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Rising Brook Writers

Where There’s A

WILL There’s A

WEIGH Rising Brook Writers A first outing for private eye rick fallon 1


Where there’s a WiLL there’s a Weigh

DISCLAIMER: To the best of our knowledge and belief all the material included in this publication is in the public domain or has been reproduced with permission and/or source acknowledgement. We have researched the rights where possible. RBW is a community organisation, whose aims are purely educational, and is entirely non-profit making. If using material from this anthology for educational purposes please be so kind as to acknowledge RBW as the source. Contributors retain the copyright to their own work. This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are imaginary or are used in a fictitious way. Any resemblance to actual people living or dead is entirely coincidental.

SPECIAL THANKS: SCC’s Your Library Team at Rising Brook Branch Staffordshire Community Foundation — Grassroots Grant Aid Programme

PUBLISHED BY: Rising Brook Writers RBW is a voluntary charitable trust. RCN: 1117227 © Rising Brook Writers 2009 The right of Rising Brook Writers to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 & 78 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 First Edition ISBN 978-0-9557086-4-0 www.risingbrookwriters.org.uk and on FACEBOOK

£5-00 Donation Appreciated

Funded by a Grassroots Grant, an initiative of the Office of the Third Sector.

The audio DVD was narrated2and produced by RBW team.


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Where there’s a WiLL there’s a Weigh

Acknowledgement: The Trustees of Rising Brook Writers are very grateful to the Staffordshire Community Foundation for awarding this project a Grassroots Grant to support the charity‟s Online Outreach Programme. „Where there’s a WiLL there’s a Weigh’ is a, jointly written, detective story put together by participants scattered from Cannock to Meir Heath and from Great Haywood to Highfields all joined via email and broadband internet connection. This tale of mayhem was built up week by week and page by page by means of the charity‟s weekly email bulletin which is distributed to senior citizens scattered right across the entire borough of Stafford. If you can imagine pegging out washing the principle is the same. As contributors (poets/rom-com/sci-fi writers not usually „crime‟ authors) emailed in their pieces to the bulletin editor the jig-saw story gradually came together in chunks of around 500 words. Each piece being shuffled forwards and backwards to achieve the best fit. The writers‟ ages range between early 50s to nearly 90s. The audio track was recorded/produced by volunteers and aims to demonstrate Rising Brook Writers‟ commitment to include the socially excluded and the visually challenged in their community projects.

Funded by a Grassroots Grant, an initiative of the Office of the Third Sector 4


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The Prologue

AP

An apparently hysterical Debbie Pritt launched herself through the office doorway. „Mr Goldsteine! Mr Goldsteine!‟ She waved aloft a wad of yellowed paper. Aaron Goldsteine, family solicitor and pillar of the city of Zurich, felt his blood stir in a way he thought it had forgotten. Well, until about a month ago it had forgotten. But since this English girl had invaded his life – work experience they called it apparently – his hot blood was remembering several times each day. Sternly he bade it subside. He took the proffered document. It was headed „Last Will and Testament of Petr Hoeg.‟ „It‟s the Hoeg will!‟ trilled Debbie. „Everyone thought it was lost, didn‟t they? But there it was all the time, hiding under a bundle of old conveyances! And I‟ve found it!‟ „So you have,‟ said old Aaron, striving to keep his voice level. „So you have.‟ „It names a benefactor – Jon Hoeg. Look, look there.‟ She leaned over her employer to point. Warm, scented body on his shoulder, soft blonde hair on his cheek. „Oh, isn‟t it exciting, Mr Goldsteine?‟ she cried. „Yes,‟ agreed old Aaron, as steadily as he could manage. „The whole Schmydt Company have been looking for the heir all these years and who has found him but little me!‟ „Just give me a moment to study these papers properly,‟ he said, nodding to the door in a way that even Debbie must understand. She backed out, pink lips joyfully parted, and he fell back into his calf-hide cushioning. 5


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When old Aaron‟s heart calmed down at last he raised his head and regarded the papers thrown up by this chaotic move to the new premises. It was the Will, all right. Entrusted to his father by Petr Hoeg in August 1936, as, over the mountains, the „Devil‟ crouched. Petr Hoeg Calvinist preacher, spare, unsmiling, silent, strict, and owner of the biggest diamond mine on the Vaal river. He‟d sworn Aaron‟s father to secrecy. „My son must learn the value of work. When I am gone he may hear of his fortune. Not before.‟ „I should have hidden it more carefully,‟ whispered Aaron.

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April 1983

Sunday Morning:

YL

„Defor,‟ Susan hollered out yet again after their enormous St Bernard. Not that it ever did much good. He was three years, going on three months. She turned to hubby Simon, „We must find a dog trainer, he‟s really being naughty you know!‟ No answer was needed Simon thought as he looked down fondly at his wife. He‟d lost count of the times they‟d had this conversation. He secretly thought Sue liked having a mischievous dog. Sue was the centre of his universe, and what made her happy made him happy. Mrs Susan Shelton. Even after five years Sue still got a thrill at the sound of her married name. Not when she said it herself though. Her mother had named her Susan after her maternal grandmother, but, by a cruel trick of fate, she‟d been born tongue-tied. Her family realised how unsuitable her name was as soon as her lisp became apparent. The universe had played one more trick on her though; she had met and fell in love with one „Simon Shelton‟. Sue adored everything about him but why, oh why, could he not have been a George, or a William? „Defor!‟ At least this time the dog stopped and looked round before bounding off! Sue wasn‟t too worried as they walked the canal route on a regular basis and he could swim like a fish. But then Simon suddenly shouted, „Defor has boarded one of the narrow boats!‟ 7


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„Okay, okay, I‟m only here you know.‟ But she bolted herself as the dog had never done anything like this before. Defor had gone down into the cabin by the time the couple, now out of breath, arrived at the narrow boat the Jolly Roger. „I‟ll go down for him,‟ a very worried Simon said. „No let me, they may not get so mad at a woman trespassing.‟ „We‟ll go together.‟ The couple tentatively boarded, calling out for the dog, letting anyone who should be down there know that they were aboard. The spectacle that met them was both shocking and grotesque; Simon caught hold of his wife fearing she might faint. Spread-eagled on the bunk in front of them was a couple very obviously dead. His nakedness was covered only by the woman lying on top of him. They wore nothing but diver‟s flippers and she had on a swimming mask. The dog was now licking the dead woman‟s leg. „Come away now!‟ Simon yelled, grabbing the dog and pushing him and Sue unceremoniously back up the stairs. „We must fetch someone,‟ he shouted up to his wife, „but first I‟ll cover them up!‟ As Simon looked for a cover, he noticed the woman had a tattoo on her bottom. He was both repelled and intrigued by the scene and found himself going for a closer look. It wasn‟t a tattoo at all, he realised, but someone had written the word „whore‟ in pen on her skin. He quickly left not covering them at all in his haste to leave. 8


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„There‟s a lock keeper‟s cottage back there. We should be able to use their phone,‟ Sue said shakily. Simon held tight grip of her hand and the three of them walked quickly away.

Sunday 7.00am

EH

It was the hammering on the front door that woke them, followed by the sharp barking of Striker, the Jack Russell. Then came shouting and shrieking and another barking dog. „Hold on I‟m coming mate.‟ Jerry Pardoe was not best pleased. „The bloody dog‟s had me shoes again.‟ Struggling into a sweater and jeans, he shouted, „I‟m coming, I‟m coming,‟ his voice raised to crescendo and pushing his feet into unlaced shoes he reached the front door only to find the shouting did not stop as Striker raced out to confront the other dog and join in the cacophony. „What the hell‟s the matter? I‟ll open the lock, if you‟ll just let me get outside,‟ Jerry yelled over it all. 9


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„We don‟t want the lock, we want your phone! There‟s two dead bodies in a boat up there. Yes! We‟ve seen them!‟ Jerry looked at Simon Shelton in disbelief. „The dog found them actually. You‟ve got to do something. Where‟s your phone? Come on tell the police do something,‟ pleaded Simon. „Sue will you grab hold of the dog for heaven‟s sake?‟ „Oh no,‟ Jerry came to a halt. „No, no, I‟m not getting mixed up in that sort of stuff,‟ and he made a move to back in. Simon gave him a shove with, „Where‟s your phone then let me do it? I‟ll tell them what we‟ve found. Sue, keep that animal quiet.‟ By now Striker was also running round everybody so when Defor joined in as well it was like Bedlam. „What‟s going on Jerry?‟ asked Liz. „Bit early for all this racket!‟ She dragged Striker in through the front door followed by Simon who could hardly contain himself. „Our dog‟s just found two bodies in a boat that‟s what‟s going on and your . . . .‟

The lock at Heylane

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„Two bodies!‟ shrieked Liz, „I don‟t believe it!‟ „Believe it or not that‟s what I‟m telling you and your husband is stopping us from calling the police.‟ „No such thing.‟ Jerry was really indignant now, „I‟ve said I‟ll phone so quieten down and I‟ll do it.‟ He disappeared inside. Left outside, Sue and Simon were still in a state and several early-rising boat people stopped to see what all the fuss was about. Everyone had a theory, of course, and a guess as to who the victims were, some even ventured along the towpath. Having made the phone call to the police Jerry sat down to his breakfast, but before he could swallow down a second cup of tea there was a further disturbance. Rumours had soon spread and there on the canal were five boats lined up for the lock, hoping to get a glimpse of the murder scene. Sunday in the country was supposed to be quieter than the Birmingham suburbs where the couple had originated. Jerry had been glad to leave behind the stress of being a shop steward at British Leyland. Liz had had mixed feelings about the move as she had had a successful career in supermarket security but had always felt capable of running her own business. So after organising her own daughter‟s wedding it had seemed a good move to become the local agent for Bridal and Wedding Affairs Ltd. Previously their holidays had always been spent on a narrow boat and Jerry had given a lot of his spare time in the renovation of old waterways. So when the lock-keeping job fell vacant he jumped at the opportunity especially as this lock had a modern electronic control even recording details of the vessels passing through. 11


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„Shan‟t get much peace today,‟ he said to Liz just as the phone rang. „Any chance of a story Jerry?‟ He recognised the voice, it was Minnie Albright, the journalist from the local weekly paper after a juicy exclusive which would sell papers fast. „There‟s nothing I can tell you, so get off the line.‟ Jerry slammed down the receiver, just as out of the window he could see a police car approaching with sirens blaring followed by the police medic‟s vehicle and as many sightseers as could squeeze in. Jerry tried to get out of the side door to get to the lock gates unnoticed but the local bobby, Sergeant Meadows saw him. „Mr Pardoe,‟ he called, „I‟d like a word.‟ „It‟s not me you want,‟ said Jerry as he ducked back inside knowing it would be hopeless to get on with his job. So he gained a few minutes to say to Liz, „Phone the locks up and down will you Love, they‟ll have to stop any more boats coming through. I suppose I must show willing,‟ then he went outside to face the questions. Sunday Morning

CH

„Get that lot sorted Sergeant! I‟m not having my crime scene looking like a disaster film!‟ There was a crowd of people around the boat, mostly unofficial. Meadows, the local beat man, was trying, unsuccessfully, to get onlookers away from the scene, while the SOCO team, two ambulance men and the Coroner‟s Officer had obviously just arrived on the muddy towpath. 12


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Calling out, „Police. Keep well back, well back please,‟ Detective Sergeant Nathaniel Shaw did the bidding of Detective Inspector Hilary Hawksworth and helped to clear the area for a few yards. One of the nearest female onlookers shouted out, „Oh my God, I think Defor is . . . . my dog . . . is on that boat.‟ Deciding not to ask questions yet, Nat went to get onto the boat calling out, „Defor, Defor. Here boy.‟ His answer was a scrabble of claws as a large dog came bounding out of the doorway and slammed its paws onto his shoulders. Unbalanced and standing on one leg, Shaw fell backwards into a sloppy puddle only to have the dog jump on him. A shout of, „Down you damned thing! Down!‟ in a pronounced Walsall accent said that his boss was tackling the slavering beast which was threatening his destruction. It tucked its tail between its legs and bolted down the towpath, yelping piteously. Nat felt sympathetic: Hawksworth made him feel the same. „Laying down on the job again Shaw? Come on we‟ve work to do. I know it‟s a rest day, but get the details from those idlers before you nod off!‟ Wet and filthy, Nat scowled, he hated Mickey taking. 13


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Sunday Morning

EH

Jerry and Liz Pardoe weren‟t the only ones to be rudely awakened that Sunday morning. Minnie Albright had a phone call too, which coming after a heavy night at a charity do wasn‟t welcome, until she realised just who it was calling. „Listen Minnie, I‟ve only got a minute. If you‟re interested . . . foul play on the canal near the lock house.‟ Now wide awake Minnie knew who it was, the voice was that of a young PC on the 999 switchboard. He owed her, after she‟d recently saved his skin. Needing just a quick shower and a coffee she was off. Minnie Albright might be only a reporter on a local paper but she had no intentions of staying local, her ambition was to get onto a London Daily. Weddings, funerals and mayors‟ receptions were all very well but only as stepping stones. What she needed was a scoop and this could be it. True to her name, she was bright and determined, a familiar figure in the area in tight jeans and over sized sweaters; her ready smile and wide-eyed look had easily deceived many into confiding in her, like the PC who had good reason to give her the tip-off. Minnie had saved him from serious trouble as she later told her girlfriend Linda: „I was in Gino‟s Wine Bar and saw that good for nothing Jimmie Jakes put something in that copper‟s drink. I got up quick and knocked over a dish of peanuts and his glass.‟ „Did he know who you were then?‟ „Yes, they both did. But that Jimmie‟s small fry. I‟ve seen him in court more than once and I thought the PC 14


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might be useful sometime, if you see what I mean.‟ That morning, when the police cordon wouldn‟t let her through to the lock house Minnie Traditional put plan two into action. Going back Styles Our to her shared flat, she risked a phone Speciality call to Jerry Pardoe only to get the brush off. But the name Pardoe was familiar. She asked her partner Linda for help in making the contact. She checked the small ads in this week‟s edition. Her and Wedding memory was good. The new business Brides Affairs Ltd venture by Liz Pardoe was just the lead Local Agent Liz Pardoe Lock keeper’s Cottage in Minnie needed. A leg up from the Heylane local press would do no harm. Lichfield Risking another call Linda got lucky when Liz answered. She jumped at the offer of publicity; what possible harm was there in meeting for a cup of tea and a chat in the Thatched House Tea Rooms in the centre of Lichfield, right away from the eyes of the nosy police? Sunday Lunchtime

CH

Feeling vindictive and trying to toughen Nat Shaw up, Hilary Hawksworth told him to, „Get down to the mortuary, and see what they‟ve got for us on those bodies.‟ An already nauseous Nat pushed open the door and asked the two busy figures inside. „What you got as a preliminary for us then Doc?‟ He was beckoned inside towards two figures on 15


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steel tables. „So far nothing much Nat. This one. Female, mid to late thirties. Redhead under the bleach, don‟t know why she bothered. Redheads are much more exciting than blondes. She was in good health. The musculature suggests a dancer or similar. Look at this!‟ he pointed with the knife in his hand. „A thin skull so not a lot of force used, possibly hit by a right hander. Signs of recent sexual activity. Had a meal of salad-type things within two to four hours of death, including a bottle of wine and a few brandies I‟d say.‟ He moved to the other table and drew back the cover. „This fellow is more interesting. Probably late 50s, dark hair, over weight. Soft hands probably an office worker. Again, there‟s evidence of recent sexual activity. Cracked over the head like the woman, but, he died from cardiac arrest. He‟d probably have died within a couple of years anyway! He was in poor health; amongst other things a bad heart and advanced liver cirrhosis. The sex alone could have finished him off! Not English by the dentistry, I‟ll have to get a second opinion but possibly South African or American work, the helminths etc in the gut may help there.‟ Noting the puzzled look on Nat‟s face he explained, „Helminths, enterobius, and ascaris are intestinal worms Nat. He had worms as well as everything else! He‟d had the same meal as the woman and much more to drink. The samples may tell us more when they come back from the lab.‟ „Time of death somewhere between one and seven but my money is on about five. I‟ll look up the tables and refine it for you when I know the ambient temperature. No belongings on either of the bodies. You know, it 16


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strikes me; ohh, sorry, bad choice of words there, that this could have been a bungled robbery. A quick smack over the head, grab whatever there was about and have it away on your toes. Just unfortunate that they both end up dead.‟ „The evidence you supplied to us has been sorted. There are two small groups and a large one, one says that this could be a man by the name of Von Weigh, an American, the other an Englishman by the name of Hague. The biggest group is all miscellaneous items, nothing to help at all. The photos aren‟t much help there, he could be either. Anyway, what can you give us for our report?‟ Nat swallowed hard and replied, „We‟ve traced Von Weigh‟s wife to a local hotel and arranged an identification session.‟ He pointed at the female corpse. „She was Lori Carmichael. Known to the uniform branch as a minor fence and a very expensive part-time prostitute, called herself an exotic dancer. Charged twice with receiving but never convicted due to lack of evidence. See you later,‟ he called over his shoulder as he shot outside to be sick. Sunday Afternoon

BS

The hotel receptionist grinned at Nat Shaw leaning over the desk. „Oh I remember them arrive, Detective Sergeant, Friday tea-time,‟ she said. „Signed in as Herman and Augusta Von Weigh. They were jet lagged and not up to speaking with a civil tongue. Heavily accented. Southern drawl. I had to ask him to repeat himself twice. 17


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The receptionist sniffed. „Anyway I registered them eventually, took their passports and gave them a door key a piece. The bell boy took their baggage up to their suite. He‟ll tell you about that pair as well. No tip . . . she‟s a tight one. She said: „Don‟t you English get paid enough? I‟ve only got dollars and I ain‟t changing them yet so you put it on the bill . . . what a way to run a hotel.‟ „Anything unusual happen?‟ asked Shaw distracted by the receptionist‟s sparkling blue eyes. She checked the ledger. „They ordered double chicken sandwiches and champagne from room service . . . again no tip.‟ Upstairs in suite 14 DI Hilary Hawksworth had taken it upon herself to break the bad news to the recently widowed American matriarch. Opening the door Augusta Von Weigh cut an impressive figure in a bright pink chemise, a very revealing bright pink chemise, trimmed with feathers. „Who the hell are you?‟ she snapped, her annoyed bulkiness filling the doorway. Hawksworth held out her warrant card and said, „DI Hawksworth can I come in?‟ „Yes, of course,‟ she said slamming the door. The woman took stock and seemed to calm down. „Can you tell me exactly why you came here Mrs Von Weigh? Business or pleasure?‟ „Neither . . . Herman came in response to a solicitor‟s letter. It was a very strange letter. It asked Herman to bring with him family documents of a very personal nature. Very personal indeed. Can you tell me what‟s this all about? Have you found Herman?‟ „Is he lost?‟ 18


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„Lost?. . . hard to say with Herman . . . the man does tend to wander.‟ „This solicitor . . .‟ pressed Hawksworth. „Goldsteine and Mbekod, Chapel Mews,‟ said Augusta picking up a document from a briefcase on the side table. „Now why are you here?‟ „I‟ll get to that in a minute. First can you tell me what you did yesterday.‟ „What all day yesterday? Lordy let me think . . . Herman woke early, he hadn‟t adjusted his watch to London time. He was annoyed he said, the dough it cost the watch should change at the sound of his voice. He was a little hung over I guess, he tripped over his shoes and had a soft landing on me, I recall asking him what time it was. He was crusty, he told me, „Blast it woman put your teeth in, if you‟d have looked after your teeth like I have you‟d be better looking at 6.00am.‟ I ignored him and went back to sleep. He busied himself with a shave and watched TV until around 8.30 when he had room service send up breakfast, just as well the waiter had heard Yanks don‟t tip and scurried off before Herman could say anything.‟ Hawksworth was forming a picture in her mind of the deceased. It wasn‟t a pretty one. „At around half past nine Herman told reception to call for a taxi.‟ „He had an appointment?‟ „I guess so. I didn‟t go with him but I expect he was seeing the solicitor.‟ „And what did you do?‟ „I was so jet lagged, I was yawning and yawning, when the food trolley was taken away by that funny little 19


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nervous maid I went back to bed. I told him, I said, „Honey Bun don‟t you be too long now. . . and that was the last time I saw him.‟ „I think you‟d better sit down Mrs Von Weigh. I‟m hoping this news won‟t be too much of a shock . . . but we‟ve had a body found on a narrow boat on the canal.‟ Augusta sat down hard on the sofa. „I‟m afraid it could be your husband. We‟ve found a wallet with his name at the scene. I need you to accompany me to the mortuary. Identification you understand.‟ Augusta seemed to have diminished in size. She dressed quickly but fumbled with the buttons of her blouse and coat. She was escorted down the stairs and out through the lobby where guests stared at the police officers wondering if the American woman was under arrest. Nat Shaw drove the police car to a building that seemed unlived in and very dingy. Augusta was led into a dim passage way. Hawksworth and Shaw removed their coats and hung them on pegs by the door. „When the curtains open you will see the departed,‟ said Hawksworth. „Oh . . .Oh . . .,‟ was all Augusta could muster in reply. When the curtains opened a man in a green apron lowered his head and removed a sheet covering the body. „Oh, No! No!‟ Augusta screamed. „That‟s not my husband.‟ Sunday Afternoon

GPBL

„My Boss, Divisional Chief Superintendent Dan Forthright, has asked me to visit you urgently with regard to 20


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the double tragedy wherein two people appear to have been murdered at Heylane,‟ DI Pete Ferret stated. Hilary Hawksworth the local DI asked „About what aspects of the case are you here DI Ferret?‟ „Two packs of prints, at the national finger print bureau labelled as male and female sent by your DS Shaw as taken from two bodies.‟ He went on, „They were incorrect, the one tagged as male prints were in fact female and the other tagged as female were in fact male dabs and contained prints from two very different men. Some have been taken direct but some had been lifted from material possibly rubber. Your DS has made a right mess of his work because the bureau have found three separate print sets, yet he tagged two. Further checks against our lists and with Interpol have found a match to one of the males. One Jurgan Sears, a possible hit-man from Amsterdam. We‟re told by their police he sports a red face, moustache and is overweight. His modus operandi has two features; he works at breakneck speed and is always first on any scene. We have called for a full profile of this man urgently.‟ A short silence in the DI‟s office was broken for a few seconds by the scratching shorthand of the stenographer catching up with Ferret. Then he continued, „I hope you don‟t mind but whilst I‟m here I‟ve taken the opportunity to visit your local morgue. Jurgan Sears is not there, but he may actually be the cause of your two deaths. The naked bodies in the fridge have similar tattoos I noticed, this was not reported either,‟ explained DI Ferret. „What tattoos?‟ DI Hawksworth asked quickly. „Just below the armpit, both have the figure 69 side21


