Sisters 35

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CHAPTER 35
I was in work the next day, but in my own HQ instead of Cardiff. It felt strange, after so long in civvies, but the uniform was the thing that had helped me hold things together when life had thrown shit at me. That dreadful funeral, the confrontation with Mam and Dad, the ritual had helped me cope. Siân was on a stupidly early start, so I had to eat breakfast alone. I hated early turns, so as I was now effectively supernumerary, I had treated myself to a nine o’clock start.

There was more than a little surprise evident as I walked in the door, and I made the necessary call at the Super’s office. He actually got out of his seat as I opened the door, coming forward to shake my hand.

“Bevan Williams filled me in, Elaine. Very, very well done. I see that Wyn was spot on about you. Now, talk me through it, but first---Linda, could we have some tea please? Ta!”

He sat us down in the comfy chairs he kept to one side of his desk, steepled his fingers and looked at me from under his eyebrows. It was like being back at school, and I chuckled at the thought.

“Something tickled you, Elaine?”

“Indeed, sir. I was just wondering what the chances were that I would end up nicking three of the people I dislike most in the world, and then cursing the fact that I can’t do the interviews”

He laughed out loud at that one, just as the tea arrived. “I rather think that the courts might like to have somebody left to try, Elaine! The word is that you have a rather effective backhand”

I hardened up at that memory. “No offence, sir, but they had just beaten the shit out of a friend, and they had worse things planned. It was a hard stop in the true sense”

“Indeed, and I am grateful that on this occasion we didn’t have a camera crew along for the ride. Never mind that: how is the young man?”

“He took a beating, sir. Couple of ribs, bites, but we got him out before, well…”

“Before he was raped or worse, you mean? Yes, exactly. Bev is looking into bravery awards, things like that. Reaction is just coming in, but over the next two or three days you may well get doorstepped. Usual drill, Elaine”

“Aye, sir”

“So, talk me through it”

“Pretty straightforward, sir, after we got the breakthrough out by Cowbridge. That gave us two of the names, so we just had to work through the routine stuff. I had a bloody good team, and many of them—no, all of them went above and beyond. That was what cracked this one, a good team”

“I have already received a number of telephone calls, Elaine. Not all of them have been positive. Some of them were from relatives of two of the arrested men. Intimation was allowed after the house searches, you see. I have a meeting with a Councillor Evans later today. Ah”

He had clearly picked up on my expression, as I immediately thought of Diane.

“Elaine?”

“Sorry, sir. Just that I have heard things about him and let’s just say his family seem to share their family values as a family should”

“Oh?”

“I have a friend who met the good Councillor when she was sixteen. Old-style investigation”

“Ah. I will bear that one in mind, thank you”

“Beg pardon?”

“Cold cases, Elaine. Modern thing. Old files can be looked at again. I was a younger man when that one happened, new to the job. Things are different now, yes?”

He left the rest unsaid, and I resolved to have words with Diane as soon as I could.

“So what does the Councillor have to say?”

“Police conspiracy against his family, all based on your perverted brother’s attempts to trap his young relative into unnatural and perverted sexual practices”

I nearly sprayed my tea, holding the laughter back just in time. “Duw, boss! He is living on some other planet, aye?”

I got a very warm smile. “Oh indeed, Elaine. You know how it goes in court: if there is no defence, sling mud. Now, I will await interview results with some interest. Apparently, Inspector Patel decided to allow them their rest period before interviewing them. He is of the opinion that a sleepless night considering their future will not have been unhelpful. And Hansen’s also likely to be charged with possession with intent, cocaine. The box they kept the gear in had his prints on it”

He took a sip of his tea, and then gave me another warm smile. “Things just get better and better, don’t they? Now, what are your plans? Beyond revision, that is”

“Sir?”

“Wyn and I had a long chat, and Bevan was singing your praises, so we have sort of moved and shaken. You are down for a slot in a promotion board, make you substantive rather than acting Inspector. You have exams to cram for. If you want the promotion, of course”

I was stunned. I had thought of permanent promotion, of course, but this was so quick. I had got used to the work, and come to like the independence, but still!

“You keep your temporary grade pro tem, Elaine. You are already off the relief pattern, so there is no need to do anything other than days, weekdays at that. Take it as a thank you for what was surely a thankless task well done. Bev will be doing the public announcement this afternoon, so watch the news tonight. I rather suspect my Councillor will go, as they say, ballistic”

He stood up to show me the door. “I remember Diane’s case, Elaine. I am not the man I was back then. I will do what I can. Watch the news tonight”
I went to my little room and started to hit the books. Bloody hell! The day went in a blur of backslaps and congratulations, and the only thing to blight it was a call from my wife to ask when we were going to visit her cow of a mother. Into every life, etc.

Nevertheless, I was still surfing the good mood when I got home. Siân had done us both a superb shepherd’s pie, and slipped some tasty bottles into the fridge, and so the evening became a simple episode of domesticity, as far as the six o’clock news.

“Five men have been arrested as a result of investigations by South Wales Police into a series of serious assaults on young men in the Cardiff and Swansea areas. Superintendent Bevan Williams made this announcement forty minutes ago”

They cut to the familiar view of the front of the nick, Bevan Williams in full formal uniform, holding his prepared statement.

“Last night was the culmination of a painstaking investigation into a number of homophobic assaults and rapes of young men in Cardiff, Swansea and surrounding areas. Five men were stopped by Traffic Officers in a van in the West of the capital, a sixth man being found tied up in the rear and showing the evidence of a serious assault. During the arrests a number of Officers also suffered injuries. Enquiries are continuing. Thank you”

He answered no questions, simply turning to go back into the police station. No names, no pack drill, just the bare bones.

“Why are they not giving out the names, Lainey?”

“Still getting evidence, aye? DNA sweep of the van, looking for any traces of Omar or anyone else. Bite impressions—yes, they did. And for Omar at least, they’ve still got his clothes, aye? Still a lot of work to do to close the lid on this lot, and I can’t help”

Still, I settled down for a cuddle, which lasted only as far as seven, when the doorbell went. Arse.

It turned out to be Dai Gould, looking sheepish.

“What you want, butt?”

“Well, I got your address from a mate in your force, Ma’am. Sorry. I can leave if you want”

“Don’t be silly, Dai! Come in, have a cuppa. You saw the news, then?”

“Didn’t need to. All through the nick, innit? Just, not on my own, am I? Got some friends with me. Parked them up in town, so they didn’t get your address unless you were OK with it”

I grinned at him. “These friends, they be your nephew, then, and Omar?”

“Aye. And, well, Fahmi and Debbie as well, aye?”

“This is most irregular, Sergeant Gould, so give them a shout and we’ll get the kettle on”

I shouted a warning from the door and waited while he parked up properly, then introduced him to Siân. Quarter of an hour later, we had four more in our front room and I had to bring chairs from the dining room. Debbie had flowers for me, and all of them had brought smiles.

It was Omar who had done the decent thing, and got a couple of cases of good ale in.



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