I do waffle but I, apart from losing everything, went a bit apeshit afterwards; the disks; going; the maps of the world I created and my train of thought all went – I did not take it easily.
From a fantasy about a Chinese Mandarin, I ended up writing a Dwarf version of Star Wars.
Scrivener is good at making you think even when I haven’t the faintest idea of what I’m doing.
I’ve copied over two hundred pages I’d written and now I rework from the beginning: thinking the plots out instead of a pantser who thinks it will be alright on the night.
I managed to get the snapshots back of the entire land and that is over a hundred with no relationship between them, I don’t have the entire land as a map anymore and whilst I could keep 8 databases in my head for a living I don’t believe Author’s proclamations of keeping entire worlds in their heads unless they are small worlds.
Short Street under Pratchett varies between the longest street and the shortest street and back again – a reason he invented the History Monks since he had no idea of whether the books would really sell when he was writing what eventually became a series and not a hobby in his garden.
I’m trying to avoid other Writer’s space and fantasy ideas but people these days expect fantasy and battles … I prefer a good plot.
I can accept that in the UK with the Tories in power that fiction should rule.
Anyway, the double-glazing guys have finally gone and we’re still clearing up but life is quieter and today was a coat for my wife and some smellies.
Chapter I – Bookends
Sometimes Parky and Bishop sat on a bench watching their wounds leak – there wasn’t much else to do.
The grass stretched away from them for some twelve feet before it dipped down the hill – a bit like their careers – into an even bigger hole at the bottom.
Like mindless bookends – brown and recently dusted by their owners – they sat there. Once again, they were both ‛personae non gratae’. Buried under the rose as deeply as possible by MI5 and Politicians – mind you – the rest of the world didn’t seem too bothered either.
They looked, and felt far older than they truly were – it wasn’t difficult – but it was making them think for once.
The not-so friendly CIA fire on the last operation had perforated them at both ends and looking at each other from the ends of the bench – they weren’t raising their backsides for target practice again, despite liking US hobbies.
Some feet apart they wandered in their thoughts and dreams – more often at these times – it highlighted a complete lack of trust between them. They looked at each other and said nothing as they often did. They’d been together too long to need to – they hadn’t betrayed each other or anyone else really. Well no more than they usually did – past operations didn’t really count. Neither of them had been honest but ‛God-dammit’ they were in the Security Service not the Girl Guides, and they didn’t trust each other anyway.
Dirty Dirstly stitched them up – kippered them. Stuffed if they did, and smoked if they didn’t – there was something to sort out there too and not just the fishy smell of Dirstly’s socks.
They had undertaken some unofficial work … so what; killed a few terrorists and gangsters … who cared; defied direct orders from the Prime Minister … what the hell was wrong with that? Even his own Ministers didn’t give a shit what he thought … he spent most of his time chasing woman, anyway – probably the wrong ploy in this day and age – men would have been fine but he had obviously deviated and gone for women, so the ‛Print Inches’ cried foul – he wanted women. The PM browned people all the time and he didn’t get shot up the arse for it; just someone’s head licking up his backside to kick-start him in the morning.
It was a case of seeing everything and understanding nothing but that was Security and they were now personally paying for many things they should have seen coming and didn’t – including bullets – maybe it was time to tend the roses and manure the Security Service wanted them buried under. The bullets had been finally removed leaving both of them a bit leaky but their main thirst was for the spirits they weren’t allowed drink as they sat there sniffing the bottle of brandy left for them, like a pair of old drunks. Jerome smuggled it in to them – hidden underneath the bench – he knew they couldn’t drink it and often joined them and drank it to show he could and they couldn’t. Finally Bishop looked up at Parky as if reading his mind – not an easy task as Parky never trusted his own mind – Parky was often said, ‛to be in several minds at once’; none of which agreed with themselves.
“The charges against Boy are a joke, Parky. Dirty Dirstly set the girls up for that kidnap. When they were kidnapped and raped, he blamed us for causing it. He was the guy who told us we mustn’t do anything knowing that was a death warrant for Hazil and your girl—”
“—We had to get them fre—”
“Hazil forced them to accuse us of being a lynch-mob – Thomas told her – to cause trouble. We killed the three guys who raped them. We saved their lives. Who knows how much Thomas was involved with Jonathan Owl raping his own daughter and granddaughters … it makes no sense, Parky … even by Dirty Dirstly’s mentality. We saved three people yet we get this shit.”
“The problem, Bishop,” and Parky look questioningly at Bishop, “are the charges on us and Boy?”
“What were the final charges, Parky?”