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ways, which is a club‟s signed-up membership mark, for people of a certain, err, aptitude,‟ he replied with a rakish grin on his face. „Are you taking about some kind of fetish?‟ DI Hawksworth asked. „Well yes if you want to put it that way Ma‟am,‟ replied Pete Ferret and he then continued, „I am authorised to put it to you that your unit has insufficient personnel to investigate this case. My boss thinks reinforcements are required. With your DS already doing a wobbly with the prints the cracks are showing. You obviously require help. This case isn‟t going to solve itself.‟ DI Ferret waited for her reaction. She responded icily, „We can only do our best with what we have.‟ „My Chief will help I‟m sure he has a forthright policy. We need to find and apprehend Jurgan Sears but most importantly we need to trawl the scene of the crime and the surrounding area for any other clues we can find. It‟s a job for HQ‟s forensics,‟ Pete Ferret said. After some thought, he added, „Let me speak with my boss, I have to report back quickly anyway.‟ They shook hands, while frowning Hilary Hawksworth pondered over the crime, the shortcomings of the unit she commanded and worse still HQ‟s intervention. Sunday Early Afternoon

YL

Linda looked over at Minnie who tried so hard to hide 22


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her femininity with Sloppy Joe jumpers and jeans but with her curves and mane of hair it just didn‟t work. Brrrr. Brrrr. „Hello Albright/Fallon residence!‟ Minnie answered the phone devoid of all warmth. She could be a prickly character at the best of times but disturbing her Sunday took a brave person indeed. „Okay!‟ That was the only other word uttered by Minnie during what turned out to be a very short call. Minnie dropped into the nearest chair. „Christ,‟ she said, „Not only have we a murder on our doorstep we, in fact, it seems have two. No wonder Jerry Pardoe won‟t talk to me.‟ Linda‟s hand flew to her mouth. „Oh how awful!‟ „Yeah, yeah, let me think, do I know anybody else on the canal? Oh I know get me the paper I need to check the small ads. Here, here it is. Lizzie. Lizzie Pardoe, the Lock keeper‟s wife! Get on the phone to her will you Linda, make an appointment for today, I know at that posh tea-shop, she‟ll like that and get the car out of the garage.‟ „Yes Madam and shall I polish your shoes while I‟m at it?‟ Linda answered with mock civility. „Sorry Linda please . . .‟ „Okay.‟ Linda knew Minnie lived for the „big scoop‟ so she could move on to Fleet Street. She hated working on a local paper thinking it was beneath her. That two people would have needed to die for it to happen wouldn‟t even register with her. Linda felt sad as she reversed the car out of the garage. She had warned Minnie she wouldn‟t move with her, but she just over rode every objection. Linda loved her job as a primary school teacher and her father lived 23


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nearby and was no longer in good health. Although she was as sweet as Minnie was sour she knew she could not follow Minnie to fulfil her dreams. Minutes later very excited Minnie drove along lost in tomorrow‟s headlines, she hoped it was a love triangle, the public loved those. She could see the headline: „HE DIDN’T FLOAT HER BOAT’ Reporter at the scene Minnie Albright. That would show her mother! She couldn‟t wait to tell her bigoted parents she was moving up in the world! Her, the “Lesbian”! Her mother still pretended not to remember Linda‟s name calling her instead “Whatshername”. And it drove Minnie mad that she insisted on telling all her cronies what a disappointment Minnie was not marrying and giving her lots of grandchildren like her sisters had done. Fat chance! She‟d make it up to Linda on her return, knowing Linda didn't like rudeness; she‟d had enough of it from her ex-husband Rick Fallon. Linda had been married at barely sixteen and she‟d been swept off her feet by this mature man in a police uniform. But his drinking had ruined any chance of their marriage lasting and a more mature Linda had fallen in love with another woman. Minnie! Rick Fallon had cracked entirely on finding out about their affair which had culminated in his being chucked off the force. Minnie only very rarely ran into Fallon thank goodness as his dislike of her had never abated. Still she mustn‟t get morose, today could turn out to be the best day of her life. 24


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Sunday Early Evening

EH

For once police sergeant Dennis Meadows (fondly know as „Daisy‟) was home for dinner. He loved his food, as his increasing waistline showed, especially Vera‟s home cooking. So when the phone rang she exploded, „I knew it would happen, just as I‟ve got the dinner ready. I shall be glad when you retire. Well! Aren‟t you going to answer the damned thing? Probably Hawkeye‟s after you again.‟ Dennis had had a bellyful of overtime, what with early Sunday mornings, two bodies to guard, spoiling his gardening plans, keeping the kids away from the blue and white tapes along the canal and now another ruined meal, and, something was bothering him about that body. The man seemed so familiar. Roll on the 90s and happy days on his allotment. With a resigned gesture in Vera‟s direction he moved from the table. She was far from happy herself and resolved there and then to take up an offer from Liz Pardoe to join her in the agency that she ran from her home in the lock house. That would give her a new interest when Dennis retired. He would be out of the house just as much as now, but the fresh veg had an appeal and would not go wasted. She admitted that he was a good gardener. Vera saw him off with, „See yer then,��� but before closing the door she fired her final shot. „Just make sure you get the 15th off. It‟s our Sharon‟s degree day at Uni. You‟ve missed most other things in her life,‟ and she close the door rather firmly behind him. Reporting at the Station he was greeted with, 25


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„Evenin‟ Daisy. You‟re on morgue duty again. The beauty in there needs the once-over by a long lost relative,‟ and the desk sergeant gave him one of his broad grins. „Nice work for some.‟ But Meadows didn‟t answer. Of all the jobs he did, this was the worst. The smell lingered with him for days, and tearful relatives were not easy to handle. Give him old ladies happy to have their lost pets back. That was his sort of police work anytime. The young copper on the 999 desk called across to the desk sergeant, „Why d‟yer call him Daisy, Sarge?‟ „Just watch it young‟un. When the duty rosta goes up, he‟s first there to find his days off. Get it?‟ How he‟d made sergeant was a bit of a mystery, rumour said it was something to do with a detective sergeant being caught out on the take and dismissed from Meadow‟s last Division up north. Meadows was wise to it all and somebody up there on high thought it wise to promote him and move him out of the way to this district. Vera liked the extra pay coming when it did, but Dennis never altered his ways. A mate to every one, well liked at the social club, which left her with a lot of lonely time spent on her own. Jerry Pardoe was a friend of Dennis and through that friendship Vera had gotten to know his wife Liz. Vera, ever the opportunist and good with a needle, was quietly making a future job for herself by helping Liz with alterations and her show days. Later, however, when Daisy Meadows saw the body close up he finally remembered Mrs Khan. 26


Rising Brook Writers

Flashback : Two Months Earlier

AP

While, in Zurich, Switzerland, old Aaron Goldsteine was staring at the newly discovered will, in Lichfield, England, a young PC was holding a shaven-headed figure in a halfnelson and propelling him through the doors of Newton Lane police station. „What have we here?‟ asked the desk sergeant, „A middle-aged Bovver Boy?‟ „Held up Mrs Khan with a pretend gun.‟ „Why ever did he do that?‟ „She hit me!‟ „He was robbing her shop,‟ said the constable. „Lucky I was passing. She did hit him though,‟ he tried to suppress a grin, „with a bottle of HP sauce.‟ „Bitch should go back to where she came from!‟ gasped the struggling one, and screeched as the constable tightened his grip. „I never robbed her! I was just looking.‟ „With a pretend gun?‟ Sergeant Meadows shook his head sorrowfully. „Name?‟ Silence. „Name!‟ „It‟s John Hague,‟ said the constable. „Mrs Khan said he‟s been harassing her all week.‟ Sergeant Meadows wrote thoughtfully on his form. „New boy on the block, aren‟t you? But I‟ve heard the name. Hague…‟ suddenly he stabbed the air with his fountain pen. „Mine!‟ he cried. „Eh?‟ the prisoner stopped struggling. 27


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„Hague. The Hague mine. Address?‟ „Oh, I saw that in the Echo,‟ said the constable. „But it wasn‟t Hague, it was Herg. Or Horg. Or something.‟ „Fifty thousand pounds for a wedding!‟ said Daisy, and added, „Humph!‟ „What are you talking about?‟ asked John Hague. „The Schmydt wedding? In the papers, on the wireless – could you have been so busy bovvering that you failed to notice? The prisoner frowned. „Manager of a great big diamond mine is our Mr Schmydt. Address?' „Hoeg!‟ cried the PC. „It‟s called the Hoeg mine.‟ „Oh yes,‟ said Daisy. „That‟s it. Address?‟ „Nobody owns it, you know. I just read that before I came on duty. Schmydt‟s have been looking for the heir since 1943. His trust company manages it in the meantime.‟ „And, borrows the proceeds to adorn his daughter‟s wedding,‟ said Daisy. The prisoner, now as still as a statue, said, „Jon Hoeg was my father.‟ „Address?‟ „He was!‟ cried the man. „I can prove it!‟ „Good. Look „Sunshine‟, are you going to admit your address now, or are you going to save it till after you‟ve had a couple of hours in a cell?‟ „Honest! He was! Jon Hoeg. He „went missing‟ and changed his name to Hague when he settled in London after the War. He died last year. 5th August. I can prove it easy!‟ „Take him down, constable,‟ said Daisy. „And put the kettle on, will you?‟ 28


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SMS His thoughts gathered and duty log checked, Daisy Meadows finally remembered the „delusions of grandeur‟ prisoner being remanded on bail by the magistrates‟ bench. This application for bail being granted hadn‟t gone down too well at the station where they‟d all been expecting the perpetrator of the attempted robbery with the racist tendencies to be remanded in custody. „And you‟ve waited until now to tell me all this?‟ gasped Hawksworth running stocky fingers through her hair in despair. „We all thought he was just another lying . . . ,‟ he paused under Hawksworth‟s glassy gaze. „Funny thing . . in hindsight if the bench had remanded the so-and-so for trying to rob old Mrs Khan he‟d still be alive today,‟ replied Meadows taking no notice of the implied reprimand from the DI and looking pleased with himself for making the obvious deduction. „Get out Meadows and send in Shaw,‟ snapped Hawksworth whose patience was wearing thin. If the bods from HQ found out about this lapse in the lines of communication between uniform and plain clothes staff in Newton Lane, it would be her head on the block. Shaw wasn‟t much help when she told him about Meadows‟ sorry tale. „At least Daisy remembered eventually. I suppose that‟s worth something. I‟ll pull the files.‟ „Quietly, Shaw. You‟ll pull the files quietly and bring them only to me and tell that idiot to keep his big trap shut,‟ snarled the DI, breaking a nail on her keyboard. 29


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Flashback Two Months Earlier

AP

Back in Lichfield when John Hague was granted bail he marched straight to the offices of the Echo. „Get me the editor,‟ he said. „I‟ve got a scoop.‟ Now the Echo, like most provincial newspapers, was usually stuck for tales. If the bowls team weren‟t bowling, the darts team weren‟t darting – well, you get the picture. There‟s only so many times one can force a cat up a tree and call the fire brigade. So John Hague got the best hearing he‟d ever had in his life. „We‟ll help you all we can,‟ said the editor, and sent a reporter straight round to the Family Record‟s Office. Within a week they‟d traced his ancestry. John Hague was indeed the son of Jon Hoeg, who, in 1945 had been torpedoed on the North Atlantic run. He was picked up by a British destroyer and dispatched to St Bartholomew‟s Hospital, London where he remained, dazed and uncommunicative, for three months. But he managed to survive, acquire British citizenship, change his name, marry, and produce a son. And he died 40 years later on the date John Hague had specified. All the papers in the land blazed forth the news, and so did some in other lands, which is how, sitting in his lofty office in South Africa, Helmut Schmydt learned there was a legitimate claimant to the fortune produced annually by the Hoeg Mine. He stared silently out of the window for a whole minute, and then he picked up his phone. In Zurich Aaron heard the light footsteps and as usual the grey lump of guilt swelled up and the hot blood 30


Rising Brook Writers

rushed to his head. He imagined her running up the stairs, those shining eyes, those peachy cheeks, those sweet little… Oh God, she‟d have to go. He would telephone England immediately and tell Moshe… the door burst open and in she bounced. „Good morning, Uncle,‟ she sang, throwing her newspaper on his desk so she could wriggle her coat off. „I‟ll go and make some coffee,‟ she cried, and bounced out again. But Aaron didn‟t notice. He was staring at the front page. For there, looking up at him with a sneer, was a photograph of Jon. As Aaron gaped, Jon spoke. „Some friend!‟ he said. „I‟m sorry,‟ whispered Aaron. „Letting me die alone like that.‟ „I couldn‟t…‟ „I suppose the screams have got quieter and quieter. Disappeared altogether in fact.‟ „No! They‟ve got louder.‟ Aaron was whimpering now. „But I couldn‟t go, my father was old, my mother was ill…‟ „You saw other old men scrubbing pavements with toothbrushes…‟ „I know.‟ „And other mothers…‟ „Yes.‟ „Whose children wore yellow stars.‟ „Haven‟t I made it up?‟ Sobbed Aaron. „Didn‟t I toil at the monument until my hands bled?‟ „Your hands healed. They hold pens and almond cakes now.‟ „I‟ve risked everything.‟ „Except your life.‟ 31


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„I‟ve made a chain of monuments to your mother. And to you. I will stretch it further and further until it reaches all round the world.‟ „But where will you get the money? How will you stretch the chain if profits from the mine stop coming in? You won‟t even be able to maintain the houses you‟ve got.‟ The eyes in the photograph laughed, ridiculed. „All those women and babies will be thrown on the streets.‟ „No!‟ shrieked Aaron, and Debbie came running. „Uncle Aaron, Uncle Aaron! Whatever‟s the matter? She put her arms around him and cradled his weeping head against her breasts. „Get away from me!‟ he screamed. She stared. He was clutching the newspaper. „You‟ve seen it, ‟ she faltered. Her eyes were deep with concern her beautiful face was flushed pink, her slim, warm body… „They‟ve found the heir to the Hoeg fortune,‟ she said. But old Aaron was not listening. He was furiously spinning the dial of his telephone. 32


Rising Brook Writers

Sunday Tea Time

YL

„Sugar?‟ „Just milk thanks.‟ Minnie was inwardly struggling with the niceties of afternoon tea. Lizzie Pardoe wasn‟t to be hurried though. Minnie needed her very badly and Lizzie knew it. „Lovely tea rooms Minnie. You should try the scones my dear. They are to die for.‟ „Yes well . . Can you help me out Lizzie?‟ „I‟m no gossip my dear.‟ „Of course not Lizzie I never thought such a thing.‟ Minnie needed to work fast if she was to scoop this story but Lizzie was having none of it. „So Lizzie had you seen the dead couple before today?‟ „I‟m still unsure if I should say anything. I wouldn‟t want to offend anyone you know.‟ „You speaking up Lizzie would be a public service, keeping others safe!‟ „Oh well in that case.‟ „So had you seen them before?‟ egged on Minnie. „The man no, but the woman is a regular on the Jolly Roger, not that I have time to notice comings and goings I‟m kept so busy as an agent for a weddings firm had I mentioned it before?‟ „Yes Lizzie you had. Was it their own boat?‟ „The bridal firm is called Brides and Weddings Affairs Limited in case you need to know.‟ „Thank you.‟ Christ this is like pulling teeth, thought Minnie. She would have to offer her something. She lifted the tea-cup to her lips and looked over at this woman. „Talking about weddings, Lizzie, the paper wants 33


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me to do a piece on „Summer Nuptials‟ perhaps you‟d consider letting us cover you?‟ „Well that is a surprise my dear. But, yes, that would be very nice.‟ „The boat?‟ „It‟s well used. If you get my drift. Lots of couples use it for very short periods. Couples who want privacy!‟ „Are you saying?‟ „I‟m not saying SUMMER anything. But I can‟t SALE Page Boys & help but notice.‟ NOW ON Bridesmaids Retro „So Lizzie can you Bespoke Outfits Styles trace . . . with the Our Speciality 20% OFF mooring fees . . .. exactly when the boat arrived?‟ „A full page spread did you say Minnie?‟ „Well . . .‟ „I saw a man you know on the towpath, unless, of course, you‟re not interested . . .‟ „EXCLUSIVE! Full page spread. Loads of colour pictures, personal interview, anything you like.‟ „That‟s nice dear. Now get your pen and pad, I‟ve lots you‟ll want to hear. Where shall we start? Lori? Or the Special man on the towpath?‟ Offer Minnie pulled her chair nearer, Lines already she could taste fame calling out Reduced her name. 34


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Monday Morning 7.45am:

SMS

There was a noise coming from far, far away. Bells were ringing. Angels go to heaven when bells are ringing. Just another five minutes. Burr . . . Burr . . . incessant irritating sort of noise. Who the devil would be phoning at this time of a morning? . . . Phoning? . . . Phoning? Through the fog of alcohol induced unconsciousness Rick Fallon opened one eye. The other was still glued to the chip wrapper his face was lying on. Heâ€&#x;d fallen asleep at his desk. This wasnâ€&#x;t the first time. It was better than the alternative. Going back to his bed-sit at the Dunroaming apartment house overseen by the redoubtable, Lavender Pomeroy, matron of the parish, took courage; a liquid libation or two was always a good idea. When the Dutch courage required to face the glamorous grannyâ€&#x;s amorous advances outweighed the ability to stand up vertical, the Won-Huang chippy across the road from the office gained another late night customer and Rick Fallon dribbled into a soggy chip supper all through an uncomfortable night leaning over his desk. The phone stopped ringing and stared at the bleary eye accusingly from the top of their one rusting filing cabinet. Fallon eased up and scratched vinegar and batter bits from the stubble on his cheek. A trickle of vinegar soaked into his collar and dripped off his long sideburns onto the back of his hand. Fallon groaned. His head was thumping; his throat felt like grade one sandpaper and all there was to drink was a half bottle of low flying whisky daring him to take a swig. The prospect of facing daylight without a stiffener seemed problematic. Fallon patted his pockets for a fag. 35


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Tip-Tip must have some Woodbines somewhere. He stumbled across the floor of the basement office to the other desk and rifled the drawers. Nothing. Empty except for a four pack of export lager and a nipped dog end discarded in a dirty saucer. Fallon‟s face creased into a grimace. It would do: if only he had a match. The phone was ringing again. Sighing, he reached for the handset. It might be Tip-Tip. It might be a case. A hoarse croak said, „Fallon and McGee.‟ „Is that Fallon and McGee?‟ asked a woman‟s voice. It wasn‟t a voice from this neck of the woods. The enquirer possessed a cut-glass American drawl and the smell of money oozed out of the handset and floated round the room obscuring the odour of greasy chips and stale vinegar. „Richard Fallon speaking, senior partner, how may I help you?‟ His voice sounded like a file rasping over broken glass but he hoped it didn‟t sound too desperate. Not so desperate as to plead outright for any case as the rent was so overdue and the lecky meter was showing red again. Not that level of desperation. „Ahh Mr Fallon. My name is Augusta Von Weigh.‟ She pronounced the W as a V. Von Vey. This further confused Fallon. Vonvay: what a funny name. The southern belle was still speaking; he tried to drag his mind back to what she was saying. „The police have informed me my husband has been found dead in somewhat compromising circumstances. On a narrow boat. You may have heard.‟ It meant nothing. „I‟m sorry to hear that Mrs Vonvay. But if the police are involved . . .‟ „Mr Fallon. The suspected demise of my husband is 36


Rising Brook Writers

not the reason I am calling upon the services of a private investigator. I am staying at the St Swithen‟s Hotel. You may know it.‟ Fallon knew it all right not that he‟d ever been inside. The likes of him and Tip-Tip could have drowned in the depth of the carpet pile in the foyer. „Chapel Grove alongside the cathedral. I know it.‟ „That‟s the one. Be here at 2.00pm.‟ „2.00pm.‟ The desire to vomit was battling the desire to sober up and the woman was still talking in that annoying way. „And don‟t be late Mr Fallon I cannot abide tardiness.‟ The line went dead just as the contents of Fallon‟s stomach landed in the cardboard box which doubled as the waste paper basket and Tommy (Tip-Tip, formerly a boxer and part-time bookies‟ runner,) McGee sauntered into the office carrying a bacon butty. Monday Morning Early

BS

Nat Shaw carried the fax into DI Hawksworth‟s office and slumped into a chair as instructed by her nod. „It‟s the previous on the Carmichael girl.‟ „Much known? A.k.a.‟s? Aliases?‟ „Could serialise it on Corrie.‟ „Just the outline, I can‟t stand weepy romances.‟ Shaw started to read aloud. „It says in a report from Social Services that her father walked out when she was a baby. Her mother struggled to keep their heads above water for six years or so. One dreadful day her mother was found dead. Overdose of antidepressants. Lori was 37


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taken into care aged seven. She hated the family she was given to and ran away again and again.‟ „I‟m getting the sad saga Nat . . . skip on eh.‟ „Yeah . . . yeah wild-child antics then at fifteen she disappeared off the face of the earth.‟ „Let me guess . . . an older man found her wandering the streets . . . promised her things she‟d only dreamed of . . . told her how beautiful she was . . . took her home to his flat . . . cleaned her up and fed her . . then passed her on down the line . . . the old, old story until she ended up . . .‟ „A professional virgin being bought and sold over and over.‟ „So how did she get out? Or is she still a working girl?‟ asked Hawksworth, absentmindedly twiddling a pen through her fingers, her bushy eyebrows knotted in concentration. „No idea, she was working as an exotic dancer at the Zambezi Club on Saturday night but the narrow boat was originally registered to a Barry Morgan . . .‟ „Anything known on this Morgan?‟ Shaw shook his head: „Looks legit!‟ Monday Morning at Division HQ

GPBL

„What‟s the situation then Pete?‟ asked Dan Forthright the division‟s chief superintendent. „A chronic manpower shortage exists, so this case will never be solved,‟ replied DI Pete Ferret, „unless we speed up the investigation.‟ „So what do you need?‟ Dan asked with pen poised. „Initially a team of three print-lifters to go over the 38


Rising Brook Writers

crime scene again and four DCs to trawl the area with a DS to lead them. I need two good rangers also to apprehend a Dutch suspect trying a getaway. A team of ten men. I assume you‟ll want to head up the team as the SIO,‟ Pete said expectantly. Dan Forthright said, „Okay you‟ve got them,‟ as he walked around his desk. „Be very professional with this one Pete,‟ he uttered. „I think the family background of the deceased may be critical.‟ Adam, Bernard and Connor Blake, three brothers, all SOCO fingerprint experts were known by most in the Division as „print-lifters‟. The four DCs brought together at short notice were Donna Ryan, Evan Bell, Fred Oddy and Reg McCall. These were led by DS Harry Coots from Division HQ. Coots was a good co-ordinator and well known to Pete Ferret. The last two in the team were another set of brothers, Jamie and John Speed, aptly named. They specialised in „fast collaring‟ their man. They were to be the two man pursuit team; Pete Ferret knew them as „rangers‟ because of their tracking ability, they were not hampered by boundaries in any criminal pursuit. A briefing took place within the hour and they moved en masse to the incident room set up in the local police station in Newton Lane. The Speed brothers had already put out bulletins to all ports and airports. Before the briefing ended a custom‟s entry passenger list containing an alias once known to have been used by Jurgan Sears was found on the Ostend-Dover ferry route. The suspect had bought a return ticket. Jamie Speed talked briskly into the phone, „Okay, we‟re on our way, I‟m faxing you over an old mug shot, not that it‟s much good.‟ 39


