In September 2015, I wrote a short piece I called ‘Assimilated‘. A short while later, I wrote a sequel titled ‘You have nothing to fear, but …‘, which I produced in response to a challenge at esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com that asked for a story about fear.
Using those as a start-point, we now follow Victor’s adventures after his exposure to Martinus mendax.
Let’s run with this for a few weeks, to see where it takes us.
I will welcome storyline suggestions or even complete scenes, as long as they fit the overall scheme (which I hope will emerge before too long).
Catch up on earlier episodes of Martinus mendax at this link
I had always thought that the police investigating their own was a bit suspect. I think differently now. Veraswamy was suspended from duty and treated worse than a common criminal all the time the investigation was underway. When I saw him walking in the street, he had the look of a defeated man; his shoulders were hunched, his head bowed, his hands in his trouser pockets and his gait hesitant. Other policemen crossed the road to avoid him; one even spat on the ground as he walked past. It seemed they had decided he was guilty. He cut such a wretched picture, that I actually started feeling sorry for the chap. He had done nothing wrong, after all. However, had I owned up to lifting his wallet as I threw him out, then planting it in the shop, I would have been in as great a depth of doo doo as he then was.
I contacted John the Ping and invited him around.
“We want a favour from you, John,” I said.
“Sorry; I meant I want a favour from you.”
“Name it,” he said.
I told him about what had happened a few days before, and handed him a piece of paper with an address on it. “Go to this address and talk to a chap called Nagesh Veraswamy. He’s the policeman who interviewed me about the burglary at Al-Nawazi’s shop.”
“What do you want me to say to him?”
“Just tell him you’d heard that he was in trouble, and ask him if he is sure he had his wallet with him when he came to see me.”
“And if he says yes?”
“Then ask him if he remembers being in Al-Nawazi’s shop the day before the burglary, and could he have possibly dropped it there.”
“What are you suggesting, Vic?”
“We’re offering him a way out.”
“What’s with the ‘we’ all of a sudden?”
“It’s best you don’t know, John.”
“I didn’t say that,” I said with a wink.
Later that week, I heard that the police had arrested two men for the burglary at Al-Nawazi’s shop, and had reinstated Veraswamy to duty with a written apology. I saw him is the street while out shopping, the day after his reinstatement. He approached me.
“Victor Sullivan,” he said, “I’m on to you.”
“I don’t know what you mean, Officer,” I replied, “Anything specific?”
“Be careful, Victor, that’s all,” he threatened, “I’m watching you.” And with that, he walked away, leaving me wondering what he had in mind.
I decided then, that feeling sorry for him and offering him a way out from the predicament I had landed him in, was a display of weakness on my part. It certainly wouldn’t happen again, and I had to make sure he would never, ever put me in a compromising position. The sudden urge I felt to slit his jugular where he stood frightened me, and I managed to fight it off. I had a feeling, though, that this urge wouldn’t be an isolated occurrence.
And I was right.
Life went on as normal: committee meetings for the various local charities I’m involved with, a bit of time on the allotment, to make sure I had chemical-free vegetables to eat, routine shopping, library visits to pick up more books on the Crusades, my weekly visit to church and so on. I stopped using the church in my town, because it was just too modern; didn’t feel like a church, if you know what I mean. Half an hour’s drive away, St Andrew’s dates back to the eleventh century and was built on the ruins of structures five hundred years older than that. Somehow, I felt more at home in that atmosphere.
I thought I saw Veraswamy across the road on one occasion. As I did so, my hand instinctively fell onto the handle of the Templar dagger that I had taken to carrying with me. It turned out not to be him, as I saw clearly when he crossed the road toward me and was met by a young woman who threw herself into his arms and almost crushed him with her embrace. Close call.
Why did I start carrying the knife? It seemed like the obvious thing to do. I had a bit of trouble getting hold of it – authentic medieval weaponry is rather scarce, but good quality replicas can be bought, if you know where to look, and the right tools will bring it to a keener edge than even the original article possessed. I bought myself a few pairs of police uniform trousers from a surplus store – they have a convenient pocket designed to take the traditional truncheon, that is ideal for my dagger, and my long jumper hides the guard. I don’t need it for defense; no-one has yet tried to attack me; and I’m not planning to use it offensively, either. I know, though, that buying it and carrying it were the right decisions.
As was my recent decision to sell my house in England, and move permanently to France, to be near to where I met Martin in the first place.