Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Village Tales of Fekenham Swarberry - Book 4 and a bit - Hand In Glove (Chapter 22)

22


Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Vesper was first to arrive in the office, first, that is if you didn’t count Superintendent Pearight who always appeared to be first in and was always last out. She made herself a coffee, asking the chief if he wanted one to which he answered with a grateful “If you don’t mind.” She then went to her desk to look again at her notes.
The phone rang. She picked it up. It was Cyril Updike, the sergeant at Fekenham.
“Morning, Cyril. How’s the family?”
“Fine thanks, Vesper. Jonah sleeps right through now from seven until when I get up which is a godsend. Cybil’s doing fine and even spoke t’ me about having another. Is Inspector Lazarus in yet?”
Then, as if on cue, Adam Lazarus walked in. He looked tired. His eyes had dark shadows beneath them. His mind was still reeling from last night’s discovery and the subsequent events that followed.
Mouths, fingers, tongues, lips, fingers, teeth, hips, each bite, suck or caress seeking nipples, breasts, belly, trails of saliva leaving silver coatings on brown thighs, teeth marks on swollen teats, each movement a concert of flesh, each touch an electric phosphorescence.
“Yep, he’s just walked in. Hold on, I’ll pass you over.”
Vesper mouthed that the caller was Cyril Updike from the Fekenham police station.
“Adam Lazarus.”
“Mornin’ sir, it’s Cyril Updike here. How are you?”
Lazarus was feeling less than good but tried to keep his tiredness from sounding like rudeness.
“I’m fine thanks. Rather busy, though, so what can I do for you?”
“Fact is I think I might have something to help with that Birchtickle business you’ve been working on,” said Cyril.
“I’m all ears. Go on, tell all.”
“Well, it’s like this. Our local milkman is also the postman, come to think of it he is also the fireman but that is by the by. He saw, his name’s Maurice, Maurice Tinkercuss by the by, he saw the other day when delivering the post a chap walking around by the pond.”
“Did he give you a description?” asked Lazarus.
“He did but before I give you that he also got a name. Now I know the name might be bogus or made up but I don’t think so.”
“Why’s that?”
“Well, he stopped Maurice to ask for directions. You see he wanted to call on the Trimeots but didn’t know which house was theirs. After Maurice told him, this fella pulled out his wallet and gave young Tinkercuss a fiver, boy, was Maurice chuffed. Anyway, as he pulled the money out, Maurice got a look at the name on the man’s driving license; you know one of those new fan-dangled photo jobbies.”
“And what was the name?”
“Hector Sabre.”
“Thanks, Cyril. That is most helpful. Next time I’m over in Fekenham I shall buy you a pint. Bye for now.”
Lazarus replaced the receiver and then wrote down the name Cyril had given him. During his conversation with Cyril, Chief Constable O’Law had minced his way across the communal office. He had smiled at Vesper then gone into Superintendent Pearight’s room.
Lazarus passed the note with the name Cyril had given him to Vesper.
“Make this a priority,” said Lazarus. “Find this man’s home address and find it now.”
Vesper nodded. She took the note and started dialling numbers.
Lazarus could clearly see through the office windows as the most senior of the Wessex police officers settled himself into the chair facing Obadiah Pearight. The door then was firmly shut and all sound muffled.
Inside the office, O’Law was preparing to complain.
“Dear boy,” lisped the camp Chief Constable, “I know what store you put in this young Lazarus chap but we don’t want a repeat of Simian Simpering do we?”
Whatever faults Pearight had, disloyalty was not one of them. It was the single thing Vesper most liked about ‘the boss.’
“Simpering, I hear is doing rather nicely over on the island as a surrealist detective,” said Pearight. “Lazarus is an entirely different detective with an entirely different approach, sir. I have nothing but confidence in him. I have said this before.”
O’Law waggled his hand limply from the end of his wrist.
“Oh, I say, don’t get all in a lather about it. I too looooove Lazarus and I don’t give a fingle- do-fangle wotsit about what method he takes. Personally, I wouldn’t mind how he approached me if you get my drift but we do need results old thing, results. When will we be getting them?”
As O’Law was berating his Superintendent so Lazarus, unaware of what was being said about him, flopped down in his chair. Vesper, seeing the state of him got up out of her chair and made him some coffee and then placed it in front of him.
“Guv, we have a visitor. Best be ready.”
