Pansies had been planted in hanging baskets and the Christian cross was wrought in the ironwork along with a saint’s name written in Gaelic. Bishop fidgeted in the folds of his jacket, found a length of parcel string and tugged it. He drew out a long rusting skeleton key and rattled around in the lock, opening the gate with a squeal.
He flicked a switch inside the door and told Spencer to mind the slippery steps. When they stepped inside Spencer could no longer hear the wind or the sea crashing against the jagged rocks beyond the harbour. The cave sounded like a seashell clamped to the ear.
‘Where is it?’ Spencer hissed. He held a revolver at waist height, taking no chances in the damp gloom of the cave.
‘You know why he wanted the job done, don’t you?’ Bishop said. ‘He was tying us to him. We’d lose our lives the moment we did that job. He’d have owned us.’
‘I’ve been running for seven years!’ Spencer pointed the revolver at Bishop’s head. His finger was damp on the trigger.
‘You got your life back,’ Bishop said.
‘Yeah, I spend my days stacking grow-bags.’
Bishop nodded at the revolver. ‘They all know you’re here.’
The lights dipped and buzzed. The ceiling glistened silver with damp and cobwebs.
‘Made some friends, have you?’
‘I’ve helped people. We’re a community.’
‘Where is it?’ Spencer said.
‘I’ve told you: it’s all around you. Money is life-changing in the right hands.’
Spencer lowered the revolver, pointing at Bishop’s heart.
‘You know I wound up here starving, eating scraps from the bin and one of the skippers made me a fry-up. I never forgot that, so I take care of our saint.’
Spencer spat into the dust.
‘Haven’t you realised it’s all gone? It doesn’t matter what you do to me.’
‘They don’t accept charity. When Paula and Bob’s lad needed treatment they got the fund going with two grand left on their doorstep. Tucked away, it was, under a loose tile.’
Spencer rubbed his forehead.
‘Where do you think the two grand came from?’
A vein throbbed in Spencer’s neck.
‘Peter Mac needed kit for his boat. Peter gave me that job on the trawler. I had the kit delivered, left on the quayside so he’d find it first thing.’
Blood roared in Spencer’s ears. He twisted his neck, clunking the vertebrae into place.
‘I had to change my name because of you. I had to start a new life.’
Bishop stepped back into the darkness, raising his palms.
‘Our saint was carried across the sea by a terrible storm. He could have washed up anywhere, but he didn’t.’
Spencer blinked, adjusting his eyes to the gloom. The switch clicked and the cave was in darkness. He stumbled back, soles sounding like a striking match on the cave floor.
‘It was God’s will you see. He was frightened and tired and he sought shelter in this cave and prayed to God for guidance. After eleven days he stepped from the darkness into the light.’
Spencer felt for the wall of the cave.
‘I came here lost and frightened,’ Bishop said. ‘I spent eleven days in the cave praying. I drank rainwater and sought forgiveness.’
Spencer edged along the wall, feeling the cold touch of iron against his elbow. He tugged the gate, but it had been shut behind him. He sensed movement in the gloom. A giant chain had been wrapped around the bars, clamped in place with a padlock. His first thought was to shoot the lock, but his hands grabbed at his wrists and cotton was pressed to his mouth. Spencer’s eyes stung and his grip on the bars weakened. He slumped to the floor of the cave, cheek pressed against the cool stone and tongue lolling in the dust.
When Spencer woke he was groggy. Shards of light prickled at the edge of his vision. A shaft of sunlight poked from high above the pan-tiled roofs of the harbour. Spencer shivered, wrapping his jacket tight about him. He shouted for help until his throat was hoarse. He patted his jacket, but his watch and his phone had been taken.
He slumped against the bars, head in his hands. The shaft of sunlight caught a white fleck on the cave wall. Spencer crouched to stare at it. Words Spencer had seen before were written in chalk on the wall:
Out of darkness cometh light