Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Monday, May 28, 2012


A bit later in the same chapter.


I was taken next-door and handcuffed to a table by one hand, using the old-fashioned kind. There was no other furniture in the room so I had to sit on it, and it wasn’t easy to find a non-painful way to do it. Meaning, no way in hell was I ever getting down till I was ready to leave that room.

Half an hour later, an old man in a white coat showed up, snapping, “Lay back on the table.” I did and he set his medical box on the floor so he could examine me. He had long silver hair, weary eyes, more wrinkles than a Shar-Pei, and hands that knew exactly what they were doing. He raised my shirt to check the bruising lower on my side and said in a distracted mutter, “Nothin’ broke. Prob’ly just bruised. Gonna hurt for a while.” Then he sighed. “Who did it?”

“Does it matter?” I asked. “You won’t do anything to the prick, anyway.”

He eyed me, and I saw a hint of respect. “I hear you’re Danish.” I nodded. He nodded back and said, “Good people,” as he dug into his bag. Then he offered me four Tylenol.

The guard the bailiff had assigned stepped forward, saying, “I don’t think you can -- .”

“Aw, shut the fuck up,” the medic snapped at him.

He stepped back. Silently.

I liked this medic. I smiled and swallowed the pills, dry. It wasn’t easy.

The medic shot me a glance of apology, saying, “Left my coffee at the clinic.”

“Thanks,” I said.

“Don’t move if you don’t have to,” he said. “No heavy liftin’ for a while. And I sure hope that ain’t the side you sleep on.”

“I’ll live, Dr...?”

He grinned and said, “Sandoval.” Then he walked.

The Tylenol worked well enough to let me doze on top the table...for about five seconds. Then Ms. Ginty rushed in with a couple of other uniforms.

“Un-cuff him,” she said, a bit breathless. As the bailiff’s guard did, she added, “Mr. Blaine, will you come with us?”

“I got a choice?” I asked, glancing between the two cops, just to be mean.

“Please,” she said. “The District Attorney wants to see you in his office.”

I carefully slipped off the table, still playing up my achiness, a little, and motioned for her to lead the way.

When she said District Attorney, I’d thought we’d be going somewhere in the city. Instead, we drove sixty miles to an office building next to the Riverside County Courthouse, by which time I was about ready to roll down a window and piss out the side of the car if I didn’t get to a bathroom. At least they were polite enough to let me use the loo and wash my face; now all I needed was a gallon of water, a six-course breakfast, and some gum to handle my breath. I had to make do with a package of peanut M&Ms, which the receptionist was kind enough to spring for since my wallet was still back at the jail and Ms. Ginty was ignoring my request to borrow the money from her.

Now this building was dressed to impress. All Pink granite and dark windows. Polished marble floors detailed in gold. Walls holding artwork of the industrial sort. All very cold and mean. We rode up a super-fast, super quiet elevator to the fifth floor then marched straight into an office that reeked of Mahogany and thick carpet. Seated behind a desk that was perfectly positioned before the one and only window (and framed by velvet drapes, of course) was a man who fit the TV profile of a strong DA way too perfectly. His profile was sharp and clean. His salt and pepper hair was cut as perfectly as his suit. His nails were bright and polished. His smile was so calm, cool, and condescending, I’d have sworn I saw him on some version of “Law & Order”...and may have, considering this was Southern California.

Seated in a plush chair in front of the desk was his near twin in looks and attitude, just with a windbreaker tossed over a Polo shirt, tan slacks, and deck shoes on his feet. He rose and offered a hand that actually had light calluses on it.

“Mr. Blaine?” he asked in a voice that had really been trained right. “My name is Gregory den Voot, with the Royal Danish Consulate. I apologize for the manner of my dress; I received the call this morning, as I was about to tee off, and came straight here. Are you well?”

“As well as I can be,” I said.

He nodded. “Yes. Well, I am here to represent the interests of His Majesty, whose interest is in making certain his citizens are cared for.” He turned to the guy behind the desk, who hadn’t moved. “This is Warren Philby, the District Attorney.”

Something about the viciously polite tone in den Voot’s voice made Philby rise to his feet and offer a hand. “Mr. Blaine. Will you have a seat?”

I carefully settled into the other chair before the desk, beginning to enjoy this. Den Voot sat after me, as did Philby.

“We were about to have some coffee?” den Voot directed at Philby, who just barely tensed.

“Yes,” he said, his voice under serious control. “Mr. Blaine, would you like something?”

I let my voice crack as I said, “Water, please.”

“Of course,” said den Voot. “Coffee, please. Black.”

Philby nodded and looked at Ms. Ginty, saying, “Would you?”

I could almost hear her stiffen up behind me as she said, “Sir...”

The look he cast her would have killed an elephant from a thousand yards, if it’d been a bullet. I heard her breathe in and leave. He softened his glare and turned it on me.

“I want to apologize for the misunderstanding about your arrest, Mr. Blaine,” he said. “The officers went a bit far -- .”

“A bit far?” den Voot asked, his voice silky but sharp as a knife, even under this charming smile. “And I thought the British owned the power of understatement.”

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