A "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons" Story
By Sue Stanhope
In the Family Way
2058 was going to be a very dull year. It was only a few days into January and Patrick Donaghue had already decided. It wasnít his situation of choice, but it simply didnít seem likely that it would turn out to be any different to 2057. He sat at his desk in the offices of Lovell & Stone, a large, long established firm of accountants for whom his day to day routine largely consisted of data processing and writing computer programs for their many clientsí dealings. It was a dull job. Heíd never expected it to be exciting, but he had hoped it would at least be interesting. He was under-utilised and undervalued. It was a job he could do in his sleep and, consequently, frequently felt bored and his time wasted. He longed for a challenge that would be worthy of his skills and abilities, but he thought as he looked around the deserted open-plan office, he was unlikely to find it here.
It was late and he sat alone with only a cup of coffee to keep him company. He wouldnít normally stay so late, and he certainly wasnít working. His own computer at home was undergoing one of his many massive rebuilds to improve it still further, which meant that, at the moment, his only option was to stay late at work and use theirs. Saving the program he had been working on, he glanced absently at his watch. Ten oíclock. Perhaps, he wondered, it was time to think about going home, or at least eating. Reaching for the mouse he was about to close down his program when he noticed something very strange. The pointer on the screen was moving of its own accord. Leaning back in his chair, he watched with curiosity as someone took control of his computer and searched through the system, clearly looking for something specific. It only took a few minutes for the unknown intruder to find what he was after Ė the payroll.
"Oh, I donít think so, my friend," Donaghue shook his head, "take the companyís money by all means, but not mine."
Typing a few commands, Donaghue managed, with ease, to take back control of his computer and sent a message in return. Across town, a young man was about to get the surprise of his life when the message flashed up.
IF YOUíRE GOING TO DO THIS Ė AT LEAST DO IT RIGHT!
Donaghue smiled as a long pause followed, during which time, he took the opportunity to do a little investigating of his own. He was beginning to think the would-be thief had given up and gone, when finally a reply came.
WHO ARE YOU?
Donaghue laughed at the message; the man was either very naÔve or very bold, but at this point, he wasnít sure which.
NEVER MIND WHO I AM. LEAVE THE PAYROLL EXACTLY WHERE IT IS.
Donaghue waited with curiosity for the next message to come in; he had a trick up his sleeve, but he wanted to see the reaction first.
ARE YOU POLICE?
That made him laugh out loud; Donaghue decided that he liked this person already and that he was far from bold.
HOW LIKELY IS THAT?
This time there was a shorter pause before the reply.
Donaghue raised his eyebrows, this was becoming difficult, he had to get to the point.
I WANT TO MEET YOU.
This time, the reply was quick.
Donaghue frowned; he would not be put off.
IF YOU DONíT I WILL GO TO THE POLICE. I KNOW WHO YOU ARE.
There was another long pause.
OH REALLY? YOUíLL FORGIVE ME IF I DONíT BELIEVE YOU?
Now was the time to play his ace. The intruder had left his computerís address all over the log during his hacking; it had taken very little effort for Donaghue, with his skills, to trace a name and even an address for him.
WELL, THATíS UP TO YOU, ISNíT IT, MATT?
A message was fired back almost instantly.
WHO ARE YOU?!
Donaghue smiled to himself. It was very possible that the name and address would have turned out to be false and the thief called his bluff. But there was something about his replies that told Donaghue that despite being a thief, deep down, this man was remarkably honest over certain matters. Now he was hooked. His curiosity aroused, he was determined that he would meet this man. He chewed his lower lip as he considered his next message. Looking once more around the office, he nodded slightly.
"No, thereís nothing here for me. Nothing I want."
His expression changed from one of sad reflection to a mischievous grin as he continued to type.
I THINK I CAN HELP YOU.
So, Donaghue thought to himself as he pulled his scarf closer around him, this year might turn out to be different after all. His coat offered little protection from the biting cold as he headed towards his destination Ė a bar in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It was a relatively short journey from his office across the Williamsburg Bridge but at this time of night and in this weather, Donaghue allowed himself the luxury of a cab ride. The cab could barely be described as warm, but at least it was quick. Handing over the fare, Donaghue stepped out of the cab into the chill wind once more. He shivered as the cold pinched at his lips and cheeks. Even inside his gloves his fingers felt numb. One day, he promised himself, heíd have sufficiently warm clothing to keep out the cold, one day heíd be rich, his whole family, heíd get them out of the poverty that had dogged them for as long as he could remember.
Looking up he saw the sign he was searching for and stepped inside. If it were possible, it was even more dark and threatening on the inside than it had seemed from the outside. Donaghue frowned, this, he thought, was for the sole intention of trying to intimidate him; trying to gain back some of the ground lost during the computer conversation, perhaps. Donaghue steeled himself for a confrontation, but it would be a tricky meeting. He had no idea who he would be meeting or how either would recognise the other.
At least it was warm inside, the sheer numbers of people at the bar and surrounding tables saw to that. Donaghue unbuttoned his coat as he approached the bar. Finding an empty stool, he sat down and waited for a few minutes.
"Whatíll it be?" the barman asked tersely.
"Beer, please," Donaghue replied absently as he looked around the bar.
"Something wrong?" the barman asked suspiciously.
Donaghue turned back to face him, at first confused by the question. "What? No, Iím meeting someone."
The barman nodded almost knowingly as he placed a glass of beer on the counter. Donaghue smiled. So, it really was that sort of bar.
He had been there almost twenty minutes. His beer was drained and he realised that coming here had been pointless. Even if the man were waiting, how would he know?
"Want another?" the barman asked.
Donaghue sighed and looked at his watch, it was already eleven thirty and he still hadnít eaten. It would take him thirty or forty minutes to get home.
"No thanks," he replied with another sigh.
"I donít know," Donaghue admitted with an embarrassed grin. "Iíve no idea what he looks like."
The barman raised his eyebrows and nodded. "That booth over there," he said, pointing discreetly to a table near the far corner. "Try him."
"Oh, itís not what you think," Donaghue replied quickly, much to the barmanís amusement.
"He just told me the same thing, waiting, but no show. Could be him. Worth a try."
Donaghue nodded his thanks. "I think I will have another, thanks."
Taking a sip from the glass as he stood, Donaghue headed for the far wall. At the table sat a young man roughly his own age, possibly a little younger, with red hair. He was casually dressed and wearing a smart brown leather jacket.
"Did we chat earlier, by any chance?" asked Donaghue uneasily as he approached the table
"That depends," the young man replied as he looked up at the newcomer. "What about?"
"You were taking an interest in the company I work for, IÖ advised against the actions you were about to take."
"Yes, we had a chat." He was quietly impressed at the subtle way he had phrased his introduction. "Did you come alone?"
"I said I would."
"Then youíre a fool, sit down."
Donaghue felt something stuck into his side as a second man had appeared beside him.
"Hey, I donít want any trouble." Donaghue realised that this was something he had not expected.
"Thereís none of us wants trouble, but thatís not always what we get is it? Now sit down."
Donaghue sat with the second man sliding in next to him preventing his escape. What actually turned out, much to Donaghueís alarm, to be a pistol was pressed into his side once more.
"Who are you and what do you want?" the young man snapped.
"My name is Donaghue and I can help you."
"I donít need your help, Mr Donaghue," he returned irritably.
"Look, I found you on our system, you left a trail of breadcrumbs a blind pigeon could follow. I got your name, your address, everything."
"Is that so? Then you really are a fool for coming alone."
"My point is, if youíd have carried on, youíd have been in jail tomorrow. I can help."
"Why? What do you want?"
Donaghue took a deep breath, he felt like he was in the middle of the strangest interview for some unknown job. The truth was, he didnít know what he wanted, but if it led to any of the things he had dreamed of, then it was worth a shot. A smile slowly formed on his face.
"I want to see if thereís more to life than Iíve got right now."
"How can you help?"
"Iím good with computers," Donaghue replied with pride.
"Iím good with computers," the man returned.
