A Kid Named Joey - A Novel

Chapter 9

A Kid Named Joey

by Nigel Gordon

Chapter 9

"Yes, I suppose you do," Lefty replied. "Actually I would also rather like to find out what is going on, and we will sort that out. Only not on this computer. Ben, I don't suppose you have an old computer laying around?"

"Actually I do have my old laptop. I replaced it last year as it got too slow. It's in the bottom drawer of the desk."

"Not much use there," Lefty commented. "Go and get it." Ben followed the instruction given and returned with a rather old laptop.

"Not surprised that was slowing down," Dicky commented as he took it from Ben. "Where did you get it? From Noah?"

"Lefty got it for me," Ben replied.

"Christ man! That was six or seven years ago," stated Lefty.

"About that. Is it too old?"

"Nha, as long as it starts up we can use it," Dicky said, plugging in the power supply and then pressing the power button. The machine came to life.

"It's got Windows three point one on it," Dicky stated.

"I upgraded," Ben informed him.

"Doesn't matter. Are you sure there is nothing on there that you want?" asked Lefty.

"Yes," Ben replied.

"Right. Dicky, install the Pink version," Lefty instructed.

Dicky removed a couple of CDs from the disc wallet, then looked at the laptop. "It hasn't got a CD drive."

"What are the ports on it?" Lefty asked.

"Parallel and serial," Dicky answered.

"There's a serial external CD drive in the van," Lefty stated. Dicky went to fetch it.

Ten minutes later, Dicky was busy reformatting the hard disk of the laptop.

"This is going to take time," Dicky stated. "Any chance of a cuppa?"

Ben went through the kitchen and made tea. Half an hour later, they were still waiting for the formatting to finish.

"Why is it taking so long?" Edward asked.

"We are doing a secure format," Lefty informed him. "Not only are we reformatting the hard disk, we are writing zeros to the whole of the disk, three times. Then it will be overwritten with random values."

"Why the random values?" enquired Edward.

"Well, if we left it all written with zeros, and it was checked, they would know there had been a secure format done. With a set of random values, they might suspect it, but they can't know it," Dicky explained.

The hard disk stopped whirling and a prompt opened up on screen. Dicky entered a sequence of characters. The disk started to whirl again, and a series of letters and numbers started to appear on the screen. After five minutes, a box appeared on the screen asking for a username.

"Give me a username?" Dicky asked. "Not one of yours."

Edward thought for a moment then informed Dicky to use AmirChandre. Ben looked at him. Edward informed him that Chandre's was the Amir's middle name.

"Well, if anybody else gets their hands on it they might think it is Amir's machine," Edward commented.

"Not very likely but a possibility if they did not think of the age of the laptop," Ben pointed out. "I don't think they were around when Amir died."

"They were," Lefty informed them. "However, not as modern as this one. Unless the person looking at it is a computer historian he probably would not know that. This one looks old enough to have come from the nineteen eighties."

Another box appeared on the screen.

"Now I want a phrase, at least thirty two characters long?" Dicky asked.

Edward thought for a moment. "Then write me as one who loves his fellow men."

"Good one," Dicky commented. "Leigh Hunt's 'Abou Ben Adam', it will do. I'm putting an exclamation mark at each end and changing the ohs to zeros and the eys with ones. Got that."

"Yes," Edward replied. "

"Why such a long password?" asked Ben.

"The longer the password the harder it is to crack using a password generator," Lefty stated. "An eight character password can be cracked in about four hours, a nine character in about four to five days, a ten character password will take up to five years. Of course that is based on using totally random generated characters in the password. Using actual words reduces the time, but replacing letters with numbers and introducing punctuation characters makes it more complicated."

"How long would it take to crack this password?" Edward asked.

"Don't think you need to worry about that." Lefty stated. "Most cracking software will only go up to twelve characters. Even if they have something that is not limited, it will take over a millennium to crack it. By which time none of us will be bothered."

