Impeding justice, p.1

Impeding Justice, page 1


Impeding Justice

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Impeding Justice


  By Mel Comley

  Published by Mel Comley at Smashwords

  Copyright 2010 Mel Comley

  Smashwords Edition, License Notes

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  This book is dedicated to my mum, Jean, whose support and faith

  in my work has been invaluable.

  Chapter One.

  At the sound of helicopter blades whirling in the distance, Detective Inspector Lorne Simpkins leaned over the steering wheel and peered at the sky. She couldn't see the chopper, but judged it to be hovering beyond the towering buildings which bordered the Thames to her left. She imagined the armed response team crouched inside it, guns locked and loaded, waiting for her call.

  If this tip-off turned out to be good, precious minutes would be lost getting the team to her. For the millionth time she rued the fact that she and Pete couldn’t carry guns on these missions. Fucking politics!

  They drove past the alley for the second time, still quiet, nothing suspicious. She eased the car to a standstill. Pete shifted uncomfortably in the seat next to her; she turned to him and asked, ‘Nervous?’

  ‘No. As usual the dry cleaners sent these trousers back to me a size smaller than when they went in…’

  ‘Yeah, right, Pete. The fact you scoff junk food all day, wouldn't have anything to do with them shrinking, I suppose?’

  ‘Hey, it takes a lot of calories to keep my shape, you know. Besides, I eat more when I’m stressed and these wild goose chases don’t help.’

  ‘Let’s hope this one’s for real and we finally nail the bastard.’

  ‘Twenty quid says it’s another Brixton?’

  ‘No thanks. Take the far side of the alley, get into position and stay put until I give the all clear… Christ, Pete, fasten up your bullet-proof, and start taking this seriously, will you? If it turns out to be another dud lead, so be it, but…’

  ‘The bloody thing gives me indigestion, squashes me in like a fat thigh in a stocking, I’ve had a bigger one on order for yonks. One of the vest-type that fastens at the side, but...’

  ‘Look, zip up and shut up, ‘cos if this is for real, we’ll be sussed before we get out of the car!’

  Lorne took up her position, leant forward and surveyed the long, narrow alley. The stench of urine and the rotting, fly-infested waste, spewing from overturned bins tinged her nostrils. She motioned the all clear to Pete and waited for him to dash across to the other side before checking the alley again and giving the thumbs-up.

  They picked their way along the graffiti-stained walls. A skinny dog, hunting for its next meal growled at them, but hunger won over conflict and he grabbed a chicken carcass and made off with it. Lorne released the breath she’d been holding and mouthed to Pete, ‘Anything?’

  ‘Not a fucking dickie bird, if you’d taken up the bet, I’d be twenty….’

  A crack split the air. Pete slumped to the ground. Horror, held Lorne rigid, as she saw his bullet-proof fly in all directions, Oh no, Pete, no. You didn’t do the bloody thing up!

  His body jerked as he took another hit. Lorne bent over, making herself as small as she could, and made to cross over to him, but a sting vibrated off her face spinning her to the ground.

  She swallowed back the rising panic and delved into her inner resources: Everything by the book, Lorne – make the call. Grabbing her radio she gave her code, heard an affirmative answer, ‘Go ahead, Inspector Simpkins.’

  ‘Back-up needed…OFFICER DOWN!’

  The sound of the helicopter changed from a distant hum to an urgent drumming and its blades chopped the air faster as it sped towards them.

  Pete groaned. Thank God, he’s still alive… But, he needed her help. Another spray of bullets echoed down the alley. Dust and rubble jumped into the air. Lorne looked around, desperate to find a way of getting to Pete.

  Behind her, a large, steel, rubbish bin stood just inside the backyard of one of the shops. Its contents bulged out of the top, but its wheels looked in good condition. She could get behind it without being in the line of fire and push it between them and the gunman. As she did so, bullets ricocheted off the walls and the ground. Some hit the bin. Splinters of plastic bottles, tin cans and debris showered her, but her shield held good and she made it across to Pete.

