He was a tall, muscular guy in black leathers, and his torch shone a pencil thin beam on the each tread as he approached the landing. On reaching it, he called out softly, "Come out, come out whoever you are."
Gypsy groaned. "Oh, shit! I'm really in the soup now."
"You bet your life you are."
"Why, who is he?" Sandy whispered.
Gypsy opened the bedroom door as the rider removed his helmet. "Okay, what's your excuse for going walk about?"
"Don?" Sandy gasped, "What're you doin' 'ere?"
"Trying to keep your pip-squeak pillion from doing something stupid. Barney's tearing his hair out, and he's got half his men out hunting for you. I hope you've got a good story because I'm damned tired as well as jet-lagged. So start talking, now! And by the way, you're dammed lucky I managed to stop MacCaffrey from finding you here. I tailed him from London, and he's stuck in Birmingham trying to wriggle out of a charge of reckless driving and having a faulty break-light, thanks to a bit of tinkering by yours truly. How long the cops can delay him for is anyone's guess. Good thing I recognized him, and it's a good thing I guessed where you were after your dad told me about MacCaffrey's visit to your house. Now start talking."
Gypsy walked up to him and punched him on the arm. "Never mind me talking, where did you spring from? I thought you were somewhere over the mid-Atlantic. Did you chase up any clues about that sex club I was held in?"
He found himself in a breath squeezing bear hug as Don said, "I was, and I have; stuff you'd never believe. You can thank Cissy for sniffing out some dirty scoundrels; and I've got a surprise for you." Releasing Gypsy, he dug deep and brought out a cell phone from one of his pockets. Dialing a number he listened till he got an answer, and said, "Hello, could I speak to the president, please? It's Don Clooney."
Gypsy frowned at him. "You're talking to a president? Which one?"
Don held a hand up to silence him then said into the phone, "Hello? Senior Monzanoz, thanks for taking my call. Is your mother there with you? Great. I've got Gypsy with me now; I'll put him on."
Don switched the phone to speaker and handed it to Gypsy. "Hello Gypsy." a familiar voice sounded in his ear, "How are you?"
Gypsy's eye grew wide with surprise. "Hi there, Niki. I'm fine, how are you and your family? How's Jimmy?"
"We're all very well, thank you. We have some good news, and some good news. Which one do you want first?"
Gypsy grinned at the phone. "I'll have the good news first."
"The first good news is, I've just read the final draft of a TV series about my life, we talked about last month, and the producers have agreed to my request to have you play me in the series. They will be getting in touch with you soon about the final contract. The second news is, thanks to Don Clooney we have cleared up some of the mystery surrounding the murder of your foster father and the attack on yourself. Anna knows more about that than I do, so I will let her tell you. Here she is."
"Gypsy, how nice to speak with your again, and congratulations on the success of your musical career. We have been following your life with great interest. Now, you remember Pepe Torres?"
"Tony's friend? Yes."
"Some friend! Remember I took some blood samples from you when you were in the palace? I had a suspicion you were suffering from Hypoglycemia. I was right and, as soon as I got the results back, I put them in an envelope to give to you, but you were already on your way to the airport. I bumped into Pepe and he said he would get them to you before you got on the plane. I told him to tell you that you had to see a doctor as soon as possible. When Don and his wife came to see us about re-opening the police files on the sex club, I was surprised when he told me you only found out about your condition on the day your mother was buried. That got us thinking about a lot of other mysterious happenings when Mr. Grafton was killed, and I gave Don and Cissy authority to investigate Pepe's movements at that time. When Don was ready to confront him, I invited Pepe to visit us at the palace. He came thinking he was being presented to Niki and Sue for some reason, but I casually asked him what he did with the envelope. He said he had delivered it as requested, but when Don walked in and confronted him he knew he was caught. We had him arrested and he confessed that it was him who destroyed valuable evidence at the villa and he was the sniper who tried to kill you. He also confessed to being the one who told the owners of the sex club it was going to be raided. Unfortunately he refuses to tell us who he was working for and now he is in hospital after trying to commit suicide. We don't know if he will survive."
"Oh, wow!" Gypsy stared at the phone. "I bet he hoped I'd die before I saw a doctor. That really does answer a lot of questions. Thanks a lot, Anna; can we get back to you if we need any more information?"
"Certainly, and if we turn up anything down here, we have Don's cell phone number. And Niki is signaling me to tell you to keep in touch about the series. Bye."
"Good bye Anna; and thanks." Gypsy handed the phone back. "Wow! I never would have suspected Pepe of all this. He must have been working undercover for years. He's the one who was supposed to have led the search for me when Tony found I had disappeared. Have you told Barney?"
"Yes; and the Graftons are going through Tony's papers and his diary again to see if Tony mentioned anything about his dealings with the man. That's why I decided to come after you. Now, Gypsy, perhaps you'd like to tell me what you are up to, before I tie you to my bike and take you home to Daddy?"
"I'll show you if you'll give me a boost up into the loft. My dithering friend here would rather stand and wait for MacCaffrey to turn up. He can tell you what we've found so far, while I go up and find what I think is there."
