• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 08

Artistic Licence

"This is not at all what I was expecting." Irene Molloy looked at Carmichael’s drawing again. "Sepia, you said? You didn’t consider … oh, I don’t know … colour?"

"No, boss." Carmichael shook his head vehemently. "It would have been too … harsh, I think. Yes, harsh would be the word I’d choose."

"Too harsh?" She held it up for the others. "What do you two think?"

"Well, boss, I like it." That was from Stevens, of course. Always challenging her authority. She made a note to finally do something about him.

O'Neill just looked down at his highly polished police-issue shoes.

"Far be it from me to get picky," Molloy said, turning back to Carmichael, "but of what use is it to us?"

"What don’t you like about it?" asked Carmichael. "Specifically?"

"Specifically?" The word came shooting out of Molloy’s mouth like a bullet. She pulled down the sides of her police skirt, annoyed at how tight it was. "I gave you specific instructions and you have specifically ignored them. That’s what I don’t like. Specifically."

Carmichael took off his police cap and began cleaning the hard brim with the sleeve of his navy jacket.

"So," continued Molloy, "we’re meant to find Phineas Parsons, Bird and Dog Fancier," she waved the drawing in the air angrily, "in a crowd of people… using this? You’ve got to be joking. I wanted detail, Carmichael! To identify him! Scars, the colour of his hair and eyes, missing teeth, tattoos. Anything but a softened sepia portrait that his family would be proud to hang above their bloody mantelpiece."


Artistic Licence

"Well," said Stevens, "being a bird and dog fancier, he probably will have animals with him. That’s a help."

"He's going to be at a bloody animal show, Stevens," screamed Molloy. "Everyone’s going to have animals with them."

No one said anything.

She sighed and handed the drawing back to Carmichael. "Alright. Pass it around. Everyone take a good look. For what it’s worth. Show starts at 2.00pm tomorrow, we leave here at 1.30pm. Precisely. And remember: bullet-proof vests, and load your guns. But no happy shooting. We have one target, okay? Millionaire Phineas Parsons. I want clean, and I want him alive, cos he's useless to us dead. Which means no coming up with smart ideas. Especially you, Stevens."

As the others trundled out, Molloy motioned to O'Neill to stay.

"What’s up, boss?"

Molloy looked at him in his crisp clean uniform. She knew she could trust him. "No happy shooting, right?"

O'Neill nodded.

"Except I want a stray bullet to find Stevens, okay? Preferably in the head. And once we get Parsons back here, you’ll have to deliver the ransom note."

O'Neill whistled. "Anything else?"

Molloy pulled at her skirt again. "Yeah. This bloody skirt’s too tight. Get that contact of yours in Uniform to steal another one and make sure it’s here by tomorrow morning. Size 18. If I have to wear this one, no one in their right mind’s gonna believe I’m a pig."