After (chapter 3)
by Writer 3
Colin’s eyes had been a little close together and his nose was a plug but he did have a nice mouth.
Danny’s bedroom was a double bed, a wardrobe and a chest of drawers on which was balanced a mirror.
Danny was at the foot of his bed looking out of the bedroom window of his council flat. The flat was part of a 1950s block named after Councillor Herbert. Opposite was an identical block named for Councillor Martin and beyond that was Albion Road, Hackney.
He had been here all his life, taking the tenancy sixteen years ago when his mum had gently closed the door on her life.
There had been no fuss.
No shrieks against the death she knew was coming.
Mum had been one of four deaths that day at Homerton Hospital. A completely average number for deaths Danny had discovered.
Three floors down, under an April sky carrying bits and pieces of cloud, a different sort of mum was pushing a pram across the concrete separating the two blocks.
The mum was white and wearing running gear. The pram was designed to be run with.
The mum’s gear and the pram had to be pricey, thought Danny.
Danny knew that Mum had never had money.
Hackney was changing.
Danny placed the Nemesis Vanquish carrying case on the bed, saw how the bed adjusted to take the weight.
He and Colin had spent days there. It made him smile to remember.
And then the bloody vote.
He opened the case, checked the Nemesis Vanquish as he had been trained.
All present and correct.
After Danny had scraped scrambled egg off a saucepan to Lil's encouragment and Kenny's giggles, Lil had taken off to buy a newspaper and cigarettes.
According to Kenny, Lil had turned up this morning carrying the after-shock of a night bar-hopping with a quartet of fellow lesbians. She had insisted that she wanted quiet, she hadn’t listened to the radio and didn’t want to. That could wait.
On Kenny’s telling the quiet had lasted seconds before Lil had launched a monologue about the trouble with Doreen.
Kenny had no idea who Doreen was.
Neither did Danny.
At least, thought Danny, Lil had shown up. You had to give her that.
Kenny was ensconced in the kitchen listening to A History Of England In Maps.
Colin’s mouth had always been smiling.
Danny remembered Colin’s silly, sexy grin as he debated Remainers at the Abney Hall.
Kenny had wandered into the room.
“Give up,” said Danny.
Kenny’s thin form was clad in a yellow, Thunderbird 4 hooded top, blue jeans and knock-off New Balance trainers.
His eyes were empty but his narrow face was mobile.
“i,” said Kenny.
“Eye?” repeated Danny.
“The letter i,” said Kenny.
Danny closed the Nemesis Vanquish carrying case, stowed it in the wardrobe.
“Hang on,” said Danny. “The answer’s a letter not a number?”
“Letter and number,” said Kenny. “x2 = -4, so x is 2i.”
“You sure about that?” said Danny.
“It’s at right angles,” said Kenny.
Kenny began to move up and down on the balls of his feet.
He was excited.
Danny stepped to Kenny, put his hand on his shoulder.
“Let’s talk about it over a cup of tea,” said Danny.
DCI Eddie Smith was sitting at the north end of room 333 going over interviews around the Gospel Oak death when DCS Cox took a call.
The DCS was at the central table of room 333 with DS Justin Battle. She was going over with DS Battle the details of the Lewisham investigation.
“Right away,” said DCS Cox into her phone.
DCS Cox pocketed the phone and got to her feet.
“We’ll pick this up later,” DCS Cox said to DS Battle and fixed DS Battle with her eye.
“Yes ma’am.” The words scuttled from DS Battle.
DCS Cox turned to Eddie.
“The Chief Constable,” she said. “The Counter-Terror team have sent a liaison officer to attach to us.”
Longbow instituted liaison to help co-ordinate the teams, thought Eddie but he knew that if you were the lead team for Longbow the temptation would be to poke your nose into other teams.
“Liaison’s by the book,” said Eddie. “Operation Longbow.”
“We will extend every courtesy,” said DCS Cox.
“Of course, ma’am,” said Eddie. Every courtesy meant run everything by me before giving it to liaison.
DCS Battle’s face showed relief as DCS Cox stalked from the room.
“Your Prime Minister’s been shot. Gunned down in cold blood.”
Lil had returned from buying a newspaper and cigarettes. Her left hand made a pistol.
She was standing in the kitchen of Danny’s flat. Danny and Kenny were sitting at the plastic-topped table.
“Blam,” said Lil.
Lil was short, round and Irish. Her red hair framed a freckled face that was covered with excitement.
"You're certain?" asked Danny.
“Aarav told me,” said Lil and dropped a copy of The Mirror onto the kitchen table.
The Mirror’s front page laid out the latest for the Beckhams.
“And it’s all over the radio and tv,” said Lil plonking herself down at the table.
“You should have the telly on, keep up with things,” Lil advised.
Danny looked at Lil, inclined his head to Kenny.
Lil’s blue eyes bounced off Kenny’s sightless eyes.
“All right, radio then,” Lil corrected herself. “You know what I’m saying, don’t cut yourself off.”
Lil was still Lil dead PM or not, thought Eddie.
“Who shot the Prime Minister?” said Kenny.
“I don’t know,” shrugged Lil and then leant forward conspiratorially. “Terrorists probably. That’s what they’re talking about.”
“Aarav?” queried Kenny.
“No, on the telly. The heads,” said Lil nodding in agreement with herself.
Danny looked past Lil through the kitchen window. A watery blue sky draped around Martin Court. You wouldn’t know that anything had changed.
“Do you know there are two kinds of number?” said Kenny.
“What?” surprised from Lil.
Kenny had weighed the death of the Prime Minister and in Kenny’s world it had been found wanting. Kenny was more interested in the new numbering system he had discovered.
Kids could be insensitive, Danny knew. We could all be like that at times but Kenny was a kid and that stuff was still close to the surface.
And anyone who spent time with Kenny understood that for him the jump from dead PM to numbers was not a large one.
Two: mouthed Danny at Lil.
“Like fractions?” said Lil.
“No, imaginary,” sad Kenny.
Lil’s face became perplexed. “You can’t just make things up,” said Lil.
Kenny moved his head left to right: No. “There are rules,” said Kenny.
“1, 2, 3 right angles to all that,” Danny pitched in like he knew what that meant.
“What?” said Lil, she wasn’t having any of it.
“They solve a problem,” said Kenny.
“In your head,” said Lil.
“In the world,” said Kenny.
