kiwisue (kiwisue) wrote,
kiwisue
kiwisue

ACTS OF CHOOSING - Part Two


“Stoppage.”

Hoskins took the gun, worked the action and gave it a cursory once-over.

“It’s most likely a bad round. Did you clear it and try again?”

“I didn’t have time.”

Hoskins looked sourly at the weapon. “I’ll take it apart, see what the problem is. I suppose you’ll want a replacement. Maybe you should switch to one of the new revolvers that came in last month. Never seem to have trouble with those.”

“They’d spoil the line of my Saville Row suit. I’ll take a Hi Power and plenty of ammunition. And I’ll test it before I’ll accept it.”

Doyle signed for the Browning and the accompanying rounds and headed for the firing range at the rear of the armoury building. The range was empty. He picked a lane that already had a target set up, loaded the pistol and began firing. The first shots were fast singles, as he got used to the weapon. It fired smoothly enough and he hit close to the centre of the target every time. It was the same firing from the draw, two or three shots at each attempt. Again, the results were good - not as good as he’d have liked them to be, but he’d been concentrating on observation and feel, not accuracy.

Doyle retrieved the first target and attached another, ran it out, reloaded and began firing again, slowly and deliberately this time, seeking the bull’s eye. Lift, sight, squeeze. Lower the gun and repeat, thirteen times. That was one reason he liked the Browning, the reassurance of those extra rounds in the magazine. Almost never have a stoppage with one, either.

They're supposed to be reliable…"

He was hit by a sense of loss so terrifying in its intensity that it felt as though his whole body had turned to ice. It was everything he’d felt when Sid Parker died, when his dog had had to be put down, when his mother had gone into hospital and he’d worried about being too late to see her before she died. Reflexively squeezing the trigger for his planned shot he felt the gun jerk in his hand and knew it had gone wide. There was one more in the magazine: he took a deep breath and tried to relax, to focus. His vision was blurry, the bull wavering in the distance beyond the sights and he snapped off the last one, glad to get rid of it.

It wasn’t just the perforation out on the rim of the target that accused him. The grouping of the others was lousy as well, holes crawling off the black centre into the white. He’d shot better when he hadn’t been trying.

Too tense, that was the problem, he decided. He rolled his shoulders, bent his back until it cracked, stretched out his arms, his fingers.

His hands were shaking.

Furious, he spun around and slammed his fist against the wooden lane divider. It was covered in a rough, baize-like cloth that did nothing to dampen the force of his blow but ripped skin from his knuckles, blood seeping brightly from them as he gasped with the sharp pain and cursed himself for a fool.

He was losing it. Definitely losing it.

Still shaking, he found a handkerchief in his jacket pocket and pressed it to his hand, wincing at the fresh touch on his abraded skin. The pressure helped, though, and after a couple of minutes he decided to have one more go at the target. Just as the thought crossed his mind, the door opened and Bodie came in.

“I thought you’d be done here by now.”

“Had to sight it in.” He concentrated on hanging another target and running it out, avoided looking at his partner, hated knowing that Bodie could see everything - his knuckles, the hole in the target on the bench exactly where it shouldn’t be, and the tension that still ruled him. Then Bodie was by his side, looking down.

“I’d rather see a pint in my future than that shot. Why don’t you leave it for tonight, come to the pub? We can put in some range time tomorrow.”

Yeah, Bodie had seen it, alright. Which meant he couldn’t leave it now, he had to get himself back under control, back on track. “That? Was just trying something. One more, okay?”

Bodie moved a little to one side and stood there, waiting. Conscious of the quiet observer beside him Doyle reloaded his gun, the agitation fading away as he completed the familiar movements. A delayed reaction to the forklift incident was all it was. Like the pilots said, any landing you can walk away from is a good one, and here they both were, on their feet and everything.

He blew the centre out of the target with the first eight shots.

“Nice going.” Bodie moved close again, wrapped an arm around him. He leaned into the support Bodie offered, enjoying the contact and the feeling of relief that swept through him. He should move, he thought, shouldn’t tempt fate when he knew how Bodie affected him, how physical contact awakened feelings and sensations that didn’t belong and sent them skittering around like demons on the edge of the mind. But Bodie’s hand was warm and heavy on his shoulder, and he needed that pressure, that closeness, even the risk of emotions that threatened to become too strong to bear.

