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Houseman & Sounderajah – Junk: Part II

December 28, 2012

Part I Here

Most of Sounderajah’s exploits with Houseman tended to occur in the city. There was nothing particularly criminal about it apart from the old axiom that wherever there are people, there will be crime. And illness. Neither their day-job or their…hobby? would ever go out of demand. He had never reflected on it like that before but as the train rattled southwards, across the river and into lush and verdant environs, he realised how little of their work took place in the suburbs. God, he wished he was a GP.

When he stepped out of the station that JP Williams had passed through earlier, he took in a deep lungful of air. It was definitely fresher out here. He was on a proud and presentable high street, with a mix of upper tier high street chains and kitsch small businesses occupying the ground floor of tall Georgian buildings. Bakeries, cafes and, of course, a Starbucks. It struck him as an odd base of operations for a narcotics ring but appearances could so often be deceiving.

Houseman could be anywhere. The rugger had got him this far but he was at a loss for where to look next. He remembered Williams’ phone in his pocket. Picking a direction at random, he set off down the street, scrolling through the other doctor’s texts and emails. Thank god for poor security. He was disappointed to find little evidence of smuggling or kidnapping. Either JP was particularly conscientious in deleting incriminating communiques or his colleagues were too shrewd to send them. However, a recent text sounded promising.

-Cover the pt. I’m going get his partner.

Somewhat innocuous, coming from a doctor’s phone, but Viknesh couldn’t help but read some personal significance into that text. He might be able to retrieve some information from this potential co-conspirator. Looking around at his opulent surroundings, he spied a convenient alleyway between a Waterstones and Cath Kidston.

-Something’s come up. Meet me in the alley next to Waterstones.

It didn’t take long after he hit send to get a reply.

-Idiot. What did you do?

-I’ll tell you in person. Come ASAP.


Sounderajah pocketed the phone and surveyed his choice of trap. It was fairly narrow, and a skip obscured most of the view from the street. Twisted, rusting fire escapes clung limply to the sides of the buildings on either side. As well as the fetid smell of rubbish and waste, a sharp tang informed him that the alley was also frequently used as a public toilet. It would do nicely for an interrogation, providing he could hold his breath until then.

Fortunately, he didn’t have long to wait. Hunched up by a line of bins, he watched patiently as someone walked past him into the alley. Preparing himself to stand, he reached for one of the nearby dustbin lids.

“Jack, are you here?” they called out. In response, Sounderajah shot up and slammed the dustbin lid against their back. Stunned, they didn’t resist as he pushed them up against the wall, spun them around and pinned them there with his forearm.

“Where’s Jack Houseman?”

“What the fuck?!” she cried out, hurt, confused and panicked. In a moment of terrible clarity, Viknesh realised just how bad all this might seem. He had been expecting another seven-foot tall rugger-bugger, not, as it happened, a short and somewhat stocky young woman. He thought he might have recognised her as a nurse. “What the fuck do you want?”

“I’m not going to hurt you.” Viknesh said quietly, acutely aware of the urgent need for damage control, “I’m looking for a doctor called Jack Houseman and I think you know where he is. I’m also interested in morphine going missing from A&E at St Mary’s Hospital and I think you know something about that too.”

“You’re the one Jack was sent to get. Why should I tell you anything?” she spat.

“Possessing morphine without a prescription could land you with several years in jail,” Viknesh replied, after a pause. He had always been the good cop. He couldn’t even contemplate any of the extra-legal measures he suspected Houseman was capable of. Dealing with JP Williams had been self-defence but he was already feeling bad about the dustbin lid. “But I doubt this has anything to do with an unfortunate personal habit. The hospital is being bled dry of morphine. That suggests an intent to supply, which can lead to life in prison.” The nurse shifted uncomfortably beneath his grip. Viknesh smiled, “I could convince the police, and the judge probably, that you were being coerced into this operation. You obviously knew it was wrong, that’s why you told me what you knew.”

“Alright.” The nurse relented. She didn’t want to meet his gaze. “Houseman’s safe. I can’t tell you much but I can take you to him. Could you let me go?”

“I will, but two things first.” Sounderajah agreed, “Firstly, let me some ID. If I let you go and you run off, I want to have a name at least.” She fumbled clumsily in her pockets for a driving license. Amy Hill, apparently. Viknesh made a mental note of the address too. “Okay. Secondly, I’m sorry about the dustbin lid. I’m going to let you go now.”

