The Kirrins and the Mystery
of the Sandy-haired Dwarf
by Robin Gordon
One has plenty of fun
© Copyright Robin Gordon
In the meantime Dick and Stubbs had reached the Kirrin Arms, bought drinks and retired to one of the private nooks where they were arguing fiercely in lowered voices.
"What do you mean, you lost the photos?" Dick snarled. "You've ruined everything! I was all set to grab those two French boys, now if they disappear and the law gets hold of those pictures they'll be on the lookout for paedophiles. This would have been my best film ever. Better than School for sadists or Sixth-form sodomites, better even than Childprey or Preyboys. It might even have been better than Prey for us sinners. And you lost that envelope!"
"Well I'm very sorry, Mr Kirrin," Stubbs muttered, "but I really don't know how it happened."
In the next nook the dwarf, O'Shaughnessy, was pricking up his ears. His journalistic instincts had been aroused straight away by the low tones in which the argument was conducted. These men, he thought, had something to hide, something they did not want to broadcast all over the pub no matter how angry they were. When he heard School for sadists his eyes gleamed. At Sixth-form sodomites he leaned back and put his ear to the partition. Childprey and Preyboys made him salivate, and when he heard Prey for us sinners he got up and moved round to join the speakers.
"You dhropped it out of your pocket when you pulled out your handkerchief," he said.
The two men flinched guiltily.
"O'Shaughnessy," said the Dwarf, "Hadbury News. Was it you made Prey for us sinners?"
"Pray for us sinner's," said Dick, evasively. "Isn't that out of the Hail Mary?"
"P, R, E, Y," said O'Shaughnessy. "One of my favourite films. Look, to show me good faith, Oi'll give ye back your photos."
He produced a grubby envelope and handed it to Stubbs. Stubbs opened it and gave a relieved "Phew!"
O'Shaughnessy produced his wallet, opened it and brought out two or three more pictures.
"Noice, dhon't yez t'ink," said he. "Look at dhe suffering on dhe wee fellow's face. You could almost pity him. Tell me, do you really kill dhem? For your fillums?"
"I bring my stars to the climax of their careers," said Dick. "Their sufferings bring pleasure to connoisseurs all over the world. They fulfil their destiny, and they die - in exquisite agony for the delectation of persons of refined taste such as yourself, Mr O'Shaughnessy. Oh yes, I'm known as a third rate director of rotten films that are neither arty enough for the intellectuals nor popular enough for the box office. My family scoff about my career and snigger about me behind my back. And I have to accept their pity! Well, let them scoff! My real work is appreciated by lovers of children like yourself, people who can appreciate the artistry of torture. Would you like to hear my ideas for my next film?"
"Oi would!" O'Shaughnessy gulped and slid into the one of the vacant seats.
"Stubbsy, my sweet," said Dick, "be an angel and fetch us more of the true, the blushful hippocrene. What are you drinking O'Shaughnessy, old fruit."
"Tis the Guinness," said O'Shaughnessy, "though I wouldn't say no to a chaser of whiskey."
"You shall have it, sweetheart," said Dick. "It's not often I can meet in person one of those men of refined sensibility to whom my art is dedicated; for art it is and of the highest. You know, my dear old O'Shaughnessy, that when a film director isn't satisfied with a scene he can make his actors go through it again and again until they get it right. Not an option open to me. Oh yes, the nobs may sneer and look down on us purveyors of pornography and demean our artistic endeavours with the scornful name of snuff films, but let me tell you, dearest heart, that the artistry needed is immense. You're working with amateurs, immature children who bring that air of innocence that lifts your work out of the run-of-the mill, but they haven't got the professionalism of the experienced trouper, so you've got to direct them with all the control and finesse of the greatest of cinéastes, and there are no second chances when your pretty darlings expire at the moment of climax. I tell you, sweetheart, there's no artistry in the whole of Hollywood that can match that of the true snuff movie maker. You liked Prey for us sinners, did you? I often say it was my best ever. Look here."
Dick produced from his inside pocket a leather wallet from which he took a few photographs and passed them to the dwarf. O'Shaughnessy's eyes gleamed as he looked at them. He licked his lips and moaned, and one of his hands disappeared beneath the table.
"Disgusting, aren't they," said Dick, as Stubbs rejoined them with full glasses. "Keep them, O'Shaughnessy, my best beloved, a little gift from a genius to a faithful fan. And now that Stubbsy's back I'll tell you about my new idea. You may have seen a couple of delightful French boys about the village, in fact, I'd say a connoisseur of boyflesh, such as yourself me boyo, can hardly have missed them."
"I know dhem," grinned O'Shaughnessy. "I t'ought dhey were spoying on me, but it seems dhey can't speak English."
"Not a word," said Dick, "and my French isn't up to seducing them as I'd like. I can't get the nuances, you see, the friendly overtures that sound so innocent in one's native language. To cut a long story short, I've tried making approaches, but I think they suspect me. They've been keeping out of my way, turning back when they've seen me coming, and that sort of thing. And now they seem to have disappeared altogether from the village."
