Day 15. Walk a Crooked Road

Hiya Roisin. What’s the Craic then? So, you’ve become Maggie Taylor eh? Cute. The boys have been asking after you when we heard about the house fire. They said it would be grand to see you again after all this time. We knew you too well to think you were dead. Mind, one or two said you have been acting the maggot moving to Liverpool the way you did. But you haven’t lost your touch that’s for sure. I daresay your hubby deserved it. Pity about the old Maggie though. But now it’s time to come home. You know where we are.

F

Thirteen

Maggie

Day 15

How the hell did they track me down after all this time? If they think I’m about to return to my old life they are dead wrong. I suppose I should be impressed that Finn and ‘the boys’ went to all the trouble, although having said that they know my background so it wouldn’t take a genius to look at lists of university lecturers in Liverpool with my qualifications. If I were going to move anywhere it would be here, I guess. My new name wouldn’t fool them either.

   I have no idea why they should suddenly think I would want to go back to the old ways and they should know better than to try any strong-arm stuff. The last one to attempt that ended up floating in the Liffey. So, I am not particularly bothered by the note which, by the way, was delivered to my room at university. That means they don’t know where I live, but I must not be complacent and I will use my tradecraft to keep an eye out for anyone who might be taking an interest in me. I know all the tricks even though I haven’t had to use them for some years now.

   Talking of the Garda, it all seems to have gone quiet in Dublin. Does that mean they are getting nowhere? Could it be that they are finally satisfied by the identity of the female corpse? I certainly hope so. It would be one less thing to worry about. I am more concerned by the Michael Caine look-alike, the innocuous Hugh Button who looks like he wouldn’t hurt a fly but I am equally sure appearances could be deceptive.

   I didn’t like the way he stared at me when he was asking me questions. He had peered at me through his tortoise shell glasses in an unblinking and quite unsettling way. But why? Do Special Branch really think I am involved in a Chinese spy ring? That is just too absurd for words. If I really were, why would I hand over a memory stick that would implicate me if I really were guilty?

   But then, another thought occurs to me. Is it possible the Garda are somehow behind Special Branch’s interest in me? Could they have persuaded Special Branch to check out Irish females who recently arrived in the UK, especially Liverpool?

   No, that really is too far-fetched. A couple of deaths in Dublin is hardly likely to warrant a response through one of the security services but, of course, what I don’t know is how much the Garda and Special Branch know about Roisin’s past. That would certainly warrant their interest.

   I mentally shrug. I am over-thinking all this. I am no longer Roisin. Long live Maggie Taylor. There are no doubt many Irish in Liverpool with a chequered past. Are they going to question all of them? I don’t think so.

  I decide I need a pint so I return to my favourite pub on Catherine Street. It’s just a short walk away – close enough to be my ‘local.’

   When I arrive, something appears to be going on. One end of the pub is closed off and there are three people sat at tables which are well separated. A man with a ponytail is at the bar taking names. It is only then that I see the notice. ‘Psychic night. See the future.’ I smile and notice that one of them is the woman I met a few days ago. I think her name was Naomi. I didn’t really have much of a chat with her then, apart from her enigmatic warning and I am intrigued. I ask ponytail how much to book a session with her. £45! She must be good for that. I pay. I will have to wait an hour for my slot so there is time for a Guinness. Maybe even two.

   Finally, it is my time. I plonk myself down at her table. She is writing something and looks up with a smile of recognition. ‘You’re Maggie,’ she says. ‘I thought I might be seeing you again. Please don’t say anything else. Just give me something small and personal.’

   ‘Just deciding whether you’re for real,’ I say, smiling curiously

   ‘I assure you I am,’ she says firmly. ‘You’re a lecturer, aren’t you and a mathematician to boot unless I’m mistaken.’

    How could she possibly know that? ‘The lecturer I can understand given that we are on my faculty’s doorstep, but mathematician. How did she divine that?’

   She doesn’t answer. Instead, she asks me again to give her something she can hold. I give her a ring from my right hand. It’s my seanmháthair’s or grandmother’s. As soon as I hand it to her, she shivers and strokes her brow.
   ‘You know, don’t you?’ I say softly, a sardonic smile on my face. At first, she says nothing and then she looks at me with a peculiar intensity. 

   ‘The woman you killed is very agitated because she has a little boy who misses his mum.’ She regards me accusingly.

  That floors me. I had no idea she had a son. He obviously didn’t live with her because there was no sign of anyone else in the flat.

   ‘I had no idea,’ I say. ‘I am genuinely sorry about that. It was nothing personal I can assure you. It was something I had to do because she looked like me and she was having an affair with my husband. She was also my escape route.’

   ‘Do you feel no remorse. You have ended a girl’s life simply because it was a convenience. And what about the man you killed. Was he your husband?’

   I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised she knows about Graeme as well. I grimace and treat her to a twisted smile. ‘He richly deserved to die. He had been trying to poison me for days and was also stealing from me.’

   She half closes her eyes and leans back in her chair looking at me with those magnetic eyes of hers.

   ‘Are you going to tell the Police you have just given a reading to a murderer?’ I ask.

   ‘No, I am not. For one thing it didn’t happen in the UK, did it? And for another they are unlikely to believe me even if I did.’

   ‘I like you,’ I tell her. ‘You don’t pull your punches, do you?’

   She hands me my ring back. ‘Why did you come for a reading,’ she asks, obviously curious. ‘Did you think it would be a bit of fun? An opportunity to take the piss, perhaps. Some people do and I very soon change their minds.’

   I laugh aloud, a real throaty Irish cackle that reverberates around the room. People turn and stare.

   ‘I must admit I did,’ I confess. ‘I came to the pub to think through a few problems and ran into ponytail. Then I noticed you. I was curious. I think I just assumed that it was all fakery and that you were taking people for a ride.’

   ‘He is my minder, Sid Driscoll. He sorts out any troublemakers.’ She stares at the palms of her hands and then says, in a low voice. ‘There are people looking for you, other than the police. Did you know that? The last time I saw you I told you to be careful, Now I know why.’

   ‘There is something you should know about me Naomi. Yes, I have killed people but I don’t kill for fun or because I have nothing better to do. I do it out of necessity. It’s been nice and very instructive meeting you Naomi,’ I say.

   I look around the pub half expecting the barfly to be there but he isn’t. I thank her and we shake hands. ‘I know we will meet again,’ I say smiling. ‘It’s in the stars.’

Published by pod1942

I am a cereer journalist having worked for the London Dail Mail, Reuters and latterly the Liverpool Daily Post on Merseyside as well as the journalists’ leader in the region. I have experience as a crime reporter, feature writer, business editor and latterly, a senior sub-editor. My qualifications include a BA (Hons) English, from the University of Liverpool; a BA (Hons) Fine Art and an MA in Creative Practice both from Liverpool Hope University. I now divide my time between art and writing. I will shortly be publishing my first full-length novel, The Poseidon Files and as a taster I have written a short story which features the same central female character in which she talks about her world and her life. It is, however, essentially a ghost story.

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