Tentatively, he released his hold and stepped back. Amy stepped away from the wall and brushed herself down. To Viknesh’s relief, she didn’t make a run for it. Instead, she glared at him and grumbled murderously, “I’m going to fucking get you for that dustbin lid.”

“Let’s go.” The junior doctor nodded to the entrance of the alleyway, ignoring the threat. Reluctantly, the nurse complied. They left the lane as nonchalantly as possible. Even they had been watched, to the casual observer, Viknesh had come off worse. A split lip and a black eye were just two of the presents Jack Williams had left him with.

The walk was uncomfortable to say the least. Neither party talked. The F1 was tense, keen to track down his partner and unravel the mystery around the morphine. They walked back up the high street, past the train station. So wherever Houseman was being held, it was within walking distance. That narrowed down the search considerably but he still needed more specifics.

He was drawn out of his reverie by a commotion to his left. Through the window of the Starbucks he saw a small crowd beginning to form around the sofas. There was a blur of activity at the centre but Viknesh didn’t know what he was witnessing. He tapped Amy on her arm distractedly.

“Wait here.”

He pushed open the door to the coffee shop. No one paid him any attention. Outside on the pavement, the world revolved as normal but inside, the focus was on a young woman, apparently collapsed, on one of the comfortable, engulfing sofa. He pushed his way through the scant crowd of hipsters, estate agents and secretaries on their break.

“I’m a doctor.” He stated firmly, “What’s wrong?”

“It’s my friend, Rachael.” a young woman, fashionably dressed like the newfound patient, explained with a panicky fluttering of her hands. In contrast, her friend was the calm eye of the worrisome storm around her. “She just, she just…passed out. Is she going to be alright?”

“I don’t know yet. Let me have look.” Sounderajah rolled up his sleeves and knelt down next to the sofa. “Has anyone called an ambulance?”

There was a general muttering around him and nervous glances that told him that no one had been that proactive as of yet. This carried on for some moments before he cut through it. “Then call an ambulance!” There was an electronic flurry as iPhones were produced on masse and numbers dialled.

At last, to the patient. Rachael was young, around the same age as Sounderajah. On first glance, she seemed quite healthy despite the minor impediment of not breathing. No, wait. Breathing, just very slowly and softly. Her pulse was reassuringly strong. She was decidedly limp, judging by the way her wrist dropped when he released it. She would have been as happy on the floor as she was currently on the sofa. She had the serene smile of a Buddha. She wouldn’t respond to talking, touching, or even when he pinched the fleshy part of her ear. This didn’t fit with epilepsy and syncope was unlikely sitting down. There was no obvious head trauma either. As he kept ruling out diagnoses, one in particular grew in prominence in his mind.

“Had she taken anything before this happened?” he turned around and asked of her friend who was keeping a hysteric vigil.

“She had a caramel Frappuccino.” She volunteered, uselessly.

“No, drugs, alcohol, anything like that?” He pressed, increasingly aware of how specific he needed to be with this audience.

“Um, no. No…nothing like that.”

“Hm.” Viknesh was less than convinced. He leaned in close to sleeping beauty and smelt the breath reluctantly leaving her lungs. It smelt neither like alcohol – an Irish Frappuccino – or the odd pear drops scent of a diabetic crisis. Still suspicious, he peeled down one eyelid and stared into eye that stared vacantly back. The pupil was no bigger than the point of a pencil. He moved across to the other side and found its constricted partner. Most drugs dilated the pupils, those peepholes to the soul. Viknesh could only think of one class that did otherwise. Opiates. Morphine.

Wordlessly, he dug around in the sides of the sofa and between the cushions, moving his patient out of the way when necessary. Finding nothing, he pressed his head to the floor and looked under all the sofas and the nearby chairs. Other than some dust and spilled sugar sachets, nothing. He stood up and faced the friend, one palm outstretched expectantly. After several moments of innocent blankness – that may not have been an act – guilt blossomed in her face and she produced an empty, used syringe.

At this point, a glaringly yellow ambulance screeched to a halt outside, its sirens still blaring. A pair of green-suited paramedics entered, the first sign of pragmatism Viknesh had seen in the coffee shop. He took the syringe and handed it straight to the first paramedic. They seemed confused by this move.