Where there’s a WiLL there’s a Weigh

Monday Morning at ‘Morning Prayers’

CH

The agro was still there from the previous day. Nat knew that something was going wrong when his boss entered their shared office swearing, quietly. „Nat we‟ve got a problem,‟ she‟d started. This spelled capital „T‟ trouble, as she rarely called him Nat unless the fat was in the fire and he was expected to dig her out of it. „Those bloody cretins at divisional HQ are parachuting in a couple idiots to take over our investigation! Oh, they say they‟re to assist us but I know „em both. Forthright and Ferret! A useless pair of publicity grabbers. He‟s never „forthright‟ unless it suits him, and that‟s not often. Ferret‟s a sneaky swine; he‟d have the fillings from your back teeth if he took a fancy. They‟ll grandstand some kind of collar for the press and then sod off and leave us to do the real work! No! This is our case and our collar. When we pull it off we‟ll get all the kudos. I want them out of the picture soonest. Show them up as a pair of useless tossers at morning prayers tomorrow.‟ When he got home Nat told his partner, Annette, who‟d burst out laughing. „I know those pair all right,‟ she‟d said. „Hilary isn‟t really doing them justice though. They‟re much sneakier and nastier than that! You need to be on your toes with that pair. Treat them like a couple of prime suspects Nat.‟ Nat worried about that. Sure enough at „morning prayers‟ Ferret held forth about the mix up in the prints. Nat snorted down his nose in disgust, they weren‟t mixed up. The clot had the details crossed, could he read? He certainly couldn‟t think straight. The supposed hit-man Sears, whose name he 40


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was mispronouncing and probably couldn‟t spell, what evidence was there that he was there at the right time? A vague eye witness report and a set of dabs that could have been there for weeks. „Excuse me for interrupting,‟ he said, „but you‟ve got things wrong. Firstly, SOCO, your people, as we don‟t have them here, took most of the prints and the rest were taken during the PM. The prints marked Carmichael are from the woman and those marked Weigh: with a question mark, are from the man, the man, who may be this Hague we‟ve documents for, but isn‟t the American Von Weigh. According to Mrs Von Weigh; and I quote, „Apart from the hair he could be my Herman‟s twin brother, if he had one‟, so there could be a connection there.‟ Ferret simmered but said nothing. „Secondly. The prints for Jurgan Spears; who name is properly pronounced as Yoorgen as nearly as English will allow, and is spelled J u r g a n, seemed to be old ones. That‟s noted in SOCO‟s report, page three.‟ Nat got a small grin and a wink from Hawksworth. „If you want to start pointing fingers at sloppy work which, as you were sent here to assist, I‟m sure you don‟t have the slightest intention of doing, please point them somewhere else.‟ Hawksworth used Ferret‟s surprised silence to get her digs at him in. „You‟re right that we don‟t have the manpower to do a fingertip search. We don‟t have the budget either according to sub-divisional accounts. So we‟ll need your expertise, and manpower, there! As for trawling the surroundings for details? Well! Coming from the big city you may have overlooked the fact that it‟s 41


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been raining, quite heavily, over the last couple of days. This tells us poor yokels out here in the sticks that any prints, or other clues on the ground, have been washed away. The only evidence that has been preserved is on that barge. If it ain‟t there, we ain‟t got it. Get it?!‟ „We‟ve wasted enough time on this useless farrago when we should be working and I‟m going out to do just that. You can do what you damned well please; just don‟t get in my way. Come on Shaw!‟ So saying she stormed out of the room followed by an elated Nat Shaw. Monday Early Evening Around 5.00pm

SMS

The solicitor‟s waiting room smelled of beeswax and old shoes. Fallon ran a finger round the collar of his new shirt, he felt sure he‟d left the cardboard stiffener inside when he‟d hastily torn it out of the wrapper ten minutes ago. The shirt was sunrise-yellow stripes with an overly large floppy-winged collar. But for £1.99 it was the best the market stall could offer in his size the only other choice being „dawn pink‟. The elderly secretary sitting behind a desk, which could have been used by Queen Victoria, was eyeing him suspiciously. Fallon stopped fidgeting and looked down at his shoes, they needed a polish. Guiltily he pushed them further underneath the seat. „You can go in now,‟ said the crone not stopping the keys rattling as her gnarled fingers flew over an equally ancient sit-up-and-beg typewriter. Fallon pushed his way inside the cave-like domain of Moshe Goldsteine. He knew old man Goldsteine 42


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fairly well, well enough to say „Good Morning‟ to in the street, but not well enough to have been allowed entrance into his inner sanctum before. The room reminded Fallon of an overstuffed antiquarian bookshop, it smelled like something out of Dickens; the space was crammed with old books, files and stacks of papers, some tied with red ribbons and rolled into bundles. Sunlight had to fight its way in through a high sash window obscured by more piles of documents. „Hahh there you are Fallon come forward, don‟t hover. Can‟t abide hoverers,‟ a piping voice said. Fallon followed the sound of the instruction to a seat hidden behind a pile of legal tomes stacked five high on the front of an enormous desk in flame mahogany. Goldsteine occupied that seat. Strands of straggly red hair bushed out from underneath a black-velvet skull cap decorated with two bands of sequins. Glorious spiral ringlets hung about a pair of doglike ears. Beetle black eyes pierced Fallon‟s surprise from above a pair of halfmoon spectacles perched atop the hook of a strikingly pronounced hooked nose. „Mr Goldsteine. You sent for me?‟ said Fallon still standing, as if he sat down the old man would have disappeared from view behind leather bound Volumes 42 to 73 of Act something or other. „Of course I did or you wouldn‟t be here,‟ snapped Goldsteine reaching for a beribboned file on top of a tottering pile at the side of his desk. „Von Weigh. You‟ve met the wife!‟ It was a statement not a question. Fallon remained impassive. „Don‟t worry about client confidentiality; it was me that told her to hire you. Something very strange is going on and I 43


Where there’s a WiLL there’s a Weigh

think you are the best man to get to the bottom of it Sergeant Fallon. I know what happened to you and in my opinion it was a load of rubbish. It wasn‟t you who should have walked a way, you and I both know that.‟ Fallon coloured, he wasn‟t expecting Goldsteine to open old wounds in the preamble to a case. „Let‟s stick to the here and now shall we? What‟s the problem you think Fallon and McGee can help with?‟ Goldsteine sank back into the confines of the leather-bound Windsor chair, crossed bony fingers over a velvet waistcoat then glanced across at a huge document safe that dominated one wall. Settled thus he answered: „Diamonds Sergeant Fallon. Rough uncut diamonds. South African diamonds. A mine full of them.‟ Fallon‟s eyebrows rose in such a way that two deep furrows appeared above his nose. „I thought that would get your attention,‟ said the solicitor passing over the file folder. As he did so a tiny photograph fell onto the floor. Fallon stooped down to pick it up. „Who is that?‟ he asked. „Who indeed?‟ sighed old man Goldsteine wistfully brushing away a stray strand of straggle from out of his eyes. 44


Rising Brook Writers

Monday Evening

YL

Minnie stared at her reflection. Gone the usual attire, replaced by an off-the-shoulder top with fitted slacks. These clothes had caused an almighty row earlier, which had culminated in Minnie slamming out of the house. Her partner, Linda, had accused her of being prepared to sleep with Nat Shaw. As if ? Well… Maybe, but only if she had to. She had tried patiently to explain that it would be a strike for her femininity to do so. After all, men do it all the time. Linda had cried, accusing her of not loving her. What rot! This was work. She loved Linda. Couldn‟t she see she was Minnie‟s whole world? That this was different? Minnie thought she‟d better join Nat in the bar. He wouldn‟t be the first bloke she‟d slept with to further her career. There‟s been her college lecturer, and Tony her exboss… oh and… „Evening babe.‟ Jeez! Nat wasn‟t God‟s gift but tonight she thought he looked even worse than usual. His brown suit had seen better days but the pink shirt was the worst. Opening to the waist it revealed chest hair, what there was of it, and the compulsory medallion hanging on an overlong chain. She forced a smile onto her face. „Hi Nat, smart clothes. What can I get you to drink?‟ „I‟ll get it babe. Wouldn‟t want a girlie like you to pay.‟ Minnie, thinking it was best not to puke so early in the evening replied calmly, „It‟s OK Nat. Tonight‟s the 45


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editor‟s treat!‟ „Oh in that case babe I‟ll have a pint of the landlord‟s best.‟ Minnie bridled at the term „babe‟ but knew better than to show it. It was going to be a long night. „You‟re looking well Nat. Everything at the station OK?‟ „Now, now, Minnie. No need for flattery. I know you‟re on the canal murders. I do read the papers!‟ Minnie threw him one of her rare, dazzling smiles. Her piece had made the front page in „The Daily Tattle‟. Now for once he had said the right thing. „Sorry Nat, you are obviously much too smart for me to hoodwink.‟ „Look babe, it‟s been a long day. Hawksworth is bad enough, but now they‟ve brought in the big guns from Division HQ and the Yard. Fetch me another pint and a whisky chaser, and I might just tell you all about it.‟ Minnie went to the bar. Tonight was going to cost her alright, in more ways than one, but it was in her interest to let him think this was all on an expense account. Linda‟s face came into mind as she waited for the drinks. Minnie did love her, but she was just so provincial. The editor of „The Daily Tattle‟ had asked Minnie down to London once this story was finished. She would be doing Linda a favour leaving her where she was comfortable. She‟d realise that later. Anyway, Larissa, the editor she‟d spoken to, had recently split up with her girlfriend and had asked if she could show her the London night life. Minnie noticed Nat leering at her through the bar‟s mirror. How his girlfriend put up with him she‟d never know. She turned and smiled coyly at him. He‟d sing like a bird before tonight was over. 46


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Monday Night Late

SMS

Tip-Tip was running, never a good sign. Fallon fumbled with the lock. He‟d heard the shout same time as Tommy but hadn‟t reacted as quickly. Stumbling over his feet Fallon bounded after the Glaswegian across the empty street. It had been a girl‟s shout after all. „No need to break sweat,‟ muttered Tip-Tip through a gum line of broken teeth as Fallon caught up panting and wheezing. „She‟s useful.‟ Useful wasn‟t the word Fallon would have used. Gorgeous was closer. He knew her straight off. It was that Martine from „The Won-Huang‟ chippy. He‟d been hoping for an opportunity to get acquainted, not one like this, but any port in a storm. He held out his hand to her. Not that she needed anybody‟s help to get up from her vantage point astride the unfortunate‟s back. She had decked her attacker with what looked like a bag of small change and the remains of a fish supper. Brown eyes twinkled in the streetlights from under a mop of chestnut curls. A waft of malt vinegar blew over him as she reached out for his hand. The Doc Martins and dungarees were a bit worrying; did that mean feminist fashion statement? or something else entirely? Although she‟d said, „Hello‟, and, „Salt and vinegar?‟ to Fallon many times before she hadn‟t really registered him as „available‟ until now. He, on the other hand, had been wondering for about two months where he could afford to take her to if he ever summoned up enough courage to ask her out. Somewhere that was up market from her place of work. He hadn‟t thought of anywhere. This might be his opportunity to get to know her a little 47


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better. „I know you sonny,‟ growled Tip-Tip in a snarl which came out like a Klingon warrior demanding more blood wine. He had changed places with the girl from the chippy and had the assailant in straight arm, twisted wrist lock emphasised by the sole of his shoe making patterns on the lad‟s neck as it pressed into the pavement. „So do I,‟ said Fallon, taking his eyes off the girl just long enough to make the ID. „Mad Markus. One of the McGuidans.‟ „What do you want us to do with laddo here Miss Maloney?‟ growled Tip-Tip. Fallon translated, and then added. „Let him up for a start, he isn‟t going anywhere with that headache. No need to roll him out like a pastie.‟ „Martine,‟ she said holding out her hand to Fallon. „Martine Maloney.‟ Fallon already knew her name he‟d read it a dozen times on the badge pinned to her red striped overall. Another waft of warm vinegar blew across his nose as she moved. His mum would like her; she was everything his ex-missus was not. His mum would be potty not to spoil a rosy yummy-mummy with red cheeks and down to earth opinions. Where had that thought sprung from? Still holding her hand Fallon stared at Tommy for help. Tommy obliged by pulling the lad to his feet to break the spell. „I didn‟t do nothing, she‟s a bloody nightmare,‟ cried Markus his eyes full of tears. „Going round thumping folks who‟re only trying to help.‟ Fallon looked at Martine. The young lad didn‟t come across as a hard man. From what he could remember of the McGuidans, Markus was the youngest. Perhaps the „Mad‟ was exactly that - as in „not the full shilling‟ - rather than „psychopathic 48


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tendencies‟ like his two older brothers. Markus certainly tried his best to fit the part of „not all there‟, he was a typical scruffy punk with a piercing in his left eyebrow and short bleached blond hair. It didn‟t help that he had a scuffed leather coat two sizes too big for him hanging off his scrawny frame. „What exactly did he do to you?‟ Fallon asked the girl. „Don‟t ask her. Ask me, I‟m the one with the headache,‟ complained the punk. „I was coming home from the late shop with a take out - Stellas.‟ He pointed at the four pack which Tip-Tip had now magically acquired. „I saw Martine from across the road locking up the chip shop. Visions of being a hero got the better of me. I pulled myself up and gave what I thought would be a comforting grin.‟ „Rubbish,‟ glared Martine. „Comforting nothing! From five yards away, with the amber street lamp turning his bleached bonce into a neon fuzz, it looked like an evil sneer from a visiting troll.‟ The lad coloured from the neck up. „A troll?‟ Martine was in full sway. „I was on the alert. I was ready. So when he sauntered over to ask for a chip. . .‟ „You took the initiative and belted him with the takings.‟ „All coins,‟ added Tip-Tip approvingly. „Heavy are coins, make good knuckle dusters if you wedge them in between your fingers.‟ He clenched his fist to stress the point. Fortunately only Fallon understood what he was saying. „Then as I‟d fallen over me feet trying to step away I dropped the cans and bent over to pick them up. The 49


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next thing I know this hellcat was sitting on me, shouting for help and belting me. I only asked for a chip. I wanted to walk her home that‟s all, Sergeant Fallon.‟ „How d‟you know my name?‟ „Everybody knows you Sergeant Fallon. You‟re my hero. I wanna be a private dick one day.‟ Tip-Tip spluttered something obscene into the night air. „You‟re half way there son,‟ he chuckled. Fallon ignored him. „I‟m not a DS anymore Markus. And accosting young women late at night is not the best way to become a private detective. Now clear off home and don‟t be bothering Martine again there‟s a good lad.‟ Reluctantly, Tommy parted company with the four cans of Stella and with a wink pushed the lad off in the direction of the High Street which left Fallon and the girl to their own devices. „I‟d better give you a lift home,‟ muttered Fallon, nervously pulling strands of curly perm down around his ears, which stuck out like jug handles, with one hand while pointing towards an ancient Austin Princess illegally parked on double yellows outside their office, with the other. Martine kicked the chip wrapper into the gutter. „Yes you better had,‟ she replied testily, brushing off her dungarees and hugging the bag of change close to her chest. Later Monday Night

EH

„Hold your whisht you Glaswegian bastard, get back behind the bushes. I can smell her scent through the door from here.‟ Fallon gave him a shove. „We need a plan,‟ 50


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and he dragged an unwilling Tip-Tip back down the path behind the rhodies. „You go back to the phone-box and call her. I‟ll try and slip past her in the hall when she answers.‟ They had rolled back late, Fallon from dropping off Martine and an after hours session with Tip-Tip in the „Labourer‟s Arms‟, and for different reasons both wanted to avoid Lavender, being too far gone now to join in a late night tipple with her as she often expected. Fallon regretted the one time his attention had wandered down to that ample bosom and jingling earrings, but he was desperate to find a flat when Lavender‟s advert turned up as a godsend: „Furnished flat to let, with home comforts if needed’. He‟d soon discovered what „home comforts‟ meant, not warm slippers and pots of tea that‟s for certain. Lavender Pomeroy teetering around on spiky heels, getting evermore reluctant to upsize her bras and girdles, now she felt respectable and a somebody. Owning this old house, turning it into flats to let had been a dream come true for her. She had been an entertainer-cumhostess in clubland living in one unsavoury lodging after another. Her piece of luck came when an elderly admirer collapsed in her company. No-one could be found to claim him, or his property, so it came to her by default. Lavender started life as plain Gertie Smith, but along with memories of a hapless family she had ditched it to become Lavender Pomeroy, not only in name but with the perfume she sprayed everywhere, even her pet Yorkie wasn‟t free from the smell. Pomeroy came to her from a play of an upper-crust family in 18th century life in which she played a small part. Pomeroy had been a handsome hero on stage and the name rang in her ears. Her past was 51


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always with her hanging in the huge charm bracelet she always wore, every charm a reminder of someone who had slipped in and out of her life. However, men seemed to avoid her eye nowadays, time was passing far too quickly, her film career in the „black and white days‟ sinking into distant memory. The phone in the hallway rang. Scarlet painted nails picked up the receiver and the heavy bracelet rattled against her ear, „Dunroaming Apartments,‟ she breathed seductively into the handset. From the phone booth on the corner Tip-Tip could see Fallon poised with his key in the door lock. Here their drunken plot began to unravel, Rick hadn‟t told him what to say when Lavender answered. „Dunroaming Apartments,‟ the voice repeated. TipTip wasn‟t that stupid; if he opened his mouth she‟d know it was him. What should he do? In his panic he inhaled deeply. Fallon had squeezed inside. Now what should he do? Tip-Tip breathed out. „Mr Fallon is that you?‟ Lavender called as she spied Fallon with his foot on the first tread of the staircase. „I‟ve had such a shock. Come here and listen. I‟m being molested. There‟s a heavy breather on this phone.‟ On the other end of the line Tommy dropped the handset and ran full pelt away down the street. He‟d better spend the night on the back seat of the Princess, Fallon would kill him if he ever got hold of him. Tuesday Morning

GPBL

Travelling north a black Wolseley vehicle with tinted windows eased off the M1 to join the M6 heading for 52


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Staffordshire. The vehicle‟s three occupants, two police pursuit officers and their prisoner had left the port of Dover early in the morning from where the murder suspect was apprehended. DC Jamie Speed, radioed ahead to Weston House Divisional Police HQ: „Jurgan Sears picked up at 06.45am from Dover Ferry vehicle check in area. Suspect‟s vehicle impounded by Dockyard Police for retrieval later today. Our location is M6 heading north currently passing junction one, moderate traffic, good progress, running on schedule. Time now 08.20 hours. Zebra One over.‟ He now started to increase speed. In the back Jamie‟s brother was escorting Dutchman, Jurgan Sears, who was handcuffed and hooked up to an anchorage point, for safety. John Speed said to his brother, „This guy has been mumbling in his own dialect since we left Dover. Do you think he‟s okay?‟ Jamie replied, „Some sort of ploy may be brother. He will become unco-operative later no doubt,‟ and then he re-checked the mirror from his position behind the wheel. Jurgan was dozing off. Meanwhile, the finger print experts were on duty early at the narrow boat mooring at Heylane. Connor Blake had found finger, hand and footprints in the disused galley area behind a heavy curtain. DS Harry Coots has started early also. He had spread out his three investigators who were combing the canal towpath and bank for any possible weapons or clues to the male victim‟s identity. He had sent DC Donna Ryan to the lock keeper‟s cottage to review a previous interview taken by the local Sergeant, Meadows. 53


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Tuesday Morning

YL

Young Billy‟s hands shook as he took back Minnie Albright‟s cup and saucer. He was the office junior who, like others before him, longingly dreamed of being a real reporter. He loathed drinks time, as it meant serving Minnie. She was a real Tartar for having her drink just right and went ballistic when he got it wrong. But today had been different. She‟d said, „Thank you,‟ earlier. It was more scary to Billy than when she growled like his Nana‟s dog! He‟d noticed that Minnie was reading a piece she‟d written called, „A Hoare Murdered On Barge.‟ Staring at the copy, Minnie felt devastated, but those around her just thought that she was her normal, miserable self. A Hoare… Amy Hoare was her name, and she‟d been Minnie‟s friend, according to a „loosened up‟ DS Nat Shaw. It hadn‟t taken the police long to discover her „working‟ identity; Lori Carmichael, was just one of the aliases Amy had used, Barri Morgan being another. Not close friends now of course, they‟d gone their separate ways years before, but sometimes their paths crossed and they would have coffee and catch up. Amy came from a large family of Hoare‟s from Crescent Avenue, but she was the only one about whom you could say „Hoare by name, Whore by nature‟. When they met Amy talked about being a prostitute as though she were explaining about being a shop girl, and Minnie admired her for it. Shaw said the police had decided she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Minnie hadn‟t told any54


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one who mattered about her involvement with the dead woman, not even Linda. It would just lead to questions she didn‟t want to answer. Yet even hurting as she did, Minnie had still written a scandalous piece that she would sell to the Sundays. Minnie rang the florist‟s next. She would send a wreath. Amy had liked roses when they were younger, so she would send her old friend some. The police were baffled as to why she had „Whore‟ written on her bottom, they said, but Minnie just smiled knowingly. „Goodbye dear friend,‟ she whispered silently as she replaced the receiver, her eyes misting with tears. „Billy!‟ she roared. Oh heck, he thought, things are back to normal. Flashback : Two Months Previous

AP

Back in Zurich old Aaron sighed. He knew the words of that will off by heart, „to my son Jon and his issue…‟ He covered his face with his hands. Why did that wretched girl have to bring it all back? The years fell away and there they were, two young men hung with ropes and ice-axes, marching down the valley of Lauterbrunnen, Aaron Goldsteine and Jon Hoeg. Jon with his soft brown eyes, his slow, slurred speech, Jon, who could not always quite follow… Jon, who had been the gentlest, kindest creature on this earth. That day, nearly half a century ago, was as clear to Aaron as the office in which he sat. He saw the great waterfall making rainbows on golden cows, heard the 55


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gentle bell-clanks as they grazed, heard the shouts of workers turning hay, heard his friend . . . Aaron stopped. He gaped. But…? How could…? He‟d seen Mrs Hoeg only three hours ago. Had she died since? How would Jon know? Was he psychic? Thoughts rushed, crashed, spun away. Had it not been Mrs Hoeg at all who waved them off ? Had it been her twin sister calling, „Have you got your waterproofs?‟ He ran after Jon. „What do you mean?‟ he gasped. Jon kept his eyes on the ground. „My real mother was a lady who lived far across the sea. She was called Alice. My father told me. Last night. Only he‟s not my real father. My real father was not married to Alice. He was married to a different lady.‟ Aaron was stupefied. „My grandfather put Alice in a lunatic asylum.‟ „Why? Was she…er…‟ „She wasn‟t mad. But she brought shame on the whole Von Weigh family. When she had me. Because she wasn‟t married.‟ He looked up at last. „Men could do that. Just lock ladies up. Lunatic asylums were full of ladies and their babies. Before the babies got sold.‟ „Sold!‟ „Costs. That‟s what they called it in the asylum where I was born. Costs. Petr Hoeg and his wife bought me. But they couldn‟t buy her.‟ They both walked on in silence until Jon finally burst out, „Ladies shouldn‟t be locked up. They should have a beautiful home with gardens and flowers and lawns where they can play with their babies. His voice trailed off and he bit his lip. Then he said quietly, „I‟m going to make a place like that.‟ 56


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Old Aaron raised his eyes to the gold-framed picture on the wall. It was of a beautiful mansion set in wide lawns stretching down to a river. Alice House. It had been a dilapidated shell when Jon first saw it. „Use it for what you want,‟ its owner had said, visualising table tennis. „Of course you can paint it. Do what you like.‟ If only Jon had had access to his fortune then, if only he hadn‟t needed to rely on postboy wages, who knows what wonders could have been wrought? Actually, thought old Aaron, wonders had been wrought. Jon had spent hours up there, mending the roof, replacing windows, clearing rubble, cutting grass, trimming hedges. Every spare penny, every spare minute he‟d got went to Alice House. Occasionally Aaron himself went up to help him, and one day, bolting a new beam into place, he suddenly realised the dream might really come true. Then the crouching devil sprang. When the Low Countries were invaded in 1940 Jon said to Aaron, „I have to go and fight.‟ „You‟re too old,‟ said Aaron. „Armies won‟t have anyone over 30. You‟re nearly 31.‟ „I‟m going,‟ said Jon. „They are killing my family.‟ He‟d meant the Hoegs, of course. A family of many cousins. And he‟d gone. Aaron didn‟t. „It would kill your mother,‟ his father had said, „and I, too, am getting old. Your duty is to your family.‟ Old Aaron pulled out his handkerchief, wiped his face, stared at the desk. He saw newspaper pictures – old men scrubbing pavements under the guard of leering louts, two curly-haired little girls wearing huge yellow stars… „Oh God, God!‟ he cried and squeezed his eyes tight shut. But he couldn't shut out the messenger getting 57


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off his bike at the Hoeg‟s gate, or the telegram, „Missing, believed dead.‟ They say the news killed Pastor Hoeg. His business partner, Schmydt, came to the funeral. „I‟ll manage the mine for the time being,‟ he said to Mrs Hoeg. „Just until the will is sorted out. There won‟t be much to do. It‟s not bearing a great deal nowadays.‟ And he‟d managed the Hoeg diamond mine ever since, because, before the year was out, Mrs Hoeg too was in her grave.

