Unravel a Crime - Tangle With Women, page 1
Unravel a Crime; Tangle with Women
A Novel Based on a True Story
Text Copyright © 2012 Neil Wild
All Rights Reserved
Table of Contents
Unravel a Crime; Tangle with Women
A Novel Based on a True Story
Neil Wild 1
Text Copyright © 2012 Neil Wild
All Rights Reserved 2
chapter one 5
chapter two 8
chapter three 12
chapter four 15
chapter five 19
chapter six 25
chapter seven 28
chapter eight 36
chapter nine 42
chapter ten 48
chapter eleven 56
chapter twelve 62
chapter thirteen 66
chapter fourteen 70
chapter fifteen 74
chapter sixteen 80
chapter seventeen 83
chapter eighteen 94
chapter nineteen 106
chapter twenty 111
chapter twenty one 118
chapter twenty two 120
chapter twenty three 128
chapter twenty four 132
chapter twenty five 140
chapter twenty six 143
chapter twenty seven 145
chapter twenty eight 149
chapter twenty nine 154
chapter thirty 156
chapter thirty one 160
chapter thirty two 166
chapter thirty three 170
chapter thirty four 173
chapter thirty five 176
chapter thirty six 180
chapter thirty seven 185
chapter thirty eight 189
chapter thirty nine 191
chapter forty 195
chapter forty one 198
chapter forty two 203
chapter forty three 209
chapter forty four 211
chapter forty five 215
chapter forty six 218
chapter forty seven 220
chapter forty eight 227
The man called Nick at the London office of Legal Positions Assured Ltd., looked wearily at Jonny Brakespeare.
“It’s not going to be easy for a man like you I’m afraid.” His soft voice blunted the edge of what he was saying.
“I realise that.”
“And then there’s the recession. I don’t know a law firm that hasn’t had to tighten it’s belt. We can’t find enough vacancies to fill, even for criminal lawyers like yourself.”
“But I can do general litigation.”
“Even that’s a problem. No-one gets divorced because they can’t sell their house, and split the money. The less business that commercial clients transact, there’s less to argue about, and so they don’t need lawyers.” He sighed. “We’ll see what we can do of course, but with your unfortunate track record, who is going to take you on when they can have someone with a clean record?”
“You don’t mince your words do you?”
“I’m trying to be honest.”
“What about temporary jobs; locum positions?”
“Same sort of problem. If a fee earner goes on holiday or falls ill, firms tend to pass the work around the office to save money. Sorry but,” he shook his head again, “think of Mr. Micawber”.
“Not into the Classics? Dickens; David Copperfield. Be like Mr. Micawber – ‘At present, and until something turns up (which I am, I may say, hourly expecting), I have nothing to bestow but advice.’ That should apply to every lawyer.”
“That’s the best advice that you can give me?”
“I’m afraid so.”
“That’s my life at the moment,” thought Brakespeare. “Waiting for something to turn up. Thank God for sex..”
That evening, back at his rented room in Milton Keynes, he immediately went into the shower to wash away the grime of London. He hated the way it made the collars of his white shirts black.
After ten minutes of indulgence, the water started to run cold as it always did. He stepped out of the shower, dried himself, and put the towel round his waist.
There was a knock on the bathroom door. “That you, Jonny?” Without waiting to be asked, the brown girl bounced in.
“How did you get on?” she asked.
Brakespeare shook his head.
“Oh, honey” she said, and drew him close to her.
Brakespeare’s head dropped against her shoulder.
“Come on. Something’ll turn up.”
“That’s what the man said.” mumbled Brakespeare.
“Never mind. Let’s cheer you up in the usual way.”
She opened her mouth slightly, and, looking deep into his eyes, pressed her lips against his, while at the same time she undid his towel.
“More?” Brakespeare panted, their bodies slippery from perspiration. Mel just looked at him through dilated pupils..
He stopped suddenly.
“What’s the matter?” Mel looked alarmed.
“My bloody phone.”
The annoying sound of a Latin American ring tone grew louder and more insistent from the black Samsung on the bedside table.
Instinctively Brakespeare reached for it.
Mel groaned and rolled on her side.
Brakespeare leaned over her, and picked up the phone. It was a London number that he didn’t readily recognise. He looked at Mel. She had her eyes shut and was lying still, waiting. The spell had been broken, and his own passion was subsiding.
With his thumb he slid the phone open and put it to his ear. He fell on to his left side, away from Mel.
“Jonny Brakespeare”, he announced.
“Jonny, it’s Nick.”
Brakespeare recognised the voice of the man from the agency..
“Is it convenient to talk?”
Mel could hear what Nick was saying, and moved onto her back to hear better.
“Yes, yes of course.”
“Sorry to bother you in the evening, but we’ve had an urgent call from a firm in Worcester. Could you go there?”
Brakespeare would have gone anywhere for work.
