After (chapter 5)
by Writer 3
8:20 and Danny was knelling in an elevated winch housing. The elevated winch housing was part of a half-completed HS2 maintenance shed at the south west of the Old Oak Common site.
Next to Danny sat a backpack and a folded anorak.
The winch had never been installed but around the housing were bolts and nuts laid out in preparation. The housing like the rest of the HS2 shed was unfinished.
Parts of the HS2 shed were open to the elements, including an area of roof and wall behind Danny through which a watery sun poked through the drizzle.
The whole HS2 project had overrun and a hold had been put on it.
Not a great start to a new railway, thought Danny.
Across from where Danny knelt camera and radio crews were setting up on rail lines that ran alongside a platform in front of the Crossrail shed. They were 500 meters north east of Danny.
A new Queen Elizabeth train was pulled up south of the platform and was sparkling in the thin rain.
Danny adjusted the Nemesis Vanquish rifle. The winch housing was high up in the empty HS2 shed and was approached by metal stairs to the south.
Danny had arrived at 6 a.m., parked a few streets back to the south-west of Old Oak Common. He had zipped an anorak over his boiler-suit, shuffled on his backpack containing the Nemesis Vanquish in its carrying case, compression bandages and a bar of chocolate.
Everything was as it had been when he had recced over the weekend. The secured south west entrance was unmanned.
He had circled the site to the main, north-east entrance.
Adam’s pass had allowed entry.
And at that time of the morning he had flashed the pass to a sleepy eyed security guard who had shown no interest in another cleaner.
At 8:00 a helicopter had taken position above Old Oak Common.
He was at 15 metres elevation, 500 metres from where PM Nicky Morgan would open the Old Oak Common Crossrail Maintenance Depot. His view was clear, only a pair of abandoned cargo containers at 100 metres were between him and the Crossrail platform.
The tv and radio crews facing the Crossrail platform had their backs to him.
A light rain was falling and a small wind was pushing raindrops from west to east.
The Nemesis Vanquish was prepped and ready.
Egress would be through the half completed HS2 shed leading to the unmanned south-west exit.
Twenty metres south of the exit was an underpass. He would use that and on exiting the underpass would cross two streets to reach his hired Zip van. It had been paid for on a prepaid debit card under the name of Daniel Defoe.
At 8:25 there was movement in the Crossrail shed.
Four protection squad officers took position at the platform facing the journalists.
Then Nicky Morgan emerged.
Danny touched Colin’s ring on a slender chair around his neck. He blinked once to clear his sight and focused along the rifle.
DCS Cox was thinking of Vanessa, the shape she had made in her arms.
She was sitting at the main table of room 333 in the Metropolitan Police building in Victoria with the complete rota of detectives of the Central Murder Squad.
The clock on the east wall was coming up to 8:30.
Sam Daley had re-joined the Central Murder team this morning.
Greg Isles had been arrested and DCS Cox had delegated Justin to bring Sam up to speed.
Sam’s solid, West Country face looked at Justin.
“Who did you get to keep an eye on Pete Young?” asked Sam’s West Country burr.
“Stoke Newington nick,” said Justin.
Sam shook his head.
“They’re not that bad,” said Justin. “Not anymore.”
Sam swung his head to Eddie.
“Ask Eddie, he was born there,” said Sam.
“Were you?” asked Justin.
“Was. No longer live there,” said Eddie.
His mum did. A council flat in Milton Gardens.
“Why did you leave? It’s going up in the world,” said Justin.
“I got married,” said Eddie.
Justin blinked. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t think.”
“It’s fine,” said Eddie. “It’s just a question.”
“Detectives,” said DCS Cox. “As enlightening as this delving into DCI Smith’s domestic arrangements may be we have a murderer to catch.”
Eddie nodded: yes ma’am.
And he told himself that it was fine.
“So let’s focus,” said DCS Cox.
It had been days since the killing of the PM. The weekend had come and gone.
DCC Patient had been busy letting everyone know it wasn’t Central Murder’s fault, they had not had responsibility for the important first hours following the PM’s killing.
The implication being: who knew what mess Counter Terror had made.
“You have your assignments,” said DCS Cox and tapped a folder on the table in front of her.
Eddie and Kate had been given the list of cleaners in the Department of Health.
They could have done it last week but Justin had uncovered the ex-con and the team had run with that.
They had come back to the list.
It was murder.
Everything and everyone gets looked at.
“Get to it, people,” said DCS Cox.
Danny felt the recoil of the rifle on his shoulder.
PM Nicky Morgan instantly dropped.
There was pandemonium amongst the tv and radio crews.
The protection team moved to cover the body.
Be quick but do not hurry.
He took a moment to check his surroundings.
Egress appeared clear. No one was to his right or left. In front of him those of the journalists who remained on their feet were pointing in different directions.
Photographers were snapping the shot PM through the surrounding protection team.
Three people appeared from the Crossrail shed. One of them Danny recognised as Dominic Grieve.
Danny steadied his stance, raised his rifle to his eye.
A second shot would increase the chances of detection. He had dropped his principal target, now was time to get out but Dominic Grieve has been at Abney Hall when Colin had eviscerated the Remainers and Dominic Grieve was in Danny’s scope.
