After (chapter 7)
by Writer 3
George Osborne’s world was flat and lightless.
PM Osborne wondered how he knew that the world was flat or how he knew that he was dressed in his hand-tailored Gieves And Hawkes trousers, Kilgour shirt and Huntsman shoes if there was no light with which to see.
There had to be light, thought the PM, as he looked around the lightless plain of the world. It had to be somewhere. But light or no light the world was featureless.
Well, there was him.
And that was what counted.
The thought filled the ghost of his mind
Danny blinked awake.
His bedroom was inhabited by twilight and Lil.
Lil was sitting on a kitchen chair set against his chest of drawers.
The digital clock sitting on the chest of drawers showed 4:30 a.m.
Danny’s normal getting up time on a working day.
She was dressed in black jeans and a red hoodie. Lil must have gone back to her flat for a change of top. But Danny didn’t know that.
He asked: “Change of top?” to find out.
Lil crossed her arms, set her face to glower.
“Where’s the gun?” she said.
No how you doing, how you feeling after being shot, what was it like to kill people.
Danny sat up. His bandaged left side complained.
Lil began to pace.
“Where’s the bloody gun?” she demanded. “I’ll take it so you can’t shoot anybody else.”
Like she was doing him a favour. Perhaps she was, the thought clicked around the mush in Danny’s head.
Lil was at the foot of Danny’s bed.
“What’s done is past,” she said. ”That can’t be helped. Any more though and I’d be involved,” and looked at Danny: that would be wrong. “And what about Kenny,” she continued. “Any thought for him?”
“I’ve made arrangements,” said Danny.
“Fucking arrangements,” dismissed Lil. “Where’s the gun?”
Danny swung to a sitting position on his bed. He was wearing black boxer shorts.
Had he been wearing them straight through or had he put them on? Didn’t matter he decided. Concentrate on what mattered.
He touched the bandage on his left side and nodded at the wardrobe. To where the Nemesis Vanquish was.
“I have to change the dressing,” said Danny.
“Doctor’s orders,” understood Lil. “You’re keeping a gun in the fucking wardrobe?”
“On the floor toward the back,” said Danny and gingerly stood.
Lil stepped toward the wardrobe. She stood with her hand on one of the wardrobe’s door. She was not looking at Danny when she said: “What happened, happened. God knows why you fucking did it but you did.”
She was talking about the shootings of George Osborne, Nicky Morgan and Dominic Grieve.
“Because of Colin,” said Danny. “For him.”
“Whatever your reasons I didn’t know about what was happening then but I know it now so no more.”
She remained turned from him.
The stories we told ourselves were remarkable, thought Danny. Lil was writing off the death of two Prime Ministers and one Minister Of The Crown against her stopping him in future.
She could have shut him down, have called the police instead she had set up a future in which he was clean of killing.
He didn’t see how the story could be made to work but he did not call her on it.
He understood he would be relying on a story he could not quite believe.
“You understand?” came almost as a snarl from Lil.
“I’ve got to change the dressing,” repeated Danny and took awkward steps across the bedroom.
He was heading for the bathroom.
“The gun in the wardrobe, do what you want with it,” said Danny.
Lil tuned to look at him.
“I should bloody brain you with it. Do you understand what you’ve done?” said Lil.
“I understand,” said Danny.
He understood only too well, thought Danny, and stepped out of the bedroom.
“So what do you know?” said DCI Eddie Smith into his mobile.
Eddie was sitting at the main table in room 333 in the Metropolitan Police building in Victoria. The clock on the east wall told him it was 5:30 a.m.
On the other end of the line was Stoke Newington nick.
“In general or would you like to be more specific?” replied the officer taking the call at Stoke Newington.
The tone was friendly and open and, Eddie heard, took itself to be a cut above him.
Eddie had rung Stoke Newington as Sam had said they had been tasked with keeping eyes on Pete Young. With the Zip van involved in PM Morgan’s killing being hired in Hackney, Pete Young had flagged up as being of interest and DCS Cox had assigned Eddie and Kate to re-interview Pete. First they would recce where the van was picked up, then they would interview Pete.
So best to know what Pete had been up to.
Except that for the last twenty minutes Eddie’s call had been pinged around Stoke Newington nick.
It was early morning but Stoke Newington was 24/7 and, Eddie thought, all he wanted was the highlights, if any, of Pete Young’s movements.
Eddie had ended up with the bright voice of DC Archie James.
Eddie leant forward over the central table of Room 333.
“You accepted the assignment of keeping eyes on Pete Young,” said Eddie.
“Me, sir?” DC Archie James’s voice bopped down the line.
“Stoke Newington nick,” clarified Eddie.
“Do you have a reference number?” PC Archie James’ tone was happy to help.
God save us, thought Eddie, and sat back in his chair.
DI Daley and DS Battle had taken to the bunks on sub-level 2 for a couple of hours. DCS Cox had been closeted in meetings.
Eddie had encouraged Kate to join Sam and Justin for a few hours shut-eye but she had shook her head: No.
Kate was sitting under the clock on the east wall, reviewing her notes from the George Osborne shooting on her iPad.
“Give me a call when the big boys get in,” said Eddie to DC Archie James and hung up.
He disliked his sarcastic tone, was disappointed in the sentence even when saying it. Stay professional he upbraided himself.
“Problems?” asked Kate her eyes on her iPad.
“Stoke Newington nick know nothing about Pete Young,” said Eddie.
Kate looked up from her iPad. “They have a rep, sir,” she said.
“That was supposed to be the past,” said Eddie. Stoke Newington used to have a reputation for corruption but the place had been gutted and cleaned. “This is the new Stoke Newington,” he said.
“History can be hard to get out from under,” said Kate.
Clare, thought Eddie. She had been Remain, he had leant to Leave. Those things should have been washed out on her sick-bed but they had not. Hard to get out from under that.
But he had made changes, made the choice to focus on work, to be of use.
Stoke Newington hadn’t bothered to try that.
At least, at 5:30 a.m. they had not.
“Make the effort. It’s not like we have to sit here and accept it.” said Eddie. “Make the choice.”
Be a man – the thought bubbled into his head. He popped it.
Kate looked down at her iPad.
“Nurse Reyes,” she said.
They had arranged to meet Nurse Reyes at 7:00 a.m. but the investigation had taken them elsewhere.
“Give St. Thomas’ a call and postpone,” said Eddie.
Eddie’s mobile rang. The screen showed DCS Cox. Eddie answered.
“Crouch Hill,” started in DCS Cox. “We’re waiting on a politician,” she explained. “I thought we could use the time productively. So, we’re getting grief from the victim’s JP mum.”
“I need you focused on the PM shootings so I’m assigning another resource to Crouch Hill,” said DCS Cox.
Someone else to take the case on. “It won’t help, ma’am,” said Eddie.
The person assigned would have to familiarise themselves with every aspect of the case, bring themselves up to speed with the mindset of each of the participants: witnesses and police officers.
