When Paul got back to Scotland Yard he found a number of surprises waiting for him.
One was that after returning from his unsuccessful mission in Northumberland Brian had put out a missing person’s alert on Lynd’s son.
“Why would you do that? I thought the mother had assured you everything was alright with him?” Paul wondered.
“Wishful thinking”, Brian said. “While I was there she painted him in glowing colours, following in his father’s footsteps, rising star on the academic stage. Then I got to talking with Lynd’s elder brother, who put me right on the family situation.”
“It seems the young man was quite a handful to begin with, something that was not improved by his parents’ divorce. Apparently he set out to make it right with his father and started studying history, but got in senior’s way again.” He looked up at Paul.
“He fell for Downey”, Paul nodded. “Only she had no idea what was going on and started going out with his father.”
“Yep. Gets even better. Clive was into drugs and might quite possibly have gotten in with a rough crowd there. His uncle who lives in London told me that they had to patch him up at a hospital ten months ago.”
“Lynd claimed that he had been assaulted out of the blue by some monster – sounded like a bad trip to the doctors at the hospital. The way his uncle described it, they had the feeling he was covering up for someone, seemed scared out of his mind. No one’s seen him since then.”
“Is he still alive?”
“He left messages for his mother and we found one on Lynd’s answer phone from the day before the murder, asking for money…” He left the end open.
Paul rubbed the side of his face. “Great, that could mean that he’s into the hard stuff by now, depending what he’s on, he might very well be responsible for the injuries we found with Lynd. Isn’t our job just wonderful?” Then he thought. “How did Lynd ever get the ghost-writing job with a son like that?”
“That’s probably why they kept it that quiet”, Brian said, and Paul agreed, biting down a smile: at least Clarke wasn’t the only spook in London who had some explaining to do to his superiors. His bet was that quite a few heads would be rolling as soon as MI5 found out about Lynd’s family troubles.
“Phew, anything else?” His partner looked as if he was about to burst if he didn’t get his other news off his chest.
Indeed. Brian had spoken to Lynd’s cleaning lady and she had agreed with Naomi’s assessment that someone had been in the flat.
Brian was still recovering from that interview. “You have no idea what people can do to our language,“ he was complaining to Paul, “It took us almost ten minutes to establish that she was Lynd’s housekeeper, twice as much to get her to believe me that I was police. Another ten she spent complaining about Downey. If Lynd had been starved then we would have a good witness against Downey. She was not happy with the way her ward was fed by his girlfriend.”
When Paul frowned at that, he explained. “Apparently this Mrs Sz… Shö…Zl…,“ he struggled with the name and gave up, “sorry, she comes from Hungary, at least twelve syllables, all of them unpronounceable. Anyway, Rosa believes in lots of red meat and cream. Downey disagreed with that kind of diet for Lynd, they had words on the subject of cholesterol – apparently there’s no such thing in Hungary, I have to visit that place – and doors were banged. If you ask me she also had a soft spot for this Lynd guy – I don’t know what women saw in him, I really don’t. However, having gotten all of this straight, we managed to agree that Downey had been right.” Brian sounded exhausted. Paul chuckled.
“One thing, though,“ Brian continued, a wistful smile on his lips. “That woman can bake… She gave me some cake that I would murder for. I told her I had a colleague who was thinner than Lynd, and she packed up a second helping…” He pointed to a little box on Paul’s desk.
Paul laughed. “You know I don’t like rich cakes.”
Brian shrugged. “I do, she didn’t...” He already had a spoon in his hand.
“In another life you would have made a good crook”, Paul told his colleague.
“There’s a very fine line between the two careers I’ve heard”, mumbled through a mouthful of Hungarian layer cake.
The second development of the day was that they could put a name to the nightdress: “Yvonne” had announced her return to London for the next day. So at least there was some movement in the right direction.
He attended the short press conference the Assistant Commissioner had pressured him into, basically stating that Lynd had been murdered and assistance was wanted of the public. Anyone who’d heard or seen something and could offer relevant information was asked to contact Scotland Yard. After consulting with their lawyers he decided not to mention the search for Lynd junior in order to avoid litigation in case the young man wasn’t actually involved, but made sure that every police station in London knew they were looking for Clive Lynd.
Bogged down in paperwork Paul didn’t get a chance to check on the Carter identity until he was ready to go home. When he did though, his mind did a double take. He spent a good part of the night at the computer again and finally decided that he must have been working far too much these past months and to take it up again tomorrow, maybe in paper, maybe in Somerset House or whatever stood for that nowadays.
Somehow his car found its way to Naomi’s house in Tarlington Mews by itself. He convinced himself he was not obsessing, just making sure that no one was trying to break in or the like. After all – Lynd had been stalking her, probably he was trying again.
He left the car two roads down so he could arrive quietly, and sure enough, there was yet another shadow lurking in the doorway opposite Naomi’s entrance. Ok, let’s have the lurker explain his business. Paul released the catch on his gun and stepped forward determinedly. However, once he’d arrived there slyly the shadow had gone. Everything was dark and as quiet as London ever gets at four in the morning. Paul shook his head and made his way back to his car. He was still questioning his sanity when he got in and started the engine.
