Edinburgh, November 2012
DI Hunter Wilson took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose.
There had to be an answer. How did it stay under the radar? The new supply of cocaine into the city made the drug little more expensive than tobacco. Fury mixed with exasperation to sting his pride. He was damned if any low-life was going to offload this junk on his watch. Bastards!
Hunter sighed and stared at the spreadsheets on his desk. The investigation wouldn’t start tonight, so maybe he should get down to the pub to unwind and think about the darts match. If he left now, he might not be late.
As he grabbed his coat, there was a knock on the door. Hunter was surprised to see DC Winston Zewedu, better known as “Bear”, stick his head round the door.
“Boss, I know you want to get away tonight, but we’ve just had a call from Sir Peter Myerscough. He’s had his house broken into.”
“Of course he has!” Hunter snarled. “That arse just has to get his stuff nicked on my darts night. Come on, Bear, let’s go.”
Jamie Thomson swaggered along one of the tree-lined streets in the wealthy Edinburgh suburb of Morningside. To him, the capital of Scotland was really just a big village. Everybody knew everybody else, and tonight, everybody would know Jamie Thomson. He felt it as he moved quietly along the dark street. Excitement. Pop was away, but, although he had just turned twenty, Jamie would show folk it was business as usual. Pop would be so proud.
Jamie’s uniform was clean: black trousers, black jacket with a hood – other folk might call it a hoodie – black silk gloves, and cheap, new black shoes. So much more difficult to trace, especially as he chose to wear them a size smaller than was comfortable. If he left a footprint they police would be looking for the wrong size of shoe. Genius!
He was glad of the hood. The rain was not heavy, but there was a lot of it. The wind blew it into his face and almost took his breath away. His Granny called this wet rain. Jamie missed her. A lot. Silly old sausage! Who ever heard of dry rain? He was glad the road was quiet. But then nobody with any sense would go out in this unless they had to, and Jamie had to.
The house was dark. Jamie smiled. Good. He liked it quiet and peaceful when he was working. He could concentrate, get on with it and get the job done quickly. Very satisfying. The old boy was usually out late on a Thursday, Jamie knew. Jamie watched. The old boy would come home with a babe, back of eleven o’clock, usually. Jamie had no idea what the hotties saw in the old geezer, but good luck to him.
Jamie sauntered up the path as if he belonged, although it was not easy to saunter with shoes so tight. Still, the pain was worth it. He quietly slipped the lock and the door creaked as it swung open. Then he sighed wearily as the burglar alarm sounded. He found the control panel behind the door (they always put it behind the door) and hit in a code. Silence.
Jamie nodded. He could not believe how many folk left their alarms on the factory settings, but he was very glad they did. Idiots. They deserved whatever they got, or whatever he got, more like it. He chuckled at his own wit.
Jamie pushed the door open and paused as it creaked. He breathed in deeply. Cigar smoke. Expensive. Didn’t the old boy know smoking was bad for your health? But the carpet was lovely! Thick. Far more expensive than that stuff Mam and Pop got on sale from Carpet Worth. Jamie flexed his knees and felt the thick, soft pile give beneath him. Class. He switched on his torch to check the soles of his shoes. No wet, no dirt. Good. Torch off. He didn’t want to leave muck on this carpet; that would be criminal.
Shit! He jumped. A mirror on the cupboard door gave him a fright! He thought it was a burglar dodging against him. Jamie didn’t like to fight. Violence wasn’t his game. He felt all hot and sweaty. He stood still for a moment, holding his chest while his heartbeat returned to normal. Then he looked around. Two doors to the left, two doors to the right, and in front of him a staircase and a door. He opened the first door on the left and slipped into the room. He was pleased; this was the room with the French windows. Jamie unlocked them, just in case he needed an escape route. As Pop always said, you couldn’t be too careful.
He kept the torch on low beam and swept the light around the room. He started at the mantelpiece and shoved the silver and ornaments into his Asda bag. Shocking having to pay 5p for a plastic bag now. Daylight robbery. As opposed to nighttime robbery.
