A Kid Named Joey - A Novel

Chapter 13

A Kid Named Joey

by Nigel Gordon

Chapter 13

Back at the house, Carol delivered the news that DS Conner would be calling in about half an hour.

"How did you know we would be back by then?" Edward asked. Carol pointed at the laptop on the kitchen table.

"GPS tracker," she answered. "You had just got onto the motorway on your way back, so I knew it would be an hour max. I put on an extra thirty minutes just to be on the safe side."

DS Conner and DS Jones arrived just over thirty minutes later. Carol  answered the door to the two men, then showed them into the office where Edward was working.

"Busy?" Mark asked as he entered.

"Not particularly," Edward replied, indicating that they should take a seat. He enquired if they would like a tea or coffee; they both declined.

"DI Hawkins has, for some reason, been recalled to county HQ," Mark informed Edward. "That leaves DC Jones and me actively on the case. I have imparted to DS Jones the information you gave me yesterday."

"But not placed it in any reports, I hope?" Edward asked.

"Most certainly not. However, it does raise a question, especially considering the nature of the attack. Could this be connected with affairs in Ireland?" Mark asked.

Edward thought for a moment. He then went to one of the piles of paper he had about the office and sorted through it. After a couple of minutes, he returned with a photo, which he handed to the detective sergeant. "That, Mark, is the typical type of damage you get from a pipe bomb. It is the type of bomb that both the Provo's and the Loyalists like to use to attack cars. Even allowing for the fact that the bomb was not totally in place when it went off, the type of damage caused was nothing like the type seen in that photo."

Mark looked at the photo, then passed it to the detective constable. "I see what you mean. Though isn't it possible that they might just use something that was available?" DS Conner asked.

"It's a possibility, Mark, but unlikely. The Provo's in particular like to stick to tried and tested methods. They like to know that what they are using has worked before. If it has worked once, it is likely to work again," Edward informed them. "There is also the fact that the operations I am connected with in both the Republic and Northern Ireland are running fine, and there has been no disturbance. No flags have been raised.

"If they were to come after me, that means they would have identified the deep cover man we have within them. We have no indication that they have. In fact, all the indications that we have at the moment are completely the opposite."

DS Conner nodded. They talked for the next half an hour about other possibilities, but none of them made sense. The only option that made sense was that Kutrum was trying to take Edward out, except the only thing they were fairly certain about was that Kutrum was doing no such thing.

As Edward was showing the two men, out he informed Mark that Joey and Danny would be at the house on Saturday. He also told him that he was welcome to come round any time on Saturday, though he did suggest that Mark should bring Chris with him.

Ben got home a little after five. He informed Edward he was making pasta carbonara. Whilst Ben was busy making the pasta, Edward sat at the kitchen table and chatted with him. They discussed everything, except, as if by some mutual understanding, they did not touch upon what was going on between them.

One thing they did discuss was where Edward could put the gun safe he had purchased that morning.

"Do you really need a gun safe?" Ben asked.

"Yes, I don't want that Crossman lying about and one of the boys picking it up and getting hurt," Edward stated.

"I thought you said you had got another air pistol for them?"

"I did, this morning," replied Edward. "Actually, it is effectively the same gun, except that the pressure value is different, so the maximum pressure that can be built up is such that the release energy is never over six foot pounds. Otherwise, the guns are identical."

"Shouldn't you get rid of that gun? You said yourself it's not legal."

"I know," answered Edward. "The thing is — it's the last thing Dad gave me."

Ben nodded, understanding. He might not approve but he understood. "Teddy, you say it is small. Could you put it in the bottom of that cupboard in the office? The one to the right of the desk."

"Yes, that would work," Edward replied.

After they had eaten the pasta carbonara and a dessert that Ben had made, Edward got down to fixing the gun safe in position and placing the requisite items in it.

That night, Edward took a Zopiclone before going to bed so got an uninterrupted sleep. He regretted it in the morning with the terrible aftertaste the medication left in his mouth; it lasted all day.

On Friday morning, Edward held a phone conversation with his PhD supervisor. That resulted in him having to spend the whole day looking up references in the textbooks he had. His supervisor had not been happy with some of the conclusions he had drawn from the last lot of data that Edward had looked at. In the end, Edward was of the opinion that he had enough supporting references to argue his position, so he set about redrafting the paper his supervisor had not liked and resubmitting it.

