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The Case with No Name

Chapter Three


___When we arrived at the Heath's - a little rundown apartment in the East End - he was getting ready to go out. On seeing the police entering, he grabbed his wife, holding his gun to her head. "Nobody move!"
___Nelson raised his hands and took a cautious step foreward. "Let her go. We only want to talk..."
___"Talk to this!" Heath swiftly pointed his gun at Nelson and fired.
___"DOWN!" He yelled, ducking to the floor.
___I followed suit, but not before taking a bullet to my shoulder.
___"You did this!" I heard Heath snarl. A shot rang out, followed by a scream. I risked a glance from behind the chair that I was using as a shield - Heath was running towards his sleeping area. Everything happened at once. The officer beside me leapt to his feet and ran to Mrs. Heath, who was lying on the floor, and Nelson and two of his men set off in persuit of Heath. I picked myself up and tried following Nelson.
___"Hopkirk!" The officer at Mrs. Heath's side looked up at me. "Best stay here. You're hurt."
___I attempted to grin at him. "Oh, it's nothing."
___The girl gasped and stared up at me. "Sorry about Jeff," she whispered, before her eyes closed for the last time.
___"He's scarpered," Nelson reported, coming back from the sleeping area. "Jumped out the window. A lot of good it'll do him! The place is surrounded."
___I watched the police apprehend Heath with a grim satisfaction. I still didn't know much about him, but he was clearly a ruthless killer. He'd shot his wife in cold blood, and he'd poisoned my partner - either because he knew that his wife had come to see us, or because he knew that Jeff had been following him. Anyway, I was glad to see him cuffed and driven away in a police car.
___Inspector Nelson turned to me, eying my blood-soaked shoulder. "Looks like we'd better get you to a hospital," he remarked.
___I winced slightly as I nodded. My arm, shoulder and neck were becoming stiff.
___"Get in my car. I'll drive you there on the way back to the station."
It has to be said that I appreciated that. It isn't everyday that a police inspector offers you a lift to hospital.

___Randall started to laugh quietly to himself.
___"What's so funny, Jeff?" Hopkirk demanded, annoyed.
___"You complain about how clumsy I am, but you just got yourself shot in the shoulder!"
___Hopkirk stopped typing and turned to scowl at him. "At least I didn't get myself poisoned!"
___"It wasn't my fault that I was, either!"
___"Wasn't it, Jeff?" Hopkirk smirked at him. "Whose fault was it that you were seen following Heath? Eh? Who was it that agreed to take the case in the first place, anyway?"
___"Well," Randall began.
___"And whose fault is it that you never check a seat before you sit down? Remember when we took the train to Brighton for the day, and you sat on a wasp?"
___"I was six years old, Marty!"
___"You were always doing things like that! You've even sat on your own bar of chocolate!"
___"Oh, just shut up!" Randall barked at him.
___Hopkirk grinned with satisfaction and returned his attention to the typewriter.

___It was very quiet in the hospital, and it didn't take long for me to become bored. There were no books, magazines, or even pictures for me to look at. I yawned, and began to allow myself to sleep.
___"Good to see you, Hopkirk!" The cheerful voice of Inspector Nelson greeted me.
___I looked across at him and offered a tired smile as he approached the bed, pulling up a chair.
___"I thought you might like to know what we've learned..."
___I forced myself to sit up, sleep forgotten. "Well, yes, I would."
___"Heath is a paid assassin. He murders for a 'small fee' of £50 to £100 a time."
___I stared at him. "Quite a lot, for a small fee..." It made our business fees look like peanuts!
___"Trisha married him, thinking he was a very different man, with a very different line of work. I suspect she found his money attractive, but changed her mind when she learnt about the danger that came with it."
___I nodded. I'd had a feeling that that was her reason for coming to us.
___"She was seen going into your office block, and when Randall was spotted following Heath, he put two and two together."
___"And decided to get him out of the way."
___"Exactly. He left a tie pin on the seat of an armchair, poisoned."
___"How is my partner?" I wasn't sure that I wanted to know, but I had to ask.
___Nelson smiled at me. "He's doing fine. The doctor says it'll be about a week before he's back out there giving us grief."
___Charming!
___"He's been asking about you. Sounded quite concerned, when I told him you'd been shot. He wants to see you as soon as you feel well enough."
___As far as I was concerned, I felt well enough there and then... but then I changed my mind. I was tired and feeling sluggish. I decided to wait until I'd had some sleep. As Nelson was leaving, my fiancée came by to see me. She gave more detail about Jeff's condition and sat with me until sleep overtook me.

___"You say that I'm lazy!" Randall remarked.
___"I'd lost a lot of blood, Jeff. I was lucky that I didn't lose consciousness before Nelson got me to the hospital."
___"If you say so, Marty. But I still think you're lazy."
___Hopkirk sighed and leaned back, almost falling through the back of his chair. "Well, I think that's the end of the..."
___"What is it now?" his partner asked, seeing the frown on his face.
___"This case... What is it called? 'The Poison Case'? 'A Poisoning'?"
___"I don't know! You were the one who wrote it up, if you remember. You were manning the desk while you waited for your arm to heal."
___Hopkirk moaned. "You know I never name my cases! It's a waste of time!"
___"So why do you want to know what this one's called?"
___"Because it's a chapter of my memoirs - it's important! Quick, come up with a name for it."
___Randall smirked. "Why? You always tell me that my titles are stupid and unimaginative."
___"Well, they are - sometimes. What about the case about the pheasant poachers? What was that one called?"
___"'The Tartan Case'."
___"And Case 1, what was that one called?"
___"'Case 1'?" Randall sighed, as realisation dawned. "'The Burnt Case', Marty."
___"'Tartan Case' because it took place in Scotland, 'Burnt Case' because the family we were working for was named Burnt," Hopkirk rolled his eyes before continuing sarcastically. "Very imaginative, Jeff!"
___"You come up with a better one!" he challenged angrily.
___"Fine," Hopkirk closed his eyes, thinking carefully. Finally, he got his partner to insert the first page again for him.
___"Have you got a title, then? What are you going to call it?"
___Hopkirk ignored him and began to type. "There!" he said at last, when he was through. "That's that."
___Randall leaned over his shoulder to look. The title read: 'The Case With No Name'.
___"Very imaginative, Marty!"
___"It's a name!" he returned.
___"It's a name that clearly says that it isn't one," Randall pointed out.
___Hopkirk smiled and gave a nod of satisfaction. "Which is remarkably clever, when you think about it!"



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