A Terrible Truth, Part 1 by Patrick G Moloney.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
The latest instalment in the noir detective series of, Jack Burke mysteries...

Submitted: March 14, 2017

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Submitted: March 14, 2017

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Outwardly the man looked the picture of health, and far younger than his years. But inside the disease was eating away at him like a million small needle like teeth, the pain was beyond description. He was on dosages of opioids that would have killed an elephant, yet they barely made any difference to his agony. He had been foolish beyond words to approach them when he was first diagnosed, especially after the fact he had already let them down once before. That was fifteen years ago and back then the medical profession had told him his death was imminent, they had promised him they would use their powers to keep him alive. They had been true to their word and now he longed for death, they could have abolished the pain also. But Jake Callanan was being punished, these men were unforgiving and now he was paying the ultimate price for his indiscretion. Not only had they kept him alive but they had also ensconced him in this mansion, all his needs were taken care of by his manservant. Except he wasn’t really a servant, he was Jake’s jailer; he was there to make sure that Jake could not end his agony. He was a bird in a gilded cage, a cage of indescribable agony and torture.

Still they had given him this one chance to put an end to it all, if this worked out they had promised they would allow his death. In another time he might have prayed for things to go his way, but his prayers would not be welcomed by those that mattered. Jake filled the syringe with the purest heroin available; it would have instantly killed the most hardened addict. But there was no chance of that happening to Jake, it just about served to stop the trembling in his hands. When he had control over his hands again he carefully ripped the black and white photograph down the centre, on the back of one half he wrote his name. Next he took a sheet of note paper and wrote his address on the top right hand corner, and then he wrote a few lines of text. He sealed it in an envelope and wrote a name on the outside, Jake did not write an address as it would be hand delivered to the mail box of the recipient. He had no sooner replaced the small silver bell on his desk, when the door opened and the man with the turban entered. This was the man that took care of all his needs, and Jake hated him with all his being. He was the man that ensured he never got a chance to end his agony; the man took the envelope from his hand and then removed the pen from his desk. The servant left the room without uttering a single word, Jake tried to remember if he had ever heard the man speak in all these years.

Jack Burke had intended to pass the mail box without opening it; most all mail that came through the post office was now being forwarded to a mail box in Bell Harbour. He had actually started up the stairs to his office, when something made him go back and check the mail box. Among the commercial flyers filling the box was a lone envelope; it just had his name on the outside and no address. The moment he touched it he got a cold feeling inside, he was half tempted to bin it with the thrash mail. The envelope sat in front of him propped against the desk lamp, he felt really foolish but Jack was fearful about opening it. The longer he sat staring at it the more the uncomfortable feeling inside him grew; Jack got up and paced the small office. Before stopping and retrieving a bottle of Crested Ten from the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet, he had been doing well lately in limiting his drinking to late evenings. Yet from the moment he had brought that envelope into the office, his mind had screamed out for the numbness of the whisky. The upshot of the whole situation was that Jack now found himself seated again at the desk staring at the envelope, it was barley mid-day and he had poured a large measure of Irish whisky. He took a swallow of the fiery amber liquid and then another, by the time he had finished the glass he was feeling calmer.

The liquor may have served to dull his feelings slightly, yet when he took the envelope in his hand that strange feeling was not entirely gone. It was obvious the image of the man was only a portion of another photograph, and a very old photograph at that. However regardless of the fact it was old and in black and white the image was clear, he studied the image of the man until his eyes blurred. But jack could honestly say the man was a complete stranger to him, he had never set eyes on this man in his life. He turned over the image and read the name on the back, Jake Callanan, Jack repeated the name over and over to himself, but nothing about this name was familiar to him. Jack looked at the image again, it was of a well-dressed, dark haired man, and Jack estimated his age to be in the mid-thirties. He was tall and broad shouldered and jack supposed women would have considered him handsome. The man was looking into the lens with a mischievous grin; his eyes sparkled with mirth and intelligence. Jack would have remembered such a face, however now that he had looked on it, he had a feeling he would never again forget this man. He left the photograph one side and picked up the short note, when he read it the feeling of dread returned with a vengeance. ‘If you wish to know the truth behind White Peak, and what really went on. Then come to me at the above address, this is something you must do alone. If you want to know exactly what is going on, then you must tell no one, not another single soul must know. If you inform anyone even those closest to you, then the truth will be lost to you forever.’

