Repeater – Chapter Two
A little less than 2 hours later I found myself standing in sire Lammal’s study. His house was large and well furnished and far neater than I would have expected of a great burly oaf such as Lammal. His study was full of oak. Oak lined walls featured oak bookcases. There was a huge oak fire surround in which coals still glowed red and charred wood still smouldered. At the far end of the room was placed a grand oak desk, embossed with maroon leather and green piping. various brass menageries adorned the polished surface of the desk; a lamp, a desk calendar and several paperweights featuring mythical creatures in menacing poses. The two fellows who had earlier knocked at my door were again standing in the doorway of the study. They had brought me here post haste after giving me only the bare amount of time to recover my wits after the shocking news that I was still refusing to believe.
‘I would like for you to show me why you foolishly believe my father is alive good sires.’ I said in cold tones.
‘If you view some of the documents over there on the desk you may find evidence enough to convince you.’ said the rotund one whose name I had discovered was Mears. I attended the desk and found scattered across its surface many sheets of official looking paper and several ledges and diaries open at what appeared to be random pages. The ledgers were filled with neat rows and columns of numbers while the diaries contained the swirling, elaborate writing that I assumed was made by Lammal’s hand. I picked up a diary and read an entry but I discovered nothing to enlighten me. I tried another and found only the dreary lamenting of someone who seemed rather miserable by all accounts. One entry read:
“It has occurred to me that the path I have chosen was not one of my better decisions. I fear it is too late to alter things. Many have been hurt and it seems I can no more alter the future than I can the past. Things have gone too far now.“
Another entry which was dated less than three days prior read:
“Someone once said that ‘The future is dimmed by the shadows of the past’. I now believe this to be true. The time has come for me to banish these shadows – or else die trying.“
I thumped the diary down onto the desk. ‘All this tells me is that sire Lammal was a lonely sap harboring regrets of a life poorly conducted. If you do not show me evidence to support your claim then I fear I must bid you good-day and depart.’
Mears said nothing but his thin counterpart walked over to my place by the desk. I smelled the faint aroma of something sickly sweet as he leant over and flipped the diary I had just read closed so that I could view the front cover. For the second time that day I found my legs tremble and had to support myself against the sturdy oak desktop. Two words were written on the front cover in the same swirling hand used within. Amos Thom – my father.
Some minutes past in silence and the two fellows possessed the courtesy to let me gather my ragged thoughts. After my breathing gradually slowed I found I could begin to think a little more logically.
‘This, this doesn’t mean that my father is alive. ‘ I muttered. ‘ Anyone could have written those words.’
‘Why would anyone write a diary and sign it in another’s name?’
‘I’m sure I don’t know.’ I answered. ‘But I tell you my father died 10 years past. It could not be him.’
‘What If I tell you that your father has been sighted this very week and not a crow’s flight from this place?’
‘I would say that the seer was mistaken. That the person observed was but a ringer for my father; doppelganger if you will.’
‘A doppelganger who answers to the name Amos Thom?’
At this point, I found that my legs were pretty much useless at supporting me and I finally buckled backwards and was rescued by a fortuitously positioned lambing chair into which I slumped.
‘This is just too much!’ I could feel my hands trembling and must have looked a worrisome sight as both Mears and his counterpart were harbouring expressions of consternation.
‘Perhaps you would like a dram of something to calm your thoughts?’ Mears said, his voice expressing genuine concern. I held my trembling hand to my spinning head and found it was all I could to nod weakly.
‘Mr Pierrpoint, would you fetch a noggin of brandy from that decanter for Sire Thom please?’ The thin chap did as was instructed while Mears approached the oak desk and began running his fingers across the loose leaf pages and notes that were scattered haphazard.
‘I should like to ask you more questions sire when you have regained your wit. I apologise for causing you much consternation; it was not our intention but you must understand how this looks?’
‘You have shown me nothing that would confirm your claim that my poor dead father is responsible for this vile deed. A diary entry and a book with a hand-written scribe displaying his name does not amount to irrefutable proof that a once dead man now walks among us.’ The thin man, Pierrpoint, handed me a shallow tumbler and I swirled the honey coloured liquid briefly before drinking back the contents. A warmth filled my throat and soon I felt the calming influence of what I feel was a full bodied and mildly tart pomace that was almost certainly of eastern provenance – But I digress.
‘This is true.’ Mears said, ‘and perhaps we are guilty of haste and assumption. But Alas we do have more evidence which, at this time we cannot explain but still points to this being the work of your father’s hand.’
‘Then pray, provide me with another noggin and perhaps I should be ready to aid you further with your inquiries.’
‘First, would you mind if we gain some history of your father, lay the foundations so to speak, so that we may build up a picture of the events that surrounded your father’s apparent death?’
‘Apparent?’ I said, my voice an octave higher from this surprising accusation. ‘There is nothing apparent about my father’s demise sir! He died then and he’s dead now. Should I suggest a visit to his graveside? Allow your eyes to peruse his epitaph and confirm his date of departure?’ I could feel my face flushing due in no small measure to my frustration and anger with, perhaps, the brandy playing a small part.
‘Indeed sire, we will make that visit in due course but first, let us establish the details that led him to… his grave.’
‘My father was a geologist of some standing. He was eminent in his field with an unblemished reputation and impeccable scholastic credentials.
‘He was a teacher?’
‘Indeed. He also provided expertise to scientific and government agencies as well as several prominent business organisations.
‘Is it true that your father and sire Lammal were business associates?’
‘They were indeed partners in business.’
‘And what was the nature of their business?’
‘Primarily mining, metals and other Earth resources. My father was coveted for his scientific abilities.’
‘And business was good?’
‘I would say yes but I have little knowledge of such details. Alas my father was not really interested in the art of making money.’
‘He was not of a business mind?’
‘No, that was sire Lammal’s canton and he was quite apt in the art of profit.’
‘Did Lammal study under your father?’ I gave a snort of brief hilarity.
‘Lammal is.. was a hayseed. He couldn’t discern granite from a granary loaf. But he was a genius at exerting blood from rock; wholly a capitalist.’
‘How was their relationship?’
‘Difficult. Strained toward the end.’
‘You paint a picture of two incompatible individuals. Why should they instigate such an unlikely partnership?’
‘The circumstance of their union is a story for another day. Suffice to say that their relationship started off poor and deteriorated to quite intolerable levels for my father.’
‘ You suggested earlier that you feel sire Lammal was in part responsible for your father’s death?’
‘Aye.’ I scoffed at the irony of my next thought, ‘And now here you are telling me you’re of the opinion that the opposite has occurred.’ At this Mears gave a sad smile.
‘They are assumptions at present.’
‘Assuming is supposition without proof whereas to presume is supposition on the basis of probability. I would suggest you have neither proof or probable cause at this time.’
‘Well, that is what we are here to discover.’
I rose unsteadily from the chair and walked to the fire and felt its weak warmth. On the mantle was a large Waterbury clock which showed the wrong time. I was about to turn the hands to their correct position when Pierrpoint surprised me by uttering the first words I think he’d spoken. ‘No Sire. Do not touch that. It is evidence.’ I returned my hand to my waistcoat pocket while giving him my best stern expression.
‘Now that I have furnished you with some of the background dealings of Lammal and my father, perhaps you would be so kind as to explain your, to be frank, preposterous theory of how my father, dead these past 10 years, has come to be accused of sire Lammal’s ruin.