I wrote another piece for The Inkwell’s Half-hour Challenge under the theme “Bells”.
“Yes, this is Dave Probert. Who am I speaking to, please?”
“You don’t know me Mr. Probert. It’s best for all concerned if we leave it that way. Let’s just say I’m a friend of a friend or friends. You may call me Mr. Bell. I am of your brotherhood. I have a favour to ask of you for a brother in need.”
Dave was trying to think fast but going around in circles. The Brothers Of The Bell had helped his son Kevin with a string of bad debts, when Kev’s plumbing business looked to be going under for want of cash-flow. It had seemed mysterious at the time: no names, no faces, just anonymous voices on phones. But the people who owed Kev money had paid up P.D.Q., even those who seemed to have no money to pay.
Dave was aware all was silent. Mr. Bell was waiting a reply.
“What can I do for you, Mr. Bell?”
“You are employed as an Evidential Exhibits Officer at Lincoln Crown Court.”
Dave stiffened with dreadful anticipation. “I am.”
“The case of The Crown versus Landy is to be heard there next week. You will loose the CPS’s exhibits for this case before the trial commences.”
“I can’t do that. I’d get caught. Everyone would know it was me. It’s such a high profile case: it’s been in all the papers. Everyone knows that Landy is guilty. His fingerprints are on the knife and the victim’s blood is on Landy’s clothing.”
“I am not asking you for a legal assessment Mr. Probert. I am calling in the debt you owe to the Brotherhood. We did not ask any questions when you requested our help with your son’s cash-flow embarrassment and we don’t intend to offer any answers to you now. You only need know that your brother is in need and that you are in a position to help. We expect your help, Mr. Probert.”
“But that’s completely different. Kevin had done nothing wrong. He was owed that money fair and square for work he had done in good faith. Landy is a cold-blooded murderer and gangster. He deserves everything he gets.”
Mr. Bell barked an interruption “Mr. Probert!” then reverted to the quiet calm “None of that is your concern. You need only do as the Brotherhood has requested: nothing more, nothing less.”
Dave was scared but angry too “I won’t do it.”
There was a pause, then slowly Mr. Bell said “You should not say that, Mr. Probert. I find your attitude most disappointing. It displays an unprecedented lack of gratitude for our efforts on your son’s behalf. It also shows a breathtaking lack of understanding. Do you imagine that your son’s debtors paid him willingly? No, Mr. Probert: they paid him because we knew how to ask. The Brothers Of The Bell ask in ways that people find very persuasive.”