'Hallo, just arrived, have you?' A chubby, balding little man in his early sixties, wearing horn-rimmed glasses and with a bare patch of lobster-pink belly bulging out where his shirt didn't quite button up over his knee-length safari shorts, rolled towards us, holding out a hand. 'Uh, bonjour?' he added, in case his assumption that we were English was incorrect.
Ever more able at the social amenities than I, Sandy was out of her deckchair before I could manage to get up from the upright at which I was sitting drinking coffee. The sun was hot and the time was early. I was unused to both.
'Hallo, I'm Sandy Nichol,' she introduced. 'This is Dave,' she added, omitting my last name. I finally got my limbs to work and, after her, took his clammy hand.
'Martyn Pulleyne,' he said. 'Your first visit?'
'Yes, we're just here for the week.'
'Friends of the Prestons?'
'Er, yes,' I said. 'Sort of. Friends of friends.'
'Lucky you. They usually rent the apartment out for the summer, then come down at the end of the season themselves. '
'They'll be here next week.'
'Shame, we'll miss them. Well, be on my way. See you at the beach?'
He waddled across the gravelled forecourt and turned right between the low privet hedge which was still high enough to conceal all but his gleaming pate, as he set off towards the main road and thence the beach.
'That's a High Court judge?' Sandy gawped once he was out of earshot. 'He looks like an accountant.' For a long period in her life, her steady lover had been an accountant: she knew no greater insult.
'That, my dear, is Sir Martyn Pulleyne, Mr Justice Pulleyne, no less.'
And I, Dave Woolf, neither knight nor judge but sometime solicitor turned private eye, was being paid the highest fee I'd ever earned in order to get the dirt on Pulleyne with which to destroy him.
I had been surprised to receive Orbach's 'phone call. We were not friends; perhaps we had never been friends, but certainly since the Disraeli Chambers case, friendship was the last thing I wanted (although I admit that, stuck for a way forward during the Mather's mess, I had turned to him for help). He had once been friends with the members of Disraeli Chambers - indeed, he was one of its founders - and his friendship had proved more than passing prejudicial to their health.
'I want to see you,' he said without preamble. 'I've got a job for you.'
I was too surprised to think of a witty answer and I didn't like to tell him that I didn't want to see him. As I've grown older, I've decided, albeit only on a balance of probabilities - a much lower standard of proof than beyond reasonable doubt - that there are sufficient good things in life to keep on playing at it. Those who incur the wrath of the almighty Orbach do so at risk of any future at all.
'Well?' He bellowed down the 'phone.
I held the receiver at arm's length to give myself space to think. There was, as he ought to have known, no possibility at all that I would work for him. However well-intentioned, indeed however well-paid it might be - and however badly I might need the money (as I did) - I would never really know what I was doing or why: I would be the puppet and he would be pulling my strings. My experience at Mather's had left a sour taste in my mouth; the way I'd been played by others had cost me a lover, a friend and most of my residual illusions.
I didn't mind about the lover. Sandy Nichol - the great on-off love of my life - and I had resumed our relationship soon after; just a few weeks before Orbach's 'phone call we had dined out to celebrate six months' unbroken companionship. I would not have been at home to receive the call if Sandy hadn't wanted to spend last night alone. Normally, I stayed at the house she owned in Kentish Town. It was a considerable improvement on the dark and damp Earl's Court basement I had rented since my student days.
'Well?' he repeated, a decibel quieter.
'I'm, er, not really taking on any work - not that sort of work - anymore, Russel. I'm, er, thinking of going back to Nichol and Co.'
Nichol & Co is the name of the North London legal aid law-firm that Sandy and I had set up many years before, when we first qualified. You will note that it is not called Nichol & Woolf. It never was. This gives you some idea of the balance of power between me and Sandy.
At the time we set the firm up, we were not lovers. We were still not lovers at the time she threw me out of the practice with a nominal pay-off that didn't cover my outstanding debts to bank manager or dope dealer. The latter was the reason she threw me out, not the former. We didn't become lovers until years later, during Disraeli Chambers, since which time she had been trying to persuade me to return to what she describes as 'real work', as a solicitor. Recently, she had been trying to tempt me with the offer of a decently redecorated office and my own assistant. I would say that it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind, but the last time I said it to Sandy she hit me so hard I couldn't see straight for a week.