He could feel Bodie’s breath, gentle exhalations sending strands of hair floating adrift and sensations of movement across his scalp. Too late he realised the danger, as desire overwhelmed him and brought with it physical arousal, sudden and fierce. He tensed, but Bodie tightened his grip in response; acutely aware, he knew Bodie’s other hand hovered near his hip and he forced himself away before a touch there could bring him completely undone.

Bodie fought at first, silently resisting, until Doyle twisted around, out of his grip. With his back to the range bench he regarded Bodie warily.

“Something wrong?” Bodie asked, as smooth as you like, no sign of their brief tussle showing on the surface. But his eyes; oh, there was something dark and deeply dangerous in them, some spell of attraction woven in their depths and cast out like a net to draw Doyle in.

“Nah, nothing. Need a drink, is all.” He closed his eyes for a moment to break the connection. Then he turned and busied himself picking up discarded brass casings, stowing the unspent ammunition in pockets and the gun in his holster. “You offering?”

And that, he thought wryly, was probably not the wisest thing to say under the circumstances. But Bodie shrugged and readily agreed to stand the first drink as long as Doyle bought the second – and so they went on as they had always done.


************************************


Off the High Street, the pub was quiet, the after work crowd yet to appear. Bodie bought pints and they settled down to drink them in a corner nook.

“The doctors say we can’t talk to Pedder until at least tomorrow. We’re on stand-by until further notice.”

“What about Findlay?” Doyle wondered. They had been sent to bring him in, only the call from Marriott had interfered. Also, truth be told, he needed something to keep him busy. Sitting around waiting, and dwelling on what had happened at the range, wasn’t a particularly inviting prospect.

“Gone home. His arm wasn’t broken, just badly bruised. The doc strapped his ribs, but otherwise he’s as healthy as a horse. And Cowley personally phoned Casualty to ‘invite’ him to a meeting tomorrow – to assist with enquiries, of course. He agreed.”

He laughed, an image of that future meeting forming vividly in his mind. “I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that one. Glaring at each other over the cups of tea and biscuits – be worth recording for posterity that would.”

“Oh, and would Cowley bring out the good scotch, d’you think?”

“Nah,” he said. “Findlay doesn’t touch alcohol. He told me once that dock work killed enough men without the drink doing for them as well.”

“George had better watch out then.”

“Yeah.” Sobered, he stared at his beer. Beside him Bodie moved, restless, then he spoke softly but urgently.

“Listen, Ray. I want… well I think we need to…” But he cut off whatever he was going to say next as a full glass of gin and tonic was placed on the table and Susan sat down next to Doyle, with a frown and an air of hard-done-by hanging over her.

“Thought I’d find you here. I gather your day hasn’t been much better than mine.”

“One in the mortuary, one in hospital. No Luger, but a couple of possible leads.” Bodie greeted her. “How about you?”

“I’ve been interviewing the ladies, mostly,” she said with a sigh. “Jenny Wilton’s mind is going - she kept calling me Jemima, and wanted to know whether the “all clear” had sounded yet. Dennis Rhodes – that’s her brother – gave up the socialist fight a few years ago. He’s now living on an ashram in Devon. I think we can rule him out!”

She pushed the ice-cubes around in her glass with the straw.

“Rowena Talbot gave me a lecture on International Communism and said that she wasn’t a spy purely because she lacked the opportunity which I thought was remarkably candid of her. She’s writing a memoir of her late husband, however, and he moved in some very interesting circles. We know Findlay knew him – now it seems he mixed with any and everyone, from student radicals to Prime Ministers to Soviet ambassadors. I’ll have a better idea once I’ve cross-checked what she told me with the records.”

“I’m starting to think this Cold War cover-up theory’s for the birds,” Doyle said. “Turns out Marshall was in hock to Harry Parker, who’s not exactly known for his generosity.”

“Parker wouldn’t stoop that low.” Susan argued. “He’s got a reputation to protect.”

“Maybe not, but he’d cheerfully tell someone else how far to bend down. Look, despite his fancy airs and the number of times he’s had his mug in the social pages, he’s just another crook. The problem’s proving anything.”

“He’s mostly North London, not East End,” Bodie added. “We’ve still got a docks connection.”

“Not unusual. New villains are going for the container ports and air cargo terminals, but you can’t beat the Thames for tradition and a quick turnover.”

“Maybe… I dunno. I do know one thing,” Bodie said

“Oh? What’s that?”

