The Cuckoo Murders

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Chapter 8

At that moment McVey was sitting at home in Nether Heyford. Unlike Hall and Boucher who lived quite moderately, McVey lived in a house in its own grounds surrounded by manicured gardens, with three garages and stables for his daughters’ ponies. His wife, a long suffering devout Catholic, was in the garden, trimming her beloved roses. McVey gazed at her fondly, a large scotch in a crystal glass by his side, and a cold pie on a plate next to it. Both daughters were at riding school.

Cameron was sitting opposite, taking in the view of the luxurious decor of McVey’s sitting room, and two acres of immaculate professionally designed garden, cared for by three full time gardeners. Plush deep pile carpets, a bar, a built in TV big enough to be classed as a small cinema with stereophonic sound, two huge sofas with cushions deep enough to drown in, and four easy chairs. The room was light and airy with the decor sympathetic to the colours of the garden.

‘How’s it going with the girl?’ McVey asked.

It took Cameron a second or two to remember which girl he was referring to, then recalled the young girl in the chemist. ‘Micky has made initial contact. I don’t expect any problems. I expect to be operational in three or four weeks.’ He said.

‘That long?’

Cameron hid his irritation well. ‘It might not be,’ he said calmly, ‘but we need to gain trust, then put her into debt before we can act. It takes a little time as you know.’ And know McVey did, he thought, because this was by no means the first time they had targeted a young girl, and he knew very well how long it took. It wasn’t easy moving in on someone else’s premises, it had to be done carefully, at the right time, using tact or violence, and in this case tact was the key in his judgement.

McVey picked up his glass and took a sip. ‘What about Boucher? Any news?’

Cameron shook his head “Not yet. I’ve not had a lot of time to take a serious look myself, but I have put the word out. Someone will come forward I’m sure.’

‘Aye well I need you there Cammy. Feet on the ground, that’s tha key.’ McVey said.

Cameron smiled to himself. That’s just what Kubric wants from me too, he thought. ‘I’ll be on it first thing.’ He said.

‘What about the dealers? Will we have any trouble?’

‘None at all. They will need a supplier. If we take Boucher out, they will need us as much as we will need them. We might need to put out a few sweeteners, but that shouldn’t be a problem.’ He said confidently.

‘When?’

‘We need to make sure it’s safe first. Once we know who took out Markovic and why, things should become much clearer. Won’t be long I’m sure.’ He said.

McVey grunted and took a bite from his pie, washed it down with the remains of his scotch. He reached for a decanter and refilled his glass. Grunted again with the effort of reaching over for it, took a deep breath and relaxed back in his chair. Sweat had formed on his brow. ‘We need to expand Cammy, I want this whole fucking town.’ He said, breathless.

Cameron sat quietly, said nothing, but wondered how long McVey had before departing for the great distillery in the sky.

That evening Grey arrived home deep in thought. She had always been a glass half empty kind of person and this case did nothing to raise her spirits. True there were plenty of potential leads, for example the contacts on Markovic’s phone, and hopefully some DNA, prints or fibres left behind at the scene of the murder. But it would take some days before the laboratory sent back those results and in the meantime it would be a case of working her way through the telephone contacts, trying to find friends or relations of the victim. When was he last seen, who was he with, did he have any enemies, how did he make his living?

She did not hold out much hope of the telephone contacts being useful. The technical support team had provided her with a list of numbers and a few names but a good ninety percent on the list appeared to be burners. No names, no addresses, just the telephone numbers. She imagined that they must belong to users or small-time pushers. She could try calling them but there was a good chance that by now they had been alerted to the fact that Markovic was dead, and told to change their SIM cards.

Grey lived with her long-time partner Chris Atherley. They were engaged although neither had pushed very hard to take their relationship any further. Grey knew she was already married to her job, and Atherley seemed to understand that. They lived in a small bungalow in Booth Lane, close to the University where Atherley worked.

