This Saturday was no different.
Carol had regained consciousness – great news - but she was still on life support. That meant a visit to the hospital at some point. Make absolutely sure she was on the mend – but it meant more prodding and poking by the psychotherapist. Then the court needed to be informed - and social services. If it came to it, Carol would need to be detained.
But that would have to come later. She changed into her jogging gear, filled a small back-pack and set off to Orson’s house. The fisherman was still there – he seemed to be engrossed in a newspaper, but this time there was no Tania Simpson to spoil her day.
The DCI was up and about, chomping away on a bacon-buttie when he opened the front door. He wiped the back of his hand across his mouth and licked off a splash of brown sauce. ‘Just finishing breakfast,’ he intoned, with a smile on his face. ‘You know where the bathroom is.’
When she returned to the kitchen, Orson had poured coffee. She unpacked her bag and gave him a giant chocolate bar. ‘It’s not a bribe.’
He looked pleased and started to unwrap it. ‘Mid-morning snack,’ he explained, with a guilty look. ‘Don’t want to waste away.’
Not that there was much chance of that. However, the chocolate played its part. With his mouth full, he sat quietly while she updated him on her Bristol trip, including the confrontation with The Face. Then he listened to the tape recording without interrupting. At the end, he humphed. ‘That’s it?’
Jackie nodded. ‘What do you think? Is it enough?’
He frowned, seemed to be thinking. Finally he made up his mind. ‘I ought to own up. I’ve been digging around. More than that, really, I called in a mountain of favours. It’s not good news. Word on my grapevine ... this is classified ... is that the corruption is higher-up than Hillock ... that’s if Hillock is implicated.’
It felt like a bomb had erupted in her head. ‘Are you saying...?’ He was holding up a hand.
‘However unbelievable it sounds, Hillock maybe undercover ... a plant.’
She banged the table and spilt her coffee. ‘That bastard has ruined my career.’
He eyed her. ‘Jackie ... with your track record, and exposure of Marty, he could have done it to protect you ... and Marty.’
It was all too much to take in. Too many questions. She shook her head. ‘No ... it’s not possible.’ She clutched at a straw. ‘Marty found himself in hospital.’
‘And you could have gone the same way. Why do you think The Face let you off? Because you couldn’t touch the Creek Brothers.’
The realisation sank in. She slumped in the chair; coffee, now cold – the damp patch leaving a bronze stain on the table top. ‘So I’m being hung out to dry while Hillock plays Sherlock Holmes.’
He nodded. ‘It’s one possibility.’
‘And the other possibility is that Hillock is as corrupt as the Ace of Spades.’
He nodded. ‘That also.’
‘So what are you going to do?’
‘One other thing I haven’t told you. There’s something big coming up ... a major drugs bust across the UK ... and I don’t want you to be caught up in it.’
The message was clear. DCI Orson Angers was going to sit tight and watch it all play out. She put all her belongings back into her bag and stood up. ‘I just hope you can live with yourself.’
It was a cruel barb, and Orson was visibly affected. His voice followed her out into the hallway. ‘Jackie...if there was any other way...’
She slammed the door behind her.
There’s always a way.