Macbeth | Chapter 24 of 54

Author: Jo Nesbo | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 12814 Views | Add a Review

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16

DUFF LISTENED TO CAITHNESS’S BREATHING as it slowly quietened. Then he freed himself from her embrace and turned to the bedside table.

‘Well, Cinders?’ she whispered. ‘Is it almost midnight?’

‘We’ve got plenty of time, but I can’t arrive late.’

‘You’ve been looking at the clock every half an hour ever since you got here. Anyone would think you were dying to leave.’

He turned to her again. Put his hand behind her neck. ‘That’s not why, my beautiful woman, it’s just that I lose all concept of time when I’m here with you.’ He kissed her lightly on the lips.

She chuckled. ‘You can sweet-talk, you can, Romeo. But I’ve been thinking.’

‘Sounds scary.’

‘Stop it. I’ve been thinking I love you. And—’

‘Scary.’

‘Stop it, I said. And I don’t just want you here and now. I don’t want you always disappearing like a half-dreamed dream.’

‘I don’t want to either, my love, but—’

‘No more buts, Duff. You always say you’ll tell her about us, but then there’s the constant but, which means you have to postpone doing it, which you say is out of consideration for her, for the children, for—’

‘But there are considerations, Caithness. You have to understand that. I’ve got a family and with it come—’

‘—Responsibilities I can’t run away from,’ she mimicked. ‘What about some consideration for me? You never seem to have any problem running away from me.’

‘You know very well it’s not like that. But you’re young, you’ve got alternatives.’

‘Alternatives? What do you mean? I love you !’

‘I only mean that Meredith and the children are vulnerable right now. If we wait until the children are a year older, it’ll be easier, then I can—’

‘No!’ Caithness smacked her hand down on the duvet. ‘I want you to tell her now, Duff. And do you know what? That’s the first time you’ve mentioned her by name.’

‘Caithness . . .’

‘Meredith. It’s a nice name. I’ve envied her that name for a long time.’

‘Why such a hurry all of a sudden?’

‘I’ve realised something over the last few days. To get what you want you can’t wait for someone to give it to you. You have to be tough, possibly inconsiderate, but a clean cut is best. Believe me, it isn’t easy for me to ask you to do this, to sacrifice your family – it affects innocent people, and that’s not in my nature.’

‘No, Caithness, it’s not in your nature, so where have you got this from, this idea of a clean cut?’

‘Duff.’ She sat up, cross-legged, in the middle of the bed. ‘Do you love me?’

‘Yes! Jesus, yes.’

‘So will you do it? Will you do this for me?’

‘Listen to me, Caithness—’

‘I like Meredith better.’

‘Darling. I love you more than anything else. I would give my life for you. My very own life, yes, without hesitation. But others’ lives?’ Duff shook his head. Inhaled to speak but let his breath back out. A clean cut. Did it have to be now? The idea of it surprised him. Had he unwittingly been on his way there all the time? On his way from Caithness, on his way home to Fife? He took another deep breath.

‘My mother – whom I never knew – sacrificed her life for me. Sacrificed hers so that I could live. So even if it’s in my nature – as it was in my mother’s nature – to sacrifice a life for love, love for a child is the greatest love. Just the thought of having to sacrifice anything smaller for my children – taking their family away from them for my selfish love for another woman – is like spitting on my mother’s memory.’

Caithness put her hand to her mouth and an involuntary sob escaped her as her eyes filled with tears. Then she stood up and left the bedroom.

Duff closed his eyes. Banged his head on the pillow behind him. Then he followed her. He found her in the sitting room, where she was standing by one of the attic windows and staring out. Naked and shimmeringly white in the neon light from outside, which made the trails of raindrops on the window look like tears running down her cheeks.

He stood behind her and put an arm around her naked body. Whispered into her hair. ‘If you want me to go now, I will.’

‘I’m not crying because I can’t have all of you, Duff. I’m crying because of my own hard heart. While you, you’re a man with a real heart, darling. A man a child can trust. I can’t stop loving you. Forgive me. And if I can’t have everything, give me what you can of your pure heart.’

Duff didn’t answer, just held her. Kissed her neck and held her. Her hips began to move. He thought of the time. Of Banquo. Their meeting by the locomotive. But it was still a long time to midnight.

‘Inverness Casino, Jack speaking.’

‘Good evening, Jack. I’d like to talk to Macbeth.’

