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Authors: Barbara Fradkin

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“We're looking for a powerful, physical man,” he said. “Someone Daniel Oliver knew from the past and who'd betrayed him in some way. Was Daniel involved in criminal activity? Drug dealing?”

McGrath shook her head. “He was a mechanic, although he'd been on the skids for a few months, lost his job and was on unemployment insurance. He was doing some fairly heavy drinking, but no drugs. The friends we interviewed said he was basically a decent guy.”

“But his life had been on the skids, despite having a woman he planned to marry.”

“Yes, that was slowly bringing him out of it. Plus the baby on the way.”

Green thought about the findings of the autopsy. “What happened to the baby?”

McGrath made a sympathetic face. “It was a little boy, born early because of all the stress. He had some health problems, I think, and she had trouble coping. When I last had contact with her, the Children's Aid was taking measures to remove him from the home. I think that last loss just about destroyed her. That's why when Inspector Norrich talks about Patti's lifestyle . . .” She broke off, pressing her lips together as if to censor herself.

“Yeah.” Green let the contempt hang in the air, then resumed a safer line of inquiry. “So what happened to send Oliver's life into a tailspin?”

McGrath seemed to pull herself from the memories with an effort. “According to Patti, his best friend was shot in a freak hunting accident about six months earlier, and Daniel blamed himself because he hadn't kept in close enough touch. They'd been in the reserves together and served six months of peacekeeping duty overseas. They'd always been very close, but when they got back to Nova Scotia, the friend turned his back on his plans and retreated into himself.”

Green's instincts went on full alert. He'd known police officers who'd done
UN
duty in Yugoslavia, and he knew the stresses and dangers they had faced. He knew that stress could bond a group of men more strongly that ten years together on a normal job. It could also create some bitter enemies.

“Did you interview any of their army mates? Especially those who were overseas with them?”

“Norrich did.”

Green's eyes widened. “Norrich? He was on the case?”

“He was lead.” She hesitated. “Technically. He was sergeant at the time, and I was a constable. I worked most of the case, but Norrich took the trip down the valley to talk to Daniel Oliver's regiment. He figured . . .” She hesitated again, and Green could almost see her wrestling with propriety. “Being a sergeant . . .”

“And a man.”

She inclined her head slightly in agreement. “He'd get further.”

“And did he?”

“No. I guess military buddies close ranks even tighter than drinking buddies. All they said was that Daniel had been an excellent soldier in Yugoslavia, even got a promotion in the
field, and everyone was very proud of him. But . . .” She reached for a file that lay on top of the stack. At a glance, Green could see Norrich's name at the bottom of the report. “There was something I thought didn't quite add up. Oliver had been on track for making sergeant, and moving up the ladder as an
NCO
. But two years after he got back from overseas, he quit the reserves. So things can't have been as rosy as they painted it.”

“Not to mention the strange behaviour of his friend when he returned from overseas.” Green stopped abruptly as a thought struck him. McGrath had said the friend's accident was six months earlier. Daniel Oliver had been killed in April 1996. Counting back six months yielded the fall of 1995. He sucked in his breath as another coincidence hit him between the eyes. “What was the friend's name?”

She rummaged through the files, scanning rapidly. “I know I've got it in one of my interviews with Patti. I'm sure I wrote it— Ah-hah! Ian MacDonald. Corporal Ian MacDonald.”

EIGHT

May 28, 1993. Sector West, Croatia
.

Dear Kit . . . The
APC
broke down again this morning and Danny spent half the day tying the fuel pump together with wire. He's a wizard under the hood, which you have to be with some of the equipment we got. The tracks belong in the war museum! Whenever anyone in the platoon has a problem, they send for Danny. He jokes he'll be good enough to get his mechanics papers when he gets back to civvie street
.

So we had a day around camp instead of going on patrol, which was a nice break. Peacekeeping is a lot different here on the ground than the politicians think. Neither side trusts the other, and they sure as hell don't trust the
UN
to protect them. Our platoon commander says that's because other
UN
battalions haven't done their job. Some of the third world ones are so poorly paid they take bribes from both sides and turn a blind eye when Serbs or Croats sneak weapons in or cleanse a village or whatever. Besides even when we find weapons, all we're supposed to do is turn them over to the local police, who probably hid them in the first place
.

Don't get the Hammer started on the
UN
rules, because the bureaucrats have no idea how the militias, the police, and the locals are in it together. Both sides trust their own militias way more than they do
UNPROFOR
or any fancy ceasefire plan dreamed up in Zagreb. And each local militia's got its own
commander who thinks he's the boss and he doesn't have to obey orders from his own command, let alone us. So every day we catch guys sneaking behind the lines to lay mines, and every night the two sides shell each other back and forth over our heads
.

Anyway, the strategy of our battalion
CO
is to try to get the locals to trust us by building relationships with them, and helping them fix up their homes and roads after the bombings. Our section house is near a little village that used to be Serb but now it's Croat, although there are two Muslim refugee families, like Mahir who escaped from Sarajevo with his mother. Sarge has kind of taken her and Mahir under our wing. The kid's only fifteen, but he wants to practice his English so he does our translating. He hates the Serbs. He says when the Serbs ran away from the village, they burned their houses so the Croats couldn't use them. But I'm not sure, I think maybe the Croats torched the village to chase the Serbs away
.