Easy when jumping into a case half-way through to misunderstand it.
Eddie recognised his excuse for what it was but he would argue that it did have a point.
“Nevertheless, that’s what the mother is demanding. Eyes on the case now. I will be assigning one of the trainees out of college.”
Since 2017 the Met had instigated a graduate entry scheme.
Before 2017 every detective had started as a uniformed constable.
It was in uniform that you proved what you had. Even Justin Battle had done that.
But now, graduate entrants went straight to being detectives, skipping all the boring stuff of being a copper.
Eddie thought of graduate entrants as semi-detached officers.
Other officers were not so generous.
“I laid out the options and she made her choice,” said DCS Cox. “Are the notes on the Crouch Hill case complete and up to date?”
“They are ready to go, ma’am,” said Eddie.
“Ok. I’ll send them over. You will still be the lead officer but your responsibility will be parked,” said DCS Cox.
“Yes, ma’am,” said Eddie.
“The Home Secretary’s arrived. Nice of him to show his face. It’s why we’ve been standing around like dummies for half an hour. We’ll speak before you deploy to Hackney,” said DCS Cox.
“Ma’am,” said Eddie and DCS Cox hung up.
“Anything?” inquired Kate.
“Crouch Hill’s been moved to another detective. As we’re tied up with the PMs shootings and the mother was insisting on movement,” said Eddie.
“I’m sorry, sir,” said Kate.
“We all have to make choices,” said Eddie.
Kate returned her gaze to the iPad.
“We do that,” said Kate.
The April morning light peeked around the corner of Herbert Court, speckled out Lil’s path from Danny’s flat to hers.
The rifle was in a rectangular carrying case which she would have taken as a toolbox on first glance.
Why was she carrying a rifle? She was moving the rifle to hinder the investigation. And so Danny would not shoot anyone else. These reasons tacked to her mind.
She couldn’t change what had happened in the past. She hadn’t been involved, she hadn’t known but her carrying the rifle away from Danny’s flat was a bet that she could shape a little bit of the future.
Lil used the third floor walkway to access the stairwell. It wasn’t yet seven. Her flat was two floors up.
She had imagined the carrying case for a rifle to be longer and heavier.
Danny had started to explain the physics of rifle design but she hadn’t wanted to know.
It wasn’t her first time she had been around guns. She had hidden two pistols when at school in Belfast for her brother. At paramilitary disarmament the guns had been stored just in case. She had been a kid.
She remembered how heavy and clumsy the pistols had felt in her hands.
She had done what her brother had asked because he was family.
She wondered if her ever thought back to those times.
At the fifth floor she stepped back onto the walkway.
The sun slipped behind a cloud as the bear-like figure of Walter Barr appeared kitted out in a Royal Parks uniform.
He had started at the Royal Parks when he was sixteen, he was now thirty-five. Good to hit on the thing that you could stick with so young, thought Lil.
Walter raised his left palm in greeting.
His eyes were red with lack of sleep.
Walter had two kids, the youngest being 3 months.
“Bella causing trouble?” asked Lil naming Walter’s youngest child.
She was pleased at the control of her tone.
“She’s a right bloody madam,” said Walter.
Lil looked at him: what?
She shifted the rifle carrying case from her left to right hand.
“Saw your friend Linda with Carla yesterday. Had popped out for a fag, Stella doesn’t like me smoking in the flat with the kids and all,” said Walter.
Stella was Walter’s other half.
“Carla and Linda were having words, getting into it. Between ourselves, I thought you ought to know,” said Walter.
There was no reason for Linda not to talk to Carla, thought Lil. She and Linda were not each other’s keeper. But Linda could have said something.
“Thanks,” said Lil to Walter.
“Anyhow,” said Walter and headed for the lifts.
Linda and Carla was probably nothing, thought Lil.
The sun tricked out from behind a cloud and as its light lay on Martn Court, Lil remembered that she was carrying a rifle.
Priorities for fuck’s sake, she reminded herself and advanced to her flat.
Don’t get caught daydreaming even about Linda. That would be death.
At the Islington Green junction Kate cut her Ford between two buses, one heading north, one heading south.
Eddie caught a glimpse of the bus-drivers’ bemused faces.
“You do take chances.” Eddie kept his voice flat as Kate bludgeoned the Ford along the Essex Road.
The lane heading north which they occupied was a little less rammed than the lane heading south into Central London.
“A calculated risk,” said Kate and turned her face set to serious to Eddie.
Eddie wished that Kate would keep her face forward but listened as she said: “Do you think I exploit other road users, sir? They follow the rules, I know them but I . . .” and she waggled her left hand.
No eyes on the road and one hand on the steering wheel.
“Eyes on the road,” suggested Eddie.
Kate had taken the Metropolitan Police advanced driving course and had passed first time with a commendation. Eddie could not see how.
“Yes, sir,” said Kate and snapped her view to the road.
“As for the rules of the road you work the margins,” said Eddie. “We all do from time to time.”
They crossed the Balls Pond Road.
Almost in Hackney, thought Eddie.
“Me and Justin had a thing,” said Kate.
Her face remained bolted forward.
“You’re involved?” startled from Eddie.
“Not anymore,” said Kate passing a pottering Pimlico Plumbing van a manoeuvre which took her into the southbound lane, she darted back to the northbound before an oncoming Volvo had even to touch his brakes.
Eddie did not mention her manoeuvre, his head was occupied with: a thing had come and gone with the team and he had not noticed.
“I thought you should know. You’re responsible for managing the team. Help you to understand what’s going on,” said Kate.
Eddie looked at her.
They were in Hackney now.
“You hooked up?” said Eddie.
“What else is there?” said Kate eyeing the back of a Subaru estate.
“We all make our choices,” said Eddie and heard himself as a prim aunt.
Kate shook her head. A small smile passed over her face. “Choice, don’t you sometimes hate it?” she said.
“Without it we’d be robots.” Eddie really had to stop being the prim aunt.
“I could do with some robotics. Reliable,” said Kate.
There was a gap in the southbound traffic.
Kate took the opportunity to push her Ford passed the Subaru.
“You’ll find someone else,” said Eddie.
“Sure,” said Kate. “Of course.”
Her face was: didn’t everyone. They were advancing on an electric BMW.
Kate’s grin grew slightly feral.
“Bloody milk float,” said Kate. “My mum had some stories of dad nicking milk from milk floats, so I’m glad they’re back. Never thought I’d see them.”
Things could surprise on the job, in life thought Eddie.
Kate swept by the BMW electric vehicle.
They were at the top of Albion Road.
“Where now?” said Kate.
“Right onto Church Street, then right onto Defoe Road. I’ll let you know,” said Eddie.
Kate acknowledged the instruction.
They were back on the streets were Eddie had grown up.
Danny lay on his bed.
The clock on his chest of drawers showed 6:45 a.m.