Donaghue smiled good-naturedly. "Okay, Iím exceptional with computers. Whatever you make in a year, I can treble it and I can promise you, with me running things, youíll never go to prison. Either of you."
"Are you in charge now?"
The two men glanced briefly at each other as Donaghue looked on, sizing them up.
"Not really," the red haired man admitted.
"Heís just got himself arrested, so itís sort of me, but Iím not..." he trailed off with a shrug as Donaghue stared at him with an unimpressed expression on his face.
A brief nod was all it took for the gun to be removed from Donaghueís side and the young man continued, introducing them both.
"This is Guy Huxley and Iím Matt Riordan."
"Pat Donaghue," he replied extending his hand.
Riordan took it with a pensive smile on his face; he had the uncanny feeling that this was going to be a long and fruitful partnership.
"Welcome to the Family, Mr Donaghue."
"Pat," Sarah, began tentatively, "what DO you do?"
"I told you, Iím in computing."
"Sort of freelance," he replied, his answer intentionally non-committal.
"Pat," Sarah placed her cup gently back down onto the saucer, "I donít believe you."
Donaghue smiled with curiosity. "So what do you think I do, if not computers?"
"Oh, I think itís computers alright, but thereís more to it than that, isnít there?" On receiving no reply, Sarah continued. "In the last year youíve bought us a house, paid for outright. You have a full wardrobe of only the best clothes and your car!"
"Pat, Iím not stupid. You never earned that kind of money in your last job. What do you do?"
Donaghue sighed. His sister was right, she wasnít stupid, not by a long stretch, but how could he tell her? Over the last year, heíd built up a small but well constructed mob syndicate of only six members into a large, significant body of men. He had kept his promises, and exceeded them. Their income had more than trebled within only a few months and now, they were gaining a solid name for themselves as a formidable group. True to his word again, Donaghueís schemes had proved so effective and his methods so elusive that not a single member of the gang had been imprisoned since his leadership began.
"Tell you what, after youíve helped me buy my suit, how about we go to that new designer store youíre always drooling over? See if we can get you something thatís going to knock them dead at your prom."
"Are you going to answer my question?"
Donaghue frowned slightly. "No, Pocket, Iím not."
Sarah knew now that it was serious and he wanted her to drop the subject. She hadnít heard that nickname for so long and she felt sure that he was only using it now because he was trying to distract her. It wasnít a particularly difficult challenge to decipher the reasoning behind the name. The diminutive Sarah, at only five foot two and very petite, was dwarfed by her much taller brother. He had always been very protective over her and referred to her as pocket-sized. It just seemed that the first half of the fond epithet stuck as a name.
"Is that okay?" he asked uncertainly. Despite being the elder of the two by almost four years, Patrick Donaghue had always sought the advice and council of his wise-headed younger sister.
Sarah pursed her lips.
"Iíll always be here for you, Pat, no matter what. You know that."
"Thanks, sis," he replied with a smile. "I guess itís time for you to help me buy a suit then."
"Pat, you have a wardrobe full of them, why do you still need my advice? You must know what you like by now."
"Youíve got class, Pocket. I trust your judgement."
Sarah blushed. "Okay, letís go."
It was about the third or fourth suit he tried and by far the most expensive of them all.
"Thatís the one," Sarah advised with a nod.
"Yeah?" Donaghue replied admiring the classic cut of the fine material in the mirror.
"Yes, but, it needs something," Sarah added tapping a finger on her lower lip.
"What?" asked Donaghue wondering what on earth she could mean.
She smiled as it came to her in a flash of inspiration.
"You need a buttonhole."
"A flower," she replied pointing to his lapel.
"You have to be kidding?" he answered mortified by the idea.
"Not at all, a carnation, I think. A pink one would go well with that colour."
Donaghue laughed. "Now I KNOW youíre kidding. You want me to wear pink?"
"Iím only talking about a flower, Pat, not a pink jacket!"
"I should think not!" he replied stoutly.
"It would look very dashing."
"Huh! Whatís wrong with it as it is?" he asked.
"Well, itís a lovely suit, Pat and I think you should get it, but..." she trailed off.
Sarah frowned sheepishly. "Well, you look like a gangster in it! You need something to lighten it."
Pat smiled, amusement plain on his face. "A carnation it is then."
Itís All Relative
Even from the entrance hall, Pat Donaghue could hear the sound of his mother crying in the living room. Closing the door quickly, he ran down the long hallway towards the distressing sound. He came to an abrupt halt as Sarah stepped out of one of the kitchen holding a glass of water.
"Sarah, whatís wrong? Is it Pappy?"
"No," she replied quickly. "Go into the kitchen, Iíll be back in a minute."
"No, Iíll come with you."
Sarah placed her free hand on his chest firmly. "Go in the kitchen, Pat, please."
Donaghue stared at his sister, affording her a puzzled look, before doing as she asked. Looking over her shoulder, Sarah waited until he was out of view before continuing into the living room with the glass. From the kitchen, Donaghue listened intently as he heard raised voices. His fatherís voice stood out above all else, but he could hear Sarah too and the tearful sounds of his mother trying to keep the peace. He realised all too well that whatever had happened, he was the likely cause and Sarah had been keen to keep him and their father apart - at least until his temper abated. It was unfair to let Sarah take the flack for whatever he had done to cause this tension and upset. There was only one option left to him and that was to face them. Leaving the kitchen, he headed for the living room and opened the door.
"Whatís going on?" Donaghue asked, his brow furrowed at the sight of his angry father and distraught mother. The look of sheer frustration on his sisterís face showed how torn she was; trying desperately to offer an alternative point of view and apparently being ignored.
Sean Donaghue turned to face the door. His expression was difficult to read, anger certainly, but it was tinged with disappointment and disbelief.
"Perhaps you should tell us, Patrick," Sean replied holding his voice as firm as possible.
"Tell you what?" Donaghue replied warily.
Sean shook his head. "How about the truth? Or is that too much to ask?"
Sarah turned to her brother, her eyes betraying the stress she felt and mouthed the words Ďthey knowí.
"Oh!? Is that all you have to say for yourself? Oh!?" Sean fumed.
Donaghue could only stare back for a few moments. His father furious, his mother distraught and Sarah, well Sarah was standing by him. It was inexplicable, she surely didnít know, not for sure at any rate. It must have come as much of a shock to her as to their parents, and yet she was defending him. A number of different questions moved to the forefront of his mind and begged to be asked, but there didnít seem to be an easy way of asking how they knew without admitting that they were right.
"What do you know?" he finally asked.
"How do you think we felt seeing you on television?" Sean pointed behind him in the direction of the large state-of-the-art television. "Apparently, youíre known to be running about a third of the Stateís underworld."
"Thatís not true!"
"Whatís not true? Youíre telling us you donít run a group of gangsters, weíll sue them. Patrick, tell me the truth, thatís all Iíve ever asked."
Donaghue chewed his lower lip, deep down he knew there was nothing he could do or say that would satisfy his father. If he admitted it, he was going to bring shame on the family, if he denied it, he was lying to him.
"You arenít going to deny it are you?" Sean asked hopelessly.
Donaghue shook his head slowly. "No," he said simply.
Sean was lost for words. He was angry, upset, shocked and bitterly disappointed, and simply couldnít decide which was the strongest emotion. The pair stood staring at each other for a few minutes. Inside, Donaghue was praying that his father could at least try to accept him, even knowing now what he did. It seemed unlikely. Sean was an honest man, but for all that, Patrick Donaghue never thought of himself as dishonest. Fearing the worst, Donaghue turned to leave.
"I think Iíd better go," he mumbled.
"Thatís right, you turn and hide, leave your mother and I to pick up the pieces, like we always did! I should have known youíd turn to a life of crime! What did you learn at Rikers Island?"
"Oh, be fair, Pappy! I was there for ninety days for joining in a riot, itís hardly a life of crime!"
"Maybe not, but youíre sure making up for it now arenít you!? You were supposed to be there to pay a debt to society not learn your trade!"
"A debt to society!" Donaghue turned back. "What do I owe society? What did society ever give us?"
