Dan lay awake in bed and his brain refused to switch off. Was Greg Peters talking crap? Given that there'd already been a trial and conviction it seemed likely. But why? Why now after a decade? It couldn't be to get Katherine Harrington off the hook because she was already out. Had Peters recognised her in the street? Dan had no doubt that the media would have been all over a case involving a murdered copper, but alot of news had passed by in ten years. Also, if he had recognised her as someone who had served time for a crime he committed, why run up and mug her? That seemed a bit too ridiculous. His bedside clock told him it was 5am. Rather than risk dropping off and oversleeping, Dan decided to get up and shower. Over coffee, he tried to visualise all the male officers from the station. Of those he could recall, Ken Watson was probably the smallest at the 5'9 mark. How had a nineteen year old girl murdered a trained, adult, male policeman? Was he asleep? Doubtful, seeing as he was found in his back kitchen. Was Katherine Harrington built like an all in wrestler, and threfore physically capable? Possibly, but why would a mugger target a heftily built woman and risk a right hook? The phone ringing disturbed Dan's thoughts. It was 6:30am and Ken Watson was on the early shift.
"Sorry to bother you at home, DS Buckley. Greg Peters died thirty minutes ago. Not a surprise, I know. For some reason his ex wife is down as his next of kin. Probably an oversight during the divorce or something. She doesn't know yet. What with all that weird stuff yesterday, I didn't know if you wanted to go and tell her yourself." Ken said. Dan could use this opportunity to find out a bit more on Gregory Peters.
"Give me thirty minutes and I'll come into the station. Are you free to come with me?" Dan began shrugging his jacket on.
"If you want me to, yes. I'll go and sign for plain car. As long as it's not that sodding Skoda, we'll be fine."
Ken had managed to get a nice Astra and not the sodding Skoda. He handed Dan a sheet of paper with Irene Peters' address on it, then got into the driver's seat.
"I take it they weren't in touch, otherwise she'd have been at the hospital. Redlane Estate. How nice for this time in the morning." Dan grimaced.
"Redlane isn't nice no matter what time of day it is. It says in Peters' background files that his old girl divorced him nine years ago after he'd got banged up." Ken informed Dan as he pulled up outside of Irene Peters' shabby house. It was an ugly square construction with a weed choked garden and a peeling front door. Mrs Peters was non too shining either with her peroxide hair and a cigarette dangling from her mouth. Dan and Ken both introduced themselves and showed their ID.
"May we come in, Mrs Peters?" Dan asked.
"No and it's Ms Wilson. What do you want?" Irene flicked her cigarette end into next door's garden.
"It's about your ex husband, Ms Wilson. He died earlier this morning." Dan delivered the news.
"Am I supposed to care?" Irene rolled her eyes. "Drink or drugs? Stupid old bastard."
"Actually he was hit by a car." Dan stated bluntly.
"Matterless to me." Irene shrugged her skinny shoulders.
"So you've had no contact since the divorce?" Dan asked.
"Not on your nelly. Why would I do that? He was an arsehole when we were married and I doubt he changed."
"So you wouldn't know about his friends or associates?" Dan tried.
"Would I hell." Irene folded her arms, another lit cigarette in her mouth. "I'll tell you one thing though, they'll all be scumbags."
"What about from when you were married? He mentioned someone called Cliff before he died."
"Cliff Davies? Arsehole's not worth mentioning. He's a bigger shit head that Greg is ... was ... whatever." Irene sniffed.
"Do you know where I can find him, Ms Wilson?" Dan asked.
"How the hell should I know? His folks used to live over on the Banks Estate but that was years ago. Look, I haven't seen or heard from any of Greg's low life mates for nine years. The lot of them were scum. Worse than scum. Anyway, thanks for telling me he's kicked the bucket. You've made my day. Anything else? It's bloody freezing out here."
"No. Thanks for your time, Ms Wilson. I won't keep you any longer." Dan walked down the path and back to the car with Ken.
"Rough arsed old boiler." Ken gave his opinion.
