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Trust Issues (Revised) by Stuart Martin

© Stuart Martin

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The third of three stories with a link. Explaining events in stories 1 and 2. I hope this has some merit as a story in its own right.

Trust issues

Tanjong Pagar rail station Singapore – 2008

Douglas Paxton sat cross-legged, appearing to read a newspaper. The wide-rimmed glasses he wore had plain lenses. His thick, naturally wavy hair was gelled straight back and completely dark, no sign of his many grey streaks. His suit was oversized, hiding his impressive physique. There was little chance of his build being an issue, but extreme caution was his default setting.

The man being scrutinised via Doug’s peripheral vision, a Malaysian, was sitting about twenty metres across the concourse. As a personal memory aid Doug gave all his marks a name - a Doug-tag. This tag was a no brainer: Mal.

Mal was clasping a clutch-bag sized leather pouch. His eyes darted to every movement and sound as he continually fiddled with his tie.

Two minutes later, a tall, lean white man scanned the area as he approached Mal; his posture and confident demeanour suggested military training. His short, wiry hair - spirit level flat on top - earned him the Doug-tag, FT.

Douglas Paxton walked out pulling a small case on wheels, leaving the same way FT had entered. His marks, surreptitiously examining the contents of the packages they had exchanged, gave him no more than a fleeting glance.

Four minutes later FT entered the car park, making for the one car with the engine running. He had one foot inside the car, dipping his head to enter, when he noticed the driver slumped at the wheel. His fingertips had just reached the gun in his shoulder holster when a forearm slammed into his jawbone with a slight upward trajectory.

The concussive blow had a delayed effect; FT’s eyes flickering before his body went limp. Doug eased him into the passenger seat, propping him against the driver before removing the leather pouch from FT’s inside pocket. He stopped the engine, threw his glasses into the foot-well, and was already texting as he gently closed the door.

Minutes later a black Rolls-Royce Corniche cruised close to the kerb. Doug got in without requiring it to stop. The driver gave him a nod, mouthing, ‘Mr Paxton.’

Doug didn’t acknowledge the greeting, fixing his stare on the only other passenger as he held out the pouch. “There was no backup.”

Giles Northwood lowered his eyebrows and furrowed his brow, gesturing towards the driver with a tilt of the head; a screen was raised, separating front from back. Northwood flipped open a laptop and reached for the pouch. “No problems were there, Doug?”

Doug kept a firm grip on the pouch forcing Northwood to make eye contact. “That’s not the point. You said there would be cover.” He held tight for a few seconds then released his grip.

Northwood took out a USB stick and slotted it into the laptop. “Doug, as I’ve said before - if you’re feeling your age there’s a desk waiting for you. We are both fifty-three - I know I wouldn’t like to be out there.”

“I’m not ready for that – never will be.” Doug remembered Northwood as one of the toughest of their intake. But now he had the standard desk pilot’s body, an evenly spread twenty kilos of blubber. The thought of sinking to such a physical low made Doug nauseous; five years in the marines had built that into his psyche.

Doug saw the ‘tell’ - the tick in Northwood’s bottom lip: the USB contained what he was looking for. Doug pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and index finger; another stress relief technique that didn’t seem to work. “Giles, was this operation even official?”

Northwood continued to scrutinise the screen. “Why would you ask that?”

“Don’t fuck me about - there was no backup. Was it official?”

Northwood closed the laptop very deliberately; poker-faced, he turned to meet Doug’s stare. “Define official.”

Thornton Grove, Harrow – 2013

Douglas Paxton’s DIY had, almost certainly, not added to the value of his property. Six flat screen televisions were fixed to his sitting-room wall. On the left a rowing machine was bolted to the floor, on the right a chin bar hung from a beam. In the centre, supported by an H girder frame, a large punch bag was secured top and bottom.

Doug moved around the bag steadily throwing punches and elbow strikes. A timer bleeped; He snapped out a combination of strikes - finishing with a head-height roundhouse kick. He flicked a towel round his neck and wandered into the kitchen, making a phone call as he poured a glass of juice.

“B wing control, duty officer speaking.”

“Is that you, Bob?”

There was an audible sigh. “Mr Paxton. You are not supposed to have this number. I’ll have to report it if you keep calling.”

“Bob, I just want an update – I care about my brother, you understand.”

“Clive told me you didn’t speak for twelve years.”

“So you’ve been talking to him, how’s he doing?”