"Much more than youíve taken from us!" Sean yelled.
"What are you talking about? What have I taken from you?" Donaghue snapped in return.
"Self respect," Sean growled in reply.
Donaghue looked away and pulled in a deep breath, stung by his fatherís words yet unable to deny the truth of it. "Can you accept it?" Donaghue took another deep breath and looked to the floor. "Me?" he mumbled almost inaudibly.
Sean shook his head in dismay. "Iíll take it from the pride with which you ask that question, that you know the answer already."
"I think I should go. Iím only going to make it worse."
"How, exactly, Patrick? How can you make it worse now?" Sean spat in a bitter, accusing tone.
"Sean, please, it canít help to fight now," Lily Donaghue, his wife, implored him.
Sean turned a frustrated and angry expression to her that suggested that if it only helped him, it would be reason enough.
"Donít trouble yourself, Patrick!" he snapped turning back to his son. "Weíll be the ones leaving," he declared. "Weíre going back to Ireland."
"Sean!" Lily cried, shocked by the unexpected announcement.
"I want us to be as far from all the shame you bring us as possible!"
Donaghue raised his eyes. "Pappy, no. Donít go back. We can sort this out. Donít push me out like this."
"We can sort it out?" The tiniest hint of hope touched Sean Donaghueís voice as he said the words. "Will you give all this up? Come back to Ireland with us?"
"I belong here, Pappy," Donaghue replied without really answering the question.
"Youíll be arrested," added Lily. "Please, Patrick."
"Iím staying," he said through teeth clenched with tension and stress.
"And the thieving and killing and God knows what else?!" Seanís voice raised a pitch as he realised he was asking a question for which he wasnít certain that he wanted to hear the answer.
Donaghue stood aghast. It had not occurred to him that any member of his family could think it possible.
"Iíve never killed anyone," he searched their faces for some sign of belief. "I wouldnít, I couldnít!" he almost shouted the last word in an effort to make them believe it. He appeared utterly distraught.
For a few moments the room was silent; it appeared that no one was eager to continue the upsetting row. Finally it was Sarah who broke the silence.
"Iím staying too." Out of the corner of her eye she caught sight of her motherís distress at the statement and hurriedly continued. "Iíve just settled in a great job, I have good friends and IÖ" she paused to ease the pain as her throat tightened, "I was born here, this is my home."
Lily Donaghue slipped behind her husband to take Sarah in her arms. As they mutually comforted each other, under his fatherís unforgiving stare, Patrick Donaghue raised his eyes.
"Iím sorry, really. I never wanted this."
Turning away, Donaghue left the house without another word. Leaving behind his parents and sister; their world shattered by the revelation. Things would never be the same again.
No Accounting for Taste
"Sheís cleaned us out!" Riordan fumed. "I have no idea how you can be so calm about it!"
Smiling, Donaghue sat back in his chair and folded his arms. "You have to be impressed though."
"No! I donít have to be impressed! Your girlfriend steals all our money and you say I have to be impressed? I can think of dozens of feelings, but impressed isnít one of them!" Donaghue sighed as Riordan continued to rant. "I canít even work out what sheís done, thereís no trace of her entering the account or where the money has gone."
"I know, I checked already." Donaghue leaned forward on the desk, making a mental note to learn that particular trick himself.
"Oh great! You canít find her? Well we can kiss that money goodbye then."
"Itís no great loss, Matt, we can make that back in a day. Iím rather surprised about your lack of sympathy though," Donaghue managed a hurt tone.
"Yeah, she was hot!" Donaghue grinned.
Riordan raised his eyes to the ceiling in frustration. "Mr Donaghue! She cleaned us out!"
"You know, you could call me Pat." Donaghue shrugged with a quiet sigh.
"How are you so calm?"
"Why are you so mad?"
"Sheís cleaned us out!" Riordan yelled again, throwing his hands in the air.
"No she didnít," Donaghue replied quietly, sounding somewhere between bored and amused.
"We both checked, the accountís empty."
"Matt, do you not know how I run the accounts?" Donaghue replied somewhat surprised to have to ask the question.
"Yes! There are dozens of them," he sighed. "Do you know how much money we have?"
"Well," Riordan began uncertainly. "The one I knew about had about one and a half million dollars in it."
"We have nearer to eleven million," Donaghue corrected him.
"How much nearer?" Riordanís voice became almost hushed as he drew closer to the desk. Donaghue very nearly laughed at the sudden change in his bearing at the mention of money.
"About two thousand short."
"Oh!" It was all he could think of to say at first. "Where is it?"
"Sit down, Matt, Iíll show you how it works. Itís one of the main things keeping us all out of prison."
Donaghue took a large sheet of paper and started to draw a complicated map of the structure of interconnecting accounts that made up the elaborate system that he had devised. A large account sat in the middle of the picture with lots of others branching from it. Each of those had several more representing individuals or fake, but apparently related and seemingly genuine, companies.
"The account in the centre rotates," Donaghue began only to receive a blank look from Riordan. "I mean I use a different account for the starting position each time. Say this centre one is the account weíre using, yes? Around that we place the other accounts."
"How many?" interrupted Riordan.
"Altogether? About fifty."
"Fifty?!" Riordan cried in surprise. "How do you keep track of them?"
"Straight choice, Matt, get caught or keep track of fifty accounts, what would you do?"
"Keep track," Riordan mumbled in reply.
"Right! Now, from there we choose seven other random accounts. All of them seem genuine and some of them represent a variety of legitimate companies with whom any of the other accounts would expect to have dealings. Accountants, insurance, legal, stationery, computers, human resources, outsourcing, temp agencies, anything, the list goes on. We take the money and we break it up, it goes into any or all of these seven other accounts. The money gets added to other transactions to another seven random accounts, sometimes even using some of the first seven or even the original account. The money keeps moving, always within this framework, always different amounts to different accounts. Virtually untraceable."
"Itís like a spiderís web," replied Riordan, fascinated by the system, all neatly drawn and explained. "Youíre a genius!"
Donaghue smiled appreciatively. "You think thatís good? You should see how I fence stolen goods."
"How?" asked Riordan stunned into admiration bordering on reverence at Donaghueís latest revelation.
Grinning, Donaghue reached across the table and pulled a copy of the newspaper Daily USA nearer.
"In here," he announced, "is a ĎHelp Wantedí section. Anyone who wants to contact us, or if we want to fence something, an advertisement is placed either requesting or offering the services of Carnation Antiques. Itís quite simple and appears all above board."
"Isnít it a bit risky? I mean you donít know who youíre dealing with," Riordan pointed out with concern.
"Neither do they!" Donaghue grinned in return. "Besides, I have my ways and means."
Riordan shook his head in admiration. "I bet you do!"
Out of the Blue
"Happy Birthday, Pat!" Sarah cried cheerfully as he opened the door to his luxurious Manhattan apartment.
"Thanks," he grinned as he stepped aside to let her in, "but being reminded how close Iím getting to thirty doesnít strike me as a good topic for a celebration!"
"Oh donít be such a big baby!" She grinned back, stopping to give him a hug and a peck on the cheek. "Something smells nice," she observed with a hint of surprise in her voice. "I didnít know you could cook."
Donaghue closed the door and followed her through into the living room.
"How do you think I eat?" he asked with amusement.
"Oh, I donít know, single guy, living on his own. Itís usually take outs isnít it?"
"I donít like burgers, you know that, and thereís only so much Chinese food and pizza you can eat. Especially out of a box," he frowned.
"Oh, my big brotherís got expensive tastes has he?" she mocked.
Donaghue took on an air of refinement as he watched the smirk grow into another grin on his sisterís face.
"I like the finer things, yes, why not?"
"Well, canít you get take out champagne and caviar?"
Donaghue screwed his nose up at the idea. "Have you tasted caviar? Itís foul!"
"I have actually, and youíre right. But Iíll have a glass of champagne though," she replied brightly.
"Coming right up!"
"I see it arrived then," she nodded as he poured them both a glass of champagne.
