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Chapter Three

12.


Whilst Bernard Harvey named his price to a triumphant Cameron, Karl Martindale remained sat in his car, trying to work out how he had got into journalism in the first place.  A nose for it, people had told him.  I still have that, he told himself, surveying the array of journo’s that made themselves conspicuous outside the Police Station.  Karl knew how to handle these situations, and he knew how to bide his time.  The young pretender may have got the first by-line, but it was still a story that was up for grabs.

            He imagined that Cameron was probably having a celebratory shag with whichever tart he was stepping out with that week, maybe even sleeping off his triumphant night.  He would be out of action, Karl thought.  He’d be toasting his victory and preparing for the accolades in the morning, whilst he hid in the shadows, waiting for the inevitable stream of family and friends to turn up and dish out valuable facts.  At some point a name would slip out and he’d be the first to have it.  Deep down he hoped that by the time Cameron awoke, the tables would have turned in his favour and he could sit back and relax for a few more months.  However, there was something exciting about being in the thick of things again. It sparked off memories of a good time in Karl’s life, when everything had been far less cynical.

            Cameron was far from asleep, though.  Having agreed to give Bernard £5,000, he set about getting himself a bank loan – the age of twenty-four hour banking proving very useful in these early hours.  He’d write Bernard a cheque and hopefully everything would be in place by the time it was due to clear.  Maybe if this was his break, he could stop renting and stop disposing of all of his income on a monthly basis.  This opportunity was intended to open many doors for Cameron.  He decided to change into a nice sharp suit, look a bit successful.  Appearance was important.  If Karl was still awake, he would be haggard by now, and it was a direct competition.  Cameron had already learned not to rest on his laurels - his mentor had underestimated him.

            He looked at himself in the mirror and felt proud.  He had to get to Bernard and the information, and then get himself to Manchester and in with the family and friends before Karl had even sugared his Ready Brek.  He was one step ahead all the way – it all had been so lucky.  By the time he reached Manchester, he would have phoned around for a home address, and his next exclusive would be sealed.  It was all working out so well.  If only he hadn’t needed to pay Bernard – the greedy bastard had cast a shadow over his success, but it just made him more determined to earn more money.  Besides, when he didn’t need Bernard any more, he’d gladly him tell how much harder little Christina fucked after a couple of lines.  That memory would be priceless.

            Metres away from where Karl lay in wait, oblivious to the scheming of his younger colleague, Michelle Atherton was explaining to her new charge the strategy that they would use to try and make the whole experience as painless as possible, as well as sealing her reputation as excellent defence counsel.  He would give a no comment interview and a not guilty plea in the court in the morning.  That would buy them time.  He would probably have to remain in custody for a week whilst she prepared a convincing bail application for her client.  She would speak to Ryan after the first hearing to discuss what their story was.  They didn’t have time for that tonight.  The best thing to do would be to say nothing and save that for the court room.

            Bernard watched the ambulance drift off silently down the street, taking the deceased on his second to last journey.  The police had conducted all the forensics they would ever need and the number of officers milling around was dwindling.  It was with equal measures of anticipation and dread that Bernard realised that the aftermath was about to begin.  He could get sorting things out, but he would also have to face the consequences.  He had people to answer to and a job to beg for.  Maybe he should have asked Cameron for more money.  Bernard still wasn’t sure exactly how much of this was going to be his fault. 

            It was big business, this murder lark.

            For others, though, it was personal.

            Denise Pendlebury rifled through a freshly bought London A-Z, trying to work out the best route to Charing Cross Police Station, where the newsreader had said her son would be.  Rachel Phipps patiently followed clearly wrong directions, having regained the sympathy she knew she should be eliciting towards her friend.  She had prepared herself for any lashing out that Denise needed to do, but was also waiting for the correct moment to call Trevor and fill him in on what had happened.  However diminished Denise’s marriage was, she should really be telling her husband that their son had been arrested on a murder charge.  Rachel felt like she could have a small amount of input into the Pendlebury family, as she cared for Denise, and secretly she loved Ryan.  His happiness was important, so maybe her intervention wasn’t entirely inappropriate.  Rachel went against Denise’s advice and followed the road sign.  Denise didn’t argue – she felt defeated already.

            Trevor was blissfully unaware, sleeping in his company funded suite in a fine hotel in Dublin.  His evening had been pampered, but tedious.  The luxury was much more than he was used to at home, which he would describe as modest but definitely middle-class, but tonight he had just craved his own living room.  The ins and outs of the plastic industry did not an engaging conference make.  He slept alone, having successfully avoided the amorous intentions of a Sales Manageress from Huddersfield who had been sparking up conversation with him all even, and giving him definite signals.  He may not have had much of a marriage left, but he was determined to stick to his vows, however tempted he may have been.

            As Trevor turned over, hours away from waking to the most devastating blow he would ever take,  Barry Dolan strode past Leicester Square towards the LA2, having been deposited near Piccadilly whilst Ripley raced on to the police station.  Barry still did not know whether this meant either of them had taken a side.  He wasn’t even sure what he was meant to be doing there at this moment anyway, but the impending glare of blue flashing lights implied that he was near his destination.  Shaun’s fate was apparently sealed, so Barry was really unsure whether he was going to be useful at all.  A retch from the pit of his stomach represented the first real feeling that he’d had since Ripley had convinced him that this wasn’t a practical joke. 