“There still hasn’t been a court hearing or charges, nor have they enforced the International Arrest Warrants. They haven’t returned Boy to the French for trial, either. The possible charges are: Operating as a Mercenary in France; Murder; Conspiracy to Murder; Breach of the Official Secrets Act, and Conspiracy to Kidnap … a nice little French ménage.
“And probably illegally brewing a cup of tea in Paris. Parky, you’re as bad a Dirstly … we all did all of that, Boy didn’t do half …? It was us not him. We played the games and you didn’t give a shit about anyone … Gris, didn’t even appear on your horizon. You were hammering the Boy so he didn’t look after her. You screwed up Boy and Gris because she was your little baby and you couldn’t bear to lose her.”
“So! Boy … stupid Boy … went back to the UK before the dust had cleared. He got what he deserved. I told him to divorce Gris. He ignored me. He is now in jug, and we’re sat on a bench bleeding like stuck pigs while he is probably squealing like one. Tell me whose wrong, Bishop – I don’t feel wrong – I don’t feel wrong at all.”
“About the only good thing that came out of this was Val sleeping with Sir Jacob Christie and his PA but a friendly Judge will chuck that out for a start. Still Christie is wrecked and his PA’s boyfriend isn’t too happy with him sleeping with a woman but that’s the Civil Service for you. Christie’s wife is finishing off the job, now, so Christie won’t have anything once she’s finished, and the PA is legging it with his trousers up.”
“Then why do you think are they still holding Boy, if they aren’t going to act on the charges?”
“You’re the Counsel, Parky. What is your very legal-illegal opinion?”
“They want to see what the fall-out with the CIA is, I think … yes … that sounds like it. Jerome did his best. Boy keeps rushing back to England like the bloody fool he is and once there ends up in jail. At least this time, he isn’t being tortured.”
“No, Parky … he isn’t being tortured: unless you count Gris trying to take his house; divorcing him; Hazil, Helen and Joana trying to get their hands on his money, and bankrupt him; being stuffed in Jail without a ‛get-out free card’ plus being left in solitary confinement for the last six months.”
“They have nothing on us, Bishop, but we can hardly call the CIA guys in as witnesses – especially when it was a British Security operation set-up by Dirty Dirstly – we’re piled under the brown stuff whether we go back or not. I just wonder how Neville Jones recovered from his betrayal by Jonathan Owl, with Antona Turner throwing him out as well. He’s had a rough ride and I brought him into Security: he now basically doesn’t have a job; no Police career either; dependent upon Dirty Dirstly for a job … he’s up shit creek the same as us.”
A shadow appeared behind them as someone put their hands on the back of the bench and asked, “and how are the walking wounded today. Complaining as much as ever?”
They both looked up at a 6 foot 5 inch lean angular body with Jerome Cassidy attached to it. Jerome was in theory a Gang specialist for the CIA and it showed to a degree in his persona, “I hope you two old drunks haven’t finished that brandy I left; I could do with some.”
Bishop raised his eyebrows which made him look like he had a twitch as one went up, quivered, finally gave up and subsided.
“And on duty too, Jerome. Any news?”
“A bit of good news, I think, Bishop, but not a lot of it.”
“What’s the good bit then, Jerome?”
“The court action by Hazil, Helen and Joanna was thrown out. They couldn’t prove the Boy was involved. Once the Judge heard they’d gone on the Coach Tour of their own free will the case just disappeared.
“The Coach Company – knowing the girls had vanished – just carrying on with the tour meant they should have been suing the Coach Company, not Boy.
“Any connection to Boy was beyond his belief. The Judge called it a spurious action and landed them with the court costs – they won’t be suing anyone again – down for £60K each for court costs.
“We’ve raised again that all three of you have American Citizenship and have taken an oath to support the US. You cannot be Mercenaries when acting under US Government control. The Brits are still arguing that you are Brits – under their law, and control of their Government. We’ve pointed out pretty forcibly that they knew you were acting for us and implicitly gave you their authority – only trouble is that they won’t put Boy on trial; he’s just rotting in solitary – they just don’t want the publicity. They know they will lose the case and a few other things.”
“So what is the bad news, Jerome?”
“The French are digging their heels in – Sir Jacob Christie was a good friend and source of information for them – they want revenge for his being set-up.
“They are also demanding the ‛arrest warrant’ be honoured and Boy delivered to French justice, meaning more time in jail. It is really a trade-off between Boy and Sir Jacob.
“I know the Security Service wanted revenge on Sir Jacob but it was a pathetic tantrum and he knows it. He will walk. I guess they are trying to hold him until his knowledge is ‛timed out’ but he has so many friends in Europe it won’t happen. They are lined up against the English PM and he is wetting himself as usual.”
“So the French and Europe are the problem, Jerome? Little bloody change there, then.”
