The Gun Range
New Scotland Yard
Guy Royce squeezed off a grouping of three shots. One neat hole the size of a fist appeared in the head of the target, the Glock 9mm kicking with each shot. He needed to think and this was his favourite place to do it. No one distracted you with a gun in your hand and the ear cans on.
Thanks to Commissioner Chambers he was stuck with the blonde’s troubles. She wasn’t a Minister, nobody voted for her but the PM was in love with her and so, she was his problem, too. He had shadowed many Ministers and dignitaries but it was always the wives and mistresses who cost him sleep. Their kids were fine and predictable, doing what kids did the world over. Nothing he couldn’t control. But the women? They didn’t know what he was for. They saw him either as a surrogate husband, a butler, companion or spy. What they never understood was the need for secrecy. Their husband’s lives depended on it but they gossiped – so Guy told them nothing and that alienated him from them.
That thought made him miss his next shot. He cursed as the echo died away. He slid the Glock into its holster in the small of his back, his suit tailored by Turnbull & Asser to accept it. It was election year and the Prime Minister’s mind was on a size 36DD bra cup and the Commissioner’s mind on how many staff to fire to accommodate his dwindling budget. This was going to be some year. He’d be lucky to survive it.
A few calls to Government departments and the Tax Office told him Nikki Montague was 24 and single. She went to school at a fancy girls college in Surrey. She was never in work long enough to pay much tax but when she did it was in show biz. She had been to a dance academy so he guessed how Nikki made her living. She didn’t drive and Border Control told him she’d left the country, last heard of landing in Dubai. Nobody knew, or cared where she’d gone next.
Guy upset Commissioner Chambers with his oath of secrecy to the blonde but he had released him from duties at Number Ten. His instruction was clear, “sort it out, Royce - with strings. Don’t spend, don’t travel.”
Thanks a lot, Commissioner, but this wasn’t why I joined the Force.
By mid-day he was in Hyde Park listening to a brass band. He liked the harmony and counter-point of the reed and wind players as they puffed in unison. He liked things that fell into place, a kind of natural rhythm of life. The tuba player was big, the flautist tiny. That felt right to him. Balance was order. Chaos was the policeman’s enemy. Villains created disharmony and that would never change, he’d seen that close up and good cops were needed to keep them apart from ordinary people. Never give a crook an even break or they’d take your gold fillings.
Beside him in a deckchair sat Detective Sergeant Vijay Balasubramanium, a protection officer assigned to the Treasury Department. They had worked at the Yard together in SO14 as royal protection men before they both moved on. The Anglo-Indian officer had news.
“This Ibrahim Tolman, you want the full workup?”
Guy nodded. “Yes. It’s important, VJ, but I can’t tell you why.”
VJ shrugged. “You will, when you can.”
“Is he on a watch list or anything?”
“Oh, yes. But nothing actionable.”
“Tell it all.”
“Tolman founded a Macro Hedge Fund some years ago.”
“Called the Three Sisters Hedge Fund. A Macro fund that profits from changes in global economies.”
“Remember I’m a simple copper.”
“Designed to make money when things go bad.”
“You mean if a stock market crashes they cash in?”
“Pretty much so, yes. Profits from the downside.”
Guy was getting that itch he felt when clues started to come together.
“Tell me about the man.”
“Not a lot on him. Israeli. Lives there. Early forties, no wife.”
“You got a photo of him?”
“No. He rarely comes our way. Keeps out of the papers. You think he’s up to something?”
“I honestly don’t know. I’ve just got to find him. Thanks, VJ. You up for squash? I’ll fix the court.”
The Anglo-Indian officer rose and grinned. “With your forehand? Not on your life!”
Guy shrugged. “You heard any whispers about redundancies?”
VJ looked solemn. “None in our place.”
“No, well, there wouldn’t be at Treasury. You got all the money.”
He laughed. “Don’t get paranoid, Guy.”
“Thanks for the info. I owe you, pal.”
VJ sauntered off. “Tell me about it.”
At one pm Guy parked the BMW in the Yard motor pool and was walking out when his cell rang. The caller ID made him curse. The Commissioner was on the line with his Inscrutable Mastermind voice on.
“Royce? What do you think?”
He left a gaping silence so big Guy feared falling into it. He was getting to feel hunted. He knew what he mustn’t say. About what? So he stalled.
“Investigation’s proceeding, Commissioner.”
“Major development, Royce. Give me a written implications report, pronto.”
What was he talking about? Diversionary tactics were called for.
“I’ll get right on it. My battery’s dying, boss. I’ll get back.”
He crossed Whitehall heading for Trafalgar Square, watching the tourists tormenting a Life Guard in a sentry hut. It was only then he bought a paper. The headline, splashed across the front page, nearly stopped his heart.
It screamed: “PM’s Mistress Pregnant!”
When he saw Henrietta Fox’s credit under the picture of Marie Montague at the soccer match, Royce nearly screamed, too. His day was going South like a Greek bank loan. Then it began to rain on his new loafers. He stopped the first black cab he could and clambered into the rear.
“Take me to Chelsea Court Mews. And step on it!”