Marty sat in a booth in the Lord John downing whisky chasers. He kept a low profile, well out of the way of the local pond-life; even so, it was unlikely he’d run across any one he knew.
Why hadn’t he raised the alarm on the night Candice died? Because he had snorted a class A drug up his snout, that’s why.
He felt responsible for her murder, and hadn’t raised a finger to help her.
God, she must have suffered.
Now it was a cover-up. And he had an inkling that Jackie suspected that he was hiding something. She was a smart woman; intuitive. He shouldn’t have tried it on with her.
He downed his chaser, and ordered another from a passing bartender who was collecting empties. Really, it had all started to go downhill when he took up with Serena Naringa, and she was dead also.
In his job it was a thin line, and he had crossed over it more than once; it was becoming an addiction. Serena, Candice, a couple of Romanian teenagers at the Cloud Nine massage parlour - plus a cocaine habit.
What next? Good question.
First a HIV test. Although he had used condoms, this outbreak was worrying. It would have to be confidential - the Clinic Expressway in Bristol would do. Ironically, it was only a few doors down from the Cloud Nine massage parlour – he had thought it a great joke at the time.
Now he didn’t.
The following morning, Marty nursed a mega-hangover that kept him in his office. Countless millions of brain cells had been wiped-out overnight. Getting caught for driving under the influence would only add to his woes.
The incident room was empty; all available officers were knocking on doors, following up leads, and generally getting pissed-off in the rain - or so Albert informed him at the mid-morning tea-break in the canteen.
Albert pushed his copy of the Sun newspaper to one side. ‘My lads picked the short straw. Harmony estate. Where the sun never shines.’
Marty dipped a chocolate digestive into his black coffee and nodded. ‘No luck, then?’
Albert snorted. ‘What do you think? The toe-rags scarper as soon as they even smell a copper nosing around.’
Marty sucked on his biscuit. ‘Place should have been torn down ages ago. Even the rats wear overalls.’
Albert sniggered. An old joke, but so appropriate. ‘That’s city planners for you.’
Marty wasn’t about to get drawn in to Albert’s favourite topic. ‘Seen Jackie about?’
Albert shook his head. ‘She went out first thing with my lads. Said Orson was an asshole.’
‘Well not exactly those words ... for once, she was more diplomatic ... but I got the meaning all right.’
Marty made a point of lifting up his arm and reading his watch. He stood up, coffee mug in hand. ‘I’ve got things to do.’
‘Haven’t we all?’ said Albert, as he popped another biscuit in his mouth.
That was why Albert called him to the front desk. ‘Lady wants to see an Inspector. Says a man attacked her and her daughter ... needs protection.’
‘Well, can’t you deal with it?’
‘No. I’m looking after the front desk.’
‘What about DCI Angers? More his style.’
Albert coughed. ‘He’s at the medical clinic visiting his kid sister.’
Marty sighed, and flung the vice report to one side. Albert was probably doing the crossword puzzle, more like. ‘Escort her to the large interview room. I’ll be along in a mo.’
Ten minutes later, he picked up his notebook and ambled down the corridor to the interview room. The door was open. A large black woman, with her back turned to him was looking out of the barred window. A small child dressed in a pink woollen jump-suit was asleep in a pushchair. An umbrella was dripping into the waste basket.
He closed the door behind him. ‘Good morning, ma’am. I’m Detective Inspector Hemming.’
Marty stared. Her face was swollen, bruised and battered with sticking plasters across her nose and chin. ‘What happened to you?’
‘I got hurt.’
Marty ushered her into a chair by the table and sat down opposite. He opened his notebook. ‘First things first. ‘What’s your name and address?’
She found it difficult to speak. Her mouth opened. Some front teeth were missing. He could smell disinfectant. ‘Georgina Okoro, 17 Railway Road.’
‘Okay Georgina, take it slow. Tell me from the beginning.’
She started to shake. ‘He hurt me, and then my baby.’
Marty waited for her to recover. Poured her a glass of water; watched her take a sip.
‘Who hurt you?’
Marty recoiled. Couldn’t believe he’d heard right. ‘Who did you say?’
Fuck. Candice’s killer? Now what?
‘Who is he? Your partner?’
She shook her head from side to side and spat out the words. ‘Mister Inspector. He ain’t no man of mine.’
He pointed to her daughter. ‘And what about her?’
Georgina started to sob. Her body shook. She rocked back and forth. ‘He raped her.’
Marty’s stomach heaved. If this was true, Danny Boy was a monster: a violent sexual predator. ‘When did this attack take place?’
‘Two days ago. I was scared to go out.’
Two days after Candice’s murder. God help us.
‘Why didn’t you call 999?’
She shrugged. ‘You know how it is…’
Yes he knew. A visit from the police gets noticed by neighbours; then their kids start breaking windows, and then dog crap or worse gets pushed through letter-boxes. Message clear, no cops round here.
He sighed. ‘So what did you do?’
‘I tried to scrub his smell off me and Jasmine.’
Marty swore to himself. Bang goes the forensic evidence, it would be all washed away.
‘Tell me the whole story.’
She did, but it took her twenty minutes of walking around the subject before she admitted her prostitution activities. By that time Marty had a mental picture of her assailant; late thirties, muscular, dark hair, possibly a self-employed printer, and sometimes a violent killer.
And better still, he knew how to handle it without implicating himself.