Danny pulled the trigger.
As he lowered the rifle a uniformed officer with a drawn pistol stepped around the cargo containers that lay between the HS2 shed and the Crossrail platform where Nicky Morgan lay.
The sun backed Danny and would make it hard for the officer to make out his details.
It would also offer a target, even for a pistol shot.
Danny was moving when the bullet entered just above his left hip.
It was like being punched.
Danny stepped out of the officer’s eye-line. His training told him what he had to do.
He fished a compression bandage out of his backpack, opened his boiler suit and applied the bandage to the wound.
It would prevent the loss of blood. It took seconds.
He picked up a large bolt, tossed it at the east wall and moved south.
He took the stairs quickly and was out of the HS2 maintenance shed.
The officer would call for backup and wait or he would enter the shed and head for where he had tagged Danny. If he chose the second the bolt was to place doubt into his mind.
They were what Danny’s training told him where his opponents most likely moves.
Outside the HS2 maintenance shed, Danny made himself stop and take less than a minute to break down the Nemesis Vanquish. He placed each disassembled part in its carrying case and zipped it into his backpack.
He put on his anorak. It covered his wound.
He exited from the south-west gate.
As DCI Eddie Smith and DC Kate Fowler, and DI Sam Daley and DS Justin Battle were heading out of Room 333 on the Metropolitan Police building in Victoria for their assigned interviews, DCS Cox received a phone call.
Her phone to her ear DCS Cox raised a hand.
“Wait,” instructed DCS Cox.
The detectives stopped just inside the door of room 333.
“Clear,” said DCS Cox, hung up her phone and looked at the detectives.
“New instructions,” said DCS Cox.
Danny stood outside the south west entrance to Old Oak Common. He focused on the twenty metres to the underpass.
The helicopter has positioned itself over the fallen PM, out of Danny’s eyeline.
The rain had ushered people off the streets but there were still two individuals he would have to pass.
He reviewed them.
One was a young woman walking a small dog. The other was a man carrying four cans of Tesco cider.
Danny tried to bring confidence to his step as he began the walk to the underpass.
The world was touched by soft rain that ran through the cracks of the world.
“We’ll be first on the scene?” said Kate.
Kate was behind the wheel of her Ford. Ahead of them was DCS Cox in an Audi. Heading DCS Cox was the wail of the lead marked police car’s siren. Behind Kate’s Ford were Sam and Justin in Justin’s Mini Countryman.
“According to DCS Cox we will be the first investigating officers,” said Eddie. “The PM’s protection detail was in place. There were also member of the British Transport Police.”
They were moving north, Green Park to their right, Banks and Corporate Headquarters to their left occupied former grand, family homes.
“As long as they don’t touch anything,” said Kate.
Outside the rain blurred the outlines of the Corporations they were passing. It could be hard to see where one ended and another began.
You knew there were lines, thought Eddie, it was just sometimes difficult to make them out.
Easy to step over a line and not know it.
“No interference would be best,” agreed Eddie.
Next to him Kate smiled at an impossible thing
The dogwalker did not look at Danny.
The cider carrier gave Danny a full, ruddy faced smile.
Danny avoided eye contact.
The rain glittered on the cider drinker like jewellery.
“Come on, mate,” said the cider drinker. “It isn’t that bad.”
Danny kept his focus set on his next objective: reaching the underpass. Despite his wound he held his direction steady.
The cider drinker raised a can at Danny.
“Some guys,” said the cider drinker. “Don’t know how to have fun.”
They rounded the war memorials at Hyde Park corner.
Traffic did its best to stay out of their way but their progress along Park Lane was in spurts. Eddie thought that Kate would have darted into every gap but they had to keep position behind DCS Cox.
Eddie’s phone rang. It was DCS Cox.
“Ma’am,” said Eddie.
Eddie watched a jogger in Hyde Park move effortlessly thought the lane, sealed into her earphones, focused only on her running.
“I’ll let her know, Ma’am,” said Eddie and hung up.
He turned to Kate. Although she could not take the gaps she saw each one. It disturbed her, thought Eddie, not to be able to drive what was in front of her.
Eddie said: “The prime minister is confirmed shot.”
“Same m.o?” asked Kate.
“We do not have enough information. And the Prime Minister is not confirmed dead,” said Eddie. “Dominic Grieve was also shot.”
Kate looked at him.
She was going to say: two for one, thought Eddie. Don’t.
“Should have asked if the PM was dead or alive,” said Kay. “Sorry. Just focused on the case.”
Eddie was oddly relieved she hadn’t made the two for one comment. The comment had only ever been in his head but it was easy to see the case not the people: easy for Kate, as it had been easy for him.
Eddie was convinced that to be a detective you had to see beyond the clean lines a case could make. You had to see the messy lives of people. Do your detecting there.
“It happens to a young detective. You’re keen which is admirable but keep your mind open,” said Eddie. “See what’s there not what your idea of the case tells you should be there.”
We learnt as we went along, Eddie told himself. We also forgot.
Danny sat in his short hire Zip van two streets across from the exit to the underpass and a dozen from Old Oak Common and watched two umbrellaed young mums. Their buggies had rain covers deployed to protect their precious cargo.
