After (chapter 9)
by Writer 3
The carnival was waiting to start: the machines, the big tent were gaudily arrayed each smelling of candy-floss and motor-oil and good times. Danny at seven years old stood on Clissold Park as The Ghost Train clanged into position. To the right of The Ghost Train his mum in a yellow and black striped top and short skirt was talking to The Man Who Eats Glass.
His mum knew The Man Who Eats Glass. This could be the best day ever.
Mum laughed, burped her lunchtime fizzy lager and touched the arm of The Man Who Eats Glass.
The Man Who Eats Glass pointed to his watch, there was a show coming up.
Mum nodded, she knew, and walked a little unsteadily to where Danny was standing. Her face was a smile, she loved these days.
Into that smile Danny asked: “He really eats glass?”
“He’ll eat anything,” said mum and her smile got bigger.
“But why glass?”
“Dangerous, people will always pay to see danger and eating glass takes real care, it’s a treat to watch him do it. His mouth,” and she made a careful imitation of eating glass. “You have to be delicate,” and grinned at things Danny did not understand.
She ticked her head to a large man wheezing past. “The Strongest Man In East London.”
“How come you know,” and Danny waved at the carnival spread over the park like wild flowers.
“They come round every year, remember last year?”
Danny shook his head: No.
“Last year you were six and now you’re seven and seeing different things.”
“Growing up,” said Danny pleased at this as the Whirligig went through a test run. It shook but held together. He looked at the rides, their rickety build. It was magic how these things kept going.
Mum saw him looking. “Carry you far and away they will, you can forget your troubles and just for 20p.” The price was a bargain.
A dwarf passed, grinned at her mum in her yellow and black top: “Buzz.”
Mum nodded at the dwarf: “Short-work.” Then turned to Danny: “I’ll tell you when you’re older.”
Danny watched the dwarf enter the big tent with it front quarter flap thrown open.
“A tumbler,” said mum. “You push him over and he comes straight back up, in a fat man you call that a Kelly Doll, in a short man it’s a tumbler. Don’t ask me why.”
Danny wasn’t going to ask. He was watching the dwarf and his troop make their preparations under the practise of trapeze artists.
One of the trapezists hung upside down waiting to catch whoever would launch themselves at him.
“Sometimes they catch you, sometimes they miss that’s why there’s a net,” said mum.
Danny looked, he could see no net.
The tannoy started up: Entry Of The Gladiators strung across the flowers and weeds of Clissold Park. Then: “Testing 1, 2, 3. Testing.”
In the big tent no-one made the jump. The trapezist continued to hang, his big hands waiting to make the catch.
Mum smiled: “What do you like?” she asked. “Where do you want them to take you?”
He thought about it but at seven he could not say, there was so much he could do, he didn’t want to close anything off.
Danny opened his eyes. He was sitting in a chair in 310 Kingsland Road. The flat around him was sunk in night.
The carnival was gone, The Man Who Eats Glass was gone, The Strongest Man In East London, the Dwarf all gone like Colin was gone.
You couldn’t trap people.
His mum stood unsteadily at the collapsible table as she had been unsteady years ago in Clissold Park. Her face was set to: what are you doing?
He could barely make her out in the dark, she might as well not be there.
He turned his head away.
Mum was dead and the dead understood nothing.
His mobile’s alarm was sounding. He had set it for 3:30 am.
At 4:30 Danny was on Edwards Lane which ran north off Church street along the east side of Stoke Newington Library. Danny kept to the shadows cast by the bulk of Stoke Newington Library and the electric lights of Church Street.
The police response to a report of bullets on Pete Young’s table needed to be checked.
From the shadow of the Library, Danny watched the police once more work Herbert Court. This time Pete’s flat was in the spotlight.
Danny was betting that was where the focus would remain for 24 hours.
He walked north along Edwards Lane, the library giving way to Clissold Park before he made Manor Road.
He had engineered a space through which to take a shot.
Danny got back to 310 Kingsland Road at 5:00. Kenny was in bed. Lil was dozing, head down on the collapsible table. The tv, its volume set low, was whispering that PM Keir Starmer and Deputy PM Philip Hammond would set out the Government Of National Unity’s programme at a breakfast in the Banqueting House tomorrow.
“7:00 am, an early start,” said the jocular white presenter on the tv screen.
His sombre clad Asian co-host looked at him: this was not the right time.
7:00 am, thought Danny.
PCDB cleaned the Banqueting House.
“No fucking way,” said Lil.
It was 5:30 and Lil was red-eyed and hung-over from a night spent with Pete and Carla while Danny had seeded Pete’s flat with bullets.
Danny had broached taking down Keir Starmer and Philip Hammond at the Banqueting House. Because of his involvement in the investigation PCDB may be temporarily withdrawn from the Banqueting House but that would provide other opportunities.
Lil didn’t want to hear.
“I mean, fucking Colin and all but another two? Where does it end?” Lil’s sentences slid into one another.
Lil was sitting at the collapsible table, Danny was standing the palms of his hands flat on the table. On Danny’s laptop was the colourful ceiling of the Banqueting House.
“As well as Colin, it’s political,” said Danny.
“Men and fucking politics. Where does it end Danny?” Lil got loud.
Danny nodded at the bedroom containing Kenny. “If after this things don’t right themselves then I’m done,” said Danny keeping his voice low.
“Right themselves? How do they right themselves?” Lil’s tone had dialled down.
“When we get what we voted for. What we were promised,” said Danny.
“And killing these two twats is going to get that?” Lil was disbelieving.
Danny held up his hand. “If it doesn’t, I’m done. Swear to God, Lil.”
“Politics and fucking God. You can take the girl out of Belfast,” said Lil and shook her head.
“It’s my choice,” said Danny and sat at the table.
Lil’s gaze took in the laptop display and then Danny. “What about Kenny and me? We don’t get a fucking say in this?” Lil’s voice swung with the fluid distraction she had pulled with Pete and Carla. “I thought the point of setting up Pete was to send the police a swerve so we could properly scarper.”
Now Danny wanted the rifle.
And she had sworn not to do that.
“Not a-fuckin-gain I told myself. I told you,” said Lil. “No fucking way am I getting involved in this again.”
“You don’t have to” said Danny. “Neither does Kenny. I want you to take care of him.”
Carla buried her head in the pillow.
Her doorbell was sounding.
Her head balanced on last night’s alcohol.
Lil and Pete and serious lash.
They had all needed it.
Another burst from the doorbell.
What time was it?
Early she was sure. Ignore the doorbell. If it was important they will come back.
Another doorbell burst.
She raised her head. Her bedside clock showed 6:25 am.
Another ring from the bell.
Three peals in each ring.
Same spacing between the rings.
The ringing would go on for a while unless she answered the door.
She manoeuvred to a sitting position.
“Give me a fucking chance.”
She tried for a bellow but fell short.
“Stop with the bloody bell.”
This instruction carried better.
She slipped into a dressing gown. The room swayed in her woozy head but she was upright.
Adam had got the message.
6 fucking 25
She opened her front door.
Adam was in a white shirt buttoned to the neck and a black cardigan under a pale blue bomber jacket and jeans.
He looked at her brightly.
“What?” she asked.
“The police are at Pete’s flat,” said Adam. “I think they’ve taken Pete away. Thought you should know. Off to work now,” and he turned.
“Wait,” barked Carla.
Adam switched back.
He wanted to help.
“Lots of police?” she asked.
“Yeah. Some wearing white suits and face-masks. CSI,” said Adam.
Forensics, thought Carla.
What did they fucking want with Pete?
DCI Eddie Smith and DC Kate Fowler sat at a table in a conference room on the third floor of St Thomas’ hospital.
Across the table sat Nurse Reyes and a large, flat featured, white man in nurse’s scrubs who Nurse Reyes had introduced as her Union rep Reg Green.
“If Jasmine admits there is a possibility that she entered an incorrect time and that she could be seen as trying to cover that up, well in the circumstances there could be consequences,” said Reg.
One of the consequences it could be argued, thought Danny, was the shooting of Nicky Morgan and Dominic Grieve.