  His throat rasped as she tore his shirt open. A ragged hole in his stomach and a wound near his heart put the fear of God into her. Shit...this is bad!

  After whipping off her jacket, she removed her blouse and tore it in half then used it to plug the holes. She pressed down hard with her trembling hands.

  Bullets rained down around them. A tyre blew on a nearby delivery van. Sweat poured from her, Jesus, where’s the fucking response team?

  ‘Lorne…’ A cough stopped Pete’s croaky voice. Blood trickled from his mouth.

  No…Oh, please, God…Let us both get out of here alive…

  ‘It’s too late, Lorne…I’m….’

  The tears she’d held back trailed down her nose and dripped onto his chest.

  ‘Don’t try to talk. Everything’s okay. The team is on its way…’

  ‘It’s… It’s not…’

  ‘Look, you idiot! I’m the boss around here. If I say…’

  ‘I…I’ve got…I…must tell…you…’

  The helicopter swooped into the air space overhead and hovered above the building where the shots had come from. Two officers slid down ropes and landed on the roof. A voice hailed through a megaphone: ‘Stay where you are, don’t move.’

  ‘Like we’re…planning on…going anywhere…’

  Pete’s dry, cracked lips stretched into a half smile. She smiled back at him appreciating his attempted humour. ‘How’s the pain, Pete, is it bad?’

  ‘It’s nothing…Listen, I…’

  The whine of the ambulance siren joined the racket of the helicopter. The gunfire had ceased. Had the Unicorn escaped again or had they finally caught him? She hoped to God it was the latter.

  She sat back on her legs. An officer on the roof gave her the thumbs-up and the helicopter moved away. For a moment the chaos descended into an eerie silence then a bin crashed behind her. She turned and saw two officers kicking at rubbish and throwing bins to one side. The ambulance crew followed just behind them laden with equipment and a stretcher. Thank God…

  A smile of hope froze on her lips as she looked down at him. Pete’s head rolled to one side. A throaty breath gurgled from his lungs. Through half closed lids he looked up at her. Staring but not seeing her. Everything that had been Pete fell into an expressionless waxy mask.

  The cold lining of her jacket encircled her shoulders and strong hands helped her to her feet. She didn’t resist as her stubborn, independent streak wanted her to. Pete deserved more from her in the hour of his death. Instead she stood to one side, kept her eyes on the paramedics, willing them to revive him, but a cold acceptance settled in her as she heard them agree: ‘Dead on arrival at the scene.’

  With an officer on each side supporting her, she stepped into the ambulance. She sat up and watched them load Pete's covered body into a second ambulance.

  The ambulance pulled away not bothering to use its siren. A paramedic tended the wound on her face, cleaned her bloodied hands and injected a phial of something into her arm.

  She didn’t know or care if the tears running down her cheeks
were fresh ones or if they had flowed from the time the truth had hit her. She did nothing to stop them. She thought of the information relayed to her as she left the scene. The Unicorn had escaped. The bastard had been a thorn in her side for too long and now he’d taken from her, her dearest colleague and friend. Every nerve and sinew of her body screamed its hate and her need to take her revenge.

  As she drifted off into a drug-induced sleep she repeated the same words over and over again... I’ll take care of things Pete. I’ll get him, I promise…’

  Chapter Two.

  'He’s here, Pete; I’ve finally caught the bastard…'

  'Oh God! What...?' A loud bang catapulted Lorne from the terrifying dream. The unfamiliar sterile white walls reflected her fear. Where am I? A fog clouded her brain, obscuring any answers. She turned her head as a waft of cool air brushed her face. Tom! The door swished closed behind him. Her fear eased as her husband walked towards her.

  'Awake at last. How are you feeling?'

  Tom’s face showed his concern.

  'I’m okay, how long have I been asleep?' Memories she'd rather forget flooded her fuzzy mind.