“My name is Viknesh Sounderajah. I’m a doctor.” He nodded his head to the woman on the couch, “Patient’s name is Rachael. She’s taken an opiate overdose. Caramel Frappuccino with whipped smack on top.”

“Opiates? Are you sure?” the first paramedic replied, still confused. This was not the usual setting for an opiate overdose call-out. Derelict and abandoned buildings, motorway underpasses but never a Starbucks.

“Give her some naloxone and see if she wants to hit you.” Viknesh shrugged. Naloxone took patients from overdose to withdrawal at a hundred miles an hour. They were always the least appreciative when you saved their life. And, because naloxone wore off before the opiate, they were still as unappreciative when you brought them round the second time. “I’ll leave it in your hands.”

He moved aside to let them do their work and confirm what he had already found. Stepping past the crowd, who by now were busy tweeting about the episode, he looked outside for Amy Hill. Alerted by the ambulance that something worth watching was happening, a crowd had finally solidified outside. A conspicuous absence, however, from the mass was the nurse-cum-drug-dealer.


They were selling the morphine. That was obvious now. It should have been obvious to begin with but Sounderajah had been strangely blind to the fact. But that girl, Rachael something, in Starbucks had made it clear. Their clients weren’t the usual down-and-outers that had blown their veins underneath the railway tracks and begged for change outside Boots. No, instead they were bright young things with too much money and too little to do, crushed by the unending ennui of the upper middle class. They shot up in coffee shops and bookstores.

He had the beginning of an endgame but he still didn’t know where the fixer behind all this lived, or where Houseman was being held. He didn’t even know if they were a doctor, a nurse…they could have even been a porter. In the wretched grip of withdrawal, Rachael didn’t feel like talking to him but he found some less affluent addicts who were a bit more talkative. Hospitals are never short of drug addicts. There’s always one or two knocking around the wards for one reason or another. They gave him the name of their dealer. Sounderajah decided to wait until it had grown dark before he paid ‘Mad Dog’ a visit.

At night, the city centre wore two faces. One was the gaudy public persona, all glitz and neon lights, luring the crowds into the theatres and the clubs, the pubs and the McDonalds. On the reverse, behind the façade, was the acne. Alleyways, back passages and shadowy doorstops predominated. Prostitutes turned tricks behind the train station. Homeless people fought like rats for the first fruits of rotten food. Thieves and muggers ran through the burrows, eager to be away to count their loot. Not too long ago, Houseman had chased a geek through these alleys with a katana. That had been an interesting night.

“What’s gwaan?” Viknesh beamed calmly.

“Da fuck are you?” the other occupant of the alley asked bluntly. Viknesh presumed him to be Mad Dog. He was tall and broad and black, wrapped up in a voluminous parka anorak. Even in the dimness of the alley, he could the see the glitter of bling across his knuckles. Maybe a knuckleduster. At his feet, breathing heavily, at the end of a chain, was a particularly rabid Staffordshire terrier. Viknesh didn’t believe in hell but staring at that abomination of in-breeding, he began to seriously reconsider his position. It eyed him warily. He swore its eyes glowed.

“Viknesh Sounderajah. I’m a doctor.” He reached inside his jacket and tossed his ID card across the lane. The trainspotter caught it and squinted at it in the poor light. He grunted noncommittally and Viknesh felt some of the tension seep out of the alley. “And you’re Mad Dog, right?”

“Yeah,” Mad Dog answered, “D’you want?”

“I’m looking for smack, some real pure product,” Viknesh explained, stepping closer to the dealer, but not within the (assumed) reach of the actual mad dog. “And the address of where I can get it.”

“Who’s been saying my junk’s not pure?” Mad Dog barked, his professional pride wounded. Viknesh took a half-step back.

“No-one, but when they tested Scuzz at the hospital, they thought he’d been injecting toothpaste.” Viknesh smiled. Scuzz was a frequent recidivist of a patient, always on the hunt for his next fix, and he wasn’t choosy. As far as Viknesh knew, he may have been injecting toothpaste. He certainly hadn’t been using any on his teeth. “He says hi by the way. He said you were right, it was cellulitis.”

“Hn.” Mad Dog nodded thoughtfully appeased by the information. Buoyed by his reaction, Viknesh pressed on.

“I watched someone OD in Starbucks this afternoon. In public, in broad daylight. Does that sound like your sort of clientele?” He asked. He leaned in, ever wary of the dog, for lack of a better word. “I’m looking for a dealer who set up shop recently. They’ve got real pure stuff but they’re not stealing your business. You must know who I’m talking about.”

