Ishmael was waiting outside the Quayside when I arrived. He was leaning back against the granite wall, gazing at the sun glinting off the oil rig supply ships in the harbour.
“I thought you’d be playing cricket on a day like this.” I said.
“I was. We finished early cause half the other team didn’t show up.” He said.
“They’re probably all at home staring out of the window in shock and wondering what the strange glowing thing in the sky is.” I said.
“Anyway.” He said.
“Anyway…” I said.
“Anyway. I you know I said I’d try and get hold of a mate who used to work at [REDACTED]*? Well I ran into him today. He was running the Amnesty International Stall so I asked him if he was free later and if he was willing to talk to you about the murder.” He said.
“Yes?” I said.
“He’s more than willing. I think he’s a little bit desperate to talk about it. And he doesn’t usually talk about his work. But be nice, alright.” He said.
“When am I ever not nice?” I said.
“From 1982 to 1994.” He said.
“I meant to people who aren’t my little brother. And I was nice to you then. Some of the time.”
“Yeah yeah. Whatever.” He said.
I followed him into the pub. The contrast between the unfamiliar bright sunshine outside and the dark painted, window shaded gloom of the pub blinded me for a moment. When my eyes adjusted to the dark I could see that there were only a few people in the place. Ishmael was already at the bar.
“5am Saint?” Said Ishmael.
“Just a half.” I said.
Ishmael pointed to the table by the window. The one I always think of as the “auld mannie’s table”. At first I took the guy sitting there for an auld mannie but when he stood as we approached it became clear that he’d taken early retirement.
I’ve had a good long think about how to describe ‘Mick’ and the best thing I can come up with is to recreate the mental image I had when I first met him. Imagine if you took Mick Jagger and squashed him by about 3 inches so that he had a slight paunch and his face and neck didn’t look so haggard. Then take away his arrogance and replace it with compassion. Remove his strut and swagger and replace it with the grace and posture that comes from maybe 30 years of yoga. Then give him a pair of glasses and a careful goatee and you’d have the guy I met on Saturday.
Ishmael introduced us and when Mick spoke I heard a trace of an English accent. I couldn’t quite place it but it reminded me of a Mancunian Tai Chi instructor that I used to know. Not so much in the accent as the intonation. I had a sudden intuition that whatever Mick did in a mental hospital he was very good at it. I was already feeling more relaxed just from a couple of syllables.
“Your brother tells me you want to know about the Dingo.” He said.
“I’m investigating her murder.” I said.
“So it was a murder then. I was sure it would be from the moment I heard the news. There was something about the woman that seemed to demand it. It was almost as if she was daring the world to stop her.”
*The local mental hospital