As Danny looked on the young mums’ attention was drawn from their important talk laced around their children to the wail of emergency service vehicles approaching Old Oak Common.
Review, thought Danny.
He had taken down the primary target plus one.
The plus had led to him being shot.
For now a mistake rather than a lesson learnt, Danny understood. There would be time to take that on board once the mission was complete.
Danny carrying the bullet judged himself capable of carrying out the plan as it stood: drive to the Tesco car-park in Finchley, switch to a PCDB badged van, return to Hackney.
He would complete the mission.
He started the van.
He would get home.
Kate and Eddie rounded Marble Arch and were on the Edgware Road. Drops of the Middle-East splashed the buildings.
Kate had wondered about calling ahead, to the officers and any Ambulance response on the scene, to ask them to keep interference of the scene to a minimum.
Not a good idea, thought Eddie. “They have to try to save the PM and her minister,” said Eddie.
“Of course,” said Kate. She did not sound completely convinced.
Two short, dark, lean men sat on chairs, smoking under the canopy of a carpet shop. Intent on their conversation and their cigarettes they seemed not to notice the crowds of Edgware Road muffled against the rain bustling by them.
Not police officers, thought Eddie. Not a future that Kate had chosen.
“Whatever the condition of the PM and Mr Grieve they will move them,” said Eddie.
They had picked up a little speed since Park Lane.
“Where?” asked Kate.
“It’s Paddington, it’ll be Mary’s,” said Eddie.
From Edgware Road Station they took the Westway. They could really motor.
Danny sat in the Zip van in the Tesco car-park in Finchley.
The world seemed squeezed. He could not quite . . .
The second time Colin has kissed him it had been raining. Pouring all over them.
“What, you think you’re going to melt?” Colin had said to him.
He had not melted.
Well, maybe his heart.
With Colin in the rain it had been lovely.
A dapper, older, white man passed in front of the windscreen of the Zip van.
Check, Danny reminded himself.
He was at the western end of the Tesco car-park in Finchley. The PCDB van was at the car-park’s east. 75 metres.
Was there anything else?
“You’d forget your own head if it wasn’t screwed on,” his mum had said.
Not now. Not after the army.
He needed to transport his backpack.
The car-park rippled with shoppers. They were cover.
He opened the door and got out of the Zip van.
The adjustment of position sparked a jolt of pain from his wound.
He did not react but drops of blood had dripped from under his compression bandage, seeped through his boiler suit and run down his anorak onto the van’s floor.
It couldn’t be helped.
The rain had slunk away from Old Oak Common, was hanging over Wormwood Scrubs and Acton.
It would be back, thought Eddie.
Eddie and Kate sat on crates outside the HS2 Maintenance Shed. Across from them also on a crate was Sergeant James McMannon of the British Transport Police.
James had taken a shot at someone who might have been the shooter.
Kate and Eddie kept their faces calm, chose their words carefully around him.
James McMannon had discharged his firearm at someone. There would be an investigation. DCS Cox on handing the assignment to Kate and Eddie had made sure that they understood that was not a matter for them.
DCS Cox had instructed Eddie and Kate to talk the British Transport Police Officer through what had happened. Sam and Justin had been assigned the Crossrail platform where PM Nicky Morgan and Dominic Grieve had died.
DCS Cox was barking orders into her mobile, organising sweeps of the area around Old Oak Common.
Eddie and Kate had established that James had been deployed near the cargo containers 300 metres from the Crossrail shed. The first shot had come from behind and above James but he couldn’t say how high.
“So it was the second shot that allowed you to locate the suspect?” said Eddie.
Eddie’s voice was measured but brisk.
James was a little unfocused, Eddie guessed that shooting at someone and then realising you could not be sure who you shot at could do that to you but Eddie’s duty was to extract James’ information effectively.
Eddie was not a doctor, that could not be his concern and now was not the time for doctors. There would be doctors afterwards.
James was twitchy and Eddie had decided that a no nonsense attitude might be what James needed to share his story.
“I guess,” said James. “I just . . .” and his left hand twitched.
James was in his thirties, a strong upper body was balanced on tubs of legs. He was dressed in standard police apparel, dark zip-top, dark trousers, sturdy shoes. His Glock 17 had already been removed.
“We understand,” said Kay. “You reacted.”
“Was I right? I could have . . .” James’ query tailed off.
Eddie tried for business-like. “We’ve got a dead PM and a Minster of the Crown. No one will say you did anything wrong.”
James nodded: ok.
“Did you got a good look at the person you shot?” asked Eddie.
The question would be asked again by those investigating James’ discharging of his firearm, thought Eddie.
“Not to make out. He was at distance. And the sun was behind him,” said James.
James had shot at someone he could not identify. Eddie kept his face bank and pointed out: “What sun there was. It was raining.”
“But light rain. A little sun through that,” said James.
“Okay,” said Eddie. “You make your shot, what next?”
“I tried to call over the radio but . . .” and James’ left hand twitched.
The rain was back, gently nudging at them.
“They were 400 metres behind you. You could have waved, called, even run,” argued Eddie.
James shook his head. “It was pandemonium. Anyway, radio is standard operating procedure. To preserve the line of command.”