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Tuesday Morning 10.00am

CH

„Now Mr Von Weigh. Please tell us what happened after you left your wife‟s company on Friday,‟ requested Rick Fallon as he and Tip-Tip sat with the Von Weighs, in the otherwise deserted hospital sideward. „Mrs Von Weigh reported you missing and the police thought you‟d been murdered. Yet here you are as large as life.‟ „Hell Rick, call me Herman will you? This Mister business you English use gives me the creeps. Jeez, even the goddamned cops call you Sir. Well! Like I told your cops, I came out of that attorney‟s office. You know, Goldsteine and Mbekod near the cathedral? We got this letter from Goldsteine it told me I was in for a truckload of money if ‟n I could prove I was related to this Hollander Yan Von Weigh. Way back 150 or more years ago, I mean how could I do that? Anyway, when I tells him no, he says to call you in „coz he thought I was one of the legatee‟s. Didn‟t say who the others were, or how much moolah they was in the pot, but it was a substantial amount. He hinted at millions and maybe two others. I phoned Gussie and she got a hold of you I guess.‟ He smiled at his wife, „I needed a drink, getting over the shock you understand, and went into a bar and sank a few whiskies, and a few beers. I vaguely remember a couple of folks getting very pally and the barkeep saying something like it‟s time to go home. The next thing I recall is waking up Sunday morning, real groggy, in a hospital bed. The medics tell me I was nearly a goner from alcoholic poisoning. That was when I found my billfold was missing. There was about £300 of your pounds in it and a few store cards, so I guess I was rolled 59


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for that, and maybe slipped a Mickey Finn as well. That‟s all I know.‟ Rick looked unenthused as he pondered. „The police have found your wallet, emptied of course, and your credit cards. You won‟t be getting those back for a while as they‟re evidence in a murder investigation. But that‟s not our case; according to Mr Goldsteine we‟re to set about finding your ancestors to get you the money. What, if anything, can you tell us about your parents and grandparents?‟ Wearing a thoughtful face, Herman answered, „Great Grandpa was Yan. Loaded so we now hear. Grandpappy was called Carl. I never knew anything much about him. He was a Revenue Agent and he came from around here originally. The details are in the Ellis Island records I guess. „My own Pop YAN was called Theodore; he was born to his Pop‟s second wife, Helga, who was an American. I was born to his second wife Lisa. „Good luck to CARL you son, if you‟re going to try to unscramble my extended family tree. You‟ll need all the help you can get, and then some.‟ LISA 60


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Tuesday Morning

GPBL

Pete Ferret needed an update before his meeting with Hilary Hawksworth. „OK Harry, what progress has been made so far in this case?‟ he asked DS Coots. „PC Evan Bell on my team has turned up a find,‟ Harry said. „In the undergrowth along the side of the footpath twenty metres from the narrow boat. A photo, folded in half. We believe it to be Von Weigh the 2 nd. The fingerprint boys are checking it now.‟ He paused as Jamie Speed was making a hand signal. Jamie held up a brightly coloured envelope. „This contains a negative of the same photo, and it was retrieved from the glove compartment of the car just brought in from Dover, the car which belongs to Jurgan Sears. It‟s a match,‟ he said with some delight. „Also,‟ he continued, „we are hoping to get some info from forensics about the marker pen he had in his pocket when taken into custody.‟

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„Good,‟ Harry said, „the second piece of progress we have made Pete, is to do with the identification of the male body. DC Donna Ryan has rechecked an interview taken by local police, at the lock-keeper‟s place. It now appears that the man killed on the boat, had, just last week, been asking about the whereabouts of local parish records, as he was trying to trace records of his past family, in pursuit of his roots. I went with Donna to see the local vicar who had a visit from a chap by the name of Hague a few days ago, good job I had a mug shot of the deceased in my pocket, and the vicar, a Reverend Bennett, is certain that it was his visitor. He gave me the address of the B&B where the guy was staying. I‟ve sent DC Fred Oddie along with DC Connor Blake, a fingerprint man, to No 2, Railway Cottages, they‟re not back yet, but I‟m sure they will turn up something.‟ The meeting was being curtailed, and they were checking the investigation log with each other, when there was a knock on the door, and it was opened simultaneously. DC‟s Fred Oddie and Connor Blake entered. „Ah what‟s happened boys?‟ asked Harry Coots. „There‟s a room at No 2, Railway Cottages, that‟s sporting a nice collection of wallets and purses: what kind of a hobby is that?‟ asked Connor Blake, smiling. „The hobby is called “picking people‟s pockets” I would aver,‟ interjected DI Pete Ferret, and he asked, „have you found a diary, lots of credit cards, and little notes on pieces of paper?‟ „Yes Sir, but we‟ve locked up the room, until we bring in all the team. After lunch, there‟s a lot to pack and remove very carefully. We‟ll need to take an inventory.‟ 62


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Tuesday Morning Around 11.30am

SMS

Bang . . . Bang . . . Bang. „Tip-Tip open the bloody door,‟ shouted Fallon through the letter box. Two heavy bolts were slid across and the door opened. Hands reached out as Tommy grabbed Fallon‟s lapels and dragged him inside the office. As Fallon fell over the desk Tommy slid back the bolts. „Let me guess. Another visit from Mr Patel?‟ said Fallon straightening his jacket and recovering the packet of hot sausage rolls he‟d been carrying from off the floor. „Tell me you didn‟t hit him . . .‟ „No me Rick. But some mouth he‟s got on him. Called me a “moron” “aggressive moron”. Me!‟ „So he came in then?‟ „No he did not!‟ said Tommy indignant at the very suggestion. „The wee man was yelling through the letter box.‟ Fallon groaned; the picture of Tommy on one side of the letter box and the rotund figure of their landlord Mr Patel on the street side yelling at each other was all he needed. „Did he leave anything?‟ Tommy nodded towards a torn and crumpled brown envelope on the desk. The words FINAL NOTICE in red ink told Fallon all he needed to know. „Come on we‟re going to the library.‟ „Not so good at the reading, you know son. Not my thing. More a numbers man.‟ „It‟s not reading we‟ll be doing. It‟s more find the lady.‟ 63


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„Right on son. I‟m your man,‟ said Tommy. „I‟ll just see the fat man‟s on his way.‟ Peeping round the corner of the door he beckoned Fallon it was safe to follow. „Where are you two brave boys off to?‟ a laughing voice asked as they fell out on to the pavement. „Running away from Mr P?‟ It was Martine. Fallon blinked, he hardly recognised her. She was wearing a frock and sling back shoes and her hair seemed three times bigger than usual and was that lipstick she was wearing? „You look . . . .‟ was all he managed to get out before Tommy interrupted. „Very tasty,‟ he added through a mouth full of gums and black stumps. Fallon glared. „Day off,‟ explained Martine. „I‟m going shopping.‟ „We‟re going to the library,‟ said Tommy as if it was the first major cultural event in his life. „Why don‟t you come along? You might learn something.‟ Fallon translated, „He‟s invited you to come to the library with us,‟ he said his face feeling unusually warm. „A case? Okay. That might be fun. But what are we doing once we get there?‟ „Finding a lady . .‟ muttered Tommy. „Finding her,‟ explained Fallon and he showed TipTip and Martine the photograph given to him by old man Goldsteine. „Is that all you‟ve got to go on?‟ asked Martine staring intently at the photograph. „And this,‟ added Fallon, holding out a torn scrap of paper which read . . .“1909 Adjudication of the Commissioners in Lunacy, Heylane, in the County of . . .” „You ever worked a microfiche machine?‟ 64


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Tuesday Morning At The Library

SMS

Tattooed hands buried deep in his pockets, and head hung low, Tip-Tip followed Fallon and Martine through the glass and oak framed double doors into the hallowed depths of the city‟s central library. The place smelled of furniture polish and books and, and, . . . yes it was . . . that strong ammonia pong was urine. Tip-Tip‟s eyes followed his nose. He noticed a fellow of the road clutching a bed roll disappearing through an archway. This cheered him up immensely. If they let tramps and vagrants into libraries he had nothing to worry about as long as he kept his mouth shut. „Can you help me?‟ said Fallon to the aged spinster, with a face for radio, and a blue rinse who was busy behind the „Returns‟ counter stamping a pile of books with gusto. „I‟m tracing my family tree.‟ Martine‟s eyes rose to the heavens. Why do men always lie about everything even when they don‟t have to? „We have certain records for this area, but the new Family Records Office in Bride Street is your best bet. Can you be more specific?‟ the woman had stopped stamping, this quest obviously being more interesting academically speaking. „Have you got anything about the Commissioners in Lunacy relating to Heylane?‟ The woman, who had a name tag stating Miss Abernachy pinned to her cardigan, positively beamed, „Oh yes. The Asylum at Heylane. Notorious in its day. Came in under the wire as a private sanatorium for the mentally disturbed. Closed down after the Great War: terrible scandal about the conditions.‟ 65


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„Really,‟ said Martine, her interest aroused. „Where was it I‟ve never heard of the place?‟ „You wouldn‟t. That old derelict building was firebombed during 1942. Raised to the ground. But it stood on top of Wooller‟s Hill.‟ „That‟s where the hospital is,‟ chipped in Tip-Tip, only to be scowled at by Fallon who‟d told him to say nothing. „Exactly the „new‟ hospital complex now stands on that site,‟ confirmed the library assistant. „Now you‟ll be needing documentation in the search for genealogy.‟ „Yes, it‟s an extended Dutch and American family who emigrated via the UK in the eighteen and early nineteen hundreds. The Von Weighs.‟ „Nothing simple then. But I did just notice Mr McQuidan in the reference library, he‟s been researching into an extended family for many months, perhaps he can help you.‟ „Markus McQuidan?‟ asked Tip-Tip before Fallon could stop him. „Yes that‟s right do you know him?‟ „What‟s it worth?‟ said Markus grinning at Martine. „What do you want? You can have anything except money!‟ „A job.‟ „A job with no pay! A flexible arrangement. If we get paid you get paid,‟ said Fallon. Tip-Tip didn‟t like the sound of that arrangement as it dawned he was in the same situation as the spotty youth sitting at the microfiche machine. Markus nodded 66


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and Fallon proceeded to fill him in with as much detail as he possessed about the obnoxious Von Weighs. „Okay what we need to do is work backwards from what you‟ve got from Mr Goldsteine and Mr Von Weigh. So we need marriage certificates for his grandfather and then we might find something on the generation which preceded him.‟ Tip-Tip‟s attention was wandering. The tramp, who he‟d noticed earlier, had his nose buried in an enormous tome and was now wearing a pair of white cotton gloves. „Who‟s the old boy?‟ he asked the librarian who was replacing newspapers in a rack. Fortunately the woman, a Scot herself, was no stranger to broad Glaswegian. „Professor Linksie.‟ „Yeah right!‟ grinned Tip-Tip displaying a frightening set of upper gums. „Professor Hennessy Linksie, former holder of the Chair of British Social History, Porter House,‟ she clarified with a sniff. „Holder of the MacMillion Prize for . . .‟ „Peeing himself . . .‟ whispered Tommy under his breath. „That‟s it,‟ said Fallon ending Tip-Tip‟s first cultural venture. „Tommy go back to the office and watch the phone.‟ Tuesday Afternoon

GPBL

The boys from the HQ team bagged up the contents of the room at Number 2 Railway Cottages. Four of them, including Detective Sergeant Harry Coots, the selected team leader, carefully picked their way through the 67


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haul of wallets, purses, credit cards. It was then that they found a South African passport made out in the name of John Hague. There were also plastic game cards called „Sixes‟ and Nines‟.‟ „Hey,‟ called Harry, „isn‟t that the same logo tattooed on the two victims.‟ „Err…yes boss but it‟s a sort of game nobody wins,‟ offered PC Fred Oddie, who wrinkled up his nose. Meanwhile, DCS Dan Forthright had arrived from HQ to see the crime scene for himself, and Pete Ferret‟s interpretation of how the double murder had been committed. They were walking towards the narrow boat when one of the Blake brothers said, „There are vicious remarks, directed towards our team, being put about by the local police Mr Forthright.‟ „There‟s no place for that kind of bad-mouthing,‟ Dan said and he followed his words with: ‘Those that speak with foul tongues, Gents Are amateurs that spread no compliments Whilst those whose job it is to find the clues Are professional men, no tongue can bruise.’ „Pete,‟ he said as he looked around. „Can you raise a local beat uniform somehow, try 999 if you like, we could do with a local to see your demo of how the victims were despatched so neatly.‟ DI Pete Ferret‟s little glimpse into the murderer‟s action in the small hours of the previous Sunday morning, were as quick as they were brief. Pete himself hid behind the curtain of the disused galley, he had a large torch with him. A rubber blow-up dummy was used as 68


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the male victim. The onlookers watched in the soft glow of the candlelit cabin as, suddenly, a dark figure appeared and trod silently to where the dummy was resting. Hands gripped the neck of the rubber figure, crushing the wind out of it, and finally the hands cracked the head against a porthole surround. A short cracking sound and a grunt were heard. The dark figure disappeared. A slim female form, dressed in a skin-tight body stocking, emerged from the washroom. DC Donna Ryan walked unsteadily, saw the broken dummy, and screamed aloud. All the onlookers briefly flinched at the girl‟s scream. But the dark figure had returned, torch in hand. It was switched on and the female victim was blinded with light. Before she could scream again, the hands were around her neck, and there was a loud thud as the torch was dropped. It appeared that the female was hurt, especially when there was another loud crack. „Lights please,‟ shouted Pete Ferret, as he unmasked, and thanked the brave Donna Ryan. He turned Donna around to reveal the word „Whore‟ inscribed across her backside. „Crime of passion?‟ The demonstration was over.

Tuesday Afternoon

CH

A hand delivered note requested Hilary Hawksworth to call upon Mr Goldsteine of Goldsteine and Mbekod, „at her earliest convenience to receive some information that 69


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may be of relevance in her current investigation‟, and told her that an appointment had been made at 2.30pm, that same day. „Bloody cheek,‟ she‟d told Nat. „He orders us about like we worked for him or sommat.‟ Nat, not very tactfully, reminded her of the times the service had been up against the old man in court and lost ironclad cases. „You could go round there now, but he wouldn‟t tell you a thing. Remember „Absolute confidentiality‟,‟ he said. „He‟ll tell us at half past two and not a minute before.‟ At 2.30 prompt, Evangelist Mbekod led them into Mr Goldsteine‟s office to be faced with Rick Fallon and Tip-Tip McGee. „What the bloody hell are they doing here?‟ she demanded of the old man. „This is police business and they‟ve nothing to do with it!‟ Mr Goldsteine looked at her over his glasses. „Quite wrong young woman, quite wrong. Now sit down please and I‟ll explain why you‟re all here.‟ Fuming but mindful that he had the ear of many powerful people in the area Hilary and Nat found chairs. „Our client Mr Von Weigh is known to you all. What you may not know is that he could be a legatee of a will that involves a considerable sum of money, a quantity of cut diamonds and the controlling interest in a diamond mine. The money runs into several tens of millions of South African rand and the diamonds would fetch possibly another eighty million dollars, or so, on the open market. The mine is presently in the hands of the Board of Trustees of Ernst Schymdt & Co of Cape Town, until title can be proven. You understand the distinction between title and ownership I assume?‟ Apart from Tip-Tip who, except for the bit about diamonds, 70


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hadn‟t understood anything, he got confirmatory nods. „The will was discovered when some old deposit boxes were opened. My colleagues in Zurich of Goldsteine and Partners asked me, as the nearest corresponding lawyer to the last know address of the family Von Weigh, to look into the matter. Eventually I contacted Mr Von Weigh who came to the UK. The rest you know.‟ He produced a file from his desk and showed them the Will. It was in Old Dutch but he‟d had translations prepared and gave them all copies. „Flaming Nora! With that amount on offer it could be that somebody‟s trying to knock Von Weigh off! What are we talking about here? He‟s worth at least 50 or 60 million quid on the hoof ?‟ Nat‟s summing up continued, „If he‟s worth that much to you Mr Goldsteine, then it‟s a fair bet that he‟s worth that much dead to somebody else!‟ „Bloody hell!‟ came from Hilary, „we need to get him some protection, FAST! But that still doesn‟t answer what they,‟ she pointed at Rick and Tip-Tip, „are doing here. Like I said this is a police matter.‟ Goldsteine continued, „Messrs Fallon and Associates are employed by Mr Von Weigh to investigate his antecedents. They could also provide a round the clock protection service, I‟m sure?‟ He looked quizzically at Rick who nodded in affirmation, „Thus relieving our already over-stretched police force of a thankless, and possibly unnecessary, task inspector.‟ Hilary asked the question on everybody‟s mind. „If you‟re sure that he‟s in line for the money where‟s the problem? What‟s all this investigating antecedents bit?‟ She was answered by Rick. „It‟s quite simple. You 71


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cannot positively prove you are related to any given person. You may be sure that you are but that doesn‟t prove it legally. The test is different to criminal law. Under the Balance of Probability rules, ninety percent sure is what you‟re after. Sixty percent sure may do but even with a good paper trail, it‟s difficult. Additionally you may have to prove that you‟re the only one alive who can benefit. „It‟s time to talk Von Weigh into getting some protection around him. He has some bills to pay before we see him off home. Bye for now and thanks for all the information.‟ So saying he and Tip-Tip left, leaving a bemused Hilary and Nat Shaw failing to get more details from the lawyers, and with Goldsteine playing his cards close to his chest about Alice Von Weigh, her offspring and the second Will. Pastor Petr Hoeg‟s fortune could wait a little longer. Wednesday Morning

CH/SMS

As Tip-Tip couldn‟t read, Fallon took Martine and Markus with him to the Family Records Office. There was a familiar hum in the air as they shuffled into the Research Section. Sure enough surrounded by a wide berth of empty places was the tramp from the library. After a scrimmage to find seats, and documents, they started to plough through tomes provided by the assistant. „Bloody hell this is boring,‟ said Markus about ten minutes later. „You asked for the job. What did you expect?‟ asked Fallon, „Beer and skittles to liven things up? This is what being a private detective is all about, mostly dead boring with an odd lively bit now and again. Von Weigh; remem72


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ber him? He‟s paying us to sit here bored to death. And remember look for wrongly spelled names.‟ Five minutes later Markus had the first find. „Got him! A naturalisation certificate for a Yan van Weigh dated 12 May 1841. Right date, right name, right country of origin. Also names Inga, his wife, and a son Mathew. Strange spelling though, Matthew with one T.‟ „Well done Markus,‟ said Rick, „that‟s worth an extra bun for you tonight. Fill in the form for a certified copy.‟ Later after a couple of false alarms, Martine found the birth certificate of Carl. „This is one of them I think. Carl van Weigh. Father Yan, Mother Inga, living in Lichfield. Dated, damn I can‟t make it out, something 18 . . . 23 August I think.‟ „Yep! Sounds about right. OK Martine here‟s £20 for another certified copy. Get a receipt for the accounts. I‟ve just about read my eyes out today so I suggest that we pack up and start again in the morning. Come on! I hear food calling.‟ As they closed the registers Markus spotted another certificate. „Look here,‟ he said. „I think I‟ve got us right onto Carl‟s trail.‟ He pointed at a document marked Relinquishment of Citizenship. „Look. Carl van Weigh lately of Lichfield now resident in New York at 1286, 41 st Street hereby relinquishes etc, etc. Just look at that date, July 18th 1918. Got him, really got him!‟ „You were jammy, just plain jammy, to spot that one Markus,‟ Martine said as, much to his amazement, she kissed him. „Rick‟s got it right, I‟m starving and I‟ve got to be at work later on Mr Huang doesn‟t like me to be late. Come on!‟ They handed in the volumes. On the way towards the door she asked the question that had been 73


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puzzling her. „Why did Von Weigh leave Holland do you think and why then did Carl migrate to the USA?‟ „Dunno why Carl left,‟ Fallon said. „Probably wartime business prospects were better on the other side of the pond. Why Yan left previously who knows.‟ „Revolution. Young woman. Europe in turmoil. Heads of State being murdered. Madame La Guillotine had still much to say,‟ said a voice from under the bushy beard. „The date is that of the revolution that finally ousted the remnants of the French Monarchy and ushered in the Second Republic. A time of great unrest on the continent. Your protagonist probably thought it best to get out while he was ahead.‟ Fallon stared at the tramp. Perhaps he really was a history professor. In which case . . . „Do you know anything about Heylane Asylum and any adjudications of the Commissioners in Lunacy Professor Linksie?‟ A light switched on somewhere in the back of the tramp‟s eyes. „About time . . . after all these years. Are you the man to do this? All the victims. The abuses . . .‟ his reedy voice trembled with emotion. „Countless hundreds treated with a degree of inhumanity unbelievable by today‟s standards. All gone to unmarked graves without justice, without closure.‟ Fallon stared at the pile of pictures. Fallon and McGee . . . Were they up to the job? A pair of more unlikely Knights Templar could hardly be found. Had the burden of this knowledge unhinged the old boy? What were they getting into? 74