"Yes, thanks, Pocket," Donaghue stared fondly at the bottle he was holding. It was one bottle of a case of champagne that had arrived for him as a birthday gift from Sarah. "I would love to know where you found this. Iíve been after even one bottle of this vintage for ages, and you find a whole case!"
Sarah tapped her nose. "I have my sources."
"Youíre not going to tell me?" he asked, making a show of appearing downcast.
"No, way! I have to leave some for the rest of the world!"
Donaghue rolled his eyes. "Fair enough, guess it wouldnít be special otherwise. Anyway, you make yourself comfortable, I need to check on the oven."
As her brother made his way into the kitchen, Sarah settled in a comfortable leather armchair and settled her glass on a nearby table. Looking around the expensively, yet tastefully furnished apartment, Sarahís eyes fell on something that had her almost leaping from her seat. Picking up a small object from one of the shelves, Sarah looked at it with eyes that showed a confused mixture of both sadness and happiness. Heading for the kitchen, she interrupted her brother whilst in the middle of basting a large joint of tender looking lamb.
Impressed by the wonderful yet gentle aroma of the meat juices with a hint of rosemary and redcurrants, Sarah took a moment to enjoy heat and scent that had greeted her. Donaghue looked up, at first surprised to see her, then understood as he saw the card she was holding in her hands. Momentarily pushing the joint back into the oven, Donaghue stood upright wiping his hands on a cloth.
"You got a card from Mammy?" Sarah asked with a hopeful smile on her face.
Donaghue nodded. "She always sends one, Pappy doesnít know, I donít think, he never signs it anyway."
"Do you still visit?"
"Yeah, every now and again. Thereís an uneasy truce working at the moment. Neither of us mentions what I do, and I help out on the farm. Pappy tries to believe that one day Iíll enjoy it so much that Iíll give it all up here and go live with them and I try to believe that one day heíll accept me the way I am."
"Neither of which is all that likely though, is it, Pat?"
"No, but it means I get to see him," Donaghue replied with a distant, reflective faraway look in his eyes.
Sarah smiled sympathetically. To the police he may have been a tough, hardnosed gangster, but she knew the real Patrick Donaghue. As tough as he was, as heíd always been, he was a family man.
"Anyway, Iíll have to get back to basting this meat, or itíll be as dry as a bone," he continued with a wink, lightening the conversation once more. "Itíll be ready in about thirty minutes orÖ"
Interrupted by the doorbell, Donaghue looked from Sarah to the kitchen door to the oven and back.
"Donít worry!" she patted his arm. "You get your apron on and Iíll answer the door."
"Thanks," he replied, appreciative of the offer. As he opened the oven door and felt the surge of heat once more, he turned his head and called after her: "And I donít wear an apron!"
Sarah was still laughing as she answered the door, but there was something about the man standing waiting beyond the door that wiped all trace of amusement from her face. The man was tall and thin. His features sharp and he stared almost through her with an intensity she found uncomfortable. His eyes wandered over her with unabashed indecency, making Sarahís flesh crawl.
"Can I help you?" she asked finally.
The man smiled, it was more an unpleasant leer than anything with genuine warmth.
"Maybe later, sweetheart, right now, Iím here to see Pat," he replied pushing the door inwards with more strength than he looked as though he should possess.
"Hey!" Sarah regained her composure and placed a firm hand on his chest as he tried to enter the hallway. "I didnít invite you in!"
"Sorry, Sarah," came a voice from behind her, "took longer than I thought," he continued as he joined her in the hallway. His attitude darkened immediately on seeing the younger man standing just inside the door. "What are you doing here, Gabriel?"
Gabriel James, a recent addition to Donaghueís Syndicate following the take over of three more smaller mobs, glanced from Donaghue to Sarah and back again. "Business," he said simply.
"Business can wait," Donaghue snapped back.
"I can see why youíd say that," he replied staring approvingly at the petite woman beside him. "But this canít wait."
Donaghue sighed, at once angry and frustrated. The only person Sarah had ever met from the Syndicate had been Matt Riordan, that too had been an accident, but in Sarahís own words, Riordan seemed harmless enough. Gabriel James was not.
"Sarah, could you wait in the living room, please? This wonít take long."
"Is everything okay, Pat?" she asked unwilling to leave him alone with such an obviously unpleasant person.
"Yeah, sure, donít worry," he replied, still clearly angry with James. "Go inside."
With a frown, Sarah did as she was asked. Donaghue waited until the door was closed before he spoke again.
"What do you want? Make it quick, Gabriel, Iím not happy that youíve come here, especially unannounced."
"I can see that and I can see why too," James grinned at him. "You know, when youíre done with herÖ" James allowed the sentence to trail off meaningfully.
"Sheís my sister!" Donaghue growled. "I donít want you even looking at her again."
"Itís a free world," James replied indignantly.
"Yeah, well maybe I can swing it so it isnít for you!"
James scowled. "Whatever, sheís not my type anyway."
"What are you here for?" Donaghue repeated.
James took a computer disk from his pocket and handed it over. "Thatís everything you asked for, but itís encrypted. Matt couldnít crack it, he said to give it to you, urgently."
Taking the disk, Donaghue rubbed the bridge of his nose and sighed.
"Okay, Iíll deal with it."
"It needs to be running by four AM or weíllÖ"
"Iím well aware of the deadline, Gabriel, now, thank you for bringing this, but Iíd like to get back now."
Jamesí brows furrowed in annoyance. Donaghue spotted it and frowned in return. As a second in command in one of the recently taken over Syndicates, James was still considerably unhappy to suddenly find himself with a drop in status and influence. Aware of this, Donaghue had initially made allowance and been considerate to the point that James had misunderstood and believed himself to be of equal standing in the new order. Donaghue had been forced to make things clear to him and there now existed a state of brittle tension between them.
"Sure, Pat," James finally acknowledged as he turned and left pulling the door closed behind him.
Sarah was standing in the middle of the living room as Donaghue re-entered, pushing the disk into his pocket as he walked. He waved away her question as she opened her mouth to speak. Walking to the drinks cabinet, he withdrew the open bottle of champagne from the chiller and topped up both their glasses.
"Letís eat," he smiled.
One Bad Apple
Pat Donaghue drummed his fingers on the table. He was edgy, just a little. He felt sure that everything would work out as he had planned, well, almost sure, but the doubt that had seeded itself in his mind was enough to worry him. He was quite determined, however, that he would not show that worry; if they had him, then they had him, allowing them to see his concerns over it wouldnít change a thing.
The door opened, and a tall, striking man entered the room. He carried with him an air of smug satisfaction. He had every reason to be satisfied, this was a day he had worked for for some years and now that it had finally arrived, it was something he was going to enjoy. Commander Ian Stewart of the New York branch of the World Government Police Corps entered the small interview room and rounded the table. Leaning over, he resting his hands on the bare wooden surface as he stared down at Donaghue, seated opposite him.
"Weíve got you Donaghue. This time, weíve got you."
Donaghue raised his eyes whilst holding his head still. He stared blankly at Stewartís superior and gloating expression for a moment before lifting his head to look him fully in the face.
"Fraud and grand theft, naturally," Stewart afforded him a supercilious stare.
"I see." Donaghue took a deep breath before continuing, offering a genial smile as he did so. "I hate to tell you this, when I can see youíre so pleased about it, but youíve got nothing on me."
"On the contrary, Donaghue, we know all about your operations and even your pledge to your men. You might have promised to keep them out of jail, but you forgot to look after yourself, didnít you?"
"I have no idea what youíre talking about, but it sounds like an admirable gesture."
Stewart frowned; Donaghue should be more concerned than this. Maybe he was, maybe this was all bluff, he knew from previous encounters just how cocky and arrogant he could be. If he had known what Commander Stewart was thinking, it would have come as something of a surprise to Donaghue. He never thought of himself as arrogant, he preferred audacious. Cocky, heíd allow.
"Youíve been set up by one of your own men, Donaghue, and weíve got all the evidence we need to put you away for a very long time," Stewart announced watching his prisoner intently.
