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Strictly Illegal - Chapter 25

The Fiction of Donald William Thomasson
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Red line

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Red line

XXV

That evening, Jimmy and Geoff climbed to the terrace on the grandstand roof to watch the final stages of the race. It seemed incredible that it was still going on. There had been so much to do in the past eleven hours, since the race started and the attack began. Much still remained to be done, but it concerned matters that could be left in other hands. For the moment, they could relax.

Watching the silver headlight beams slicing swiftly through the darkness, Jimmy felt he would have been happier to go on working. He was still tense and strained after the shocks of the morning and could only see that grotesque rag doll figure flying through the air.

Aware of Jimmy's tension, Geoff led the way to a comparatively deserted spot and began to talk quietly. 'He was mad, of course, during those last minutes. Even then, there was a crazy method behind his actions. His plane was parked by the air strip and his only thought was to get to it. Where he intended to fly, I can't imagine. He would have been traced every inch of the way and complete escape wouldn't have been easy.'

Jimmy nodded. He didn't feel like talking yet. Perhaps he had been a little mad, too. He wished Geoff would go on. His voice was familiar and soothing.

'This last scheme of his was brilliant.' Geoff knew that he must make Jimmy relax and talked almost at random. 'Now that we know the full details, not just the ones he told his colleagues, it's frightening to think what he might have been able to achieve. A complete programme covering five years in full and another ten years in outline. Every international crisis and upheaval planned in every way. He only needed to look up the men he wanted to do the job and manipulate them to suit his schemes. He could have started a war whenever he wanted, but he intended to work on more controllable methods if he could, by financial anarchy if possible.'

There was still no response. Geoff knew that the root cause of Jimmy's unease must be brought to the surface, discussed, and cleared away. He suddenly realised what it was.

He began to talk with renewed purpose. 'By gaining access to his files, we destroyed the part of his power that depended on domination of other people by threats or inducements. Once we had the facts, the threats meant nothing and the inducements were not effective. He still had power of other kinds, though, power that could have done a lot of damage. There was only one solution.'

'Which we failed to put into effect.' Jimmy spoke flatly, but he spoke, and Geoff sighed quietly, knowing that the cure had begun. 'He beat us, in the end, got clean away and left us standing, because he showed us we couldn't match his ruthlessness. If that car hadn't hit him...'

'In that case, he would still have died very soon. Yes, he did beat us, in a sense. It's not a defeat I'm particularly ashamed of, though. Suppose we had been able to match him. What would that have made us? His equals in all things? No, Jimmy, there's no glory in matching a man like that. There's more to be proud of in being unable to match him.'

'You really mean that?' Jimmy was frowning, but the tension was almost gone.

'I do, most sincerely. I learned a lesson today that I won't forget in a hurry. I learned that winning isn't worth while if it means letting yourself be dragged down to your opponent's level. If that happens, you haven't really won at all. It's better to let him go and use your own methods to persuade him to destroy himself. That's what happened today. You hit him again and again, until he was desperate and had to make a bid to reassert his dominance, a dominance he never really had. Think Jimmy. Did he ever make you feel like this when he was alive? You laughed at him and it hurt. That was your method of attack and it worked. It stung his arrogance into mad fury and he stopped thinking properly. That's why he died.'

For the first time, Jimmy was able to smile a little. 'You mean I really killed him, after all.'

'To all intents and purposes. You turned his own strength against him, forcing him to attempt the impossible.'

There was silence again, but it was a relaxed silence. Jimmy wanted to believe what Geoff was saying, though he found belief difficult.

Some time later, he asked a question in an entirely natural voice from which all strain had gone. 'What happens now?'

'A lot of things.' Glad to see that Jimmy was back to normal, Geoff decided it was time to apply the finishing touch. 'To start with, we're all going to take a holiday. We need it. Brent Livingstone's paying and he's chartered a plane to take us all to Nice on Wednesday. It was too late to get hotel rooms any nearer than Beaulieu...'

'Of course!' Jimmy's face lit up. 'The Monaco race, next weekend! I'd forgotten all about it! You're taking the whole crowd? That'll shake the Principality!'

Dice Divider

For the moment, it was enough, but there was much more to be said. Geoff answered Jimmy's question in more detail when they were driving down to Uffington a fortnight later, on the way to attend an official enquiry into what had been going on there.

'This affair is only a formality, of course. Only essential facts will be allowed to come out. The story is that Brent Livingstone was being denied access to his own property and had to take drastic action to put things right. He'll get his knuckles rapped, but no more. It's almost true, in a way. Most of the computer people never really understood what was happening and they're quite happy to work for their new bosses.'

'Robin and Simon?'

'Precisely. They'll run the place as an extension of Robin's business. Simon will have responsibilities where the circuit is concerned, though in both cases the present staff will continue in direct control.'

'It should be interesting. Where does your finger fit into the pie?'

Geoff chuckled. 'That was a sheer guess, young Jimmy, though I suppose it was a reasonable one. Yes, I'm going to use the computer for departmental work. I was a bit worried about the security aspect, but Simon has plans to make sure no one else can gain access to the secret files.'

Some time later, Geoff said he was surprised that Jimmy had left Pat at home.

Jimmy grinned. 'She had other matters to think about. A visit to the doctor, and some shopping. I may be asking for a rise, soon, with extra responsibilities to think about.'

Geoff raised delighted eyebrows. 'And I thought you were concentrating so hard on the investigation...'

Dice Divider

The real end of the story came in the following July, when Brent Livingstone, by tremendous wangling and secret diplomacy, managed to get the British Grand Prix transferred to the new circuit. The firm of Wightman and Carter helped to provide finance, though they were tactful enough to leave the name of the race unaltered. They could afford to be generous, for they were doing very well and were thoroughly content with life, both Susan and Jean having decided to follow Pat's example.

Jimmy and Pat attended the race as guests of honour, Simon receiving them with terrific aplomb at the door of the VIP suite. He and Susan were particularly excited, because Sandy had been given a Formula One drive for the first time and had been third fastest in practice.

The race started and Simon proudly pointed out his latest innovation, a video display giving second-by-second information on the progress of the race, including the current running order, last lap times, fastest laps to date, and so on.

Jimmy looked it over with a grin. 'Now, that,' he said' 'is what I call a sensible use for a computer.'

Dice Divider

THE END

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Red line

Mail me Keith Thomasson February 11th 2002