The Hanging Garden
The ninth book in the Inspector Rebus series, 1998
`If all time is eternally present All time is unredeemable.’
T. S. Eliot, `Burnt Norton'
`I went to Scotland and found nothing there that looks like Scotland '
Arthur Freed, Producer Brigadoon
`In a Hanging Garden/Change the past'
They were arguing in the living-room.
`Look, if your bloody job's so precious…’
`What do you want from me?’
`You know bloody well!' 'I'm working my arse off for the three of us!' 'Don't give me that crap.’
And then they saw her. She was holding her teddy bear, Pa Broon, by one well-chewed ear. She was peering round the doorway, thumb in her mouth. They turned to her.
`What is it, sweetie?’
'I had a bad dream.’
The mother crouched down, opening her arms. But the girl ran to her,father, wrapped herself around his legs.
'Come on, pet, I'll take you back to bed.’
He tucked her in, started to read her a story.
'Daddy,' she said, 'what if I fall asleep and don't wake up? Like Snow White or Sleeping Beauty?’
'Nobody sleeps forever, Sammy. All it takes to wake them up is a kiss. There's nothing the witches and evil queens can do about that.’
He kissed her forehead.
'Dead people don't wake up, 'she said, hugging Pa Broon. 'Not even when you kiss them.’
John Rebus kissed his daughter. `Sure you don't want a lift?’
Samantha shook her head. `I need to walk off that pizza.’
Rebus put his hands in his pockets, felt folded banknotes beneath his handkerchief. He thought of offering her some money wasn't that what fathers did? – but she'd only laugh. She was twenty-four and independent; didn't need the gesture and certainly wouldn't take the money. She'd even tried to pay for the pizza, arguing that she'd eaten half while he'd chewed on a single slice. The remains were in a box under her arm.
`Bye, Dad.’ She pecked him on the cheek.
`I'll phone you. Maybe the three of us…?’
By which she meant Ned Farlowe, her boyfriend. She was walking backwards as she spoke. One final wave, and she turned away from him, head moving as she checked the evening traffic, crossing the road without looking back. But on the opposite pavement she half-turned, saw him watching her, waved her hand in acknowledgment. A young man almost collided with her. He was staring at the pavement, the thin black cord from a pair of earphones dribbling down his neck. Turn round and look at her, Rebus commanded. Isn't she incredible? But the youth kept shuffling along the pavement, oblivious to her world.
And then she'd turned a corner and was gone. Rebus could only imagine her now: making sure the pizza box was secure beneath her left arm; walking with eyes fixed firmly ahead of her; rubbing a thumb behind her right ear, which she'd recently had pierced for the third time. He knew that her nose would twitch when she thought of something funny. He knew that if she wanted to concentrate, she might tuck the corner of one jacket-lapel into her mouth. He knew that she wore a bracelet of braided leather, three silver rings, a cheap watch with black plastic strap and indigo face. He knew that the brown of her hair was its natural colour. He knew she was headed for a Guy Fawkes party, but didn't intend staying long.
He didn't know nearly enough about her, which was why he'd wanted them to meet for dinner. It had been a tortuous process: dates rejigged, last-minute cancellations. Sometimes it was her fault, more often his. Even tonight he should have been elsewhere. He ran his hands down the front of his jacket, feeling the bulge in his inside breast pocket, his own little time-bomb. Checking his watch, he saw it was nearly nine o'clock. He could drive or he could walk – he wasn't going far.
He decided to drive.
Edinburgh on firework night, leaves blown into thick lines down the pavement. One morning soon he would find himself scraping frost from his car windscreen, feeling the cold like jabs to his kidneys. The south side of the city seemed to get the first frost earlier than the north. Rebus, of course, lived and worked on the south side. After a stint in Craigmillar, he was back at St Leonard 's. He could make for there now – he was still on shift after all – but he had other plans. He passed three pubs on his way to his car. Chat at the bar, cigarettes and laughter, a fug of heat and alcohol: he knew these things better than he knew his own daughter. Two out of the three bars boasted `doormen'. They didn't seem to be called bouncers these days. They were doormen or front-of-house managers, big guys with short hair and shorter fuses. One of them wore a kilt. His face was all scar tissue and scowl, the scalp shaved to abrasion. Rebus thought his name was Wattie or Wallie. He belonged to Telford. Maybe they all did. Graffiti on the wall further along: Won't Anyone Help? Three words spreading across the city.
Rebus parked around the corner from Flint Street and started walking. The street was in darkness at ground level, except for a cafe and amusement arcade. There was one lamppost, its bulb dead. The council had been asked by police not to replace it in a hurry – the surveillance needed all the help it could get. A few lights were shining in the tenement flats. There were three cars parked kerbside, but only one of them with people in it. Rebus opened the back door and got in.
A man sat in the driver's seat, a woman next to him. They looked cold and bored. The woman was Detective Constable Siobhan Clarke, who had worked with Rebus at St Leonard 's until a recent posting to the Scottish Crime Squad. The man, a Detective Sergeant called Claverhouse, was a Crime Squad regular. They were part of a team keeping twenty-four hour tabs on Tommy Telford and all his deeds. Their slumped shoulders and pale faces bespoke not only tedium but the sure knowledge that surveillance was futile.
It was futile because Telford owned the street. Nobody parked here without him knowing who and why. The other two cars parked just now were Range Rovers belonging to Telford 's gang. Anything but a Range Rover stuck out. The Crime Squad had a specially adapted van which they usually used for surveillance, but that wouldn't work in Flint Street. Any van parked here for longer than five minutes received close and personal attention from a couple of Telford 's men. They were trained to be courteous and menacing at the same time.
`Undercover bloody surveillance,' Claverhouse growled. `Only we're not undercover and there's nothing to survey.’
He tore at a Snickers wrapper with his teeth and offered the first bite to Siobhan Clarke, who shook her head.
`Shame about those flats,' she said, peering up through the windscreen. `They'd be perfect.’
`Except Telford owns them all,' Claverhouse said through a mouthful of chocolate.
`Are they all occupied?’ Rebus asked. He'd been in the car a minute and already his toes were cold.
`Some of them are empty,' Clarke said. ` Telford uses them for storage.’
`But every bugger in and out of the main door gets spotted,' Claverhouse added. `We've had meter readers and plumbers try to wangle their way in.’
`Who was acting the plumber?’ Rebus asked.
Rebus shrugged. `Just need someone to fix a tap in my bathroom.’
Claverhouse smiled. He was tall and skinny, with huge dark bags under his eyes and thinning fair hair. Slow-moving and slow talking, people often underestimated him. Those who did sometimes discovered that his nickname of `Bloody' Claverhouse was merited.
Clarke checked her watch. `Ninety minutes till the changeover.’
`You could do with the heating on,' Rebus offered. Claverhouse turned in his seat.
`That's what I keep telling her, but she won't have it.’
He caught Clarke's eyes in the rearview. She was smiling.
`Because,' Claverhouse said, `it means running the engine, and running the engine when we're not going anywhere is wasteful. Global warming or something.’
`It's true,' Clarke said.
Rebus winked at her reflection. It looked like she'd been accepted by Claverhouse, which meant acceptance by the whole team at Fettes. Rebus, the perennial outsider, envied her the ability to conform.
`Bloody useless anyway,' Claverhouse continued. `The bugger knows we're here. The van was blown after twenty minutes, the plumber routine didn't even get Ormiston over the threshhold, and now here we are, the only sods on the whole street. We couldn't blend in less if we were doing panto.’
`Visible presence as a deterrent,' Rebus said.
`Aye, right, a few more nights of this and I'm sure Tommy'll be back on the straight and narrow.’
Claverhouse shifted in his seat, trying to get comfortable. `Any word of Candice?’
Sammy had asked her father the same thing. Rebus shook his head.
`You still think Taravicz snatched her? No chance she did a runner?’
`Just because you want it to be them doesn't mean it was. My advice: leave it to us. Forget about her. You've got that Adolf thing to keep you busy.’
`Don't remind me.’
`Did you ever track down Colquhoun?’
`Sudden holiday. His office got a doctor's line.’
`I think we did for him.’
Rebus realised one of his hands was caressing his breast pocket. `So is Telford in the cafe or what?’
`Went in about an hour ago,' Clarke said. `There's a room at the back, he uses that. He seems to like the arcade, too. Those games where you sit on a motorbike and do the circuit.’
`We need someone on the inside,' Claverhouse said. `Either that or wire the place.’
`We couldn't even get a plumber in there,' Rebus said. `You think someone with a fistful of radio mikes is going to fare any better?’
`Couldn't do any worse.’ Claverhouse switched on the radio, seeking music.
`Please,' Clarke pleaded, `no country and western.’
Rebus stared out at the cafe. It was well-lit with a net curtain covering the bottom half of its window. On the top half was written `Big Bites For Small Change'. There was a menu taped to the window, and a sandwich board on the pavement outside, which gave the cafe's hours as 6.30 a.m. – 8.30 p.m. The place should have been closed for an hour.
`How are his licences?’
`He has lawyers,' Clarke said.
`First thing we tried,' Claverhouse added. `He's applied for a latenight extension. I can't see the neighbours complaining.’
`Well,' Rebus said, `much as I'd love to sit around here chatting…’
`End of liaison?’ Clarke asked. She was keeping her humour, but Rebus could see she was tired. Disrupted sleep pattern, body chill, plus the boredom of a surveillance you know is going nowhere. It was never easy partnering Claverhouse: no great fund of stories, just constant reminding that they had to do everything `the right way', meaning by the book.
`Do us a favour,' Claverhouse said.
`There's a chippy across from the Odeon.’
`What do you want?’
`Just a poke of chips.’
`Oh, and John?’
Claverhouse added as Rebus stepped out of the car. `Ask them for a hot-water bottle while you're at it.’
A car turned into the street, speeding up then screeching to a halt outside the cafe. The back door nearest the kerb opened, but nobody got out. The car accelerated away, door still hanging open, but there was something on the pavement now, something crawling, trying to push itself upright.
`Get after them!' Rebus shouted. Claverhouse had already turned the ignition, slammed the gear-shift into first. Clarke was on the radio as the car pulled away. As Rebus crossed the street, the.man got to his feet. He stood with one hand against the cafe window, the other held to his head. As Rebus approached, the man seemed to sense his presence, staggered away from the cafe into the road.
`Christ!' he yelled. `Help me!' He fell to his knees again, both hands scrabbling at his scalp. His face was a mask of blood. Rebus crouched in front of him.
`We'll get you an ambulance,' he said. A crowd had gathered at the window of the cafe. The door had been pulled open, and two young men were watching, like they were onlookers at a piece of street theatre. Rebus recognised them: Kenny Houston and PrettyBoy. `Don't just stand there!' he yelled. Houston looked to PrettyBoy, but Pretty-Boy wasn't moving. Rebus took out his mobile, called in the emergency, his eyes fixing on Pretty-Boy: black wavy hair, eyeliner. Black leather jacket, black polo-neck, black jeans. Stones: `Paint it Black'. But the face chalk-white, like it had been powdered. Rebus walked up to the door. Behind him, the man was beginning to wail, a roar of pain echoing into the night sky.
`We don't know him,' Pretty-Boy said.
`I didn't ask if you knew him, I asked for help.’
Pretty-Boy didn't blink. `The magic word.’
Rebus got right up into his face. Pretty-Boy smiled and nodded towards Houston, who went to fetch towels.
Most of the customers had returned to their tables. One was studying the bloody palmprint on the window. Rebus saw another group of people, watching from the doorway of a room to the back of the cafe. At their centre stood Tommy Telford: tall, shoulders straight, legs apart. He looked almost soldierly.
`I thought you took care of your lads, Tommy!' Rebus called to him. Telford looked straight through him, then turned back into the room. The door closed. More screams from outside. Rebus grabbed the dishtowels from Houston and ran. The bleeder was on his feet again, weaving like a boxer in defeat.
`Take your hands down for a sec.’
The man lifted both hands from his matted hair, and Rebus saw a section of scalp rise with them, like it was attached to the skull by a hinge. A thin jet of blood hit Rebus in the face. He turned away and felt it against his ear, his neck. Blindly he stuck the towel on to the man's head.
Rebus grabbing the hands, forcing them on to the towel. Headlights: the unmarked police car. Claverhouse had his window down.
`Lost them in Causewayside. Stolen car, I'll bet. They'll be hoofing it.’
`We need to get this one to Emergency.’
Rebus pulled open the back door. Clarke had found a box of paper hankies and was pulling out a wad.
`I think he's beyond Kleenex,' Rebus said as she handed them over.
`They're for you,' she said.
It was a three-minute drive to the Royal Infirmary. Accident amp; Emergency was gearing up for firework casualties. Rebus went to the toilets, stripped, and rinsed himself off as best he could. His shirt was damp and cold to the touch. A line of blood had dried down the front of his chest. He turned to look in the mirror, saw more blood on his back. He had wet a clump of blue paper towels. There was a change of clothes in his car, but his car was back near Flint Street. The door of the toilets opened and Claverhouse came in.
`Best I could do,' he said, holding out a black t-shirt. There was a garish print on the front, a zombie with demon's eyes, wielding a scythe. `Belongs to one of the junior doctors, made me promise to get it back to him.’
Rebus dried himself off with another wad of towels. He asked Claverhouse how he looked.
`There's still some on your brow.’
Claverhouse wiped the bits Rebus had missed.
`How is he?’ Rebus asked.
`They reckon he'll be okay, if he doesn't get an infection on the brain.’
`What do you think?’
`Message to Tommy from Big Ger. ’
`Is he one of Tommy's men?’
`He's not saying.’
`So what's his story?’
`Fell down a flight of steps, cracked his head at the bottom.’
`And the drop-off?’
`Says he can't remember.’
Claverhouse paused. `Eh, John…?’
`One of the nurses wanted me to ask you something.’
His tone told Rebus all he needed to know. `AIDS test?’
`They just wondered.’
Rebus thought about it. Blood in his eyes, his ears, running down his neck. He looked himself over: no scratches or cuts. `Let's wait and see,' he said.
`Maybe we should pull the surveillance,' Claverhouse said, `leave them to get on with it.’
`And have a fleet of ambulances standing by to pick up the bodies?’
Claverhouse snorted. `Is this sort of thing Big Ger's style?’
`Very much so,' Rebus said, reaching for his jacket.
`But not that nightclub stabbing?’
Claverhouse started laughing, but there was no humour to the sound. He rubbed his eyes. `Never got those chips, did we? Christ, I could use a drink.’
Rebus reached into his jacket for the quarter-bottle of Bell 's.
Claverhouse didn't seem surprised as he broke the seal. He took a gulp, chased it down with another, and handed the bottle back. `Just what the doctor ordered.’
Rebus started screwing the top back on.
`Not having one?’
`I'm on the wagon.’ Rebus rubbed a thumb over the label.
`So why carry a bottle around?’
Rebus looked at it. `Because that's not what it is.’
Claverhouse looked puzzled. `Then what is it?’
Rebus tucked the bottle back into his pocket. `A little suicide bomb.’
They walked back to A amp;E. Siobhan Clarke was waiting for them outside a closed door.
`They've had to sedate him,' she said. `He was up on his feet again, reeling all over the place.’
She pointed to marks on the floor airbrushed blood, smudged by footprints.
`Do we have a name?’
`He's not offered one. Nothing in his pockets to identify him. Over two hundred in cash, so we can rule out a mugging. What do you reckon for a weapon? Hammer?’
Rebus shrugged. `A hammer would dent the skull. That flap looked too neat. I think they went for him with a cleaver.’
`Or a machete,' Claverhouse added. `Something like that.’
Clarke stared at him. `I smell whisky.’
Claverhouse put a finger to his lips.
`Anything else?’ Rebus asked. It was Clarke's turn to shrug.
`Just one observation.’
`I like the t-shirt.’
Claverhouse put money in the machine, got out three coffees. He'd called his office, told them the surveillance was suspended. Orders now were to stay at the hospital, see if the victim would say anything. The very least they wanted was an ID. Claverhouse handed a coffee to Rebus.
`White, no sugar.’
Rebus took the coffee with one hand. In the other he held a polythene laundry-bag, inside which was his shirt. He'd have a go at cleaning it. It was a good shirt.
`You know, John,' Claverhouse said, `there's no point you hanging around.’
Rebus knew. His flat was a short walk away across The Meadows. His large, empty flat. There were students through the wall. They played music a lot, stuff he didn't recognise.
`You know Telford 's gang,' Rebus said. `Didn't you recognise the face?’
Claverhouse shrugged. `I thought he looked a bit like Danny Simpson.’
`But you're not sure?’
`If it's Danny, a name's about all we can hope to get out of him. Telford picks his boys with care.’
Clarke came towards them along the corridor. She took the coffee from Claverhouse.
`It's Danny Simpson,' she confirmed. `I just got another look, now the blood's been cleaned off.’
She took a swallow of coffee, frowned. `Where's the sugar?’
`You're sweet enough already,' Claverhouse told her.
`Why did they pick on Simpson?’ Rebus asked.
`Wrong place, wrong time?’
`Plus he's pretty low down the pecking order,' Clarke added, `making it a gentle hint.’
Rebus looked at her. Short dark hair, shrewd face with a gleam to the eyes. He knew she worked well with suspects, kept them calm, listened carefully. Good on the street, too: fast on her feet as well as in her head.
`Like I say, John,' Claverhouse said, finishing his coffee, `any time you want to head off…’
Rebus looked up and down the empty corridor. `Am I in the way or something?’
`It's not that. But your job's liaison – period. I know the way you work: you get attached to cases, maybe even overattached. Look at Candice. I'm just saying…’
`You're saying, don't butt in?’
Colour rose to Rebus's cheeks: Look at Candice.
`I'm saying it's our case, not yours. That's all.’
Rebus's eyes narrowed. `I don't get it.’
Clarke stepped in. `John, I think all he means is '
`Whoah! It's okay, Siobhan. Let the man speak for himself.’
Claverhouse sighed, screwed up his empty cup and looked around for a bin. `John, investigating Telford means keeping half an eye on Big Ger Cafferty and his crew.’
Claverhouse stared at him. `Okay, you want it spelling out? You went to Barlinnie yesterday – news travels in our business. You met Cafferty. The two of you had a chinwag.’
`He asked me to go,' Rebus lied.
Claverhouse held up his hands. `Fact is, as you've just said, he asked you and you went.’
`Are you saying I'm in his pocket?’
Rebus's voice had risen.
`Boys, boys,' Clarke said.
The doors at the end of the corridor had swung open. A young man in dark business suit, briefcase swinging, was coming towards the drinks machine. He was humming some tune. He stopped humming as he reached them, put down his case and searched his pockets for change. He smiled when he looked at them.
Early-thirties, black hair slicked back from his forehead. One kisscurl looped down between his eyebrows.
`Anyone got change of a pound?’
They looked in their pockets, couldn't find enough coins.
Though the machine was flashing EXACT MONEY ONLY he stuck in the pound coin and selected tea, black, no sugar. He stooped down to retrieve the cup, but didn't seem in a hurry to leave.
`You're police officers,' he said. His voice was a drawl, slightly nasal: Scottish upper-class. He smiled. `I don't think I know any of you professionally, but one can always tell.’
`And you're a lawyer,' Rebus guessed. The man bowed his head in acknowledgement. `Here to represent the interests of a certain Mr Thomas Telford.’
`I'm Daniel Simpson's legal advisor.’
`Which adds up to the same thing.’
`I believe Daniel's just been admitted.’
The man blew on his tea, sipped it.
`Who told you he was here?’
`Again, I don't believe that's any of your business, Detective…?’
The man transferred his cup to his left hand so he could hold out his right. `Charles Groal.’
He glanced at Rebus's tshirt. `Is that what you call "plain clothes", Inspector?’
Claverhouse and Clarke introduced themselves in turn. Groal made great show of handing out business cards.
`I take it,' he said, `you're loitering here in the hope of interviewing my client?’
`That's right,' Claverhouse said.
`Might I ask why, D S Claverhouse? Or should I address that question to your superior?’
`He's not my -' Claverhouse caught Rebus's look.
Groal raised an eyebrow. `Not your superior? And yet he manifestly is, being an Inspector to your Sergeant.’
He looked towards the ceiling, tapped a finger against his cup. `You're not strictly colleagues,' he said at last, bringing his gaze back down to focus on Claverhouse.
'DS Claverhouse and myself are attached to the Scottish Crime Squad,' Clarke said.
`And Inspector Rebus isn't,' Groal observed. `Fascinating.’
`I'm at St Leonard 's.’
`Then this is quite rightly part of your division. But as for the Crime Squad…’
`We just want to know what happened,' Rebus went on.
`A fall of some kind, wasn't it? How is he, by the way?’
`Nice of you to show concern,' Claverhouse muttered.
`He's unconscious,' Clarke said.
`And likely to be in an operating theatre fairly soon. Or will they want to X-ray him first? I'm not very up on the procedures.’
`You could always ask a nurse,' Claverhouse said.
`DS Claverhouse, I detect a certain hostility.’
`Just his normal tone,' Rebus said. `Look, you're here to make sure Danny Simpson keeps his trap shut. We're here to listen to whatever bunch of shite the two of you eventually concoct for our delectation. I think that's a pretty fair summary, don't you?’
Groal cocked his head slightly to one side. `I've heard about you, Inspector. Occasionally stories can become exaggerated but not, I'm pleased to say, in your case.’
`He's a living legend,' Clarke offered. Rebus snorted and headed back into A amp;E.
There was a woolly-suit in there, seated on a chair, his cap on his lap and a paperback book resting on the cap. Rebus had seen him half an hour before. The constable was sitting outside a room with its door closed tight. Quiet voices came from the other side. The woolly-suit was called Redpath and he worked out of St Leonard 's. He'd been in the force a bit under a year. Graduate recruit. They called him `The Professor'. He was tall and spotty and had a shy look about him. He closed the book as Rebus approached, but kept a finger in his page.
`Science fiction,' he explained. `Always thought I'd grow out of it.’
`There are a lot of things we don't grow out of, son. What's it about?’
`The usual: threats to the stability of the time continuum, parallel universes.’
Redpath looked up. `What do you think, of parallel universes, sir?’
Rebus nodded towards the door. `Who's in there?’
`Hit and run.’
The Professor shrugged. `Where did it happen?’
`Top of Minto Street.’
`Did you get the car?’
Redpath shook his head. `Waiting to see if she can tell us anything. What about you, sir?’
`Similar story, son. Parallel universe, you could call it.’
Siobhan Clarke appeared, nursing a fresh cup of coffee. She nodded a greeting towards Redpath, who stood up: a courtesy which gained him a sly smile.
` Telford doesn't want Danny talking,' she said to Rebus.
`And meantime he'll want to even the score.’
She caught Rebus's eyes. `I thought he was a bit out of order back there.’
Meaning Claverhouse, but not wanting to name names in front of a uniform.
Rebus nodded. `Thanks.’
Meaning: you did right not to say as much at the time. Claverhouse and Clarke were partners now. It wouldn't do for her to upset him.
A door slid open and a doctor appeared. She was young, and looked exhausted. Behind her in the room, Rebus could see a bed, a figure on the bed, staff milling around the various machines. Then the door slid closed.
`We're going to do a brain scan,' the doctor was telling Redpath. `Have you contacted her family?’
`I don't have a name.’
`Her effects are inside.’
The doctor slid open the door again and walked in. There was clothing folded on a chair, a bag beneath it. As the doctor pulled out the bag, Rebus saw something. A flat white cardboard box.
A white cardboard pizza box. Clothes: black denims, black bra, red satin shirt. A black duffel-coat.
And black shoes with two-inch heels, square-toed, new-looking except for the scuff marks, like they'd been dragged along the road.
He was in the room now. They had a mask over her face, feeding her oxygen. Her forehead was cut and bruised, the hair pushed away from it. Her fingers were blistered, the palms scraped raw. The bed she lay on wasn't really a bed but a wide steel trolley.
`Excuse me, sir, you shouldn't be in here.’
`It's this gentleman -' `John? John, what is it?’
Her earrings had been removed. Three tiny pin-pricks, one of them redder than its neighbours. The face above the sheet: puffy blackened eyes, a broken nose, abrasions on both cheeks. Split lip, a graze on the chin, eyelids which didn't even flutter. He saw a hit and run victim. And beneath it all, he saw his daughter.
And he screamed.
Clarke and Redpath had to drag him out, helped by Claverhouse who'd heard the noise.
`Leave the door open! I'll kill you if you close that door!' They tried to sit him down. Redpath rescued his book from the chair. Rebus tore it from him and threw it down the hall.
`How could you read a fucking book?’ he spat. `That's Sammy in there! And you're out here reading a book!' Clarke's cup of coffee had been kicked over, the floor slippy, Redpath going down as Rebus pushed at him.
`Can you jam that door open?’ Claverhouse was asking the doctor. `And what about a sedative?’
Rebus was clawing his hands through his hair, bawling dry-eyed, his voice hoarse and uncomprehending. Staring down at himself, he saw the ludicrous t-shirt and knew that's what he'd take away from this night: the image of an Iron Maiden t-shirt and its grinning bright-eyed demon. He hauled off his jacket and started tearing at the shirt.
She was behind that door, he thought, and I was out here chatting as casual as you like. She'd been in there all the time he'd been here. Two things clicked: a hit and run; the car speeding away from Flint Street.
He grabbed at Redpath. `Top of Minto Street. You're sure?’
'Sammy… top of Minto Street?’
Redpath nodded. Clarke knew straight away what Rebus was thinking.
`I don't think so, John. They were headed the opposite way.’
`Could have doubled back.’
Claverhouse had caught some of the exchange. `I just got off the phone. The guys who did Danny Simpson, we picked up the car. White Escort abandoned in Argyle Place.’
Rebus looked at Redpath. `White Escort?’
Redpath was shaking his head. `Witnesses say dark-coloured.’
Rebus turned to the wall, stood there with his palms pressed to it. Staring at the paintwork, it was like he could see inside the paint.
Claverhouse put a hand on his shoulder. `John, I'm sure she's going to be fine. The doctor's gone to fetch you a couple of tablets, but meantime what about one of these?’
Claverhouse with Rebus's jacket folded in the crook of his arm, the quarter-bottle in his hand.
The little suicide bomb.
He took the bottle from Claverhouse. Unscrewed its top, his eyes on the open doorway. Lifted the bottle to his lips.
`In the Hanging Garden/No one sleeps'
A seaside holiday: caravan park, long walks and sandcastles. He sat in a deck-chair, trying to read. Cold mind blowing, despite the sun. Rhona rubbed suntan lotion on Sammy, said you couldn't be too careful. Told him to keep an eye open, she was going back to the caravan for her book. Sammy was burying her father's feet in the sand.
He was trying to read, but thinking about work. Every day of the holiday, he sneaked off to a phone-box and called the station. They kept telling him to go and enjoy himself, forget about everything. He was halfway through a spy thriller. The plot had already lost him.