It took Dicky another hour to complete the system installation and then copy the contents of the CDs onto the hard disk. Lefty then unzipped them with the password supplied by Edward. It then took him another hour to rename all the files so that the suffix was correct for the file types.

"All done," Lefty stated. "I suggest Dicky and I take these." He held up the pack of CDs.

"Why?" Edward asked.

"The password on these is much easier to crack, would not take more than a week. Then you would be in trouble if the police found them in your possession and started looking at them."

"Doesn't the same apply to you?" Edward asked.

"No," Dicky replied. "We do digital forensic work for a number of government departments. We have Home Office permission to be in possession of such material. We'll just slip these into the evidence box of one of the cases we are working on. One that has come from a source where even the police won’t want to ask questions."

"Okay," Edward said.

That done, Ben made another pot of tea. Fifteen minutes later, Lefty and Dicky walked out of the front door and went to the van. Ben, as instructed stayed at the open front door. Dicky came back with a clip board on which was a sheet of paper. "Sign here Ben. Must make it look as if we have done some work for you. Your watchers would be suspicious, otherwise."

"Watchers?" questioned Ben.

"Oh yes, there are two in the car parked just up the road on the opposite side, then there is at least one in the upstairs front bedroom of the house three doors down on the opposite side of the road. We got them tagged when we arrived."

Having imparted that information Dicky returned to the van with his clipboard, got in, and the pair of them drove off.

"Exactly who are those two?" Edward asked as Ben closed the door.

"I'm not sure either of us really wants to know the answer to that," Ben replied.

Edward nodded. "Possibly right. Let's go and look at some files."

A good three hours later the pair of them took a break from looking at the files.

"You know, Edward, all this stuff throws a totally new angle on everything," Ben stated.

"I know. It looks as if Kutrum is into some pretty nasty stuff. The thing is did he know that Amir knew about things?" Edward replied.

"If he did, it puts Amir's murder in a totally different light."

Edward nodded in agreement. "It also explains why Amir wanted to get out."

"Dicky said that we are being watched, car up the street and from a house down the road," Ben informed Edward.

"Not surprised," Edward stated. "If I was in Kutrum's shoes, I would keep an eye on me."

"Yes, but what about Nadia coming this morning. They will know about it. Kutrum might guess that she has given you something."

"I very much doubt it," Edward replied. "Nadia is a pretty smart woman. I bet she knew exactly who was watching and when. Anyway, if Kutrum does know, there is nothing we can do about it now.

"It's late and we haven't eaten. How about if we go out for a meal?"

"That would be quite nice, Teddy," Ben replied.

Half an hour later, the pair were seated in a pub located on the way to Raycoat, waiting for their Sunday lunch to be served.

"Not been here before," Ben stated.

"I've only been here once before," Edward replied.

"Any reason we have come here?" Ben asked. "Does it have a wonderful reputation for food?"

"Unless it has improved since the last time I was here, the food is crap," Edward replied.

"Then why have we come here?"

"I just thought it would make an interesting diversion," replied Edward. "Sorry, need to use the gents." With that he got up and made his way out through the back door of the pub. Five minutes later, he was back, smiling. The food had just been brought to the table.

Ben was looking at it with a disappointed glare. "I don't think the food has improved," he stated.

"Wasn't expecting it to," Edward replied.

"So, why did we come here?" Ben asked.

"I need to see somebody and to do that I need to loose our tail," stated Edward.


"Well, they are both sitting at the bar," Edward replied. "Very bad surveillance methodology. At least one should have stayed with the car."

"What have you done?"

"A few six inch nails wedged under the rear tyres. At least one will puncture it when they pull away. As we will be going onto the motorway, I would say they will be in trouble within two miles."

"I suppose we have to eat this rubbish?" Ben said.

"If we want to make this look realistic, yes," Edward replied.

Fifteen minutes later, after putting on a show of eating the meal, the two men made their way out to the car. As they got into the car, Edward nodded in the direction of the pub door. Ben glanced round and saw two Indian men coming out of the pub.