“Maths works everywhere Lil, haven’t you heard?” and Danny looked long-sufferingly at Lil.
Lil raised a finger. It was for Danny to spin on.
There was a rat-tat-tat at the front door.
“Expecting someone?” asked Lil.
“This is DI Sonny Logan, our liaison with Counter-Terror,” said DCS Cox her face set to featureless.
Eddie was seated at the head of the main table of room 333. Untidy on the table in front of him were the statements from possible witnesses to the death at Gospel Oak.
There were a train-load of them.
Eddie looked across the bleakness to Sonny Logan.
Sonny Logan was six feet two, appeared to be in his thirties, with a square face topped with blond hair clipped short.
Sonny distributed an open smile around the detectives of Central Murder.
As Sonny was part of the crew doing Central Murder’s job the smile did not find many takers.
Among faces that had been as bleak as the reading material in front of him, Eddie noticed DS Battle essay a grin before remembering to put on a bleak front.
Eddie could see the games being played but he was a step away from them.
He concentrated on the job not the politics and he was a better detective for it.
There could be no argument.
“Just to let you know where things stand,” said DI Logan “The Prime Minister was shot by a 6.5 mm bullet fired from the east side of Whitehall. We are interviewing anyone at the scene as well as pursuing other lines of investigation.”
The tone was flat and a little forced, thought Danny, like DI Logan was blowing up a balloon.
“What other lines of enquiry?” queried Sam Daley, lifting his left arm and scratching his armpit through a blue shirt.
Sonny’s eyes went there for a moment then he answered: “I can’t get into that, I’m afraid.” A warm smile still attached to Sonny’s face.
DCS Cox tightened her stance. She said: “We are on the same side.” The words clipped from her.
“I’m under orders about the matter,” said Sonny. “If you want to push it up the chain contact DCS Ted.”
The first thing that had struck Eddie about Sonny’s speech was the balloon blowing quality but It also, he now heard, had no accent.
Like the rest of him any accent had worn smooth.
DS Daley began to pick at his left ear.
Sonny looked on for a moment appalled.
Sam grinned back.
“This is a murder investigation,” Eddie tossed in.
“Which the Chief Constable has said may have a terrorist component,” said Sonny and opened his palms: it was the Chief Constable’s call – what could you do.
The Chief Constable had decided there might be a terrorist link, Operation Longbow specified in those circumstance the Counter-Terror team should lead.
Longbow called for information to be compartmentalised, Eddie knew, with liaison provided so teams without the lead were not cut out.
Or didn’t feel cut out.
It spoke of Mr Muir’s influence, thought Eddie.
“How long will Counter-Terror have the lead?” asked DCS Cox.
“Until the Chief Constable decides otherwise,” said Sonny’s smile.
“But Counter-Terror would let the Chief Constable know if you were getting nowhere?” said DCS Cox.
Sonny maintained his smile. “Of course,” he said.
Operation Longbow had holes, every plan did, thought Eddie, and people would fill in those holes.
It was how that process was managed that mattered.
It was a process that he had bolloxed up with Clare.
And she had died.
He looked at Sonny’s ironed on smile.
Had he ever been that?
Danny approached his flat’s front door.
In the kitchen Lil was and Kenny were debating imaginary numbers.
“You can make up Humpty Dumpty in your head it doesn’t make it real,” argued Lil.
Danny had taken the shot but it could involve everyone around him.
It could involve Kenny.
If things came to the worst he had set things up for Kenny.
Whether they would work out as he hoped he could not know.
He had made his choice and put in place systems to mitigate any consequence of that choice.
The front door had a peep-hole drilled into it.
Danny stood to the right of the door and covered the peep-hole with his left hand.
It did not draw a response.
“Who is it?” said Danny from the right of the door and stepped to the left.
“Lou,” rumbled a bass voice.
Thank fuck for that, thought Danny, and opened the door.
Lou was a five foot five square of a man. His olive skin came courtesy of an Asian grandfather or grandmother.
Lou’s telling evolved.
His hair was dyed light green and he was dressed all in red.
“Heard about the PM?” Lou started straight in.
“Yeah, on the radio,” said Danny.
“He was a creepy fucker but we can’t be having that,” said Lou and moved his head left-right: there were bad things in the world.
Having commiserated over the Prime Minister’s death Lou asked: “Bloody property people been to see you?”
Danny shook his head but Lou’s baritone carried and before Danny could voice an answer Kenny barked: “Earlier.”
“You didn’t say anything,” called Danny.
“Didn’t let them in,” Kenny called back.
A conversation conducted as a shout was not what Danny was after.
“Come in for a moment,” said Danny to Lou. “Lil’s here.”
Lou stepped in. “Lil sleeping one off?” asked Lou standing in the entrance hall.
“Watch your mouth,” Lil called from the kitchen.
“She was keeping an eye on Kenny while I was at work. Making herself useful,” said Danny but thought: where had Lil been when the property people had called.
Danny and Lou stepped into the kitchen.
“Hear that Lou: useful,” beamed Lil.
“I’ve been working this week,” said Lou.
“Painting? Plumbing? Sparks? That’s dangerous, sparky,” said Lil.
“None of them suited,” said Lou and the square of his body shrugged. “Now I’m a Concierge, Woodberry Down. Night work. Cushy.”
“Concierge, isn’t that a doorman,” laughed Lil.
Woodberry Down was a ten minute walk: along Albion Road, across Church Street, then north up Lordship Road.
Lou drew himself up, took on a mock-offended look. “Concierge is the job-title,” he said.
Woodberry Down was still having expensive blocks added. The private led development had swept away an old, council sink estate at the Finsbury Park end of Hackney.
“If you work nights, how come you’re up all bright and bushy tailed this morning?” asked Lil.
“Its nights,” explained Lou. “I kip.”
“You go to work to sleep?” grinned Danny.
“Great job, mate. Don’t knock it,” said Lou.
Danny shook his head, turned to Kenny.
“Kenny, you said the property people knocked on the door but you didn’t let them in,” and looked at Lil. “Lil where were you?”
“I’d just got here and got caught short,” said Lil.
“I never answered the door,” said Kenny. “If I had Liz would have been out like a shot. Like fired from a gun.”
“Now that I’d pay to see,” mused Lou.
“Don’t be the pervert,” said Lil.
Danny looked at the ceiling. His babysitter had been on the toilet after a hard night, his blind charge had been at the door.
