Mr Swarbrick receives Mr Radwinski

The main character of my Radwinter stories, Thomas gets himself – as he would say – ‘into some pickles’ . From being a very nervous and unconfident person he undergoes a personality change – or maybe becomes the real him when he marries and becomes a father. Here he takes his friend Hollis with him on a mission to recover what’s owed to his brothers, calling himself Radwinski

I left the car in Portsmouth… the parking would be a lot but I didn’t want to risk taking our car over. Hollis was wearing dark trousers, a rather tight longish black jacket in an old-fashioned style and a white collarless shirt… he looked rather like how I imagined a Lutheran minister or a Russian priest with his long beard and mournful face. We hadn’t spoken much to each other… what did we have in common to converse about? Barely anything. However, I did detect a certain contained excitement as we got on the hovercraft…
The taxi dropped us at Swarbrick’s gate and I arranged for the driver to pick us up in an hour, just down the road. I gave her a rather hefty tip, and a quick puppy eye, and she said all right me duck.
The great thing about Hollis was that he asked me nothing; he was a silent, and I have to say, a very reassuring presence beside me as we walked up the drive. My thirteen year old self would have been astounded if he could have known this, had he been able to see into the future.
The door was opened by the pale, weak looking old man.
“Taras Radwinski to see Mr. Swarbrick,” I said firmly.
“Ah, yes, of course, and you are…?” he gazed anxiously at Hollis.
“This is Father Spyridon,” I told him and felt a quiver of something from Hollis but I knew his impassive face would give nothing away.
We were led through to where Mr. Swarbrick waited, and I turned to the pale man and effectively dismissed him. I introduced ‘Father Spyridon’ and when Swarbrick, looking taken aback asked in what capacity he was here, I told him that he was ‘my spiritual adviser’… why on earth do I say such ludicrous things? Really… this was serious… I could get arrested… gulp…
I organised a couple of chairs for Hollis and me in front of the desk; then, and I hadn’t planned this, I took out my phone, fiddled with it as if I was turning on some app, and laid it on the table between us.
I told myself I was doing it for my brothers, I was doing it for us…
I had explained everything to Swarbrick before, I said; I’d asked him to do what he should… but he hadn’t and now I coldly laid down in black and white exactly what he had to do, what he had to give me and what I would do if he didn’t…
“I don’t believe you, I’m calling the police…” he bleated… I hope he didn’t have a heart attack or anything, that would be very awkward.
I stood up and picked up Swarbrick’s phone and dialled.
“Oh good, morning, is that Hampshire Police, I wonder if you could tell me who I should speak to as regards the suspected misappropriation or misuse of money or property, financial irregularities, you know…”
I handed the phone to Swarbrick who stammered and bumbled and eventually put the phone down.
“I will go to the police Swarbrick,” I said seriously as I sat again, and Hollis nodded lugubriously but in a way which was really quite intimidating…
“Maybe we could come to some compromise…”
“No, we are not going to come to some compromise. I have told you what I want, and I’m not threatening you, I am telling you; if I don’t get it within a week, that is by the Monday – and I don’t mean the Tuesday – if I haven’t received what I want, then I will be calling the police, and this time I will speak to them.”
Hollis leant down towards me and murmured “Check-mate, Thomas,” and then to my surprise crossed himself, and what struck me more was that he did it the eastern way, right to left with his three fingers together, not the left to right catholic way.
“Thank you, Father,” I said out loud and he inclined his head slightly.
Something in this had disturbed Swarbrick because he was staring at us, his eyes bulging.
I stood up and held out my hand which he was very reluctant to shake. His hand was sweaty and trembling. He was even more reluctant to shake Hollis’s hand, and looked as if he had been cursed when Hollis impassively murmured ‘bless you, my son’ in a strangely threatening way.
Without another word we left Swarbrick; the pale man was hovering in the hall and we said goodbye and shook his hand too, and again Hollis blessed him menacingly.
We walked down the drive without speaking and then I turned and took out my phone and took a photo of the house, I don’t know why.
We went through the impressive gates and walked along in silence until we saw the taxi waiting for us. Hollis asked why I’d taken the photo… I wasn’t sure, sometimes I do things without knowing why I do them. He said he thought it showed them that we weren’t scarpering… that we meant business… I didn’t like the sound of that… did he mean I might be suggesting I would show the photo of the house to someone who might come along and ’help’ Swarbrick to make up his mind?… Oh dear…
Hollis made a strange noise as he got in the car and I realised he was laughing.
“Father Spyridon, I must remember that,” he said and chuckled some more.

If you want to find out how Hollis and Thomas came to this, and what happened next, and whether Swarbrick does give him what is owed, then here is a link to my book ‘Beyond Hope’:

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