Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Thirty Pieces of Silver - Nowhere to run

Adams’ journey to the station was less a drive and more a hate filled rampage through the city. He careened within inches of slow moving cars, having to stamp on his breaks, time and again, to avoid crashing. He used his horn as a weapon of intimidation until eventually cars made way for him. In the end even that wasn’t enough and he unleashed his siren. The flashing blue lights cleaved a path through the crawling cars as cleanly as a hot knife splits a pound of butter.

What had happened between himself and Jimmy Kingston was a thing of nothing. Being disrespected and dismissed by criminals was nothing new, in fact it was the norm. In itself the slight altercation could not account for the rage he currently found himself embroiled in. What was really getting to him was the impossibility of his job, trying to defend a community which refused to co-operate. To solve a case, where everyone knew, but nobody would say a word to the likes of him. The miles of red tape and frustrating politics which poisoned every single aspect of the police force. Jimmy Kingston was only a tip of a very large iceberg trying to sink him. Even Adams himself knew that when the red mist descended over his eyes there was no turning it off until he ran out of steam. Knowing it was one thing but being able to control it was a completely different matter.

When he got back to the station he threw the office door open with such force that it crashed into a desk occupied by a bookish clerical worker, toppling her In Tray and all the papers it contained. He stomped past without even a sideways glance. Everyone in the office ducked for cover as he made his way across the room, his rages were legendary and anyone could end up on the receiving end of them. He rounded the corner of his own desk and snatched up the phone receiver. He dialed quickly then waited for the call to be picked up at the other end. He walked a few feet to a bank of filing cabinets, pulling the curly telephone cord to its limit. As the ringing filled his ear as he ripped open drawers and rifled through the contents. He removed some files before slamming the metal drawer’s home. After twelve rings the phone was answered.

“Criminal Assets Bureau,” said the cultured female voice on the end of the line.

“About time! Did I disturb your tea break?”

“No…”

“Don’t even think of answering that!” he bellowed into the phone. His quip was cutting and he heard the person’s jaw on the far end of the line snap shut.

“Inspector Kelly,” he said, the half question half demand more rude than informative. 

“Who will I say is calling?” she said, her previously happy tone was now guarded and resentful.

“Detective Adams, and make it snappy!”

“Hold the line please.”

Adams was about to argue when his ear was filled with a horrible version of Green Sleeves.

“God dam it,” he said to himself, he cradled the phone between his shoulder and his ear, he used both hands to search through the thousands of files. He had finished his search of the cabinets long before the maddening music in his ear stopped.

“Hello, Detective Adams, what can I do for you today?” Inspector Kelly asked in a cheery Cork accent.

“How close are we to having Jimmy Kingston’s nuts in a vice?”

“Petty close as it happens. Four, even three weeks could see us ready to conduct a raid,” the man said sounding very happy with himself.

“What if we were to push that timeline up to three or four hours?”

Adams could feel the man on the other end of the phone sitting back in his chair, trying to distance himself from the idea. To call a spade a spade, CAB was nothing more than an accounting department where the staff had warrant cards and a licence to carry guns. Despite that, Adams had huge respect for the members of the unit. The guns they carried were for their own protection. Members of Criminal Assets Bureau were the most feared guards in the country, and as such, the most vulnerable. There had been more than one death treat levelled at them, and countless attacks on their homes or the homes of their families. Adams thanked his lucky stars that he didn’t have to conduct a bomb search of his car every time he went to the shops, unlike them. What made them so feared were the powers they'd been given. With a simple bench warrant they could walk into any house or business in the country, search it from top to bottom, and take the lot. That is unless the person of interest could account for the money they had of course. They had the criminals shaking in their boots.

“If that were to happen, hypnotically speaking, we could miss out on at least half the goods we might otherwise get.”

“It’s a chance we might have to take. Things are gathering speed and we need to take some action, and we need to take it now.”

