You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly, Part 25

Posted: 8 February 2013 in fiction, writing, You'll Never Believe A Man Can Fly
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Chapter Thirteen

An hour earlier, Peter Monkton and Lester Williams had been in Monkton’s living room, relaxing after a delicious meal prepared and cooked by Monkton’s wife. Williams sat in a well stuffed armchair, his feet stretched out, while Monkton was standing by the bar.

“Very passable that, very passable bit of risotto,” Williams said, extremely satisfied.

Monkton poured himself a brandy and raised the decanter in Williams’ direction. “Drink?”

“Yes, thanks,” Williams replied, and watched as Monkton reached for another glass and poured a sizeable measure for him.

Monkton walked across to Williams and passed him the drink. “Cheers,” he said and raised his glass.

Williams raised his in reply and grinned. “A toast,” he started. Monkton looked askance at him and then sighed. Williams was always coming up with strange and weird toasts. It appeared that tonight was no exception. Without standing, Williams looked into the middle distance and recited,

“Here’s to the health of your blood.
Here’s to the blood of your health.
If your blood isn’t healthy,
Your health must be bloody,
… so here’s to your bloody good health!”

It seemed oddly appropriate, and Monkton touched his glass to that of Williams.

“It’s a bastard, no doubt,” Monkton ventured after a large swallow of Rémy Martin and Williams was in no doubt to what his colleague was referring. Monkton sat on the sofa opposite Williams. “How the hell are we going to do it?”

“Davies, you mean?” asked Williams. “Well, he’s right on several scores.” He sat forward, watching the brandy as he gently swirled the glass. “First off, his credibility is down the toilet. Even if he were to change the name, no one would ever let him forget that he was known, even for a short time, as the Pubic Defender. The news organisations would never let it go.”

“I wonder if…” Monkton said, a distracted look on his face.

“Yes?” asked Williams.

“No, forget it, it’s not quite there yet. Need to think about it. Go on.”

Williams was used to this. Monkton would start to extemporise some bright idea, but by the time he’d started to say anything about it, his brain had already seen the flaws. On those occasions, he’d either say “forget it,” in which case the idea was a dead duck or he’d add that he needed to ponder some more about it, which meant that Monkton knew there was a way around it and he just needed to consciously work out what it was.

Williams sipped his drink and said nothing, waiting.

Monkton looked at Williams. “You said Ian was right on several scores.”

Williams stretched out again. “Yes, well number two is that he was right that he needed to be fired. We’ll do that in the morning.” He sighed, drained his glass, stood up and walked to the bar. Then he turned around and looked at Monkton, an expression of revelation upon his face. “You know there’s only one way to get on top of this, don’t you? I mean, really get on top of it, come out of it in front?”

Monkton swallowed the remainder of his brandy before he joined Williams at the bar. “If I knew that, my dear fellow, we wouldn’t be having the conversation.”

“He has to go public,” Williams said.

“I rather think that the public angle has already been taken care of,” Monkton said dryly.

“No, no, you’re not where I am. Think about it. I don’t mean operating in public, I mean, he has to go public.”

Monkton stopped in the act of pouring himself a second brandy. He looked at Williams, realised what he meant and then continued the pouring. He took a swallow and then said “Full court press, you mean?”

“Yes,” Williams said, sitting down again. “Saturation coverage. Television interviews, Sunday supplement features, the lot. We play this so that it’s Ian Davies that’s the story, not whatever he calls himself.” He glanced at Monkton, but the senior director was just standing there, his brandy in one hand.

“Go on,” said Monkton, waiting to see Williams warm to his theme.

“We get him interviewed by a big name, someone the public is used to trusting. Not one of the morning television imbeciles, but a heavyweight, someone the chattering classes are accustomed to seeing interviewing Prime Ministers and Presidents. That way Davies is lent credibility by whoever interviews him.”

“If so-and-so thinks he’s worth his time, he must be worth ours?” Monkton suggested.

“Exactly,” said Williams. “And then we go for the big kill.”

“Hold your horses, Lester. Don’t get ahead of yourself,” said Monkton, “Davies was right on another point. What’s he going to do for money? We both know him, he wouldn’t accept charity. And can you really see him doing endorsements? And what about our fees?”

