Missing Emilie

by Michael E. Lloyd

Table of Contents   Chapter Synopses


Book II: Reparations

Chapter 11: Cooling Off

part 2 of 2


‘Do you want the good news or the bad news?’

‘Why don’t you just tell me one of them and let me guess which it is?’

‘There are several pieces, actually. First, you do appreciate I can’t let you out on bail for some time, if at all ...’

‘Always full of surprises, Simon.’

‘Just carry on trusting I’m doing all I can for you, eh? Behind the scenes, stage left, stage right, up in the fly loft, and ...’

‘Yeah, I believe you.’

‘Really?’

‘Really.’

‘So, later today you’ll be transferred up to the Maison d’Arrêt on remand. But you know your way around there very well, of course. Might even bump into some old friends ...’

‘I can’t wait. So that was the good news, right?’

‘Hah! Secondly, one of Julia’s reattached fingertips is apparently doing very well indeed. But the other one is not looking so good.’

‘OK.’

‘Thirdly, we picked up the case from your wardrobe and the rucksack from the left luggage office, of course. Seventy-two wads in all — just as you said to Carne. And I’m told you may well have a valid claim to the bank’s reward for the recovery of the money, when all the relevant facts and influences upon you are taken into account. They might reduce it a bit, because they only got back about ninety percent of what they lost, but it should still be a very tidy sum. I’m doing all I can to protect your claim from those who would like to prevent you getting it.’

‘Thank you.’

‘And there’s more. I told you last week that the police reward for the arrest of Carne is looking promising for you, and that is still the case. But many of the movers and shakers of Nice have also been very uncomfortable, ever since the day of the robbery, about the possibility of a rogue element deep within their precious world of commerce. It turns out they’ve had a secret bounty on the head of the insider for years — if he could ever be unmasked. And now that he has not only been proved to exist, but has actually been captured and found to be a greater beast by far, many of them are apparently saying it would be immoral to refuse you the bounty just because you were part of the original gang. All those mitigating circumstances again, Arthur. So there may be even more pennies from heaven raining down on you soon. Funny old world, isn’t it?’

‘Why do you think a man as successful as Orceau changed into such a monster, Simon?’

‘Well, I do have some of the answers now. In 1959 he was still trying to break out of the depression he’d been suffering in silence since his wife and child were killed in the war. You know the dream, Arthur — gamble a big lump of cash on those hefty advances to the gang, make a quick and easy fortune out of it, and start a new life abroad after quitting work on grounds of ill-health or the shock of it all.

‘He’s also admitted to me, off the record, that he used to have a vague “common justice” mentality about the desirability of the redistribution of wealth. A sort of fifth-column Robin Hood, if you like. But over the years those ideals steadily turned from altruism to self-interest. And he was really offended when he was passed over for promotion in 1958. Tillier would now be in situ for six long years. So the desire for revenge against the bank completed the circle.

‘He says he even pretended to himself, at that time, that if the gang did end up double-crossing him and never delivered his two-thirds share of the loot, he’d have lost nothing anyway and would have won a moral victory against capitalism!

‘But after Carne shot him, and the money was not forthcoming, he actually got very angry instead, and eventually built the cunning plan that we all then fell for. After your release his frustration just continued to grow, of course. And when he lost the chance to punish “Luc” in person, and discovered you’d been stringing him along all this time as well, he finally flipped, and poor Julia took all his crossfire.’

‘Unbelieveable.’

‘Or all too believeable.’

‘Yeah. So do you reckon he knows anything about what became of Emilie?’

‘I thought you’d never ask. No, I gave him even more encouragement than I gave Carne on that particular subject, and you can be quite certain he’s never known a thing about her. It was a huge bluff from them both, all along.’

* * *

‘So how are your fingertips, under those bandages?’

‘One of them is doing really well, chéri.’

‘Great! And ...’

‘Don’t ask.’

‘But of course I have to ask! Have you lost the other one?’

‘Yes.’

‘Oh, no ...’

‘Come on, Arthur! Please don’t dig yourself even deeper. For my sake, if nothing else!’

‘OK. Yes, I understand, chérie. So when do you think you’ll be going back to work?’

‘I quit.’

‘But surely nobody ever looked at your fingers?’

‘That’s more like it, you awful man! No, I decided that if you are going to be off the face of the earth again for the foreseeable future, I could do a lot worse than go back to school. I want to repeat the whole of my last year, if they’ll let me. And I know I was actually in very good shape for those summer exams, so I reckon it should be easy!’

‘You’ll be going back to live with Muriel, then ...’

‘I’ve been there since I left hospital.’

‘I bet she really hates me now.’

‘No, she doesn’t. She’s distressed and confused, but I’ll have plenty of time to explain things properly and bring her round while you’re away. And I’ll be keeping my eye out for another nice little apartment for us when you finally get out of here ...’

‘There won’t necessarily be any money for that, Julia, especially if you’re going straight back to school ...’

‘Ah, you ought to stay a lot closer to your good friend Simon Hardy. He’s just told me that all three rewards have already gone into the approval process!’

‘Wow! Well, that’s something for me to look forward to, at least ...’

‘And that’s all, is it?’

* * *

‘Another fine mess, Arthur ...’

‘Please don’t rub it in, Pureza.’

‘So how long do you think you’ll be back in here?’

‘Hardy now says it’ll be many weeks. Probably months. There’s a lot to do, to prepare for another big trial, and he reckons I’ll need to be kept on remand the whole time. For all sorts of reasons. But he seems confident I’ll be free again once the show is finally over. “Dues paid” and all that ...’

‘Well, you take it easy, chico. Watch your back. And do a lot more thinking, eh? Maybe some better thinking this time.’

‘Yeah ...’

‘What do you want me to do about Emilie? I did pick up a clue or two from her bible, several months ago, if you remember ...’

‘Not now, please, Pureza. Some other time, eh?’

‘As you wish, Arthur. And I still have those boxes of awful paperback books. Want a little light reading while you’re inside?’

‘Hah! Thanks, but you can dump them now. No reading for me, this time around. I have a novel to write ...’


End of Book II

Missing Emilie continues in Issue 492 with Book III: Lost in Action

Copyright © 2012 by Michael E. Lloyd

Home Page