“The PM still hasn’t forgiven you for killing his chief fund raiser, Parky. Even though he was providing illegal money and from another Government as well. It was still the only regular money they had coming in. His embarrassment was considerable. The Israelis have never let up baiting the PM for shooting one of their Agents – it did not go down well.”
“Well he went down well as far as I am concerned, Jerome. The man was a fraud; an Israeli spy; feeding information to Russian Agents, plus trying to take over a top job in the Security Service … they should have given me a medal for taking out a treble Agent.”
“I wouldn’t wait up for the medal, Parky – it would be tin – I can guess where they would like to put it as well. The only hint of salvation is that Thomas Macguire was identified as the killer of Jonathan Owl. They were trying to pin that on you three as well. We thought Thomas was dead but someone like him has turned up in Moscow. We’re watching him like a hawk in case he tries to come back here but that is off your slate at least.
“The French also need our help on some issues and the quid pro quo from us is that they stop pursuing CIA Agents who were risking their lives to stop a mob of gangsters and terrorists – especially when the French knew about the operation before it occurred and let it go ahead – and reward us. If it works: the arrest warrants are withdrawn; the murder and conspiracy to murder charges go as well. The main problems are now Sir Arthus Dirstly and the Prime Minister.”
“Dirty Dirstly set the girls up, Jerome. That they were picked up by accident by those three rogue Police officers was just a co-incidence.”
“Sir Arthus didn’t set them up there in the mountains, Parky. That is the main point and you can’t get him for it. He set them up on the beach around the hotel and on the heights but nothing happened there. We had people covering them but Hazil took them on that coaching trip, not Dirstly. We think she was taking instructions from Thomas Macguire.”
“What would Macguire gain from that?”
“Macguire was behind that set-up. He knew Jonathan Owl – what he was up-to – met him a few times as well before he killed him. We just don’t know the full story and Hazil won’t talk to us. Sir Arthus claims he didn’t set them up to be kidnapped in the Alps – he planned it where we had cover on them. That covers him and that’s the official story – you two will have to take the bum rap until we get it cleared.”
“Where do we go from here, Jerome?”
Jerome could see Bishop losing patience again. He was speaking directly into Jerome’s face – almost spitting into it.
“As I said, Bishop: the French have to cancel the arrest warrants; Sir Jacob Christie gets to go free, and to France; the charges against Boy are dropped … I’ve no real idea what happens to Gris, Hazil, Helen or Joanna, nor for that matter the PM and Sir Arthus … they are all ‛wild cards’. The Security Service will not be welcoming you three back again, I guess. One other issue is raising its head though, and that could change everything.”
This time is was Parky who studied Jerome’s face, “What’s that, Jerome?”
“Jonathan Owl was into Black Magic in a big way and so were the three Policemen you killed … I don’t think the Brits know how far it’s spread or how many of their top people are involved. Jonathan was protected so he could escape and that could only have been managed at a high level – we don’t know how far up it has spread or how deep it is buried – in the British Government. That is worrying everyone – guilty and innocent – we think: several top Police officers are involved, some, ‛not so civil’ servants as well. We think the Brits will be asking for our help very soon, which could let you three back in via a different route.”
“Every time we’re invited back in, Jerome they’re just waiting for us to finish the job – throw us out again on gardening leave, usually under the manure and the next generation of blooming roses or Boy ends up in prison again – why should we want to help?”
“Parky. You live for this kind of work – if the offer comes up, you’ll jump at the chance – but not right now I think, or you will be leaking all over the joint again,” and with that final riposte, Jerome turned on his heel and walked off.
Parky sat there. He knew he was a loner. It had taken him years to adjust to the son he’d never wanted – Prilloch.
He hadn’t known about Hazil being pregnant. A one-night stand she wanted – gratefully taken – she’d given two of the children away. Only now was he starting to adjust to having four children without him ever knowing three of them existed. He’d supported Prilloch without telling him he knew he was his son until Prilloch killed the son of the woman he loved and told Parky he had known he was his father for some years.
He looked up at Bishop who was now staring intensively at Parky, “just thinking Bishop … just thinking. It has been known to happen.”
“I guessed that, Parky – it wasn’t difficult – your ears tend to waggle to dissipate the heat.”
“What do we do know about this Black Magic bunch, Bishop? I don’t have any clue as to whom or what they are.”
“No idea, Parky. They have to be associated with Jonathan Owl – bloody senior enough to support him – could be anyone in the Top echelons of the Police or the Government. Might be an idea to try Neville Jones? He knew Owley better than anyone.”
“I think it’s time we walked back, Bishop – we can’t drink the Brandy anyway with the drugs they’ve pumped into us … mind you, Jerome gave it a fairly hefty belt. Let’s make a move; it’s another bleeding day to forget.”
