That was a good night, and what was most evident was the release of tension in our guests. Scott dropped a bombshell of sorts, in letting slip that the Smugglers was going to rename one of its bars after me, and I determined that I needed to Have Words to stop such silliness.
It did let me realise one thing, though, and that was the depth of fear that had been sitting on Cardiff’s gay community. Everyone seemed to have known someone who had been attacked, or to have had friends in common, or once seen one at the bar. In reality, there hadn’t been a lot of attacks, but the number was outweighed by the dread that one, or one’s friend, might be next.
Back at work, and the Super dropped another bombshell on me: meta-analysis of RTCs in the Red Roses/Pembroke Dock area.
“Sir, I am not Traffic!”
“Doesn’t matter, Elaine; this is right up your street, picking out trends and common factors. You proved that over in Cardiff”
I muttered something about rewarding the wicked, and he laughed in my face, the sod.
“Trust me, you will actually find this interesting, but I am giving it to you for two reasons. Firstly, it is an excellent piece of developmental work for your Inspector’s interview, and secondly it will keep you too busy to bother Sammy Patel and his team”
“HIS team, sir?”
He laughed again, with a real twinkle in his eye. “Also helps with the anger management issues, Elaine!”
“I don’t have bloody—oh, you sod. Er, sir”
He just winked. "Stop by any time for a coffee, Inspector, and I promise I will keep you up to speed, but please leave Inspector Patel to his own devices, and the team to him. You left them with a firm idea of where to go, so just leave them to get there without a backseat driver. Look: this is YOUR result, and nobody is taking that away from you”
“My team’s result, sir!”
“And now you see why we think you are right for the promotion. There are files awaiting you, Inspector. Join me for lunch?”
There are times when a superior rank shows you that they are out of touch with everything apart from politics, and then there is the opposite, when you see why they are where they are, how clear their vision is, how much wider its scope. He was absolutely right, and as I began to see patterns in the Road Traffic Collisions and single vehicle incidents, patterns that I traced down to a combination of lighting, road surface and the closing times of two rural ‘music’ pubs, I studied relentlessly for the grilling I would get for that promotion they seemed to assume was a given.
I got the word on the other grillings a week later, when Diane called round at my little office. Her greeting was a warm one, a crushing hug, and it brought home to me how much I had missed my team. We had been a shining demonstration of the old adage about strength and sums of parts, and I did indeed miss every one of my crew.
“I’ll get straight to the point, Lainey. Oh, bloody good coffee, this”
“The point, Diane?”
“Oh yes. Hansen tried to claim he was only a driver, right up to when we mentioned the DNA from Omar’s rape, as well as the bite marks, some of them. You’ll laugh, but, well, I am absolutely sure the tape caught his brief saying ‘Oh fuck’ when we disclosed it to him. Hansen then went on some snivelling rant about how his partner was abusing him due to her addiction to Evil Drugs, and how the balance of his mind was disturbed, and his brief kept saying that he advised his client not to answer, and in the end just sat there with his head in his hands”
She chuckled happily, taking a sip of the Super’s little gift to me. “Thing is, his partner, aye? Adele Hughes? She comes out of it the next morning, off her face when she was nicked, innit, and she gives chapter and verse about where he gets the speed and the coke and the smack from, and she stitches her beloved up like a bloody kipper! So we put it to the boy himself, and mention the prints and bugger it, I almost felt sorry for the brief!”
I tried to be fair. “Duty solicitor, aye? Got handed it like the proverbial shitty stick”
Her expression changed abruptly. “That’s the thing, Lainey. No duty solicitor, innit? Fucking Councillor Ashley Evans’ own legal people, innit? Ashley bastard Evans!”
Ah. “Would he be…?”
“Another rapist? What do you think?”
She showed her teeth to me. “Yes. Not the same idiot girl now, am I? Anyway, Pritchard and the other bent bastard, they go no comment, no surprises there, and Jamie Evans, well, he decides to be a twat, all sorts of threats about doing you for assault, and Blake, oh dear me, he remembers what you said about leaving them their teeth for matching the bites…”
She had to stop for laughing at that point. Once she had her control back, almost, she continued.
“You broke his cheekbone and nose, Lainey. Hell of a wallop!”
“Well, Chris was, you know, and—“
“Yes, we all know, and chwarae teg to you. I learned that one for you, Elaine. Fair play indeed. So Blake’s all dead pan, and he just says that you were complying with your own briefing, that reasonable force be used up to the limitation of getting bite impressions, and his have come back, and, well, gives him a Special Warning and asks for him to account for his teeth having been in the shoulders of at least four men and, well, reality hits him, aye? I thought the brief was going to puke, he was that green. That one’s broken too, innit. The last one…”
She took a longer drink this time. “Elaine, what happened with him? FME says he has a lot of scars, old ones, and you can see in his face, one of his eyes droops, innit? He’s had at least one really bad kicking? And he knew your sister, you said?”
Careful now, Lainey. “I gave you the story there already, Diane”
“No you didn’t, Inspector Powell. You gave me half a story”
Shit. “You know about my sister Sarah?”
“We’ve spoken before, innit? She’s a transsexual, got done over by Pritchard and the other arsehole”
“About right. She was going out with Joe Evans for a while, or rather he was using her for a bit of fun, aye? Well, one day she wakes up to what he really is, and she goes to tell him so long, that’s it, goodbye, aye?”
“And he gropes her, finds out she’s not what it says on the tin, and then he beats the shit out of her, puts her into hospital, which is where she meets the other two, who tell her her fortune. That’s all”
Diane sniffed. “Then totally by coincidence Joe Evans gets the kicking from hell. Don’t answer that one, I don’t need to be told. He kept asking where you were, and every time there was a noise at the door he jumped. Gave us some version of how the balance of his mind was disturbed by having had a kicking because he rejected a nancy boy, and he just had to hit back, and you know how it is. Couldn’t we understand that? I think he’s not the full box, Elaine. Honest opinion, he’s going to be sectioned. No!”
I sat back down, shaking. There was no way I was going to see him walk, but Diane had her hand up. Calm.
“Inspector Patel thinks we can get him banged away on public safety grounds. That’s him down. Hansen’s folded, Jamie Evans hasn’t got a snowball’s and he knows it, and while the other two shits will still push for a trial, there’s more. That Range Rover, they had cuffs and leg-straps in it. And we have their DNA, or at least Pritchard’s, from Omar’s clothing. They’re both swimming, but it’s in shit creek. Job’s a good’un”
“Give your Sarah my love, Elaine”
“I don’t think I will, Di. Don’t take this the wrong way, but, well, old wounds, still healing? If it doesn’t make the national news, she doesn’t need to know. I will make one prediction, though: our two ex-colleagues will plead when it comes to the day. Now, are you willing to have a little chat about something else? Ashley Evans?”
Her face tightened up. “What about him?”
“My Super has been getting more than a few phone calls, same with the boss over your way. Persecution of his family, police vendetta, all that. My boss is displeased”
“Well, that’s not our fault---“
“Shut up, Di. Please. The boss was talking about cold cases. His words. Things have changed, attitudes have changed. He would like a chat with you”
“Aye. If Ashley fucking Evans thinks his family’s being picked on, let’s show him what that means. You with me?”
Five minutes later I knocked on the Super’s door. “Boss? This is the young lady I mentioned to you”
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