DCI Angers jabbed a fat finger at his accuser. ‘It’s like that, is it Marty? Cosy get-togethers in the back of the mini-van?’
Marty Hemming smiled, despite his frustration at the big bear. He pushed his hair out of his eyes. ‘As Councillor Winterbotham said about Jackie, if she played her cards right, she could get a commendation.’ He chuckled. ‘Apart from having a nice arse.’
DCI Angers made a strangulated noise. ‘Marty, she’s visiting her mother. You know ...’ he tailed off.
Marty knew. When Orson was a fledgling DS many light years ago, his mother had broken her hip when she fell over, and died whilst Orson was working all hours on a rather horrific murder investigation. He found the twisted and dehydrated body three days later. Orson had never forgiven himself.
The annoyance left him. He put a consoling arm around the bear’s broad shoulders and gently guided him to the door of his office. And out of the way of the box of liquorice allsorts that Orson was eyeing up. He gave the bear a gentle push start. ‘Yeah, okay, I understand. But let me know next time, okay?’
With no one trained to assist, Marty decided to go it alone that night. He parked his mini-van in the same place behind the town hall, leaned across and opened up the glove box. The half-empty packet of Bee & Aitch mocked him. Smoke me, you know you want to. He fumbled around and pulled out a large bar of Fruit and Nut instead, greedily ripped off the wrapper, then the foil, and began chewing contentedly. He began thinking again of Jackie’s arse; for a DS she was all “woman”. Not at all like the other butch, aggressive gender-benders masquerading as policewomen...
He was pulled out of his reverie by a tap on his window. He peered out into the evening gloom. Saw a toothy grin with a splash of red lipstick. He wound down his window and the woman leaned in. Not a spring chicken, but plenty of form on show ... and clearly on offer.
‘Waiting for some-one?’ she asked, with a gleam in her eye.
‘What’s your name, love?’
‘You can call me Molly.’
Her breath misted up the windscreen. Smelt of stale gin. ‘Well Molly, maybe I’m waiting for you ... get inside ... it’s bleedin’ cold out there.’
He watched her totter round the mini-van and slide into the passenger seat. Skinny legs showing tramlines of varicose veins. All smiles now. She put a cold hand on his thigh. ‘What’s your name, darling?’
He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his ID card and waved it at her. ‘It says here, DI Hemming.’
She didn’t seem too impressed. Began to stroke his leg. ‘You want a freebie, then darling?’
He pulled her hand away. ‘Molly, I could arrest you for soliciting. Bang you up overnight, over to the courthouse first thing tomorrow, and you’ll cop a thirty quid fine or community service. That what you want?’
She looked at him through watery eyes and shook her head. No she didn’t want that, just some sympathy. ‘I ain’t feeling too well. Touch of flu coming on.’
He inched away. ‘Molly, go back home and take some paracetamol. Go to bed and keep warm. If you know what’s good for you, stay off the streets for a few days. You hear me?’
She looked resigned and slumped back on the seat. ‘No money; not even enough to feed the meter.’
Marty had been there many times. Maybe she sized him up for a soft touch. But this time it was different and more dangerous with a killer loose.
A killer with AIDS, possibly. A lethal strain.
He put his ID card back and took out his wallet instead. Peeled off three fivers and picked out one of his cards. Gave them to her. ‘I don’t want to see your face round here this week. Call me in a week’s time.’
She didn’t argue or question him. Didn’t even thank him. Seemed dazed. Just slid back out of the mini-van and headed unsteadily over to the off-licence.
He sighed. At this rate, his expense claim would be sky-high. He gave it another hour before he got bored. No more Toms on the game. Perhaps word had got around. He hoped so. He decided to wander down to Station road, maybe call in at the Lord John for a whisky Mac. The green ginger would warm him up.
The pub wasn’t exactly heaving with clientele. Run-down “Wetherspoon” clone apart from the dingy atmosphere: one long bar, a number of seated alcoves, and a few fruit machines dotted around. One waitress dressed in a black uniform was carrying a tray of fish and chips to some diners. A few local punters were draped at the far end of the bar, near the toilet exit where they could slip out for a quick fag between pints. He hadn’t come across them before. So no trouble there. He ordered his drink from a weary looking barman and took a further look around.
The woman, with the low cut top that showed plenty of cleavage, came back in to the pub from outside; a drift of smoke being hastily waved away. Black leather boots walked her over to one of the fruit machines and she started to feed it coins from a small red handbag. The back view was similarly inviting below her shoulder length hair. Showed a tight ass protruding from a short skirt. Definitely a Tom.
Marty strolled over and invaded her space. ‘Any luck?’
She gave him a sideways glance. Didn’t dismiss him as a drunk. ‘Depends on what you’re looking for.’
‘I’m looking at it right now.’ Staring at her front. ‘D cup, I’d guess.’
She didn’t reply. Hit the start button. The reels circled round. Cherry, cherry, orange. She hit it again. Grapes, cherry, lemon. ‘I ain’t looking for company,’ she said, as she hit the button again. Three oranges. One pound.
‘What are you looking for, then?’
She hit the double or nothing button. Two quid.
‘Mister, get lost will you. I ain’t in no mood for it, ok?’ But she said it in a half-hearted manner, like she couldn’t care what he did.
Marty started to move away. Maybe he had read it wrong. ‘Okay, sorry.’
He saw her double again. Nothing. She shook the machine. ‘Asshole.’ Turned right round and appraised him properly. Probably felt she needed to explain. ‘My ex hit me ... again.’
Marty rubbed his nose. Looked at the purple bruise on her cheek, smudged with make-up. ‘You want a drink? Tell me about it?’
She hesitated, and then shrugged. ‘Why not. Nothing better to do.’
Candice’s ex was her pimp. She wasn’t earning enough to keep up with his cocaine habit. Asshole had sniffed away a fortune. She would be well rid of him. But no money. A vicious circle. ‘All my princes turn into frogs,’ she said.
Marty laughed at that. The whisky was working its magic. ‘Candy ... I like your humour ...’
She glanced at him, seemed to catch his innuendo. ‘And?’
Marty looked around the pub. No one he knew. ‘My van’s up the road. It’s comfortable in the back.’
Her lips parted. A slow sensuous smile. ‘Let me freshen up first.’ She stood up and pointed to the toilet sign. ‘Won’t be long, ok?’
Ten minutes later, they were sitting in the back of the van, on a carpet with cushions.
She quizzed him. ‘What’s that for?’ She pointed to the recording equipment he had pushed aside.
He pulled out his ID card and showed it to her. Didn’t need to explain.
‘Oh, fuck,’ she said.
She said it again when he told her what he wanted her to do. He gave her a couple of tenners and his card. ‘Any punter wants to go with you, give me a call first, ok? Ask for Marty.’
‘You want rid of your ex? I can make it happen.’
She nodded. ‘Marty, huh?’
He nodded back. ‘Now get out of here before ...’ He grinned.
She sidled closer. Reached out for his hand. Clasped it to her breast. ‘Marty, you were wrong. It’s Double D.’