Dancing to a New Beat 39

CHAPTER 39
I had been suspecting something like that, of course, but it was still a lot to take in, so I sat for a few seconds listening to the grown-ups talking. Sammy cut to the crux of it.

“Where does that leave us?”

Brad’s mouth twisted, eyebrows up, and he shrugged, palms out. It seemed to be his little habit.

“Honestly? Rock and hard place, as ever. At the moment they’re just hitting each other, and yes, I know what you’re thinking, and it would be nice. But we can’t just offer to hold their coats and get the popcorn out. This is serious criminality, and we do have a duty, etc. We also have a duty of care, because this will spread”

I held a hand up, getting my six penn’orth in.

“Did some reading, didn’t I? After meeting Pig, yeah? How many allied or aligned MCs are there locally, and does this go up the chain to the really big boys?”

Brad nodded, looking to our own boss for approval, and then continued.

“We have six or seven other clubs within what can be termed their catchment area, but once again, that won’t be the problem, at least as far as the Press is concerned”

I must have looked ready to interrupt, and he cut me off.

“Yes, I know, but it is all part of the politics, and we can’t get away from it. It will be the fall-out, in this situation; the collateral damage, as the Yanks put it. Your friend was shot, am I right?”

“Yes. I’m told they were after me as well”

“Yes. Goes with your work, I’m afraid”

“Oh, thanks. Sir”

He grinned, and it was a nice one.

“Don’t mention it, Di. I hear the culprits were delivered trussed and oven-ready, and that’s where I am worried this might go. These clubs aren’t just clubs but businesses. They have extended portfolios, as the business wonks say. There are things they do, things they subcontract, and other things they cream off. Think of a variety of protection rackets and similar games. Tattooists, niche pubs, MCC rallies, all sorts of little earners and influence-boosters. Those are the real worries. And much as the popcorn would be as nice as I suggested, we can’t. They have to be made to play nicely, even if we don’t really give a shit about the casualties. So we have a job of work ahead”

Bev smiled at Sammy, no humour there at all.

“We are back to where your team found its feet, Sammy. We need to know who is who, what is what, and who has it. I believe our anal little LIO has a gangs file?”

I laughed out loud, neither me nor Sammy needing to answer that one, and Bev chuckled as well.

“Then we need to expand it. I want a package ASAP, showing who is on which side, their numbers, which businesses are connected, any middlemen or cut-outs. Di?”

“Yes, sir?”

“Your brother-in-law. Will he be happy to play with your team? I don’t want to make a higher-level approach unless we know he will be on board. This is going to be a complex bit of analysis, and I want no pressed men”

“Want me to ask?”

“Please. Sub rosa, of course. Brad, Sean Sutton works for HMRC in their fraud unit”

“Er, sorry sir, but not any more. They all got subsumed into the National Crime Agency”

“Oh, bugger. I had forgotten that bit”

“Um, so has he, sir. Pardon my French, but Blake says he isn’t happy. ‘Been a fucking Customs Officer all my life, they can stick their poncey TLAs up their fucking arse’. What Blake tells me Sean thinks. Said. Sir”

I had to pass Sammy a tissue from my bag so that he could wipe up the snot from his explosive laughter, and then Brad asked for one as Bev just grinned happily.

“Think my team has the right attitude, Brad?”

Sammy was quick off the mark.

“Sorry, sir, but WHOSE team?”

As Bev shook his head, Sammy’s old mate gave a particularly evil grin.

“From what I hear, it was Elaine Powell’s team, my friend!”

Bevan held up a hand.

“Enough! I think we’ve achieved the appropriate working relationship here, for which I thank you all. Now, we need to get the team settled in, HMRC or NCA or whatever Sean is onside, and perhaps a summary of what your team’s plans are, Brad”

“OK. Short form, once more. I don’t propose moving a dedicated team down here. I know you already have a good firearms team in place, so I propose leaving them as the lead unit. I will be staying on site, though, so I will be able to maintain an overview. We have contacts who can assist with rapid deployment if necessary. They have better helicopters, for a start”

“Brad?”

“Yes, Di?”

“These contacts. They be from Hereford, by any chance?”

He just grinned and nodded.

Bev closed the meeting, effectively kicking two of us out, and back at our office Sammy laid out the new tasking for the team.

“Mates, new wall boards for this one, and we need locked door protocol from here on in. I want two boards, one for each club, but I want them set up next to each other. Satellite clubs, members listed beneath. Associated businesses off applicable names. Look for cross-links”

Candice had her hand up.

“Specifically?”

