No, but it'll do for tonight.
Would you like to see an ID? I have several.
Come in. Talking like that, you
must be who we were told to expect.
I was announced?
Yes, it's not often that someone
of my rank investigating a domestic gets a phone call from so senior an
This is a
Yes, a violent one. The place
looked like a bomb had gone off.
Was that an attempt at
Doesn't matter. Did he do
Overwhelming but circumstantial
evidence. I can't go to court with it. We need him to drop himself in it. Lift
Lift. You said it was a domestic.
Was the victim his wife? Is this photo her?
Let's see. Yes, that's her, about
ten years ago I'd say. Press the button for the lower
It was taken just before they went
underground. Take me through tonight. Just the basics, no
I don't do stitch-ups. We got a
call from him at nine. He said he'd got back from the pub and
found his wife dead. Patrol car confirmed the death cause unclear, not a
mark on her. There were signs of a break-in but it was cosmetic. He was all
wrong as well. I've seen plenty of bereaved husbands, he doesn't
Any injuries on
A whack to the head. Bruising up
I'm not surprised. She was a
player back in the day. Tongue like a lash as well. What did he say about the
They argued, she hit him, he went
down the pub and came back to find her dead.
Said much else?
Nothing and I mean nothing.
Hold on, I've got to remember the punch-code for this door, it changed
yesterday. There we are...and there he is. The window's a one-way mirror, he
can't see us. He's sat there staring at the ceiling, saying nothing since we
brought him in. We ran a record check on him and five minutes later I got the
call from on-high. That's all.
And that's all you'll get. Our
friend there is boiled hard in wickedness. You could take a screwdriver to his
kneecaps and he wouldn't tell you the time of day if he didn't want to. We
caught him in the act once thought we might turn him. Nothing doing. The
lads had a wee chat with him in the field before they brought him onto the
paperwork. They'd have had more luck roughing up one of those statues from
Easter Island. He kept quiet, went down, escaped from The Maze and got amnesty
during the peace negotiations. We had to create a new identity for him and his
wife. Gosh, we were happy having to do that. A lot of people would like to see
him serve time.
He's resistant to
This isn't interrogation, it's
chatting. All it's missing are cucumber sandwiches and a vicar. I've got a man
coming one of ours. Five minutes with him and even this hard-case will
Listen, I know you've got friends
in high places but I'm responsible for this joker. I can't have anyone using
rubber hoses and cattle-prods. This is a criminal investigation and if there's
anything not by the book my book counsel for the defence will
have him as free as farting in the time it takes to say 'case
Don't worry. I told you, the rough
stuff doesn't work with this one. My man will break his silence and, once he's
talking, he'll hang himself with his own tongue. Wait, I should take this...
Yes. That's right. Come in the front. I'll have someone waiting for you... That
was my people. Two of them will be here in four minutes. Bring them straight
through. I don't want them talking to desk sergeants or signing visitors' books
I'll do it myself. Wait here and
enjoy the show. You never know, he might move in a minute.
Did he move?
Not in all the time you were gone.
Your people tried hard but they're playing the wrong game. Now my man's sitting
across the table, things will change.
What? The skinny one sitting
down's the inquisitor? I thought he was a clerk.
Oh no, the man with the muscles is
his bodyguard. The skinny one is a valuable security asset. He gets better
protection than cabinet ministers the Lib Dems anyway.
The skinny man sits. His tie is tight
but awry. His collar is threadbare and he missed shaving part of his Adam's
Apple. His cough is dry, irritating, contagious. He takes out a pen and
unscrews the cap with a grating squeak. The nib scratches across the paper like
bitten nails on a blackboard. His voice is arid as a mummy's whisper. He utters
single words and stares at the subject across the table. Sometimes he sees some
tiny reaction and the nib scratches a line of thin spider-crawl. The subject's
eyes move. The words continue and the scratching increases. The coughs are
mixed with irritating sniffs. Soon the subject is clearing his throat and
wiping his nose. The voice drones on. The words keep coming. Coughs.
Nib-scratches. Sniffs. The thin, cracked, wheezing voice.
It bursts in an instant. The subject is
up and across the table, hands stretched to grab the flaccid, stubble-flecked
throat, to squeeze and squeeze until the coughing and the sniffing stop, the
nib can scratch no more. Halfway, he meets the bodyguard coming the other way
and flies backwards. The two uniforms drop on him and cuff him while he screams
that he'll do murder...again.
I told you. The most irritating
man you'll meet. He could crack the Sphinx.