The blue curtains on his bedroom window were drawn. He couldn’t remember the last time he had drawn them, they were just there and his eyes had moved over them without registering them. It had taken Lil to see them and to use them.
The morning light filtered through the curtains and puddled around him.
He felt his body adjust its weight on the bed and he watched as his eye blinked at the light.
It was like he was watching himself in a movie.
Must be nice being a movie actor: being told where to go, what to say, how to feel.
So much less bother than having to do it for yourself.
The movie star musings were driven by the drugs Lil’s doctor had supplied for the gunshot wound on his left hand side, thought Danny, and sat up. Chemicals had put the movie star into his head.
Around Danny the room swayed, then settled.
Lil and Kenny were talking in the kitchen.
Breakfast, Danny surmised.
He looked down at his gunshot wound.
The bandage was less inundated with blood then it had been at first change.
Physically Danny was a quick healer.
He got to his feet. The room stayed in place. He crossed to the wardrobe, opened it.
The gun case was missing. That would be Lil. What had she done with the gun? Was that a question to be asked?
He returned to his bed to think it through but felt the question running out of him.
He lay down and listened to the familiar rhythm of Lil and Kenny talking.
Kenny was outlining the plot of Pavane, how the Spanish started out bad but they did have a point.
“It’s Spain,” said Lil. “They have better weather why would they come here?”
“It’s London,” explained Kenny.
“Right,” laughed Lil and pivoted to talking about dropping in on Carla, they had stuff to talk through.
“Will she be up?” said Kenny. “She’s a stay in bed.”
“Oh, she’ll be up alright,” said Lil.
For Danny lying on his bed individual words twisted free of the background hum of conversation.
He filled in the blanks as wanted.
He could hear Lil and Kenny but he could not see them. Was that what it was like to be Kenny?
Maybe a little, he thought, maybe a bit of blindness.
Who were these people?
Eddie stood on Defoe Road.
Behind him was what had been council housing, in front of him the tidiness of private ownership.
That’s how it had been when he had grown up here.
Now the council housing was infested with owner occupiers.
You looked from council to private, from private to council and there was no difference.
His mouth set at how things changed.
It was seven a.m. and Defoe Road was starting to stir.
Men and women in their casual but oh-so-expensive office attire.
Mum’s on bikes with kids in boxes attached to the front or back.
The private had won.
“So the Zip was picked up on Neville Road,” said Kate and pointed. “Was due to be delivered back to Woodlea Road also local to this part of Hackney but never made it past the Tesco in Finchley. Why wasn’t it delivered back to Woodlea Road?”
Sam and Justin were checking out the Woodlea Road site before calling on Adam Parsons.
He and Kate had Defoe Road and Pete Young.
“A guy had been shot. Maybe his plans had changed,” said Eddie.
The crossed Defoe Road toward Neville Road.
A mum with two kids in a box attached to the front of her bike approached along Defoe Road.
“Good morning,” the mum panted as she passed them.
This wasn’t a Hackney that he knew, thought Eddie. There was the same geography underneath but on that geography odd structures had been built. They seemed out of place but perhaps, thought Eddie, only to him.
Kate raised a hand in greeting to the passing mother cyclist.
“Nice around here, isn’t it, sir,” said Kate.
Eddie did not respond. The sun shone on buildings the outline of which he could recognise but the content of each had been transformed.
“You don’t agree?” queried Kate.
“I was born around here,” said Eddie. “Things change.”
Kate’s face said: for the better, surely.
“Eddie, my boy.”
A slap on Eddie’s back pitched him forward.
Kate swung, reaching for her CS spray and her mobile to summon backup.
Eddie shook his head.
“No need for an arrest, Detective Constable. He’s known,” said Eddie and reached out his hand to a block of a man.
The five foot five, olive square of a man was dressed in a yellow shirt and yellow jeans. His hair was dyed red. He took Eddie’s offered hand.
“Good to see you, Lou,” said Eddie.
“It’s been a while but who can stay away,” boomed from Lou.
“The place has changed,” said Eddie.
“Without you it had to,” smiled Lou.
Eddie gestured his hand to indicate: everything?
“Some of us are dug in. Incognito,” said the yellow clad, red haired Lou and looked at Kate.
“Here to see your mum?” asked Lou. He was looking at Kate, but his question was directed at Eddie.
“Not today,” answered Eddie and nodded at Kate. “A work colleague.”
“You’re here for police stuff?” said Lou.
“It’s what I do,” said Eddie.
“Better keep my distance then,” said Lou and grinned.
“Know a Pete Young or an Adam Parson?” asked Eddie.
The question inserted itself into the exchange. It hung a little foreign between them.
“This the police asking or the guy I was brought up with?” said Lou.
“The police,” said Eddie. It had to be.
Lou shrugged. “I’m not sure. I know a lot of people and I’ve never been one for names. There’s been a lot of churn over the years.”
DC Fowler was about to jump on Lou’s answer. Eddie looked at Kate: leave it.
Eddie took a card from his wallet. “If your memory clears give us a call,” he said.
Lou took the card. “Sure,” he said. “If I get clarity.”
Eddie nodded. He wondered if Lou was judging him and if he would be found wanting.
It no longer bothered him as it once would.
Since Clare’s death he was a copper – full stop. To Lou, to Kate to everyone. He wanted them to look at him and see cop and only cop. It could seem unhealthy to be boiled down to the one thing but it was what he had.
What he allowed to remain of him.
“Good to see you back, Ed. Even doing copper things,” said Lou.
“Good to be back,” said Eddie. “The place has changed but it’s still there.”
“Under all the shit,” smiled Lou and walked up Defoe Road, toward Church Street.
“Old friend?” asked Kate.
“Childhood,” clipped from Eddie. “We knew each other.”
“You could have pumped him further for information on Pete Young and Adam Parson,” said Kate.
From her tone she wasn’t buying Lou’s not good at names argument.
Eddie knew that if he had insisted on pressing Lou would have refused to answer on principle.
“No need to burn our bridges yet,” said Eddie.
He looked at his watch. 7:05.
Time to pay Pete Young a visit.
Danny had got up, walked to the window, peeked out through the curtains. Nothing had changed.
He was back to lying on his bed. Not that he had really been anywhere else since his jaunt to Barton House surgery to have the bullet removed, an awkward wander to the bathroom to change the bandage on his wound was the furthest he had got.
The world scurried around a prone Danny.
The medicines he had consumed made it hard to catch all of it.
That was what he told himself.
Lil stepped into the room, stood arms folded, regarding him.
The clock on the chest of drawers behind her showed 7:12. The working day for cleaners had started a couple of hours ago.
“How you doing?” asked Lil.
“Good,” said Danny, propped himself up on an arm and grimaced. “As well as can be expected,” amended Danny. “Look, Lil, thanks for all you’ve done.”
“It’s not just for you,” said Lil.
Kenny, understood Danny, and said: “I need to make some calls. Business.”