            Ripley entrusted Barry with the responsibility of asking the right questions, allowing him to get to the police station to seek the right answers.  He wanted to see Ryan, but he was fairly certain that this wouldn’t be possible.  Maybe for quite some time.  He’d had the foresight to plan the route and was going to be there in minutes.  The existence of the outside world blasted into his ears with the shrill ring of his phone and his girlfriends’ name flashing on the screen. 

            Faye Carter was wired and hysterical.  With the comforting arms of her best friend Lucinda wrapped around her, she squealed her frustration and launched her phone across the room, flinching as it rebounded off her living room floor and bounced onto the hardwood flooring.  She did not wish to speak to Ripley’s voicemail.  He could rest in peace for the evening, she would deal with him tomorrow.  For now she just wanted to weep.

            With an ambulance successfully seen off, no need for sirens as the emergency was over, Bernard had been about to get practical when a flat Mancunian voice excused himself.

            “I’m here to see my friend,” Barry explained.  “Shaun Craig.”

            “No idea,” Bernard said and turned away from him.

            “You may know him as the deceased,” Barry said and Bernard stopped in his tracks.

            “Come with me,” he said.  “I think the police may wanna word with you.”  Barry allowed himself to be led inside with the abrasive cockney, who explained that he ran the joint and would be happy to answer any questions that he might have about the evening.  He also explained that there was someone else he may wish to liaise with, qualified by the arrival of Cameron, looking smarter of suit and broader of grin.  He was riding on the crest of the wave of his imminent success, and couldn’t have looked more smug.

            “Be back in a sec,” Bernard sat Barry down in his office and skulked off with Cameron.  “You got the cash?” he muttered to him, fully aware that a stray DC could walk past at any given moment.

            “Will a cheque do?”

            “Will you honour it?”

            “On your daughter’s life.”

            They were in a store room, a scene of numerous dalliances that Bernard had experienced with bar-maids who had been keen to climb up the chain of command - usually with little success for all but Bernard.

            “That’ll have to do,” Bernard snatched the cheque, scanning for the correct number of zero’s, and a precise date and an authentic signature.  It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Cameron.  Actually, it was just that. The little upstart was too smooth for his own good, and a journo to boot.  The money was exchanged and Cameron was ready for his big breaks.  They stepped out of the store room to be faced with the familiar sceptical visage of their much beloved Christina.  There was no reasonable excuse for either of them. 

            The sound of a Mancunian voice had also brought Karl back to life, just as he was losing faith in his instincts.  He looked to his right and saw two women scuttling towards the front door of the Police Station.  The younger of the two, a dark haired lady with the most accentuated cheekbones that Karl had ever seen was lamenting the fact that they had reached their destination.  The middle-aged short woman with the tight perm just had to be the mother of the accused.  Karl almost fell out of the drivers’ door and inconspicuously tried to follow the women inside.

            “Denise!” a voice called out from behind.  Ripley barged his way through the scrum of press, performing the same way they did on the news, scrabbling for details and exclusive words.  “Fuck off!” he quoted and got through the doors, Karl slipping in just behind him.

            “Ripley,” Denise greeted him sheer gratitude and no surprise.  Any friendly face at that time was more than welcome.  “Do you-“

            “I probably know about as much as you.  Ryan called to tell me that he murdered Shaun.” 

            The final flush of hope that her son could be innocent ebbed away from Denise’s face as Karl scribbled down the important names.  For Denise, it was time to get down to business. 

            PC English was back manning the front desk, having being deemed to have been involved in enough action for one evening. 

            “I’m here to see my son,” Denise said.  “I was told that he was being held here.”

            “And who is your son?” English asked.

            “Ryan Pendlebury,” she said, producing her provisional driving license as proof of who she was. 

            “You won’t be able to see him until he’s been questioned.  He’s with his solicitor now.”

            “He’s got a solicitor?” Rachel piped up, aghast.

            “And who are you?”

            “I’m his girlfriend.”

            A moments silence.  Then pandemonium.

            “What did you say, Rachel?” Denise demanded, striking her across the left cheek.

            “I’m his girlfriend, actually,” a meek voice piped up from the corner of the waiting area.

            “Who the hell are you?” Rachel screeched.

            “What do you mean you’re his girlfriend, Rachel?” Denise persisted, before losing the strength in her legs once and for all and tumbling back into the arms of Karl Martindale, on the cusp of usurping the young pretender once and for all.

            “Denise I’m sorry!” Rachel called out as the meek girl grabbed her shoulder, looking twice as distraught as she had ten seconds previously.

            English rushed round from behind the counter, rushing to the aid of the collapsing mother, embroiling herself in the sudden chaos that the arrival of the family of the accused had created.  With force she brought Denise to her feet and out of the clutches of the grabbing Journo.  The mother started to wail uncontrollably over the noise of Ryan’s lovers remonstrating viciously with each other, Ripley being pulled aside to talk to Karl, none of them noticing the accused, defeated and solemn, being led back to his cell by the sympathetic policeman.