A minute later, he almost jumped out of his skin. After a soft cough from the backseat and a polite “You don’t mind some fresh air, do you?” his backseat passenger swiftly moved to the front and all the windows of his car were lowered. Paul killed the engine in his surprise and the car jumped. He tried to go for his gun when his new passenger said “I wouldn’t recommend that if I were you, old chap, enclosed space, ricochet and all that.”
By now Paul was fairly sure he must be dreaming, so he decided to play along. He took a look at his neighbour: Quite tall, almost towering over him – not an experience he was used to at 6’1”. Wavy black hair, slightly too long, high cheekbones, dark eyes under straight brows, leather jacket, torn jeans (now that did not fit with the accent or the diction), sneakers. He looked like … man, some dream he was having!
“Anything I can do for you, Sir?” he asked ironically. “Short on taxis, are we? Shall I take you to Highgate or is there any other place you’d like to go?”
“Whatever would you want to take me to Highgate for at this hour?” the stranger exclaimed in surprise, “No, but there is a matter upon which I crave some enlightenment if you don’t mind too terribly, that is the sudden police interest in Ms. Downey.” He raised his voice enquiringly at the end.
Paul thought he was going mad. He had some Jeeves and Wooster impersonator in his car, who was asking about police business as if he was asking the way to the nearest tube station.
“Ok, mate, maybe you’d like to answer some questions first, while we’re at it, like what are you doing watching Naomi Downey’s house at this hour, or how do you get a reader’s pass to the London Library when you’re dead?”
“That’s easy, you pay the yearly fee and never return a book torn or soiled”, came the suave answer from his left. “Your turn, how do you explain all this police interest in Ms. Downey on the one hand and the utter failure to protect her against intruders like the one last night on the other? By the way, how could I possibly be dead when I’m sitting right next to you?”
Paul blinked. Yes, that was the question that had him bothered too. “I’ll pass on that one and come back to it in a minute. As for the first, Ms. Downey’s helping the police in investigations concerning the death of Jeffrey Lynd. What do you know about last night’s intruder?” Had he been the mystery caller? The alarm had been raised by a mobile phone, the caller had claimed to be a neighbour, but none of the neighbours had admitted to calling the police after nobody had been found.
“That, yes, I… eh, took care of him,“ the stranger replied discreetly. “So, what happened to Lynd?”
That man must be mad. Did they get all of London’s wing nuts on this case? “How about I take you to the Yard and we’ll talk about that there?”
“That might be quite an interesting experience, but if it’s all the same to you, I’d rather decline that honour for now, and remove our little conversation back to Tarlington Mews, unless you want to leave the house unguarded again. I can try to answer some of your questions there.”
“I thought I’d heard you say you took care of the guy who tried yesterday”, Paul was already turning the car. “Who do you want to guard the house against now?”
“You tell me you’re investigating the murder of Ms. Downey’s friend – I take it, it is murder if Scotland Yard is involved. We had someone trying to illegally enter her house last night, what makes you think, they’ve given up?” The stranger looked at Paul as if he was slightly dim-witted.
Hm, conspiracy buff? Paul asked the pertinent question. “Who are they and what do they want? Are you talking about Clive Lynd?”
“No, he won’t come here again. I’m afraid I can’t answer the first question yet, but I know that Lynd senior hid something on Ms. Downey’s desk which might be the connection between the two chains of events, wouldn’t you agree? At least that’s what I could get from yesterday’s intruder’s memory.”
“How did you get it from his memory?” Paul asked suspiciously.
“I asked him.” No more information here it seemed.
“Ok, let’s go in and get whatever this is about then, shall we?” The stranger’s way of speaking seemed to be contagious.
“You can’t seriously be considering disturbing Ms. Downey at this hour?” the stranger objected appalled. “That would be most unseemly! It wouldn’t help either, I might add, as apparently she is not aware of hiding anything of Mr. Lynd’s, the skunk – excuse me – having deposited the matter in question without her knowledge. What complicates the whole affair further is that a rather unfortunate attempt at spring cleaning yesterday has since moved whatever it was to another place, and even I have not been able to find it so far. Now however, knowing the connection to Mr. Lynd I can assume it’s connected to his work and will swiftly endeavour to ascertain the whereabouts of said object.”
By now Paul’s head was swimming. “Who are you and what makes you think I’m letting you go after you’ve told me you’ve been stalking Naomi, been through her house, and plan to do so again?”
“Sorry, old chap, my time is running out. I really need to leave now. I’ll get back in touch tomorrow.” With that the stranger was gone.
Paul awoke two hours later, sore from having slept in the car, his neck stiff from the cold – all the windows were open. He decided he’d need some days off soon, but before that he’d have to make sense of this mess.
First however he went home for a hot shower and a change of clothes.
This time it was another caller who reached the person at the other end.
“Do you actually want the papers back or would it be sufficient for them to disappear?”
“I want them to never reappear and to be sure about that. I thought I had made that clear.”
“Just relax. They will disappear, I’ve found a way for that. Buyden doesn’t like it though.”
“He’s not in charge.”
“You tell him.”
“I will, don’t worry. Now get to work!”