Literary Reviews, Page 19

"Like a Matter of Honour" (continued)

Although the bane of their existences to most of the local constabulary, Bryson seems a successful private dick. He drives a BMW. Yet he has learned, as a prerequisite of his position, to take to heart Kipling’s advice to lose not the common touch. One of his acquaintances, or “associates” as Bryson puts matters, is a young man on the periphery of the underworld named Jimmy. He’s a skinny sleaze with greasy, dark hair. Bryson has used him as a source of information in his pursuit of various cases, and now, as a quid pro quo, has reluctantly agreed to take possession of a mysterious box that the young miscreant intimates must not be found in his possession at the moment.

Bryson has always thought of Jimmy as pretty much an idiot, or “eejit” in colorful local parlance, and now fears that he has gotten himself involved in an affair over his head. His suspicions are confirmed when Jimmy calls him late one evening and insists that Bryson meets him in a secluded amphitheatre, bringing the package, its contents still a mystery to Sam, with him. Jimmy has been beaten up by thugs of a local organized crime leader named Omar who is after the contents of the box that Jimmy had lifted from a drunk at a bar. On the way, Bryson’s cell phone rings and he learns from his secretary that his office has been broken into and rifled, the safe seemingly the main target. Sam quickly puts two and two together.

Jimmy finally confesses that he had, under the pressure of Omar’s thugs’ “interrogation,” let slip to whom he had entrusted the package. He advises Sam that he has set up a meeting that evening with Omar who has now promised him cash for the return of the package, presumably because other no less direct methods had heretofore failed. Jimmy pleads with Bryson to accompany him, realizing the precariousness of the approaching tryst. Once again, Bryson reluctantly accedes to Jimmy’s request.

What occurs at the meeting with Omar and two of his "associates" is surprising to Bryson, by way of understatement. He’s as incredulous at the small time punk’s surprise as are Omar and company. In the wake of a later, final farewell telephone call with Jimmy, Sam visits the former’s apartment and reads the note left for him. Bryson reflects and realizes that he had never really known Jimmy. He was just one more person on the edges of his life whom he had used to his advantage from time to time. Click to contiinue:

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