Lazarus gazed over at Pearight’s office then nodded.
“I already clocked him when he came in. I wonder what that’s all about?”
“Couldn’t say, guv. About the Birchtickle case, I would have thought. We all know the Chief wants a quick result and it hasn’t happened yet has it?”
Just then the voice of Superintendent Pearight called him. Lazarus got up, winked at his sergeant and then strolled over with mug in hand to his boss’s office.
“Inspector Lazarus, Chief Constable O’Law has come to see me regarding the cases you are currently working on. He has some concerns which I think he would like to discuss with you. Please sit down. Would you like a coffee, sir?” said Pearight.
“Ohhhh, I could murder some caffeine!” lisped O’Law.
As no one apart from Vesper Highlot was in the communal office she was despatched to fetch three strong coffees.
Tiny kisses, nibbles and sucks, rising mouths that climbed her wrists and ankles. Hungry tongues that followed forbidden routes. Lips that climbed her arms and legs. Oh, Hilary!
Adam tried not to think about last night and accepted another mug of coffee, hoping this might clear his head. He still found the whole situation at home slightly bizarre; enjoyable, but bizarre.
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As the three police officers were about to discuss the Birchtickle case, so Sam Grimstain was crouched down behind a bush, he was watching Doreen and Charlie Gosling as they locked their door behind them. Todd was at school but Sam had bunked off. There was something his best friend had said about his parents that bothered Sam. He intended to find out for himself if what he thought was true.
The loss of his mum still pained him. The teachers at school had been very understanding but sympathy didn’t solve anything, it didn’t make a bit of difference and it didn’t bring her back. Sam believed, much as the police did, that someone who lived in the tiny hamlet had killed both Agatha and his mum. He couldn’t care less about old Nosebag but he did about his mother. Sam wanted retribution.
Todd loved his parents but had heard odd goings on in his home. Sometimes, late at night, if he popped home from playing out, he had found the Goslings and his mum and dad doing funny things. He might only be twelve but he wasn’t stupid. He knew about sex and where babies came from. He had heard about kinky stuff and although he had no idea what that entailed he thought his mum and dad and the Goslings played it. He had told Sam ages ago about this game and the two lads had laughed together. Neither of them knew quite why they found it so amusing but laugh they did.
“Maybe they’re all gay?” suggested Sam
“Gay?” stammered Todd.
“Yeah, it’s sort of complicated but it’s something to do with sticking stuff up your bum.”
“That sounds revolting,” cried Todd.
“I saw Harry Hertlasp pick his nose and that was revolting.”
“No one’s going near my bum not if it did make me gay; I can’t see how that would make anyone happy.”
Sam watched as the Goslings’ walked off to catch the bus bound for Muckleford. He waited another five minutes just to make sure they had really gone then he went to their back door. Under the flowerpot, a key had been left. It was the same key Todd used when he came home. Sam picked up the key, slotted it into the keyhole then turned it.
The door opened silently as Sam slipped in before closing it again. Looking around he saw a bundle of washing piled on the kitchen table. Beside it a bag of shopping had flopped to one side allowing the contents to spill out. A tin of beans along with a bag of sugar lay on their sides.
Moving out of the kitchen and along the hall, Sam took to the stairs. He knew where Tim and Tracey’s bedroom was as he and Todd had often sneaked into it. It was in there, under the bed where these odd toys that made a slight buzzing sound were. They were placed in a box under Mrs Gosling’s side.
Sam wasn’t interested in what lay under the bed but what was hidden in the locked cupboard that stood next to, and a little behind, the couple’s wardrobe. Taking out his penknife, he thrust it between doorjamb and lock then, with a mighty heave, he pulled. At first, it didn’t work so he tried again. It still didn’t work so he tried once more. The blade of his penknife bent but the door sprang open.
Sam thrust his head into the cupboard. There was a long, thin, white string that hung from the ceiling. Sam pulled on it. A light blinked on. There before him were a seriously weird set of costumes: gorilla suits, rubber masks, an odd looking sort of ball that acted like a gag, a collection of whips, rods and feathery laced sticks. He pushed the items to one side and then he saw what he had been looking for.
They there hung, clean, brushed and wrapped in polythene. Surely the police would be interested in this, that Adam Lazarus bloke for instance?
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“Adam, Adam, Adam,” repeated O’Law in the manner of Noel Coward, “you really mustn’t be so defensive. We, after all, are on the same side aren’t we?”