Rhona was doing her best. She'd wanted somewhere foreign, a bit of glamour and heat to go with the sunshine. Finances, however, mere on his side. So here they mere on the Fife coast, where he'd first met her. Was he hoping for something? Some memory rekindled? He'd come here with his own parents, played with Mickey, met other kids, then lost them again at the end of the fortnight.
He tried the spy novel again, but case-work got in the may. And then a shadow fell over him.
`Where is she?’
`What?’ He looked down. His feet mere buried in sand, but Sammy wasn't there. How long had she been gone? He stood up, scanned the seashore. A few tentative bathers, going in no further than their knees.
`Christ, John, where is she?’
He turned round, looked at the sand dunes in the distance.
They warned her. There mere hollows in the dunes where the sand was eroding. Small dens had been created – a magnet for kids. Only they were prone to collapse. Earlier in the season, a ten-year-old boy had been dug out by frantic parents. He hadn't quite choked on the sand…
They were running now. The dunes, the grass, no sign of her.
'Sammy!' `Maybe she went into the water.’
`You mere supposed to be keeping an eye on her!'
`I'm sorry. I…’
`Sammy!' A small shape in one of the dens. Hopping on its hands and knees. Rhona reached in, pulled her out, hugged her.
'Sweetie, we told you not to!'
`I was a rabbit. ' Rebus looked at the fragile roof sand meshed with the roots of plants and grasses. Punched it with a fist. The roof collapsed. Rhona was looking at him. End of holiday.
John Rebus kissed his daughter.
`See you later,' he said, watching her as she left the coffee shop. Espresso and a slice of caramel shortbread – that's all she'd had time for – but they'd fixed another date for dinner. Nothing fancy, just a pizza.
It was October 30th. By mid-November, if Nature were feeling bloody, it would be winter. Rebus had been taught at school that there were four distinct seasons, had painted pictures of them in bright and sombre colours, but his native country seemed not to know this. Winters were long, outstaying their welcome. The warm weather came suddenly, people stripping to t-shirts as the first buds appeared, so that spring and summer seemed entwined into a single season. And no sooner had the leaves started turning brown than the first frost came again.
Sammy waved at him through the cafe window then was gone. She seemed to have grown up all right. He'd always been on the lookout for evidence of instability, hints of childhood traumas or a genetic predisposition towards self destruction. Maybe he should phone Rhona some day and thank her, thank her for bringing Samantha up on her own. It couldn't have been easy: that was what people always said. He knew it would be nice if he could feel some responsibility for the success, but he wasn't that hypocritical. The truth was, while she'd been growing up, he'd been elsewhere. It was the same with his marriage: even when in the same room as his wife, even out at the pictures or around the table at a dinner party… the best part of him had been elsewhere, fixed on some case or other, some question that needed answering before he could rest.
Rebus lifted his coat from the back of his chair. Nothing left for it but to go back to the office. Sammy was headed back to her own office; she worked with ex-convicts. She had refused his offer of a lift. Now that it was out in the open, she'd wanted to talk about her man, Ned Farlowe. Rebus had tried to look interested, but found that his mind was half on Joseph Lintz – in other words, same problem as always. When he'd been given the Lintz case, he'd been told he was well-suited to it: his Army background for one thing; and his seeming affinity for historical cases – by which Farmer Watson, Rebus's chief superintendent, had meant Bible John for another.
`With respect, sir,' Rebus had said, `that sounds like a load of balls. Two reasons for me getting lumbered with this: one, no other bugger will touch it with a barge-pole; two, it'll keep me out of the way for a while.’
`Your remit,' the Farmer had said, unwilling to let Rebus rile him, `is to sift through what there is, see if any of it amounts to evidence. You can interview Mr Lintz if it'll help. Do whatever you think necessary, and if you find enough to warrant a charge…’
`I won't. You know I won't.’ Rebus sighed. `Sir, we've been through this before. It's the whole reason the War Crimes section was shut down. That case a few years back – lot of hoo-has about bugger all.’
He was shaking his head. `Who wants it all dragged up, apart from the papers?’
`I'm taking you off the Mr Taystee case. Let Bill Pryde handle that.’
So it was settled: Lintz belonged to Rebus.
It had started with a news story, with documents handed over to a Sunday broadsheet. The documents had come from the Holocaust Investigation Bureau based in Tel Aviv. They had passed on to the newspaper the name of Joseph Lintz, who had, they said, been living quietly in Scotland under an alias since the end of the war, and who was, in fact, Josef Linzstek, a native of Alsace. In June 1944, Lieutenant Linzstek had led the 3rd Company of an SS regiment, part of the 2nd Panzer Division, into the town of Villefranche d'Albarede in the Correze region of France. 3rd Company had rounded up everyone in the town – men, women, children. The sick were carried from their beds, the elderly pulled from their armchairs, babies hoisted from their cots.
A teenage girl – an evacuee from Lorraine – had seen what the Germans were capable of. She climbed into the attic of her house and hid there, watching from a small window in the roof-tiles. Everyone was marched into the village square. The teenager saw her school friends find their families. She hadn't been in school that day: a throat infection. She wondered if anyone would tell the Germans…
There was a commotion as the mayor and other dignitaries remonstrated with the officer in charge. While machine guns were aimed at the crowd, these men – among them the priest, lawyer, and doctor – were set upon with rifle butts. Then ropes were produced, and strung over half a dozen of the trees which lined the square. The men were hauled to their feet, their heads pushed through the nooses. An order was given, a hand raised then dropped, and soldiers pulled on each rope, until six men were hanging from the trees, bodies writhing, legs kicking uselessly, the movements slowing by degrees.
As the teenager remembered it, it took an age for them to die. Stunned silence in the square, as if the whole village knew now, knew that this was no mere check of identity papers. More orders were barked. The men, separated from the women and children, were marched off to Prudhomme's barn, everyone else shepherded into the church. The square grew empty, except for a dozen or so soldiers, rifles slung over their shoulders. They chatted, kicked up dust and stones, shared jokes and cigarettes. One of them went into the bar and switched the radio on. Jazz music filled the air, competing with the rustle of leaves as a breeze twisted the corpses in the trees.
`It was strange,' the girl later said. `I stopped seeing them as dead bodies. It was as if they'd become something else, parts of the trees themselves.’
Then the explosion, smoke and dust billowing from the church. A moment's silence, as though a vacuum had been created in the world, then screams, followed immediately by machine-gun fire. And when it finally stopped, she could still hear it. Because it wasn't just inside the church: it was in the distance, too.
When she was finally found – by people from surrounding villages – she was naked except for a shawl she had found in a trunk. The shawl had belonged to her grandmother, dead the previous year. But she was not alone in escaping the massacre. When the soldiers had opened fire in Prudhomme's barn, they'd aimed low. The first row of men to fall had been wounded in the lower body, and the bodies which fell on them shielded them from further fire.
When straw was strewn over the mound and set alight, they'd waited as long as they could before starting to claw their way out from beneath, expecting at any moment to be shot. Four of them made it, two with their hair and clothes on fire, one dying later from his wounds.
Three men, one teenage girl: the only survivors.
The death toll was never finalised. No one knew how many visitors had been in Villefranche that day, how many refugees could be added to the count. A list was compiled of over seven hundred names, people who had most likely been killed.
Rebus sat at his desk and rubbed his eyes with his knuckles. The teenage girl was still alive, a pensioner now. The male survivors were all dead. But they'd been alive for the Bordeaux trial in 1953. He had summaries of their evidence. The summaries were in French. A lot of the material sitting on his desk was French, and Rebus didn't speak French. That was why he'd gone to the Modern Languages department at the university and found someone who could. Her name was Kirstin Mede, and she lectured in French, but also had a working knowledge of German, which was handy: the documents which weren't in French were in German. He had a onepage English summary of the trial proceedings, passed on from the Nazi hunters. The trial had opened in February 1953 and lasted just under a month. Of seventy five men identified as having been part of the German force at Villefranche, only fifteen were present – six Germans and nine French Alsatians. Not one of them was an officer. One German received the death sentence, the others jail terms of between four and twelve years, but they were all released as soon as the trial finished. Alsace hadn't been enjoying the trial, and in a bid to unite the nation, the government had passed an amnesty. The Germans, meantime, were said to have already served their sentences.
The survivors of Villefranche had been horrified.
Even more extraordinary to Rebus's mind, the British had apprehended a couple of German officers involved in the massacre, but had refused to hand them over to the French authorities, returning them to Germany instead, where they lived long and prosperous lives. If Linzstek had been captured then, there would have been none of the present commotion.
Politics: it was all down to politics. Rebus looked up and Kirstin Mede was standing there. She was tall, deftly constructed, and immaculately dressed. She wore make-up the way women usually did only in fashion adverts. Today she was wearing a check twopiece, the skirt just touching her knees, and long gold-coloured earrings. She had already opened her briefcase and was pulling out a sheaf of papers.
`Latest translations,' she said.
`Thanks.’ Rebus looked down at a note he'd made to himself `Correze trip necessary??’
Well, the Farmer had said he could have whatever he wanted. He looked up at Kirstin Mede and wondered if the budget would stretch to a tour guide. She was sitting opposite him, putting on half-moon reading glasses.
`Can I get you a coffee?’ he asked.
`I'm a bit pushed today. I just wanted you to see these.’
She laid two sheets of paper on his desk so that they faced him. One sheet was the photocopy of a typed report, in German. The second sheet was her translation. Rebus looked at the German.
`- Der Beginn der Vergeltungsmassnahmen hat ein merkbares Aufatmen hervorgerufen and die Stimmung sehr gunstig beeinflusst.’
`The beginning of reprisals,' he read, `has brought about a marked improvement in morale, with the men now noticeably more relaxed.’
`It's supposed to be from Linzstek to his commander,' she explained.
`But no signature?’
`Just the typed name, underlined.’
`So it doesn't help us identify Linzstek.’
`No, but remember what we were talking about? It gives a reason for the assault.’
`A touch of R amp;R for the lads?’
Her look froze him. `Sorry,' he said, raising his hands. `Far too glib. And you're right, it's almost like the Lieutenant is trying to justify the whole thing in print.’
`Maybe. After all, they'd just started being the losing side.’
He looked at the other papers. `Anything else?’
`Some further reports, nothing too exciting. And some of the eyewitness testimony.’
She looked at him with pale grey eyes. `It gets to you after a while, doesn't it?’
Rebus looked at her and nodded.
The female survivor of the massacre lived in Juillac, and had been questioned recently by local police about the man in charge of the German troops. Her story hadn't changed from the one she'd told at the trial: she'd seen his face only for a few seconds, and looking down from the attic of a three storey house. She'd been shown a recent photo of Joseph Lintz, and had shrugged.
`Maybe,' she'd said. `Yes, maybe.’
Which would, Rebus knew, be turfed out by the Procurator Fiscal, who knew damned well what any defence lawyer with half a brain would do with it.
`How's the case coming?’
Kirstin Mede asked. Maybe she'd seen some look cross his face.
`Slowly. The problem is all this stuff.’
He waved towards the strewn desk. `On the one hand I've got all this, and on the other I've got a wee old man from the New Town. The two don't seem to go together.’
`Have you met him?’
`Once or twice.’
`What's he like?’
What was Joseph Lintz like? He was cultured, a linguist. He'd even been a Professor at the university, back in the early 70s. Only for a year or two. His own explanation: `I was filling a vacuum until they could find someone of greater standing'. He'd been Professor of German. He'd lived in Scotland since 1945 or 46 – he was vague about exact dates, blaming his memory. His early life was vague, too. He said papers had been destroyed. The Allies had had to create a duplicate set for him. There was only Lintz's word that these new papers were anything but an official record of lies he'd told and which had been believed. Lintz's story – birth in Alsace; parents and relatives all dead; forced enlistment in the SS. Rebus liked the touch about joining the SS. It was the sort of admission that would make officials decide: he's been honest about his involvement with that, so he's probably being honest about the other details. There was no actual record of a Joseph Lintz serving with any SS regiment, but then the SS had destroyed a lot of their own records once they'd seen the way the war was headed. Lintz's war record was vague, too. He mentioned shell-shock to explain the gaps in his memory. But he was vehement that he had never been called Linzstek and had never served in the Correze region of France.
`I was in the east,' he would say. `That's where the Allies found me, in the east.’
The problem was that there was no convincing explanation as to how Lintz had found himself in the United Kingdom. He said he'd asked if he could go there and start a new life. He didn't want to return to Alsace, wanted to be as far away from the Germans as possible. He wanted water between him and them. Again, there was no documentation to back this up, and meantime the Holocaust investigators had come up with their own `evidence', which pointed to Lintz's involvement in the `Rat Line'.
`Have you ever heard of something called the Rat Line?’ Rebus had asked at their first meeting.
`Of course,' Joseph Lintz had said. `But I never had anything to do with it.’
Lintz: in the drawing-room of his Heriot Row home. An elegant four-storey Georgian edifice. A huge house for a man who'd never married. Rebus had said as much. Lintz had merely shrugged, as was his privilege. Where had the money come from? `I've worked hard, Inspector.’
Maybe so, but Lintz had purchased the house in the late-1950s on a lecturer's salary. A colleague from the time had told Rebus everyone in the department suspected Lintz of having a private income. Lintz denied this.
`Houses were cheaper back then, Inspector. The fashion was for country properties and bungalows.’
Joseph Lintz: barely five foot tall, bespectacled. Parchment hands with liver spots. One wrist sported a pre-war Ingersoll watch. Glass fronted bookcases lining his drawing-room. Charcoal-coloured suits. An elegant way about him, almost feminine: the way he lifted a cup to his lips; the way he flicked specks from his trousers.
`I don't blame the Jews,' he'd said. `They'd implicate everyone if they could. They want the whole world feeling guilty. Maybe they're right.’
`In what way, sir?’
`Don't we all have little secrets, things we're ashamed of?’
Lintz had smiled. `You're playing their game, and you don't even know it.’
Rebus had pressed on. `The two names are very similar, aren't they? Lintz, Linzstek.’
`Naturally, or they'd have absolutely no grounds for their accusations. Think, Inspector: wouldn't I have changed my name more radically? Do you credit me with a modicum of intelligence?’
`More than a modicum.’
Framed diplomas on the walls, honorary degrees, photos taken with university chancellors, politicians. When the Farmer had learned a little more about Joseph Lintz, he'd cautioned Rebus to `ca' canny'. Lintz was a patron of the arts opera, museums, galleries – and a great giver to charities. He was a man with friends. But also a solitary man, someone who was happiest when tending graves in Warriston Cemetery. Dark bags under his eyes, pushing down upon the angular cheeks. Did he sleep well? `Like a lamb, Inspector.’
Another smile. `Of the sacrificial kind. You know, I don't blame you, you're only doing your job.’
`You seem to have no end of forgiveness, Mr Lintz.’
A careful shrug. `Do you know Blake's words, Inspector? "And through all eternity/ I forgive you, you forgive me.” I'm not so sure I can forgive the media.’ This last word voiced with a distaste which manifested itself as a twist of facial muscles.
`Is that why you've set your lawyer on them?’
‘"Set" makes me sound like a hunter, Inspector. This is a newspaper, with a team of expensive lawyers at its beck and call. Can an individual hope to win against such odds?’
`Then why bother trying?’
Lintz thumped both arms of his chair with clenched fists. `For the principle, man!' Such outbursts were rare and shortlived, but Rebus had experienced enough of them to know that Lintz had a temper…
`Hello?’ Kirstin Mede said, angling her head to catch his gaze.
She smiled. `You were miles away.’
`Just across town,' he replied.
She pointed to the papers. `I'll leave these here, okay? If you've any questions…’
Rebus got to his feet.
`It's okay, I know my way out.’
But Rebus was insistent. `Sorry, I'm a bit…’
He waved his hands around his head.
`As I said, it gets to you after a while.’
As they walked back through the CID office, Rebus could feel eyes following them. Bill Pryde came up, preening, wanting to be introduced. He had curly fair hair and thick blond eyelashes, his nose large and freckled, mouth small and topped with a ginger moustache – a fashion accessory he could well afford to lose.
`A pleasure,' he said, taking Kirstin Mede's hand. Then, to Rebus: `Makes me wish we'd swopped.’
Pryde was working on the Mr Taystee case: an ice-cream man found dead in his van. Engine left running in a lock-up, looking initially like suicide.
Rebus steered Kirstin Mede past Pryde, kept them moving. He wanted to ask her out. He knew she wasn't married, but thought there might be a boyfriend in the frame. Rebus was thinking: what would she like to eat – French or Italian? She spoke both those languages. Maybe stick to something neutral: Indian or Chinese. Maybe she was vegetarian. Maybe she didn't like restaurants. A drink then? But Rebus didn't drink these days.
`… So what do you think?’
Rebus started. Kirstin Mede had asked him something.
She laughed, realising he hadn't been listening. He began to apologise, but she shook it off. `I know,' she said, `you're a bit…’
And she waved her hands around her head. He smiled. They'd stopped walking. They were facing one another. Her briefcase was tucked under one arm. It was the moment to ask her for a date, any kind of date – let her choose.
`What's that?’ she said suddenly. It was a shriek, Rebus had heard it, too. It had come from behind the door nearest them, the door to the women's toilets. They heard it again. This time it was followed by some words they understood.
`Help me, somebody!' Rebus pushed open the door and ran in. A WPC was pushing at a cubicle door, trying to force it with her shoulder. From behind the door, Rebus could hear choking noises.
`What is it?’ he said.
`Picked her up twenty minutes ago, she said she needed the loo.’
The policewoman's cheeks wore a flush of anger and embarrassment.
Rebus grabbed the top of the door and hauled himself up, peering over and down on to a figure seated on the pan. The woman there was young, heavily made-up. She sat with her back against the cistern, so that she was staring up at him, but glassily. And her hands were busy. They were busy pulling a streamer of toilet-paper from the roll, stuffing it into her mouth.
`She's gagging,' Rebus said, sliding back down. `Stand back'. He shouldered the door, tried again. Stood back and hit the lock with the heel of his shoe. The door flew open, catching the seated woman on the knees. He pushed his way in. Her face was turning purple.
`Grab her hands,' he told the WPC. Then he started pulling the stream of white paper from her mouth, feeling like nothing so much as a cheap stage-show magician. There seemed to be half a roll in there, and as Rebus caught the WPC's eye, both of them let out a near-involuntary laugh. The woman had stopped struggling. Her hair was mousy brown, lank and greasy. She wore a black skiing jacket and a tight black skirt. Her bare legs were mottled pink, bruising at one knee where the door had connected. Her bright red lipstick was coming off on Rebus's fingers. She had been crying, was crying still. Rebus, feeling guilty about the sudden laughter, crouched down so that he could look into her makeup-streaked eyes. She blinked, then held his gaze, coughing as the last of the paper was extracted.
`She's foreign,' the policewoman was explaining. `Doesn't seem to speak English.’
`So how come she told you she needed the toilet?’
`There are ways, aren't there?’
`Where did you find her?’
`Down the Pleasance, brazen as you like.’
`That's a new patch on me.’
`Nobody with her?’
`Not that I saw.’
Rebus took the woman's hands. He was still crouching in front of her, aware of her knees brushing his chest.
`Are you all right?’
She just blinked. He made his face show polite concern. `Okay now?’
She nodded slightly. `Okay,' she said, her voice husky. Rebus felt her fingers. They were cold. He was thinking: junkie? A lot of the working girls were. But he'd never come across one who couldn't speak English. Then he turned her hands, saw her wrists. Recent zigzag scar tissue. She didn't resist as he pushed up one sleeve of her jacket. The arm was a mass of similar inflictions.
`She's a cutter.’
The woman was talking now, babbling incoherently. Kirstin Mede, who had been standing back from proceedings, stepped forward. Rebus looked to her.
`It's not anything I understand… not quite. Eastern European.’
`Try her with something.’
So Mede asked a question in French, repeating it in three or four other languages. The woman seemed to understand what they were trying to do.
`There's probably someone at the uni who could help,' Mede said.
Rebus started to stand up. The woman grabbed him by the knees, pulled him to her so that he nearly lost his balance. Her grip was tight, her face resting against his legs. She was still crying and babbling.
`I think she likes you, sir,' the policewoman said. They wrested her hands free, and Rebus stepped back, but she was after him at once, throwing herself forwards, like she was begging, her voice rising. There was an audience now, half a dozen officers in the doorway. Every time Rebus moved, she came after him on all fours. Rebus looked to where his exit was blocked by bodies. The cheap magician had become straight man in a comedy routine. The WPC grabbed her, pulled her back on to her feet, one arm twisted behind her back.
`Come on,' she said through gritted teeth. `Back to the cell. Show's over, folks.’
There was scattered applause as the prisoner was marched away. She looked back once, seeking Rebus, her eyes pleading. For what, he did not know. He turned towards Kirstin Mede instead.
`Fancy a curry some time?’
She looked at him like he was mad.
`Two things: one, she's a Bosnian Muslim. Two, she wants to see you again.’
Rebus stared at the man from the Slavic Studies department, who'd come here at Kirstin Mede's request. They were talking in the corridor at St Leonard 's.
Dr Colquhoun nodded. He was short and almost spherical, with long black hair which was swept back either side of a bald dome. His puffy face was pockmarked, his brown suit worn and stained. He wore suede Hush Puppies – same colour as the suit. This, Rebus couldn't help feeling, was how dons were supposed to look. Colquhoun was a mass of nervous twitches, and had yet to make eye contact with Rebus.
`I'm not an expert on Bosnia,' he went on, `but she says she's from Sarajevo.’
`Does she say how she ended up in Edinburgh?’
`I didn't ask.’
`Would you mind asking her now?’
Rebus gestured back along the corridor. The two men walked together, Colquhoun's eyes on the floor.
` Sarajevo was hit hard in the war,' he said. `She's twenty-two, by the way, she told me that.’
She'd looked older. Maybe she was; maybe she was lying. But as the door to the Interview Room opened and Rebus saw her again, he was struck by how unformed her face was, and he revised her age downwards. She stood up abruptly as he came in, looked like she might rush forward to him, but he held up a hand in warning, and pointed to the chair. She sat down again, hands cradling the mug of sweetened black tea. She never took her eyes off him.
`She's a big fan,' the WPC said. The policewoman – same one as the toilet incident – was called Ellen Sharpe. She was sitting on the room's other chair. There wasn't much space in the Interview Room: a table and two chairs just about filled it. On the table were twin video recorders and a twin cassette-machine. The video camera pointed down from one wall. Rebus gestured for Sharpe to give her seat to Colquhoun.
`Did she give you a name?’ he asked the academic.
`She told me Candice,' Colquhoun said.
`You don't believe her?’
`It's not exactly ethnic, Inspector.’
Candice said something. `She's calling you her protector.’
`And what am I protecting her from?’
The dialogue between Colquhoun and Candice was gruff, guttural.
`She says firstly you protected her from herself. And now she says you have to continue.’
`Continue protecting her?’
`She says you own her now.’
Rebus looked at the academic, whose eyes were on Candice's arms. She had removed her skiing jacket. Underneath she wore a ribbed, short-sleeved shirt through which her small breasts were visible. She had folded her bare arms, but the scratches and slashes were all too apparent.
`Ask her if those are self-inflicted.’
Colquhoun struggled with the translation. `I'm more used to literature and film than… um…’
`What does she say?’
`She says she did them herself.’
Rebus looked at her for confirmation, and she nodded slowly, looking slightly ashamed.
`Who put her on the street?’
'Who's running her? Who's her manager?’
Another short dialogue.
`She says she doesn't understand.’
`Does she deny working as a prostitute?’
`She says she doesn't understand.’
Rebus turned to WPC Sharpe. `Well?’
`A couple of cars stopped. She leaned in the window to talk with the drivers. They drove off again. Didn't like the look of the goods, I suppose.’
`If she can't speak English, how did she manage to "talk" to the drivers?’
`There are ways.’
Rebus looked at Candice. He began to speak to her, very softly. `Straight fuck, fifteen, twenty for a blow job. Unprotected is an extra fiver.’
He paused. `How much is anal, Candice?’
Colour flooded her cheeks. Rebus smiled.
`Maybe not university tuition, Dr Colquhoun, but someone's taught her a few words of English. Just enough to get her working. Ask her again how she got here.’
Colquhoun mopped his face first. Candice spoke with her head lowered.
`She says she left Sarajevo as a refugee. Went to Amsterdam, then came to Britain. The first thing she remembers is a place with lots of bridges.’
`She stayed there for some time.’
Colquhoun seemed shaken by the story. He handed her a handkerchief so she could wipe her eyes. She rewarded him with a smile. Then she looked at Rebus.
`Burger chips, yes?’
`Are you hungry?’ Rebus rubbed his stomach. She nodded and smiled. He turned to Sharpe. `See what the canteen can come up with, will you?’
The WPC gave him a hard stare, not wanting to leave. `Would you like anything, Dr Colquhoun?’
He shook his head. Rebus asked for another coffee. As Sharpe left, Rebus crouched down by the table and looked at Candice. `Ask her how she got to Edinburgh.’
Colquhoun asked, then listened to what sounded like a long tale. He scratched some notes on a folded sheet of paper.
`The city with the bridges, she says she didn't see much of it. She was kept inside. Sometimes she was driven to some rendezvous… You'll have to forgive me, Inspector. I may be a linguist, but I'm no expert on colloquialisms.’
`You're doing fine, sir.’
`Well, she was used as a prostitute, that much I can infer. And one day they put her in the back of a car, and she thought she was going to another hotel or office.’
`From her descriptions, I'd say some of her… work… was done in offices. Also private apartments and houses. But mostly hotel rooms.’
`Where was she kept?’
`In a house. She had a bedroom, they kept it locked.’
Colquhoun pinched the bridge of his nose. `They put her in the car one day, and next thing she knew she was in Edinburgh.’
`How long was the trip?’
`She's not sure. She slept part of the way.’
`Tell her everything's going to be all right.’
Rebus paused. `And ask her who she works for now.’
The fear returned to Candice's face. She stammered, shaking her head. Her voice sounded more guttural than ever. Colquhoun looked like he was having trouble with the translation.
`She can't tell you,' he said.
`Tell her she's safe.’
Colquhoun did so. `Tell her again,' Rebus said. He made sure she was looking at him while Colquhoun spoke. His face was set, a face she could trust. She reached a hand out to him. He took it, squeezed.
`Ask her again who she works for.’
`She can't tell you, Inspector. They'd kill her. She's heard stories.’
Rebus decided to try the name he'd been thinking of, the man who ran half the city's working girls.
'Cafferty,' he said, watching for a reaction. There was none. `Big Ger. Big Ger Cafferty.’
Her face remained blank. Rebus squeezed her hand again. There was another name… one he'd been hearing recently.
` Telford,' he said. `Tommy Telford.’
Candice pulled her hand away and broke into hysterics, just as WPC Sharpe pushed open the door.
Rebus walked Dr Colquhoun out of the station, recalling that just such a walk had got him into this in the first place.
`Thanks again, sir. If I need you, I hope you won't mind if I call?’
`If you must, you must,' Colquhoun said grudgingly.