Edward was still at it when Ben returned from work.

"Hard at it, I see," Ben said when he stuck his head round the office door. "Up for a cuppa?"

"Christ, is it that time? Yes, I would love a cuppa," Edward replied.

"Don't panic, it's probably not as late as you think," Ben informed Edward. "I decided to finish early today. I'll go and put the kettle on; come through when you're ready."

With that, Ben left. Edward finished making a note from the page in the book he had open before him. He then put in a Post-It to mark the page, closed the book and returned it to its place on the shelf. That done, he followed Ben to the kitchen.

"Who's on today?" Ben asked as Edward entered.

"To be honest, I don't know," Edward replied. "Peter was in here this morning, but I think he had been on overnight, so I suppose it must be one of the girls, as John was on yesterday."

"It's me, actually," said Carol, coming into the kitchen from the direction of the granny flat. "I was just coming through to check what your plans were for this evening? Will you need the car."

"I doubt it," Edward answered. "Did you have anything planned, Ben?"

"Not really," Ben replied. "Thought I would cook dinner and then maybe we could watch TV or something."

"That's fine; I'll tell the boys they can relax," she informed Edward. "Ann's a bit off colour today, so I'm pulling a double shift, then Peter is coming on at midnight."

"Nothing serious, I hope," Edward said.

"No, it seems like a mild stomach bug," Carol responded before she left to return to the flat.

Ben cooked a vegetarian ragout served with spiced rice. Edward complimented him on the dish.

"It's nice to have somebody to cook for," Ben stated. "I didn’t realise how much I missed it. It's four years since Ruth and the girls left."

"What happened?"

"There was a boy, a final year uni student, who needed a term's work placement," Ben said. "I agreed to take him on, as I had a big job on and needed some assistance, so it made sense. What I did not expect was to be physically drawn to him. I have never been to any other man. The only person I ever felt physically attracted to before was you.

"Leon though attracted me. He was black, his family was from Jamaica. That reminds me — I never knew where your family came from," Ben said.

"We're English," Edward replied. "At least we have been for the last four hundred years. Get back to Leon."

"It was never anything serious," Ben admitted. "We both knew that from the start, but it was pretty good physically, and we had a good time.

"One day, can't remember which, but it was close to the end of Leon's internship, we had to work late to get some audit figures ready for an HMRC inspection. We had just finished, and I was giving Leon a goodnight kiss and Ruth walks in. Her car wouldn't start.

"The next day Ruth had it out with me. Apparently she had suspected that I was gay for some time. She said she needed a break to think things out. Got home the next day and there was a note saying she was going to take the girls on a vacation to Disney Land, Orlando. Her mother lives in the Keys.

"She had only been there a week when she filed for divorce. I agreed of course. Had to let her have the house. Found this place going up for auction. It was in a pretty bad state. Some guy had purchased it as a do it up, got halfway through the job, then ran out of funds. I had just enough cash available to buy it. Got it for less than half its market value, even in the state it was in.

"I had to camp out in it for the first couple of years, whilst I got the place sorted out. Fortunately, one of my clients is a jobbing builder, so he took it on for me when he was between jobs. Cost me a lot less than it would have done otherwise."

"Why did you buy such a big place?" Edward asked.

"Well, partially because all the smaller places were costing a lot more. I paid less for this place at auction than I would have done for a two bedroom flat down by the centre. Then I was hoping that the girls would be coming to stay and I would need the room for them, but they have never come."

"Ruth won't let them?" Edward asked.

"No, things just haven't worked out," Ben replied. "Ruth fully intended to return to the UK after things were sorted out, which was why she asked for the house. However, things happened that upset those plans. She met somebody who she is now married to, and she got an offer of a job totally out of the blue.

"We had discussed the girls coming over this summer, but that did not work out, either Rebekah had a summer school session to attend and Ester was not prepared to come over without her sister. However, Rebekah is talking about coming to the UK for university. Even if she has to pay full fees it is still cheaper than most places in the States."

"What's happened with the house?" Edward asked.

"Oh, it's let on a short term tenancy," Ben replied. "I manage it for Ruth. We've stayed good friends and to be honest the marriage had been dead for years, if there had been anything in to start with. It was just waiting for a suitable trigger to end it, and I provided that."

There was a pause in the flow of the conversation. Edward sat thinking about what Ben had told him.

