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Chapter Three

CHAPTER THREE

 

1.

Cameron was doing well.  Karl had forgotten how hard juniors had to work.  He was out of touch, he had realised that night.  By coming down to the scene of a crime for the first time in Christ knows how long he had realised that he had lost it. 

            Cameron was charming newsreaders for information and nigh on imprisoning witnesses until they issued in-depth statements, and Karl knew that he was already planning his follow-up stories.  Karl didn’t see a younger version of himself in Cameron – the man was too privileged for a start – it was more a reminder of a time when journalism had been fun.  A time when he didn’t Ask Jeeves to give him front pages.  There was no pride in his work any more.  It was functional. 

            And if he had noticed that, then he was sure that others would too. 

            He hadn’t worked hard for all of those years for the gravy train to run dry now.  He had to get involved.

            He had to get under the fucking cordon for a start.

            He’d had the charm once – he could still turn it on.  He just had to pick his target well.

            The police presence on the scene was now higher than when there was any danger.  Most stragglers were being urged to move along, but the venues of central London had spilled out their punters who were more than intrigued by the sirens and the blue lights, and in their general inebriation were inclined to hang around longer than if they were commuting.  The first four people Karl had spoken to didn’t even know what had happened – not even that there was a gun.  They had been dining out at the Hard Rock Café, or watching a tacky musical for their annual culture fix, and to them this was just extra entertainment.

            The fifth person was painful.

            “Did you see what happened?” he asked the tearful looking girl.

            She looked at him, dark hair covering most of her face, dishevelled through an apparent bereavement that made Karl think he was really onto something.

            “It was horrible,” she replied.

            Karl removed his dictophone from his pocket, wishing he had brought a notepad like Cameron, who hadn’t even been expecting an incident.

            “Tell me more,” he thrust the instrument under her face, all ears at the first hint of misery.

            She sniffed, and then let out a huge sob.

            Priceless, Karl thought.

            “He didn’t get to play ‘First Day of My Life,’ she wailed and he had to hold himself back from hitting her.

            “Karl,” shouted Cameron as he strode over with a hollow-looking ginger teen in tow.  “This guy, er, Chris-“

            “Matt,” the boy corrected.

            “Matt,” Cameron repeated, “was talking to the killer before the show.  He’s given me his address and I thought we could go round tomorrow.  Would be perfect for the follow-up, don’t you think?”

            “I already had plans for the follow up,” Karl lied.  “But we’ll keep his address just in case.”  He knew exactly what to do – tell Cameron that it’s not important and then pay the ginger kid a visit when Cameron was busy reporting on missing pensioners in tales that wouldn’t even get him a by-line.  As a senior, it wouldn’t be questioned.  It was the pecking order.  Karl was just playing the system.

            Cameron, however, didn’t see it quite like that.  He had been very lucky this evening, and he wasn’t going to let this chance go to waste.  It would have been far easier had Karl not picked this story to make his appearance of the year, but Cameron had all of the breaks in place.  He had his own witness testimony, and a very useful link in PC English, who he had promised to give a statement to in the morning.  All Karl had was the girl that Cameron had tried to console earlier until he realised that she was only gutted because the gig had been cancelled.

            He also knew Bernard Harvey rather well.  In a stroke of luck, Cameron had been shagging his daughter.  He’d only discovered this after a month. He’d assumed she just went to gigs.  She reckoned her father had a bit of clout and could have a word with the NME.  If he did this story right, Cameron thought that would be the case.

            “Facking ‘ell, Cam,” Bernard stalked over, “facked up night or what?”

            “Yeah,” Cameron agreed, before introducing Bernard to an incensed Karl and promptly turning his back on him.

            “Lucky I’m not dodgy,” Bernard confided in Cameron, as Karl hovered around, straining to be included.  “Police are all over the place.  Can’t believe it – some weedy little shyster opening fire at a fackin’ folk gig.”

            “So what have the police told you?” Cameron asked loudly as he guided Bernard out of Karl’s earshot. 

            Karl was going red.  He was upstaged and enraged, and for the first time in many years he felt like he had to fight for a story.

            The Bright Eyes Butcher was in for a tough ride.