‘I’m going for a walk. It’s fucking freezing out here.’
The tenured voice of DI Hemming replied. ‘Okay, but act as if you’re available, not going someplace.’
It was all right for him, sitting in the mini-van at the back of the car park with the heater blaring. She peered between the cold stone pillars of the building, silhouetted against the murky evening gloom. Not much about: a few late workers and an occasional drifting car. Bridleton wasn’t exactly humming with energy for a thriving market town.
A town with a vice habit.
She heard the footsteps behind her. Coming closer. She turned. The short fat man in an oversized overcoat, carrying a briefcase, was breathing heavily. He wiped a gloved hand across his forehead, as he gazed at her cleavage. He pulled out some bank notes from his pocket, and indicated with a leer.
Jackie knew what to do. Get it on tape. She smiled sweetly. ‘Depends what you want.’
‘This.’ He opened his overcoat.
For a short fat man, it was out of proportion. And it was on full alert.
Jackie probed. She cupped her cleavage to make it obvious. ‘Fifty quid for full-on. How do you like it?’
He grabbed her arm. ‘My Merc’s in the car-park.’
She let herself be escorted to the black three-litre E-series with the darkened windows. He opened the rear door, as he fondled her ass.
That’s when she arrested him.
‘Councillor Dixon Winterbotham will be making a formal complaint,’ DI Hemming said at the end of the long interview back at the nick. He had found Jackie waiting and nursing a cup of coffee in the empty canteen. It was close on ten o’clock that night. He pulled up a chair and sat down. ‘Said he was doing a public duty in taking prostitutes off the streets.’
‘That’s bullshit, guv.’ Jackie felt her temperature zoom into the stratosphere. ‘Dirty bastard flashed at me.’
‘Not according to him.’ DI Hemming sighed. ‘He said you exposed your breasts, and demanded fifty quid for full-on sex.’
Jackie felt her hands shaking. ‘Lying toe-rag. What about the Merc part?’
‘He said you fondled his ass as he was loading his briefcase into the back. Said you started to get aggressive, that’s why he tried to cool down the situation.’
‘Shit. The man’s a pervert.’
‘And he’s got influence: a society wife, who is a cousin of the Chief Constable, and two kids at Oxford. One of whom is a rowing Blue. Dixon Winterbotham is untouchable, for the likes of us.’
‘Guv, you got it on tape.’
‘Not admissible. No corroboration. Anyway, it’s all innuendo.’
Jackie sniffed. ‘So that’s it then. I get suspended, and we just let Dixon Winter-bollocks roam the streets.’
DI Hemming smiled. ‘Not quite. I explained the situation. We apologise for the wrongful arrest, and bury the paperwork. In return, I made it quite clear that he needs to clean up his act, and support our work.’
Jackie was surprised. ‘You said he was going to make a formal complaint.’
DI Hemming laughed. ‘Dixon never misses an opportunity to promote himself. He’s going to complain to the local media that we should be putting more officers on the street to crack down on prostitutes, and clear up Bridleton. Your name was mentioned as single-handedly fighting the crusade. Play your cards right, you could be getting a commendation.’
Jackie choked. ‘Son of a bitch.’
DI Hemming put a consoling arm around her shoulder. ‘It’s a trade-off. The Chief Constable will react. We get a bigger budget and more resources on the streets. That’s what you want, right?’
‘And I suppose DCI Angers takes all the credit for his master-plan.’
‘That’s the privilege of rank. Now get your pretty playboy ass off to bed for the night. Tomorrow we’ve got a crime-wave to stop.’
Jackie groaned. More nights on the tiles.