“So make the calls,” said Lil.
There was a rat-a-tat-tat at Danny’s front door.
Lil’s eyed flicked from Danny to the bedroom door.
“Never a gun when you need one,” said Danny and levered himself to a sitting position on the side of his bed.
“Fuck you don’t,” disagreed Lil.
They both heard Kenny move from the kitchen to the front door.
Lil made to go after him.
“Don’t,” said Danny.
Lil looked at Danny: he’s just a kid.
“He needs to learn about answering the door. Me and Kenny talked it through. It will build his confidence,” said Danny.
“If it’s the police?” said Lil.
“Perhaps they’ll think twice before stepping over a blind boy,” said Danny and got to his feet.
He favoured his right side on standing.
He had no egress routes mapped out. That would have to change.
At the front door they head Kenny say: “Is it because I’m blind or because I’m black.”
The hurried denials had the educated, Remainer tones of the Property People.
“They’re out early,” commented Danny.
“Kenny’s got a mouth on him,” said Lil and turned to boxer-shorted Danny: “He’s learning.”
Danny crossed the room, reached for his mobile in the PCDB boiler suit crumpled on the floor, alongside the bed.
It was holed and stiff with his blood.
“I’ll take care of the boiler suit while you’re being the invalid,” said Lil.
Eddie nodded: Yes to Lil as Kenny closed the front door with a curt: “Good day.”
“Why you seeing Carla?” Danny asked Lil.
“You heard about that?” she answered.
“I got ears. Anyway, Kenny would have told me,” pointed out Danny.
Lil shrugged: “Now you’re up I might as well get it done.”
“Get what done?” asked Danny.
A knife of a smile curled Lil’s lips. “I’ll let you know,” said Lil.
Eddie pressed the doorbell of Pete Young’s flat on the fourth floor of Martin Court at 7:20.
There was no response.
He tried again.
“I can’t hear the bell ringing, sir,” said Kate. “Is it even connected?”
Eddie rapped the door three times.
There was movement.
“A bite,” said Eddie.
Pete Young opened his front door attired in a black, sleeveless tee-shirt and grey tracksuit bottoms.
He was unkempt and his eyes were puffy with sleep.
Eddie produced his warrant card.
“Mr. Young we met at the Ministry of Agriculture,” said Eddie. “I am Detective Chief Inspector Eddie Smith. This is Detective Constable Kate Fowler who you may also recognise. We have a few more questions.”
Eddie’s voice walked a line between courteous and firm.
“What fucking time is this?” splashed from Pete.
Eddie raised his wrist to look at his watch.
“7:21, sir,” said Eddie.
“These questions have to be asked now? I already spoke to you.” Pete was beginning to gather himself.
“In our inquiry best to address questions as soon as they arise,” said Eddie.
“Come fucking in,” said Pete. “Sooner you’re in, sooner I can get rid of you I guess.”
“Probably right, sir,” said Eddie stepping by Pete Young.
Eddie and Kate took seats on the two-seater sofa in Pete’s living room. Through the living room window Eddie could see Herbert Court, Martin Court’s twin, and beyond that Eddie knew was Albion Road and Church Street. As a kid he had known the area like the back of his hand. He had played here, loved here, fought here.
That was all done, he thought, the bits and pieces of his memories buried by the current owners.
No one wanted to dig that up, least of all him, but he couldn’t help but scrape at it and remember that he had brought Clare here to meet his mum. Stop that, Eddie told himself and turned to Pete.
“Settle in, why don’t you,” said Pete perching on an armchair.
Pete’s living room was white walls, a black wood table around which were set the black and white check sofa on which Eddie and Kate were sat and two matching check armchairs.
A black wood dresser stood against the east wall.
There was a mug on the table which advertised Gino’s Hairdresser.
The flooring was grey carpet squares.
“We have a couple of extra questions,” said Eddie.
Pete reached into his trouser pocket, pulled out a pack of ten Camel cigarettes.
“I thought you would have moved on, what with another PM being shot,” said Pete and he lit the Camel with a Bic lighter.
Beside him Eddie could feel Kate stiffen as Pete’s smoke drifted across the table.
“Every murder gets investigated, sir,” said Eddie.
“Some more than others,” pointed out Pete.
“We don’t play favourites,” objected Eddie. “Every murder gets all available resources.”
As he said it Eddie knew that there were more resources available for a PM shooting than had been allocated to the Lewisham killings or his Crouch Hill fatality. But no need to put that point to the public and he made the statement without a quaver.
Pete’s face made a small grin and he raised his hands: have it your way.
“How long you been smoking, sir?” asked Kate.
“Just taken it back up. Because of the pressure from the police.” Eddie took a drag and tapped the ash from the cigarette into the Gina Hairdresser mug.
Time to move the interview forward, thought Eddie, and said: “Do you own a car or a van, sir?”
“No,” said Pete.
In that Pete resembled the majority of households in Hackney, Eddie knew. “Have you recently hired a car or van?” asked Eddie.
“Why the fuck would I do that? No,” answered Eddie.
Eddie moved to the next point. “Do you owe a pay-as-you-go debit card, sir?”
“What the fuck are they?” inquired Pete.
Eddie inclined his head to Kate.
“You put say a hundred pounds onto a card then you use it until the hundred pounds runs out. You can, of course, put more on the card at any time,” answered Kate.
“What’s the point of that? May as well pay with cash,” said Pete.
“Not everyone takes cash anymore,” said Eddie.
“No-poor-people cafes.” Pete nodded at something understood. “They’ve got a couple of them around here. Not for me. Like the card,” said Pete as his mobile played Jolene.
“I should get that,” said Pete. “We finished?”
“Just a couple of other matters,” said Eddie.
“Fuck,” said the long-suffering Pete. “Wait here. I’ll be a few minutes.”
As Pete stepped out of his living-room to take the call Eddie said to Kate: “Take a turn around the room, see if anything sticks out.”
Kate was on her feet.
“How will I know if something sticks out, sir?” asked Kate.
“Use your judgement, Detective Constable,” said Eddie.
Eddie’s judgement had failed with Clare.
Now he had the gall to instruct Kate in judgement.
It was the job. It was what was required of him.
Eddie told himself that.
DCS Cox scrolled through the list of graduate entry detectives on her iPad.
With her resources committed to the PM shootings it was what was available.
She had explained that to the mum of the young woman who had died under a Gospel Oak bound train at Crouch Hill but the JP mum had wanted movement, no stone left unturned.
With what she had before her Deborah knew that she could not guarantee that the stone turning would be done by experienced or even competent Detectives, after all she had nothing to measure their competency against, but the JP mum had insisted on velocity.
DCS Cox’s eye moved down the list.
She like every other proper copper had not been in favour of the graduate entry scheme but the higher management of the Met had decided and everyone had to get with the programme, get with the times.
The management of the service saw the future of the force as middle-class.
