Overkill by Pat Robotham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All characters in this story are fictional.  My apologies to Martha, but that’s the price of fame.  Thanks to Pete Townsend and The Who for writing such great songs with appropriate lyrics.


 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

DAY ONE

DAY TWO

DAY THREE

DAY FOUR

DAY FIVE

DAY SIX

DAY SEVEN

DAY EIGHT

DAY NINE

DAY TEN

THREE MONTHS LATER


 

 

 

DAY ONE

 

“People try to put us down                                                    
Just because we get around
Things they do are awful cold
Hope I die before I get old
Hope I die before I get old”

 

DAY ONE

 

“People try to put us down                                                    
Just because we get around
Things they do are awful cold
Hope I die before I get old
Hope I die before I get old”

 

f he’d been able to think straight, Joe Pillory would have reckoned he’d got it pretty well perfect - sixty two years old and lying face up on his front lawn at four thirty a.m. in the drizzle with his blood leaking out of a bullet hole in his chest and mingling with the rain water as it ran down his front path. “Hope I die before I get old” - nearly bloody perfect timing. Still the drizzle felt rather pleasant and cooling on his face; he wasn’t sure why being cooled outside in December felt so pleasant but he was too tired to worry about it now.
He could just about see what was going on, even though he was a bit twisted up; if he looked down the length of his body he could see his striped pyjamas, the end of his dick sticking out of the slit at the front and, at the end of his legs, his feet - one with a red slipper on and the other naked. “Where’s that other slipper?”  If he tried to sit up and look for it the blood seemed to come out faster, so he stopped trying to see his other slipper. His right hand gripped the hockey stick; he reckoned that someone would find the other slipper when they took him to hospital, and if he didn’t get there it did not really matter that he only had one.
He could hear the “EE  AW” of the ambulance and he had caught a glimpse of the police marksman. He even saw the rifle with the telescopic site, must have been the one they used.  Things were going a bit muzzy, but he could still see Pete and Roger, Moon and the Ox up on stage, Roger hurling the mike around on the end of its lead, Pete with his arm wind-milling round, Moon going berserk and the Ox just standing there.  “Hope I die before I get old.”  He rather hoped he wouldn’t, but he didn’t think he’d put money on it.  Mind you, with two of them dead now, how did the other two view old age?
The men in green were kneeling over him, talking to him in a calm sort of a way, as they set up drips, dressed his wound and eventually slid him onto a board-like stretcher. He was looking up at the inside of the ambulance, and he had started to shiver.  At least he was out of the rain, which was something.  He could see a policeman talking to the paramedics at the far end of the ambulance.
“Will he make it?”
“Dunno, if that shot had been a centimetre to the left he’d be dead now, but you’ll have to wait till someone’s had a good look at him.”
“I need to talk to him ASAP.”
“Then it was probably not a good idea to shoot him in the first place.  This is the second one of these I’ve attended in four years.  He may not make it to the hospital, if he does, he’ll have to go into surgery, then recover from that.   I doubt you’ll be talking with him for days or maybe weeks, if at all.”

D I David Clifton couldn’t believe the traffic; this was the third time in as many weeks that this junction between Stafford Street and the ring road had been blocked. The trouble with Wolverhampton was there was just too much traffic.  Dave had been up since 4 am; in fact he’d not been home since yesterday morning.  When they knew they were going to make the arrest he’d stayed over at his sergeant’s flat for the evening. Truth be told, he could not face another row with Sandy - they’d been married at university but the difference between being a social worker and his life as a copper was starting to get in the way.  If it hadn’t been for Lucy he’d probably have called time on the whole sorry business, now he had the imminent prospect of going back home and the rows starting again.  He was in the middle of a major investigation and she wanted him to take time off and go Christmas shopping, for God’s sake how unreasonable was that?  He could not even remember what this row was specifically about, although generally Sandy didn’t seem to like policemen and what they stood for anymore.  She said it had all changed; he was not so sure it had, but she certainly had.  Anyway he was finally heading back to the station for some much needed rest and paper work, and now it looked like it was going to take him an hour to do a mile. Still now the case was over he could go off shift at a normal time and take things a bit easier; to be honest the last year had been pretty mad.
To his relief he could see the traffic lights change and although he was a way off getting through, at least the passing thought that they had just shot the wrong man and the so called “traffic light” terrorist was still out there, went away.  Even when you had some madman blowing up the traffic lights on a regular basis and he stopped, you could not notice any difference and it was still no easier to get about.
This whole case was going to take some explaining. In fact he knew everything about the case was going to take some explaining, the report writing loomed large, and there was almost bound to be an inquiry, even though the bloke was not dead, well, not dead yet. Ever since Menezes, every shooting by the police ended with an inquiry, probably not a bad thing.
The traffic moved off and this time he got through the lights, only to end up half way across the junction on the tail of a huge backup onto the ring road.  He looked up at the university on his left and tried to figure just how someone like that could somehow end up shot by a police marksman on his own lawn in suburbia at six in the morning. The guy was so ordinary! He had such an ordinary house, job, everything.  A white, late middle aged male with a secure job suddenly launches himself into practical urban terrorism and then gets himself shot.  It made no sense three hours ago, and it made no bloody sense now.  They still had no idea about motive and precious little understanding of any background, writing up a report meant a hell of a lot of groundwork, just to fill in the blanks.  He still had regrets about calling in the firearms squad, but once anyone breathes the word “terrorist” it becomes standard procedure, and then once out on the job with them it’s very hard to keep control, as he had just found out, even when you are the senior officer.
“If he lives, I can ask him, if he doesn’t, I’m screwed.”
The traffic eventually eased up and he drove in and parked in the yard by the squad office, it was still raining and blowing a cold hard wind in from the Cheshire gap, a real feature of Wolverhampton weather; as he got out he could see Calladine walking cockily over to him.
“Bit of a result that, one clean shot, no more terrorist”
“You’ve never asked yourself if he was the terrorist or even if he was a terrorist, let alone what exactly was he doing when your guys shot him, in his jimjams and carrying a hockey stick. What in God’s name were you thinking?”
“Look, Dave, we all know you’re a bit of a bleeding heart, but what does it matter what he was carrying? OK, we thought the hockey stick was a gun, he was carrying it wrong way up.  But in the end, what the hell?  We know it’s him, we’ve got him on three sets of CCTV, he’s the one that’s been causing all the chaos, endangering lives, so he gets shot, that’s what I call a result.” 
“And how are you going to write that up? I’m not arguing that he wasn’t the right guy, but there is the issue of proportionate force, and it’s only the guys in Special Branch that labelled him as some sort of urban guerrilla, the rest of us think he’s just a nutter.”

There was a real buzz in the office, there always was after a job was finished.  For a while the adrenaline still flowed and no one had had time to think about what happens next.  Dave sat in his chair and stared into the distance just over the top of his computer screen, although not listening, he was aware of the excitement in the general squad office, and heard it all go quiet. He looked through the Venetian blinds, towards the door and saw the Chief Constable and the Superintendent standing in the doorway.
“Well done everyone”, the Super said rather curtly and they both walked towards Dave’s office.
“Shit, here we go!”
The Super pushed the door open,
“This is D.I. Dave Clifton.  It’s his case, with a bit of help from Special Branch and the Tactical firearms boys, but Dave here and his team did all the real detective work.”
“So congratulations, Dave, it looks like we’ve got ourselves a bit of a mess. How are we going to explain this to the general public, do you think?”
Dave looked at him; he knew that this was the defining point of his career. This was the point where he either became the victim and ended up at the wrong end of an inquiry, or he became the solution to the Chief Constable’s problem of explaining away the actions of the past six hours. Either way he was in for a lot of grief, and that just made him realise how tired he was. He decided honesty was best.
       “Well, we could just say that once you bring Calladine and his firearms squad in this is the sort of thing that is bound to happen, but I don’t think anyone wants to hear that.
“I agree it’s a mess. He’s definitely the one we were after, but I’ve never been sure he was anything other than a mischievous nutter.  As it was, everything went so quickly at the end that we now have one shot man whose reasons for doing the things he did which resulted in him getting shot are still not clear. He may have been some sort of terrorist, and if so we may be able to convince the world we were right to do what we did. I suppose the current political climate would make that look more likely.  However, if he turns out to be a simple weirdo....?” He left that hanging.
“So, what do you suggest?  This is still your case.”
“It’s obvious we need to know more about him and why he was doing it, and currently we haven’t got a bloody clue.  Now if no one minds I’m off to bed. I’ll get onto it first thing tomorrow, that is, if you want me still on the case.”
“Indeed I do, for the moment, at any rate; it’s your mess so it’s time for you to clear it up.  We need to fend off an inquiry at all costs, or at least until we’ve got a few answers.”

Dave didn’t know if that was the beginning or the end of his career, but it could keep till tomorrow.
On his way home he drove and thought about the moment when they realised it was Joe Pillory.  He’d done eight sets of lights and been caught on camera on four occasions, but each time he’d been really careful so he never showed his head and always wore different clothes, sometimes he even walked slightly differently.  Then he decides to do the set on Stafford Street outside the Uni, for a second time. There he is on camera but he’s got a cap on so no ID from that photo, but then the silly sod doesn’t throw the cap away but wears it into the Uni where he works, so when we look at later camera footage he’s going into the Uni in the exact same cap.  It was amazingly stupid considering how difficult he had made it, up to that point.  He must have forgotten that the cameras were rolling all the time, not just when he was at it.

“This is Joseph Pillory, aged 62, gunshot wound to the chest. We’ve done the best we can for the moment, but until he stabilises, we daren’t do any more. Keep everyone away, we don’t yet know about relatives.  The police haven’t given us any info on that and keep them away as well - they keep ringing up the ward to ask when they can talk to him. The next 24 hours will be critical; I want half hourly monitoring throughout the night.”
Joe could just about make out the conversation going on around him, He didn’t think he could or should talk , just try to stay awake, keep quiet, and try to figure out what was what.  He reckoned that he’d been sedated, as it was really hard work staying focussed and no matter how hard he tried he could not help himself drifting off.
He could hear the continual beep beep of the monitor that was connected to his arm and chest, and every so often a nurse would come in and check him over. His consciousness drifted between the rather muzzy world of his hospital room and the clearer world in his head, and most of the time it was too tempting to stay in there, even though it was impossible to distinguish real thoughts from dreams.
There was no doubt he was in trouble, not only did survival look in question, but he had the added problem of deciding what would happen to him if he recovered. He had decided that he had probably been shot as a result of his little campaign, although he considered that to be a bit over the top for what he thought was nothing more than a series of civil disturbances.  Anyway he had right on his side, that’s how it all started, still he guessed that no one had really got to understand the why of the whole business yet. 
       He was standing next to the boxing ring, shouting at one of the fighters to get stuck in, he looked around him and could see Jewson and Rawlings standing together, he grinned at them and gave them the thumbs up, they were going to clean up tonight on young Lenny Deville, he was miles ahead on points and seemed to be revelling in it, his first real fight and what was looking like an impressive win.  Tolman was a fool to walk out on this over a bit of side betting.
 Next he was at the MOT centre, he could not really get this bit clear, he seemed to be arguing with the tester who was pointing to a plate on his trusty old CB125, and then going to the printer in the corner and thrusting a bit of paper at him.  He’d come back to that to try to get it clearer when he had had a rest.
       Then it was back to Roger and Pete and Mooney and Ox, “hope I die before I get old”, now it was that bit closer he was not so sure that he believed in this thing that had guided him for so many years.

“I don’t bloody well understand it. I know Joe was a funny bugger but I can’t believe he needed shooting.”
“Sometimes you used to say he did, so maybe the police heard you.”
“God, you’re a sick sod sometimes; we’ve got a colleague sitting up in the hospital with a police bullet in him and all you can do is make silly jokes.”
       “Lying, I imagine, he’s lying not sitting.”
“This is the last time I use this tea room, the standard of conversation is just too low to be worthwhile. I think I’ll just go to the student canteen instead.”
“You’ll miss us too much to stay away for long.”
“Anyway, what are we going to do while Joe’s away?  Who’s going to run the X-ray machine? I’m certainly not; I’ve got enough to do.”
“For God’s sake the poor little bugger may never come back, he may die. I know he was pretty weird but there is a bit more to it than just who’s going to pick up his work.”
“Remember all that nonsense he used to spout about living life to the full, not letting society tell you how to behave and what to do and what not, and all that bollocks about dying at 75 and just getting used to the idea so you could go out in your prime, or at least when you weren’t too decrepit.  He even joined a fucking club dedicated to it; anyone would have thought he lived a wild exciting life.  Did you ever go to his house - it was like no one lived there at all, empty, all he had was his music, his moped and metallurgy,  Joe Pillory the 3Ms libertarian. If he dies now he’ll be kicking himself - he’s had little or no excitement, and he’s come up 14 years short.”
“13 years short, he’s 62 now, his birthday was last week.”
“There you go, that’s typical of the guy, never celebrates anything normal like a birthday.”
“I suppose, even if he dies, it will take months to find a replacement, even if we are allowed one, which under the current finances looks pretty doubtful.  Look how long they’ve been waiting for a new senior in metallurgy, Eddie’s been off with stress for eight months, when are they going to sort that out?”
“That’s universities for you, couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery, and who picks up the grief, us. The bloody technicians, never the academics and certainly never the managers. You mark my words, all Joe’s work will land on us and it’s up to the bloody union to protect us.”
“Do you think we should try to get a collection going for him and go and see him?”
“The police won’t let anyone near him and anyway if he croaks what would we do with the money? I don’t think he had any relatives, or none that he ever talked about.”

It was pouring with rain as the bus dragged its way up the Stafford road from his flat. He’d lived in Oxley all his life, same flat above his dad’s butchers shop.  Since his parents died he’d lived on his own, at least now the shop wasn’t working he and the flat didn’t smell of meat all day, at school he was called “meaty Terry”. He didn’t mind, he still had a lot of his old mates but he was sad that his mum and dad had died so young and not seen him make a go of it. Mind you he hadn’t done much so far, but he had gone through Uni and did work on one of the best local papers, even though there were no rungs below him on the journo’s ladder, and mostly what he got were fetes and court reports.  From the bus station it was a five minute walk to the Chronicle office, making him twenty minutes late for work, which was getting a bit too usual, even the buses couldn’t run on time any more. By the time he got to his desk his legs were wet through where the rain had dripped from his waterproof coat. His PC was always left on so it only took a second to get into his emails.
“Shit!”  There it was in front of him from his boss.
“Good afternoon Mr Collinge, when you manage to get in, perhaps you would grace my office with your presence. Alan Smith editor.”
 His boss always sent emails in this sort of tone, a combination of sarky and authoritarian. Still when you were so far down the journalism pecking order everyone pulled rank so he had got used to it.  Still getting in on time would not do his career any harm, he really needed to get up earlier, it had been a real problem getting out of his old student ways, and into the ways of the working world, and he still had not got there yet.
He knocked on the editor’s door, after about three minutes he heard the phone call end and the barked “Come.”
“Good of you to get here so promptly.”
Terry could never tell when the boss was being ironic.
“Sorry I’m late - it’s the bloody bus again.”
The editor passed a piece of paper across the desk
 “Go and look into this, it’s that shooting this morning, no point in talking to the police, you’ll just get the usual line. There may be some interesting background here.  I need you to go and get it.  Go and talk to neighbours, partners, workmates.  There’s precious little on this bloke, as far as I can dig up, his name is Pillory and he worked as some sort of technician at the university. You studied there didn’t, still got some connections have you?”
“I know a few people, but there weren’t any technicians in journalism.”
“Don’t let that stand in your way - go and have a dig about, even knowing your way around is an advantage. You know what gets me about this? They are all talking about acts of urban terrorism going on for eighteen months or more, but here I am, editor of the biggest local paper, I don’t know a thing - where and what were these incidents? I’m bloody sure the good people of this city are not aware of them.  Chance of a lifetime lad, don’t cock it up, or I’ll have to give it back to Etheridge when he comes off sick or sobers up, whichever is the soonest.  Get me something for tomorrow’s edition, and next time try catching the earlier bus that’s what they are for.”


DAY TWO

Dave got in early the next morning; he had a mixed feeling of both anticipation and anxiety about the job ahead.  However, he did what he always did, made himself some tea and then made himself a plan. At the top of a sheet of A4 he wrote -
Joe Pillory, urban terrorist? Was he? And if so why?
Then underneath he put WHY in capital letters in the middle of the page and started writing lists of lines of enquiry to get some background on the guy.  By the time his sergeant got in an hour later he had a list of things for him to do.   
“I’ll take the university and then go back to his house to see if there is anything else there. You go and see what we have got on these so-called incidences; you’ll need to talk to Calladine about that, so good luck.  Oh and get onto traffic and the makers of the lights and get their view on the whole thing.  See you later on this afternoon, and keep this as discrete as possible for the moment - we don’t want any press getting in on the act.”
“OK gov” was all Sergeant Outram said, although he could sense that this was a job that could easily blow up in their faces.  However, as he was leaving the room a thought struck him, “What time did you get in this morning boss?”
“About 7.30.  Why?”
“Did you know that they’ve released his name, did it at 8.15.  I heard it on the local radio as I was driving in”.
“Fuck!  That means the press are going to be all over it, why does no one tell us anything before they do it?”

Half an hour later Dave was at the reception of the university, sticking one of those little visitors’ badges to his lapel.
“I’ve got a visitor for the Dean, a policeman, an Inspector Clifton, says he’s got an appointment. His PA will be along to collect you, take a seat.”
Dave sat and waited, he heard the click click click of heels coming up the corridor and a smartly dressed woman of about 50 came round the corner.
 “Sorry to have kept you.  Professor Rickarts will see you now.”
Dave didn’t really know what a Dean was but when he had phoned the Personnel Department to ask if he could talk to people about Pillory they had told him to discuss it all with the Dean, so here he was. It had been 20 years ago that he was at university, and he was pretty sure he had never come across such a person when he was there.  He followed the woman into an outer office and she offered him coffee, then stuck her head round the door of the inner office,
 “Your ten thirty is here - policemen name of Clifton to talk about Joe. Go in.”
She followed him in with his coffee.
A tall man in his late fifties got up from behind an imposing old fashioned desk.  He held out his hand.
“Inspector Clifton, how may I help? I believe it is something to do with this dreadful Pillory business.”
“I just want to try and get some background on the man.  Frankly, although we know what he did and when, we don’t have a clue as to why, so I thought if I could start to ask questions of his workmates I might start to get a picture.”
“Well I’ll certainly do all I can to help.  I’ll get Barbara to give you a list of names and room numbers of staff who may be able to help.  Most of them have been alerted to you wanting to talk to them, I can’t guarantee that they will be that helpful, there is already a lot of mumbling going on, and some aren’t too happy about having one of their own shot by the police, over what seems to be a trivial matter with regard to traffic lights.”
Dave was looking round the room and not really listening, he knew the man was going through the motions.  It was a big room and brightly lit from the large bay window that looked out onto the street, the furniture was old but imposing, old except for the large PC sitting on the desk.  That looked state of the art.  The walls were lined with books, journals and endless pictures of people shaking hands wearing medieval style ceremonial clothing.  There was also a glass fronted cupboard with a display of some very strange items which appeared to come from other institutions all over the world, why such gifts are exchanged was a mystery to Dave, and had he asked the Dean he would have discovered it was a mystery to him also.  However that last remark, about the traffic lights, how did he know that? Things were obviously starting to leak out.
 “Did you know this Pillory at all?”
“As a matter of fact I did. Not too well in the last five years since I’ve done this job, but Joe used to work for me as a research technician from when I came here in, I think 1979, until about five years ago.  Excellent man, very reliable, really quick to pick up new techniques, often taught me a thing or two, I can tell you.  Funny thing though in all that time I did not get to know much about him as a person, only as a work colleague.”
The Dean continued to drone on, but Dave wasn’t really listening, he had got to thinking about the meeting he had had earlier on with the forensics people. They had emphasised the simplicity and effectiveness of the devices and also the suspicion that a lot of thought had gone into the timing of them being activated, without any obvious timing device.
“This is an engineering faculty, and Joe Pillory was an engineer, so how would he know that he could destroy the control systems for traffic lights using a hydrochloric acid? That’s seems to be more like chemistry.”
       “Virtually all first year science and technology students would know that, HCl vapour is death to anything electrical. What did he do - just chuck it in the box? I thought it would be more sophisticated that that.”
“I shouldn’t really tell you this, and I am assuming that you’ll keep it to yourself, but it seems that the acid was put in an old honey jar, you know the ones with the screw top, and simply left there until it ate through the lid and the vapour got out. Trouble is we can’t see how he could have timed it.”
“That’s easy, within limits. The top is metal with some sort of lacquer protection on it, and a card seal.  He would just put a measured amount of acid in the jar, probably scratched off a bit of the lacquer to expose a little area of metal, cut a hole in the card over the exposed metal and then seen how long it would take to eat its way through.  That’s what I would do anyway; I bet, bearing in mind that these jar lids are pretty uniform thickness and composition, that at any set temperature, you could work out when it would corrode through to within five percent variation.”
“And Joe, a technician, would know this?”
“Don’t underestimate the skills and intellect of technicians, many of them are as intelligent and well qualified as the academics, they just choose to follow a different path, Joe has been setting up and designing experiments far more complex than the one you’ve just described, all his working life.”
“Maybe you can help me with something else.  Some of the boxes were almost melted away including some of the concrete base, that is a hell of a lot of heat, how would you do that?”
“Have you had an elemental analysis done?”
“If we have no one’s told me, our forensic people can’t get much of a sample to work with as it’s all melted together.”
“Get them to do an elemental analysis of the mess inside the box.  I bet you a fiver it is rich in iron and aluminium and possibly potassium.  If it is, it’s a thermite reaction, very hot, used to be used in situ to weld railway lines - all metallurgists know this, as do most railway engineers.  I’m surprised your forensics people have been so slow.  However if it is, setting it off in a controlled way on its own would take some thinking about, but not difficult.”

If the Dean had been fairly helpful, his next interviewee was anything but.  Apparently this guy was the closest thing to a best friend that Joe had at the university.   If Rick Churchill is his best mate, thought Dave, he certainly doesn’t seem to know much about him, and if he does he clearly isn’t going to tell me.
“Tell me a bit about your mate Joe, what kind of things made him tick?”
“I would have thought that, as you were the ones that shot him, then surely you know as much about him as anyone, otherwise how would you have known it was the right thing to do?”
Dave could see he had a point but he didn’t like smart arsed Joe public making an already difficult job even more uncomfortable.
“Look Mr Churchill, you can either cooperate with me here or we can both go down and do it formally back at the station.  All I’m looking for is a bit of background on someone who’s just been shot because he’s been carrying out terrorist attacks, and you supposedly are his best mate at work, where do you think this is going to go next, or do you not read the papers?”
“Here we go I suppose you’re going to tell me you’re upholding democracy and keeping the public safe.  The gossip is all he did was blow up some traffic lights or something, doesn’t sound too serious to me.  Anyway, I may have been the closest thing to a mate he had at work but I knew precious little about him. We didn’t meet socially or anything like that and I didn’t know any of his friends, or even if he had any friends. He was pretty weird, didn’t have much sense of humour, and as he got older completely obsessed with his death, music, boxing and mopeds, all in that order.  Half the time all he ever mentioned was that bloody little motorbike or moped or whatever, how many miles per gallon, how cheap it was to insure, etc, etc.  He was a changed man when the bloody thing failed its MoT a couple of years ago, he went on and on about how unfair it was. I said get another one, you’ve had it getting on twenty years, it was probably knackered. No it wasn’t, he really had a go at me, didn’t talk a lot after that blow up, anyway he was involved with his club a lot more.”
“What club is that?”
“I don’t really know - something about old folk living life to the full, not being pushed around, Joe was mainly in it to coach the boxing, it all seemed pretty confusing to me, he was pretty keen on it though.”
“Club have a name?”
“If it did I never heard it.  That’s all I know, I’ve got a class to supervise in the lab so I need to go now.”

