Me and Sheri Lamour were talking, shooting the breeze. Work was slow that week and there was little else to do. The office needed cleaning but one look at Sheri tells you everything you need to know about her. She don't do cleaning, her skills lie elsewhere, and mine mostly involve drinking and solving crime. We don't do cleaning.
“Anything out there?” I was talking about the news, not the stumblebums grazing on fried chicken or breeding the new feral horde. I didn't have much hope. My old Morgan radio had almost given up the ghost, regurgitating lie after lie from the slimeballs who now rule this once great country, either that or the salacious tattle from broads with more silicon than brain. Jeez. I like a broad with something to hold. I just don't want to be knocked of my seat when they turn.
“There's the Megrahi guy,” she said. Did I tell you that Sheri has a voice like honey and a figure to match?
A shiver ran up my spine. It was that kind of name.
“What's he done?”
“Blew up a plane.”
“Ours or theirs?”
A murderous mist enveloped me. It sure as hell wasn’t dust. “And the guy's not been fried.”
“He's been released on compassionate grounds.”
I sunk lower in my chair as I listened to Sheri's voice. Sweet though it was, it covered pure cyanide. As I worked it out this piece of pond-life had served less than a fortnight for each of the 259 women and children he'd blown from the sky. What the hell was going on here, and why was Sheri telling me this...? That last bit intrigued me. The dame knows me inside out and then some, and she knows Clay Cross likes mysteries to solve, not venting rage against the dark forces sucking all light from the world. I'm a reasonable guy.
“So what's the real story,” I said.
Sheri pouted, her lips like dark cherries holding a worm. "They say it's a cover up."
“You mean Megrahi's the patsy.”
Sheri shrugged helplessly as if to say what the hell do I know? You’re the detective, big guy.
I gave her my shark's smile, the one with teeth. "What else do they say?" I've always found 'they' useful. Rumour's cheap. Informers you pay.
“Witnesses perjured themselves.” She took out her lipstick. When she brought that thing to her mouth the world stopped, and she stopped talking; only I wasn't finished with her. Not yet. She must have seen it in my eye; anyway she stopped, gave that secretive smile of hers that makes me go whoozy.
"So why didn't the guy appeal?" Hell, you can appeal for jaywalking now, appeal for being born stupid.
“They didn't want him to. Every time he tried, they kept on stalling, and then the guy got cancer.”
Ghosts go whoo hoo. They don't appeal. I got it. "So why not let Megrahi die in prison?"
“Compassion,” Sheri snarled, as though the word offended her. “They said Megrahi would soon face a higher power, and that it was the right thing to do even though 'some hurt can never heal. Some scars can never fade.' She sounded like she was going to burst into song. She sounded like Hank Williams. The thought was distressing and I closed my eyes, even as she said the killer line. 'The deal was freedom if he dropped his appeal.'
The lyrics made sense. One thing didn't. What the hell was our government doing about this?
Sheri Lamour read my mind. The FBI thinks it's a pile of crock. Bob Mueller's furious.
Never trust a man who sounds like a yoghurt pot, they're either Gestapo or Red, and all three amount to much the same thing. Even so I don't prejudge; it's not the American way. "I bet he is," I said, waiting for more. We have a nuclear arsenal, Scotland has thistles. "What's he doing about it?"
“Well, he sent a strongly worded letter...after the bird had flown.”
The office was silent except for the grinding of teeth.
“Then Hillary Clinton got involved.”
“Jeeze, I bet the Scots were terrified.”
“But they waited until it was a done deal before anything was said."
The office suddenly smelt of fish. “Do you smell that?” I said
Sheri raised her wild cherry red to her lips. "You've done it again, Clay," she breathed.
“Time for a spot of Kentucky mash,” I said, taking two dusty glasses from the middle drawer. Sheri took hers, the one with the lipstick.
“Compassion,” I sneered. The man had been set up, and governments were doing what they do always do best, covering themselves in outrage.
I wondered who was really involved, and why they’d gone for the Libyan and not them, but Sheri was busy.
“And I bet there was a trade deal involved.” I said. Sheri gave me her secretive smile.