TWO SIMON GRANT MYSTERIES
HIDING THE ELEPHANT – Chapter 32
Tully waved his hand. Not defensively. Decisively. ‘That wasn’t because of me. That was Ti…’ Grant waited for him to spell out Tibb’s name, but the sergeant stopped himself. ‘Not the point.’ He walked around his desk, pulled the chair out and lowered himself into it with a grunt holding onto both armrests with his hands. ‘You scare me, Sir. I don’t understand you. I don’t understand how you think. I know, I know…’ he waved his hand again, preventing an interruption that wasn’t forthcoming, ‘you’ve run your drugbusting operations from the front. You’ve always been the first on the line and if there’s been a bullet fired in earnest rather than panic, you’d have been the one to get it. But, let me tell you this…’ and Tully pointed his finger towards Grant’s forehead, ‘each and every boy and girl that run behind you was scared to death. Because they never knew what you were going to do next. Sir.’
‘C’mon, Sarge, this isn’t fair. No one’s ever been even injured in any of Inspector Grant’s operations. Tibb had scores of people injured in his.’ And yet, Grant knew that deep down Debbie agreed with the sergeant.
‘They knew what hit them,’ said the Sergeant simply.
The logic of that absurdity was as clear to Grant as it was to Tully. Tibb played by the rules. He made contracts with his teams. Tibb drew maps with little circles on them that represented the officers – a place for everyone and everyone in their place. And Tibb the lad, Tibb the team player, Tibb the friend and protector, gave them positions of Centre Half, two of those if the team was big enough, and both Left and Right Back if at all possible, then Right and Centre and Left Midfield. When the operation was big enough and the backup team was two vans, all the midfielders had their shadows and all the front liners had their understudies, with himself, Tibb the Invincible, always the Centre Forward, the Captain, Debs for preference his Right Wing and someone new, fresh and impressionable, someone whose loyalty needed the golden seal of love and care on the Left Wing. And so they flew, and everyone knew where they fitted and where the score was coming from. When it didn’t work out, not often but it happened, it was because the other side did something unpredictable, unpredictably underhanded and there was nothing anyone could have done about that.
‘Is that it?’ Now that it was said it wasn’t so bad. Actually, it wasn’t bad at all. It made sense.
‘You either want to be a hero or else you’ve got a death wish. Look at you now. You don’t think we’d understand. You don’t think we need to understand. You watch and listen, you say well done, you send us in one direction then another, you nod and you smile, but you say nothing. Wasn’t it time you told us which way the trail leads? What you’re up to?’ Tully asked.
He actually wanted to know.
This was great. A joy. This was the prize jewel mounted in twenty four carat gold. That was when they were going to fall around each other necks, shake each other’s shoulders and become brothers forever.
‘Tully, my friend, I’ll tell you precisely what I’m up to. I’ll tell you everything I know. Of course I’ll tell you what I know.’ Grant was up on his feet, expansive, ebullient, unrestrained. Sharing. ‘What I know… you ready for it … what I know, my dear friend, is zilch.’
LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS – Chapter 32
Christine Lamont was one of those women who are usually described as looking very well for their age. Grant was guessing it to be over fifty, more by the measured slowness her movements and certain amount of weariness in her eyes than by the state of her skin or muscle tone. Both looked very good for any age.
She folded her plump hands prettily on top of her crossed knees. ‘I don’t know where to start. I didn’t really know Lucille all that well, even though we shared a bed at one time. In fact, bed-share people often don’t even get to meet each other.’
‘Sounds like marriage to me,’ said Tully and everybody except Debbie smiled.
‘That’s how we started. I’ve been working in nightclubs for years, as a cloakroom attendant and a backing dancer and singer. I usually start at about ten or eleven and the bar never closes before four in the morning, then you’ve got clearing up to do and whathaveyou…’ she moved her fingers a little to describe the wide range of whathaveyous in a night club. ‘It’s a three bedroom flat. One of the girls had a sugar daddy so she was all right for rent and that, but the other one got herself a bed-share person, a nice young gay boy, ever so tidy and no bother at all. I was hoping he’d have a friend to share my rent, but he brought Lucille instead. It was working out very well. I’d get home at about six and by the time I had my bath and rinsed out my smalls, Lucille would be up to go for her auditions or photo shoots and whathaveyou. On rare mornings when she had a lay-in I’d crash out on the settee in the living room.’ Ms Lamont rinsed her throat with a copious amount of gin and tonic. She’d refused ice on account that she was singing that night and didn’t dare risk it.
‘But, after a few months the girl with the sugar daddy moved somewhere grander, and both Lucille and I were doing a bit better by the way of pay by that time, so she moved into the vacant room.’ Christine Lamont stopped and stared at her hands for a moment, as if unsure how to proceed. ‘Lucille was an ambitious girl. She was taking any job going, and I mean any.’ She looked Grant straight in the eye.
‘Are we talking prostitution here?’ he asked bluntly.
Ms Lamont shook her head quickly. ‘No, I don’t’ think so. Actually, I’m pretty sure of it. But, she was doing a lot of glamour, all the way to altogether if need be.’
‘If you mean porno films and explicit sex, Inspector, I wouldn’t know. She never admitted to that. But, as Debbie will tell you, her portfolio is mostly nudity or as good as.’
‘I’ve brought the pics with me,’ said Debbie. It was a wonder she spoke at all. She looked as if she was on another planet.
‘Most of it was for the Internet. She’s all over the place there. Then there are the picture postcards. Even we, the club where I work, sell packs of six and we’re at the pretty tame end of that market.’ Ms. Lamont smoothed her skirt over her knees with a movement that looked strangely Victorian.
Great. Just great. Grant reached for his drink, added a few more ice cubes to the glass and found no solace in the sharp, cold liquid as it slid down his throat. The dead woman could have collected any number of stalkers from just about anywhere and by some stroke of bad luck it all came to a head on his territory. Mr. R. G. Soames. A subscriber to highly specialised Internet services? Grant had always had an aversion to that intangible, invisible, uncontrollable quagmire of human interchange. Never mind all the praises that young Matthew, Debs and Singh had been lavishing on it. The world without frontiers. Quite so. If it had landed on his doorstep he was not amused.
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