“How did you know it was the property people?” asked Danny. The peep-hole would not be of use to Kenny.
“I heard the way they walked,” said Kenny.
“How they walked?” said Lil.
“How they moved as they came toward the door,” Kenny explained.
“And you can tell people from that?” said Danny.
Kenny nodded. “When I’ve heard them a few times, yeah.”
The property people were a group of seemingly like-minded friends but the size of the group was difficult to pin down, thought Danny. They offered bids on flats in the Herbert and Martin blocks.
All appeared to be in their twenties or thirties, educated, brightly friendly and relentless.
The first time two of them had come to the door with a bid on his flat Danny had told them no. The man and the woman, both well turned out as though punched from the same mould, had nodded acceptance at his refusal.
The second time the man had been wearing a Bob Marley tee-shirt.
Danny had just shut the door.
The couple has pushed an improved offer through the letterbox.
“They been on to you again?” Lil asked Lou.
“This morning bold as fucking brass,” said Lou. “Dead PM and all.”
Danny inclined his head to Kenny.
“Excuse my French,” said Lou.
Kenny’s narrow face smiled.
“You think having got us together as a group they would have got the message,” said Lou.
The property people had set up a meeting with the occupiers of the Herbert and Martin blocks one early evening. Those that had attended had been attracted by the offer of free food and drink. The food had been vegan, the drink soft.
Everything had been a bit off but one of the property people had been dispatched to buy beer.
Nigel, from flat 23 had surpassed himself, Danny remembered.
“What’s fucking vegan?” Nigel had asked one of the property women.
The line drawing of a woman had blanched.
Nigel, thought Danny, had just been curious.
Nigel had lived in Herbert block for as long as he could remember, which was about the last ten years.
The years before that were a blank.
When the dispatched property person had returned with the beer Nigel had set about the free drink with a vengeance.
The meeting had broke up with Nigel waving his willy at the property people.
“This is the amount I love the place.” Nigel’s words were beginning to be slurred by alcohol. “You’re never getting me out,” Nigel had declared.
That had been a fortnight ago. Today they were back.
They kept going, you had to give it to them, thought Danny.
Kenny had somehow steered Lil and Lou back to imaginary numbers.
Lil was shaking her head – she couldn’t see it because it wasn’t there.
“I don’t know, Lil. The kid may have a point,” said Lou.
Lil threw Lou a disgusted look.
Lou bounced it back with a grin.
Danny’s phone chirped.
“You’d argue black was white to wind me up,” said Lil.
Danny stepped out of the kitchen to take the call.
It was Sally from work. Sally was the PCDB office manager although the office, a couple of rooms over at Hackney Wick was mostly her and she tended to work from home. She had a sick mum who needed care.
Sally’s efficient voice said: “The police are looking to interview everyone who was on Whitehall when the Prime Minister was shot.”
“I was due to be there,” said Danny. “But one of our cleaners turned up drunk. I took him to St. Thomas’”
“So you weren’t there in the time-frame the police are interested in?” said Sally.
Her speech could embed phrases from tv. She watched a lot of tv as well as doing her PCDB job and looking after her mum.
“No, I was already gone,” said Danny.
At the other end of the line Danny imagined Sally ticking a box.
“The drunk cleaner?” asked Sally.
“Vinny Sullivan,” said Danny. “I’ll move him to another building.”
“So we’re keeping him?” said Sally.
“One chance,” said Danny.
Another box ticked for Sally.
“You’re the boss,” said Sally and hung up.
Lil and Lou stepped out of the kitchen.
Lil tapped Danny on his behind as she passed.
Lou punched his shoulder.
Danny pocketed his phone. “Suddenly friendly,” he said.
“I’m always friendly,” said Lou. “You know, when you catch me on the right day.”
Danny said to Lil: “You up for Kenny tomorrow morning?”
Lil put her thumbs up: “I’ll be here,” and Lil and Lou were out of the door.
Danny stepped back to the kitchen.
“Kenny, I’ll take a bath after that what about a quiet day?” said Danny.
“Sure,” said Kenny. “I’ve got my Maps book. And the alternative history one, Pavane.”
He said alternative history carefully.
“Not space opera?” said Danny.
“Different. Still science fiction, though. Proper.”
“Okay,” said Danny. “Give me an hour to clean up and then we can catch up.”
Kenny was already putting on A History Of England In Maps.
Danny walked to his bedroom, took out the Nemesis Vanquish and the cleaning compounds he had assembled and began to take apart the Nemesis Vanquish.
He had been taught that it was important to strip down a used gun, clean it and reassemble.
There was a comfort in the familiar motion.
Eddie looked out of the third floor window of the Metropolitan Police building in Victoria.
Sam and Kate had departed to execute the Trevor Isles arrest.
Outside the night picked out the lights of London.
Above them the lump of the moon.
Just a reflector of light, Eddie knew.
If he could just be that and that alone.
Danny was sitting in the kitchen.
Kenny in his pyjamas and dressing gown was sitting across the table.
“So, it’s like Henry VIII did not happen?” said Danny.
“No, he happened. During Elizabeth I the Spanish invaded,” said Kenny.
“And they won?” queried Danny.
“It’s a different history,” said Kenny
Detective Inspector Sam Daley and Detective Constable Kate Fowler arrest plan for Trevor Isles had been a cluster-fuck, thought Eddie.
Sam had delivered the cover page of his report at 6:30 a.m.
Sam’s West Country burr and the scientific precision with which he laid out his report were still at odds in Eddie’s ear but Sam had described a cluster fuck.
And Kate was to blame.
It had not helped that the report precis had been delivered with DI Sonny Logan in attendance.
Following the cover sheet delivery, DCS Cox had called Eddie and Sam into room 334.
Room 334 had originally been a break-out area from room 333 but someone had put a door on it and it had become room 334.
There was a small, square table and four plastic chairs in the windowless room. Affixed to the wall was a poster: Visit Beautiful Ghana with a pretty woman smiling all over room 334.
Under the pretty Ghanaian’s gaze DCS Cox asked: “What happened?”
Sam looked at his notebook, then took a breath and said: “He got away.”
“Thank you, Sherlock,” said DCS Cox. “How?”
“He left by the back door,” said Sam.
“Criminal mastermind,” said DCS Cox and asked: “Didn’t we have any cover at the back of the house?”
