Wednesday, 4 October 2017
The Miskin Legacy - Generation Seven, Part Six: Brotherly Love
It was noon. Jenny sat alone in the office, eating her lunch. She had tried to go into the canteen, but the happy shouts she had once heard had been replaced with malicious whispers and wounding gossip.
"Look, there she is! Do you think she knew?"
"She had to. They reckon it was an inside job. Why else would he get the case?"
"Miskin all along - who'd have thought it? The sly bastard."
She couldn't believe it. She wouldn't. Only last night, she had been lying in bed beside Marius, and there was nowhere else in the world she'd have rather been. He'd gone downstairs for a mere moment - and then suddenly rushed back into the bedroom to dress himself... with a police officer hot on his heels.
As she'd frantically covered herself up with the blanket, mortified, Marius had looked at her with imploring eyes.
"Jenny," he'd protested, "This isn't what it looks like. I'm innocent - I promise you! I've done nothing wrong!"
"Save it for the station, Miskin," the policeman had said, before dragging her lover outside and shoving him into the back of a panda car.
Unintentionally abandoned in an empty house, Jenny had tearfully put on her own clothes and headed home, leaving the door on the latch behind her. It had been the longest walk of her life. She had felt heartbroken and ashamed. However, sleep had helped clear her head, and fortified her convictions.
Marius was telling the truth. She knew that for certain. He wouldn't lie to her. The problem was, she couldn't prove it. And according to the latest reports, the police had DNA evidence. Things didn't look good.
Racking her brains to try and think of a way to help her paramour, she wandered over to the coffee machine, and poured herself a large cup - hoping the caffeine hit might spark some thoughts into life. Helping herself to a biscuit from the plastic-wrapped packet beside it, she raised it to her lips, readying herself to take a bite... and stopped.
The revelation hit her like a ton of bricks. Marius' earlier words about the café echoed in her mind.
"My brother owns it."
She cast her mind back as far as she could. Had she ever seen Marius' brother? Wait... yes! She had - behind the counter, once or twice. The two shared a remarkable resemblance. In fact, aside from their hairstyles and shaving preferences, they were pretty much identical.
Who would have pretty near identical DNA.
Samples of agents' DNA were always taken before their first mission. It was protocol: it provided something the higher-ups could use to identify them if they were killed in the line of duty. Thus, Marius' name would have been flagged up on the police records when they performed the forensic tests. That wasn't necessarily the case with his twin.
She began to recall other conversations: Marius telling her that his brother went away a lot - travelling to conventions, and taking holidays.
It usually happened around the same time a robbery took place.
Quick as a flash, Jenny seized her coat and bags, and rushed out of Intelligence Headquarters. Hailing a taxi, she asked the driver to get her to the police station as fast he he could - promising him a very big tip in return.
As the taxi pulled up outside the station, Jenny practically leaped out of the vehicle - tossing a few notes from her purse to the driver as she did so - and stormed into the foyer, rushing straight up to the reception desk.
"You have to free Marius Miskin!" she cried desperately. "You've got the wrong man!"
A young detective, who was sat behind the desk munching on a doughnut, looked at her in a bemused fashion, and snorted.
"Yeah... tell us something we don't know, love."
Whilst Nimue lay beside him in their bed, slumbering peacefully, Mitch couldn't get a wink of sleep. When he'd come home from the couple's romantic night out, retreated to his basement recreation room to watch the news, and learnt that his brother had been arrested for Midas' crimes, guilt had dug its razor-sharp talons into his conscience.
He'd shouted for Nimue, who had rushed downstairs to watch the broadcast. Immediately, she had tried to reassure him. They both knew Marius wasn't a criminal. The police would soon figure out he wasn't involved with the Magpie League, and would let him go in due course. They simply had to wait it out - everything would be fine.
Mitch, meanwhile, wasn't so sure. Since he and Marius were identical, he would be the perfect match for most of the witness statements. And since the police were so eager to crack this case, they might try to convict him on that basis alone.