Terry Collinge walked into the university and straight past reception, he knew where he was going as he should, having finished three years on a journalism degree only eighteen months previously. He walked straight down the corridor and out into the open courtyard, it was lunchtime and he was heading for the student bar where he knew he’d find what was left of his old contacts.
 “Hello Terry how‘s it going?” the greeting came from a tall emaciated young man behind the bar.
“OK Jez. Yourself? Half of cider please mate.”
“I’d heard you’d become a journo; I bet you’re here trying to dig up a bit on that engineering technician who got shot.  Everyone’s talking about it but there are orders from above that no one is to talk to the press - you know how they do like to control things.”
“I’m learning that very thing as we speak. Can you point me in the direction of someone who knew him?”
“Knows him, Terry, knows him - he’s not dead yet, unless you know something I don’t.  Its 12:20 which is lunch time - try the Great Western, you should find Rick Churchill in there, you may have to buy him some lunch, but if he’s in the mood he’ll talk to you.”

The bar of the Western had about ten people in it.  Terry went up to the bar, ordered half of cider and asked to be pointed towards Rick Churchill. “Who’s asking?” He flashed his Chronicle ID “Press” card - he’d never quite got over the thrill of doing that. The barman pointed over to the window and he went over and sat down.
“Are you Rick Churchill?”
“Yeah, who the hell are you and what do you want?”
“Press. Jez at the Uni bar said you might talk to me about this Joe Pillory, give me some background.”
“Well Jez should keep his fucking nose out of it, what’s in for me?”
“Lunch and a pint”
“I suppose so, I don’t know much more than I told that copper, nosy bugger he was.  If he asks you, you didn’t get any of this from me, all right?  I’ll have grey peas bacon bits and a pint of bitter.”
“So what does that delicious lunch buy me in terms of information then, Rick?”
“Not much, then I don’t know much about Joe, same as I told the copper.  One thing I didn’t give him much on was this club of Joe’s might be worth looking into.  It all seemed very confused, something about old folks doing what they liked, but then there was a load of stuff on training kids to box.  Anyway I was curious and so I pushed him for more information, said I was thinking of joining, he just laughed and said I was too young anyway, but then he gave me a thing like a business card and said look for this badge in the Chronicle somewhere in the classifieds.  He said if I spotted it, then something unusual, spectacular, would happen in the next twenty four hours, and that one of their lot would be involved.  I asked him when and he just said could be anytime as there was always something going on.”
“So what did the badge look like?”
“I don’t know, I wasn’t really interested and it was about eighteen months ago.  I threw the paper away; all I can remember is that it was a circle with a number in the middle like a 30 mile an hour sign in bold print.”

It was a pretty ordinary house, from both the inside and out it was extremely neat and tidy; inside was neat to the point of being impersonal.  Dave didn’t think he had ever seem a house this neat and with so little atmosphere ever before.  He was doing his usual visual check, looking for items that may give him a clue as to the way of life of the owner, who was currently still on life support at the hospital.  The news from there wasn’t good, as until Mr Pillory stabilised they were not going to risk an operation, and even when they did the bullet was so close to his heart that he only stood a 25% of surviving.  Still, from Dave’s perspective, a shot victim was better than a dead one.  He went outside and nipped across the plastic chain link fence between this house and next door.
“Sorry to trouble you, madam,” he flashed his warrant card.
“Oh I wondered when you lot would be back to talk to me.  I told all I knew to your sergeant, and that weren’t much.  Kept himself to himself did Jo, good neighbour though, always came to check up if everything was OK if he hadn’t seen me for a bit, helped me get my bins out when it was icy, ever such a nice quiet man, what did you have go and shoot him for, I ask you?”
They were both standing in the hall, the house was cluttered with knickknacks of all kinds, they were on every surface.  This was much more like the inside of ordinary houses.  She went off to make a nice cup of tea and told Dave to go into the lounge. He didn’t go in immediately as he was staring up the stairs towards the landing.
Over tea he asked a few general questions about Pillory, she didn’t know much at all.
       “Are these two houses the same design?”
“Which two houses?”
“This one and Mr Pillory’s next door - are they the same layout?”
“I don’t know.  I should think so. They were both built at the same time.  I don’t think I ever went inside his.”

After tea he was back inside the empty house and looked up at the landing. He walked slowly up the stairs looking up at the ceiling.  He could see nothing but the white ceiling paper, the light fitting and the plastic coving around the edge. The coving was obviously a later addition, presumably put on when the fancy chandelier light fitting was changed - nothing suspicious - lots of people did this, the only crime was one of bad taste.  He went into the bedroom and picked up a chair, standing on it he continued to look closely at the ceiling, nothing to see.
He got down, returned the chair and looked in the bathroom. Nothing odd there.  It even had a few personal items, soap, aftershave etc.  He opened the airing cupboard and peered in, just towels, duvet covers, some neatly folded pyjamas, socks and underwear.  He stuck his hand down the side of the tank and between the tank and the lagging, nothing, he didn’t even know what it was he was looking for; the only thing down the side of the tank was a walking stick.  He shut the cupboard door and went back on the landing.  Then it struck him, what was the walking stick doing in the airing cupboard?  If Joe Pillory needed a stick, and Dave hadn’t heard that he did, why was it in the airing cupboard?  It would not be very convenient to get hold of, and if he wasn’t using it why wasn’t it squirreled away like everything else seemed to be?  He retrieved the stick from the cupboard and walked out onto the landing.  Offering it up to the ceiling, it was just the right length. Starting at one end he pushed gently upwards at the edge of the coving, there was no movement so he moved all the way round pushing upwards as he went.  When he got to the far end  there was a small movement upward and a click, and the whole ceiling let down on the loft ladder mechanism to reveal a set of steps up into the loft, this was not a loft trap, but a complete ceiling with the edges concealed by the coving which let down with it.  He’d found Joe Pillory’s real life, or so he thought.

When Terry got back to his desk after tea there was a photocopy from Ed in the archives, it was a section of the classified, called Forthcoming Events and one entry was a simple dark edged circle with 75 in bold letters in the middle, below it was a phone number, in pencil Ed had scribbled “Is this what you are looking for?”
“Ed, it’s Terry.  Yes I’m sure it’s it, are there anymore?”
“You’ll have to come and look yourself, I’m onto something else and its going to take me a few days, pop down anytime, there’s a spare desk.”
“OK”
He redialled the number in the advert, this time it was answered, “Hello, the Wanderers.”
He hung up as he had not prepared what to say.

Dave looked round the attic in amazement.  It was crammed with stuff - two PCs , a telly,  a DVD and video player, books and papers everywhere, a desk, a chair and even a small workbench with tools and jars and everything.
Looking up from the detail Dave saw that the room was quite well converted, it was like a rectangular box set in the roof space, and the walls were covered with posters.  He scanned round and they were all there - Keith Moon, Janice Joplin, Jimi, Jim Morrison, James Dean, Kurt Cobain.  These ones he knew were all dead, died before their time, too fast to live if you like.  There were even pictures of Amy Winehouse, Pete Docherty and Shane McGowan, they weren’t dead, yet.
But what on earth was she doing up here?  A large picture of Martha Kingsley, the news reader - she was neither dead nor some sort of crash and burn superstar, as far as he knew.
“Joe Pillory, you’ve put your whole life up here in this little room and you are one weird little fucker.  Now where to start?”
After a couple of hours looking through all this stuff he had to admit that in terms of things that may explain Joe’s actions he was not much further forward.  Most of the stuff was personal things that normal people would have scattered round their house - books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, etc.  Joe had simply put it all together in one room.  The work bench produced the things required to make the devices he made to destroy the traffic lights, so that was decent evidence, but there was no suggestion as to why he had done it. He looked at the picture of Martha Kingsley. “Not bad for her age I suppose he may have just fancied her.”  The DVDs, videos and books didn’t reveal much, a bit of soft porn, a big collection of rock music dating back to the mid sixties and a range of books including Nietzsche and Rand.  Dave had never heard of anyone actually reading this stuff, although he remembered people at college claiming to.  Some motorcycle magazines, nothing much else. “I’d better get the forensic boys down here to get a look into these PCs and get the rest of it bagged up and back to the station.”
He picked up a small black address book that was on the work bench, there didn’t seem to be much of interest in it, but he’d have to get each address checked out.  He flicked through the pages and turned up one thing: right in the middle pages was a card that had a black circle with75 in the middle and a phone number scrawled on the back. There was a phone on the desk so he picked it up and dialled.
“The Wanderers.”
He hung up.

       Down in the archive Terry had been going about twenty minutes when he found his first one, just like the one Ed had found for him, in the Miscellaneous column just in front of Lonely Hearts.  He put that copy to one side, after a couple of hours he had managed to find eleven symbols, and had taken the papers for the two days following the publication of each one.  He noted the dates and went back to his desk to explore the electronic archive.  Trouble was, he had no idea what he was supposed to be looking for.  He started by listing all the pieces of local news by type for each day.  He’d reasoned that whatever he was looking for would be at least mischievous or maybe bad enough to get someone like Joe shot. The problem now was that he wasn’t sure what you had to do to get shot these days.  He remembered that his boss had mentioned traffic lights so he figured he’d start there, after an hour he had five incidents reported of traffic chaos due to failed traffic lights, two at the Stafford road junction by the university. Ok, so is this all they did - damage traffic lights and cause jams?  There must be other things.  The list of possible things was endless - burglary, shoplifting, curb crawling, dogging, petty fraud, missing persons.  Then he remembered Rick Churchill’s comment that Joe had said he was not old enough to join.  He looked at his notes, how old was Joe? Sixty two.  So if he looked for incidents that involved people over fifty five, to be on the safe side, he might be able to narrow it down.  One stuck out straight away “Pensioner defies smoking ban in pub.” 

 It was three in the afternoon, and as he stood at the front door of the little terraced house in Mostyn St, Terry was struck by how incredibly scruffy streets like this had become.  When they were first built a hundred and fifty years ago people were proud to live in them and the fronts were immaculate with polished steps and flowers in the windows despite the dreadful grime of the industrial life.  Now that the industrial life had nearly gone and the air and the streets were cleaner it seemed that no one cared.  He looked along the pavement at the accumulated plastic bags, old fast food rappers and other crap, and started to feel old and depressed even at twenty two.  As he heard the front door opening he took a step back as he was told to do when he was a child.
The man standing in front of him was about five foot ten, very scrawny; as the door had opened he was accompanied by a pawl of escaping cigarette smoke. His hair was slicked down across his forehead covering a receding hair line, and was of an unnaturally orange tinge.  His skin was wrinkled up like one of those hideous Japanese dogs.  He was wearing an old cardigan and a very creased pair of greyish, fawnish trousers the exact colour of which was hard to determine.  He had a fag wobbling on the end of his lip.
“Who are you?” he wheezed this out and had to stop to get his breath before adding, “What do you want?  If you’re from the council you can bugger off.” With that he was left gasping for breath, leaning on his stick
The weird thing Terry thought as he stood there looking at him was that, according to his calculation, if this was Reg Tolman, he was only sixty three years old.
“Mr Tolman?  I’m Terry Collinge from the Chronicle.   I wondered if I could talk to you about that smoking business that happened about eighteen months ago.”
Tolman turned and shuffled back inside the house, wheezing so much that it even made Terry feel breathless.  As he had not had the door shut in his face he took it as an invitation to follow.  The atmosphere was overpoweringly smoky and stale.  Tolman moved slowly back to the room at the back of the house where there was a very dilapidated arm chair, next to which stood an oxygen cylinder, collapsing into the chair  with the effort of walking he reached for a facemask and started alternate breaths of oxygen and puffs on his cigarette.
“That’s not going to blow up, is it? I thought you couldn’t have fires with oxygen?”
“It’s not a fire, it’s a cigarette and if it makes you nervous, there’s the door, you can go out the way you came in. Now what do you want to know?”
“When you refused not to smoke in that pub and ended up in court, you made a pretty elaborate statement about your freedoms and stuff like that.  Did you write that little speech - it sounded almost like a statement from an activist group.”
“That’s a bloody funny question.  No one’s ever asked me that before.  Don’t you think I’m capable of thinking and writing that sort of thing?  Just because I’ve chosen to get like this doesn’t mean I’m stupid.  This sorry state is due to my own personal decision, not some bloody advice from do-gooders in the NHS or regulations from the council, government or some other bugger who can’t keep his nose out.”  That little outburst brought on a fit of coughing and required more oxygen, and a new cigarette.
“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to sound patronising. You were a shop steward, weren’t you, at the Chubb?”
“As a matter of fact, I did write it, but the whole group agreed that it was the type of thing we should say and stand up for.”
“Who’s the group, the seventy five club?” Terry passed him a picture of the symbol that had been in the paper.
Tolman reached for his oxygen mask and took a few good breaths of the stuff.
“Bloody emphysema, doctors say that me lungs are packing up, not surprising really, I’ve been smoking since I was eleven.  Just got sick to death of this bloody nanny state telling us what to do all the time.  I never would have thought a Labour government would have attacked the rights of the working man to have a fag and a pint at the same time.  Mind you, you’d have to look pretty hard to see that they were a Labour government, let alone socialist.....Yes, that’s us, used to meet at The Wanderers in the room above the bar.”
“Do they still meet at the pub?”
“On and off, if there’s something to talk about.” He shoved a copy of yesterday paper across, and there was the symbol plus the phone number, all that bloody work in the archives and there was a symbol in yesterday’s paper.
“That’ll be tonight to talk about that twat Pillory.”
“Was he a member too?”
“Course he was, took over the boxing training from me, but what a twat!”
“Pass me down those photos over the fire,” Terry got them while Tolman took some more oxygen.
“That’s me with some of my boys, the first year we started it.  It was Jewsons and Rawlings idea, and when I said I’d done a bit of boxing they couldn’t get me in the setup fast enough.  I did it all to start with - training selection, matchmaking, the whole setup. This lad here, this black lad, he was really good, loved it too, never went anywhere though, got killed in a street fight or something.  Anyway I didn’t like the way it went so I gave up and Pillory took over.  I don’t know what happened after that.  I stayed away from that side of the club altogether.”
“Why, what made you quit?”
“Gambling - they wanted to run a book on it all, these kids were only 11 or 12.  If you let betting into amateur fighting, anything can happen.  I said my piece, but they wouldn’t listen, so I got out, and they got Joe to do what they wanted.  I stayed around for a bit but it was getting a bit violent and uncontrolled and I’m damn sure most of the spectators were there for more than the money.”
“I don’t follow”
“It seemed they liked to see the kids hurting each other and I got the impression that was what Joe was getting them to do.  I heard they went from three rounds to seven rounds - that’s too long for kids.  A few months after that photo was taken young Lenny Deville was found dead in the street, some gang thing the paper said, his elder brother was some sort of gangster.  Anyway, when that happened I lost all interest and had no more to do with it.”
“Did the club do anything else?”
“Oh yes, all sorts of stuff as a form of self expression and putting your fingers up to society.  Mind you, I think we would all have done it anyway; we didn’t do anything we didn’t want to.  There was one couple liked to have sex in public, dogging, I think they called it.  There was a  couple that used to go shop lifting, used to bring good stuff, fags, booze, food, we all had a bit of a share out, they didn’t need it, just needed to show that even at their age they could.”
“And did all these things end up in the paper?”
“Only if we intended to get caught.  I did to make a statement about the ban but quite often they just got on with it.  There was one couple who decided that on their sixty fifth birthdays they’d get some heroin and try that, and they did and all.  Nearly killed the woman, she had a weak heart anyway, fucking stupid idea, but it was what they wanted to do. I think they ended up as addicts.”
“So this club was full of over sixties who occasionally met but mostly did things that were anti establishment and illegal, just to show that they weren’t too old to do it and to say fuck you to society?”
“Yeah, that’s exactly what it was about and still is, as far as I know.  The boxing thing was some of them doing what they wanted, I suppose, but if it starts to involve other people then I can’t go along with it.  Mind you, I don’t feel that about passive smoking.”  He collapsed back and took a puff and some oxygen. He looked at his watch, “You must go.  I need to watch Countdown; it’s the closest I get to sex these days.”
 
By seven o’clock Terry was back in the archives, with the symbol to look for and the material from Tolman he was finding it comparatively easy to trace the activities of the 75club, as he now called it.  It was clear that not all the symbols led to anything obvious in the papers the following week but, starting with the most interesting ones, he did manage to find cases of people over 60 getting caught shop lifting, dogging and involved in drugs; in addition there was Tolman’s most recent smoking activity, and a woman who had collected all her cigarette butts and posted them to the head of environmental services at the council.  This was followed by a rather derivative incident of collecting up dog shit by the dog’s owner and putting that in a sealed box and posting that to the council as well.  In all these cases the intention had been to get caught in order to provide a platform to protest against some minor intrusion of regulation into everyday life.
Terry now had about fifteen years worth of symbols in the paper, about 45 in all, but he could only account for about ten of them from publicised activities.  If the club met once a year for an AGM or something similar, that left 20 symbols with no attributable actions attached.
Terry looked at his watch and decided that he was hungry.

It was midnight, he’d been in the Jamaican restaurant for an hour and a half and he was loath to leave and go back to the archive, the atmosphere was warm and welcoming and the heat from the curry goat was making him sweat a bit, despite the two cans of Red Stripe.  He paid and went out and in another hour he was up to his neck in more archives and the meal was a faded memory.
He’d noticed something that had set his pulse going, it almost made him feel like a real journalist, maybe one with a real future, before he went he noted down all the details, the only problem was that he now had to try and find and talk to Duane Deville.  He’d never met a gangster before, but he reckoned that they’d still be up at two thirty in the morning and Duane’s club, according to the last story the paper had run on him, was only a ten minute walk away.
The door man was one of those enormous people for whom a suit was always going to be a very tight fit and look quite ridiculous, somehow this stopped Terry being intimidated.
“I’d like to talk to Duane Deville”
        “Get lost whitey, he won’t want to talk to you.”
Complete with the knowledge now that Duane was in there, Terry pressed on like a man on a suicide mission, who doesn’t yet know it.
“My name is Terry Collinge.  I’m with the Chronicle and I’ve got some information about the death of his brother Lenny.”  The words poured out of him.  He was oblivious of the significance of what he’d done.  The doorman turned sharply, going into the club and shutting the door in Terry’s face.  Terry waited for half an hour under the gaze of the CCTV and then decided to go home.


DAY THREE

Terry may have not been intimidated by the doorman but his editor was a different matter, he’d not got in till 10 o’clock, he’d over slept, but he reckoned he was owed that for the long hours in the archive.  His editor wasn’t so convinced.
“So, what have you got?  You were meant to have something for last night but somehow I guessed you’d fuck up so I didn’t exactly hold any space.  If you want to be taken seriously as a reporter you’ve got to show some real dedication.  If you’re still this bad in six months we won’t be extending your contract.”  Smith had said all this without apparently breathing and it seemed ironic to Terry that the last person he talked to at any length could barely say three words without oxygen.
“Alan, I think I’ve got something.  I’ve been working in the archives and I’ve got a really odd angle on the traffic light guy.”
Alan Smith leaned back behind his desk and stuck his feet up. “You have 15 minutes to explain.”

“So what you’re telling me is that instead of something simple we can print about a terrorist or a mistaken identity shooting, we’ve got some weird fucker who’s a member of a libertarian OAPs club who go about doing weird, trivial and stupid things in order to get caught so they can publicise the erosion of civil liberties.  Why would we want to report that?”
“We already have. All the examples come out of the archives of stories we have run.  I could put them together and run a profile on the club.  At least let me have a go.  Anyway, that’s not all they do.”
“Go on.”
“For what I reckon is the last three years they have been running illegal child boxing matches for the purpose of betting.  A couple of folk - one called Rawlins and one called Jewson - seem to be behind it, and traffic light man was the trainer and organiser.  Also, if you track the symbol through the archive, the only consistent thing that seems to follow sometimes is that some kid is found killed in a mugging a day later.  The first one of these was Lenny Deville, the brother of Duane Deville.  I tried to see Duane at his club last night but I guess he had gone to bed.”
Terry had missed the look of total disbelief on his editor’s face; he had been so busy with his story.
“You did what, you stupid little fucker?  Have you any idea what someone like Duane Deville could and most probably will do to you if you meddle in his affairs, let alone what he may do to me?” Once he had got that off his chest Alan seemed to calm down a bit; he’d been an editor along time and knew a possible story when he heard it.  Anyway a bit of youthful enthusiasm never did any harm, or not usually, anyhow.  He could see Terry was keen to make a go of this and he liked ambition. By the end of an hour they had an agreed plan, strictly the plan was Alan’s and Terry was just relieved to agree, and not find himself out on his ear.

Over the next few days Terry would write up a number of amusing and quirky articles reporting the frankly bizarre activities of the club, starting with Tolman and working through the dogging and the dog shit posting events, and anything similar he could come up with.  He’d need to find and interview them all and get their left field view of the world to weave it into the substance of the story.  Alan reckoned this would make an amusing feature, and they could monitor its popularity and maybe get others to contribute their views of the ever-encroaching nanny state.  He reckoned that this might be a popular zeitgeist piece with a few weeks in it.
As he’d already made contact, Terry would have to try and follow up the Duane Deville contact and start to investigate the boxing angle.  Alan would rather have given this to Etheridge, but the booze had made him so unreliable he daren’t risk it.  Anyway the kid had got all the contacts and, if Duane was interested, he’d almost certainly be in touch. What the nature of that contact might be was hard to judge and there was a chance it could turn nasty – still, he didn’t over emphasise this to Terry.  However, if Terry started to be seen with Duane, who would certainly be a police target, then they would wonder what the paper was doing, so clearly he had better do some police liaison work of his own.  At the end of all this there was the chance of an inside story on the traffic light man, who looked like he could never be classed as a terrorist, in any real sense, but may have been up to something nasty with the boxing.  All in all lots of potential for the paper and for himself and for Terry who could get a real career break from this.  Trouble was - he could also get his neck broken
“You keep me informed all the time.  Don’t take more risks than you have to.  Good luck and be careful. You understand me?”
“Of course I do,” with the amount of adrenaline pumping in his body it is doubtful that he did.