Neville sat there watching people moving about in a cobweb.
Thrown out yet again by Antona … maybe he just ran for it.
She’d started choosing his clothes again, even after she agreed to stop dressing him like a doll.
If that wasn’t bad enough: finding his lifelong protector, boss and mentor was a killer; a Black Magician, and someone who treated him as a fool had kicked him in his most sensitive areas.
He was the Police Liaison for the Security Service but most Police officers didn’t ring him once Owley’s story came out. Sir Sidney Talbot and Charlie Stapleton had been on his back ever since the jewels went missing all those years ago. He wouldn’t take the rap and resign. Mind you he hadn’t known Parky had stolen the jewels … he thought Talbot and Stapleton had.
Neville looked at the wall and wondered what Politics and shambles it had seen. Probably too much and that was why it received its yearly coat of whitewash.
His thoughts were finally interrupted by a voice that didn’t need an intercom, “Send Neville in,” followed by “Neville. My apologies for your wait.”
Neville adjusted his knees. They also were adjusting him these days – too many days walking the streets.
The office door opened and Sylvia came in – always leaving it to the last possible moment.
Sylvia changed her hair colour and her shape on a daily basis. He liked and respected Sylvia but wondered whether there was room for the multiple personalities in her life, or for anyone else for that matter.
Any further thoughts were interrupted by the double-breasted PA whose glance seemed to be white-hot, “Sir Arthus will see you two, now.”
Neville and Sylvia made it to the door together, Sylvia going through first. Sir Arthus barely gave them time to sit down before he started.
“Parky brought Jonathan’s activities to my attention some time ago, reinforced by evidence that Jonathan knew and co-operated with the leaders of the Salvanian Mafia.
“He threatened several people and their children and was positively identified in the shooting of a young delinquent, beating him up first and driving a car and trailer over him later, after he shot him. Surprisingly Jonathan left the remains alive and the victim identified Jonathan, who was known in the area. That surprised a few people as it was obvious that Jonathan had secret identities.
“Jonathan’s Black Magic activities have linked him to several Police officers including those raping Hazil and her children and they deserved the fate Parky and his crew inflicted on them.
“Our political Labour-Liberal-Tory PM gave me an instruction I couldn’t avoid and I shouldn’t have been forced to that Embassy nosebag-session or he wouldn’t have caught me. Still without the EU Minister causing trouble, and Gris telling the French everything, it would have been an unsolved crime. The three dead Policemen would have been shipped back with the incident closed; the Prime Minister happy, and the girls freed. Jonathan’s instructions – by the way – were to kill the girls if there was any sign of rescue or keep them ready for sacrifice, otherwise. Only an execution without warning could have saved them. Parky, Bishop and Boy should have medals for the execution and the attack on the base.
“It was a Jonathan Owl imposter who was actually killed by Thomas Maguire in the camp some days before the CIA attack so Jonathan must have been forewarned about by someone.”
“What does that mean to us, Sir Arthus?” Sylvia asked.
“You and Neville will work together again, and for your information, Neville your resignation is rejected … you will remain as Detective Inspector Neville Jones and Police Liaison. Sylvia will work as your assistant again. Now both of you go and see Gris – I need that sorted out as well – bugger off and behave.
“One final matter, Neville. Nat Jacobs was released early from prison for information disclosed. He shouldn’t come near you but he knew someone from your early days of involvement in some funny goings-on which I am pleased to hear you have dropped. He is fairly certain that one person you knew from around that time has carried on with those activities and the officer was also reporting to Jonathan Owl and Senior Police Officers from is job at Wandsworth Police Station.
“God, Jonathan really did get around, didn’t he? Your funny goings-on were how you met Jonathan Owl, wasn’t it? I was on the periphery, sir and the only guy I know of, from that time was Stephen Black who became a Desk Sergeant. Who was it, sir? No-one you need know about. It is being handled. Nat will involve himself if he can manage it, in that organisation, so just leave him alone and stay clear.
“Also for your information, Neville, Sir Jacob Christie and his PA – Godfrey Deval – had all charges quashed on appeal. Judge ruled that they had been enticed into crime by MI6 acting outside their mandate and their evidence was unable to be considered by the court. Without the evidence of Val there was no evidence to support the charges – some rule of evidence about Equitable Estoppel as far as I can remember – whole thing stinks but what doesn’t stink these days. Christie is probably on his way to France already, and Deval has disappeared completely.”
