The BT network couldn’t guarantee a quick turnaround. “Give it forty-eight hours”, the customer services woman had said. This gave him plenty of reflection time.
What the fuck was going on? Was DI Hemming a bent copper? Or had Jackie screwed up?
He finished his shift, and signed-out. Albert, at the front desk, looked up from his copy of the Evening Argus, and gave him a cheerful wave.
‘Hot date tonight, then?’
He felt his face burn. ‘Nothing special ...a few lagers ... live music.’
Albert kept a straight face. ‘Can’t beat live bands. What is it then? Country?’
Was he taking the piss? Albert knew he was into “Heavy Metal”.
He shot a dagger-like glare at the station sergeant. ‘“Manic Depression”, actually but a bit too wild for old men like you.’
Albert chuckled, and stuck his head back in the newspaper. ‘One day you’ll be old, too ... and probably deaf as well.’
Paul didn’t rise to the bait. He didn’t hang around; straight back home for a chicken korma, a hot shower, and change of gear. Into the gear that Jackie liked; gear that had her sensuous body rubbing up against him; her nimble fingers unbuckling his studded belt.
He heard the front door open and close. His mother called up the stairs.
‘Paul? You in?’
He wrapped a towel around his erection, and moved to the stairwell.
‘I’m getting ready to go out.’
‘Have you had anything to eat?’
He sighed. Same ritual. ‘I grabbed a microwave meal.’
The silence was enough to tell him his mother didn’t approve. A copper needed to keep his strength up. Proper meals, not third-world rations, as she liked to call his takeaways.
He padded back into his bedroom. One day he’d get his own apartment. Just like Jackie.
Jackie glanced up at the wall clock in the incident room. Ten minutes past six. Way past the end of her shift. Already she’d clocked up four hours overtime. They’d be bitching about that soon.
The Candice murder had sounded the death knell on the honey trap even though Gilbert had spotted Councillor Winterbotham hanging around Serena. DCI Angers hadn’t been totally dismissive, but told her that he would deal with it with his more softly-softly approach.
All available officers were up to their elbows in paperwork. It was as if Candice never existed. Despite regional media coverage, no one had contacted the police to report her missing.
Which led Jackie to the assumption that whoever lived with her, if anyone did live with her, was on the wrong side of the law, or a spaced-out drug addict - or both.
Unless someone recognized the touched-up photo or had a change of heart, tracing her address was not going to be straightforward. Jackie yawned and brushed a heavy hand across her bleary eyes, it was time to call it a day.
She started to tidy up her desk. Put her paperwork neatly into a folder. She checked that none of the black things had accompanied her from Gilbert’s interview room.
Then checked again.
The station sergeant had not been best pleased. Albert had pointed the bug spray in the direction of Gilbert’s cell. “Filthy bugger. If I had my way, I’d exterminate him,” he had said.
‘Ah, there you are Jackie.’
DCI Angers was standing behind her, with a piece of paper in his hand.
‘Just packing up’, she said, on the off-chance that he might take pity. ‘I’m exhausted.’
‘What you need is some fresh air to waken you up.’ He held out the paper. ‘Here’s a list of residential addresses in the town. Not Harmony Estate; you can do those tomorrow. Take one of the patrol plods with you, and go and knock on these doors. See if anyone knows Candice.’
‘Guv, I don’t think…’ she stopped, when a big purple vein on Anger’s neck started to throb. ‘…I’m needed here.’ She took the paper. ‘Good idea, guv.’
Asshole. What was the name of the band? “Manic Depression.” That’s how she felt.
By the time Jackie had endured an evening of polite abuse and suspicion, she was knackered. She knew just how Jehovah witnesses must feel – except they would be used to it.
And DC James would have to wait.