Bob heaved another sigh. “He seems to be settling. He is still on suicide watch, and no, we don’t miss any of our checks. I can’t vouch for other prisons, but we understand our duty of care. He is in good hands.”

“Thanks, Bob…I’ll call again tomorrow.”

“Don’t do tha---” Doug ended the call.

A strobe light flashed; Doug’s head jerked up like a nervous gazelle at a watering-hole. He snatched up a remote as he entered the sitting-room, switching the TVs from news channels to the cameras that covered every outside aspect. He zoomed in on the fresh-faced young man approaching the front door. The young man straightened his tie before ringing the doorbell. Doug checked the other screens again before going to the door. The young man was quite short; the view through the spy-glass was of his hair. It looked like a round loaf perched on top of his head - Doug-tag, BH (Bread Head).

The young man switched on a beaming smile as the door opened, immediately launching into his pitch. “Mr Paxton.” He lifted up the ID card that was hanging round his neck. “I’m Roger. I represent Corona Energy, and…”

Doug grabbed the ID card, looking over the loaf-hair, scanning the garden. With his left hand he pinched the card’s ribbon tight to Roger’s throat.

Roger bent at the knees, weaving downwards in an attempt to reduce the pressure. “Aaaaaa…That hurts.”

Doug read from the ID card. “So, Roger Binks.” Roger pulled at Doug’s hand which gripped him like a vice. “Would you like to tell me your employee number?”

Roger sniffed, his eyes reddening. “I can’t breathe, Mr Paxton.”

His eyes widened as Doug pinched a little harder. “Don’t lie to me, Roger. Now - the number please.” He cupped the card in his hand.

“Four, three, errr, seven, errrr…..I don’t know, Mr Paxton. I only started last week.” His voice had become a whimper, “Solar panels, Mr Paxton, that’s all it is. Please - let me go.”

Doug’s eyes flicked up and down the street. He pulled up on the ribbon, tilting Rogers head back; Roger’s lip quivered as Doug leant forward, eyes probing Roger’s as he rasped, “You on your own, BH?”

Roger’s mouth flapped. “Wh…Whh?...B? H?...Oh no, Mr Paxton. It’s not like that. I live with my mum – but I’ve had girlfriends – really.”

Doug narrowed his eyes as he leant in a little closer, suddenly releasing his grip. “Hmmm!” He brushed down and straightened Roger’s jacket and tie, and took hold of his hair with both hands - centring it on his head. Roger tensed as Doug clapped his arm around his shoulders, gripping him tightly and leading him inside. “Ok then, B…Sorry, Roger. Let’s talk about solar panels, my energy bills are ridiculous.”

Heathrow airport, Terminal 3 departure lounge.

Olivia Furston glanced up from her magazine to check the departures board, leaning from left to right as a man in a Hi-viz coat crossed her eye-line. She did a double-take as he sat in the adjacent seat and thrust a large paper cup towards her. “Douglas! What are you doing?”

“I’m offering you a coffee – black, no sugar - right?”

Her eyes narrowed as she took the cup. “I meant ‘doing here’ – as you well know.”

“I’m testing airport security.”


“No, not really. But someone should, it’s shit.”

“Well, thanks for putting me at ease before my flight.”

“Sorry.” Doug peeled the lid off his cup. “Canada - you must be excited?”

“I am…We are.”

Doug gave a nod. “Brad is a lucky man.”

“That’s what I tell him - three weeks out there without me - he’ll know it.” Olivia stroked hair off her face with her index finger. “Why are you here, Douglas?”

He rolled his cup between his palms. “Do you remember me mentioning my brother?”

“You mean the brother who is a much better man than you? Who recently pleaded guilty to murder - that brother?”

Doug was visualising Clive as he nodded. “Yes, my only brother…And he is a good man.”

Olivia had slipped into counsellor mode. “Go on.”

“Clive made a mistake, killed the wrong man - he’s having trouble living with that. Turns out we’re not so different. My problems started once I realised pushing moral boundaries for the greater good was a concept used to manipulate the naïve. In reality, we were furthering the interests of parties with the leverage to drive agendas. Ergo, I had been stomping around on the far bank of my moral Rubicon. Once I admitted that to myself, I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror.” He finished his drink and crushed the cup into a ball. “Anyway, I was going to ask you if you would talk to Clive. But, as you have a full diary I thought you might recommend someone, someone I can trust?”