It was not true that I was thinking of doing what she wanted. Occasionally, I would help out in the office, but with administration, or drawing up bills of costs to serve on clients or the legal aid fund, not proper legal work. Drawing up bills is a task I'm good at: I've always had a creative bent. Over the years since I left, the firm had more than trebled in size, in turnover, and in both qualified and unqualified staff. Nonetheless, Sandy ruled solitary and supreme. It was easy to imagine the resentment my return would cause. I only said it because it was the first thing I could think of to get rid of Orbach. Inevitably, it had the opposite effect.
'Good. That suits what I want you to do very well. Now, I take it you are willing to come and see me?'
When I had asked to see him during Mather's, offering to buy him dinner, he had abruptly terminated the conversation by identifying an extremely expensive restaurant - Frederick's in Camden Passage (which is, naturally, in Islington, not Camden) - stating a time and date, before hanging up without waiting for me to agree. It was worth a try. I said, 'Frederick's. Tomorrow night. Eight o'clock.'
He snorted. 'Tonight. My home at nine. I've moved. I'll give you the address.'
I was even more shocked that he had moved than that he had called me. For years, he had lived lonely and alone in a ground-floor flat in Highgate, sitting at the french windows overlooking his garden, his chair angled so that he could look out without seeing any other buildings. He used to share the flat with Margot McAllister, the MP, but they had split up when she went into Parliament so he could savour in peace and quiet the bitterness of his experiences at Disraeli Chambers, undisturbed by the constant demands made on people in public life. Their relationship had proved less important to him than his pain and anger.
He was altogether a strange man. He spent his holidays in Oslo, with a family of friends the female head of which he referred to as 'Mor', meaning mother, examining the new Munch Museum exhibits - they change them around every year - or going to concerts. He had no friends I knew of. He worked in an area of law well out of the limelight, but he was a Queen's Counsel and reputed to earn something between a quarter and a half million pounds a year. (This is not as extraordinary as it sounds, for one of the best English QCs was once paid a million pounds on a single brief, to appear in Hong Kong.)
I had heard no suggestion of a woman friend since McAllister left him, but so far as I knew he was not gay. I had once described him as aiming to hurt with every two things he said out of three. He nursed his loneliness like a jealous lover.
The news of a move was decisive. Even if I was not going to work for him, I could not resist the opportunity of finding out what had brought it about. I still hadn't agreed to the meeting when he hung up, taking for granted that I would come.
No sooner had he done so than the 'phone rang again. 'Hi, it's me.' This is a universally accurate opening, but in this case it meant Sandy. 'Are you coming up this evening?'
'Am I allowed back in?' I asked dryly.
I could hear her smile down the line. In the case of anyone else, this would be a universally inaccurate proposition, but not when it's Sandy.
Every time I finish up with someone else, and go back to Sandy, I can't remember why I left. There's no one who's a patch on her, or with whom love-making comes as close to transcending isolation. If I say there's no one who's as good as her I don't mean that she's invariably kind, or sensitive, or moral, or unselfish. She has the sharpest tongue of anyone I know, can be intolerably demanding in the most irritating, petty ways, can cut someone down to size swifter than a samurai's sword and when she wants something, heaven help anyone who stands in her way. What I mean is: no one else I know has got all their appealing and unappealing qualities in such perfect balance.
'Dave, I'll leave the office on time - get here early?'
'Can't, San. I've got an appointment at nine o'clock, though it won't be a long one and I'm not going to be far away.'
'I want to talk to you, Dave,' she insisted. Sandy has several variants on 'I want to talk to you'. One is: I don't want to talk to you, but you need talking to. Another is: I think maybe it's time we had a talk about things. Yet another is when she feels lonely or insecure, but doesn't want to admit it. The fourth is the eleventh commandment. 'Can't you change it?'
'Would you believe - Russel Orbach wants to see me? At his new house?'
'Ah.' Sandy knew Orbach too. She put up no new argument. 'Try to keep it short, then. That shouldn't be difficult.' Few people find an evening in Orbach's company a relaxing experience; most would rather back blindly into a fast-moving freeway. It's less dangerous.
'Sure. I won't be late.'
I was just about to hang up, when she said: 'Dave?'
'Oh, nothing.' And she hung up.
Why does everyone find it so easy to hang up on me? Maybe they don't expect me to say anything worth hearing.