“My glass is empty!”

“All right, all right, I’ll get you another. Susan?”

“Yes please.” She swung her legs around to let him out of the booth.

He gave the barmaid his order and left her to fill it, watching instead as Bodie smiled in response to some comment from Susan, completely at ease, as though he'd walked out of an office, tie stuffed in pocket, and kicked back to enjoy a pint and good company for a little while after work. There was nothing to suggest he'd been that close to being buried under a pile of crates and twisted steel only a few hours ago. Come to think of it - Doyle peered more intently - he'd even managed to change his shirt and sponge down his jacket between then and now. He was wearing white with the black leather now, a combination that suited him well, too well for Doyle's comfort.

"That'll be one pound fifteen," the barmaid announced, drawing his attention back to the bar. He paid her, collected his change and took the drinks over to the table. He took a mouthful of bitter and turned to Susan, who looked as sharp as ever in a white dress and a jacket of RAF blue. There was an intensity about her that never seemed to go away, no matter what the situation. She was quick-witted, sarcastic even, and he admired her for it, even lusted after her a little.

"Thought you had three interviews. What about the other one – Madeleine Caldwell?" he asked.

"Oh, no help there. Interesting, though." She looked unwilling to say more, although Doyle was pretty sure it was an act. She liked attention and knew how to attract it. He decided to play along.

“Oh, come on, Susie,” he protested, somewhat theatrically. “’That's hardly fair. Here, I’ll get down on bended knee and beg, would you like that?” There was limited room between the booth seat and the table, but he made a show of it anyway, twisting about and getting one knee down on the floor, before Susan hit him, not altogether gently, and hauled him back up again.

“Madman,” she accused, laughing. “All right. On the surface, Ms Caldwell appears to be a very proper, well-bred ex-public servant. Underneath, something quite different. Sex, intrigue, romance..."

"Sounds like yesterday's issue of The Sun." Bodie drawled.

"Possibly, although with less gratuitous public nudity," she retorted sharply. "The rumours were true. The affair started after she went to work for him, having been promoted over several more experienced secretaries. It lasted for over two years, although she eventually realised he was just using her. When she came to her senses and finished it he made her job intolerable and she left."

"So? Not good for her, but it's not unusual for bosses to behave badly."

"There's more. Later, she fell in love with an Indian doctor and they decided to get married. Her former lover found out and the vindictive bastard tried to have her fiancé deported. Old friends in the department told her what he was up to. She confronted him and told him she’d tell all if he didn’t leave her alone.”

Doyle whistled. “That must’ve taken some guts.”

“Absolutely. I liked her.” Susan said. “I think she was on the list for no reason other than the affair. It made him vulnerable to blackmail, or letting secrets slip in the bedroom. I can't see her involved in anything like that, though."

The pub had grown busier and with much jostling a small group of youngsters arrived to take possession of the table next to them, limiting their discussion of the.

"What do you have on tomorrow?" Doyle asked, sotto voce.

"Files again. Backtracking, last known movements, that sort of thing. Murphy tells me the police have covered that, but there's always something they've missed."

"I could give you a hand, if we're still on standby."

"Thanks. Misery loves company."

"I'm sure we could both help you out," Bodie offered smoothly.

"Haven't you heard, mate? Three's a crowd. Matter of fact," he slid nearer to Susan and spoke to her in a low voice, "we could make a start tonight."

"And just what are you thinking about starting?" she said, smiling.

"Oh, I think we should have dinner first. Somewhere quiet, where we can… go over the details. Afterwards – whatever takes your fancy."

"Sounds interesting." Susan took a final sip from her drink. "Unfortunately I've been from Gloucester to Cambridge and back today, and I'm knackered. Some other time… perhaps."

She put the empty glass down and picked up her handbag. "See you in the morning, boys."

Doyle moved aside to let her through. "I'm heartbroken, you know."

"You'll live." She waved them both a cheerful goodbye and left.

"Think I'll head home too." Bodie said, his face expressionless.

"Might as well." He left his pint unfinished, getting up when Bodie did. Outside in the cooling evening it was still light.

"My car's back at the armoury. See you in the morning, okay?"

Doyle turned to go, but Bodie grasped his arm and held him back.

"So is mine. You trying to run away from me?"

"Nah. Just didn't realise. Come on, then."

