ambulance was already gone and the police cars were on the move too. We managed to hail the last to leave and the driver pulled up beside us. The passenger side window was rolled down and before my Dad could say anything Jim leaned over and flashed a card at the officer. I don’t think it was the one that described him as the second assistant editor at Gryphon Day Publishing.

The officer looked startled. He said, “Really? You’re a long way from home, Agent Olsen.”

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Chapter Forty-three.

“And I reckon them that are good must suffer for it the same as them that are bad.”

William Faulkner, Light in August

 

Chris closed the journal and summed up what he thought about that entry like this, “So it looks like all the Middle English entries are just my Dad’s attempt to keep me from scaring myself if I ever nosed around in his journals. When he addressed notes to me and asked me to trust him and not be afraid, that was in respect to Robert Inks. He was soliloquizing if you like, though he may well have imagined that I would read these things some day; probably just not in these circumstances, with him gone and all of us finding ourselves in a position where we need to work with Inks, for good reason.”

I was still working through all that when the phone rang (the land line, not either of our mobiles) and Chris left me alone in the study to go answer it. While he was gone I ran my eyes over the white board and was amazed at the detail he had accumulated in one night’s work. That he preferred to lay out a board like this rather than work in his computer was not strange to me. We both have always agreed that there is nothing like this sort of ‘big picture’ approach for being able to scan and interact with a breadth of material, particularly in matters of chronology or relationships between people, groups, or events .

On this board, Chris, by placing Henry VIII at the centre was establishing a theory that everything to do with Gryphon Day, Mother Pharmaceuticals and the likes of Lord Merton and William Greeves, along with the still mysterious ‘Three Abbots’ and the original ‘Gryphon Dei’ was pretty much as Robert Inks had suggested.

Radiating out from the obese King were lines of hypothetical outcomes that were, I believed, the result of Chris the writer asking himself that favourite writers’ question, ‘What if?’

However, each proposition was tied to a matter of historical fact and even though Chris was not a trained historian, his guesses were at least ‘educated’ ones.

For example, he positioned the print of Henry so that the King stood firmly astride notes concerning his Act of Supremacy of 1534 in which Henry, for purposes not altogether devoted to spiritual concerns, made himself the head of the Church in England. Alongside this Chris placed a further note outlining Henry’s Dissolution (or Suppression) of the Monasteries in Britain (1536-41).

This was clearly important to Inks’ thesis that Gryphon Dei as established by those three Abbots (whoever they were) was first and foremost an organisation intended to be subversive to Henry’s reign at least as Head of the Church if not also as King.

Chris must have spent the whole night ‘Googling’ away at this and I guessed that the facts he bothered to list must have been just the best scratchings from the surface of what he discovered.

For instance he pointed out that Henry, in dissolving the monasteries, had appropriated their income and disposed of their lands and assets (to noble families in favour with the King) while providing at least for the former members with pensions and ensuring that grass roots functions of the Church would continue. The King’s own accounts benefited to an amount equivalent in today’s currency to £63 million with £21 million devoted to pensions for former members of the various religious orders (there were over 800 institutions involved). Only three orders were left largely alone; the Carthusians, the Observant Franciscans and the Bridgettine Nuns. Henry approved of these and could find little fault with them on moral grounds (which was not the case with many other orders) .

In pointing out that Henry provided pensions for former members, Chris added a footnote regarding the significant number who would not benefit because Henry had executed or imprisoned them, often leaving those in prison to starve to death.

No wonder the whole Catholic/Protestant issue continued to be divisive and even deadly well into Elizabeth I’s reign and beyond; no wonder that there probably was a strong underground element to the anti-reform movement that may well have given rise to groups such as Gryphon Dei.

Further, beside these two elements, Chris highlighted this comment (from Wikipedia I think), “Finally, it is probably not coincidental that the dissolution of the monasteries coincided closely with the introduction of the printing press to England. This invention not only aided reformers in spreading their religious texts it also made redundant the monasteries’ most valuable service to the Monarch; their painstaking copying of manuscripts.”

In finer print Chris highlighted and circled several facts that I knew would have swayed him personally towards the side of the monasteries.

  1. The suppression of the monasteries included the destruction of their hospitals and their libraries.
  2. Worcester Priory owned some 600 books at that time and only 6 survive to the present day.
  3. The Abbey of the Augustine Friars at York lost 646 books; only three survive.

Many books were destroyed for their valuable bindings but Chris circled a quote from John Bale (1549), concerning the fate of others. ‘A great nombre of them (of the men charged with deconstructing monasteries) ….  resrved of those lybrarye bokes, some to serve theyr jakes, some to scoure candelstyckes, and some to rubbe their bootes. Some they solde to the grossers and soapsellers.’

And in case you, like myself, were wondering what a ‘jake’ might be; it’s an outhouse, a toilet.

I was just spinning in Chris’s chair away from the whiteboard and wishing that I had more coffee when Chris walked in from the kitchen.

“I need to go to the hospital,” he said, ‘can I take the Beetle?”

“Why? Are you crook?” I asked, imagining that he was on the verge of a diabetic collapse after another night of too little sleep and too much sugar and caffeine. He didn’t look well.

