The phone suddenly rang, its insistent sound jarring them both and interrupting their concentration.
It danced, angrily, on the table. Alex glared at it. It was Jaye.
“Jaye, how are you? I wasn’t expecting it to be you.”
“well I’ve got some news.”
“So have I.” Alex came back, quick, “you know Warwick?” Alex paused to allow for Jaye’s response
” Of course,” Jaye hesitated a moment, “isn’t he’s the guy over at RLN, a clued up guy? He seemed to know what was what.”
“Yes, he is. Or was.” Alex let the words sink in. “Well, I say was, I may be getting ahead of myself. Me and Lydia got word he had been taken to hospital. We went to visit him, which in itself was a bit of a risk. For both of us. It was back on the mainland”
“I’ll bet.” Jaye referring to the fact that the police, but not the Gardai, were on to them. “Did you manage it? Did you stay under the radar?”
“Yes we did. It was hairy though. Lydia’s dad knows some people.” He didn’t elaborate. “All this living on your nerves and lurking in the shadows is exhausting.”
“Tell me all about it. What happened? Is he ok? Oh, and when you’re done I might have something for you. You first.”
Alex took a deep breath and began to relay how, at the end of what was a normal day, Warwick finished and decided to take the stairs. He got halfway down and there was someone coming up. The next thing, he felt his face being smothered, he couldn’t breath and was basically left for dead. One of the building maintenance staff found him and sounded the alarm.
“After the ambulance arrived and took him away, the police turned up and went through the CCTV footage. There is clear footage of it happening, I’m told. It was on one of the landings. There is also footage of the assailant making a getaway. There’s not a clear shot of his face but he was in a boiler suit! Which is strange, don’t you think?” Jaye murmured in agreement. “ Well we made it to the hospital. St Thomas’s in Southwark. We had to be careful asking at reception, just in case, well we were directed to the poisons department. Toxicology. It turns out they think he has been poisoned! Can you get your head round that?” The tension in Alex’s voice beginning to show as he became more animated. Lydia gently put a hand on his. He checked himself and took a deep breath before continuing.
“When we got up to the floor where he was being treated, one of the doctors told us they weren’t sure what it was, but it looked like polonium poisoning! He was going for some tests and they said they would have a better idea then. They also said polonium has a very poor recovery rate. Hence my use of the past tense earlier.”
Both were silent for a moment. Alex let Jaye digest what he had just said and also reflected on how his mentor may not be on this earth for much longer.
“Sheesh.” Jaye let out a heavy sigh. The words not coming easily. “There is some heavy shit going down now. Isn’t polonium used in political assassinations? Like the PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Litvinenko. ” Alex cleared a lump that had materialised in his throat.
“When we were finally allowed in to see him, well he looked like death. And that’s no exaggeration. He looked like he had AIDS or something. Neither of us could believe it. Looking at him. He just looked like someone else, someone we didn’t know. His skin was this,,, this,,, like paper, drawn tight across his cheeks. Like the skin on an onion. His hair was nearly gone and it was like he couldn’t see properly, his eyes were all red and blurry. He looked about ninety. Oh, and he could hardly breath and he had trouble sitting up he was so weak.”
“I wish I knew what to say, mate.”
“There is nothing to say, we just hope he pulls through.”
An excerpt from the forth coming book ‘The Ledger’ due for publication shortly.
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