  He didn't answer.

  'God, Tom. How bloody long?'

  She threw back the covers and swung her slim legs over the side, the protruding iron bedstead dug into the back of them.

  'What are you doing? Darling, you have to stay in bed...'

  He pounced before she had time to think and tucked her legs back under the covers. Words failed her. She glared at him. He held her gaze, his stubborn look matched hers.

  'Tom for God's sake, tell me how long?'

  'Twenty-four hours...'


  'They thought you were suffering from shock. Sean and I agreed with the doctor to knock you out for a while to let your body recover from the ordeal. After all, you were injured...'

  'Injured! It's a bloody scratch... You and Sean? Since when did you become bosom buddies with my boss?'

  He thwarted her second attempt to leave the bed.

  'I must get out of here. You and Sean have already cost me valuable time...'

  She pushed the heels of her hands against his chest, he refused to budge.

  'Look, I know Sean and I have never really seen eye to eye, but in this instance... after what happened to Pete…'

  'Oh right, so you do know about Pete, then? Well, I must say, you hide your bloody grief well. Didn't it occur to either of you that Pete's murder is exactly why I didn’t need drugging up to the eyeballs? Pete’s killer is out there somewhere. How the hell am I supposed to catch the bastard when confined to a hospital bed? Jesus Christ, the shit has a head start on me. One hour is enough for him. What in the hell is Sean thinking of, am I the only one around here with any brains?'

  'No, you just think you are. It's always the same cry, Lorne against the rest of the world. I've heard the same bloody argument more than a thousand times over the years.'

  As his words sunk in, regret swept through her. Yes, she had put him through the mill at times. He never understood her dedication to her job and why there were occasions when it had to have priority over his needs.

  His look changed to one of angry resignation. Not exactly a truce, but at least he’d given in. He fetched her clothes from the locker. Sometime during her imposed sleep, he'd had the foresight to replace her blood-stained suit with a fresh outfit.

  She pulled her skirt up over her rounded hips. Her legs wobbled. She reached out to steady herself on the hospital bed. As she zipped her skirt at the back of her slim waist, Tom's growing annoyance filled the room with sighs. Bloody childish!

  'I need to get to HQ. Will you drive me or would you rather I get a taxi?'

  'Cut the crap. You’ll probably find this hard to believe right now, but I’m not one of your many enemies. Don't take your frustrations out on me. I’m as gutted about Pete as you are. He was a good mate of mine, too remember.'

  She turned to challenge him but the pain stretching across his handsome features shocked her. Oh God, I'm a selfish cow at times.

  He flung out an arm and marched heavy-footed towards the door. 'What's the bloody point? The doctor will need to give you the all clear. I’ll see if I can find him.'

  Shock at the sudden change in Tom made her retaliate, 'Don’t bother. No one is going to stop me checking myself out of here. No one, do you hear me? Just do as I ask and bring the car round the front.'

  Needing to lash out she attacked her shoulder-length brown hair with her brush. The punishing pain went some way to lessen the anger she felt at Tom’s attitude and the grief hanging heavy and knotted inside her over Pete’s death.

  'Mrs. Simpkins, you can’t just up and leave.'

  'You want to bet on that? Watch me.'

  The blonde, middle-aged, ward Sister sprang to her feet and sprinted round the desk. 'But, at least let me try and get hold of Dr. Carter, he’s due to start his rounds.' She tried to turn Lorne by the shoulders back to her room.

  Lorne shrugged her off. 'I’ve wasted enough bloody minutes as it is. Just get me the release form I need to sign to get me out of this dump, no offence.'

  The Sister thrust the release form under her nose.

  'Thanks. Now, which is the quickest way to the mortuary from here?'

  'Take the first left, then the second door on the right. The elevator will take you down to the basement. You’ll find the mortuary at the far end of the corridor on the right.'

  No more bedside manner, then?