“Most of the arrest team were concentrated at the front of the building to effect entry,” said Sam.
“But we had a team on the rear?” queried DCS Cox. “Under the command of Kate?”
“To be fair,” said Sam. “He left through the garage. There is a common inner door from house to garage. It was unsuspected.”
“But not unworkable,” said DCS Cox.
“Our resources were stretched. Under the circumstances . . .” said Sam.
“Under the circumstances Kate made the call to leave the garage exit unmanned,” said DCS Cox.
“She didn’t have the usual resources. With this Longbow plan none of us did,” said Sam.
Eddie watched as DCS Cox flipped through Sam’s handwritten report. Sam had yet to type it up.
“The garage was built straight onto the side of the house,” said DCS Cox.
“She didn’t know about the connecting door and chose more likely exit routes for officer deployment,” said Sam.
“Trevor chose another,” said DCS Cox.
DCS Cox turned to Eddie.
“She’ll work with you on the PM Killing,” said DCS Cox.
Eddie felt his eyes widen with surprise.
“She’s got to learn somehow. She made a mistake with the Trevor Isles case but there were reasons,” said DCS Cox.
Eddie looked at DCS Cox: really?
DCS Cox ploughed on: “And it’ll do her good to have experience of how different officers approach cases.”
DCS Cox turned to Sam.
“Trevor Isles, what’s next?”
“In normal circumstances we’d check his usual haunts and work out from there. Also any relations, old friends. It will need bodies,” said Sam.
DCS Cox nodded. “Keep you focus on Trevor Isles. I’ll speak to DCC Selwyn, see if he’s got any PC’s rattling around,” she said.
“Trevor Isles knows were onto him. If he’s going to make a mistake it’ll be in the next few days,” said Sam and shrugged.
“We’ll work with what we’ve got,” said DCS Cox. “Do the job.”
Sam closed his notebook.
It sounded like the end of the meeting. Eddie shaped to stand.
“Eddie, a moment,” said DCS Cox.
Sam was on his feet.
To Sam DCS Cox said: “I’ll see what resources I can get for Trevor Isles.”
“Ma’am,” said Sam and stepped out of room 334 closing the door behind him.
“Kate,” said DCS Cox.
Eddie waited for the rest.
“She’s here for a reason,” said DCS Cox. “Give her a chance but if she becomes an impediment let me know.”
The thought slithered into Eddie’s head that DCS Cox could have had this conversation about him after Clare’s death.
“I’ll give her a chance,” said Eddie.
The day after shooting the Prime Minister, Danny was driving back to Hackney.
He had been busy at both Ministry of Health sites, rallying the cleaners, sympathising with their police encounters whilst always encouraging them to be open. The police had a job to do.
That the interviews ran up against some cleaners dubious immigration status Danny understood but he was firm: we cooperate.
For most of the cleaners being interviewed by the police had been exciting.
Then there was Myrtle, a small Rwandan woman packed with words. She had taken the interviewing officer over her morning in detail. The officer had emerged from the interview knowing far more about the business of cleaning than he had going in.
But nothing further on the killer.
Not from any of Danny’s staff.
Danny had also moved Vinny from the Ministry of Health to Portcullis House with a strong warning not to burn his bridges there.
Danny parked his PCDB badged van, let himself into Herbert block.
He called the lift, it pinged open.
He remembered Colin stopping the lift between floors and unbuttoning his shirt.
There had been no one else around.
It had taken ten minutes so vigorous that Danny had thought the lift would drop.
Third floor. He got off.
Through the door of his flat he could hear Lil speculating about who would be the next PM.
Danny opened the door, went in.
Kenny and Lil were in the kitchen, sitting at the table.
Lil had the entertainment pages of The Mirror open on the table before her.
Lil looked at Danny with bloodshot eyes.
“Good evening?” asked Danny.
Lil shrugged: “You know.”
“Everything okay?” Danny asked Kenny.
Kenny nodded: Yes, then said: “Lil, why do you drink?”
Lil turned her bloodshot eyes on Kenny.
“Why did God make flowers? It’s a mystery,” said Lil.
“But Lil you don’t believe in God,” said Kenny his sightless eyes moving around the world.
Lil leant back in her chair and smiled.
“Well, now and then. I was a true believer last night,” said Lil.
“But Lil how can you believe last night . . .”
Kenny was an honest kid but he did take things literally.
“That’s enough third degree, Kenny,” said Danny. “Lil’s got to be on her way.”
Lil looked at Danny: Do I?
“Things to do, people to see,” said Danny.
“That’s right, busy,” said Lil and stood.
Lil nodded to the entrance hall.
“See you tomorrow, Kenny Blake,” said Lil and stepped out of the kitchen with Danny.
“Sorry about running you off,” said Dann. “I need to talk to Kenny about the Prime Minister thing, make sure he’s all right about it.”
“You think he’s not?” said Lil.
“I just want to make sure. You know how he is, he can be,” and Danny reached high. Then he flapped the fingers of his raised hand.
“Boys can he like that,” said Lil.
They had reached the front door.
“Carla’s worried about her brother,” said Lil. “The police sniffing around.”
Danny had taken on Carla’s brother Pete two months back. He was an ex-con, had been out for a year and a half. On the day in question his crew had been cleaning Agriculture in Mayfair.
“They’re not looking at Pete,” said Danny. “They’re looking for the shooter of the Prime Minister and the shot was not made from Mayfair.”
“She worries, it’s her brother after all,” said Lil and opened the front door.
Outside the April morning was open, cold, spotted with passers-by.
“Who do you think that Paddy Power has a favourite for next PM?” asked Lil.
Danny shook his head as though he could not believe she had asked that question.
“Tomorrow Lil,” said Danny and closed the front door.
“The Prime Minister’s been shot,” said Kenny. He was working through an argument.
Danny was boiling water in the kettle. He dropped tea-bags into two mugs, one plain blue, one embossed with Cybermen. Kenny’s was the Cybermen.
Kenny’s argument seemed to require a response. “Yes,” said Danny. The Prime Minister had been shot.
“So do Labour get to be Prime Minister?” asked Danny.
“No, it’s still the other side,” said Danny.
The water in the kettle came to the boil and the kettle switched itself off.
“Why?” asked Kenny.
“There are rules,” said Danny.
Danny lifted the kettle, filled the mugs.
“About shooting the Prime Minister?” said Kenny.