"Gone back to France, maybe?"
"Not so, Watson," said Dick, "for I've seen their mother promenading about our streets and making her little purchases at our local stores. No, sweetheart, they're avoiding poor old Dickie. They sense that his interest isn't in their intellect, but they probably just think he's a lonely, sad old poofter who wants a quick grope in the sand dunes.
"If they knew what was really on my mind they'd be back across the Channel before you can say Allez-oop! You see, my beloved O'Shaughnessy, and being a true connoisseur you'll appreciate the devilish cunning of my plot, I shall take the two young Frogs, and begin by subjecting them to the usual humiliations - I don't need spell them out to anyone who knows Childprey or School for sadists. Then, as the tortures grow more refined, we let it be known that one of the boys will be tortured and the other will do the torturing, and the one who does the torturing will be whichever first agrees to co-operate. Naturally our pair of loyal brothers will indignantly refuse, and they'll probably stay steadfast in their refusal while we turn up the heat. It'll be interesting to see just how long they can keep it up, because I know that eventually one of them will break. Then we'll make it easy for him: just a few smutty, schoolboy tricks to get him used to the new situation. After that we begin to escalate again, but always with the carrot and the stick: do as you are told and nothing will happen to you, start being difficult and the roles are reversed. Perhaps they will be reversed, and the other brother will have his turn at torturing son frère. Who knows? Perhaps he'll want his revenge, perhaps he'll just co-operate to escape the pain.
"Then it begins to get really interesting. How far will a boy go to avoid becoming the victim? Will he inflict damage on his unhappy sibling? Mutilation? I'm going to bring him to the point where he'll do anything I say. To save his own cowardly skin he'll kill his brother, slowly and horribly."
"O-o-o-oh," moaned O'Shaughnessy. "You're a genius, Mr Kirrin."
"Call me Dick," said Dick. "I'm glad you like it, Liam, my precious, but the best is yet to come: the moment of realisation that he can never be set free to tell tales, that the only release he'll ever get will be to follow his brother and suffer the same tortures and mutilations and the same slow, hideous death."
The sandy-haired dwarf's jaw had dropped open. He stared glassy-eyed at Dick, trembling with sexual ecstasy.
"Oi wish I could see it," he moaned. "Oh, Oi wish I could see it."
"You will, sweetheart," said Dick, "at least you will if I can lay my hands on those two French boys. I'll send you your own personal video. Give it some thought, Liam, my love, and see if you can come up with a snappy title."
"Oi will, Oi will," gurgled O'Shaughnessy. "Oh, Oi'd like to see it. To kill his own brother, and then ... oh, yes!"
At that moment one of the Irishmen from the building site came up to their alcove.
"Mr O'Shaughnessy," said he, "could I have a word with you, in private."
"What is it? What is it," gabbled the dwarf impatiently.
"Somet'ing has come up," said the Irishman. Con's away and we need you to make a decision. Will you come down to dhe site."
"Gentlemen," said O'Shauhnessy. "Duty calls. I'm afraid we shall have to abandon our little tête-à-tête, but I hope to renew our acquaintance in dhe future."
"I sincerely hope we shall," said Dick. "Our mutual interest in the art of cinema creates a bond between us that I hope will never be broken. Farewell, sweet prince, until we meet again."
"Come on, dhen," said O'Shaughnessy, to the Irishman, and followed him out of the pub.
Dick and Stubbs sat where they were quietly finishing their drinks.
In the Rectory garden Jonathan, Nick, Harry and Fran had taken their stance on on a raised bank against the boundary wall and were peering over it into the street. Two old men came out of the Kirrin arms and moved slowly down the street. As they ambled along past the Rectory wall the four children could hear quite clearly what they were saying.
"That there Mr Kirrin, the Rector's brother ..."
"... and Mr Stubbs ..."
"... thick as thieves with that nasty little Irishman ..."
"... looking at dirty pictures together."
"You see anything?"
"No, but you only had to look at that nasty little creature to know what he was about."
"I reckon they're the kind that go for children!"
"Aar, reckon you'm right there."
The two old men moved on and the children looked at each other in surprise.
"What do you suppose Uncle Dick is up to?" Nick asked. "Those two old codgers said he and Stubbs were thick as thieves with Old Shitpants, and they were showing him dirty pictures."
"I'm sure Uncle Dick is just leading him into a trap," said Harry, "just lulling his suspicions so that he can rescue Andrew and Gavin."
"But why doesn't he want us to tell Mummy or Aunt Laurence?" said Fran in tones of distress. "I think we should tell Mummy, and I think we should tell Aunt Laurence because she's Andrew and Gavin's mother."
"But don't you see?" said Harry in tones of exasperation. "It's just because they are mothers that we can't tell them. Can't you imagine the way they'd react, all the fuss they'd make. They'd insist on calling in the police, and make it very difficult for Uncle Dick to do anything."
"All the same," said Nick, "I think they ought to know. We saw Stubbs drop an envelope and Old Shitpants pick it up, and Stubbs might have been passing a message, or even dirty pictures. We don't know that we can trust him."