The middle-class ruined everything, thought Deborah, and selected Harry Thomas.
Her phone chirped.
“Detective Chief Superintendent, this is Sergeant Cribb.”
Sergeant Cribb’s voice hurried along the connection.
Sergeant Cribb was the poor sod who had been put in charge of the small team tasked with handling the calls generated by Dylan Morgan’s offer of a £100,000 for information leading to the arrest of his aunt PM Nicky Morgan’s shooter.
DCS Cox had made clear to Sergeant Cribb that his job was to stop calls interfering with her investigation.
Sergeant Cribb was saying: “Something of interest came up when we were reviewing he calls received. That would be Tony. Dab hand with the data is Tony.”
Sergeant Cribb’s tone was inflected by a childhood spent in Wales.
“The thing of interest being?” queried DCS Cox.
Best to move through this quickly.
“We received a call at 3:30 this morning. The caller was a female, did not leave a name or much in the way of information. She seemed more fixed on the reward and a little the worse for wear.”
The phrases plodded from Sergeant Cribb but the odd word lilted in Deborah’s ear.
“The phone used to make the call flagged up as being on interest,” said Sergeant Cribb and snagged DCS Cox’s attention.
“How of interest?” asked DCS Cox.
“The phone was reported missing a few months ago. It was one of a missing pallet,” said Sergeant Cribb.
Missing not stolen noted DCS Cox.
Still: “Don’t see much of interest to the investigation,” said DCS Cox.
“The DPD driver missing the pallet of phones was Pete Young, ma’am. Pete Young is listed as a person of interest in PM Osborne’s shooting so I thought I would bring it to your attention,” said Sergeant Cribb.
Sergeant Cribb’s word were melodious in DCS Cox’s ears.
DCS Cox had sent DCI Smith and DC Fowler to interview Pete Young. On questioning following the Osborne shooting Pete Young had lawyered up and had produced an alibi, a married woman who had been discreetly contacted and had confirmed Pete Young’s alibi. But with the Zip van involved in the Nicky Morgan shooting being supposedly picked up in Hackney and the debit card that hired the van being registered to an address, even if non-existent, in Hackney meant that Mr Young was getting a second look.
The information provided by Sergeant Cribb was another reason to look again at Pete Young.
“Thank you, Sergeant,” said DCS Cox. “I will take it from here. Any more information like this do let me know. Good work, Sergeant. You and your team.”
“Thank you ma’am,” said Sergeant Cribb.
DCS Cox hung up.
Eddie and Kate were assigned to interview Pete Young this morning.
DCS Cox would add an extra question to the interview.
Carla woke, her head thick with last night’s vodka.
The April morning light clanged around her as she lay on her flower patterned sofa.
She closed her eyes and tried to remember why she was on the sofa and not in her bed.
The memory of her calling the police rose sloppily in her head, she had demanded that the police hand over the £100,000 reward.
She shouldn’t have made the call while half-cut.
She should have waited but the money had been right there, she could picture it.
At least she had not provided her details or any indication of what she thought could lead the £100,000 to her.
She sat up.
The memory of alcohol clumsily adjusted in her head.
It swayed her but just for a moment.
She would come back for the reward.
Her phone was sounding Beyonce’s Flawless.
It was not yet 8 a.m., she thought.
Who the fuck kept farmer’s hours?
The display showed Pete.
She answered. “Pete, you know what fucking time it is?”
Lil was striding toward Carla’s front door in the fifth floor of Martin Court when Carla stepped onto the walkway slamming her front door closed behind her.
“Carla, a word,” said Lil.
They were standing outside number 56, Carla’s neighbour. Carla was 55.
Th curtains of flat 56 were drawn.
“What is it with this morning?” said Carla. “Everyone wants to talk and all before eight. Why aren’t they sleeping?”
“It’s about Linda. You had words with her,” said Lil.
“She had words with me,” corrected Carla.
“We are an item,” said Lil.
Carla looked at Lil: Are?
Carla said: “So call her.”
Lil had tried. Linda was not picking up.
“Did she say anything?” said Lil.
Carla sighed and looked into a clear, blue sky. “Do you really want to know?” she said.
“Sure,” said Lil. She and Linda were an item, she ought to know.
Carla shrugged: your choice and said: “She asked me out.”
But we are an item, thought Lil, but shut down that thought. It no longer made any sense.
“You are not even fucking gay,” accused Lil.
“Don’t go off at me. I just heard what she said,” objected Carla.
“And what was your answer?” demanded Lil.
“Fucking pushy, aren’t you,” said Carla and looked a Lil: what do you think my answer was?
“No was my answer,” said Carla: “Mind you, the way my luck’s been going with blokes recently maybe I ought to give it a try,” and grinned.
Lil leant against the wall of the walkway.
“Fuck it,” she said.
Carla shook her head: “I’ve no comment on that. Look, Lil, I’m on my way to see Pete. The police are paying him a visit, the first PM killing. Want to tag along?”
It was like she was making up her mind. What was in her head was: the police, Danny, Kenny.
“I don’t know, Carla. This thing with Linda, I just want to step past it,” said Lil.
The tremor in her voice had been put there partly by Linda and in part by the police being on-site.
“Anyway, got to be going,” said Carla. “Let me know if you need a drinking companion,” and raised her hand in a salute for Lil and was off, heading for the lifts.
Lil was left outside the closed curtains of number 56.
The police were interviewing Pete and Linda had scarpered without bothering to tell her.
Lil could see why you might want to keep your curtains closed to the world.
DCS Kate Fowler circumnavigated Pete Young’s living-room, not touching anything but eyes prying.
Eddie remained ensconced on the black and white sofa.
His phone rang.
The display showed DCS Cox.
“Ma’am,” answered Eddie.
“Have you started the Pete Young interview?” asked DCS Cox.
“We’re in his flat now, ma’am. Mr Young broke off to another room to take a call,” said Eddie.
“Is DC Fowler availing herself of the opportunity to surveil her immediate environment?” said DCS Cox.
“She’s taking a look, ma’am. Eyes only,” confirmed Eddie.
“Good,” said DCS Cox. “Eddie I want to drop in a question about mobile phones,” and she recited a number that Eddie jotted in his notebook. “A pallet of mobiles went walkabout for a DPD delivery a couple of months back. Pete Young was the DPD driver. Just ask the question and be cognisant of his attitude and answer. I’ll be up there in thirty minutes. We can debrief on what you and Kate discover.”
“Understood, ma’am,” said Eddie and DCS Cox hung up.
“Anything?” asked Kate from the south-east corner of Pete Young’s living-room.
“Something,” said Eddie as Pete sauntered back in.
“Who was on the phone, Mr Young?” queried Eddie.
Pete looked at Kate.
“Have a good gander?” was directed at her.
Kate resumed her position on the sofa next to Eddie without providing Pete with an answer.
“The phone call, Mr Young,” said Eddie.
Pete turned his attention to Eddie.
