Bad Debts

Lire ebook Bad Debts
Auteur: Peter Temple

Bad Debts
here.
    Standing just where I was standing. A scratch on his cheek bleeding.
    Ronnie had scratched his cheek on the branch. He had put his left hand to his cheek and it had come away with blood on it. In anger, he had grabbed the branch and tried to break it.
    But it wouldn’t break. And he left his blood on it, dark marks now weathered to grey.
    ‘Are you all right, Mr Irish?’
    Mrs Bishop was looking up at me, eyes wide.
    ‘I’m fine,’ I said. ‘I’ll be down in a minute.’
    I scrambled back through the small door.
    Somewhere in here. Somewhere in this empty room was Ronnie’s evidence.
    I went around the walls carefully, feeling for a loose board, a door to a hiding place. It took about five minutes.
    Nothing.
    The floor. Perhaps there was a gap between the floor and the ceiling below. I knelt down and tried to lift the nearest corner of the linoleum.
    It wouldn’t come up. It was held down by tacks, one every few centimetres.
    I went all round the lino edge under the doorway, trying to lift it with my nails. It was tacked down tight. Along the right-hand wall, it was the same.
    In the right-hand corner, a small piece came up.
    I tugged at it.
    It was just one broken tack. The rest held.
    Along the back wall, all hope gone, feeling the regular line of tackheads.
    The tacks stopped.
    I ran my fingertips into the corner, perhaps thirty centimetres away.
    No tacks.
    I ran them down the left-hand wall.
    No tacks for the first thirty centimetres.
    I felt in the dark corner. The lino curled back slightly. I pulled at it. A triangular piece peeled back stiffly. I felt beneath it with my right hand.
    There was a small trapdoor, perhaps twenty centimetres by fifteen.
    I pulled it up with my nails. It came away easily.
    I put my hand into the cavity.
    There was a box, a long narrow box, shallow, lidded.
    I got my hand under it and took it out of the cavity. It was a nice box, pearwood perhaps, the kind that used to hold the accessories for sewing machines.
    I got up and went to the entrance, to the light.
    The lid had a small catch.
    I opened it.
    Cam’s girlfriend’s flat was the way we’d left it, apart from the battered front door. My malt whisky was still standing next to the telephone in the kitchen.
    Cam was in the Barcelona chair, holding himself upright, drinking Cascade out of the bottle again. I was on the sofa, drinking nothing, nervous. Linda was at Channel 7.
    ‘They’ll run it you reckon?’ asked Cam.
    ‘Depends what’s on Vane’s film.’
    We sat in silence in the gloom. After a while, I got up and drank some water. Cam finished his beer, got up painfully to get another one out of the fridge. When he came back, he said, ‘That shooting today. Made me think of my German.’
    ‘Your German?’
    ‘Last bloke who shot at me. Before…when was it? Yesterday.’ He lit a Gitane. ‘Gary Hoffmeister. We were shooting roos out to buggery, out there in the Grey Range. I only met him the day before we went. Off his head. Had

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