Lazarus glared at the Chief Constable. He really didn’t think they were on the same side, in fact, he believed they were on very different sides. He could feel his super’s eyes on him, could sense the unspoken message his boss would surely be trying to send  saying - “calm down.”
“To get the swift results you so obviously want, sir, will mean you granting me a greater budget and as you have already said, the coffers are empty,” said Lazarus curtly.
Lawrence O’Law seldom drew himself up to his full height. He did now, all five feet nothing of him.
“Superintendent Pearight please be so good as to inform your squad that they have until the end of this week to produce some answers to these questions: I would like your team to concentrate on the deaths at Birchtickle and not the extraneous murders, quite incidental to those cases that occurred in Winchester. I enjoin you to brief another team on those unrelated incidents and remove Chief Inspector Lazarus from the case as of now. As for who assassinated WPC Farthing, that is another matter entirely and must not impact on the Birchtickle investigation. Good day to you both”
With a flounce of his head and left hand on hip, the Chief Constable of the Wessex police force de-camped his Superintendent’s office.
Lazarus felt a blinding rage flood through him. He rose like Poseidon from the depths of his chair only to hear Pearight shout at him.
“Sit down Adam, sit down now and listen to me.”
“I have had done enough listening, sir, sorry but I am going home.”
Pearight literally kicked his chair away from him as he stood up.
“You will sit. You will listen and you will do precisely as I say. I will take full responsibility for my department and I will take this further; to the Deputy Commissioner if I have to, but for now I want you to calm down. I need you on this case. I trust your judgement. I am sorry to say I cannot extend that sentiment to my superior officer. I am now about to do something I have spent a career not doing. I am about to disobey a senior officer. You have one day to do what needs to be done. If in that time you can justify why you have taken the course you believe to be right then I will fight your corner and extend you the time required to complete your task. Take Sergeant Highlot with you. Do not fail me, Adam.”
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Sam sneaked along the outside of the Trimeots cottage, keeping his head low. He had no idea how he was going to get inside their home, especially with them inside, but somehow he would.
Parked at a little distance away from their property, was the family car. It was a second hand Hillman Imp. The paint work was rusting, the aerial bent. The idea came to him in a flash. It was dangerous but he cared little about that. He had to find out if the Trimeots too shared the same secret as the Goslings. If they did then he really could disclose all he knew to the police. Of course, Todd wouldn’t be too happy but he would have to cope with it if and when that eventuality occurred.
Beside the house was a can half-filled with petrol. It wasn’t uncommon for people living in Birchtickle to leave containers outside their homes. They trusted each other and, besides, hardly any outsider, apart from the postie or milkman, ever came near the hamlet.
Sam felt around in his pockets. He had no matches or a lighter. However, the car wasn’t locked and sitting on the front seat was a box of Bryant and May. He poured the petrol from the can across the passenger seat; stood well back, lit the match then threw it into the vehicle's open door. There was an almighty whoosh as flames sprouted, licking at the roof of the car. He kicked the door shut then ran and hid at the cottage back door.
Minutes later, the car now fully ablaze, the frantic voices of Tracey and Tim could be heard as the pair ran out onto their front path.
“Call the fire brigade!” screamed Tim to Tracey who ran back to their home, made the necessary call, then came back outside again to join her husband. As she did so Sam slid in through the back door and up the stairs to the couple’s bedroom.
He knew he had to be quick, especially if he wanted to avoid discovery. The Trimeots  had no cupboard,  unlike their friends, all they had was twin wardrobes which were both unlocked. Sam tried the first to discover shelves filled with ladies’ shoes and below them dresses on hangers.
Going to the second wardrobe he found exactly what he had hoped to find. The Trimeots’ shared more than just a perverse sense of pleasure: they shared a history.
Sam slipped back down the stairs but, as he did so, Tracey returned to the cottage. Upon seeing the twelve-year-old she was at first dumbstruck but then a suspicion of what had happened crossed her mind. The guilty look on the boy’s face confirmed her fears.
“You little bastard,” she cried, forgetting the box of books that she had purposely got out ready to give to the charity shop in Muckleford. Tripping over the box, she fell face first onto the floor. By the time she got up Sam had gone.
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The call from Hilary was unexpected; the information she delivered enlightening. Another small section of material found at Penny Farthing’s apartment had not been plastic but cloth. It was a highly specialised piece of material used by the military, notably the Special Forces. It was used to clean weapons such as automatic rifles or even daggers.