James’s radio would have been tuned to the British Transport frequency, Eddie understood.
Eddie said: “So you received no radio response.”
“No response. So I advanced on the shed,” said James.
Kate sat straighter.
“You entered?” asked Eddie.
James nodded. “There was a noise, a clang on the east wall,” said James.
“So that’s where you went?” asked Eddie.
“Nothing there. So I went to where I had seen the shooter,” said James.
“How long would this be after he had fired the shots?” asked Eddie.
“I wasn’t tracking time but around five minutes,” said James.
“How did you get up to where you had seen the shooter?” said Eddie.
“Metal stairs,” said James. “It’s like a high loading bay, or for a winch.”
“So you got to where you had seen the shooter. Anything there?” asked Eddie.
“Blood,” said James.
Danny took the lift to the third floor of Herbert Court.
The world pinched once again, Danny felt it in his legs, threatening to put him on the floor. Danny steadied himself and got off at the third floor.
It was still the school Easter Holiday and Kenny and Lil would be in the flat.
Just walk in steadily, remember to greet Kenny and Lil on the way to the bedroom. Everything would be normal.
As Danny opened the front door he felt the wound in his side.
The other side of the front door was silence.
“Kenny,” called Danny. “Lil.”
There was no response.
He went through to the kitchen.
Lil had left a note on the kitchen table: Taking Kenny to Clissold Park back in a while.
How long was a while, thought Danny, and looked at his watch: 10:02.
He walked to his bedroom and undressed, removing the boiler suit gingerly from his left hip.
He looked at himself the mirror set on the chest of drawers.
The wound had been seeping from under the compression bandage and blood ran down his hip and thigh.
That needed to be dealt with.
Danny stowed his rifle and ran a bath. The only medic he knew was Brain the Butcher. Brian had poor technique and a loose mouth.
The sunlight scattered through the frosted bathroom window, lay around the bath and sink and Danny as he stood in the bath and swabbed himself down.
He removed the compression bandage, walked through to the kitchen and cleaned the wound surround with kitchen towel before applying a second compression bandage.
He returned to his bedroom.
Brian’s number would be on his phone.
He sat on his bed.
He felt himself tipping over.
Eddie looked at the blood spots on the floor of the winch housing of the HS2 maintenance shed.
James’s shot had found its target, thought Eddie.
The perch in which the winch housing stood was at a fifteen metre elevation and afforded an uninterrupted view of the Crossrail platform of Old Oak Common.
The shooter must have staunched the flow because there was no blood trail, reasoned Eddie.
Across at the Crossrail platform Sam and Justin were triaging the workers’ stories: which were urgent, which could wait.
You could miss something but it was a judgement that had to be made to move the inquiry forward.
Between the Crossrail shed and HS2 shed DCS Cox was organising uniforms into search teams.
Eddie looked back into the HS2 shed.
Kate was walking the path the shooter would have taken to exit via the south door, looking for any trace the shooter may have left.
Eddie eyes dropped to the spots of blood.
If the shooter’s DNA was in the police’s National DNA Database they had him.
“DCI,” shouted Kate.
Eddie looked down from the shooter’s perch.
“He exited here,” Kate called. ”Definite.”
Eddie went down.
From between the HS2 shed and the Crossrail shed came a hum of uniforms summoned by DCS Cox.
Eddie reached the south exit of the HS2 shed.
“You open the door by pressing this,” said Kate indicating a green button. “He left a mark.”
Eddie leant in.
There were blood drops on the exit button.
“And here,” said Kate nodding at the door.
There was a bloody smudge.
Maybe a partial palm print can be recovered, thought Eddie.
“Good work,” said Eddie and straightened up. “We leave traces wherever we go,” and turned to Kate.
“Yes, sir,” said Kate.
Her words bumped against his meaning.
Eddie heard the scepticism in Kate’s tone.
“You don’t have to agree with me, Detective Constable,” said Eddie.
DC Fowler looked like she had another ‘Yes, sir’ in her mouth but she did not voice it.
She simply looked at DCI Smith.
“Okay Kate, let’s see what’s on the other side,” said Eddie and reached for the door.
“Sir,” said Kate. “We’ll disturb the evidence. Shouldn’t we leave it for forensics?”
“The blood smear? We won’t interfere but we will do our job and see the shooter’s next step,” said Eddie and placed his hand clear of the smear and pushed the door open.
Eddie and Kate stepped out onto a west London street.
“DC Fowler, what do you see?” asked Eddie.
Kate’s blue eyes worked the scene they found themselves in.
“Mostly light industrial, “ said Kate. “A newsagent around fifty metres north. Patel’s.”
Kate focused on Patel’s newsagent.
The dominant window of the shop carried a Wines Of California poster.
Kate continued to scan.
“Road junction to our right,” said Kate.
“If you were the shooter which way out would you chose?” asked Eddie.
“The junction,” said Kate. “It leads to some kind of underpass, cuts out the helicopter.”
“That would be favourite,” said Eddie and pulled out his mobile.
Kate had a cop’s view of the world, thought Eddie.
“Step back to the exit,” said Eddie. “You were right, we cannot leave evidence unsecured.”
Kate seemed miffed.