Chapter II – And Freedom Is Reality
Nat sat down, choosing to look around the dark bar but not too closely. The pub alongside the railway bridge hid the noise of conversations but often there were things you didn’t want to hear anyway. Most of the lights in the pub were behind the bar in bottles of light ale although a few informants would have settled for a searchlight as they hobbled out, bent double in the light after a friendly pint and punch at the back from a Policeman. It was a typical Police Pub, really. No closing hours. No real people as the public thought of them but it was just right after a bad shift when it was a stroll of what often seemed like a hundred years at times but a hundred yards was probably a better estimate … all the occupants – in most cases – needed: was beer, spirits, and darkness. Nat raised his glass to the shadow of Stephen Black guessing which of the two sat opposite him.
“Who gave you your get out of jail free card, Nat? I thought all your playing cards were burnt, and what the hell are you doing here? Who are you working for now?”
“My wife threw me out once she found I had been with Janice in the Arndale Centre. Janice took me back in … told me ‛to settle things with the drug gangs’ – no way I can do that, without money – still I met them—”
“And told them what, Nat? You’re saying a lot while saying nothing—”
“—told them it was Neville – he grassed them up – they’re planning revenge on hi—”
“—and they believed you, and you believed them …? Bloody fools … both of you – but I don’t touch fools – so what about you, Nat. I’m already wondering what games you’re up-to? Don’t lie, Nat! You’ve never stopped playing games and you’re far too close to everything criminal and running tales to higher ups … what are you up to now, Nat?”
“Stephen. I just looked after my career – same as you did – I just have to stay out of drugs and stay out of prison. I report to you at Wandsworth Nick every week and find some honest work – that’s the terms of my parole. Apart from that, I’m okay. What are you up to these days, Stephen?”
“Just a simple Desk Sergeant, Nat – suits me – does the job. I keep my mouth shut, take the money and get the pension – more than you’ve got now for doing drugs.”
“I didn’t do drugs, Stephen. Janice wanted me to help her kids and was going to grass me up to the wife … what bloody chance did I have – I lost – either way.”
“Well keep it in your pants in future, Nat and you won’t have a problem. You poked it in there once too often and you got more than you bargained for.”
“Do you know anyone who needs somebody, Stephen? I’ll do anything … I’m not bothered, really – I just need to earn some money without going back inside – so not too dirty.”
“Let me think about it, Nat … it does seem a bit too quick and slick from you. You were close to Stapleton once, weren’t you?”
“As much as anyone, I guess – he doesn’t like you to get too close – really.”
“You might be in luck then, Nat.”
Nat put his hand on the table to lean forward and then sat back and wiped it on his trousers – instantly regretting that – his trousers were cleaner that the table top.
He kept trying to squint at the other figure but finally gave up as his eyes watering in the smoke.
“Just one question. How did Neville survive all these years with those top guns gunning for him? He should have been kippered years ago?”
“Owley protected him, Nat but Neville still shafted Owley as he did everyone else – no one touches Neville these days. Still, nothing that concerns you. You made damn certain you stayed out of it, and now you stay out of it … Neville’s on borrowed time … just one mistake and he is not only smoked but gutted. They’ll smoke their cigars over him as the main course in that Welsh Hotel where they enjoy their £50 brandies. Neville has the rich brown smell of a disgraced Policeman and if the Print Inches have it, he won’t have any life in this country.”
“Well if you hear anything I can do to help get him, let me know … I owe that bastard for what he did to me.”
“Let me thing about it, Nat … you’re a bit too eager I think … but … well, you never know … now is that another pint you are forcing me to drink for services possibly rendered?”
“I’ll get them in, Stephen.”
Nat made his way to the bar and Stephen Black turned to his companion, “watch him like a hawk, John. I don’t trust that little rat at all.”
“Do you want me to lay the warfarin down?”
“Let him buy the pints first.”
It was some days later – a Thursday Nat seemed to remember – he was sitting there facing Janice, who wanted him out of the flat – short of throwing him out. Stopping her from cleaning, was the excuse – Nat sat there – Janice hadn’t picked up a broom in years from what Nat could see. Everytime the phone rang she picked it up and said, ‛NO’ until finally, she passed the phone to Nat – for you. It was Stephen Black.
“Nat. A little job for you. Pick up the keys from me for a Ford Transit. Drive it to Barnes Common railway station. You stay in the front seat and wait. Eleven people with keys to the back door’ll let themselves in. When they’re all inside and not before, Nat, drive them to this address. Back the van up to the open garage doors and after they have got out – you leave until you are contacted. Don’t move the van and don’t try to see who the people are.”
“And that’s it, Stephen?”
“As near as damn it.”
“What’s the bees for this?”
“Don’t use your German crap on me, Stephen – I’m Welsh not bloody German.”
“Certainly not European, Nat but you’d take the money in any currency, preferably unmarked, if you could.”
