“I see what you mean,” said Livia thinking through how useful each and every one of Mary’s brothers could be if they’d a mind to. “Guess your younger brother will be burying Ronan soon?”
“Sure... keeping it in the family! Although Donal never liked the fecker, despite having quite a few ‘interesting’, well-paid jobs from him. Thought he was scary and worried Ronan might knock about his older sis.’
“When you say ‘interesting’ jobs, what might that mean?” Livia was very interested heself.
“Heard the expression ‘a body of evidence’, Livia? Sometimes the evidence might go with the body!”
“Well y’see Livia, I’m rather lucky with me family. I’ve five brothers. The surgeon, as was, is the oldest, although his surgery days are long gone after an unfortunate incident with a scalpel... best not to ask what! The other brothers are a butcher, an accountant, a solicitor, all older than me and me little brother Donal is an undertaker - you wouldn’t think it to look at him, but he’s a bit of a tinker! A pretty good contact list to support me in our kind of work and it does mean I literally know where the bodies are buried!
Livia did like this amazing woman who had been such a surprising breath of fresh air. Unsurprisingly, with the business done, lunch devoured and champagne empty, Mary jumped up to wash up the plates. Livia protested only to prompt a response of “Oh, go on wid ya!”
As Mary busied herself doing the modest amount of washing up, Livia dried up. Her turn to quiz her guest.
“I gather from what you said earlier, you’re taking over from Ronan now. I don’t want to be sexist, but how prepared are you? There will be lots of challenges for a woman.”
“So how can I help?” The tonal change had been quite marked. Livia had little option but to pose the question to Mary, who by rights should have been under the table by now from the amount of alcohol she’d consumed.... but was bright as a button and quite businesslike.
Well... you could start by keeping your eyes and ears open for anyone showing off a big new diamond, or bragging about something a bit special ‘downstairs’ if y’know what I mean. Maybe asking discreetly about my Ronan’s death.”
“And why should I?”
“Because you like me!”
“Yes I do!”
Then Livia headed into uncharted waters. The whole point of Mary making contact was part of her search for the missing large diamond, recently adorning the genitals of her late husband’s mistress. Mary must think that one of the Monelli organisation might be responsible or at least know something about the disappearance. Livia decided to tackle it head on.
“So Mary, you must think one of the Monelli crowd took the diamond... or even the lives of Ronan and his friend... or at the very least, knows who did?”
“I can’t feckin’ argue with that!”
“But why contact me?”
“So, let me get this straight, your husband’s girlfriend...”
“OK, your husband gave his tartfriend a diamond clitoral ring, probably so nobody but him would see it, or to avoid it ending up on her finger. She would’ve been wearing it on the night they died... exact circumstances unknown, but police treating it as a lover’s tiff turned violent and closing the case. When the tart was found, dead, under Ronan, also dead, there was no sign of the diamond ring?”
“Correct!” said Mary. The shortest speech she’d made.
“And you want the diamond back?”
“Correct!” Equally short.
Livia thought she knew what Mary was saying, but asked for clarification.
“Stuck it on her fanny? How’s that?”
“Have you been living in a feckin’ convent, Livia? Stuck it on her fanny... y’know, like some people have earrings, some have nose rings, or belly button rings, or in this tart’s case, a feckin’ cont ring... in her clit... a ring with a feckin’ great diamond in it!”
Now Livia understood. “So I guess nobody would see it except him... or maybe so you wouldn’t see it?”
“But it wasn’t feckin’ there! Some other cont had made off with it!”
“Now, can I feckin’ tell you what else I found out, or what?” Mary wanted to avoid any more interruptions. Livia was contrite.
“Well this Aidan tells me that Ronan... curse his cheatin’ feckin’ soul... bought his tart a little present. Understandable... but this was a feckin’ big present... a feckin’ diamond almost as big as me little fingernail. Cost him feckin’ thousands. As his wife, half that’s my feckin’ thousands! OK, I guess if he loved her, he wanted to show it. But he didn’t feckin’ show it... he stuck it on her fanny! Or so they say.”
With possible ambitions of a takeover herself, and despite delaying the next, significant revelation from Mary, Livia felt she had to ask.
“Don’t you find this all at odds with your faith?”
“Thought you moight ask,” said Mary, “and it’s a fair question. But I’ve been reading me scriptures, particularly the Ten Commandments which are my reference points, and whilst I accept I shouldn’t kill, I can’t fer the life of me find a Commandment I could interpret as ‘you can’t grab a feller by the bollocks, threaten him or dobb him in to the feckin’ pigs’. There ain’t one!”
Even though it was a diversion, Livia had to ask. It was a question waiting to be asked.
“Or else what?”
“Very simple,” replied Mary, “I’ve got something on each and every one of the little shites; a dossier, and I’ve lodged it with my solicitor, who also happens to be one of me brothers. Anything happens to me or any of my family, not including feckin’ Ronan of course, he’ll send them to the police. Despite hating the pigs!”
“Also told em all that where they’d be sent, the other inmates would tear them a brand new arse hole!”
“Go on.” urged Livia.