“The rule about that is don’t do it.” Danny added a lot of milk to Kenny’s mug, stirred. “But it happened. Things move on. That’s why there are rules so we understand how to do that.”
Danny handed Kenny his Cybermen mug, sat at the table.
“And we’re Labour?” said Kenny.
Kenny was trying to understand where they stood.
“Corbyn’s next door,” said Danny. “Abbot’s our MP. Shadow PM, shadow Home Secretary. We’re Labour.”
“But you voted leave in the referendum,” said Kenny.
Danny nipped at his tea. “Lots of Labour voters did,” said Danny.
Danny watched Kenny’s hand find his Cybermen mug, locate the handle, raise the Cybermen mug to his lips.
Kenny insisted on Cybermen even though he couldn’t see them.
“Mr Corbyn voted remain,” said Kenny.
“With his fingers crossed,” smiled Danny.
“So if we don’t agree with him on Europe why do we vote for him?”
We, but left that alone.
“He has more than one policy and on that one he’ll do what is right,” said Danny.
Kenny put his mug on the table. Once he had taken hold of it he knew where it was.
“So you support him for his other policies,” said Kenny.
“Mostly. And we’ve always been Labour,” said Danny.
“What policies?” asked Kenny.
Kenny wanted a list.
“Public ownership,” said Danny. “Royal Mail, the railways, water. Things that should never have been private. Hackney Council should be allowed to build Council Houses.”
Across the table Kenny looked serious.
Danny knew that Kenny was storing the list to repeat verbatim.
“And their policy on kids,” said Danny. “That they should do their homework. And keep their bedroom tidy. And . . .”
“Danny,” said Kenny.
Kenny could not see Danny’s grin but after a moment Kenny was also smiling.
Early the next morning DCS Deborah Cox stood on Whitehall.
A step forward, she thought.
It had been preceded by DCC Patient’s relentless badgering of the Chief Constable, letting him know of the opportunity he was letting slip away, hinting at the risk he was taking.
On balance, Deborah thought, it was the risk that had got Central Murder onto Whitehall.
The Counter-Terror team were not a Murder Squad. On the second morning following the murder of the Prime Minister the Chief Constable had authorised the deployment of the Central Murder Team to Whitehall.
They were there to assist the Counter-Terror Team and the Counter-Terror Team had been ordered to accept their assistance.
It was five a.m. and a thin drizzle hung between the Counter-Terror team on Downing Street and Central Murder on Whitehall.
DCS Cox stepped through the drizzle to DCS Ted.
The occasional vehicle nosed off Trafalgar Square onto Whitehall. The Counter-Terror Team had decided to let traffic back onto Whitehall around the time the Chief Constable’s instruction had come through.
DCS Cox reached DCS Ted at the gated junction of Downing Street and Whitehall. The rest of the Counter-Terror Team had withdrawn further down Downing Street.
The rain giggled around DCS Cox and DCS Ted.
“We are here to assist,” said DCS Cox.
DCS Ted was forty-four years old and his large frame was pared down to a minimum. His flat, white face topped by a shock of black hair looked DCS Cox up and down.
“How?” he asked.
Try not to step on anyone’s toes DCC Patient had said.
DCS Cox said: “Normal murder investigation routine.”
DCS Ted sniffed. “The body’s been cleared from the scene. The scene’s a couple of days old.”
It was an argument to not bother.
He had to make it.
DCS Cox said: “Nevertheless we’ll run a murder investigation.”
“What do you think we’ve been doing?” DCS Ted’s voice snapped back.
Along Downing Street the Counter-Terror Team stirred.
DCS Cox matched DCS Ted’s volume as she said: “You’ve been running a Counter-Terror investigation. I will start a murder investigation.”
“And this is on Longbow?” said DCS Ted.
“Page 5, paragraph 3, part 2” DCS Cox had memorised the references. Whether they could be used to cover this situation was a stretch.
“Quoting regulations, DCS?” said DCS Ted.
“Just Longbow. Just the plan,” said DCS Cox as the rain settled around her as familiar as an old coat.
Danny stood on the fifth floor of Portcullis House.
As the cleaners removed dirt from the nooks and crannies of Portcullis House he was watching the drizzle tap at the securely glazed windows.
Beyond the window glowered the Houses of Parliament which would also be busy with cleaners but that was not a contract held by PCDB.
In time, he thought, with patience he could gain control of each of the small bubbles of artificial light holding out against the dark.
That was what he had now, he thought, bubbles of light.
He and his cleaners worked to keep it clean but there was no warmth there.
There had not been since Colin.
Colin had debated the Remainers at Abney Hall.
Queer, bright, working class - he was what they weren’t.
And he had a quick mouth on him, funny when he wanted to be.
There had been three Remainers on the stage and Colin.
He had knocked each of the Remainers down and they hadn’t got up.
Later, in the empty hours, Colin’s body had been recovered from the railway line between Stoke Newington and Rectory Road.
Eddie stood on the spot of Downing Street where George Osborne had breathed his last.
Alongside him DCS Cox was wearing a light, Metropolitan police anorak. She had the hood up against the rain.
DI Sam Daley was traversing Downing Street, seeing if anything stuck out.
After Downing Street had been searched by the Counter-Terror team nothing would, Eddie thought. But it had to be done, as the DCS had insisted this was now a murder investigation.
DC Fowler was gazing at the unbolted gates of Downing Street.
Eddie had no idea why.
The Counter-Terror team had gathered at the Horse Guard Road end of Downing Street.
Between them and Murder Central, DS Battle was talking animatedly to DI Logan.
“Observations?” asked DCS Cox.
“From what we saw of Counter-Terror’s work back at the office and now being here the shot came,” and Eddie pointed east.
“That’s why you’re paid the big money,” said DCS Cox.
Eddie felt his lips twitch. It was like he was watching somebody else almost smile.
Eddie said: “Stating the obvious, I know ma’am. But it’s a place to start. Solid.”
DCS Cox looked at Eddie: solid would be good.
“Do we know if the bullet exited the victim?” said Eddie. “I don’t recall that piece of information being in the internal reports we received. Also, we still haven’t had proper sight of the interviews Counter-Terror have conducted.”
“Let’s find out, shall we,” said DCS Cox and turned to the Horse Guard end of Downing Street.
Eddie turned with her.
“You stay here,” said DCS Cox. “We only need to commit one body to the job.”