By the end of the day he had completed the Tolman story on time and was off to see the dog shit woman, to get the background for tomorrow’s story.
He stepped out onto the street and pulled his hood up to protect him from the bitter wind and sleet.  It was six o’clock and everyone was going home, the lights in the shops looked quite inviting, as he walked up towards the bus station to catch his bus to Wombourne.  Three weeks to Christmas, and a week to his birthday, and he was deep in thought about what that would be like, it was the third one he’d spent on his own, and apart from getting paralytic, he had not really come up with another plan that would see him through the festivities.  He was going to have to buy himself some presents but he wasn’t sure what yet. Deep in thought and with his head down and deep in his hood, he never saw the large yellow Hummer slide past him and mount the curb at an angle to block his progress.  He saw the shoes and the legs first, and as he raised his head rather irritably at someone being in his way, he recognised the doorman at once.  “Get in.” The door to the Hummer was open and the doorman followed him in.  A few minutes later they were in the club, not by the front door, but by a side entrance.  He walked after the doorman with the driver following, through the deserted club with the bar smelling of stale drink and fried food, and out into a service corridor faceless and filthy grey with bags of rubbish heaped up along the wall,  Not what he had imagined as the discrete hideaway of a serious villain.  The doorman opened a side door and stood aside; it was a dingy store room with a single bulb and a chair at the side.  As the doorman stepped aside Terry blundered past and was pushed into the room. “Wait here”, the door was shut and locked.  After a cursory look around, which revealed nothing of interest except some stains on the floor that he hoped weren’t blood but thought probably were, Terry sat on the chair.  He was rather surprised at how calm he was, considering what might be in store.  Half an hour later he was sitting in front of Duane Deville and waiting to be addressed.  He’d been escorted in to the room by the henchmen who stood back to the side.
“You wanted to talk to me. What about?” the voice had a slight Jamaican twang to it, the man himself was immaculate in sober suit, white shirt and stylish grey patterned tie; apart from an expensive looking diamond signet ring, there was no bling.
“I mentioned to your doorman that I may have information on the death of your brother.”
“Let me stop you from wasting both our times, the death of my brother was a mugging probably by people trying to get at me, it was also three years ago, so I don’t need any more answers, even if you think you have some.  Jimmy, show the man out, and don’t come back with anymore of this stuff.”
Terry knew he’d blown it and suspected that he was close enough to a kicking to need to be careful, but he had to take it further.  As he was ushered to the door he turned to talk over his shoulder.
“What if it wasn’t a mugging and your enemies had nothing to do with it?”   
He felt the punch in his guts take his breath away as he collapsed to the floor.  The first vicious kick came in to his ribs and he felt a crack.  A second kick to his throat could have finished him but he’d covered up enough to avoid real damage.
“Pick him up and get him out of here.”
“Wait, bring him back over here.  I’m curious. Talk to me, white boy!”
Terry was dragged over to the desk again; he couldn’t stand so he was dumped and slumped on the seat
“What you got to say to me?  And it had better be good, or there’ll be more of the same.”
For some reason Terry thought that the patois was stronger now, some kind of racial mocking no doubt.  He was grabbing for his breath.  There was no point at this stage trying to talk, it would not come out, his ribs hurt, his gut hurt, and his pride hurt.  Why hadn’t he kept his bloody mouth shut?
 “Give him some brandy and see if he can talk then.” 
A large tumbler of brandy was pushed towards his mouth and, although he tried to take it and swallow it, it was forced between his panting lips and poured down.  Whether it was the brandy or just the passing of enough time, he started to look up at Duane and managed some words.
“Your brother was a member of a boxing club, I suppose you knew that?  I think that him and a number of other kids in the club got killed fighting for money, but I’ve got to talk to more people before I say anymore.”
He didn’t like the way the big doorman came towards him but Duane started to talk and the doorman stopped.
 “What you mean about a boxing club, I never heard of such a thing. I was away at the time of mi little brothers’ death, a bit of a mix up with the law. So I didn’t know much about what he got up to.”  The patois was even stronger now.  It was like the development of a social identity.
“Then I’m sorry I have wasted your time, Mr Deville. I think I’ll just go now.  I think I need to go to A & E, my ribs seem broken.”
“No no no. You tell me what you know and we’ll take you to the hospital to get your ribs fixed.”  Suddenly the tone was friendly, even helpful.
“I’ve told you all I really know.  I need to follow up on the other kids that died and find out if their families know anything.”
This seemed to satisfy Duane.
“OK, but when you know something more concrete you’re going to have to tell me about it.” He came close to Terry, their noses were almost touching. “We’ll keep a close eye on you and when we think you have had enough time my boys here will bring you in and you had better not be wasting my time.  Take him to the hospital and get him fixed up.”

He could see that motorcycle in his mind’s eye.  There it stood in the showroom the day he’d first seen it.  He had gone in looking for another push bike, but somehow the smell of the motorcycle showroom had got to him.  It wasn’t brand new, it was a year old with a thousand miles on the clock - just enough for some little Herbert to get through his test and move on to something bigger and more macho.  It was just the job for Joe, decent commuting performance, near enough a hundred mpg and pretty stylish with it.  Even at a year old it had been beautifully maintained and looked perfect, no evidence of the ever present gutter mechanic, so common on bikes this small, the serrated marks of the pipe wrench on the heads of the nuts, the extra stickers, and the noisy exhaust system supposed to give added performance but only making the thing noisier.  None of that, the machine was pristine and handsome and would do him very nicely, very nicely indeed.
He’d done thousands of miles on it, always had it regularly serviced and maintained it himself in between times.  Even gone on holiday a few times on it - Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, the lakes, never missed a beat, and all those journeys to and from work, God knows how many miles he’d covered on it.  He had to admit that it really was his treasured possession and even though he knew it was only a machine it was his best and most reliable friend.
Anyone looking down on Joe’s face would have seen a smirk of pleasure change to a grimace of alarm and even hate in a flash.
“I’m sorry mate. I can’t do anything with this,” the mechanic was saying as he approached holding a piece of paper, “it’s coming up with mismatch between the engine and frame number, and the computer won’t let me complete the test.”
“I don’t understand.  There’s never been a problem before, why now?”
“It’s happening all the time now it’s been computerised.  In the past we just put the details on the certificate straight from the log book; probably no one has ever checked them on the actual frame.  It’s the frame number that’s wrong, see.  With this new system we have to look at the frame number on the bike.  We daren’t just read it off the V5 as there are so many mistakes, and it would be obvious it was down to me, when they come to check, I could lose my licence, lose my livelihood. It probably happened on dispatch at the factory or on registering at the dealers.  It’s happening all the time now with this new system.”
“So what do I do? The MoT runs out in two days.”
“Sorry the computer won’t let me test it, and now they know it’s got a mismatch, so they’ll contact you I expect, probably need to go and get it examined at the taxation place and then they’ll reregister it.”
His face turned to sadness.  They never did reregister it, they did write to him and tell him what to do but somehow he just could not be bothered to do it.  It seemed so unnecessary, so complex, so obstructive of his normal life, so bureaucratic.  So bloody unfair, and for what reason, because some smart arse developed a “System” so that the DVLA could keep an eye on everyone. In an instant his carefree joy of ownership and the freedom it gave him was taken away and Joe Pillory became a bitter man.

The public bar of The Wanderers was crowded and smelled of humans, too many humans; Terry had read somewhere that pubs had swapped the overpowering fug of tobacco smoke for the smell of farts, BO and greasy food.  He was not sure it was a good trade, especially as the vinegar in the air made the beer go flat, even the bloody lager. He’d put things together when he had seen the sign in the paper, rung the number and found that the meeting was taking place in the upper room.  His ribs still hurt, but they told him earlier in A & E that they were not broken but possibly cracked; however they still hurt like hell when he breathed in.  He reckoned he’d just stay here and try to get familiar with a few faces that would come in and go upstairs.  If Reg Tolman was to be believed they were bound to meet to talk about any stuff that might emerge with the arrest of Joe Pillory.
Dave Clifton had worked out the same thing, having rung the number in Joe’s notebook and found that a meeting was going to take place.  He’d made out he needed a meeting room for some football committee, but it was booked for tonight.  He was inside and Sgt Outram was outside across the street in the back of the van with a camera, to snap any faces that Dave told him to as they left the meeting.  Dave had already had a couple of pints and was feeling pretty mellow.  The pub was warm if a bit damp and he was comfortable.  He supposed that this was the perk of rank, nice warm pub, a few beers on expenses for him and a cold damp van, thermos tea and peeing in an empty lemonade bottle for Outram.
As he looked across at the bar he thought he recognised a face.  One he had seen only an hour earlier on the CCTV footage from outside Duane Deville’s club.  It was definitely the same person, the chap he’d seen go in and be helped back out into Duane’s Hummer an hour later.  He rang Outram to get a snap of him as he left, might as well follow two cases at once.
Terry didn’t recognise anybody.  He did see four people go upstairs which he thought was a bit disappointing, as he had thought there would be more.  He’d got snaps of them on his mobile but the light wasn’t very good.  They were all white; one was thin in his late sixties, smartly dressed with white hair and a goatee beard.  One was short, fat and bustling, late fifties, untidily dressed in what were expensive and meant to be smart clothes.  The other two seemed to be a late middle age couple with no distinguishing features whatever.  None of them was familiar to Terry and only one was familiar to Dave.
“Mr Donald Rawlins, what are you doing here?  I wonder why a busy pillar of the local legal community comes to the meetings of an oddball club in a pub like this.”
When the meeting broke up, Terry decided to follow goatee beard. It seemed like the thing to do although he would rather have gone home and gone to bed.

There were six people on the bus, two couples, Goatee and Terry.  It was a cold damp night and he could watch the lights of the cars coming towards the bus through the steamy windows.  It gave him something to look at while he tried to come up with his next move.  The bus did not stop as there was no one at the bus stops, too late and too wet.  He looked at his watch again and they had been going about six minutes when Goatee got up, pressed the button and the bus came to a stop.  This gave Terry his first problem - on a bus with six people, how on earth do you get off and not seem to be following the person you are following?  Over the preceding six minutes he had decided that he needed to delay his exit just long enough to keep some distance between him and his quarry, but not so delayed that the doors started to close, so making it look like he was in a hurry.  The doors opened, Goatee got off and stopped to do up his coat and turn up his collar against the drizzle.  Terry got up, counted to two and stepped off the bus.
“Are you following me, son?”  
The bus was driving off leaving them both facing each other about two yards apart  in the drizzle with Goatee looking pretty pugnacious; he carried a stick and he now held it up towards Terry on the basis that attack was going to be his first defence.
“I know you are, I saw you in the pub as I left, and I watched you in the shop windows as we walked up to the bus station.  If you are a mugger then you are pretty hopeless, so I’m guessing you’re either police, or some sort of reporter, and you look far too young to be a detective, so I’m going for reporter, eh? So what is it you want?”
“Terry Collinge, Chronicle,” he help out his hand but Goatee didn’t take it, “I wanted to talk to you about your club, and more particularly Joe Pillory.  My paper doesn’t like the look of his shooting, thinks it may have been a bit over the top, so I’m doing some background.”  He knew he’d shown too many cards at once, but in the six minutes he had had to think up what to do he’d only got as far as the timing of the getting off the bus and that had been bollixed because the man had stopped to do his bloody coat up and he nearly fell on top of him.
“Fancy a nightcap son? Maybe we can both do each other some good.  The name’s Jewson.  Mind you, you’ll have to leave my name out of whatever you write.”
They were sitting in Jewson’s back parlour, leaning back in armchairs and warming themselves in front of the gas fire, tumblers of whiskey in hand.
“So how did you know where and when to find us?  I thought we were pretty careful even these days when we don’t seem to do much.” 
Terry told him of finding Tolman from a hunch and that he had said where, and that it was then a matter of keeping an eye in the paper, for a when.
“Reg Tolman! He was one of the originals back in the early 70’s, him, me, chap called Empingham and a woman called Jones.  The last two are dead now.  We used to take ourselves pretty seriously, thought we were a sort of intellectual resistance trying to undermine the state, turned out to be a bunch of silly twats in the end.  Then it wasn’t called the 75 club, it was the 45 club, we hoped we would die before we got old. You haven’t got a bloody clue what I’m talking about have you?”
As the night progressed Terry was getting more and more drunk.  Jewson seemed to be able to hold it and just kept talking about the 70’s. Terry kept trying to guide him towards the present day and to Joe Pillory and Jewson kept skilfully avoiding the topic.  It was about two in the morning when he finally got round to it by then they had nearly finished a bottle of whiskey and even Jewson was starting to slur.
“So you want to know about Joe Pillory, do you?  Afraid that’s what we were meeting for,  to try to work out what and why it was he was doing.  There are only four of us left now, if you discount Joe.  Odd thing is if he has done this to get back at authority then he’s taken a bloody long time to get round to it.  He joined the club about 20 years ago and never did anything until now.  Bloody odd if you ask me.  The whole thing is completely inactive now just meet for a drink and to discuss old times.  Now it looks like old Joe has done something spectacular and in the spirit of the original club and we’re shit scared he’s going to claim it in our name.  Rawlins is shitting himself; he’s got the most to lose what with being senior partner in his law firm and everything. That would look bloody good senior partner in prestigious local law firm implicated in geriatric anarchist movement, what a hoot.
“I used to be a history teacher, used my position to corrupt the young, not sexually just intellectually, got disciplined in the late 80’s and gave the job up, been writing ever since.  So it doesn’t matter much to me.”  He looked at the clock on the mantle shelf. “Is that the time?  I’m off to bed.  Let yourself out, or you can sleep on the couch if you want.  There’s no buses running this late.”
“What about the boxing club that Joe used to run?
Jewson looked puzzled.  “I don’t know what Joe did when he was in the club, let alone when he was away from it.  What’s boxing got to do with anything? I’m off to bed.”
Terry sat there feeling vaguely ill. It was now 2.45 and he was going to have a hangover.  He was going to have to sleep on a smelly old couch and then try to get in to work as early as possible and try talk to Alan who was going to be very pissed off because he hadn’t got much for tomorrow’s edition.  He’d have to try and see dog shit woman today.  It was all a waste of time.  He hadn’t learnt anything really new, he had a bit more background on the club but nothing extra on Pillory at all.  He needed a plan, but instead he fell asleep, waking up at 6.20 with a mouth like a badger’s arse, a stiff neck and surrounded by the all-embracing smell of old sofas.  As he pulled on his shoes he felt dizzy and sick, he left and got the bus into town and was at his desk in the office alone by 7.30.  Making a coffee he looked at his screen and then fell asleep.

He could see it and hear it in his mind - there was Pete in his white suit with his arm wheeling in huge arcs and crashing down across the strings  there was Roger with his mop of curly hair and tee shirt tight across his chest and round his biceps “Hope I die before I get old”.  He could see it; he could hear it; it all seemed so clear and so bright, why the fuck should he give up now and let the bastards win.  So they shot me, so what.  I can recover from that, then what are they going to say and do, when it all comes out.  They are going to look a bit bloody stupid.  He was thinking really clearly in the period of post traumatic mania that often seems to set in.  He had to survive to let the world know what these arseholes had done to him.  He had to.  He didn’t feel too muzzy and he was thinking clearly enough to know that he shouldn’t talk; otherwise he would have to talk to the police and that would be on their terms.  He had to keep this to himself until he was ready to speak.
He couldn’t see who was there but he could hear.
“No, he’s not speaking or conscious yet so there is no point in trying to interrogate him until and if he comes round from the operation.  Yes, he is more stable and we will probably operate tonight.  Tell your boss that it’s going to be at least four days and that’s if nothing goes wrong.”


 

DAY FOUR

By eleven Terry had woken up enough to take a couple of Ibuprophen for his head and his ribs.  He’d drunk a couple of pints of water and was on his third strong coffee.  He’d even bought a toothbrush and paste and cleaned his teeth.  He still felt rough but better; enough to function.  He’d got the address of dog shit woman and was about to go round.
       “Bing” his email said Alan Smith wanted to see him.  
Terry sat across the desk from Alan who seemed agitated.  Behind him was a man who he recognised but could not place; he seemed to be staying behind him to put him ill at ease.
“Dave, this is Terry Collinge, one of our young reporters.  Terry, this is Detective Inspector Clifton.  He wants a chat with you.”
Terry turned half round and looked at the policeman, “What’s this about?”
He came round to face Terry and perched on the front edge of Alan’s desk, “That’s exactly what I want to know. Now you and I have never met before; in fact I had never seen or heard of you until a couple of days ago and then up you pop in both of my ongoing cases.  First you are on the CCTV footage going in to see Duane Deville.  He, as I am sure you know, is one of our long term target criminals. Next we’ve got you coming out, obviously in some distress, being taken to A & E as it turns out, and yes we’ve got you driving up to the door and being let out of a car belonging to Mr Deville again.  By the way, I’m not giving up any great secrets here - Duane has known he’s under surveillance from almost when we started.  Turns out he’s got people in the monitoring section.  Next I see you in The Wanderers, whilst we are on another job, and the barman tells me you are a journalist, even showed him your bloody press card.  So I think to myself, what the fuck is going on?  You see I don’t like coincidences.  I don’t believe in coincidences, so I decided to come and see my old mate Alan.  I knew he’d tell me because we went to school together, turns out he says he doesn’t know what you were up to, which by the way I don’t believe.  Alan may be many things but he didn’t get to be editor by not knowing what his staff are up to.  So is someone going to explain?”
Terry said nothing, he had no idea how to handle this but he guessed Alan did.
“Come off it, Dave, you can’t come in here throwing your weight around.  OK, Terry here is working on a couple of things.  If we get anything you’ll be the first to know.  Terry, can you give Inspector Clifton a run down on why you went to see Duane?”
Terry learned quickly.  He could see that Alan had deliberately disconnected the two events and had guided him towards giving a bit of information on the Duane incident, which the police knew most about anyway. Trouble was, how much to give?
“I went to see Mr Deville because I wanted to ask him about his brother’s death, for a piece I’m doing on gangs.”
“So you just waltzed in uninvited and asked him straight out.  Christ, Alan, you need to keep these youngsters on a lead before they get themselves killed.  Do you realise Duane started a war on the excuse of his brother’s murder, and basically that put him in the position at the top of the local tree, that he has occupied ever since? No wonder he gave you a kicking.”
“I wanted to ask him how he would feel if his brother had been killed for a completely non gang related reason.”
“Of course he was killed for a non gang related reason, probably a simple mugging.  We all knew at the time that Duane was just looking for an excuse.”
“So what would you do if I brought you the real story of the kid’s death?”
“Nothing.  It was three years ago and I don’t need another gang war starting up.  If there is anyone out there strong enough the challenge Duane, then this might give them a good excuse.  I advise you to drop it. Why were you in the pub?”
“I’m doing a series of stories on this quirky club that used to advertise its meetings in the paper.”  He leaned across and drew the 75 sign.  We ran one about a guy flaunting the smoking ban and I’ve put a few leads together to get a number of amusing stories which will be run over the next few weeks, nothing significant.  I’m off to see a woman about posting dog shit to the council as soon as I’m finished here.  Were you serious when you said you wouldn’t do anything if I came up with Lenny Deville’s killer?”
Suddenly Clifton seemed impatient to get going.  “I’m a very busy man.  I need to go.   Thanks Alan, I can’t say I am any the wiser, but then why would I be?  Don’t forget I won’t appreciate keep tripping up over your reporters.  We could both do each other some good or we could both do each other some harm. Anyway, young man, you be very careful of Duane.”

Terry was in the back room of the butcher’s shop.  His dad had used this as the meat preparation room.  Since his mum and dad’s death Terry had turned it into a workshop for looking after the bikes he inherited from his dad.  It was Saturday afternoon and following the rather unsettling conversation this morning with the copper he had gone and got a great little story from dog shit woman.  That was all written up for the afternoon addition, so he had the afternoon to himself.  He thought he had earned a break as if you included the visit to Duane’s, A & E, the pub, Jewsons, back to work and then dog shit woman it had been a pretty hectic thirty six hours.  His hangover from the night before had gone and even his ribs didn’t hurt too much unless he laughed, and he could control that on his own.  He’d cooked himself a nice steak - as a butcher’s son he appreciated good meat - and now he was bored,  so decided to service the Triumph. He’d lit the gas fire in the scullery room and put the bike up on the bench he had made.  He’d read Robert Pirsig and knew about doing the job properly, so he made a list of the jobs and the checks and worked methodically through it.  He liked doing this as it allowed him to connect with his dad again.  The bike was a 1970 500cc Triumph Adventurer; it was a really meaty off road machine that his dad had bought from new.  His dad had kept two bikes, this one and a much more mundane Ariel single cylinder 500; the Triumph was the favourite because it was a machine for riding hard on your own and being on your own is part of what motorcycling is all about, the Ariel was really for taking a pillion on the back, and he could see his mum sitting regally on the back of the bike as his dad rode it off down the road on some journey to somewhere.  They were only in their early fifties when they died, one of those ridiculous preventable accidents that happen all the time. Rather ironic that it had been in their car, leaving the bikes in pristine condition, part of his inheritance; still at least mum and dad would remain forever young.
“What you got to tell me, white boy?”
Terry nearly had a heart attack, when he looked up from adjusting the left side exhaust tappet - there was Duane just standing there.
“I want to know what you think happened to mi brother.”
“How did you get in?”
“It’s what I do.  I get in to places. I find out where people live.  If I want to talk to them, I talk to them, so talk to me.” He could see Terry looking nervously around the room.  “I’m alone; I don’t mean you no harm, just to talk.”
“The police know I came to see you.  They warned me off.  Said you wouldn’t want to know because you only used his death as an excuse for a war.”
“I know they seen you, they watch me all the time.  Still I can duck out of sight when I need to.  Anyway it shows they don’t know anything about my business.  If it turned out that I had used Lenny’s death as an excuse, that would make me look even more ruthless. No, when someone’s going to try to move in on me they’ll do it when they’re ready, strong enough.  Anyway I do want to know what happened to him so if you know something I want to be the first to hear it.”
“I don’t think the police will be very interested.”
“Them! They’re completely tied up with this traffic light terrorist rubbish to think about anything else. So what you got?”
“Not much more than I told you in the club.  There are these people and they seem to be into illegal fighting, using kids.  If I’m right then Lenny may have been the first but he probably isn’t the only one.  I’ve got to follow the rest of these up to see if there are.”
Duane was looking at Terry intently.  “Why you doing this? You’ve got balls, that’s all I can say.  What’s in it for you?”
“A story and a chance to make it as a journalist, get a job on a national, go freelance. Do something that my mum and dad would be proud of.”
“Your mum and dad they want you to be a reporter?”
“I don’t know they both died before I started.  I didn’t want to be a butcher though, this was my dad’s shop.  I was brought up over the shop, always smelling of meat.”
Duane scribbled a number down on the back of his card, “You get something you tell me.  You get into trouble doing this thing you tell me and I’ll get you out, you keep anything from me and I’ll squash you like a bug.  Once you tell me, you can publish, I don’t care, it’ll only do me good if people think I’m that bad, and as you said the police aren’t interested so nothing for them, let them read it in the papers, and see what they do then, even though it’ll be too late.”
“There’s one other thing - one of the people who might have done this is probably in police custody for something else.  I don’t know but at the moment it looks possible, at some point I may not be able to keep it away from them.”
“Just make sure I know it all first, once you done that everything else is to look after yourself white boy.”