`Not too many Slavic specialists around,' Rebus said. He had Colquhoun's business card in his hand, a home phone number written on its back. `Well,' Rebus put out his free hand, `thanks again.’
As they shook, Rebus thought of something.
`Were you at the university when Joseph Lintz was Professor of German?’
The question surprised Colquhoun. `Yes,' he said at last.
`Did you know him?’
`Our departments weren't that close. I met him at a few social functions, the occasional lecture.’
`What did you think of him?’
Colquhoun blinked. He still wasn't looking at Rebus. `They're saying he was a Nazi.’
`Yes, but back then…?’
`As I say, we weren't close. Are you investigating him?’
`Just curious, sir. Thanks for your time.’
Back in the station, Rebus found Ellen Sharpe outside the Interview Room door.
`So what do we do with her?’ she asked.
`Keep her here.’
`You mean charge her?’
Rebus shook his head. `Let's call it protective custody.’
`Does she know that?’
`Who's she going to complain to? There's only one bugger in the whole city can make out what she's saying, and I've just packed him off home.’
`What if her man comes to get her?’
`Think he will?’
She thought about it. `Probably not.’
`No, because as far as he's concerned, all he, has to do is wait, and we'll release her eventually. Meantime, she doesn't speak English, so what can she give us? And she's here illegally no doubt, so if she talks, all we'd probably do is kick her out of the country. Telford 's clever… I hadn't realised it, but he is. Using illegal aliens as prossies. It's sweet.’
`How long do we keep her?’
`And what do I tell my boss?’
`Direct all enquiries to DI Rebus,' he said, going to open the door.
`I thought it was exemplary, sir.’
He stopped. `What?’
'Your knowledge of the charge-scale for prostitutes.’
`Just doing my job,' he said, smiling.
`One last question, sir…?’
`Why? What's the big deal?’
Rebus considered this, twitched his nose. `Good question,' he said finally, opening the door and going in.
And he knew. He knew straight away. She looked like Sammy. Wipe away the make-up and the tears, get some sensible clothes on her, and she was the spitting image.
And she was scared.
And maybe he could help her.
`What can I call you, Candice? What's your real name?’
She took hold of his hand, put her face to it. He pointed to himself.
‘John,' he said.
He was smiling; so was she. ‘John.’
He nodded. `That's it. And you?’
He pointed at her now. `Who are you?’
She paused. 'Candice,' she said, as a little light died behind her eyes.
Rebus didn't know Tommy Telford by sight, but he knew where to find him.
Flint Street was a passageway between Clerk Street and Buccleuch Street, near the university. The shops had mostly closed down, but the games arcade always did good business, and from Flint Street Telford leased gaming machines to pubs and clubs across the city. Flint Street was the centre of his eastern empire.
The franchise had until recently belonged to a man called Davie Donaldson, but he'd suddenly retired on `health grounds'. Maybe he'd been right at that: if Tommy Telford wanted something from you and you weren't forthcoming, predictions of your future health could suddenly change. Donaldson was now in hiding somewhere: hiding not from Telford but from Big Ger Cafferty, for whom he had been holding the franchise `in trust' while Cafferty bided his time in Barlinnie jail. There were some who said Cafferty ran Edinburgh as effectively from inside as he ever had done outside, but the reality was that gangsters, like Nature, abhorred a vacuum, and now Tommy Telford was in town.
Telford was a product of Ferguslie Park in Paisley. At eleven he'd joined the local gang; at twelve a couple of woolly suits had visited him to ask about a spate of tyre slashings. They'd found him surrounded by other gang members, nearly all of them older than him, but he was at the centre, no doubt about it.
His gang had grown with him, taking over a sizeable chunk of Paisley, selling drugs and running prostitutes, doing a bit of extortion. These days he had shares in casinos and video shops, restaurants and a haulage firm, plus a property portfolio which made him landlord to several hundred people. He'd tried to make his mark in Glasgow, but had found it sealed down tight, so had gone exploring elsewhere. There were stories he'd become friendly with some big villain in Newcastle. Nobody could remember anything like it since the days when London 's Krays had rented their muscle from `Big Arthur' in Glasgow.
He'd arrived in Edinburgh a year ago, moving softly at first, buying a casino and hotel. Then suddenly he was inescapably there, like the shadow from a raincloud. With the chasing out of Davie Donaldson he'd given Cafferty a calculated punch to the gut. Cafferty could either fight or give up. Everyone was waiting for it to get messy…
The games arcade called itself Fascination Street. The machines were all flashing insistence, in stark contrast to the dead facial stares of the players. Then there were shoot-'em-ups with huge video screens and digital imprecations.
`Think you're tough enough, punk?’ one of them challenged as Rebus walked past. They had names like Harbinger and NecroCop, this latter reminding Rebus of how old he felt. He looked at the faces around him, saw a few he recognised, kids who'd been pulled into St Leonard 's. They'd be on the fringes of Telford 's gang, awaiting the call-up, hanging around like foster children, hoping The Family would take them. Most of them came from families who weren't families, latchkey kids grown old before their time.
One of the staff came in from the cafe.
`Who ordered the bacon sarnie?’
Rebus smiled as the faces turned to him. Bacon meant pig meant him. A moment's examination was all he warranted. There were more pressing demands on their attention. At the far end of the arcade were the really big machines: half-size motorbikes you sat astride as you negotiated the circuit on the screen in front of you. A small appreciative coterie stood around one bike, on which sat a young man dressed in a leather jacket. Not a market-stall jacket, something altogether more special. Quality goods. Shiny sharp-toed boots. Tight black denims. White polo neck. Surrounded by fawning courtiers. Steely Dan: `Kid Charlemagne'. Rebus found a;mace for himself in the midst of the glaring onlookers.
'"No takers for that bacon sarnie?’ he asked.
`Who are you?’ the man on the machine demanded.
'Cafferty's man.’ Said with conviction.
`I hear you and him go back.’
`I put him inside.’
`Not every cop gets visiting rights though.’
Rebus realised that though Telford 's gaze was fixed on the screen, he was watching Rebus in its reflection. Watching him, talking to him, yet still managing to control the bike through hairpin bends.
`So is there some problem, Inspector?’
`Yes, there's a problem. We picked up one of your girls.’
`She calls herself Candice. That's about as much as we know. But foreign lassies are a new one on me. And you're fairly new around here, too.’
`I'm not getting your drift, Inspector. I supply goods and services to the entertainment sector. Are you accusing me of being a pimp?’
Rebus stuck out a foot and pushed the bike sideways. On the screen, it spun and hit a crash barrier. A moment later, the screen changed. Back to the start of the race.
`See, Inspector,' Telford said, still not turning round. `That's the beauty of games. You can always start again after an accident. Not so easy in real life.’
`What if I cut the power? Game over.’
Slowly, Telford swivelled from the hips. Now he was looking at Rebus. Close up, he looked so young. Most of the gangsters Rebus had known, they'd had a worn look, undernourished but overfed. Telford had the look of some new strain of bacteria, not yet tested or understood.
`So what is it, Rebus? Some message from Cafferty?’
'Candice,' Rebus said quietly, the slight tremor in his voice betraying his anger. With a couple of drinks in him, he'd have had Telford on the floor by now. `From tonight, she's off the game, understood?’
`I don't know any Candice.’
`Hang on, let's see if I've got this. You want me to agree with you that a woman I've never met should stop touting her hole?’
Smiles from the spectators. Telford turned back to his game. `Where's this woman from anyway?’ he asked, almost casually.
`We're not sure,' Rebus lied. He didn't want Telford knowing any more than was necessary.
`Must have been a great little chat the two of you had.’
`She's scared shitless.’
`Me, too, Rebus. I'm scared you're going to bore me to death. This Candice, did she give you a taste of the goods? I'm betting it's not every scrubber would get you this het up.’
Laughter, Rebus its brunt.
`She's off the game, Telford. Don't think about touching her.’
`Not with a bargepole, pal. Myself, I'm a clean-living sort of individual. I say my prayers last thing at night.’
`And kiss your cuddly bear?’
Telford looked at him again. `Don't believe all the stories, Inspector. Here, grab a bacon sarnie on your way out, I think there's one going spare.’
Rebus stood his ground a few moments longer, then turned away. `And tell the mugs out front I said hello.’
Rebus walked back through the arcade and out into the night, heading for Nicolson Street. He was wondering what he was going to do with Candice. Simple answer: let her go, and hope she had the sense to keep moving. As he made to pass a parked car, its window slid down.
`Fucking well get in,' a voice ordered from the passenger seat. Rebus stopped, looked at the man who'd spoken, recognised the face.
'Ormiston,' he said, opening the back door of the Orion. `Now I know what he meant.’
`Tommy Telford. I'm to tell you he said hello.’
The driver stared at Ormiston. `Rumbled again.’
He didn't sound surprised. Rebus recognised the voice.
DS Claverhouse, DC Ormiston: Scottish Crime Squad, Fettes's finest. On surveillance. Claverhouse: as thin as `twa ply o' reek', as Rebus's father would have said. Ormiston: freckle-faced and with Mick McManus's hair – slick, puddingbowl cut, unfeasibly black.
`You were blown before I walked in there, if that's any consolation.’
`What the fuck were you doing?’
`Paying my respects. What about you?’
`Wasting our time,' Ormiston muttered.
The Crime Squad were out for Telford: good news for Rebus.
`I've got someone,' he said. `She works for Telford. She's frightened. You could help her.’
`The frightened ones don't talk.’
`This one might.’
Claverhouse stared at him. `And all we'd have to do is…?’
'Get her out of here, set her up somewhere.’
`If it comes to that.’
`What does she know?’
`I'm not sure. Her English isn't great.’
Claverhouse knew when he was being sold something. `Tell us,' he said.
Rebus told them. They tried not to look interested.
`We'll talk to her,' Claverhouse said.
Rebus nodded. `So how long has this been going on?’
`Ever since Telford and Cafferty squared off.’
`And whose side are we on?’
`We're the UN, same as always,' Claverhouse said. He spoke slowly, measuring each word and phrase. A careful man, D S Claverhouse. `Meantime, you go charging in like some bloody mercenary.’
`I've never been a great one for tactics. Besides, I wanted to see the bastard close up.’
`He looks like a kid.’
`And he's as clean as a whistle,' Claverhouse said. `He's got a dozen lieutenants who'd take the fall for him.’
At the word `lieutenants', Rebus's mind flashed to Joseph Lintz. Some men gave orders, some carried them out: which group was the more culpable? `Tell me something,' he said, `the teddy bear story… is it true?’
Claverhouse nodded. `In the passenger seat of his Range Rover. A fucking huge yellow thing, sort they raffle in the pub Sunday lunchtime.’
`So what's the story?’
Ormiston turned in his seat. `Ever hear of Teddy Willocks? Glasgow hardman. Carpentry nails and a claw-hammer.’
Rebus nodded. `You welched on someone, Willocks came to see you with the carpentry bag.’
`But then,' Claverhouse took over, `Teddy got on the wrong side of some Geordie bastard. Telford was young, making a name for himself, and he very badly wanted an in with this Geordie, so he took care of Teddy.’
`And that's why he carries a teddy around with him,' Ormiston said. `A reminder to everyone.’
Rebus was thinking. Geordie meant someone from Newcastle. Newcastle, with its bridges over the Tyne…, ` Newcastle,' he said softly, leaning forward in his seat.
`What about it?’
`Maybe Candice was there. Her city of bridges. She might link Telford to this Geordie gangster.’
Ormiston and Claverhouse looked at one another.
`She'll need a safe place to stay,' Rebus told them. `Money, somewhere to go afterwards.’
`A first-class flight home if she helps us nail Telford.’
`I'm not sure she'll want to go home.’
`That's for later,' Claverhouse said. `First thing is to talk to her.’
`You'll need a translator.’
Claverhouse looked at him. `And of course you know just the man…?’
She was asleep in her cell, curled under the blanket, only her hair visible. The Mothers of Invention: `Lonely Little Girl'. The cell was in the women's block. Painted pink and blue, a slab to sleep on, graffiti scratched into the walls.
'Candice,' Rebus said quietly, squeezing her shoulder. She started awake, as if he'd administered an electric shock. `It's okay, it's me, John.’
She looked round blindly, focused on him slowly. `John,' she said. Then she smiled.
Claverhouse was off making phone calls, squaring things.,Ormiston stood in the doorway, appraising Candice. Not that Ormiston was known to be choosy. Rebus had tried Colquhoun at home, but there'd been no answer. So now Rebus was gesturing, letting her know they wanted to take her somewhere.
`A hotel,' he said.
She didn't like that word. She looked from him to Ormiston and back again.
`It's okay,' Rebus said. `It's just a place for you to sleep, that's all, somewhere safe. No Telford, nothing like that.’
She seemed to soften, came off the bed and stood in front of him. Her eyes seemed to say, I'll trust you, and if you let me down I won't be surprised.
Claverhouse came back. `All fixed,' he said, his examination falling on Candice. `She doesn't speak any English?’
`Not as practised in polite society.’
`In that case,' Ormiston said, `she should be fine with us.’
Three men and a young woman in a dark blue Ford Orion, heading south out of the city. It was late now, past midnight, black taxis cruising. Students were spilling from pubs.
`They get younger every year.’
Claverhouse was never short of a cliche.
`And more of them end up joining the force,' Rebus commented.
Claverhouse smiled. `I meant prossies, not students. We pulled one in last week, said she was fifteen. Turned out she was twelve, on the run. All grown up about it.’
Rebus tried to remember Sammy at twelve. He saw her scared, in the clutches of a madman with a grievance against Rebus. She'd had lots of nightmares afterwards, till her mother had taken her to London. Rhona had phoned Rebus a few years later. She just wanted to let him know he'd robbed Sammy of her childhood.
`I phoned ahead,' Claverhouse said. `Don't worry, we've used this place before. It's perfect.’
`She'll need some clothes,' Rebus said.
'Siobhan can fetch her some in the morning.’
`How is Siobhan?’
`Seems fine. Hasn't half cut into the jokes and the language though.’
`Ach, she can take a joke,' Ormiston said. `Likes a drink, too.’
This last was news to Rebus. He wondered how much Siobhan Clarke would change in order to blend with her new surroundings.
`It's just off the bypass,' Claverhouse said, meaning their destination. `Not far now.’
The city ended suddenly. Green belt, plus the Pentland Hills. The bypass was quiet, Ormiston doing the ton between exits. They came off at Colinton and signalled into the hotel. It was a motorist's stop, one of a nationwide chain: same prices, same rooms. The cars which crowded the parking area were salesmen's specials, cigarette packets littering the passenger seats. The reps would be sleeping, or lying in a daze with the TV remote to hand.
Candice seemed reluctant to get out of the car, until she saw that Rebus was coming, too.
`You light up her life,' Ormiston offered.
At reception, they signed her in as one half of a couple – Mrs Angus Campbell. The two Crime Squad cops had the routine off pat. Rebus watched the hotel clerk, but a wink from Claverhouse told him the man was okay.
`Make it the first floor, Malcolm,' Ormiston said. `Don't want anyone peeking in the windows.’
Room number 20. `Will someone be with her?’
Rebus asked as they climbed the stairs.
`Right there in the room,' Claverhouse said. `The landing's too obvious, and we'd freeze our bums off in the car. Did you give me Colquhoun's number?’
'Ormiston has it.’
Ormiston was unlocking the door. `Who's on first watch?’
Claverhouse shrugged. Candice was looking towards Rebus, seeming to sense what was being discussed. She snatched at his arm, jabbering in her native tongue, looking first to Claverhouse and then to Ormiston, all the time waving Rebus's arm.
`It's okay, Candice, really. They'll take care of you.’
She kept shaking her head, holding him with one hand and pointing at him with the other, prodding his chest to make her meaning clear.
`What do you say, John?’
Claverhouse asked. `A happy witness is a willing witness.’
`What time's Siobhan expected?’
`I'll hurry her up.’
Rebus looked at Candice again, sighed, nodded. `Okay.’
He pointed to himself, then to the room. `Just for a little while, okay?’
Candice seemed satisfied with this, and went inside. Ormiston handed Rebus the key.
`I don't want you young things waking the neighbours now…’
Rebus closed the door on his face.
The room was exactly as expected. Rebus filled the kettle and switched it on, dumped a tea-bag into a cup. Candice pointed to the bathroom, made turning motions with her hands.
He gestured with his arm. `Go ahead.’
The curtain over the window was closed. He parted it and looked out. A grassy slope, occasional lights from the bypass. He made sure the curtains were closed tight, then tried adjusting the heating. The room was stifling. There didn't seem to be a thermostat, so he went back to the window and opened it a fraction. Cold night air, and the swish of nearby traffic. He opened the pack of custard creams, two small biscuits. Suddenly he felt ravenous. He'd seen a snack machine in -the lobby. Plenty of change in his pockets. He made the tea, added milk, sat down on the sofa. For want of any other distractions, he turned the TV on. The tea was fine. The tea was absolutely fine, no complaints there. He picked up the phone and called Jack Morton.
`Did I wake you?’
`Not really. How's it going?’
`I wanted a drink today.’
`So what's new?’
Rebus could hear his friend making himself comfortable. Jack had helped Rebus get off the booze. Jack had said he could phone any time he liked.
`I had to talk to this scumbag, Tommy Telford.’
`I know the name.’
Rebus lit a cigarette. `I think a drink would have helped.’
`Before or after?’
Rebus smiled. `Guess where I am now?’
Jack couldn't, so Rebus told him the story.
`What's your angle?’ Jack asked.
`I don't know.’ Rebus thought about it. `She seems to need me. It's been a long time since anyone's felt like that.’
As he said the words, he feared they didn't tell the whole story. He remembered another argument with Rhona, her screaming that he'd exploited every relationship he'd ever had.
`Do you still want that drink?’ Jack was asking.
`I'm a long way from one.’
Rebus stubbed out his cigarette. `Sweet dreams, Jack.’
He was on his second cup of tea when she came back in, wearing the same clothes, her hair wet and hanging in ratstails.
`Better?’ he asked, making the thumbs-up sign. She nodded, smiling. `Do you want some tea?’
He pointed to the kettle. She nodded again, so he made her a cup. Then he suggested a trip to the snack machine. Their haul included crisps, nuts, chocolate, and a couple of cans of Coke. Another cup of tea finished off the tiny cartons of milk. Rebus lay along the sofa, shoes off, watching soundless television. Candice lay on the bed, fully-clothed, sliding the occasional crisp from its packet, flicking channels. She seemed to have forgotten he was there. He took this as a compliment.
He must have fallen asleep. The touch of her fingers on his knee brought him awake. She was standing in front of him, wearing the tshirt and nothing else. She stared at him, fingers still resting on his knee. He smiled, shook his head, led her back to bed. Made her lie down. She lay on her back, arms stretched. He shook his head again and pulled the duvet over her.
`That's not you any more,' he told her. `Goodnight, Candice.’
Rebus retreated to the sofa, lay down again, and wished she would stop saying his name.
The Doors: `Wishful Sinful'…
A tapping at the door brought him awake. Still dark outside. He'd forgotten to close the window, and the room was cold. The TV was still playing, but Candice was asleep, duvet kicked off, chocolate wrappers strewn around her bare legs and thighs. Rebus covered her up, then tiptoed to the door, peered through the spyhole, and opened up.
`For this relief, much thanks,' he whispered to Siobhan Clarke.
She was carrying a bulging polythene bag. `Thank God for the twenty-four-hour shop.’
They went inside. Clarke looked at the sleeping woman, then went over to the sofa and started unpacking the bag.
`For you,' she whispered, `a couple of sandwiches.’
`God bless the child.’
`For sleeping beauty, some of my clothes. They'll do till the shops open.’
Rebus was already biting into the first sandwich. Cheese salad on white bread had never tasted finer.
`How am I getting home?’ he asked.
`I called you a cab.’
She checked her watch. `It'll be here in two minutes., 'What would I do without you?’
`It's a toss-up: either freeze to death or starve.’
She closed the window. `Now go on, get out of here.’
He looked at Candice one last time, almost wanting to wake her to let her know he wasn't leaving for good. But she was sleeping so soundly, and Siobhan could take care of everything.
So he tucked the second sandwich into his pocket, tossed the room-key on to the sofa, and left.
Four-thirty. The taxi was idling outside. Rebus felt hungover. He went through a 'mental list of all the places he could get a drink at this time of night. He didn't know how many days it had been since he'd had a drink. He wasn't counting.
He gave his address to the cabbie, and settled back, thinking again of Candice, so soundly asleep, and protected for now. And of Sammy, too old now to need anything from her father. She'd be asleep too, snuggling into Ned Farlowe. Sleep was innocence. Even the city looked innocent in sleep. He looked at the city sometimes and saw a beauty his cynicism couldn't touch. Someone in a bar recently? years back? – had challenged him to define romance. How could he do that? He'd seen too much of love's obverse: people killed for passion and from lack of it. So that now when he saw beauty, he could do little but respond to it with the realisation that it would fade or be brutalised. He saw lovers in Princes Street Gardens and imagined them further down the road, at the crossroads where betrayal and conflict met. He saw valentines in the shops and imagined puncture wounds, real hearts bleeding.
Not that he'd voiced any of this to his public bar inquisitor.
`Define romance,' had been the challenge. And Rebus's response? He'd picked up a fresh pint of beer and kissed the glass.
He slept till nine, showered and made some coffee. Then he phoned the hotel, and Siobhan assured him all was well.
`She was a bit startled when she woke up and saw me instead of you. Kept saying your name. I told her she'd see you again.’
`So what's the plan?’
`Shopping – one quick swoop on The Gyle. After that, Fettes. Dr Colquhoun's coming in at noon for an hour. We'll see what we get.’
Rebus was at his window, looking down on a damp Arden Street. `Take care of her, Siobhan.’
Rebus knew there'd be no problem, not with Siobhan. This was her first real action with the Crime Squad, she'd be doing her damnedest to make it a success. He was in the kitchen when the phone rang.
`Is that Inspector Rebus?’
A voice he didn't recognise.
`Inspector, my name is David Levy. We've never met. I apologise for calling you at home. I was given this number by Matthew Vanderhyde.’
Old man Vanderhyde: Rebus hadn't seen him in a while.
`I must say, I was astonished when it transpired he knew you.’
The voice was tinged with a dry humour. `But by now nothing about Matthew should surprise me. I went to him because he knows Edinburgh.’
Laughter on the line. `I'm sorry, Inspector. I can't blame you for being suspicious when I've made such a mess of the introductions. I am a historian by profession. I've been contacted by Solomon Mayerlink to see if I might offer assistance.’
Mayerlink… Rebus knew the name. Placed it: Mayerlink ran the Holocaust Investigation Bureau.
`And exactly what "assistance" does Mr Mayerlink think I need?’
`Perhaps we could discuss it in person, Inspector. I'm staying in a hotel on Charlotte Square.’
`Could we meet there? This morning, ideally.’
Rebus looked at his watch. `An hour?’
`Perfect. Goodbye, Inspector.’
Rebus called into the office, told them where he'd be.
They sat in the Roxburghe's lounge, Levy pouring coffee. An elderly couple in the far corner, beside the window, pored over sections of newspaper. David Levy was elderly, too. He wore black-rimmed glasses and had a small silver beard. His hair was a silver halo around a scalp the colour of tanned leather. His eyes seemed constantly moist, as if he'd just chewed on an onion. He sported a dun-coloured safari suit with blue shirt and tie beneath. His walking-stick rested against his chair. Now retired, he'd worked in Oxford, New York State, Tel Aviv itself, and several other locations around the globe.
`I never came into contact with Joseph Lintz, however. No reason why I should, our interests being different.’
`So why does Mr Mayerlink think you can help me?’
Levy put the coffee pot back on its tray. `Milk? Sugar?’
Rebus shook his head to both, then repeated his question.
`Well, Inspector,' Levy said, tipping two spoonfuls of sugar into his own cup, `it's more a matter of moral support.’
`You see, many people before you have been in the same position in which you now find yourself. I'm talking about objective people, professionals with no axe to grind, and no real stake in the investigation.’
Rebus bristled. `If you're suggesting I'm not doing my job…’
A pained look crossed Levy's face. `Please, Inspector, I'm not making a very good job of this, am I? What I mean is that there will be times when you will doubt the validity of what you are doing. You'll doubt its worth.’
His eyes gleamed. `Perhaps you've already had doubts?’
Rebus said nothing. He had a drawerful of doubts, especially now that he had a real, living, breathing case – Candice. Candice, who might lead to Tommy Telford.
`You could say I'm here as your conscience, Inspector.’
Levy winced again. `No, I didn't put that right, either. You already have a conscience, that's not under debate.’
He sighed. `The question you've no doubt been pondering is the same one I've asked myself on occasions: can time wash away responsibility? For me, the answer would have to be no. The thing is this, Inspector.’
Levy leaned forward. `You are not investigating the crimes of an old man, but those of a young man who now happens to be old. Focus your mind on that. There have been investigations before, halfhearted affairs. Governments wait for these men to die rather than have to try them. But each investigation is an act of remembrance, and remembrance is never wasted. Remembrance is the only way we learn.’
`Like we've learned with Bosnia?’
`You're right, Inspector, as a race we've always been slow to take in lessons. Sometimes they have to be hammered home.’
`And you think I'm your carpenter? Were there Jews in Villefranche?’
Rebus couldn't remember reading of any.
`Does it matter?’
`I'm just wondering, why the interest?’
`To be honest, Inspector, there is a slight ulterior motive.’
Levy sipped coffee, considering his words. `The Rat Line. We'd like to show that it existed, that it operated to save Nazis from possible tormentors.’
He paused. `That it worked with the tacit approval the more than tacit approval – of several western governments and even the Vatican. It's a question of general complicity.’
`What you want is for everyone to feel guilty?’
`We want recognition, Inspector. We want the truth. Isn't that what you want? Matthew Vanderhyde would have me believe it is your guiding principle.’
`He doesn't know me very well.’
`I wouldn't be so sure of that. Meantime, there are people out there who want the truth to stay hidden.’
`The truth being…?’
'That known war criminals were brought back to Britain – and elsewhere – and offered new lives, new identities.’
`In exchange for what?’
`The Cold War was starting, Inspector. You know the old saying: My enemy's enemy is my friend. These murderers were protected by the secret services. Military Intelligence offered them jobs. There are people who would rather this did not become general knowledge.’
`So a trial, an open trial, would expose them.’
`You're warning me about spooks?’
Levy put his hands together, almost in an attitude of prayer. `Look, I'm not sure this has been a completely satisfactory meeting, and for that I apologise. I'll be staying here for a few days, maybe longer if necessary. Could we try this again?’
`I don't know.’
`Well, think about it, won't you?’
Levy extended his right hand. Rebus took it. `I'll be right here, Inspector. Thank you for seeing me.’
`Take care, Mr Levy.’
