Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Tolka Romance by Bill Zunmoon

Chapter 16
In the interrogation room, the Chief Inspector huffed and puffed in his attempts to batten down the hatches of a large suitcase full of Garda t-shirts and swimwear. Eventually, with the help of a burly PC, he managed to click the locks shut. Turning to Lionel, he snapped his fingers and exclaimed, “The case is closed.”
Lionel felt very alone at that moment, notwithstanding one of Zug’s goats who had agreed to attend the interrogation. “What do you mean?” he stammered.
Sighing, the Chief Inspector went back over to the suitcase. He snapped open the locks and lifted the lid. Then he closed it again. Then he opened it and closed it once more.”You see, it’s an open and closed case,” he said.
“Say nothing,” whispered the goat. “I sense a trap.”
“People have come forward to say that they witnessed an altercation between yourself and Nigel de Havilland Ponsonby Smythe on Richmond Road on the night in question,” said the Chief Inspector. “Mr Smythe has never been seen since.” He slid the suitcase over to the radiator. “This case is hotting up nicely,” he added.
“How many times have I got to tell you?” shouted Lionel, as the goat laid a restraining hand on his shoulder. “Yes, we had an altercation. But in the middle of it, a rogue satellite crashed back to earth instantly vapourising both Nigel and itself. If Karen was here, she would tell you!”
“Ah yes, Miss Strangely-Buoyant,” responded the Chief Inspector, leafing through his notes. “Tell me again. What exactly became of her?”
“She tripped and fell into the Tolka, never to be seen again,” muttered Lionel, the defiance visibly seeping out of him.
“And three days later you moved your Mongolian mail order bride into the flat and into Karen’s bed?” He produced a sheet of wrapping paper and a roll of sellotape from behind his back and proceeded to parcel up the suitcase. “I’ll soon have this case wrapped up,” he said.
“You’ll never take me alive, copper!” snarled Lionel, which caused the Chief Inspector to furrow his eyebrows and look darkly over at the defendant. Then he strolled over to the suitcase and jumped on top of it. “Be very careful,” he warned, “The Chief Inspector’s on the case.”
Back in their cell, Lionel and the goat continued to pace up and down, though the goat kept tripping over. “Don’t know why they removed my shoelaces,” he said gruffly.
“Maybe we can tie some sheets together to make a rope and escape out the window,” suggested Lionel.
“You already tried that,” said the goat, nodding at the bare bed. “You forgot to tie one end, remember?”
Suddenly the cell-door swung open. “You got a visitor, Snitchie,” said the screw, laughing cruelly. (Due to cutbacks, prison warders had been replaced by pieces of ironmongery) “Oh good,” said Lionel and the screw stopped laughing.
“I have some good news and some bad news,” said Zug, her fingertips pawing the glass pane between them. “The bad news is, my darling, that I never loved you and I only agreed to marry you so that I could rip you off and claim EU citizenship. I have sold your apartment – you’re going to be banged up for 30 years anyway, so you won’t be needing it – and on the proceeds, Reuben and I are going to get married and live in a dacha in Slovenia. The baby was his all along, not yours, and I didn’t put Geogho down on the birth cert– we called him “Robbie Doyle” instead. Grandma has given a statement to the police that she swears she saw you washing blood out of Karen’s clothes before you incinerated them and you’ve been disowned by your entire family who have told the papers they always knew that you would come to no good.”
Lionel gulped visibly. The six inch nail by the wall glanced over at him, truncheon at the ready. “And the good news?” he stammered.
“You beat Wexford Youths 1-0,” answered Zug. “Great diving header from McGill. Still top of the table on goal difference from Dundalk. Longford Away and then Torpedo Fingal at home.”
“Yessssssss!” yelled Lionel at the top of his voice and was immediately hopped on by two raw plugs and a picture hook who proceeded to hammer the bejaysus out of him before dragging him back to the cell.

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