“How did you discover this?” asked Lazarus, slightly bemused.
“I examined it under the rudimentary equipment I have here at the house. When I couldn’t progress any further with the examination I contacted an old friend, a colleague of mine, who did a fuller inspection.”
“I see, and what of the murder?”
“A typical assassination as executed by either someone from or who has previously worked for, the Special Forces.”
“What I learned when investigating the bank robbery last year was that members of the Special Forces had been hired by the East India trading Company. Is it possible it could be them who did this.?””
“I am not a policeman, honey, I wouldn’t know. But I would hazard a guess that it is distinctly possible.”
“Okay, thanks. I’ll see you when I get home.”
Vesper had been trawling through telephone directories to see if she could find any address for Hector Sabre. Unable to find one, she had called the licensing office to obtain the detail.
“I’ve found where Hector Sabre lives, sir.”
“Well done. Get a squad car round there now and pick him up.”
“What reason do we give, guv?”
“That he was seen at the scene of where a murder took place and that we are undertaking routine interviews to enable us to eliminate him from our inquiries.”
“Do you think he’ll buy that?”
“Don’t know. Make sure the team you send is armed and trained. We don’t want any more surprises and no more deaths.”
“What about the Tickpants?” asked Vesper. “Do you want me to get them back in?”
“Yes, bring them both in. If they are innocent I think it better they are here than like sitting ducks in Birchtickle. We can always apologise and make some excuse tomorrow”
Vesper picked up the phone and began dialling. Clement Pearight strode in, smiling.
“I have just spoken with Chief Superintendent Bevy. I have given a full report of what I have ordered you to do but also informed him of our conversation with Chief Constable O’Law. He agrees with me. Together we will disguise what we are doing but you chaps really do need to get your feet down and start pedalling.”
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The squad car despatched to Hector Sabre’s home pulled up outside by the kerbside. The house was unimposing; a semi-detached property with hardly any frontage and a garden small enough to miss as you walked the short path to the door.
Sergeant Sam Thomas knocked on the door beside him stood the gangly figure of Luke Walker. The third member of the team carried an automatic pistol which he removed from its holster before he went round to cover the back door.
There was an eerie silence as though the trees and grass, what there was of it, were watching. Sam knocked again; still no answer. Sam looked at Luke who shrugged. Their orders had been to seek out and to bring in, without the need of violence, one Hector Sabre. They had been pre-warned that the witness might be armed and they should proceed with caution. If at any stage they were to find themselves under fire they were to retreat and call for additional back-up.
Sam knocked for the third time, then waited again. From around the corner, a female head appeared followed by a matchstick thin woman who smiled at Sam.
“I’m afraid he’s gone out. You missed him by ten minutes or so.”
Sam grinned at the lady then gave his rank and name before he asked hers.
“Wendy Waffle.” she replied; her colourless eyelashes butterflying.
“Do you know where he’s gone too?” asked Sam.
“We hardly ever talk. He’s not very neighbourly. I did seem him the other day, caught a bus to Muckleford if that helps.”
Sam thanked Wendy Waffle then contacted base on his comwand.
Vesper relayed the news to Lazarus.
“The bus stops at Birchtickle then Fekenham before going onto Muckleford. I’ll give you three guesses where he’s headed. Come on and get that armed squad to meet us there. No flashing lights, though. We want to arrive as unnoticed as we can. Have the other lads picked up the Tickpants?”
“On their way back as we speak guv. Funny thing is a fire has just broken out at the Trimeots. A fire engine has arrived and a call for one of our cars to make a routine check has just come in.”
Lazarus downed the last of his coffee, then slammed the mug back down on his desk.
“Okay. I want you to advise the officer making the call of the situation at Birchtickle then tell the armed squad. This may or may not be connected but I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
“What are we doing guv?”
“We are going over to Birchtickle now. I want to intercept this Sabre chap.”
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Sam Grimstain had seen the police car arrive. He had assumed that either Tracey or Tim Trimeot had phoned them, that they had informed the police who the arsonist was, who had set fire to their car. He had no idea they hadn’t. It wasn’t until he saw Alice and Martin Tickpant being taken away in the car that he realised his mistake. It was then that he heard Tim’s boot heels crunching on a fallen twig behind him.