Because he had walked her out, given her a sniff but not let her go, thought Eddie. Like her argument for not disturbing the evidence this was the reaction that Eddie was looking for in a keen Detective Constable.
She could be two things in a matter of moments. She would need to be more.
Danny jerked awake to Lil exclaiming: “Whoa.”
Lil was standing in the doorway of Danny’s bedroom.
Danny understood that he was naked on his bed.
Behind Lil, Danny could hear Kenny in the kitchen talking to Linda, Lil’s new friend.
The world was coming to him in bits and pieces.
Lil had met Linda through Carla whose brother Pete, Danny had recently let go. The thought happened into Danny’s head, wandered over the pain in Danny’s hip. Odd how things happened.
Linda’s south London accent was saying: “We don’t know anything for certain.”
“But if she is dead what are the rules?” asked Kenny.
They were talking about Nicky Morgan, thought Danny. The news was out there.
Lil smiled at a naked Danny: “That’s not what a dyke wants to see,” and covered her eyes.
“Lord take this vision from me,” intoned Lil.
The she was looking at Danny again. “You may be bushed but put some clothes on,” Lil said.
Danny blinked as the world assembled around him.
“Cut yourself shaving? You shouldn’t leave bloody tissues laying around the kitchen. People eat in there,” Lil rattled on.
Danny levered himself up from the bed. He felt the stickiness of his blood on the sheets.
“What the fuck you been up to,” exclaimed Lil.
The room was shifting queerly and Danny gave it a moment to settle.
“Well?” demanded Lil.
“I just need to rest,” said Danny.
“Like fuck you do. Let me see,” said Lil and advanced on the bed.
“It’s nothing,” said Danny.
Lil was at his bedside. The sheets were stained with blood.
“Don’t be bashful,” said Lil and turned Danny onto his right side.
“You’ve been shot,” said Lil.
“It was . . .” Danny’s mouth looked for an excuse.
“Fucking Pete was it?” said Lil. “Or a pissed off cleaning rival.”
How could she believe those things, thought Danny.
Lil raised her hand. “I don’t want to know, not yet,” said Lil. “We deal with this then I’ll rip your fucking head off.”
“Stay away from it, Lil,” said Danny. “You don’t want to be involved.”
Lil shook her head at the foolishness of men.
“Yeah, right,” she said.
“And you went through the underpass?” asked DCS Cox.
DCS Cox was standing in the drizzle between the HS2 and Crossrail sheds with DCI Eddie Smith, DI Sam Daley, DS Justin Battle and DC Kate Fowler. Each wore an outer protection against the rain.
Whatever our rank, thought Eddie, the rain falls on each of us.
Eddie said: “After the evidence at the southern door of the HS2 shed had been secured, ma’am.”
It had taken five minutes for Detective Inspector George Moon of the British Transport Police to arrive.
Eddie had handed over the evidence at the scene to DCI Moon.
It was important, Eddie knew, to have a secure chain of custody otherwise a competent Defence team would take your case apart.
“We followed the underpass until it came out a few streets further south of Old Oak Common.,” said Eddie. “No sign of anyone.”
“Any traffic cameras?” asked DSC Cox.
“We couldn’t see any, ma’am,” Eddie answered.
“All right. We’ve got what may be the shooter’s blood in the winch housing along with a possible partial palm print on the south door,” said DCS Cox.
“Correct, ma’am,” confirmed Eddie. “Forensics are up there now working the scene.”
“Something to connect a body to a crime,” said DCS Cox in thanks.
“And if he had been on our radar before,” pointed out Eddie.
“We’ll have him. But let’s not talk ahead of ourselves,” said DCS Cox and tapped her iPad.
Spots of rain splashed the iPad’s screen.
DCS Cox reported: “I have sent out ten teams of two officers each. Seven to cover the area south of Old Oak Common, one to the west, one to the east and one north. We’ll see if they pick anything up. Sam?” and turned to DI Daley.
DI Sam Daly nodded.
Sam seemed at home in the rain, thought Eddie, but knew that was in his head not the world. Sam was from the West Country therefore a farmer and therefore loved rain. He had known Sam for years yet Sam was still edged about by these crude pictures of him. A lazy habit, thought Eddie.
Sam was saying: “We have one entry to the site that we cannot track down. It was made by Adam Parson at 6:05 a.m. There was another Mr. Parson’s entry at 8:25 a.m. A different badge was used to affect each entry. We’ve spoken to Mr. Parsons and he claims that it was not him at 6:05. He also claims to have lost a security badge last weekend and HR confirm that he reported a badge as lost.”
The wind picked up a little and the slant of the rain changed. Millions of drops, impossible to track, thought Eddie, but we tried.
“And the reportedly lost badge secured entrance at 6:05?” asked DCS Cox.
“Yes ma’am,” said Sam.
“Are you checking out Mr Parson’s claim that it was not him at 6:05?” asked DCS Cox.
“Yes, ma’am. He has a partner he says can confirm his time of leaving home. Others would have seen him leaving home,” said Sam.
“Home being?” asked DCS Cox.
“Martin Court, Hackney, ma’am,” said Sam.
Danny sitting on his bed could hear Lil talking to Linda and Kenny in the kitchen.
