11: A Mole In The Holy Of Holies
“What the fuck!!” shouted Naaga, the head of the Fraud Squad.
“Festerfuck I think,” said his sidekick as their Austin A 40 narrowly avoided the green Morris Minor on the way out of the Castle Yard.
Naaga had just got a tip-off, a bumsteer from Frankie the Striker, that Mister Hanley of the Holy Rosary Crusade was sitting in the Peacock drinking a double Irish.
“Fucking eejit could never drive,” muttered Slug as he quickly parked in a grinding of gears in front of the Special Branch administration quarters.
He led the way down a flight of stone steps to the basement and into the subterranean light of a long corridor. Pah Wah followed him through the penumbral gloom, their footfalls echoing on the ragged stone floor. They turned left in the labyrinthine network. The Slug took out his torch. Its beam slashed wildly around in the darkness.
“Ah! Here,” he muttered as he spotted an electric light switch. A flick and the front of the lime green corridor became bathed in a wan light. The corridor end faded into darkness and in the darkness something darker still seemed to materialise. The Slug raised a hand and both detectives stood dead still. A drip of water somewhere was the only sound palpable in the eerie silence. The Slug removed his .38 Special from his shoulder holster.
“Who’s there?” he called out. Pah Wah jumped as the Slug’s acerbic Kerry accent echoed out in the dank maze.
“Napper,” rattled the echoing riposte.
The Slug re-holstered his gun and took out his torch. The gaunt, waxen face appeared ghostlike in the beam. Nobody moved for a while, just stood at an askewed lack of attention, as if they had been strait-jacketed by the lambent darkness.
“What are yeh doing down here?” inquired Slug. “Replacing a bulb, and you?”
“Going to the Holy of Holies to check on a master copy.”
“I haven’t been there for yonks. Mind if I tag along?”
The three moved deeper into the warren, shuffling atonally through the moribund air. They passed a number of subsidiary passages.
“Hang a right,” directed Slug as he led them down another corridor. A smell of rotten wood and dank masonry seemed to permeate everything. Pah Wah could see damp patches on the windowless walls.
The Slug strode purposefully towards a grimy door at the end of the passage.
“With Tarquin’s ravishing strides towards his design. Moved like a ghost,” quoted the occasionally semi-literate Pah Wah.
“What?” inquired Slug as he got down on his knees in front of the heavy door. “Macbeth. The Bard,” replied Pah Wah.
The Slug cursed to himself. He lifted the small metal plate that covered the keyhole and peered in. Nothing was visible in the inky blackness of the Holy of Holies. Pah Wah and Napper exchanged puzzled glances.
The Slug got to his feet and took a bunch of keys from his coat pocket. He tried two or three before he gave a satisfied grunt. He pushed on the door with both hands. The door sent the cringe of a creak screeching along the passage way. Slug pushed again and the door groaned and grated as it made a futile attempt to resist its rusted hinges.
He flicked a light switch revealing a large room cluttered from wall to ceiling with books and ledgers. A pale light coming from a small barred window below ground level gave the whole place a ghostly appearance. Pah Wah had never been in the room before and he had often wondered about its contents.
“It’s completely dry in here!!” said Pah Wah in surprise.
“Air thermostatically controlled,” announced Slug proudly. “This is the holy of holies. We have all the names here going right back to Adducc Dubh O’Toole.”
“Some handle! Was he out in 1916 or what?”
“Not at all. He was a heretic who spoke out against the Popes going right back to the Laudabiliter….”
“Jesus! That’s not for my hole anyway.” remarked Napper.
“No its not. Chief Culloty was telling me that it was a kind of Papal Bull giving the Normans permission to keep the Roman faith alive in the country.”
“Sure where would we be without the Faith…” said Pah Wah.
“And the Popes.” Added Napper.
“Have we the Laudabiliter here in the files, Festy?” inquired Pah Wah.
The Slug And His Books
“Ah jaysus no. Actually Culloty was saying that it was first referred to by the Norman Monk Giraldus Cambrensis in his Expugnatio Hibernica …”
“…but according to Culloty, Cambrensis was a bit of a fucking whack job who believed that in Ireland animals were born fully grown springing out of trees….”
“A bit like the forties IRA,” laughed Pah Wah.
“Ah, here’s my master copy,” said Slug, reaching out to a waist high book shelf. He examined it carefully, swishing backwards and forwards through the pages.
“This fuckin’ thing also has been expurgated.” He continued to stare at the notebook.
Pah Wah let out a low whistle. “Is that not the word for that process, yuh know, when they pump soapy water up your arse?”
The Slug gave him a gimlet stare. “C’mon,” he said suddenly. “Lock up here and let’s go see McMahon.”
“The Chief himself. Fuck,” Pah Wah mumbled, “the descendant of Mahon brother of Brian Boru who was whacked by the Dane with the chopper when he was kneeling down saying his prayers in his tent or so the Christian Brothers told us.”
“And descended from Cormac Cas, the descendent of Eoghanachts….” “How dya know that?” asked Napper
“I saw it in his book, with details and a ‘not to be trusted’ scribbled in red ink after Cormac’s name.”
The trio trudged in silence back through the reeking passages and up on to the ground floor.
“Is the chief in?” Slug asked O’Rawe, who happened to be coming along the main corridor.
“He is. Jesus you look like you’ve seen a ghost.” said O’Rawe, looking at them through the narrow slits of his rogue eyes.
“It’s worse, its as if God has allowed me to see into the very heart of Hell, the….”
“It’s as if,” added Pah Wah, “leprous corruption has been given the run of the building and filled the rooms with impenetrable filth and false leads…..”
“There’s a mole in the building,” said Slug in a grave tone. “Right here in the Castle. I need to tell McMahon. Some fucken mole’s been and removed names from the master copy.”
“Some A. Like Ahern or…..”suggested Napper. “Some arsehole,” ventured Pah Wah.
O’Rawe stared at him.
“And a B and a C that I know of,” added the Slug.
“I best be off, “said Napper, making himself scarce. He had no intention of getting himself involved in any such unholy mystery.