Pete carried a: I don’t have to tell you anything but he allowed: “My alibi checking up on me. Does it most mornings. She is a worrier.”
“We have no reason to interfere with you or your partner if it is not germane to this case,” said Eddie. “I hope it does not intrude on your relationship.”
“But it does,” said Pete. “In a good way. She was always partial to a bad boy but now I have police investigating me it’s extra gravy,” and smiled. “I also gave my sister Carla a call, asked her to pop over for some moral support. She’s good at that,” said Pete.
Pete’s doorbell chimed low.
“Speak of the devil,” said Pete.
A north London morning strolled around DCS Cox strapped into her Lexus.
The radio was mumbling the news.
A third Prime Minister in a matter of weeks. Was the country lacking leadership? Had the political class been decapitated?
These stories were running on radio, in the papers and on tv but DCS Cox could not discern these questions in the people around her as they hurried and complained and joked their way to their place of work.
The very weight of people and their intricate, ordinary actions provided the city with ballast. The world could come apart on the front page every day but DCS Cox understood that it rarely did in the lives of those moving purposely around her.
Her GPS directed her through the world it knew was there.
Up the Essex Road, across Newington Green onto Albion Road.
Martin Court was on her right.
The call from Sergeant Cribbs provided an opportunity for advancement for the team and for her.
She had judged that calling the team back to the office, briefing them on the call and sending them back out would be wasteful.
Better to brief them in place and get their feedback.
It also placed her in prime position should anything break.
DCS Cox had ambition. It was keeping that ambition in balance with her other lines of responsibility which was the trick.
At least give yourself the chance to toot your own horn, thought DCS Cox.
The morning sky lay blue over Hackney as she approached Martin Court.
Carla stepped into her brother Pete’s living-room.
“Where’s your bloody lawyer?” Carla fired at Pete.
“No need for a lawyer. This is just a conversation,” said Eddie.
“A bloody police conversation,” said Carla and looked at Pete: lawyer?
“I called Danny when I called you,” said Pete. “He wasn’t picking up.”
“Danny’s the guy who laid you off, not your lawyer,” said Carla.
“As I understand it, he did pay for the lawyer,” said Kate.
Carla looked at her as though noticing her for the first time.
“So what? You saying he’d pay for the lawyer after letting Pete go? The world doesn’t work like that,” said Carla and dropped herself into a black and white armchair opposite her brother.
“We don’t know that,” said Pete. “And I don’t want to be stuck with a lawyer’s bill.”
“Why don’t you let them just handcuff you and lead you off to jail. They’ll find something you’re guilty of,” said Carla.
Kate looked startled.
Carla got to her feet.
“Have you offered them a cup of tea?” she asked Pete.
Pete shook his head in a surprised No. “Quicker in and out,” he explained.
“My brother and his manners. I’m getting a brew, anyone else want one?” asked Carla and turned to Pete.
He nodded his head: Yes?
Carla smiled at the right response.
DCS Cox pulled her Lexus into Martin Court.
Pete Young was in flat 42, that’s where DCI Smith and DC Fowler were.
Best to leave them to finish the interview and debrief afterwards.
DCS Cox got out of the car.
The morning scurried around her and her trained eye tracked kids and men and women.
Each were on their way somewhere.
She wondered where she was going. That, she thought, would depend on the outcome of the case.
She had been on the investigation all day, every day since the shooting of George Osborne. She hadn’t been back to her flat in Wandsworth. These thoughts lay under her sighting of the people around her, as was this thought: she could murder a coffee.
Might as well get a lie of the land, thought DCS Cox, and choose north off Martin Court.
DCI Smith and DC Fowler had her number.
They would call when done.
“So you don’t own a van,” said Eddie and placed his cup of tea on its saucer on the black wood table. “But do you hire out?”
Eddie and Kate were on the sofa, Pete Young was sitting opposite them in an armchair across the table, his sister Carla to his right in a matching armchair was sat forward, her head drooping over her cup of tea.
Pete shook his head. “Since I was let go by PCDB you mean?”
Pete seemed annoyed at Eddie’s question.
“We’re back to your fucking magic card again,” he said.
Carla looked at Pete. Since Pete’s annoyance had grown she had become correspondingly solid.
Pete waved her off: “Some stupid notion.”
“More tea. Some biscuits perhaps,” said Carla. “Pete has chocolate digestives, maybe I can drum up some hobnobs.”
Eddie looked at Kate. She was set on the sofa, her cup of tea untouched before her.
He got back to Pete. “But didn’t you use to run a van,” said Eddie. “For DPD.”
Carla was on her feet. “No takers?” she asked as though upset that no one wanted any biscuits.
“We’re fine with just the tea, sis,” said Pete.
“Back to the DPD van,” said Eddie to Pete.
Pete shrugged: “That was several months ago.”
“There was a question of stolen mobile phones,” said Eddie.
Pete’s annoyed face set to hostile. “Missing,” he said.
“Missing, not stolen you’re quite right, sir,” said Eddie. “There was a call made from one of these missing mobile phones to the Dylan Morgan reward line.”
“So?” said Pete.
Carla retreated to the kitchen.
She was out of sight but within hearing range, noticed Eddie. Perhaps she was checking on the hobnob status.
Eddie took out his notebook and read: “The number of the missing mobile making the call to the Dylan Morgan reward line was 07112 720 551.”
Pete put a means nothing to me smile on his face.
“Means nothing to me,” he confirmed.
“Could you go over the circumstances in which the phones went missing, sir,” said Eddie.
Eddie’s tone put quotations marks around missing.
“I was called in, short notice. A driver had gone off sick. I didn’t check the load, just got in and got on with the deliveries. One was for the O2 shop in Wood Green. When I got to the O2 shop they weren’t in the van,” said Pete.
“And that led to you and DPD parting company,” said Eddie.
“They gave me 8 weeks severance and a letter of recommendation,” said Pete. “What’s this got to do with the George Osborne shooting?”
“The call to the Dylan Morgan reward line was made after the Nicky Morgan shooting,” said Eddie.
“You’re not tying me to that.” Pete seemed to be about to lever himself from his seat.
“No one is accusing you of anything, Mr Young,” said Eddie.
“What’s this, pot luck? Can’t catch the killer see if anything sticks to anyone you have dragged in?” said Pete.
They hadn’t dragged Pete in anywhere, thought Eddie.
Eddie abruptly stood.
“Mr Young, thank you for your time. And thank your sister for a nice cup of tea. Didn’t have time for a hobnob,” said Eddie and stepped out of Pete’s living room. Kate was right behind him.
“We need anything else we will be in touch, Mr Young,” said Eddie traversing the hall to Pete’s front door.
He closed Pete’s door quietly behind him.
Eddie and Kate passed thee flats on the walkway in silence,
At the fourth DC Fowler asked: “What do you think, sir?”
“We don’t think, DC. Not yet,” said Eddie. “We detect,” and looked at Kate. “Hence Detectives.”
