by Trevor Hopkins

I let go of Angus's necktie and pushed him back on the bed. He was cowed to the point where he sat there meekly, like a schoolboy caught out-of-bounds and now awaiting a visit to the headmaster's study.

"I'm going to mention a number of individuals by name," I said slowly and clearly, "I want you to tell me everything you know about them: what business dealings you've had with them, where and when you've met them, anything you may have seen or overheard."

I picked up the remainder of the photographs, which had slipped onto the bedcovers, and arranged them in a neat stack. Then I fanned them under his nose. He shrank away as if they smelled of something bad, really bad.

"You need to work hard to convince me that you're not holding out," I went on calmly, "Otherwise the lovely Missus Angus will be getting an express delivery package she might not be expecting. Am I making myself entirely clear?"

Angus nodded sadly, his head in his hands.

"Okay. First up, Miss Trinity Gask."

Angus's brow furrowed with something which resembled honest thought. I don't suppose this was something which bothered him very often.

"The bodyguard company? Yeah, I've done several deals for them. Quiet little places in obscure out-of-the-way spots. Often able to shift properties that nobody else seemed interested in. Paid cash, eventually. Sometimes had problems in collecting the payments but I always got the money in the end. Steady repeat business - not something you see often in my line of work."

"Now that’s a good start," I nodded sagely, "You should keep it up. We'll come back to that individual later. Now I have a second name for you: Mister Nether Gask."

Coupar Angus's face furrowed suddenly, as one trying to be shrewd under difficult circumstances.

"So this is a family matter, is it?" he asked sharply.

Gask is not a particularly unusual name for a Goblin family, so it coming it twice could well be just a coincidence. But three times, well - as the expression goes - that is a conspiracy.

"It might be," I growled, "But that's none of your business. Your business is to tell me what I want to know."

"Okay, okay," Angus muttered, "I got the message. Nether Gask, your relative" - he flicked a glance at me as he spoke, which bounced off my poker face - "he wanted to buy a property in the human world."

He stopped, again glancing slyly at me as if judging my reaction.

"Let me guess," I said sardonically, "Some out-of-the-way cottage, miles from any other building?"

"No," Angus replied, sounding genuinely surprised, "He wanted to buy a bar, a pub, in a slightly sleazy part of the human city called New York. I never could work out what he would want with a place like that. A strange kind of name, too - some kind of joke or pun I can never remember."

"Chill's Bar," I said in English.

Angus looked up sharply.

"That's the one," he said, "you've heard of it, then?"

"I may have come across it," I replied, "So how did you go about helping Nether with his purchase?"

"I'm a Goblin with connections, a great many connections," Angus said with a trace of smugness in his voice.

"Yeah, yeah. And what connections did you use in this particular case?"

Angus sat back on the bed, adopting more of the demeanour he would have done in his own plush offices and surrounded by his own flunkies.

"I’ve worked with a number of realtors and estate agents in the human world," he said, "In this case, the firm of Huntly and McCash acted on my behalf."

"On Nether's behalf," I corrected.

"Yes, yes, of course." He waved a hand dismissively. "It was easy enough. The seller wanted to sell; the buyer had the money and no appetite to haggle. I just arranged the legals and the money transfers." "And no doubt you made a pretty penny in fees and commissions."

"No more than the usual, for a sale of this kind," he responded, only slightly defensively.

"Uh-huh," I snorted, "I guess you're on the level. Okay. Contestant number three, then. Professor Urquhart Garrick."

Instantly, his face went pale and he started shaking. His mouth dropped open and his eyes went wide with shock. He looked terrified, frightened out of his wits.

"I'm not telling you anything about that," he croaked.

Part 52 Part 54