“Kingston’s business assets are a house of cards waiting to fall. We’ve been conducting surveillance on every one of his shops and laundrettes, logging customers, compiling price lists and average spend matrixes, not one of them are legit. The cash he is running through those books would be impossible to make. In one particular case, the laundrette in South Great Georges St, they would have to run every machine, twenty four hours a day, three hundred and sixty five days a year to achieve even half the income that shop declared last year. Our surveillance show’s an average of only seventeen customers a day, using one machine at a time. That bill alone could run into the millions.”

“So we have grounds for a search warrant?”

“We have grounds and plenty of them, but there is a ton more stuff that we could dig up on Kingston. If we strike too soon, all that might slip through our fingers.”

“It’s a chance worth taking if it stops this bloody war. I want to go first thing tomorrow, can you get your team up to speed if I arrange a warrant?”

“Of course, if I must,” the inspector said, his words breathy as he exhaled while he talked. It was clear he didn’t like it but would go with Adams if he felt it was the best course of action.

“I’ll be back to you within the hour,” Adams said and hung up without saying goodbye.

“Sims!” he bellowed across the open plan room. Her desk was empty and he needed her.  He pulled out his phone and dialled her. A phone rang on her desk. Adams killed the call.

“Where the hell is she?” he asked himself out lout. He pushed back his chair and stalked toward the small kitchen used by all the offices on this floor. He poked his head inside the door and bellowed her name again, the room was empty. When she spoke from directly behind him, Adams jumped, the fright making his bad mood even worse.

“Yes,” she asked, her voice calm in the face of his roaring.

“Where have you been?”

“The bathroom, is that alright?” she asked, her right eyebrow cocking high.

“Get on the phone and find out which Judges are sitting in the four courts today. We need a warrant to search Jimmy Kingston’s house, cars’ and businesses, the lot.”

“Ok,” was all she said before walking back toward her desk. Adams stormed back to his own area and continued making calls and collecting evidence files from the stuffed cabinets behind him. Ten minutes later she laid a sheet of paper with all the judges sitting today on the desk in front of him, one name was ringed, “O’Donoghue”.

“There are plenty available, but he will see you in an hour, if it’s that much of a rush,” she said, her tone controlled and her face blank.

“Perfect,” he said lifting the page and adding it to the growing stack of paperwork he had accumulated. Sims remained bent over his desk, her eyes boring into him.

“Yes?” he said at last.

“Stephen,” she said, the word was followed by a long pause, pregnant with restrained anger.

“Yes?” he asked again, this time the edge on his words was less. She never called him Stephen, nor did she generally look at him so coldly.

“Don’t ever make the mistake of speaking to me like that again.”

“I…”

“No, don’t say anything. It’s done, but if it happens again, it will not end well. Is that clear?”

Adams looked at five foot five woman leaning over his desk and felt like an insect before a giant.”

“It won’t,” was all he could say, his voice barely above a whisper. She said nothing but turned and walked away, her back stiff with anger.

Adams’ busied himself looking over the list of Judges but his eyes saw nothing. His brain was a whir of embarrassment, shame and regret. He had let Kingston under his skin, he had behaved like an ass and in the process upset one of the best investigators he had ever met. Adams let out a deep breath and considered all the paperwork piled in front of him. He dropped the list of Judges and leaned back in his chair. He needed to get his head together. He looked at the yellowing roof tiles above his head and slowly closed his eyes. He didn’t move for a good twenty minutes. When he sat forward again his mind was clear and made up. He scooped up all the files and jammed them under his arm. He walked across the room and stopped in front of Sims desk. He hoped he looked more confident than he felt. After cooling down, he still felt the decision to raid Kingston was the right one. Sims’ head was hung low over a witness statement as she typed the handwritten document out, word for word. She knew he was standing there but refused to look up, she was still mad at him. He coughed and saw her fingers pause above the keys.

“Fancy taking a trip?” he said, his voice was all lightness and flowers.

“Depends, where?”

“To see Justice O’Donoghue and stick a boot into Jimmy Kingston.”

“In that case, count me in,” she said, pulling the coat from the back of her chair and standing up without even closing down the computer.

Adams tossed his keys in the air between them, and she deftly snatched them out of the air. Her eyes looked from the keys to his face and back again, he'd never given her his car keys before.

