St Gavin’s Cathedral, Norwich, England, 29th May 1999.
Two tuxedo-clad groomsmen discussing football, three flower girls admiring their own pink dresses, and a stressed out woman trying to fasten a bow tie to the collar of a squirming page boy occupied a small room to the side of the church entrance. The father of the bride stood in the corner, watching the flower girls, his nieces.
The door opened, and the pleasant murmur of two hundred guests wafted in from the nave. A clergyman in a red cassock entered, smiling.
“Excuse me,” he said to the father of the bride. “Mr Finnigan?”
“Before the bride arrives, the bishop would like to offer you his congratulations and personal blessing. Would you accompany me to his office?”
Mr Finnigan checked his watch. “Uh, yes. Certainly.”
The priest led Mr Finnigan to a nearby room and opened the door for him. Mr Finnigan stepped inside and paused. The room was dark and tiny, and bare except for a small wooden table and a stool. A wedge of sunlight spilled in through a narrow window. Mr Finnigan turned around to face the priest; the priest closed the door behind him, while holding a handgun in front.
“Have a seat, Superintendent Finnigan,” said the priest.
Gentle organ music began in the church.
“What is this?” demanded Mr Finnigan.
Aiming the gun at Mr Finnigan, the priest motioned him toward the chair. “Sit.”
Mr Finnigan glared at the priest, and then sat down.
“This is my daughter’s wedding day,” he said.
The priest walked around the room and glanced out the window. He turned to face Mr Finnigan.
“I don’t know what the bloody hell you think you’re doing,” said Mr Finnigan, resting a clenched fist on the table, “but I would advise you to reconsider.”
“The bride will be here soon, Mr Finnigan,” said the priest. “All in her beautiful dress. What a proud moment that will be for you.”
“What do you want?”
“A name,” said the priest. “Two months ago, a firearms unit raided a fishing vessel in Grimsby. You oversaw the operation.”
“I’m not involved with firearms units.”
“Superintendent,” said the priest, stepping forward. “You signed the reports. I’ve seen them.”
“If you’ve seen the reports, then why are you talking to me?”
“For what was left out of the reports. Very secretive they were.”
“I can’t tell you anything,” said Mr Finnigan.
“Hmm,” said the priest. “You know, those flower girls looked so pretty in their dresses. What a tragedy it would be if something were to happen to them.”
Mr Finnigan jumped up pointed a finger at the priest.
“You f**king punk! I’ll beat you into a coma before you set foot near those girls.”
“Don’t think I won’t shoot you,” said the priest.
“Go ahead,” said Mr Finnigan. “There are a dozen police officers in the church who will hear the shot. You’re walking into a world of trouble, and you’d best walk away right now.”
The priest levelled the gun at Mr Finnigan’s face.
“Red Ned!” came a voice from the rear of the room. A young man wearing a black jacket stepped out from the shadows, brushing crumbs from his collar. “Let’s not lose our cool. Give me the pictures.” The young man looked at the priest. “Ned!”
The priest looked at him. “Huh?”
“Stand on the other side of me,” said the young man.
The priest moved to the man’s left.
“Can you hear me now?” asked the young man.
The priest nodded.
“Give me the pictures.”
The priest, keeping the gun aimed, took a piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to the young man. The young man unfolded the paper.
“You morons haven’t got a clue, have you?” said Mr Finnigan. “Listen mate, I haven’t told your pal in the robes anything, and I’m sure not talking to you.”
The young man stared at Mr Finnigan for a moment. “My name is Jimmy O’Shea,” he said.
Mr Finnigan turned white and fell back onto the stool. Jimmy placed the paper on the table. On the paper were the photographs and names of six men.
“These are the officers who raided the fishing boat in Grimsby,” said Jimmy. “A friend of mine was on that boat—Terry Ward. He was shot twice in the chest and once in the head. Which officer shot him?”
Mr Finnigan looked up at Jimmy dumbfounded and shook his head. Jimmy pressed his index finger onto the paper and slid it toward Mr Finnigan.
“Point to the man who killed Terry Ward.”
Mr Finnigan looked at the pictures.
“I don’t… It wasn’t… officers…” he stammered through shallow breaths.
Jimmy reached inside his jacket.
“Wait!” said Mr Finnigan, reeling back and raising a trembling hand. “Don’t… Just wait… It wasn’t an officer. There was another… another man on the raid.”
“What do you mean? Who?”
“I… I don’t know. We never got a name.”
“Bullshit!” snarled Red Ned.
“It’s true,” said Mr Finnigan. “He wasn’t one of our guys. It came from above—Scotland Yard. They sent him down to us. He had the whole thing planned. That’s how we knew when and where to intercept the shipment.”
“He was from Scotland Yard?” said Jimmy.
“They sent him to us, but he wasn’t one of them,” said Mr Finnigan. “He was independent—a consultant or something. Had an accent. Eccentric fella. Crazy if you ask me. It was like something out of Sherlock Holmes.”
“Come on, Biscuits,” said Red Ned. “You don’t believe this, do you?”
“Quiet, Ned,” said Jimmy. He turned to Mr Finnigan. “And this was the man who shot Terry?”
After a long pause, Mr Finnigan nodded.
“He stormed in first, alone. Killed every man on board.”
Jimmy’s eyebrows knitted, and he stared at Mr Finnigan.
“One man killed them all?”
Mr Finnigan nodded.
“The command was for capture. He just said the best way to capture a sex slave trader was to put a bullet between his eyes.”
Jimmy ground his teeth; fire filled his eyes. After a few seconds, his face became calm, almost blank.
“You okay, Biscuits?” asked Red Ned.
Jimmy stared at the table.
“Jimmy,” said Red Ned, raising his voice.
Jimmy blinked hard then turned to Red Ned.
“Get this mystery fella’s name. Start with Scotland Yard.”
“What about him?” asked Red Ned, nodding toward Mr Finnigan.
“I’ll take care of it,” said Jimmy.
Red Ned tucked the gun back into his cassock and left the room.
A bead of sweat rolled down Mr Finnigan’s cheek.
“It’s my daughter’s wedding day,” he pleaded.
Jimmy looked out the window.
“Limousine is here,” he said.
“Please,” said Mr Finnigan. “I told you what I know. I told you…” His head dropped. “Dear God,” he whispered.
Laughter and shouts sounded outside as the bride and her bridesmaids got out of the car. Jimmy sighed.
“Dirty windscreen,” he said.
Mr Finnigan looked at him. He turned to Mr Finnigan.
“Driving a bride to her wedding,” said Jimmy, shaking his head, “and he’s got a dirty windscreen.”
He reached inside his jacket and stepped toward Mr Finnigan.
“Just… just don’t hurt anyone else,” said Mr Finnigan. “Please.”
Jimmy took out a fat envelope and tossed it onto the table.
“For the bride and groom,” he said, and then left the room.
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