After this intriguing start to the day, I went back to bed. I do my best thinking in bed. Besides, it wasn't yet noon.
I had just the one chore that day. Following Mather's, I had for once done something sensible. After I had - not without a degree of hesitation - billed Allison Mather Hoyt for my outstanding fee, and after she had - with yet greater hesitation - paid it, I had splashed out on a piece of serious equipment instead of dissipating the loot on booze. I had bought a car.
What is more, I bought a good car, a car to last. I bought a Volkswagen Passat, a car so large I could sleep in it if I was evicted for non-payment of rent. It is a family car, designed for obedient Catholics. Like Orbach, I am a Jew and I do not have a family, but once I'd been for a test-drive, I fell in love with it.
My chore for the day was to pick up the car from the garage where it had been undergoing therapy. It was located not far from Orbach's new home. The trouble was that it shut at six-thirty and I could not make the trek across London twice in one day. I telephoned and asked if they would mind leaving the car out for me; I would send them a cheque. They were still laughing when I hung up. Accordingly, I found myself two and a half hours early for Orbach and about five minutes away.
There was only one answer. There only ever is. I drove to his street, parked, and found a pub. The Crown was on the other side of the road from his house, less than a hundred yards away. It had a forecourt, and I settled down outside with a large Southern Comfort to enjoy an unusually warm July evening and to watch the healthy, well-preserved, middle-class young mothers of the area bouncing tantalisingly by.
Cloudesley Road is at the heart of gentrifying Islington. One can walk to Frederick's if sufficiently well-heeled. It is a most attractive street. Though the pavements are unusually wide, the road itself is narrow; the way that cars are parked at an angle instead of parallel forces drivers to proceed at a crawl. Furthermore, as I had found to my confusion, it is part of a complex traffic system which means that, although not itself one-way, it can only be entered from one end. It is accordingly very quiet, almost as peaceful as the country.
The houses are flat-fronted Georgian terraced, one side with wrought-iron balconies, all of them with curved front-windows on the ground floor. The Volvos, Volkswagens and Peugeots testified to house prices I didn't dare dream about. The interiors were white-painted, with unframed pictures on the walls and Liberty print curtains, knocked-through from front to back; most of the kitchens are in the basement, with mandatory stripped-pine table, microwave and dishwasher.
I was returning to my seat with my second drink when I saw a sight that made me toss it back in a single gulp and race inside for a third to calm my nerves. Orbach emerged from a car accompanied by a small black child in jeans who ran to his house crying 'me, me', attacking the front door with its own key. They disappeared inside. A few moments later the child - I now saw it was a little girl, maybe eight or nine years old - emerged and ran across the road. Orbach stood in the doorway and called after her, 'Half an hour, Frankie. That's all.'
'All right, Russel,' she shrieked without turning around.
'I promise,' she called out before disappearing into a house on the same side of the street as the pub.
Orbach shut his door. I waited patiently. I waited for half an hour. Nothing happened. I waited for a further quarter of an hour. Nothing happened. After one hour, Orbach emerged and crossed the road, intent on collecting the Frankie thing. I shut my eyes. Though I hate children, I'm squeamish. There was a serious likelihood I was about to witness murder or at the very least child abuse elevated to an art-form.
That would make it difficult for me to find out who she was. I knew she couldn't be his daughter. Not because she was black: one of the few epithets I never heard flung at him was racist. But one of those odd bits of information that had lingered in the faculty I laughingly like to call my memory was that Orbach couldn't have children. I don't remember when I heard it, or even if he told me. It was possibly something that had come up in the pub after a meeting in the old days; or something someone had offered in explanation of his antipathy towards the world at large.
Instead, a few moments later, the two of them went back over the road together, hand-in-hand, laughing. I could die a happy man. I had seen something no one else had ever seen. I had seen him laugh. I never thought he knew how.
It was still only eight o'clock. There was another hour to waste. I faced a dilemma. If I continued to drink at the same rate, I would probably not be coherent enough to confront Orbach; if I went across early, he would probably be incoherent with anger. I compromised. I had one more drink and ventured forth. Before my courage could flag, I was standing at his door, ringing the bell. I heard the child shout delightedly: 'Visitors!'
I would probably be the first one she'd ever seen.
She had opened the door before Orbach yelled from within the bowels of the house; 'Frankie, wait!'