“Clever buggers who think they can play both ends against the middle”

Ellen looked puzzled, which surprised me.

“There are really people that thick? Where the hell do they find them?”

“From recent experience, floating in the Usk. Now, this is mostly going to be indoors stuff for a while, but we will need some surveillance work. Di?”

“Yes?”

“Not you. They know your face too well. Sorry”

It irked, but Sammy was absolutely right. Pig knew who I was, and it could be guaranteed the rest of his boys would. I didn’t really mind, though, because at least I would be warm and dry, and that was never a small thing in a Welsh winter. He hadn’t finished.

“There have been two killings so far. There WILL be more. This isn’t just business for them, it’s face as well. That means there are likely to be more visits to the morgue. If anyone has issues with that sort of work, I am open to requests, and I will not insist on anyone going. I know I don’t really have to say this, but it is all about the team. If you don’t think you can handle it, say so, but remember that you are adding to your mates’ workloads. On the other hand, or lack of them in the last case, if you think you are strong enough, ditto. We all have individual strong points, so let’s use them to the max. All clear?”

He got the agreement he knew would come back his way, and we started the long and now familiar work of setting out our stall. Within two hours, I was back in my old world of half-dreaming free association as my mind wandered over possible connections.

‘Old’? No, not that old. I was still comparatively fresh to policing of that sort, but in the end my development in it had been rather accelerated. I wondered, a little idly, which had been the worst moment, a certain prison visit in Cumbria or an afternoon in the morgue…

“Sammy?”

“Yes, Di?”

“Who do they have banged away just now? Pig’s lot and their rivals?”

“Good call, mate. Job for the LIO, I think. Alun? Leave him to it, please, but we might need to do a visit or two”

Lexie looked up from cutting out a photo.

“Isn’t it like the Mafia, Sammy? All omerta and sealed lips?”

“Aye, but they aren’t the only inmates. The Prison Service has its own network of sources, so let’s see if we can’t tap into that as well. Nice one, team”

Head back down, I settled into my usual reverie, and I got so deeply into my dream state I was astonished to find it was half-past five and Blake was gone. Candice looked over from the door, where she was putting her coat on.

“You were really away with the fairies, girl! Blake’s gone for your boy. No hurry, no worry”

She settled her bag onto her shoulder just as the office phone rang. With a mutter, she picked it up.

“Serious Crimes Review…”

“Oh bollocks. Sorry. I’ll get the boss over. Sammy!”

As he emerged from his little corner, she pressed the mute button on the phone.

“Avon and Somerset, Sammy”

“Put it on speaker, mate—ta. Inspector Sammy Patel here. Who am I speaking to?”

“Hello, Inspector. DI Phil Reilly here. I have something which may be relevant to your force on my desk”

“Oh?”

“Well, when I say ‘on my desk’, it’s actually in a fridge in Uphill. Weston General Hospital, I mean”

I visualised the location, and I had a sinking feeling, which was mirrored in the expression of distaste now on Sammy’s face.

“Where did you get it, Phil? I have a sneaking suspicion I know what it is that you are talking about”

“I thought you might. Charter boat out from Weston, load of grockles on a bloody freezing day out in the Channel drowning worms, and the skipper decided to drop anchor for a while. Seems it dragged a little, and they brought up a surprise when it was time to head home”

My boss grunted in frustration.

“Most of my team are off home already, Phil. Will this keep?”

“It’s in a fridge, Sammy”

“Sorry. Bad choice of words. Anything else associated with it? Nothing time-critical?”

“No, Sammy. My boys have all the witness statements gathered up, and we have a file for you. I think we all know who this is, or was, but it would be nice to confirm it. Visually, if we can. If you have any photos, it would avoid any of your lot losing their lunch. Crabs were a bit busy”

Sammy took a couple of deep breaths.

“Phil, for formality, aye? Can we be clear on this: do you have a head and a pair of hands?”

“Yes. Other bits as well. Wedding tackle, that is. They were stuffed into the mouth. What the fuck is going on in South Wales?”

Another couple of deep breaths from my boss.

“Bad things, Phil. Very bad things”

He closed off the call, and I put together an e-mail combining the deceased’s mug shot with a summary of the LIO’s tattoo list, and sent it off to DI Reilly, giving a little prayer of thanks that we didn’t have to do the identification formalities ourselves. Busy crabs…

I didn’t sleep well that night, but Blake was his usual supportive self, which was all I really needed. The next morning we dropped Rhod off, I settled into my little reverie as Jon did a team brew, and at ten o’clock Alun and Lexie were off to the next body.



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