Don reached up to move the hatch to one side and hoisted him high enough to sit on the frame. He swung his legs up and rolled away into the darkness. Sandy quickly told Don about the photographs and showed him the ones of Gypsy. "Well, at least the creep can't blackmail him anymore." Don said, and they listened to Gypsy moving about along the beams. A minute later he appeared at the hatch carrying a brown leather case wrapped in polythene. Sandy reached up to take the case and Don lifted Gypsy down, speckled with dust but obviously pleased with his find.
Gypsy removed the wrapper and opened the case, and found it full of negatives, each one in its own paper wallet and indexed. "How convenient," he breathed as he leafed through them, "All nicely dated and…here we are…Gomez, nineteen ninety-five." H e pulled out the packets and held them up one by one to the light. "Yes, these are the ones; I'll put the rest back where I found them. When the police come I want them to find these exactly where I did." Satisfied he had all the negatives concerning him, he closed the case and rewrapped it. "There are a lot more boxes and stuff up there and I'd love to find out for sure what's in them but we have no time. I'm getting bad vibes and I want to leave as soon as possible, but before we do I want to go through those cine-fi1ms. I want to make sure the film I saw was no nightmare."
Once the case was back in the loft and all trace of dust removed from the bedroom and hall, Sandy began to rep1ace everything they had taken out of the boxes and drawers while Gypsy set up a film editor he found in one cupboard. Studying the canisters of film he se1ec ted one and threaded it into the machine and switched on. Sandy glanced up from what he was doing and whistled at the contortions thrown up on the darkroom wall. "Strong stuff!"
Gypsy had Don stop the projector and rewind the film, "Try another. I'm after something to do with that God."
"I'm with you, kid." Don agreed.
"Hey, hold on," Sandy said, "I thought Jerry lost all his stuff in the fire."
"If you believe that story now, you must be crazy." Gypsy handed another film to Don. Several more followed by the time Sandy had put everything away, as he put the last kick-board back he heard Gypsy give a gasp of horror. He straightened up quickly and saw Gypsy staring at himself on film, dressed in a short white tunic with a circlet of gold leaves on his head.
Although Sandy was revolted by what he was seeing, he could not take his eyes off the film. It was well produced with effective background of temple richness and ritual, the costumes were authentic and, for amateurs, the acting was good, and the story of a boy's initiation into some kind of priesthood was unfolded in all its rawness and erotic splendor, with Gypsy secured to a circular frame on the alter.
Gypsy hung his head in shame and, at the point when the fearsome god began its assault upon the young priest; Don stopped the projector, and ripped out the film. "You tell him, Don, I can't."
"He's right, Sandy. This is what happened to me too. I bet they filmed me as well." He began to roll up the film.
At last, Gypsy staggered out into the bedroom and sank onto the bed with tears of anger and humiliation springing to his eyes. As Sandy followed him out he said in a shaking voice, "That god, I have seen it before."
"Yeah," Sandy agreed, "at Northwood."
"No, no!" Gypsy pressed his fingers to his temples. "The last time I remember seeing that god was when I was enslaved by Munante. One of his favourite pastimes was to have an initiation ceremony for every new boy he brought to his sex-club. He used to follow the ancient ritual worship of the Sun god Ba'al, but he changed things to suit he own pleasure." He looked at Sandy', drawing his hands down his face, and Sandy could see the despair in his eyes. "I am scared Sandy. No two people on different sides of the earth can have the same ideas about something like you've just seen. That means there must be a connection between Munante and MacCaffrey, but how? That's what I don't understand. As his hands dropped to his sides he slumped a little and said more calmly, "One thing I do understand now is who came to my bed at Northwood; it was MacCaffrey."
Sandy was shocked. "Never!"
Gypsy nodded. "He fits the picture all right; he is fit and tall, and very strong. It wouldn't surprise me if he were the god in the film too," and as an idea struck him he rose from the bed and went into the cupboard where Don had almost finished winding the film up. "Can I look at something, please, Don?"
Taking it, his held it to the light and slid it through his raised hands. Sandy looked at it over at it over his shoulder. "Look's like they had trouble with the film, there, see it? All red!"
Gypsy held the film still, then brought it closer to his face, and then he shook his head and said, "No, see the splice? This second bit was taken on a special film, the kind naturalists use for filming at night." Don pulled the editor forward and re-plugged it into a wall socket and threaded the film through, winding it quickly till he reached the splicing. Together, they watched the film, and Gypsy said, "Now I see what it is; that's the room I slept in at Northwood, and I might be mistaken but... " he fell silent and stared at the film as the camera panned across the room to a bed with a sleeping figure in it. A tall naked man of handsome proportions and a huge erection approached the bed, and slid beneath the covers, to gather the sleeper to him. The sleeper turned over towards the intruder and the camera drew closer to the bed to give a close up of the man's head and shoulders.
"Now will you believe me, Sandy?" As Don switched off the machine, Gypsy leaned against the bench. "MacCaffrey was the one who came to me, and he was the god, I am certain of it now; but if he was and Bev and Jerry were in the film-."
