Banker by dick francis

By Dick Francis
My sincere thanks for the generous help of JEREMY H. THOMPSON M.D., F.R.C.P.I. Pro-
fessor of Pharmacology University of California Los Angeles and of MICHAEL MELLUISH
It's difficult to say where disaster begins, to point to one particular happening as the first signi-
ficant step towards distant cataclysm. Tim Ekaterin, looking back, saw the beginning as the day
his boss stepped into a fountain. Onwards from there he came across people and events as yet
unconnected but which when woven together by time and chance led towards violent explosive
action and the threat of death.
Set in the worlds of thoroughbred racing and merchant banking, Banker covers a span of three
years, growing from quiet harmless-seeming seeds to a wholly horrific harvest.
Gordon Michaels stood in the fountain with all his clothes on.
"My God," Alee said. "What is he doing?"
"Your boss," Alee said. "Standing in the fountain."
I crossed to the window and stared downwards: down two floors to the ornamental fountain in
the forecourt of the Paul Ekaterin merchant bank. Down to where three entwining plumes of wa-
ter rose gracefully into the air and fell in a glittering circular curtain. To where, in the bowl, calf-
deep, stood Gordon in his navy pin-striped suit… in his white shirt and sober silk tie… in his
charcoal socks and black shoes… in his gold cufflinks and onyx ring… in his polished City per-
sona… soaking wet.
It was his immobility, I thought, which principally alarmed. Impossible to interpret this profo-
undly uncharacteristic behavior as in any way an expression of lightheartedness, of celebration
or of joy.
I whisked straight out of the deep-carpeted office, through the fire doors, down the flights of
gritty stone staircase and across the marbled expanse of entrance hall. The uniformed man at the
security desk was staring towards the wide glass front doors with his fillings showing and two
arriving visitors were looking stunned. I went past them at a rush into the open air and slowed
only in the last few strides before the fountain.
"Gordon!" I said.
His eyes were open. Beads of water ran down his forehead from his dripping black hair and
caught here and there on his lashes. The main fall of water slid in a crystal sheet just behind his
shoulders with scatterings of drops spraying forwards on to him like rain. Gordon's eyes looked
at me unblinkingly with earnest vagueness as if he were not at all sure who I was.
"Get into the fountain," he said.
"Er… why, exactly?"
"They don't like water."
"Who don't?"
"All those people. Those people with white faces. They don't like water. They won't follow
you into the fountain. You'll be all right if you're wet."
His voice sounded rational enough for me to wonder wildly whether this was not after all a
joke: but Gordon's jokes were normally small, civilized, glinting commentaries on the stupidities
of mankind, not whooping, gusty, practical affairs smacking of the surreal.
"Come out of there, Gordon," I said uneasily.
"No, no. They're waiting for me. Send for the police. Ring them up. Tell them to come and ta-
ke them all away."
"But who, Gordon?"
"All those people, of course. Those people with white faces." His head slowly turned from si-
de to side, his eyes focused as if on a throng closely surrounding the whole fountain. Instincti-
vely I too looked from side to side, but all I could see were the more distant stone and glass walls