Olivia took out a small notebook and started to write. “Why didn’t you talk to me about those issues in our sessions?” She tore a page from the book. “You can trust both of these - mention my name.”

Doug took the page with a nod. “I have trouble trusting people.”

“That much I worked out.”

“You were service back then, I trusted you - didn’t trust the setting.”

“The setting?”

“Listen, if the wrong people get jittery about you, your last memory could include a Basque, a blindfold, a slice of mango wedged between your butt cheeks, and the taste of your own underwear.” He stood up, patting his pocket after slotting in the page. “Good luck, and thanks for this.”

“Douglas - they could help you too.”

He pressed his mouth into a momentary smile before leaving.

Twenty minutes later, Olivia dropped the packaging from a pay-as-you-go mobile into a waste bin. She moved to the quietest area she could find as she made a call. “Giles, you’ll never guess who just swung by to wish me bon-voyage.”

Treasury building, Horse Guards Rd. London.
Private offices of Milton Marchant – Chief Secretary to the Treasury
08:31 next day

Carlton Hoog, the Chief Secretary’s P.A. was busy drawing up a list of ‘off-limit’ questions for his protégé’s upcoming television interviews; preventing Milton Marchant from embarrassing himself, as ever, his prime concern. It took a few seconds for a submarine dive alert sound to register as a ringtone. Hoog rummaged in his overcoat pocket for his ‘special phone’. “Hello.”

“I’m in Westminster Chapel. Would you care to join me?”

Hoog was slipping on his coat as he replied, “On my way.” He flicked up his collar as he left the building, walking head down.

Hoog scanned the old building, the sound from his footsteps circled back on the curves of the roof. He saw Northwood out of the corner of his eye, sitting in the shadows. He took an adjacent seat.

Northwood’s tailored suit couldn’t hide his growing bulk, his face increasingly moon-like, his hairline receding. “Mr Hoog.”

Neither man attempted eye contact. “Mr Northwood.”

“Good news, Mr Hoog. I have the pieces in place to deal with the Chief Secretary’s little problem.” Northwood held out a piece of folded paper. “That is, if you can accommodate me with this?”

Hoog stroked his chin as he read the note. “I’m not sure if the Minister will agree to this.”

Northwood kept his voice low and monotone, “Mr Hoog, please don’t insult my intelligence by implying that Milton-cerebral-vacuum-Marchant makes any decisions outside of the toilet. Those are the terms - you can accept them, or pay Brompton - probably on an ongoing basis. Alternatively, Marchant can come down here and ask for forgiveness - I doubt he will get any from the electorate…Or his party.”

Hoog exhaled deeply. “I’ll have to give it some thought.”

Northwood shrugged his overcoat into place. “I’ll need your answer by tonight. I only have a short window.”

Brewery Square. Giles Northwood’s London residence.
18:30 – same day

Douglas Paxton paced up and down for ten minutes before approaching the door of the red-brick town house. Giles Northwood greeted him with a smile, “Doug, come in.”

Doug gave a nod. “Giles.” The décor and fittings were modern, light, and top spec. “This is nice. Not really you though.”

Northwood led him through to an office. “No fooling you, Doug. I contracted it out, the whole interior design thing. Just told them to let me know when it was done.”

“Distancing yourself from the decorating – I thought I was paranoid.” Doug stayed deadpan.

Northwood, who was taking two glasses out of a cupboard, hesitated. “Never could read your dry humour.” He held up a bottle of malt whisky. “Drink?”

“A small one - thanks. You said this was related to my brother - calling in the favour already? That’s fast - even for you.”

Northwood grimaced as he slid a tumbler onto the desk in front of Doug and sat down opposite. “You’d never make a diplomat. Listen, I’m the only friend you have left in the service. You came to me when you wanted documents for your brother - I came through for you.”

“It cost though.”

“Jesus, Doug. You know as well as I do you can’t get a driving licence at such short notice without greasing palms.” He gulped down half of his drink, pointing at Doug with the glass. “I’m trying to do you a favour here and you’re giving me a hard time. You don’t make it easy, Doug, you really don’t!”

Doug looked down into his drink as he swirled the glass. “Sorry. I do appreciate it…You know what I’m like.”

Northwood glared as he nudged a screen round to face them. “Mmmmm, it’s a good job I do. Anyway, I’m guessing that Clive could do without anything else being dropped into his guilt-in-tray - am I right?”

Doug gave a nod. “He’s already on the edge.”