"He's working for Uncle Dick," said Harry, "and we can trust Uncle Dick."
"Mummy doesn't think so," said Fran.
"That's just because she blames him for the boys losing their trousers on the station," said Harry.
"There's something else, too," said Fran. "I don't know what it is, but Mummy thinks there's something wrong about Uncle Dick. I think we should tell her."
"What do you say Jonathan?" Harry demanded.
"Uncle Dick's always been jolly decent to us," said Jonathan, "and I'm inclined to trust him. We should at least wait and see what happens next."
"I agree he's always been decent to us," said Nick, "but there's something mysterious about him. Andrew and Gavin think he's ... you know, more interested in boys than women ..."
"That's a horrible and disgusting thing to say," Harry stormed. "I'd trust Uncle Dick more than any man I know. More than Uncle Julian! More even than Daddy!"
"Sh!" hissed Jonathan. "Something's happening!"
They looked over the wall again. A man had come hurrying from the direction of the building site. He went into the Kirrin arms, and emerged a few moments later accompanied by the sandy-haired dwarf. Jonathan and Nick ducked down behind the wall as they approached, for they certainly didn't want O'Shaughnessy to see them. Harry and Fran ducked too, but Harry bobbed up again as soon as she heard them pass, and watched them until they disappeared.
"I reckon that man came to tell Old Shitpants that they've got Andrew and Gavin," she said, "and Old Shitpants has gone running down to see."
"Obviously," said Nick.
"It's not obvious at all," said Harry. "It was a good piece of deductive reasoning."
"Of course it's obvious," said Nick. "What else would he have come for. Why else would Old Shitpants go running down to the building site."
"Think you're so superior?" said Harry.
"Superior to you, anyway," Nick replied.
"Right!" said Harry. "Come on, Jonny and Fran! Help me roll Mr Superior in the mud. You two can sit on him while I debag him and throw his trousers over the wall."
"You've been getting nasty ideas from that scrawny kid in Brunton," said Jonathan. "Forget it, Harry."
"As it happens," said Nick, "Uncle Dick and Stubbs are coming back from the pub."
"Good-oh," said Harry cheerfully. "You can keep your trousers this time, Nick. Let's go in and hear what Uncle Dick has to say! I bet he's twisted Old Shitpants round his little finger."
"I hope you're right," said Nick, "but I'm going to keep a close eyes on old Stubbsey."
They hurried into the house to find Dick and Stubbs in the hall.
"Tell us what happened, Uncle Dick!" Harry demanded.
"I can't tell you everything," said Dick, "but let's just say that Stubbsey and I played charades with that vile little dwarf and let him think that if he leads us to the boys good things will come his way."
"What sort of good things," asked Nick.
"Not the sort of good things you lot would like," said Dick, "but when you set out to trap a loathsome piece of vermin like O'Shaughnessy you use a loathsome lump of bait."
"Has O'Shaughnessy got Andrew and Gavin," said Jonathan.
"I think his friends have them, and the big boss is away, so O'Shaughnessy has to decide what to do about them."
"Who's the big boss," asked Harry.
"A man called Con McNally," said Dick. "As it happens he's rented Kirrin Farmhouse for the summer. You know your Aunt George has leased the land to the farmer next door and the old farmhouse is let through Sullivans, the estate agents in town. Well, McNally's taken it. Too much the big shot to rough it with the labourers, but needs to be close enough to keep an eye on the project."
"What is the project," Jonathan asked.
"We'll have more idea of that when we get Andrew and Gavin back," said Dick. " I just hope they remember to stay French and don't reveal that they can speak English. These people are really dangerous, so I don't want you lot getting mixed up with them again. I think things are coming to a head. They're the sort that will stop at nothing. Killing a few children is of no consequence to them. They've done it before, and they won't hesitate to do it again. I want you to promise me that you'll stay in the Rectory and not leave it whatever happens."
"May we go into the garden?" asked Harry.
"Yes, you should be safe enough in the garden, but not outside."
"I promise," said Harry promptly.
"Good fellow!" said Dick.
"So do I" said Jonathan.
"Nick? said Dick.
"Yes, all right. I promise. But when can we tell people?"
"You can tell Julian and George," said Dick, "but not your mother or Aunt Laurence. Don't worry them. OK?"
"OK" Nick agreed.
"Fran?" said Dick. "Where's Fran?"
"I bet she's gone to tell mother!" cried Harry. "She thinks we ought to tell her and Aunt Laurence."
In the general consternation Nick edged over to the chair where Stubbs had hung his jacket. The boy's sharp eyes had spotted the corner of an envelope peeping from one of the pockets. Quick as a flash he snaffled it and held it behind his back. He was only just in time.
"Stubbsey!" snapped Dick. "Stop her!"
Stubbs grabbed his jacket and left the room. The back door closed, and then they heard Aunt Laurence's little Renault 5 start up and drive off.
"Remember," said Dick. "Stay here. Not a word to Aunt Laurence! I'm going back to the Kirrin Arms.
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