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Wednesday Morning

CH

The morning post had arrived at Goldsteine and Mbekod, and as usual, Moshe and Evangelist were sorting and opening it. „This is odd Van. We‟ve got a wrongly addressed one here. From an Ernst Schymdt & Co in South Africa,‟ said Moshe throwing an envelope across the desk to his partner. „No it‟s right. It‟s for me,‟ came the reply. „I adopted the name Evan Beckon when you asked me to get in touch with them some while ago. I thought it best to appear European and avoid any problem with that apartheid thing they‟ve got going down there you understand.‟ „Apartheid!‟ The old man snorted. „They don‟t know what it means. My people have been suffering from that since before this lot around here,‟ he waved his hand to indicate the city, „discovered fire. Don‟t tell me about it!‟ Silence ruled for a few minutes. Then his curiosity got the better of him and he asked, „Well, what do they say then?‟ „Not a lot. Most of it‟s bumph about the firm,‟ came the slowly delivered reply as the contents were spread out on the desk. „There‟s a financial report and some information about the trusts they currently administer. Seems they have ten? No eleven of them under their care. Hello! This is interesting! The least lucrative is this one, look.‟ He held out a 75


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sheet of paper and pointed. „Weigh Goldfields Trust.‟ Goldsteine read out. „Doesn‟t seem to do much business. Just 65,000 rand last year, with the rand at about two and a half to the pound that‟s not a lot.‟ He screwed up his face as he made a rapid mental calculation, „About £24,000? Seems to be out of line. Nothing about the De Hoeg Mine Holdings at all . . . Hamlet again I suppose!‟ Seeing the puzzled look on the other‟s face he continued. „Something‟s rotten in the state of Denmark? In this case something in the diamond mine business.‟ „Do you think we should be looking into it? It‟s not our concern. Not strictly speaking I mean.‟ „Strictly speaking you‟re right. Nevertheless, we could, as a matter of public duty, inform the authorities in Cape Town that they‟re possibly being defrauded from taxes.‟ „Sending a letter without instruction . . . emm . . I‟d have to think about that one.‟ Goldsteine considered the unspoken implication. No instruction from Von Weigh to approach the foreign power meant. . . no fee for sending the same. „On second thought I think it best to put that idea back in the old oak chest. Being public spirited can be overrated. No good deed goes unpunished! Isn‟t that what they say?‟ Their chuckles carried into the next office, where their secretary wondered what the rare outbreak of laughter portended. 76


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Wednesday Morning

GPBL

„I am here to bring you up to date and make a rather sensible suggestion,‟ DI Ferret offered. Then he continued, „There are only a couple of subjects, and I will not take up too much of your time. Firstly, the prisoner in your custody. I don‟t want to interfere in any way, but suggest that you arrange a short interview with Sears, then a quick identity line-up, for people who saw a stranger on the tow path on the night when the two victims were found.‟ No response. He continued. „Also Herman Von Weigh is well enough, I understand, if he can attend, you will be able to gauge the expression on Jurgan‟s face, as he does not yet know that he bumped off the wrong man…then that would be a good time to do a second interview with your prisoner. I think you will find this method to be a “clincher”.‟ Aghast, DI Hilary Hawksworth did not trust herself to speak. She was making notes. Eventually she put down her pen and said, „I was expecting to have a report of that theatrical display, you arranged at the scene of the crime,‟ waving her hand above her head dismissively. „That was a necessary means to confirm probable method of killing, taking into account the pathologist‟s report. It also matches the modus operandi of your prisoner in his previous escapades. You missed a really good show,‟ Pete Ferret said, smiling enthusiastically. „I understand,‟ he added, „you have been informed of the haul of stolen wallets, purses and credit cards my lads recovered from 2 Railway Cottages. It is now certain what this guy was into.‟ „Why do I need to know all this detail Ferret?‟ asked 77


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DI Hawksworth. „Because, sweetie pie, the reinforcement team is about to withdraw from your beautiful patch. The “case is altered” as they say. The team that Dan Forthright assembled can now be dispersed back to their normal stations. I‟ll leave any press release about this case in your very capable hands,‟ he said, smiling again as he rose to leave. „Unless you wish to take me out to dinner tonight, to show how equal opportunities work in practice,‟ he added. „I‟ll have to think about that,‟ she said in response, holding out her hand to shake his. Pete Ferret bent gently forward, lifted her hand and kissed it. „Thank you ma‟am,‟ he uttered, and neatly turned and disappeared from the office. SMS Scowling in disbelief at Ferret‟s blatant sexism, Hilary took a wet wipe sachet from her top drawer and wiped the back of her hand in disgust. „Shaw,‟ she bellowed, „get in here! That pompous ass wants us to fix up a bloody press conference. That‟s all I needed!‟ „Don‟t take it to heart ma‟am, all the knuckle draggers are on their way out of here,‟ grinned Nat Shaw as pleased as his boss to be rid of the squad from HQ. „Yeah well, perhaps I‟m being a bit territorial. Thing is Nat I‟m not so sure we‟ve got hold of the big picture. And, I‟m worried about Fallon‟s involvement.‟ „He‟s only a PI now ma‟am, what can he do? His career‟s over. Why ever he punched out the DCI at the Super‟s retirement do . . . ‟ „He had it coming. Forthright bad mouthed Fallon‟s ex-missus. Hey you‟d have done the same!‟ 78


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Wednesday Afternoon

SMS

Following Professor Linksie‟s advice, later that afternoon, after grabbing a butty, found all the team from Fallon and McGee floundering way out of their depth in the basement of the County Archive building. „What a bar steward!‟ muttered Tip-Tip, trying not to look into Martine‟s eyes which were filling with tears. „Read some more. That bit about the wet sheets.‟ Fallon‟s finger ran along the line of text, as Markus, Tommy and Martine stared at the pile of sepia photographs which accompanied the documents in the box file. „This is GBH,‟ said Fallon, his voice unsteady and trying to remember his „hard man‟ image. „Nowadays they‟d be tried for torture.‟ „You read it Markus,‟ pressed Tommy stabbing at the words with his finger, angry at his own inability. „Asylum committees could contract with the proprietors of licensed houses, for a term of five years, for the care and maintenance of lunatics in their area. A contracted-licensed house was subject to the same inspection as a County Asylum and to rules and regulations made by the asylum committee as well as to the visits and regulations required for licensed houses. Contract houses were only an interim measure and did not exempt counties or boroughs from the obligation to provide their own asylum accommodation. (1845 County Asylums Act section 29).‟ „So that‟s what Heylane Asylum was?‟ said Martine. „Looks like it,‟ said Fallon. „There were several types of asylum for different classes of wealth and degrees of “lunacy” and some seemed to come in under the wire on “licences”. Anywhere there was a public “problem” it was sorted out or “adjudicated” by an in79


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vestigation by the Commissioners in Lunacy.‟ „It‟s all a bit grim,‟ said Markus. „I had no idea about any of this stuff. Jeez, listen to this: ‘Edgar Sheppard (born Worcester about 1820) was medical superintendent of the male department of Colney Hatch from 1862 to 1881. In this enormous asylum he became well known for innovations, including daily Turkish Baths as therapy on a large scale, an asylum band, theatre, concerts, readings, lectures and a revival of restraint... His method of locking dirty and destructive patients in side rooms ‘in a nude state’ for weeks at a time where they ‘slept on the floor without either bed or pillow, being supplied only with strong quilted rugs’, packing violent patients in wet sheets, or restraining them by belts, wrist straps and locked gloves, was condemned ‘in the strongest manner’ by the Commissioners in Lunacy (1862-67; 1870;) and led one of their members to blackball Sheppard at the Royal College of Physicians.’ Markus stopped reading aloud. A hush had descended over the basement reading room of the County Archive. „So these “adjudications” . . .‟ asked Martine. „Went into all sorts of stuff . . . listen it says here . . ‘1858 Rosina Bulwer-Lytton, estranged wife of novelist and cabinet minister Edward Bulwer-Lytton, released from Inverness Lodge asylum, Brentford, where she had been confined at the request of her husband. The release followed a newspaper scandal. During 1858 two patients in private asylums were found to be sane by Commissions of Lunacy. One was Mrs Turner at Acomb House near York, the other Mr Ruck at Moor Croft House, Middlesex,‟ read Markus taking a swig from a bottle of water he‟d secreted in his jacket pocket. „That means any poor sod could be locked up on the say so of somebody who wanted them out of the way,‟ muttered Tommy as the full implication sank home. 80


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„Just so. Hundreds may be even thousands of women from well-off families were locked up for getting themselves inconveniently pregnant, during the Victorian and Edwardian period,‟ said a quiet voice. The voice belonged to an archive officer who had brought the group at the desk another box of files. „Here‟s all we have on Heylane Asylum at the turn of the last century.‟ Blowing off a layer of dust Fallon undid the pink ribbon and took out a brown folder. „Any chance of a cuppa tea darlin‟?‟ spluttered TipTip, „We‟ll be here all day at this rate.‟ Fallon sighed. He‟d have been much happier if Von Weigh had agreed to Tommy playing fulltime nursemaid for a day or two. Looking scary and flexing his muscles was a far better way of expending Tommy‟s energy.

Heylane Asylum 1900 81


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Archive Record Number: 16892/0013 : Licensed Asylum Heylane Image believed to be that of Mr Foster Trubridge and Mrs Violet Trubridge — Wardens of the licensed Asylum Heylane 1905 — 1921 The children (identity unknown) are probably some of those being offered for adoption - common practice was that an agency would be used as an intermediary and an administration fee paid to the asylum. Older children could be offered as ‘apprenticed labour’. The older woman’s identity is uncertain but is probably a ward supervisor — and is possibly one, Gertrude Lloyd, who was known to have held such a post. NB : The image condition is deteriorating and has been transferred to microfiche number 16892/0013/1979/06-1250

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Wednesday Afternoon Late

SMS

„No you can‟t go on your own. When are you going to get it into that fat head of yours Fallon, you‟re not a serving copper any more? You blew all that remember?‟ Hawksworth snarled into the phone her fingers gripping so tight her knuckles were turning white. „If you insist on seeing the body then I‟m sending somebody with you. Although what the deceased has to do with your line of enquiry defeats me. He‟s a wide boy. Probably got what was coming.‟ „Are you going to let me see the body Hilary?‟ the phone voice said as devoid of emotion as he could manage. „DI Hawksworth to you Fallon. Don‟t come the old pals act with me. We were never old pals were we?‟ „No we weren‟t. And sorry . . . I‟m sorry for every thing.‟ He sounded tired. „Sorry. Sorry doesn‟t cut it Rick. Not after what you did.‟ „I was drunk.‟ „That is not in question. But it‟s no excuse.‟ „Look, are you going to let me or not?‟ „Six o‟clock sharp and don‟t be late I haven‟t got time to waste on your whims and fancies.‟ The phone died in Fallon‟s hand. „She‟s still got a soft spot for you,‟ grinned Tommy grabbing his coat. Over by the doorway Tommy was holding tattooed knuckles over his mouth and nose. Hawksworth snorted as she squeezed passed the muscle and forced her way 83


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into the mortuary which stank of formaldehyde. „What‟s the minder for Fallon, don‟t you trust yourself with me?‟ Hilary smirked, as pulling a coat-hanger padded-shouldered coat round herself more tightly, she strode forward purposefully, her body language letting everyone know exactly who was in charge. Fallon‟s bleary eyes gave his ex-boss the once over, something he‟d never dared have done if he was still on the job: „Very amusing Hilary. Shall we get on with it?‟ „What‟s that in your hand? „Throw away camera. I need close-ups of the deceased‟s face and any identifying marks. You aren‟t going to give me any of yours are you?‟ Hawksworth nodded to the attendant to open a door in the bank of refrigerators. „Here‟s laughing boy take your pictures,‟ she said as the attendant pulled back the covering cloth. Tommy moved closer to take a look as Fallon clicked away. „Doesn‟t he look like the Yank? Could be brothers couldn‟t they,‟ wheezed Tommy, halitosis-flavoured breath forcing its way out between the cracks in his fingers which spelled out the word L O V E in the spaces in between the knuckles. Hawksworth and Fallon looked at each other, at the corpse and back at Tommy. „From the mouths of babes and infants . .‟ said the DI flatly. „You finished yet? Only some of us have still got a career to go back to.‟ 84


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Wednesday Night Press Conference

YL

„Well, well. Look what the cat‟s dragged in. The lesbian home-wrecker.‟ Minnie swung around, „Oh it‟s the ex-policeman himself, Rick “failed copper” Fallon.‟ Well, thought Minnie, if there was anyone here in doubt of her sexuality, they wouldn‟t be now. Rick‟s voice had carried clear across the room. „I should have guessed the local pond scum would be swimming with the big fish,‟ sneered Rick. „Must admit Rick, wasn‟t expecting you to be here today, and as this is a press conference, and you‟re not press, I guess I could always ask them to make you leave.‟ „Doubt it, I‟m here by invitation‟ „Invitation? Why? Are you on a case?‟ The canal murders and a private eye? Minnie was well and truly intrigued now. Why, oh why, was it Rick Fallon PI on this case? „You‟re a dark horse babe.‟ It was Nat Shaw. He‟d come over to whisper in Minnie‟s ear. „You should have brought along another girlie. I would have enjoyed that.‟ Minnie would have liked to slap the smarmy creep‟s face. „Nice to see you Nat.‟ While he went off to get tea Minnie decided to follow Rick Fallon to where he was now sitting. „You‟ve got a bloody cheek,‟ said Rick Fallon to Minnie, as soon as she sat next to him. „Just thought you‟d like to know how Linda‟s doing, that‟s all.‟ Of course, this was a complete lie, but Minnie needed an excuse to talk. 85


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„Well, is she OK?‟ Rick asked gruffly. Minnie decided to play a hunch. „Fine, at the moment.‟ „At the moment! What‟s that supposed to mean?‟ In for the kill thought Minnie. „I‟m leaving for London after this case, providing I get some scoops. Linda isn‟t coming with me. She‟ll be all alone here then.‟ Rick sat very quietly. It was a lot to take in. Was there… could there be…?‟ Minnie watched the emotions cross Rick‟s face. She was right! He was still in love with his ex-wife! At last Rick spoke, „Perhaps we could all have dinner. Call a truce of sorts.‟ Even though he spoke through gritted teeth, Minnie knew she was on to a winner.

Wednesday Evening

BS

Martine was late for work as usual. She snuck in the side door, but he caught her. Mr Huang eyed her indulgently, „Missie, Missie … you late I think.‟ Mr Huang was Martine‟s boss and mentor. „Now Missie…you have no timepiece. You told me so. Here, I am giving you a clock.‟ Martine‟s eyes almost fell out of their sockets. „That‟s not a clock! It‟s a monstrosity! I ain‟t dragging that around.‟ „Oh yes please you will. It keep good time. You no late again.‟ The old mantel clock was made of wrought iron. „I‟ll be the laughing stock of the town.‟ 86


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„No, no, Missie… you laugh too! Yes, laughing is good for digestion. My honourable grandmother said so. She was a noble lady. Everybody happy. All who knew my grandmother laugh all day.‟ Mr Huang‟s chip shop didn‟t get many customers. They were all tired of hearing about his honourable grandmother‟s „dos and don‟ts‟. „No elbows on counter please,‟ honourable grandmother‟s first rule. Rule two, „No coughing unless hand put to face.‟ Rule three, „All customers must laugh.‟ Rule four, „Do not blow nose while eating.‟ There were more rules than chips in that shop. But, Martine liked Mr Huang. He said funny things, not realising he‟d made a joke, or made a „boo boo‟, as Martine said. Mr Huang was a good boss on the whole. He never ran out of potatoes, nor fish, nor cooking oil. No indeed, his obedient little wife, Belle, was always going to the suppliers, and she brought the change back from the bank. Martine smiled as she remembered his favourite story of a gun-toting thief who ran into the shop one day, demanding money. Mr Huang always insisted he was quick to trip the switch under the till, so the drawer turned over and all the cash fell into a secret tray beneath the counter. Then Mr Huang said he invited to the robber to look in the till drawer, „See no money Mr Robber. You go now, go next door. Better pickings.‟ He always finished the story with, „Of course, next door is Police Station, off ran thief with strange look on face.‟ Martine liked Mr Huang. The world would be a much duller place without him and his daft ideas and far fetched stories. 87


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Wednesday Night About 10.30pm

SMS

The back bar of The Prince of Wales in Westgate Street had never seemed so welcoming as they fell in through the etched glass door and were hit by the cloud of comforting smog emanating from the darts match. „One hundred and eighty,‟ shouted a voice accompanied by a loud cheer as another player from the Bird in the Bush was wiped off the board. „My shout,‟ said Tommy taking pity on Fallon who was having a hell of a night. „Two pints of heavy and two bags of cheese and onion darlin‟.‟ Fallon managed a half-smile Hilary always said TipTip was a man who liked his greens. Thoughts of Hilary inevitably led him down the slippery path towards Linda and that harpie Minnie Albright. He should have realised she would be at a police press conference fangs at the ready, dripping with the blood of her last victim. Poor Linda! She‟d be heart broken if Minnie ditched her and cleared off to follow her big time dreams. But how did he feel about Linda now? Could they start over? Would it ever be the same? Did he want to turn the clock back? „Just the one Tip-Tip, no chaser. I‟m off after this.‟ „But it‟s darts night! Look at the board man.‟ Fallon eye‟s tried to focus on the score but through the smoke it was difficult. „Look now, Moss Side‟s up and away, triple nine. Double sixteen and he‟s off the board with a double 88


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eight.‟ (Moss Side was Graham North, the stone mason.) „If you say so Tommy.‟ Tommy‟s ability with darts scoring was legend – he could have been a member of any darts team in the town but for an unfortunate lack of anger management. And when it came to calculating the odds on the dogs, or geegees, the former bookie‟s runner was a complete natural, but Fallon was the only one he could trust to write out his betting slips for him. „Suppose you‟re off to the chippy?‟ „I might drop in.‟ „She working tonight then?‟ „Who?‟ „Aye . . . Who! That‟ll be her,‟ said Tommy shaking his head. Now he‟d have to think of a plan to sneak in past Lavender by himself. Another couple of chasers and the old dear might start getting prettier again which was a very worrying thought. He‟d better be careful; he‟d woken up with his aching head on the pillow next to her false teeth grinning at him through the Steradent bubbles more times than he‟d care to remember and if Fallon ever found out . . . Wednesday Night Very Late

JD

Fallon went up to his room relieved to have escaped the talons of the predatory Madam Lavender Pomeroy. He threw his jacket on the bed, loosened his tie and poured himself a Scotch. Slumped in the chair by the window he ran through the events of the last few days as he understood them and tried to get a grip of what had led to the demise of the couple on the narrow boat. 89


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He could understand the pent up frustrations even the curiosity that might lead any hot-blooded male to stray in search of exotic female company, but he found it difficult to see why anyone would stumble across a brothel on a canal if he hadn‟t been down that way to start with and, if that were the case, then who or what had brought him there? There was the possibility that he had simply been a rubber fetishist in line for a bit of S and M but if that were so then he was probably unaware that the brothel was a cover. . So… on the other hand… What else was there?… Perhaps he was in some way connected with the fencing of stolen goods or the redistribution of stolen cards. Providing false identities to girls coming into the country to work in brothels might be a motive connecting the girl‟s cover with her known petty crimes, but then if that was the case it suggested some kind of gangland involvement, rivalry, a dispute that was so serious that it led to his murder. …. But there again, was it mistaken identity or was it coincidently a case of two men who closely resembled each other being in close proximity on that night and therefore giving rise to mistaken conclusions drawn by Ferret and his team, and leading to a lucrative although unnecessary investigation for himself and his own little band of helpers? What was certain in all of this was that Fallon needed cash to pay his rent on the room run his business and buy his beer. He might be well advised to present a preliminary bill now to make sure he got some cash in before this line of enquiry was abandoned, intriguing as it seemed. After all he had turned down several court cases to concentrate on this job on the understanding that it would bring in a hefty wad of cash. And now 90


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where were we? While pouring himself another large Scotch Fallon strode to the bedside cupboard and unlocked the drawer where he kept his pocket book. Years in the force had impressed upon him how important it was to set down events contemporaneously, or at least as soon as possible after they occurred. He turned the pages of closely written meticulous notes scouring for something that would give him a more fruitful line of enquiry which would shed light on the motive for the murder and any connection the killer might have with Von Weigh. From time to time he glanced through the window, watching the traffic throwing up spray from the road as motorists made their way home to cosy homes with cosy families and cosy meals. Minnie Albright had always been a conniving cow who was well known for sleeping her way around. In spite of berating her at the press conference earlier he had to admit that there had been times when he could have gone there for consolation, but had resisted when he had thought about Linda - and then -what do you know, she went there instead! Raindrops slid lazily down the window as he took another swig of Scotch before returning to his work.

