Morgan Score, The|
/ Jack Higgins
Number of votes: 29, avarage rating: 8.2069
This is the only short story known. It is about an very resourceful army
man who becomes caught between feuding factions of the IRA as he trails a
terrorist through the alleyways of Belfast. Then he becomes both the hunter
and the hunted... It bears a strong resemblance to some of his books like Solo.
It appeared in "Great Irish Tales Of Horror" which were collected by Peter
The first two of twelve pages of the story now follow:
The Europa Hotel in Belfast stands in the Great Victoria Street, rising 12
stories above the railway station next to it. Since it had opened in 1971,
more than 25 separate bombing attacks had been made on it by the IRA.
Morgan remembered that interesting statistic ad he stood at the window of
his room on the fourth floor and looked down to the bus station and the
Protestant stronghold of Sandy Row.
A cold east wind blew in from Belfast Lough, driving rain across the mean
streets of the devastated city. He was restless and frustrated. This was his
second day here and nothing had happened.
He stayed in the hotel, only left his room to go down to the dining-room
or the bar, and spend most of the previous night sitting in the darkness by
the window, a night punctuated by the sound of bombs exploding or on the
occasional rattle of small-arms fire.
He was worried because this was Friday and in less than 48 hours, at four
a.m. in the morning, the 31st of July, Motorman was to go into action; the
biggest operation mounted by the British Army since Suez. A planned
invasion of all the so-called no-go areas dominated by the IRA in Belfast
and Londonderry. Once that went in into operation O'Hagan would be certainly
to drop completely out of sight for a while.
In the end he could stand it no more, pulled on his jacket and took the lift
down to the foyer. He told the desk clerk the he'd be in the bar, sat
himself in a high stool and ordered Irish whiskey.
Perhaps he'd expected to much from O'Hagan.
He sipped a little on his whiskey and a uniformed porter tapped him on the
shoulder. 'Colonel Morgan? Your taxi's here, sir.'
The driver was an old man badly in need of a shave. Not a word was said as
they drove through the gathering darkness and rain.
They were somewhere on the Falls Road, with the Catholic Turf Lodge area on
the left. Morgan knew that and then the old man turned into one of the mean
little side streets.
There was a builder's yard at the end. They drove inside.
There was a lamp above the door which illuminated the yard. The old Ford van
standing next to it had Kilroy's Bakery painted on the side.
There was silence, only the rain. The old man spoke for the first time. 'I
think you'd better get out, mister.'
This was the most dangerous moment, Morgan knew that. The moment that would
tell his whether his calculated risk had paid off or not. He opened the door
and got out.
A heavily-build man in a dark anorak, the hood up, came round from behind
the van holding a Kalashnikov assault rifle. Morgan waited. There were
footsteps and a second figure emerged from the darkness. He was just a
'If you'd be good enough to assume the position, Colonel.'
He was Belfast, his accent said as much and he knew his job running his
hands expertly over Morgan as the Colonel leaned against the side of the
van, arms braced.
Finally satisfied, he opened the rear doors. 'All right, Colonel.
He climbed in after Morgan, the other man handed him the rifle and closed the
doors. A moment later, they drove away.
The journey took no more than ten minutes. The van stopped, the driver came
round and opened the doors. The boy jumped out and Morgan followed him.
The small terrace houses showed little sign of life except for the odd chink
of light there a curtain was badly drawn. The boy lit a cigarette and tossed
the match away.
'A grand place to raise your kids, wouldn't you say Colonel?' he said
without looking at Morgan, then started across the road.
Morgan followed him. There was a small cafe on the corner. The boy pushed
the door open and entered. It wasn't much of a place. There was a row of
brown-painted booths down one side, a marble topped bar on the other.
There didn't seem to be any customers. The only sign of life was the old,
grey-haired woman in the soiled white apron who sat by the urn reading a
paper. She glanced at Morgan briefly.
A quiet voice called softly from the end booth, 'Bring the Colonel down