Kate thought about giving her boss the finger but restrained herself.
She put the finger into the grin she aimed at Eddie.
DCS Cox stood in Omar’s Coffee Shop on Church Street. The shop was five tables, a wall pinned with flyers advertising local events and a counter toward the back with a coffee pot and displayed cakes.
DCS Cox was standing in line for the counter. In front of her a thin woman in a red hoodie, black jeans and blue DMs was ordering coffee and three doughnuts.
“Breakfast, Lil?” queried the man behind the counter.
His face was traced with age.
Omar, thought DCS Cox, in his fifties.
His mouth under a grey flecked moustache made a smile for Lil.
“You got that right,” said Lil. “And three spoons of sugar in the coffee. Proper spoons, mind.”
A trace of Irish was smuggled in by her voice.
“No pretend spoons. Got it, Lil,” said Omar as he opened a paper bag for the doughnuts.
“Problems?” enquired Omar.
Lil shook her head. “Current girlfriend dropped me and couldn’t be bothered to let me know,” said Lil.
“I can see the need for doughnuts,” said Omar handing the paper bag to Lil.
“You know who she ran to? Carla,” said Lil accepting the bag of doughnuts.
“I didn’t know Carla was that way,” said Omar judiciously.
“She isn’t. That makes it worse,” said Lil. “I saw her just now. She was on her way to Pete’s, some police thing. She let me know about Linda like it wasn’t a big thing.”
Pete and the police noted DCS Cox.
“It’s only morning but you’ve had a day, Lil,” said Omar handing her the coffee in a takeaway cup.
“You okay?” Omar asked.
“I’m crying inside,” laughed Lil pushing cash at Omar to pay for her breakfast.
DCS Cox made her face into a smile that understood.
“Apologies,” she said to Deborah. “You didn’t want my problems to get in the way of your breakfast.”
“They sounded familiar,” said Deborah.
“Really?” said Lil.
DCS Cox stepped up to the counter.
“Been there,” said DCS Cox to Lil.
From Omar, DCS Cox ordered coffee and a doughnut.
“Jam or plain,” asked Omar.
“Whatever Lil’s having,” said Deborah.
“Trying to get on my good side?” teased Lil.
She was still in the shop noticed DCS Cox.
Deborah settled up with Omar and turned to Lil.
“Know anywhere quiet to sit around here?” DCS Cox asked Lil.
“Here’s not quiet but we can sit,” said Lil.
“You paid for takeaway,” pointed out Omar.
“A loyal customer, cut me some slack,” said Lil crossing to a free window table and taking a seat.
Omar shook his head and allowed it.
DCS Cox’s athletic body sat straight at the small window table.
“So she left you?” said DCS Cox.
This wasn’t a police interview she reminded herself and tried to relax her body.
“Didn’t bother to tell me that, had to get it from Carla just now.,” said Lil.
“Been going out long?” asked DCS Cox.
“A week, maybe two,” said Lil.
DCS Cox almost smiled but caught herself.
“I’m sorry,” said Deborah. “It’s always hard.”
“To be treated like this?” sad Lil and waved it away. “I don’t know why I’m laying this out for you.”
“I’m a good listener,” ventured DCS Cox.
Her phone rang. She looked apologetically at Lil and answered.
“Five minutes,” DCS Cox said into her phone and hung up.
“A colleague,” she explained to Lil. “We have a meeting.”
“Don’t let me hold you up,” said Lil.
DCS Cox stood.
“Do you have a number,” she asked.
Lil considered. Then; “Sure,” and started to rattle off a string of digits.
“Call my number,” said Deborah. “Then I’ll have your number and you’ll have mine,” and recited her mobile number and her name as Lil keyed number and name into her phone.
DCS Cox cut off Lil’s call at the first ring. “To save you the cost,” she said. “Now we have each other’s number, let’s pick it up later.”
Lil nodded: maybe.
DCS Cox stepped out of Omar’s café.
She hadn’t been able to help noticing that Lil’s number was not the Pete Young’s missing mobile number which had called the Dylan Morgan reward line.
Outside the day was pinned up blue.
She’d meet with DCI Smith and DC Fowler and get their feedback from the Pete Young interview.
In a murder case you looked at everything.
You never knew when a connection would be made.
“You made the call on one of the DPD phones,” said Pete.
He was sitting on one of the black and white armchairs in his living room.
Carla was standing, arms folded.
“You can’t know that,” said Carla.
“You were supposed to give all the phones to Georgi who would take them to Bulgaria. He paid for the phones. That was the deal,” Pete pointed out.
“It could have been anyone making the call,” said Carla.
“From fucking Bulgaria?” said Pete.
“Could have picked up the phone in Bulgaria and then come over for work,” said Carla spinning out a possible explanation.
“For fuck’s sake Carla, you made the call,” said Pete.
“Because Danny screwed you over,” she admitted.
Pete looked at the ceiling. “Fuck,” he exclaimed.
“Payback,” explained Carla. “And we get proper money out of it.”
“You tried to turn Danny over?” said Pete.
“I was drunk, couldn’t make it work. But it can be done again,” said Carla and unfurled her arms.
“I thought you’d be made up,” said Carla. “Danny screwed you,” she emphasised.
Her tone was a little irritated at Pete for not getting the point.
“We don’t give people up to the police,” said Pete.
“What, you got morals now? He fucked you,” said Carla.
“Because I didn’t turn up for work and was fiddling the timesheets so I could stay in bed with Franny. A good scheme but it came to an end,” said Pete.
“With your fucking sacking,” emphasised Carla.
“Because I had taken the piss,” said Pete.
“You just don’t fucking see it, do you,” said Carla. “We have a chance here.”
“We don’t set mates up for the police,” said Pete.
“Mates? For fucks sake he kicked you off the job,” argued Carla.
“He had his reason. I fucked him around, he fucked me around. Even,” said Pete.
“£100,000,” said Carla. Pete was tempted. He had to be.
“They’re not just going to hand it over,” said Pete. “You’ll need evidence.”
“There was blood in his kitchen,” said Carla.
“He injured himself at work. We all know that,” said Pete.
“Two fucking Prime Ministers,” said Carla. “We could walk away with real money.”
“And spend it where?” asked Pete.
“Wherever we want,” said Carla. “We’d split it half and half.”
“You’ve got imagination, Carla. Always have. But no one’s giving you a hundred thousand pounds for a story about Danny,” said Pete.
“You never fucking believe me,” flew from Carla.
“You’re always asking me to believe shit,” said Pete. “And to throw Danny to the police because of it,” and waved away her story.
“Try and pretend you’re a man,” said Carla. “Just pretend.”
DCI Eddie Smith was standing at DCS Cox’s Lexus parked outside Martin Court.
The morning light scattered by high cloud lay around them.
DC Kate Fowler was on her phone, checking for confirmation of the bloods from the Finchley Tesco.