Boy wasn’t actually released into Sir Arthus’ custody; it was more a taxi cab to another prison and Boy climbed in like a fool. They moved off and Boy tried to pull the window open on the driver side to speak to the driver and found the window didn’t open; then he found the doors of the cab didn’t open either and he knew he’d been set up, yet again.
He was driven to a camp where army people on the gate waved the cab through and him into another cell. It had taken some hours and with the road signs he was obviously on the east coast and that meant Colchester and the only camp he knew there that had a lot of cells was the Glasshouse.
Gris sat in the garden. She loved the garden although Prilloch who had looked after it had moved back into Parky’s Wimbledon flat and it suffered from Jeffry and Darius’ lack of attention to anything to do with the garden. The house was big with eight bedrooms and the garden bordered by tall trees to the left and right for about a hundred yards to the bottom where it met a road on the other side. The grass ran as a wide path through the middle.
Initially she and Ralf had bought it with others paying towards the costs and mortgage. This had stopped when most of them lost their jobs and with the rest out of the country or in Boy’s case, behind bars, the money had stopped. Gris was milking Ralf’s accounts to pay bills like there was no tomorrow, and at the rate she was doing this, there probably wouldn’t be a tomorrow.
Gris or to give her, her full name of Griselda Magda wasn’t really a looker. 5 ft 5 inches tall, grey eyes and her hair eventually appeared as mousy-blond. She was attractive in her own way although her 38 inch chest magnified Boy’s thoughts on getting closer to her and he’d previously managed this when she worked for the Government as a torturer.
One day Parky had given Boy an option to marry Gris – Boy married her; Bishop moved in with them as chaperone, and Boy joined MI5 whilst Parky rejoined MI5 on the tail of the offer they made to Boy. The alternative was for Parky to let the thugs hunt him down and kill him. This crystallised Boy’s thinking. Still Parky supplied both engagement and wedding rings he’d stolen earlier which Gris still kept.
Gris refused to call him Boy instead using his real name of Ralf Johnstone – no-one else ever did. Now she was thinking about Ralf in jail; little knowing that the one jail had been exchanged for another or that the latest one was known as the Glasshouse.
Looking at the papers from her lawyers, she knew all she had to do was sign them and start the divorce. The place would become hers or so the Lawyers told her.
Ralf would have to pay for Thaniel – her son – and no one would touch Thaniel or her as the Lawyers would get a court order to prevent Ralf from ever coming near or seeing her. She still didn’t believe she suffered from this ‛crazy pregnancy syndrome’ stuff – no matter what Valene said.
Sylvia and Neville found her sometime later, still sat in the garden cuddling Thaniel.
“If it is about Ralf, don’t bother – he got what he deserved – I’ve told Jeffry, Valene and Darius they can go as well if they like. Ralf caused this and he will pay.”
“Boy has his get out of prison card, Gris.”
“His name is Ralf, Sylvia – not Boy. Who produced the marked deck this time?”
“No–one fixed it. He’s on his way to Sir Arthus – the charges never stuck – they’ll have to compensate him again. Godfrey Deval’s released and disappeared. Sir Jacob Christie hot-footed it to France. Boy didn’t arrange for the girls to be kidnapped – that was Sir Arthus – I thought you should know,” said Sylvia, looking into Gris’ grey eyes.
“His name is Ralf, not Boy and he abandoned me!”
“He didn’t, Gris. He was too involved to realise you were pregnant.”
“He should have known!”
“You didn’t want him to know, Gris. You didn’t want him near you to find out.”
“That’s what he claims.”
“He doesn’t claim anything. You betrayed him to the French; he’s been in solitary confinement until your child was born – I think you’ve had your revenge for whatever you accuse him of – he’s staying with Sir Arthus. Parky and Bishop will be coming back.”
“This is my house! They don’t come here!”
“Neville’s resignation is refused. A lot of noses will go further up their superior’s rectums after that. My appointment as Neville’s assistant will push them even further up. Dirty Dirstly screwed us up even more than we were already screwed up.”
Gris listened with interest, “Are Parky, Bishop and Prilloch really going to come back, Neville?”
“I can’t stop them, can I?”
“Gris. Even Boy’s money will run out in a couple of months and you still need protection … let them protect you. No-one will interfere with you or your son.”
“You are already doing that, Neville – you’re already doing that!”
Gris got up and stormed back into the house, leaving Sylvia and Neville watching her go.
They walked back to Sylvia’s car. Neville’s old one had been crushed on Antona’s instructions and he wouldn’t touch the car she’d bought for him. It just galled him to be controlled like that.