Reg leant forward.
“Could Jasmine tell you a story that goes no further?”
Danny laid out his plan for Lil, the choices he had made, the choices she would have to make to bring the plan off.
“You’re not making choices,” said Lil. “I’m not. We don’t do that.”
“I need you to buy into this,” said Danny.
“By killing two blokes I’ve never met?” Lil just couldn’t see it.
“Not them, that’s down to me. The looking after Kenny part,” said Danny.
“Because you will no longer be around,” said Lil.
“If I’m not I want to be sure Kenny’s being taken care of,” said Danny.
Lil sat back, looked at the ceiling.
“Do you think God fucking ordered it?” asked Lil.
Danny laughed. “What’s that got to do with it?”
“Nothing, nothing at all,” said Lil and got to her feet.
“So you’re going to take the poor fuckers out. The only question is what happens to Kenny,” said Lil.
Lil had that right and Danny watched as she deliberated her part.
DCS Cox answered her phone.
She listened then said: “We’re following a line of investigation, Ms Young.”
At the response DCS Cox held her phone away from her ear, gingerly brought it back.
“It’s a murder case. Everything and everybody gets looked at. Now I have to go, Ms Young,” said DCS Cox.
Another bout of listening.
“I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, Ms Young. Certainly not on you,” and DCS Cox hung up.
“Carla. Pete Young’s her brother,” explained DCS Cox. “She’s throwing a hissy fit because we’ve brought her brother in.”
“With good reason,” said Sam.
“That’s not her opinion,” said DCS Cox and nodded at the hand written note on the desk between them.
They were letting Pete Young stew in an interview room while they worked out a line of questioning and how to put those questions.
“So simple Good Cop, Bad Cop?” queried Sam. “It is a bit traditional.”
“It has been in use for a long time for a reason,” said DCS Cox.
She would be the Bad Cop.
Bucolic Sam the Good.
It was a way of coming to the truth.
Understand the stakes, thought Eddie, and said: “If Nurse Reyes information is not germane it will not be used in court.”
“Jasmine will need something stronger than that,” said Ray. “Things can become germane. Does she have your word that any story she tells you will not come out?”
Eddie was aware of Kate watching him.
A teaching moment, thought Eddie and said: “I can do my best, you have my word.”
Nurse Reyes tiptoed into the conversation.
Eyes not meeting Eddie she admitted she may have entered the wrong time for Vinny Sullivan’s arrival.
There was so much going on.
The Prime Minister had been shot.
The discrepancy may have been 15 minutes.
Alongside him Eddie heard Kate’s breath catch.
15 minutes would have given Danny Blake enough time to clear the scene of the shooting of PM Osborne and make St Thomas’ hospital.
“Pete will have the same lawyer as before,” said Danny. “He isn’t going away.”
Lil was back at the table.
“They can’t know it was you,” said Lil. “The Osborne and Morgan killings.”
“They’ll match what they retrieve from the flat with the blood I left at Old Oak Common. They just need me to confirm who it is they are matching,” said Danny. “It is a matter of time.”
“You could try making a run for it,” said Lil.
“With Kenny?” said Danny. “I’ve made my choice.”
“I wish you’d shut up about fucking choice,” said Lil. “So, what, you’re going to get yourself killed?”
“Hopefully not,” said Danny. “With you and Kenny away and secure it will open a multitude of fallback positions.”
Lil looked at the ceiling as though God lived there.
Danny said: “You understand the bank accounts? What to do?”
“Sure,” said Lil. “Move A to B to C. Like soldiers marching.”
“I want you and Kenny clear,” said Danny.
Lil took her gaze down from the ceiling, looked at Danny.
“And you?” Lil asked.
“I’ve got stuff to finish up in London,” said Danny.
The reception of Stoke Newington Police Station was a desk to the left of which was a secured door and an obvious CCTV camera.
Carla knew that the door was secured.
She had tried it on marching into Stoke Newington Station.
Along the walls running from Reception to the Entrance were benches.
Even at this God-forsaken hour the benches were diversely populated, from women in suits to blinged up boys.
Standing was a woman in a neat, blue skirt and blouse muttering about our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
She was studiously ignored.
Carla slammed the palm of her hand on the reception desk.
“Where’s Pete?” she demanded.
The uniformed police officer behind the desk was a large, white woman in her forties. She regarded Carla with cheerful, brown eyes.
“Pete fucking Young,” clarified Carla.
The officer typed the letters into a keypad as her attention drifted to the screen.
“Mr. Young is helping detectives with their inquiry,” said the officer.
Carla leant forward on the desk.
“He’s done nothing. He’s my brother,” she declared.
“He had not been arrested. And his legal representation Mr Samson is present.” The officer’s voice bounced happily around Carla’s anger. “And as he is your brother I’m sure as soon as he has a moment he will give you a call.”
Carla imagined coming over the desk and throttling the officer but the silent witness of the CCTV camera told her otherwise.
Carla straightened. “When will he be free?” she asked.
“When he and the detectives have finished their chat,” said the officer.
“Well, I’m not going to wait around here listening to you la-tee-dah,” said Carla and looked at the officer: this isn’t over.
The la-tee-dah comment provoked a grin from the officer.
“For fuck’s sake,” said Carla and turned to stalk out.
“God have mercy on our souls,” lowly intoned the blue skirt and blouse woman.
“He doesn’t need to have mercy on mine,” said Carla. “I don’t bloody need it,” and she stepped out of the Station, headed back to her flat.
Her unshriven soul thought: why had the police grabbed Pete again, for something he had not done?
Above her the sun was dodging between clouds.
Who benefited from the police pulling in Pete once more, thought Carla.
It would take the focus of the police investigation into the PMs’ murders from Danny and place it on Pete.
Her rage relocated from the police to Danny.
Fuck with her family? That bugger would pay.
“The bullets found in your flat are the same calibre that killed PM Osborne, PM Morgan and Dominic Grieve. Can you explain that?” DCS Cox kept her face carefully neutral as she asked the question.
DCS Cox was in Interview Room 3 at Stoke Newington Station. Next to her was DI Daley. Across the table was Pete Young and his lawyer Richard Samson.
Pete looked his lawyer who nodded.
Pete said: “I have no explanation as to why the bullets were discovered in my flat.”
“The flat was available yesterday evening for anyone to plant the bullet,” said Richard Samson.
“You keep your flat locked?” interjected DI Daley.
“Yes,” escaped from Pete before he looked to his lawyer for guidance.
An annoyance passed across Richard Samson’s face.
Pete had admitted something that Richard could have required them to prove, thought DCS Cox.
“So not quite available to anybody,” said DCS Cox. “Going back to yesterday evening: you claim you were out drinking. Who with?”
Pete made sure he looked at his lawyer who moved his head left to right: No.
Richard Samson said: “My client has told you he was drinking at The Three Crowns. You can verify my client’s presence with the bar-staff.”
“We are only asking for names, Mr Young,” said DCS Cox.
The police were having a problem contacting the staff of The Three Crowns.
DCS Cox sat back.
When Pete had offered The Three Crowns as to his whereabouts yesterday evening he was still half-cut from the purported session and was being handcuffed in his flat: no lawyer present.
The police had visited The Three Crowns at 4:50 but the place was shut tight until noon and the company that operated it had no idea who the bar-staff were. They left that detail to the manager who had his mobile switched to voicemail.
DCS Cox got to her feet.
“We’ll be back in ten minutes,” she said and left Interview Room 3 with Detective Inspector Daley.
DCS Cox and DI Daley walked to a coffee machine set into an alcove.
DCS Cox selected Cappuccino.
DI Daley took tea, black.
“What do you think?” asked DCS Cox.
“He hasn’t offered any explanation for the bullets in his flat,” said DI Daley. “So that link to the shooter holds.”
“He has an alibi for the Osborne shooting,” said DCS Cox. “The girlfriend.”
“Someone else’s wife,” said DCS Daley. “Her word against physical evidence.”
DCS Cox’s phone beeped.
She looked at the screen before answering. “DCI Smith,” she commented and answered the call.