‘He’s at a dinner. Can I give him a—’

‘Get him, Jack. Come on.’

Pause.

The sergeant looked at the motorbikes gathered around the telephone box. Their shapes were distorted by the thick snakes of water coiling down the outside of the glass, but still the sight was the most beautiful he knew – engines on two wheels. And the brothers who rode them.

‘I can ask, sir. Who can I say is calling?’

‘Just say this is the call he was expecting.’

‘I see, sir.’

The sergeant waited. Shifting his weight from one foot to the other. Switching the blood-stained parcel from one arm to the other.

‘Macbeth.’

‘Good evening. I’m just calling to say the fish has been caught and gutted, but the fry swam away.’

‘Where?’

‘Now the chances of a single fry surviving are a thousand to one against, and I think in this case we can be satisfied that it’s dead and lying at the bottom of the sea.’

‘Right. So?’

‘The fish head’s on its way. And I’d say you’ve won my respect, Macbeth. There are few who have the palate or stomach for this kind of delicacy.’

Macbeth put down the phone and held on to the counter as he breathed quickly in and out.

‘Are you sure you’re well this evening, sir?’

‘Yes, thank you, Jack. Just a bit giddy.’

Macbeth repressed his thoughts and images one by one. Then he adjusted his jacket and tie and went back to the dining room.

The guests at the long table were talking and toasting, but there wasn’t a great atmosphere. Now perhaps these people didn’t celebrate as loudly and passionately as they did in SWAT, but he wondered whether the shadow of Duncan’s death didn’t lie more heavily over the casino than Lady would have admitted. The mayor had seen Macbeth and waved him over. He saw that someone was sitting on his chair and assumed it was Tourtell’s companion. But when Macbeth saw that he was wrong he came to a sudden halt. It felt as if his heart had stopped beating.

Banquo.

He was sitting there. Now.

‘What is it, my love?’ It was Lady. She had turned and was looking at him in surprise. ‘Sit down.’

‘My place is taken,’ he said.

Tourtell also turned. ‘Come on, Macbeth. Sit down.’

‘Where?’

‘On your chair,’ Lady said. ‘What’s the matter?’

Macbeth screamed as Banquo turned his head like an owl. Above his white collar ran a long, continuous wound that seemed to run completely around his neck. Blood ran from the wound, like from the rim of a full glass of wine someone was continuing to fill.

‘Who . . . who did this to you?’ Macbeth groaned and placed both hands around Banquo’s neck. Squeezed to stop the blood, but it was thin and trickled between his fingers like diluted wine.

‘What are you doing, my love?’ Lady laughed in a strained voice.

Banquo’s mouth opened. ‘It . . . was . . . you . . . my son.’ The words were delivered in a monotone, his face expressionless like a ventriloquist’s doll.

‘No!’

‘I . . . saw . . . you . . . master . . . I . . . am . . . waiting . . . for . . . you . . . master.’

‘Be quiet!’ Macbeth squeezed harder.

‘You . . . are . . . strangling . . . me . . . Murdererbeth.’

Macbeth, terrified, let go. He felt someone pull hard at his arm.

‘Come on.’ It was Lady. He was about to tear his arm away when she hissed into his ear, ‘Now! While you’re still chief commissioner.’

She put her hand under his arm, as though she was following him, and like this they sailed out of the dining hall as if blown by the expressions of their guests.

‘What’s the matter?’ she hissed when she had locked them in their suite.

‘Didn’t you see him? Banquo! He was sitting in my chair.’

‘My God, you’re high. You’re seeing things! Do you want the mayor to think he’s got a lunatic as his chief commissioner?’

His?

‘Where’s your wretched brew? Where?’ She thrust her hand into his trouser pocket. ‘This is going out now!’

Macbeth grabbed her wrist. ‘His chief commissioner?’

‘Tourtell’s going to appoint you, Macbeth. I put you two together because I thought at least you wouldn’t destroy the impression that you were the right man for the job. Ow, let go!’

‘Let Mayor Tourtell do what he likes. I’ve got enough on him to lock him up tomorrow. And if I don’t, I can get it. I’m the chief commissioner, woman! Don’t you understand what that means? I’m in command of six thousand people, two thousand of them armed. An army, darling!’

Macbeth saw her eyes were softening.

‘All right, yes,’ she whispered. ‘Now you’re talking sense again, love.’

He was still gripping her fine, slender wrist, but her hand had started moving in his pocket.

‘Now I can feel you again,’ she said.

