And there was the virulent strain of AIDS hanging over her like the sword of Damocles; would the recent outbreak turn into plague proportions? If it did, what could she do about it? She felt helpless; couldn’t picture the tragedy, couldn’t grasp the consequences.
Be strong, girl. Focus.
Hillock was acting all arsed; wanted to charge Father McKinley for probably assisted suicide; euthanasia, in the name of Jesus. They were sat in his office. He was clutching at straws again.
She tried to reason. ‘God damn it, he’s a priest. Priests don’t go around killing people.’
Hillock pointed a finger. ‘That’s where you’re wrong. What about Father Schmidt?’
He shook his head. ‘True crime, DS Steel. True crime ... not some fictional drama you see on TV.’
She wondered if he was losing it. She nodded, to keep the peace.
He continued his tirade. ‘So chase up the Ice Queen. Tell her I want a DNA result today.’
Jackie knew that was impossible; he also knew. The earliest would be forty-eight hours away. He was just bullying her; using any excuse to rattle her; make her react angrily; make her job untenable.
Not today. She smiled sweetly. ‘Is that all, sir?’
He glowered, didn’t reply; turned back to his computer and started to type.
She returned to the MIR and wrote up a brief report, then filled out a yellow sticky, with the name of Father Schmidt on it, and gave it to Reilly; told him to investigate.
With Hillock off her back she could focus on her main priority. She now had the full name, and the hunt for Daniel Boyson commenced with renewed vigour. Her checks drew a blank. She frowned; wondered why. Was his conviction that long ago – before they started to keep records of sex offenders?
It would have to be Leyhill. Surely an open prison, as lax as they were reported to be, kept archive records? Boyson’s personal details: photo, name of probation officer, maybe a forwarding address. She found their number and phoned; made an appointment, stressing the urgency and left them in no doubt it was a murder enquiry. Providing she kept to visiting times, it was no problem for them.
Bloody red tape.
Front desk, minus Albert who was on an early afternoon tea-break, allocated a pool car. Different one; the Astra had seen better days but at least the heater worked. Although it was a long time ago she remembered the route; M5 exit at junction 14, turning towards Wotton-under-Edge, right turn, and follow the signpost to Leyhill. Hoped she wouldn’t need to detain any dim wits’ absconding: “likely lads” having a crack at hitch-hiking their way to freedom.
…except it was road works on the motorway – and a minor traffic accident - that held her up. Not that she could actually see any workmen, or traffic police. Only the forlorn faces of the stranded who were huddled together on the snow-covered embankment above the hard shoulder. She even had time to shout commiserations to them; said she’d chase up the police, confirmed they’d be with them soon. Grateful looks all round. The backlog of stationary, then slow-moving traffic took its toll on the heater; it packed up. She cursed all the way to exit 14.
An ice-block named Jackie attempted to sign-in at the gatehouse, over half an hour late. She stamped her feet, blew into her hands, and became increasingly irritable when the bureaucratic prison officer told her she’d missed her appointment. Her warrant card was handed back. Sorry, ma’am, but official visiting had finished; even if it was police business. Now our officers were busy re-housing prisoners. Each time she persisted it was the same.
Sorry - finished.
Sorry - ended.
Sorry - over.
The dismissive words, ‘what part of “finished” didn’t she understand? And come back another day when the re-housing was completed,’ weren’t well received.
She vented a string of swear words that released her frustration. ‘It’s harder to get in than get out. Lifers can just walk out past your friggin’ pill-box’.
She was given a blank stare.
She tried to be more diplomatic. ‘Look…I haven’t got time to fart about with HM Prison red-tape. Patch me through to the governor.’
He spoke. ‘I can’t.’
She closed her eyes. The axe cleaved off his head; left a bloody stump, with a surprised look on his face, rolling around on the floor.
‘Why not? Is he handing out teddy-bears?’
The head replied. ‘Governor Marsh is on leave.’
‘What about his deputy?’
He looked at his watch. ‘Sorry, she’s supervising the re-housing right now.’
‘Assistant governor ...?’
He shook his head. ‘Don’t have one.’
Jackie stamped on the head; ground its nose into the snow. ‘It’s your lucky day. I’ll settle for any human higher up the evolution scale than you ... so fucking well get on your phone before I really lose it ...’
His hand pressed an alarm button, and then his dying words.
‘Ma’am ... I’m reporting you for abusive behaviour unbecoming for a serving police officer ...’