Edward started the car and drove off slowly, turning in the direction of the motorway. As the got onto the main road Ben glanced behind them.

"I think they are following us," he stated.

"I know they are," Edward replied. "They should be fine till we hit the motorway. It is thirty along here and I am sticking to it all the way to the motorway."

"Then what?" Ben asked.

"We hit eighty real fast," Edward stated. "With those nails the tyre will give way at anything above sixty."

They got to the motorway, Edward eased the car into the flow of traffic, then put his foot down and moved out into the fast lane. Ben glanced in the side mirror and saw a car, two back from them duplicate their manoeuvre. Three minutes later, the driver appeared to have difficulty controlling the car, Ben watched as it pulled over, hazard lights flashing, into the slow lane and then onto the hard shoulder.

A few miles further on, Edward pulled into the motorway service area. He asked Ben to stay with the car, then went into the service area building. Five minutes later, he came out and got back in the car.

"Now where?" Ben asked.

"Home," Edward replied. "We'll pull off at the next junction and go back through the country roads."

"Then what was all that about?" Ben asked.

"I had to collect something from a friend but I was also sending a message," Edward stated. "Kutrum will know that I know we are being watched, and that I am prepared to take steps to deal with it."

"Is that wise?" enquired Ben.

"I hope it is, but we will just have to see."

*  *. *. *. *

After discussing things in the car driving home, they had decided it was best to take the train to Sheffield. That did, however, mean an early start and Edward was not used to early starts. As a result, it was a rather grumpy Edward who found himself sitting opposite Ben and partaking of a very watery coffee on the seven forty to Sheffield. Although the run was not that far, it would take well over an hour as  the train stopped at every station on the way, no matter how small.

"Remind me again why you have to be at the court for nine thirty, when your case is not listed till ten thirty?" Ben asked. He was having an equally bad time with the early morning start.

"Because I have to meet with my brief," Edward answered.

"Oh," Ben replied, resuming sipping of his coffee. "Ugh! I don't know why I got this."

"You could have got tea," Edward stated.

"Edward, railway tea is even worse than railway coffee," Ben informed him.

"Is that possible?"

"Yes, it is."

Just then the catering trolley came back down the aisle. Edward stopped it and bought four bottles of overpriced spring water and a couple of cans of cola.

"I need a caffeine hit and this coffee is not providing it," he told Ben by way of explanation, pushing one of the cola cans over to him.


"By the way, it's Joey's birthday a week on Wednesday," Ben stated.

"Shit, what am I going to get him? I don't know what he wants."

"I'll try to find out when they come over on Saturday," Ben said.

"They're coming over on Saturday?"

"Yes, I asked them when they were doing the leaves if they would give me a hand to clear out the garage. I've got stuff stored in there from four house moves ago. I told Joey that if you could not pick them up, I would."

"Ok, but I'm picking them up," Edward replied. "What time?"


"I better call in to see Laura and ask her if she has any ideas as to what to get Joey," Edward said.

"I'll still try to find out on Saturday," Ben replied.

"Do; the more information the better," Edward stated. "The last thing I want to do is get something that is totally wrong for him."

"Like a guitar," Ben said.

"What's wrong with a guitar?" Edward inquired.

"He hates them," Ben informed him. "I mentioned I had a couple in the garage which I needed to get rid of. Joey suggested burning them."

"What did Danny say?"

"He asked if he could have one."

"Are you going to let him have one?" Edward asked.

"He can have both," Ben replied. "Anything I am getting rid of, if the boys want it they can have it. That is a perk to get them to clear the stuff in one day."

"Right. I’d better call in on Laura when we get back and make sure she is okay with Joey spending Saturday with us," Edward stated.

"What about Danny?" Ben asked.

"Somehow, I feel that is not a problem," Edward responded.

