[Background music at the end. This story will be posted in full after the Challenge for those of us that like to read everything in one complete telling,]
INTENT – Thursday Afternoon
Intuitive interviews are rare, but I have an instinctive partner. Wiley keeps the doctor and nurses entertained – distracted – while we talk to Vic Vaughn.
Vic attempts confused and almost succeeds. Nonsense phrases and swaying head suggest insanity or evasion.
“Where are you from in Sweden?” I ask. His feigned English is inadequate to con us.
Vic shrinks. “I’m no illegal immigrant. I’ve valid visas from your embassy. Expensive but I pay, legally.”
“And your present job?” Kama studies him intently. “Where is it?”
“I can’t go back – yet. I’m Stefan Mikaelsson, a landscaper from Ince-in-Makerfield. They know.”
His gaze flicks from side to side. Kama and I interchange our probing inquiries.
“Near Wigan. Who knows?” she asks.
I taste his fear and feel the trauma.
“The guys that need us to dive. Their identity is unknown. Rich and Swedish but that’s all I know.”
Blood races and tattoos tingle. Inbred? Resist hasty conclusions. There must be more.
Breathe. Don’t rush him.
“Your friend ran. Do you know why? Ellis Evans – what’s his real name?”
“Ivan Tjäder. He fears them too. But he’s a fighter and challenges them once. All we wanted was to race the boat.”
What does a Swedish company want with an Aberdaron fishing boat? And divers? Not treasure. Smuggling?
“What did the couple demand?” asks Kama. “After you completed the course?”
Stefan’s eyes dart between us. “They pay for the training. They expect us to dive at night – for sea jewels, they say. Ivan accuse them of lies and refuse. Call them gangsters. We all fight.”
“Where? With fists?”
My finger taps G for Gaff as he replies.
“On their yacht before sailing, by a jetty near Llandudno. We use fists, but they have hooks and staves.” His head droops with my heart. “Then I wake here. Confused until memories come. I can’t leave.”
I anticipate Kama’s reply.
“You will be safe with us in Porthmadog.”
I tap my bracer studs.
I for Identity, Ivan and Intent. J for Jewels and Jetty. G for Gaff and Gangster. S for Stefan and Staves. A for Assault and Aberdaron. W for Wigan and Waterlogged.
JIGSAW. The investigation coming together. Or sawn into pieces?
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And now for something completely different.
“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” William Congreve – The Mourning Bride