It was a comfortable semi-detached property built in the 1950’s in a mock Tudor style, with black timber eaves, and cross work lead flashing on the windows. Inside were five rooms and a ladder leading up to a spacious loft. The front room had a bay window overlooking the road and there was a rear sitting room with a view of the back garden, and a bedroom. The kitchen ran the length of the property and facing out onto the back wall stood a small bathroom, with shower and toilet.

They spent most of their time in the front room which comprised a comfortable three-piece suite in a floral design, and a good quality green carpet. By the side of the sofa stood a small coffee table made of oak, convenient for resting Grey’s cans of her beloved Pedigree bitter and Atherley’s cider.

She walked in the front door and was welcomed by a cheery ‘Hiya’ from Atherley in the kitchen. She kicked off her shoes, hung her jacket on a hook in the entrance hall, and padded through, finding him buttering a slice of toast. She gave him a peck on the cheek and reached into the fridge for a cool can. ‘Want one?’ She asked.

Atherley picked up his can and with a smile waved it at her.

‘Hmm you started without me.’ She said as she made her way towards the sofa in the front room. She sat down heavily with a big sigh and put the can to her lips, taking a long swig before wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. Atherley sat down beside her with his can of cider in one hand and a slice of toast in the other.

‘Don’t you dare get those crumbs on the carpet.’ Grey said.

‘Hm, I’ll try not to,’ he said, ‘bad day?’

‘Not really, but I’m knackered after being up all night. Turns out that body we found might have been a drug pusher.’

‘There’s a lot of it about. Some of the kids at work walk around with eyes like ping pong balls, and the nurse is always dishing out uppers or downers,’

‘This one might have been dealing in heroin.’

‘Can’t say I notice many people on that kind of stuff, but I suppose they can hide it well enough, especially if they’re new to it.’

‘Yeah, trouble is I’m SIO and I’m not optimistic about solving this one. I can imagine the users won’t want to talk, and if he was a dealer everybody’s going to close ranks.’

‘Oh ye of little faith. You’ll sort it out, you always do.’

‘Easy for you to say Einstein.’ She said, then took a deep breath and asked, ‘Do you really see much of it on the campus?’

‘Yes, mostly during breaks. You can always tell, they gather in small circles in a quiet corner, looking about as furtive as a politician near a public toilet.’

Grey gave him a look. ‘Cynic. The only good news is that Thomas is helping out while Jo is off.’ She said.

‘Jo? What’s wrong with her?’

Grey blushed, despite herself. She wasn’t going to tell Atherley about her earlier scrape, he would only worry and she did not want him to, but now she was going to have to. ‘She has a broken arm and concussion. She was attacked while we were searching a house this morning, but she’s ok.’ She added quickly.

Atherley looked aghast. ’You were with her?

‘I arrested the man who attacked her.’

‘Did he go for you too?’ He asked, looking increasingly alarmed.

‘Didn’t give him the chance.’ She said nonchalantly, ‘sprayed him with pepper and cuffed him before he could get to me.’

Atherley sat back and took a deep breath. ‘Christ. What a way to earn a living. I though only uniformed constables got involved in violence.’

‘Mostly, but every now and then life gets exciting.’ She said. ‘Nice to know I haven’t lost it though.’

‘Hmm just make sure I don’t lose you.’ He said.

Grey finished her can of Pedigree and stood up ready to fetch another. ‘No chance of that Einstein, you’re stuck with me now.’ She called from the kitchen. ‘Want another?’

At his home in Boughton, Thomas sat alone in his lounge drinking a glass of Fleurie. His wife was away on a course and so he had the house to himself. He was enjoying the peace but did not want it to last too long, he missed his wife too much.

He was relieved Giordano was not badly injured, but also concerned at how short-handed it had left him. She would be out of action for up to two months, leaving just Grey and himself to hold the fort. Fortunately, the Markovic murder was the only new case on his books. Together with Grey they should just about be able to handle it, if nothing new came in. But it was not going to be easy because the case had all the hallmarks of a drug killing and drug gangs were notoriously secretive. He did not hold out much hope for any useful leads from the list of contacts in Markovic’s phone, and he guessed that his neighbours would not know much about him either. If, as Thomas suspected Markovic had been a dealer, then he would have made a point of avoiding them.