Eddie watched DCS Cox move along Downing Street with an athletic grace.
DCS Ted took a couple of paces from the group of Counter-Terror officers to engage her.
There was a clank from the Whitehall end of Downing Street.
DC Kate Fowler was adjusting the gates to Downing Street.
Eddie crossed to her.
“Boss,” said DC Kate Fowler.
Boss, thought Eddie but let it go.
“What are you up to?”
Kate turned to him. “How were the gates when George Osborne was shot?”
“Open, I guess,” said Eddie and pulled himself up. Guesses didn’t get you evidence.
“Your thinking?” asked Eddie
“The position of the gates – open, closed, partial – would determine the angle of fire available to the shooter,” said Kate and swung back to the gates.
“Let’s say they were open,” said Eddie.
“Open the shot block would be minimal but still not nothing,” said Kate.
She opened the gates fully and stood where George Osborne had been shot.
“Add six inches, he was standing on a podium,” said Kate.
Eddie closed the gates.
“And now?” he asked.
“We could rule out shots coming from certain angles,” said Kate.
Had the gates been open or closed? They could ask Counter-Terror but Eddie made a call back to the office. They would have pictures of the scene immediately following the killing. He was told ten minutes. The office would call him back.
Eddie hung up, set his face to encouraging for Kate.
She wasn’t wearing a hood, he noticed, and the mist of rain had stuck her red hair to the side of her head.
She didn’t seem conscious of it. She was focused on the gate.
Dog with a rat, thought Eddie, and approved.
“They were probably open,” said Eddie.
“Lots of to and fro, radio, tv crews,” agreed Kate. “We should get ballistics on it, if no one else has.”
I will, Eddie was going to say.
Instead he said: “We’ll check that no one else has got this, if not we’ll get right on it.”
Eddie looked at Kate: DC Fowler might make a detective.
“Well done,” said Eddie.
“A small thing,” said Kate and waved the praise away.
A loud voice turned both of them to the Horse Guard end of Downing Street.
“Time, Detective Chief Super Intendent. Time.”
DCS Cox could be loud. She was tapping her wristwatch in case DCS Ted had not grasped her point.
DCS Ted’s face became: this along with everything else.
The look was aimed at his team, thought Eddie.
DCS Cox walked toward Eddie and Kate.
Danny had assigned Vinny to the crew tasked with cleaning the first and second floors of Portcullis House.
Danny stepped into the male toilets on the second floor.
Vinny was standing by a row of sinks.
“Everything okay?” asked Danny.
Vinny nodded: “Fine. Thanks for, you know.”
“You got a chance, Vinny. Use it,” Danny advised.
Vinny was holding a cloth he had been using to clean what appeared to be a spotless sink.
“You staying clean, like the doctor said?” asked Danny.
“Don’t remember much about it but the four weeks, I remember that,” said Vinny.
“A bit of a blur, is it?” said Danny.
“Most of it. Remember getting to the hospital, walking in and getting seen straight away. The four weeks. Not much else,” said Vinny.
Danny blinked. Vinny’s memory was better than he had thought.
“Well, that’s not quite right,” said Danny. “But don’t let it bother you. You just need to lay off the pop for a few weeks.”
“Nothing last night,” said Vinny.
“Good start. That’s all you can ask of yourself,” said Danny.
“I appreciate what you did,” said Vinny.
“Don’t mention it. You want to pay me back just turn up for work sober,” said Danny.
Vinny nodded: he’d try.
The office got back to Eddie. The gates had been partially open.
Eddie explained Kate’s observation of the gates to DCS Cox.
“I’ll give ballistics a call, see if they’ve got anything,” said DCS Cox.
She had explained that her chat with DCS Ted had revealed that the bullet had not exited George Osborne and that they would receive the Counter-Terror interviews presently. She had bargained presently down to noon.
“What if ballistics say that request should come through Counter-Terror,” said DI Daley.
It was what Operation Longbow called for.
“I know someone in ballistics,” said DCS Cox, and looked at Kate: “Good spot. Good thinking.”
“So the shot definitely came over Whitehall?” said DCS Cox.
“Going with what little we know from Counter-Terror,” said Eddie.
“We’ll know more by midday,” said DCS Cox.
DS Justin Battle detached from DI Logan, walked back to the Murder Team.
DI Logan had been summoned by DCS Ted.
DCS Cox indicated the east of Whitehall visible from Downing Street. “So what’s over there?” asked DCS Cox.
Eddie pointed. “Ministry of Health.” His finger tracked north. “Defence.”
“So we’d be looking for early starters,” said DCS Cox.
“Won’t the Counter-Terror Team have carried out those interviews?” said DS Battle.
“Nice of you to join us. Weather’s a little unpleasant, isn’t it,” said DCS Cox and grinned mirthlessly at DS Battle.
“We won’t get access to the Counter-Terror interviews until midday,” said DCS Cox. “But that won’t stop us doing our interviews.”
“They won’t be happy to be interviewed for a second time,” said DI Daley.
“We don’t know who Counter-Terror have interviewed and won’t until midday. By then some of the early starter may have finished. So unless we want to write off another day,” DCS Cox shrugged. “Blame Counter-Terror.”
“Blame the killer,” said Eddie.
DS Battle looked across Whitehall.
“Who’s ever going to be there at this time?” said DS Battle.
DCS Cox looked at DS Battle: you’d be surprised.
“Cleaners,” said Eddie.
“Security,” said DCS Fowler.
DS Battle flashed a look at Kate.
“Okay,” said DCS Cox, “Eddie and Kate, you take the Ministry of Health. Sam and Justin you’ve got Defence. We treat this as the start of a murder investigation,” said DCS Cox and looked down Downing Street.
There was the first hint of dawn between the drizzle.
“Chop-chop,” said DCS Cox. “Get to it. It’s likely that those that were on duty when the PM was shot are working now. Remember, check the rotas for the day in question.”
“And you, Ma’am?” asked Sam.
“I’ll be running interference,” said DCS Cox.
As the detectives stepped off Downing Street and across Whitehall toward their targets, DI Logan detached from the gathered Counter-Terror team, began to quickly move up Downing Street.
DCS Cox moved to intercept.
Danny was clearing the desktops and PCs in room 403 on the fourth floor of Portcullis House.
Room 403 was four long desks, sporting twelve PCs and a private office tucked into the north-east corner.
The office was locked but Danny had the key-card that afforded access.