At his desk, Rebus could still feel Levy's handshake. Surrounded by the Villefranche files, he felt like the curator of some museum visited only by specialists and cranks. Evil had been done in Villefranche, but had Joseph Lintz been responsible? And even if he had, had he perhaps atoned during the past half-century? Rebus phoned the ProcuratorFiscal's office to let them know how little progress he was making. They thanked him for calling. Then he went to see the Farmer.
`Come in, John, what can I do for you?’
`Sir, did you know the Crime Squad had set up a surveillance on our patch?’
`You mean Flint Street?’
`So you know about it?’
`They keep me informed.’
`Who's acting as liaison?’
The Farmer frowned. `As I say, John, they keep me informed.’
`So there's no liaison at street level?’
The Farmer stayed silent. `By rights there should be, sir.’
`What are you getting at, John?’
`I want the job.’
The Farmer stared at his desk. `You're busy on Villefranche.’
`I want the job, sir.’
`John, liaison means diplomacy. It's never been your strongest suit.’
So Rebus explained about Candice, and how he was already tied into the case. `And since I'm already in, sir,' he concluded, `I might as well act as liaison.’
`What about Villefranche?’
`That remains a priority, sir.’
The Farmer looked into his eyes. Rebus didn't blink. `All right then,' he said at last.
`You'll let Fettes know?’
`I'll let them know.’
`Thank you, sir.’
Rebus turned to leave.
The Farmer was standing behind his desk. `You know what I'm going to say.’
`You're going to tell me not to tread on too many toes, not to go off on my own little crusade, to keep in regular contact with you, and not betray your trust in me. Does that just about do it, sir?’
The Farmer shook his head, smiling. `Bugger off,' he said.
Rebus buggered off.
When he walked into the room, Candice rose so quickly from her chair that it fell to the floor. She came forward and gave him a hug, while Rebus looked at the faces around them – Ormiston, Claverhouse, Dr Colquhoun, and a WPC.
They were in an Interview Room at Fettes, Lothian and Borders Police HQ Colquhoun was wearing the same suit as the previous day and the same nervous look. Ormiston was picking up Candice's chair. He'd been standing against one wall. Claverhouse was seated at the table beside Colquhoun, a pad of paper in front of him, pen poised above it.
`She says she's happy to see you,' Colquhoun translated.
`I'd never have guessed.’
Candice was wearing new clothes: denims too long for her and turned up four inches at the ankle; a black woollen v-neck jumper. Her skiing jacket was hanging over the beck of her chair.
'Get her to sit down again, will you?’ Claverhouse said. `We're pushed for time.’
There was no chair for Rebus, so he stood next to Ormiston and WPC. Candice went back to the story she'd been telling, but glanced regularly towards him. He noticed that beside Claverhouse's pad of paper sat a brown folder and an A4-sized envelope. On top of the envelope sat a black and white surveillance shot of Tommy Telford.
`This man,' Claverhouse asked, tapping the photo, `she knows him?’
Colquhoun asked, then listened to her answer. `She…’
He cleared his throat. `She hasn't had any direct dealings with him.’
Her two-minute commentary reduced to this. Claverhouse dipped into the envelope, spread more photos before her. Candice tapped one of them.
`Pretty-Boy,' Claverhouse said. He picked up the photo of Telford again. `But she's had dealings with this man, too?’
Colquhoun mopped his face. `She's saying something about Japanese people… Oriental businessmen.’
Rebus shared a look with Ormiston, who shrugged.
`Where was this?’
`In a car… more than one car. You know, a sort of convoy.’
`She was in one of the cars?’
`Where did they go?’
`They headed out of town, stopping once or twice.’
`Juniper Green,' Candice said, quite clearly.
`Juniper Green,' Colquhoun repeated.
`They stopped there?’
`No, they stopped before that.’
`To do what?’
Colquhoun spoke with Candice again. `She doesn't know. She thinks one of the drivers went into a shop for some cigarettes. The others all seemed to be looking at a building, as if they were interested in it, but not saying anything.’
`She doesn't know.’
Claverhouse looked exasperated. She wasn't giving him much of anything, and Rebus knew that if there was nothing she could trade, Crime Squad would dump her straight back on the street. Colquhoun was all wrong for this job, completely out of his depth.
`Where did they go after Juniper Green?’
`Just drove around the countryside. For two or three hours, she thinks. They would stop sometimes and get out, but just to look at the scenery. Lots of hills and…’
Colquhoun checked something. 'Hills and flags.’
`Flags? Flying from buildings?’
`No, stuck into the ground.’
Claverhouse gave Ormiston a look of hopelessness.
`Golf courses,' Rebus said. `Try describing a golf course to her, Dr Colquhoun.’
Colquhoun did so, and she nodded agreement, beaming at Rebus. Claverhouse was looking at him, too.
`Just a guess,' Rebus said with a shrug. `Japanese businessmen, it's what they like about Scotland.’
Claverhouse turned back to Candice. `Ask her if she… accommodated any of these men.’
Colquhoun cleared his throat again, colour flooding his cheeks as he spoke. Candice looked down at the table, moved her head in the affirmative, started to speak.
`She says that's why she was there. She was fooled at first. She thought maybe they just wanted a pretty woman to look at. They had a nice lunch… the beautiful drive… But then they came back into town, dropped the Japanese off at a hotel, and she was taken up to one of the hotel rooms. Three of them… she, as you put it yourself, D S Claverhouse, she "accommodated" three of them.’
`Does she remember the name of the hotel?’
`Where did they have lunch?’
`A restaurant next to flags and…’
Colquhoun corrected himself. `Next to a golf course.’
`How long ago was this?’
`Two or three weeks.’
`And how many of them were there?’
Colquhoun checked. `The three Japanese, and maybe four other men.’
`Ask her how long she's been in Edinburgh,' Rebus asked.
Colquhoun did so. `She thinks maybe a month.’
`A month working the street… funny we haven't picked her up.’
`She was put there as a punishment.’
`For what?’ Claverhouse asked.
Rebus had the answer.
`For making herself ugly.’
He turned to Candice. `Ask her why she cuts herself.’
Candice looked at him and shrugged.
`What's your point?’ Ormiston asked.
`She thinks the scars will deter punters. Which means she doesn't like the life she's been leading.’
`And helping us is her only sure ticket out?’
`Something like that.’
So Colquhoun asked her again, then said: `They don't like that she does it. That's why she does it.’
`Tell her if she helps us, she won't ever have to do anything like that again.’
Colquhoun translated, glancing at his watch.
`Does the name Newcastle mean anything to her?’
Colquhoun tried the name. `I've explained to her that it's a town in England, built on a river.’
`Don't forget the bridges,' Rebus said.
Colquhoun added a few words, but Candice only shrugged. She looked upset that she was failing them. Rebus gave her another smile.
`What about the man she worked for?’
Claverhouse asked. `The one before she came to Edinburgh.’
She seemed to have plenty to say about this, and kept touching her face with her fingers while she talked. Colquhoun nodded, made her stop from time to time so he could translate.
`A big man… fat. He was the boss. Something about his skin… a birthmark maybe, certainly something distinctive. And glasses, like sunglasses but not quite.’
Rebus saw Claverhouse and Ormiston exchange another look. It was all too vague to be much use. Colquhoun checked his watch again. `And cars, a lot of cars. This man crashed them.’
`Maybe he got a scar on his face,' Ormiston offered.
`Glasses and a scar aren't going to get us very far,' Claverhouse added.
`Gentlemen,' Colquhoun said, while Candice looked towards Rebus, `I'm afraid I'm going to have to leave.’
`Any chance of coming back in later, sir?’ Claverhouse asked.
`You mean today?’
`I thought maybe this evening…?’
'Look, I do have other commitments.’
`We appreciate that, sir. Meantime, DC Ormiston will run you back into town.’
`My pleasure,' Ormiston said, all charm. They needed Colquhoun, after all. They had to keep him sweet.
`One thing,' Colquhoun said. `There's a refugee family in Fife. From Sarajevo. They'd probably take her in. I could ask.’
`Thank you, sir,' Claverhouse said. `Maybe later on, eh?’
Colquhoun seemed disappointed as Ormiston led him away.
Rebus walked over to Claverhouse, who was shuffling his photos together.
`Bit of an oddball,' Claverhouse commented.
`Not used to the real world.’
`Not much help either.’
Rebus looked towards Candice. `Mind if I take her out?’
`Just for an hour.’
Claverhouse stared at him.
`She's been cooped up here, and only her hotel room to look forward to. I'll drop her back there in an hour, hour and a half.’
`Bring her back in one piece, preferably with a smile on her face.’
Rebus motioned for Candice to join him.
`Japanese and golf courses,' Claverhouse mused. `What do you think?’
` Telford 's a businessman, we know that. Businessmen do deals with other businessmen.’
`He runs bouncers and slot machines: what's the Japanese Connection?’
Rebus shrugged. `I leave the hard questions to the likes of you.’
He opened the door.
Claverhouse warned, nodding towards Candice. `she's Crime Squad property, okay? And remember, you came to us.’
'No bother, Claverhouse. And by the way, I'm your B Division liaison.’
`With immediate effect. If you don't believe me, ask your boss. This might be your case, but Telford works out of my territory.’
He took Candice by the arm and marched her from the room.
He stopped the car on the corner of Flint Street.
`It's okay, Candice,' he said, seeing her agitation. `We're staying in the car. Everything's all right.’
Her eyes were darting around, looking for faces she didn't want to see. Rebus started the car again and drove off. `Look,' he told her, `we're leaving.’
Knowing she couldn't understand. `I'm guessing this is where you started from that day.’
He looked at her. `The day you went to Juniper Green. The Japanese would be staying in a central hotel, somewhere pricey. You picked them up, then headed east. Along Dalry Road maybe?’
He was speaking for his own benefit. `Christ, I don't know. Look, Candice, anything you see, anything that looks familiar, just let me know, okay?’
Had she understood? No, she was smiling. All she'd heard was that final word. All she knew was that they were heading away from Flint Street. He took her down on to Princes Street first.
`Was it a hotel here, Candice? The Japanese? Was it here?’
She gazed from the window with a blank look.
He headed up Lothian Road. `Usher Hall,' he said. `Sheraton… Any of it ring a bell?’
Nothing did. Out along the Western Approach Road, Slateford Road, and on to Lanark Road. Most of the lights were against them, giving her plenty of time to study the buildings. Each newsagent's they passed, Rebus pointed it out, just in case the convoy had paused there to buy cigarettes. Soon they were out of town and entering juniper Green.
`Juniper Green!' she said, pointing at the signpost, delighted to have something to show him. Rebus attempted a smile. There were plenty of golf courses around the city. He couldn't hope to take her to every one of them, not in a week never mind an hour. He stopped for a few moments by the side of a field. Candice got out, so he followed, lit a cigarette. There were two stone gateposts next to the road, but no sign of a gate between them, or any sort of path behind them. Once there might have been a track, and a house at the end of it. Atop one of the pillars sat the badly worn representation of a bull. Candice pointed towards the ground behind the other pillar, where another lump of carved stone lay, half-covered by weeds and grass.
`Looks like a serpent,' Rebus said. `Maybe a dragon.’ He looked at her. `It'll all mean something to somebody.’
She looked back at him blankly. He saw Sammy's features, reminded himself that he wanted to help her. He was in danger of letting that slip, of focusing on how she might help them get to Telford.
Back in the car, he branched off towards Livingston, intending to head for Ratho and from there back into town. Then he noticed that Candice had turned to look out of the back window.
`What 1S It?’
She came out with a stream of words, her tone uncertain. Rebus turned the car anyway, and drove slowly back the way they'd just come. He stopped at the side of the road, opposite a low dry-stone wall, beyond which lay the undulations of a golf course.
She mumbled more words. Rebus pointed. `Here? Yes?’
She turned to him, said something which sounded apologetic.
`It's okay,' he told her. `Let's take a closer look anyway.’
He drove to where a vast iron double-gate stood open. A sign to one side read POYNTINGHAME GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB. Beneath it: `Bar Lunches and A La Carte, Visitors Welcome'. As Rebus drove through the gates, Candice started nodding again, and when an oversized Georgian house came into view she almost bounced in her seat, slapping her hands against her thighs.
`I think I get the picture,' Rebus said.
He parked outside the main entrance, squeezing between a Volvo estate and a low-slung Toyota. Out on the course, three men were finishing their round. As the final putt went in, hands went to wallets and money changed hands.
Two things Rebus knew about golf: one, to some people it was a religion; two, a lot of players liked a bet. They'd bet on final tally, each hole, even every shot if they could.
And didn't the Japanese have a passion for gambling? He took Candice's arm as he escorted her into the main building. Piano music from the bar. Panatella smoke and oakpanelling. Huge portraits of self-important unknowns. A few old wooden putters, framed behind glass. A poster advertised a Halloween dinner-dance for that evening. Rebus walked up to reception, explained who he was and what he wanted. The receptionist made a phone call, then led them to the Chief Executive's office.
Hugh Malahide, bald and thin, mid-forties, already had a slight stammer, which intensified when Rebus asked his first question. By throwing it back at the questioner, he seemed to be playing for time.
`Have we had any Japanese visitors recently? Well, we do get a few golfers.’
`These men came to lunch. Maybe a fortnight, three weeks back. There were three of them, plus three or four Scottish men. Probably driving Range Rovers. The table may have been reserved in the name of Telford.’
Malahide wasn't enjoying this at all.
`You know Mr Telford?’
`In a manner of speaking.’
Rebus leaned forward in his chair. `Go on.’
`Well, he's… look, the reason I seem so reticent is because we don't want this made common knowledge.’
`I understand, sir.’
`Mr Telford is acting as go-between.’
`In the negotiations.’
Rebus saw what Malahide was getting at. `The Japanese want to buy Poyntinghame?’
`You understand, Inspector, I'm just the manager here. I mean, I run the day-to-day business.’
`But you're the Chief Executive.’
`With no personal share in the club. The actual owners were set against selling at first. But an offer has been made, and I believe it's a very good one. And the potential buyers… well, they're persistent.’
`Have there been any threats, Mr Malahide?’
He looked horrified. `What sort of threats?’
`The negotiations haven't been hostile, if that's what you mean.’
`So these Japanese, the ones who had lunch here…?’
`They were representing the consortium.’
`The consortium being…?’
`I don't know. The Japanese are always very secretive. Some big company or corporation, I'd guess.’
`Any idea why they want Poyntinghame?’
`I've wondered that myself.’
`Everyone knows the Japanese love golf. It might be a prestige thing. Or it could be that they're opening a plant of some kind in Livingston.’
`And Poyntinghame would become the factory social club?’
Malahide shivered at the thought. Rebus got to his feet.
`You've been very helpful, sir. Anything else you can tell me?’
`Look, this has been off the record, Inspector.’
`I've no problem with that. I don't suppose you've got any names?’
`Of the diners that day.’
Malahide shook his head. `I'm sorry, not even credit card details. Mr Telford paid cash as usual.’
`Did he leave a big tip?’
`Inspector,' smiling, `some secrets are sacrosanct.’
`Let's keep this conversation that way, too, sir, all right?’
Malahide looked at Candice. `She's a prostitute, isn't she? I thought as much the day they were here.’
There was revulsion in his voice. `Tarty little thing, aren't you?’
Candice stared at him, looked to Rebus for help, said a few words neither man understood.
`What's she saying?’ Malahide asked.
`She says she once had a punter who looked just like you. He dressed in plus-fours and made her whack him with a mashie-niblick.’
Malahide showed them out.
Rebus telephoned Claverhouse from Candice's room.
`Could be something or nothing,' Claverhouse said, but Rebus could tell he was interested, which was good: the longer he stayed interested, the longer he'd want to hang on to Candice. Ormiston was on his way to the hotel to resume babysitting duties.
`What I want to know is, how the hell did Telford land something like this?’
`Good question,' Claverhouse said.
`It's way out of his previous sphere, isn't it?’
`As far as we know.’
`A chauffeur service for Jap companies…’
`Maybe he's after the contract to supply their gaming machines.’
Rebus shook his head. `I still don't get it.’
`Not your problem, John, remember that.’
`I suppose so.’
There was a knock at the door. `Sounds like Ormiston.’
`I doubt it. He's just left.’
Rebus stared at the door. 'Claverhouse, wait on the line.’
He left the receiver on the bedside table. The knock was repeated. Rebus motioned for Candice, who'd been flicking through a magazine on the sofa, to move into the bathroom. Then he crept up to the door and put his eye to the spyhole. A woman: the day-shift receptionist. He unlocked the door.
`Letter for your wife.’
He stared at the small white envelope which she was trying to hand him.
`Letter,' she repeated.
There was no name or address on the envelope, no stamp. Rebus took it and held it to the light. A single sheet of paper inside, and something flat and square, like a photograph.
`A man handed it in at reception.’
`How long ago?’
`Two, three minutes.’
`What did he look like?’
She shrugged. `Tallish, short brown hair. He was wearing a suit, took the letter out of a briefcase.’
`How do you know who it's for?’
`He said it was for the foreign woman. He described her to a T.’
Rebus was staring at the envelope. `Okay, thanks,' he mumbled. He closed the door, went back to the telephone.
`What is it?’ Claverhouse asked.
`Someone's just dropped off a letter for Candice.’
Rebus tore open the envelope, holding the receiver between shoulder and chin. There was a Polaroid photo and a single sheet, handwritten in small capitals. Foreign words.
`What does it say?’ Claverhouse asked.
`I don't know.’
Rebus tried a couple of words aloud. Candice had emerged from the bathroom. She snatched the paper from him and read it quickly, then fled back into the bathroom.
`It means something to Candice,' Rebus said. `There's a photo, too.’
He looked at it. `She's on her knees gamming some fat bloke.’
`The camera's not exactly interested in his face. Claverhouse, we've got to get her away from here.’
`Hang on till Ormiston arrives. They might be trying to panic you. If they want to snatch her, one cop in a car isn't going to cause much of a problem. Two cops just might.’
`How did they know?’
`We'll think about that later.’
Rebus was staring at the bathroom door, remembering the locked cubicle at St Leonard 's. `I've got to go.’
Rebus put down the receiver.
He tried the door. It was locked. 'Candice?’
He stood back and kicked. The door wasn't as strong as the one in St Leonard 's; he nearly took it off its hinges. She was seated on the toilet, a plastic safety razor in her hand, slashing it across her arms. There was blood on her t-shirt, blood spraying the white tiled floor.
She started screaming at him, the words collapsing into monosyllables. Rebus grabbed the razor, nicked his thumb in the process. He pulled her off the toilet, flushed the razor, and started wrapping towels around her arms. The note was lying in the bath. He waved it in her face.
`They're trying to scare you, that's all.’
Not even half-believing it himself. If Telford could find her this quickly, if he had the means of writing to her in her own language, then he was much stronger, much cleverer than Rebus had suspected.
`It's going to be okay,' he went on. `I promise. It's all okay. We'll look after you. We'll get you out of here, take you somewhere he can't get to you. I promise, Candice. Look, this is me talking.’
But she was bawling, tears dripping from her cheeks, head shaking from side to side. For a time, she'd actually believed in knights on white chargers. Now, she was realising how stupid she'd been…
The coast seemed to be clear.
Rebus took her in his car, Ormiston tucked in behind. No other way to play it. It was a trade-off: a speedy exit versus hanging around for a cavalry escort. And the way Candice was bleeding, they couldn't afford to wait. The drive to the hospital was nerve-tingling, then there was the wait while her wounds were checked and some of them sewn up. Rebus and Ormiston waited in A amp;E, drinking coffee from beakers, asking one another questions they couldn't answer.
`How did he know?’
`Who did he get to write the note?’
`Why give us a warning? Why not just grab her?’
`What does the note say?’
It struck Rebus that they were near the university. He took Dr Colquhoun's card from his pocket and phoned his office. Colquhoun was in. Rebus read the message out to him, spelling some of the word…
`They sound like addresses,' Colquhoun said. `Untranslatable.’
`Addresses? Are any towns named?’
`I don't think so.’
`Sir, we'll be taking her to Fettes if she's well enough… any chance you could meet us there? It's important.’
`Everything with you chaps is important.’
`Yes, sir, but this is important. Candice's life may be in danger.’
Colquhoun took time answering. `I suppose in that case…’
`I'll send a car for you.’
After an hour, she was well enough to leave. `The cuts weren't too deep,' the doctor said. `Not life-threatening.’
`They weren't meant to be.’
Rebus turned to Ormiston. `She thinks she's going back to Telford, that's why she did it. She knows she's going back to him.’
Candice looked as though all the blood had been drained from her. Her face seemed more skeletal than before, and her eyes darker. Rebus tried to recall what her smile looked like. He doubted he'd be seeing one for a while. She kept her arms folded protectively in front of her, and wouldn't meet his eyes. Rebus had seen suspects act that way in custody: people for whom the world had become a trap.
At Fettes, Claverhouse and Colquhoun were already waiting. Rebus handed over the note and photo.
`As I said, Inspector,' Colquhoun stated, `addresses.’
`Ask her what they mean,' Claverhouse demanded. They were in the same room as before. Candice knew her place, and was already seated, her arms still folded, showing cream-coloured bandages and pink plasters. Colquhoun asked, but it was as though he'd ceased to exist. Candice stared at the wall in front of her, unblinking, her only motion a slight rocking to and fro.
`Ask her again,' Claverhouse said. But Rebus interrupted before Colquhoun could start.
`Ask her if people she knows live there, people who are important to her.’
As Colquhoun formed the question, the rocking grew slightly in intensity. There were fresh tears in her eyes.
`Her mother and father? Brothers and sisters?’
Colquhoun translated. Candice tried to stop her mouth trembling.
`Maybe she left a kid behind…’
As Colquhoun asked, Candice flew from her chair, shouting and screaming. Ormiston tried to grab her, but she kicked out at him. When she'd calmed, she subsided in a corner of the room, arms over her head.
`She's not going to tell us anything,' Colquhoun translated. `She was stupid to believe us. She just wants to go now. There's nothing she can help us with.’
Rebus and Claverhouse shared a look.
`We can't hold her, John, not if she wants to leave. It's been dodgy enough keeping her away from a lawyer. Once she starts asking to go…’
`Come on, man,' Rebus hissed, `she's shit-scared, and with good reason. And now you've got all you're going to get out of her, you're just going to hand her back to Telford?’
`Look, it's not a question of -'
`He'll kill her, you know he will.’
`If he was going to kill her, she'd be dead.’ Claverhouse paused. `He's cleverer than that. He knows damned well all he had to do was give her a fright. He knows her. It sticks in my craw, too, but what can we do?’
`Just keep her a few days, see if we can't…’
`Can't what? You want to hand her over to Immigration?’
`It's an idea. Get her the hell away from here.’
Claverhouse pondered this, then turned to Colquhoun. `Ask her if she wants to go back to Sarajevo.’
Colquhoun asked. She slurred some answer, choking back tears.
`She says if she goes back, they'll kill everyone.’
Silence in the room. They were all looking at her. Four men, men with jobs, family ties, men with lives of their own. In the scheme of things, they seldom realised how well off they were. And now they realised something else: how helpless they were.
`Tell her,' Claverhouse said quietly, `she's free to walk out of here at any time, if that's what she really wants. If she stays, we'll do our damnedest to help her…’
So Colquhoun spoke to her, and she listened, and when he'd finished she pushed herself back on to her feet and looked at them. Then she wiped her nose on her bandages, pushed the hair out of her eyes, and walked to the door.
`Don't go, Candice,' Rebus said.
She half-turned towards him. `Okay,' she said.
Then she opened the door and was gone.
Rebus grabbed Claverhouse's arm. `We've got to pull Telford in, warn him not to touch her.’
`You think he needs telling?’
`You think he'd listen?’
`I can't believe this. He scared her half to death, and as a result we let her walk? I really can't get my head round this.’
`She could always have gone to Fife,' Colquhoun said. With Candice out of the room, he seemed to have perked up a bit.
`Bit late now,' Ormiston said.
`He beat us this time, that's all,' Claverhouse said, his eyes on Rebus. `But we'll take him down, don't worry.’
He managed a thin, humourless smile. `Don't think we're giving up, John. It's not our style. Early days yet, pal. Early days…’
She was waiting for him out in the car park, standing by the passenger-door of his battered Saab 900.
`Okay?’ she said.
`Okay,' he agreed, smiling with relief as he unlocked the car. He could think of only one place to take her. As he drove through The Meadows, she nodded, recognising the tree-lined playing fields.
`You've been here before?’
She said a few words, nodded again as Rebus turned into Arden Street. He parked the car and turned to her.
`You've been here?’
She pointed upwards, fingers curled into the shape of binoculars.
` Telford,' she said. She made a show of writing something down, and Rebus took out his notebook and pen, handed them over. She drew a teddy bear.
`You came in Telford 's car?’
Rebus interpreted. `And he watched one of the flats up there?’
He pointed to his own flat.
`When was this?’
She didn't understand the question. `I need a phrasebook,' he muttered. Then he opened his door, got out and looked around. The cars around him were all empty. No Range Rovers. He signalled for Candice to get out and follow him.
She seemed to like his living-room, went straight to the record collection but couldn't find anything she recognised. Rebus went into the kitchen to make coffee and to think. He couldn't keep her here, not if Telford knew about the place. Telford… why had he been watching Rebus's flat? The answer was obvious: he knew the detective was linked to Cafferty, and therefore a potential threat. He thought Rebus was in Cafferty's pocket. Know your enemy: it was another rule Telford had learned.
Rebus phoned a contact from the Scotland on Sunday business section.
`Japanese companies,' Rebus said. `Rumours pertaining to.’
`Can you narrow that down?’
`New sites around Edinburgh, maybe Livingston.’
Rebus could hear the reporter shuffling papers on his desk. `There's a whisper going round about a microprocessor plant.’
`That's one possibility.’
`Nope. Why the interest?’
Rebus put down the receiver, looked across at Candice. He couldn't think where else to take her. Hotels weren't safe. One place came to mind, but it would be risky… Well, not so very risky. He made the call.
'Sammy?’ he said. `Any chance you could do me a favour…?’
Sammy lived in a `colonies' flat in Shandon. Parking was almost impossible on the narrow street outside. Rebus got as close as he could.
Sammy was waiting for them in the narrow hallway, and led them into the cramped living-room. There was a guitar on a wicker chair and Candice lifted it, setting herself on the chair and strumming a chord.
'Sammy,' Rebus said, `this is Candice.’
`Hello there,' Sammy said. `Happy Halloween.’
Candice was putting chords together now. `Hey, that's Oasis.’
Candice looked up, smiled. `Oasis,' she echoed.
`I've got the CD somewhere…’
Sammy examined a tower of CDs next to the hi-fi. `Here it is. Shall I put it on?’
Sammy switched the hi-fi on, told Candice she was going to make some coffee, and beckoned for Rebus to follow her into the kitchen.
`So who is she?’
The kitchen was tiny. Rebus stayed in the doorway.
`She's a prostitute. Against her will. I don't want her pimp getting her.’
`Where's she from again?’
`And she doesn't have much English?’
`How's your Serbo-Croat?’
Rebus looked around. `Where's your boyfriend?’
