He and Mifty were sitting in the Albion both recovering from Hillock’s rant. The raid on Pimlico House had been a total cock-up; a waste of valuable police time and resources. As a punishment – it seemed like that – Hillock made them interview the eight women, the two men they caught with their pants down, and the studio tenant who - it was established later - was a reputable supply teacher.
Mifty sipped his orange juice. ‘It wouldn’t happen in Karachi.’
‘What, a brothel?’
‘No, a police raid.’
‘Paul, you are so green. Sometimes I wonder...’ Mifty pointed at the wall clock. ‘Time’s marching on.’
‘You mean the cops are corrupt ... or they don’t care?’
‘Neither. Dance clubs ... and that’s a cover name for a few ... are licensed.’ Mifty stood up. ‘Last round.’
Paul didn’t press the point. ‘I’ll have a whisky chaser with my pint.’
Mifty was willing to expand on the raid when he returned with the drinks. ‘The girls we interviewed. None of them appealed to me.’
Paul gave him a stare. ‘You’re not suggesting...?’
Mifty shook his head. ‘Dancers should be beautiful women ... elegant dresses ... and alluring.’
Mifty grinned through stained teeth. ‘Western music, girls in bikinis. It’s how I deal with the cultural difference.’
Paul sat back. He hadn’t thought of it like that. To Mifty, a brothel in Bridleton must seem like alien territory. Something was nagging at the back of his mind. A fleeting glimpse – but it vanished...
The conversation ground to a halt. Mifty was itching to leave the Albion - den of iniquity, he called it – and an early night appealed.
Breakfast with mother and Daisy had its moments. Daisy became an enthusiastic cheer-leader whilst his mother pulled his life apart, mostly about his on-off relationship with Jackie. Then when she had exhausted that subject, it was his dreadful eating habits, which she blamed on Jackie, then it was his dress sense that she blamed on Jackie...
He stopped munching his wholemeal toast with peanut butter spread. The nagging thought had returned, but it slid away again. He topped up his coffee mug with cream and two spoonfuls of sugar, picked it up, said his farewells, and left the disapproving looks behind.
Upstairs he put on his headphones and relaxed to Iron Maiden while he thought through his next assignment. Hillock hadn’t been too enthusiastic, but conceded it was worth pursuing the tenancy history of the basement studio. If Boyson had lived there, there could be a forwarding address. The schoolteacher, a Mr. Morris, had rented from the Halifax – there hadn’t been any outstanding bills or correspondence since he took over the tenancy.
The mid-morning visit to Sam’s place drew a blank. The Trannie didn’t recognise the picture. Just repeated word for word what she had said before. ‘It was a dark and stormy night...’
The visit to the Halifax also drew a blank. It was as if Boyson had vanished overnight - or it was all very carefully planned. What did Boyson really look like? The nagging thought came back. What had Ray said? Dressed well. What had Mifty said? Eloquent dresses. Dress sense, his mother had said. The thought crystallised; how had he overlooked the obvious? The lead to Boyson was still hanging by a thread.