Donaghue twitched at the news of having been set up by one of his own men. Quietly he wondered who it was, there was little point asking as that would almost be considered an admission of guilt and there was no way Stewart would give him that vital detail. Just enough to rock the boat. Without Donaghue, internal squabbles and clashing personalities might well tear the mob apart; that was an eventuality for which Stewart would be more than pleased to see come to fruition. But for now, he had Donaghue and he could see he was nervous. He smiled as he watched Donaghue grow increasingly frustrated at the information he had received so far, or rather, the lack of it.
"Nothing to say, Donaghue?"
"I want to know what Iím accused of," the Irishman replied sternly.
Stewart gave a half smile. Got him on the run! "Sure, youíll know soon enough anyway. Monday night, you hacked into the stock market computer system and sold six million dollars worth of fake shares in a fictitious company. You thought youíd severed the link back to you, but we were waiting for you, we had a tip off and weíve got all the evidence with a guilty trail leading right back to you."
Donaghue sighed and offered Stewart a fleeting smile. "I have to hand it to you Ė " he paused as he watched Stewart almost swell with satisfaction, "Ė youíve got quite an imagination."
Stewartís face creased into an angry glower.
"Youíre a cocky son-of-a-Ö"
"Now, now," Donaghue cut in, "thereís no need for personal insults. Iím prepared to overlook it just this once, but you really donít want to find yourself on a charge of harassment, do you? Now, I believe Iím entitled to a phone call."
Stewart stared with some irritation at the man sat before him. He was too sure of himself, he should be scared. He wondered with unease, what he could possibly have up his sleeve.
Stewart plucked a small cordless handset from his jacket pocket.
"Here, one call, make it quick."
"Iím familiar with the procedure, itís not as if your men havenít tried to pin something on me before."
"Like I said, Donaghue, weíve got you, no question, no doubt."
"Is that so?" Donaghue paused as he heard the ringing tone. Within only two rings Matt Riordan, who sounded somewhat stressed, answered the call.
"Matt?" Donaghue asked.
"Mr Donaghue? Are you okay?"
"Iím fine, Matt, but I want you to do something for me."
"The clean up? Already done, Mr Donaghue," Riordan reported.
Donaghue sighed with relief. "And copies?"
"The infra-red signal has been sent, all copies should be wiped."
"I knew I could rely on you, Matt."
"Iíll come over to pick you up, Mr Donaghue. They canít hold you for anything now. Iíll be there in twenty minutes."
Donaghue cut the connection and handed the phone back to Commander Stewart.
"Well, Commander, it looks as though you have about twenty minutes to check your files, apologise and let me go, one of my associates will be here shortly to pick me up."
Stewart frowned. "Donít think youíre going to get out of this one, Donaghue. We HAVE evidence you know."
"Are you sure you have everything you need? Iíd check that if I were you," Donaghue grinned smugly.
For Stewart, it was an unnerving sight; a man who should have been nervous, yet was by far anything but. He was, after all, about to be arrested after years of slipping through their fingers, but instead he was confident, almost gloating. It was at that precise moment that there was an almost apologetic knock on the door.
"Sir," a detective in his early thirties leaned into the room. "Can I have a word, please?"
Donaghue glanced at his watch in an obvious fashion as Stewart approached the detective only to find himself invited to leave the room entirely. Stewart re-entered the room only a few minutes later. Donaghue glimpsed Stewartís expression and found himself unable to suppress the smirk that covered his own face.
"Collect your stuff and get out, youíre free to go," Stewart said, bitterly.
"But you were so sure, Commander, what happened?" Donaghue asked, almost laughing.
"Get out, Donaghue!" Stewart watched as Donaghue picked up his jacket and headed for the door. "I donít know how you did it, but, believe me, one dayÖ"
"One day, Iíll have you for harassment, Commander," Donaghue replied with the corners of his mouth and eyebrows slightly raised.
"You should watch that temper, Commander, itís not good for your health," Donaghue grinned, then stopped, cocking his head to one side in a thoughtful manner. "It was Aidan, wasnít it? Aidan Mahoney, who fed you that false information."
"False?" Stewart shook his head. "Youíve got some nerve, Donaghue."
Donaghue merely smiled in return and headed to the door, offering a slight wave as he did so. "Well, Commander, till next time, I guess."
"Yeah, next time," Stewart grumbled almost inaudibly.
Ill Met by Moonlight
Pat Donaghue turned the pen in his hand and absently stared out of the window. He was so lost in thought that when Matt Riordan entered his office, he found himself drawn to the window to see whatever it was that had captured Donaghueís attention so fully. It was only when Riordan walked into his line of vision that Donaghue even noticed him and snapped to.
"Matt," he said with a deep sigh. "Whatís up?"
Riordan turned from the window and gave Donaghue a disbelieving stare.
"You donít look happy."
Donaghue shrugged evasively.
"You just netted us five million dollars," Riordan clarified, "shouldnít you at least have a smile on your face?"
"Six and a half actually, I already moved some out to one of the other accounts."
"So why arenít you happy?"
Donaghue leaned his right elbow on the desk and supported his head in his hand.
"I donít know, Matt," he said as he spun the pen in circles on the desk. "What are we doing this for?"
"To make money and to live well," Riordan replied a little too quickly for Donaghueís liking.
"Thatís not why I came on board, Matt. Well," he paused, he enjoyed all the trappings of luxury that he could now afford to surround himself with, "not entirely anyway."
"Youíre in it for fun then?" Riordan scoffed.
It was as if a light had been switched on inside his mind, Donaghue looked up at Riordan. "Yeah," he said earnestly, "I guess I am."
"You need a vacation," Riordan pointed out with a frown. "Youíre doing all the work and having none of the enjoyment. When was the last time you had a break?"
"I went to Ireland about four months ago," he replied with a slight smile.
"No, I mean a real break, not just a week off to be yelled at by your father," Riordon corrected him.
Donaghue rolled his eyes. "I donít know."
"No, neither do I. You need a break, Mr Donaghue. You run, practically single-handedly, I might add, almost two-thirds of the Stateís Underworld. Do you not think some time off for a bit of R&R is necessary from time to time?"
"Okay, okay!" Donaghue raised his hands, "I take your point," his expression darkened once more. "But what if itís not that?"
"Trust me, youíll feel so much better after a break," Riordan nodded.
"Okay, Matt, anyway, Iím getting off for the night, Iíll see you in the morning."
"Sure, Mr Donaghue, good night."
Pat Donaghue was tired, physically, mentally and emotionally. He had been working way too hard; Riordan could see that. As he watched him leave he hoped that he would take his advice.
As he stepped from the elevator, Donaghue pulled his ringing cell phone from his pocket and smiled as he saw that it was his sister Sarah calling.
"Hey, Pocket, howíre you doing?"
"Pat!" Sarahís distraught and almost breathless voice came over the line. "Heís here, in the house!"
"Who?" he asked urgently.
"What?! I thought IídÖ"
"He forced his way in, he tried toÖ"
Sarah broke off suddenly as a loud crash behind her signalled that James was trying to break down the door. On the other end of the phone, Donaghue could hear it happening and Sarahís terrified reaction. As he ran to his car, he listened to Sarahís next few words.
"Pat, I got away from him and Iíve barricaded myself in the bedroom butÖ" another break in the conversation as Sarah screamed as one of the door hinges buckled under the mounting pressure.
"Sarah, hold on, Iím on my way!"
Donaghue threw the phone onto the seat, not even stopping to fasten his seatbelt, he swung out into traffic and headed for her home in Westchester County. Heading at speed out of Manhattan, he prayed that the traffic and lights would be on his side. He could only hope that he wouldnít be stopped for speeding. If the infamous Pat Donaghue were stopped now, it seemed unlikely that they would believe his story, leaving his sister in a desperate situation. But most of all, he prayed he would be there in time. Donaghue cursed himself over and over as he sped towards her house. Ever since James met Sarah he had pursued her. She had shouldered the burden at first, trying to deal with the situation herself, but she had soon realised that without intervention from Pat, James believed that he condoned his behaviour. Numerous arguments and fights between himself and James had ensued, after which, Donaghue had believed the matter closed. But now Jamesí answer was to forcibly take what he felt was his for the taking all along. Sarah had been placed, unintentionally, in a frightening and dangerous position and Donaghue blamed himself entirely.