“No, it’s Mum,” he said, “there’s been an incident.”

Remember it was still not yet 8 o’clock in the morning; Mary had worked overnight in Emergency. I didn’t see that it could be a traffic incident, so I asked, or at least I began to ask, “What sort of incident?”

But before I could finish the question, Chris was off to his room to change. I guess he took for granted (as he quite rightly should) that I would insist on driving with him to see Mary. I headed home to grab my keys and he was out front waiting for me as I reversed the VW from the driveway.

I concentrated on merging with the heavy morning traffic towards the city knowing that Chris would tell me what I wanted to know when he was ready. I glanced across and noticed that his eyes were closed and the fingers of his right hand were drumming on his leg while he clenched the strap above the door with his left. I thought he was going to tear it off.

Finally, he said, “It was a bunch of drunks; not just kids either but business types Maggie says. Probably out on the town all night. One of them had a broken nose so they all decided to bring him to emergency; in cabs. There were four in one cab and three in another. They wanted to go on with their party in the waiting area and when Mum called Security to calm them down she tried to get the wounded one into a treatment room. The idiot wouldn’t go; he wanted to stay with his mates. When Mum insisted it was for his own good he got abusive; the others backed him up. Maggie says that he grabbed Mum as she was backing away to wait for Security; it’s all on camera. He punched her, Patrick; in the stomach first but then he caught her full on the side of her head. Mum hit the floor unconscious; she has a broken rib and probably internal injuries. Her skull might be fractured. Maggie said that there is more to tell but she was getting ready in case she needed to operate. The police rounded them up, including the ***** who attacked Mum.”

I dropped Chris off and went to park. By the time I found him Mary was in surgery; the broken rib had punctured a lung and pierced the skin. The only good news was that Mary’s skull was not fractured though she would have a serious concussion. She was still unconscious from the punch when they took her into theatre. Maggie did her anaesthetist thing while leaving the surgery to the duty registrar and the on-call orthopaedic surgeon whose work, she told us afterwards, was ‘perfect’.

It was midday when Maggie came to see us with the news and by then the police were with us saying that they were reviewing the CCTV video and would lay charges when they knew the extent of Mary’s injuries; and her prognosis. In short, they were afraid that Mary may suffer permanent damage or even die; they had seen it before they said (one punch really can kill).

Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Gee Patrick you weren’t kidding when you said you all had an ‘interesting’ day!”

Believe me, you still haven’t heard the half of it.

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Chapter Forty-two.

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”  Plato

It is supposedly an ancient Chinese curse that says, “May you live in interesting times,” though the earliest known use in English dates to the 1930’s and no ‘original’ Chinese language version has ever come to light. It is mentioned as a saying from the counterweight continent in Terry Pratchett’s ‘Discworld’ fantasies; that’s where Chris, Jules and I first saw it.

It is further claimed to be only the first of three related curses each increasing in severity. The second is, “May you come to the attention of powerful people”, and the third says, “May you find what you are looking for!”

Welcome to our world.

At 6 a.m. this morning my father woke me from a sound sleep to tell me that the suit against Gryphon Day had been successfully lodged with the International Court in The Hague but that lawyers for the publisher had immediately lodged a counter-suit (against Doctor Mary Charlotte Makepeace and Doctor Margaret Lily Wilmott) for ‘conspiracy, together and with a person or persons unknown, to defraud Gryphon Day Publishing and its associated corporate entities (Abbots Literary Agency and Mother Pharmaceuticals); and for defamation of character in respect to the officers of those corporate entities’.

“We knew this could happen, of course,” he told me, “but we didn’t expect it to come without prior threats. I guess they see the action as enough of a threat in itself. They know and they know we know that this is just a preliminary skirmish. My guess is they are expecting that we will want to negotiate rather than go to court and of course they are right. Whether those negotiations will have the outcome we want remains to be seen and depends largely on whether we can maintain the element of surprise until then. The surprise for us was the law firm they chose; not British but American; Fox, Urquhart & Associates. Not the biggest guns but big enough I reckon.’

Dad delivered all this with barely a breath. He was excited as he always is when an important case comes together and you finally see your opponent’s first move laid out. He is a chess player and he plays chess more like a guerrilla General than a lawyer; but he is a lawyer first of all and the adrenalin of moments like this is always allowed to dissipate before any decisions are taken about second moves.

Anyway, chess is not a team sport, while the Law, as much as some lawyers might like to think it is not, is; and his partners at Lockett, Marchant and Reeves (my Mum included, of course) are not the sort of team mates to allow any one player to dominate the game. ‘Ego is not a dirty word,’ sang the Skyhooks in 1976 and even the arch conservatives of the Law left over from 1970’s Queensland need to admit, to themselves if not to us all, that they agreed.

I was barely awake through it all but I got the drift and tried to say something encouraging, or at least something that would let him know I was still on board. All I came up with was, “What?” before my pillow disappeared from under my head to be used to beat me with, albeit mildly.