The train made its predictably slow way into Sheffield. They disembarked and exited the station to a cold, grey morning. It was only a twenty minute walk to the court, but the two men, looking at the weather, decided to take a taxi. First, they had to find one. Everybody else was after a taxi that Monday morning.

Thirty minutes later, they got out of the taxi at the Crown Court. Edward paid what he thought was an extravagant price for such a short ride. However, that is what it said on the meter and he was not up to arguing over it.

Entering the court building, the two men joined the queue waiting to get through security. They spent another ten minutes in the queue before finally getting into vestibule where Edward had agreed to meet his solicitor. Fortunately, his solicitor spotted him, as he had failed to spot her in the crowd of people milling around.

"What happens now?" Edward asked after he had introduced Miss Clarkson to Ben.

"Well, technically you need to surrender your bail," Miss Clarkson replied. "Then you will be taken into custody. Not sure how they will handle it. They will be well aware that this is an uncontested hearing, so they may just tell you to go and sit in the court and wait to be called. However, they could take you down to the custody suite and hold you there until you are called."

"Once more into the cells," stated Edward.

"It's a possibility," Miss Clarkson confirmed. "Either way, you have a meeting with your brief, and I am sure we can keep that going till you are called. That will take place in one of the interview rooms."

Just then another young woman came up to them. She was wearing the black robe of a barrister. Miss Clarkson saw her and then introduced her to Edward and Ben.

"Mr Chapman, Mr Levi, this is Nichola Strivings. She is your barrister for today, Edward," Miss Clarkson stated.

"I'll come with you to surrender your bail," Miss Strivings informed Edward. "I can inform them that I need to have an interview with you. If we are lucky they will just put us in an interview room rather than taking you through the whole booking in procedure."

They were unlucky. The officer in charge of custody insisted that Edward had to be booked into the custody suite. As a result, all his property was taken from him and bagged up, he was strip searched, then put in a cell, without his tie or shoes. Ten minutes later he was called out of his cell and informed his barrister was waiting to speak to him. Once he got his tie and shoes back, he made his way to the interview room.

"Sorry about that," Miss Strivings announced as he was shown into the room. "Sometimes you get a right jobsworth on duty and they can be totally inflexible."

"What happens now?" Edward asked.

"We wait. Your solicitor is showing Mr Levi to the courtroom where your case will be heard. Then she is going to be getting us some decent coffee and coming to join us. We will just sit here till your case is called."

At that moment the outer door of the interview room opened. Miss Clarkson walked in with a tray of coffees.

"No problems with the coffees, then," Miss Strivings stated.

"None at all. Dave's on duty for legal interviews, and I've known him for years. He also knows this is a formality and our client is to be acquitted. Actually, he was moaning about the jobsworth on the custody desk. Apparently he is new."

"That explains a lot."

Miss Strivings quickly explained to Edward what would happen in court. They then spent half an hour talking about things in general and drinking the coffee, which Edward had to admit was a lot better than they had got on the train.

Shortly after ten fifteen, a custody officer came in and told them that their case was being called. The legal team left. Edward was removed from the interview room and escorted by two custody officers up a series of stairs and through corridors, until he found himself standing in the dock of the court. Looking around, he saw Ben in the public gallery and his legal team sitting at the front of the court. 'All Rise' was called, and everybody stood. The judge entered from a door at the side of the judges' bench. Once he was seated, everybody else sat with the exception of Edward, who was told by the custody officers to stay standing.

The clerk to the court had a short talk with the judge and then turned to face the dock. "Edward John Chapman, you are charged that on the 12th of July …" Edward blocked the rest of it out. He had heard it all before twelve and a half years ago.

Finally the question he had been waiting for was read. "How do you plead?"

Edward looked around the court and then stated, "NOT GUILTY". His voice reverberated around the court. He was surprised, not realising he has spoken so loudly.

The judge indicated that he could sit, so Edward did. Then the prosecution were asked to present their case.

"Mi Lord, the prosecution have no evidence to present in this case," announced the young barrister who was now standing at the front of the court.