'Hallo,' I replied. Children bring out the witty conversationalist in me.
'Who are you?' she asked. She'd obviously learned her tact and reticence from Orbach: 'What do you want?'
'I want to see Russel. He's expecting me. My name's Dave.'
Orbach appeared at the end of the hall corridor wearing an apron and brandishing a spatula. Beneath the apron, he still had on the trousers of his pin-striped court-suit and a collarless shirt. He was a tall, heavy man - I'd say fat, but he might not like it - with a bushy, grey beard and a shock of equally grey hair. It was a sight to behold.
'You're early,' he accused.
'Sorry. I didn't dare be late.'
'You've been drinking,' the monster said from far below my knees.
'He always drinks, Frankie,' Orbach said dryly.
'How do you do, Frankie,' I thrust out my hand hoping she wouldn't bite it.
She took it timidly and snatched hers back as if she had a similar suspicion.
'Are you going to eat with us?' she demanded.
'I wasn't planning to.'
'You can if you like,' Orbach said. 'Come on.' He led the way down to the half-basement open-plan kitchen that led through french windows onto the garden at the back.
'It's a nice house,' I said lamely, trying to keep up my end of this unexpectedly civilised conversation. 'When did you move?'
'Last year. Frankie!' He caught a milk bottle before it fell from the kitchen table. 'Get a glass, there's a sweetheart. '
While she reached into a cupboard, I gestured towards her: 'This is why?'
'Yes. She's my ward. You don't have to worry about talking in front of her. Explain to Dave, Frankie,' he said as she sat down to a glass of milk so big I didn't think she'd be able to lift it.
'Russel's my guardian,' she recited. 'My mummy and daddy were his friends. They died in a 'plane. So I came to live with Russel instead.'
I'm not sure which was the greater shock: that Orbach had friends, or that they would appoint him her guardian. Perhaps the two explained each other; they were obviously stark, staring bonkers.
'It must be a shock to the system,' I said.
'For both of us,' he admitted.
The whole time, he had been working at the range. Now he served up a stew with new potatoes and mange tout, in three huge, steaming helpings. I stared at mine aghast. I normally try not to eat too much to interfere with my drinking. He must have read my mind because he laughed.
'It's changed my habits, too. Shall I open some wine?'
The question had to be rhetorical. He drew a bottle out of a rack inside a cupboard and uncorked it. After he'd filled our glasses, Frankie picked up his and stuck her tongue into it, pulling a face. He bent down to kiss the top of her head before sitting down again.
'Not a boozer, are you, Frankie?'
'You drink too much,' she scolded. 'Daddy drank too.'
'So he did, so he did. '
'Who were her parents?' I helped myself to a refill.
'You probably knew him. Mick MelIor?'
The name rang a bell so faint I could hardly hear it tinkle. I shook my head. He reminded me. 'He was a surveyor, he used to do a lot of housing work.'
I remembered a boyish, good-looking half-Irish quarter-Italian pure mongrel who gave evidence of disrepair on behalf of tenants against their landlords. I didn't know him well, or know that he had married, let alone that, presumably, his wife was black.
'How come you're her guardian? Didn't they have any family?'
He smiled thinly.
'You mean why would anyone let me bring a child up?'
Frankie had finished her stew, and her milk. She slipped down from her chair, and went round the table to hug Orbach. Although he had said we could talk in front of her, she was upset. He leaned down so she could whisper in his ear. I heard her say: 'I love you.'
He beamed and kissed her again. I felt nauseous. It might have been the combination of booze and food, but more likely it was the sight of Orbach as loving father. It put me in mind of black-and-white newsreel-movies of Hitler kissing babies.
I finished the wine while he put her to bed. I didn't hear a door shut after he told her good night and the first thing he said when he rejoined me was 'Keep your voice down, Dave. She still has nightmares.'
'What actually happened?'
He shrugged. "Plane crash. No one's fault, really. They were planning to emigrate - to Bolivia. They wanted to learn to fly for over there. I decided to do so at the same time, just for the fun of it. We bought a small Cessna together; I was going to buy them out when they went. There was never a definite answer - something shorn through, but it could've happened when they crashed.'
'It still seems odd,' I mused, wondering why they should have left her to Orbach.