Sam shrank down further into the bracken. He rolled himself up into a tight ball. He slowed his breathing down so as to make as little noise as possible. He didn’t really know why but he felt suddenly very alone, exposed and scared. The thought of being found by Tim sent shudders of fear tingling down his spine. He waited for what seemed an age then heard Tim’s footsteps retreating.
Sam waited a full five minutes before raising his head to look out and see where Tim was. There was no sign of him even though Tracey was still outside talking to the firemen. Seeing the car now, or what remained of it made Sam feel unbelievably guilty. He’d always liked both the Trimeots, the Todds and the Gozlings. What if he was wrong? What if what he’d read in the Fekenham Gazette was nothing more than ‘newspaper talk’ as his mum used to call it? What would Todd think of him when he found out what he’d done and more to the point, why he’d done it?
He had no way of knowing of the many imponderables that life throws at a person during the course of one lifetime. Sometimes you had to ignore the perceived wisdom and go with what your gut told you.
Sam slid back down beneath the thick growth of fern. It was comfortable enough and gave good ground cover. No one would see him unless they were up close. He rolled into a ball again, tucked his arm under his head then closed his eyes. The excitement of the day with all its sudden shifts of emotion had drained him. He felt tired and weary. He drifted into an uneasy sleep.
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When Lazarus and Highlot arrived it was to watch the fire brigade drive off. The car that had been set on fire was still smoking but all flames had been doused. The Tickpants had been collected leaving only the Goslings and Trimeots in the hamlet.
He parked the car then, with Highlot by his side, walked over to where Tracey and Tim stood. When the couple saw the police detectives marching toward them their expressions visibly changed. Vesper observed as, from the house, both Doreen Gozling and husband Charlie appeared. Both were carrying golf bags slung over their shoulders.
Lazarus too had spotted the couple. He seemed to tense upon seeing them. Vesper felt the tension to. It was almost palpable. It was Tim who broke the silence.
“Inspector, you’ve missed the main event.”
“So I see,” said Lazarus, “what happened?”
Tim Trimeot gave a brittle laugh. “Must have left a fag burning; I should have known better.”
Lazarus nodded. Vesper Highlot felt the pistol she had in her jacket. It suddenly felt good to feel its solid shape. She knew that Lazarus too was armed. She had been trained with automatic weapons but wasn’t sure how good he was. She hoped it wouldn’t come to that.
“Where’s Sam?” she asked of no one in particular. Sam’s father Charlie spoke.
“Still at school thankfully,” he replied.
“Why thankfully?” queried Lazarus.
“You know what kids are like,” interjected Doreen, “perishing nuisances as soon as something like this happens.”
Lazarus didn’t reply but looked from one couple to the other. They stood now on either side of himself and his sergeant. He felt uncomfortable, trapped. It was almost tactical he thought, with Vesper and himself caught in the middle.
“No sense standing out here,” he said, “why don’t we all go inside. I can just as easily ask my questions in there?”
At the word questions, the whole tableaux seemed to freeze. Charlie tugged on the strap of his golf bag which slid from his shoulder into his hand. Tim edged further away picking up a spade lying by the smouldering car. Vesper felt a tightening of fear grip her throat. It was as if the very air she breathed was being constricted. The gun in her pocket sat squarely in the palm of her hand. Should she use it? Would she?
Lazarus knew that if he were not careful matters would swiftly move from dangerous to murderous. Where was the back-up team? He could do with them here now. He knew now that his recent suspicions regarding the Trimeots and the Goslings being somehow connected to the East India Trading Company were true. Was it all of them or just Charlie and Tim? What was in the golf bags: guns? If that was the case then why was Doreen carrying a bag?
“I take it Sam is also at school?” asked Vesper.
The question seemed to throw the group off balance. They visibly relaxed. It was Charlie who again responded. ”Wherever Todd goes, young Sam is sure to be.”
Vesper didn’t think Charlie answered the question; all he had done was to skirt it. That didn’t matter though for the tension seemed to have eased. The evasion though did pose another question – was Sam at school with Todd and if not then where was he?
Lazarus was reluctant to try again to get them all inside even though he still had questions for them. All four were self-evidently on edge and that being so he felt it better if they all stayed outside. Being out in the open felt safer somehow, crazy as it sounded.
“How old was the car?” Lazarus asked.
Tim turned to stare at the burnt out shell with its blistered paint. It was still smoking, sitting in a large puddle where the fire brigade had sprayed water upon it. Tim appeared disinterested in the state of their old car.
