The Cuckoo Murders

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Chapter 22

Boucher had not forgotten the anonymous video he had received showing Foal dealing in Bellinge. Foal was Diana Hall’s man, she was responsible for his actions. No way would he have acted without her permission.

Time was running out. Kubric had given him a tight deadline to regain control, and it was nearly up. He needed to show strength. Others dealing on his patch could not be tolerated.

But he also needed to know who had killed Markovic. Ronnie the tramp had not given him anything. He had died a stupid death, he should have talked, but he had not and Markovic’s death remained a mystery. Yet logically it had to be Hall. She had been the one to offer ‘help’ at Kubric’s meeting. It had been her man seen dealing on his patch. It had to be her.

Now that McVey was out of the game, he was her only rival, and she was dangerous. She had built up her empire by herself, using her own wits, until it was almost as big as his own. She controlled everything from the M1 motorway through to Kingsthorpe, and between Booth Lane and St. James. A huge densely populated area. How could she expand? By population growth was one answer, but that was slow and would not satisfy her. No, she would look for something faster. Something like his patch. He was not sure why she had killed Markovic. Perhaps he had uncovered her plans, or perhaps she needed him out of the way for another reason. Whatever, he was sure she had killed him. He had to make an example of her pour décourager les autres, but how?

In his house on the western outskirts of the county, Kubric was feeling uneasy. Whatever was happening was unsettling the whole organisation. Firstly, someone tries to undercut Boucher and murders one of his men. Then Maric is arrested, and now McVey is behind bars, betrayed by the sounds of it, by someone in the family. Who could be behind this? Who gained? The obvious answer was Diana Hall. She had always been ambitious, and she had the happy knack of bouncing back up when she was down. When she first came on Kubric’s radar she was running street girls in The Boroughs and owned two brothels. She was one of his biggest customers. A lot of her girls were users and the brothels served up complimentary half-doses of Bozo to big-spending regulars. It proved a very popular promotion, and of course brought them back for more. Hall supplied them all with product she bought from Kubric.

But all good things come to an end, and the police began to crack down on street walkers. There had been a campaign in the newspaper complaining about how overt prostitution was lowering the town’s reputation, and the police felt compelled to react even though there were advantages in keeping the trade in one place. The street walkers were forced to either travel to other towns or ply their trade from home, something most of them found too dangerous. The brothels were raided and had to close and the girls, most of them slightly better looking than the street hookers, simply moved on. Hall’s empire collapsed in the space of a month.

But there is often a silver lining and it came in the shape of Kubric. He was beginning to establish himself in the town. He already supplied McVey and he calculated that the client base Hall supplied gave him a good chance of maintaining his market share in the short term, and expanding it in the longer term. Another advantage was that some of her regulars were councillors and influential businessmen. They might be useful. So he gave her the central district and it turned out to be a good decision. Over the years she had grown and grown, and now she was moving nearly as much product as Boucher.

Was Hall behind this? Did she have ambitions to take over? Were the events of the last week all part of a grand plan? If so what would be her next move? Did she really have the strategic ability to plan all this? Kubric decided she had. Should he do something about it? In his mind there was no question.

Kubric could see that in less than a week the structure of his business had become unbalanced. The three branches run by Boucher, McVey, and Hall, were now only two, plus two right hand men had been arrested, and he had needed to transfer another to replace McVey. He was suddenly short-handed. On its own that was dangerous, but worse, the missing men were experts in security and their absence left him vulnerable. He could not replace them quickly. Men of that calibre were hard to find, and expensive.

Thank God for Cammy. He was the bedrock of the organisation now that Maric was gone. Kubric had hoped that he would fill Maric’s shoes, but that plan had gone awry following McVey’s arrest. Now he would be busy running the western district.

Kubric exhaled deeply through his nose. Reluctantly he had to act.

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