So how to make progress? That was the problem he was wrestling with as he sipped his wine.

Grey had already completed the preliminaries. Door-to-door interviews in neighbourhoods surrounding Eastfield Park had yielded nothing, and appeals put out on the radio and on leaflets handed out had met with no response. No witnesses, nothing to go on. Uniforms were making enquiries close to Markovic’s house. Of course, there was always a chance that forensics would come up with a name, that was probably his best hope of a quick result, but even that would take a few more days.

He had a few informers he might be able to use and Grey had her own. There had also been a few reports he had read about a possible Eastern European network operating in the town, but he could not recall any real evidence. He decided to re-read them, they might hold something useful. But overall, he needed a break, either a witness, an informant, a DNA match, otherwise it promised to be a very long road and Malan would be on his and Grey’s back every step of the way.

On a whim he put down his hardly touched drink and checked his watch. Still early enough. He jumped up out of the chair grabbed his car keys, set the alarm, and left the house.

He had bought himself a new Jaguar saloon, black with alloy wheels, air conditioning, leather seats and satellite navigation. It was a present to himself for putting up with Malan. He zapped the lock and slid behind the wheel. There was no ignition key, just a button to press that by the magic of modern technology knew that his zapper was inside the car. He did not hear the engine start but all the warning lights on the dash went out and so he put it in gear and set off.

The ride was like gliding over clouds it was so smooth, even though the road from Boughton into town was full of potholes. Traffic was light and he pulled up in the hospital car park fifteen minutes later. After paying his parking fee he set off to find Giordano.

Like Grey he was delighted to find her in a ward close to the entrance. He reported to the ward senior who showed him to Giordano’s bed, but he found her sitting in a chair beside it. She smiled and went to stand up on seeing him, but he waved her to sit back down. He pulled up a chair beside her and sat down.

She looked pale and had a bandana like bandage wrapped around her head and her right arm was set in plaster.

‘How’re you doing?’ He asked.

‘Better now sir. My headache has gone.’

‘From what Grey tells me you were attacked by a man wielding an iron bar. I’d say you had a right to have a headache.’

‘It’s was a bit scary for a while sir, but Sheila rescued me. She’s a marvel.’ Giordano said.

‘She did well and managed to arrest the man who attacked you.’ He said. ‘Can you remember anything about what happened?’

‘Only that there were four men. They crashed through the front door. I heard the noise, went into the hallway and the one in front hit me with an iron bar. I blacked out for a while after that.’ She said.

‘Unsurprising since he broke your arm and gave you a whack on the head. You did well to fend him off.’

‘Hm my arm doesn’t think so. Do we know who they were sir?’ She asked.

Thomas shook his head. ‘Not yet, the man who hit you is Maric Kovic but other than that we know nothing. He has no form, and the others ran off. We think Markovic was killed in the cellar of the house you searched, and there’s a possibility drugs might be involved, but we have no firm evidence.’ Thomas explained.

‘I wish I could help sir; I feel useless here.’ She said sadly.

Thomas smiled. ‘Best thing you can do is get some rest. Perhaps I’ll find something for you in the office for a while.’ He said.

Giordano cheered up at that. She beamed. ‘That would be something sir.’

‘Well you get well first. Anything I can bring you, grapes, chocolate, cuddly toy?’ He asked mischievously.

Giordano smiled but there were tears in her eyes. ‘You’re very kind sir. Thank you for coming to see me.’

Thomas stood up, leaned over, and kissed her forehead. ’You get well soon. We need you.’ He said.

Giordano watched him go then burst into tears.

On his way home Thomas wondered whether there might be a job for her in the office. He had only been joking, but now he thought about it there was always a lot of computer work and telephoning to do and he could certainly do with the help. He would have to clear it with her union rep, but he didn’t think that would be much of a problem, especially given that Giordano seemed enthusiastic.

He put his foot down and felt the smooth power of the V6 engine push him back in his seat. It made him smile. He could not wait to pick up that glass of Fleurie again.

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