She listened then asked: “When?”
The other end said more. The DCS moved her phone from her right to left hand. “Okay, Streatham,” she said and added: “We’ve a meeting in Victoria at 19:00 to review the afternoon’s work and set priorities for what we will be doing overnight,” and hung up.
“There is a discrepancy in Danny Blake’ timeline on the morning of the George Osborne shooting. Eddie and Kate will follow up,” said DCS Cox.
She tilted her head back slightly and said: “Thing is, Danny Blake self-corrected. Only knew after I had dispatched Eddie. Danny Blake rang the hot-line last night.”
“How big a discrepancy?” asked Sam.
“Enough time for the drive from the Ministry of Health to St Thomas’,” said DCS Cox. “Eddie’s interviewed the admitting nurse and is following up with the Vinny character.” To confirm Danny Blake’s correction.
DCS Cox crushed the paper cup which had held her cappuccino, tossed it binward. It tapped the rim and span in.
All leads had to be followed. Of course with finite resources there were choices to be made.
DI Daley seemed to be fired up by the competing line of inquiry.
“Let’s get back and have another crack and Pete Young,” said DCS Cox.
DI Daley vigorously agreed.
DCS Cox did not believe but she prayed she had made the right choice going with the Pete Young line of inquiry.
It made sense. With the only piece of physical evidence, the bullets from Pete Young’s flat consistent with a murder scene it still did.
“After the interviews I will visit forensic on-site at Pete Young’s flat,” said DCS Cox heading back down the corridor to Interview Room 3.
Years since she had prayed but the prayer hung familiar in DCS Cox’s head.
What could it hurt if no one knew?
DC Fowler had called PCDB Cleaning and had been informed that Vinny Sullivan had finished for the day.
There had been no answer at his listed residence 14 Snow Court, Tulse Hill.
They had tried family and friends, a network knitting together Stratham, Norwood and Dulwich with Tulse Hill.
No one had a clue.
Until they got to Jenny, an ex-girlfriend, on the phone.
“One o’ clock, the tosser’s probably in the Railway Tavern,” Jenny offered.
The Railway Tavern, Tulse Hill.
DC Fowler parked her Ford Ka outside the pub. A train clanked through the station a blocked off street away.
The Railway Tavern was dotted with daytime custom.
Patrons were settled around beers and ciders.
The only animation came from a group of elderly, black men and women at a long table to the left of the bar.
Their fingers clacked dominoes amid a hummed narration of bus timetables and double-twos and when did you last see Dorothea.
Vinny was sitting under an unused tv, seemingly entranced by the half-drunk pint of Guinness in front of him.
“Weren’t you supposed to stay off the pop, doctor’s orders?” said Eddie by way of introduction. He guessed at Vinny’s diagnosis and the doctor’s advice when Vinny had presented drunk.
Vinny’s eyes shifted slowly from the Guinness.
He could not place Eddie.
“DCI Smith,” said Eddie showing his warrant card. Eddie inclined his head to Kate.
“And this is DC Fowler. Could we have a word?” asked Eddie and sat opposite Vinny.
DC Fowler began to work the other residents of the Railway Tavern.
“The fucking doctor sent you?” said Vinny.
“No, sir,” said Eddie. “But it does concern your visit to St Thomas’.”
Kate was chatting to the domino players who seemed gleeful to provide a quick guide to the rules and tactics of dominos.
Vinny shook his head at Eddie’s question, “I don’t remember much. Why not ask Danny, he took me there.”
“Oh, we will sir. That is part of our plan,” said Eddie.
“I was drunk,” said Vinny. “That’ll be on my medical record.”
“Doubtless, sir,” said Eddie. “We were wondering if you could recall your time of arrival.”
“I was slammed,” said Vinny and spread his palms before him.
Kate moved to the bar, engaged the young bartender in conversation.
“Anything you noticed that might pin down a time?” Eddie asked Vinny.
“It was morning, I mean I was at work, but other than that: nothing.” Vinny was definite. “Just shapes and colours and Danny. Oh yeah, the Prime Minister had been shot.”
At the bar Kate laughed at one of the bartender’s lines.
“He had been shot before you entered A&E?” Eddie kept his tone level.
“It was on the tv when we walked in, Big bloody tv hanging there. And the nurse was saying something but I can’t be certain,” said Vinny.
Vinny had confirmed a timeline gave the opportunity for Danny to have shot PM Osborne. Thing was, DCS Cox had let him know that Danny Blake had already self-corrected. Maybe it was going nowhere but this was a murder and all lines of inquiries needed to be worked through.
“How come you pitched up to work drunk?” asked Eddie.
“Out on the lash,” said Vinny.
Kate was standing at a table where a thin man in his forties was huddled around a pint of lager.
Kate asked a question.
The man’s eyes did not leave his pint as he smilingly shook his head: no.
“You were out drinking round here?” asked Eddie.
“Wood Green,” said Vinny.
Eddie allowed surprise to shape his face. “That’s a bit off your patch, isn’t it? Who do you know in Wood Green?”
“Just a couple I ran into. We ended up in Wood Green,” said Vinny.
“Where did you start?” asked Eddie
Vinny seemed surprised at the question. “After work. A snifter at The Harp. We went from there.”
“And these new acquaintances, do they have names?” said Eddie.
“Why?” asked Vinny.
“Everything must be checked, sir. Just routine,” rolled out of Eddie.
“For fuck’s sake,” said Vinny philosophically. “Daron and Paula.”
“Surnames, sir,” prompted Eddie.
Vinny shook his head: “Don’t know. Don’t know their birthdays either.”
“That’ll save on the costs of presents, won’t it sir. Phone numbers?” asked Eddie.
“It wasn’t a selfie sort of thing,” said Vinny.
“Any identifying marks?” said Eddie.
Vinny smiled. “Daron is a small, fat, Scottish bloke. Paula was taller, with a scar,” and Vinny’s right hand traced a line from the left of his nose to his jaw. “And a birthmark.” His right hand moved to the other side of his face.
Kate returned to the bar.
Perhaps the bartender had information.
Eddie asked Vinny; “The name of the pub in Wood Green?”
“Spouter’s Corner,” said Vinny.
It was early afternoon when Lil approached Herbert Court. She would pick up the rifle and ferry it back to Danny. When Danny used the rifle she would be out of the country.
Both Herbert Court and Martin Court were dappled with police officers.
I live here, thought Lil. It was where she was supposed to be.
The police officers taking in Pete had apparently sent Carla off on one. Now that would have been something to see.
The sun hung over the world as Lil entered Herbert Court.
As she passed the third floor walkway she saw that one of the officers was Deborah.
Lil didn’t look away.
Neither did Deborah.
Eddie hung up his mobile. He had let DCS Cox know what he and Kate were up to.
Kate was edging her Ford Ka across Lambeth Bridge. Under the mass of traffic and pedestrians the Thames flowed through its assigned channels.
“Why are we chasing after Vinny’s drinking partners, sir?” asked Kate.
There was little chance for her to steal a car’s length. They would have to wait their turn. But Kate’s eyes kept searching for an opening.
“If Danny was the shooter, then Vinny was the alibi,” said Eddie.
To their right were the House of Parliament and Big Ben stood across the river from the South Bank’s concrete facade.
To their left the clutter of Pimlico divided by railway lines heading for Victoria looked south to the Oval cricket ground and a spanking new US Embassy.
“You think Vinny was set up?” asked Kate.
“It’s a murder case, everything gets looked at,” said Eddie.
He sounded prim and Kate chortled.
They reached the north bank of the Thames and Kate cheerfully accelerated off Lambeth Bridge onto the Horseferry Road.
“How’s that for investigating?” said Lil.
Lil’s right hand was clever between DCS Cox’s legs.
DCS Cox moaned in response.
They lay facing each other on Lil’s bed.
Both were partially clad.
Lil’s left hand propped her head from the bed and DCS Cox.
She was a fine looking woman, thought Lil.
And their backgrounds had similarities.
If circumstances had been different, thought Lil.
If the world was other than it was.