Jack reached for the whisky bottle; his hand trembled uncontrollably as he filled the glass, spilling whisky on the scuffed desk top. He worked his way steadily through the whisky bottle, his mind was a jumble of images, and every now and again he would pick up the note and look at it. But just two words stood out from the rest, ‘White Peak’ seemingly innocent words. But they has represent a world of pain and suffering for someone he loved, his mind now drifted far from the small office. It fled to an isolated convent a great distance from here, as he wondered what all this would mean for the blonde woman in that place. Would this mean healing and a new beginning for Mabel, or would it bring more suffering and grief to her. Afternoon passed into evening and the only illumination now in the office, came from the neon sign on the building outside the dusty window. The whisky bottle and glass both lay empty on the desk in front of him, he had thought about opening a new bottle but he had resisted. On a number of occasions he had reached for the phone, but the note had said to tell no one. A part of his mind wanted to ask the collector’s advice, but he had a feeling that he needed to see out this himself.

Back at his apartment he stood beneath the cold shower until he could not stand it any more, but at least it had taken the edge off the hangover. The reflection in the mirror bore testimony to his alcohol consumption of the previous day, he made a half-hearted attempt to take the razor to his salt and pepper stubble. But the trembling in his hand soon put an end to that idea; he had already made up his mind as soon as he woke on the office couch. Jack towelled himself off and dressed in fresh clothes, several cups of black coffee later he felt capable of facing the road. As he slipped on the shoulder holster a moment of indecision struck, he was driving to see a man he had never heard of. No one would even know where to find him if anything went wrong, if anything happened to him what would become of Mabel, when she was ready to come home. Who would have his back if things got bad; a vision of the girl with the green eyes suddenly entered his mind. Surely he could trust her with this secret; she had never let him down before. Another thing that caused him concern was the collector, how would he feel when he found out, Jack had kept this from him. All of these thoughts suddenly went flying around in his mind, but in the end he needed to know for Mabel’s sake. If that meant he had to commit a lie of omission, then that was exactly what he intended to do.

The big man with the turban eyed him up coldly for a moment, before standing one side to allow him entry. The house was huge and impressive; the man he had come to see was obviously a man of some wealth. Jack followed the man servant through the impressive reception area and down a long hallway; the furnishings and artwork must have cost a fortune. When they reached the door of the study, the servant knocked softly before opening the door and waving Jack in without saying a word. The man sitting behind the big ornate wooden desk was easily recognisable from the photograph. The years had obviously treated him extremely well; he had not appeared to age very much from when the photograph had been taken. The man pointed to the vacant seat in front of him, when Jack approached and sat down his first impressions of the man changed slightly. Beneath the outwardly appearance of wellness, Jack had a feeling that something was badly wrong with the man. His eyes had a vacant look about them and the pupils were pin points, opiate use came immediately to mind. Now that only the desk separated them, something else came to his notice, a faint smell of decay wafted from the man, that his cologne could not hide. Yes, Jack thought this man in front of me is far from well; in fact he was seriously ill he thought.

As if the man read his thoughts he began to speak, his words were slow and careful and slightly slurred. “Thank you for coming Jack, you will never know how much that this means to me. I have very little time left in this world, however I must say that in itself is a blessing. I will not delay you with long winded explanations, instead I will just hand this over to you”. The man reached into the desk drawer and handed another envelope to Jack; before he could open it the man raised a hand to stop him. “I am afraid Jack, I must ask you not to open that envelope here, you can only do so when you leave this house. When you see the contents you will know exactly who to go to and what to do, the person that can give you the bigger picture is much closer than you think. Now Jack I am afraid I have a very pressing matter to attend to, besides anything I could tell you, the person named in that envelope can tell you more”. Jack was totally confused now and at a loss for words, the man behind the desk rang a small silver bell. Within moments the man servant was escorting Jack from the house; in the car he opened the envelope with trembling fingers. The photograph contained inside was the missing half of the one he had received; this part too was a clear image.

How long he held the image in front of him he could not say, his mind seemed to have frozen. A low growling sound brought him from his catatonic state; it was a while before he realized it was coming from inside him. Jack jumped from the car and ran to the door; he pounded on it till his hand was sore. When the servant opened it jack pushed him one side and ran towards the study, half way down the corridor he heard the shot. Jake Callanan’s body was slumped against the back of the chair, the gun he had put in his mouth was hanging limply by his side. The bullet had entered the roof of his mouth and blown the top of his head off. Jack slumped to the ground and cried out in anguish, the portion of the photograph was still grasped in his hand. Now he looked at it again through teary eyes, the face was younger but there was no mistaking who it was. Jack got slowly to his feet and staggered outside to the car; his whole world had just been turned upside down. Later he drove into the night with no thoughts of where he would go, his mind filled with thought s of betrayal and murder.

 

 


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