Thursday Morning 8.30am

CH

„And I had to find out by reading the blasted local paper!‟ Hilary Hawksworth flourished the offending item at her superior. „What sort of an investigation am I supposed to be running here? Is it a real murder or are we reading from a bad TV script or something?‟‟ 91


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The station superintendent was a man of few words; usually „No‟ or, „Can‟t afford it‟. He didn‟t answer but looked suitably abashed and threw his hands up in apology. He wasn‟t comfortable with the idea of a female detective inspector on his staff, especially her, and it showed. Hilary stormed out of his office in a fit of temper to take it out on poor old Nat Shaw. Fortunately, he was out, and by the time he‟d returned she‟d cooled down. „The wife of a possible attempted murder victim gets mown down by a lorry and we don‟t get to know until it‟s in the morning papers! What the devil‟s going on here?‟ She asked testily, „Well Shaw, what did you learn?‟ „Nothing. According to Traffic Branch, she was in a hired car and turned out of a side street the wrong way straight under the wheels of a cement lorry. The lorry driver slammed on his anchors and swerved; hit the kerb and turned over on top of the car. There was nothing anybody could do. The fire brigade had to cut her out of the wreck. Pure accident.‟ Still strapped to his hospital bed, a pragmatic, Herman was being interviewed by a very glamorous, but businesslike, Minnie Albright, who was also mentally cursing him for not being the „gabby Yank‟ of her experience. „Well honey,‟ he started, „Gussy and me we gotten an arranged marriage. I needed a wife for the mayoral elections back then, and her Pop wanted her off of his hands to seal a deal. I gits the newspaper an‟ a wife and he gits some peace and quiet to entertain his fren‟s and go fishin‟ in.‟ His lascivious chuckle left no doubt about the entertainment. 92


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„Gussy reckoned this trip‟d spark the romance in our lives! Heck, they‟d never been no romance; it was a sorta a liberal, open marriage. Well, a break was OK by me. Hell I never thought anything like this could happen in the sleepy old UK. Safest place in the world „cordin‟ to my police chief.‟ Shorthand fingers flying Minnie let him roll on unaided. „Now honey,‟ he continued, „whut sort o‟ newspaper you on? I needs an editor an‟ a few good reporters, an‟ I guess y‟ knows whut you‟re a doin‟. Y‟d give it that „classy‟ feel I‟m aimin‟ fer. It‟s not the “LA Times” y‟ un‟erstan‟? It‟s jest a couple of locals with a two fifty thousand circulation an‟ the salary ain‟t that high neither, mostly „bout sixty to seventy thousand. Y‟innerested?‟ Thursday Morning

SMS

Hilary Hawksworth was brewing up a storm. Shaw knew the signs, he could see the twitching of her crocodile skin boots resting on the bottom drawer of her desk which she had propped open with a couple of box files. The contents of those files were strewn over the top of her pride and joy the daisy wheel electric typewriter glowing with prestige from the centre of her desk. Being „an old school copper‟ Hawksworth was resisting the HQ drive towards training all serving officers to use the newfangled computers which were appearing here and there in the Division, and instead had sent Shaw with his two stiff little fingers on the keyboard training course. „Don‟t just stand there come in and shut that door.‟ Shaw did as he was told. Hawksworth stared at him as if considering asking a delicate question. „What‟s with you and that reporter?‟ she asked tapping rather prominent 93


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front teeth with a biro. Shaw groaned inwardly, eyes like a bloody hawk indeed. How had the boss ever got wind of that one? „Nothing Boss . . . one night stand . . .more trouble than it‟s worth.‟ „I should think so, one thing we don‟t need right now is even more complications, this case has got quite enough as it is.‟ „Case ma‟am! I thought the case was closed – cut and dried – killer in the bag.‟ „Emm . . . I think that is what we‟re supposed to think. I think the killer didn‟t mix up the two men. I think he took out who he was supposed to kill then found out there was a complication with the look-a-like and „somebody‟ decided they should be eliminated as well and sent a replacement to finish the job.‟ „The RTA.‟ „The RTA. That hire car could easily have been driven by Herman – I think it was a tragic case of mistaken identity once again.‟ „Wrong place at the wrong time?‟ Hawksworth dragged her very long legs off the desk drawer and stood up. „I hate to say this but I‟ve got a feeling in my water that Rick bloody Fallon‟s line of investigation will lead towards the perps of all this.‟ „Oh not him,‟ said Shaw leaning on a filing cabinet and easing open a chink in the Venetian blind with two fingers so that he could see out into the street. „There‟ll be no living with him. He‟ll be like a dog with two . . .‟ „Thank you Shaw,‟ Hawksworth interrupted. „Believe me, there isn‟t much you can tell me about the dubious qualities of my last DS.‟ 94


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Thursday Morning

CH

Martine looked up from her chair at the desk in Rick‟s untidy office. „It‟s no wonder you‟re broke all the time Rick. You are absolutely flaming useless when it comes to accounts!‟ She waved several pieces of paper under his nose. „Look at these! Half-done and unpaid accounts going back months. If you get your act together you can pay old man Patel and some of your bills.‟ Softly she added, „Rick, you‟re a great detective but that‟s only half a job. You have to get the money in as well you clot.‟ „Anyway I‟ve written a letter to Mr Von Weigh telling him what we‟ve done so far. See what you think.‟ ‘Dear Mr Von Weigh - Proof of Ancestry. Interim report and account. Pursuant to your instructions, we have proven the connection between yourself and the late Yan van Weigh of Amsterdam as far as the UK records will allow. Also pursuant to your verbal instructions of the 22nd inst., we have communicated the same to Mr. Goldsteine, of Goldsteine and Mbekod, of St. Chad’s Mews. Mr Goldsteine has intimated that he will be advising you shortly.’ „I like it. It sounds sort of lawyer-ish doesn‟t it?‟ She continued. „Enclosed herewith are photocopies of the documents to whit… good that, „to whit‟…I like it.‟ ‘Then there‟s a list, Naturalisation certificate of Yan van Weigh dated 1840, UK birth certificate of Carl dated 1845, Carl’s Declaration of Relinquishment of UK citizenship when he applied for US citizenship, dated 1918, Insanity certificate issued by the Commissioners in Lunacy relating to Alice Von Weigh. I‟ve added a note to the effect that the original was mangy and you couldn‟t read it.‟ 95


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„Then you‟ve said, This is the only certificate issued in that name so there’s therefore no doubt that it refers to Alice, and that there‟s more evidence that shows that she was banged up because her father wanted it. He was a real mean swine.‟ She continued reading aloud: ‘There’s the birth certificate of Alice’s baby, she called him Jon, father unknown, dated 1909, and an adoption certificate of Jon by a Pastor Petr Hoeg. Dated 1909.’ ‘OK so far?‟ Then a further note that Mr Hoeg, who was Dutch, migrated to South Africa. If you‟re happy with that sign here,‟ she pushed the letter across pointing imperiously.

Thursday Morning 11.00am

SMS

Relieved somebody else was tackling the mountain of paperwork Fallon signed the letter. As he did so Tip-Tip banged in carrying the local rag. Stabbing at a picture on the front page, „Best look a diss, Rick,‟ he said shoving the paper under Fallon‟s nose and backing off as if it was dangerous. „I don‟t believe it,‟ said Fallon, staring at the newspaper. „If this means he buggers off back to wherever and drops the investigation. . .‟ „We‟re stymied,‟ added Tip-Tip picking at his tooth stumps with a paper clip. „He won‟t do that! Will he?‟ asked Martine downcast, she was beginning to enjoy being Fallon‟s part-time 96


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secretary even if it was unpaid. The job was better than slaving in a chip shop. As the three wandered towards depression, the phone rang on Fallon‟s desk breaking into their wave of misery. „On my way. Give me ten minutes,‟ said Fallon dropping the handset. „News?‟ asked Martine hopefully. „Goldsteine wants to see me on the hurry-up!‟ „There you are you see, still engaged, said Martine brightly. Tip-Tip‟s eyebrows rose so high his forehead resembled train tracks. He hoped that chance remark didn‟t mean the Registrar‟s office and marzipan cake for Fallon, not this quick. „She means still working for Goldsteine chump!‟ clarified the PI slipping on his rain coat and prodding Tommy out of the door in front of him. „If Mr Patel, or the guy from the bailiffs, calls again don‟t let them in whatever you do,‟ he added as an after thought over his shoulder. „You‟ve read the news?‟ said the solicitor, giving Tip-Tip the once-over from the top of a pair of half-moon spectacles. Tommy was investigating the teaming bookshelves. Tommy was always fascinated by the smell and feel of books. They represented a world he was excluded from and so held a binding spell over his imagination. „How‟s your client taking it?‟ asked Fallon pulling up a chair and crossing one leg over the other trying to seem unconcerned that his benefactor may be about to decamp cutting short the case and their expected fee. „Shocked of course,‟ said Goldsteine, the mop of ginger strands nodding under his skull cap. „More scared. 97


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Yes . . . a degree of terror.‟ „Will he be next?‟ breathed Tip-Tip from over by the solicitor‟s enormous safe. „Exactly,‟ replied the old man. „Not an accident then?‟ said Fallon. „What do the police say?‟ „What indeed. They seem completely convinced it was an RTA.‟ „Never in a million,‟ muttered Tommy. „Set up. Gorra be!‟ „If I were a betting man . . .‟ sighed the solicitor. „The odds would be against such an untimely death being an accident. But there are such things as unfortunate coincidence.‟ „How unfortunate is that for us?‟ asked Fallon. „Is he off back home do you think?‟ „Oh I doubt that,‟ answered Goldsteine. „He‟s got the smell in his nostrils.‟ „Money, money, money,‟ sang Tommy under this breath murdering the Abba tune. This he understood. A Little Later

AP

In Newton Lane Police Station Daisy Meadows was fed up because he had been reminded once again that there is no justice in the world. He‟d just had another thought. They‟d picked up that blighter Hague more than once previously, hadn‟t they? Drunk and disorderly thanks to a bottle of whisky he‟d pinched from Tesco‟s. „Who cares?‟ he‟d grinned at Daisy. „I could buy and sell you, old man.‟ So when Rick Fallon pushed open the 98


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door he got a less than effusive welcome. „And good morning to you too,‟ said Fallon. „I hear you arrested the murder victim Hague a couple of times. Could I have a word?‟ „No.‟ said Daisy. „It‟s just that, if his grandmother was called Alice, he might be heir to an even bigger fortune as well.‟ „Eh?‟ „I‟ve been doing a bit of research and come up with a Great Aunty Alice for a client of mine called Herman Von Weigh. She had an illegitimate baby who was adopted by her cousin and spouse. „So?‟ „Their name was Hoeg.‟ Daisy Meadows gaped. He struggled for words. „But…but…‟ But Fallon didn‟t hear him because the door from the cells had just opened to admit the most gorgeous girl in the world. The girl smiled at him. She was with the skinny little solicitor, Moshe Goldsteine, who, presumably, had been assisting at an interview. „Hello,‟ she said, and Fallon realised he was grinning like a lunatic. „Hello, again Fallon,‟ squeaked Moshe. „I wonder if you could take Debbie for a cup of coffee while I have a word with Sergeant Meadows here?‟ Somehow Fallon must have burbled assent, because next thing he knew there were only two steaming mugs and a couple of Cherry Bakewells between him and the biggest, deepest, most beautiful brown eyes he had ever seen. Somehow they must have got talking because one part of his mind registered that Moshe was her great un99


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cle. And that she was staying with him. And getting experience of the legal profession. And trying to make up her mind about doing a law degree. And had just come back from Switzerland. And that they were in the middle of a long, long pause. He shook himself: „How was Switzerland?‟ „Oh, it was lovely, and Uncle Aaron was such a sweetie at first, but then…‟ „What?‟ „He went strange. Kept talking about the war – the German war, you know? Muttering about old men scrubbing pavements. And little children with yellow stars.‟ „Poor man. I suppose with him being Jewish…‟ „He was always crying as well.‟ „It must have been dreadful for you…‟ „Then suddenly Uncle Moshe sent for me. Said I should have experience in England too. He‟s just taken me to see a horrible America man. But he says he‟s very rich really. Going to inherit a diamond mine.‟ Fallon‟s mind leapt. „A diamond mine?‟ he said casually. „That sounds strange.‟ „Yes, isn‟t it?‟ trilled Debbie, and, regardless of all she had been told about client confidentiality, proceeded to tell Rick Fallon all he wanted to know about Pastor Hoeg, and his adopted son Jon who, had he lived, stood to inherit from both his real mother and adopted father. The penny dropped. Fallon suddenly clicked. With John Haigh now dead the only one left to inherit the whole shooting match was his cousin Herman!

JON

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Thursday Early Afternoon

SMS

„Let me get this straight,‟ said Herman pulling his face into a frown of concentration. „You‟re telling me my old Grand Pappy had a sister.‟ „Correct,‟ said Fallon as Martine nodded behind him and Tommy grinned a toothless grin of affirmation. „And she was locked up in a loony bin for being pregnant?‟ The voice pitch had risen to girl like proportions in indignation. „My Lord that‟s a lot to take in.‟ „There‟s more,‟ added Martine who was dying to share their findings with the American client. Tommy nodded, he was dying to get his hands on his share of the American client‟s fat fee. „What can be worse?‟ asked Herman shaking his head and really wishing he‟d never stepped foot back in the old country. „They sold the wee bairn,‟ spluttered Tommy in his best attempt at the Queen‟s English. Fallon translated to spare his blushes. „The baby was „administered‟ through an adoption agency. Apparently the family then moved to South Africa.‟ „How does this affect the Will?‟ asked Herman as his head took over from his outraged emotions. „Does this mean there‟s another branch of the family entitled to inherit Grandpa‟s money?‟ „We don‟t know,‟ answered Martine. „We‟re still working on it,‟ interrupted Fallon quickly. „It looks as if your Great Aunt was entitled to a 50% share but being sectioned as being insane did not inherit her share; this share was then left in trust. And according to Mr Goldsteine it‟s this investment share plus one 101


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hell of a lot of interest which is now in question.‟ „So is this why I‟m a target?‟ „That‟s the odd thing,‟ said Fallon. „If your greataunt‟s descendents are confirmed you‟d have a case for a share in that estate, which we understand is a huge diamond mine, an amount worth killing for perhaps.‟ His voice full of emotion, „Somebody sure as hell thinks so . . .‟ said Herman adjusting the sofa cushion and staring at Gussie‟s clothes still hanging in the wardrobe all neatly wrapped in protective plastic film. „Yeah know, she mighta been a pain in the neck most of the time but the woman did have that old south, “Dallas” style.‟ Fallon just didn‟t know what to say in reply and TipTip suddenly got something in the corner of his eye. Thursday Afternoon:

CH

Lying in the sunshine in Pooldam Park Tip-Tip was thinking about settling down. Lavender Pomeroy was in his thoughts. She had those flats as a steady supply of money. Nice body on her and she could cook, he knew that. Maybe, if he got his teeth fixed, got some nasty health choppers, and learned to talk like these Sassenachs, he could settle down with her. The smell that began invading his nose wasn‟t high class cooking though. Slitting his eyes, he peered up at Professor Linksie. „Now dear fellow,‟ said the tramp. „I‟ve been thinking about you and Fallon and the Von Weigh enquiries. Anyway I‟ve been doing some digging around for you, makes a nice change from my usual line of research.‟ 102


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Tip-Tip had difficulty following joined up words and held up a hand to stop him. Struggling he said, „Y‟d berrer talk t‟ Rick. He knaws ‟boot thangs like that y‟ken. Come doon th‟ orfice wi‟ me an‟ see‟s th‟ man.‟ It seemed to have worked. “The man” was in, and had been talking to Martine and Mad Marcus in a “planning meeting”. Opening a window, Fallon enquired, „Now Professor what can you tell us about Heylane? Is it something to do with the enquiry we‟re involved in?‟ „Of course my dear fellow! Nothing I can prove at this point you understand. A slight shortage of funds precludes, but all the documents are there.‟ Rick gave a sigh and gestured to Martine and Marcus for coffee, with lots of sugar, he knew the signs. „OK then Professor. While we‟re having coffee, with something in it to stir the brain cells, why don‟t you brief us on your findings?‟ Rick and Tip-Tip had their coffee neat: the professor had his heavily laced with whisky. „Ahh. That was a good cup of coffee young lady,‟ he said smacking his lips and handing Martine the mug for refilling, „but not so much Scotch in the next one please. Now where was I? Ohh yes, Heylane. You know that Carl Von Weigh had his daughter Alice committed because she was gravid? The boy she bore was adopted by a South African couple Petr and Anna Hoeg. It follows then that your Mr Von Weigh could have a family branch in South Africa. One of the stipulations in the adoption document was that the boy should inherit from the Hoegs. He was a diamond merchant as well.‟ Rick interrupted. „Ohh my giddy aunt. You mean there definitely are two sides to this will business? One 103


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we know about, direct line from old Yan, through Carl, down to Herman, and another from the illegitimate son of Alice via this Petr Hoeg?‟ He pondered for a few seconds, „Right Professor, we need to see old man Goldsteine sharpish. Finish your coffee and we‟ll go round.‟ Marcus intervened, „I‟ve got a pen pal in South Africa. If I write and ask her, she might be able to tell us something. What do you think?‟ Rick wasn‟t sold on the idea but nodded assent. Anything for a quiet life. Thursday Afternoon:

SMS

Evangelist Mbekod‟s eyes watered. His nose was offended by an unwanted confrontation of unwashed clothing, stale sweat and the salty tang of urine as the old man brushed passed him in the doorway. „Fallon et al . . .‟ muttered Evangelist backing out and trying not to inhale. The unmistakable whiff of whisky breath caught him out all the same as he reached in to close the office door behind the tramp‟s back. Goldsteine‟s countenance remained impassive, as if all the flotsam and jetsam of civilisation was assured an equal welcome, in this his sanctum of calm. Fallon was grateful. The stares he had received walking from his office with the tramp up the High Street had annoyed him. „This is Professor Linksie. He has disturbing news relating to the Von Weigh wills.‟ „Wills as in plural? As in more than one?‟ asked Goldsteine eyeing the tramp with unveiled curiosity and picking up a fountain pen with a gold nib which had stupidly set itself ridiculously close to the edge of the 104


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desk nearest the seated professor. „Wills plural as in two,‟ answered Fallon. „Alice‟s grandson landed on his feet big time. Close-knit bunch these diamond merchants – polishers connected to dealers – connected to miners – connected to cutters – connected to exchange merchants – connected to jewellers - it goes round and around like a merry-go-round. Families within families within dynasties. Ties within, ties without.‟ The solicitor knew of such networks, he merely smiled and nodded, „Motive?‟ said Goldsteine. Professor Linksie eyed the tray of sherry decanters by the book case, „Millions of motives,‟ he whispered hopefully. Goldsteine nodded at Fallon, who went over to pour out a schooner-sized glass of sherry which he handed into the trembling fist of the tramp. „Perhaps, newly refreshed, the professor will enlighten us poor scholars,‟ said Goldsteine who was beginning, on a personal level, to feel a deep concern about the very public way events were unfolding. Thursday Early Evening

GW

A smartened-up Fallon checked his reflection in the cracked wing mirror of a car that was parked across the drive in an abandoned sprawl. Minnie‟s car, he guessed. Linda didn‟t drive, or at least she hadn‟t driven when they‟d been together. He couldn‟t help feeling that this was at best a long shot and at worst a big mistake, but he was out of options. He needed information. Time was running out and Minnie was the only journalist contact returning his calls at the moment, albeit with little enthusiasm. He‟d called 105


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her a few hours after meeting her at the press conference, needing someone with access to archived newspaper articles. Minnie‟s newspaper had a reputation for obsession in collecting anything and everything archival. She told him she‟d already requested microfiche data from a South African colleague a while ago, though not what had caused her to do so. A rumour she‟d said about a connection with the murder and a goldmine. Where did she find this stuff out? Rick was sure of one thing. If she‟d been that interested, she wouldn‟t stop until she‟d found something. That reputation preceded Minnie Albright wherever she went. He was almost sure that this meeting with her would be unpleasant, but certain that it would be productive. He shuffled his feet laboriously up the gravel path, kicking at the pebbles like a schoolboy, head down and hands in his pockets as if sulking following an underserved detention. „Come on, get it over with,‟ he told himself and increased his pace to a purposeful stroll and rang the door bell before he could think any more about what he was doing and maybe change his mind. Linda answered the door, oversized dungarees swamping her thin frame, arms hanging like pipe cleaners from a tie-dye green T shirt. She looked older, and tired, and her eyes were red as if she‟d recently been crying. „Hello Rick,‟ she said without emotion, „come in.‟ He smiled and returned the „Hello‟, but she was already on her way back down the hall leading from the front door to the sitting room and seemed oblivious to whether he‟d spoken or not. 106


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He shrugged and followed her. It was a semidetached house, maybe fifteen years old. Solid brickwork on the outside and unimaginatively decorated in that ubiquitous off-white shade people called „magnolia‟. The place was on the cusp between untidy and „lived in‟. Files and books and newspapers sat in piles along the floor of the hall, hinting at order but stopping short of suggesting it. She led him into the sitting room where Minnie sat flicking through documents and papers at a large kitchen table. „I‟ll leave you two to get on with it,‟ Linda said quietly, with obvious relief to escape from both of them. Rick avoided looking at her. What was he feeling? When he‟d seen Minnie at that press conference, both of them eyeballing like tomcats around the subject of Linda, he‟d been certain that he still loved his ex-wife. The thought of her being abandoned in the wake of Minnie‟s soaring ambition had evoked a desire in him to claim back what had once been his. He‟d thought he‟d wanted his marriage back, Linda back, but Linda‟s tired and disinterested expression had brought to mind only Maxine‟s bright smile. A startling, but undeniable, contrast. He felt guilty, even disloyal. Linda would be left alone. He cared, sympathised… but he knew that he wouldn‟t be asking her to come back to him. It was finally „over‟. He sat down opposite Minnie at the oversized kitchen table. It dominated the sitting room, causing the two arm chairs and settee to look as if they were lucky not to have been ousted. A few inches nearer to the coal fire and the settee would have been in danger of singeing in the winter months. 107


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Rick‟s quizzical gaze met Minnie‟s patient one, her eyes demanding that he focus on the task at hand. „Well Fallon…‟ she said at last, lazily, „I turned up something interesting, and don‟t even think about telling me I can‟t use this!‟ With a triumphant flourish of her hand she passed him a few pieces of photocopied newsprint. It only took one glance at it to provoke the response. „You can‟t use it…yet‟ Rick said firmly. „So you have me boring myself to death for half a day, not to mention welcoming my partner‟s ex into my home, taking up quality time I could be spending with Linda…‟ She made Linda‟s name sound like a caress, leaving a dramatic pause before finishing with, „and then you have the cheek to tell me I can‟t use it?‟ She was obviously feigning anger. Actually she was quite amused by the whole situation. „Get on with it Minnie,‟ Fallon said calmly. „It won‟t work. Linda and I are over. There‟s someone else in my life now. If you want to see a jealous husband bleed, go prick somebody else.‟ Assertive. Minnie was impressed. She dropped the verbal fencing and moved closer to him, her presentation mode switching straight into „professional and efficient‟ from „teasing harpy.‟ „OK. Bottom Line. That mine is a scam. There was the start of an undercover journalist‟s exposé here.‟ She thrust another piece of paper at him. It was a greyed copy of a newspaper article from the South African equivalent of the „Financial Times‟, headlined: „An offer no one could refuse… REFUSED.‟ 108


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The piece was mainly an expression of disbelief, given that several hundred miners had been injured in accidents caused by negligence and over thirty killed. Minnie‟s eyes were full of „scoop‟ and gleamed like a predator‟s. The story had been intended as a major lead. She knew she could take it to a few instalments in the weekend nationals. It would definitely be top billing material for a CV. She was almost salivating at the thought. Rick was scanning the documents. „Got to hand it to you Minnie, this is exactly what I needed.‟ He stood up folding the papers in two and stuffing them into his jacket pocket with an air of casualness that he didn‟t feel. „You owe me Fallon,‟ Minnie crooned sweetly, „and I always collect.‟ „Expected nothing else,‟ he winked and turned to leave, then he changed his mind and faced her again. Minnie regarded him curiously, hoping that he might divulge more information. „People‟s lives are at risk Minnie,‟ he said seriously. „Three people are already dead, not counting the victims of these mining accidents. Don‟t cause any more… and be careful.‟ „As if!‟ Minnie blinked her eyes, a picture of fake innocence, but there was sincerity in her voice as she followed up with, „I‟m enthusiastic, not stupid.‟ Somehow there was an unspoken agreement between them and the resolution of something else. There was no longer an animosity between them. Fallon shouted a, „Bye Linda‟, as he saw himself out, not waiting for a reply, and closing the door firmly behind 109


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him. He felt lighter somehow. An optimism that he hadn‟t felt for some while caused a smile to form on his usually fairly miserable looking face. He had the break he needed in this case nestling in his coat pocket. Tonight he was ditching Tip-Tip in the pub and taking Martine out for a meal. Time to start over. Past time. Minnie sucked the end of her pen thoughtfully. The journalist writing the article she‟d copied to Fallon had referred to a second part of his article, but it had never been published. A traffic accident had left the author in a coma, so her South African colleague had said, and no one else had followed it up. Oh yes. Minnie would certainly be careful. She intended surviving to tell this tale. It had been productive to work with Fallon. „Tea‟s ready,‟ Linda‟s voice announced from the kitchen. Minnie got up dutifully and wandered into the kitchen to join her.