“You drive,” was all he said and walked toward the door. The smile on her face said she understood the gesture was probably as close as Detective Stephen Adams had ever come to apologising.  He felt on balance again, he knew he was on the right track at last.

***

The Ferryman sat in the small office suspended above the derelict factory floor and watched as the gagged and hooded blond woman tried to break the cable ties which bound her hands and ankles to the steel chair she sat on. Her white blouse was a startling contrast to her dank surroundings. Nothing had moved in this place in years, dirt, grime and rust had claimed the rotting factory as its own. She had grown tired of trying to yelling, not that anyone could hear her anyway. This place was like one of those Russian dolls. It was a building, within a building, within a building. Added to the fact it sat on a little-used part of the docks made it a perfect place for his needs. Nobody ever came, nobody had reason to come. He could walk away from here and leave the woman tied just as she was. Her body might be found years from now, a dried husk of rotting flesh, still attached to the chair by plastic loops.

He stood and stretched, hearing the bones in his neck crack as he swiveled his head around. Once he had collected the money from the kid, he was getting out of here, this city, this country. Dublin was getting a too hot for his liking. He might try Germany for a bit, or even Spain. There was always work for him in Spain. A few years soaking up the Mediterranean sun would be a welcome change to the damp rain soaked days in Ireland. He had things to arrange before he vanished again. Things to do.

He walked down the metal stairs leading to the factory floor and he saw the woman’s head turn toward the noise. Her body froze, rigid with terror. He knew what was running through her mind. Was he coming to kill her? Was he coming to let her go? Was he going to do something much worse? The hood covering her face billowed has her breathing raced. He rarely got this close to his victims. He had to admit that the woman’s knowing her position was a huge thrill. He always held the power of life and death over people but they mostly were ignorant of their plight. He stood in front of the woman and bathed in her fear.

“Whmmm,” mumbled the woman through her gag. She had said, what. 

She was terrified but still trying to be tough. She was close to his own age and he could tell she had once been a very pretty but hard living or a hard life had taken its toll on her looks. The beginnings of wrinkles around her eyes, the way the corners of her mouth turned down slightly, as if the disappointments of the world were hanging there constantly. He moved closer and watched the way her chest rose and fell, the swell of her breasts straining the materiel of her white work blouse. Through the unbuttoned neck he could see her skin was flushed and a spattering of freckles dived down her throat and vanished in the depths of her clothes. He moved closer, her smell drifted in the air, he inhaled deeply. He could still detect the perfume she'd applied either this morning or sometime during the day. He could smell shampoo and something a little bit astringent, perhaps bleach or hair dye. Mostly he could get the hot musk of woman and fear. It was a heady scent. He reached out his hand and let his fingers trail down the exposed skin of her lower jaw. She tensed but didn’t try to move away from his touch. He let his fingers trace the raised ridges of her neck tendons and followed them over the rise of her collar bone, then down.  He felt heat pumping off her and the soft swell of her breasts touched the tip of his finger. Her chest stopped rising and falling, it remained still, waiting for what she feared most.

He loved having total power over this woman, knowing that he could do anything and it would happen. The thought of such power was far more erotic than the woman herself. Driven on by the thought he forced his fingers roughly under the material of her bra and cupped the fullness of her breast. At his touch she flattened herself against the back of the chair and her chest rose again, faster than before. Her flesh was soft, not a good soft. He'd thought she would feel firm, but she didn’t. He could feel the ridges of her nipple play over his skin but there was no hint of hardness. He pulled his hand away and backed up a few steps.

It was as if the woman he looked on now was a completely different person to the one he had looked on just seconds before. Gone was the girl who had once been a beauty, in her place was a terrified middle aged woman, with nowhere to go and nothing but survival on her mind. The woman on the seat before him was only hairs breath from passing out or soiling herself. He wiped his hand on the leg of his pants trying to get her stink off his skin. It disgusted him. He felt rage bubbling through his veins. How had it all changed so quickly?


He stormed away toward the door, away from the filthy being that had so nearly infected his soul. He should have known better, distance was good, it was always good. The sooner this was over the better. It would take him a day at the most to arrange what he needed, then he would be gone forever.
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