Three shadows that cast in the room seemed still. If a painter was brought in, he would have completed a painting without any hassle. The steam from the coffee mug seemed to blur one of men with spectacles. He grumbled, scratched his chin and removed his glasses. The other two didn’t even acknowledge each other’s presence.
The wood creaked every time they made slight movement. Many old dusty photo frames and medals were hung random on the walls. Being new to the job, Mr. Ruskin felt it was an odd and old fashioned place to enquire a criminal. Especially some one like Mr. Frussel.
“We thought we would never lay our hands on you”, said Mr. Merchin. He rubbed his glasses on his sweater sleeve.
Frussel didn’t say anything. It seemed of his nature not to speak more than what is needed of him. This was taught to him in twenty seven years with faith and fear of Lord Durne.
Ruskin smirked at the naivety of Merchin. It was just over a year when he joined the investigation bureau. To his knowledge , Merchin was with the enquiry department for past thirty four years but he handled only small petty suspects and criminals , so, this innocuous statement was not a surprise.
“Hope you wouldn’t bother me with questions about the whereabouts of Lord Durne”, said Frussel curtly.
“I was about to ask only that!” , squeaked Merchin in surprise. Ruskin rolled his eyes.
Frussel looked from Merchin to Ruskin. He felt it was strange that both didn’t act their age. The young man was silent and the old seemed to enjoy talking.
“I wish I knew”, he replied back.
Before Merchin could say anything, Ruskin spoke.
“You were the right hand of Lord Durne, what was your job?”
Frussel was slightly surprised and didn’t take efforts to conceal it.
“There was a hierarchy in the system. Lord Durne was careful not to involve just a person in any of the crimes that were committed. One person would not recognize the other even if they worked under him. I was responsible for conveying the messages from him to another”
Ruskin moved slightly forward, “How did he give instructions. Has he ever called over the phone? “
Frussel looked down at the table. “Usually it came in an envelope marked with a seal. It always contained the mark of Lord Durne. A red dove.”
“Red dove. That’s odd for a criminal like him”, said Merchin more to himself. He fiddled with his ring and glass but the other two ignored him completely.
“That was his daughter’s name , Dove. But she was raped by couple of drunken youngsters. The case didn’t even come to court.”
Ruskin rubbed his forehead with his fingers. “And who was assigned the task of killing?”
“I always delivered it to Orgy. That’s what everyone called him. So, I never knew who was assigned the work”, replied Frussel.
“Orgy? You mean the man who was killed last year?”, asked Merchin trying to butt into the conversation.
“Yes. It was him. There were rumours that Lord Durne killed him. He knew too much. Lord kept his men well but at the same time, wouldn’t wince a bit when they got too close or suspicious”, explained Frussel.
“You treat him like God. Have you seen Durne any time?”, asked Ruskin.
“He was our savior from poverty and miseries. No, I have never seen him. Not when I was conscious at least”
“What do you mean by that?”, asked Ruskin in a curious voice.
“I had a heart attack a year ago. He came to visit me at the hospital. I was dazed because of medicine and couldn’t see him well”, he looked down.
Ruskin collected all his thoughts and what Frussel had said. Lord Durne seemed to know what he was doing and was good at it. A man of his position was respected and feared.
“Remarkable guy”, he thought to himself.
Suddenly he saw Merchin staring into the coffee which he had sipped just a minute ago “Merchin, what happened?”
“It tastes weird”, he replied back.
There was ten seconds of silence.
“Don’t drink it!! Don’t drink!! It could be poisoned !!”, Ruskin screamed.
Merchin threw his mug on the table. It crashed sending echoes across the room. The other two picked their mugs to do the same. But, there were two gun shots.
The light in the room flickered. There was a strong coffee stench.
“Yes”, came the reply.
“There was a rift between a criminal and officers here at Bureau quarters and looks like they killed each other. Can you come immediately?”
“Shit! Who are you?”
He placed the receiver down and turned his ring on the right side which showed a red dove. He put on his hat and looked at the two dead bodies.In few hours, a third body would be discovered in the room. The body of the real Mr. Merchin.
“He knew too much”, he thought and left the place.