Danny had pulled on a pair of black, boxer shorts.
Lil was spinning a yarn about how Danny had cut himself on a cleaning job and needed to rest up for the day.
Kenny went to his room.
Lil walked into Danny’s bedroom.
The world was sliced up and Danny was finding he had to connect the pieces.
Lil indicated Danny’s left hand side.
“You have to get someone to look at that,” said Lil.
“I’ll give Brian a ring,” said Danny.
“The Butcher?” said Lil and shook her head. Danny would not be doing that.
“I know someone,” said Lil. “He owes me and he’ll keep his mouth shut.”
“How do you know him?” said Danny.
“His wife tried being a lesbian for a couple of weeks. She wasn’t. I pointed that out to her. He was grateful,” said Lil. “Anyway the guy’s a GP, local. I can call in the favour.”
“He’d dig the bullet out of me?” asked Danny.
Did Lil really think that Pete had put a bullet in him? That a rival cleaning firm had? The shooting of Nicky Morgan had occupied the mouths of Lil’s lover and his ward but Lil had not allowed it to set up in her mind.
“Anything you want, anytime was what the cuckolded GP told me. Guy really loves his wife,” said Lil.
Lil had determined a course of action and she would stick to it, Danny thought.
The world began to turn. Danny closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them again everything had found its place.
Danny nodded: place the call.
He realised that he trusted Lil.
The man was in a portacabin on Old Oak Common.
“A team approached Mr. Edritch near the entrance to the underpass,” Kate was saying. “They found what he had to say of interest.”
Kate and Eddie were crossing the ground of Old Oak Common, heading for a suite of portacabins.
The rain had flounced off half an hour ago.
“And he agreed to come in, to talk?” said Eddie.
“Could hardly stop him, sir, according of PC Singer and PC Patel,” said Kate.
They reached the portacabins.
Eddie reached for the door-handle.
“The witness has had breakfast, sir. Four cans of cider,” said Kate.
“Understood,” said Eddie and stepped into the portacabin.
The interior of the portacabin had been kitted out as a site office.
Calendar on the wall, each box of a day annotated with squiggles, laptop on a small desk, four wheeled office chairs, kettle, coffee.
Two uniformed police officers were standing near the kettle.
One of the officers was young, blonde and female. The other was young, Asian and male.
The future of the force, thought Eddie. A police force ought to look like the people it policed.
The small form of the witness was cheerfully huddled in a raincoat on an office chair to one side of the desk
“Officer Singer, Officer Patel. Good work. If you could step outside for a minute,” said Eddie.
The uniforms trooped out.
Eddie arranged his face to a smile.
“Mr. Edritch,” he said. “I hear you have something to tell us.”
“He was a wrong ‘un, eh?” said Mr. Edritch.
Eddie could smell cider on Mr. Edritch’s breath.
“Could you tell us what you saw, sir,” said Eddie.
“I will do my duty,” said Mr. Edritch and drew himself up.
Mr. Edritch’s face was puckered, a funnel for alcohol. Was there another life in there, thought Eddie, a history? But he was not here to find that.
“In your own time, sir. From the beginning. When you first saw him,” said Eddie.
“First? He was crossing the road from here,” said Mr. Edritch.
“And what time was this?” asked Eddie.
“8:40. I had been to Patel’s and the clock over the counter showed 8:35. So five minutes to the underpass you have 8:40.”
“Did you see him exit the Old Oak Common site,” asked Eddie.
“Can’t say I did,” answered Mr. Edritch. “But where else could he have come from?”
“Can you describe the man crossing the road,” said Eddie.
“Six foot, black, wearing an anorak,” said Mr. Edrtch.
“Any distinguishing features,” asked Eddie.
“No,” said Mr Edritch
“So he’s coming across the road, what happened next,” asked Eddie.
“I offered a hearty greeting,” recounted Mr. Edritch.
“And how did he respond?” said Eddie.
“His face remained set to miserable,” replied Mr Edritch.
There was an education in there, noted Eddie. He said: “Can you describe his face?”
Mr. Edritch shook his head and said: “Not in detail. I wasn’t wearing my glasses. So happy and sad I can make out but beyond that . . .”
“What happened then?” Eddie moved the narrative forward.
“Well, he’s not from around here and he was moving funny.”
“Funny?” interrupted Eddie.
“He favoured his right side, put his gait out of kilter,” said Mr Edritch. “So I let him put twenty metres between us and then I followed him.”
“Why?” asked Kate.
Mr Edritch grinned at Kate: wasn’t it obvious? “To make sure he got off my patch,” said Mr Edritch.
“So you followed him,” prompted Eddie.
“He took the underpass. At the other end he crossed a couple of streets,” said Mr Edritch.
“And he never saw you following him?” said Eddie.
“He seemed completely caught up in himself. You know how some people are,” said Mr Edritch.
“So he crossed a couple of streets on the other side of the underpass, what next?” said Eddie.
“He got into a van. Sat there for a while then drove off,” said Mr. Edritch.
“Don’t suppose you got the number plate?” asked Kate.
Mr Edritch grinned again at Kate: afraid not.
Mr Edritch’s grin was missing two or three teeth, Eddie noticed. “The type of van, perhaps, sir,” said Eddie.
