The dispersing crowd filtered through the trees and side-stepped old graves to merge into a column and tread the narrow pathway towards the road, where drivers stood by limousines awaiting the return of the bereaved. An air of bewilderment pervaded the atmosphere as mourners shared disbelief and sadness at the untimely passing of a good man.
“Bit of a shock, eh?” Dennis said to Matt when they met.
“Any idea what’s behind it?” Matt asked him.
“Ach, there’s all sorts of rumours going around. Watch yourself!” Dennis said, pulling him aside as a car came up behind.
Their gaze followed the dark blue Mercedes as it carved a passage through the throng, followed closely by a dark grey saloon.
“Another government minister,” Matt noted. “There’s some turnout here today; Special Branch everywhere.”
“Not surprising. He was a well-known supporter of the party,” Dennis said. “I’ll bet there were a few ripples at headquarters when the news broke.”
“Was it suicide?” Matt asked.
“Nobody’s saying,” Dennis answered. “The inquest hasn’t been announced yet. What brought you here? All of us legal bods are expected to show up, but you’re under no obligation.”
“I just wanted to pay my respects,” Matt explained. “He was one of the best judges around. He was fair and I never had a problem with any decision he made – even if things went against us.”
“Don’t look now,” Dennis said, nudging him as they approached the exit. “The young guy talking with the girl at the gate is the son. He looks shattered.” He drew up the collar of his coat and averted his gaze to the street outside.
As they walked past, Matt glanced casually at the pair. He saw a good looking young man with straight, coal black hair, a sallow, gaunt face and a glazed look in his eyes. “He’s high,” he said with a disapproving shake of his head. “Without the wall behind him he wouldn’t be able to stand up. Is he a known user?”
Dennis sneaked a second look. “Not to my knowledge,” he said. “If he is a bad boy he’s managed to stay below the radar.”
“Who’s the girl?” Matt asked of the young woman with cropped dark hair who seemed to be failing in her efforts to engage him. She turned her head in Matt’s direction and he looked away.
“No idea,” Dennis replied. “She’s not his sister. I know her from shots in the newspapers.”
“Are there just two of them – children?” Matt asked.
“I think so. They stayed with the mother as far as I know. The judge had an apartment in Ballsbridge… separated for years. You must remember it. The press had a field day.”
“It rings a bell alright,” Matt said. “Was there a call girl involved or something?”
“Not quite but you’re not far off.”
As they continued to walk, they chatted about old cases involving the judge; Dennis with his pale skin and untidy fair hair wearing a navy coat over a dark suit and Matt, tanned, broader and taller, with his hands in the pockets of a green wax jacket, his black hair touched with grey.
“Where are you parked?” Matt asked as they reached his Mercedes. “Can I give you a lift?”
“No need,” Dennis replied. “I’m just up the road, thanks.”
“Keep in touch,” Matt said as he opened the door.