Moving over to the desk, he found a thick roll of cash. Lucky. And a cheque book. Did anybody still use these? Very old-fashioned. He stuck it in his pocket anyway. Bingo! Boxes: jewellery boxes; watch boxes. Nice. Lots of gold, bracelets, necklaces, and rings with big sparkly stones. The watches were impressive: a Rolex, and this one: a Breitling Transocean thingy. Well over £20k. Sweet.
Jamie was clearing the contents of the boxes into his pockets and congratulating himself on his cleverness when he heard a creak. He stopped. Listened. Shit! The front door. Lucky it needed oil, really. Who was it? Piss.
Jamie heaved his stash into his pockets and his bag, and shoved the cash down his trousers. Didn’t even have time to examine his haul.
Sir Peter Myerscough came back early. He came back alone. That day he had had to brief the First Minister on the action taken to contain the suspected terrorist threat in Broughty Ferry, then he had taken his parliamentary researcher for dinner. It did not take long to get through the three courses and coffee at the New Club. He had tipped off the staff to keep the meal coming.
He was both saddened and furious that the girl was leaving, because she was lovely. He would have been proud to have her as a daughter: he would have been more proud to have her on his arm. What eye candy! He was disappointed he had never got into her pants. It was such a pity she had never been up for it with him.
Her leaving now was bloody inconvenient because her salary was cheap, while she was efficient and easy on the eye. She was also damn good at her job. This was a most unusual combination, and Sir Peter had no doubt that his assistant would be all but impossible to replace on those terms.
He chose not to express his irritation. After all, she was moving to that dreadful tabloid The Nation’s Voice. As the Justice Minister, Sir Peter suspected that sooner, rather than later, it would be useful to have a little goodwill at that reactionary rag. So he swallowed his pride, paid for dinner and made polite chit–chat with the young woman this evening. He wanted to make sure that she could not think too badly of him in the end.
Arriving home, Sir Peter staggered slightly as he got out of the taxi and handed the driver £20 for the £10 journey. He felt obliged to keep up appearances. He stared at the door, wondering why it was open. He walked sideways up the path. Can’t be too careful. As he reached the door he pushed it a bit harder than he had intended. It creaked painfully then bounced back. He shoved it again, more gently. It stayed a little further open. He knew he had locked it and put on the alarm. At least, he thought he had put on the alarm. So why was the front door open? He hadn’t even put his key in the lock, but the door offered no resistance at all and the alarm was off. Monika was visiting her aunt in Switzerland. She would not be back until later in the month. He did not like to admit it, but he missed her. Ever since Louise had died, he had never got used to coming back to an empty house.
Since being widowed seventeen years ago, he avoided serious commitment to the fairer sex but always ensured a string of attractive young women with uncomplicated agendas vied to fill the void in his life. Monika was the latest, and had lasted the longest. He did rather like her; although she was not intelligent, she was tall, absolutely stunning, and attentive in the bedroom. The shoulder massage she gave was beyond compare. Still, she did have expensive tastes. In her absence, he would call the agency for some company. His mind wandered as he smiled and thought about which one to choose. Who would offer him most?
He was brought back to the present abruptly as he heard a floorboard squeak in the ground-floor living room that he used as an office. Sir Peter flicked on the lights. He frowned and entered the room swiftly. He was appalled by the space on his mantelpiece and the mess around his desk, on the floor. What was going on?
Then he caught sight of the thief. The bastard was right there, red-handed, rooting about. For the love of God: the violation! That desk was private. It held his late wife’s jewellery, his watches, his valuables, his emergency cash, and his stuff – even his expenses receipts. Sir Peter let rip a blood-curdling yell that echoed around the house.
Oh fuck! Jamie looked up in horror, but luckily his hood hid his face. He grabbed as much extra as he could, stuffing his pockets with sparkles, watches and gold, then he was off, disappearing through the French windows. Glad he had had the foresight to unlock them, but then, Pop had taught him well. He ran.
Bugger those tight shoes. Great for avoiding detection; not so great for ensuring escape.