“Please,” whispered DCS Cox.
The word shook Lil
DCI Eddie Smith repeated Vinny Sullivan’s description of his drinking buddies to the barman at Spouter’s Corner.
“Doesn’t sound like anyone we’ve had in,” said the barman.
The barman had an East European accent with a London attitude: Never seen them, nothing to do with me.
“What about anyone like them?” asked Kate.
“Well two arms, two legs. But from the description I can’t say I recall them.” The barman picked out his words.
One language in his head another in the world, thought Eddie, must be strange. He guessed you got used to it.
“Mind if we ask around, see if anyone else noticed them?” asked Eddie.
“Knock yourself out,” said the barman.
It was 14:30 and the small bump of lunchtime had dissipated.
Spouter’s Corner was dotted with daytime drinkers just like the Railway Tavern.
That had been him, thought Eddie, following Clare’s death: Drinking alone in a pub during the day, drinking alone at night in the flat.
“I’ll work from the left, you work right. We’ll meet up in the middle,” said Eddie to Kate.
“Sounds like a plan, boss,” said DC Fowler.
“Anything?” DCI Eddie Smith asked DC Fowler. They had each worked through their assigned sectors of Spouter’s Corner.
Kate inclined her head to a tidily dressed man in his fifties who was eyeing his half finished pint of bitter with wry amusement.
“Happy soul,” commented Eddie.
“The guy thought he may have seen someone like them at Denizlispor FC. It’s a members’ club south of here on Turnpike Lane,” said Kate. “Turkish place,” and showed Eddie her iPad which displayed Google Maps street view.
“It looks like a shop-front. A boarded up shop-front,” said Eddie.
“A club is the gent’s information,” said Kate.
Eddie nodded at the door. “Let’s go take a look,” he said.
Denizlispor FC was on Carlingford Road off Green Lanes.
Kate parked her Ford on the double yellow lines outside.
Eddie got out of the car and felt the April sun play on him.
“Doesn’t attract attention, does it?” said Eddie.
There was no signage and the windows were shuttered by green and black metal security blinds.
A small plaque above a keypad stated: Denizlispor FC Members Club.
“Not looking for passing trade, sir,” said Kate.
There were ten digits on the keypad over a bar at the bottom.
Eddie pressed the bar.
Eddie put his finger on the bar and kept it there.
Over the tinny speaker built into the keypad a voice said something in a language other than English.
“We’re the police,” said Eddie. “And we need your help.”
A few moments later and the door opened to show a small, older man in a grey cardigan and dark trousers.
“Do you have IDs?” asked the man in unaccented English.
Both Eddie and Kate displayed their warrant cards.
The old man ushered them in.
They climbed a set of stairs to the first floor and a large, open plan space.
Along one wall was a bar.
The rest of the space was busy with groups of men smoking, drinking coffee and talking.
“My office is behind the bar,” said the man.
DCI Smith and DC Fowler followed him.
The older man took a seat behind a chunky, wooden desk.
DCI Eddie Smith and DC Fowler sat on two soft seats facing him.
Behind the old man was a photo of a man addressing a crowd. The caption pasted underneath read: Kemal Ataturk.
“Ray,” the old man introduced himself. “How can the Denizlispor FC club help the police?”
Eddie laid out the physical description of the pair provided by Vinny.
“What is this about?” asked Ray.
“An ongoing police investigation,” said Eddie.
Ray looked at Kate.
Eddie gave a slight nod.
“We are looking into the PM shootings,” said Kate. “Daron and Paula came up in connection to a person of interest.”
Ray nodded: he understood.
“The man Daron I know,” said Ray. “He comes to the club a couple of times but he didn’t fit in.”
“Why didn’t he fit in?” asked Kate
“He wanted to push drugs. Small time. Of course, we were not interested,” said Ray.
Because it was drugs or because it was small time, wondered Eddie. Focus on the investigation to hand, he reminded himself. Two PMs and a Minister of the Crown shot dead.
“Do you have an address, any contact details?” asked Eddie.
Ray opened one of the drawers of his desk and drew out a rolodex.
Might be the last one in London, thought Eddie as Ray’s fingers operated the rolodex.
“I have a mobile telephone number,” said Ray and read it out.
Kate jotted it down.
“Also, he and Paula frequent Jam In A Jar down toward Harringay Green and Rowans at Finsbury Park,” said Ray.
He returned the rolodex to its drawer.
Ray shook his hand and then Kate’s.
“It riles thing up these political killings,” said Ray. “They are bad for business.”
He walked them out of the Denizlispor FC club.
As soon as they were in the car, Kate dialled the number Ray had supplied.
Her call went to voicemail.
“The Jam In A Jar, then Rowans,” said Eddie.
They had something to investigate.
They had a direction.
Lil stood in her kitchen and tried to ground herself. DCS Cox has left. The afternoon light bounced off the white surfaces of her kitchen, bounced off her.
They had snatched twenty minutes from the most important police investigation of DCS Cox’s career, knew Lil
As she knew that she would soon leave London but before that she would retrieve Danny’s rifle.
She knew the killer.
Lil bent to the sink, retrieved the Nemesis Vanquish rifle and its carrying case.
She was still floating a little.
DCS Cox came from one side of the investigation, she was from the other so what, thought Lil, had just happened on her bed?
It was not like she had chosen a side because Deborah was the opposite, thought Lil. It was not like she had chosen at all. Like she had never chosen to be Irish, it was something that she was.
She pushed the Nemesis Vanquish rifle in its carrying case into an Arsenal branded athletic bag and stepped out of her flat into the world.
The sun still hung in the sky.
She walked along the walkway to the eastern stairwell, started down the stairs.
She had her mission to complete.
She smiled at the word: mission.
So very Danny.
Between the second and first floor she bumped into Adam and Joanne heading up.
“Did you hear about Pete?” asked Adam.
“I saw the police at his place,” replied Lil.
She shifted the Arsenal bag containing the Nemesis Vanquish in its carrying case from her left to right hand.
“Danny first, now Pete,” said Adam and shrugged at the ways of the world. You seen Danny?” he asked Lil.
“He’s around,” she said. She was still trying to plug into the world. DCS Cox was something else. Surprising. She heard herself say: “Danny’s busy as bloody ever. Working Westminster tomorrow.” Her head filled with painted Angels and Mortals. “Lovely painted ceiling. Pricy.” She was up there with Deborah. She shook her head as though to clear it. “I heard Carla threw a wobbly and went after them,” said Lil.
“The girl saw it right at last,” nodded Adam.
“Bloody Pete, I mean the police don’t know what they’re doing. They have come up blank at Danny’s so they moved on to Pete. It’s like a fucking lottery. Who knows who’s next,” said Joanne.
Adam brightened: “Could be us.”
Joanne elbowed him gently in the side. “Don’t be daft,” she said.
“Could be our last hours of freedom,” said Adam. “We should make the most of them.”
“Oh,” said a smiling Joanne.
DCS Cox sat in her car parked at the top of Albion Road.
Hackney flowed around her and the investigation still going through its ritual at Pete’s flat.
The forensics at Pete’s flat had come up with nothing but traces of petty crimes.
There were no other links to the killing apart from the bullets recovered from Pete’s hall table.
But the bullets were the first physical evidence of the means of killings in their possession.
Then there was Eddie phoning in his progress on the Vinny Sullivan line in the investigation.
They were close, the bullets told her that.
She needed to ready herself to act whichever way this fell out.
Accompanied by a mum, a small child toddled determinedly past DCS Cox’s car.
The mum wore a light coat.
She passed close enough for the Detective to see the Dior branding.
You couldn’t be even-handed, thought DCS Cox, however much you wanted to be.
You had to choose your side.
It was the way of things.
The Pete Young line of the investigation had the physical evidence, she thought, and pressed the accelerator.
She headed south.
Rowans was a bowling alley with bar attached.
At 15:00 two of the twenty-four bowling alleys were in use.
The bar area was busier.
Groups of twenty-something men and women whose lips had never touched a craft beer sat around discussing the issues of the day.
Arsenal was one.
Europe, the politics another.
