by Trevor Hopkins

Both Rigg and Garrick were soon arraigned and placed in prison. I was to visit them both, at different times, over the next few months. The processes of law take an exceedingly long time to grind through - although very finely, of course - a fact made doubly sure by the fact that both seemed able to afford expensive lawyers of the kind that seemed guaranteed to make my teeth itch. It's a fact of life, it seems, both here and in the surface world, that the law makes lawyers rich and everybody else both poor and disillusioned.

In the case of Rigg, my visit was in the company of both Rosie and Gumshoe, with me wearing my best attempt at a disguise as a human - lift shoes and all - and sporting one of several aliases I have established over the centuries. Our task was to provide a formal identification as witnesses of the person of one Johannes (a.k.a. "John") Rigg. It was the usual process: one at a time, we were escorted from the dingy waiting area to a viewing gallery where, through the expanse of one-way glass, we could see a line-up composed of the usual suspects.

Eight big men with blond locks, most without facial hair, standing in front of a white board with black horizontal lines. They say that all humans look the same to Goblins. This is patently false: we may not be attuned to nuances of behaviour and languages, but we can tell colours and sizes and shapes as well as anybody. I have had plenty of exposure to humans of all kinds and I can certainly spot one I know in a crowd. I pointed out Rigg unhesitatingly.

For a time, I harboured doubts whether Rigg would actually be convicted at all; after all, it might be difficult to explain to a jury of his peers exactly what he had been doing without opening up a whole can of worms about the true nature of the Underworld. Nobody in any position of power up there wants that kind of exposure.

As it turned out, the prosecution and defence lawyers seemed to have come to some understanding; perhaps some half-way acceptable plea bargain was struck in some plush office or private club. It seems that Rigg was wanted for a wide range of offences which involved firearms, explosives and cross-border smuggling. He pleaded guilty to a small number of charges which would put him in prison for perhaps five years - he was smart enough to play the system to get time off for good behaviour. Rigg would be somebody to carefully watch out for in a few years time.

My visit to see Garrick was completely different. For one thing, it was face-to-face. When I was escorted in, I found my old Professor sitting on the hard prison chair as if it was an old overstuffed leather armchair in his own comfortable study, surrounded by books and artefacts, and all the comforts of home.

He turned to face me when I entered the interview room and sat on the other side of the beaten-up old table that separated us.

"Ah, Mister Findo Gask", he said in much the same tones as he used in one of his tutorials back at the old University, "I had expected to see you sooner."

He would have used very much the same disapproving words if I had been two minutes late for his lessons. I had to hand it to him, the old boy had class, lots of class.

He sat back, steepling his fingers and looking at me through hooded eyes.

"I have to say," he went on in a didactic tone, "That you have surprised me. Considerably. I had not considered it possible that you would have been able to determine the direction of my schemes, although I am quite there are some elements you will have missed, even now."

"Like what?" I countered. True to form, he ignored me completely.

"Perhaps you would have done better if you had applied your apparent talents to your studies," he went on as if I had not interrupted him, "Rather than frittering away your time on this law enforcement nonsense."

"I'm a Private Investigator," I growled, "People pay me to get even. It's got nothing to do with the law."

"Self-evidently," he said smoothly, "And this satisfies your intellectual curiosity how, exactly?"

"Listen," I said, standing up and leaning across the battered table, "You're here because my sister is dead. And it's your fault: you pulled the damn trigger yourself!"

"Detachment, dear boy," he drawled, "You need more detachment."

The prison warders managed to pry my fingers from his throat before I killed him. There was no official report of my actions; I wonder why.

Part 104 Part 106