If you didn’t let the cleaners in you had a dirty office.
Jane Oppong had been through Room 403 with a hoover. Jane had been with PCDB for nine months and was always seemingly on the phone.
Even now, 5:30 in the morning, she had found someone to chat to.
But Danny could not fault her work and that was what mattered.
Jane, like every other member of PCDB, made her contribution.
Danny’s mobile sounded Dancing On Sunshine.
Not only Jane, thought Danny.
Danny had assigned different ring tones to each cleaning crew. Dancing On Sunshine was the Ministry of Health.
Danny answered the phone.
“Hello,” he said.
The rain tapped at the windows of Portcullis House. There was a language there if you had the ears to hear it.
“Mr. Blake, this is Ben Ojo at the Ministry of Health.” The voice enunciated each word clearly.
Ben Ojo was out of Sierra Leone. Ben was a small, precise man who had worked with the British Army when they had deployed to Sierra Leone. When the army had pulled out Ben had come with them.
Ben headed Team Two at the Ministry of Health and had oversight of the other crews on site.
Ben was moving up the PCDB organisation.
“The police are once again interfering with our cleaning,” said Ben.
“How?” asked Danny. The Ministry of Health teams, minus Danny and Vinny, had been interviewed and cleared by the police.
“They want to redo the interviews. To check. The waste of time,” said Ben.
“They probably want to check you haven’t remembered anything since the first interview,” said Danny.
Ben snorted. “Remember what? If this is a repeat of the first interview we will not complete our cleaning schedule before the office workers show up.”
Danny knew that the cleaners had to be out by 8:00 am. That was the agreement. But these were special circumstances.
“I’ll speak to Human Resources at the Ministry of Health, explain what’s going on. You just cooperate and make sure every one of our crew cooperates,” said Danny.
“On your order,” said Ben and disconnected.
Danny slipped the phone back into the pocket of the PCDB boiler suit.
He walked to the window of 403.
Outside dawn was slipping through the rain and dark, touching the Houses of Parliament, Portcullis House, Westminster. The new day was starting to light them up.
It couldn’t be helped.
Eddie looked out of the window of room 212 of the Ministry of Health. Room 212 was a small meeting room with a table, four chairs and a view over Whitehall.
Through the window Eddie could see the entrance and part of the north side of Downing Street.
You would have had a shot from here depending, as Kate had pointed out, the position of the gates.
As they had reached the east pavement of Whitehall Eddie had turned and seen DCS Cox intercept DI Logan at the Whitehall end of Downing Street and send him back to the Counter-Terror team.
DI Logan had returned with DCS Ted at a trot.
But by then it was done. Eddie and Kate were in the Ministry of Health, Sam and Justin in Defence.
DCS Ted would have to go to the Chief Constable to call the Central Murder Team off and DCS Cox would reason that Counter-Terror had not supplied Central Murder with their interview notes.
DCS Ted had barked an admonition at DI Logan and retreated to Downing Street.
DCS Cox had made a call and it had been the right one.
DCI Eddie Smith took the step to the table of room 212 and sat.
Across the table was Ben Ojo, head of the cleaning teams at the Ministry of Health.
Ben was five foot five, his frame clothed in what his svelte build made to seem a tailored boiler suit.
He held himself ramrod straight on his chair without a hint of effort.
His dark eyes regarded Eddie with impatience.
Ben Ojo had listed six objections to being interviewed for a second time.
Each objection had been a carefully constructed sentence preceded by a number so that Eddie could keep count.
“You may recall something that you forgot to mention during the first interview,” said Eddie
Mr Ojo’s eyes showed disappointment at the question.
“I, like everyone else, am more likely to forget things with the passage of time, even a day or two, than to spontaneously remember them,” countered Ben.
Eddie insisted: “Nevertheless, let’s go over it.”
Ben regarded Eddie as one would a recalcitrant child.
“I recall nothing other than appeared on my first statement,” said Ben.
“For the record, Mr. Ojo,” said Eddie. “Do you now recall seeing anything unusual?”
“No,” said Mr. Ojo.
“Nothing except the shooting of the Prime Minister,” said Eddie.
“That happened at the end of the shift. It didn’t impact our cleaning,” said Mr. Ojo.
Eddie stared back at him.
Danny toured the third floor of Portcullis House inspecting the cleaning work the crew had done.
Through the security glazed windows the April sky was dressed with puffy white clouds.
It was 7:30 and the occasional office worker had washed up at their desk.
Cleaning Crew Three mostly ignored the office workers as they followed Danny on his tour of inspection.
Danny tried to keep the tone light, it was mostly a confidence boost for his cleaners.
Letting them know the boss cared.
They entered the Ladies Toilets.
Danny looked into a row of sinks.
“The marks around the plug holes have gone,” he remarked.
Mellissa, big, all curves, Nigerian, smiled. The third floor Ladies Toilets were hers.
“What did you use?” asked Danny.
Mellissa flexed her arm.
“Sometimes that’s enough,” smiled Danny.
The crew laughed.
Mellissa was chuffed.
Just what Danny wanted.
As they stepped out of the Ladies’, Danny’s phone sounded Walking On Sunshine.
“I’ve got to get this,” said Danny. “Five minutes and we’ll meet downstairs. But I tell you now – good work.”
Cleaning Crew Three trooped toward the lifts.
They would all be waiting in Reception.
Danny lifted the phone to his ear. “Ben,” he said.
“The police have just gone,” said Ben. “We could only get a partial clean in.”
“Not your fault,” said Danny. “Cooperation with the police went okay?”
“We just repeated what we had said first time,” said Ben
“Everyone gave the same story as last time?” asked Eddie.
“It was true then, it is true now,” said Ben. “Waste of time. We could have been cleaning.”
“I’ll get onto Human Resources when they get in, make sure they understand,” Danny reassured.
“One thing,” said Ben. “I gave the detectives a printed rota from the morning the Prime Minister was shot.”
Danny looked out at the puffy white sky.
It was smiling at him.
“That’s fine,” said Danny.
The detectives of the Central Murder Team sat down at 9:00 in room 102 of the Ministry of Health to review how the interviews had gone.
“Normal day,” said Sam. “Until the kerfuffle.”
The kerfuffle, thought Eddie, being the killing of the Prime Minister.
“Any difference between personnel on site today?” asked DCS Cox.
“We had one on leave, one sick,” said Sam.