"You said your family was from England," Ben commented. "How far back do they go?" 

"Well, we know we were in London in fifteen forty seven," Edward commented.

"That's further back than most white English families can trace their line. You're certain about it?" Ben asked.

"Oh, yes," Edward replied. "My sister's got papers which show the family tree, but we are descended from one of the black musicians of the Chapel Royal. There is a record of a payment to my ancestor for playing at the funeral of Henry the Eighth. We think his wife was a daughter of John Blanke, the black trumpeter to Henry the Eighth. It's thought he, and other black musicians, came to the court with Catherine of Aragon for her marriage to Arthur, Henry's older brother.

"There has been a black population in London since at least that time. Legend has it at least one of my ancestors served with Drake at the Amada. Not certain about that, but they did work the docks and were sailors. They probably brought wives back from trading trips to the West Coast of Africa. It is certain that a few of them served with Nelson at Trafalgar. Sometime in the nineteenth century they started to move from working on the docks and on ships to working on the railways. That is how my grandfather ended up here."

That evening the two men sat on the sofa together and watched David Lean's 'Lawrence of Arabia'. Edward had missed it when it was released and had not seen it whilst incarcerated. When the film ended, both men declared they were ready for bed and made their way upstairs. As the came to the landing, where Edward would turn right for the door to his room and Ben left, Ben reached out and took hold of Edward's hand, pulling on it slightly in the direction of his room.

Edward looked at him. "Are you sure?"

"Of course not Teddy, but if nothing else it will save me having to get up in the middle of the night to come to sooth your nightmares."

Edward laughed, but followed Ben to his room.

There were no nightmares for Edward that night, just a peaceful sleep, with Ben's arms wrapped around him.

Saturday morning, Ben drove down to Laura's to pick up Joey and Danny. Both boys were ready and waiting for him.

"Are they going to be safe?" Laura asked Ben.

"I should think so," Ben replied. "Edward is not planning on leaving the house and we have a police officer outside at the front, and a private security service securing the house and grounds."

"I was not talking about that," Laura stated. "I was thinking of that gun that the boys found. Joey said he is going to be shooting it. Joey's not stopped talking about it since last week."

"Not actually that gun," Ben said. "Edward got the latest version of the same gun for them to use, it has a much lower muzzle power and is a lot safer. Also they will be fully supervised when they have the gun. Edward has got them all the safety gear they need."

"Good," Laura announced. With that, she made sure both boys were wrapped up warmly, and that they had some clean clothes to change into if they needed them.

As they turned into the drive of the house, Ben was surprised to see a car he did not know parked on the drive. He pulled into the garage and closed the garage door, then got the boys out of the car and led them into the house through the connecting door. Once they got to the kitchen they found Edward, DS Conner and his son Chris seated round the table drinking tea.

"I've just made a fresh pot," Edward stated. Ben acknowledged the comment and poured himself a mug of tea after confirming that neither of the boys wanted one. Edward finished his tea quickly, then asked Joey to come through to the office with him. The tone in which he made the request clearly indicated that this was for Joey and Joey only.

Once the pair of them got to the office, Edward opened the cupboard to show the location of the gun safe.

"Right, Joey. This is the gun safe. You are not to tell anyone else where it is. Understood?" Edward asked.

Joey was quiet for a moment, then asked, "Not even Danny?"

"Not even Danny," Edward emphasised.

"Okay," Joey replied.

"The safe has two different locks. One needs a key to unlock it, the second is an electronic combination lock. The reason for this is so that when you are taking stuff out of the safe, or putting it in, you don't need to keep locking and unlocking the safe with the key. The combination lock automatically locks the safe when the door closes. As you will see in a moment, the door is designed to automatically close unless you are physically holding it open."

Edward unlocked the safe with the key he had on his key ring. He then showed Joey how to enter the six figure sequence for the combination lock. Once the combination was entered,  they heard the click of the lock releasing and Edward was able to pull the door open.

"If you do not open the door within five seconds, it automatically relocks," Edward told Joey.

Inside the case were a number of boxes. Joey recognised the box Danny and he had found. Edward told him to take the box that was on top. It was a black cardboard box, slightly smaller than the wooden box below it. Joey took the box.

"That's yours," Edward said. Joey opened the box. Inside it was a Crossman air pistol that looked identical to the one he and Danny had found.

"But this…" he started to say.