He’d been getting on well with the more humorous 75 club stories and there had been a bumper edition with two of them in to bring cheer to the readers - one about a middle aged couple’s dogging thrills and another more depressing one about a retired headmistress’s determination to try class A drugs, which nearly ended in tears.  Terry couldn’t always see why the readers found these interesting but judging by the letters they did and the editor was on his back for more of the same.  The problem was that the club really no longer ran and most of the more eccentric characters were dead or in residential homes and not willing to speak about this part of their past.  Terry was also in Alan’s good books because of all of the extra hours he had put in, but it suited him to get away from home some times as he was able to get away from his own loneliness.  He spent most of his time in the archives trying to track down other stories about the club, but it was becoming a game of diminishing returns.
“Tell, got another new one in the latest edition,” Ed in archives had caught the bug of looking for the symbol but, as he also received all the paper copy classifieds and collated them, he had spotted a 75 ad for next Monday’s paper.  There was no phone number or anything else, nothing, just the sign 75.
       Before he left at Saturday lunchtime, Terry quickly sent Alan an email – “Alan, I won’t be in on Monday, got a lead on the boxing story, will try to talk to you on Tuesday.
Is this the address you wanted  - Solicitor called Rawlins? Looks like he lives out near the Chase,  some nice places out there.”
 
 “Come in Inspector, have a seat”.  Across the desk the Chief Constable was looking serious.  Superintendent Charles, Dave’s boss, was looking worried.  Dave was nervous and worried and trying not to look it, as he knew the type of game that was about to be played, unless he was to end up with the shitty end of the stick and a shortened career.
“OK Dave, what can you tell us about progress on your shooting case?”
Dave subconsciously reminded himself to listen to the words that were used, in order to get the drift of the game; so far he did not much care for his boss’s use of the word “your” when referring to the shooting.
“So far not much that will be of any use to us in explaining to Jo public why Joe Pillory had to be shot.”
“What do you mean by that, I asked you yesterday to prepare a position for us to answer the inevitable questions from press and public?  So far I don’t like what I’m hearing.”
This was typical Chief Constable behaviour.  Dave was fairly used to it but he knew he had to go carefully; he had little respect for senior people in most walks of life, regarding them mainly as the result of ego over ability.  However he was canny enough to recognise that most of them didn’t float to the top by getting their name attached to things that went wrong.
“As I was saying, we don’t have much.  I’ll give you the details in a minute but from an initial enquiry I think you had better be prepared to recognise that we may not be able to defend our actions.”
“You can leave that side of things to us.”
“I know I can and I will, don’t you worry, but I thought it best to warn you.  I was asked to continue to investigate the background to the traffic light bombings after the perpetrator had been shot - partly to continue to build a case if he survives and comes to trial, and partly to cover our backs when we have to explain why we resorted to shooting him in the first place.  In terms of building a case, we had CCTV footage of him placing the last device.  It had taken us the best part of eighteen months to get even this far, the guy seemed to leave little trace of anything.  It was only when he did the uni lights for the second time and then got himself pictured wearing the same hat going into work in the uni the next day, we just had to follow the hat.  The guy is or was extremely clever and careful, but there was precious little to find out about him in the first place which is what made the job so tricky.  It took us another ten days but we kept picking him up on CCTV around the university, so it seemed obvious that a presence on campus might be an idea and Sergeant Outram went in under the guise of being a security guard.  We’d arranged that with the security company but had not informed the university.  Outram picked him out pretty quickly and we soon had some background and an address when Outram followed him home.  By this time my officers were concentrating on case building and we all thought it would be good to catch him in the act, as we were confident we could stop any further attacks and to date no one had been hurt.  So we were detecting and Calladine was babysitting.  This went on for another couple of days and then two nights ago the shit hit the fan and all we hear is that he’s been seen with a gun and the tactical fire arm squads been brought in and Calladine’s had him shot.  Turns out the gun was a hockey stick he used to open the upper windows with. And that’s where I started.
“Now notwithstanding the reasons for the shooting, which on the face of it look like a complete overreaction by some trigger happy idiot, I set out to put some background together to firstly try to establish a motive for the bombings, and secondly a justification or at least an explanation on the grounds of terrorism for the shooting.  So what have we got so far?  On the plus side, we’ve got concrete proof that he made the devices in a secret attic room, they were simple and used everyday material that any lab technician could get hold of.  His scientific knowledge gave him all he needed to make and set them off.  He seemed to use two sorts, a thermite reaction which was intensely hot and a system that released acid vapour into the box and totally buggered the electronics.  According to the Uni any one with A level chemistry knows this and the stuff you need for it is everywhere in science labs.  He definitely did it and he was lucky no one else was hurt when they went off, as he did nothing except setting them off in the early hours to prevent any accidental injuries. Why did he do it?  We have no idea, from the wealth of stuff we have acquired from his home - computers, DVDs, videos, papers, books, there is absolutely no clue.  From talking to the closest people he might call friends, they can’t or won’t help.  No one seems to like him much, seems to be a real loner and a bit of a loser, no close friends, no family as far as we can see, a slightly pervey obsession with Martha Kingsley the news reader, and membership of an obscure club which meets at The Wanderers and counts the redoubtable John Rawlins as a member. That’s it.  We’ll carry on digging and look at this club which we are told revolves around some weird Randite libertarian politics, but I doubt it is more than a few loonies.”
“Is that John Rawlins the solicitor?”
“The same, I was going to talk with him this afternoon, but he is so straight that I can’t imagine he will be able to shed any light.”
“What’s this Randite politics thing you mentioned?”
“It was something one of his colleagues mentioned and I found a copy of Atlas Shrugged in his hideaway.”  He could see this all meant nothing.  “Ain Rand was an American novelist and thinker, claimed to be a philosopher and laid claim to the concept of small state politics, with minimum interference with the individual by the state.  It’s quite big with the neo cons in the US, most people over here has never heard of it, it’s not exactly Bader Meinhof.
“That’s it, we got the right man for the offence we were after him for, but we seem to have done it with overkill. The best we can hope for is that he lives and we can put him on trial and maybe he’ll tell his story.  If he dies we are in trouble.  Oh and by the way, if this goes bad, I’m not going to be the fall guy.  Whatever we did we did right until that muppet Calladine came stamping in shooting from the hip, this is not my mess, it’s up to you to decide whose mess it is but it’s not mine.”
They were visibly shocked at this but said nothing.  He knew he had to put a marker down so that they would not think he was an easy touch for passing the buck, and he could see from their reaction that that was exactly what they had been planning.  He also knew that they could not blame Calladine or his unit as that was the direct invention of the Chief Constable and reported directly to him.
“I want you to give up everything else and get this traffic light case out of the way ASAP. Everything and I mean everything else can wait!”

The room seemed bright but he was looking out at it as if through a mesh, so that it all seemed to have soft fuzzy edges.  He could not really move even if he had wanted to but by moving his eyes around he could make out the wires and tubes that were attached to his body, there were a lot of them and there was a constant beep beep noise coming from over his right shoulder which he imagined told everyone he was still alive.  As he was moving his eyes a nurse came over.
“Are we awake now Mr Pillory? Ill just get the doctor.”
 By the time the doctor had arrived Joe had decided to go back to sleep and he shut his eyes.  This was the plan he had hatched before he had gone down for the operation.   Stay still and stay schtum - they were his watch words.
“Don’t be too surprised if he drifts in and out after a six hour operation as complicated as that.  I’m surprised he has come round at all  Are you sure you saw his eyes open?”
“They were open all right but only for an instant.”
“Keep a close eye on him.  If he does recover we need to call the police as soon as we think he might be up to questioning. They seem pretty desperate to talk to him.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they shot him on purpose, trigger happy bunch.”
To keep himself occupied when he was conscious Joe decided to focus on something that might amuse him.  It was tricky always to remember and to stay focussed but he thought it would be amusing to think back over the antics of the club.  He thought that the best one was the posting of the dog shit by that massive pompous woman.  Where Jewson found her to become a member, he could never guess.  Then there was the headmistress who nearly died from heroin experimentation, at 62 years old!  How insane was that?  He had always had an uneasy feeling about Jewson; it always seemed to him that the man was getting a strange pleasure in manipulating the discontent of the others. Every time they met, which was pretty infrequently, there would be someone extra there who had come with Jewson and who was raring to do something outrageous in the name of individual freedom, but it was always Jewson who brought them and they always seemed to be pre-programmed to do something and Jewson took real pride in the activities of the club, even the tragic ones.  He could not really remember when he was recruited, it was by Jewson, he was sure of that, but the details would not come.  It seemed to be a chance meeting in a pub, but why would he do that with a stranger.  Some of them he never understood, like Rawlins, some sort of solicitor, all he did was underwrite the gambling on the kids’ boxing, and when it got out of hand he did clean it up.   Joe always felt that he did not want to do anything too trivial and too driven by selfish motives.  So it wasn’t until the moped issue came up that he had enough anger and just cause in his own eyes to act.  He had to admit that traffic light scheme was an inspired choice - for a whole eighteen months he ran a campaign that randomly fucked up the rush hour traffic system in the town, no one got hurt but everyone, including the authorities, felt the pain.
 “Mr Pillory seems to be smiling.”
“Who knows what goes through the mind of the semi conscious.”
If he could just play this plan out correctly he might just pull it off and get to be interviewed on Newsnight by Martha Kingsley, his dream woman.  He knew that if he could explain it all to the nation that she would be impressed, and that was what really mattered.

It was frosty but dry as Terry rode up through Bushbury, past the cemetery and the turn to Moseley Old Hall.  He knew exactly where he was going.  He’d checked it out on the OS map and was pleased to see that Rawlins lived in an area on the edge of the Chase just to the north east of Wolverhampton, an area of tiny farm roads tracks and green lanes, which he had explored with his dad when he first started to ride a bike.  He was doing a recce on Rawlins place and was planning to find the best route in and out and a good spot to hunker down for a few hours and keep watch.  He figured that the best way to find the Monday 75 club meeting was to follow Rawlins there; he was guessing that he would go from home in the evening, but it seemed to be a guess worth making.  It was two o’clock when he got to the turning on Sheepwash Lane that led up the grass track which, according to the map, would take him to a copse from the edge of which he would be able to see Rawlins house.  He had a flask of coffee, some sandwiches and his binoculars.  He turned up the grassy track.  He had only ridden up here on his old 125 Honda trail bike and to be honest the heavy Triumph with its extra power was a bit of a handful.  After a couple of near disasters he bought the bike to a stop at the edge of the copse.  He found a gap in the hedge and wheeled it in, parking it up out of sight.  Despite the cold when he took off his helmet his head was steaming, he unzipped his jacket, hefted his rucksack and walked through the copse to the far edge.  It took him about five minutes to reach the far edge and to find a good place to sit from where he could see Rawlins house down in the dip about a hundred yards away.  There was a good quantity of dry bracken with which to make a cosy den which also kept him out of sight, so long as there wasn’t going to be a shoot he’d be OK.  
After about 10 minutes he realised he was getting cold and rezipped his jacket, it helped but he could still feel himself stiffening up around the cracked rib as he sat silently staring into the middle distance.  He reckoned this was good preparation for future assignments, so he put up with it.  After an hour he’d drunk his coffee, eaten his sandwich and needed a pee.  He also felt his damaged ribs were giving him real gyp, so he decided to call it a day.  The light was just starting to go so he thought that he might as well too as he had no real desire to ride down the grassy track with the rather poor lights on the Triumph.  Just as he started to pack up he spotted some movement - through his binoculars he could make out the same man as he had seen in the pub, short heavy set untidily but expensively dressed in green wax jacket, jumper and brown corduroy trousers - the effect of the country gentleman was ruined by the front of his shirt hanging out over his gut.  He could see the man walk to a large Mercedes and Terry jotted down the number; he followed the car with the glasses, down the drive and right onto the road. He set off at a scramble pulling his helmet and gloves on as he ran.  On reaching the bike he wrenched it off the stand and kicked it into life.  As he moved off he reached down and pulled on the petrol tap.  He was flying along in first gear daring himself to change up into second.  All too quickly he reached the end of the track and killed the engine and the lights settled back into the hedge out of sight of the road.  Within 15 seconds the big Merc came past heading into town.
As he rode home he knew that if Rawlins was home tomorrow evening that he could follow him when he went out.  He’d have to get there early and wait for a few hours, but that’s what being a real investigator is.  

 


 

DAY FIVE

As Lucy swung herself to and fro in the park Dave stood about ten yards away and kept an eye on her.  It wasn’t a copper’s eye, but it wasn’t the same as the father’s eye that he had used eight years ago when she was born.  It seemed to him that recently things had changed.  We had all become considerably more suspicious of each other and the default position for everyone was simply that everyone else was either planning to or about to do them and their loved ones harm. Whether it was paedophile priests or nursery workers, or some lunatics thousands of miles away trying to blow you up because you don’t believe what they do.
He reckoned that he could plot the point at which the police changed from being the servants of the general public and having some respect for them, to being overtly suspicious of everyone and hostile to anyone even thought to be transgressing.  It was as if during the Poll Tax protests, which were justified in his eyes, suddenly the police had become the instrument of the state to impose whatever bloody stupid idea that the politicians saw fit.  Then they dressed it up as protecting the public, when what it really was, was maintaining the status quo and the politicians’ position.
What’s he doing there?  Dave was looking at a middle aged man in a coat and long scarf, who was hanging about by the seesaw where a young boy and girl were playing.  He was doing it himself, suspecting perfectly innocent people of being perverts. The little girl got off the seesaw and ran over to the man and hugged his knees.” Can we go home now, grandpa, I’m freezing.”
It didn’t take long in this climate of suspicion to become something you are not happy to be.  He knew he’d changed - Sandy said he had, she said he was not the man she married but some right wing authoritarian version of him.  Mind you, they had both changed, she hadn’t been able to work as a social worker for all these years without a lot of the shit and cynicism rubbing off on her either.  Trouble was she didn’t recognise it like he did.
“Come on, Luce, let’s go home and have some soup.”
As they walked along the pavement they took time to break the ice on the tops of all the puddles, it went with a satisfying crack, and Lucy loved to do it.  It was one of those automatic parental activities that you could do and it fulfilled all those immediate requirements of being a parent but didn’t require much thought, so allowing one to go deeper into one’s own reflection.  Dave didn’t really like to behave like this but they both liked breaking ice and he needed to think.  He did not like what he was becoming.  If he stayed a copper it would only become more so.  Why couldn’t it go back to what it used to be like, solving immediate crimes by one person to the benefit of another one?  Making a difference, instead of this endless naval gazing and spinning of everything to try to meet some interpretation of public or governmental desire.  What was all this bollocks about public safety anyway?  Talk to any member of the public and they would almost always say that they didn’t feel any less safe.  There had always been nasty bastards out there doing dreadful things to innocent people, but these were by and large individual incidents not driven by some bloody conspiracy.
Ever since the 11th of September - he refused to use the Americanism 9/11 - which now seemed to be adopted as the way of putting a date on any terrorist attack, ever since then the world had been manipulated to fall in with the national paranoia of America, which was probably up to something, just to gain some economic or political advantage, like it had done ever since it had been established.
And how had it all turned out? We now had countries and people and governments all jumping at shadows, or being manipulated to do so, backed up by a ludicrous range of foreign policies which were simply acts of aggression, which encouraged stupid Pakistani boys from Bradford to pretend they were religious freedom fighters, and cause mayhem, when they were just disaffected youth,  like the Marxists in the 1970’s.
As they walked up to the front door they could see the light on in the living room.
“Hurry up.  Mum’s home so we can have tea.”
As they reached the door it opened and Sandy ushered them in.
“Have you had a nice time?”
“Yes we went on the swings and broke all the ice on the puddles on the way home. Dad was very quiet though, weren’t you, Dad.”
“I suppose you were too busy thinking about your case to pay much attention to your daughter?”
“As a matter of fact I was and the world in general and what I or should I say we are becoming, and I don’t like what I see happening so when this case is all gift wrapped and handed over, I’m finished with the police. Do you think we can manage?”
“I’ll believe when I see it but if it’s true we’ll have to manage.  Tea?”

Terry got up late the next day.  He’d told Alan he was out on a story so he didn’t intend to go in.  He had a late breakfast and started to prepare for the evening, he packed a torch, some food and a hot drink into his rucksack, along with his binoculars, camera, notepad and pencil, Dictaphone and Swiss army knife.  He ran over the bike to check it out, especially the lights, and loaded a map of the city onto an illuminated route holder mounted on the handlebars.  He would have fitted a sat nav but he knew that the vibration from the old bike’s engine would wreck it in a few miles.  He wrote an email to Alan describing the outline of what he was going to do but decided not to send it until he was about to leave in case he got told he couldn’t do it.
By two o’clock he was feeling hungry again so made himself a late lunch of pasta with chorizo sausage.  He reckoned that would keep him filled up and warm for  however long it was going to take, so long as they didn’t end up in the same room Rawlins would never smell the garlic and hear the belching.
By the time he had eaten and got his riding gear on, got the bike out and locked up it was nearly 3.15 and the mid December light was starting to fade even on a bright and frosty day.  He kicked the bike up and snicked into gear; in a few moments he was on his way and he could feel the adrenaline start to flow in, his first real investigation. “Fuck it” he was a mile from his house before he realised he had not sent Alan the email before leaving.  He wasn’t going back now. “It’ll keep”.
By four he was in his bracken den looking down on the house, the light was going and a sliver of moon was coming into view, it was going to be a cold night.  For two and a half hours nothing happened, the house was obviously empty, no lights on no car in the drive.  He was getting pretty cold and stiff by now and his ribs were starting to hurt again, he got up and stood for a while staring down at the house. “Come on you fat bastard.  I can’t stay here too much longer on the off chance you might come home.”  He had kept all his gear on and now he had put his helmet on just to try to stave off the cold.
He saw the beam of the headlight precede the car up the long drive.  The big Merc swung into view and came up to the front door turning to face down the drive the way it had come in.  That meant he couldn’t positively make out Rawlins, but it was definitely the same car, and the man getting out was the right shape at least and he appeared to be alone.  The lights came on inside and he was able to follow Rawlins’ progress as he moved through the house, pouring a drink, speaking on the phone and fixing a sandwich. Terry felt his excitement rise, “This guy is going out again, I can feel it, mind you that’s all I can feel right now.”
By now all of him was numb with cold.  It had got past the painful stage although he knew that was to come again as he warmed up.  However his excitement at the prospect ahead blocked everything else out.  By eight he had detected Rawlins moving towards the door and was already on his way to the bike.  Terry could see the sweep of the headlights up the drive as they reflected off the haw frost on the bushes.  Without thinking he was on the bike, the motor was running and he was plunging over the frosty ruts towards the road.  Just like last night he was there before he realised, killed the light and pulled the bike over towards the hedge out of the line of the headlights.  The motor tick-tocked comfortingly in the dark.  He let the Merc get about 50 yards ahead before he pulled into the lane to follow.  In another ten yards he switched on his headlight and started to ride as normally as possible.  
He had chosen to follow Rawlins because Jewson already knew him and his first effort at following him had been a complete balls-up so he hoped to do better this time.  They went back into the outskirts of the city down Bushton Lane and past the Goodyear works, then left onto the Stafford road.  As they came down to the roundabout opposite the local mosque the Merc pulled over to pick up a couple of men.  Terry nearly didn’t spot this but managed  just in time to pull thirty yards behind.  He was close enough to see that one of the men was Jewson, and the other he did not know - he was a tall thick set man in a strange collarless jacket and matching trousers and he was smoking a cigarette.  They both got in the Merc.  It pulled away and turned left off the roundabout and under a bridge.  They were now in the wasteland of small industrial units clustered round each other on what looked like a derelict factory site, what were laughingly called trading estates.  The Merc turned left up a slight hill into a cluster of lockup units.  Terry carried on past round the next bend and turned the bike round.  He waited five minutes and slowly rode down the hill.  He turned left, up into the cluster of units, killed the engine and leant the bike out of sight against a wall.  The Merc was nowhere to be seen. He walked quietly further into the estate.  As he rounded a corner at the end of a row of units he spotted the Merc parked up outside Wilmot’s Electronic Solutions (whatever that meant.)
The front of the unit was in darkness and there was nothing except a corrugated metal security door.  If he pressed his eye to the edge of the door he could see some light and could also hear mumbling.  It was the end unit of about six so he slipped round the side and followed the wall round, keeping his right hand in contact with it as he moved. At the next corner he was at the back of the unit and although it was too dark to see he could feel a mesh security grill which he reckoned was a window.  There were a few chinks of light coming through some sort of curtain.  He could just make out four men huddled round a TV screen.  He got out the binoculars and just managed to focus them on the screen and - sure enough - it was kids boxing.  He watched for a bit, but could make out little.  It seemed to be edited highlights as the fighters kept changing.  He had to get a copy of the DVD.
By the time he got home he was completely frozen and the adrenaline was starting to wear off so extreme tiredness had set in half a mile from home.  He poured himself some brandy, cranked up the gas fire and shivered.  He had never felt so bad.  He had more brandy and started to warm up but his mind was racing.  He’d have to go back in the daylight, check the place out and then go back and break in, and it would have to be the next night.  He had eighteen hours to prepare and he did not really know what to do.

 “We’ll be fighting in the streets with our children at our feet
 And the morals that they worship will be gone.
I tip my hat to the new constitution.
Take a bow for the new revolution.
Smile and grin at the change all around.
Pick up my guitar and play.
Just like yesterday
.And I get down on my knees and pray.
We won’t get fooled again.”
Pete had that right even after all these years.  Nothing bloody well changes, not for the better anyway, look at that ridiculous business with the MOT just because someone wrongly enters the engine and frame number on the original registration document, when the whole thing gets put on the god almighty computer, it can’t handle it and he can’t get his bloody bike processed so that he can carry on using it.  Who is it who gets inconvenienced, not the bloody Ministry of Transport, oh no, not them, but poor old Joe public or Joe Pillory as it turned out.
Since his operation Joe had felt much livelier, a bit manic in fact, and he had been going over the key aspects of his recent life with a view to getting it all in order, not so he could die, like he had originally thought: but to be prepared for life.  Mind you, he had to be careful not to get too carried away.  He was still trying to come across as unconscious to the nurses and doctors, so he could keep away from the police, who kept coming round to try to talk to him.  So the things that excited him, made him angry or happy, could only be explored when the medical staff were out of the way, and as soon as he heard them coming, he had to switch his thoughts to blank ones.  He had just finished having an erotic adventure with Martha Kingsley when he heard a party approach, the usual pompous consultant and gang of sycophantic medical students.
“This is a Mr Joe Pillory, he came in with a gun shot wound, and has now stabilised, so the bullet was removed yesterday.  The strange thing is that he has not regained consciousness even though his vital signs indicate he is close to waking.  We will leave it another day and then explore this further, as we don’t want him slipping back into a coma, when all the signs for recovery are so good.  Now over here is Mrs ...”.
Still he’d had his revenge on those transport men, that campaign had been a triumph, ten separate attacks on lights strategically positioned round the city.  He’d taken some out twice, what bloody chaos.  He could feel himself grinning, so he changed his thoughts back to the original MOT test.  That started it, when his bike failed on the paperwork, how bloody stupid was that, a perfectly good perfectly maintained bike that could not be put through the test because the sodding computer could not handle that the paperwork was wrong.  Who said computers were superior to humans, they just don’t have the flexibility, mind you he could have sorted it all out himself through the right process, but he just didn’t see why he should have to bother, anyway it gave him an idea for doing something in the club’s name even though by the time he did it the bloody club was moribund except for the boxing business.  However, it was still in the spirit of the original idea, and that made him feel he had achieved something. Mind you the way the kids’ boxing business had developed, that was in the style of the original club ideals, a load of kids with not much going for them given the opportunity to fight their way to a better life and earn a few quid on the way.  That really was a route to self determination if ever there was one.  OK it could and did get out of hand but the kids knew the risks and by and large they were violent little fuckers anyway.  Joe reckoned he was Angelo Dundee, Jewson was Frank Warren and Rawlins, well he just had to be Don King.  He had really surprised Joe, pretty much the whole idea had been Rawlins, and it had gone well considering he had been in the club for so long and had appeared to do nothing, although Joe couldn’t really criticise on that front.  This last scheme of Rawlins was a cracker, a DVD of the most violent bits including the deaths.  At first Joe had been disgusted with the idea, but Rawlins was right, the kids did it of their own free will.  It wasn’t common for any to get killed but it did sometimes happen, so why not capitalise on it and make some money.  Some of it could always go to the parents, and some to the club, and his own split was to be enough to get a decent big bike.  Rawlins was all right, and he knew that there were less risks of being caught if it was on a few DVDs rather than stored and distributed by computer, made the product much more exclusive.  Rawlins had got that Dutch buyer, or was he a kraut, lined up, so all in all pretty satisfactory.  All he needed to do now was get the police off his back, so he could get out and enjoy his life.  Problem was it wasn’t that easy.”