The recent flooding of Finsbury Park was mulled over.
And whether Kim Kardashian and Kanye West were still in love with Kanye going full-on Christian and all.
Eddie and Kate advanced on the bar which was occupied by a gang of four older men lobbing comments, some to do with drink orders, at a barman.
The group were a tall red head standing with a short, well built man, a black man and a plump man sitting at the bar.
The barman dealt with the comments and the drink orders.
DC Fowler produced her warrant card.
“Johnnie, what you been up to – again?” laughed the red headed man
The barman shook his head: Nothing.
Eddie guessed the barman’s name was Johnnie as Johnnie’s indulgent smile said: get these guys.
Whether Johnnie’s smile was amusement or designed to play up the size of a possible tip Eddie could not tell.
“DC Fowler,” said Kate. “And this is DCI Smith.”
“Nathan,” Johnnie introduced the red headed man. “Andy,” and nodded at the short man. “Geoff,” the black man. “And Trev,” the plump one.
Eddie acknowledged each before reciting the description of the pair of interest produced by Vinny.
“Daron and Paula.” Kate added the names.
“Means nothing to me, I’m afraid,” said Johnnie and swept his arm to indicate the bar area, beyond that the skittle lanes. “Three o’ clock, imagine what it’s like later on. I can’t remember everyone.”
“What about you gentlemen,” said Kate addressing the group at the bar. “Any ideas?”
Eddie saw the Andy begin to essay a smart remark.
A look from Nathan stopped it.
“Nothing here,” said Geoff.
“No recognition. Sorry,” said Trev.
“If you do remember anything,” said Kate handing out business cards with the police helpline number to everyone.
Eddie slipped Johnnie a card with his personal number.
Johnnie did see everyone who came in here.
“It’s important,” said Eddie. “The case we’re working.”
A little more sober Johnnie took the card. “I still don’t remember the couple you described,” he said.
“Give it a few hours, a day something might come back to you,” said Eddie.
Johnnie looked unconvinced
“Mind if we ask the rest of the room?” said Eddie.
“Knock yourself out,” said Johnnie.
Thirty minutes of questioning turned up complaints against the police, about parking around Finsbury Park and one truncated discussion about the UK’s involvement in Sierra Leone.
Notes were conspicuously taken but there was nothing to progress the investigation.
They stepped out of Rowans onto the Seven Sisters Road.
“You gave your number to the barman,” said Kate.
“He’s favourite to know something,” reasoned Eddie.
“But he could call after all this, when you’re not on duty. For anything at all,” pointed out Kate.
It was a row he had often had with Clair.
“Your free time interrupted,” said Kate.
Which had been one of Clair’s arguments but that was no longer a problem he had. Free time had become the problem.
So people ringing up out of the blue: he could deal with that.
With Clair gone he now wanted to.
The crossed to Kate’s Ka. Finsbury Park was building with end of school traffic, mums on foot or by car heading to collect their kids.
His and Kate’s issue, thought Eddie, was that they were looking for two people they did not know and of whom all they had was a verbal description and their first names.
They could try a police artist with Vinny, get a sketch.
But that would have to be arranged, would take time.
Time Eddie did not think the DCS had.
Kate manoeuvred her car between the mums.
Lil got back to 310 Kingsland Road at 15:45.
End of the school day, she remembered taking the lift to the top floor.
She was coming back to herself.
Danny and Kenny were sitting at the collapsible table in the main room.
Danny had a laptop open.
Kenny was plugged into his headphones.
The tv was on but was set to mute.
On the laptop were building plans for the Banqueting House.
Lil nodded to the kitchen area.
Danny followed her in.
“You sure about this?” asked Lil.
“Certain,” said Danny. “I booked you and Danny a couple of ferry tickets. They’re on here,” and handed her a new mobile phone.
“Use it for the ferry, chuck it on the other side I’d recommend,” said Danny.
Seemed a waste, thought Lil, but she knew the sense of the idea.
The tv panned across the Banqueting House. The caption was: Ring Of Steel.
“You’re still a suspect,” said Lil. “That knocks PCDB out of cleaning the Banqueting House?”
“I’m counting on it,” said Danny. “The Banqueting House will still need cleaning. And because they are going to have to award the gig last minute to another firm, for them it will be a rush job.”
“And rush job hire is contract to get the job done,” Lil understood.
“Good job you’re not a copper,” said Danny.
Carla sat in her flat. The light was moving out of the day, was being replaced.
The police had Pete, were questioning him over the murders of PM Osborne and PM Morgan.
Carla had not been 100% sure that Danny had been the shooter but someone had set up Pete following the police raid in Danny’s flat.
Made sense it was Danny.
And maybe it was payback for her for trying to claim the reward from the Morgan family before she had been certain.
What she couldn’t put together was how Danny had persuaded the police that Pete had done the Morgan killing.
She focused on what she could know.
That Danny had likely set up Pete.
And in doing so he remained her possibility of reward.
How sweet to put Danny properly in the frame and honestly claim the reward.
Her mind clicked through the possibilities.
At nine pm the detectives of the Central Murder Team gathered in room 333 of the Metropolitan Police building in Victoria.
DCS Cox had her daily sit-down with the Chief Constable and associated Pols at 22:00.
Her face was neutral as she said: “Let’s review our progress. Eddie?”
Just like this was any other case.
It was a way to go, thought Eddie and said: “We confirmed a time discrepancy with Danny Blake at St Thomas.”
DCS Cox interjected: “Danny Blake self-corrected. Moved the time back fifteen minutes. Although he couldn’t be precise. Contacted our hot-line.”
“Have you confirmed this was actually him?” asked Eddie.
“His company report that he is on holiday and unobtainable,” said DCS Cox.
“We raided his flat, he went on holiday?” startled from Kate.
“It’s what his company are telling us. So his timeline reads: he left his flat with Kenny for the meeting at St Mary’s, from there he went straight on holiday. So uncontactable,” set out DCS Cox.
“So if he can’t be contacted how come he rang in the correction?” asked Kate.
“He switched his mobile on to call us, then switched it off. The story is he is on holiday,” said DCS Cox. “Perhaps the holiday allowed him to review what he had told us. And we tried his mobile that’s how we know it’s switched off. Straight to voicemail.”
A block, thought Eddie.
He walked around it.
He said: “That timeline fits with what we got from Vinny Sullivan. Vinny said when they arrived at St Thomas’ the PM shooting was already running on the tv.”
“Which Danny Blake has accepted,” said DCS Cox.
“It means he had the opportunity,” said Eddie. “Vinny showing up to work drunk gave him an alibi. We’re looking into who got Vinny drunk.”
“Not his usual mob?” said DCS Cox.
Eddie shook his head: No.
“It’s why we’re interested,” said Eddie.
“Keep me up to speed,” said DCS Cox. “Having said that, it may all be explained for Danny,” and turned to Sam and Justin. “Whereas for Pete Young we have physical evidence recovered from his flat.”
Sam smiled: true thing.
“Forensic have confirmed the bullets recovered from Pete Young’s flat are of the same calibre and have the same headstamp markings as those that killed PM Osborne, PM Morgan and Dominic Grieve.”
“And his alibi for the Osborne shooting is his girlfriend,” said DCS Cox.
“What about Old Oak Common?” asked Eddie.
“He claims he was in his flat, sleeping like a baby,” said Justin.
“Anyone to confirm that?” asked DCS Cox.
“No,” smiled Justin.
DCS Cox felt herself surrounded by the great and the good and knew that she would only stay here if she could demonstrate forward motion.
She was sat with Chief Constable Sully and Deputy Chief Constable Patience in the Chief Constable’s office with the Home Secretary, his deputy and two senior civil servants.
The difference was that the police officers all came from working class backgrounds. The civilians did not.
But that was changing, thought DCS Cox.
The pols wanted to look across the table and see people just like them.
The mean thought inhabited DCS Cox’s erect form. She kept her face neutral. She had made her choice between the two lines of inquiry and hoped that would show forward momentum to the other side of the table.
She said: “The Pete Young line of inquiry has the physical evidence. We will concentrate our resources there.”