"Well Greg wasn't exactly the epitome of genteel, was he? Do you know much of what's going on, Ken? Sergeant Frost helped me alot yesterday." Dan said.
"Personally I think Peters was talking bollocks. I know you're obliged to follow it up but I think he was just taking the piss." Ken nodded.
"Can you remember the case?"
"Just from the papers. I was a plod like Tessa at the time. I can't believe neither me or Tessa recognised Katherine Harrington's name! Come to think of it, how could we not recognise Harrington full stop? She was in every newspaper you opened at the time. I wonder how long she's been out?" Ken mused.
"I don't know. You know more about the whole thing that I do." Dan let out a sigh. "I can only dig so far without getting the Super in on it for the authorisation."
"Do you think it needs digging? Harrington was jailed for it."
"Well like you said, I'll have to check it out as much as I can. Pull up infront of the Newsagents here, Ken. Go and ask if the Davis family still live here." Dan nodded towards the shop and Ken pulled over. The Banks Estate was a huge improvement on Redlane. It was one of the posher estates in the area while Redlane had always been the roughest. Ken exited the shop chomping on a pork pie.
"Well the old couple are dead but the son still lives in the house." He handed Dan a piece of paper with an address on it.
"Derek. The bloke in the newsagents said Cliff was a twat."
"We do deal with some lovely people." Dan rolled his eyes. "Come on, we'll go and visit Derek Davies." Derek Davies' house was edged with a neat lawn, pretty flowers and its windows were gleaming. Fancy lace curtains hung in the front windows and hanging baskets hung at the front door.
"Well he's not on his own." Ken observed. "My missus got some of those curtains and I fought on with the buggers for two hours before she took over and had them up in five minutes." He climbed out of the car, Dan following. Derek Davies was alot more accommodating than Irene Wilson had been. He was very friendly and led the officers through a spotless house and into a shining kitchen.
"Your timing couldn't be better, actually." Derek said, flicking on the kettle. "Kids in school, Denise out shopping, and the only day I've had off in weeks. So like I said, it was in the yard, chained to the drainpipe."
"Er ... what was?" Ken asked.
"The bike. That is why you're here, isn't it?"
"No Mr Davies. I'm sorry, I should have stated our business straight away." Dan apologised. "We're looking for your brother, Cliff." Derek's face darkened and his jaw set firmly.
"I thought you lot had stopped looking for him here. I haven't seen him for two years and I don't want to either. Whatever he's done, jail him for it." Derek said flatly.
"We're just making a few enquiries." Dan told him. "So you aren't in touch?"
"Not a chance. He's a complete arsehole." Derek said angrily. "I tried with him, I really did. Even after dad threw him out, I still tried. He's a shit and he'll never change."
"So what happened two years ago?" Dan asked.
"He proved, beyond a doubt, that he's a prize, first class, shit bag. He broke in here a week before christmas and nicked the kids' computers, and some jewellery I'd bought for Denise. He nicked his own nephews' christmas presents. The insurance didn't cover it so they got nothing on christmas day. I confronted him and he laughed at me. He told me to get Denise's dad to cough up some cash. He's an arsehole, I'm telling you. Lock the bastard up and throw away the key."
"Do you know where he's living?"
"Two years ago he was in one of those charity subsidised bedsits on Picks Lane. Cheeky bastard thieves and fences and has the nerve to accept charity." Derek said in disgust.
"We'll go and have a chat with him if he's still there." Dan nodded. "Thanks for talking to us, Mr Davies and good luck with the bike." They let themselves out.
"Doesn't have many fans, does he?" Ken said as they got back in the car.
"I'll pull his files at the station. Picks Lane. We're definitely getting a tour of the dregs today, Ken." Dan said moodily. This was starting to frustrate him. They were running around all over the place and it all could be a waste of time. He silently cursed Greg Peters for dying before he'd told him a bit more. Dan's mood wasn't improved by a tatty looking neighbour telling them that Cliff wasn't home. Apparently he'd got himself a job doing odd jobs and DIY at the local Salvation Army hostel.