DAY SIX

erry was outside Wilmot’s Electrical Solutions.  He had come by bus and had a broken DVD player under his arm.  The place appeared open and he tapped really gently on the front door.  Having got no reply he went round the back, he could see a back door which was open a crack, the padlock hanging in the hasp.  He sussed that the hasp was held to the frame with four wood screws that was all he needed to know of the outside.  He pushed the back door open a bit and said,
“Hello, anyone here?”
A man came to the door.
 “Oh, sorry.  I tried the front but you didn’t hear me.”
“That’s OK.  I was in the workshop.  What can I do for you?”
“Electrical repairs, mate of mine said you might be able to fix this player, it jumps and skips around and then sometimes sticks.”
“Might be the disk.  Did you bring one with you? These things aren’t usually worth fixing.  They’re so cheap now to replace, can’t even get the spares, but this does look quite a good one.  Come in.  Let’s have a look at the problem.”
The unit was brightly lit and Terry looked about for alarms and other security.  The trouble was he didn’t really know what to look for.
The man was over by the bench on which the telly he had seen last night was sitting.  He opened a draw and selected a DVD.  First he put it in his own DVD player to check it was OK then he connected Terry’s to the telly and put the disk in.  True to form it was all over the place.  Terry knew it would be as he had dropped it carrying around the flat a couple of months ago and it had never been right since then.  He had bought a new one and should have thrown this one out, but you never know when a broken electrical appliance will come in handy when you need an introduction.
“The laser’s probably out of alignment.  Has it had a knock?  I’ll have to take it apart.  Here, let me fill out this ticket.  Name and contact phone number?”
Terry hadn’t thought this through and found it surprisingly hard to give a false name and even harder to come up with a credible number. “Tony Collins” and he gave the number of his local Tandoori takeaway, as it was the only one he could actually remember that was not connected to him.
“Any idea how long?”
“ I’ll have a look at it this afternoon, ring you about it tomorrow morning.  Don’t get your hopes up.  It’s most likely not worth repairing.

It was six thirty in the evening and Terry had coasted the bike up the little hill into the trading estate.  He pushed it round the back of the unit farthest away from Wilmot’s and put it behind a skip.  He took off his helmet and put on a balaclava and some latex gloves.  He’d locked the helmet and gloves up with the bike.  He shouldered his rucksack and went to work.  Wilmot’s was in darkness, he hadn’t seen any security and knew that his wrecking bar would make short work of the hasp on the back door; he was inside in thirty seconds.  He just hoped that the balaclava would protect him from any CCTV and that he could be in and out quickly.  It was a relief when no security buzzers went off.
He had to find the right disk and get a quick look at it to confirm his ideas.  Trouble was where to look.  He crossed to the desk where he had seen some disks were kept and, sure enough, the drawer was full of them.  “How the hell do I tell which one it is? What should I do with it? Ok, so it’s work in progress, it’s going to be new, so none of this dusty old crap, now why would some be in jiffy bags?”  He liked the idea of current work being in jiffy bags, he didn’t know why but he just liked it, it seemed to be something he would do.  There were a dozen Jiffy bags all with discs in, he took them all out of the desk and started to go through the packets.  They all had felt tip writing on (Kart racing Smithson’s).  The third one he opened was labelled Kids boxing Jewson. “This is easy!”
He put it in the machine and turned on the telly.  As he skipped through it, it started to become clear exactly how nasty this operation was.  The disk seemed to consist of the violent highlights of a number of fights, including full close ups of the wounds of badly hurt and unconscious kids.  The fighting was not exactly Queensberry rules, with kicking stamping head butts and pretty well anything else.  The sound was the worst part with the audience urging whichever of the fighters they supported to greater and greater acts of violence, and the fighters willingly responding.  As far as he could see you could not make out any of the faces in the audience.  The first bout was between a black kid and a white kid, probably the right age for Duane’s younger brother but as Terry had never really seen anything other than the picture Tolman showed him, he could not be sure.  He froze the disk on as good a frontal face shot as there was and snapped with his phone.  Then he phoned the number Duane had given him with the message “Is this him?”
“You’ve been skyped.”

When he came round he was in the boot of a car.  The back of his head felt sticky and sore and he had a headache.  His rucksack was gone, as was his phone, and his wrists were tied behind his back with cable ties.  The car pulled up and stopped.  Terry felt it would be best to pretend to be unconscious.  The boot opened and four rough hands grabbed his dead weight and pulled him out like a roll of carpet.  “Christ he’s heavy.”  It was the voice of the man he had met earlier that day at Wilmot’s. “Get the door open and we’ll dump him in the cellar for now, see what they want doing with him later.”
He was dumped down on the damp cellar floor. “We’ll come back later”.
“Not me, man.  I’ve got the Euro star to catch at eleven thirty.  Anyway this is your mess.  You guys can clear it up.   I’ll take the disk and arrange the money transfer and then I’m gone, that is unless you get more material.”  This accent sounded heavy like South African or Dutch.
Terry waited a few minutes after it had all gone quiet and he had heard the car drive away.  It wasn’t too dark as there was a bright moon and some of it was blazing down the coal shoot at the front of the cellar.  He slid across on his arse to the brick edge of the coal shoot and started to chafe away at the cable ties.  When they were done he used the same technique to cut through the one round his ankles.  Once he was mobile he started to look around.  He knew one thing; he was not going to be around when they came back.  The door was a heavy one and locked, the coal shoot was barred at the top and the bars were too high up to work on.  Moving round the walls and the floor like a blind man feeling with hands, he searched the whole cellar.  In the end he had a piece of what seemed to be light weight 22mm copper central heating pipe about two foot long.  He found two empty plastic sacs like the ones used for fertilizer, and he banged his ear on what turned out to be a cast iron Victorian shelf bracket about eight inches long and snapped off into a jagged end, which had made his ear bleed.  Other than the quarry tiled floor there was nothing else.  He reckoned that he might have a couple of hours at least.  It didn’t look like it was in any hurry to get light so he had some time.
He started to move around with his hands on the wall again.  After two circuits of the wall he found the old bracket again and started to work it loose, it was pretty easy and after a few sharp tugs this way and that it was free of the crumbling damp mortar.  Going over to the door he sat directly in front of it and started to work on the quarry tiles with the bracket.  They came up pretty easily.  He had dug the cellar out with his dad back at home when they had wanted to put a concrete floor in, so he knew exactly what would be under the tiles, damp clay.  Now if he had had a couple of weeks he could have dug a tunnel but he didn’t have that long.  Once the quarries were up from a square about three foot in the door threshold, he took the copper tube and started to dig with it, he had to work hard as he needed to dig at least 18 inches deep.  The clay came out quite easily and in forty minutes he had an eighteen inch deep hole two foot square right in front of the door.  The copper tube was also full of wet clay and quite heavy so he flatted the ends over and set it aside, then he removed the pile of clay into the corner and put the fertiliser sacs over the hole held down with quarry tiles.
He knew he had only one chance at this. It was the first pit trap he had ever built and although he felt pretty sure he would catch the first man he was not sure about the second who would certainly have to be there to carry him out. He would have to be quick with the copper tube cosh.
He had to wait a couple of hours and it was very cold.  He kept himself from stiffening up by going through a few moves with the pipe.  It may have looked silly and he may have had no idea what he was doing but it kept him loose and his mind off the moment to come.  He was just getting into the rhythm of the strokes with the tube when he heard a car pull up.  From the voices, there were at least two and one definitely sounded familiar.
It all went pretty much according to plan, they came down the steps close together presumably because it was still pretty dark and one of them had a torch.  The door opened and Terry waited.  The first man stepped onto the sack and fell forwards.  Terry leapt forward and hit him an enormous blow on the neck.  He could fell the vertebrae crumble.  Just as the first man fell over the second one couldn’t help himself and fell forward over him.  As he did so Terry brought the pipe upwards on the return stroke and caught him under the chin which snapped his head back.  Both men were on the floor in a heap and Terry was on the way out.  He stopped in his tracks and quickly came back to the second man.  The first one he knew from Wilmot’s, the second one was thinner, he turned him over with his foot and saw the goatee beard, “Jewson! That’s twice we’ve fallen over each other.”
Terry was gone with the pipe and the bracket with him.  As he came out of the house, which was in a nondescript terrace, he noticed the car.  He went back in and got the keys from the driver’s pocket.  Opening the back door he found his rucksack and mobile, he wiped the keys clean and chucked them on the front seat and walked in the opposite direction.  It was still dark and there was no one around.  He didn’t know where he was, but how hard can it be to find your way home.  He knew there was going to be some tidying up to do and fast and it was well away from the skills of anyone at the paper.  He fumbled for his phone and rang the number Duane Deville had given him. 
In the evening he went back to Wilmot’s to retrieve his motorbike, the lock up was in darkness.  Once he got home he poured himself a long drink.  He was exhausted, the adrenaline was starting to leave him and he slumped in the chair.

Dave was sitting fretting at his computer.  Since he had made up his mind to leave yesterday, he simply could not wait but it was against his nature to leave a job unfinished so right now he was to use one of his favourite phrases “up to his arse in alligators”.  The alligators he had in mind were the Chief Constable and his Chief Superintendent, both of whom were putting pressure on him to wrap this case up so they could explain their actions.  They didn’t want it complicated, they just wanted it to be easy to explain away.
“Well if that is what they want that is what they’ll bloody well get”.
He knew there was more to this than met the eye.  That bloody kid reporter had found more out in a few hours, just by being interested, than they had, because they were deliberately sticking rigidly to the traffic light angle for political expediency.
       He could remember this happening when he was a young constable.  It used to drive him mad, now he was doing the same thing that he hated so much then, that’s why he had to go,  “It’s not the crime that drives the job, it’s the bloody expediency, and that has to be bollocks.” 
“You wanted to see me, Steve? You know that the Chief Constable told me to stick exclusively to tidying up the traffic light bomber case, Top Priority, before it blows up in our faces.  So why are you bringing me any of this traffic bollocks?  I’m burning the midnight oil as it is.  Sandy’s going to kill me, its half eleven.”
“Sorry Dave, it’s just come in, thought you might be interested in who the people were in the car that’s all?”
“So surprise me.”
“Guy driving was the owner of Wilmot’s.  Someone’s told his wife and she says he went out quite late; he’d been looking at his computer up to then.  Owns an electrical shop on the Fox’s Lane trading estate, repairs and stuff.”
“So?”
“Second guy turns out to be a chap called Jewson, one of the ones we clocked going to that club meeting when we staked out at the pub the other night.”
“Oh that time when you followed the only one we already knew, home, thereby adding fuck all to our understanding.  Yes I remember. Which one was he?  There were four altogether.” He felt guilty about his sarcasm to an old friend, just another example of becoming something he didn’t want to be.
“Hard to say.  He was a bit badly burnt, but about late sixties, tall, thin.”
“Goatee?”
“Not by the time we’d found him.”
Dave Clifton looked at Outram waiting.  They had worked together for so long that he knew something more was coming.
       One day when all this was over and he’d left they could go and have a pint or two and Dave could tell him how he felt about the job.  It was odd they had both started at the same time but Dave had quickly risen through the ranks, whereas Steve Outram had continued on in a dogged way doing the day job with no obvious ambition.  Dave had to admit that he was good at it so long as you told him what to do and didn’t expect much imagination – then Outram was your man, calm and competent in a dull sort of a way. Because of the way they both were Dave had shone and Outram had plodded, but at the end of the day which of the two was more satisfied with their role?  Dave was pretty certain it wasn’t him.  In a way he felt guilty in sending his Sergeant off on wild goose chases that he knew even now he was going to ignore for expediency’s sake, and to get the alligators off his arse.
Sgt Outram had a way of spinning things out to maximum dramatic effect.
“And?”
“Initial examination indicates that they may not have died in the accident.”
“So we may have one of our 75ers murdered and then it made to look accidental. Maybe it was just a mugging gone wrong?”
“Too much cash left, credit cards etc, car was a Beemer worth 30k. No this is something else.”
“Ok leave it with me.  I’ll go and see the boss and square it for taking over this one as well.  Who’s got it at the moment?”
“It was traffic until the preliminary report came in.  Now it’s ours unless we want to give it away.”
“Get someone over to both their addresses; get anything you can find, better have a look at their computers as well.  Oh and get over to the lock up or whatever it is.  Check that out too.”


 

DAY SEVEN

Outram and a couple of constables were watching Wilmot’s computer.  On the screen was a picture of the deserted industrial unit.
 “He’s got it connected to his work computer by Skype so he can keep an eye on the place. Here he comes now.  I’ll pause it while you get us a coffee, make that two white no sugar, oh and a doughnut each, I’ll pay.”
       Outram gave the constable a fiver and then went for a pee.  It was only ten thirty but it seemed like it had been a bloody long morning trawling through all these computers and DVDs, and he wasn’t even a tenth of the way through.  Dave bloody Clifton had better be a bit grateful for this graft, as he was definitely keeping out of it.
On the screen they saw the back door open and a man in a balaclava coming in.  Having forced the door, he moved over to a table with some kit on it and started to look in the drawer.
“I think he’s looking at CDs or DVDs.  He’s selected one and put it in the player and he is watching it, now he’s snapped it and seems to be sending it someone else.  He hasn’t heard these two.  That one is Wilmot, no idea who the other guy is. That must have hurt.”
They watched as the unknown man pocketed the disk, while Wilmot trussed the intruder up.
 “Come on, take his bloody balaclava off,” they sounded like two old men at a strip show baying for the stripper’s pants.
 “There it’s off, can’t see his face though, they haven’t picked the balaclava up, go and find it and get it to forensics.  There’s bound to be DNA after a blow like that.  So what the fuck have we got here?  I want all these computers checked and I want all the disks, etc, scanned.  Christ, we don’t even know what this is about, so now we’ve got another sodding mystery.  I never did like coincidences, nor does DI Clifton.  Go talk to the wife.  Find out what this Wilmot was into.  Find out who that third man is, at least we’ve got a partial side view, we may get something.  There is nothing I can see of the guy in the balaclava and get on to traffic to do some sort of check on the CCTV of where that car has been over the last few days.”

“Ok Terry, you’ve been AWOL for the best part of three days.  What the hell’s going on, because currently you’ve given me nothing for the paper and as far as I can see all you’ve got for your trouble is a bang on the head, so it had better be a bloody interesting story as to how you got it.”
Terry had no idea how much to let his editor in on the events of the past few days.  He had got himself in so deep and to a level that he was now pretty sure that the paper was not likely to stand by him. “I’m sorry Alan.  I went off on a wild goose chase after this boxing story and it lead me nowhere.  I fell down and cracked my head last night, must have had one too many, ended up in A & E.  I should have called in.”
“Christ, you’re not getting like Etheridge, I hope.  One pissed up, unreliable reporter is pretty much all this paper can carry.  Ok, you’ve had your one chance.  Go and see Edwards and get onto the traffic reports, and get me something of interest for the final edition.  I’ll get Etheridge to come and talk to you about the boxing story.  There may be something in it and you clearly don’t have enough experience to handle it.  Shame, I thought you had a bit more about you.  When he finally comes in, fill him in and he can get on with it.”

“There’s not much on at the moment.  Motorways are all flowing nicely, no shitty weather or the wrong kind of snow for the trains.  Oh here’s something, double fatality. Two old geezers in a Beemer ran flat out into the bridge under the M57 on the way out to Featherstone.”  Edwards handed him a piece of paper.  “Go and talk to the wife of the driver and go easy - she’s just lost her fucking husband.  We’ll keep a few lines free this evening.”
Terry blanched at the details on the note.  Wilmot and Jewson, early hours of this morning, police appealing for witnesses.  Christ, Duane didn’t hang about.
He talked to a contact in traffic and the paramedics, and had the bare bones for a couple of lines, which he submitted on time for the evening edition.
 He was a man walking through his own personal nightmare.  After all he’d kipped at Jewson’s, even drunk his whiskey, he didn’t like him much, to be honest he hardly knew anything about him, but he was pretty sure that the two of them were going to harm him when they came back to the cellar, maybe he overreacted, acted with unreasonable force. What was the phrase, disproportionate?  How do you judge it if you are frightened?  Actually thinking back he didn’t remember feeling frightened at all.  If anything, the only word he could use to describe how he felt was, calculating.  Still he didn’t kill them.  It was probably Duane.  He’d recognised Lenny from the phone message Terry had sent, put two and two together and acted accordingly thinking he was helping Terry out.
“Christ what a fucking mess, I need to talk to that copper.”
He suddenly felt hungry.  It was lunch time so he ducked into the kebab shop opposite the Uni for a Doner.  It was cold and sleeting as he came out with both hands holding the kebab wrapped in paper.  He had his head buried in amongst the paper taking a bite, the paper cutting out all his peripheral vision.
“You owe me one after last night, white boy.”
Terry nearly had a heart attack and, worse, nearly dropped his kebab.
“Christ, Duane, that’s the second time you’ve nearly scared me to death.  How come you always sneak up on people?”
“It’s what I do.  Walk up here away from the CCTV.”
 They turned up a small side street and stopped at the top in a boarded up doorway.   Duane had his head in an expensive hooded top and could not be identified unless from close up, Terry had his head in a doner and likewise couldn’t be recognised.
“Anyway you got to approach some people with caution if they are as dangerous as you.”
Terry knew what Duane meant straightaway but he could not bring himself to acknowledge it.
 “Why did you have to kill those two?”
Duane just laughed.
“It was a bit late for that.  I don’t know what you found to hit them with but they was both really dead when my boys got there.  We just cleared up.  It was you that hit them?”
Terry nodded through the kebab paper.
“Don’t worry, people die every day in this city.  Even if the cops think it wasn’t a car wreck, they won’t have anything much to go on.  Anyway, that’s not why I’m here. You sent me a photo, seemed to be of a face on a screen, I couldn’t make it out, so I’m here to see the original. Don’t forget keep something from me and I’ll squash you.  Just because you’ve killed a couple of old men by accident, that score doesn’t stack up against mine, so where is it?”
Terry had finished the kebab and was already jabbing at his phone, “Is that Lenny?”
Duane peered at the blurry photo.  Terry thought he saw a moistening around Duane’s eye, but it was quickly replaced by a hardened expression. “That’s him. Tell me about it.”
“Can we go somewhere warmer?  It’s a long story.”
Terry didn’t see how Duane did it but within thirty seconds there was a nondescript Toyota saloon at the end of the side road.  
“Where to?”
“Halfway House.”
They pulled out into the early evening traffic as the streets glistened with sleet.  Terry was glad to be out of the cold even if it was with a murderous gangster in a dodgy minicab.  Anyway he was a killer as well even though it had been a sort of accident.  In his heart of hearts he had known they were dead straight after he had hit them.  Would he have hit them any less hard if he known that he could have killed them, he doubted.  That took a level of hitting experience that he just didn’t have.
Duane had indicated not to talk in the cab.  When they got to the pub they got some drinks and found a quiet corner.
“The two men you helped get rid of made a DVD of kids fighting and hurting and even probably killing each other.  It was like the highlights of a rather unpleasant child fighting and gambling operation that was done over the past eight years or so under the guise of this peculiar club.”
“Were the two bodies the only people involved?”
“No, I don’t think so but I will have to do some more digging to be definite.   I think there have been at least six or seven kids killed over the years and all put down as deaths due to muggings against adolescent street gangs, just like Lenny.  The police aren’t interested.  Too concerned with what’s going on now, they don’t need to dig around in the past.  I think the DVD is the icing on the cake.  Of the two dead men one of them attacked me in the electronics workshop but the second guy with him sounded Dutch, and he took the DVD.  The older man came back with Wilmot to get rid of me, I knew him, and I know who he knows.”
“You going to give me the names”
“Not yet, not until I’m sure. I’m going to get this story, and then I’ll pass it on to you and the police.”
Duane looked him with a wry smile.
 “When are you going to tell them about the two men you killed?  If you tell them I helped you I’d have to kill you.  No, white boy, this isn’t going anywhere near the paper or the police until after I have finished the business.  You are in this so deep you can’t deny me, even if you had the balls to.   So when you have these names and you’re certain of them, you going to give them to me and that will be the end of it.”
“And you’ll have them killed.  Don’t you think there’s been enough of that?”
 “You can never kill enough of these people.  Anyway this is very personal.”
Somehow Terry tended to agree with him.  “You keep my secret.  I’ll keep yours.”
It was a statement not a question.
In the afternoon Terry went round to Wilmot’s unit.  He had some vague idea of getting in and trying to retrieve a copy of the disk, but when he found the police swarming all over the place he knew that was not going to be on.  Still he reckoned as long as he was on the story he might as well try to rescue some of his embryonic journalism career even though he had a sneaking suspicion it was never going to recover from the current situation.  He flashed his press card at the nearest constable,
“Any chance of a quick chat with the senior officer?”
       “I doubt it.”
“Seems like a lot of activity for an RTA?”
“It’s moved on a bit since then.”
Terry could see people taking computers out and loading them into a van.  He was also pretty sure that he’d seen a soco with a plastic bag which appeared to have his balaclava in it.
He smelt Etheridge’s presence long before he spoke, a mixture of booze and B O, and he was still five yards away.
“What’s going on down here, young Terry?  Anything for me down here?”
“What the hell do you want?  I thought this was still mine.”
Alan told me to talk to you and as you weren’t in the office I figured you’d be somewhere sniffing around this RTA.  I heard from one of my police friends that they were down here, seems a bit over the top for a traffic fatality.  Anyway I reckoned if you were worth even half a shite you’d be down here too, and what do you know here you are.  Is there anything for you here, or can we go and talk over this weird boxing stuff?  It’s too early for a drink.  Let’s go to Jays for a coffee.   I’ll buy them.”