Nick chuckled. “I told you that something would turn up, but I didn’t expect it to be so soon. Their main litigation partner collapsed in Court today. They need someone to take his place urgently. There’s a criminal case that needs looking at immediately.”
“Sounds just the ticket.” Brakespeare replied trying not to sound too excited. Mel had begun caressing him.
“I faxed them your C.V. and they said it fits the bill. Could you go there tomorrow?
There was no reason why not. He had nothing else to do.
“Yes, that’s fine.”
“Have you got a paper and pencil, I’ll give you the details.”
“Just a minute, I’ll have to find some.”
With a grin he knocked Mel’s hand away, and gave her a kiss. “Think of this as a commercial break”, he whispered. She giggled.
“Pardon?” asked Nick.
“Just a moment.” Brakespeare was not going to give a detailed explanation as to his present circumstances. He put the phone down on the bed, and jumped out, going towards his briefcase.
He quickly found his Counsel’s notebook and a pen, and turned back to the bed.
Mel was waving the phone, indicating quite clearly that she was threatening to speak to Nick.
She giggled again. He sat on the bed, the notebook on his naked lap; the pen in one hand
Mel came up behind him, put her arms round his neck, and started nibbling his ear.
“I’ll sort you out later, “ Brakespeare hissed.
Mel giggled louder, and nibbled harder.
“Sorry about the background noise,” Brakespeare said down the phone. “Now, where am I going?”
It was a fine June day. Jonny Brakespeare was by now very tense. The traffic down the M5 motorway had been too heavy, and from junction 7 into Worcester it had been stop-start motoring.
He had planned to arrive at his new office at 8.30 a.m. and it was now 9.00am.
He remembered the symptoms of stress from the old days; his stomach churned with anxiety, and there was a tight band round his heart. His palms stuck to the plastic of the steering wheel.
His first job for a year, and he was about to start with a black mark.
He drove the green Fiat Punto into the roundabout by the Cathedral, and headed for the gates of College Yard, where he been told he would find a parking space allocated to him.
As he drove between the entrance pillars, a little man in an old, grey, ex-military great coat and a peaked cap, suddenly appeared, and stood in the roadway, blocking his entrance and glaring at him.
Brakespeare felt his heart pound even more, and he took a deep breath as he pulled slowly to a halt.
The little man came round to the driver’s window. Brakespeare wound it down and tried to appear calm.
"What you do here'?" asked the little man aggressively in a thick mid European accent.
"My name is Brakespeare. I have come to work at Mortimer Ridley, the solicitors over there." He pointed vaguely to any of the doorways in College Yard. "I understand that a parking space is reserved me. "
He paused; attack was always the best form of defence. "Are you the parking attendant here?”
"Then you have not been told?"
It was clear that the little man had not been told. He could not have been told, so late had the arrangements been made the night before. The man was now looking a little less aggressive, and a little more uncertain. He shook his head as he looked at Brakespeare Perhaps this man was important. Mortimer Ridley was a firm of solicitors. Solicitors, he knew from his years in England, were important people. He always touched the peak of his cap to Mr. Mortimer, Mr. Ridley and that poor Mr Morrison.
"Are you going to let me in?" Brakespeare asked, ever conscious of his lateness, and really wanting to hit the little man..
There was something in the tone of Brakespeare’s voice, which told the little man that it was perhaps best not to argue.
"Yes, sir. Please drive to corner over there. There is space. "
He pointed to the Cathedral door, where a gap in the parked cars waited to be filled. Brakespeare smiled; now he could feel himself relax a little, and his charm replaced his anger.
"There, I knew that someone would know I would be arriving," and he smiled warmly at the little man, and hoped that he had made him feel important.
The Fiat's lumpy gearbox reluctantly went into first gear, and he drove slowly round the left hand curve, and into the empty space. It was next to the entrance door of the Cathedral.
It had been a long time since his run of bad luck had started, but now that the Solicitors Regulation Authority had let him work again, did he still have his forensic skills? Had much changed in the law? More importantly did he have his confidence? His stomach churned even more and his chest wanted to burst..
He combed his mousy hair into place with his fingers; adjusted his tie; took a deep breath and got out of the car. Although he had not far to walk, and it was a warm morning, he took his best black cashmere coat from the rear seat of the car and put it on.
The little man was watching as Brakespeare walked to the entrance of the solicitors' office. The building was at least 18th century if not earlier, Brakespeare thought, as he climbed the steps, worn with tread of decades of feet, and entered what once must have been a Worcester gentleman's town house.
The building had the sweet, musty smell, that old buildings always have. The hallway was gloomy, lit by a single underpowered light bulb in an old cobwebbed shade. In front and to his left was a staircase covered with a worn carpet, so dirty it was difficult to guess what colour it once might have been. The hallway continued past the stairs to a rear door, and he could see through it’s glazing that a courtyard led to a gate into what must be Deansway.
