As the argument continued round and round, another figure joined the group.
“Jason Serck!” exclaimed McKee. “Come and join the party. We’re just talking about who killed whom. I think you would fit very well in that discussion, don’t you? Gentlemen, this is the hedge fund manager I referred to earlier - Jason Serck. He arranged for the brakes in my car to be rendered inoperative, so I died in a car accident back in the early nineties. A bit more subtle than you” - he pointed at Menkov - “but still the same result as far as I am concerned. Denis, here, has been trying to justify his murders; how about you, Jason? Anything to say for yourself?”
Serck stared into the middle distance for a few moments. “Well,” he began, “I’m not proud of what I did, not proud at all. You double-crossed me, and it hurt - I didn’t like losing, and I didn’t like losing the money either. You went back on an agreement with me, and you and your buddy Phil Harris stiffed me and my investors for a lot of dollars. I got even with you the easiest way I could see.”
“You got even with me. Your dollars versus my life; I don’t call that even. I call that a serious loss to me. I wasn’t ready to die - I had years ahead of me.”
“Mack, yeah, I know. What I did was wrong. But it took me a long time to see that, and anyway, there was nothing at all I could do about it. All I can say is that, although I kept playing the game hard for all the years afterwards, I never stepped over that line again. And in a way, I think I paid for it in the end.
“Let me tell, you; you deserve to know. Your death - well, let’s be honest: your murder, which I arranged - played on my mind for ever after. Eventually, years later, I confessed to my wife Martha, and then two days later, she died in a road accident.” He paused, and wiped a hand across his eyes. “Well, when you’re an important financial big shot, things get reported how you want them to be. I’m pretty sure Martha meant to hit that tree, and what I’d told her two days earlier was the reason. I didn’t get away scot free, Mack, even if the intervening years were good to me. I’ll bear the guilt of your death and that of Martha in this place for ever - and here, for ever means for ever. And then when the aluminium duty scam trade was clearly going to be made public, with all the opprobrium it would have brought, I knew I couldn’t take any more. I didn’t fall accidentally off that balcony in Verbier, however they may have tried to report it.”
The others were all silent, as Serck took a deep breath. “Mack, I’m sorry. I did wrong to you. But there is nothing I can do to reverse it.” He held out his hand to McKee.
And this time, we really do leave them. If this were a different kind of story, of course, there would be celestial music, and cherubim and seraphim triumphantly bearing away to somewhere more exalted than this Valhalla the one sinner who had repented of his sins. But it’s not, and there aren’t. There is no supernatural power going to make it all right again; they all have to take responsibility for what they did, and suffer with it for their eternity..........
In order to understand the full background to this, I would suggest the two novels; ‘Tarnished Copper’ and ‘Czar Rising’, both published by Twenty-First Century Publishers, and the short stories: ‘Meltdown’, ‘Takedown’, ‘Shakedown” and ‘Endgame’, published variously in Metal Bulletin or on this site in October 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.