'I can't have children of my own. Did you know that?' I nodded. He continued. 'Frankie's my godchild. A Jewish godfather for a Catholic child; one of those progressive priests. Well, I suppose a lot of that suppressed parental instinct went into her; when they said they wanted to name me as her testamentary guardian, you know how it is, you don't think it'll ever happen. Anyway,' he hurried on, 'you aren't here to talk about Frankie.'
'True.' I held up my empty glass and' studied it pointedly. 'Was that the only bottle?'
We adjourned - with wine - to the living-room. There were signs of Frankie everywhere. I remembered Orbach's flat as a model of method, everything in its place - except me.
'What would you say if I told you there was a High Court judge who was corrupt?'
I duly gagged on my wine.
'I know they're all bent, politically; they'll stand on their intellectual heads to find for the establishment. But that isn't what you mean, is it?'
'No,' he said, 'that isn't what I mean.'
In America, bent judges are as commonplace as Kentucky Fried or MacDonalds. Just as there is a gas station for every five cars, there's a crooked judge for every five head of population. But America is America. For one thing, they elect their judges, which is a sure formula for corruption; people vote for those who behave the same way they do. For another, ever since they up-ended the tea-bags into Boston Bay, they've relished contempt for law - it's written into their Constitution.
In England, however, the judiciary derives its authority from the Crown. There's no Act of Parliament that says how judges are to be appointed. They are appointed by the Lord Chancellor: it's a question of the right chap appointing other right chaps.
Oddly enough for an erstwhile radical, I've always believed it is right (no pun intended) to appoint conservative judges. Law is something judges should uphold, not make. It is about maintaining the status quo. Changes in the status quo ought to be brought about by Parliament, which is elective. Thus - at least in theory - the will of the people remains supreme. So I am totally unmoved by judicial conservatism; I rather approve of it. The fact that it is morally and philosophically corrupt and corrupting isn't news.
But the idea of a really bent English High Court judge is something else. I could imagine the occasional magistrate on the make; they are drawn from the lay population. And there was the circuit judge whom they caught smuggling from the continent, but circuit judges apply for their appointments, normally because they can't cut it in the higher echelons of practice, so no one takes them seriously.
In the past, there have been more senior corrupt judges. Francis Bacon, Viscount St Albans, and Thomas Parker, Earl of Macclesfield, both Lord Chancellors, were dismissed for bribe-taking in 1620 and 1725 respectively, and Richard Bethell, Baron Westbury, also Lord High Chancellor, resigned in 1865 over the prospective appointment of his son as Chief Bankruptcy Registrar of Leeds. But there has never been a case of a High Judge known to be a crook. The skies would fall in on the authority of the law itself. How could judges sentence villains if they were capable of the same sins themselves?
Naturally, I asked: 'Who?'
He shook his head. 'Are you taking the case, Dave?'
'Ah.' He wasn't handing out free gossip with stew.
'More articulate than usual, but, yes, I'd say you've summed it about right. "Ah",' he repeated sarcastically, 'as in "ah, I don't get to find out unless I accept the job".'
Another reason Sandy didn't object to my visiting Orbach before I came to see her is because he is the only person either of us knows whose tongue is more acid than hers. In the aftermath, hers doesn't sound so bad.
'What's your interest in it?' I asked guardedly.
He shrugged. 'You know how I hate hypocrisy.'
I shook my head. 'I'd have to work for you full-time. Even you couldn't afford it.'
He frowned, but not at my answer: he was putting his thoughts in order. He said, 'A few years ago - soon after I took silk,' he meant when he was appointed as a Queen's Counsel, 'I did a case - a commercial dispute in front of this judge. At the time, I thought I was on a sure-fire winner. There was no way I could lose, unless the judge found my client to be so dishonest he might as well be up on fraud charges - and he was as straight as a die.'
'Which is what happened?'
'Right. At the time, I wrote it off as just one of those things. You know how it is, there's no such thing as a certainty; judges are the most unpredictable beings on earth. It's a formula: take the irrationality of human conduct, mix it with the irrationality of a judge, and at the end of the day you've got something that sounds like a rational account of the facts.'
'You could have appealed?'
'No. All the Court of Appeal would have said was that the trial judge saw the witnesses, formed an impression of them, and so on. They couldn't interfere unless his decision flouted all reason.'
'Well, you must've lost before - and since.'