“Gotta go; see you tonight. Tell Chris will you? Your Mother and I are having lunch with our clients (Mary and Maggie) and I am hoping that Jim Henry will be able to put in an appearance. I am pretty sure his contacts in the States will have something useful to tell us about the opposition (Fox, Urquhart). Oh, and remember, better not to mention any of this to Angela, for now at least; okay? Good.”

So that’s how my day began; actually, that’s how yesterday began, but who’s counting?

I thought that with the lawyers gone I would be able to catch some more sleep but it was only a minute or two before my phone, which I carelessly left in the lounge room, started to do its TARDIS thing. I considered letting it ring out then decided that I should try to catch Chris with Dad’s news before he left to do whatever he (and Jules) had in mind to do so I headed towards the sound. Before I reached it, another sound, even more annoying, replaced it. Chris may become a brilliant lawyer one day, he may even be a brilliant writer; he may be able to dance and even cook but he will never be able to sing; though he doesn’t let that stop him trying.

Actually, he knows that he can’t sing so he doesn’t really try anymore; in fact, I think he tries to sing even more off key on purpose. As we all try to tell him, even that is a vain hope.

Now, he was murdering, ‘I’m Henery the Eighth, I am; the Herman and the Hermits hit from 1965. Of course we are too young to remember that. We first heard it when we were watching the movie ‘Ghost’ on television and even that predates us I think; Sam (Patrick Swayze) sings it all night long to convince Whoopi Goldberg to help him talk to Molly, his wife.

Chris had other motives; first, to make sure I was awake and the second I would soon discover. Perhaps you have enough of an idea of my friend’s personality and sense of humour by now to be able to imagine him singing, at 6:15 in the morning,

I’m Henery the Eighth, I am!
Henery the Eighth I am, I am!
I got married to the widow next door,
She’s been married seven times before.
And every one was an Henery
It wouldn’t be a Willie or a Sam
I’m her eighth old man I’m Henery
Henery the Eighth, I am!

I am just grateful that I reached the door before he reached Peter Noone’s link, “Second verse, same as the first!” (Chris’s record, and one he shared with me I have to admit, was a full fifty verses, all the same as the first-which I suppose makes 51). We were in the back yard; Angela was home-she brought us cake!

I made him go home until I ate breakfast. He was still singing to himself when I arrived, coffee in hand, an hour later; it’s that sort of song.

“Henry,” I said.

“Henry the Eighth!” said Chris, “Look at this.”

He set off from his kitchen towards the study so I followed. He had rigged up a large whiteboard across one wall of the room and it was entirely covered with a combination of notes in ink of various colours and sheets (or parts thereof) of printouts and even with several printed photographs. The largest photograph, taking pride of place in the centre, was of Henry himself.

“Impressive,” I said.

“I think so,” said Chris, “but look at this!”

He held up in front of me one of his Father’s Journals, opened.

“1999,” he said, “read the second paragraph. It’s alright; this isn’t in Middle English. That’s just Dad’s normal handwriting.”

I took the journal and dropped myself into the desk chair, still sipping at my coffee. My mistake; Chris was so hyped up by whatever he had discovered that he began pushing me in the chair around the room until I was in front of the whiteboard.

“Bug! Quit it!” I said.

“Quit what?” he asked.

This is what Michael Makepeace wrote in March 1999;

“I tried to resolve things with Robert Inks again today but he refuses to listen, even to an apology. If all he wanted was my approval of his thesis then he should know that he was asking the wrong man. If the work was valid I would happily have approached his publishers on his behalf but he is wrong; plainly wrong. His paranoia in regard to Gryphon Day (his would-be publisher) is disturbing but his anger towards me and his threats have me genuinely concerned for our safety; but do I tell Mary?

“His thesis, that Shakespeare’s plays were written not by Shakespeare himself or even by any of the men suggested in modern scholarship e.g. Bacon, but by some hitherto unheard of school of English Monks scribbling away together to rewrite the history books and avenge themselves on Henry VIII for the theft of their property and the deaths of their fellows (under Henry’s Act of Supremacy and the Dissolution of the Monasteries) and that they are at the root of a continuing conspiracy of global proportions is nutty.

“Even if he is right about that (and I certainly can’t prove him wrong) he is certainly wrong about Shakespeare; at least his reasoning is wrong. If the plays and sonnets were written by someone else then they were written by someone else. On purely linguistic grounds they hold together; they are the work of one man, or maybe even one woman, but there is no way they were written by a committee. That’s ludicrous. But that’s what he wanted me to support and I can’t do it. My bet is that his publishers won’t either; their rejection will be final and I am truly concerned that he won’t cope with that.

“I thought of transferring Christopher to St. Peter’s but only as a last resort. His friendship with Patrick is too important (to them both) and anyway I don’t really believe that Robert will make good on his threats. I will recommend to Rob (Messenger) that he suggest long service leave or even sick leave.

“I am thinking of writing more about this. It might be a chance to try some linguistic trickery of my own. Don’t want Bug stumbling across these; even if he could read my writing, I don’t want him to be any more scared of ‘Stinky’ than he is already.”

So you see, that’s how my day began; wait till you hear how it ended!

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