`On the book?’
Rebus didn't like Ned Farlowe. Partly it was that name: `Neds' were what the Sunday Post called hooligans. They robbed old ladies of their pension books and walking-frames. Those were the Neds of this world. And Farlowe meant Chris Farlowe: `Out of Time', a number one that should have belonged to the Stones. Farlowe was researching a history of organised crime in Scotland.
`Sod's law,' Sammy said. `He needs money to buy the time to write the thing.’
`So what's he doing?’
`Just some freelance stuff. How long am I babysitting?’
`A couple of days at most. Just till I find somewhere else.’
`What will he do if he finds her?’
`I'm not that keen to find out.’
Sammy finished rinsing the mugs. `She looks like me, doesn't she?’
`Yes, she does.’
`I've got some time off coming. Maybe I'll phone in, see if I can stay here with her. What's her real name?’
`She hasn't told me.’
`Has she any clothes?’
`At a hotel. I'll get a patrol car to bring them.’
`She's really in danger?’
`She might be.’
Sammy looked at him. `But I'm not?’
`No,' her father said. `Because it'll be our secret.’
`And what do I tell Ned?’
`Keep it short, just say you're doing your dad a favour.’
`You think a journalist's going to be content with that?’
`If he loves you.’
The kettle boiled, clicked off. Sammy poured water into three mugs. Through in the living-room, Candice's interest had shifted to a pile of American comic books.
Rebus drank his coffee, then left them to their music and their comics. Instead of going home, he made for Young Street and the Ox, ordering a mug of instant. Fifty pee. Pretty good deal, when you thought about it. Fifty pence for… what, half a pint? A pound a pint? Cheap at twice the price. Well, one-point-seven times the price, which would take it to the price of a beer… give or take.
Not that Rebus was counting.
The back room was quiet, just somebody scribbling away at the table nearest the fire. He was a regular, a journalist of some kind. Rebus thought of Ned Farlowe, who would want to know about Candice, but if anyone could keep him at bay, Sammy could. Rebus took out his mobile, phoned Colquhoun's office.
`Sorry to bother you again,' he said.
`What is it now?’
The lecturer sounded thoroughly exasperated. `Those refugees you mentioned. Any chance you could have a word with them?’
Colquhoun cleared his throat. `Yes, I suppose I could talk to them. Does that mean…?’
'Candice is safe.’
`I don't have their number here.’
Colquhoun sounded fuddled again. `Can it wait till I go home?’
`Phone me when you've talked to them. And thanks.’
Rebus rang off, finished his coffee, and called Siobhan Clarke at home.
`I need a favour,' he said, feeling like a broken record.
`How much trouble will it get me in?’
`Can I have that in writing?’
`Think I'm stupid?’
Rebus smiled. `I want to see the files on Telford.’
`Why not just ask Claverhouse?’
`I'd rather ask you.’
`It's a lot of stuff. Do you want photocopies?’
`I'll see what I can do.’
Voices were raised in the front bar. `You're not in the Ox, are you?’
`As it happens, yes.’
`A mug of coffee.’
She laughed in disbelief and told him to take care. Rebus ended the call and stared at his mug. People like Siobhan Clarke, they could drive a man to drink.
It was 7 a.m. when the buzzer sounded, telling him there Was someone at his tenement's main door. He staggered along was all to the intercom, and asked who the bloody hell it was, he `The croissant man,' a rough English voice replied.
`Come on, dick-brain, wakey-wakey. Memory's not so hot the e days, eh?’
A name tilted into Rebus's head. 'Abernethy?, 'Now open up, it's perishing down here.’
Rebus pushed the buzzer to let Abernethy in, then jogged back the bedroom to put on some clothes. His mind felt numb Abernethy was a DI in Special Branch, London. The last time he) d been in Edinburgh had been to chase terrorists. Rebus wondered what the hell he was doing here now.
When the doorbell sounded, Rebus tucked in his shirt and walked back down the hall. True to his word, Abernethy was carrying a bag of croissants. He hadn't changed much: same faded denims and black leather bomber, same cropped brown hair spiked with gel. His face was heavy, pockmarked, and his eyes an unnerving, psycho, path's blue.
`How've you been, mate?’
Abernethy slapped Rebus's shoulder and marched past him into the kitchen. `Get the kettle on.’ Like they did this every day of the week. Like they didn't live four hundred miles apart.
'Abernethy, what the hell are you doing here?’
`Feeding you, of course, same thing the English have always done for the Jocks. Got any butter?’
`Try the butter-dish.’
Rebus pointed to a cupboard.
`Bet you drink instant: am I right?’
`Let's get this ready first, then talk; okay?’
`The kettle boils quicker if you switch it on at the plug.’
`And I think there's some jam.’
`Do I look like a bee?’
Abernethy smirked. `Old Georgie Flight sends his love, by the way. Word is, he'll be retiring soon.’
George Flight: another ghost from Rebus's past. Abernethy had unscrewed the top from the coffee jar and was sniffing the granules.
`How fresh is this?’
He wrinkled his nose. `No class, John.’
`Unlike you, you mean? When did you get here?’
`Hit town half an hour ago.’
`Stopped a couple of hours in a lay-by, got my head down. That A1 is murder though. North of Newcastle, it's like coming into a third-world country.’
`Did you drive four hundred miles just to insult me?’
They took everything through to the table in the living-room, Rebus shoving aside books and notepads, stuff about the Second World War.
`So,' he said, as they sat down, `I'm assuming this isn't a social call?’
`Actually it is, in a way. I could have just telephoned, but I suddenly thought: wonder how the old devil's getting on? Next thing I knew, I was in the car and heading for the North Circular.’
`I've always tried to keep track of what you're up to.’
`Because last time we met… well, you're different, aren't you?’
`I mean, you're not a team player. You're a loner, bit like me. Loners can be useful.’
`For undercover, jobs that are a bit out of the ordinary.’
`You think I'm Special Branch material?’
`Ever fancied moving to London? It's where the action is.’
`I get action enough up here.’
Abernethy looked out of the window. `You couldn't wake this place with a fifty-megaton warhead.? 'Look, Abernethy, not that I'm not enjoying your company or anything, but why are you here?’
Abernethy brushed crumbs from his hands. `So much for the social niceties.’
He took a gulp of coffee, squirmed at its awfulness. `War Crimes,' he said. Rebus stopped chewing. `There's a new list of names. You know that, because you've got one of them living on your doorstep.’
`So I'm heading up the London HQ. We've established a temporary War Crimes Unit. My job's to collate gen on the various investigations, create a central register.’
`You want to know what I know?’
`That's about it.’
`And you drove through the night to find out? There's got to be more to it.’
Abernethy laughed. `Why's that?’
`There just has. A collator's job is for someone good at office work. That's not you, you're only happy in the field.’
`What about you? I'd never have taken you for a historian.’
Abernethy tapped one of the books on the table.
`It's a penance.’
`What makes you think it's any different with me? So, what's the score with Herr Lintz?’
`There's no score. So far all the darts have missed the board. How many cases are there?’
`Twenty-seven originally, but eight of those are deceased.’
Abernethy shook his head. `We got one to court, trial collapsed first day. Can't prosecute if they're ga-ga.’
`Well, for your information, here's where the Lintz case stands. I can't prove he was and is Josef Linzstek. I can't disprove his story of his participation in the war, or how he came to Britain.’
`Same tale I've been hearing up and down the country.’
`What did you expect?’
Rebus was picking at a croissant.
`Shame about this coffee,' Abernethy said. `Any decent Gaffs in the neighbourhood?’
So they went to a cafe, where Abernethy ordered a double espresso, Rebus a decaf. There was a story on the front of the Record about a fatal stabbing outside a nightclub. The man reading the paper folded it up when he'd finished his breakfast and took it away with him.
`Any chance you'll be talking to Lintz today?’Abernethy asked suddenly.
`Thought I might tag along. It's not often you get to meet someone who might have killed seven hundred Frenchies.’
`We're all a bit that way inclined, aren't we?’
`I've nothing new to ask him,' Rebus said, `and he's already been muttering to his lawyer about harassment.’
Rebus stared across the table. `You've done your reading.’
'Abernethy the Conscientious Cop.’
`Well, you're right. He has friends in high places, only a lot of them have been hiding behind the curtains since this all started.’
`Sounds like you think he's innocent.’
`Until proven guilty.’
Abernethy smiled, lifted his cup. `There's a Jewish historian been going around. Has he contacted you?’
`What's his name?’
Another smile. `How many Jewish historians have you been in touch with? His name's David Levy.’
`You say he's been going around?’
`A week here, a week there, asking how the cases are going.’
`He's in Edinburgh just now.’
Abernethy blew on his coffee. `So you've spoken with him?’
`Yes, as it happens.’
`Did he try his "Rat Line" story?’
`Again, why the interest?’
`He's tried it with everyone else.’
`What if he has?’
`Jesus, do you always answer a question with a question? Look, as collator, this guy Levy's name has popped up on my computer screen more than once. That's why I'm interested.’
'Abernethy the Conscientious Cop.’
`That's right. So shall we go see Lintz?’
`Well, seeing you've come all this way…’
On the way back to the flat, Rebus stopped at a newsagent's and bought the Record. The stabbing had taken place outside Megan's Nightclub, a new establishment in Portobello. The fatality had been a `doorman', William Tennant, aged 25. The story had made the front page because a Premier League footballer had been on the periphery of the incident. A friend who'd been with him had received minor cuts. The attacker had fled on a motorbike. The footballer had offered no comment to reporters. Rebus knew him. He lived in Linlithgow and a year or so back had been caught speeding in Edinburgh, with – in his own words – a `wee bitty Charlie', meaning cocaine, on his person.
`Anything interesting?’ Abernethy asked.
`Someone killed a bouncer. Quiet little backwater, eh?’
`A story like that, in London it wouldn't rate a column inch.’
`How long are you staying here?’
`I'll be off today, want to drop in on Carlisle. They're supposed to have another old Nazi. After that, it's Blackpool and Wolverhampton before home.’
`A sucker for punishment.’
Rebus drove them the tourist route: down The Mound and across Princes Street. He double parked in Heriot Row, but Joseph Lintz wasn't home.
`Never mind,' he said. `I know where he'll probably be.’
He took them down Inverleith Row and turned right into Warriston Gardens, stopping at the cemetery gates.
`What is he, a gravedigger?’ Abernethy got out of the car and zipped his jacket.
`He plants flowers.’
`Flowers? What for?’
`I'm not sure.’
A cemetery should have been about death, but Warriston didn't feel that way to Rebus. Much of it resembled a rambling park into which some statuary had been dropped. The newer section, with stone driveway, soon gave way to an earthen path between fading inscriptions. There were obelisks and Celtic crosses, lots of trees and birds, and the electric movements of squirrels. A tunnel beneath a walkway took you to the oldest part of the cemetery, but between tunnel and driveway sat the heart of the place, with its roll-call of Edinburgh 's past. Names like Ovenstone, Cleugh, and Flockhart, and professions such as actuary, silk merchant, ironmonger. There were people who'd died in India, and some who'd died in infancy. A sign at the gate informed visitors that the place had been the subject of a compulsory purchase by the City of Edinburgh, because previous private owners had let it fall into neglect. But that same neglect was at least part of its charm. People walked their dogs here, or came to practise photography, or just mused among the tombstones. Gays came looking for company, others for solitude.
After dark, of course, the place had another reputation entirely. A Leith prostitute – a woman Rebus had known and liked – had been found murdered here earlier in the year. Rebus wondered if Joseph Lintz knew about that…
He was trimming the grass around a headstone, doing so with a half-sized pair of garden shears. There was a sheen of sweat on his face as he forced himself upright.
`Ah, Inspector Rebus. You have brought a colleague?’
`This is D I Abernethy.’
Abernethy was examining the headstone, which belonged to a teacher called Cosmo Merriman.
`They let you do this?’ he asked, his eyes finally finding Lintz's. `No one has tried to stop me.’
`Inspector Rebus tells me you plant flowers, too.’
`People assume I am a relative.’
`But you're not, are you?’
`Only in so far as we are the family of man, Inspector Abernethy.’
`You're a Christian then?’
`Yes, I am.’
`Born and bred?’
Lintz took out a handkerchief and wiped his nose. `You're wondering if a Christian could commit an atrocity like Villefranche. It's perhaps not in my interest to say this, but I think it entirely possible. I've been explaining this to Inspector Rebus.’
Rebus nodded. `We've had a couple of talks.’
`Religious belief is no defence, you see. Look at Bosnia, plenty of Catholics involved in the fighting, plenty of good Muslims, too. "Good" in that they are believers. And what they believe is that their faith gives them the right to kill.’
Bosnia: Rebus saw a sharp image of Candice escaping the terror, only to end up more terrified still, and more trapped than ever.
Lintz was stuffing the large white handkerchief into the pocket of his baggy brown cord trousers. In the outfit – green rubber overshoes, green woollen jersey, tweed jacket – he did look like a gardener. Little wonder he attracted so little attention in the cemetery. He blended in. Rebus wondered how artful it was, how deeply he'd learned the skill of invisibility. – `You look impatient, Inspector Abernethy. You're not a man for theories, am I right?’
`I wouldn't know about that, sir.’
`In that case, you must not know very much. Now Inspector Rebus, he listens to what I have to say. More than that, he looks interested. Whether he is or not, I can't judge, but his performance if performance it be – is exemplary.’
Lintz always spoke like this, like he'd been rehearsing each line. `Last time he visited my home, we discussed human duality. Would you have any opinion on that, Inspector Abernethy?’
The look on Abernethy's face was cold. `No, sir.’
Lintz shrugged: case against the Londoner proven. `Atrocities, Inspector, occur by an effort of the collective will.’
Spelling it out; sounding like the lecturer he had once been. `Because sometimes all it takes to turn us into devils is the fear of being an outsider.’
Abernethy sniffed, hands in pockets. `Sounds like you're justifying war crimes, sir. Sounds to me like you might even have been there yourself.’
`Do I need to be a spaceman to imagine Mars?’
He turned to Rebus, gave him the fraction of a smile.
`Well, maybe I'm just a bit too simple, sir,' Abernethy said. `I'm also a bit parky. Let's walk back to the car and carry on our discussion there, all right?’
While Lintz packed his few small tools into a canvas bag, Rebus looked around, saw movement in the distance, between headstones. The crouched figure of a man. Split-second glimpse of a face he recognised.
`What is it?’
Rebus shook his head. `Nothing.’
The three men walked in silence back to the Saab. Rebus opened the back door for Lintz. To his surprise, Abernethy got into the back, too. Rebus took the driver's seat, felt warmth returning slowly to his toes. Abernethy had his arm along the back of the seat, his body twisted towards Lintz.
`Now, Herr Lintz, my role in all this is quite straightforward. I'm collating all the information on this latest outbreak of alleged old Nazis. You understand that with allegations such as these, very serious allegations, we have a duty to investigate?’
`Spurious allegations rather than "serious" ones.’
`In which case you've nothing to worry about.’
`Except my reputation.’
`When you're exonerated, we'll take care of that.’
Rebus was listening closely. None of this sounded like Abernethy. The hostile graveside tone had been replaced by something much more ambiguous.
Lintz seemed to be picking up whatever the Londoner was saying between the lines. Rebus felt deliberately excluded from the conversation, which was why Abernethy had got into the back seat in the first place. He'd placed a physical barrier between himself and the officer investigating Joseph Lintz. There was something going on.
`Meantime,' Abernethy said, `cooperate as fully as you can with my colleague. The sooner he's able to reach his conclusions, the sooner this will all be over.’
`The problem with conclusions is that they should be conclusive, and I have so little proof. This was wartime, Inspector Abernethy, a lot of records destroyed…’
`Without proof either way, there's no case to answer.’
Lintz was nodding. `I see,' he said.
Abernethy hadn't voiced anything Rebus himself didn't feel; the problem was, he'd voiced it to the suspect.
`It would help if your memory improved,' Rebus felt obliged to add.
`Well, Mr Lintz,' Abernethy was saying, `thanks for your time.’
His hand was on the elderly man's shoulder: protective, comforting. `Can we drop you somewhere?’
`I'll stay here a little longer,' Lintz said, opening the door and easing himself out. Abernethy handed the bag of tools to him.
`Take care now,' he said.
Lintz nodded, gave a small bow to Rebus, and shuffled back towards the gate. Abernethy climbed into the passenger seat.
`Rum little bugger, isn't he?’
`You as good as told him he was off the hook.’
'Bollocks,' Abernethy said. `I told him where he stands, let him know the score. That's all.’
He saw the look on Rebus's face. `Come on, do you really want to see him in court? An old professor who keeps cemeteries tidy?’
`It doesn't make it any easier if you sound like you're on his side.’
`Even supposing he did order that massacre – you think a trial and a couple of years in clink till he snuffs it is the answer? Better to just give them all a bloody good scare, stuff the trial, and save the taxpayer millions.’
`That's not our job,' Rebus said, starting the engine.
He took Abernethy back to Arden Street. They shook hands, Abernethy trying to sound like he wanted to stay a little longer.
`One of these days,' he said. And then he was gone. As his Sierra drew away, another car pulled into the space he'd just vacated. Siobhan Clarke got out, bringing with her a supermarket carrier bag.
`For you,' she said. `And I think I'm owed a coffee.’
She wasn't as fussy as Abernethy, accepted the mug of instant with thanks and ate a spare croissant. There was a message on the answering machine, Dr Colquhoun telling him the refugee family could take Candice tomorrow. Rebus jotted down the details, then turned his attention to the contents of Siobhan's carrier-bag. Maybe two hundred sheets of paper, photocopies.
`Don't get them out of order,' she warned. `I didn't have time to staple them.’
`I went back into the office last night. Thought I'd get it done while no one was about. I can summarise, if you like.’
`Just tell me who the main players are.’
She came to the table and pulled a chair over beside him, found a sequence of surveillance shots. Put names to the faces.
`Brian Summers,' she said, `better known as "Pretty-Boy". He runs most of the working girls.’
Pale, angular face, thick black lashes, a pouting mouth. Candice's pimp.
`He's not very pretty.’
Clarke found another picture. `Kenny Houston.’
`From Pretty-Boy to Plug-Ugly.’
`I'm sure his mother loves him.’
Prominent teeth, jaundiced skin. – `What does he do?’
`He runs the doormen. Kenny, Pretty-Boy and Tommy Telford grew up on the same street. They're at the heart of The Family.’
She sifted through more photos. `Malky Jordan… he keeps the drugs flowing. Sean Haddow… bit of a brainbox, runs the finances. Ally Cornwell… he's muscle. Deek McGrain… There's no religious divide in The Family, Prods and Papes working together.’
`A model society.’
`No women though. Telford 's philosophy: relationships get in the way.’
Rebus picked up a sheaf of paper. `So what have we got?’
`Everything but the evidence.’
`And surveillance is supposed to provide that?’
She smiled over the top of her mug. `You don't agree?’
`It's not my problem.’
`And yet you're interested.’
She paused. 'Candice?’
`I don't like what happened to her.’
`Well, just remember: you didn't get this stuff from me.’
He paused. `Everything going all right?’
`Fine. I like Crime Squad.’
`Bit livelier than St Leonard 's.’
`I miss Brian.’
Meaning her one-time partner, now out of the force.
`You ever see him?’
`No, do you?’
Rebus shook his head, got up to show her out.
He spent about an hour sifting through the paperwork, learning more about The Family and its convoluted workings. Nothing about Newcastle. Nothing about Japan. The core of The Family – eight or nine of them – had been at school together. Three of them were still based in Paisley, taking care of the established business. The rest were now in Edinburgh, and busy prying the city away from Big Ger Cafferty.
He went through lists of nightclubs and bars in which Telford had an interest. There were incident reports attached: arrests in the vicinity. Drunken brawls, swings taken at bouncers, cars and property damaged. Something caught Rebus's eye: mention of a hotdog van, parked outside a couple of the clubs. The owner questioned: possible witness. But he'd never seen anything worth the recall. Name: Gavin Tay.
Recent dodgy suicide. Rebus gave Bill Pryde a bell, asked how that investigation was going.
`Dead end street, pal,' Pryde said, not, sounding too concerned. Pryde: too long the same rank, and not going anywhere. Beginning the long descent into retirement.
`Did you know he ran a hot-dog stall on the side?’
`Might explain where he got the cash from.’
Gavin Tay was an ex-con. He'd been in the ice-cream business a little over a year. Successful, too: new Mere parked outside his house. His financial records hadn't hinted at money to spare. His widow couldn't account for the Mere. And now: evidence of a job on the side, selling food and drink to punters stumbling out of nightclubs.
Tommy Telford's nightclubs.
Gavin Tay: previous convictions for assault and reset. A persistent offender who'd finally gone straight… The room began to feel stuffy, Rebus's head clotted and aching. He decided to get out.
Walked through The Meadows and down George IV Bridge, took the Playfair Steps down to Princes Street. A group was sitting on the stone steps of the Scottish Academy: unshaven, dyed hair, torn clothes. The city's dispossessed, trying their best not to be ignored. Rebus knew he had things in common with them. In the course of his life, he'd failed to fit several niches: husband, father, lover. He hadn't fit in with the Army's ideas of what he should be, and wasn't exactly `one of the lads' in the police. When one of the group held out a hand, Rebus offered a fiver, before crossing Princes Street and heading for the Oxford Bar.
He settled into a corner with a mug of coffee, got out his mobile, and called Sammy's flat. She was home, all was well with Candice. Rebus told her he had a place for Candice, she could move out tomorrow.
`That's fine,' Sammy said. `Hold on a second.’
There was a rustling sound as the receiver was passed along.
`Hello, John, how are you?’
Rebus smiled. `Hello, Candice. That's very good.’
`Thank you. Sammy is… uh… I am teaching how to…’
She broke into laughter, handed the receiver back.
`I'm teaching her English,' Sammy said.
`I can tell.’
`We started with some Oasis lyrics, just went from there.’
`I'll try to come round later. What did Ned say?’
`He was so shattered when he came home, I think he barely noticed.’
`Is he there? I'd like to talk to him.’
`He's out working.’
`What did you say he was doing again?’
`Right. Thanks again, Sammy. See you later.’
He took a swig of coffee, washed it around his mouth. Abernethy: he couldn't just let it go. He swallowed the coffee and called the Roxburghe, asked for David Levy's room.
`It's John Rebus.’
`Inspector, how good to hear from you. Is there something I can do?’
`I'd like to talk to you.’
`Are you in your office?’
Rebus looked around. `In a manner of speaking. It's a two-minute walk from your hotel. Turn right out of the door, cross George Street, and walk down to Young Street. Far end, the Oxford Bar. I'm in the back room.’
When Levy arrived, Rebus bought him a half of eighty-bob. Levy eased himself into a chair, hanging his walking-stick on the back of it. `So what can I do for you?’
`I'm not the only policeman you've spoken to.’
`No, you're not.’
`Someone from Special Branch in London came to see me today.’
`And he told you I'd been travelling around?’
`Did he warn you against speaking to me?’
`Not in so many words.’
Levy took off his glasses, began polishing them. `I told you, there are people who'd rather this was all relegated to history. This man, he came all the way from London just to tell you about me?’
`He wanted to see Joseph Lintz.’
Levy was thoughtful. `Your interpretation, Inspector?’
`I was hoping for yours.’
`My utterly subjective interpretation?’
Rebus nodded. `He wants to be sure of Lintz. This man works for Special Branch, and as everyone knows Special Branch is the public arm of the secret services.’
`He wanted to be confident I wasn't going to get anything out of Lintz?’
Levy nodded, staring at the smoke from Rebus's cigarette. This case was like that: one minute you could see it, the next you couldn't. Like smoke.
`I have a little book with me,' Levy said, reaching into his pocket. `I'd like you to read it. It's in English, translated from the Hebrew. It's about the Rat Line.’
Rebus took the book. `Does it prove anything?’
`That depends on your terms.’
`Concrete proof exists, Inspector.’
`In this book?’
Levy shook his head. `Under lock and key in Whitehall, kept from scrutiny by the Hundred Year Rule.’
`So there's no way to prove anything.’
`There's one way…’
`If someone talks. If we can get just one of them to talk…’
`That's what this is all about: wearing down their resistance? Looking for the weakest link?’
Levy smiled again. `We have learned patience, Inspector.’
He finished his drink. `I'm so grateful you called. This has been a much more satisfactory meeting.’
`Will you send your bosses a progress report?’
Levy chose to ignore this. `We'll talk again, when you've read the book.’
He stood up. `The Special Branch officer… I've forgotten his name?’
`I didn't give it.’
Levy waited a moment, then said, `Ah, that explains it then. Is he still in Edinburgh?’
He watched Rebus shake his head. `Then he's probably on his way to Carlisle, yes?’
Rebus sipped coffee, offered no comment.
`My thanks again, Inspector,' Levy said, undeterred.
`Thanks for dropping by.’
Levy took a final look around. `Your office,' he said, shaking his head.
The Rat Line was an 'underground railway', delivering Nazis – sometimes with the help of the Vatican – from their Soviet persecutors. The end of the Second World War meant the start of the Cold War. Intelligence was necessary, as were intelligent, ruthless individuals who could provide a certain level of expertise. It was said that Klaus Barbie, the `Butcher of Lyons', had been offered a job with British Intelligence. It was rumoured that high-profile Nazis had been spirited away to America. It wasn't until 1987 that the United Nations released its full list of fugitive Nazi and Japanese war criminals, forty thousand of them.
Why so late in releasing the list? Rebus thought he could understand. Modern politics had decreed that Germany and Japan were part of the global brotherhood of capitalism. In whose interests would it be to reopen old wounds? And besides, how many atrocities had the Allies themselves hidden? Who fought a war with clean hands? Rebus, who'd grown to adulthood in the Army, could comprehend this. He'd done things… He'd served time in Northern Ireland, seen trust disfigured, hatred replace fear.
Part of him could well believe in the existence of a Rat Line.
The book Levy had given him went into the mechanics of how such an operation might have worked. Rebus wondered: was it really possible to disappear completely, to change identity? And again, the recurring question: did any of it matter? There did exist sources of identification, and there had been court cases – Eichmann, Barbie, Demjanjuk with others ongoing. He read about war criminals who, rather than being tried or extradited, were allowed to return home, running businesses, growing rich, dying of old age. But he also read of criminals who served their sentences and became `good people', people who had changed. These men said war itself was the real culprit. Rebus recalled one of his first conversations with Joseph Lintz, in the drawing-room of Lintz's home. The old man's voice was hoarse, a scarf around his throat.
`At my age, Inspector, a simple throat infection can feel like death.’
There didn't seem to be many photographs around. Lintz had explained that a lot had gone missing during the war.
`Along with other mementoes. I do have these photos though.’
He'd shown Rebus half a dozen framed shots, dating back to the 1930s. As he'd explained who the subjects were, Rebus had suddenly thought: what if he's making it up? What if these are just a bunch of old photos he picked up somewhere and had framed? And the names, the identities he now gave to the faces – had he invented them? He'd seen in that instant, for the first time, how easy it might be to construct another life.
