‘Take a look at this,’ he said. ‘Candice’s number was registered; it matches the addict’s flat address, and she made two calls. Guess to who?’
Jackie stared at him. ‘I don’t need to guess; it’s Marty, right?’
He nodded. ‘Now what?’
‘Now you go to the hospital, see if Charlie’s kicked the bucket and, if not, bag up the cellphone and bring it back.’
He hesitated. ‘Don’t you want to know about the other numbers?’
Jackie sat back, and folded her arms. ‘Go on then, surprise me.’
‘Well I called all of them. Candice’s number, first. From the transcript records, she’s made no recent calls and her number’s unobtainable.’
‘Why doesn’t that surprise me? She was lying face down in a pile of dog shit on the common, with her head caved in. The odds on her ever making another call are zero ... unless it’s her ghost calling from beyond the grave.’
Paul grimaced; he seemed to looking for inspiration amongst the other numbers. He brightened up, and pointed to one. ‘This one thought I was Charlie. He offered me a cut-price deal on smack. I said I’d call him back.’
Jackie unfolded her arms. ‘That’s more interesting. I fancy a snort at our Christmas knees-up at the Nelson. Make sure you follow that one up.’
He pulled a face. ‘Are you serious?’
She laughed. ‘Paul, you’re so naive. That’s our reward for busting the scumbag.’
He appeared shocked. ‘You are serious?’
So easy to wind him up. She sighed. ‘Just leave the papers, I’ll sort it out.’
With Paul gone, she reviewed the transcript and carefully wrote up a report, attaching the documentation as an appendix. Now she faced a dilemma; if she confronted Marty he would wipe off any call history from his Pocketphone, that’s if he hadn’t already. And what would she achieve? Nothing.
No, she would talk to Angers when Paul got back with the phone.
But he didn’t.
He called her from the hospital. ‘Charlie died an hour ago.’
Jackie felt a touch of remorse for her earlier behaviour. What a waste of a human life. ‘I’m sorry to hear that.’
He coughed. ‘I sorted through his personal effects. No cellphone.’
Jackie swore. ‘Have you talked to the plod?’
‘More bad news. Allegedly, Tony was having a tea-break when it happened. When he returned, another patient was in the bed. They dumped Charlie’s belongings in a couple of carrier bags and left it on Tony’s chair.’
‘What do you want me to do?’
Jackie could think of a few; none of them pleasant. ‘You know the procedure. Look in the locker, maybe it dropped on the floor, or one of the nurses has got it. If it doesn’t surface you’ll have to report a stolen phone, for what good it’s going to do.’
‘Is Tony still there?’
‘Yes, but Albert wants him back, PDQ.’
‘I’ll deal with Albert. You sit down with Tony and get him to write a report. I want the full history explained in detail ... and it had better be good.’
‘What about Charlie’s stuff?’
For God’s sake Paul. I’m not your mother.
‘That’s a job for Tony when he’s finished. I want every morsel bagged and labelled, and then sent to the evidence room.’
Jackie cut the call. She needed to have a serious 1-1 with him. His moral high-ground, his lack of initiative, his kow-towing to her – and his bloody mother; interfering old bat.
Paul blamed himself. Why couldn’t he think straight when he talked to Jackie? He became tongue-tied and nervous – he really would have to pull himself together or she would ditch him completely. Even though he could sense a mutual attraction, she would lose patience with his adolescent behaviour.
Grow up, he told himself.
He took out his frustration on Tony. Gave him the third degree about leaving the building to get some fresh air, without notifying the doctor where he was going; and left him in no doubt that it could be a disciplinary.
Paul was surprised. He had expected Tony to wriggle and act up, but the rebuke was accepted in a mature manner, which was more than could be said for him.
It was a salutary lesson – one that he would adopt in future.