"Who was doing the filming?" Sandy finished for him. Gypsy returned to the bedroom and collapsed on the bed, utterly drained, cheated and betrayed. Sandy let him be and helped Don clear away the last of the evidence and put the editor away. Only the photographs and the film remained on the bench beside the negatives. As an afterthought Sandy, brought out the old album again and took the very first picture out of its corner holders. Turning it over, he looked at the date written there and took it to Gypsy. "What's the date of the Gemini period then?"
Gypsy rolled over onto his back and looked up at him. "May twenty second to June twenty first, differing according to what year it is, why?"
Sandy turned the picture over and read out aloud, "Baby James, born May twenty eighth, nineteen fifty. There's your Gemini man."
Gypsy sat up slowly, took the picture and studied it. "Where did you find this?" Sandy fetched the album and held it out for him to take but Gypsy shrank back from him, a strange look of fear crossing his face.
Don came out of the cupboard. "What's bugging you now?"
"What's up, mate?" Sandy asked him, "nothing frightenin' about an old photograph album."
"I'm sorry, Sandy, but that's where the bad vibrations are coming from."
"Don't be daft, man; it's only a load of bloody photos."
Gypsy shook his head again. "Put the album on the bed and turn the pages for me, and I'll show you what I mean."
Sandy and Don looked at each other before he complied; turning the pages till Gypsy told him to stop. The album was open at a picture of MacCaffrey as a sixth former, with him in the picture was an olive skinned youth smiling coldly into the camera. Gypsy winced at some inner pain. He asked Sandy to turn more pages till they were looking at MacCaffrey a few years older, on board a yacht. His friend was with him again and his face was much clearer, and suddenly Gypsy was having difficulty breathing. He fell back clawing at his leather jacket; Sandy tore the zip open and saw the main artery in his neck pulsing rapidly. Gypsy blacked out for a few seconds and Sandy almost panicked till his eyes fluttered open and Don felt the pulse beneath his forefinger slow to a more normal rate. When at last Gypsy's eyes focused on Sandy's face, he said, " The Scorpion, I saw him. I know who he is now."
"That bloke with MacCaffrey?" Sandy asked him, "Who is he then?"
Gypsy' s eyes closed slowly as he breathed Aida's words. "Another scorpion with the black heart of Satan himself is waiting until the time is right to search for you. One day he will strike when your eyes are shut from the world." Gypsy looked from Sandy to Don. "I know who he is now. That's Marcos Munante."
Don took the book and was about to close it, before placing it back in the cupboard, when he paused and stared at a photograph. He showed it to Gypsy. "Who are these people with MacCaffrey?"
Gypsy peered at the photograph. "They're the family at Northwood." He pointed to several faces. "These are Paul and Margaret, Brian's parents, these are MacCaffrey's wife and two daughters; the old couple are MacCaffrey's parents. Why?"
Don shook his head and frowned. "I seem to know them from somewhere."
An hour later, Sandy and Don were seated at the Beresford's breakfast table, listening to his mother in law showing someone out of the house by the front door. Sandy looked up from his coffee a moment later and watched Trish's parents walk into the dining room together, both wore dressing gowns over their night-garments and looked a trifle sleepy.
"That was the police," Beresford said." It's a good thing it wasn't me who answered the wretched door this time, they would have gone away with a flea in their ears:"
"They're only doing their job, dear," Mrs. Beresford replied. "They spotted the bikes in our drive, Sandy. Apparently you and Gypsy have been reported missing and Gypsy's minder is very worried, so is his manager."
"That's what they want the police to believe," Don said as he accepted a cup of tea from Mrs. Beresford. "They were waiting for me to report to them before they said anything."
"What did you say to the police?" Sandy asked his mother in law.
"I told them Gypsy had probably gone off on his own, to get a bit of peace and quiet," Mrs. Beresford tucked a stray strand of hair behind her left ear and moved closer to the table. "The police are more worried now about other people spotting the bikes and finding out where you are and stampeding the place. They wanted to put a guard on the house but I persuaded them that would really attract attention in this neighborhood."
"Like those bikes on my driveway," Beresford frowned at Don. " I think you'd better move them into the garage before anyone else sees them, then you'd be wise to do the same as Gypsy and get some sleep."
Sandy remembered how ill Gypsy had looked when they had finally helped him into the Beresford house. "How is he now, Dad?"
Beresford's look of irritation softened at the use of a title he had hardly got used to from Sandy. "He'll be all right; just over tired and aching a bit, that's all. Now, suppose you two go and see to those bikes and get to bed, you look pretty exhausted yourselves."
Shaking his head, Sandy said heavily, " I have to talk first, see? There is a lot to be said and I don't know who else to talk to. After what we found - "
Beresford wagged a warning finger at him. "Sleep first, talk later, that's an order! And don't worry about Gypsy. Don can use our phone to ring Mr.Diaz."
Sandy didn't bother finishing his coffee, but dragged himself to his feet and staggered out of the house with Don to wheel the bikes into the garage. On his way back into the hall, Mrs. Beresford reached up to kiss him and as he started up the stairs, the doctor caught hold of his arm and gave it a friendly squeeze. "I'm glad you're back, lad. We both are."
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