Gris headed to the Nursery where Valene was feeding Jonas and put Thaniel in his cot. Valene kept an eye on Thaniel as necessary and both were breast-feeding so it often helped them if one fed while the other was occupied. Jeffry also kept a close eye on his son so there was usually at least one of them in the room. Gris looked at Valene and as Valene opened her mouth to say something, said, “I don’t want to talk about Ralf – they’ve taken him to Sir Arthus’ house.”
“No they didn’t, Gris.”
“Neville just told me.”
“No – I had a phone call from an old contact – I asked him to keep an eye on what was happening. They just lied to Neville as they do to everyone else. No-one trusts anyone, anymore. I asked Elisha and Cliff to find out when he was being released and be there. They got there too late and he got into a cab but the number plate was wrong. Too old for a modern cab, so they followed. They took him to an army camp in Colchester. Cliff still has some contacts and he and Elisha are still there, staying in a hotel.”
“Why would Sir Arthus lie?”
“Maybe Sir Arthus didn’t pick him up. Maybe all the Government has done is change the prison but make it a military one so there is no record?”
“What happens now, Valene? I caused this and I don’t hate Ralf that much. He just hurt me and I wanted revenge.”
“You made your decision and you sort it out!”
“You can’t leave me, Valene!”
“You not only left Boy; you tried to destroy him, Gris. You secretly got pregnant because you thought Boy was slipping away from you and then you attacked him because you were wrong. You’d throw me and Jeffry out without thinking about it. We might work for you but we are not slaves; we are people you consider you own. Our lives are ours, not yours. Now throw me out for telling you the truth because that is what you seem to hate.”
“Ralf is his name, Valene, not Boy. No-one gives him credit for anything; talks to him as if he is a child and he accepts it … he isn’t a child! His name is Ralf and he is a man.”
“We know that Gris, and that is why calling him Boy doesn’t matter – he a man, and I need to get back to dinner – Jeffry will be down shortly and hungry.”
Sylvia and Neville headed for the new security room which also doubled up as a bar and coffee-house when people were there. It had been rebuilt after a rocket hit, but now had shutters and reinforced glass as it was on the ground floor. It also had a door in the floor with a rug that flipped back and provided an entrance to the underground complex that went out into the garden. That was put there after the Russian attack had killed Irish. The underneath of this section of the house was reinforced – courtesy of Sir Arthus, who still visited for non-public meetings – but now with a safety exit underneath.
Darius sat watching the cameras still in operation on the properties and looked surprised as Neville and Sylvia came in and started looking around.
Interrupting their thinking with his stare, Darius carried on, “Gris wanted the old Surveillance room for a Nursery, Neville. We moved everything in here – including the coffee machine – we stay out of the way so there is no trouble with Gris … if that is possible? She’s okay with Valene near her but anyone male gets it in the neck, and anywhere else she can find.”
“How did you get sacked, Darius. They never have enough technical spy guys in MI5 … why did they get rid of you?”
“Julia Perkins, Neville, is the answer I think you’re looking for,” Darius just sat there shaking his head as he spoke, “She must have been waiting for the changes; thought Sir Arthus was on the way out and was looking the other way.”
Sylvia looked at Neville, “What game is that son-of-a-bitch playing at?”
“We are being pissed on from above like the rest and my answer is ‛Nothing’. The problem is that we don’t know who is a ‛Black Magician’ nor how high up they are in Government? We don’t know who we can trust; already someone is moving to shut this team and the house down.”
“What aren’t you saying, Neville?”
“MI6 used Val to set-up the ex-EU Minister and destroy him but within three weeks your old MI6 Boss was gone and the ex-EU Minister is free after a bloody quick appeal session. The ex-EU Minister walks to France on water; a right wing Politician takes over as EU Minister and another in a new Security Appointment; ex-EU Minister’s aide disappears without trace. A ‛Lady’ and close friend of the PM – Lady Jemimeh Youngster-Clase – now effectively runs MI6 as assistant to a virtually retired Air-Head – Lady Sara Sehy – without a single ‛Press Inch’ or word in Parliament after Security restrictions were imposed! No Lordship for her predecessor either and Julia Perkins virtually takes over MI5 with Sir Arthus landing on his backside and skidding on the brown stuff as he destroys his own people to survive.
“How many of this Police bunch are clean … even Nat was drug-dealing. I didn’t find out about that until I noticed his car wasn’t being moved, even though he claimed he was driving home to his wife every night. If I hadn’t wandered up Putney Hill for a Chinese takeaway I would never have known his car wasn’t being moved.”
“You didn’t set Nat up, then?”
“No I didn’t, but maybe somebody else did? Look, we can either stand here and argue or go home.”