"Joey, it's the same type of gun as the one you and Danny found, but this one is legal. Its maximum muzzle energy is six foot pounds, so there is no problem with you using this. I bought it for you on Thursday. It is your gun, and it is here for you to practice with. However, you have got to keep it here, at Ben’s, and when you are not using it, it has to be locked in the gun safe. Understood?"

"Understood," stated Joey.

Edward closed the gun safe door, there was an audible click as the lock engaged. He then put his key in the lock and double locked it. He then led Joey back to the kitchen, where they picked up Danny and Chris, before going to the shed to collect the pellets, target stand, holder and safety goggles that Edward had stored there. Edward then took them to the rear of the shed. There, the back wall of the shed and the rear wall of the garden formed an area that was roughly two metres wide and a bit over eight metres in depth. The side wall of the garden formed the end of the area. Edward had already placed a couple of large sheets of insulation board he had found in the shed against the end wall.

Edward then spent the next half hour demonstrating to the boys how to shoot the air pistol and he also took them over the safety rules.

"Why do we have to wear the safety glasses?" Joey asked. "You said this gun was safer to use with its lower muzzle energy."

"Yes, it is safer to use, but that does not mean it is not without risks," Edward replied. "If it was aimed directly at you and fired from a short range, it could still inflict a serious injury. The big risk, though, with what you are doing is a ricochet fragment. If you just catch the edge of the target holder with a shot, the pellet could disintegrate, and the pieces go in all directions. There is a chance that some of it could come back and hit you. It's not likely to do any damage, though it could sting a bit. However, if it were to hit the eye, that is a different matter, so you wear safety glasses or you don't shoot. Understood?"

Joey thought about it for a moment, then nodded. "Understood, Dad."

Edward watched all three boys take turns, shooting ten shots at the target which was about seven metres from them. Chris was fairly good, and Edward guessed he had probably used an air pistol before. However, what was surprising was Joey. He was repeatedly getting his ten shots in a relatively small pattern. More importantly, each time he had a go, the pattern got closer and closer to the bull.

DS Conner came down to see how they were doing and spent some time coaching Danny, who seemed to enjoy the attention he was getting. Once Edward was satisfied that they were coping and knew what they were doing, he asked Chris to take charge of things and he returned to the house with DS Conner.

"It was nice to see you interacting with Danny," Edward said as they walked up path towards the house.

"It was fun," Mark replied. "I just wish I could do more."

"You probably will be able to do so soon," Edward informed him. "Laura tells me that Darlyn isn't doing too well. She does not think that Darlyn has long left."

"God! What will happen to the boy?" Mark asked.

"Darlyn has already appointed Laura to act as his guardian should anything happen to her," Edward informed him. "I think things will be easier all round then."

"I hope so," Mark replied, as they entered the kitchen through the back door. Ben was already in the room standing next to the sink.

"Tea?" Ben asked, filling the kettle.

"Could do with a coffee if you don't mind," Mark replied.

"No problem. Take a seat," Ben replied, indicating the table as he got a coffee press out of the cupboard.

"How's the investigation into Amir's murder going?" Edward asked.

"It's not at the moment," Mark replied. "We have the DNA to show that the Bhat brothers were in a fight with Amir. They can't deny that, but they say that it was earlier in the evening. They both have alibis for the time of death and pretty good ones at that."

"How good?" Edward asked.

"At least half a dozen people saw them in the Phoenix that night between nine and ten. The CCTV shows them arriving at just gone nine, and they did not leave till after eleven. There is no way they could have made it from Amir's to the Phoenix in under ten minutes. Even then they would be speeding."

"How certain are you about the time of death?" Ben asked.

"Well, the coroner put it pretty firmly between eight and ten p.m.," Mark told him. "However, we know that he was alive at just before nine p.m."

"How?" Ben asked.

"He phoned his mother at eight fifty six and was on the phone for just under three minutes," Mark replied. "So, he was alive at nine. His death must have been between nine and ten. That's the problem, for during that time, the Bhat boys have an alibi."

"So, it looks like Tariq is the killer," Edward observed.

"That looks like it, though he is denying it. According to Tariq, the Bhat boys killed Amir and then called him in. The timings don't work though."

"I wonder," Edward commented.

They chatted a bit more and eventually the question of housing came up.

"I keep looking," Mark stated. "The thing is, nothing of the size I need comes up this side of the river in a price range I can afford."