“Okay, follow up on that,” said DCS Cox.
“There was an ex-con,” said DS Battle.
“There that day?” said DCS Cox.
“No, but looking back over the rotas he had been until a couple of weeks back. Then he was moved,” said Justin.
“But he’s still part of the firm?” asked DS Cox.
Justin nodded: “Yes ma’am.”
“I’ll take it under advisement,” said DCS Cox and turned to Eddie.
“Eddie?” she said.
“Pretty much the same as Sam. Normal day until the gunshot. One person present that day has been reassigned to another building. Another is not on site.”
Kate looked up. “That reassigned guy,” she said and shrugged. “Me and one of the cleaners got to talking. We both watch Strictly.”
“This going somewhere?” asked DSC Cox.
“Yes, ma’am,” said Kate. “Lee Ryan got booted off. Me and Renee are fans.”
“Renee being?” asked Justin.
“One of the cleaners. Out of Angola,” said Kate.
DCS Cox made a circling motion with the index finger of her left hand: get to the point.
“Anyway, Lee’s been reported as having a drinking problem, sorted now, and Renee mentioned that Vinny had turned up drunk that day,” said Kate.
“And this was something that Renee had not shared with Counter-Terror?” said DCS Cox.
“Just yes-no questions from them according to Renee,” said Kate.
DCS Cox checked the printed rota.
“Vinny being Vincent Sullivan,” said DCS Cox.
“Yes ma’am,” said Kate.
“So Vinny turns up drunk, good effort by the way Vinny – what next?” asked DCS Cox.
“The boss carted him off to St. Thomas’”
“The boss being Danny Blake,” said DCS Cox.
“Yes, ma’am,” said Kate.
DCS Cox exhaled.
Eddie thought: If Counter-Terror had missed that what else had been missed.
“Okay,” said DCS Cox. “Going forward we build on our interviews. We will use Counter-Terror to inform our work not to drive it. Kate and Eddie, check that the Vinny character actually showed up at St. Thomas’ and what time he was checked in. Justin you look at the ex-con but if there’s nothing there don’t waste time.”
They had spent a few hours redoing Counter-Terror’s work and had found a couple of holes. How many more were there? And what had slipped through them?
The thoughts passed through Eddie’s big head.
The dashboard clock showed 8:45 a.m. as Danny turned his PCDB badged van onto the embankment.
Gobs of traffic were stop-start along the Thames.
Change one vehicle for another, thought Danny, and who would notice?
The police’s second round of interviews had netted the printed rota for the morning in question.
Danny’s name was on the rota.
Danny had never denied being there. It was why he had constructed his alibi.
No point worrying, thought Danny: trust the plan, trust the equipment. As he had been taught.
Kate hung up her mobile just as DCS Cox’s rung.
DCS Cox answered her phone, listened.
“It’s DCC Patient,” said DCS Cox. “I need to take this alone.”
“Someone throwing their weight around?” said Eddie.
“We are,” said DCS Cox.
“Let’s give the DCS the room,” said Eddie.
Kate and Eddie stepped out of Room 102. Sam and Justin had already returned to Defence.
The first floor corridor had a public area at its north end with views over Whitehall. It was not yet nine and most of the workers had yet to arrive.
They walked to the north end.
The chairs in the waiting room were soft and modern. Eddie sank into one. Kate, he noticed, arranged herself to take her weight on her legs.
Eddie looked around. No one.
“Proceed with caution,” he said.
Kate said: “That was St. Thomas’ on the phone, they report that Vincent Sullivan checked into A&E a couple of minutes before the Prime Minister was shot.”
Eddie leant forward. “Did you speak to the nurse who booked him in?” he asked.
Kate shook her head: No, but should I?
“Best to speak to the admitting nurse. We can get Vinny’s picture from PCDB, show it to the admitting nurse and check the same guy was admitted to A&E.”
Kate nodded: be as certain as we can be, and she moved to make the call.
Danny looked out of the window. A better angle of attack for the shooter.
“What time?” Kate said into her phone, thanked the other end and hung up.
“The nurse that admitted Vincent Sullivan is working nights,” said Kay. “A 10 pm start. I’ve arranged to catch her at the start of her shift.”
“Good,” said Eddie.
This was a murder and everything was looked into, everything followed up.
Outside, over the better angle of attack, the sky was laced with cloud.
Up there did not care what happened down here, thought Eddie. Live or die and the clouds passed over the same. He had learnt that when Clare had died. The world had not stopped.
What care we had we manufactured for ourselves.
Danny sat in the front room of his flat.
It was 9 p.m. and Kenny was in his room.
Danny had drunk a couple of cans with Lil in the kitchen.
Lil had been complaining about Lou.
“He knows I’m a dyke why is he trying to prove otherwise?” Lil had said.
“The challenge?” Danny had tried.
Lil had almost taken it the wrong way but then had burst out laughing.
“A challenge and then some,” Lil had chortled. “Like turning you straight. Ain’t going to happen.”
Danny had smiled back at her.
Since Colin there had been no one else.
Danny was watching BBC News 24.
It was reporting that David Lidington had been replaced as temporary leader of the Parliamentary Conservative Party by Nicky Morgan who had also assumed the Prime Ministership by acclamation.
Danny got to his feet, walked to the living-room window which looked onto Woodlea Road.
Colin at Abney Hall had defined Remainers as Conservative. It had annoyed Remainers who thought of themselves as progressive to have it pointed out that in this great matter they skewed conservative.
It hadn’t sat well with them at all.
But what names could you call Colin: a queer, working class, Catholic commie?
They had nothing.
Colin had a blizzard of words and a way with the crowd.
The great mass of night pressed at the glass.
Danny had not been with anyone since Colin and he would not be with anyone else.
Out on Woodlea Road street lights glowed as car lights flickered between them. Beyond house lights switched on and off recording the movements of people.
Or perhaps people had programmed their lights to switch on and off at certain times of the day.
He couldn’t tell by looking.
You could make up anything you wanted out there, thought Danny.
He headed for his bedroom.
Danny took out his Nemesis Vanquish, ran a check. The weight of the gun felt real in his arms.
Nicky Morgan, thought Danny. He’d always known that there might be another Remainer.
The night draped around the flats of Herbert Block.
Danny had made his choice.
He was prepared.
End of After (chapter 3) by Writer 3
Chapter 4 will appear in January