Thursday Night Late

GW

In the dark Fallon could barely make out the landing but feeling his way tentatively around the hall was better than alerting the voracious Pomeroy woman. Martine giggled and he let out a panicked, „Shhhhh,‟ and he led her in the direction of what he hoped would be his room. He‟d had a few drinks and so had she. He fumbled for his key but froze as he noticed something odd behind them. It looked like a gargoyle crouched next to the airing cupboard. Pulling Martine behind him he moved slowly for110


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ward. It was probably the Hoover or something. The figure stood up though, and Martine let out a piercing scream. Light exploded onto the landing. „Tip-Tip!?‟ „Ricky?‟ „Mr Fallon!‟ from the negligéed Lavender Pomeroy, standing framed in her door way like an avenger of light, her hand to her mouth in Gothic heroine pose. „Bloody Hell!‟ murmured Martine. Tip-Tip in a string vest and Y fronts wasn‟t a sight you saw every day. Curiously though, he did look a shade of dignified, as in concert with Lavender he said calmly, „I can explain.‟ But the look that passed between him and Lavender explained everything. Fallon laughed and said, „Sorry mate, I thought you were an intruder.‟ Tip-Tip blushed and said, „Well, Ricky, ah were about tae clonk you one fer sure. Bloody robbers in the hoose. Ma Lavvy here on „er own most time…. Ah well…all OK then.‟ Without further words Tip-Tip strutted off and took Lavender‟s hand, leading her back into the bedroom. Lavender cast a theatrical and pained glance at Rick. „I‟m so sorry dahling, but this is love. You do understand, don‟t you?‟ Rick needed all his experience of twenty years in the police force to maintain a grave composure and said, „Good luck Lavender, you deserve a good man.‟ She disappeared back into her bedroom, the hand that Tip-Tip had a hold on preceding her and then the rest of her exited with the grace of a Shakespearian actress. 111


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Martine was speechless. She did manage to utter one word . . . „Lavvy?‟ Rick let them both into his room and poured them both an unnecessary drink. Unnecessary because they had both drunk too much already, but required as social etiquette. Also what conversation could possibly be appropriate after that. It filled a gap before Rick blurted out, „So are you staying?‟ „At half past one in the morning I‟m not bloody going!‟ was Martine‟s spirited response. Then she asked, „Did you and she?….‟ Rick slurped his drink and tried to think of a good lie. Then he thought better of it. „Yes, but it‟s over and now I want you.‟ Martine stood up from the arm chair, leaving her drink on the little coffee table. Oh well, thought Rick, she‟s off, but, with the speed of a seasoned camper Martine divested herself of her kaftan and stood for a millisecond in her bra and knickers before diving into Rick‟s bed. „Are you joining me, or staying there to get sozzled?‟ she asked innocently. „Women,‟ Rick mused. „I just don‟t understand them. I don‟t understand them at all.‟ He turned off the light and rid himself of his jeans and T-shirt leaving them with the crumpled suit he‟d slung over the settee earlier and dived into the unknown territory that was the giggling Martine.

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Friday Morning

JD

At first it was difficult to imagine how what seemed to be a sad coincidence could turn out to be a calculated killing, cunningly engineered to cut short the life of the heir to a potentially massive fortune in diamonds. As part of his day to day routine as a private investigator Fallon had often been asked to attend the scene of an RTA and compile a report. Sometimes it was for insurance purposes, occasionally for a defence solicitor, but more often than not it would be the prosecution wanting corroborative evidence for their case. He decided to go early in the morning before the road became clogged with commuters on their way to the office. As he drove along he mused on the way things were panning out. It had been a relief of sorts to establish a more positive relationship with Minnie. Rightly named Albright he decided. She really was a manipulative cow and kept her eye on the main chance. No worries for Rick there. He had his eye on her and would relish exchanging information with her at a mutually convenient time. It could be that more than just information would be exchanged. No need to rush it, though, especially now. After last nightâ€&#x;s encounter on the landing Rick had spent the hours until daybreak in the arms of a new lover. He felt relaxed and confident that there was a chance, a good chance that life was going to be really good from now on. No more lonely nights peering into the bottom of a whisky glass and no more fish suppers and takeaways. Perhaps he was being optimistic basing this projection on just a few hours drunken passion, but 113


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he felt it was right this time. Feelings and instincts had served him well in the past, especially in the job. Time would tell. There were a few isolated vehicles crawling past carrying bleary-eyed workers only half awake, but on the whole the scene was quiet when he walked round the corner from the car park of „The Prince‟ where he had left the Princess. Looking at the incident from the point of view of Augusta Von Weigh it was immediately obvious that by the time she had had any inkling of the presence of the approaching wagon it was already too late. An important factor was the speed of the vehicles, of course, but visibility and road and weather conditions generally were also contributory factors, probably a decisive part in what played out that night. He made a note to himself to that effect before taking out his camera to record the scene from various angles. Fallon reached inside his jacket for the tape and cursed under his breath. He had left it in his coat on the back seat of the car. He decided to take the long way round back to the car park giving an opportunity to do a quick reccy of the route taken by the wagon driver. He noticed that there was a pull-in about twenty yards from the junction. Just in case he got skittled by a stray vehicle he paused for a moment within that space and turned towards the junction where the incident had taken place. Scanning around, first at ground level and then upwards to where the street name was displayed he suddenly saw it. In the corner flat in the first floor window was a mirror, a large mirror, at present turned at an angle towards where he was standing. Now what if that mirror were to be turned and tilted at a different angle? 114


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He wasn‟t certain yet, but he thought it would be possible for someone seated high up in a wagon parked on the pull-in to view the traffic approaching the junction down Westgate Street in enough time to accelerate forwards, causing the chosen vehicle to sustain a massive shunt. He had already established that there was no such advantage to the other driver. He hurried back to the car and having secured the tape, carried out all the necessary measurements and recorded them in his pocket book. In order to substantiate his argument he would have to find out who occupied the corner flat and investigate the link between that person and the driver of the wagon on that day.

Friday Morning

GW

Minnie shuffled uncomfortably in her chair. Herman Von Weigh had turned the far corner of his hotel room into an office. Money sure gets you everything, Minnie reflected sourly to herself. He sat opposite her in a high backed chair, the huge oak desk a barrier between them accentuating the power play he was obviously going to make. What did he want? Why was she here? God! He‟d even got his chair raised to emphasise who was in control! „Well,‟ he drawled, „you are a pretty one and that‟s for sure.‟ Minnie cringed, all this for a quick fumble? She 115


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thought not. „I‟ll explain straight away, I know you‟re just itching to know why I asked you over, now you‟ve had time to think over our previous conversation.‟ „Time is money,‟ she responded curtly, but with her level three winning smile firmly in place. She slowly crossed her legs and hoped that Herman‟s chair was raised enough to see the thigh as it shifted position. He smiled. He‟d seen it. Good! „You see,‟ he went on, „dear Gussie dying like that, and it was no accident, has left me in what you English call a „predicament‟.‟ „And you think I can help?‟ „Oh…I KNOW you can help.‟ His tone was so selfsatisfied that she wanted to slap him. She almost decided there and then that even a fee of one of his millions wouldn‟t get her into his bed. Almost. „I‟ll tell ya all, lady journalist. Ricky Fallon is working for me … on several … information gathering exercises.‟ He produced a file from his desk drawer and handed it to her across the wooden abyss. It was about an inch thick and in neat type on the front it was labelled „Minnie Albright‟. She fought back fury as it boiled and demanded exit from her mouth, and smiled the level seven winning smile. „I‟m flattered,‟ she said, thumbing through the dossier. It only seemed to have missed that she preferred to buy her underwear from Marks and Spencer. 116


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I’ll kill Fallon! she promised herself silently, as she scanned the information about herself and Linda, then placed the file nonchalantly back on the table with her best „so what?‟ expression hiding the emotional maelstrom going on within. „You are very good.‟ Hermann acknowledged appreciatively. „Coffee?‟ „No thank you, please get on with it. I have deadlines to meet, and for me a missed deadline threatens the mortgage.‟ „Okay Milady. Now, one thing first. You decide against my little proposition and try to print the dirt on Herman Von Weigh… and I guarantee you‟ll never be published again. Got that?‟ She nodded. Minnie was brave, ruthless, defiant, but more than that she was a survivor. She knew another predator when she saw one, and when to make submissive gestures to one with bigger teeth and more claws than she had. „Good girl. OK. Here‟s the deal. Marry me.‟ „What!‟ All composure flew from her in a rout as surprise caused her face to express itself truthfully for the first time in months. Herman laughed. „Let me finish… Marry me and take over Gussie‟s role. We were husband and wife in name only. Where I come from it‟s necessary to have a wife with your talents, politics you know? Gussie ran my newspaper business. I don‟t trust anyone on the board to take her place. I want someone they can‟t intimidate or buy and… you and I have a lot in common. „I see!‟ exclaimed Minnie, „but Mr Von Weigh…‟ „Hermann… please, I know what you‟re going to 117


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say. Your partner can come too, as our personal assistant.‟ Minnie was almost calm again now. „Well, thank you Hermann…but‟ She couldn‟t believe it, not the old „two women at once‟ fantasy! He seemed to read her mind. „I don‟t sleep with women Minnie.‟ His eyes met hers for a few seconds as the penny dropped… and then both of them burst into laughter. He got up and went over to the cabinet to the left of his desk. There was champagne in a bucket of ice hiding behind an ornate Chinese-lacquered door. „Do I pour?‟ he asked. Minnie nodded. This was a Cinderella panto with Dallas overtones. „Large measure please.‟ How the hell was she going to sell this to Linda? Actually it might be easy. Linda had cried almost continually for a week now since Minnie first mentioned the London job. Maybe she‟d jump at the chance. Never in my life, mused Minnie to herself, have I been able to have my cake and eat it. Always tried. Never made it. Until now. He handed her the sparkling glass of fermented money. „A toast,‟ he said grinning, and kissed her lightly on the cheek. „To Rick bloody Fallon!‟ she asserted without hesitation. „Rick bloody Fallon,‟ Hermann repeated enthusiastically, as the glasses clinked, sealing the deal. „Now,‟ he said seriously, „we have a lot to do. I need to get Gussie home to the States, arrange a memorial, get 118


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you briefed on your new position and there‟s our „falling in love‟ to organise and the ensuing wedding, after a decent time has elapsed of course… and there‟s your Linda. We need her on board, or we need to know soon if she ain‟t.‟ Minnie‟s eyes located the phone and for the first time focused on what she had dismissed as a biscuit barrel on the desk, „Gussie?‟ she asked. Hermann nodded. „She always attended my most important meetings,‟ he said, not without a hint of mischief in his voice. Minnie was glad she‟d refused coffee. She‟d have shattered a few social conventions ferreting around for a custard cream in the ashes of her predecessor. Without asking permission she reached out for the phone and dialled. „Linda? Great! You‟re in. I need you with me right now. Get a cab.‟ She reeled off the address of the hotel and the room number. There was a pause and Hermann chuckled as she said, „Well use the gas money from out of the brown betty teapot then! Just get here! I need you now.‟ Replacing the handset she gave her attention to a second dossier that Hermann had produced. The Newspaper Empire. HER newspaper empire. Two American nationals, five magazines and twenty locals. Bloody Hell…..oh Bloody Hell! her mind exclaimed as she began to see how unbelievably lucky she was. Linda got into the cab, puzzled, wondering what was going on. Earlier that day she‟d bought far too many painkillers for a headache, and had settled upon cutting the string of this yoyo that Minnie had her spinning and bobbing alongside. 119


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„Like a stupid pup, grateful for a bit of attention,‟ she berated, cursing her loyalty as a vice. „Pathetic Linda, you really are pathetic,‟ she told herself out loud. But all the same the day was brighter because Minnie needed her, and the need to terminate her miserable existence was already fading into an option that she might consider if things got any worse. I love her, she thought as the cab sped towards a future she couldn‟t even guess at. I love her. . . However, their emotional celebrations were short lived, hardly had the champagne been uncorked than Minnie had a phone call from her office. „Gorra go . . Something‟s up. Newton Lane have called an immediate press conference. Now what?‟

Earlier Friday Morning

CH

Hilary Hawksworth and Nat Shaw were having a „Heads Together‟ session in her office at the Newton Lane station. This was a new initiative by her boss who‟d been on a „Managing People‟ training course and was sold on the idea that „Empowering Your People‟ was the way forward. Hilary had stated that she thought the whole idea was a load of rubbish and that she wasn‟t going along with it, but had been ordered to go along with it; like it or not. „Well,‟ she‟d said to him, „You know what I think of this fiasco Shaw! Waste of time and money. No way is this going to help us catch that murdering swine. No 120


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matter what Fartright and Weasel have said about that Dutchman, the evidence is too sketchy to prove him having knocked off that pair on that boat. Any halfway decent brief can drive a flaming bus through it, sideways.‟ Nat Shaw agreed, up to a point. „What we need to do is cop somebody in the act,‟ he mused. „We need somebody who can look after himself. Somebody who doesn‟t know he, or she, is being used. Somebody who knows enough about the thing to be useful. No flaming chance there though.‟ Hilary had a gleam in her eyes. „You‟re right there. That‟s exactly what we need. But you‟re wrong about one thing! There‟s somebody who fits the bill exactly. Fallon!‟ Nat choked on that one as she gleefully enlarged things, ticking them off on her fingers. „He knows all about the inheritance. The documents . . . everything. Working for Von Weigh and Goldsteine. Disgraced ex-copper. We all know they‟re crooked. He‟s bloody vicious and can handle himself. „Perfect man for the job! He‟s in the frame even if he doesn‟t know it – yet! I‟ll organise a press conference. No use dragging all of them in here, is there?‟ Shaw blinked agreement. „So! Carefully selected press members only I feel?‟ his boss concluded with confidence. The four „selected‟ reporters heard from a serious Hilary, that ex-DS Rick Fallon who had, fortuitously, been helping the police as a „specialist investigator‟, had found that he, amongst others, was entitled to a share in a fortune uncovered by an old Will. Latching onto this as a scoop, they scurried off to 121


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interview Rick, who wasn‟t at home. Even Minnie, who had been one of the four and usually could find him, ended up failing to understand Tip-Tip‟s telephone voice. „It must be true, „cos the bastard‟s gone to ground,‟ she smilingly told a still very much bemused Linda. „If you‟re sharp you can get some of that lolly off him in settlement.‟

Vera and Liz

EH

Liz Pardoe and Vera Meadows were cooped up in Liz‟s spare-room-cum-office, a small, pleasant enough room overlooking the canal. With having Vera‟s help the agency was going to do quite well. The publicity that came from Minnie had helped, but as a spin-off from a double murder, Liz wasn‟t keen to have Minnie‟s contact again. She had only wanted access to the canal bank and any information she could get from Jerry. So this afternoon Liz and Vera were discussing the idea of a shop of their own selling only wedding gear. „We need to be more independent, you and me,‟ said Liz. „The two men seem to have decided on their futures, we don‟t come into it do we?‟ and Liz got up to make a cup of tea. „How about, „The One Stop Brides Shop?‟ she called from the landing to Vera, as if it had just popped into her head as she got up. Vera frowned, she didn‟t want to lose any ground so as Liz came back she said. „Isn‟t a shop a bit old-fashioned Liz? What about Boutique?‟ 122


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Not wanting to argue at this stage, Liz said „I suppose the name can wait. We need to have some plans first. Let‟s have this cuppa and get down to some details shall we?‟ By the end of the afternoon things were getting sorted. There was the agency to wind up, and an application for help from the Small Business Initiative, and any publicity they could devise. When the phone rang suddenly they both jumped. „Hello,‟ said Liz, „Yes, Vera‟s here. What! Yes I‟ll tell her,‟ and she hung up. „It‟s your Dennis come home early and needs his dinner it seems, shall you call him back?‟ „No, he can wait a bit,‟ and Vera smiled. „It‟s time he knew that I have a future besides his retirement plans,‟ and still smiling she said, „He‟s in for a bit of a surprise, same as your Jerry I suppose.‟ Lichfield was a busy town with tourists as well as the locals. Liz planned to have discreet business cards left in restaurants and hair salons to attract the clients they would need. She and Vera were in for a hectic time. Let Jerry go on grumbling that she was never home, and when he went as far as suggesting to ask his mother to come and help with things, Liz took the chance she needed. „Great!‟ she exploded, „that suits me fine, there‟s a shop with a flat over it I‟ve got my eye on. No Jerry, I‟ve had enough of canals and your grousing. That‟s your life, not mine any more,‟ and with a flick of her newly styled hair, and in a soft tailored suit she looked every inch the successful business woman she intended to be. Picking up her car keys she flounced out to meet Vera. 123


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Hilary’s Office

GW

„All the same Hilary, you had no right. You could at least have asked.‟ Fallon paced up and down her office furiously, waving the newspaper at her. He‟d left his bacon sandwich on his desk as soon as he saw it, and stormed over to the station. Headline: ‘Local PI Beats Police in Flipper Murder Case.’ „Ex policeman Rick Fallon, disgraced policeman redeeming himself,‟ and „recently separated‟ and enough information to convince someone he knew… well… what he nearly knew. „Sit down Rick. You‟ll be in no danger.‟ „No bloody danger? Have you forgotten this man has killed three people as far as we know in his career?… we could be looking at a serial killer mentality!‟ „I suppose it was La Minnie that told you?‟ „Yes, and good on her. She‟s many things but she‟s not an accessory to murder!‟ „Watch it Fallon. I can get your PI licence revoked with a phone call.‟ „Oh yes Hilary. I know you can. Like you manoeuvred me out of a job!‟ „Fallon that‟s unfair, I didn‟t and you know it.‟ Rick finally sat down. „I know you didn‟t. I‟m sorry that wasn‟t called for. I‟m worried about my staff. It‟s one thing for me to do the Bodie and Doyle stuff but…‟ „I think Tip-Tip will be more than adequate for any fisticuffs, but we‟ll supply at least ten bobbies for back up and I‟ve a request in for a fire arms team.‟ Hilary com124


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mented, surprised, and then remembered. „Oh it‟s the female you have working with you isn‟t it? You‟re worried about her.‟ „Yes. They‟re most likely to hit at the office unless I can think of a way to offer an easier option.‟ Tip-Tip was sitting quietly at the back of the office. He stood up and lumbered over to Rick‟s chair. „Ricky, me an‟ ma Lavvy saw it in the evenin‟ paper last night. We got an idea… but we‟ll need the lesbo‟s help.‟ Hilary Hawksworth raised her eyes to the ceiling. The „lesbo‟…in this day and age. This man truly was a Neanderthal. She‟d thought he just looked and talked like one before. She kept her opinion and her criticism to herself though, and was rewarded for that by feeling pleasantly surprised by what she could understand of the next few sentences he struggled to construct. The Trap Minnie was nervous about this. Yes there was no problem at all in getting front page for the piece, especially with Herman smoothing waters for her. She‟d developed a strange liking for Fallon though, and knew this was pretty risky for him. As he‟d said when she protested though… now the police had made him the next target it was risky just to get out of bed, and not even safe to stay in it. She handed it to Herman to give it the once over, he nodded gravely, and passed it to Linda. „It‟s fine Minnie.‟ Linda beamed. Minnie relaxed. When Linda smiled she remembered what had attracted her in the first place. She was determined to do her best to make that smile replace the pained expression of the last few 125


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weeks from now on. She retrieved the article and faxed it through. ‘Local PI Rick Fallon to Attend Celebrity Wedding’ by Minnie Albright Local detective Rick Fallon is to attend as a guest of honour at the wedding of Lavender Pomeroy, star of stage and screen for forty years, and ex-boxing champion ‘Tip-Tip’ McGee. ‘Fallon and McGee were recently responsible for uncovering vital information about the Flipper murders and police sources state that an arrest is imminent,’ DI Hilary Hawksworth was heard to say at a press conference today. ‘Be prepared for a shock. The truth will rock governments and have repercussions internationally. Rick Fallon is close to closing this case for us and we are very grateful for his invaluable assistance.’ American entrepreneur Herman Von Weigh, recently bereaved of his dear wife Augusta, who was a devoted fan of Miss Pomeroy, will also attend, and is said to have been ‘delighted’ to have been asked to give the bride away. The wedding will take place in two weeks time. Sources reveal that the wedding rehearsal takes place tomorrow at St Martin’s Church at 5.00pm. Miss Pomeroy told our reporter, ‘The world is invited to my wedding with this wonderful man. I have never been so much in love.’

