MURMURS is a Fortnightly Periodical of Writings by JMF Casey

Family Business - Episode 4


The plump lawyer was halfway through a glass of red when Fiona turned up, he was pale against the plush purple interior of the hotel restaurant, taking on a faintly ghoulish appearance.

“Afternoon Fiona, thanks for agreeing to meet with me, please sit down, I’ll order you a drink.”

As soon as she sat the lawyer began in his smooth cold manner. 

“As I said on the phone my name is Sebastian Hausman, and I was formerly the lawyer of the late Roy Cormack. Several years ago he entrusted me with certain duties to be performed on the occasion of his untimely demise.

Now you have been handling the will and testament as officially compiled by Karnel and Wyse in 2005, but there is also a second will, a.. discrete will. 

I’m afraid I am not at liberty to divulge all the details, but what I will say is that the Cormack family is potentially in a lot of danger if certain procedures aren’t seen through. Don’t be alarmed, I am sorry, but please don’t pry further, I am risking a lot by reaching out to you, trust me when I say the less you know the better. 

Here is authorisation for a bank transfer from a holding account, indicating that this figure can be moved once into any second account. Roy Cormack has requested that this sum of money and a letter be passed on to a certain family, the Al-Malak family. As the solicitor executing the will and estates of Roy I recommend that you are best situated to deliver this settlement.”

There was a long pause as the lawyer observed Fiona processing the information.

“Here are photos of potential members of the family to approach, and here are their names and addresses.”

The last one he pulled out revealed the cat like face of Akil - Fiona froze. 

 “This young man is probably the best choice, Akil Huadi, a pharmacist, nephew of…” 

Sebastian lapsed into an awkward silence, it was as if he wanted to say more, but the words had painfully lodged in his throat, he made a strange, slow hiss, and then pulling himself together regained his formal indifference.  


Dear Chloe

It has been quiet and lonely during these long nights of late, you are sorely missed. However the “Drunken Twosome” have been popping in from time to time, so there are still some amusements. I got your address from your uncle Sal, your old home has changed somewhat! I never saw inside before, all the boards and barbwire are gone. Business seems good there, guess he’s there to stay eh?

I’m afraid I have little good to tell of my life, the saga with my cousin continues, he is getting more touchy and paranoid by the day! I walked in on him and my auntie Aisha talking about my dad yesterday, they hushed up immediately when they saw me. I don’t like it one bit, I don’t need to be thinking about my dad again, you know everything I have to say about him, what happened to him. 

Now I have a confession to make, I have a secret. I don’t know why I never told you, but I recognised you from way before the 24hr Express. Back when we were children, I remember seeing you sitting on a bench outside the courtroom with your grandmother, pale and distracted, I had just been crying and you glanced at me. 

The next time I see you, decades later, that mop of hair: unmistakable. 

My address remains the same, please write.

Yours always

Aziz Al-Malak


Fiona was uncharacteristically tense as she entered the pub. Her whole body reacted violently against defying protocol, but the desire to protect her clients compelled her. On top of that, withdrawal was creeping in. 

Shifting uneasily across the room she sat opposite the narrow frame of Akil. 

“We start with a rather different order of business today, I have some documents for you.”


Fiona passed two envelopes to Akil.

“These documents are delivered at the express wishes of Roy Cormack, upon his death by the execution of his will and testament.” She said mechanically. 

Akil held the envelopes and stared at them. “Roy Cormack”, he muttered.

He opened the first envelope and his eyes glanced over the transfer order - pausing briefly at the bottom of the page.

“This isn’t what we want, we want justice” he said abruptly and slid back the document. 

Fiona gestured towards the second envelope. Akil tore it open and withdrew its contents. Slowly he read through the handwritten text, squinting and mouthing words, at one point he seemed to laugh or growl. It seemed to Fiona to take an excruciatingly long time, but at length he placed the letter down. 

A serenity had befallen him. 

After a pause he resumed his usual manner, taking the two envelopes and rising.

“I will have to discuss it with my family”

Left alone at the table Fiona entered a thoughtful mood. She pondered the fact that she knew something about Roy that his family would never know, how he had endeavored to protect them from beyond the grave. Albeit from demons of his own creating. 

Then snapping out of her revelry Fiona suddenly noticed the newspaper lying on the table, she thought about how inside there would be a discrete packet, full of chalky white pills. The urge pulled her into action. 


For Sally life had begun once again, ranging across the rugged terrain with her small pack, sniffing the fragrant winds. The beautiful golden dog led the way, the mighty head of Beast turning to survey the pastures. Sally was in love with him, and even more she adored her new master, the tall quiet female, who strolled steadily behind, moaning soothing melodies. 

One day they came upon a few stray sheep, Sally immediately shot forth to round them up, and taking her place and glancing back expectantly she saw that her pack had not moved. Confused she observed her master waving and calling to her, it seemed this pair did not care about sheep. Sally sadly considered that perhaps sheep were no longer part of her life. 

At night she snuggled up on the sofa with Beast, or with the human if she chose to sleep downstairs. Her master was usually restless, always rustling about the dusty cottage long into the night.  

Then one day Sally caught the whiff of an unusual scent near the shore, it seemed to be drifting from a nearby island. Beast could smell it too, and they growled suspiciously together, it was the faint smell of a human, a powerful male. Her master stood staring out at sea for a long time, she was silent. 

For three days they smelt the same faint odour from the shore, and when they would whine the female human would pat them gently and whisper the same few words, until they became memorable to the quick witted collie.

“I know, I know.”

Though Sally was yet to comprehend their full meaning. 

End of Episode 4


Up In Smoke