Chapter Forty-Eight

A Walk on the Wilder Side

Admiral Street Police Station

February 14

09:30

PC Jeff Hardman arrives at the station to start his shift and there appears to be a flap on. All leave has been cancelled and he is to report to the briefing room at 10.00am. There is time for a coffee first, so he joins a couple of colleagues in the canteen.

   ‘What have you been up to Steve,’ says one as he slumps in a seat. ‘How is the adorable Alice,’ says another digging him in the ribs.

   ‘Not so bloody adorable,’ he replies feelingly. ‘Why is it women are never satisfied?’ There is laughter around the table. He shakes his head. ‘We have a nice house. It’s in an area she wanted to live in but now, it seems, it isn’t good enough. She wants to move to Allerton or somewhere more respectable that has a bigger garden.’

   ‘It’s you Jeff. You are entirely to blame. Don’t you realise it’s you who has brought down the neighbourhood.’ That generated another wave of laughter.

   ‘Who was it who said he would never go to a party he was invited to?’

   ‘Sounds like Oscar Wilde,’ came a response.

   ‘Are you lot going to take the piss all day then? Can somebody tell me what is going on? What’s the reason for the big flap?’

   ‘There’s a raid on a bit later,’ says one of his colleagues who is in CID. ‘It’s to do with that girl who was abducted.’

   ‘The girl in the ice rink on Prescot Road?’ asks Jeff. His colleague just nods.

   ‘Do we know where?’ he asks.

   ‘They haven’t said. All will be revealed at the briefing in half an hour, but I can tell you confidentially…’ he stops and looks furtively around the room before continuing… ‘that it will be Binns Road near the Meccano factory.’

   ‘What!’ exclaims Jeff, suddenly remembering Alice telling him about the car and door with lipsticks marks on them.

   ‘Did the girl leave any clues at all?’ he asks.

   ‘Apparently she left a note with something about lipstick,’ his CID colleague says.

   ‘Oh shit,’ mutters Jeff standing up. ‘I had better go and see your boss,’ he says and with that he almost runs out of the canteen.

   ‘What was all that about?’ asks one of his colleagues.

   ‘I have a feeling we will soon find out,’ says another from CID..

DCI Willis is in his office studying the plan to close off Binns Road in about an hour’s time when a DS from CID knocks on his door. ‘Something you need to hear Sir,’ he says.

   ‘Is it urgent and do I have to hear it now?’

   ‘I think you do Sir. It’s pertinent to the raid.’ He stands aside and nods for a PC to come in.

   PC Jeff Hardman stands awkwardly in front of Willis’s desk. ‘Well,’ snaps Willis, ‘Don’t just stand there constable, what is it you want to tell me?’

   ‘Well sir, around five days ago my wife, who works in the Meccano factory on Binns Road, just happened to mention that she and a friend had spotted a car with a red tick on its boot lid and another one on a house door.’

   At the mention of Binns Road, Willis sits bolt upright and stares at him. ‘You didn’t think to mention it to anyone at the time constable?’

   ‘Well, no Sir. I just put it down to somebody’s bizarre sense of humour or possibly to a lady who had a grudge against the owner and then I just forgot all about it.’

   Willis stares at him frowning. ‘Are you telling me that you didn’t read the briefing that was sent all personnel following the abduction of Dot Sykes in which it asked everyone to be alert for lipstick messages.’ He glares at Hardman whose faces has gone noticeably redder.

   ‘I’m afraid not Sir,’ he mumbles.

   ‘Did your wife happen to mention which house had the tick on its door and I daresay she didn’t take a note of the car’s index plate.’

   Hardman shakes his head miserably but then brightens. ‘I can ring her and ask about the house though Sir.’

   ‘You do that Constable,’ snaps Willis coldly. ‘Tell the Sergeant here if she is able to help.’ Hardman leaves the room looking devastated. ‘I think that’s the end of my career,’ he mutters. The DS grins and says: ‘Don’t worry about it, he will have forgotten all about it by tomorrow.’

   And yet Alice Hardman is able to help. She can say exactly where the house is on Binns Road even if she has no idea what the number is. Hardman passes the information on.

At the briefing, which is led by Willis with ACC Howard looking on, twenty officers are told that Binns Road will be closed at both ends at precisely 12:00 am. Patrol cars are already in position awaiting the green light. Two minibuses with officers will then descend on the house with the tick and break down the door if there is no response. The premises will then be searched. There is to be a media blackout.

   The time is 9:45am.

Published by pod1942

I am a cereer journalist having worked for the London Dail Mail, Reuters and latterly the Liverpool Daily Post on Merseyside as well as the journalists’ leader in the region. I have experience as a crime reporter, feature writer, business editor and latterly, a senior sub-editor. My qualifications include a BA (Hons) English, from the University of Liverpool; a BA (Hons) Fine Art and an MA in Creative Practice both from Liverpool Hope University. I now divide my time between art and writing. I will shortly be publishing my first full-length novel, The Poseidon Files and as a taster I have written a short story which features the same central female character in which she talks about her world and her life. It is, however, essentially a ghost story.

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