They walked down the street together. Bodie didn't say anything until they reached Doyle's car. Then he grasped Doyle by the shoulder, hard, and slipped between him and the car door, watching him intently.

“Why do I have the feeling that little display in there wasn’t entirely for Susan’s benefit?”

“What do you mean?”

"I think you know.” Bodie's eyes were hard, like blue stone.

"Yeah, well I don't. Leave off, Bodie, it's been a tough day."

"Hasn't it just." Then Bodie's expression changed to one of amusement. "All right, I'll drop it. But not for ever. You're a bright lad, Raymond. You'll work it out."

He slipped his hand up from Doyle's shoulder to the base of his neck and held him in a strong grip. For one panicked second Doyle thought that Bodie was going to pull him down into an embrace, maybe even kiss him – Bodie's mouth was a little open, his lips soft and inviting. And for a brief moment he knew that it would feel exactly, perfectly right.

Then Bodie released him and moved away. "My turn to pick you up tomorrow.”

"Fine. See you then."

He sat in his car until he saw Bodie's Capri roar past before he put the key in the ignition and started the motor.

************************************


Back home again there was a message on the answering machine.

"Hi, Ray, it's Claire. If you get this before eight o'clock, the girls and I are going dancing. You're welcome to come and save me from the shop talk. Otherwise I won't be able to see you for a while – I've got a string of nights coming up."

He checked the time – seven thirty. He could make it; it would be good to see Claire. Then again, he didn't feel like socialising, and Claire's nursing friends were nothing if not chatty. He’d give it a miss, catch up with her when her night shifts were over. Wasn't as though they were in a serious relationship after all.

He decided instead to try the new Indian takeaway just a few streets away and get an early night.


************************************


Somewhere else in the darkening city, a violent man made an angry phone call.

"You listen to me you fucking stupid c**t! Pedder's in hospital with six different kinds of copper buzzing around him and it's all your fault… no excuses, you should have educated him to keep his fucking mouth shut on the job, not blurt your name out when things got a bit rough. You clean your doorstep and do it properly before I have one more word to say to you, d'you hear me?

"Good… Don't try to contact me, don't even breathe my name to anyone. I'll call you when I need you."



************************************


Doyle was barely awake when his RT went off. It was in his jacket, in the lounge. He struggled out of bed and went to answer it.

Bodie.

“Where are you?”

“Whaddya mean where am I? Where are you

“Outside. Don’t tell me you forgot I was picking you up this morning.”

“Yeah, but I thought you said eight thirty. It’s….” He checked the clock. “…not eight yet. What’s the rush?”

“Cowley. We’ve been invited to sit in on his tea party with Findlay. So hurry up.”

Doyle groaned. “Alright, hang about. I’ll get ready.”

He raced through his ablutions in record time, tossed on a clean shirt and the jeans he’d been wearing the day before and rushed down the stairs to meet Bodie in less than fifteen minutes.




Betty ushered Bodie and Doyle into Cowley’s office, following them with a tray of tea and scones. Only two cups, Doyle observed, as his stomach reminded him of haste and lack of breakfast.

Findlay was already there, sitting in the comfortable chair by the coffee table. Dressed for business, the sling on his left arm the only sign of yesterday’s fracas, he watched calmly while Cowley, acting the gentleman host, poured tea for them both. The cup passed from hand to steady hand – Findlay placed it on the table in front of him and waited.

Cowley walked over to his desk. He picked up a newspaper that lay there and brought it over to the low table. Was it just his imagination, Doyle wondered, or was the old man limping, guarding the leg with the old bullet wound more than usual?

Findlay picked up his cup, took a small sip from it, and then put it down again. Slowly, deliberately, with the hand that lacked a finger.

It was like watching a pair of grandmasters play the opening moves in a game of chess.

“Murder and motive” Cowley said, placing the newspaper on the table. On the top sheet a short article headed ‘Murder mystery in Clapham’ was outlined. “Never the first without the second.”

“So your men implied yesterday,” Findlay replied. “I’ve read the papers, Cowley. I’m afraid the connection still escapes me.”

Cowley smiled. “Marshall found a file on you. An intelligence file from oh, a dozen or so years ago. Does that ring any bells, Tom? What would you do to keep that from becoming public?”

“Nothing at all and it’s an insult to suggest I would. Whatever fairy tales the establishment has come up with year after year, they’ve never found anything they could charge me over. And it’s not for want of trying, either. I got used to it, you know, got so I could spot Special Branch ten rows back at a West Ham home game.”