And then, later in their conversation that day, Lintz, sipping honeyed tea, had started discussing Villefranche.
`I've been thinking a lot about it, Inspector, as you might imagine. This Lieutenant Linzstek, he was in charge on the day?’
`But presumably under orders from above. A lieutenant is not so very far up the pecking order.’
`You see, if a soldier is under orders… then they must carry out those orders, no?’
`Even if the order is insane?’
`Nevertheless, I'd say the person was at the very least coerced into committing the crime, and a crime that very many of us would have carried out under similar circumstances. Can't you see the hypocrisy of trying someone, when you'd probably have done the same thing yourself? One soldier standing out from the crowd… saying no to the massacre: would you have made that stand yourself?’
'I hope so.’
Rebus thinking back to Ulster and the `Mean Machine'…
Levy's book didn't prove anything. All Rebus knew was that Josef Linzstek's name was on a list as having used the Rat Line, posing as a Pole. But where had the list originated? In Israel. Again, it was highly speculative. It wasn't proof.
And if Rebus's instincts told him Lintz and Linzstek were one and the same, they were still failing to tell him whether it mattered.
He dropped the book back to the Roxburghe, asked the receptionist to see that Mr Levy got it.
`I think he's in his room, if you'd like to…’
Rebus shook his head. He hadn't left any message with the book, knowing Levy might interpret this as a message in itself. He went home for his car, drove down to Haymarket and along to Shandon. As usual, parking near Sammy's flat was a problem. Everyone was home from work and tucked in front of their televisions. He climbed the stone steps, wondering how treacherous they'd get when the frosts came, and rang the bell. Sammy herself led him into the living room, where Candice was watching a game show.
`Hello, John,' she said. `Are you my wonderwall?’
`I'm nobody's wonderwall, Candice.’
He turned to Sammy. `Everything all right?’
At that moment, Ned Farlowe walked in from the kitchen. He was eating soup from a bowl, dunking a folded slice of brown bread into it.
`Mind if I have a word?’ Rebus said.
Farlowe shook his head, then jerked it in the direction of the kitchen.
`Can I eat while we talk? I'm starving.’
He sat down at the foldaway table, got another slice of bread from the packet and spread margarine on it. Sammy put her head round the doorway, saw the look on her father's face, and made a tactical retreat. The kitchen was about seven foot square and too full of pots and appliances. Swinging a cat, you could have done a lot of damage.
`I saw you today,' Rebus said, `skulking in Warriston Cemetery. Coincidence?’
`What do you think?’
`I'm asking you.’
Rebus leaned his back against the sink unit, folded his arms.
'I'm watching Lintz.’
`Because I'm being paid to.’
`By a newspaper?’
'Lintz's lawyer has interim interdicts flying around. Nobody can afford to be seen near him.’
`But they still want him watched?’
`If there's a court case coming, they want to know as much as possible, stands to reason.’
By court case, Farlowe didn't mean any trial of Lintz, but rather of the newspapers themselves, for libel.
`If he catches you…’
`He doesn't know me from Adam. Besides, there'd always be somebody to take my place. Now do I get to ask a question?’
`Let me say something first. You know I'm investigating Lintz?’
Farlowe nodded. `That means we're too close. If you find out anything, people might think it came from me.’
`I haven't told Sammy what I'm doing, specifically so there's no conflict of interests.’
`I'm just saying others might not believe it.’
`A few more days, I'll have enough money to fund the book for another month.’
Farlowe had finished his soup. He carried the empty bowl over to the sink, stood next to Rebus.
`I don't want this to be a problem, but the bottom line is: what can you do about it?’
Rebus stared at him. His instinct was to stuff Farlowe's head into the sink, but how would that look with Sammy? `Now,' Farlowe said, `do I get to ask my question?’
`What is it?’
`A friend of mine.’
`So what's wrong with your flat?’
Rebus realised he was no longer dealing with his daughter's boyfriend. He was confronted with a journalist, someone with a nose for a story.
`Tell you what,' said Rebus, `say I didn't see you in the cemetery. Say we didn't just have this little chat.’
`And I don't ask about Candice?’
Rebus stayed quiet. Farlowe considered the deal. `Say I get to ask you a few questions for my book.’
`What sort of questions?’
Rebus shook his head. `I could talk about Tommy Telford though.’
`When we've got him behind bars.’
Farlowe smiled. `I could be on the pension by then.’
He waited, saw Rebus was going to give him nothing.
`She's only here till tomorrow anyway,' Rebus said.
`Where's she off to?’
Rebus just winked. Left the kitchen, returned to the living-room. Talked to Sammy while Candice's game show reached its climax. Whenever she heard audience laughter, she joined in. Rebus made arrangements for the following day, then left. There was no sign of Farlowe. He'd either hidden himself in the bedroom or else gone back out. It took Rebus a few moments to remember where he'd parked his car. He drove home carefully; stopped for all the lights. The parking spaces were all taken in Arden Street. He left the Saab on a yellow line. As he approached his tenement door, he heard a car door open and spun towards the sound.
It was Claverhouse. He was on his own. `Mind if I come in?’
Rebus thought of a dozen reasons for saying yes. But he shrugged and made for the door. `Any news of the stabbing at Megan's?’ he asked.
`How did you know we'd be interested?’
`A bouncer gets stabbed, the attacker flees on a waiting motorbike. It was premeditated. And the majority of the bouncers work for Tommy Telford.’
They were climbing the stairs. Rebus's flat was on the second floor.
`Well, you're right,' Claverhouse said. `Billy Tennant worked for Telford. He controlled the traffic in and out of Megan's.’
`Traffic as in dope?’
`The footballer's friend, the one who got wounded, he's a known dealer. Works out of Paisley.’
`Therefore connected to Telford, too.’
`We're speculating he was the target, Tennant just got in the way.’
`Leaving only one question: who was behind it?’
`Come on, John. It was Cafferty, obviously.’
`Not Cafferty's style,' Rebus said, unlocking his door.
`Maybe he's learned a thing or two from the Young Pretender.’
`Make yourself at home,' Rebus said, walking down the hall. The breakfast things were still on the dining table. Siobhan's bag of goodies was down the side of a chair.
Claverhouse had noticed the two mugs, two plates. He looked around. `She's not here now though?’
`She wasn't here for breakfast either.’
`Because she's at your daughter's.’
`I went to settle up with the hotel. They said a police car had come and taken all her things away. So then I asked around, and the driver gave me Samantha's address as the drop-off.’
Claverhouse sat down on the sofa, crossed one leg over the other. `So what's the game, John, and how come you've seen fit to leave me on the bench?’
He sounded calm now, but Rebus could tell there'd been a storm.
`Do you want a drink?’
`I want an answer.’
`When she walked out… she waited beside my car. I couldn't think where to take her, so I brought her here. But she recognised the street. Telford had been watching my flat.’
Claverhouse looked interested. `Why?’
`Maybe because I know Cafferty. I couldn't let Candice stay here, so I took her to Sammy's.’
`Is she still there?’
Rebus nodded. `So what happens now?’
`There's a place she can go, the refugee family.’
`For how long?’
`What do you mean?’
Claverhouse sighed. `John, she's… the only life she's known here is prostitution.’
Rebus went over to the hi-fi for something to do, looked through his tapes. He needed to do something.
`What's she going to do for money? Are you going to provide? What does that make you?’
Rebus dropped a CD, turned on his heels. `Nothing like that,' he spat.
Claverhouse had his hands up, palms showing. `Come on, John, you know yourself there's -'
`I don't know anything.’
`Look, get out, will you?’
It wasn't just that it had been a long day, more that it felt like the day would never end. He could feel the evening stretch to infinity, no rest available to him. In his head, bodies were swaying gently from trees while smoke engulfed a church. Telford was on his arcade motorbike, cannoning off spectators. Abernethy was touching an old man's shoulder. Soldiers were rifle-butting civilians. And John Rebus… John Rebus was in every frame, trying hard to remain an onlooker.
He put Van Morrison on the hi-fi: Hardnose the Highway. He'd played this music on East Neuk beaches and tenement stakeouts. It always seemed to heal him, or at least patch the wounds. When he turned back into the room, Claverhouse was gone. He looked out of his window. Two kids lived in the second-Moor flat across from his. He'd watched them often from this window, and they never once saw him, for the simple reason that they never so much as glanced outside. Their world was complete and all-absorbing, anything outside their window an irrelevance. They were in bed now, their mother closing the shutters. Quiet city. Abernethy was right about that. There were large chunks of Edinburgh where you could live your whole life and never encounter a spot of bother. Yet the murder rate in Scotland was double that of its southern neighbour, and half those murders took place in the two main cities.
Not that the statistics mattered. A death was a death. Something unique had disappeared from the world. One murder or several hundred… they all meant something to the survivors. Rebus thought of Villefranche's sole existing survivor. He hadn't met her, probably never would. Another reason it was hard to get passionate about a historical case. In a contemporary one, you had many of the facts to hand, and could talk to witnesses. You could gather forensic evidence, question people's stories. You could measure guilt and grief. You became part of the whole story. This was what interested Rebus. The people interested him; their stories fascinated him. When part of their lives, he could forget his own.
He noticed the answering-machine was flashing: one message.
`Oh, hello there. I'm… um, I don't know how to put this…’
Placed the voice: Kirstin Mede. She sighed. `Look, I can't do this any more. So please don't… I'm sorry, I just can't. There are other people who can help you. I'm sure one of them…’
End of message. Rebus stared down at the machine. He didn't blame her. I can't do this any more. That makes two of us, Rebus thought. The only thing was, he had to keep going. He sat down at his table and pulled the Villefranche paperwork towards him: lists of names and occupations, ages and dates of birth. Picat, Mesplede, Rousseau, Deschamps. Wine merchant, china painter, cartwright, housemaid. What did any of it mean to a middle-aged Scot? He pushed it aside and lifted Siobhan's paperwork on to the table.
Off with Van the Man; on with side one of Wish You Were Here. Scratched to hell. He remembered it had come in a black polythene wrapper. When opened, there'd been this smell, which afterwards he'd learned was supposed to be burning flesh…
`I need a drink,' he said to himself, sitting forward in his chair. `I want a drink. A few beers, maybe with whiskies attached.’
Something to smooth the edges…
He looked at his watch; not even near to closing time. Not that it mattered much in Edinburgh, the land that closing time forgot. Could he make it to the Ox before they shut up shop? Yes, too easily. It was nicer to have a challenge. Wait an hour or so and then repeat the debate.
Or call Jack Morton.
Or go out, right now.
The telephone rang. He picked it up.
Making it sound like `Sean'.
`Hello, Candice. What's up?’
`Is there a problem?’
`Problem, no. I just wanting… I say to you, see you tomorrow.’
He smiled. `Yes, see you tomorrow. You speak very good English.’
`I was chained to a razor blade.’
`Line from song.’
`Oh, right. But you're not chained to it now?’
She didn't seem to understand. `I'm… uh…’
`It's okay, Candice. See you tomorrow.’
`Yes, see you.’
Rebus put down the receiver. Chained to a razor blade… Suddenly he didn't want a drink any more.
He picked Candice up the next afternoon. She had two carrier bags, her worldly belongings. She gave Sammy as much of a hug as her bandaged arms would allow.
`See you again, Candice,' Sammy said.
`Yes, see you. Thanks…’
Lost for an ending to the sentence, Candice opened her arms wide, bags swinging.
They stopped off at McDonald's (her choice) for something to eat. Zappa and the Mothers: `Cruising for Burgers'. The day was bright and crisp, just right for crossing the Forth Bridge. Rebus took it slowly, so Candice could take in the view. He was heading towards Fife's East Neuk, a cluster of fishing villages popular with artists and holidaymakers. Out of season, Lower Largo seemed practically deserted. Though Rebus had an address, he stopped to ask directions. Finally, he parked in front of a small terraced house. Candice stared at the red door until he gestured for her to follow him. He hadn't been able to make her understand what they were doing here. Hoped Mr and Mrs Petrec would make a better job of it.
The door was opened by a woman in her early-forties. She had long black hair, and peered at him over half-moon glasses. Then her attention shifted to Candice, and she said something in a language both women understood. Candice replied, looking a little shy, not sure what was going on.
`Come in, please,' Mrs Petrec said. `My husband is in the kitchen.’
They sat around the kitchen table. Mr Petrec was heavily built, with a thick brown moustache and wavy brown and silver hair. A pot of tea was produced, and Mrs Petrec drew her chair beside Candice's and began talking again.
`She's explaining to the girl,' Mr Petrec said.
Rebus nodded, sipped the strong tea, listened to a conversation he could not understand. Candice, cautious at first, grew more animated as she told her story, and Mrs Petrec was a skilled listener, sympathising, showing shared horror and exasperation.
`She was taken to Amsterdam, told there would be a job there for her,' Mr Petrec explained. `I know this has happened to other young women.’
`I think she left a child behind.’
`A son, yes. She's telling my wife about him.’
`What about you?’ Rebus asked. `How did you end up here?’
`I was an architect in Sarajevo. No easy decision, leaving your whole life behind.’
He paused. `We went to Belgrade first. A refugee bus brought us to Scotland.’
He shrugged. `That was nearly five years ago. Now I am a house painter.’
A smile. `Distance no object.’
Rebus looked at Candice, who had started crying, Mrs Petrec comforting her.
`We will look after her,' Mrs Petrec said, staring at her husband.
Later, at the door, Rebus tried to give them some money, but they wouldn't take it.
`Is it all right if I come and see her sometime?’
`But of course.’
He stood in front of Candice.
`Her real name is Dunya,' Mrs Petrec said quietly.
Rebus tried out the word. She smiled, her eyes softer than Rebus remembered them, as if some transformation. were beginning. She bent forward.
`Kiss the girl,' she said.
A peck on both cheeks. Her eyes filling with tears again. Rebus nodded, to let her know he understood everything.
At his car, he waved once, and she blew him another kiss. Then he drove around the corner and stopped, gripping the steering-wheel herd. He wondered if she'd cope. If she'd learn to forget. He thought again of his ex-wife's words. What would she think of him now? Had he exploited Dunya? No, but he wondered if that was only because she hadn't been able to give him anything on Telford. He felt he had somehow failed to do the right thing. So far, the only choice she'd had to make was when she'd waited for him by his car rather than going back to Telford. Before then and after, all the decisions had been taken for her. In a sense, she was still as trapped as ever, because the locks and chains were in her mind; they were what she expected from life. It would take time for her to change, to begin trusting the world again. The Petrecs would help her.
Heading south down the coast, thinking about families, he decided to visit his brother.
Mickey lived on an estate in Kirkcaldy, his red BMW parked in the driveway. He was just home from work and suitably surprised to see Rebus.
`Chrissie and the kids are at her mum's,' he said. `I was going to grab a curry for dinner. How about a beer?’
`Maybe just a coffee,' Rebus said. He sat in the lounge until Mickey returned, toting a couple of old shoe-boxes.
`Look what I dug out of the attic last weekend. Thought you might like a look. Milk and sugar?’
`A spot of milk.’
While Mickey went to the kitchen to fetch the coffee, Rebus examined the boxes. They were filled with packets of photographs. The packets had dates on them, some with questionmarks. Rebus opened one at random. Holiday snaps. A fancy dress parade. A picnic. Rebus didn't have any pictures of his parents, and the photos startled him. His mother had thicker legs than he remembered, but a tidy body, too. His father used the same grin in every shot, a grin Rebus shared with Mickey. Digging further into the box, he found one of himself with Rhona and Sammy. They were on a beach somewhere, the wind playing havoc. Peter Gabriel: `Family Snapshot'. Rebus couldn't place it at all. Mickey came back through with a mug of coffee and a bottle of beer.
`There are some,' he said, `I don't know who the people are. Relatives maybe? Grandma and Granddad?’
`I'm not sure I'd be much help.’
Mickey handed over a menu. `Here,' he said, `best Indian in town. Pick what you want.’
So Rebus chose, and Mickey phoned the order in. Twenty minutes till delivery. Rebus was on to another packet. These photos were older still, the 1940s. His father in uniform. The soldiers wore hats like McDonald's counter staff. They also wore long khaki shorts. `Malaya' written on the backs of some, ` India ' on the others.
`Remember, the old man got himself wounded in Malaya?’ Mickey said.
`No, he didn't.’
`He showed us the wound. It was in his knee.’
Rebus was shaking his head. `Uncle Jimmy told me it was a cut Dad got playing football. He kept picking the scab off, ended with a scar.’
`He told us it was a war wound.’
`He was fibbing.’
Mickey had started on the other box. `Here, look at these…’
Handing over an inch-thick collection of postcards and photographs, secured with an elastic band. Rebus pulled the band off, turned the cards over, saw his own writing. The photos were of him, too: posed snaps, badly taken.
`Where did you get these?’
`You always used to send me a card or a photo, don't you remember?’
They were all from Rebus's own Army days. `I'd forgotten,' he said.
`Once a fortnight, usually. A letter to Dad, a card for me.’
Rebus sat back in his chair and started to go through them. Judging by the postmarks, they were in chronological sequence. Training, then service in Germany and Ulster, more exercises in Cyprus, Malta, Finland, and the desert of Saudi Arabia. The tone of each postcard was breezy, so that Rebus failed to recognise his own voice. The cards from Belfast consisted of almost nothing but jokes, yet Rebus remembered that as one of the most nightmarish periods of his life.
`I used to love getting them,' Mickey said, smiling. `I'll tell you, you almost had me joining up.’
Rebus was still thinking of Belfast: the closed barracks, the whole compound a fortress. After a shift out on the streets, there was no way to let off steam. Booze, gambling and fights – all taking place within the same four walls. All culminating in the Mean Machine… And here were these postcards, here was the image of Rebus's past life that Mickey had lived with these past twenty-odd years.
And it was all a lie.
Or was it? Where did the reality lie, other than in Rebus's own head? The postcards were fake documents, but they were also the only ones in existence. There was nothing to contradict them, nothing except Rebus's word. It was the same with the Rat Line, the same with Joseph Lintz's story. Rebus looked at his brother and knew he could break the spell right now. All he had to do was tell him the truth.
`What's the matter?’ Mickey asked.
`Ready for that beer yet? The food'll be here any second.’
Rebus stared at the cooling mug of coffee. `More than ready,' he said, putting the rubber band back around his past. `But I'll stick to this.’
He lifted the mug, toasted his brother.
Next morning, Rebus went to St Leonard's, telephoned the NCIS centre at Prestwick and asked if they had anything connecting British criminals to European prostitution. His reasoning: someone had brought Candice – she was still Candice to him – from Amsterdam to Britain, and he didn't think it was Telford. Whoever it was, Rebus would get to them somehow. He wanted to show Candice her chains could be broken.
He got NCIS to fax him what information they had. Most of it concerned the `Tippelzone', a licensed car park where drivers went for sex. It was worked by foreign prostitutes mainly, most of them lacking work permits, many smuggled in from Eastern Europe. The main gangs seemed to be from former Yugoslavia. NCIS had no names for any of these kidnappers-cum-pimps. There was nothing about prostitutes making the trip from Amsterdam to Britain.
Rebus went into the car park to smoke his second cigarette of the day. There were a couple of other smokers out there, a small brotherhood of social pariahs. Back in the office, the Farmer wanted to know if there was any progress on Lintz.
`Maybe if I brought him in and slapped him around a bit,' Rebus suggested.
`Be serious, will you?’ the Farmer growled, stalking back to his office.
Rebus sat down at his desk and pulled forward a file.
`Your problem, Inspector,' Lintz had said to him once, `is that you're afraid of being taken seriously. You want to give people what you think they expect. I mention the Ishtar gate, and you talk of some Hollywood movie. At first I thought this was meant to rouse me to some indiscretion, but now it seems more a game you are playing against yourself.’
Rebus: seated in his usual chair in Lintz's drawing-room. The view from the window was of Queen Street Gardens. They were kept locked: you had to pay for a key.
`Do educated people frighten you?’
Rebus looked at the old man. `No.’
`Are you sure? Don't you perhaps wish you were more like them?’
Lintz grinned, showing small, discoloured teeth. `Intellectuals like to see themselves as history's victims, prejudiced against, arrested for their beliefs, even tortured and murdered. But Karadzic thinks himself an intellectual. The Nazi hierarchy had its thinkers and philosophers. And even in Babylon…’
Lintz got up, poured himself more tea. Rebus declined a refill.
`Even in Babylon, Inspector,' Lintz continued, getting comfortable again, `with its opulence and its artistry, with its enlightened king… do you know what they did? Nebuchadnezzar held the Jews captive for seventy years. This splendid, awe-inspiring civilisation… Do you begin to see the madness, Inspector, the flaws that run so deep in us?’
`Maybe I need glasses.’
Lintz threw his cup across the room. `You need to listen and to learn! You need to understand!' The cup and saucer lay on the carpet, still intact. Tea was soaking into the elaborate design, where it would become all but invisible…
He parked on Buccleuch Place. The Slavic Studies department was housed in one of the tenements. He tried the secretary's office first, asked if Dr Colquhoun was around.
`I haven't seen him today.’
When Rebus explained what he wanted, the secretary tried a couple of numbers but didn't find anyone. Then she suggested he take a look in their library, which was one floor up and kept locked. She handed him a key.
The room was about sixteen feet by twelve, and smelled stuffy. The shutters across the windows were closed, giving the place no natural light. A No Smoking sign sat on one of four desks. On another sat an ashtray with three butts in it. One entire wall was shelved, filled with books, pamphlets, magazines. There were boxes of press cuttings, and maps on the walls showing Yugoslavia 's changing demarcation lines. Rebus lifted down the most recent box of cuttings.
Like a lot of people he knew, Rebus didn't know much about the war in ex-Yugoslavia. He'd seen some of the news reports, been shocked by the pictures, then had got on with his life. But if the cuttings were to be believed, the whole region was being run by war criminals. The Implementation Force seemed to have done its damnedest to avoid confrontation. There had been a few arrests recently, but nothing substantial: out of a meagre seventy-four suspects charged, only seven had been apprehended.
He found nothing about slave traders, so thanked the secretary and gave her back her key, then crawled through the city traffic. When the call came on his mobile, he nearly went off the road.
Candice had disappeared.
Mrs Petrec was distraught. They'd had dinner last night, breakfast this morning, and Dunya had seemed fine.
`There was a lot she said she couldn't tell us,' Mr Petrec said, standing behind his seated wife, hands stroking her shoulders. `She said she wanted to forget.’
And then she'd gone out for a walk down to the harbour, and hadn't returned. Lost maybe, though the village was small. Mr Petrec had been working; his wife had gone out, asking people if they'd seen her.
`And Mrs Muir's son,' she said, `he told me she'd been taken away in a car.’
`Where was this?’ Rebus asked.
`Just a couple of streets away,' Mr Petrec said.
Outside his home on Seaford Road, Eddie Muir, aged eleven, told Rebus what he'd seen. A car stopping beside a woman. A bit of chat, though he couldn't hear it. The door opening, the woman getting in.
`Which door, Eddie?’
`One of the back ones. Had to be, there were two of them in the car already.’
`And the woman got in by herself? I mean, they didn't grab her or anything?’
Eddie shook his head. He was straddling his bike, keen to be going. One foot kept testing a pedal.
`Can you describe the car?’
`Big, a bit flash. Not from round here.’
`And the men?’
`Didn't really get a good look. Driver was wearing a Pars shirt.’
Meaning a football shirt, Dunfermline Athletic. Which would mean he was from Fife. Rebus frowned. A pick-up? Could that be it? Candice back to her old ways so soon? Not likely, not in a place like this, on a street like this. It was no chance encounter. Mrs Petrec was right: she'd been snatched. Which meant someone had known where to find her. Had Rebus been followed yesterday? If he had, they'd been invisible. Some device on his car? It seemed unlikely, but he checked wheel-arches and the underbody: nothing. Mrs Petrec had calmed a little, her husband having administered medicinal vodka. Rebus could use a shot himself, but turned down the offer.
`Did she make any phone calls?’ he asked. Petrec shook his head. `What about strangers hanging around the street?’
`I would have noticed. After Sarajevo, it's hard to feel safe, Inspector.’
He opened his arms. `And here's the proof nowhere's safe.’
`Did you tell anyone about Dunya?’
`Who would we tell?’
Who knew? That was the question. Rebus did. And Claverhouse and Ormiston knew about the place, because Colquhoun had mentioned it.
Colquhoun knew. The nervy old Slavic Studies specialist knew… On the way back to Edinburgh, Rebus tried phoning him at office and home: no reply. He'd told the Petrecs to let him know if Candice came back, but he didn't think she'd be coming back. He remembered the look she'd given him early on when he'd asked her to trust him. I won't be surprised if you let me down. Like she'd known back then that he'd fail. And she'd given him a second chance, waiting for him beside his car. And he'd let her down. He got back on his mobile and called Jack Morton.
`Jack,' he said, `for Christ's sake, talk me out of having a drink.’
He tried Colquhoun's home address and the Slavic Studies office: both locked up tight. Then he drove to Flint Street and looked for Tommy Telford in the arcade. But Telford wasn't there. He was in the cafe's back office, surrounded as usual by his men.
`I want to talk to you,' Rebus said.
`Without the audience.’
Rebus pointed to Pretty-Boy. `That one can stay.’
Telford took his time, but finally nodded, and the room began to empty. Pretty-Boy stood against a wall, hands behind his back. Telford had his feet up on his desk, leaning back in his chair. They were relaxed, confident. Rebus knew what he looked like: a caged bear.
`I want to know where she is.’
Telford smiled. `Still on about her, Inspector? How should I know where she is?’
`Because a couple of your boys grabbed her.’
But as he spoke, Rebus realised he was making a mistake. Telford's gang was a family: they'd grown up together in Paisley. Not many Dunfermline supporters that distant from Fife. He stared at Pretty-Boy, who ran Telford 's prostitutes. Candice had arrived in Edinburgh from a city of bridges, maybe Newcastle. Telford had Newcastle connections. And the Newcastle United strip – vertical black and white lines was damned close to Dunfermline 's. Probably only a kid in Fife could make the mistake.
A Newcastle strip. A Newcastle car.
Telford was talking, but Rebus wasn't listening. He walked straight out of the office and back to the Saab. Drove to Fettes – the Crime Squad offices – and started looking. He found a contact number for a DS Miriam Kenworthy. Tried the number but she wasn't there.
`Fuck it,' he told himself, getting back into his car.
The A1 was hardly the country's fastest road – Abernethy was right about that. Still, without the daytime traffic Rebus made decent time on his way south. It was late evening when he arrived in Newcastle, pubs emptying, queues forming outside clubs, a few United shirts on display, looking like prison bars. He didn't know the city. Drove around it in circles, passing the same signs and landmarks, heading further out, just cruising.
Looking for Candice. Or for girls who might know her.
After a couple of hours, he gave up, headed back into the centre. He'd had the idea of sleeping in his car, but when he found a hotel with an empty room, the thought of en-suite facilities suddenly seemed too good to miss.