At that moment, he remembered about the glove he'd left behind during his last heist.
His blood had been on it. His DNA.
Hundreds of horrible images flashed across Mitch's mind. Marius being locked in a dark room for questioning - constantly harassed and pressured to give up information he simply didn't have. Tried and convicted in some kangaroo court, before being locked away for a crime he didn't commit. And what about his career with the Intelligence Service? Something like this wouldn't look all that great on his workplace record. His job could be on the line.
Mitch rolled over to face Nimue, gently stroking her cheek, before lowering his hand to rest on her baby bump. The little one was due to arrive in a matter of days. They were going to need him. He could easily just let Marius take the blame, let Midas remain in the past, and focus on his future with his family.
Only... Marius was family.
He had already lost his mother and his father. He couldn't lose his brother too - not for something that was his fault. Even during his life of crime, he had always tried to do good. And he needed to do that now.
With an extremely heavy heart, he planted a kiss on Nimue's head, and wrapped his arms around her for one final embrace - whispering the words "I love you."
He rose from the bed, dressed himself in his golden suit, and hastily wrote a note to Nimue - leaving it for her to find when she awoke. After giving her one last kiss, feeling his heart being ripped in two as he did so, he headed downstairs - using his mobile phone to make a call as he went.
"This is Midas. I know you're a stupid pig, but I trust that, given the fact I'm phoning you, you've figured out that it isn't me at the station. I'll be at Rockwell's in one hour... a repeat visit. If you want me, come and get me."
He hung up before the officer had a chance to say anything. Tears rolling down his cheeks, he drew a deep breath, left the Miskin house, and went to face his fate.
Slowly stirring as the early morning sunlight beamed in through her window, a frightened coldness gripped Nimue's heart when she found herself alone in bed. Jolting awake, her pulse soared as she spotted a folded piece of paper on the pillow beside her. Nervously, she picked it up, opened it, and read it.
My dearest Nimue,
I am about to do what may be, quite possibly, the most stupid thing I've ever done in my life - but please know that I am doing it for a good reason. As easy as it would be to avoid this, and to continue living the life I've been enjoying so much, I know that I could never forgive myself if I did.
I simply cannot allow them to put my brother in prison.
So... I'm going to give myself up.
I can't tell you when and where I intend to surrender, because you would only try and stop me if I did. All being well, the whole ordeal will be over by the time you're reading this.
I plan to co-operate with the police, and to admit everything I've done. It will just make things easier in the long run. However, there is one thing that I'll stretch the truth about. The Magpie League.
You, Mo and Clyde have nothing to fear. I'm going to say that the Magpie League was all an invention of mine... that I left the cards myself. I was just trying to be clever - cover my tracks, send the investigators the wrong way. With any luck, they'll fall for it, and you three will remain above reproach. I ask, my love, that you all stay that way. No more robberies, no more heists, and no clever plots to try and break me out of prison... if I get sent down, that is.
If any of you get questioned, just play dumb and say you knew nothing - they can't connect any of you with Midas. And for the love of God, don't let them see this letter.
You can take over the café: you're a brilliant leader, and its proceeds should be enough to ensure you and my child have a secure future. And I know Mo and Clyde will survive somehow. Letting them live in freedom is the best reward I can give them now in exchange for their loyalty.
If the worst should happen, please remember that I love you and our baby with all my heart. I want my child to grow up respecting their parents, and understanding right from wrong. I don't want them to make the mistakes I've made. I may have done good in the world... but I still went the wrong way about it. It's my own fault that I got caught. Handing myself in now, without a fight, so that my brother can rightfully go free, is the best way for me to lead by example.
I hope, dear wife, that you will remain faithful to me. I will understand if you don't. But, if the child you are carrying is my first born son, please ensure that he is raised as a Miskin - as the heir to my family legacy. Hand him over to Marius if you must. I have disgraced my ancestors through my behaviour: perhaps my child will bring pride to their name once more.
