Tuesday, July 03, 2007

What Samuel Had To Say.

“These aren’t really for me.” Samuel said. He was holding his mobile in a pinch like it was a manky apple. “It’s better that I come and tell you personally.”

I said: “But you don’t have anything to tell me. They’ve come back from wherever, covered in mud. They could’ve been to B&Q’s car park.”
“But they’re coming and going in shifts now.” He’d already told me this once. It didn’t warrant a call round, but that’s the only time he gets a cup of tea made for him, and I suspect he’s angling for more. He claims the phone makes no sense to him, as if texting is some linguistic sudoku. I asked him if that was why he hadn’t called for the last three months.

“I followed Enright, the copy of the real Enright, to the Casino, as you thought. The state I was in , they wouldn’t let me through the door. Besides, he’d gone in there to be visible, and on camera. I waited outside. After half an hour, he must have had a call from the real Enright, and took a taxi to the house in Fulwood. This time I stayed close and hid behind the neighbour’s fence when the Enright copy was stopped at the door. They didn’t wait long, just packed everything of value and then left. I followed again, onto the M1 and then south. I needed petrol before they did, so I lost them.
“I slept at the services for that night, and in the morning I realised I ought not to come back here. It was because of me that Enright met you, found out where you live, and broke into the study. I came here to help, but I’ve endangered you.”

“He might’ve found me anyway.”
“Your father’s name was known to Enright, of course, and most of his circle, but not this location. Nor did they know he had a son, and I doubt any knew the extent of his collection. I think many were surprised he’d lived so long. Like finding out that Dickens is still writing novels.”
“But Challoner knew about my father.”
“Men like Challoner made their living by such information – collecting mentions of names and places to build them into an understanding wider than the actual magicians could bother to grasp. He could assume your father existed, because his name would recur in the rumours of others.”
“He spoke to him. And everyone I met at Enright’s seemed to know my father.”
“By the time you met them I’m sure they did. I’m sorry that I allowed you to be so indiscreet. If it’s any consolation, Enright appears to be disgraced, and his companions that night shouldn’t cause you any trouble. I tracked them down. It was your silence they wanted, and now they just want to distance themselves from the whole affair– the study to them was just a dead library.”

“Always the study.” I said. Samuel cares about it more than anything, and yet he hesitates to go in there. It’s like it’s sacred to him.
“It’s the study that puts you in danger. Speaking of which, that door will need to be stronger.” He looked out across the hallway at Norman’s shoddy refit.

“And is that why you went to Ireland and France? Tracking those others down?”
“Enright is defanged, but he was working with Alex Reeves. I needed to know whether or not he’d noticed you, or was he blinded by Enright’s scam. So I spoke to an associate of mine, and a former ally. They both hear far more interesting news than I do. Through them I found Reeves’ deputy in France, and in his office I found the letter from Crosspool. So I came back. You know this whole business of finding people or catching up with them was a lot easier when there were oracles to consult and spells that could be cast.”

“And if they move away, the candlelighters, you’ll move away too?”
“I’ll go where I’m needed”
“Like in the war?”
“Which war?”
“In Brittany. You left your friend alone, so you could go off and fight the demons you let escape.”
“You mean de Sande? He wasn’t helpless, and nor was he my friend. You’ve been talking to Norman, who really ought to work on his own stories before retelling mine.”
“You left him behind.” I said again.
“De Sande couldn’t help me, I had a duty to act. In case Norman didn’t make it clear, there was a horde of demons, set running wild over Northern France.”
“Because you released them!”
“I! The magicians released them. Trying to become power brokers when the whole world was in turmoil.”
“That’s not how it sounded to me.”
“I don’t imagine it did, second hand.”
“The way Norman tells it you’re Indiana Jones, so don’t blame him. You killed a man and then you ran away.” I didn’t mean to say that, when I started out. I’d presumed that Samuel had killed before that night, but maybe he hadn’t, from the look he gave me. I tried to get back to what I’d intended. “So is that what you do? When it goes wrong, you put duty before your friends.”
“He wasn’t a friend.”
“And what about us?”
“Me, Norman, Angela.”
“You shouldn’t imagine that we mean anything to each other.”


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