You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly, Part 12

Posted: 22 January 2013 in fiction, writing, You'll Never Believe A Man Can Fly
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Chapter Six (continued…)

There were, Doctor Rosemary Clooney decided, only so many times you could swear at the television without repeating yourself.

After the phone call from Docherty, she’d settled down for the morning, confident that for once, since she had a morning off from work, she’d relax, read the newspaper, and watch some daytime television.

It was when the two simpering presenters on Hi Britain! introduced the next item on the show that she came to the aforementioned conclusion. She didn’t think that she was completely out of line in wondering how terrifying it was that someone was actually paid to put together the running order of this show. How desperate must they have been, she wondered, to book the small girl with the incredibly obvious overbite? “And she whistles,” said one presenter, in equally obvious amazement. A terribly unkind fantasy about throwing the girl out of an airplane and listening to her teeth catching the wind occurred to Clooney and it was then that she gave up and turned the television off.

She switched on the radio and flicked between the only two stations she ever listened to. Hmm. A choice between a round table discussion with Brian Blessed, Germaine Greer and a cabinet minister on Five Live or a dramatisation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on Radio 4. There really didn’t seem to be a difference.

She looked at the telephone again, as if looking at it would somehow cause it to ring.

It didn’t.

With a grimace, she made herself a coffee and spread the papers Docherty had left with her over the large dining room table. Included were clippings from the previous night’s Evening Standard reports of the explosion by the National Provident bank, together with print outs from the main newsfeed sites, including BBC and ITV. There didn’t appear to be anything on the US led sites, but that didn’t surprise her. If Docherty was right, then there wouldn’t be.

But then, she thought, there was no reason for anyone to suspect that the event was anything other than what the news media had said it was: a tragic accident.

The disappearing body worried her and she wished she knew someone that she could call to ask about it. With a start, she realised that she did know someone. The last she’d heard of him, he was head of Paediatrics at the hospital the bodies had been taken to. But she couldn’t call him. Under no circumstances could she call this person. No way.

She shook her head and continued reading.

She stopped again and thought. No, she couldn’t. He wouldn’t be amused to hear from her, to put it extremely mildly, and it was that, as much as anything else, that made her mind up.

She picked up her smartphone to check the number of the hospital when her email bleeped loudly, the setting detecting the word “URGENT” in the subject heading. Fifteen seconds later, she was reading an email from work that completely wiped all thoughts of calling her ex-husband from her mind.

And two minutes after that, she was out of the door and running to the tube station, cursing that she wasn’t already at work.

– o –

When he got her voicemail for the third consecutive time in ten minutes, Jez Docherty uttered a similar though quieter curse and a fervent wish that Clooney might consider getting off the bloody phone occasionally. He clicked his phone off, muttered an apology to Ross, and turned to him.

“Not a problem,” Ross grinned at Docherty. The latter was surprised at how well they’d got on together once they’d returned to his office. The last time they’d seen each other was when their two departments had held a training day together and both of them had been their respective departments’ unarmed combat representatives. It was with a shock that they’d both realised that the other was their equal if not better. The natural competitiveness that accompanied such inter-departmental days had grown during the day to almost unhealthy levels by the time they’d met on the floor of the gym for the final bout. It helped that each had detested the other on first meeting.

Both men had known that, strictly against the rules, but not unexpectedly, a book was running on the eventual outcome and this, combined with the revelation that they supported rival football teams, had made the fight more dangerous than either liked to remember.

At the end, Docherty had won, but he had suffered a broken nose and two snapped ribs in the victory. And a week later, Ross had still looked like a panda bear from his two black eyes, and he’d limped for a fortnight after that.

And yet, here they were, in Docherty’s office, working together.

“So how did you get involved in Winter Snow, Ross?” he asked.

Ross leaned forward. “Let’s make it first names, ok?” Docherty nodded, thinking it was the second time in the past twelve hours he’d received that invitation, but this one was under far less pleasant circumstances. “How’d I get involved? Completely by accident,” Ross continued. He saw the look of disbelief on Docherty’s face. “Seriously,” he said, “I was doing a favour for an old mate, ex-job.” At that, the look faded from Docherty’s face. He was more than aware of the strength of old favours owed and repaid.

“I got a call from him, asking if someone from Science Section could drop by to take a look at something very weird that had happened at his office. I made a couple of phone calls and was basically told that everyone was busy, so I thought I’d take a look and get some shots. I took Powers along. You know him?”

Docherty didn’t, but didn’t really want the full resume of Powers from Ross, so just said “No, and…?”

Ross took the hint and related what had happened when he got to Doncaster and Monkton. He gave the address but it didn’t mean anything to Docherty. Ross continued. “When I got back, I got Powers to download the pictures to my work terminal and then did a brief report on it and filed it with Central Filing, copies to my Control and Science Section, with a request to the Watch section to stick the bloke on surveillance. Then I got on with my work.”

He leaned back again, stretching out. “After all, Jez, I do have half a dozen real cases I’m working on, including a couple of Russian agents I’m trying to, erm, ‘persuade’ to defect.”

“Blackmail, you mean?” asked Docherty, and he received a pained look in response, as if to ask there’s a difference? “So you filed your report, went back to your work and…?” Docherty asked, knowing there was more to come.

Ross stretched out again, his hands joining above his head. Then he sat up. “And that’s when the brown smelly stuff hit the round whirly thing. Boy, did it ever! Twenty minutes after filing, I got a call from Control asking me, no, instructing me, to drop whatever I’m working on and report to his office. PDQ was how it was phrased.”

“Yeah,” said Docherty, “Control always did like that phrase.”

“Anyway, I go over to see him, he asks me a few questions about my meeting, then gives me a brief – and brief’s the word, trust me! – on Winter Snow and then he tells me to get over to see you, smartish.” Ross stopped, as if for breath and then slowly said, “And one more thing: before I leave his presence, he makes me sign a PX473.”

“OK,” said Docherty, putting the pieces together in his mind, “did he tell you why he wanted you to come and see me?”

“Yeah – he thinks I know who your eye witness was.”

That got Docherty’s attention in a hurry. He wasn’t even polite as he sat forward, grabbed his keyboard and snapped out “name?”

Ross opened his notebook and read out “Ian Terrence Davies,” and gave his address.

As he was still speaking, Docherty was punching in Davies’ details. He couldn’t make the connection, but did as Ross added “and in case you were wondering, the route that he takes from home to work every day takes him straight past the National Provident bank…”

Among the information that was thrown up on the computer screen were Davies’ mobile, work and home numbers. Reasoning that the mobile number was favourite, Davies moved the mouse cursor over the mobile phone icon and clicked on it. Immediately his desk phone switched to hands-free mode and called the number. Ross and Docherty could hear the phone ring once and then a standard voicemail message started. The two men stared at each other, and both were thinking the same things: where the hell was Davies, and what the hell was he doing now?

– o –

© Lee Barnett, 2013

To read part 13 of You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly, click here.


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