Goodbye, my love. I do not know when I will see you again. But no matter what happens... I will remain, your devoted and grateful husband,
Wailing in anguish, Nimue dropped the letter, buried her face into the pillow, and wept.
Languishing in the holding cell, Marius tapped his foot up and down on the concrete beneath it - feeling both frightened and irritated. He still had no clue what he was doing here, or what was going to happen to him. Everything he'd had on his person had been confiscated. He had told the detectives everything he knew about the Magpie League - which was to say, very little - and yet, they held steadfastly onto the belief that he was involved with them.
He had been tempted to use his one phone call to contact his boss. If he pulled a few strings, he could have shown the coppers whose side he was on once and for all, and probably gotten an apology to boot. In the end, however, his desire to contact one particular person had been greater still.
After asking to ring his office, he was left feeling lower than ever when Jenny didn't answer the call.
As the door swung open, Marius looked up - anxiously anticipating whoever it was that might enter. It turned out to be the now familiar face of Detective Inspector Garland, with another, even more familiar face in tow: clad in the same grey T-shirt and black sweatpants that he had been forced to change into.
A face that was almost a mirror image to his own.
"Mitch?" he asked, bemused. "What the hell are you doing here?"
Mitch merely hung his head sadly, unable to answer his brother, or even look him in the eye.
The silence was telling. A chill shot up Marius' spine as he grasped the reality of the situation.
"No!" he shouted, his voice straining. "Not you! Please, God, tell me it wasn't you!"
"I'm sorry, Marius," Mitch whispered back - barely audible.
"Right, you," DI Garland said, grabbing hold of Marius' shoulder. "You're free to go. Your brother's confessed everything. A case of mistaken identity, it seems. Sorry for wasting your time. Go and get your things, and get out of here."
"No!" Marius roared, pulling away from him. "You can't lock up my brother! His wife's about to have their first baby! Please! Don't do this!"
"I highly suggest you co-operate," Garland hissed. "I'm willing to keep you both locked in this cell until we establish who this "Midas" is once and for all. But, this little birdie seems a lot more eager to sing than you do. You'd be making things very hard for yourself."
"Marius," Mitch added flatly, "please - just go. I broke the law, and now I have to pay my dues. Go home. Go back to Nimue for me. Make sure she's all right."
As he felt a lump forming in his throat, Marius let out a weak croak... but then nodded.
"I'll look after her, Mitch," he said firmly. "I'll look after them both. I promise."
DI Garland had seen and heard enough. He gestured for a guard to lead the still-protesting Marius away, whilst he locked Mitch up inside the cell.
"I wouldn't get too comfy in there if I were you," he said through the bars in a sarcastically sweet tone. "You're up before the judge first thing tomorrow. You're going away for a long time, boy... you mark my words."
Mitch flashed him an cocky smile. As he watched DI Garland groan and walked away, he settled himself down on the old, creaky camp bed he'd be sleeping on that night - leaning against the bars in thought.
There was nothing to do now but wait... to see what the next day would bring.
Meanwhile, Marius stepped out into the station foyer - back in his own attire, and his possessions returned to him. As he crossed the busy chamber, he spotted Jenny waiting for him on a bench near the front door. In an instant, he was racing towards her, and throwing his arms around her, embracing her tightly and burying his head into her shoulder: reluctant to ever let her go.
Mere moments ago, everything he knew had changed. The love he had for this woman, and the comfort her presence brought to him, was now the only thing in his life that he could be certain of.
I am taking some artistic licence in regards to this plot, but there have indeed been court cases where identical twin suspects were charged with the same crime. They couldn't isolate the culprit using DNA, since it linked to them both.
Tests have since been developed that can tell twins' DNA apart, but I thought it would make an interesting plot element for this part of the legacy. I hope you agree.