Death on Demand

Death on Demand by Paul Thomas Read Free Book Online

Book: Death on Demand by Paul Thomas Read Free Book Online
Authors: Paul Thomas
him that there had been a power shift and now he was on the outer. Ihaka assumed the aim was to isolate him, and that Firkitt, as always, was doing his master’s bidding.
    â€œThat’s got nothing to do with it,” said Ihaka. “I just forgot.”
    â€œWhat a load of shit,” said Van Roon crisply. “So are you coming?”
    Ihaka turned around. The floor space previously occupied by the woman had been taken over by a couple of young Asian guys who smiled shyly at him.

    â€œYeah,” he said. “Friday night in Ponsonby, though. It might take a while to get a cab.”
    â€œIf you have any trouble, give us a ring and I’ll come and get you,” said Van Roon. “I’m on OJ tonight.”
    Ihaka looked around. The woman was over in the far corner, talking animatedly to a handsome Polynesian who had the pale glow of minor celebrity.
    He drained his beer and headed for the exit.
    When Ihaka walked into the inner-city pub bar where the farewell function was beginning to wind down, Firkitt sucked even more fiercely on the unlit cigarette he’d been toying with for several minutes. “Well, fuck me,” he said. “Look what the cat dragged in.”
    Behind him, Charlton was taking his turn to butter up Worsp. He paused in mid-sentence, glancing over his shoulder to see what Firkitt was talking about. “Must be a mighty big cat,” he said.
    Worsp, who had a backside that wobbled in the wind, broke into a silent, heaving chuckle. “Bloody typical,” he said. “Still, better late than never, I suppose.”
    â€œThat’s one way of looking at it,” said Charlton. “Another would be: better never than late.”
    He was so pleased with his witticism that he shook Worsp’s hand for the fourth time that day. “I really have to hit the road, Ted, but don’t be a stranger. It’d be a crime to let all that wisdom and experience go to waste.”
    Even though he’d been lapping up free drinks and flattery all night, Worsp hadn’t had his fill of either. “Just quietly,” he purred, “I suspect life after Ted will come as a rude shock to some of these chaps. But you know me, sir, the old warhorse. When the bugle sounds, I start pawing the ground.”
    â€œYou’ve been a good soldier, mate,” said Charlton, his voice husky with camaraderie. “All the very best.”

    Firkitt dropped a rough hand on Worsp’s shoulder. “Good on you, champ. Take it easy now.”
    They watched Worsp lumber off in search of someone who hadn’t shouted him a drink. “Don’t be a stranger?” said Firkitt incredulously. “A good soldier? Give me a fucking break.”
    Charlton shrugged. “Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to sprinkle a little sugar. Needless to say, I rely on you to make life hell for anyone who encourages that old fraud to come within five kilometres of Central.”
    â€œYou bet.”
    â€œRight, I’m off. Are you sticking around?”
    â€œNot for long,” said Firkitt. “Looks like she’s running out of steam.”
    â€œWell,” said Charlton, “should you happen to find yourself tête-à-tête with our brown bro…”
    â€œWhat the fuck does that mean?”
    â€œIf you talk to him.”
    â€œOh, I’ll be talking to him all right,” said Firkitt. “And I’ll tell you what, I won’t be sprinkling any fucking sugar.”
    â€œGlad to hear it,” said Charlton. “The man’s overweight. A little sugar is the last thing he needs.”
    Ihaka was beginning to relax. Maybe this wouldn’t be a complete horror show after all. He’d done the decent thing by Worsp, biting his tongue when the old prong greeted him with, “Let me guess – your mother had another fall?” He’d bought Worsp a Scotch and dry and let him crap on about how the troops at

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