It was what they wanted to hear.
And it was what DCS Cox wanted to believe.
It made sense, she told herself.
Danny sat opposite Lil at the collapsible table of 310 Kingsland Road.
Kenny was in the bedroom supposedly sleeping but Danny could hear him moving around, plugged into his mathematics.
“You’re dangerous to know,” said Lil. “Your mates end up in prison.”
Danny shook his head: “Lou and Pete are being questioned by the police. They’re not in prison. And both have good lawyers,” he said and handed Lil documentation for Bank Accounts: numbers, passwords.
“We’re really doing this?” said Lil.
“For Kenny,” said Danny and touched the banking documentation. “I’ve made you the main signatory for these,” he said.
Lil sighed: “You are a crazy fuck.”
“You’re taking a blind kid under your wing,” said Danny. “Who’s crazy?”
Eddie was bent over witness statements from the cleaning crew working the Ministry of Health when PM Osborne was shot.
You went over these things like the faithful repeated prayers, thought Eddie, hoping to find something in there.
But was anything there or was there just the repeated act wearing the object smooth?
The clock on the east wall of room 333 of the Metropolitan Police building in Victoria showed 3:15 am.
After returning from the meeting with the Chief Constable and the Home Secretary, DCS Cox had huddled with DI Daley and DS Battle.
A ritual of words hummed between them marking out incentives that could be attributed to Pete Young around the physicality of the bullets retrieved from his flat.
“But why did he do it?” intoned DCS Cox.
“Terrorism,” sang the West Country baritone of Sam Daley.
“Money,” trilled Justin Battle’s soprano.
The motive did not matter if they could show from the evidence that Pete Young had committed the crime duetted Sam and Justin.
That rendering counterpointed the DCS’ plaintiff refrain: But why did he do it.
Kate was at the south side of the room.
She had taken a call a few minutes ago and had deployed her iPad.
Her tired frown had turned into a smile.
A personal call, wondered Eddie.
Kate’s tone became bantering and soft.
Was Kate fielding the call without leaving the room a dig at Justin? But Justin was immersed in the embrace of Sam and DCS Cox working a line on the case that could open doors for each of them.
Kate looked at the clock over Eddie’s head and said: “A couple of days, at least.”
She listened to the response.
“No way,” she said.
But she smiled as she said it.
Eddie’s phone sounded.
The callers number was not familiar.
“DCI Smith,” answered Eddie.
“You’re the fellow.”
The other end of the line was drunk.
“They kicked me out of Rowans. Special party. Lock in more like.”
The other end of the line was upset.
“Who is this?” asked Eddie.
“Trev, from Rowans earlier. You gave Johnnie a card. He didn’t want it, left it on the bar. I picked it up, no questions asked.” The words hiccupped down the line.
“You are upset that you were excluded from an event at Rowans?” asked Eddie.
“Daron and Paula are there. Fucking let them in then closed the place up,” said Trev.
Daron and Paula picked up Eddie’s attention.
He signalled Kate: might have something and said: “Thank you for the information, sir. We will act on it. They are still at Rowans?”
“As far as I know having a fucking whale of a time,” complained Trev.
Kate had discarded her personal call and was at his side.
“Daron and Paula,” Eddie said to Kate. “The caller says they are at Rowans.”
Kate’s face lit up with: gotcha.
Danny in his cleaning boiler-suit with the PCDB insignia removed looked around 310 Kingsland Road.
Lil and Eddie had left thirty minutes ago in Lil’s Subaru.
The ferry would depart in seven hours but it could be a five hour drive.
No need to cut it close.
Danny thought that each of them would walk out of 310 Kingsland Road with what they had walked in with.
It was almost as if they had never been there.
He closed the front door, went down the stairs to the night bus.
Kingsland Road was cracked by street lights and dotted with meandering drunks.
The few workers around at 5:10 had direction.
Danny stood at a bus stop for buses heading south to the central London.
He let a N149 pass.
Colin’s favourite bus had been the N76 and Danny waited for that.
Danny remembered Colin straddling him, talking of the N76: “It’s just to die for.”
Danny had chosen the 253.
“Thank God you didn’t go for the 254,” said Colin spent beside him.
“254?” said Danny. There was no way.
The digital board showed 6 minutes until the arrival of the N76 to the central London.
Also at the bus-stop was a fifty-something man, thin, padded with clothing tied around him with a red, plastic belt.
He was mumbling to himself, occasionally breaking into song.
As the N76 pulled up the man turned his red, drink wrecked eyes to Danny.
“Going to work?” he slurred.
“A living to earn,” said Danny as the bus door opened.
“I never go to work, me. I got it sweet,” declared the man.
His breath smelt of alcohol and cigarettes and snatched food.
“We all make our choices,” said Danny.
“You made the wrong one. You go to work and I get to stay . . .” and the man indicated the bus-shelter, Kingsland Road, the whole of Hackney.
“Have fun,” said Danny and boarded the bus.
“Fun?” declared the man through the glass doors. “What’s fun got to do with it?”
The man looked at Danny disappointedly, like a parent at a child who had alighted on the wrong answer.
As Danny watched the man began to sway and sing, his voice carrying through the bus windows.
“What’s fun got to do, go to do with it? What’s fun?”
To his thin, drink abused face was pinned a smile.
Danny climbed to the top floor of the bus as the bus pulled away from the stop and the man.
He took a seat.
The bus was silent with passengers covered against the early morning cold.
Had each of them made the choice to be here? Had the man at the bus-stop? Or was it like Lil had said – we don’t get to choose, not really: it was just a story some of us told ourselves.
It didn’t matter, thought Danny, whether he had chosen it or not: he had a job to do.
The bus trundled on, under the blocked out stars its lights bright with the works of man.
Kate skated her Ford Ka through streets emptied by the hour.
The clock built into her dashboard showed 5:15 am.
DCS Cox had nodded through his request to pursue an unverified lead, thought Eddie.
She had committed to a line of investigation and her choice made sense. It had the physical evidence.
But DCS Cox, DI Daley and DS Battle had not progressed the case beyond that physical fact.
And there had been a discordant note introduced to DCS Cox’s voice as, nodding his request through, she had added the instruction for him to stay in touch.
It was every officer’s duty to maintain open lines of communication with their immediate superior and it wasn’t as if he would move outside the rules, thought Eddie.
The rules of the job structured what was left of his life.
Kate pulled up outside Finsbury Park which was sunk in a pre-tube early morning and carried a smattering of civilians.
The Underground would start up at 5:30 and the jingle of tube trains would tempt people from their beds, thought Eddie.
Across Stroud Green Road, Rowans sat quietly.
Kate’s fist rapped on the door to Rowans.
“Police. Open up.”
Her voice carried through the early morning and turned a few drunk heads on the Seven Sisters Road.
An Asian man, his body shaped by jolly nights of drinking, stopped to watch the show.
Kate rapped again on the door to Rowans.
“Police. Open up.”
She had increased her volume.
The door opened a crack.
“What do you want?” said a voice.
Kate produced her warrant card.
“Police, sir. A few words.”
The door opened half-way.
The space was occupied by Johnnie, the barman from yesterday afternoon.
“I see you’re putting in the hours, sir,” said Kate.
“I’m paid to do so,” said Johnnie. He had not moved from the doorway. “What did you want to ask?”
“If we could step in, sir, it would make things easier,” said Kate.
Johnnie turned to someone behind him.
When he turned back he said: “I suppose,” and let the detectives into Rowans.
The bowling lanes were empty.
Crocodile Rock by Elton John was, thought Eddie, rather incongruous on the sound system but his attention fixed on the five people gathered at a single table close to the bar.
He recognised three from their previous visit. The other two, a man and a woman, he badged up as Daron and Paula.
Of the three from the previous visit, two appeared to be wasted.
Nathan wasn’t. He said: “Good morning, detectives.”
Eddie looked at the two who had not been present on their previous visit. “Daron, Paula?” he said.
“Why?” queried Nathan.