“Is that it, a few missing kids, and some link up with the timing of this symbol in our small ads column?  Seems pretty bloody thin.  I can’t see what Alan sees in it as a story.  He said that one of the kids was Duane Deville’s younger brother?”
 “Duane doesn’t think so I went to see him and got a bit of a kicking for my trouble, I wouldn’t bother with that angle.  The other kids might be worth a go, but I didn’t get anywhere with them.  The trouble with the folk on those estates is they are so damn suspicious of all of us.  There is another thing - Reg Tolman told me he had given up the boxing training to Joe Pillory! Christ, you have been on a lost weekend, don’t you know who he is?  He’s lying in hospital, with a police bullet in him, for wrecking traffic lights.”
“Sure, Ok, I know who you’re talking about, just forgotten the name that’s all. Anyway it’s pretty immaterial.  The police won’t let you anywhere near him and won’t want you sniffing around some back story confusing the picture.”
“Tell me about it.  I’ve already had a session with the main cop, an Inspector Clifton.  He told me to back off and leave it to him.  Even said he wouldn’t be interested if the boxing story were true as it would deflect his efforts from the traffic light thing. Any way it’s all over to you now.  I’m off it don’t you remember, and if Alan Smith reckons I’m going to be content with messing about with fucking RTAs all the time he’s got another think coming.”
“Come off it Terry, take it from an old hand you’ve got to do your apprenticeship pay some journo dues, it took me years to get to where I am now.”
Terry sat quietly.  He was wondering where Etheridge thought he was anyway.  Surely he didn’t rate being an alchy hack on a regional paper no matter how large.  He looked hard at Etheridge and made up his mind then and there that he wasn’t going to follow down this career path anymore.  He got up, said thanks for the coffee and left, realising his future as a journalist was over, but he could still follow this up another way, even make a difference, without having to worry about by-lines, deadlines or editorials.
He was feeling pretty pleased with the smoke screen he had put up around Duane.  Etheridge would never bother to follow that up, and if he did he’d hit a brick wall with Duane, or maybe something harder.  He’d square it with Duane later; meanwhile he needed to get this RTA non story in to the paper, and to do that he needed to talk to Wilmot’s wife, if she was up to it.

The squad office was damp and chilly, still at least after the smoking ban you could breathe the air, even if it was a bit foetid.  Outram sat staring out of the window for most of the time his mind drifting.  He’d been looking at the computer screen solidly since he came in at eight, it was now eleven and he had little to show for three hours of mindless viewing.  The guy from IT forensics had said there wasn’t anything on the machines in for repair but that there was some stuff on Wilmot’s private machine, although he didn’t think it was all that interesting and after three hours Outram had to agree with him.  He shoved his chair back and went over the Dave Clifton’s door.
“Got a minute?
“There’s nothing suspicious on any of Wilmot’s computers, most of them are in for repair, bit of soft core porn and a load of normal domestic programmes, forensics say the only thing that might be of interest is on his personal machine, and he seems to have been editing some home footage of kids in fighting matches.  I’ve been looking at it for three hours and can’t find anything specific.  I suppose it is a bit violent, it’s more like cage fighting than boxing but then you can’t tell if it’s real or fake.  Do you want to take a look before I give up and get on with some real work?”
“Get the forensic boys to try and check out if it’s real or faked.  I know it’s hard but it must be possible. Are there any faces on it?  Anything of JP?”
“Not that I can see.”
“Ok leave it.  There’s something nagging though - that young reporter Collinge was talking about kids boxing and JP being involved with the training.  He said he got it from that old guy Tolman.  You go and see him later. It could just be coincidence, but as you know I don’t like them, that man Jewson turning up dead in the car wreck, when we know he was something to do with that club that JP belonged too.  Are any of the kids in the fighting DVD black?”
“Yes a couple of them.”
“Check them out against any photos we may have of Duane Deville’s brother Lenny.  He was found dead from a mugging about three years ago.  Oh and get onto the hospital and find out if JP’s come round yet, as far as I can tell they think he’s taking the piss, all his vital signs seem to be fine, they can’t tell why he hasn’t come round yet.  It’s three days since his op and seven since the shooting.  I reckon he may be biding his time. Maybe that spotty little journo has uncovered something.”
“Do you want me to go and talk with Rawlins?  We’ve been putting it off for a while now.”
“No, we can’t do that half cocked.  He’s too well connected, and at the moment we have nothing at all on him except that he met in a pub with someone who is now dead, and who currently looks like he has died in a car accident.”
“I had a call from the pathologist; he thinks it may have been an accident after all, very hard to tell with all the heat that the fire created, it hasn’t done the concrete bridge much good either, they are going to have to close it for several months, so more traffic chaos, seems to me a feature of everything to do with this case.”
“Cases, sergeant, cases we must keep them separate, orders are orders.

It seemed to Joe that he was rapidly running out of options.  He couldn’t stay pretending to be unconscious for much longer, he could tell that the medical staff were concerned, and in one case at least suspicious.  He didn’t want to spend anymore time on a drip and to be honest it was getting a bit of a chore pretending not to be aware, and not to respond.  Sometimes when they were insistently calling his name and encouraging him to respond, he felt like opening his eyes and saying “For god’s sake leave me alone, I just don’t want to talk”.
His problem was he’d run out of things to think about and to take his mind off his immediate situation.  He knew now what kind of motorcycle he was going to buy with his share of the DVD money.  He’d worked out a pretty good way of insisting on being interviewed  by Martha Kingsley, although he thought it may come across as a bit odd, that having insisted on only talking to her that he then went on to get her autograph.  She might find that a bit creepy, he thought she would.  Still he could get the details of that right with a bit more thought; trouble was once he had officially regained consciousness, his thoughts would not be his own, he’d have to put up with all that fucking questioning by the police.  They’d want to know the ins and outs of all of it, of course they would, they needed an excuse to justify shooting him.  It must be chaos out there shooting a man with a hockey stick in his own front garden for God’s sake, and for what - destroying a few traffic lights, not exactly the twin towers, and he wasn’t even a Muslim.  I bet they’ve spent loads of time trying to make a Muslim connection, seems that no one can make a political protest in this country anymore without the police trying to link it to Muslims, they must feel pretty pissed off about that.
He opened his eyes and looked around.  He’d done this before, often, but he had always been careful to make sure there was no one else in the room.  As he looked up he saw the surprise on the nurse’s face as she tinkered with the drip.  He must have been so deep in thought that he had forgotten to check
“Hello Mr Pillory, are you back with us?”  She moved over and pressed a button on a cord and then started to look into his face intently taking his pulse as she did so.  
“We thought you were never going to come back, you’ve been out for a long time.  How do you feel?”
“It’s Mr Pillory doctor, he seems to have regained consciousness though he hasn’t spoken yet.”
The doctor checked him out talking all the time trying to get a response.  Joe had decided that he could pass out again, but reckoned that would create a load on medical fuss.  He could talk and ask for a drink, which is what he wanted, knowing that after the drink there would be the police, and he was not ready for that yet.  So he said nothing. The doctor seemed content with this.
“See if he’ll take a little water, I’ll go and tell the police he’s awake, although I’m not sure he’s going to talk to them yet, and he’s still pretty weak.”
In fact Joe hadn’t realised how weak he really felt.  Up to that time he’d assumed that all his inactivity was down to his own lack of willingness to seem conscious, now he realised that it might be more fundamental than that, what if he could not talk at all?
“Can I have a drink of water please?”
“Of course you can.  I’ll just pop out and get you one.”

Terry knew it was somewhere; he’d gone up into the loft and was amazed at the junk that was up there.  He’d only seen it once before when his dad had been given it by a man he used to buy rabbits from.  It was back in the eighties when things were not so tight around firearms, and over the years his dad had talked about handing it in, but never seemed to get around to it.
Everything in the loft was filthy, but at least it was all packed up so that once unwrapped, it had a good chance of being OK.  He must get up here when all this was over and have a real go through it all.  You never know there might be something valuable and it looked like he was going to need some money soon. “Ah what’s this?” Wrapped in thick polythene, taped up with parcel tape was an object about three feet long.  He slit open the package and inside was a number of fishing rods, a walking stick and a shot gun.  Single barrelled, nothing special to look at but clean and in an oiled rag, looked in pretty good nick he could read the maker, Parker Hale calibre 410.  In a plastic bag taped into the bottom of the package he found five cartridges.
Downstairs in the workshop he started to cut down the barrel to about eight inches long using a hack saw.  When that was done he carefully started to unpick the ends of a couple of the cartridges, bending the plastic crenulated flaps back, removing some of the wadding and tipping out the shot.  He went to his kitchen spice rack and started to refill the cartridges with whole black pepper corns.  They were the only thing he could think off that was softer than shot and therefore likely to do less harm in the event of an accident.  He refolded the ends and put the two cartridges aside.
His phone rang, it was Duane. “You rang me white boy?”
“Yes I’m going to try to get you a copy of the DVD.  If I get it I’ll send it to the police, with the names, but I’ll give the names to you first.  You’ll have twenty four hours head start on them if you want to do anything about it.  It’s the best I can do.  Your brother will deserve that, and I’m still not convinced the cops will do anything with the information if I give it to them.”
“OK. I’ll wait to hear from you.  Take care now.” 
It was four thirty, dark and cold.  Terry had the sawn off attached to his belt and hidden under his motorcycle jacket.  He had made up a sort of carrying harness from an old leather dog lead he had found at home, the only trouble was he had had to dispense with a jumper under his jacket to get the gun in as it was all too bulky and when he rode his bike it made bending at the waist tricky.  That meant in the sub zero temperatures of the copse overlooking Rawlins house he was getting pretty cold.  As he wasn’t going to be there that long he reckoned he would survive.  He needed to get his hands on the DVD and to confirm that Rawlins was involved with its production.  He reckoned that Rawlins was bound to have a copy and that, if he did, this would provide concrete proof of his involvement.  In addition he could do with getting Rawlins to tell him the whole deal with the Dutchman he had encountered.  Once he had got that he could feel justified in throwing Rawlins to the wolves, whether they be the police or Duane.  He could also do with confirmation of Joe’s involvement as that would square any guilt he might feel in pointing the finger at him.
The trouble was he’d never met Rawlins, did not know anything about him other than he was some sort of bigwig solicitor.  It was obvious he had money from the house and the car, but other than that Terry had no idea how it would go.  Up until  twenty four hours ago he had never ever considered taking anyone hostage or questioning them at gun point and, apart from an overwhelming sense of disgust and injustice at what had been done to those kids, alongside his disappointment at the disinterest of the police, he did not really know what his motive was for doing all this.  He imagined that had he not been a journalist, and therefore not come into contact with this world through his own actions, then he would simply be able to read about such things as a bystander and not be affected by them.  Maybe he became a journalist because at heart he was a campaigner.  Were all journalists struck by the need to right the wrongs discovered through their investigations, he didn’t know, but he knew he did, and if that was the case, once this was finished he had to get out before he bit off more than he could handle, that was if he could even handle this.
He saw Rawlins’ Merc pull into the drive and within a minute the lights were on in the house and he had tracked Rawlins from room to room through his binoculars. He started to move down towards the house and as he did so he kept an eye on his quarry.  He decided that to confront him in the kitchen was not a good idea, too many knives and other potential weapons, so he settled on the dining or living rooms when he was eating his meal, reckoning he could handle small eating knives and that the man would be sitting down, either at the table or with a tray on his lap, both of which would slow him up in getting to his feet.  As it worked out Rawlins was going to have his supper on a tray, and as an extra impediment he had an open bottle of wine on it.
Terry hadn’t decided if it was going to be best to burst in or try to get in quietly, but as he checked the back door in the kitchen, it opened so that made his mind up for him.  The main light was out in the kitchen, just those dim down lighters over the units, but he moved slowly and quietly through the kitchen and along the dimly lit hallway to where he could see a patch of light coming from a door that was slightly ajar and he could hear the television.  He estimated that Rawlins had had enough time to settle, but he did not really know which way he would be facing.  As it turned out it was with his back to Terry.
“Good evening, Mr Rawlins.”  Terry moved round to face him and instead of pointing the gun at him kept it at an angle across his chest.  He had to speak quite loud in order to counteract the muffling of the balaclava and the sound of the television but he had been practising that in front of the bathroom mirror that afternoon.
Rawlins didn’t look comfortable, but he didn’t exactly look scared either.
“What is it that you want? I don’t keep money in the house.”  Terry thought he could just detect a tremor in the voice.
“I don’t want money, but I do want that DVD you were looking at the other day at Wilmot’s, and before you tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about , I saw you there, and I’ll shoot you if you don’t give it to me.  You will have noticed that neither Jewson nor Wilmot came back last evening.  I suspect you read of their tragic car accident. Now the DVD please.”
Rawlins moved his right arm down the outside of his chair, “It’s down here in my briefcase.” 
Terry had the gun pointing at him now as he drew the briefcase up onto his knee and clicked back the catches. “You are in over your head Mr Collinge.  I can give you a chance to leave and forget the whole thing.  If you go any further it will be out of my hands, my partners won’t be so liberal.”
“By that I take it you mean the other man I met the other night, he sounded Dutch. I suppose he must have found my ID in my pockets when he emptied them.”
“That wasn’t Dutch, that was Low German, they sound similar, but they will not be pleased, as they have a lot invested and would not want any extra trouble.  Anyway I’ve known about you for a while ever since you went see Mr Jewson, after our last little get together.  You are not going to use that gun so you have a chance to leave or I ring my friends.”
The sound of the gun going off inside really shocked Terry. He had not really aimed at Rawlins, but obviously the trigger was a bit light, and although it had not gone off by accident, the hair trigger had rather taken away most of the decision making. Rawlins hadn’t started to scream yet but was looking rather disconsolately at his left hand which now appeared to be missing the ends of a couple of fingers. “The DVD?”  Terry snatched the briefcase and found a familiar looking jiffy bag; he slid out the disk, loaded it into the player by the television, to check it was what he was after.
 “Ok, I’m going.  One last question - was Joe Pillory something to do with all this?”
Rawlins didn’t speak.  Terry pointed the gun at his right hand.  He didn’t want to risk the gun going off again and killing the man but he did need an answer. “Last chance.”
“Yes, he was the matchmaker.”
Terry had brought some gaffer tape with him and set about taping Rawlins to his chair.  The wound to his left hand was bleeding quite hard, but he reckoned that Rawlins wouldn’t bleed to death from it.  He took Rawlins’ mobile and threw it out into the garden, then he pulled the phone line out from the wall socket.  At least he would have enough time to get away.
“By the way, if your hand stings, it’s peppercorns, so it won’t look like a gunshot wound when you go to A& E.  I assume you won’t want to draw attention to yourself, bearing in mind that I’ve got the disk.  If you set the dogs on me you know what I’ll do with it.  And you can expect a call from my associates.  Have a nice day.”
Why did he have to say that last part?  He wanted to keep Rawlins’ associates away from him, but why pretend he had associates?  Then he realised he did have, and not ones to fuck with at that.   I sound like Phillip Marlowe, oh well you live and learn.

The taxi dropped Rawlins at the entrance to A& E.  It had taken him an hour to stop shaking with fear and that was now replaced with shaking with rage.  He had managed to get out of the gaffer tape quite easily.  He had spent a fruitless half an hour looking for his mobile where Terry had thrown it into the garden, but he hadn’t found it, then he had tried to reconnect his phone line which Terry had pulled out, but he couldn’t do it with his wrecked fingers.  He couldn’t even use them to send an email, so contacting Kurt about Terry and the missing disk would have to wait.
In the end he had stopped the bleeding from what was left of his fingers with kitchen paper and had wrapped the whole bloody mess up in a tea towel.  Then he had walked the half mile to his neighbour and got her to ring him a taxi.  He told her he had got his fingers in a food blender - a story he was going to stick to in A & E.
“Ok, Mr Rawlins, go and sit over there and someone will come and look at your hand, when they have a moment.”
“How long is the wait?”
“Oh about two and half hours tonight, we are not too busy, but we may have to take any more urgent cases if we get them.”
“Isn’t losing your fingers an urgent case?”
“Not if you’ve just walked into a chainsaw.  Go and take a seat and we’ll be with you as soon as we can.”

Up in the tower block on Ward 9, Dave Clifton was just walking towards the door of the small secluded side ward in which Joe Pillory was now lying, and according to the staff conscious and talking.  He looked at his watch.
“Ten sodding thirty, and I’ve got to come out on this freezing sodding night, disturb what’s left of my family to talk to some nutter about his motives for blowing up traffic lights.  No wonder  Sandy  says she doesn’t understand what I do all the time.  I’m buggered if I do but  this time, we get his statement, we get his reasons and we get it all down in a report then we stop buggering around with other angles and  give it all to the Chief and get the fuck out of Dodge.”
He had spent some time planning how he was going to question Pillory; it was vital and urgent that they got a handle on his motive, if he had one, so that they could spin it to the public to support the terrorist side of the reason for the shooting.  After so much time it was starting to play a bit thin with the public and the press and the cracks in the united police story were beginning to show.  So it really was important to get it done as soon as.  In any case he had no idea of Pillory’s physical state - he might be about to die for all Dave knew so getting it done now was obviously important.  Thing was how hard could he push, and where was bloody Outram, he was always late.

 “It’s a shame you didn’t bring the finger ends in with you, we might have had a chance to sew them back on.  I expect they are still in the bottom of the blender.  It’s not as bad as it looks, although I’d have expected the cuts to be much cleaner than this.  This black looks like food, what is it?”
“Peppercorns.”
“Must sting a bit.”
“Of course it stings.”
“I’ll soon have you all sewn up and give you tetanus jab and you can go home.  I can’t help laughing at your choice of bandage.”
Rawlins looked over at the bloody tea towel in a heap on the floor.  Even though he was in pain and furious, he couldn’t suppress a smile. “This little piggy went to market.”  He muttered under his breath looking at the bloodstained pigs in police uniforms, which surrounded the rhyme on his tea towel.   “My sister bought me that, it makes her laugh so I’d better take it back and wash it.”

“It’s a pity you didn’t caution me before you bloody well shot me. What on earth were you thinking of?”
This interview was not going to plan, Pillory felt seriously pissed off about being shot and was not missing any opportunity to tell Dave how pissed off and amazed he was. He seemed to have got onto the moral high ground and was not going to give it up easily so questioning about the traffic lights was not going according to Dave’s plan.
“We are going to have a bit of a break now.  Let you rest for half an hour and then come back and resume the interview.”

“Ok Mr Pillory, we are not after your confession, we don’t need it you see, we have your bomb making lair in your loft, we have you on CCTV at the scene and we have Sergeant Outram’s evidence from his surveillance in the university.  We also have a statement from your old boss, Professor Rickarts, who told us you had all the knowledge to make the devices, so what we want is to know why.”
“I’m not saying anything without my lawyer.  His name is Rawlins, and you’ve got to let me see him.”
“Wrong - you’re being held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act so we can keep you and question you on your own.  So this is the first bit of day one with a hell of a long way to go.  So tell us why.”
If Dave Clifton had noticed the look of disbelief that had shot onto Pillory’s face at the mention of terrorism, he made no reaction.  They sat for a few seconds in silence.
“Did you say terrorism?”
“That’s right, why do you think you were shot?  Any act that damages the infrastructure of the country and tries to create social and economic chaos is now usually thought of as terrorism, and dealt with accordingly.”
The shock to Pillory had given Dave his way in.  He now had control on the interview and he reckoned that even though it all sounded ridiculous as he said it, it would be enough to get the interview over quickly.
“So who were your other accomplices, and where does this 75 club fit in, and yes we know about Rawlins so you had better get another solicitor.”
“This is complete nonsense.  These weren’t acts of terrorism, they were acts against the suppression by society of the individual.  Have you any idea how much society nannies, interferes and suppresses through bureaucracy?  Of course you have - you are all agents of the state.”
This was music to Dave’s ears; this guy was writing his report for him out of his own mouth.  He was admitting to a motivation that any idiot could spin as terrorism, all he needed was a bit more detail and a few accomplices would be nice, and they could all go home, except Pillory that is.
“So exactly how did you get suppressed by society so that you decided to start on your campaign of sabotage?”  That word sabotage was just the icing on the cake.
“ It was when my motorcycle failed its MoT.”
Now it was Dave’s chance to look astounded - what the fuck had he just said?  This whole thing stemmed from a failed MoT?
“Can you explain the details of this please, Mr Pillory?”
Joe went into a long detailed explanation of how his prefect little bike, his only real friend, had been refused an MoT, not because there was something wrong with it, that he could accept and he would have been happy to put it right, but because when it was first registered someone had not written the correct frame number down, something that had never had to be checked before but now with the big system, the computerisation of records, which by the way was just to keep tabs on everybody, now with this electronic big brother, if the numbers didn’t match the bike didn’t really exist and so could not be tested, so Joe could no longer ride it and his life had had to change because of some stupid bureaucratic error.
“So if they were going to mess up my life, I thought I would get my own back and do something in the name of the club.”
“So the club knew about this and approved you to do it/”
“That’s not how it worked.  You did something first and if you wanted it to be recognised, you put the advert in the paper after it had happened.  No one else knew about it, and the club didn’t even seem to pick up on it even though I stuck the logo in the paper.  The only one who seemed to twig after about six attacks was Jewson who contacted me to congratulate me.”
He kept talking for about thirty minutes when Dave decided he had enough for his report.   The initial outburst had sounded quite hopeful as a terrorist attack, but the later details really just confirmed that the man was a nutter. Still he reckoned there was enough for the police spin machine to convert into a justification for the shooting.
       “You must be tired; someone will talk to you again tomorrow.”
Dave left thinking and it sure isn’t going to be me.


 

DAY EIGHT

When he was allowed home from A & E later that evening, Rawlins went straight into the garden with a flashlight to find his phone.  He still felt a bit groggy from the tramadol and anaesthetic and, despite the painkiller, his hand hurt like hell.  However he was so angry and so bent on revenge on Terry that all he could think about was finding his phone and calling Kurt: that would settle the little bastard’s hash, once Kurt and his pals had found him.  It took him about ten minutes combing his lawn to find it, he was normally meticulous but the cocktail of drugs in him made him search in an almost random pattern.  If he had gone back in the room and traced Terry’s actions he would have found it much sooner.  Still he had it now and it was none the worse for its few cold hours in the grass.
“Let’s see, contacts, K, Kurt there it is”, he called the number “Kurt, it’s me Rawlins, we have a problem.  The other disk has been stolen and may be on its way to the police.  Also Jewson’s dead and they may have you on CCTV at the shop.  He gave us the slip and came here and took the disk at bloody gun point.  His name is Collinge, he’s a reporter, no I thought he was harmless now I’m not so sure.  I haven’t got anyone here who can sort it out, even if I could, he’s bloody well shot my fingers off, and I can barely hold a cup of tea let alone hit anyone.  Ok, I’ll have his address by the time you get here. I thought you would be back in Germany by now but if you are still in London then I’ll see you in a few hours.”
He went back inside and started to check through his DVDs, he had all the originals - the one Kurt had bought was just the edited high lights.  There were going to be many more to come, worth a fortune.  He had about 150 hours of action packed footage and he did not want to destroy it.  The trouble was he did not know if the police had any idea he was involved or not.  He started to box up the DVDs and move them out into the loft over his garage.  This was quite a task one handed for a tubby man, but after about an hour he had managed to secrete them right at the back, along with his old computer on which he had always viewed them.  He came back down the ladder.  He never felt the blow from the brick to his temple, a brick used like that is a very effective weapon with the added advantage of being tough to trace.
When he awoke, he found himself wrapped neatly in polythene sheeting and seemingly travelling in what seemed like the boot of a car.  He had a couple of air holes for his nose but other than that he was well wrapped up.  After about forty minutes the car stopped and he saw two men, one black, as they opened the boot.  No one said a word.  The two men lifted him out of the boot and expertly unwrapped him.  He was not really in a fit state to struggle but one of them picked up a plastic bag containing the brick.  He took out the brick and brought down in exactly the same place as before, just hard enough to knock Rawlins unconscious.  The two men pushed him face down into the freezing waters of the canal.  As he hit the water it was cold enough to just revive him briefly.  As he gulped in a huge lungful of freezing water he thought he heard someone say, “that’s for mi brother” then a splash as the brick joined him and the many hundreds of other bricks at the bottom of the cut.

