John Bingham didn’t know he was going on the run when he entered his former wife’s house to find his children’s nanny bludgeoned to death in the basement, her face bones cracked into the inside of her head and her white teeth littering the parquet floor beneath her. He didn’t know he’d have to leave the country when he heard his ex-wife on the basement stairs, the breath being gurgled out of her by a man twisting a curtain cord around her throat. Bingham got an idea that running might be the thing when the attacker stopped short his twisting and said, in a strange accent, that he was next. As he made a run for Bingham, the stranger tripped on something, likely the coughing body of Bingham’s ex-wife, and the terrified man was able to escape out the basement door and up to his car and drive all the way away.
Bingham didn’t have time to get a false passport made or to set up a shady bank account in a sunny place for the rest of his life. What he did have was enough wealthy friends to fly him directly to Nice, then all the way down to Nairobi. And what really came to his aid was the fact that it was 1974, when the governments of the world were linked only by letters or a phone, and when a man accused of murdering his nanny and attacking his ex-wife could blend into the crowd with nothing more than a shave and a good tan.
The charming, intelligent, and ever-so-flawed John Bingham chose South Africa for his new, insignificant life, and the blanket of anonymity dropped down over the man formerly known as Lord Lucan.
It is today, and time has caught up with Lucky Lord Lucan. Eighty-two years old, white haired, and with the annoyingly crooked spine of age, Bingham’s screams of pain are the only thing he has to protect himself against the knife being dug into his back. His fingers are locked from arthritis and he can merely flail them about like stubby sticks as each stab pierces through the skin and into the muscles – high near the shoulders, down at his liver, off to the sides where there’s no lasting damage except for the stinging pain. At any other time, Bingham would be able to look out the living-room window of his small farm holding near Johannesburg. He would see his well-worked car on the dusty drive, the few chickens that deliver his daily egg, even his neighbor’s house in the distance. Today, he can only see the window frame, as he tries in vain to grab hold of it to keep himself from being pushed to the floor, where his assailant stands on his face as soon as he’s down there. There’s no rush, there’s no one around, Turlough O’Sullivan can take his time. Bingham’s head can be crushed into the floor at leisure, and the old man can’t even lift up his twisted bony fingers to protect it.