Williams snorted. “Our fees? Of course I’ve considered that, but stop thinking in the short term, Peter. When it leaks out that we’re his PR people, we can bill everyone else whatever the hell we want. We do this one pro bono. That won’t hurt the story either. Money hungry PR firm does it for nothing, for the public good? We’ll have every worthwhile account in the country.” He paused briefly. “You’re right, though – no endorsements.”

He finished his drink. “But you agree it’s worth thinking about?”

Monkton nodded. “It’s a start. Sleep on it and we can flesh it out tomorrow before he comes into the office.”

Williams stood and placed his glass on the bar. “OK, I’m heading upstairs.”

As he was heading out of the door, the idea that Monkton had had earlier finally crystallised in his brain and he said to Williams’ back, “you know this would be a lot easier if he could be officially sanctioned.” Williams stopped and turned to look at Monkton, a smile struggling to appear.

Then he turned away, his brain already playing with potentialities, and left the room. Monkton drained the last remaining millilitres of alcohol from his glass and picked up the television remote control, intending to check the news before bed. He watched the scene unfolding on television and saw Ian Davies float out of the sky and gently land before what Monkton thought a particularly ugly statue.

In disbelief, he watched the events of the next few minutes unfold, while he regained his power of speech. He walked to the door and shouted up in an accent that betrayed his East End origins. “Lester? Get your arse down here, sharpish! Things have moved on.” Then he turned back to stare at the television as Davies destroyed the creature again and again .

– o –

If the bullet had been fired at Davies more than thirty-six hours previously, there’s no doubt that he would have been dead before he knew what had happened. Even if he’d have seen the bullet somehow, the human brain takes about a twelfth of a second to respond to any stimulus. He literally wouldn’t have known what hit him.

Moreover, even this evening, had he been looking away from Docherty’s position, it’s also more than probable that one second after Docherty fired, the body of Ian Terrence Davies would have been falling to the ground minus a substantial portion of his head.

But this wasn’t thirty-six hours previously, and it was merely dumb luck that at the very moment Docherty pulled the trigger, Davies turned away from Gordon to point at the remains that he’d just more than efficiently created. A fiftieth of a second later, he saw a black dot in his peripheral vision. Two fiftieths of a second later, his brain had processed what he’d seen, interpreted it, told the rest of his body that the dot had grown in size, was now recognisable as a bullet and then told his muscles what to do.

As far as Gordon was concerned, Davies was turning away from him when he dropped out of view as if shot. Ironically, it was precisely to avoid this situation that Davies had hit the ground, and time seemed to slow down for him for an instant as he felt the scorching air of the bullet passing him. Less than half a second later, Davies was three feet into the air, his brain having already calculated the velocity of the bullet and the precise vector from which it had originated.

Gordon barely heard a muttered comment from Davies that he was well and truly fed up with people shooting at him before Davies rose to ten feet from the ground and launched himself at the van.

– o –

One of Docherty’s colleagues always commented that you knew how much trouble you were in on a mission by how softly Docherty swore. If he was merely irritated at something or someone, he swore in a normal tone of voice. If it was mildly serious, his voice lowered and decreased in volume. And if someone had really screwed up, Docherty swore almost at a whisper.

Docherty couldn’t believe it. He’d never seen anyone move so fast. The instant he’d pulled the trigger, David had reacted. For a moment, he thought that Davies must have precognitive abilities, but then it hit him with the force of a three ton elephant in heat. No question about it, he thought, he moved after I took the shot.

He took his eyes from the sight and went for another bullet. His eyes were off the sight for no more than a couple of seconds, but when he returned, all he could see was a uniform black. In the half a second it took to realise what the black was, he swore so softly that even he couldn’t hear it.

There was an awful shriek of metal as the van doors were torn off their hinges and Docherty had a very close up view of Ian Davies. A very close up view. Convinced that this was his last moment on earth, he expected his life to flash before him. It didn’t.

For once, he didn’t know how to behave, what to do, then he heard the words coming out of his mouth before he could stop them, “Mr Davies? I’m Jez Docherty. Pleased to meet you. Nice work out there.”

It didn’t go down well.

– o –

© Lee Barnett, 2013

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