Forty years after comminting a murder, Lucius the Club found out why.
Michael Allen has won many awards. Since his first work appeared in print over fifty years ago, he has written twelve novels, three non-fiction books, and a huge collection of short stories. Michael has also had work successfully produced on ttelevision, in theatres and on radio.
MY MOTHER showed me the photographs as soon as they arrived. She came upstairs and knocked on my study door, even though it was open. Then she stood there, with that slightly vacant expression on her face which I had come to know meant trouble.
'I think you ought to see these,' she said. 'They were put through the door a few minutes ago.'
She handed me a brown manila envelope - quarto, we used to call it in those days. About ten inches by eight. Someone had scrawled her name on it in capital letters. Ballpoint.
The envelope had already been sliced open, but I gave Mama a quick glance and I could see that she wanted me to look inside, so I did.
'It seems,' she said, 'that someone has been spying on me.'
Inside the envelope were half a dozen photographs. Full- plate, I think was the correct term for that size - anyway, they were about eight inches by six.
I laid them out on the desk.
They were black and white, of course, because this was in December 1960. There were three people in each of the photographs: Mama and two men.
The men were Brazilians. I knew them slightly. They were a double act - The Fabulous Rodrigos - acrobatic dancers. They did a cabaret act in all the best clubs and ho- tels.
All three participants in the photographs were naked, and they were engaged in what can only be described as en- thusiastic sexual congress. Very enthusiastic, actually. The best shot showed Roberto entering Mama from the rear, while she had her mouth round Rodrigo's ****, looking up at him as if she hoped to please. In every shot you could see her face clearly. Unfortunately.
In their way the photographs were beautiful, because the two men were very handsome. And Mama was a film star - literally. There was plenty of light in the room (no false modesty for these three; they wanted to see what was going on), and it must have been a warm room because you could see the glistening of sweat on their skin.
I sighed a little.
We had been through a lot together, Mama and I, and at nineteen I was just old enough to understand that there would always be something - some problem that had to be dealt with. But I also had the confidence of youth, and I was inclined to believe that, whatever the difficulties, we could always deal with them.
'So,' I said, 'our first blackmailer.'
Mama gave me an apologetic smile. 'I'm afraid so. I'm very sorry.'
'Not your fault,' I said, because she was apologising for the blackmail, not for having sex.
I took a closer look at the pictures. The room was expensively furnished.
'Where were these taken?' 'Curly Robinson's flat.' 'Was she watching?'
'No, darling. She wanted to, but I persuaded her to go shopping.'
With money, no doubt.
Curly Robinson was a small-time film actress, married to a rich man. Their flat was said to be the site for Saturday- night orgies, and was rumoured to contain so-called two- way mirrors: some device which would enable an observer to see what was happening without being seen themselves.
'So,' I said. 'Curly wasn't watching, but someone else was. With a camera.'
'It would seem so.'
Mama sat down in an easy chair, and I swivelled round from my desk to look at her.
'Was it a set-up? Did the boys take you there?' 'No. I suggested going there.'
'It was the nearest place, darling. And the boys only had an hour. I didn't want to waste it.'
I could have sighed again, but I didn't. I was thinking. 'So, you rang Curly and asked for the use of her place.
And it took you a few minutes to get there....' 'Yes.'
'So she had time to ring somebody.'
'Either that, or someone was there already.'