Pulling up with a screech of brakes outside her house, he ran, not even bothering to lock the car. Finding the door still slightly ajar he headed for Sarahís bedroom. The house was in semi darkness and silent and the terrible thought hit him that he was too late. Pressing his palm against the wall and using it to swing around, Donaghue burst into Sarahís bedroom. Before him was a sight that would give him nightmares for years. Gabriel James sat astride Sarah, his right hand around her throat, his left exploring her slim body. Sarahís blouse was torn and pulled down to her elbows trapping her arms against her side. Donaghue saw red. Grabbing a handful of Jamesí grease slicked hair, he dragged him from the bed, and slammed him furiously against the wall. Landing blow after blow into Jamesí face and stomach, Donaghue paused, breathless and livid when Sarahís voice finally filtered through to him.
"Pat, stop! Youíll kill him!"
Donaghue wanted to, something he would never deny, but his sisterís terrified voice stopped him. He could tell, just from her tone, that she was more scared for him than for James. Murder, no matter what the reasoning, was never an option. He threw James to the floor, part frustrated, part relieved. Turning he saw Sarah now kneeling on the bed with what remained of her blouse pulled back into place, her cheeks wet with tears.
"Iím so sorry," he stammered. Nothing he could say could make things right. She would never have met James if it werenít for him. He wished so hard that he could turn the clock back, but was, in truth, uncertain how far back.
Behind him, James lifted his head and moaned with pain. Donaghue turned back in disgust.
"Get out!" he spat.
Donaghue watched as James dragged his bruised and bloody body to his feet. Unable to pull himself completely upright, James left without further word.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, Pat Donaghue placed a comforting arm around his sisterís shoulders and pulled her close as she wept silently, still suffering greatly from her ordeal.
"Iím so, so very sorry," he repeated, almost as upset as she.
Rocked gently by her brother, Sarah eventually cried herself asleep in his arms, not realising that as her tears dampened his shirt, that they mixed with his own.
The Final Straw
It was a terrible day. It had rained relentlessly since early morning. Cold and blustery, it was a day to be inside with your feet up in front of a warm fire with a mug of coffee. And that was exactly where Sarah Donaghue was. Smiling to herself as she relaxed on her comfortable oversized sofa; she seemed tiny, almost lost on it. Then as often seems to happen, just as you get comfortable, the doorbell rang. Sarahís first inclination was to ignore it. It was more than likely going to be someone trying to sell her something. She glanced towards the window and was surprised to recognise the bedraggled form slowly walking away from the house. Quickly placing her mug down on the table, she ran to the door. Throwing it open and quickly slipping on a pair of comfortable flat shoes, she sprinted through the rain to stop the man before he got too far.
"Pat!" she called urgently.
The man turned, the sadness in his eyes overwhelmed her. For a moment all she could do was stare. Then taking his arm, she pulled him back towards her house.
"Youíre soaked!" she declared with concern as she pulled off his long, heavy wool coat.
Donaghue merely shrugged in reply. The collar had been pulled up around his neck in a pitiful attempt to stay dry, but she suspected that he had done that some hours ago at least as the coat was soaked through to the lining.
Hanging the coat on the edge of a door, Sarah turned to face her brother. He looked so far away, as though he had returned from his visit to Ireland in body only. His mind and spirit having been left behind on that distant shore.
Sarah steered him to a seat near the fire and disappeared for a moment or two before returning with a towel and a blanket.
"Pat," Sarah sighed, "I donít even know where to begin. How long have you been out in the rain?"
Donaghue pulled his head away as Sarah tried to dry his hair.
"You came here, so sit still and do as youíre told!"
"I can go you know," he replied snatching the towel out of her hands.
"I know, but neither of us wants you to do that."
"I can dry my own hair," he muttered in reply.
"Good," Sarah folded her arms, "that gives me time to make you a coffee."
"Make it a whiskey," replied Donaghue darkly.
Sarah frowned. "Youíre not getting drunk before youíve told me whatís going on."
"You donít know?" Donaghue asked with scepticism plain in his voice.
"No, I donít know." She stared at him perplexed by his reply. "Come on, slip your jacket off."
Donaghue started to remove the sodden jacket then pulled it back on, seemingly having second thoughts.
"Come on, Pat, take it off, youíre wet through," Sarah started to pull the jacket from his shoulders and gasped audibly as she saw upper straps of the shoulder holster he was wearing.
"You couldnít just leave it could you?" he grumbled.
"Well, you might as well take it off now, seeing as I know anyway!" she snapped at him. "Now are you going to tell me what all this is about or are you just going to sit there and complain?!"
Donaghue looked up at his sister with a strange mixture of emotions on his face. The most obvious was sadness, closely followed by anger and frustration.
"You know, nobody else would get away with speaking to me like that!"
"Yes, well, in this house youíre Patrick Donaghue, my older, but not necessarily wiser, brother, youíre not the big shot gangster who has everyone fawning for favour at his heels!"
Donaghue shot to his feet at her harsh words and taking the few short steps to the door, reached for his coat. No sooner did he have it in his hands, than it was pulled out of his grip once more.
"Sit down!" Sarah yelled impatiently. "I donít know what this is all about but youíre about to find out that I can be just as stubborn as you are and youíre not leaving this house until youíve warmed up, dried off and told me what on Earth caused you to get in this state!"
For a few moments brother and sister stared at each other, both as determined as the other not to back down. Sarahís expression softened slightly as she saw the sadness in his eyes once more.
"Please, Pat, sit down. Please."
Donaghue rolled his eyes down towards the floor as he gave in and slunk back to the seat. Slipping off his jacket as Sarah re-hung his coat on the door, Donaghue took off the holster as she turned back to face him, wrapping it in his jacket to hide it from view. He shrugged as she gazed at him, Sarah replying with a kind smile.
"About that coffee?" he asked quietly as he pulled the blanket around himself with a slight shiver.
"Iíve got a pot on, just give me a second."
Only a few moments later Donaghue cradled the steaming hot mug in both hands. It hadnít occurred to him until now just how bitterly cold and stiff his fingers were. The heat filtering through the mug offered some welcome relief from the biting cold that had long since numbed his hands.
"You put whiskey in it," Donaghue stated with an appreciative smile.
Sarah grinned; it was the first genuinely positive expression he had shown since his arrival.
"Whatís happened, Pat?"
Placing the mug in the hearth, Donaghue stared down at his hands, distractedly interlacing and releasing his fingers. He chewed his lower lip as he wondered how to begin. Sarah dropped to her knees in front of him and took his hands in hers as she looked up at him, her eyes searching for a clue as to what could be so wrong.
"Pat, I told you a long time ago, Iíd always be here for you, no matter what. Please tell me."
"As far as Pappyís concerned, youíre an only child," he sighed unable to look her in the eyes.
"What?!" Sarah sat back on her heels, her expression one of disbelief.
"I went to Ireland, for his birthday," Donaghue started to explain.
"Yes, I remember you saying you were going," Sarah nodded.
"We had this big fight," Donaghue stared into the hearth. "And I mean, big. He threw me off the farm, told me that I was no son of his."
Sarah sat for a moment open mouthed. She knew that they disapproved, so did she in fact, but she never for a moment thought they would disown him.
"No, Pat, it was just a fight. You know what a temper heís got, especially when it comes toÖ" Sarah trailed off with an awkward shrug.
"My lifestyle?" Donaghue completed the sentence with a sigh. "No, Pocket, this wasnít just a fight, he really meant it. Iíve never seen him so angry."
"What about Mammy?"
"I donít know, she seemed pleased to see me, you know what sheís like." Donaghue sighed again. "But sheís not going to defy him."