“Not a big fan of cars or vans,” said Mr Edritch. “But it was one of those Fly things. No, Zip. Written in letters big enough even I could read them.”
A Zip van could be traced, thought Eddie.
“And then?” asked Eddie.
“Came back this side of the underpass. My patch,” said Mr Edritch.
Eddie stood, offered his hand. “Thank you, Mr Edritch. You’ve been a help.”
Mr Edritch got to his feet, shook Detective Chief Inspector Smith’s hand.
“Duty is its own reward, don’t you find officer,” said Mr Edritch.
“It can be, sir. The officers outside will drop you back where they picked you up,” said Eddie.
Mr Ethridge nodded a gap-toothed smile and stepped out of the portacabin.
“A Zip van, we may be able to locate that,” said Kate.
The shooter was making mistakes.
The medic who owed Lil a favour was Dr. Graham of Barton House Surgery on Albion Road, a small, white man with bushy ginger hair, freckles and light, blue eyes that seemed to be focused just outside himself.
Lil had led Dr. Graham into Danny’s bedroom.
Danny on the bed blinked at their entrance. The world had become slippery and new things skated over it.
Dr. Graham’s eyes locked onto Danny, the patient.
“Whatever you can do, doc,” said Lil.
Dr. Graham laid out Danny on his bed his eyes working over Danny’s form, coming to rest on Danny’s wound.
Dr. Graham bent his frame to Danny.
Small, white fingers worked the shape of Danny’s wound.
Danny focused on his digital alarm clock next to the mirror on the chest of drawers. The digits turned to 11:45.
“This was suffered today?” Dr. Graham asked Danny.
“Yes,” Danny answered.
Dr Graham straightened.
“You are a lucky man,” said Dr. Graham. “The bullet appears to have missed anything crucial. Normally we’d get you to a hospital but I understand that’s out of the question.”
Danny nodded: it was.
“You can travel?” asked Dr. Graham.
“Yes,” confirmed Danny.
“Be at the surgery at 8 p.m. I’ll take the bullet out then.”
Dr. Graham turned to Lil.
“And that will be us even.”
The sun was directly overhead of Old Oak Common.
The rain had held off and watery sunlight washing through tattered of clouds splashed onto west London.
Eddie stepped into one of the portacabins which DCS Cox had commandeered to hold a state of play meeting.
The four chairs of the portacabin were occupied by DCS Cox, DI Sam Daley, DS Justin Battle and DC Kate Fowler.
On Eddie’s entry Kate made to get to her feet.
The DCS and DI were squashed together on one side of a small desk, Kate and Justin on the other.
Kate was tilted away from Justin.
Eddie put his hand on Kate’s shoulder.
“I’m good,” said Eddie.
“You sure, sir,” asked Kate.
She wanted to get up. Eddie was the superior officer.
“I’m fine. I could do with the exercise,” said Eddie.
Kate slumped back to her position, tilted away from Justin.
“Okay,” said DCS Cox. “If we’ve managed to agree the seating arrangements, let’s review where we are with the case.”
DCS Cox’s dark eyes scanned each of them for a moment.
“This time we were first on the scene and have received three live leads,” said DCS Cox. “One – the blood left at the shooter’s perch. Two – if Mr. Edritch did see the shooter he was using a Zip van. Three – the shooter used Adam Parson’s id to access the site.”
DCS Cox looked at Sam and Justin.
“DI Daley and DS Battle will lead on the blood work. Keep tabs on forensics,” said DCS Cox.
Eddie felt his body stiffen. He and Kate had discovered the blood. It was their lead and DCS Cox had tossed it to Sam and Justin.
DCS Cox gaze rested on Eddie and Kate.
“DCI Smith and DC Fowler will lead on the Zip van. We’ve got a request in with Zip for information on van hire. Get onto them. Any hinderance come back through me,” said DCS Cox.
Eddie nodded acceptance. Zip and the blood, he and Kate couldn’t have both and the Zip actually called for detection while the blood would just be waiting on Forensics.
“Also, I want you to carry on with the witness list from the killing of PM Osborne. We don’t want to let that go,” said DCS Cox.
Eddie sat back. He agreed. It wasn’t the latest case but it needed doing.
DCS Cox went back to Sam and Justin.
“While you are waiting on Forensics I want you to check out Adam Parson’s story, was he actually at Martin Court at the time he claims.”
“This time the bugger’s made mistakes and we were there to pick them up. Let’s follow through on that,” said DCS Cox.
“Yes, ma’am,” said the detectives.
Outside the portacabin under a sky broken by cloud Sam said to Eddie: “If we get a match on the blood.”
“Game over,” said Eddie. “But in case not we’ll work the Zip van. Checking out the story of a man who drinks cider for breakfast.”
“Drunks can tell the truth, sometimes,” said Kate.
“You think?” said Justin.
Kate stared back at Justin: yeah, she did think.
“Justin,” said Sam and brought his DS to heel. “We’re all on the same team.”
“We’ll check in with Forensics then we’ll be in Hackney checking Adam Parson’s story. Get up there much anymore?” said Sam.
“Once a week, I try,” said Eddie. “My mum’s still there.”
