THE FIRM: Chapter 8 - The Informant

MIKE MCCHEAP is grateful for a day out of the office, to attend the annual Family Lawyers Conference and Shindig, at the M1 Services Conference Hall. He is particularly looking forward to the keynote speech by The Rt. Honourable Lady Justice Ardour, on how to maximise profits despite the changing face of family law.

He parks up his company Mercedes, grabs his briefcase and heads towards the conference hall. As he does so, he is accosted by a familiar man in a raincoat. It is Inspector Gormless.

"Can we have a word?" Asks Gormless, directing McCheap away from the conference hall and towards the adjacent Happy Bloater café.

A few minutes later they are sharing a table, each drinking a cup of tea. Or at least a liquid that was described as tea on the menu.

McCheap takes a sip of the beverage, winces at its flavour, and looks up at Inspector Gormless. "What do you want to tell me?" He asks, with some trepidation.

Inspector Gormless takes a sip of his tea, winces at its flavour, and looks up at McCheap. "Since our last meeting," he says, "I've put the word out amongst my underworld informants, to see what I could dig up about our friends at Venal & Grabbit."

"And?" Asks McCheap, with some more trepidation.

"And," continues Inspector Gormless, "it seems that Venal & Grabbit have some friends in very high - or perhaps I should say 'very low' places."

"Who?" Asks McCheap, with even more trepidation.

"It seems that Venal & Grabbit are owned by The Firm." Replies Inspector Gormless.

"The Firm?" Asks McCheap, with even yet more trepidation.

"The Firm. Ronnie & Reggie Molotov. You've heard of them?" Asks Inspector Gormless.

"Y-yes." Stammers McCheap unhappily. He takes another sip of tea, and immediately wishes he hadn't.

"You want to know the worst of it?" Asks Inspector Gormless.

"W-what's that?" Asks McCheap, with as much trepidation as anyone can have.

"The word is that The Firm don't like lawyers leaving Venal & Grabbit." Says Inspector Gormless. "In case they know too much. So, they ensure that any lawyer who tries to leave comes to a sticky end."

"Oh God." Moans McCheap.

"There is something we can do about it." Says Inspector Gormless.

"W-what's that?" Asks McCheap, with more trepidation than anyone can have.

"I want you to gather evidence against Venal & Grabbit and The Firm." Says Inspector Gormless. "Pass it to me, and maybe we can put them both out of business."

McCheap reluctantly agrees, and a satisfied Inspector Gormless gets up and leaves him poring over his half-finished cup of tea.

McCheap feels queasy. He does not know whether this is due to the tea, or to what he has just been told.

What he also does not know is that Venal & Grabbit Head of Security Bill Devastator has been listening to the whole conversation, via a microphone he fitted to McCheap's briefcase.