"Oh, Pat, I donít know what to say," Sarah replied with a squeeze of his hands.
Donaghue stared hard into the fire, trying desperately to hold his voice firm.
"Tell me I havenít lost you too," he whispered.
There was a brief moment as Sarah realised that her brother, as she had earlier put it, Ďthe big shot gangsterí, was afraid and desperately unhappy. They had always been a very close family, and now that family had been torn apart. Partly through her fatherís temper and stubbornness, but mostly because Pat was asking his father to accept something that his honest values found impossible to understand. She knew that Pat blamed himself but that, by now, there were very few real options open to him.
"Youíll never lose me, Pat," she replied as she threw her arms around him in a firm, comforting, affectionate embrace. "I told you."
Sarah smiled as she felt him return the hug. He held her as though he were afraid to let go, releasing her only as the telephone rang.
Squeezing his hand in a reassuring way, Sarah rose to answer the persistent ring.
"Hello?" Sarah asked as she lifted the receiver.
"Sarah, my love, itís Mammy."
"Mammy, hi!" Sarah didnít know what else to say. It wasnít often that her mother would call, and coming so soon after Patís revelation made her wonder about the reason for the call now."
"Sarah." Lily Donaghueís voice cracked as she spoke. "Can you come?"
Donaghue looked up concerned, whatever it was, he felt sure that he was the likely cause of it.
"Itís your Pappy, heís in hospital, heís had a heart attack. Heís very ill andÖand Iím worried."
"Oh, Mammy, Iíll be there as soon as I can get a flight out, Iíll let you know, when itís booked. With any luck, Iíll be there tomorrow."
Lily tried to speak again but was drowned out by her own tears.
"Mammy, Patís here with me, IíllÖ"
"No," Lily cut in firmly but quietly.
"He doesnít want to see Pat," at this point Lily Donaghue broke down completely, her remaining words coming out in a tear-filled shudder. "HeÖhe says heÖonly has one child."
"But, MammyÖPat? How can heÖ?"
"I donít want anything to upset him, heís so ill. Sarah, Iím scared, if he gets angry again, heíllÖ"
"Donít worry, Iíll be there tomorrow, Iím sure."
"Thank you, Sarah. Bye, love."
"Bye, Mammy, Iíll call you later."
Sarah replaced the receiver on the cradle and stood silently with her back to her brother. Impatient to hear what was wrong, he stood and approached her. She only moved when she felt his hands on her shoulders. Looking up at him, it was her brotherís turn to see the sadness in her eyes.
"Sarah? Whatís happened?" he asked as his imagination turned the dozens of possibilities in his mind.
"Pappyís had a heart attack, heís in hospital. I have to leave straight away." Sarah lowered her head as she spoke.
"But not me?"
"Iím sorry, Pat."
Donaghue turned away and looked out of the window, it was still raining.
"Thatís okay, Pocket, donít worry about me." He sighed and reached for his jacket.
"Pat, donít go," Sarah pleaded.
"You have to pack and anyway, Iím tired, I just want to go home."
Donaghue pulled on the shoulder holster and jacket with a deep frown. They were both cold and damp and the sensation was unpleasant against his now dried shirt. Pulling a cell phone from his pocket, he stepped to the corner of the room and spoke quietly to someone for a few minutes. Slipping it back into his pocket he turned back to Sarah.
"Okay, itís all sorted," he said as he rubbed his eyes tiredly.
"What is?" asked Sarah perplexed.
"A car will pick you up here in two hours and take you to the airport. The driver will have an open ticket for you, first class; you wonít have any trouble getting a return flight, whenever you want. A private jet will meet you at Dublin to take you to Kerry and a car will take you to the farm or hospital, wherever you want to go. The driveríll stay with you, the whole time youíre there to take you and Mammy anywhere, anytime."
"Iím so sorry, Pat!" she rushed forward throwing her arms around his waist and weeping softly on his jacket.
"Hey, this isnít your fault, itís mine," he said, gently stroking her hair.
"You argued about James, didnít you?"
Donaghue sighed. "So you did know?"
"No, Pat, just a guess. Iím so sorry I told them. I didnít mean to, but they called just after and I was so upset, they caught me off guard and IÖ"
"Ssh!" he said comfortingly. "It should never have happened. It was my fault and you were right to tell them. Itís me thatís sorry, Pocket, I let you down, Iíve let you all down. Anyway, Iíll go, let you pack." Donaghue chewed his lip thoughtfully. "Give my love to Mammy."
Sarah watched with a heavy heart as Donaghue pulled his coat on and stepped out into the rain once more. There was something in his tone that told of deep regret. It had been the first time she had heard it and it broke her heart to see him so sad.
Donaghue scratched his eyebrow, he seemed bored. He had expected to meet someone and they hadnít showed. With mounting impatience he checked his watch again; forty minutes late. Heíd waited long enough.
The statement came from a man who had drifted over quietly away from the main group that crowded at the bar.
"Thanks, you can have this table, Iím leaving."
"Not before we get to know each other, surely?" the man returned. Donaghue eyed him suspiciously.
"I think you might want to hear what we have to say."
The man was in his middle to late forties at least and with him was a tall, broad much younger man; Donaghue guessed the younger man was roughly six foot two tall and maybe half that across the shoulders.
"I donít like being intimidated, MisterÖ?"
"Lewis. Iím not here to intimidate you. Iím looking for a representative of Carnation Antiques. I was told I could meet him here."
"Is that so?" Donaghue lit a cigar. "And what do you want with him?" he asked shaking out the match in one swift practised flick of his wrist.
"I may have a proposal that might interest him," the man replied, continuing to hedge around the subject.
"Get to the point or go," Donaghue suggested abruptly. Having been kept waiting for forty minutes, he was in no mood to be kept waiting any further. Besides, he thought, it didnít do his image any good.
"Now, you listen to me, DonaghueÖ!" began Lewis angrily.
"Is there a problem, Mister Donaghue?"
Donaghue smiled and blew out a cloud of smoke. "Iím not sure, Ox," he replied staring up with a slightly puzzled expression to the huge man who had now approached the table.
Robert ĎOxí Oxbury, Donaghueís Syndicateís chief enforcer was taller, broader and considerably more intimidating than most men. At this moment he had placed a firm hand on Lewisí shoulder. Lewisí companion turned his gaze from Lewis to Ox and back; his eyes asking the question of whether he was required to oppose the bigger man.
"I think Mister Lewis, might just have been about to get to the point," Donaghue prompted.
"Like I said, I have a proposal for you," Lewis explained once more.
"Go on," Donaghue suggested with bored irritation.
"For you," Lewis tried to shrug off Oxís big hand and frowned as it stayed put, "not him."
Oxís fingers slowly closed on the disagreeable manís shoulder. As the grip tightened, Lewisí face became a picture of silent agony and Donaghue found himself unable to conceal the grin forming as he chewed on the cigar.
"Okay, Ox, thatís enough," he finally announced with a slight chuckle. "Why donít you take Mister LewisíÖ associate to the bar for a drink? Iím sure everything will be fine here."
"Anything you say, Mr Donaghue, Iíll be over there, watching, if you need me."
"Thanks, Ox," Donaghue replied casually, as he watched Ox almost lift the second man from his seat and escort him to the bar.
"How did you teach your bear how to speak?" Lewis grumbled as he rubbed his painful shoulder.
"Ox?" Donaghue grinned and nodded. "Nice guy, Ox."
"Very well housetrained," came the growled reply.
"I can get him back here," Donaghue warned, "if you want to discuss it in more detail with him." On receiving only a contemptuous frown in reply, he continued: "Now then, Mister Lewis, weíre alone, what do you want to speak to me about?"
"Iím here on behalf of my employerÖ"
"Stop!" Donaghue heaved a sigh and leaned forward on the table, stubbing out his cigar in the ashtray in front of him. "Let me tell you what I know, shall I?"
Lewis merely scowled and waited.