“Ok.” Northwood picked up a remote. A man’s face appeared on the screen: mid-thirties, white, dark features. “Let me give you a little background. And…This meeting never happened, hmm?”

“Without saying.”

“When I obtained the info and documents you wanted for Clive, because of the urgency, I used a mark that was on our radar. Jackson Holder fit the bill perfectly. As I am sure you’re aware, Holder has recently gone to prison for the murder of one, Natalia Grazii.”

“I did hear about that. It all happened without so much as a ripple - almost orchestrated.”

“You haven’t lost your nose, Doug. His legal team were…‘advised’…that a guilty plea was the only sensible option; it hardly made the news. Of course we had our own reasons, but I’m sure it was a bonus for you that it didn’t reach Clive’s ears.”

“Every little helps.”

“Bear with me here, this is the part you don’t know.” He gestured towards the screen. “This is Nigel Brompton. That’s his current name. Brompton, using a team of ‘talented’ young ladies, gathered some compromising images, and put the squeeze on people in sensitive positions - for information, not money. So, the suits,” he pointed up, “think there are people above Brompton, and won’t sanction anything until it’s traced back. I think they are wrong, he’s selling the info. But my hands are tied.”

Doug held his glass a few inches from his lips. “And the connection is?”

“I’m coming to that. Brompton runs a tight operation, not easy to infiltrate. So, when he approached Miss Grazii to join his team we put some surveillance in her flat, see if anything turned up. It did, but not what we were expecting - look.” Northwood waved the remote, the picture changed. A woman wearing white paper overalls, was sitting in an open plan living area, a box on her lap. “That is Yvonne Holder, Jackson Holders wife. The box contains a rather expensive designer dress, purchased with the cash Clive paid Holder for his studio ticket.” Doug straightened in his seat. “The woman who comes into shot in a few seconds is Natalia Grazii. Watch this.”

Natalia hesitated as she entered, staring at Yvonne as she slid her keys onto the marble-topped, hall stand. “What - the fuck - is this?”

Yvonne stood, clutching the box under her arm. “I’m Jackson’s wife.” She glanced at the box. “I got what I came for. I just waited to tell you it’s over - you and Jackson.”

Natalia shrugged. “No problem. He is a lot of hard work for little return. You keep him, go back to your sad little lives. But the dress stays, I earned it.”

Yvonne’s eyes pulsed. “This is mine.” she marched towards the door clutching the box.

Natalia stepped in front of her, producing a small knife. “I said the dress…Uuuhh!”

Yvonne released the box, swept the knife aside with her left arm, and thrust her right thumb into Natalia’s throat. Natalia fell backwards, her head jarring on the hall stand before hitting the tiled floor with a dull thud: blood trickled from her nose. Yvonne picked up the box and sat back in the chair.

As she was about to stand, Northwood paused the clip. “Amazing what a year of self-defence classes can do! This is impressive - It took her twenty-two seconds to come up with this plan.” He started the clip again, narrating the action. “She puts her clothes, and the dress into bin liners. Finds Natalia’s mobile, sends a text to Jackson threatening to blow the whistle if he doesn’t leave his wife.” He turned off the screen. “Then she goes outside and waits - maybe she has a bit of luck, knows he won’t lock his car, or has a key. Anyway, when Jackson shows up, she puts the mobile in his briefcase and heads home, dumping the clothes along the way.”

Doug was now perched on the edge of his seat. “And plod never suspected her?”

“All the intel I have, suggests her ‘I’m a victim too’ façade, never slipped. She was determined Jackson was taking the fall.” Northwood topped up their glasses. “Conclusion - this lady missed her vocation - she should have been one of us.”

Doug slowly spun his glass. “So what’s the problem, isn’t all this done and dusted?”

“Obviously, we had to clear our equipment out. When our man went in, he also picked up a USB which was meant for Brompton. We don’t know how or why, but he’s started tailing Yvonne. We’re thinking he knows, and suspects she has the USB. He’s a nasty piece of work, we know he’s killed more than one girl. If something were to happen, and the truth came out - Murdoch couldn’t keep it off the front pages.” Northwood slid an envelope across the desk. “That’s info on Brompton. If he disappeared the investigation would be stifled…I guarantee it.”

Doug scanned through the envelope contents. Brompton stacked up as a complete arsehole - Doug-tag - Hole. He gulped down his drink and pushed the glass away. “I think that would be best for everyone.”