Dave sat in the Chief Constable’s office alongside his Super.  Across the desk the Chief looked happy as he wagged the report in his left hand.
“Well done, David, this looks like it can provide us with enough information to make our case convincingly to Joe public, and the whole thing should go away, pretty quickly.”
“I do think there are still some risks we need to avoid, sir, particularly in how we deal subsequently with Pillory.  We don’t want to make him a martyr on the one hand or seem to let him off too lightly on the other. 
“There are three areas we need to be careful of.  The first is the university staff - we are getting evidence of considerable, rather cynical disquiet about overreacting, and universities can easily become hot beds of unrest.  Secondly, there’s this club he was a member of, not very active and not very significant in itself, but if we end up trying to implicate it, when there really is no evidence, I suspect someone like Mr Rawlins could use it as a platform for trying to recreate himself as some sort of phoney human rights lawyer.  Those two factors alone could bring the general public around to the view that we overreacted, particularly if the press carry on sniffing at the club angle, and running those supposedly humorous accounts of their antics.
“So I don’t think we are out of the woods yet, but we should play the rest of it very, very low key.  We don’t need to investigate the club anymore, just drop it quietly, and let Joe Pillory recover and then spirit him away to a low security unit until he comes to trial, and aim to convict him of a lesser charge so he doesn’t get the urge to have his say, which I think he would like to do.  So I would urge that the whole of the rest of this be very low key indeed.”
”I understand what you say, Clifton, but it would be good to make a bit of capital out of catching a terrorist before he did real harm.  I’ll try it out on the PR people and see what they think, but I will bear in mind what you’ve just said.  And jolly good work again David.”
Dave didn’t seem to think he had been listened to.  He could tell that by the sudden use of Clifton by the Chief.  Still, he reckoned he had just about come out on top.  Anyway at least he could hand the tidy up over to Outram, and draw a line under the whole thing.

Terry had made up his mind; on the bus into work it had seemed pretty clear.  He wasn’t cut out to be a journalist and it was a good job he had found it out so quickly.  He didn’t know why but he knew that he needed more excitement.  Ok, the investigating was fairly interesting and could be quite exciting, especially when you had no idea what was going to happen, but what he really liked was living on the edge and that was what the past three days had taught him.  He liked it, no he loved it, the whole bloody rush of it, he just loved it.  He’d done some pretty alien things in the last three days, not least the killing of two men, if Duane was to be believed.  He didn’t feel any remorse over that, it was simply dog eat dog and he reacted accordingly.  Blowing off Rawlins fingers was a bit of an accident, and actually he didn’t really know what would have happened if Rawlins had continued to refuse to give him the disk and the gun hadn’t accidentally gone off.  He suspected that he would have looked a bit of a fool, so God bless hair triggers, as they take the decision making out of a shooting.
As he looked at the back of the young woman’s head in the seat in front of him, he thought about the ordinariness of most people’s lives, he could not go back to that.
Having made a copy of the disk, he had sent one to Duane as he had promised, and he had given him a day’s grace.  Now he needed to send the other copy to the police and try to gee them up into investigating the boxing business.  He needed to do that under the umbrella of the paper, so once he got into work he would go and see Alan to tell him the story, or at least the edited highlights, then he could get on and finish the little anecdotes stories about the club and later in the week he would resign.  The trouble was he didn’t have any money to resign with, but he could feel a plan forming that might help him with that and set him up for the future.
He hadn’t felt so upbeat since before his mum and dad died.  He wasn’t sure that this was what they had in mind for him or that it would make them proud but he was pretty sure that Duane would have cleared up the mess properly and that Rawlins wouldn’t tell anyone for fear of incriminating himself, so what was there to worry about?
       He never used to read the local paper hoardings, but since he’d become a journo he found himself looking out for the latest editions from the bus window. “Local solicitor found drowned.”
“Bloody hell Duane, you don’t hang about. We need to meet.”
“What you talking about, white boy?  On second thoughts don’t say anymore, usual place 6.30 tonight.”
When he got in he went straight to Alan’s office with the disk.
“Ah, the prodigal returns, what have you been up to?  Those little stories about the 75 club have been going down really well, we have got about 400 letters to select from  It is interesting but the general zeitgeist is definitely swinging in favour of the club’s activities and away from the interfering state.”
“Yes, well, you’ve got to be careful of that.  We were taught at uni that newspaper letter writers are a self selecting group of people who like to see their name and opinions in print.”
“Don’t try and teach me to suck eggs - that doesn’t matter because readers like to read them, and that what sells copies.”
“I’ve got that DVD I told you about, of the kids boxing.  I don’t think we can link it to Pillory but we could link it to the club.  If we are not going to use it then it ought to go to your mate in the police.”
“I’m not sure about using it.  If it puts an unpleasant slant on the club it could well interfere with the type of public interest and support our readers are showing for it and that could damage our figures.  I’m keen to keep the club stuff light, even though the members seem to be dropping like flies.  I suppose you’ve seen that Rawlins was found drowned in the canal, seems he came out of A& E having hurt his hand in the kitchen, he was full of painkillers and managed to bang his head and fall in and drown.  So that’s three of them dead in three days, and we don’t want to make too much of Pillory’s membership either, I doubt it is relevant to the shooting anyway.  No, keep it light. I’ll have a look at the disk and pass it to DI Clifton if it is of no interest to us.  So off you go and interview some other old nutter to keep our readers happy.”

Dave sat on his side of the desk and Sgt Outram slouched in the chair opposite. Dave was in the process of outlining to Outram the way he wanted the Pillory thing handled.  Really low key, without making any waves, and by innuendo develop the story of Pillory the libertarian terrorist who drew his inspiration from the weird but insignificant 75club.  The trouble was that Outram had just thrown two spanners in the works, so at this precise moment a sullen silence settled in the room.
“Sometimes I think I’d know more about what goes on in this city if I worked for that fucking paper instead of being a copper.  I take one day off and go on a little trip just so I can recognise my kid and my wife will still talk to me, and when I get back in the whole thing has gone tits up.”
“Well, it’s not my fault Gov,  the public seem to have really taken this club to their hearts, and the word is that we should not push the link between Pillory, the club and urban terrorism too hard or it might backfire on us.  That came from the Super himself. Particularly now that Rawlins is dead that makes this club a rather dangerous one to be in - so far it’s three dead and one shot.  I’m buggered if it is coincidence, but forensic are adamant, no obvious signs of foul play, two in an RTA and one drowning. They did say his hand injury looked more like a gunshot than a blade injury though; apparently there were traces of pepper corns in the wound.  Still it wasn’t that that killed him.  So it doesn’t shed much extra light on things. How do you want me to play it?”
“Just do what the Super says.  I’ve got to go and see the editor of the paper.  He says he’s got something for me, maybe I’ll ask him about the public attitude to this club.”

It was a foul night as Terry stood in the rear doorway of the kebab shop, the wind was gusting and blowing the rain in short painful blasts horizontally into his face.  He tried to look away but found himself being drawn back to look towards the road, in an attempt to try to spot Duane or his car as he approached, as on every other occasion he failed.
“Let’s go and get a drink somewhere warm, white boy.”
In the back room of the Halfway House they sat huddled over their whiskeys.
“You owe me a name, I looked at the disk and I’m convinced.  You did a good job, kept your word.  I’m grateful.”
“So, if I give you the last name, we are even?”
“I wouldn’t say that.  I reckon I’d be ahead.  Still I have something for you, two things actually, you give me the name and then we are square.”
Duane pushed a large brown envelope over to Terry. “Don’t open it here.  Wait till you get home - it’s a token of appreciation - twenty five thousand tokens of appreciation actually.  That’s the first thing.  The second is that there is someone looking for you, large ugly white man, Dutch or German, calls himself Kurt, I think he used to be a friend of Rawlins.”
“He sounds like the one who was going to buy the disks and who helped to take me to the house that evening.  I could not have dealt with him if he had come back but he said he had to catch the Euro star.  I suppose Rawlins must have put him on to me for stealing the other copy.  How do you know anyway?”
“He was asking around one of me clubs.”
Suddenly Terry wanted to get home,” Thanks for this.”  He held up the envelope, “Can I call you if I need any help with Kurt?”
“Then we won’t be even again and you still owe me a name.”
“His name is Joe Pillory; he’s the traffic light bomber who was shot.  I doubt you can get to him.  I expect the police have him well protected.”
“You sure it is him”
“Yes very.”
Although he had not said much, Terry was overwhelmed by Duane’s generosity, he could not be sure what it was going to cost him, if anything, but he knew he could rely on him now if he needed some help.
They split up and Duane disappeared into the wet darkness in yet another unidentified minicab.  Terry walked for a bit trying to get his head straight and happened to coincide with a bus at a stop so he caught it.  It dropped him at the bottom of Oxley and he started to walk home.  All the time he walked it dawned on him that he was in some danger.  When he had left Duane all he could think about was the money and what that would allow him to do, but as he approached his place he realised that if Kurt were any good he would have got his address somehow, and would be keeping an eye on it.  As he walked past an empty shop front he clocked himself in the window.  With his hood up and his face not visible there was no chance of his being recognised at a distance, so he was unlikely to be jumped from the back.  That meant that the only recognition could come from him entering his house, if Kurt were watching it.
As he approached it he started to look for signs of someone keeping watch.  He didn’t know what to look for or even how far away.  However he could see someone sitting behind the wheel of a BMW parked about twenty yards up from his place. Strangely the car was facing away from the house, having overshot, so that if he could get away he could not be followed down the road until the car had turned, which it could not do for two hundred yards where there was a gap in the barrier at some traffic lights.
Suddenly he was convinced this was Kurt, and he needed a plan.  The one thing he couldn’t do was stop at his front door so when he got there he just kept walking.  Looking back in the reflection of a glass doorway he thought he saw the man in the car move a little, but he could not be sure.  After he had walked about a hundred yards past his door he stopped and rang Ed his old school chum who lived down near the hospital.
“Hi Ed, any chance of crashing round yours tonight?   I’ll explain later.”
He kept walking and came to a left turn.  He went left and left again and walked back ending up at the back of the old butcher’s shop yard.  Providing that there weren’t two of them watching the house he should be OK.  Going in he was careful not to show any lights, it did not look as if the place had been disturbed, and he was able to use the light from the streetlamp to pack a few things in a rucksack.  He went quickly downstairs and looked out of the corner of the front window.  The BMW was still there but he couldn’t see the man in it anymore.  He started to panic.  Going into the back workshop he found his riding gear and manged to wheel the bike out into the back lane.  As he locked up he thought he caught a glimpse of some movement.  He kicked up the Triumph, which roared into life, and without waiting any further crunched it into gear and shot down the lane.  He was prepared to take a kick at anyone in his way but it didn’t come to that.  He began thinking it was his imagination. Right at the end.  Right at the lights which had just changed and off at a clip along the Stafford Road and back towards the city centre.  He tried to check if the BMW moved off in his mirror but he really could not see, what with the rain and the headlights and the vibration of the mirror in time with the engine.  He would just have to trust to luck, speed, and a little local knowledge. Anyway it may simply have been a figment of his imagination.

“I thought you might be interested in this, sir.”
Dave Clifton looked up from his computer and, “What is it, constable?”
“It’s off the CCTV footage for yesterday afternoon at Duane’s club.”
“And?”
“It’s a new face which I thought I’d seen before.  I went back through our Interpol alerts and there it was - Kurt Harms, German.  Into everything - porn, drugs, prostitution, works for one of the big ex East German crime families, here’s all the details.  Also got him leaving the club and getting into a BMW.   I don’t suppose he knew we were targeting Duane, or he’d have made a bit of an effort to keep away from the cameras.”
“Well done Constable, Dorman isn’t it?  Put a search out for the car; that should be easy to spot, and add him to the list of known Duane contacts, nice work.”


DAY NINE

Kurt sat in the BMW smoking and watching the front of Terry’s house.  Apart from a couple of short breaks to go for a pee and get some food and a coffee he had been sitting there all night.  It was now 11.30 in the morning and it did not look like the address he had got from the guy at the newspaper was going to come up with anything. He was beginning to think it was a waste of time; really he should be back in Hamburg, taking care of his proper business, not sitting in this car getting stiff and freezing.  He was pretty sure that the Clysters would be wondering where he was as he told them he was only going to be a couple of days.  By his calculation he had been over here for five days, he had the disk, he could get back home and make a killing with it, he only came back to keep the contact going with Rawlins because of the promise of more material, but now Rawlins was dead there was not much point in him being there.  He wasn’t going to protect  his interests by taking care of Terry because without Rawlins he had no interests to protect.  Just his bloody luck the first time you get something for yourself it turns out to be a blind alley, he had to face up to the fact that he was destined to stay as a hired hand of the Clysters for the rest of his life: still he should be able to make a fair bit on the one disk, there were plenty of sickos out there who would pay for this kind of stuff, just a shame it had ended so abruptly.
As he snicked the BMW into gear and went to pull out into the traffic the squad car pulled across him diagonally and two coppers got out.
“Schizen, what now?”
As he sat in the interview room, Kurt was wandering what was taking so long. OK he had form in Germany, but he was not particularly big time, and he had not had much of a chance to do anything here in England that the UK police would be interested in.
“OK, Mr Harms, you can go in a minute.  We don’t have any reason to keep you here at the moment.  However we would like an explanation as to why you have this disk. Where did it come from?”
“I got it from a friend - he said I might be interested in it.  I have not looked at it yet.  I was waiting till I got back home.”
“What was the name of this friend?”
“His name was Ronnie Edwards.  I met him in a pub - The Great Western - I think that was the name.  I came back from London to see him again but could not find him.”
“Well, we will be keeping the disk for the moment as it may form part of our enquiry into another case.  If you go down to the desk with the Sergeant he will give you a receipt for it.  We will let you know when you can have it back.  Are you staying long in Wolverhampton?”
“A day or two maybe.”
“If you give us a phone number and an address please then we can contact you when you can have the disk back.  However, I must warn you that if the content of this disk is found to be real, then possession of it may be an offence and we might want to talk to you again.”
As Kurt stepped out into the street he made a mental note to get his business done with the minimum of mess and get the hell out of Wolverhampton and England as soon as possible.  In fact he was wondering pretty hard if it was worth continuing with his business and not just to leave now.  However it could be his main chance, so maybe worth the risk of staying.  He needed to lose the BMW and get a different car, check out of the hotel, be ready to flit at the slightest sign of police interest.  He reckoned he could get another car from Duane Deville.  It was from him that he had got the BMW, so it should be no problem to change it.  He didn’t really like being in debt to a schwarzer but he was the best contact the Clysters had in the midlands and he would have to do.

Joe was feeling pretty pleased with himself.  He was still very weak, and the police still turned up at any old time to try to wheedle a few more details out of him, but he could tell they were losing interest.  Of course he would put on a bit of extra agony to gain a bit of sympathy, but on the whole they were really trying to get more information especially about the club, and he didn’t see why he should help them further.  They had definitely picked up on the boxing though he had no idea how, although they did let drop that Rawlins and Jewson were somehow dead.  He couldn’t imagine that the police had shot them, but he could not get them to say what had happened.  Anyway he reckoned he was starting to get his points across about the overreaction to what he still regarded as a perfectly valid act of civil protest.  He was on the brink of trying to get his interview with Martha.  In fact he dreamed about Martha a lot, both day and night dreams, and he must be feeling better because the dreams were getting more erotic, with a lot more detail.  It was as if he could concentrate on the images a bit more now he was feeling stronger. Anyway he was not sure how he could introduce his demand to be given the chance to put his side of things to Martha, but he was working on that, despite being regularly sidetracked by images of her breasts.
He was just enjoying a Martha moment when he was interrupted by that image of Roger swinging the microphone around his head, Pete white suited and wheeling his arm. “Hope I die before I get old.”  He was a big fan of The Who but the frequent recurrence of this image was beginning to pall.  OK when it all started to happen he did hope he would die before he got old, whatever old was.  It was even the guiding principle of the 75 club, although the age had gradually shifted upward, but now it was definitely intruding, although less often.  All he wanted to think about now was survival, becoming notorious, having his fifteen minutes and pouring it all out to Martha - who knows she may even fall for him and his revolutionary charm.
He checked the clock on the wall and saw that it was about 2.30; the police normally came in the morning so maybe they were going to leave him alone, and he could get back to his planning.
There was one thing nagging at him though, and that was that with Rawlins dead he would find it difficult to make any money out of the boxing DVDs.  He had a couple of rough edits on disk, that he had got from Willmot but he did not know how to go about selling them as Rawlins had always kept his German contact to himself.  Still it can’t be that hard to find a buyer.  He might get some contacts in prison.  He was pretty sure he would go to prison, but bearing in mind his being shot and the nature of the offence he could not see it being for more than a few months, and then he would have his fifteen minutes, best to wait to contact Martha once he was released.
Trouble was, who would look after his house?  Could he still go back after it was over, could he front it out and stay living there?  He did not see why not, after all he’d only destroyed a few traffic lights and been shot for his troubles.  He did not think the university would want him back; he knew how opposed they were to bad publicity, and anyway he wasn’t sure he fancied going back.  It was odd enough for an academic to behave quirky and eccentric, but not a technician.  It was as if there was an assumption that the academic would have thought it all through using their great intellect, but lesser mortals would be doing things from more base motives.
Anyway he was tired and wanted a cup of tea - time to try and catch the nurse’s sympathetic eye.

Clifton and Outram were sitting in the office, waiting to go and  listen to the Chief Constables justification to the press for shooting Pillory.  The hope was that this would draw a line under it all, at least until the internal enquiry, but that was going to take months.  Dave had provided all the information and given his opinion, but he had no idea of what the Chief was going to say.  He just hoped to God that it would not make matters worse.
“I don’t think there is any point in re-interviewing Pillory - we’ve been to see him five times and we haven’t got any more from him.  We might as well let him stew until he is well enough to be processed.  Doc says that could be about three weeks.  He’s given us nothing further about the club and nothing at all about the kids boxing;  I’m beginning to think that that is a dead end.  Time to draw a line under the whole sorry mess.
OK, time to go and hear the words of wisdom.  Keep your eyes and ears on the press boys - should give us some inkling as to how it is going to play.

“It is always regrettable when someone has to be shot during arrest.  It is not something the police do lightly and we follow a precise procedure to allow us to make the appropriate decision at the time, given the prevailing circumstances.”
“This is sounding defensive and pompous, you old fool.”
“I am convinced that the correct procedures were followed that resulted in the shooting of Mr Joe Pillory.  However I am announcing today that over the next few months a thorough internal investigation will be carried out which I am sure will support that view.”
“How bad do you want this to sound?  This sounds like prejudging and whitewash.”  Dave heard the incessant whir and clack of the press cameras, and from his position at the side of the party it looked like the Chief might be looking a bit smug; everyone was trying to look grave and look at the floor at the same time.
“Mr Pillory was not only a member of an anarchistic, anti-authoritarian club which we are currently investigating further, but we have concrete evidence, from both his home and a much longer period of surveillance.......”
Outram reflected on the hours spent in the back of a van eating warm pot noodles and then pissing in the container.  What was that advert - dull it isn’t.
 “.......that he was a capable bomb maker who was not averse to letting off devices in public places, and that sooner or later there would have been casualties.  We are not currently at liberty to discuss his motives and assume these will become clear to the press and general public during the trial.  I am, however, going to congratulate my officers on a job well done in apprehending a dangerous criminal before any innocent parties were hurt.  That’s the end of my statement.  I do not intend to take questions.”
Dave looked despairingly at Outram - that’s about the worst position to leave it in - the press will have a bloody field day, if they have half a wit.
“Don’t you think you overreacted by shooting him?” It was Etheridge.
“No, I don’t believe we did,” and he was gone.
Definitely time to get the fuck out of Dodge.

Terry sat on a chair outside Alan’s office; he was looking at the second page of the latest edition.  Under the headline “Chief Constable justifies shooting and announces whitewash”, with Etheridge’s name under it, there was the expected rant about police overreaction in the shooting and the forthcoming internal enquiry, so far so predictable, but it then moved into a trenchant defence of the 75 club, outlining all its loveable characters who had been presented in the paper of the last six days, by your very own Terry Collinge.  There was a brief rundown of the stories Terry had covered of all the individual nutters in the club, but there was no mention of the boxing or any negative comments about the club at all.  So this was the stance the paper was going to take, regarding this lot as a collection of loveable very English eccentrics, and painting Pillory in the same light.  What was it about the English presses view of the public that they could always be relied upon to milk any story that contained an element of harmless individuality, and that that way lay the most readers.  What would happen if the public changed their mind or did not follow that line of the zeitgeist?  But they never did get it wrong, or not very often - that was Alan’s job as editor, to make sure they were always on target, just as it was the Chief Constable’s to present the police position as he wished it to be seen and bugger the actual story.
“Got your name in there - proper recognition for all your hard work.  I still think you should reconsider chucking it in.  This type of thing has happened to me loads of times, the editor reassigning a story to someone more experienced when it all gets bigger. Don’t worry about it, stay!”
“It’s too late,” Terry said nodding to Etheridge, “and thanks for the mention.  I’m finished here; it’s not my thing, too manipulated, not enough investigation.”
“Christ, Terry, grow up.  This is Wolverhampton and you’re not sodding Bernstein, anyway Alan wants to see you now.”
“I never really thought you had it in you to be a reporter, too laid back.  OK you were pretty good ferreting out those little stories about the club but you never showed any signs of follow up, so what are you going to do now?  You’ll need to get some more work soon to pay the bills, and there is not a lot of choice round here.  I’ll give you a decent reference if you find something to apply for.”
“I’ve got a bit saved so I’ve got some time; I thought I might set up some sort of local investigation agency.  You look surprised.  Investigating those little stories gave me a few ideas, and I wouldn’t be working to anyone else’s agenda.  I’m not sure I approve of always following the readership.”
“Well, all I can say is it pays me a decent wage and has done for a while now.  Still if it leaves a taste in your mouth, you’re right to get out.  I suppose this is all about dropping that lead about the boxing angle.  The trouble with that is that it was going to go against the attitude we had already tried to develop in the punters about the club.  To come up with something a bit dodgy would have made us look a bit stupid.  Anyway the police weren’t interested, so there was never any mileage in it, we aren’t some crusading rag, we are just a good solid local.”
Once he had cleared his desk, Terry decided to head for the uni bar for a swift half of cider and to check on what people thought about the police’s justification for the shooting.  It wasn’t as if he was going to do anything about it, just out of interest.
Once there he was surprised at the general level of lack of interest.  It was as if no one had noticed the police statement, or had moved on from caring about Joe, got bored with it.  Maybe Alan was right in his view of Joe public after all.  He finished his drink and headed for the bus stop.  Time to put his personal plan B into action.  The next day of the rest of my life - Terry Collinge private investigator. “I bet all I get are bloody divorce cases, hiding in wardrobes with a camera and being punched on the nose by irate lovers and husbands.”

