HMP High Down

Read by Bali Rai
A man gets off a bus, stumbles, looks over and sees a woman, smiling. A cynical smile. Jeremy Horner felt compelled to speak. “Can I help, madam?”

“Yes,” she said, as she handed him a photograph. Jeremy gasped.

“What’s this all about?”

“I suggest we have a chat.”

“Over there, the bench.” Jeremy was curt.

“Now we are along, let’s talk about the photograph of your cosy dinner with the property developer, Eric Smithson. We both know what’s in the envelope. Director of Planning at Evenlode Council. Doesn’t look good, does it?”

“I’ve done nothing wrong.”

“Enough to lose your job, your pension and to put your in a prison cell. In a couple of years, 1990 I think, you are due to retire. Such a shame, all of this, don’t you think?” Sarcasm hung on the words.


“Indeed, and I am going to tell you what you need to do to avoid humiliation. Your department will receive a contract and you will sign it. It will be for, shall we say, advisory services. One million pounds with fifty per cent in advance. Simple.”

“You’re mad. How do you think I can do that?”

“Jeremy, I know that you can agree up to one million pounds. A perfect coincidence.”

“And when the service fails to appear?”

“Your problem. You waste millions every year so you’ll bury it somewhere. The contract with bank details will be there tomorrow. sign it, send the money and the photos are yours.”

“You really do think I am mad. No photographs and negatives, no money.”

“You don’t seem to trust me?”

“Damn right. Meet here, Friday at 11am. When I see the photographs and negatives we can go to a telephone box. I will arrange the payment. That’s the deal.”

“See you on Friday then.” She walked away.

Penny, his secretary took the contract to Jeremy for signature. He signed and smiled [word?]

They met as planned.

“Photos and negatives, please.”

The woman took them out of her bag. They walked to the telephone box.

They managed to squeeze in and Jeremy dialled a number.

“Penny, good morning. Please make that payment, thank you.” Jeremy sounded natural.

“Done. The money is on the way” snarled Jeremy. “If you don’t mind I will step outside. There’s a nasty smell in here.”


“Good morning. I am expecting a large payment into my account 00716329.”

“Certainly, madam. Yes, £500,000 just received.”

“Thank you so much.” Down went the receiver. Inspector Murdoch opened the door, warrant card in hand.

“Good morning, Madam. We need you to accompany us to the station.”

“What on Earth for?” she said innocently.

“We’ve been following you for two years. We just needed proof that you were blackmailing government officers, we now have photographs of your meetings with Mr Horner, who also kindly agreed to wear a tape recorder. We have every single word. The £500,000 no longer exists. Mr Smithson was delighted to assist us. Shall we go now?”

Jeremy smiles from ear to ear.