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The Union Man…and other stories

By Eamonn Murphy

Published by Nomadic Delirium Press at Smashwords

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Copyright 2018 by Nomadic Delirium Press

All stories are copyrighted by Eamonn Murphy

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Nomadic Delirium Press

Aurora, Colorado


The Union Man

Clap Your Hands

Frog Dialogue

The Union Man

“Your boss describes you as a very good man,” said the Detective Chief Inspector. “He says you have his full backing.”

Bertram Ward nodded acknowledgement of the compliment from his boss, Director Patel, head of MI5 but kept a wary eye on the fat man before him. Bertram was sat in a hard backed, hard bottomed chair at a plain pine table in the basement of police headquarters, a glass of water to hand. He felt disheveled, sweaty and mildly concussed. The fat policeman who questioned him was just disheveled and sweaty, his shirt half out of his baggy trousers and his bald head glistening with perspiration. Bertram didn’t mind basement interrogation rooms, he worked in one. Usually he was the man in control. This time the shoe was on the other foot. It promised to be an interesting experience not least because his questioner knew that the suspect was himself an interrogator, and at a much higher level, albeit in a different government department. They might have some interesting mind games to play. Of course, the psychological pressure was all on Bertram. He faced losing his job, and possibly his freedom too, if convicted of murder. He did not imagine that former interrogators for MI5 had an easy time in prison. There would be quite a few of his old clients there and some were bound to remember him.

Chief Inspector Thomas sat himself in the hard chair opposite Bertram and leaned forward. “Why would a good man like you let a valuable prisoner die? Or did you kill him?

“I didn’t kill him. I was knocked out.”

“By a man securely bound in one of your own torture chairs,” said Thomas, shaking his head slowly as if it were the saddest thing he had ever heard. “I don’t think so. Tell us what really happened.”


“Again. From the moment you walked into work this morning.”

Bertram knew the technique of course, keep the suspect repeating the story until you caught him out in a lie. He sighed and began his sorry tale once more.


For a good man, he was not feeling very righteous as he walked into work that Monday morning, a mood not helped by catcalls from junior colleagues.

“Up the workers, Bertram,” some joker sneered as he walked past the reception desk on his way down to the basement interrogation unit. He turned his head quickly to see who had spoken, almost tripping over a vacuum “bot that should have avoided him (damned thing needed reprogramming) but the group huddled round the coffee vendor all showed him their backs and feigned innocence. A shock of ginger hair identified one of the group as Harry Webb, a man not in the Interrogators Union and probably the culprit. Harry had often stated his view, usually in the bar on a Friday after work, that the Union was a waste of time because privatization was the business of the day and had been for over forty years. The security departments were the last bastion of public service still paid directly by the government and parts of them were about to go private. All of them, some said. Outsourcing interrogation was merely the thin end of the wedge. That measure was about to be put before parliament, with the usual smooth promises that taxpayers’ money would be saved and efficiency increased by privatization. The main bidder for the contract was Hughes Enterprises, the biggest name in prisons, airports and other government security work. It was also the biggest name in just about every other line of business worldwide, a gigantic corporation that seemed to own half the planet. It was controlled, if not entirely owned by Harold Hughes, an eccentric billionaire who had long since retired from view. No one had seen him in ten years. He was ninety-seven years old.

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