"Scarlet bloody pimpernel." Ken grumbled, heading for the hostel. The Pimpernel himself was outside the hostel having a smoke. He looked far from happy to see the two officers.
"Can we go somewhere to talk?" Dan stated, rather than asked. Cliff tutted loudly and lead them round the back to a brick tool shed.
"This is a legit job." Cliff snapped nastily. "It's the only one I've ever had so you lot better not sod it up for me."
"We're here about Greg Peters, Cliff." Dan said.
"Not seen him for years." Cliff shrugged his shoulders. "Last I heard he was involved in the drug scene. Idiot. I'm not connected to that shit and I never was."
"When was the last time you spoke to him?"
"Oh God knows." Cliff exhaled loudly. "Five years? Maybe six? What's he done, anyway?"
"He's dead, Cliff. Car accident." Dan saw Ciff's face register surprise.
"Poor old Greg." He said at last. "He went downhill pretty fast with all that drug crap. I don't think he was a major dealer or anything, but he had the habit. Poor old sod."
"You were quite close at one time. That right?" Dan asked.
"Mates? Yes I suppose so. Like I said, I haven't seen him for years." Cliff repeated.
"Does the name Andy Storey mean anything to you?" Dan watched Cliff closely for a reaction, but didn't get one.
"No. Should it?"
"I don't know." Dan frowned. "Just before he died, Greg confessed to killing him and named you as an accomplice."
"What?!" Cliff yelped. "Killing someone? Look, you have that all wrong mate. I've done some shitty things in my time, and I do mean shitty, but I've never killed anyone."
"Why would he say that?"
"Because he's a vindictive old bastard. I gave evidence against him for a robbery. You know? Like a deal with the Prosecution lot. That's why I haven't seen him for six years. I've done break ins and I've sold knock off. I've thieved but that's as bad as it gets."
"The 'poor old Greg' bit was short lived. See you around Cliff." Dan left the tool shed, Ken with him. "I don't like, or trust that one."
"I bet the villains don't either. They don't like a grass. Where to now?"
"You're quite enjoying this, aren't you?" Dan smiled.
"It's something I've never had the chance to do. I'd never have made CID and now I'm past it. It's not my fault you're short staffed up there." Ken shrugged.
"Just as long as Inspector Frazer doesn't get stuck into me for nabbing his uniforms."
"I think Sergeant Frost talked him round." Kem smirked. "Back to the Batcave?"
"Good thinking Robin. Drive on."
Ken vanished to attend to his routine stuff, leaving Dan to find Cliff Davies' file by himself. It was quite similar to that of Greg Peters. Theft, robbery, burglary, but nothing violent. Dan drummed his fingers on the desk. Something was bothering him about this whole thing, but he didn't know what. Maybe Greg Peters was just being a vindictive old bastard, but why pick that case? Yes it was a big one, but it was also ten years old and 'resolved'. Why involve himself? He could have said that Davies had confessed in a fit of depression or even to gloat. That did happen occasionally, usually between cell mates. Dan chewed his lip and opened Davies' file. He'd had a conviction for burglary. He pushed image of Superintendant Stone blowing rage steam from his nose and dialled the prison number. Hopefully the letters C I D would be impressive enough on their own.
"I'm reviewing an old case." Dan explained, after a very swift self introduction. "Would it be possible to find out who shared a cell with Clifford Davies? Yes I'll hold." The next voice he heard was that of the prison governor, Billy Carver.
"I can't discuss it over the phone, but I can help you if you come down here in person."
"Of course. I was verifying whether you could help before I made the journey. So a face to face meeting is in order?"
"As long as you bring your ID. I'll organise the meeting with him." Billy said and Dan blinked in surprise. He had meant a face to face with the Governor, but this was even better. He thanked Mr. Carver and wondered how the hell he'd got away with that. One thing was certain, he couldn't take Ken or Tessa in on this one. The Super would have a fit if he got wind of this.
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©Alex Harvey 2013