'Enraged, Father Gerard leapt to his feet. He stood there shakily; stood there with his bandages round his big belly, and his black boots with his skinny white legs and arms and pale flat bottom on show. He turned around to show his penis dangling down. He looked like a turtle being held out of the water by a tormenting fisherman.'
'Hunched against the drizzle, they contrived to meet in the centre of the cemetery car park, as if they were providing their own witnesses.
They stood together with an uneasy familiarity, in the close yet guarded way of a couple with the intimacy behind them and overly conscious of the new boundaries. They watched the mourners assembling by their cars who in turn were watching them. They could hardly look into each other’s eyes; stood with mannered malevolence.'
“My name is Jimmy September. You will do well to remember this name because I will decide your futures.” He didn’t strain his voice but it was loud nonetheless. His eyes picked out the priest and he paused to watch the trickle of blood on his pale skin.
“Do not waste your time with any appeal to God. He is not here. Should you wish to pray for your souls, then you must pray to me. Because here, Jimmy is God.”
'This man had tough, weathered skin, like a fisherman who had fallen asleep on deck in 1960 and had only just woken up. His hair was long and matted, a brown-grey stained yellow at the front by nicotine. The nurse had tried to tidy him up, dampening his hair to lie flat and angled. It looked like step I in a magazine cut-out, ‘Make your own Thunderbirds Hat.’
She turned for the door, resisted the urge to run and only hoped that he was still waiting for her to pass through into the kitchen; that he believed she was still fumbling for the light or taking off her shoes or something as pedestrian.
The door was still five steps away and she had turned her body but not her head when she saw it; bright and alive in the night, as if the knife was drawing all the light that existed in the darkened corridor. It was enough for the silvered blade to betray him. She recognised the familiar features and the shape of the head and the strong neck and the fall of that hair.
She knew with an absolute certainty that decided her next action that she was not going to make the door.
The man who came to the door was older and smaller than Charlie had expected. His skin was sun-spotted and wrinkled, as if he had worked outdoors all of his life. He had a slight stoop that embellished his shortness, and his thin arms hung by his side, slightly bent at his elbows, like they were bracketing something that had been taken away. Despite his restricted height and his frail frame he looked like he might once have been a strong man; one who had commanded respect; because there was nothing frail in his eyes. They were clear and unblinking, regarded Charlie with all of the unsettling threat of a much younger man.
“Senor Vargas?” asked Charlie. “I’m told that you once worked for Senor Abrego. I wanted to speak with you about an event in 1973 when my father, disappeared.”