“I don’t remember. Ten years, maybe.”
From the furthest edge of the pond, a voice called out. “Mum! Dad! What happened?”
Todd Gozling’s sudden and unexpected appearance seemed to shock not only his parent’s  but also Tracey and Tim Trimeot who stared as is they had seen the spectre of the pond’s legendary Woman in White walking inexorably toward them.
It was Charlie who first recovered sufficiently to call out to his son.
“Hello Todd, why are you home so early?”
The twelve-year-old started to jog toward them. His shoulder bag bounced erratically as he crossed the uneven ground. He arrived in front of his mother, still breathing evenly.
“The school’s been closed. They sent us all home.”
“Closed? Why?” asked his mother.
“Half the teachers are off sick with a stomach bug so there’s no one to take lessons.”
Doreen sighed deeply. Charlie smiled. Todd looked around him.
“Where’s Sam?” he asked. “And what’s happened to our car?”
Doreen and Charlie shuffled uneasily at the mention of Sam’s whereabouts. Lazarus observed them keenly. Vesper pulled the pistol out from her pocket and let her hand hang down hoping no one could see it. From behind her came a rustling in the undergrowth. Sam came out slowly, looking all the while from Todd’s parents to the Trimeots.
“I’m here, Todd.”
“What you doing in there?”
Sam never had the chance to answer. The AR21 that had been hidden within Charlie’s golf bag seemed suddenly to be in his hands.
“You two, Lazarus and the female PC, throw down your weapons then lie face down spread-eagled.”
The speed with which Charlie Gozling had moved surprised both Lazarus and Highlot. They both did as commanded, tossing their pistols away then lying down with arms and legs thrown out.
Charlie spoke again. His voice was ragged but crisp.
“Todd move away from Sam.”
Todd looked horrified, unable to believe what he was seeing; his Dad, his Mum carrying guns. He looked toward Tracey and Tim but they just looked back. They were all watching him.
“What are you doing?” he screamed. “You are scaring me. Why have you got guns?”
Charlie spoke softly.
“Todd, please do as you are told. Move away from Sam, son.”
Todd shook his head more in disbelief than fear. Why would he fear his own parents?
“No,” was all he said.
Whatever control Charlie had managed to summon disappeared.
“Get out of the fucking way, Todd, NOW!”
“No. Why should I? He’s my friend. “
Charlie fired a rapid burst into the air. The boys dropped to their knees throwing their hands over their heads screaming.
“MOVE AWAY NOW TODD!”
Another shot rang out. A single shell fired from a police marksman’s rifle. Charlie dropped his carbine and toppled forward, holding his shoulder. Doreen fell onto her knees with her weapon tucked tightly into her shoulder. Tracey and Tim threw themselves down to the ground.  A policeman’s amplified voice carried to them.
“THIS IS THE POLICE. DROP THAT WEAPON.”
For the briefest of moments, Lazarus thought Doreen Gosling was going to ignore the command but then she did as requested, letting the gun fall to her side as she put her hands on her head.  A single police officer made his way toward the group. His two colleagues remained were they were, covering him. He handcuffed Tim Trimeot first then Tracey, before moving to Doreen Gosling. Vesper stayed where she was as did Lazarus. They knew the drill. You waited until the arresting officers had secured the area then you got up. As the officer bent over Charlie Gosling it was evident he would need medical help.
“We need medics for this one Sam.”
Sam Thomas and Luke Walker, weapons still primed, moved toward the wounded man and his comrades. Seeing Lazarus, Highlot and the two boys motionless on the floor, he declared that it was okay to get up.
Lazarus brushed himself down. Todd was crying. Ignoring the armed police ran to his father. Sam stood ashen-faced, looking very scared. Vesper knelt down beside him.
“It’s all over now, Sam,” she said.
Lazarus went to speak with Sergeant Thomas.
“Is there a pick-up crew on the way?” he asked.
“Yes, sir, there is. Something you should know, though.”
“What’s that?” asked Adam, feeling a sickness crawling in the pit of his stomach.
“Your house was attacked by an armed man. A team was on its way as we arrived here.”
“Hilary,” whispered Lazarus almost inaudibly.
“Sorry, sir?”
“Was anyone hurt?”
The sergeant, seeing the look of fear on his commanding officer’s face felt reluctant to answer.

“Someone was shot, sir, but I don’t know who.”
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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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