“Yeah, yeah, I heard of him.” Mad Dog nodded, rubbing his chin, “What’s it worth?”

“I’m looking to shut him down if it’s all the same to you.” Viknesh explained. The dealer’s eyebrows rose but he remained mute. The junior doctor shrugged and removed a plastic bag from inside his coat. Mad Dog took and examined the contents.

“What’s this?” he asked, taking out a small box of ampoules, passing over the small bundle of ten pound notes next to it.

“Naloxone.” Viknesh said, “It can bring someone round from an overdose, or you could force somebody into withdrawal with it. I’m sure you can find a use for that somewhere.”

“And the money? Bit much for just information.” Mad Dog queried, shaking his head, “Not very street, are you?”

“Is it that obvious?” Viknesh chuckled, “If it’s too much, can I ask for a favour on top?”


Back in the suburbs.

Sounderajah had been impressed by the picture perfect quality of the high street. That string of stores and coffee shops was not even in the same league as the quiet residential road he found himself on. The houses were like small mansions in brick and creeping ivy. That was the impression he got though it was hard to tell in the dark, and behind the thick verdant cover of the avenue of trees on either side of the street.

According to the address Mad Dog had scribbled down for him, this was the place. A detached townhouse, no more extravagant than any of its neighbours, with a sleek looking Aston Martin parked in front of the house. Viknesh steeled himself, took a deep breath and paced across the driveway, up the few steps to the porch. The doorbell. A wait.

“Can I help you?” a man answered the door. He was approaching the end of middle-age but wore it well. A strong jaw, wavy blond hair, mixing to grey and white now, he was effortlessly handsome. He had the appearance of having matured rather than aged. A pair of glasses resting on his nose said that he had been interrupted in his reading. He wore a dress shirt, rolled at the sleeves, and slippers. An idiosyncratic fashion.

“I’ve heard you’re a man who knows how to get product. Real pure.” Viknesh explained. He had deliberated on what to say on the train. There were many things he could have said but nothing would have worked better than if he pretended to be a client. He might have the wrong address. This might just be the butler.

“I’m sorry–” his host began to say, a look of confusion on his face.

“And I know JP Williams.” Viknesh gambled quickly, recalling the F1 he had left unconscious in Houseman’s apartment. It worked. The man’s confusion melted away in comprehension and he smiled, nodded.

“Ah. You had better come in.”

Viknesh was led through an Art Deco styled foyer and into the reading room, or study, or writing room. He wasn’t quite sure what it was called. There was a bureau against the far wall, populated with various papers. It was framed by two solid-looking bookcases filled with a variety of books. Even with a cursory glance, Viknesh spotted a number of old and renowned medical textbooks. Henry Gray’s Anatomy was in good company.

“Please, have a seat.” His host gestured to one of two high-backed leather chairs sat proudly in front of the open fire, politely lit. There was a small round table next to one, with a tumbler of whiskey on the rocks on it, with the bottle. Viknesh didn’t want to sit but there was something about the other man’s tone, not forceful but compelling. “Can I get you something to drink?”

“No. Thank you.” Viknesh declined. They both sat, his host reclaiming his whiskey. A moment of silence passed between them. The ice clinked in the glass.

“I’m sorry, I don’t think we’ve been introduced.” The older man smiled.

“Doctor Viknesh Sounderajah. And you are?”

“Doctor Luke Rheinhardt.” He nodded. Seeing that Viknesh was not satisfied with merely a name, he carried on. “I am a locum consultant. I go from place to place, doing whatever happens to take my fancy. At the moment, that is managing the A&E department at St Mary’s. But I don’t think that’s what you here for.”

“Morphine has been going missing from your department, Dr Rheinhardt, and the theft is being covered by prescribing co-codamol in its place.” Viknesh explained, “That morphine is being sold on the streets. I found someone who had overdosed on it this afternoon. Do you know anything about that, Dr Rheinhardt?”

“Of course. I’m the one who has been selling it.” Rheinhardt answered pleasantly. Sounderajah blinked. The confession didn’t surprise him. Instead, it was the ease by which it came out. “By appointment only, of course. This isn’t a particularly complicated operation but more than a bit convoluted. I have to congratulate you on your determination.”