His eyebrow twitched. 'Not often.' Nor did he. 'Nor ever for a reason I simply could not understand. Still, at the time, I didn't think any more about it. I was disappointed, but even if the client never came back to me, his solicitors continued to instruct me. They still do. Recently, though, I heard of a fairly similar business: same judge but the company involved was - is - related to the company I'd been against.' He paused again to collect his thoughts. 'I happen to know one of the barristers in the case quite well. He was junior for the defendant company.'
'Was he led by a silk?' In heavy cases, a client will retain two barristers to represent him in court. The more senior is known as the leader; the other as junior. Usually, a leader will be, like Orbach, a QC, but there's no rule that says he has to be. My question wasn't important, merely idle professional curiosity.
'Yes. The same one I was up against before. I've led the junior two or three times myself. We get on all right. On a couple of occasions, he's come to me for advice.' It is part of the collegiate tradition of the Bar that its members make themselves available to advise one another.
'Did he tell you about it?'
'We spoke at first on the 'phone, then met for a drink. He wanted to meet away from the Temple.' This is where the Inns of Court are, and all the barristers in London practice. 'Obviously, I agreed. The details don't matter for now, but he told me more or less what I told you, the difference being that he was appearing on the winning side. There was this further difference: he had wanted, time after time, to advise the clients to settle the case, because he didn't think they stood a chance. But his leader wouldn't. Notwithstanding the state of the evidence, his leader was always quite confident of victory.'
I picked at the obvious pimple.
'So your friend had got it wrong. That's why people hire QCs. The leader was right all along - he thought they were going to win, and they did. Your friend thought they were going to lose, and he still doesn't understand how they didn't.'
'No. With a lot of junior counsel, I'd agree that's a possibility. But this man has his head screwed on tightly; he's one of the best juniors I've led. The point is, he could never get his own leader to tell him why he was so confident.'
'Freemasonry?' I asked automatically. Freemasonry had featured at Mather's, and the case had given me an understanding of how the secret power elite operates, overriding - and often excluding - the formal establishment itself.
'I don't think so. One or two of the players may be Masons, but the judge in question has spoken out against it.'
'Let's assume you're right, for a moment. Why are you pursuing it? Your case is stale, you said it's a few years old. Why doesn't your friend do something about it?'
'Ah, there's the rub. He can't take it further himself.'
'Three reasons. First of all, what he knows is mostly privileged. Secondly, his own father is on the bench and I don't have to tell you just how awkward that would make it. Thirdly, his own future. As things stand, he'll get silk himself within the next couple of years and be on the bench within ten. If he's identified with even the suggestion that a judge is bent, he's finished.'
'And you? What will it do to you?'
'Ah, Dave, the establishment never forgets. I've got my silk. They had to give it me in the end because my claim was just too strong; but no one has a claim to a seat on the bench. They'll never give it me. I've got nothing left to lose.'
'Because of Disraeli Chambers?'
He had not broken a single law; he had done nothing for which he could be indicted; he had done nothing a newspaper would dare print. But I knew what he had done; others at the Bar knew what he had done; the police - in the person of my former friend, lackey of the establishment Dowell - knew what he had done. Quietly, the Lord Chancellor's Office, with responsibility for judicial appointments, would have been told.
'Why me, Russel? I know more barmen than High Court judges; it's not exactly the sort of circle I hang around in.'
'You've got a feel for lawyers, Dave; you can spot the discrepancy, the inconsistency, in a lawyer's reasoning the way a layman can't.'
'These two cases - this is all I'd have to go on?'
'There's a bit more that may fit. But if I tell you now, you'll be able to get too close to it.' He reminded me I still hadn't agreed.
Nor was I planning to.
'Look, Russel, I won't say I'm not flattered to be asked. And I won't deny I'm interested.' As a feat of investigation, it would be like solving Jack the Ripper. 'But as I said, I'm thinking of going back to work with Sandy and, well,' I looked for the safest way of saying it, 'I, er, I don't think I'd be too comfortable working for you.'
'I expected that. You might not be comfortable, but you'd be rich. I'm willing to pay twice what you earned at Mather's.'
My wallet got a hard-on: what I'd earned at Mather's was well over the odds. A couple of weeks at twice would exceed my average annual earnings over the preceding five years.
'Do you know how much that is?'
He shrugged modestly: Orbach the omniscient. I knew that the one thing I would never learn would be how he'd found out.
'Think about it, Dave. Don't reject it out of hand.'