"What are you looking for?" Ben asked.

"A three or four bedroom, with garden," Mark stated. "The thing is, I can only afford about sixty-five K. Anything like that this side of the river is well over seventy."

"Would you consider a do-it-upper?" Ben asked.

"It depends what would be involved in doing it up," Mark responded. "Beyond painting and decorating, I am not much with DIY."

"I'm handling the probate on an estate for a chap who died back in June. There is a house in Ridgeway Lane. He moved into it in the sixties and had the whole place done up. As far as I can tell, nothing has been done to it since. It's due to go to auction next week, with a guide price of fifty thousand. The auctioneers reckon it will get sixty, but they will be pushing it to get more," Ben informed Mark.

Mark frowned. "That's fine, but it is an auction, and you need to be a cash buyer at those things. I've enough for a deposit, but need to sell our current place before I can fund a purchase like that."

"How much have you got?" Ben asked.

"Just over eight grand," Mark replied.

"Look, grab you coat, I've got the keys to the place and it is only round the corner. We can leave Edward here to supervise the boys."

Ben and Mark left. Edward went out to the garden again and checked on Joey, Danny and Chris. They seemed to be doing alright. Both Danny and Chris were getting some decent groupings close to the bull. Joey, though, was exceptional. His grouping was tight, no more than half an inch in diameter, and centred on the bull.

"Could we move back a bit?" Joey asked. "It seems awfully easy from this distance."

"Speak for yourself," commented Chris.

"Well, you are about seven metres from the target," commented Edward. "How about if you move the firing line back three metres, that would make it ten, which is the official air pistol distance for the Olympics. Though they are firing point one-seven-sevens, whilst you are firing point two-two."

Joey and Danny were all for it and even Chris said it sounded a good idea. Edward looked in the shed and found a tape measure, then measured off ten metres from the target to establish the new firing line. That done and after he had confirmed that the boys were carrying out all his safety instructions, he left them to it and returned to the house.

Ben and Mark returned about half an hour later.

"What did you think of the place?" Edward asked.

"It needs some work," Mark stated. "But that is mostly cosmetics, although the central heating will probably need a new boiler. On the whole, though, I rather like it. If there was any chance of getting it I would take Janet and Chris to look at it, but I do not want to get their hopes up."

"Why would you be getting there hopes up?" Edward asked.

"I just can't raise the sort of cash needed to buy at auction," Mark responded. "I would need to sell our place in any move, and we would be lucky if we got fifty five for it."

"What's your mortgage on it?" Ben asked.

"It's mortgage free," Mark replied. "Janet's dad rented it from the council, then bought it dirt cheap under the right-to-buy scheme. Between his savings and what Janet and I had been saving up for a deposit, we bought it cash. Janet's dad knew then he had not got long. He got the house so Janet and I would have a place and put our names on it from the start."

"You've got a fifty grand plus asset and you told me on the way round you have fifteen in savings," Ben said. "I can arrange a bridging loan for you to cover the purchase price till you sell your place." He paused and looked at Edward, who nodded. "In fact you might not need to have it for that long, I know a couple of property investment companies who would probably be interested in taking your place off you. You might not get full market, but you should get more than enough to pay off the bridging loan. What you loose on the market value you probably more than gain on the reduced amount of interest you would have to pay."

"Could you sort that?" Mark asked.

"Yes," Ben replied.

"In that case, I better get Janet and Chris to see it," Mark replied. "How can I get the keys?"

Ben tossed a set of keys over to him. "Those are a spare set, you can keep them till Monday. Just drop them in at my office."

Ben started to make a new pot of tea, but before he could do so, the boys ran into the kitchen. Joey announced that it was pouring down with rain.

"We put the target stuff in the shed," Chris informed them.

"Thanks," Edward replied. "Now, Joey, what do you need to do?"

Joey thought for a moment. "Dry and clean the gun?"

"Yes, Joey. Even though it is an air pistol, which means you don’t get a build-up of charge residue when you shoot it, you can still get a build-up of lead and oil particles. So, you need to dry the gun, then clean it and oil it before it is put away," Edward informed him.

For the next twenty minutes Edward showed the boys how to do it. About halfway through, Mark said he had better get going which meant that Chris also had to leave.

Once they had finished cleaning it, Edward had Joey return the air pistol to the gun safe.

Getting back to the kitchen, Danny asked what they were going to do now.