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Herman rescued the copy from the end of the fax machine as it finished its journey and reread it, smiling widely. „Ya know girls… I loved that film she was in… now what was it called? She was one of the old school actresses in her day.‟ „The Pain of Love‟s Journey,‟ replied Linda. „I remember it too. A real weepy. Black and white of course.‟ Minnie sighed. She‟d gotten to know Herman pretty well, pretty quickly. „You‟re going to pay for her wedding aren‟t you?‟ „Yes, of course. The poor old dear hasn‟t a penny, and McGee … well I suppose the best man won.‟ Herman gave a theatrical look of resignation and Linda and Minnie laughed. It was going to be a lot of fun for all of them, this ménage à trois. The rest of their lives were going to be a lot of fun. But Minnie and Herman both knew that that would be after the killer was safely caught and locked away and the truth out. Because after Fallon …it would be their turn if they couldn‟t expose the scam, removing the reason for their elimination. Linda just beamed. The details passed her by, even the danger to Rick, for whom she still had a fondness. She and Minnie were together…and Herman… was a godsend. The Wedding Rehearsal Marcus looked the part, surprisingly enough, a little young but not too bad an impression from a distance, and people saw what they expected to see… and Marcus 127


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had volunteered. Clerical robes suited him, and Hawksworth had refused to risk a real vicar. „Bloody well risks me though,‟ Fallon grumbled to himself. He stubbed his cigarette out on the gravel drive and waved to Martine who stood sulking at the church entrance. He‟d told her to keep well away from him. She didn‟t like that one bit. In the churchyard the plods were in plainclothes disguised as reporters and being drilled by Minnie Albright in the finer points of paparazzi conduct. They were augmented by Nat Shaw and Hilary Hawksworth, who looked more like a tart than a reporter. Minnie said nothing. It would only invite a sarcastic comment like, „I was emulating you,‟ or something. She‟d crossed swords with Hilary many times. „When Pomeroy arrives you treat her like Lady Di. You‟re all over her. Make it look real. Camera guys…flash flash flash and click click click,‟ she instructed, as she handed out the press badges. She felt better for knowing that no less than five armed police sporting rifles were on the church roof. Better but certainly not relaxed. Herman joined Fallon. „OK buddy… now we make a better target.‟ Fallon nodded, „Yeah…God I wish we could get this over with. Ten to one he doesn‟t show.‟ „He‟ll show.‟ Herman asserted. „Have you any idea what I have to gain and what they have to lose here?‟ „Right,‟ Fallon conceded. „Show time… here‟s the Diva!‟ Hermann had spotted the limo delivering the happy couple to the church. He‟d sent it of course. Lavender had become his philanthropic project of the year. The police paparazzi were 128


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excellent Rick thought. Like locusts, crowding the limo and causing a storm of flashes around it. He smiled as he saw Tip-Tip help Lavender out of the car, her smile never wider as she enjoyed every minute of this fake fame. The ridiculous thing was, Rick reflected wryly, that it was highly likely to result in a bit of real glory for her. Tip-Tip already had been approached for an article about his boxing days and offered a few thousand pounds for it. And after Minnie‟s front page hype, the local cinema had announced a „Lavender Pomeroy‟ season. Apparently she‟d been in about seven films altogether and starred in three of them. He was impressed. His eyes wandered to a cameraman a little way from the main group and his nerves tingled. Who was that? That was no-one he knew from the station and he knew nearly all of them. Possibly a real photographer? He alerted Herman, who discreetly cast a glance around. „Hmmm‟ Herman had offered in comment. Then he began walking towards the photographer, in complete contradiction of everything that Hawksworth had told him to do. Fallon watched for a few seconds. Lavender Pomeroy was enjoying herself so much she‟d forgotten the plot. „Get into the bloody church, woman,‟ Rick projected the thought as hard as he could to the posing Pomeroy and the blushing, proud-as-a-peacock Tip-Tip. He followed Herman, lighting a cigarette as he went and saw an unremarkable car parked where nothing had been parked before. Someone was in it. Two people were in it. The photographer seemed harmless enough. Umbrella? Did photographers carry that type of umbrella? Looked like the type a London stock broker might…for 129


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no reason at all Rick recalled a case recently about an umbrella and acted on his gut feeling. He didn‟t bother to shout to Herman, there wasn‟t time. Instead he launched himself into a run and rugby tackled Herman to the ground as the „photographer‟ picked up the umbrella, as if to stab Hermann with it. Then it seemed as if Batman had arrived, flowing black cloak it looked like but… no. It was Marcus in full vicar‟s outfit, unbuttoned for ease of movement, as he raced from the car aiming a roundhouse kick that wouldn‟t have shamed Bruce Lee and sending the umbrella spinning from the man‟s hands. Martine was close behind and went to pick up the umbrella. „Don‟t touch it,‟ Rick shouted. „It‟s poisoned… and why the hell can‟t either of you follow instructions?‟ „You‟re welcome,‟ Martine replied. The last time Rick had seen Marcus in anything approaching „action‟ was when Martine had pinned him to the floor and beaten him up with the chip shop takings. It was something of a surprise to see him following up what Rick had assumed was a lucky hit with a punch and then a karate chop to the back of the head. He looked more than competent, but this guy was a professional and Fallon was taking no chances. He and Herman cut off the escape to the road and the man was surrounded. The accent was Dutch. „We‟ll just send somebody else,‟ he stated defiantly. Herman grinned his wide grin. „Now why in the name of Sam Hill would I send someone to kill… me? Your boss is already in the slammer, and I‟m runnin‟ that show now, since oohhh 0500 hrs GMT. Ya know…ya‟d never have been paid a penny, 130


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even if you had managed to do your job. Amateur. I hate amateurs.‟ The assailant snarled and lunged at Herman but Rick had him on the floor and handcuffed before he‟d made a step. „You were supposed to hand those in,‟ Hilary Hawksworth commented calmly from behind him. „Right then… do you want them back this minute?‟ Rick smiled at her, „It‟s just that they‟re busy at the moment.‟

Chinese Restaurant

BS

Martine arrived at the chip shop. All seemed quiet. Most unusual. Mr Huang suddenly appeared. Bracing herself she prepared for the usual tongue-lashing. „Ah…missy Martine. Please come to sitting room. I have much to tell.‟ Martine was taken aback as she followed Mr Huang. „Please sit,‟ he said. He seemed to have a twinkle in his eye, or was she imagining it? Belle appeared with a tray of tea, cups and cakes. She smiled at Martine shyly. „Well what a to-do…what‟s going on?” Martine asked herself. When Belle had served the tea she sat quietly with a strange smile on her lips. „So…to business missy Martine. We are changing chip shop to Chinese food take away.‟ Martine‟s jaw dropped. Realising this, she closed her mouth and waited for the next blow to fall. „Madame Belle and I have come 131


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to conclusion chip shop is no good. No money in it. So we are changing to Chinese takeaway. Food can be taken away or eaten here at a few small tables. What you think missy Martine?‟ Martine had never heard of Chinese takeaway food, „But…‟ but her voice faded as she thought of getting the push! „So missy Martine, wife Belle has prepared Chinese food. We go sit now and you tell us if this food OK.‟ Surprised, Martine wiped the sweat from off her forehead with a lacy hanky and spoke. „Well…I‟m so surprised. Let‟s eat!‟ The three trooped into the dining room. A wonderful smell attacked Martine‟s nostrils. „Wow! Smells nice,‟ she gasped. Martine sat back, her stomach attacking the Chinese food. „Boy…was that good!‟ Martine said, followed by a loud burp. „Oh… pardon me!.‟ „No missy, my honourable grandmother always say to burp is sign of good food! So what is verdict missy Martine… good? Yes or no?‟ Martine was stuck for words and she cleared her throat. „This is a very good idea. I‟m all for it. I‟m sure folks around here will flock to the Chinese takeaway.‟ Mr Huang stood up, burping before he could speak, „What name we call Chinese takeaway? I know it. “The Red Dragon!”‟ Martine spent weeks making Chinese lanterns that would be strung around the garden. A small pond appeared with a bridge over it. Martine was quick to learn about how the food should be cooked. Belle was in charge 132


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of the huge kitchen, where aromatic spices were brought in to be stood in huge plastic bins. Rick Fallon couldn‟t resist sniffing Martine‟s hair and telling her as he collected her from work each night that now she smelled of the orient, which was a vast improvement from stinking of malt vinegar and greasy chips. Friday Night

SMS

Evangelist Mbekod stared at the slumped figure laying face down across his partner‟s desk. He closed the door quietly so that prying eyes would not disturb this one last moment of peace with his mentor. The gun lying on the floor at Moshe‟s slippered feet told him all he needed to know. The one envelope on the desk had his name written on it in the familiar spider scrawl. Fighting back tears the Welshman eased the envelope away from the spreading pool of blood which was soaking into the blotting paper and sticking a mass of straggly red locks to the surface of the desk. Dear Evan, What a terrible thing I now do to such a good friend. But I see no other way. I brought this shame, and family disgrace, upon my own head. You see I have finally deduced who the only person could have been who knew the whereabouts and identity of that young villain John Hague. It was my doing. I opened Pandora’s Box . . . or as you say 133


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‘let the cat out of the bag’ when I raised the issue with Cousin Aaron. It must have been Cousin Aaron who arranged for the removal of this obstruction and that poor girl was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I have innocent blood on my hands for which I must atone before I stand before my God. If you have it in your heart stand Shiva for an old sinner. I leave all my share in the practice to your good self. My few possessions I have left to charities, my Will is in the safe. Forgive . . . Your dear friend and partner Moshe Goldsteine Evangelist reached for the telephone receiver and dialled 999. „Hello. Put me through to the police I want to report a suicide, isn‟t it?‟ was all he managed to say before his emotions got the better of him and the hardnosed solicitor from Tiger Bay broke down and wept like a child.

Saturday Lunchtime

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„Seems to me, Rick that you‟ve pulled it off.‟ „Nobody‟s more surprised than me Mr Von Weigh,‟ answered Fallon, tugging nervously at his shirt cuffs. Martine had hand washed his newly acquired shirt ready for today‟s meeting and to her horror it had not only shrunk but refused to de-crease even on the hottest setting of her mam‟s newfangled steam iron. 134


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Rick had soothed her fretting and manfully squeezed his neck into the small collar. The girl had meant well and she wasn‟t the first girlfriend he‟d had who couldn‟t tackle laundry with any degree of skill. Herman noticed Fallon‟s twitching which he attributed to the delicacy of the meeting. Handing over money was always problematic. „I suppose you‟d prefer cash?‟ „Cash? Folding money? Oh yes . . . always the preferred payment option,‟ replied Fallon running a finger round the ever tightening collar. Herman went over to the room safe secreted inside the bank of wardrobes which covered one whole wall of the suite and oozed that „old-money elegance‟ which the best hotel in town was celebrated for across the county. Fallon couldn‟t help but stare as the combination lock tumbled and spat the door open with a resounding click as the inner bolts drew back. Herman was walking towards him, he was holding out a brown envelope. „Count it . . . don‟t stand on ceremony. Count it now. I‟ll fix you a drink you look as if you need one. Are you always as flushed as this son? Your eyes are bulging.‟ Defeated Fallon undid the top button releasing the nooselike grip and slid onto a chair by the open window gasping for air. A quick flick through the bundle of notes assured him that Herman Von Weigh was a man of his word. Relief flooded over him in a wave . . . the spectre of Mr Patel shouting through the letterbox danced in front of his eyes. He could pay his way. Fallon and McGee were back in the black. „Don‟t spend it all at once now,‟ said a voice emerg135


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ing from the bathroom. Fallon‟s mouth dropped open as Linda emerged draped in a king size dressing gown. „Hi Rick . . . screw your neck back in . . . haven‟t you heard the news?‟ Fallon nodded in the negative, stuffing the envelope into his inside pocket just in case he needed to make a fast exit. Enjoying his confusion Linda carried on drying her hair as she collected a drink from Herman. „Put him out of his misery,‟ said another familiar voice, as Minnie Albright appeared, similarly attired to his ex-wife, from the bathroom. „You should see your face . . . You are looking at the second Mrs Von Weigh . . . yes let that one sink in. We‟re flying back to the States. All of us.‟ „On Concord!‟ added Linda, her eyes glowing as she glanced at Minnie. Fallon took the proffered glass from Herman. „Thanks I do need that,‟ he said. Two Funerals And A Wedding

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Sgt Meadows surveyed the square and, wryly, quoted his superintendent, „The chief constable says: “The more the force can do to assist the press in this the better.” Now get out there and assist!‟ „Well young Turner,‟ he said to the constable at his side. „They‟ve got their money‟s worth. Just look at it! That damned brass band making a bloody row on the corner, horse-drawn carriages parked all over the place, TV cameras sprouting like blasted weeds, nobody knows 136


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what‟s going on, and folks are treating it like street theatre. Flaming Nora! Come on let‟s go and assist!‟ A bridal party arrived at the church to the accompaniment of “Here Comes The Bride”. The rumour ran, „It‟s that woman who was in the papers last week. You know! A film star or something called Lavender Pomeroy. Marrying her long time man-friend. Can‟t remember his name but he was a champion boxer once. Anyway it‟s going to be a big do.‟ Then two hearses arrived. People were shocked; there were no dark clothes about. „Can‟t be a proper funeral. You don‟t go to a proper funeral in wedding dresses!‟ the murmurs said. The two coffins were followed into the church by the bride, matrons of honour and bridesmaids in their wedding gowns, the groom, the best man, and some others in morning suits with top hats, and everyone sporting bright buttonholes and bouquets of brilliant flowers. The press coverage also screamed different! The service proceeded to schedule. Although as Herman said, „Boy, your English morticians have got this cremation business off to a fine art. Back home that would have taken two - three hours, not twenty minutes the pair!‟ The hearses, carrying the mortal remains of John Hague and Amy Hoare, aka Lori Carmichael, aka Barri Morgan, went off to the crematorium, whilst the wedding party mounted the carriages. Preceded by the brass band, according to Herman: „A champion one from some place called Yorkshire. They work too cheap though, I only paid them about $3,000,‟ playing a lively selection of light music, they processed on to the cathedral for the wedding. 137


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The organ, augmented by the brass band, boomed out the traditional “Bridal March”, as Lavender, on Herman‟s arm as he was giving her away, wearing a lavender dress and accessories, led the procession to the high altar. Following was Lizzie, in ivory, as the bridesmaid. The matrons of honour: Minnie in white with a wide skirt and Martine in cream and red with a jaunty red hat and Hilary Hawksworth, who had said with obvious longing in her voice, „I‟d just love to wear the full fig. Long skirt, train, veil the lot, but it‟d get in the way if I have to take down some yobbo.‟ So she wore a cream ensemble with blue highlights. A short way behind, dressed in morning suits with grey toppers clutched firmly in sweaty hands, came TipTip, with Rick as his best man, and Nat Shaw as groomsman. Nat had put it to his boss that, „This is going to be fancy clothes not plain clothes duty.‟ Hilary smilingly agreed and told him, „Nat, it‟s like this. If I‟m going to have to suffer in that gorgeous gown,‟ she pointed to where a frothy collection of cream and blue hung on the wall, „then you can suffer in a morning suit. Anyway it‟ll be a change from playing at being a tramp won‟t it?‟ Nat was concerned. Where was the stroppy, snarling, Hilary he‟d known. She hadn‟t stopped smiling all day! In the choir stalls stood Evangelist Mbekod in a pristine white surplice with a bright smile on his face. He caught the note given by the piano and sang. His marvellous tenor voice, drawing on the dual strands of his Welsh upbringing and African ancestry, filled the cathedral with the glorious sound of the “Ave Maria”. A sniffling, smiling Martine whispered to Rick, 138


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„That‟s fantastic; There isn‟t a dry eye in the place.‟ Rick‟s whispered reply, „Don‟t let him fool you, that‟s only partly for us. That‟s Taffy Mbekod saying a simultaneous public and private farewell to Moshe Goldstein,‟ earned him a jab with her elbow. „Taffy indeed! You know his name‟s Evangelist.‟ „Oh yes, but that‟s not who he is now. He‟s saying farewell to an old and valued friend.‟ Then in a mock Welch accent, „Look you fach! The tears are rolling down his face. Diew fach, that‟s pure Rhonda Valley now, isn‟t it?‟ Herman, on the other side, whispered, „That guy would earn a fortune as a professional.‟ Rick, knowing that Evangelist had declined offers of a professional singing career, sighed as he sat back; he‟d miss old man Goldsteine as well. Hilary had told him earlier that, after his inquest opened for identification, the old solicitor would be being buried in Bushy Cemetery which was a good way down south or he‟d have gone to the ceremony, even though he‟d never attended a Jewish service before. After the post reception departure of the bride and groom, Herman called Rick into a huddle. „Rick,‟ he said. I‟m opening a UK office and I‟ll need folks checked out. I want you to be on retainer here and heading up part of my UK operation. The salary will only be say fifteen or twenty grand as a start then, when it gets running, I‟ll push you up the ladder to head of UK operations. That‟ll be about a hundred thousand. Think you can handle it?‟ Rick said he‟d let him know, he‟d got a lot on his mind especially now as Martine was walking towards him carrying the bride‟s bouquet and wearing a smile like a cat that had landed in the cream. 139


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Saturday Lunchtime Finding Alice

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The conclusion of a case was a time of celebration and cigars and neat whisky served in paper cups and talking too loud and making too much noise . . . a least that‟s what the end of a „Result‟ case was usually like in CID. Hilary Hawksworth raised a cup towards Nat Shaw, he‟d done well. But there was someone missing. Rick Fallon wasn‟t here to share the joys of victory and for a long gut wrenching moment Hilary missed him. At that moment Rick Fallon was holding Martine‟s hand in broad daylight and coming out of the cut price florist in Market Street. Martine was carrying a bunch of yellow roses done up in cellophane and tied with a satin ribbon bow. The expression on her face however, was sombre. The flowers were not for her. The couple did not speak on the short drive. For once in its life of hideous neglect and abuse the old Austin Princess behaved all the way to the cemetery gates before spluttering to a halt of noisy complaint. „You are sure?‟ she asked as they walked up the drive towards the stone-clad chapel in the centre of the burial ground. „Not sure, no . . . but I‟ve a fair idea where to start looking,‟ replied Fallon, who was having misgivings. The cemetery was much vaster than he remembered it from previous visits and steeper. He had never given the topography much thought before, but rolling hillside seemed an apt description. Underfoot was damp and smelled of cut grass. Martine scanned the bleak horizon from the top of the central mound, a dense clump of yew trees formed 140


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an avenue running away to the west, and a lone Scotch pine marked the start of the „new‟ plots; new as in postwar, which left the plot they were searching for likely to be in the rear section behind the chapel. The section which the parochial church council had decided should be left as a „nature reserve‟ or as the local paper had called it „left in wanton neglect to run wild and untended‟. She had come prepared and carried a pair of garden shears wrapped in a plastic bag. It had been raining earlier and the tumbled-over headstones and chipped-winged angels gleamed in accusation as with wet shoes and soggy trouser hems they stumbled through the undergrowth. „They‟re not in date order,‟ said Fallon flummoxed by the squalid disarray. Martine smiled, clearly he hadn‟t thought it through. „Of course they aren‟t. Victorians weren‟t organised. Money and ornamentation were their only considerations. Look for plain ones.‟ She was right, of course. At the furthest end of the slope away from the vestry door, an overgrown plot surrounded by low iron railings held a white marble plaque at its entrance. The inscription read: „Presented by Alderman Grant Whitmore OBE for the burial of committed lunatics under the duty of this parish in Heylane Asylum 14th November 1875.‟ „This is it then,‟ said Martine eyeing the plot with despair and wishing she‟d brought a scythe. Fallon strode over the low railings and stooped to read the first laid flat stone. „Inmate 47 9th January 1895. Not even a name.‟ He tried the next, „Inmate 83 6th August 1901.‟ „Perhaps it‟s just as well,‟ sighed Martine who was 141


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finding the whole experience overwhelming. „Give me the flowers,‟ said Fallon straightening his back. „Have you found her?‟ asked Martine, with a lump in her throat, as she passed over the bouquet. „She‟s here I reckon. Inmate 19. Buried 7th July 1918. At least the date‟s about right, if she was banged up in that place for nine years grieving over her baby being taken away. I wonder what she did to end it all?‟ Fallon laid the roses on the cover-stone and stood back, Martine‟s eye was drawn to the tail of ribbon fluttering in a stray gust of breeze and a spatter of rain droplets landing on the cellophane from an overhanging branch of yew. „Hello Alice,‟ said Fallon, as unshed tears threatened, and he realized he had little good news to impart to her other than the solving of her story had helped him to find his own path again.

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EPILOGUE

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Saturday Morning Three Months Later „Have you been practising my young friend?‟ said the voice from behind the newspaper. The rest of Markus McQuidan‟s lanky body followed his head around the door to the conservatory and loped over to the window seat where the set out chess board was waiting. „How‟s it going Prof ?‟ asked youth scrambling his long legs onto a hard backed chair and checking the board pieces for any unseen advantage. „It . . . what it? If you mean how am I in health and temperament young Markus you should say so. Don‟t they teach the Queen‟s English in schools anymore?‟ „Not in the one I went to . . . no . . . I taught myself what bit I know,‟ grinned the youth. „Then I shall take it upon myself to correct that imbalance over the fullness of time,‟ said the professor as a bony finger shot out and a queen‟s pawn moved two places forwards with enormous speed. „It will be a challenge suitable for my retirement.‟ Markus mirrored the move and sat back. The change in the old man was remarkable. The scraggy whiskers and unkempt hair were long forgotten, the pyjamas and dressing gown of those first weeks of intensive institutional TLC now replaced by corduroy trousers and comfy jumper. The hollow cheeks were no longer grey, they were now scrubbed pink and seemed to be filling out. Only the darting beetle black eyes and caustic opinion remained of the tramp who‟d inhabited 143


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the park bench and library reading room. „Did you remember the books?‟ asked Professor Linksie as another pawn raced towards its doom. „Had to order them,‟ replied the youth as a knight jumped headlong into play. „They‟ll be in on Friday so I‟ll bring them next week.‟ The professor nodded in resignation, as at that moment Mrs Smethurst, the Matron of Heylane Nursing Home held open the door for Jenny, the Saturday girl, who was pushing the elevenses trolley. Markus couldn‟t keep the grin off his face. The professor hadn‟t decided if the abrupt display of gleaming teeth was because of the cakes and biscuits on the cake stand or because of the young woman pushing the trolley. In his experience undergraduates only reacted positively to two things, food, or attractive members of the opposite sex, and when he‟d finished with Markus he would be up to undergraduate standard . . . taking over his education was the least he could do for Richard Fallon in appreciation. After all if it hadn‟t been for Fallon contacting the television programme the exposure of the hushed-up asylum abuses wouldn‟t be being made into a documentary and his consultancy fees wouldn‟t be contributing towards this comfortable new accommodation. A king hovered but then sat down again so a pawn could attack. „Oh sorry I forgot . . . Mr Goldsteine‟s partner said to say he‟s coming to see you with that publishing contract on Tuesday, he says it‟s okay to sign it.‟ „Ahh . . . perhaps would you like to collaborate on that project Markus?‟ A bishop took up its skirts and ran diagonally. „Me? On the book?‟ A pawn hesitated then struck. 144


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„I will need a researcher . . . you never know one day the body of research might even be the basis for a thesis . . .‟ A rook eased itself two places forward. A knight bucked and reared. „But you‟ve already got an armful of degrees!‟ „Not for me dear boy . . .‟ and the red queen marched decisively into the fray to challenge the king. „Ohh . . . right . . . I see,‟ said Markus helping himself to a slice of Battenberg from off the trolley just as a bank of cloud shifted and the conservatory was bathed in the buttery glow of low winter sun. „Check,‟ said the octogenarian playfully dunking a digestive into his teacup.

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Clive M Hew itt Edith Hollan d Barbara Sto ckham Geoffrey P B Lyon Stephanie Sp iers Yasmin Lew is Judy Davies Gill Whitehu rst Anne Picken Being of sou nd mind this is the last Will and Testament o f... 146


Rising Brook Writers ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: COVER: Canal lock at Penkridge and narrow boat images: © C M Hewitt Edwardian Family Group: © C M Hewitt Safe/Goldsteine Interior/Office Block/Mine: © C M Hewitt Victorian & Edwardian Portraits: Roger Vaughan Collection www.rogerco.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk Permission for use: Roger Vaughan Defor the Dog: GPD 1909 Rubber Stamps: Commissioners in Lunacy document public domain: www.wickham.parish.hants.gov.uk/images/ Heylane Asylum: Adjusted image of Northampton Asylum (the building has recently been saved and converted) GPD Guillotine: Pearson Scott Foresman donated to Wikimedia Foundation GPD

HISTORICAL RESEARCH: Commissioners in Lunacy etc., source documents: www.studymore.org.uk/ Permission for use: Andrew Roberts

GPD = Licensed General Public Domain Printed by John Leigh Printers - Astonfields Stafford Paper is free of chlorine bleach. Please recycle. 147


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Rising brook writers 1983 was, for some, the time of padded shoulders and big hair, for others, like kicked-off the force detective sergeants, a time for new beginnings. The untimely demise of affluent American, Herman Von Weigh in a small leafy city in compromising circumstances, opens the first real case for private eye Rick Fallon. Little could he ever imagine the twisting tale of intrigue and decadence going back over a hundred years that was going to unfurl around his ears and cast him and his partner, ex-boxer, Tommy, Tip-Tip, McGee, into the murky world of the super rich. But as the leccky meter was showing red again and the landlord, Mr Patel, was breathing down their necks it wasn‟t as if they had much choice when adventure came a-knocking . . .

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Where There's A Will There's A Weigh