M.C. Beaton

Death of a Macho Man

Hamish Macbeth #12

1996, EN

? Death of a Macho Man ?


…When two strong men stand face to face,

Though they come from the ends of the earth.

Rudyard Kipling

Randy Duggan was called the Macho Man in the village of Lochdubh in the Scottish Highlands and he seemed to live up to his nickname. He was a huge man, over six feet tall, with powerful shoulders, tattoos, and a low forehead. His legs were disproportionally short for his body and his hair was greasy and worn long and curly on his collar. He wore leather jackets with long fringes. He sported odd glasses with slats like Venetian blinds, and brightly coloured hats. The locals gathered in the Lochdubh bar just to see him crush beer cans in one of his great fists. His voice had an American twang. He said he had been a wrestler in America.

In fact, to the admiring locals, it seemed as if Randy had been everywhere, seen everything, done everything. He had been attacked by muggers in Florida, shot them dead, and had been commended by the police for his bravery. He had been a lumberjack in Canada and he had shot bear in Alaska. He was the most well-travelled man Lochdubh had ever seen.

It was all too easy to create a sensation in Lochdubh. It was a sleepy Highland village in Sutherland, which is as far north as you can go on the mainland of the British Isles. Tourists came and went in the summer season, but not many, most of them only getting as far north as Inverness.

Perhaps, in the easygoing way of the Highlanders, they would have accepted Randy at face value, and being prime liars and tall story-tellers themselves, were not given to picking holes in anyone’s anecdotes, least of all their own. And if Randy had never been faced with any criticism or competition, things might have gone on the way they were and not turned nasty.

Of course, the weather contributed to the edginess that was created in the Lochdubh bar one day when Randy, as usual, was holding forth. The other reason for his admiring audience was that Randy was free with his money, and fisherman Archie Maclean, one of Randy’s best listeners, had been barely sober since the big man had arrived in the village, such was Randy’s generosity to this, his best admirer.

It was another day of irritating rain and drizzle. Long trails of rain dragged in from the Atlantic and up the sea loch outside the bar. Midges, those maddening Highland mosquitoes, were out in black clouds, no rain seeming to deter them. The atmosphere was muggy and close. It was the tenth day of rain and the damp permeated everything and clothes stuck to the body, and where the clothes did not stick, the midges stung with savage fury. Patel’s, the general store, had run out of midge repellent only that day.

Randy had geographically moved to the Middle East in his tales. Little Geordie Mackenzie, a retired schoolteacher, brightened up. He was normally shy and retiring. He had recently moved to Lochdubh and had not yet made any friends. When Randy paused in an account of dining in a Bedouin tent to take another swig of beer, Geordie piped up in a reedy voice, “I was out in Libya during my National Service, and a very odd thing happened to me when we were out in manoeuvres in the desert…”

But no one was destined to hear what had happened to Geordie in the desert, for the Macho Man glared at the school-teacher and raised his voice. No one could tell him anything about adventures in the Middle East. He had eaten sheep’s eyes and run an illegal still in Saudi Arabia and had been thrown in prison in Riyadh, escaping his jailers the day before his hand was due to get chopped off.

Geordie looked crushed and put down. Archie Maclean began to feel irritated with Randy. The big man could have let wee Geordie have his say. The air of the bar was stuffy with cigarette smoke, his wife was a mighty washer and cleaner and the collar of his starched shirt was rubbing against the mosquito bites on his neck. He saw Geordie creeping out of the bar and followed him.

“Don’t pay him nae heed,” said Archie, catching up with Geordie. “He likes his crack.”

“He’s a braggart and a liar,” said Geordie primly. “I don’t believe any of his stories.”

“I’m getting pretty tired o’ him mysel’,” said Archie. “We used to all sit around and have a wee bit o’ a gossip. Now we an hae tae listen tae that big tumshie, blethering on and on and on. Damn thae midges. They’ve got the teem of them like razors this year. Oh, here’s our local bobby. D’ye ken Macbeth?”

“I have seen the constable about the village but have not yet spoken to him,” said Geordie.

“Hey, Macbeth!” called Archie. “Come and meet the latest incomer.”

They had reached the harbour, where fishing boats rose and fell at anchor on an oily swell. It was Sunday, the Lord’s day, which meant the bar might be open but taking a fishing boat out was flying in the face of Providence.

Hamish Macbeth, Lochdubh’s police constable, was ambling along the waterfront towards them. He was a tall, lanky Highlander with flaming red hair, a thin, sensitive face, and hazel eyes. Geordie judged him to be in his mid-thirties.

“This here is Geordie Mackenzie,” said Archie. “He’s just moved in tae Lochdubh.”

“Aye, I know,” said Hamish. His voice had a Highland lilt. “You’ve taken thon cottage up the hill a bit behind the Curries. Where did you come from?”

“Inverness, Mr. Macbeth.”

“Hamish,” said the policeman. “I’m called Hamish.”

He gave a gentle smile and the lonely Geordie felt warmed by it. “Hamish, it is. I’ve just left the bar over there, Hamish, because I cannot stand the lies and bragging of that Randy Duggan any more.”

“No harm in a few lies,” said Hamish easily. He told quite a lot himself. “You don’t have to listen.”

“Oh, but I do!” said Geordie, burning with resentment all over again. “His voice fair dominates the bar.”

“Aye, I suppose it does. But so long as he’s paying for the drinks,” said Hamish, “there’ll always be folk to listen. Isn’t that right, Archie?”

“Och, weel.” Archie shuffled his feet. “It was a wee bit o’ fun at first, but now it’s too much, but ye can hardly tell a fellow o’ that size tae shut up.”

“Now that’s where you’re wrong,” said Geordie eagerly. He was emboldened by this friendly conversation. “He hasn’t often come up against an educated man before, of that I am certain.”

Hamish looked amused. “We ate not all village peasants, Geordie.”

“I’m sorry,” said Geordie quickly, “I didn’t mean to be rude. But someone should stand up to him.”

“Och, be careful, man,” cautioned Hamish. “The further away a man gets from his last fight, the braver he gets. I have a feeling in my bones that thon Randy could be a nasty customer.”

“I think he’s all wind and bluster,” said Geordie.

Hamish studied the little man thoughtfully. Geordie, he thought, must be in his late sixties and had probably never been in a fight since he was a schoolboy. Hamish was lazy. He smelt trouble coming but was reluctant to make any effort to stop it. Randy Duggan had appeared out of the blue a few weeks ago. He had tried to book into the Tommel Castle Hotel, but Colonel Halburton-Smythe, the owner, had taken one horrified look at him and said there were no vacancies. Randy had rented a holiday cottage up on the hill near Geordie’s. The colonel had reported various spiteful attacks of vandalism, fences cut, the back wall of the hotel spray-painted with a large four-letter word, and the windows of the gift shop broken. Hamish wondered whether Duggan, the Macho Man, was taking his spite out on the colonel but, as yet, he had no proof, Hamish was beginning to think that the big man was a phoney.

Вы читаете Death of a Macho Man
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату