Ashes To Ashes : The Lock Box
The following morning saw Gene updating his team.
Across the floor, Chris was staring at Shaz, who appeared to be busily writing things down in her pad. When she sensed someone was looking at her, she gazed upwards, but Chris shyly looked away. Ray, noticing this, pulled a face.
"Right" Gene said pacing up and down "The facts of the matter are this; we are three days into the disappearance of Michelle Parr. We also have a missing tom-"
"Sex worker" Alex corrected causing Gene to stop and stare at her "Who's giving this briefing Drakey you or me?"
"You Guv" Alex replied.
"Well kindly don't pick holes in my chosen vocabulary alright? Now, as I was saying... we also have a missing girl name of Tracie Hill, a local sex worker" The Guv paused and looked to a pleased Alex "Now, what links this? One man, a red braces kind of tosspot called Scott McCall. He was seen on the night Michelle disappeared, talking to her outside the cinema. He was also seen picking up Tracie Hill there also, and she's never been seen since. Now Shaz here did some excellent work contacting a friend with inside information relating to this McCall" as Gene said this, Shaz looked up from her pad, smiled and blushed, and caught Chris' gaze once more. "What?" she mouthed, but Chris pretended not to see.
The Guv continued "and today we'll go and visit him and see what he's got to say for himself"
Alex piped up "Let's not forget Lisa Kirk either, she may figure into this equation. Kirk was a young girl, new in London, who by all accounts was very straight and clean living...yet she somehow ended up dead, OD'd on heroin and dressed in insalubrious clothing. Now we can't at present establish a link between her and McCall, but it does seem interesting that three disappearences have occured in such a short space of time"
"Insalubrious?" Chris asked aloud.
"Dressed like a tart" Ray explained.
"Oh" Chris nodded.
"Yes thank you DS Carling" Alex snapped.
"Yes Raymondo, get it right...dressed like a sex worker" Gene said to the amusement of the more chauvenistic in his team. Gene clapped his hands together "Right, any questions?" he looked around "Fandabbydosey! Ray, Chris, Bolls, with me....let's go and interrogate a yuppie! Raymondo, fire up the Quattro!"
(Turn it On Again by Genesis plays on the soundtrack)
The three men exited sharply, Ray scurrying ahead like a child coming downstairs to presents on Christmas Day, Gene next, striding purposefully out, snapping his leather gloves into place, then Chris, walking forward but with head turned back to Shaz.
Alex, rose up from her chair slowly "You know" she said to Shaz "It's the gleefullness that gets me"
"Bolls!" Gene's voice screamed from down the corridor.
"On with the motley" Alex whispered with raised eyebrows, leaving Shaz behind, smiling.
Outside, Ray's hand turns the key in the Quattro's ignition and the engine purrs into life.
"All yours Guv" he said, and climbed out of the front seat, proud and pleased to have been given the treat of starting up the car once more. Gene nodded, allowed Ray past him, snorted, and then climbed into the driver's seat, just as Alex hurried down the station steps and into the passenger side. Both doors slammed shut at the same time.
"Let's go" Alex said breathlessly, placing her seat belt round her, and the Quattro squeeled off; Gene's overcoat belt caught carelessly between the door as it sped away.
(Turn it On Again swells)
The Quattro emerged from underneath a viaduct and into a renovated street filled with new office blocks. It was, Alex thought, old London slowly fading out to make way for a world she alone was already all too familiar with. Gene parked the car immediately in front of the address Shaz gave him and the team stepped out onto the street.
"Bit fancy round here Guv?" Ray remarked, getting his bearings.
"Wait til you see the docklands redevelopment" Alex murmured cryptically.
"Well come on then, this is police business, not a sight seeing tour" Gene barked, leading the way into the building's glass revolving door.
Chris gulped and grabbed at the arm of Ray's leather bomber "Here Ray, it's big money round here innnit?"
Ray shrugged "I suppose"
"Well what if this Oliver bloke is making a mint, imagine what kind of pad he can afford, I can't compete with that"
Ray shook his head sadly "You're not still going on are you?"
Gene had arrived at reception, banging the bell for attention with some satisfaction. A blonde girl in her twenties in a smart pale blouse and big framed glasses turned around "Is there something I can so for you?" she asked in an accent that was straight from Rodean.
Gene grunted "I'm sure there is luv, but now is not the time for sexy secretary, I'm here to see your gaffer, Scott McCall"
Alex was surveying the plush and inviting reception area, her eyes looking at various prints on the wall. One immediately caught her eye; it was of a Pierrot clown, a figure that up until recently had haunted her 1980s existence.
"Oh no" she said to the framed image "Not anymore you don't" and moved her attention to Gene and the receptionist.
"Do you have an appointment?" the girl behind the desk asked, eyeing up Gene with an air that said she knew only to well that her employer would not arrange to meet someone of Gene's class.
Gene sighed, placing both hands wide across her desk "Listen luv-"
"My name is Davina" the girl corrected sharply.
"Davina?...Christ one bollinger knickers is enough" he said shooting Alex a sharp frsstrated glance which made Drake smile and look to her shoes. "listen Davina" Gene continued pulling out his warrant card "That is my appointment, ok?"
Davina cooly raised an immaculate eyebrow and placing the phone to her ear, dialled McCall's internal line. As she waited to be connected she smiled tightly "Mr McCall still may not be able to see you straight away, he is a very busy man"
Gene leant over the desk. offering his own tight smile "So am I luv, it's all the rapes, murders and armed blags"
As Davina consulted with her boss, Gene turned to Alex and raised his eyebrows and smiled in victory "The Gene Genie 1, Posh crumpet 0" he said, and despite herself, Alex had to laugh.
Moments later, the team were being greeted by a young handsome man in his thirties, hair as immaculate as his dark blue suit and with a smile like the Cheshire Cat. This was Scott McCall
"DCI Hunt I presume?" he said with a little bow before gripping Gene's hand as Gene completed the introductions to the rest of his team. McCall provided only the polite formal nods for the hovering Ray and Chris, instead turning his full attention to Alex "DI Drake, a pleasure" he said taking her head and kissing the back of it.
"You find police business a pleasure?" Alex remarked, determined to stay cool towards the charming McCall.
"Only when it involves such a beautiful radiant lady as yourself" he said and placed his hand to her shoulder, causing her to flinch. He held something aloft between his thumb and forefinger "A stray hair" he explained.
Gene who had been watching this exchange, now bristled and cleared his throat "Yes well, if you've quite finished grooming my DI perhaps we can get down to business?"
McCall turned to face Gene, a languid smirk on his face, he knew there and then that he'd hit a nerve. He had the measure of Gene now.
"Certainly, if you'd all care to step this way into my office....Davina love, no calls"
As they departed, Davina smiled to herself, clearly she was not too concerned with McCall calling her 'love'
McCall's office was even more plush than the reception area. A deep shag pile carpet lay under foot and the walls were painted a deep and relaxing red. He imediately made his way to the drinks cabinet "Is it a myth that you don't drink on duty or....?"
Ray was about to step forward, but Gene thrust an arm out blocking his path and connected with his chest "No not really Mr McCall. But we are rather mindful of who we drink with" he said gruffly.
McCall laughed and nodded to show it was no skin of his nose "As long as you don't mind if I do"
"It's your place of work" Gene shrugged.
"It is indeed" McCall said plopping ice into his gin and taking a seat behind his desk "And I will need to get back to work as soon as, so, can we come to the point?"
"There's been a recent spate of disappearances" Gene explained "Young girls....you were the last to see at least two of them alive"
McCall sat back shocked and laughed incredulously, wiping his mouth of the trickle of gin as a result with the back of his hand. Alex immediately saw that his watch was a Rolex. "I was? I'm sorry I find that hard to believe"
"Mr McCall" Gene sighed fixing the younger man with a stare that suggested his patience was being tested, whilst his voice sounded bored and weary "We don't just come to these conclusions by drawing a hand at Cluedo"
McCall raised his hands in surrender "No of course not, I'm sorry to suggest I had little faith, that's not the case at all, it's just such a surprise and one that is hard to fathom. Can you give me some details about these circumstances?"
Alex took up the explanation; "Three nights ago, you were seen chatting to a young girl oustside the Odeon Cinema. She hasn't been seen since. Her name was Michelle Parr"
McCall looked to be racking his brains. His eyes downcast, darted across the surface of his desk, whilst his fingers tapped at his glass. Suddenly, he looked up, eyes on both Gene and Alex "Of course! Yes, I was taking an evening stroll, the girl approached me, and asked for directions. She was on holiday I think she said, I think she was from up north. She said she wasn't too sure how to make her way back to her hotel on foot and asked if there was a bus stop nearby and what bus she would need to take"
"And then what did you do?" Gene asked.
"Why, I took her to the bus stop. There's one about two streets down from there. She was a young girl DCI Hunt. I couldn't just send her off into the night"
"Did you wait with her until the bus came?" Alex asked.
McCall snorted a laugh as if to say it was all too obvious that he did "Of course. She got on it, and I presumed headed straight back to her hotel" his brow furrowed now in concern "God I hate to think that she never made it back...."
"Are you in the habit of directing young girls home from outside that cinema Mr McCall?"
The young man snapped out of his concerned thoughts and fixed Gene with a stare "I'm sorry I don't follow?"
"It's just that another girl went missing from that same street, and you were the last person seen speaking to her as well"
McCall placed his hands to his mouth and remained like that for a few seconds, eyes wide with shock. Finally he removed them and looked to Alex "It's on my regular route, my evening stroll" he explained.
"Must be very regular" Ray piped up, folding his arms across his chest "the toms there say they've seen you around a few times of late"
McCall's eyes scanned the faces of the detectives. Finally he said; "I think, should this really need to go any further I should have my solicitor present"
Gene stepped forward and picked up McCall's phone, thrusting the reciever towards him "Go ahead"
McCall snorted a laugh and the smirk came into play once more "I'm sorry I simply cannot leave today"
"Mr McCall, I'm very good at pissing on people's bonfires, and I piss like bleedin' Shergar. We can make you-" Gene began.
"-Yes, but only if you have a warrant for my arrest, and I'm sure you'll see sense and agree that this situation is so coincental and ludicrous that it needn't come to that. Now, I can meet you at your station with my solicitor at say 2pm tomorrow?"
"1" Gene snapped back. There as no real need for him to suggest a time change, but it was a petty victory and one which McCall consented to with a gracious bow "Very well, 1pm it is"
Gene turned to his team and they made to go. But Gene turned back and left McCall with one more query "McCall" he said, noticing the stinging reception the lack of 'Mister' afforded him "Do you know a man called Sammy the Sauce?"
McCall looked nonplussed. Finally he shook his head.
Alex, hovering in the doorway added "Runs the Blue Parrot Strip Tease in Soho"
"In that case, I don't think so" McCall smirked, returning to his paperwork.
"Oh he knows you McCall" Gene said, walking away "And I think I do too now" he said to himself.
To Be Continued...
(c) Mark Cunliffe 2010