"The file was remarkably thorough. Not just your union activities – your family, the home you lost in the Blitz, your attendance at a few Communist Party meetings and the fact that you never joined…"

"I never could stomach the idea of a British party that had to have its policies approved by Moscow."

"For all your activism, you were arrested only once, I believe. In 1936, after the Cable Street riot."

"True. But you won't find a man or woman in the East End who would fault me for that."

"The old East End, maybe. I understand there's more violent disaffection with immigration in these days of job shortages and rising prices. But that's by the bye. It's one thing to have chucked sticks and stones at some of Moseley's Blackshirts: I’d probably have done the same myself if I’d been in your shoes. It's quite another to help a convicted traitor escape the Queen’s justice.”

Findlay stared at Cowley. One thumb massaged the palm of the other hand, the one with the scar and the missing finger. First hit to Cowley, and it was a palpable one.

"To refresh your memory, it was 1967 when Burke escaped. Just before you called the stay-in strike that threw the Royals into chaos for over a fortnight."

"I didn't call that strike," Findlay said, after a pause, "the men did, and the union ratified it afterwards. But if that's how he got out, more power to him. A lot of people thought that his sentence was excessive."

"I don't doubt that's true," Cowley replied. "But it’s also true that John Talbot was at the head of a movement to have Burke’s sentence reviewed and that you and he met several times in the weeks before Burke escaped. One of those meetings was at a party held by Rowena Talbot where you also had a long conversation with a Soviet diplomatic attaché, Mikhail Vasilyev.”

“I attended that party at Mrs Talbot’s request. She’d made a donation to the Docks Welfare Fund and it was a personal favour. As for Vasilyev, he approached me. We discussed the trade union movement in Britain and abroad, and that is all we discussed.”

“There were no strings attached to Mrs Talbot’s donation?”

“No! None at all. Rowena was… is an idealist.”

“All of this is information recorded in the documents taken from Marshall’s flat. Potential dynamite if released, especially before an election. Marshall was trying to sell his story to the press. Who would want to take them from him, if not you? Magnus Thompson?"

"Magnus and I – we go back a long way. We oppose each other over ideological principles and tactics, neither of which requires murder to resolve.”

The meeting went on, Findlay matching Cowley point for counterpoint. While fascinated, Doyle wondered where it was all going.

"…of course crime is increasing! The young people see no future, and some of them go bad, certainly. But it isn’t their fault the docklands are dying. They've been undermined by management failures, by lack of investment in equipment and modern methods of work!"

"I agree with what you are saying, up to a point, But I'm not a social worker, Mr. Findlay, and I don't need a dissertation on the East End's economic problems. I need to find out why someone wanted information about you badly enough to kill for it!"

"I know no one who would do any such thing. I'm sorry, Cowley. It's a mystery to me as well."

Something clicked for Doyle then. He jumped into the conversation.

“Just a minute, Tom – you said you didn’t know anyone who would kill to stop you winning the election. But what if someone wanted to make sure you won?”

Findlay looked stunned.

"I mean it, Tom. First, what happens if you lose?"

"Then Magnus becomes General Secretary. And that would be a tragedy."

Cowley looked at Findlay, eyes searching his face. "And why would that be?" he said, softly.

"Because Magnus is, and has always been, a militant. He argues that we need an increased radicalism in the union now the Tories are in power and a lot of people are listening to that sort of talk. But increased industrial unrest right now would mean death to the up-river docks."

"And if you win?"

Findlay sighed. "I won't make predictions about the future. But I think I have a better chance of striking the right kind of bargain to keep the docks open and dockers employed."

"No pun intended," Cowley said dryly. "Good thinking, Doyle. Where does that lead us?"

"I don't know, sir," Doyle confessed. "But it opens up a few lines of inquiry. Maybe when we talk to Pedder…"

Betty came in holding a folded slip of paper, which she passed to Cowley. Cowley read it.

“I’m afraid I have some bad news for you,” Cowley told Findlay. “Daniel Pedder died this morning.”

Findlay looked deeply shocked. He slumped in his seat, pressed his hands to his face and held them there. When he looked up again, his eyes were reddened and moist. He opened his mouth, as though to speak then closed it again, shaking his head.

"Bodie, Doyle, get over to the hospital. Find out what you can and report back."