‘Come on, let’s—’

‘No, not now,’ she interrupted and pulled her hand away. ‘We’ve got guests. But I have something else for you. A present to celebrate your appointment.’

‘Oh?’

‘Look in the bedside-table drawer.’

Macbeth took out a case. Inside it was a bright, shiny dagger. He lifted it to the light. ‘Silver?’

‘I was going to give it to you after the dinner, but I think you need it now. Silver, as is well known, is the only material that can kill ghosts.’

‘Thank you, my sweet.’

‘It’s a pleasure. So tell me Banquo is dead.’

‘Banquo’s dead. He’s dead.’

‘Yes, and we’ll mourn later. Now let’s join the others. You tell them it was an inside joke between us. Come on.’

It was ten minutes past eleven.

Caithness was still in bed, while Duff had got dressed and was standing by the kitchen worktop. He had made a cup of tea and found a lemon in the fridge, but the only clean knife was more suited to stabbing than slicing a lemon. He stuck the point in the peel and a fine spray came out. So late at night it would normally take half the usual time to get to the central station, find a parking spot and get to Bertha. He had no intention of being late. Banquo didn’t seem as if he needed an excuse not to tell him what he knew. On the other hand, Duff had seen Banquo wanted to talk. Wanted to unburden himself of . . . of what? The guilt? Or just what he knew? Banquo was no bellwether, he was a sheep, no more than a link. And soon Duff hoped he would know who the others were. And armed with that he would . . . The silence was broken by the telephone on the wall beside the cork board.

‘Phone!’ he shouted.

‘Heard it. I’ll take it here,’ Caithness answered from the bedroom. She had a phone in every room, one of the things that could make him feel old when he was with her. They were perhaps a little old-fashioned, Meredith and him, but they thought that one phone per household was enough – it didn’t hurt to have to run. He found a cloth and wiped his hand. Listened for her voice to determine what kind of conversation it was, who was ringing so late at night. Meredith? The thought came to him, and he rejected it at once. The second thought lingered for longer. A lover. Another lover, younger. No, an admirer, a potential lover. Someone standing in the wings, ready to step in if Duff hadn’t given her the answer she wanted this evening. Yes, that was the reason for the sudden hurry. And Duff hadn’t complied with her demands, while his ultimatum had been turned round to become her own. And she had chosen him. The moment he articulated the thought he half-wished it was an admirer. How strange are we humans?

‘Could you repeat that?’ he heard Caithness say from the bedroom. Her professional voice. Only more excited than usual. ‘I’m on my way. Call the others.’

Definitely work. SOCO work.

He heard her rummaging around in her room. He hoped the job wasn’t in Fife and she would suggest he drove her. His hand was sweaty. He licked it while looking down at the lemon. The juice had got into one of the cuts he had received when he fell on the tarmac at the quay. He was still for a second. Then he pulled the knife out and stabbed the lemon again. Hard and fast this time. Let go of the knife quickly and pulled his hand away, but it stung again. It was impossible. Impossible to stab and remove your hand before the spray.

Caithness rushed into the kitchen with a black doctor’s bag in her hand.

‘What is it?’ Duff asked when he saw her expression.

‘It was HQ. Macbeth’s deputy from SWAT . . .’

‘Banquo?’ Duff felt his throat constrict.

‘Yes,’ she said, pulling open a drawer. ‘He’s been found on Kenneth Bridge.’

‘Found? Do you mean . . . ?’

‘Yes,’ she said, rummaging angrily in the drawer.

‘How?’ The questions that accumulated were too numerous, and Duff helplessly grabbed his forehead.

‘I don’t know yet, but the police at the scene say his car’s riddled with bullets. And his head’s been removed.’

‘Removed? As in . . . cut off?’

‘We’ll soon see,’ she said, taking a pair of latex gloves from the drawer and putting them in the bag. ‘Can you drive me?’

‘Caithness, I’ve got this meeting, so . . .’

‘You didn’t say where, but if it’s a long detour . . .’

He looked at the knife again.

‘I’ll go with you,’ he said. ‘Of course I will. I’m head of the Homicide Unit, and this case is top priority.’

Then he turned and threw the knife hard at the cork board. It spun one and a half times on its axis before hitting the board handle first and falling to the kitchen floor with a clatter.

‘What are you trying to do?’ she asked.

Duff stared at the knife. ‘Something you need a lot of practice at before you succeed. Come on.’

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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