Books written by Ray Sullivan

Monday, 4 March 2013

Parallel Lives chapter 66

Martin sat fuming, surrounded by armed police and crumpled cars following the chase.
The idiot at the car park had irked him, it was true, and Martin had realised that he had been persuaded to stall Sam's car somehow. Sam hadn't shown the common sense to counter-bribe the man and Martin was just about to intervene, pulling out his wallet, trying to work out how much would be needed to ease his way out of the car park. Preferably, he had thought, they would get past the moron before the car containing the Howells' woman and the HSE inspector disappeared completely.
As he leant towards Sam's open window, Martin became aware that the cool winter air entering the car had become a steady, face stinging breeze as the rear, driver's side window slid down silently. The look on the attendant's face caused Martin to swing around in his seat, which in turn provided him with a view of Jim pointing his 9mm Browning pistol directly at the attendant's head.
'Raise the fucking barrier,' growled Jim, his eyes staring unswervingly at the attendant who, after a moment's hesitation, readily obliged. Sam muttered under his breath words that Martin was thinking but was too surprised to voice. As the barrier rose, Sam flushed the accelerator pedal, slipped the clutch and screamed out off the car park, rear wheels spinning.
Within minutes Sam had found himself hemmed in between police cars belonging to the local Armed Response Unit. He had tried to comply with their insistence that he pulled over but it appeared that his reluctance to pull up as sharp as they felt he should resulted in one of the police vehicles ramming him, buckling his door panels.
Sitting on the low wall, watching the police complete their routine, Martin mused over the events that had followed, and the problems caused by the airforce man's actions. Martin had regretted insisting on arming Jim very early on, in fact as soon as it was clear his people were not going to take the bait he had prepared. Unfortunately, the officer that Martin had persuaded to supply a man complete with weapon proved harder to dissuade afterwards. He had simply turned the arguments used to convince him that the airman needed arming back on Martin. In the end it had seemed easier to let Jim carry the handgun, which Martin was certain would remain holstered. What he hadn't reckoned on was Jim reading more into the cover story and believing he was required to intervene when they were stalled by the car park attendant.
They might have gotten away with the incident if Martin had had more time; he had been in the process of calling his people to get them to smooth things over with the police through normal channels when they were intercepted by the Armed Response Unit. An armed robbery had taken place several blocks away which had spawned a major police operation. Several response units were en route when the call came that a car carrying three men had held the car park attendant at gun point. Coincidences regarding gun crimes are rare, consequently Martin found himself buffeted by police cars forcing Sam to stop.
Once his credentials had been checked and the RAF pistol removed, locked in a mobile armoury pending the arrival of the Royal Air Force police from a minor unit in North Wales, all Martin had to do was wait. He had clearance to proceed once Jim had been passed on to the RAF, but his only vehicle was now unroadworthy, Sam was a gibbering wreck and there were major discussions taking place in London regarding his future. The only good news was that he had been authorised to enter the Howells' home in search of clues as to their destination, but the permission was internal so he couldn't ask the police for a lift.
Sam walked over, gripping a plastic beaker of tea, his hand shaking and tea spilling down his trousers.
'What's the way ahead then?' he asked, his voice quivering. Martin explained how they had to wait for the RAF to relieve them of Jim and for a hire car to be delivered. He didn't go into any detail about how he was almost certain to be hung out to dry, not that Sam was likely to be interested. Sam nodded at his car, itself waiting for the low loader breakdown truck to arrive.
'I'm not sure how I'm going to explain that to the insurance,' he said. Martin shrugged.
'I expect I'll get the department to sort it out,' he lied. So far the operation was at best only semi-authorised and he fully expected the fund managers to be polishing their personal barge poles as he spoke. 'Once the hire car turns up I've got authorisation for a covert entry into the Howells' house,' he said, 'and I'll fully understand if you want to maintain a distance. This day must have unnerved you.' Sam considered these words carefully for a second, then pitched in.
'No, I don't think abstaining now will help. Whether I like it or not, I'm up to my neck in this one and I'd like to have some influence on the outcome. I'll sit outside if you think I may be a liability, otherwise I'll take your lead,' Sam said, convincing himself as much as anybody. Martin looked pleased at this response; he was beginning to feel totally isolated by the unfolding events. He knew that any repairs to his career would be down to him, but he welcomed the support.
'One bit of good news,' he offered, 'the powers that be are taking the project very seriously now indeed,' he said, carefully omitting to mention that he had personally suppressed all departmental knowledge of the project with the exception of the minimum he needed to secure ongoing support. It was only the complaints from the military that had forced his hand.
'Apparently something in the transcript I sent after the inquiry has hit a raw nerve,' he said. Martin had phoned the details directly into his computer using voice recognition software. He had stood outside the Council Hall with his mobile phone held to one ear and a dictating machine held to the other. Without reviewing the dictation tape he couldn't begin to guess what it was that had raised so much interest, converting the mumbled words into a report on the hoof had proven quite difficult and he had little recollection about the content. A mild concern flashed through him as he remembered interpreting some of the rambling statements; what if Martin had inserted something that meant more than it should have? That was one reason to restrict distribution of his reports until he had time to read them through himself, he thought.
'Great.' responded Sam. 'So when's the hire car due?


Copyright Ray Sullivan 2011

The characters, places and events described in this novel are fictitious and any resemblance to persons, places or events, past or present, is coincidence.  All rights reserved

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