To his immediate right was a hatchway with a sliding frosted glass window. There were no immediate signs of life, so he tapped on the glass.
He could hear the click of high heels across an uncarpeted floor, and one of the windows slid slowly back.
The dull gaze of a spotty teenage girl peered from behind the window and took him in.
"Can I help you - we're not open."
Brakespeare glanced at his watch. Two minutes past nine. As if to anticipate what he was going to say, the girl said, "We don't open 'til nine fifteen".
"My name's Johnny Brakespeare, and I'm your new locum solicitor."
"You're a local solicitor?"
He breathed in deeply. Again he wanted to throw a punch.
"No, a locum - a temporary solicitor. Mr. Mortimer is expecting me. Is he in yet"
The girl paused, and took in what she could see of him through the window. "I'll get him"
The window slid shut and Brakespeare was left standing alone in the hallway. He could hear a brief and muffled telephone conversation. The window slid open again. The spotty face wore a smile now.
"He's coming down"
The window slid shut once more.
The sound of footsteps came from the top of the stairs, and a figure came down, looking anxious, and with hand outstretched.
The owner of the hand was perhaps in his late forties, of slight build, with greying hair brushed back from his forehead, a pencil moustache and thick black spectacles.
"Johnny Brakespeare? Bill Mortimer. Come on up. Glad to see you. Thank God you were available at such short notice" .
The handshake was firm and the smile welcoming. Brakespeare felt much better now. He followed Mortimer up the stairs to an office to the left; full of scattered papers and files, but with a commanding view of the Deansway rush hour traffic.
"Do take your coat off; sit down. "
Brakespeare took off his Cashmere; folded it carefully, and sat with it on his lap.
"I hope that you had a good journey. You've come from Milton Keynes, haven't you?"
"Yes. I came up the M40 and down the M5. I was held up a bit; I had hoped to be here sooner. I wondered if that little chap at the gate was going to let me in.”
“Oh Hitler. " Mortimer laughed.
“That’s not his name is it?”
“No but it’s what we call him. He bosses everybody about. Anyway you're here now and that's the main thing. We're going to throw you in at the deep end if that’s all right?”
Brakespeare smiled. “I’m used to deep ends"
"Ah, yes, had a spot of bother with the Solicitors Regulation Authority didn’t you? You've been very frank about it in your C.V.; not your fault; doesn't worry us in the slightest."
"Thank you". Brakespeare nodded his head in appreciation.
"I expect that you know a bit about our own problem, but let me explain why we were particularly anxious to get someone of your calibre immediately. I'm the senior partner here, and I'm a bit of an all rounder. However I tend to specialise in commercial work - companies, offices, warehouses - you name it - I do it. My partner Dick Ridley runs the domestic conveyancing department, and he'll be the first to admit that he doesn't know a lot more about anything else.
Gordon Morrison runs our litigation side – mainly civil work, but he has a nice niche in occasional criminal work. He specialises in white collar crime and fraud. He has a good reputation in this area, and in Birmingham."
"Yes, I heard of him when I was
Brakespeare immediately wished that he had asked for more than his £150.00 per day. These guys were probably charging double that for the hour. "Do you do Legal Aid work?”
"No, we stopped doing legal aid work some years ago. With all the bureaucracy the Legal Aid Board requires, and the poor fees, it just wasn't worth it.”
"So your clients pay privately?”
Mortimer smiled and nodded.
"That's nice" Brakespeare said. Definitely more than £150.00 day.
"As you may have heard, yesterday, Gordon collapsed in Court and to cut a long story short, he has a brain tumour, or at least he had - they operated on him last night, and it remains to be seen to what will happen to him. That’s why you’re here.
"To take over the litigation?"
"Yes. Gordon has a super secretary, Margaret Lynch, and about a year ago we took on a paralegal. She's bright; in fact she has a degree in law, but I am afraid as with so many of these graduates, she could not get a training contract. Her name is Lisa Barnes. She’s American, by the way.”
Brakespeare raised an eyebrow. Mortimer shrugged. “I judge people on their abilities. I suspect that there’s more to her than meets the eye; all I know is that she’s very bright, learns things quickly, and has good judgement. Anyway we need you to sort things out, and keep the ship afloat until we know more about Gordon’s future."
Brakespeare could feel the stress evaporate, and excitement welling up in him. After all the setbacks it was good to be trusted again, and to be given the opportunity to show what he could do.
"Sounds like fun. "
"Well I'm glad you think of it that way; Gordon did too - I guess it's the only way you can keep sane when conducting a case – don’t get involved. However there is one major case that's just come up, and that I need to tell you about. "
"Civil or criminal"
"Criminal. A big one. We act for David Newberry, who is a Chartered Surveyor. In fact he's a very good friend of Gordon's. Perhaps too good. He is, or was, because he is currently suspended, a surveyor on the staff of National Surveyors. You've heard of them? "