“To help with an inquiry, sir. We are only here for that one matter. If we can get information pertinent to that one matter: great. If not we will have to take you all to the station and our focus would inevitably widen.”
Eddie laid out his best case for talking to Daron and Paula as they were and where they were.
Nathan sat back, opened his arms. “Fire away, detective.”
“To save time, sir, what we’ll do is I will talk to Daron and Paula over there,” and Eddie indicated a table to the left of the bar. “While my colleague goes over things with you three.”
A slight hesitation before Nathan said: “If you must.”
Daron and Paula had been drinking but not all day like the three he had allocated to Kate.
He sat Daron and Paula at a table to the extreme left of the bar.
Eddie took a chair.
“You went drinking with Vinny Sullivan,” said DCI Eddie Smith.
“That’s not a crime,” said Daron. His Scottish accented words slipped a little on the alcohol he had consumed.
“It is not, I would just like to know why,” said Eddie.
Daron looked at Paula and said: “Just that one incident?”
“Help us out with that and this won’t go anywhere else,” said Eddie.
“We were told to bump into the guy and get him drunk one evening,” said Paula.
Daron had detached from the conversation, was looking at the lights set into the ceiling.
“A specific evening?” asked Eddie.
Paula nodded: “Yes.”
“And who hired you to do that?” queried Eddie.
“There was an intermediary we never met the hirer but heard it was a guy named Danny,” said Paula. “That’s all I know.”
Danny was something, thought Eddie.
“310 Kingsland Road, top floor flat,” said Daron and dropped his gaze from the light to Eddie and Paula.
Paula looked at Daron surprised.
“Go on, sir,” encouraged Eddie.
“Intermediary,” the word stumbled from Carl. “Said they had met at 310 Kingsland Road. His mum’s from Dalston.”
“The intermediary’s mother, sir?” Eddie wanted clarification.
“Yeah. That’s what we were talking about. Family.” Carl nodded.
“When did this happen, sir?” asked Eddie.
“I bumped into the intermediary,” the word slid in his mouth, stopped up his story for a moment. He recovered with: “At Ridley Road. We had a pick-me-up at the Market Bar. That’s when we talked family. After we went to Uncle Sam’s for some music. Walking past 310 Kingsland Road he said that was where he had met Danny. Alan Weekes was on guitar. Bass. Drum and fiddle. A bloody fiddle,” said Daron.
Danny ignored the line-up at Uncle Sam’s and asked: “The intermediary told you he had met Danny at 310 Kingsland Road.” He dug out what was important for the investigation.
“That’s what he said. Could have been shitting me,” said Daron and his face curved into a smile.
“The intermediary never mentioned Herbert Court?” Eddie asked Carla and Daon.
Carl was immersed once more in the light.
“No,” said Paula.
“You’ve been a help,” said Eddie and stood. “How come you know Nathan?” he asked.
“One thing only. That was the deal,” said Paula.
Eddie knew that it was.
DCI Eddie Smith and DC Kate Fowler stood outside Rowans.
“They were paid to get Vinny drunk on the night before the Osborne shooting by a guy named Danny. They never met him. But he does business out of 310 Kingsland Road,” said Eddie.
Above them the night was slivered by promise of morning.
“Our boy, sir?” said Kate.
“310 Kingsland Road is worth a look,” said Eddie.
Carla looked at the world and could see that it wasn’t quite right.
She’d been up all night worrying about Pete.
The police had kept him in overnight.
She was sitting in her kitchen, her radio pumping out jazz-tinged hip-hop.
Carla was certain that Danny had somehow moved the focus of the police to Pete.
Danny has also provided a lawyer for Pete, which did not make sense.
Adam passed her kitchen window. He looked in, saw her and his face beamed: Good morning.
What was he smiling about, wondered Carla, then realised: it was Adam.
Was it even seven? And even at this God-awful hour his first reaction to seeing someone was to pin a smile to his chubby face.
Also what was he doing walking by her window at such an hour?
She motioned for him to wait.
With smiling obedience he did.
For fuck’s sake, thought Carla, pulled on a red jacket and opened her front door.
“Early, isn’t it?” said Carla.
Adam nodded agreement. “I worked nights. They got us working shifts at Old Oak Common. Lots to do since the killing.”
“So why are you . . .” and Carla indicated her floor.
“Visiting Mrs Myrtle in the end flat,” said Adam.
Mrs Myrtle was a crabby, old biddy whose words became less each year but held more poison.
“I normally pop in on my way to work,” said Adam.
Which would be before 8am and was why she had never clocked him, reasoned Carla.
“Today it was after work.” Adam kept going like a happy fucking train. “It’s been an upside down day,” finished Adam.
Had he used that rigorously happy tone, that sappy grin with Mrs Myrtle? That seemed out of whack.
“She said she saw Danny but she’s a little,” and Adam pointed a finger at the side of his head and rotated it.
“Danny seems to have fallen off the planet,” said Carla. “Police can’t find him.”
“He’s going to be at work today,” said Adam. “In Westminster.”
“He’s back?” surprised from Carla.
“According to Lil, but she wasn’t making a lot of sense. Confused. Maybe she got confused,” said Adam.
“When did you see Lil?” asked Carla.
“Yesterday. She was coming down from her flat. I was with Joanne and we had heard about Pete. Sorry about that,” commiserated Pete.
“Where in Westminster?” asked Carla.
“Lil wasn’t clear on that. Some painted place? And to be truthful I was a little distracted by Joanne. Why don’t you ask Lil?” said Adam.
“I will,” said Carla.
Since she and Pete and Lil had tied one she had called Lil twice. Both times her calls had gone to voicemail.
Adam stood there, smilingly waiting for instruction.
“I have to go now,” said Lil.
“Of course,” beamed Adam.
Lil closed the door, padded back to her kitchen.
She cleared the peculiarity of Adam from her mind and focused on what he had given her.
Danny was working in Westminster. Somewhere with paintings.
Could be anywhere, those rich fucks had loads of paintings.
She picked up her phone and dialled Sylvie, Pete’s sometime girlfriend.
Pete had given Carla Sylvie’s number to be used only in emergencies.
This, decided Carla, was an emergency.
Kate took a right off Seven Sisters Road onto Lordship Road.
Her Ford spun through the early morning as they passed the new developments around the teardrop reservoirs at the top of Lordship Road.
Eddie hung up his phone. He looked at the recently constructed blocks filled by expensive flats. Lou Wood had claimed to work there nights as a concierge. The blocks had been built in the past few years replacing council housing.
Replacing the tenants.
He turned to Kate: “DCS Cox will arrange a warrant and send two armed officers to support.”
The warrant was to effect lawful entry if Danny was not present at 310 Kingsland Road.
The armed officers were to be there if he were.
Danny Blake had shot two Prime Ministers and a Minister of the Crown.
They had to presume that he would still be in possession of the rifle.
“Do we wait for the armed officers?” asked Kate. “If we get there first?”
“We’ll check it out, if that’s okay with you,” said Eddie.
“Sylv,” said Carla into her mobile. The clock on her mobile had told her it was 6:50.
“Who is this?” said a suddenly woken Sylvie.
“Carla, Pete’s sister,” said Carla.
“You’re calling me now? Here?”
Sylvia’s outrage sped down the line.
“It’s an emergency. For Pete. The police have pulled him in again,” said Carla.
“I was in bed with Ben,” said Sylvia.
Ben was her husband.
Sylvia’s voice had moved out of a whisper. She has left the bedroom, thought Carla.
“Do you know anywhere Pete would have worked in Westminster in the cleaning job? Paintings on the wall,” asked Carla.
“He’s no longer working there,” said Sylvia.
She bit back her retort and asked: “Did he say anything about Westminster, paintings while he was working as a cleaner?”
“He was all over Westminster. But the Banqueting House. They had new paintings on the walls and that made it difficult to clean. He thought the place should be whitewashed,” said Sylvie.
Danny was at the Banqueting House.
Where PM Starmer and Deputy PM Hammond were due to speak.
Carla punched in DCS Cox’s number.
There was Pete to free.
There was a reward to claim
There was no answer from the single flat on top floor flat of 310 Kingsland Road.