"Members of the jury," announced the judge, "the prosecution have indicated that they do not intend to present any evidence in this case. That being so, I have no alternative but to direct that you bring in a verdict of Not Guilty. How do you find?"

The foreman of the jury looked at the other members of the jury, who all nodded to him. He then stood. "Not Guilty."

"So be it," the judge announced. "Case dismissed."

Edward was escorted down to the custody suite where he was reunited with his property. Twenty minutes later, he was in the vestibule of the court, looking for Ben and his legal team. He quickly found them.

"So, now you are in the clear," Ben stated.

"Yes," replied Edward.

"Look, I need to get back into court," Miss Strivings announced. "I've got another case to defend in thirty minutes. Unlike yours, his is not so clear cut. May I wish you all the best in your future life."

"Thank you," Edward replied.  With that, she turned and left.

"I need to speak to you about your compensation claim," Miss Clarkson stated. "However, I am not sure this is the right time or place."

"Probably not," Edward said. "I just want to get home."

"Right," she replied. "Look, I will arrange an appointment for you for in the next couple of weeks. I'll email you with the details when I have got everything for the application sorted out. Which office would you prefer, London or Manchester?"

"Manchester," replied Edward. "It is easier to get to."

"Good. It is also where I'm based so I do not need to make a trip into the City," Miss Clarkson replied.

They said their goodbyes to the solicitor and made their way back to the station, only to find they had just missed the train home and had a half-hour wait for the next.

"More bad coffee, I presume?" stated Edward.

"There must be somewhere decent around here," Ben stated. Then they set off looking for it.

It was getting on for one when they eventually got home. Edward told Ben he needed to get down and let Laura know what had happened. Ben insisted that he had some lunch first, and a decent mug of tea. Ben also asked him when he was going to look at more of those files on the computer.

"I'm not sure I want to, but I suppose I’d better. I'll start looking at them tomorrow," Edward informed him.

In the end, it was gone two before Edward arrived at Laura's. Ringing the doorbell, Edward was surprised to find it was opened by Joey.

"Aren't you supposed to be in school?" he asked.

"Heating boiler broke down," Joey replied. "Too cold for the teachers to teach. We were all sent home. I suppose you want to see gran."

"Yes, but this involves you, too, so you might as well join us."

Joey led the way back to the kitchen, where Laura was doing some baking.

"I suppose you've come to tell us you were acquitted," Laura stated as Edward entered the kitchen.

"How did you know?" he asked.

"It was on the one o'clock news," Laura informed him. "Actually, there was quite a good piece about you and how DNA fingerprinting had shown you to be innocent.

"Now you've got that sorted, what are you going to do about the lad?"

"What should I do about him?" Edward asked, glancing at the boy.

"Well, for a start you could spend some more time with him. He's off school for at least two days, so take him out and do something with him."

Edward looked at Joey who did not seem that impressed with the idea. "How do you feel about that?" he asked.

"Don't mind, but I wouldn't want to be missing out on being with Danny," Joey replied.

"Danny can come with us," Edward stated.

With that, Joey smiled and announced he was going to get Danny and vanished out of the back door.

"Excuse me, Laura, I need to phone the friend I am staying with and let him know I will not be in for dinner."

"You've got posh," Laura said. "Round here dinner was around noon; the evening meal was tea."

"I know, it is surprising what education does for you." With that, Edward pulled out his mobile and called Ben.

"Hi, just to let you know I'll not be in for dinner this evening. Joey and Danny are off school due to a broken boiler, so I am taking them out," he informed Ben.

"Where are you taking them?" Ben asked.

"Well, I thought I would start with going shopping as Joey could do with a couple of things. It might also help me find out what he wants for his birthday. Then I'll take them to the cinema to see the other film they were interested in."

"That starts at four thirty, doesn't it?" Ben asked.

"Somewhere around there," Edward confirmed.

"Right, I can't join you for shopping as I have a client coming in shortly but will see you at the cinema around four," Ben responded.