He made sure there was no mini-bar.
A long soak with his eyes closed, mind and body still racing from the drive. He sat in a chair by his window and listened to the night: taxis and yells, delivery lorries. He couldn't sleep. He lay on the bed, watching soundless TV, remembering Candice in the hotel room, asleep under sweet wrappers. Deacon Blue: `Chocolate Girl.’
He woke up to breakfast TV. Checked out of the hotel and had breakfast in a cafe, then called Miriam Kenworthy's office, relieved to find she was an early starter.
`Come right round,' she said, sounding bemused. `You're only a couple of minutes away.’
She was younger than her telephone voice, face softer than her attitude. It was a milkmaid's face, rounded, the cheeks pink and plump. She studied him, swivelling slightly in her chair as he told her the story.
`Tarawicz,' she said when he'd finished. `Jake Tarawicz. Real name Joachim, probably.’
Kenworthy smiled. `Some of us around here call him Mr Pink Eyes. He's had dealings – meetings anyway with this guy Telford.’
She opened the brown folder in front of her. `Mr Pink Eyes has a lot of European connections. You know Chechnia?’
`It's Russia 's Sicily, if you know what I mean.’
`Is that where Tarawicz comes from?’
`It's one theory. The other is that he's Serbian. Might explain why he set up the convoy.’
`Running aid lorries to former Yugoslavia. A real humanitarian, our Mr Pink.’
`But also a way of smuggling people out?’
Kenworthy looked at him. `You've been doing your homework.’
`Call it an educated guess.’
`Well, it gets him noticed. He got a papal blessing six months ago. Married to an Englishwoman – not for love. She was one of his girls.’
`But it gives him residency here.’
She nodded. `He hasn't been around that long, five or six years…’
Like Telford, Rebus thought.
`But he's built himself a rep, muscled in where there used to be Asians, Turks… Story is, he started with a nice line in stolen icons. A ton of stuff has been lifted out of the Soviet bloc. And when that operation started drying, he moved into prossies. Cheap girls, and he could keep them docile with a bit of crack. The crack comes up from London – the Yardies control that particular scene. Mr Pink spreads their goods around the north-east. He also deals heroin for the Turks and sells some girls to Triad brothels.’
She looked at Rebus, saw she had his attention. `No racial barriers when it comes to business.’
`So I see.’
`Probably also sells drugs to your friend Telford, who distributes them through his nightclubs.’
`We've no hard proof. There was even a story going around that Pink wasn't selling to Telford, he was buying.’
Rebus blinked. ` Telford 's not that big.’
`Where would he get the stuff?’
'It was a story, that's all.’
But it had Rebus thinking, because it might help explain the relationship between Tarawicz and Telford…
`What does Tarawicz get out of it?’ he asked, making his thoughts flesh.
`You mean apart from money? Well, Telford trains a good bouncer. Jock bouncers get respect down here. Then, of course, Telford has shares in a couple of casinos.’
`A way for Tarawicz to launder his cash?’
Rebus thought about this. `Is there anything Tarawicz doesn't have a finger in?’
`Plenty. He likes businesses which are fluid. And he's still a relative newcomer.’
Eagles: `New Kid in Town'.
`We think he's been dealing arms: a lot of stuff crossing into Western Europe. The Chechens seem to have weaponry to spare.’
She sniffed, gathered her thoughts.
`Sounds like he's one step ahead of Tommy Telford.’
Which would explain why Telford was so keen to do business with him. He was on a learning curve, learning how to fit into the bigger picture. Yardies and Asians, Turks and Chechens, and all the others. Rebus saw them as spokes on a huge wheel which was trundling mercilessly across the world, breaking bones as it went.
`Why "Mr Pink Eyes"?’ he asked.
She'd been awaiting the question, slid a colour photo towards him.
It was the close-up of a face, the skin pink and blistered, white lesions running through it. The face was puffy, bloated, and in its midst sat eyes hidden by blue-tinted glasses. There were no eyebrows. The hair above the jutting forehead was thin and yellow. The man looked like some monstrous shaved pig.
`What happened to him?’ he asked.
`We don't know. That's the way he looked when he arrived.’
Rebus remembered the description Candice had given: sunglasses, looks like a car-crash victim. Dead ringer.
`I want to talk to him,' Rebus said.
But first, Kenworthy gave him a guided tour. They took her car, and she showed him where the street girls worked. It was mid-morning, no action to speak of. He gave her a description of Candice, and she promised she'd put the word out. They spoke with the few women they met. They all seemed to know Kenworthy, weren't hostile towards her.
`They're the same as you or me,' she told him, driving away. `Working to feed their kids.’
`Or their habit.’
`That too, of course.’
`In Amsterdam, they've got a union.’
`Doesn't help the poor sods who're shipped there.’
Kenworthy signalled at a junction. `You're sure he has her?’
`I don't think Telford does. Someone knew addresses back in Sarajevo, addresses that were important to her. Someone shipped her out of there.’
`Sounds like Mr Pink all right.’
`And he's the only one who can send her back.’
She looked at him. `Why would he do a thing like that?’
Just as Rebus was thinking their surroundings couldn't get any grimmer – all industrial decay, gutted buildings and potholes Kenworthy signalled to turn in at the gates of a scrapyard.
`You're kidding?’ he said.
Three Alsatians, tethered by thirty-foot chains, barked and bounded towards the car. Kenworthy ignored them, kept driving. It was like being in a ravine. Either side of them stood precarious canyon walls of car wrecks.
Rebus heard it: the sound of a collision. The car entered a wide clearing, and he saw a yellow crane, dangling a huge grab from its arm, pluck up the car it had dropped and lift it high, before dropping it again on to the carcass of another. A few men were standing at a safe distance, smoking cigarettes and looking bored. The grab dropped on to the roof of the top car, denting it badly. Glass shimmered on the oily ground, diamonds against black velvet.
Jake Tarawicz – Mr Pink Eyes – was in the crane, laughing and roaring as he picked up the car again, worrying it the way a cat might play with a mouse without noticing it was dead. If he'd seen the new additions to his audience, it didn't show. Kenworthy hadn't got out of her car immediately. First, she'd fixed on a face from her repertoire. When finally she was ready, she nodded to Rebus and they opened their doors simultaneously.
As Rebus stood upright, he saw that the grab had dropped the car and was swinging towards them. Kenworthy folded her arms and stood her ground. Rebus was reminded of those arcade games where you had to pick up a prize. He could see Tarawicz in the cab, manipulating the controls like a kid with a toy. He remembered Tommy Telford on his arcade bike, and saw at once something the two men had in common: neither had ever really grown up.
The motorised hum stopped suddenly, and Tarawicz dropped from the cab. He was wearing a cream suit and emerald shirt, open at the neck. He'd borrowed a pair of green wellies from somewhere, so as to keep his trousers clean. As he walked towards the two detectives, his men stepped into line behind him.
'Miriam,' he said, `always a pleasure.’
He paused. `Or so the rumour goes.’
A couple of his men grinned. Rebus recognised one face: `The Crab', that's what he'd been called in central Scotland. His grip could crush bones. Rebus hadn't seen him in a long time, and had never seen him so smartly groomed and dressed.
`All right, Crab?’
This seemed to disconcert Tarawicz, who half-turned towards his minion. The Crab stayed quiet, but colour had risen, to his neck.
Up close, it was hard not to stare at Mr Pink Eyes's face. His eyes demanded that you meet them, but you really wanted to study the flesh in which they sat.
He was looking at Rebus now.
`Have we met?’
`This is Detective Inspector Rebus,' Kenworthy explained. `He's come all the way from Scotland to see you.’
Tarawicz's grin showed small sharp teeth with gaps between them.
`I think you know why I'm here,' Rebus said.
Tarawicz made a show of astonishment. `Do I?’
' Telford needed your help. He needed a home address for Candice, a note to her in Serbo-Croat…’
`Is this some sort of riddle?’
`And now you've taken her back.’
Rebus took a half-step forward. Tarawicz's men fanned out either side of their boss. There was a sheen on Tarawicz's face which could have been sweat or some medical cream.
`She wanted out,' Rebus told him. `I promised I'd help her. I never break a promise.’
`She wanted out? She told you that?’
Tarawicz's voice was teasing.
One of the men behind cleared his throat. Rebus had been wondering about this man, so much smaller and more reticent than the others, better dressed and with sad drooping eyes and sallow skin. Now he knew: lawyer. And the cough was his way of warning Tarawicz that he was saying too much.
`I'm going to take Tommy Telford down,' Rebus said quietly. `That's my promise to you. Once he's in custody, who knows what he'll say?’
`I'm sure Mr Telford can look after himself, Inspector. Which is more than can be said for Candice.’
The lawyer coughed again.
`I want her kept off the streets,' Rebus said.
Tarawicz stared at him, tiny black pupils like spots of absolute darkness.
`Can Thomas Telford go about his daily business unfettered?’ he said at last. Behind him, the lawyer almost choked.
`You know I can't promise that,' Rebus said. `It's not me he has to worry about.’
`Take a message to your friend,' Tarawicz said. `And afterwards, stop being his friend.’
Rebus realised then: Tarawicz was talking about Cafferty. Telford had told him that Rebus was Cafferty's man.
`I think I can do that,' Rebus said quietly.
`Then do it.’
Tarawicz turned away.
`I'll see what I can do.’
He stopped, slid his hands into his jacket pockets. `Hey, Miriam,' he said, his back still to them, `I like you better in that red two-piece.’
Laughing, he walked away.
`Get in the car,' Kenworthy said through gritted teeth. Rebus got into the car. She looked nervous, dropped her keys, bent to retrieve them.
`Nothing's wrong,' she snapped.
`The red two-piece?’
She glared at him. `I don't have a red two-piece.’
She did a three point-turn, hitting brakes and accelerator with a little more force than necessary.
`I don't get it.’
`Last week,' she said, `I bought some red underwear… bra and pants.’
She revved the engine. `Part of his little game.’
`So how does he know?’
`That's what I'm wondering.’
She shot past the dogs and out of the gate. Rebus thought of Tommy Telford, and how he'd been watching Rebus's flat.
`Surveillance isn't always one-way,' he said, knowing now who'd taught Telford the skill. A little later he asked about the scrapyard.
`He owns it. He's got a compacter, but before the cars get squashed he likes to play with them. And if you cross him, he welds your seatbelt shut.’
She looked at him. `You become part of his game.’
Never get personally involved: it was the golden rule. And practically every case he worked, Rebus broke it. He sometimes felt that the reason he became so involved in his cases was that he had no life of his own. He could only live through other people.
Why had he become so involved with Candice? Was it down to her physical resemblance to Sammy? Or was it that she had seemed to need him? The way she'd clung to his leg that first day… Had he wanted – just for a little while – to be someone's knight in shining armour, the real thing, not some mockery? John Rebus: complete bloody sham. He phoned Claverhouse from his car, filled him in. Claverhouse told him not to worry. `Thanks for that,' Rebus said. `I feel a whole lot better now. Listen, who's Telford 's supplier?’
`For what? Dope?’
`That's the real joker in the pack. I mean, he does business with Newcastle, but we can't be certain who's dealing and who's buying.’
`What if Telford 's selling?’
`Then he's got a line from the continent.’
`What do Drugs Squad say?’
`They say not. If he's landing the stuff from a boat, it means transporting it from the coast. Much more likely he's buying from Newcastle. Tarawicz has the contacts in Europe.’
`Makes you wonder why he needs Tommy Telford at all…’
`John, do yourself a favour, switch off for five minutes.’
'Colquhoun seems to be keeping his head down…’
`Did you hear me?’
`I'll talk to you soon.’
`Are you heading back?’
`In a manner of speaking.’
Rebus cut the call and drove.
'Strawman.,' said Morris Gerald Cafferty, as he was escorted into the room by two prison guards.
Earlier in the year, Rebus had promised Cafferty he would put a Glasgow gangster, Uncle Joe Toal, behind bars. It hadn't worked, despite Rebus's best efforts. Toal, pleading old age and illness, was still a free man, like a war criminal excused for senility. Ever since then, Cafferty had felt Rebus owed him.
Cafferty sat down, rolled his neck a few times, loosening it.
`So?’ he asked.
Rebus nodded for the guards to leave, waited in silence until they'd gone. Then he slipped a quarter-bottle of Bell 's from his pocket.
`Keep it,' Cafferty told him. `From the look of you, I'd say your need was greater than mine.’
Rebus put the bottle back in his pocket. `I've brought a message from Newcastle.’
Cafferty folded his arms. `Jake Tarawicz?’
Rebus nodded. `He wants you to lay off Tommy Telford.’
`What does he mean?’
`Come on, Cafferty. That bouncer who got stabbed, the dealer wounded… There's war breaking out.’
Cafferty stared at the detective. `Not my doing.’
Rebus snorted, but looking into Cafferty's eyes, he found himself almost believing.
`So who was it?’ he asked quietly.
`How do I know?’
`Nevertheless, war is breaking out.’
`That's as may be. What's in it for Tarawicz?’
`He does business with Tommy.’
`And to protect that, he needs to have me warned off by a cop?’
Cafferty was shaking his head. `You really buy that?’
`I don't know,' Rebus said.
`One way to finish this.’
Cafferty paused. `Take Telford out of the game.’
He saw the look on Rebus's face. `I don't mean top him, I mean put him away. That should be your job, Strawman.’
`I only came to deliver a message.’
`And what's in it for you? Something in Newcastle?’
`Are you Tarawicz's man now?’
`You know me better than that.’
Cafferty sat back in his chair, stretched out his legs. `I wonder about that sometimes. I mean, it doesn't keep me awake at night, but I wonder all the same.’
Rebus leaned on the table. `You must have a bit salted away. Why can't you just be content with that?’
Cafferty laughed. The air felt charged; there might have been only the two of them left in the world. `You want me to retire?’
`A good boxer knows when to stop.’
`Then neither of us would be much cop in the ring, would we? Got any plans to retire, Strawman?’
Despite himself, Rebus smiled.
`Thought not. Do I have to say something for you to take back to Tarawicz?’
Rebus shook his head. `That wasn't the deal.’
`Well, if he does come asking, tell him to get some life insurance, the kind with death benefits.’
Rebus looked at Cafferty. Prison might have softened him, but only physically.
`I'd be a happy man if someone took Telford out of the game,' Cafferty went on. `Know what I mean, Strawman? It'd be worth a lot to me.’
Rebus stood up. `No deal,' he said. `Personally, I'd be happy if you wiped one another out. I'd be jumping for joy at ring-side.’
`Know what happens at ring-side?’
Cafferty rubbed at his temples. `You tend to get spattered with blood.’
`As long as it's someone else's.’
The laughter came from deep within Cafferty's chest. `You're not a spectator, Strawman. It's not in your nature.’
`And you're some kind of psychologist?’
`Maybe not,' said Cafferty. `But I know what gets people excited.’
`Cover my face as the animals cry.’
Running through the hospital, stopping nurses to ask directions. Sweat dripping off him, tie hanging loose around his neck. Taking right turns, left turns, looking for signs. Whose fault? He kept asking himself that. A message which failed to reach him. Because he was on a surveillance. Because he wasn't in radio contact. Because the station didn't know how important the message was.
Nom running, a stitch in his side. He'd run all the may from the car.
Up two flights of stairs, down corridors. The place was quiet. Middle of the night.
`Maternity!' he called to a man pushing a trolley. The man pointed to a set of doors. He pushed through them. Three nurses in a glass cubicle. One of them came out.
`Can I help?’
`I'm John Rebus. My wife… ' She gave him a hard look. `Third bed along.’
Pointing… Third bed along, curtains closed around it. He pulled the curtains open. Rhona lay on her side, face still flushed, hair sticking to her brow. And beside her, nuzzling into her, a tiny perfection with wisps of brown hair and black, unfocused eyes.
He touched the nose, ran a finger round the curves of an ear. The face twitched. He bent past it to kiss his wife.
'Rhona… I'm really sorry. They didn't get the message to me until ten minutes ago. How did it…? I mean… he's beautiful.’
`He's a she,' his wife said, turning away from him.
He didn't want anyone else taking his work. It was his. He owned it; it owned him.
`Look, John, you're going to want some time off, right?’
`I can handle things, sir.’
His gaze met the Farmer's. `Please.’
Across the hall in the CID room he nodded as everyone came up to say how sorry they were. One person stayed at their desk – Bill Pryde knew Rebus was coming to see him.
Pryde nodded. They'd met in the wee small hours at the Infirmary. Ned Farlowe had been napping in a chair, so they'd stepped into the corridor to talk. Pryde looked tireder now. He had loosened the top button of his dark green shirt. His brown suit looked lived-in.
Thanks for sticking with it,' Rebus said, drawing over a chair. Thinking: I'd rather have had someone else, someone sharper…
`A couple of good eyewitnesses. They were waiting to cross at the lights.’
`What's their story?’
Pryde considered his reply. He knew he was dealing with a father as well as a cop. `She was crossing the road. Looked like she was heading down Minto Street, maybe making for the bus stop.’
Rebus shook his head. `She was walking, Bill. Going to a friend's in Gilmour Road.’
She'd said as much over the pizza, apologising that she couldn't stay longer. Just one more coffee at the end of the meal… one more coffee and she wouldn't have been there at that moment. Or if she'd accepted his offer of a lift… When you thought about life, you thought of it as chunks of time, but really all it was was a series of connected moments, any one of which could change you completely.
'The car was heading south out of town,' Pryde went on. `Looks like he ran a red light. Motorist sitting behind him seemed to think so.’
`Reckon he was drunk?’
Pryde nodded. `Way he was driving. I mean, could be he just lost control, but in that case why didn't he stop?’
Pryde shook his head. `We've got a dark car, a bit sporty. Nobody caught the licence plate.’
`It's a busy enough street, must've been other cars around.’
`A couple of people have called in.’
Pryde flicked through his notes. `Nothing helpful, but I'm going to interview them, see if I can jog a memory or two.’
`Could the car have been nicked? Maybe that's why he was in a hurry.’
`I can check.’
`I'll help you.’
Pryde considered this. `You sure?’
`Try and stop me, Bill.’
`No skid marks,' Pryde said, `no sign that he tried braking, either before or after.’
They were standing at the junction of Minto Street and Newington Road. The cross-streets were Salisbury Place and Salisbury Road. Cars, vans and buses queued at the traffic lights as pedestrians crossed the road.
It could have been any one of you, Rebus thought. Any one of them could have taken Sammy's place…
`She was about here,' Pryde went on, pointing to a spot where, just past the lights, a bus lane started. The carriageway was wide, a four-lane road. She hadn't crossed at the lights. She'd been lazy, carrying on down Minto Street a few strides, then crossing in a diagonal. When she'd been a child, they'd taught her about crossing the road. Green Cross Code, all of that. Drummed it into her. Rebus looked around. At the top of Minto Street were some private houses and Bed amp; Breakfasts. On one corner stood a bank, on another a branch of Remnant Kings, with a takeaway next door.
`The takeaway would have been open,' Rebus said, pointing. On the third corner stood a Spar. `That place, too. Where did you say she was?’
`The bus lane.’
She'd crossed three lanes, been only a yard or two from safety. `Witnesses say she was nearly at the kerb when he hit her. I think he was drunk, lost it for a second.’
Pryde nodded towards the bank. There were two phone boxes in front of it. ‘Witness called from there.’
The wall behind the phone boxes had a poster glued to it. Grinning maniac behind a steering-wheel, and some writing: `So many pedestrians, so little time'. A computer game…
`It would have been so easy to avoid her,' Rebus said quietly.
Rebus was sitting in his boss's office. It was nine-fifteen and he had slept for probably forty-five minutes the previous night. There'd been the hospital vigil and Sammy's operation: something about a blood clot. She was still unconscious, still `critical'. He'd called Rhona in London. She'd told him she'd catch the first train she could. He'd given her his mobile number, so she could let him know when she arrived. She'd started to ask… her voice had cracked. She'd put down the receiver. He'd tried to find some feeling for her. Richard and Linda Thompson: `Withered and Died'.
He'd called Mickey, who said he'd drop by the hospital some time today. And that was it for the family. There were other people he could call, people like Patience, who had been his lover for a time, and Sammy's landlady until far more recently. But he didn't. He knew in the morning he'd call the office where Sammy worked. He wrote it in his notebook so he wouldn't forget. And then he'd called Sammy's flat and given Ned Farlowe the news.
Farlowe had asked a question nobody else had: `How about you? Are you all right?’
Rebus had looked around the hospital corridor. `Not exactly.’
`I'll be right there.’
So they'd spent a couple of hours in one another's company, not really saying very much at first. Farlowe smoked, and Rebus helped him empty the pack. He couldn't reciprocate with whisky – there was nothing in the bottle – but he'd bought the young man several cups of coffee, since Farlowe had spent nearly all his money on the taxi from Shandon…
Rebus's boss was shaking him gently. Rebus blinked, straightened in his chair.
Chief Superintendent Watson went around the desk and sat down. `Hellish sorry to hear about Sammy. I don't really know what to say, except that she's in my prayers.’
`Thank you, sir.’
`Do you want some coffee?’
The Farmer's coffee had a reputation throughout the station, but Rebus accepted a mug gladly. `How is she anyway?’
`No sign of the car?’
`Not the last I heard.’
`Who's handling it?’
`Bill Pryde started the ball rolling last night. I don't know who's taken it from him.’
`I'll find out.’
The Farmer made an internal call, Rebus watching him over the rim of his mug. The Farmer was a big man, imposing behind a desk. His cheeks were a mass of tiny red veins and his thin hair lay across the dome of his head like the lines of a well-furrowed field. There were photos on his desk: grandchildren. The photos had been taken in a garden. There was a swing in the background. One of the children was holding a teddy bear. Rebus felt his throat start to ache, tried to choke it back.
The Farmer put down the receiver. `Bill's still on it,' he said. `Felt if he worked straight through we might get a quicker result.’
`That's good of him.’
`Look, we'll let you know the minute we get something, but meantime you'll probably want to go home…’
`Or to the hospital.’
Rebus nodded slowly. Yes, the hospital. But not right this minute. He had to talk to Bill Pryde first.
`And meantime, I'll reassign your cases.’
The Farmer started writing. `There's this War Crimes thing, and your liaison on Telford. Are you working on anything else?’
`Sir, I'd prefer it if you… I mean, I want to keep working.’
The Farmer looked at him, then leaned back in his chair, pen balanced between his fingers.
Rebus shrugged. `I want to keep busy.’
Yes, there was that. And `Sure you're okay? There's a cafe up the road.’
`I'm fine, Bill.’
He looked around, took a deep breath. `Looks like offices behind the Spar, doubtful anyone would have been there. But there are flats above Remnant Kings and the bank.’
`Want to talk to them?’
`And the Spar and the kebab shop. You take the B amp;Bs and the houses, meet back here in half an hour.’
Rebus talked to everyone he could find. In the Spar, there was a new shift on, but he got home phone numbers from the manager and called up the workers from the previous night. They hadn't seen or heard anything. First they'd known had been the flashing lights of the ambulance. The kebab shop was closed, but when Rebus banged on the door a woman came through from the back, wiping her hands on a tea-towel. He pressed his warrant card to the glass door, and she let him in. The shop had been busy last night. She didn't see the accident – she called it that, `the accident'. And that's what it was: the word really hadn't sunk in until she said it. Elvis Costello: `Accidents Will Happen'. Was the next line really `It's only hit and run'?
`No,' the woman said, `the first thing that caught my attention was the crowd. I mean, only three or four people, but I could see they were standing around something. And then the ambulance came. Will she be all right?’
The look in her eyes was one Rebus had encountered before. It almost wanted the victim dead, because then there was a story to be told.
`She's in hospital,' he said, unable to look at the woman any longer.
`Yes, but the paper said she's in a coma.’
She brought him the first edition of the day's Evening News. There was a paragraph on one of the inside pages – `Hit and Run Coma Victim'.
It wasn't a coma. She was unconscious, that was all. But Rebus was thankful for the story. Maybe someone would read it and come forward. Maybe guilt would begin to press down on the driver. Maybe there'd been a passenger… It was hard to keep secrets, usually you told someone.
He tried Remnant Kings, but of course they had been closed last night, so he climbed to the flats above. There was no one home at the first flat. He wrote a brief message on the back of a business card and pushed it through the letterbox, then jotted down the surname on the door. If they didn't call him, he'd call them. A young man answered the second door. He was just out of his teens and pushed a thick lock of black hair away from his eyes. He wore Buddy Holly glasses and had acne scars around his mouth. Rebus introduced himself. The hand went to the hair again, a backward glance into the flat.
`Do you live here?’ Rebus asked.
`Mm, yeah. Like, I'm not the owner. We rent it.’
There were no names on the door. `Anyone else in at the moment?’
`Are you all students?’
The young man nodded. Rebus asked his name.
`Rob. Robert Renton. What's this about?’
`There was an accident last night, Rob. A hit and run.’
So many times he'd been in this situation, passing on the bland news of another changed life. It was a whole hour since he'd telephoned the hospital. In the end, they'd taken his mobile number, said it might be easier if they phoned him whenever there was news. They meant easier for them, not him.
`Oh, yes,' Renton was saying, `I saw it.’
Rebus blinked. `You saw it?’
Renton was nodding, hair bobbing in front of his eyes. `From the window. I was up changing a CD, and -'
`Is it okay if I come in for a minute? I want to see what kind of view you had.’
Renton puffed out his cheeks, exhaled. `Well, I suppose…’
And Rebus was in.
The living-room was fairly tidy. Renton went ahead of him, crossed to where a hi-fi rack sat between two windows. `I was putting on a new CD, and I looked out of the window. You can see the bus stop, and I wondered if I might catch Jane coming off a bus.’
He paused. `Jane's Eric's girlfriend.’
The words washed over Rebus. He was looking down on the street, where Sammy had been walking. `Tell me what you saw.’
`This girl was crossing the road. She was nice-looking… I thought so anyway. Then this car came through the lights, swerved and sent her flying.’
Rebus closed his eyes for a second.
`She must have gone ten feet in the air, hit that hedge, bounced back on to the pavement. She didn't move after that.’
Rebus opened his eyes. He was at the window, Renton standing just behind his left shoulder. Down on the street, people were crossing the road, walking over the spot where Sammy had been hit, the spot where she'd landed. Flicking ash on to the pavement where she'd lain.
`I don't suppose you saw the driver?’
`Not from this angle.’
He wears glasses, Rebus thought. How reliable is he? `When you saw it happen, you didn't go down?’
`I'm not a medical student or anything.’
He nodded towards an easel in the corner, and Rebus noticed a shelf of paints and brushes. `Someone ran to the phone box, so I knew help was coming.’
Rebus nodded. `Anyone else see it?’
`They were in the kitchen.’
Renton paused. `I know what you're thinking.’
Rebus doubted it. `You're thinking I wear specs, so maybe I didn't see it right. But he definitely swerved. You know… deliberately. I mean, like he was aiming for her.’