The squad office was chaos; the original investigation team was being sidelined to make way for the internal enquiry.  Because he was reliable and not too far up the greasy pole Sgt Outram was continuing to build the case against Pillory, which was now pretty straightforward.  Once competed he would move on to something new.  Dave Clifton was definitely on the way out, the Chief and the Super had seen that nothing so far had stuck to them, and they were busy making sure that when it came it stuck to Clifton.  This gave him a strange cocoon of security, no longer did he have to try and work out what course of action would be good or at least less damaging for himself, he knew he could do nothing alleviate his position.  It did make the timing of his resignation tricky though - too soon and he was sure they would dump all the crap at his door, too late and it would look like he was pushed - so the last bug decision of his police career, exactly when to resign!
“In the mean time I may as well look a bit more at these deaths, and Duane’s younger brother.  I think a chat with that Terry Collinge may be the next thing.”
“I’m sorry Inspector, Mr Collinge no longer works here; he left at lunchtime.  No I have no idea where he has gone but if you contact our human resources department they may be able to help you with his home address.  Would you like me to transfer you?”
He didn’t want that.  If he needed to find him he had plenty of ways.

Martha was straddling him now naked with her breasts coming down towards his face; it was lovely he could smell the mixture of expensive scent and perspiration, as she slowly pulsated her thighs towards orgasm.  He had never ever had such a vivid dream and he was definitely not going to open his eyes and ruin it.  The breasts came more slowly down now and smothered his face completely; they now smelt vaguely of washing powder, he opened his mouth so that he could lick her nipples but all his tongue encountered was the rather rough texture of a pillow.
Duane kept applying the pressure until the rather feeble struggle was over; he quickly removed the pillow and slid it under Joe’s head.  He snipped the plastic identity tag off Joe’s wrist and slipped it in his pocket.  He walked quickly and quietly out of the hospital.  As he did so he had his head in his hood and was busy texting. “It’s over white boy, stay in touch.”


DAY TEN

Terry was still staying round at his mates, not keen to go home.  He had explained the bones of the problem to Ed, leaving out the deaths, that is, and Ed had volunteered to pop round to his place and suss out the lie of the land.  Neither of them thought there was much risk to Ed, as Kurt had seen Terry so wouldn’t be very likely to confuse Ed with him.  He’d had gone round the previous night and had nothing unusual to support.  He had also gone out early in the morning to take another look to make sure and was due back any moment.  Terry was lying on the sofa wrapped in a sleeping bag in his underpants looking at his phone and trying to work out what Duane meant by his cryptic message.
Terry heard the key in the lock and was pulling on his trousers as Ed walked in.
“Are you only just up , it’s gone 8.30.  It looks all clear back at your place.  I spent an hour or so checking it out and also had a look round the back - if there is someone there then they are well concealed.  I assume Judy didn’t wake you when she went to work?”
Ed chucked him the paper and went through to the tiny kitchenette.
“You want a coffee?  I’ve got to get into Uni in a bit, need to hand in an essay, you know what they are like for deadlines, five minutes late and all that work goes down the drain.  How’s that Triumph of yours going, since I rebuilt the motor?”
“Fine.  I’ve done about two thousand miles on it since the rebuild.  It’s very sweet and smooth.  I’ve done a few adjustments - tappets head bolts like you said, and it’s all pretty oil tight, changed the oil after five hundred miles, which reminds me I need to do it again soon.”
Terry was just thinking what a good mate Ed was.  They had known each other from school, but Ed had been a bit of a tearaway and left after his GCSEs.  He had got an apprenticeship at the local bus garage as a mechanic, and that suited him for a few years, but once he had settled down with Judy, he changed and became more ambitious and he was now in his second year at university as a mature student studying English of all things.  Ed needed the odd injection of cash and Terry sometimes needed a good mechanic to do the major jobs that he couldn’t do on the bikes, so they had a good working arrangement.  Whilst thinking and talking Terry was leafing through the front pages of the paper looking for something that may explain Duane’s text. He found nothing.
“Strange!”
They were sitting next to each other on the sofa staring out at the bright winter sky, fifteen floors up; it was like being in a cocoon, so far up away from what was happening at street level.
“What’s strange?”
“Nothing.”
Ed looked at his watch.  “I’ve got to go.  Where are my van keys?  I had them when I just came in.  Let yourself out when you think it’s safe to go, and one day you can tell me the whole story.  You are welcome to stay longer but I’m pretty sure your place is OK and three really is a crowd.  Put the key back through the letter box when you’ve locked up and Ill see you sometime soon.  Stay lucky, mate.”
Time to go; you’ve nearly outstayed your welcome.

For a day that had started so brightly the weather had really deteriorated by 10 o’clock  and outside the hospital windows Dave could see flurries of snow whirling round and round in the updrafts between the hospital tower blocks.
There was an uneasy and rather embarrassed atmosphere as the police officers and the hospital staff stood in a huddle outside the door of Joe’s room.
“What do you mean you have moved the body?  Who told you you could do that?”
“I’m sorry, Inspector, but it is hospital procedure to remove any body from a ward within an hour of death taking place. We have moved it to somewhere secure in the mortuary.  It is there if you wish to have it inspected or if you wish to inspect it yourself. I can’t for the life of me see why you should want to, even though the man had recovered enough to talk, he had still sustained a serious injury and was very weak following the operation.  I am not at all surprised that this has happened.  Do you want to see the body?”
“Yes, I do, but in a minute.  Did you confirm he was dead and fill out a cause of death or are you going to do an autopsy?”
“I can’t imagine why we would.  We know what state he was in.  We told you he had a thirty percent chance of survival before the op and it had only gone up to 50 percent after he had regained consciousness.”
“Well, I think we will want our forensics people to at least inspect the scene, but you say it has all been swabbed down and cleaned up?”
“Sorry, but that is standard procedure.  We are very hot on trying to control hospital borne infections and I still don’t see why you can’t believe that this death was a result of the police shooting. Or is that it? You want to try to point the finger of blame on us in the Trust to take the spotlight off of yourselves.”
“Don’t be bloody ridiculous.  Call it a hunch, but too many of Mr Pillory’s old acquaintances have been dying all of a sudden, and as my sergeant knows I don’t much care for coincidences, they make me nervous.  We will get forensics in and we will consider getting an autopsy done, but bearing in mind all the people who found him are here can we please start by talking to each of you about the details of what you found and saw.”
Sergeant Outram got to interview the pretty blonde nurse.  He liked nurses and this one was one of the best looking he had seen - about five foot four, short bobbed blonde hair, nice tits, nice small arse, it was pity she had a ring on, still he might take a chance later.
“So, you were the first to find the body?”
“Yes, I came in to check on him like I did every night about midnight and he was lying there, face up and obviously dead.  He had been dead for a while because he was quite cold so we didn’t bother with CPR.  I just called the sister and she called the night shift doctor.  He came up, confirmed death and we set to and got the body moved and cleaned up.  This sort of thing is pretty regular and we try to get it sorted without disturbing the other patients.”
“Anything else you noticed?”
“A couple of small things - the first was that we could not find his wrist band, they do fall off sometime, but we did not come across it during the clean up.  To be honest, it could have been lost anytime, these ones are not as good as the old ones, they hardly ever came off.”
“You said two things?”
“Oh yes, I still don’t see where he got two pillows from.  We would never normally give someone in his condition a second pillow as he was not going to be sitting up for a bit and it does not help the breathing.  I suppose he manged to persuade someone on an early shift that he should have it.  Odd, though, we are usually quite strict about that sort of thing.  I’d appreciate it if that didn’t go any further.  There is no point in it getting anyone into trouble and I’m certain it wasn’t what killed him.”

“Come on, let’s go back to the factory, we’ve got all we came for and we’ll see what forensics turn up later today.”

Terry let himself into his house through the back door; he made sure that he was not seen approaching it from the road.  Once in he kept the lights off even though it was a very dull day, overcast with leaden grey snow clouds.  He looked out of the front window carefully surveying the road for a hundred yards in either direction.  It was busy with the pre-Christmas rush to spend money that seemed to start in November now.  Cars were ploughing up and down the Stafford Road, their drivers intent on finding bargains, but he could not see anything unusual and a parked car on these busy streets would have stuck out a mile.  He locked all the doors and got the sawn off 410 out of the loft.  He only had three cartridges left and one of those had the black pepper.  He figured that bearing in mind the hair trigger, if the kraut came after him a load of that in the face would be enough, as he thought back to Rawlins hand he was certain it would be.  He put the kettle on and made some tea and spent a bit of time wondering how he would celebrate Christmas in a few weeks time.  He would be alone again for it, and it was really time he tried to get some serious relationship going.  He was fed up with being alone all the time. When New Year comes that could be his resolution, find a partner, not necessarily for ever but at least for a while.  He reckoned that his chances to do so might be improved by being Terry Collinge, private investigator, as opposed to trainee journalist - for some reason everyone seemed to hate journalists.
Once he had got his tea he set about planning the office lay-out, the signs, an advertising campaign, all the things he would need.  He reckoned Duane’s twenty five thousand and his two weeks severance from the paper would allow him to set himself up and survive for around seven to nine months.  He must be able to get something up and running by then.

“I’ve got a couple of things for you, Inspector Clifton.”
 For some reason Dave had never been able to cultivate a relationship with forensics team.  They always seemed to be a bit too clever by half, trying to surprise him with their finds, and it always made him feel a bit stupid.  The trouble was he was always eager to hear what they had got but it was important that he didn’t seem too keen.
       “Ok, I’ll look at it in a minute as soon as I’ve finished this.” It was a lie  - as soon as he was alone he would be ripping open the envelopes and devouring what they had to say.  This case had suddenly come alive to him and he was going to give it his best shot, just not going to make the forensic team feel that they had cracked it.
“Sorry to pester, but it is complex and I thinking I am going to need to do some explaining.”
Dave looked up with a tired expression, everyone wants their moment in the spotlight and it would be churlish not to hear them out; they had pulled out all the stops.
“OK, what have you got?”
“Well, in reverse order, the body of Pillory, the man in the hospital.  No exterior signs of struggle, a bit of fibre, cotton on the lips and in the mouth, but not enough to suggest anything, initial autopsy showed he just stopped breathing, which is no surprise considering what he went through.  I’m afraid it is going to be difficult to convince anybody that he didn’t die as a result of the injuries your guys inflicted.  Sorry.
Second thing is you asked us to look at the DVD and try to ascertain if it is real or some sort of theatrical fake.  We’ve gone over and over it and it looks real to us.  However it is our opinion that it would be impossible to prove.  So our best guess is that it is a snuff type DVD involving real kids, but we can’t prove anymore.  The only way would be to try to link specific events on the DVD to specific kids and their deaths.  The trouble is we can’t get a decent view of anyone’s face, that appears to be deliberate, it looks like it has been very carefully edited to remove all such identification, that’s why we think it is likely to be real, but it doesn’t help you.  You also asked us to match a face to that of a specific image your sergeant supplied.  One Lenny Deville. With our image enhancement we can get a sixty percent match which is a maybe only I’m afraid.  We can try a bit longer but I’m not optimistic and with the amount of other work we’ve got on I can’t tell you when we could get it done.  So there you go.  Sorry not much help this time, I’m afraid.”

Dave sat and reviewed his options. The most likely answer to JP’s death was the police bullet.  This placed the whole public relations thing back in the Chief’s lap.  Well, he could sort that one out, it was his mess.  Meanwhile he did have a hunch about Lenny, there had to be some explanation for Duane’s recent behaviour, he had been ducking out of sight far too often recently not to be up to something and it seemed to coincide with that first visit by that young reporter.  Then there was that kraut turning up with the same dodgy DVD.
Somehow Dave thought that if he could now link Pillory to a real snuff video, now he was dead and unable to have his say, then that information would be bound to play well with the public who would probably see it as a sound justification for shooting the little pervert.  Perfect.  He could see his career somehow taking an upward surge.  He didn’t want to resign now.  The Chief may even end up in his debt – result.
“Can you get a decent surveillance going on Duane?”
Outram looked doubtful.  “We could try to get a bit of outside help, some unknown faces from our helpful neighbouring force, but it will take a day or so to set up, even then I don’t know, he is the trickiest bugger I have ever had to try to keep tabs on.”
“Set it up and get a tail on that young reporter Terry Collinge.  We’ll see if we can’t sweat this a little bit. We need a result.”

Duane was sitting in the back of the battered beige Toyota Corolla minicab, although very battered this was a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Under the bonnet was a seriously breathed-on engine and the whole thing was ideal for keeping the car fifty yards ahead on the Stafford road under observation.  That car was a small Ford Focus and at the wheel was Kurt.  Kurt had borrowed the car from Duane when he took back the Beemer as too conspicuous.
Kurt had let slip that he was still looking for Terry and had even indicated that he needed to see him to get a DVD from him, this interested Duane.  Instead of texting Terry to warn him, like he’d done last time, he reckoned he might just tag along and see what was what.  He knew from the past events that Terry could look after himself to some degree, and anyway he’d be there too to look after his investment, as he really did not want anything to happen to Terry this early on in their association. His driver, Leroy Jones, who had done a lot of this sort of thing for Duane was a hardened member confidant, who had his hair in dreadlocks and the whole Rastafarian bit but in place of love and peace carried a Glock nineteen in his belt.  He was one of the men that Duane used when he was going into a hot spot, and to be frank, although he hoped he wasn’t, it was comforting to have him along.
The car thrummed along and turned left off the Stafford road.  As he drove past the old butchers Duane could see through the sleet that the lights were on downstairs, so this was going to reach a conclusion fairly quickly.

Although he had not found Terry at home on the previous occasion Kurt had used his time usefully he had made a thorough reconnoitre and had identified the back entrance as the place to go in.  It was easy to park and he could turn the car round before he parked.  He went straight out into Terry’s yard then in through the back door.  His strategy had changed since his last attempt to find him.  Then his intention was to beat the shit out of him or worse to stop him messing up his plans for Rawlins DVD.   Now, following his run in with the police, he had no DVD, and he sure as shit wasn’t going to go back and collect it from them.  So if Terry had another copy he’d have to have that instead.  Then again this guy might be able to lay his hands on some more which would allow Kurt to get back to where he had hoped to be with Rawlins.  Anyway he needed more from Terry this time round so he would have to play it easy to get it.  He also didn’t need any trouble as the police were already interested.
Kurt found that the back yard gate and the back door were unlocked; he slipped in noiselessly and found Terry looking at him from behind a large flat table with an enamel top, straight out of the butcher’s shop.
“Yes, can I do something for you?”
Terry was very, very calm.  He had heard Kurt’s car drive up and had guessed it was him so had unlocked the back door.  He knew what was coming and he felt it would be better to confront it rather than keep the man hanging around outside in the sleet, where he may decide to do God knows what.
Anyway, across his lap, gripped by his right hand and pointing straight at Kurt’s kneecaps was the old 410.  Remembering the hair trigger he had kept his finger away from it, but having the gun gave him enough confidence.
“I think we have already met.”
Kurt looked surprised. This was not going the way he had planned.  This guy was a punk and should be more scared than he apparently was.
“Wilmot’s Electrical Solutions - you coshed me and put me in a cellar.” Terry said helpfully.  “Now what do you want?”
“You stole a DVD from my friend Mr Rawlins; I have come to get it back.”
“Have you now?” Terry’s finger moved to the trigger but for the moment kept it hovering above it.  He levelled the gun up so it was pointing at Kurt’s crotch. “Sorry to disappoint you but I no longer have it you see I passed it on to a friend who has a personal interest in it.”
Kurt was losing his temper with this smartarse Englishman.  In Germany he would have carried a gun but he made it a point not to try to bring guns through customs, and to get one from contacts in whatever country he was in if he needed one.  He specifically hadn’t asked for one from Duane because he did not like or trust Schwarzers.  In retrospect he was glad he hadn’t, otherwise the police would have had him red handed. Still he reckoned he could still give this little punk a beating to get the other disk, or just to teach him a lesson for interfering.
Terry read it all very well.  He was getting good in these situations.  As Kurt made to move forward and grab him he brought the gun out from under the table and pointed it straight at his face. “My little friend here has a hair trigger so you won’t want to take another step forward.”
“Bravo, bravo white boy.”
Kurt turned round to see Duane and Leroy in the doorway.  There were no guns in their hands but he could see that that situation could quickly change.
“I think what you said you wanted was this.” Duane handed Kurt the DVD he had taken from his pocket. “Nasty little piece of work.  Kids hurting themselves or worse. Why you want it Mr Krauty?”
“It is business, and now I must be gone.”  Kurt sounded stilted, as he struggled to articulate the situation he found himself in. He had always been proud of his English but this situation was simply too confusing.
“Car keys.  Leave them here.  Leroy here will drive you. Where you going now anyway?”
“To the railway station back to London.”

Duane and Terry sat in Terry’s kitchen and drank whisky; they must have sat there for fifteen minutes when Duane’s phone rang.
“OK Leroy, good, you go back to the club now.
“OK white boy - time to ring Mr Policeman and tell him where Mr Krauty is.”

Sergeant Outram went with a couple of constables to the station to pick up Kurt. Just as the phone call had said, Kurt was waiting to catch the four thirty five to London Euston.  They arrived with ten minutes to spare and found him in the café having a cup of coffee.  To say that he was surprised would have been an understatement.
When they walked in he didn’t run.  In fact he hardly recognised them and even if he had he would not have expected them to be after him, after all they had the first disk and had only just let him go.
He was actually sitting there pondering on the happenings of the last two hours. He felt pretty pleased with the outcome.  He had been a bit surprised by Terry and the gun and even more so when Duane showed up, but he had at least got what he came for, and he hadn’t had to do much for it.  Where and how Duane fitted in he didn’t know, and to be  frank with the disk in his pocket and a train ticket towards home he didn’t really care. 
In half an hour he had been processed and was sitting in an interview room with Dave Clifton opposite him. The door opened, “Sorry sir, thought you might need to see this.”
The young constable looked a bit nervous as he handed Dave the plastic wrist band.   Dave turned it over  - Joe Pillory was written in the plastic panel on the front.
 “It fell out of the DVD cover when I was putting it in the player.  I recognised the name – it’s that man who was shot and died in hospital, isn’t it?  Oh and the DVD is the same as the one that we already took from the German.”
Kurt was unaware of the little bit of plastic that he had been carrying around.  He was unaware it was there, unaware of its significance, and unaware that he had been so thoroughly stitched up by Duane that he was about to start to spend along time in an English jail.  Because of this he was fairly dismissive of the fact that it had been found in his possession - this only made matters worse in the eyes of the police.
It was exactly as Dave Clifton’s phone call had predicted - not only would the police find Kurt about to skip with another copy of the disk, but he would also have evidence on him that he had visited and probably murdered Joe Pillory. The trouble was Dave didn’t wholly buy it. Firstly almost no one knew that Joe was dead, they had kept that pretty quiet, and so only someone who knew of the killing could have made the phone call.  He also didn’t buy the idea that shortly after being released by them the first time Kurt had popped over to the hospital on the off chance that he could get another DVD from Joe, and kill him at the same time. Why would he do it? How did he know where to find Joe and how was he able to sneak past everyone and kill him?  It made very little sense, but it did produce a useful end to the affair which, with a bit of careful management, could turn out good for everyone and very well for Dave.  So they had the evidence  - all they needed was to build a case.


 

THREE MONTHS LATER

Dave was sitting in his new office with the lettering Detective Chief Inspector on the door.  In the outer office was his newly promoted Inspector Outram.  The outcome of the whole Pillory affair had come out well for Dave and for Outram.
The press, through Dave’s friend the editor Alan, had ran with the story about Pillory being killed by a foreigner, who had wanted some very nasty kid snuff DVDs that Joe had produced.  As predicted, this had at a stroke defused the general public’s outrage at Pillory being shot for something they regarded as trivial. It had all the elements to attract a rabid response from the press and public alike.  And it was done by a bloody foreigner, and a German to boot, it could not be better.  Kurt was about to come to trial and the background on him from their German colleagues just fanned the otherwise febrile atmosphere.  Dave at first felt a tiny bit guilty about what he was pretty sure was a fit up of Kurt, but to be honest, guilty or not, Kurt Harms was not a nice or innocent man in many ways.  He had checked to make sure that no other likely suspects would come out of the woodwork and spoil the neatness of it all.  His only other suspect was Duane - he had the motive, the means and probably the opportunity, but he also had a cast iron alibi from that young journalist Collinge.
The only other person not covered in glory was the Chief Constable who looked a bit daft in the light of his tub thumping anti-terrorist stance over Joe’s shooting, but the public had forgotten all that by now and had switched their indignation to Joe himself.

       Sandy had never really believed that Dave would leave the police.  He seemed a bit easier to live with now he had got the promotion - maybe it was all that unfulfilled ambition that had made him hard to live with.   Still briefly she thought that he may have seen things the way that she did.  However everyone has their price.  As she sat in her office all she could do was stare out of the window down into the car park below.  She could look to her right and see St Peters in all its splendour; she could even make out the statue of St Wulfruna, against which a group of winos were huddled, arguing.  She watched a copper came up and chat to them, he was really keeping an eye on them but he was doing it in a non threatening way, and everyone looked at ease, or as at ease as you can be with a couple of quarts of white lightning in you. The winos had always congregated in the church garden and when it was cold they would migrate to the underpass on the way to the Molyneux. They didn’t do any harm, they just got a bit noisy and argumentative some times.  On a few occasions some members of the public would decide they felt threatened by them and complain, then there would have to be some campaign to move them on, usually falling to a mix of police and social services to sort out.  She knew most of the beat coppers, and by and large they were OK.  Once the campaign was over the winos drifted back and everyone just got on with things.  She did worry about them in the winter though.  She stood up and walked to the corner of the window and looked far to her right, the huge 1960’s Brutalist building in which she worked could have been in a soviet country, what with the style and the enormous empty public square out in front of it. Empty except for the skate boarders who regularly hurtled around it.  There was a new campaign starting to try to get them moved on and use the skate board park.  There had been some complaints and it was now regarded as a health and safety matter, of the utmost importance, it must be stopped, before we get sued, not before someone was hurt she noted.  As she watched she couldn’t see any harm in it.  People could walk around without bumping into the skaters, there was even one who had jumped up onto the sloping hand rail of the steps and was sliding down. Why couldn’t it just be regarded as a bit of fun a bit of entertainment?  She was sure that that would be how the French would view it.
She thought about Dave and how easily he had slipped back into being a member of authority, once he had got his promotion.  As she had said, everyone has their price.  She looked at the case files on her desk all concerning vulnerable people that she needed to try to protect from society’s worst experiences using the power of its authority - it was a job and she liked it, “Everyone has their price.”