“Well one of the little gobshites, Aidan, the one who puked when he saw my pictures, y’know... well he was keeping something from me. I knew it. I could see it on the little hamsterbollocks’s face. So I persuaded him to cough up...”
“How?” asked Livia, genuinely interested.
“I just grabbed him hard by his little bollocks and said ‘Cough! Tell me what else you feckin’ know... right now!’ Funny how that always seems to work.”
“Aren’t you worried about reprisals?” Livia queried.
“I tell em Ronan’s dead and I’m in charge now... or feckin’ else!”
“Bodies? Literally? There are bodies to be found?” Maybe Livia was quizzing Mary too hard, but her guest didn’t seem bothered.
“A mere figure of feckin’ speech,” said Mary, “I’d known him a long time and a wife gets to know a thing or two... and use it! Bet you had a load of stuff on your late husband, Terry was it?”
“Terry.” confirmed Livia, but didn’t confirm or deny if she’d ‘had anything on’ him. She needed to clarify something with Mary.
“So if Paolo’s not an issue, what is it you’re after?”
“There’s something more... something much more!”
“So how come you didn’t find out about Ronan and that girl from your son? He must’ve been pretty pissed off with his dad!”
“Being pissed off with Ronan and doing something about it, particularly telling me, his mum, are two different things. If Conor had told me and if Ronan got to know... which he certainly feckin’ would have... he’d have got such a feckin’ beating he’d never have recovered. That’s the kind of man the shite was!”
“So how come you were immune from his beatings?” Livia asked.
“Me brothers... and I know where the bodies are buried!”
“Apparently my boy, me son Conor, it was who took the tart off your Paolo...” Mary continued.
“He’s not my Paolo!” Livia quickly insisted.
“Whatever... seems Conor got gazumped when Ronan met her and the little tart decided to go for power, experience... and money! No feckin’ taste though if she’d settle for Ronan!”
Mary stopped, looking thoughtful for a moment before she continued.
“But hang on... what the feck does that say about me!” she started to laugh, which started Livia off and removed any slight tension she’d suddenly been experiencing.
“What the feck?” said Livia to more laughter.
“One of my boys?” Livia was confused and appalled. “The only boy I have is upstairs... my son, who’s off school. I don’t have any other boys!”
“No, not you Livia. One of the guys who works for the Monellis. Young chap. Paul or something they said. D’you know any Pauls?”
“I don’t know anyone called Paul... but there is Paolo.” Yes, thought Livia, this might be a way to get rid of Paolo, making her own position more secure. “He’s a cocky little sod!”
“Think you moight be getting me wrong there Livia. I’ve no gripe with the boy!”
“Was that all you had to do?” asked Livia, clearly impressed.
“Well, me brother did send me some pictures to show em too! One of the fellers was actually feckin’ sick when he saw em! Worked a treat. Spilled his guts too! It seems they all knew. They knew Ronan had a tart, had set her up in a flat somewhere east and was jealous as feckin’ hell if anyone else even looked at her. She was pretty too, the cow! I think the fecker was actually in love. Silly cont!”
“Seems he stole her from one of your boys!”
“How on earth did you manage to get anything out of them Mary? Surely they’re a pretty hard bunch, given their line of work?” Livia was curious how this woman exercised control.
“You could say I used me assets well... me assets being me family. I’ve lots of family - we’re Irish Catholics, what else would you expect? One of me brothers was a surgeon before he was struck off - long story! I suggested he moight cut off their bollocks and replace them with walnuts if they decided not to open up. Men seem to be strangely sensitive about their bollocks!”
“Fecking bollocks? How come?” Livia was inadvertently becoming infected with Mary-speak, but she was intrigued.
“Well foirst, he was fully clothed. If you’d seen him you’d know that’s hardly feckin’ kinky! Second, according to estimated time of death, he could‘ve only got there a short toim before. ‘Cos I know exactly when he left home. Course, I didn’t tell the conts that! Someone else must’ve been involved! So that’s when I knew I had to interrofeckingate the slimy gobshites who worked for him. Someone had to feckin’ know something.”
“And did they?” asked Livia.
“Too feckin’ right they did!”
“Anyway”, continued Mary, “when he read that particular text, he immediately went feckin’ apeshite! Started feckin’ effin and bloinding, grabbed his car keys, even though he was full of Guinness and shot off like a feckin’ rocket. Last time I saw him til I identified his feckin’ body.”
“So what happened then?” asked Livia.
“The pigs said they found him fully clothed lying on a naked tart, dead, with a kitchen knife stuck in his neck. Blood feckin’ everywhere. And apparently he’d strangled the feckin’ tart too! Kinky sex gone wrong the pigs said... but I say that’s feckin’ bollocks!”
Having done justice to Livia’s lunch, and, in the case of Mary, having consumed far more alcohol than sensible, it was time for some serious talking, albeit still likely to be interspersed with giggling. Livia triggered the change.
“So tell me Mary, what exactly happened to your husband and how can I help?”
“Well... the forst inkling I got of anyting was when all of a sudden very late on Saturday night me feckin’ husband gets a text. It wasn’t so unusual for him to get texts on his mobile, except I’d already told the fecker that weekends were sacrofeckinsanct!