"Youíre going under the name of Samuel Lewis, but your real name is Victor Dejano. Youíre an ex-con who turned Stateís Evidence to help put away a ring of drug barons and now you have to walk around with your own personal gorilla in tow, because you donít know whoís watching you. Oh, and now, you work for the World Government in a," Donaghue waved his hand as though trying to find the right words, "yesÖin an advisory role."
Lewis stared hard at the politely smiling Irishman seated before him.
"Did I miss anything?" Donaghue asked with a slightly superior air.
"Yeah, you did," Lewis spat back. "Iím the guy with the deal thatís gonna keep your ass out of jail."
Donaghue sat back in his chair and folded his arms. "Since when was I in danger of that?"
"Oh, the WGPC are on your tail, Donaghue, donít think you can avoid them forever."
"So what is this? Set a thief to catch a thief. Iím sorry, Mister Lewis, Iím afraid youíve had a wasted journey."
"Iím here to give you this," he cut in, ignoring Donaghueís statement. Pushing a thick envelope across the dark beer-stained table, he watched, waiting for the response.
Donaghue silently picked up the envelope, checking it carefully to ensure the seals were unbroken.
"Whatís the matter with you? Itís not a bomb you know!"
Donaghue directed a dark stare in reply as deftly he ran a finger under the gummed flap. Removing the bulky letter, Donaghue read in silence. Not even the tiniest flicker of emotion crossed his face. Nothing that might in any way disclose the contents of the letter .
"I see," he said simply, folding the letter once more and pushing it back into the envelope.
"My employers would like a reply."
Donaghue thought about the contents of the letter, which, given the circumstances, he believed to be genuine. It held the seal of the World Government and contained an intriguing proposal for him. Above all, it offered a full pardon, not unconditional, obviously, but not particularly restrictive either. He was requested to travel to Australia to meet with the Selection Committee where, he presumed, all would be explained. He reflected on recent events, the boredom, the Syndicateís in-fighting and the intolerable burden that he had placed on his family. Why not? he finally thought. Mattís been on at me for years to take a break.
"Tell them, Iíll be there," he said as he pushed the envelope into his inside pocket.
Lewis finally offered Donaghue a thin admiring smile. "Such a loss to the Underworld."
Donaghue shrugged and smiled knowingly. "I canít imagine what you mean."
The Rainbowís End
Stepping out of the building and into the sun, Donaghue smiled to himself, almost laughed in fact. Who would have thought he would ever entrusted such a telling document to a law firm? He had agreed to meet the World Government Selection Committee, but he had very little knowledge of exactly what they expected from him. What they had offered him had sounded interesting, very interesting, but he needed to know more. Exactly what would be his role? Of course, he had also considered that this was a set up. They couldnít get him by legal means, was he now to just disappear, somewhere in the Australian Outback? His insurance, much good it would do him, was that all the details had been entered into a document, with copies of all correspondence given to him by Lewis, and had been deposited with the Australian law firm he had just left. The document would either be collected by himself, personally, within a month or, failing that, it would be sent to his sister Sarah. He had tried his level best to garner additional information, but without success. Part of him was suspicious, but primarily he was impressed and more than a little curious.
Stepping into his rented car, a sleek, top of the range black sports model, he headed for the address given to him. Using the directional information from the carís inbuilt navigation system, Donaghue no longer needed to fully concentrate as he drove down the empty roads. Almost unwillingly, he let his mind wander. His first and foremost thought was to wonder what on Earth he was doing here! He could very well be driving to his death. No. He shook his head. Despite the arrangements he had just made, even he didnít truly believe that the World Government would sink that low as to set a trap for him. They had never even so much as tried to pin a fabricated charge on him. No, his instincts told him that this was genuine. More than that, it was his last chance for redemption.
Nine years he had spent with the Mob. Almost his entire adult life. That fateful decision to join them, made during a moment of ennui on a cold January night, had ruined any chance of a normal family life, fuelled further by his very nature to be the best at whatever he turned his hand to. This was his chance, a chance to retake the life that he had thrown away so casually. It had taken him a long time to realise it, but it wasnít enough for him just to be good at what he did; it was even more important for him to be proud of it too. Heíd lied to himself for years that it didnít matter, but it did. Oh, how much it did! Perhaps it was time to admit, if only to himself, that his choice of career had been a mistake. It was time to make a clean break and this new challenge offered to him seemed likely to provide that elusive something that had been missing all along. And maybe one day, he fervently hoped, he would even prove himself worthy of his fatherís respect. As he parked and removed the keys from the ignition, Donaghue closed his eyes briefly; it all seemed so unlikely.
What am I doing here?
Stepping out of the car with a sigh, Donaghue eyed the warehouse with dulled interest. Lowering his eyes, he peered through the open doors, to see four men staring at him with ill-concealed curiosity. They were roughly his own age, two of them dressed in military uniforms, all of them trying hard not to appear baffled by the situation.
Hmm. He smiled to himself, intrigued. Think Iíll stick around; this could be interesting after all.
No Place Like home
"You took her home then?"
The voice stirred Captain Magenta out of his reverie; looking up, his eyes fell upon the familiar features of Captain Scarlet as he entered the Officersí Lounge.
"Sarah? You took her home?" Scarlet repeated.
"Yes, I got back about thirty minutes ago," Magenta replied quietly.
Captain Magenta had only just returned from taking his sister Sarah home. Sarah Donaghue had found herself on Cloudbase following her rescue after the incident of her kidnapping by Gabriel James, Patrick Donaghueís successor of his Mob Syndicate.
"Penny for them," Scarlet added noticing how very distant and reflective Magenta appeared. Magenta smiled briefly; Scarlet was very astute.
"I was just thinking about the past and everything that led up to me joining Spectrum."
"Are you alright, Pat?"
"Yeah," Magenta nodded quietly. "You were right, she was overjoyed when I told her about me being a Spectrum captain. I should have told her years ago."
"So?" Scarlet paused waiting for a reply that didnít come. "Why the long face?" he prompted.
Magenta leaned back in the chair and took a deep breath. "It was good to tell her, I donít know why I hadnít, I really donít, sheís always been supportive, even whenÖ"
Scarlet joined his friend at the table and offered him a sympathetic smile as his voice trailed off mid-sentence.
"Sometimes itís hard having a secret when the people you want to tell the most are the very people you just canít tell. No matter what the reason."
Magenta looked at Scarlet, he knew exactly what he was thinking and feeling; it was comforting in a way.
"Pat," he continued, "it was a long time before my father discovered the truth about what happened to me. It was devastating for him, at first, you know. But now, things are back to normal between us, in fact weíve never been so close. I think itís because I died," he paused as he considered his feelings. "You realise how close you came to losing something precious to you, so you value it all the more. Itíll be the same for you, with your Dad. When the timeís right, youíll know."
"Thanks, Paul," Magenta nodded. "Youíre a good friend, you know that?"
Scarlet smiled as he got to his feet. "Come on, Iíll buy you a coffee."
"Whatís wrong with the coffee in here?" asked Magenta pointing to the full pot on the hot plate.
"Blue made it," Scarlet explained gravely, turning to lead the way.
Magenta smiled as he rose to follow him. Scarlet always seemed to know all the right things to say. Maybe because over the years he had experienced and suffered so much. Magentaís spirits lightened in his company. He had taken his first tentative steps towards reconciliation with his family.
He knew it was only the beginning of a very long journey, but it felt good.
Ď Help me, such a lonely soul
To leave behind the world
Mr Kingdom, help me please
To find the rainbowís end í
With special thanks to :
Chris Bishop, Hazel KŲhler and Marion Woods for their valuable suggestions, for reading the numerous versions story as it built and beta-reading the final drafts. Especially to Chris who has an uncanny ability to know when Iím not entirely happy with something and is always able to offer the right advice.
Jeff Lynne and Electric Light Orchestra (lyrics used without permission)
Some events and characters Copyright © of all trademarks materials (Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons, all characters, vehicles, crafts, etc.), owned by ITC/Polygram/Carlton. Information of the series are all been taken from copyright © materials (books, magazines, videos, T.V. media, comics, etc) owned by ITC/Polygram/Carlton.