Northwood sipped his drink; his bottom lip twitched.

Coldharbour Lane, Dorking.
23:45 next day.

As soon as the automatic garage door closed Nigel Brompton tensed: he couldn’t hear his dogs. He took a handgun from the car boot and gingerly opened the door to the kitchen. Three pit-bull terriers were lying motionless. He raised his gun, speaking aloud, “Whoever’s hurt my dogs is dead.”

Regaining consciousness ten minutes later, it took him a few seconds to realise he was tied to a kitchen chair. Douglas Paxton was sitting facing him, hands in his overcoat pockets. Brompton pulled at his bonds. “What the!...Are you senile….You are dead, Granddad. You are so dead.”

Doug leaned forward a little. “Is this about the dogs, Hole? They’re just sleeping - I would never hurt a dog.”

“Hole?...Who do you think I am?”

“Nigel Brompton – AKA, Hole. Now, I’ve just seen something on your computer.”

“My computer,” Brompton interrupted, “who sent you?”

Doug circled a middle finger in the centre of his forehead. “Ok, let’s just establish something, Hole. I’m asking the questions - right?”

Brompton bucked on the chair. “Fuck you.”

In a flash Doug pulled out a silenced gun and shot Brompton in the knee.

Brompton cried out in pain then hissed, “You! You mad old fuck...”

Doug gestured to the surroundings. “I like this place by the way, private.” Brompton gritted his teeth as Doug continued, “Now, as I was about to say. I saw something on your computer that could save your life. Would you like that?” Brompton nodded with a grimace. “Right, Hole, who is Kendrick to you?”

Brompton sucked in deep breaths through his teeth. “My partner in this thing with Marchant.”

“Marchant, the government minister?”

“Mmmm, him.”

Doug held up a photograph. “Who is this?”

“Natalia Grazii. But I didn’t.”

Doug held up his phone. “And this?”

“Kendrick, that’s Kendrick.”

“This?” He held up a picture of Yvonne Holder.

Brompton shook his head. “Don’t know her.”

“Ok, where’s the stuff you have on Marchant?”

“Computer desk, taped to the bottom of the top draw.”

“Very eighties, I like it. The only copy?”

“Kendrick has a copy.”

Doug viewed the Marchant recording before returning to the kitchen. “The minister has – unusual tastes.” He took out his gun, checking the silencer was tight.

Brompton’s breathing rate increased. “You said you wouldn’t kill me.”

“And I wouldn’t have – if I hadn’t seen that other ‘stuff’ - on your computer.”

“You basta…” A shot through the forehead silenced Brompton.

Doug put out food and water for the dogs before leaving through the back door.

Treasury building, Horse Guards Rd. London.
Private offices of Milton Marchant.
08:40 next day.

Carlton Hoog smiled as he bustled into Milton Marchant’s office. “Sorry I’m late, Sir, you wanted me?”

Marchant slapped the desk with a handful A4 sheets. “Where in God’s name have you been? Ministerial meeting in twenty - need to go over these again.” He brandished the papers. “And what have you got to look happy about?”

“A man came to see me last night. He says he can sort out our -‘sensitive’- problem. And this,” he held out a note, “is all he wants in return.”

Marchant’s eyebrows raised. “Mmmm, that will be much easier to accommodate. Do you trust him?”

“Well? He could fail, but I think it’s worth the chance, the people who are supposed to be helping us could turn out to be harder to sate than the blackmailers. We need to prepare some authentic looking documents to hand over - buy him some time.” Marchant sat bolt upright, looking vacant. “Don’t worry, sir, I’ll take care of all that. Now, let’s have a look at your briefing notes.”

11:40 next day

Milton Marchant wandered into his office on auto-pilot. Hoog gripped him by the shoulders, like a second with a stunned boxer, guiding him to his chair. “Was the emergency briefing something serious, sir?”

“Did you say you were delivering those documents to a motel just off the M1?”

“Yes, the Milligan Motel. I took them last night.”

“Oh my god! What have you got us into?”

“What have I?”

“Last night, a senior secret service agent was found dead in the Milligan Motel. They had photos: there was a Basque, some bondage thing, and a cucumber. The PM called us in because there could be wider implications.” He glared at Hoog who had slumped onto a chair. “Could this come back on you, Carlton?”

Hoog pointed at himself, mouthing, ‘On me?’