As he spoke, Neville heard the roar of a car drawing up and they both headed out to the front of the house to see Albert get out of a sports car. Albert trebled up as Butler, Bouncer and Handyman for Antona and he was holding up a set of keys.
“Take them, sir – the car is yours after Antona destroyed your first car – it’s sitting there rusting and Antona won’t get rid of it, or use it – let Sylvia have a life of her own rather than be your chauffeur.”
“How are you doing Albert, and Sylvia does have a life? Several lives I think, in fact.”
“I’m well, sir and Antona did ask if you would drop by and not for another argument she stressed. The house, I must admit, does seem quieter without you and Antona both arguing. She would like to speak to you, sir and she asked me to say, ‛without both of you, raising your voices’.”
“Who told her I was here?”
“Sir Arthus Dirstly, sir – he rang her earlier and said, ‛you would be finished about now’.”
“Who isn’t interfering into my life, Albert?”
“I have no idea, sir. Shall I drive you, sir? I can always complete the journey to Putney afterwards, should you wish?”
“Alright, Albert. Let’s visit Antona.”
Neville handed the keys back to Albert remembering all the times the car had arrived after he and Antona had been fighting. One time outside a flat used as a base for surveillance in London – now Antona was using the car again … yes, and he wondered what else?
The pool table and no bra as she seduced him on the final black, which also screwed her back up was probably next.
The dominance as she ran his life. The money she invested in him and his clothes to control him. He would find out what the latest costs were? When would they ever have a normal relationship, or could they?
The distance between Coombe Lodge and Coombe Lane was no distance really and Neville saw the lodge appearing in his vision as they turned off into the lodge drive.
Albert was parking when Antona open the front door and greeted Neville. People who looked at Antona didn’t realise just how ruthless the 42 year old ash blond ex-lawyer really was. The move towards plumpness and a large chest size made her seem maternal until you crossed her and then your life passed before your very eyes. She had been a promising lawyer until she became far more involved with the two Mafia gangsters she was defending than she should have. Their trials collapsing and her becoming pregnant with Amand and Alisea were next before she was married and retired, before being struck off.
Her late husband, an Insurance Guru, fixer and head of an oil tanker hijacking group working off West Africa had then fixed things – once again – and married her before the long holiday.
Neville finally managed to get out of the car – he wasn’t getting any younger these days and an antique old red jag was probably pushing it a bit now but the 1993 XJS Cabriolet had been completely renovated before Antona gave it to him although that didn’t include raising the seats for an older man. He grabbed the mid support of the roof, put his hand on the dashboard and pushed himself up. Luckily, the roof wasn’t on. Technically, it was a four seater but he could never consider it as one, unless the other two people lay sidewards on top of each other in the back and no doubt, a few had tried that. With a 4.0 ltr 6 cylinder engine it owned its own ‛|Oil and Gas State’ but it was a thing of joy to a man hitting and missing his mid-life crisis; he closed the door and turned to face Antona whilst the ‛car with a roar’ was despatched to wherever Albert hid it these days.
Coombe Lodge was a lovely place: long gardens; 30 foot swimming pool; built in bar room, and luxury that only a crooked Insurance Guru could have afforded.
The Government had cut a deal leaving Antona with £250,000 of what they could trace. Her later shimmy in the shower with a now-defunct well-connected Banker seemed to have paid further undeclared dividends.
A Government pardon for previous crimes rendered has also been welcome – especially as virtually everyone else on the hijacking team had been officially or unofficially killed – since then. Boy and Huron were the only two left. Bishop had killed her husband – Roger Turner – under MOD instructions and Antona was truly alone, vulnerable, and she knew it. She walked across the stones to stand in front of Neville although given that Neville was 5 foot 10 inches, she did wonder how someone had ever used him in surveillance unless for keeping the rain off the rest of the team. Neville was what they tended to call thick-set and most thought his mental processes were included when they said it. Blue eyes, black hair and dressed by Antona. She looked at him: the suit she’d chosen and paid for; shirts; ties, and shoes she’d selected. She could only guess at his current underwear, and even the ‛afterwards’ smell that she allowed him for his pretence of freedom couldn’t hide he hadn’t even bothered to shave or possibly wash.
He radiated his true self and what he was like without her control. Neville described himself as every woman’s nightmare and he was probably right.
He’d fought against total control from Antona but knew he couldn’t exist without her control. Throughout his life, someone, somewhere, had been controlling him … it seemed a fact of life for him … yes … someone was always controlling. Antona looked at him. She seemed to be trying to think of something to say that would not start another War – probably just an insurrection. Neville’s thick shoulders, his eyes and expression had never moved from hangdog in years, and as usual his eyes were half-closed, bloodshot with First World War trenches surrounding them.