  Never before on her visits to the mortuary had she felt such trepidation. She hoped her good friend, and occasional colleague, pathologist Jacques Arnaud, would still be on duty.

  She hadn't gone far when she needed to pause, lean on a wall and catch her breath. Did that bloody woman say second or third on the right?

  The jerky ride on the lift left her shook up. Once more she took solace against the cold, painted, brick wall of the corridor. What the hell is wrong with you girl? She knew the answer. This would be the last time she ever laid eyes on her partner, her dead partner.

  Come on girl, get a grip, any sign of weakness and you know what will happen. You’ll be off the case, the Super will personally see to that.

  'Ma Cherie, how are you?' Jacques startled her. His voice came from behind a mountain of reports, placing them on the desk he approached her, his arms outstretched.

  Her cares and worries eased as she nestled into his embrace. Clinging to him, he caressed her back and whispered in his native tongue against her ear. In his adopted language, he said, 'Ssshhh… Cherie, everything will be okay.'

  She wanted this moment to last forever. She knew he felt the same way.

  Why did life have to be so damn complicated?

  She pushed away from him trying to deny the feelings threatening to stir. She refused to let this happen, not here, not now.

  They had been friends for years, but over the last twelve months their friendship had become much more, stopping just short of having an affair.

  'Is he here, Jacques?'

  'He's here, yes. But, I don’t think it would be wise for you to see him.'

  Puzzled, she looked up at him. Her heart threatened to betray her, his words annoyed her, but she shivered the feeling away. Why does everyone think they know what is best for me? Why can’t anyone, even Jacques, give me credit for keeping my emotions in check?

  Anger fuelled her exit, turning on her heel she headed down the hallway towards the changing rooms. 'I’ll be the judge of that. Has he been opened up yet?'

  She tore off her jacket as she walked in readiness to don the regulation protective suit before entering Jacques' theatre. “No greens, no admittance,” he'd told her the very first time they'd met.

  Jacques followed her, making no further protest.

  'Oui, I performed the post mortem this morning. If it is any consolation to you, Lorne, not only would he not have survived an operation due to his injuries, but though his heart was strong he, well...'
r />   'What you’re trying to tell me is, he’d built enough health problems with his cholesterol-filled diet, to have killed him anyway.'

  'I try to be tactful. I wouldn’t necessarily have put it quite like that myself. But yes, that about sums up his state of health, did he have any family?'

  'Yeah, me… No, only me, he had a sister, but she died three years ago from a heart attack. That's why I nagged him about his poor diet. Maybe I should have left him to his own devices. At least he would have died happier...'

  'Pete had a happy life. He loved his job. You know he was besotted with you, yes? I know, I watched him, I saw the way he hung on your every word. Um…he warned me off you, too. Made it clear he did not think I was "good enough to wipe the drips from your nose". I thought it a funny expression at the time. I had to ask a colleague what it meant. Once I knew, I thought he was probably right.'

  Was this what Pete was trying to tell me? Why hadn’t she seen it if others had? The thought of them discussing her behind her back affected her for some strange reason. When and why had they been discussing me, what gave them the right? She didn't feel in the right frame of mind to challenge Jacques about it, instead she tried to reassure him of Pete's motives.

  'Don’t take it personally, Jacques. He became like a brother to me and we looked out for one another. My family was as much his family; he’d have acted out of a sense of protecting Tom and Charlie. Oh God, I feel as though I’ve lost a limb. I’m going to miss the old sod.'

  Jacques didn't speak. Not often lost for words she sensed he struggled to know what to say. Maybe if she spoke French he could convey his feelings, but then, she knew he would respect her wishes not to offer shallow words of comfort. He'd known how close she and Pete had been. The true understanding that had existed between them, something that comes along once in a blue moon. At this moment she could never imagine anyone replacing him.

  After donning their pathology greens they walked in silence towards the pristine, newly equipped post mortem suite. An area of the hospital the board had seen fit to throw their money at recently.

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