Through the letter box Eddie could see that the flat was one main room running into a kitchen. Off the main room were two other rooms.
A bedroom and bathroom, he surmised.
He straightened up.
Kate looked ready to kick down the door.
“Let’s give the armed officers and the warrant five minutes,” said Eddie.
Kate folded her arms.
The armed officers arrived in three.
With them was DCS Cox.
“No one at home?” said DCS Cox.
“No one’s answering,” said Eddie.
“Oh, well,” said DCS Cox and looked at the warrant she was carrying. She turned to the uniformed, armed officers. “Sergeant De Mateo, could you expedite entry?”
As Sergeant De Mateo did, DCS Cox’s phone rang. Stepping into the flat she took the call standing at a table in the centre of the main room.
Eddie and Kate circumnavigated the flat.
There was no one home.
There were no clothes or obvious personal effects.
But there were biscuits and a loaf of bread in a cupboard, milk in the fridge.
Kate lifted the milk. “Two days until its due date,” she said. “Someone was here.”
DCS Cox was still on the phone, occupying the middle of the room.
The tv was plugged in and Eddie switched it on.
It was tuned to BBC News 24.
Eddie picked up the remote, called up the menu on the screen. It told him that things had been recorded.
He accessed the latest.
The BBC reporter was standing in the Banqueting House announcing that the Government of National Unity would announce its programme from here tomorrow morning. Early. So you could get to see it before you set off to work.
The recording was from yesterday.
“Ma’am,” said Eddie.
“I’ll see to it,” said DCS Cox into her mobile and hung up.
Eddie nodded at the tv.
“That was Carla Young,” said DCS Cox. “Demanding her reward. According to her Danny Blake’s going to try for PM Starmer and Deputy PM Hammond at the Banqueting House.”
Danny set up in the old servants’ quarter in the Banqueting House. When the Banqueting House had been built they had to offer servants easy access to those being served.
And to allow those being served to easily summon the servants.
Many people had been at the beck and call of the few.
Nothing changed, thought Danny.
He had entered the Banqueting House easily enough.
A quick recce had established that there were a dozen cleaning trolleys assembled outside a side entrance to the Banqueting House.
He had been smoking outside that entrance, the Banqueting House grounds being determinedly non-smoking, when two mini-vans of contract cleaners had discharged its passengers at the side-entrance.
The cleaners had taken a moment to assess where they were. One or two placed their backpacks on a trolley.
Danny had grabbed a cleaning trolley, stowed his Nemesis Vanquish in its carrying case with the mops and cleaning cloths and walked into the Banqueting House.
There were a set of keys with the trolley and when a door set flush into the walk presented itself he worked through the keys on the ring.
One key turned the lock and the door opened onto a shabby space off which ran a set of stairs. He stepped in with his cleaning trolley, locked the door behind him and tried the stairs.
The stairs led to a small chamber with one wall open to the chamber of the Banqueting House. He peeked out.
The walls of the Banqueting Hall had been decorated to reflect the ceiling.
The servants quarter was about half-way up the east wall of the Banqueting House and the opening was part of one of the doors depicted in a rendition of Angels and People.
He took the rifle from the cleaning trolley and returned to the opening onto the main chamber of the Banqueting House.
He prepared but did not set up the rifle.
That would be at the last minute.
Taking position too soon would allow the chance that the end of the barrel aimed into the Banqueting House might be spotted.
When the time came he would take his position. Take a breath. Two shots. And then out.
Position. Breath. Two shots. Out.
It settled into his brain.
He could hear the lead elements of the PMs security team setting up below him.
He kept back in the shadows.
Colin, he thought, I hope this works.
DCS Cox had never been keen on the PM’s Banqueting House public announcement and when it had been first mentioned she had advised calling it off. Her advice had been passed through the Chief Constable to the Home Secretary who had communicated it to the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister wouldn’t hear of it.
He couldn’t be seen to run.
The reply was articulated by one of the Prime Minister’s special advisers.
This was in Eddie’s head as DCS Cox deployed an armed team on the ground floor of the Banqueting House.
There was no time to organise a proper sweep of the building. An adviser to the Prime Minister’s Special Advisers had informed DCS Cox that the PM had stated that the Government of National Unity’s programme would be put to the British people before breakfast and he would stick to that.
The chamber of the Banqueting House was laid out with tables with white coverings and name-cards. The attendees to the launch had been extensively trailed on tv: captains of industry, small business owners, teachers, doctors, clerks, even purportedly a worker from an Amazon warehouse.
The Government was for everyone the crowd was trying to show.
The crowd, along with the new PM, would be believed: or so hoped the PM’s people.
Eddie was standing on a walkway running around the top of the Banqueting House.
At the top of the stone steps leading to the walkway Eddie had turned left, Kate had taken a right.
No one so far had reported anything untoward.
Below him, Eddie watched as the newly minted PM and deputy PM progressed to their position at the head table.
Around them was a splash of people, above them scenes of Angels and Mortals feasting.
Eddie’s eyes caught on something in the painted wall. His head moved slightly to his left, slightly to his right.
It was there.
Eddie reached for his mobile.
“Kate, there is an opening,” he said.
“Where?” puzzled Kate.
“Look at the scene on the wall. The indoor feast. There are doors,” said Eddie.
He could see Kate across the dome of the Banqueting House peering at its decoration.
“To your left,” said Eddie.
“Got it,” said Kate. “Should we alert the armed officers?”
“Don’t want to call them away from their protection role and expose our main targets until we have something definite,” said Eddie.
He began to move.
“If there’s an entrance it’ll be on the ground floor,” said Eddie. “Let’s get to it.”
They circled the ground floor until they were under the indoor feast.
“It looks like the entrance to a cleaning cupboard,” said Kate.
Eddie tried to open the door but it was locked.
“Let’s not waste time, sir,” said Kate and raised her foot.
It took her three solid slams to splinter it open
Danny heard the door give.
He was laying prone on the floor of the servants’ quarters.
The targets would be in position in ten seconds.
He would have to take them early. It would introduce more possibility for error.
He sighted along the barrel of the Nemesis Vanquish.
“Police,” was shouted behind him.
He took a breath.
The shooter was laying on his belly, his rifle pointing through the opening into the Banqueting House.
Eddie heard himself call: police before his foot connected with the shooter’s rib-cage.
The gun fired.
Eddie drew his foot back for another swipe.
The shooter reached out, grabbed Eddie’s standing leg and pulled.
Eddie felt himself going down.
He recognised Danny Blake standing above him.
Danny seemed calm, swinging his rifle to target Eddie.
There was a clang and Danny wobbled.
Kate had a bucket in her hand.
Danny Blake stumbled back toward the opening.
Kate swung the bucket again. Connected.
Danny Blake and the Nemesis Vanquish were exposed in the opening.
An armed officer took the shot.
“Where have you been?” asked Colin.
Danny felt himself crying.
Colin opened his arms.
The sea was choppy as Lil and Kenny crossed from Fishguard to Dublin. They would drive from Dublin to Belfast.
They sat on the deck, Lil feeling the sea-spray on her face, Kenny talking about complex numbers.
She had told him on the drive down that they would be going to her home for a while.
He had not objected.
Now as the ferry ploughed through the waves he asked: “Where will I go to school?”
“St. Paddy’s,” said Lil.
He day was veiled by drizzle.
Repeatable weather, Lil’s brother had called it.
“Your school?” said Kenny.
“Yes,” said Lil.
“So they’re used to blind kids,” stated Kenny.
Lil had exaggerated that but there was a truth there.
“Yeah,” she said. “You’ll fit right in.”
“Will Danny be over?” asked Kenny.
“There’s a chance,” said Lil.
It wasn’t quite a lie. Not yet. The reports had been fragmentary.
“Complex numbers work in probability,” said Kenny and smiled at that lovely thing.
Lil watched the sea which separated what was back there from what was in front of them.
Perhaps it was inevitable that she would come home.
It wasn’t like she had a choice.
End of After by Writer 3
A complete version of After will appear in the Summer of 2020