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Chapter 16 Gerald Comes Closer

‘Ma, I don’t feel good.’ Bruno was in his mother’s bedroom. He walked very slowly into her bathroom and got the bottle of whisky he had hidden there, but he dropped it on the floor. He couldn’t control his hands.

‘Charley?’ his mother said and looked worried.

‘I can’t breathe, Ma!’ He tore his clothes off. ‘Oh God!’

‘I’ll get a doctor,’ his mother said.

‘No! They’ll take me away!’ He screamed, ‘Look at my hands, Ma!’ His middle fingers were bent tightly inside his hand. He couldn’t stop it. He couldn’t move them. ‘Look, Ma!’

‘Charley!’ his mother shouted.

Bruno fell to the floor. He couldn’t speak normally, ‘Dome . . . Massom tehmeh . . . Ummm, Massom — Aaaagh!’

Then a doctor came and gave Bruno some medicine and he went to sleep.

‘The drink is killing him,’ the doctor told Bruno’s mother. ‘He must stop.’

Bruno woke up later and saw Gerard standing near the bed.

‘I’m sorry to wake you,’ Gerard said with his stupid smile, ‘but I found something. Remember this?’ He threw Guy’s book on to the bed.

‘I remember,’ Bruno said.

‘I got this book at the Hotel La Fonda. It’s Haines’s book. You met him eighteen months ago on the train to Santa Fe, didn’t you?’

Gerard said.

‘No,’ Bruno said. ‘I found the book on the train, that’s all. I wanted to send it to Guy but I lost it. I met him in December.’

‘So you made calls to Metcalf eighteen months ago and you didn’t even know Mr Haines?’ Gerard asked. ‘I found the phone bills.’

‘Yeah, I phoned about the book!’ Bruno said angrily.

‘And you called before the murder, but you didn’t call after,’

Gerard said. ‘Why not?’

‘I don’t know!’ Bruno shouted. ‘I’m tired of murder!’

‘Oh, I believe that,’ Gerard said. ‘I believe that.’

A few moments later Guy had a phone call from Bruno in his office.

‘Gerard knows about the book and the phone calls I made to Metcalf,’ Bruno said very quietly, as if someone was listening. ‘But I told him the calls were about the book and we met in December.

All right?’

‘All right,’ Guy said and put the phone down. Gerard was coming closer and closer, but he couldn’t stop it. He looked at the letter lying next to the phone. It was from his friend, Bob Treacher, in Canada:

I have an important job in Alberta. I want you to build a bridge for me as soon as possible. Write now.

Bob

‘Nobody knows who murdered Guy Haines’s first wife, Miriam,’

Gerard said to Bruno in his office.

‘I know,’ Bruno said.

‘Did you talk to Guy about Miriam? You’re interested in murder,’ Gerard said.

‘I didn’t talk to him about it,’ Bruno said.

‘Do you think he planned it?’ Gerard asked.

‘No, I don’t!’ Bruno said angrily. ‘You obviously don’t know the type of man Guy Haines is. He’s a great architect.’

Gerard suddenly called out, ‘Come in, please, Mr Haines.’ He saw Bruno jump with surprise as Guy walked into the room.

‘Did you and Charles ever talk about your wife’s murder, Mr Haines?’ Gerard asked.

‘No,’ Guy said.

‘Did he ever tell you he wanted to murder his father?’ Gerard asked. He had that slow, stupid smile on his face.

‘No,’ Guy said.

Gerard held up Guy’s book. ‘Charles found this on the train, but you didn’t meet on the train, did you?’

‘No,’ Guy said.

‘The waiter who brought dinner to the two of you in Charles’s room on the train says you did, Mr Haines,’ Gerard said, looking into Guy’s eyes all the time.

Guy felt hot with shame. He couldn’t speak.

‘So what?’ Bruno said angrily.

‘So why are you both lying?’ Gerard asked. ‘Your wife was murdered, Mr Haines, a few days after you two met. And your father was murdered a few months later, Charles. Did you plan something?’

‘We planned nothing,’ Guy said.

‘Did Charles tell you he wanted his father dead, Mr Haines?

Perhaps you were frightened to tell me about it?’ Gerard asked.

‘No,’ Guy said. He felt himself going deeper and deeper into his own lies. And when would Gerard find out the truth? Did he know it already?

Bruno and Guy left the office together.

‘You know,’ Bruno said. ‘He’s looking for other people.

Gerard doesn’t think we did it. We had no reason to do it, did we?’

Gerard went to see Anne at home late one autumn afternoon.

‘I think,’ he said, ‘that Charles Bruno told your husband about this plan to murder his father, and your husband didn’t want to talk about it. Then, if your husband knew Miriam might die, too, they had a kind of secret, didn’t they?’

‘Guy couldn’t do a thing like that,’ Anne said.

‘Do you think they met in March when Charles’s father died, and you don’t know about it?’ Gerard asked.

‘It’s possible,’ Anne said, but she didn’t know why she said it.

‘When was that fight?’ she thought. ‘February, March? And was it with Bruno? That was it. Guy tried to stop Bruno killing his father.’

‘How was your husband in March, Mrs Haines?’ Gerard asked.

‘He was nervous,’ she said. ‘It was a difficult time. His work . . .’

She stopped speaking.

Gerard looked at her, then he smiled and said, ‘Call me if you think of anything you know, Mrs Haines,’ and left quietly.

A few minutes later Anne saw Gerard outside the house, sitting in his car and writing notes.

‘Why did I say that about March? Is he writing about that?’ she thought.

‘Gerard was here,’ Anne said that night as soon as Guy came home. ‘He wanted to know about March, if you knew Bruno had planned his father’s murder for that month.’

Guy poured a glass of whisky, then he heard himself saying, ‘Look, Anne, Bruno told me on the train that he wanted his father dead. I’m not going to say anything because the police can use that to hang an innocent men.’

Anne said gently, ‘Yes, what you’re doing is right.’ And she smiled. ‘It’s terrible, isn’t it, murder?’

Guy hated his lies. He felt empty inside. He thought he was worse than Bruno, who was honestly bad. Even if he was never caught, he couldn’t live with Anne like this.

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