“If she has any information for us,” smiled Sam.
“Oh, you couldn’t shut her up,” said Danny.
Sam and Justin moved for their car parked on the east side of Old Oak Common.
Danny held Kate back.
“Don’t get into it with Justin,” said Eddie. “I know he can rub people up the wrong way but be professional. Bickering members can kill a team.”
Kate did not answer.
“I mean it Kate. We fuck up, killers walk,” said Eddie.
“I won’t fuck up, sir,” said Kate.
They walked to the east side of Old Oak common.
“Is it shit work being stuck with the old case, sir,” asked Kate.
The witness list from the Osborne killing that DCS Cox had instructed them to work through.
“It has to be done and best if we don’t farm it out, keep the work in-house,” said Eddie.
“Too may eyes see too many things,” said Kate.
“Something like that,” said Eddie and thought that Kate would make a cop yet.
They reached Kate’s Ford.
Justin’s Mini Countryman had already taken off.
Kate was already on her phone, peppering Zip with calls.
The shooter was making mistakes, thought Eddie, but so were they.
It was just easier to see the shooter’s mistakes.
Dr. Graham worked out of Barton House Surgery at the top of Albion Road.
It was only a few hundred metres from Herbert Court but Lil had ferried Danny in her Skoda.
They parked across Albion Road, near a row of shops.
The surgery appeared closed.
“Let’s go,” said Lil.
Danny levered himself out of the Skoda, crossed to Barton House Surgery.
The sky above them was picked out by stars smudged by the heat of London.
Barton House Surgery was a 1960s construct which seemed temporary but was still there.
There was a plaque attached to one of the walls announcing that the place where the surgery stood had once been the home of the man who had gifted Clissold Park to the local authority in the nineteenth century.
He had done that, thought Danny, and they had knocked his house down.
The entrance to Barton House was on the south side away from Albion Road. The place was shut-up for the evening, thought Danny.
Lil knocked once on the entrance.
A few seconds later Dr. Graham appeared from the gloom and let them in.
“Let’s get this done,” he greeted them.
Danny wondered if Dr. Graham made a link between the bullet in him and the shooting of Nicky Morgan or whether he felt under an obligation to return a great favour. You couldn’t have told by looking that Lil or Dr. Graham were big in the favours game.
Danny and Lil followed Dr. Graham into a room that contained an examination table. The table was covered with a disposable sheet.
The walls of the room were decorated with children’s drawings of dinosaurs and dragons. Pterosaurs hung from the ceiling.
“Take off your clothes and get on the table,” said Dr, Graham.
Lil took a chair by the door which Dr. Graham had left ajar.
“I am going to apply local anaesthetic,” said Dr. Graham.
When Dr. Graham informed Danny: “This won’t hurt,” Danny kept his eyes on the Pterosaurs. They were turning in the slight breeze from the crack in the door.
It wasn’t the anaesthetic that hurt. At Dr. Graham’s first incision Danny felt his body stiffen.
“A few moments, Mr Blake,” said Dr. Graham burrowing into Danny’s hip.
“And there we are,” said Dr. Graham.
He sounded pleased.
He dropped the bullet into a metal dish.
“Now to sew you up, Mr Blake,” said Dr. Graham.
Lil sat watching.
Above Danny the Pterosaurs continued to turn.
Dr. Graham tied off the stiches, then bandaged Danny’s thigh.
“We’re done,” said Dr. Graham.
Danny sat up. The room span.
“You will fell a little woozy,” said Dr. Graham. “That should pass with a night’s sleep.”
Dr. Graham handed Danny three boxes of tablets, one box was coloured blue, one box was green and one was white.
“Listen,” said Dr. Graham. “Because I am not writing this down.”
Dr. Graham tapped the blue box. “One a day,” said Dr. Graham.
He tapped the green. “Twice a day.”
Tapped the white. “Five times a day.”
Danny nodded: understood.
“What if he gets any aftereffects?” asked Lil.
“I’m done here. Paid in full,” said Dr. Graham and looked at Lil. “Any aftereffects you’ll have to get him to a hospital.”
Lil looked like she was going to object but Danny got off the examination table and stood naked on his feet.
“Thank you, doc,” said Danny.
Danny took a step to his clothes.
“You can manage?” asked Dr. Graham.
“Just a little woozy, as you warned,” said Danny carefully pulling on his clothes.
“I’d leave the trousers unbuttoned if you can. Shouldn’t be an issue but less pressure on your wound,” said Dr. Graham.
“Got you,” said Danny and looked at Lil.
Danny had his hand in his right trouser pocket holding up his jeans.
“Let’s go,” said Lil and placed her hand on Danny’s back.
As they stepped out of the room Lil turned to Dr. Graham: “We’re even,” she said.
Dr Graham nodded: even.
Outside the dark hustled along Albion Road, between the lights of shops and cars.
Lil’s car was parked in front of a newspaper placard declaring: Killer Of 2 PMs Still Sought.
Lil was saying: “Now you’ve been fixed, you better bloody well tell me what this is all about or I’ll kill you.”
Danny looked at her.
“Truth now,” said Lil.
End of After (chapter 5) by Writer 3
Chapter 6 will appear in May