What is Mikey up to?
“Angela,” Frank beamed, “I was going to ask you how you are today after, well you know, but you look so happy, I’m tempted to ask if there’s anything… er… new to tell me?”
Angela blushed and giggled at Frank’s question.
“Ray and I got engaged last night,” she replied, still with a blush in her cheeks and her eyes lowered.
Frank reached forward and clasped his hands around hers.
“That’s wonderful news!” he cried; a broad grin crossing his face. “We have to have some sort of celebration.”
Angela smiled at Frank, he was so warm and genuine and she couldn’t help but wonder how he could be friends with the Way brothers – one a hopeless, depressive drunk and the other an arrogant, grasping troublemaker. Although, admittedly, Frank appeared to merely tolerate Mikey for Gerard’s sake.
“I think Ray has something planned for tomorrow,” she nodded, “he’s acting a little suspiciously, he can’t seem to hide anything from me.”
Frank winked in return.
“Well, if I hear anything, I’ll keep it a secret.”
Angela laughed; whatever Ray was planning was unlikely to remain a secret for long.
“Would you like to come in, Sir, I assume you’re here for Mister Gerard?”
“Yes, we were supposed to meet in the town this morning to ride to Woodridge today, but he didn’t show. Is he,” Frank paused to consider his wording – he really didn’t want to say ‘passed out in a drunken stupor’, “still asleep?”
“No, Sir,” Angela shook her head, “he left the house about thirty minutes ago.”
“Oh,” Frank frowned thoughtfully.
“But…” Angela began hesitantly, “I did see Mister Mikey head for the stables earlier, maybe he’s still there.”
Frank’s nose crumpled with distaste.
“I definitely don’t want to see Mikey.”
“No, Sir,” Angela corrected, holding back an understanding laugh at Frank’s remark, “I meant that maybe Mister Gerard is still there. They might be… talking.”
Frank turned his soft brown eyes to look at Angela; he had to admire her loyalty and discretion.
“Or, they’re killing each other?”
Angela offered a faint smile in return; Frank was a good man, he understood how hard it was for everyone working in the house to get by with the two brothers constantly at each other’s throats.
“Is it okay if I leave my horse here?” Frank asked. He didn’t want to say it outright, but he wanted to approach the stables in silence. He couldn’t honestly say he knew why, but he did know that whenever Mikey was involved, stealth and caution were always recommended.
“Stop it!” Ray snapped. “If you say it’s your fault one more time, Bob, I swear I’m going to…”
“Bob raised his eyebrows, curious as to what Ray could possibly threaten him with.
“… I’ll hide your drumsticks!”
Bob feigned terror, but he got the message.
“All right! All right! I give in! It’s not my fault.” Bob stared down at his coffee, wondering if it had now cooled beyond the point it would be pleasant to drink – not that hospital coffee truly rated as pleasant at the best of times. “I don’t feel any better.”
Ray offered a sympathetic and supportive smile.
“No, you won’t,” he agreed. “It doesn’t matter that it’s not your fault, you’re still worried about him.”
“This sucks!” Bob grumbled. “Why can’t they help him?”
Ray gave a resigned sigh. “I wish they could too.”
Both men turned their heads toward the corridor as the seemingly thundering noise of boots on the tiled floor headed their way. Staring through the windows of the cafeteria, Ray and Bob watched as the source of the noise grew closer. Their eyes widened as they saw Mikey and Gerard tear past at speed.
“Frank!” Ray cried as he and Bob stood quickly, their seats pushing back and in Ray’s case falling to the floor. Running from the table, they followed their friends as they headed back towards Frank’s room. Pushing through the busy corridors, Ray and Bob made it to the stairs nearest to Frank’s room. Quickly descending two levels, they burst through the doors to see Gerard and Mikey dragging Alan Frey, the director of their video shoot back down to the waiting room.
“What happened?” Bob asked breathlessly as he and Ray skidded to a halt alongside the brothers and Frey.
“He was in there!” Gerard snapped, but trying hard to keep his voice low. “Talking to him!”
“What?” Ray replied in a shocked tone. “Why?”
Frey was bewildered.
“He’s in hospital,” he began oblivious to the problem, “you’re supposed to talk to people. Even if they’re in a coma, I heard that it helps.”
Ray’s shoulders dropped and he appeared distraught.
“They didn’t tell you?” he asked, although he already knew the answer. Frey meant well, he truly did.
Gerard and Ray placed comforting arms around the director and pulled him toward the visitors’ waiting room.
“You have to tell us everything you said to him,” Gerard insisted, even though there was really nothing he could do with the information.
Frank rounded the side of the house and walked to the stables. It wasn’t a particularly large stable yard; Gerard had no need of a large number of horses and even Mikey was restricted to keeping only two. Altogether, six horses were housed there, two for Gerard, two for Mikey and two for the small carriage they both used from time to time.
Frank approached the U shaped set of buildings that made up the stables. Running along the left hand side were the six horse stalls. They were deep allowing each horse room to move, its own feeding trough and water. Invariably, during the day, the upper part of the door to each stall was left open to allow the horses light and air. At the far end stood the feed and hay barn and on the right hand arm of the U, opposite the horse stalls, lay the tack and carriage buildings. It was there, in the carriage block that Frank could hear voices. One voice he recognised instantly as Mikey’s, the other, he wasn’t certain, but he at least knew it wasn’t Gerard’s. Approaching quietly, Frank pressed himself against the wall and listened.
“Here,” Frank recognised Mikey’s voice, followed by the crinkle of paper and realised that money was changing hands. “You’ve done well. I still can’t believe that he accepted everything you said without question!”
“I told them it would be tomorrow,” came the other voice.
“No,” Mikey growled, “it has to be tonight.”
“But you said…”
“Never mind what I said!” Mikey snapped. “It’s tonight! I want rid of Gerard and the sooner the better!”
“Okay, okay! I’ll get the carriage ready and let him know!”
Frank felt a tap on his shoulder, but he had no sooner turned his head than a fist was crashing down on his jaw. Frank spun away from his hiding place and landed heavily on the floor.
Dazed, Frank heard a scuffling noise and glanced up to see Mikey standing over him.
“You shouldn’t be here, Frank!” Mikey announced callously.
“What are you up to, Mikey?” Frank snapped trying to push himself to his feet only to be seized and dragged upright by Frey, the stableman, and the man who had punched him that he knew only as Frey’s assistant. Held in their grip, he pulled and struggled to free himself.
“You leave me in a difficult position, Frankie,” Mikey taunted him, spreading his arms in a suggestion of feigned innocence. “You’ve heard too much. I can hardly let you go now, can I?”
“Let go of me!” Frank yelled as he struggled fruitlessly. “Gerard won’t stand for this!”
Laughing, Mikey replied. “Gerard can barely stand at the best of times! And that won’t be his biggest problem soon – he’ll be dead.”
“You bastard, Mikey! You won’t get away with this!”
Mikey thought for a moment.
“Actually,” he grinned, as a strip of cloth was pulled into Frank’s mouth and tied tightly at the nape of his neck. “I think I will. Take him to the smoke house, tie him up and get the fires going. Have you ever wondered what happens to fish when it’s smoked, Frank?” Mikey paused for effect, knowing that Frank was unable to answer him. “You know what? Don’t worry, you’ll never know; you’ll suffocate first!”
With the flick of his head, Mikey indicated to the two men to dispose of Frank. The last thing he needed right now was a witness.