"Yes sir." They were glad to leave.


************************************


The policeman on duty that morning met them at the ward entrance. He looked very young, a lad barely separated from his training wheels and uncomfortable at being the subject of CI5 scrutiny.

“Who went into the room this morning?” Doyle enquired.

“Well, there were the nurses, went in two or three times. Then there was a ward round around eight o’clock. Some important looking doctor, the ward sister and a gaggle of people in white coats. They stayed in there for about ten minutes.”

“And they all came out again?”

“I think so. Didn’t count them. I was talking to Nurse Standish,” he admitted. “The head doctor told one of the others to do something –I didn’t really understand any of it. Anyway they all trooped off. And then Nurse Standish came back and that’s when we found out he was dead.”

Nurse Standish was petite, blonde and very attractive.

“After the ward round Stuart – he’s one of the house doctors – wrote up the medication changes Professor Whitcombe wanted. It wasn’t anything we needed to go to pharmacy for, so I got it out of the clinic, and Liz checked that it was what was ordered. We have to do that you know, in case one of us makes a mistake, or the doctor did. Then I went to give the injection and he wasn’t breathing and we couldn’t get him started again.”

“Anything unusual about the ward round? Anyone who didn’t belong?” Bodie asked.

She shrugged. “I didn't know half of them, to be honest. They’re mostly medical students and house doctors, some work on this ward, others come along because the Prof is a good teacher and they’re looking after patients of his somewhere else. And his ward rounds are regular, not like some of them.”

“Thank you very much, Nurse Standish. If we need to know anything else we’ll get back to you.” Bodie had his posh voice on. The nurse left, with a backwards glance that suggested interest.

“Not bad.” Bodie muttered.

“She’s just playing with you, mate. What she’s really after is to find Doctor Right. CI5 agents and junior policemen are just a diversion along the path to happiness and finishing schools for the kids.”

“Cynical bastard.”

“True. Look, I reckon there’s a good chance someone did for Pedder, don’t you?”

“Someone who had the nerve to tag along behind the ward round?”

“Well, I don't know how they could have known the round was on unless they worked here. But loitering with intent's a possibility. No-one’s going to look twice at you if wear a white coat and stick a stethoscope around your neck.”

“Maybe. Let’s look at the room.”

The room was a single one, empty, the bed and body removed already. There was a door on the far side leading to a balcony. Doyle tried the door handle. It opened easily and quietly. He walked out to where the balcony ran along the length of the building to a fire escape.

"Could be entry or egress," he said, thinking out loud.

"My, what big words you know, Constable." Bodie teased. Doyle frowned, ignoring the smirk on his partner's face.

“C’mon, we’d better talk to the Head Dragon.”

The ward sister proved to be matter-of-fact sensible and not at all dragon-like. She corroborated the stories of the two younger witnesses, before adding that the ward round that morning had been rather larger than usual.

“You should ask Professor Whitcombe for the details of the case, but in my experience it isn’t unknown for someone with a severe head injury to deteriorate suddenly."

"I understand, Sister," Doyle agreed. "We'll get one of our doctors to speak to the Professor about the post-mortem."

"Of course. I'll talk to my staff. Someone may recall something important. Meanwhile, Mr Pedder’s sister is here, with her boyfriend. I assumed you’d want to speak with them?”

They did, and the sister showed them to the interview room where Rachel Pedder and her boyfriend were waiting.



"Hello Joe," Doyle said, recognising the young man who sat with his arm protectively wrapped around Rachel as the one he'd met in the union office. "I didn't think I'd find you here."

"And where else would I be?" Joe retorted, somewhat truculently. "Daniel is… was my friend."

"It's not a criticism." Doyle sat down opposite the pair, Bodie next to him. "Just an observation. Miss Pedder, I'm sorry about your brother, but I have to ask. Are you aware of what happened at the docks yesterday?"

Rachel Pedder was an attractive woman, he thought, even with her face streaked with tears and smudged mascara. Glossy black hair fell forward, framing an even-featured, oval face and large brown eyes. She nodded in answer to his question.

"Tom… Joe's dad told us last night. Daniel tried to run away from the police and crashed into a van. I don't understand any of it. Why were they after him? What's he done?" She searched Doyle's face, looking for answers.

"I was hoping you might know something." Doyle said. "When did you last see Daniel? Before yesterday."

"Two nights ago. He came home late, and he wasn't in a good mood, didn't want to talk. Just went to his room."