Lake Bays Estate, Ontario – Canada.
19:40 local time. (25 hours later)

Olivia Furston poured a glass of Chablis. She trailed her fingers over a pile of boxes and along the walls; an expanse of polished timber and glass, broken up by occasional natural stone features: this house was a blank canvas to die for.

She was looking across the lake from an upstairs balcony when a tone alerted her to a text:- Car trbl will b L8 - Brad xxx – She deleted the message and was about to take a drink when her phone rang: not a number she recognised. “Hello.”

“Olivia, enjoying Canada?”

“Douglas! Yes. Yes, things couldn’t be better.”

“You probably already heard the news, our old friend Giles Northwood died yesterday.”

“Really? No, I hadn’t heard.”

“Yes. Found dead in a seedy Motel room, almost certainly foul play.”

“Oh my god, that’s terrible.”

“Don’t think he had any family to speak of - hasn’t seen his ex for years. Makes you wonder how long any of us will be remembered. I mean, how many people remember their grandmother’s maiden name?” Olivia’s neck pulsed and tensed. “Anyway, you’re probably busy - just thought you’d like to know.”

“Thank you for letting me know that, Douglas.”

Discarding the phone she rummaged through her bag and pulled out another mobile, pacing as she made a call. “Douglas Paxton – double your usual fee. I want him dead tonight…Do you hear me?”

“I hear you, Olivia.” She dropped the phone like a hot coal at the sound of Doug’s voice.

She held her breath, holding up her hand in a defensive gesture as Douglas Paxton stepped into the bedroom doorway, his face twitching with emotion. “It could have been a coincidence, your grandmother’s maiden name - Kendrick. But coincidences don’t happen for me.”

Olivia edged backwards. “Brad will be home any minute.”

Doug shook his head. “He’ll still be waiting for a tow.” He gulped a deep breath and held it, trying to hold back tears as he walked forward holding up a mobile. “How many people who you were supposed to be helping have you manipulated? For this!” He gestured to the surroundings. “Was he one, the guy I took this from,” he threw the mobile onto the bed, “the guy you sent to - mop-up?”

Olivia was backed up against the wall. “It was Giles! He was!” In an instant Doug clasped her head between his huge hands, her voice became a shrill plea. “He was behind it. He made me.”

Doug held her tight, pressing his forehead to hers. “I trusted you.” One violent twist snapped Olivia’s neck, her body going limp in his hands.

Doug dropped the wine glass off the balcony. He cradled Olivia in his arms for a few seconds before dropping her, head first to the patio below.

Private offices of Milton Marchant.

Milton Marchant hesitated as he entered his office. He glared at the young man standing with his PA. Keeping a metre gap, he edged round the young man and whispered in Hoog’s ear. “Are security on their way?”

Hoog shielded his mouth as he spoke, “Sir, this gentleman is here about the solar panels we - ‘agreed’- to.”

“Hmmmm, the solar panels.”

The young man pointed to his ID. “I’m Roger, Sir, from Corona Energy.”

Marchant pointed at his head. “Do you know your hair looks like bread, Roger?”

Hoog’s eyes rolled up. “Give me strength!”

Roger wore a beaming smile as he opened the door of his Ford KA. Doug was sitting in the passenger seat curled up like a vacuum-packed shrimp. “I take it they placed an order?”

“My biggest yet…Thanks, Mr Paxton.”

“Just drive – getting me home and out of this scavenger’s daughter will be all the thanks I need.”

Belmarsh Prison – visiting day.

Clive and Douglas Paxton, arms folded, exchanged sullen glances across the table. After a minute Clive put his hands on the table and said, “I want you to stop calling Bob - he’ll get into trouble.”

“I wouldn’t call if you didn’t give me cause to worry. Speaking of which,” Doug slid a note across the table, “this is for you. It’s from Paula Truscott.”

Clive’s hands trembled as he opened the note:--
‘Clive Paxton, you killed the best of my sons. My other son, the one you meant to kill, caused the death of your wife. I hate you, I also sympathise with you. I don’t know how to deal with my mixed up emotions. I do know one thing, I will not take the easy way out. I have started a project, its purpose is to reach out to young men like my son, to show them there is another way, to try to make something good come of all this. Your brother, who somehow got funding through Milton Marchant, tells me you are a good man - prove it. Work for my project inside prison. Give your life purpose, that’s my offer, my challenge to you.

Clive choked back tears, clasping the note to his chest, nodding as he looked at Doug. “Thank you.” END

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