Lots of our guys think the whole place is just nuts, but I'm trying to learn how all this started. It's hundreds of years old and each side accuses the other of atrocities. The Serbs hate the Croats for collaborating with the Nazis to massacre thousands of them. The Croats say the Serbs took over their land and were the enforcers under the communists. And both of them have hated the Muslims since the Turks massacred and looted their way through the area during the Ottoman Empire. Five hundred fucking years ago, for crissakes. Nobody forgets
.

I have to say it makes Canada look like heaven on earth. Most of our guys can't believe the bitterness, even between neighbours who've known each other for generations. So like I said, we're trying to get them to trust us at least. The Hammer thinks we have enough to do without wasting our time playing Pollyanna, but then he's the guy who has to argue with both sides each time they try to show their muscle. But Sarge got our
section to build a soccer field and a jungle gym for the school in the village, and it's really great to watch the kids run around laughing. Like there's not mines all around the town perimeter and mortar fire in the distance all night. The Sarge thinks kids are where we can make a difference
.

Twiggy hung up the phone in frustration and turned to scan the street. There was no one nearby, no one watching her. No one remotely interested in a fat old bag lady standing near the corner of Bank and Wellington Streets, almost in the shadow of the Confederation Building on Parliament Hill, an area probably crisscrossed with so many security cameras that no one would dare do her harm. The phone booth was well chosen from that point of view, although the voice at the other end of the phone had been almost drowned out by the roar of traffic, not to mention the damn bells of the Peace Tower.

She'd used up half a day's worth of quarters making the long distance call to Petawawa, only to have the stupid twit on the phone say she'd have to check with her boss. Who wasn't in, of course. Where were these politicos when you really needed them? Out on the campaign trail, kissing babies at Easter parades and shoving party pamphlets into distrustful farmers' hands.

Preaching about peace, honour and returning Canada to its respected place on the world stage. If she had a loonie for every ounce of sanctimonious crap those guys dished up . . .

It almost made Twiggy want to go with the
Ottawa Sun
guy. To stand for something right in this me-first-and-only world. But she was part of that world, which had never done her any favours when she'd tried to live by a higher code. So
why the hell shouldn't she put herself first too? In the end, money was all that counted, and whoever was willing to come through was going to get her story.

But both sides were playing coy. Both had listened to her pitch and said they were interested, but they'd have to get back to her. Which cost her time and money every time she had to trek to the phone booth. Both had tried to get something for free too. Tried to find out who she was, where she was calling from, exactly what she thought she'd seen. Well, she could play coy too, and they weren't getting a thing until she had something to show for it in return.

She did wonder how much they could tell on their own. Could they identify the telephone booth? Were they recording the calls and analyzing every sound to figure out who she was and where she was calling from? Did they have that fancy equipment the
CSI
used on that cop show on
TV
? Naw, she decided. One was just a cheap tabloid hack, and the other a political wannabe from a two-bit country riding up the Ottawa Valley.

She hobbled slowly across the street, dragging her garbage bag as she headed towards Tim Hortons. Thinking about cops gave her a momentary twinge of guilt. Mr. G had always been good to her; she knew he'd been genuinely freaked out when her boys were killed, and he'd shown a lot more heart than the rest of the cops and doctors and lawyers she'd met in the last six years. He was one of the good guys. There wasn't really a single person alive on this planet that she gave a damn about any more, but Mr. G came close. By rights, he deserved this information, so that he could do something good with it. Get a surveillance team, search warrant, wire tap, whatever cops did to lay their trap and catch the bad guy. Before the creep had a chance to cover his tracks.

She worried over this unaccustomed moral dilemma for
the five minutes it took her to reach the Tim Hortons. Was there a way she could let him know, and still get her money? Something anonymous, maybe, that couldn't be traced back to her?

Worth thinking about, anyway.

Holding two plates aloft, Anne Norrich pirouetted through the kitchen door and bumped it shut behind her with her hip. Her eyes shone, and her face was flushed a hot pink to match her floral blouse.

“Ready?” she challenged.

Green steeled himself and nodded. A plate descended before him, and it took him a moment to recognize the apparition sprawled across it. He had prepared himself for scaly skin, even a fish head with shrivelled eyes, but this was far worse. A speckled red missile with beady eyes, long bony appendages, lethal claws and worst of all, feelers which draped either side of the plate and came to rest in the mashed potatoes. Green was transfixed with horror.

Norrich roared with laughter. “You should see the look on his face, Annie!”

Alarm flitted across Anne's face. “Have you ever eaten one?”

He managed to shake his head, his voice still somewhere in the pit of his stomach.

“Well,” said Norrich, “you haven't lived until you've had an honest to God Nova Scotian lobster. Steamed in ocean brine, no spices or fancy sauces. Just a bowl of lemon and melted butter to dip it in.” He lifted the bottle of wine which sat at his side and held it across the table towards Green. “Here, I think you
need a good dose of extra courage. Then you won't notice how hard it is to get any food out of the horny bastards.”

BOOK: Honour Among Men
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ads

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