“You wouldn’t stop trafficking drugs even I went to the police, would you? Viknesh asked, certain of the answer to follow. Rheinhardt was sitting perfectly at ease, one leg poised on the knee of the other. He exuded confidence, unadulterated self-assurance like a cologne.

“No.” A short shake of the head, a sip of the drink.

“Patients are gravely ill. They need that medicine.” Viknesh stated firmly, gripping the arms of his chair and leaning forward. He thought of Mrs Harding, soldiering on politely despite unbearable pain. “I can’t believe I have to explain that to a doctor of all people!”

“My clients need that medicine too. They’re sick.” Rheinhardt shrugged.

“They’re addicted. That argument doesn’t work if you’re the one causing the disease.” Viknesh countered, his anger rising.

“Touché.” The other doctor admitted aloofly.

“You also kidnapped Jack Houseman. Why?” Sounderajah asked, changing tack. He was angry as hell but he still wanted more answers.

“This has been an interesting, lucrative project. I didn’t want a nosey F1 to ruin it.” Rheinhardt explained with a note of irritation. It didn’t last long though. The effortless smile returned, “I didn’t count on you coming after him. I thought you would be smarter than that.”

“I guess you didn’t count on me calling the police either. They’re on their way now.” Viknesh grinned. With a little imagination, he could already hear the sirens. For all his confident talk, the net was now ready to tighten around Rheinhardt. He checked his watch.

“I’ll tell them there’s been a mistake. A prank call.” The doctor dismissed the threat with a wave of his hand.

“Is that what you’ll tell the fire brigade too?” Viknesh smiled, looking up.


At that moment, a Molotov cocktail smashed through the window. It broke on the bookcase and burst into flame. Somewhere in Rheinhardt’s hedgerow, Mad Dog was hastily fleeing the scene of the crime. Viknesh shot to his feet. He grabbed the whiskey bottle and hurled it in the fire. It exploded into glass and liquor, and fire spilled into the room. Unsettled for the first time, Rheinhardt rose speechlessly as his study was consumed. Wasting no time, Viknesh barged past him, knocking the doctor over, and ran into the hall.

The sirens were real now. The police, the fire brigade and the cavalry were on their way. Sounderajah didn’t want to be there when they arrived. Running on instinct, he ran upstairs. He threw open every door he found, hoping that Houseman would be behind them. No luck. The smoke alarm was sounding now.

At the far end of the landing, he had to pause. There was one more door but it was a door that didn’t belong. It was cream with a window at the top, one of the multitude he passed daily in the hospital. He tried the handle and stepped inside. The smell of disinfectant and the soft beep…beep of a cardiac monitor. The floor, incongruous with the rest of the house, was covered in hospital-grade linoleum. There was a single bed, a hospital bed, in the room, complete with a patient’s chart at the foot. The patient: Jack Houseman.

“Viknesh?” Jack blinked, ungratefully roused by the commotion in the rest of the house. He wiped Morpheus from his eyes with the heel of his hand and blinked again. “What are you doing here?”

“You’re being discharged.” Sounderajah smirked, so very glad to see his friend again. He rushed forward and grabbed at Houseman. Houseman, unsure of exactly what was happening, but a quick learner, acquiesced. Up to a point.

“Wait, I can’t walk. Get me a wheelchair.” Houseman started anxiously, as Sounderajah swung his plastered legs off the bed. “I broke my legs.”

“We don’t have time for this, Jack.” His partner stated brusquely and heaved Houseman up onto his shoulders. Grunting under the weight, he struggled into the corridor. Rheinhardt had a beautiful, cultured house. While gloriously aesthetic, the downside was that there was a great deal of wood in the furniture and the fittings. The “controlled diversion” that Sounderajah had planned had escalated into wholesale arson. The ground floor was succumbing to the inferno. The smoke and the heat rose and clouded their eyes and heads. Just as they staggered to the top of the stairs, Rheinhardt appeared on the top step. He didn’t look quite so charming anymore.

Only one weapon, and one option, came to Viknesh’s mind. Groaning with the effort, he lifted Houseman over his head and threw him at the maverick doctor. Unprepared for such weight, burdened by his hostage, Rheinhardt tumbled backwards down the stairs. Houseman, confused as to why he was suddenly in a house when he had just been in hospital, was equally surprised. Fortunately, he skated down on Rheinhardt’s body.