As instructed Eddie had called DCS Cox on leaving Pete Young’s flat.
DCS Cox’s runner’s build approached from Church Street.
“How did Mr. Young react to the missing phones question?” DCS Cox asked Eddie.
“Surprised,” said Eddie.
DCS Cox looked at Kate.
Kate shook her head to concur. “Unlike Carla, his sister,” said Kate.
“The sister was there?” DCS Cox asked.
“She arrived after your call,” said Eddie.
“And she wasn’t surprised by the mobile phone information?” asked DCS Cox.
“I didn’t pick that up as clearly as did DC Fowler,” said Eddie.
DCS Cox turned her attention onto Kate.
“It didn’t seem to come as much of a surprise to Carla” said Kate.
DI Doyle and DS Battle were approaching DCS Cox’s Lexus following their interview with Adam Parson.
“Anything on the Zip van hire?” asked DCS Cox of both assembled teams.
There was a general shaking of heads.
“Adam Parson had nothing of interest to add,” said Sam.
“His other half was put out by us being there so her demeanour was a little aggressive,” said Justin and smiled at Kate.
Who knew a mouth could have so many perfect teeth, thought Eddie. It was a testimony to Justin’s dentist.
Kate looked at Justin: Fuck off.
“Okay,” said DCS Cox.
Had she seen the moment between Justin and Kate, thought Eddie.
“Sam and Justin,” said DSC Cox. “I want you two to revisit the security guard on duty at 6 a.m. at Old Oak Common. A little sleep may have brought something to the surface.”
DCS Cox turned to Eddie and Kate.
“Eddie, Kate visit Nurse Reyes,” said DCS Cox.
“I’ll have this area blanketed with uniforms in thirty minutes, so stay on your phones.”
She looked at her detectives.
“Now would be a good time to go,” she said.
Eddie and Kate had a viable mission but as they left Martin Court in Kate’s Ford, Eddie couldn’t help but feel they had been dissed.
Paranoid, he thought, as Kate swooped south on Albion Road.
He and Kate had been given a task. It, like everything else in a murder case, needed to be run down.
What mattered was finding the shooter and he was part of the team charged with that job.
Kate squealed the Ford around Newington Green.
The job was what mattered, that the team completed the mission and caught the shooter. Everything else was secondary to that task.
Kate was furiously beeping the horn at a too slow Escort on the Essex Road.
She seemed ready to burst.
Danny was sitting in the kitchen.
The April morning clumped around him, puddled in the small hollows of the world.
The light stuck to things for a moment then was moved on by the weight of the world.
The process repeated, made up a flow.
Danny had change the bandage on his gunshot wound.
There had been less blood discharged this time.
He was healing quickly.
“So it’s like this world but different,” said Kenny sitting on the other side of the plastic topped kitchen table.
“The Spanish invasion in the first Elizabeth’s time was successful. It goes from there,” explained Kenny.
“So it’s like the EU with guns?” said Danny.
Kenny laughed. “It’s not like that at all.”
The front doorbell sounded.
Danny stayed in his seat. He had passed responsibility for answering the door to Kenny.
Kenny got to his feet and walked from the kitchen.
Just like a sighted boy, thought Danny but stopped the thought. Kenny would never be sighted.
The point was to allow Kenny to navigate the world he found himself in.
The sunlight moved around the kitchen, tacky like treacle.
He should call work. That he hadn’t received a call indicated that there were no emergencies. Things were ticking over.
He heard Kenny’s voice at the front door explaining that he was unwell.
“Bloody unwell?” boomed Lou.
“An accident at work,” said Kenny.
“An accident with a bottle, was it?” enquired Lou.
Danny could hear Lou’s glugging sound effect from the kitchen.
Lou would have his hand to his mouth, his great head tipped back, his face broken with a smile.
Having apparently finished his impression of Danny being on the lash, Lou said: “And there’s something I would like to talk to you about. A book.”
“Science fiction?” Kenny eagerly responded.
“Alternative history. Bloke in a castle, or something. Read it in part a while back but couldn’t get into it, now it’s on Netflix.”
So it must be good, thought Danny.
Kenny let Lou in. The chance to discuss alternative history had proved too good an opportunity.
Danny ran a quick check.
The kitchen was a stove, a fridge, two cupboards, a wall unit and a table.
All were in place.
As was Danny.
“Danny,” Lou exploded into the kitchen.
“Kenny was telling me how you’ve been at the bottle and now you’ve got the poor, blind boy running around like a blue-assed fly waiting on you.”
“I never said anything like that,” objected Kenny.
Kenny was smiling as he took his seat.
Lou slumped into a chair, leant forward over the table. “Parts of it I heard under your words,” said Lou.
Kenny’s face made: can Lou look under my words?
Lou turned to the wounded Danny: “Who knew cleaning could be so dangerous?” said Lou.
“I slipped, took a tumble down a flight of stairs, ended impaled on a broom,” said Danny.
“Impaled was it? How long’s that going to keep you off work?” said Lou.
“Not too long,” said Danny.
“Work all day and all night, it ain’t good for you,” said Lou.
“So far, so good,” said Danny.
Lou’s eyes inspected Danny. “Good to take break from things, get things in focus. Even if it needed you to get impaled on a broom,” Lou pronounced.
Danny raised his hand to accept the point he did not share.
“Came to let you know the police are busy with Adam and Pete this morning,” said Lou.
“More questions about the PM shootings?” said Danny. Pete for Osborne, Adam for Nicky Morgan, Danny knew.
“I guess. Carla on her way to Pete’s ran into Lil,” said Lou. “Not much chit-chat. Lil came away pissed.”
Lou looked at Kenny: “Sorry,” for the pissed.
“Thought I’d give you a heads up,” said Lou.
“About Lil? The police?” said Danny.
“All of it,” shrugged Lou.
Danny considered. Lil had a little local difficulty. The police were interviewing Adam and Pete again.
They were close to home but the police were following the wrong line.
When the enemy was pursuing you, was close but had not detected you: keep position – no sudden moves. It was something taught at sniper school.
On the radio Ken Clarke was saying: “The last thing the country needs is an election.”
“Do you believe that?” asked Lou.
Danny shrugged: politicians.
“I know,” agreed Lou. “Pity the bloke that got the two PMs couldn’t get them all.”
Lou smiled at his joke.
Danny didn’t for a moment and then he remembered to.
DCS Cox was at the door of flat 55 of Martin Court, Carla Young’s flat.
Ambition, Deborah knew, hurried her, pushed her forward. She would have to take care that ambition did not eat her. Her mother had warned her of that.
She pushed the doorbell. The chimes sounded.
Carla Young opened the door. DCS Cox recognised her from her file picture.
DCS Cox displayed her warrant card.
“Ms. Young,” said DCS Cox. “We have something to talk about.”
End of After (chapter 7) by Writer 3
Chapter 8 will appear in October 2019