"Was that unusual?" Bodie asked.

"Yes. Most nights he'd have a cup of tea with me at least, wouldn't matter how late it was."

Detail by detail a picture emerged. Pedder had been uneasy and uncomfortable to be around for most of the past week. He'd lived with his sister and mother in a small flat in Stepney that was falling apart around them, courtesy of rising damp and sheer age. He'd taken every extra job that was going; some that were above board, others that he hadn't wanted to talk about. Their mother had arrived in London as a refugee and married their father, an English Jew, now deceased - her health had never been good and was getting worse.

“Joe and I want to get married. But I look after Mum full-time – can't leave her on her own for long. Daniel wanted to make enough money to hire a nurse, buy our own flat, get us out of Stepney at last. He wanted the world for all of us.”

"Miss Pedder, I need to know who he associated with, about those 'extra jobs', as you call them. I need names."

"Well… there was only one that I know of. Gerry Rodgers."

Joe looked nervous. "Rachel, love…," he began.

"Don't 'love' at me, Joe Findlay," she said firmly. "You thought you could deal with it, and here we are. Show him your arm."

Joe looked uncomfortable, but he obeyed. He unbuttoned one cuff and rolled the sleeve up.

"That's Gerry Rodgers' work for you," Rachel told them. "Joe had an argument with him about getting Dan involved with his 'jobs'. This is the result."

From his upper forearm to above the elbow his arm was a mess of surgical scars. As Joe stretched his arm out, Doyle realised that he was lacking about twenty or more degrees of movement. This had to have been the injury that Tom Findlay had talked about, the one that had made Joe permanently unfit for dock work.

"Who's Gerry Rodgers?" Bodie asked. Doyle replied, without waiting for Joe or Rachel.

"He's a villain. Works on two levels. Uses lads in need of cash for small jobs, a bit of cigarette smuggling, tax evasion, courier work here and there. He 'graduates' them into full time crime if they're up to it. Reckon Daniel must have been."

"No!" Rachel protested. "He wouldn't…!

"We can't say for certain until we're finished with the investigation. I'm sorry, Miss Pedder, We'll let you know if we need you again."


************************************

"Gerry Rodgers, you say?" Cowley was interested. "This fits in nicely with Findlay's account."

"How so, sir?" Bodie asked. "We knew Findlay’s son was best mates with Pedder, and found out that he was going out with Pedder’s sister. But Rodgers didn't figure in this until now.”

"After you left, Findlay and I continued our conversation. He's worried about rumours of a drug cartel using the India docks for unloading their merchandise. Also, we know that Rodgers is deep into the drugs game. Doyle - what happens if the docks close?"

"A couple of thousand men out of work, that's what," Doyle growled. Then he thought again. "And a dry supply line."

"Exactly. The motive you were searching for, the reason why that list suddenly became important – it's all clear now. Rodgers needs Findlay to stay at the wheel, keep things steady. Thompson comes in, shakes things up, and the docks close."

"From what Findlay was saying it’s only a matter of time." Bodie said.

"And in that time?"

"New supply lines, new routes. More time to get his people in place."

Cowley leaned back in his chair. "That's it. That's the reason."

"So we get Rodgers?" Bodie asked, almost eagerly.

"No. Rodgers has ties to Parker and to the blackmail case Marriott and Lucas are working on. It's their case now. I’ve got another job for the two of you. Well, not so much a job. Call it a refresher.”

Bodie cast a worried glance at Doyle. “A refresher? We’re as fresh as daisies, sir. Aren’t we, Doyle?”

“Take on the world, mate,” he shot back.

Cowley ignored him. “I disagree. The last couple of days have shown me that you're off your mark, getting stale. Right when I need you both to be better than your best. Report to Macklin tomorrow noon at the Training Centre. Oh, and get rid of the milk in your refrigerators and pay your bills. You may be some time.”

With that last remark Cowley left.

“Don’t like the sound of that,” Bodie said glumly.

“Which part? Macklin or ‘pay your bills’?”

“Either. Both. Robbie Allison had to have surgery after one of Macklin’s sessions. Twenty stitches.”

Doyle only half-heard Bodie. He was too busy thinking about the way they’d been summarily dumped from the case.

Bodie shrugged. “The Cow giveth…”

“…and the Cow taketh away. Yeah, I know.”

************************************
Part Three
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