Taking the stairs in big bounds and leaps, Sounderajah landed by the crumpled heap of medical staff. Houseman appeared uninjured. Rheinhardt was at least alive. Not bothering with the latter, he picked up the former and ran for the front door. The fires licked hungrily at their clothes. With his free hand, Sounderajah wrenched open the door, just as a fireman outside swung down with an axe to break it down. The junior doctor stepped back from the free falling blade and darted past the surprised fireman.

There were firefighter, police and a paramedic crew assembled in Rheinhardt’s driveway. Sounderajah didn’t stop, despite urgent pleas and attempts by all three professions to make him. Mad Dog pulled up quickly in a second-hand Ford Mondeo (an anti-climactic car for a drug dealer, Viknesh thought sadly) and threw open the passenger door. As one, the two doctors barrelled inside.

The car took off into the night.

“How are you, Mrs Harding?” Viknesh asked.

“Awful, doctor.” The little old lady deep within the bed answered, aggressively gumming her lips, “That morphine you gave me has turned my stomach something dreadful.”

“Well, it’s not for everyone.” The F1 admitted, flipping through her chart at the foot of the bed. There on her drug chart, morphine prescribed and administered, at last. He looked up with a smile, “I’m sick of it myself.”

Later, with no jobs to be completed urgently, Sounderajah headed to the doctors’ mess for a quick coffee. He was surprised to see Houseman there, sitting on one of the couches. His thin hospital gown stopped short of covering his painfully white shins. It was nearly comical. He seemed deep in thought.

“What are you doing here?”

“I’m a doctor.”

“You’re also a patient, Houseman.” Sounderajah corrected, passing through into the kitchen. Over the sound of hot water, he shouted, “You should be in bed.”

“I’ve spent enough time in bed.” His partner replied grimly, leaning forward and resting his chin on his hands. “Far too much time. I need to get back on my feet.”

“That shouldn’t be too hard. The orthopods gave you the all-clear, didn’t they?” Viknesh chirped, returning to the couch with a steaming cup of the lifeblood of the NHS. Apart from a knock on the head and a mild addiction to morphine, Houseman was quite well. His belief to the contrary had been planted by Rheinhardt to keep him bedbound. Convincing a hostage that they can’t escape because they can’t even walk was, Sounderajah had to admit, quite genius. “Rheinhardt played some trick on you.”

“He’s a clever man.” Houseman replied distantly. Absently, he reached out for the chessboard on the coffee table. He picked up the black king and studied it closely. “A clever, clever man.” After a moment’s pause, he leaned back and pitched the chess piece across the room into the bin. “And I’ve no doubt we’ll meet again.”

“You’re certain?” Sounderajah queried, “But surely the police–”

“That man is a fox.” Houseman declared, fixing his gaze on the other doctor for the first time, “He’s smart and he’s slippery and he could charm the pants off a nun. This was a game to him. He’ll be back with a new game when the time is right.”

“And you intend to play?”

“Of course,” Houseman grinned, “I’m a fox too.”

“Excellent. A game of chicken between two foxes.” Sounderajah rolled his eyes and sipped his coffee. Rheinhardt had shown that he was serious by falsely hospitalising Houseman and sending his foundation programme thug after him. After burning down his house, Sounderajah doubted that Rheinhardt would play so nicely next time. Something else was bothering him. “Jack, how are you doing?” A heavy pause. “Without the morphine.”

Houseman didn’t reply immediately. He stared at Viknesh but looked away before he could get a measure on his pupils. He clenched and unclenched his fists over and over, gripping the hem of his gown. He looked pale and Viknesh was almost convinced that there was a thin line of sweat on his brow. What he said next had the air of composure, and of being composed.

“I’m clean.” Jack ran his tongue across his teeth, “I am still getting the cravings however. The liaison shrink says that they will fade with time, providing I avoid the cues to drug use. For me, they include hospital beds, patients…and linoleum flooring. For me, those things are unavoidable, inescapable. But I can handle it.”

“Can you?”

“I have to.”

“But can you, Jack?” Sounderajah pressed, leaning forward. A doctor with an addiction to prescription medication, to morphine no less. It was a thin line to walk, a scalpel’s edge. There was every opportunity to fall, and Jack would fall hard. Willpower was a fine thing but it wasn’t infinite. Every man had his limit. He wondered where Jack’s was.

“We’ll see.” Houseman smiled.


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