He nodded to himself.
`Aiming for her?’
Renton made a movement with his hand, imitating a car gliding off one course and on to another. `He steered straight for her.’
`The car didn't lose control?’
`That would have been jerkier, wouldn't it?’
`What colour was the car?’
`And the make?’
Renton shrugged. `I'm hopeless with cars. Tell you what though…’
Renton took off his glasses, started polishing them. `Why don't I try sketching it for you?’
He moved the easel over to the window and got to work. Rebus went into the hall and called the hospital. The person he got through to didn't sound too surprised.
`No change, I'm afraid. She's got a couple of visitors with her.’
Mickey and Rhona. Rebus terminated the call, made another to Pryde's mobile.
`I'm in one of the flats over Remnant Kings. I've got an eyewitness.’
`He saw the whole thing. And he's an art student.’
`Come on, Bill. Do you want me to draw it for you?’
There was silence for a moment, then Pryde said `Ah'.
Rebus held the mobile to his ear as he walked through the hospital.
`Joe Herdman's put together a list,' Bill Pryde was saying. `Rover 600 series, the newer Ford Mondeos, Toyota Celica, plus a couple of Nissans. Rank outsider is the BMW 5-series.’
`It narrows things down a bit, I suppose.’
`Joe says the Rover, Mondeo and Celica are favourites. He's given me a few more details – chrome around the numberplates, stuff like that. I'm going to call our artist friend, see if anything clicks.’
A nurse was glaring at Rebus as he walked towards her.
`Let me know what he says. Talk to you later, Bill.’
Rebus slipped the phone back into his pocket.
`You're not supposed to use those things in here,' the nurse snapped.
`Look, I'm in a bit of a hurry…’
`They can interfere with the machines.’
Rebus pulled up, colour leaving his face. `I forgot,' he said. He put a shaking hand to his forehead.
`Are you all right?’
`Fine, fine. Look, I won't do it again, okay?’
He started to move off. `You can rely on that.’
Rebus took a photocopy of Renton 's drawing from his pocket. Joe Herdman was a desk sergeant who knew everything about cars. He'd been useful before, turning a vague description into something more concrete. Rebus looked at the drawing as he walked. All the details were there: buildings in the background, the hedge, the onlookers. And Sammy, caught at the point of impact. She'd half-turned, was' stretching out her hands as if she could push the car to a stop. But Renton had drawn fine lines issuing from the back of the car, representing the air being pushed, representing speed. Where there should have been a face, he had left a blank oval. The back half of the car was very clearly defined, the front a blur of disappearing perspective. Renton said he'd left out anything he couldn't be sure of. He promised he hadn't let his imagination fill in the blanks.
It was the face, or the lack of it… it disturbed Rebus more than anything else in the picture. He drew himself into the scene, wondered what he'd have done. Would he have concentrated on the car, caught its licence plate? Or would his attention have been focused on Sammy? Which would have prevailed: cop instincts or fatherhood? Someone at the station had said, `Don't worry, we'll get him.’
Not, `Don't worry, she'll be all right.’
Which brought it all down to two things: him – meaning the driver – and retribution, rather than her – the victim – and recovery.
`I'd just have been another witness,' Rebus said quietly. Then he folded the drawing and put it away.
Sammy had a room to herself, all tubes and machinery, the way he'd seen it in films and on TV. Only here the room was dingier, paint flaking from the walls and around the window-frames. The chairs had metal legs and rubber feet and moulded plastic seats. A woman rose as he came in. They embraced. He kissed the side of her forehead.
Aiming for her. Didn't anyone say that? `Hello, Rhona.’
She looked tired, of course, but her hair was stylishly cut and dyed the colour of a dull golden harvest. Her clothes were smart and she wore jewellery. He studied her eyes. Their colour was wrong. Coloured contacts. Not even her eyes were going to betray her past.
`Christ, Rhona, I'm sorry.’
He was whispering, not wanting to disturb Sammy. Which was ludicrous, because right now all he wanted in the world was for her to wake up.
`How is she?’ he asked.
`Much the same.’
Mickey stood up. There were three chairs arranged in a sort of semi-circle. Mickey and Rhona had been sitting with an empty chair between them. As Rhona broke from Rebus's embrace, his brother took her place.
`This is so fucking awful,' Mickey said, his voice low. He looked the same as ever: a party animal who'd stopped getting the invites.
Niceties dispensed with, Rebus went to Sammy's bedside. Her face was still bruised, and now he could place the probable cause of each abrasion: hedge, wall, pavement. One leg was broken, both arms heavily bandaged. A teddy bear, missing one ear, lay by her head. Rebus smiled.
`You brought Pa Broon.’
`Do they know yet if there's any…?’
His eyes were on Sammy as he spoke.
Rhona wanted him to spell it out. No hiding place.
`Brain damage,' he said.
`Nobody's told us anything,' she said, sounding snubbed.
Aiming for her. Didn't anyone say that? No, none of the other onlookers had even hinted as much, but then they hadn't had Renton 's grandstand view.
`Has nobody been in?’
`Not since I got here.’
`And I was here before Rhona,' Mickey added. `Haven't seen a soul.’
It was enough. Rebus strode from the room. A doctor and two nurses were standing chatting at the end of the corridor. One of the nurses was leaning against a wall.
`What's going on?’
Rebus exploded. `Nobody's been near my daughter all morning!' The doctor was young, male. Blond hair cut short with a parting.
`We're doing everything we can.’
`What does that mean?’
`I can appreciate that you're -' `Fuck you, pal. Why hasn't the big man been to look at her? Why's she just lying there like a -' Rebus choked back the words.
`Your daughter was seen by two specialists this morning,' the doctor said quietly. `We're waiting for some test results to determine whether to operate again. There's some brain swelling. The tests take a little time to process, there's nothing we can do about it.’
Rebus felt cheated: still angry, but nothing to feel angry about, not here. He nodded, turned away.
Back in the room, he explained the situation to Rhona. A suitcase and large holdall were sitting behind one of the machines.
`Listen,' he told her, `it'd make sense if you stayed at the flat. It's only ten minutes away, and I could let you have the car.’
She was shaking her head. `We're booked into the Sheraton.’
`The flat's nearer, and I tend not to charge…’
We? Rebus looked at Mickey, whose eyes were on the bed. Then the door opened and a man came in. Short, thickly built, breathing hard. He was rubbing his hands to let everyone know he'd been to the toilet. Loose folds of flesh furrowed his brow and bulged from his shirt collar. His hair was thick and black, like an oil-slick. He stopped when he saw Rebus.
`John,' Rhona said, `this is a friend of mine, Jackie.’
'Jackie Platt,' the man said, reaching out a plump hand.
`When Jackie heard, he insisted on driving me up.’
Platt shrugged, his head almost disappearing into his shoulders. `Couldn't have her training it up on her ownio.’
`Hell of a drive,' Mickey said, his tone hinting at repetition.
`Could have done without the roadworks,' Jackie Platt agreed. Rebus's eyes caught Rhona's; she looked away quickly, dodging reproach.
To Rebus, this bulk didn't belong. It was as if a character had wandered on to the wrong set. Platt hadn't been in the script.
`She looks so peaceful, don't she?’ the Londoner was saying, making for the bed. He touched her arm, Sammy's bandaged arm, grazing it with the back of his hand. Rebus's fingernails dug into his palms.
Then Platt yawned. `You know, Rhona, it might not be good manners, but I think I'm about to crash. See you back at the hotel?’
She nodded, relieved. Platt picked up the suitcase. As he passed her, his hand went into his trouser pocket, came out with a fold of banknotes.
`Get a cab back, all right?’
`All right, Jackie. See you later.’
And he squeezed her hand. `Take care, Mickey. All the best, John.’
A huge, face-creasing wink, then he was gone. They waited in silence for a few seconds. Rhona held up her free hand, the one without the wad of notes.
`Not a word, okay?’
`Furthest thing from my mind,' Rebus said, sitting down. `"Think I'm about to crash". Tactful or what?’
`Come on, Johnny,' Mickey said. Johnny: only Mickey could do that, using the name so that the years fell from both of them. Rebus looked at his brother and smiled. Mickey was a therapist by profession; he knew the things to say.
`Why the cases?’ Rebus asked Rhona.
`You're going to a hotel, why not leave them in his car?’
`I thought about staying here. They said I could if I wanted to. Only then I saw her… and I changed my mind.’
Tears started down her face, smudging already-smudged mascara. Mickey had a handkerchief ready.
`John, what if she…? Oh, Jesus Christ, why did this have to happen?’
She was wailing now. Rebus went over to her chair, crouched in front of it, his hands resting on hers. `She's all we've got, John. She's all we ever had.’
`She's still here, Rhona. She's right here.’
'But why her? Why Samantha?’
`I'll ask him when I find him, Rhona.’
He kissed her hair, his eyes on Mickey. `And believe me, I'm going to find him.’
Later, when Ned Farlowe visited, Rebus took him outside. There was drizzle falling, but the air felt good.
`One of the eye-witnesses,' Rebus said, `thinks it was deliberate.’
`I don't understand.’
`He thinks the driver meant to hit Sammy.’
`I still don't get it.’
`Look, there are two scenarios. One, he was intent on hitting a pedestrian, and anyone would have done. Two, Sammy was his target. He'd been following her, saw his chance when she crossed the road, only the lights were against him so he had to jump them. Then she was so close to the kerb he had to switch lanes.’
Rebus stared at him. `This is Sammy's dad and her lover, right? For the purposes of what follows, I want you to stop being a reporter.’
Farlowe stared back, nodded slowly.
`I've had a few run-ins with Tommy Telford,' Rebus said. He was seeing teddy bears: Pa Broon, and the one Telford kept in his car. `This might have been a message for me.’
Telford or Tarawicz: flip a coin. `Or for you, if you've been asking questions about Telford.’
`You think my book…’
`I'm keeping an open mind. I've been working the Lintz case… and so have you.’
`Someone warning us off Lintz?’
Rebus thought of Abernethy, shrugged. `Then there's Sammy's job, working with ex-cons. Maybe one of them had a grudge.’
`She hadn't mentioned anyone following her? Nobody odd in the area?’
Same question he'd put to the Petrecs, only different victim…
Farlowe shook his head. `Look,' he said, `until five minutes ago I thought this was an accident. Now you're saying it was attempted murder. Are you sure?’
`I'm trusting a witness.’
But he knew what Bill Pryde thought: a drunk driver, a crazy man. And a grandstand spectator who wore glasses and had read it wrong. He took out the drawing again.
Rebus handed it over. `This is what someone saw last night.’
`What kind of car is it?’
`Rover 600, Ford Mondeo, something like that. Dark green. Ring any bells?’
Ned Farlowe shook his head, then looked at Rebus. `Let me help. I can ask around.’
`One kid in a coma's enough.’
The rest of the office had packed up and gone home. Now there were only Rebus and Sammy's boss, a woman called Mae Crumley. The light from half a dozen desk-lamps illuminated the haphazard office, which was on the top floor of an old four-storey building off Palmerston Place. Rebus knew Palmerston Place: there was a church there where the AA held meetings. He'd been to a couple. He could still taste whisky at the back of his throat. Not that he'd had any so far today, not in daylight hours. But then he hadn't phoned Jack Morton either.
The address might have been posher than Rebus was expecting, but the accommodation was cramped. The office was in the eaves of the building, so that you couldn't stand up in half the available space, which hadn't stopped desks being sited in the most awkward corners.
`Which is hers?’ Rebus asked.
Mae Crumley pointed to the desk next to her own. There was a computer there somewhere, but only its screen was showing. Loose sheets of paper, books and pamphlets and reports, the whole lot spilled on to the chair and from there down on to the floor.
`She works too hard,' Crumley said. `We all do.’
Rebus sipped the coffee she'd made him. Cafe Hag.
`When Sammy came here,' she went on, `the first thing she said was that her father was CID. She never tried to hide it.’
`And you'd no qualms about taking her on?’
`None at all.’
Crumley folded her arms. They were big arms; she was a big woman. Her hair was a fiery red, long and frizzy and tied back with a black ribbon. She wore an oatmeal linen shirt with a denim jacket over the top of it. Her eyebrows had been plucked into thin arches over pale grey eyes. Her desk was relatively tidy, but only, as she'd explained to Rebus, because she tended to stay later than anyone else.
`What about her clients?’ Rebus asked. `Could any of them have held a grudge?’
`Against her or against you?’
`Against me through her.’
Crumley considered this. `To the extent that they'd run her over just to make a point? I very much doubt it.’
`I'd be interested to see her client list.’
She shook her head. `Look… you shouldn't be doing this. It's too personal, you know that. I mean, who am I talking to here: Sammy's father, or a copper?’
`You think I've a score to settle?’
`Well haven't you?’
Rebus put down the coffee mug. `Maybe.’
`And that's why you shouldn't be doing this.’
She sighed. `Number one on my wish list: Sammy back on her feet and back here. But what about if meantime I do a bit of poking around? I stand a better chance of getting them to talk than you do.’
Rebus nodded. `I'd appreciate that.’
He got to his feet. `Thanks for the coffee.’
Outside, he checked the list the juice Church had given him. He kept it in his pocket, didn't refer to it often. There was a meeting at Palmerston Place in about an hour and a half. No good. He knew he'd spend the time beforehand in a pub. Jack Morton had introduced him to Al-Anon, but Rebus hadn't really taken to it, though the stories had affected him.
`See,' one man had told the group, `I had problems at work, problems with my wife, my kids. I had money problems and health problems and everything else. Practically the only problem I didn't have was with the drink. And that's because I was a drunk.’
Rebus lit himself a cigarette and drove home.
He sat in his chair and thought about Rhona. They'd shared so much over so many years… and then it had all stopped. He'd chosen his job over his marriage, and that could not be forgiven. Last time he'd seen her had been in London, wearing her new life like armour. Nobody had warned him about Jackie Platt. His phone rang, and he snatched it from the floor.
Pryde sounded halfway to excited, which was as far as he ever ventured.
`What have you got?’
`Dark green Rover 600 – I think the owner called it "Sherwood Green" – stolen yesterday evening about an hour before the collision.’
`Metered parking on George Street.’
`What do you reckon?’
`My advice is, keep an open mind. Having said that, at least now we've got a licence plate. Owner reported it at sixforty last night. It hasn't turned up anywhere, so I've upped the alert status.’
`Give me the reg.’
Pryde read out the letters and numbers. Rebus thanked him and put down the phone. He was thinking of Danny Simpson, dumped outside Fascination Street around the time Sammy was being hit. Coincidence? Or a double message, Telford and Rebus. Which put Big Ger Cafferty in the frame. He called the hospital, was told there was no change. Farlowe was in visiting. The nurse said he had his laptop with him.
Rebus recalled Sammy growing up – a series of isolated images. He hadn't been there for her. He saw her in a series of fast jerky impressions, as if the film had been spliced. He tried not to think about the hell she had gone through at the hands of Gordon Reeve…
He saw good people doing bad things and bad people doing good, and he tried dividing the two into groups. He saw Candice and Tommy Telford and Mr Pink Eyes. And encompassing it all, he saw Edinburgh. He saw the mass of the people just getting on with their lives, and he saluted them. They knew things and felt things, things he'd never feel. He used to think he knew things. As a kid, he'd known everything. Now he knew differently. The only thing you could be sure of was the inside of your head, and even that could deceive you. I don't even know myself, he thought. So how could he ever hope to know Sammy? And with each year, he understood less.
He thought of the Oxford Bar. Even on the wagon, he'd stayed a regular, drinking cola and mugs of coffee. A pub like the Ox was about so much more than just the hooch. It was therapy and refuge, entertainment and art. He checked his watch, thinking he could head down there now. Just a couple of whiskies and a beer, something to make him feel good about himself until the morning.
The phone rang again. He picked it up.
`Evening, John.’ Rebus smiled, leaned back in his chair. `Jack, you must be a bloody mind reader…’
Mid-morning, Rebus walked through the cemetery. He'd been to the hospital to check on Sammy – no change. Now, he felt he had time to kill…
`A bit cooler today, Inspector.’
Joseph Lintz rose from his knees and pushed his glasses back up to the bridge of his nose. There were damp patches on his trousers from where he'd been kneeling. He dropped his trowel on to a white polythene bag. Beside the bag stood pots of small green plants. `Won't the frost get them?’
Rebus asked. Lintz shrugged.
`It gets all of us, but we're allowed to bloom for a while.’
Rebus turned away. Today, he wasn't in the mood for games. Warriston Cemetery was vast. In the past, it had been a history lesson to Rebus – headstones telling the story of nineteenth-century Edinburgh – but now he found it a jarring reminder of mortality. They were the only living souls in the place. Lintz had pulled out a handkerchief.
`More questions?’ he asked.
`Truth is, Mr Lintz, I've got other things on my mind.’
The old man looked at him. `Maybe all this archaeology is beginning to bore you, Inspector?’
`I still don't get it, planting things before the first frost?’
`Well, I can't plant very much afterwards, can I? And at my age… any day now I could be lying in the ground. I like to think there might be a few flowers surviving above me.’
He'd lived in Scotand the best part of half a century, but there was still something lurking beneath the local accent, peculiarities of phrasing and tone that would be with Joseph Lintz until he died, reminders of his far less recent history.
`So,' he said now, `no questions today?’
Rebus shook his head. `You're right, Inspector, you do seem preoccupied. Is it something I can help with?’
`In what way?’
`I don't really know. But you've come here, questions or no. I take it there's a reason?’
A dog was bounding through the long grass, crunching on the fallen leaves, nose brushing the ground. It was a yellow Labrador, short-haired and overweight. Lintz turned towards it and almost growled. Dogs were the enemy.
`I was just wondering,' Rebus was saying, `what you're capable of.’
Lintz looked puzzled. The dog began to paw at the ground. Lintz reached down, picked up a stone, and hurled it. It didn't reach the dog. The Labrador's owner was rounding the corner. He was young, crop-haired and skinny.
`That thing should be kept on its lead!' Lintz roared.
`Jawohl!' the owner snapped back, clicking his heels. He was laughing as he passed them.
`I am a famous man now,' Lintz reflected, back to his old self after the outburst. `Thanks to the newspapers.’
He looked up at the sky, blinked. `People send me hate by the Royal Mail. A car was parked outside my home the other night… they put a brick through the windscreen. It wasn't my car, but they didn't know that. Now my neighbours keep clear of that spot, just in case.’
He spoke like the old man he was, a little tired, a little defeated.
`This is the worst year of my life.’
He stared down at the border he'd been tending. The earth, newly turned, looked dark and rich, like crumbs of chocolate cake. A few worms and wood lice had been disturbed and were still looking for their old homes. `And it's going to get worse, isn't it?’
Rebus shrugged. His feet were cold, the damp seeping in through his shoes. He was standing on the rough roadway, Lintz six inches above him on the grass. And still Lintz didn't reach his height. A little old man: that's what he was. And Rebus could study him, talk with him, go to his home and see what few photographs remained according to Lintz – from the old days.
`What did you mean back there?’ he said. `What was it you said? Something about what I was capable of?’
Rebus stared at him. `It's okay, the dog just showed me.’
`Showed you what?’
`What you're like with the enemy.’
Lintz smiled. `I don't like dogs, it's true. Don't read too much into it, Inspector. That's the journalists' job.’
`Your life would be easier without dogs, wouldn't it?’
Lintz shrugged. `Of course.’
`And easier without me, too?’
Lintz frowned. `If it weren't you, it would be someone else, a boor like your Inspector Abernethy.’
`What do you think he was telling you?’
Lintz blinked. `I'm not sure. Someone else came to see me. A man called Levy. I refused to talk to him – one privilege still open to me.’
Rebus shuffled his feet, trying to get some warmth into them. `I have a daughter, did I ever tell you that?’
Lintz looked baffled. `You might have mentioned it.’
`You know I have a daughter?’
`Yes… I mean, I think I knew before today.’
`Well, Mr Lintz, the night before last, someone tried to kill her, or at least do her some serious damage. She's in hospital, still unconscious. And that bothers me.’
`I'm so sorry. How did it…? I mean, how do you…?’
'I think maybe someone was trying to send me a message.’
Lintz's eyes widened. `And you believe me capable of such a thing? My God, I thought we had come to understand one another, at least a little.’
Rebus was wondering. He was wondering how easy it would be to put on an act, when you'd spent half a century practising. He was wondering how easy it would be to steel yourself to killing an innocent… or at least ordering their death. All it took was an order. A few words to someone else who would carry out your bidding. Maybe Lintz had it in him. Maybe it wouldn't be any more difficult than it had been for Josef Linzstek.
`Something you should know,' Rebus said. `Threats don't scare me off. Quite the opposite.’
`It's good that you are so strong.’
Rebus looked for meaning behind the words. `I'm on my way home. Can I offer you some tea?’
Rebus drove, and then sat in the drawing-room while Lintz busied himself in the kitchen. Started flicking through a pile of books on a desk.
`Ancient History, Inspector,' Lintz said, bringing in the tray – he always refused offers of help. `Another hobby of mine. I'm fascinated by that intersection at which history and fiction meet.’
The books were all about Babylonia. `Babylon is an historical fact, you see, but what about the Tower of Babel?’
`A song by Elton John?’ Rebus offered.
`Always making jokes.’ Lintz looked up. `What is it you're afraid of?’
Rebus took one of the cups. `I've heard of the Gardens of Babylon,' he admitted, putting the book down. `What other hobbies do you have?’
`Astrology, hauntings, the unknown.’
`Have you ever been haunted?’
Lintz seemed amused. `No.’
`Would you like to be?’
`By seven hundred French villagers? No, Inspector, I wouldn't like that at all. It was astrology that first brought me to the Chaldeans. They came from Babylonia. Have you ever heard of Babylonian numbers…?’
Lintz had a way of turning conversations in directions he wanted them to take. Rebus wasn't going to be deflected this time. He waited till Lintz had the cup to his lips.
`Did you try to kill my daughter?’
Lintz paused, then sipped, swallowed.
`No, Inspector,' he said quietly.
Which left Telford, Tarawicz and Cafferty. Rebus thought of Telford, surrounded by his Family but wanting to play with the big boys. How different was a gang war from any other kind? You had soldiers, and orders given to them. They had to prove themselves, or lose face, show themselves cowards. Shoot a civilian, run down a pedestrian. Rebus realised that he didn't want the driver as such he wanted the person who'd driven them to do it. Lintz's defence of Linzstek was that the young lieutenant had been under orders, that war itself was the real culprit, as though humans had no say in the matter…
`Inspector,' the old man was saying, `do you think I'm Linzstek?’
Rebus nodded. `I know you are.’
A wry smile. `Then arrest me.’
`Here comes the blue-nose,' Father Conor Leary said. `Out to steal Ireland's God-given Guinness.’
He paused, eyes narrowing. `Or are you still on that abstention kick?’
`I'm trying,' Rebus said.
`Well, I won't tempt you then.’
Leary smiled. `But you know me, John. I'm not one to judge, but a wee drop never harmed a soul.’
`Problem is, you put lots of wee drops together and you get a bloody big fall.’
Father Leary laughed. `But aren't we all the fallen? Come away in.’
Father Leary was priest of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Years back, someone had defaced the board outside to turn `Help' into `Hell'. The board had been corrected many times, but Rebus always thought of the place as `Perpetual Hell': it was what the followers of Knox and Calvin would have believed. Father Leary took him through to the kitchen.
`Here, man, sit yourself down. I haven't seen you in so long, I thought you'd renounced me.’
He went to the fridge and lifted out a can of Guinness.
`Are you operating a pharmacy on the side?’
Rebus asked. Father Leary looked at him. Rebus nodded towards the fridge. `The shelves of medicine.’
Father Leary rolled his eyes. `At my age, you go to the doctor with angina and they dose you for every conceivable ailment. They think it makes old folk feel better.’
He brought a glass to the table, placed it next to his can. Rebus felt a hand fall on his shoulder.
`I'm hellish sorry about Sammy.’
`How did you hear?’
`Her name was in one of the rags this morning.’
Father Leary sat down. `Hit and run, they said.’
`Hit and run,' Rebus echoed.
Father Leary shook his head wearily, one hand rubbing slowly over his chest. He was probably in his late-sixties, though he'd never said Well-built, with a thatch of silver hair. Tufts of grey sprouted from his ears, nose and dog-collar. His hand seemed to smother the can of Guinness. But when he poured, he poured gently, almost with reverence.
`It's a terrible thing,' he said quietly. `Coma, is it?’
`Not until the doctors say so.’ Rebus cleared his throat. `It's only been a day and a half.’
`You know what we believers say,' Father Leary went on. `When something like this happens, it's a test for all of us. It's a way of making us stronger.’
The head on his Guinness was perfect. He took a swallow, licked his lips thoughtfully. `That's what we say; it may not be what we think.’
He looked into his drink.
`It didn't make me strong. I went back to the whisky.’
`I can understand that.’
`Until a friend reminded me it was the lazy way out, the cowardly way.) 'And who's to say he's not right?’
`"Faint-Heart and the Sermon",' Rebus said with a smile.
`A song. But maybe it's us, too.’
`Get away, we're just two old boys having a natter. So how are you holding up, John?’
`I don't know.’
He paused. `I don't think it was an accident. And the man I think is behind it… Sammy isn't the first woman he's tried to destroy.’
Rebus looked into the priest's eyes. `I want to kill him.’
`But so far you haven't?’
`I haven't even talked to him.’
`Because you're worried what you might do?’
`Or not do.’
Rebus's mobile sounded. He gave a look of apology and switched it on.
`John, it's Bill.’
`Green Rover 600.2 'Yes?’
`We've got it.’
The car had been parked illegally on the street outside Piershill Cemetery. There was a parking ticket on its windscreen, dated the previous afternoon. If anyone had checked, they'd have found the driver's-side door unlocked. Maybe someone had: the car was empty, no coins, no map-books or cassettes. The fascia had been removed from the radio/cassette. There were no keys in the ignition. A car transporter had arrived, and the Rover was being winched aboard.
`I called in a favour at Howdenhall,' Bill Pryde was saying, `they've promised to fingerprint it today.’
Rebus was studying the front passenger side. No dents, nothing to suggest this car had been used as a battering ram against his daughter.
`I think maybe we need your permission, John.’
`Someone should go to the Infirmary and print Sammy.’
Rebus stared at the front of the car, then got out the drawing. Yes, she'd put out a hand. Her prints might be there, invisible to him.
`Sure,' he said. `No problem. You think this is it?’
`I'll tell you once we print it.’
`You steal a car,' Rebus said, `then you hit someone with it, and leave it a couple of miles away.’
He looked around. `Ever been on this street before?’
Pryde shook his head. `Me neither.’
`I'm wondering why they stole it in the first place.’
`Stick false plates on and sell it,' Pryde suggested. `Spot of joyriding maybe.’
`Joy-riders don't leave cars looking like this.’
`No, but they'd had a fright. They'd just knocked someone down.’
`And they drove all the way over here before deciding to dump it?, 'Maybe it was stolen for a job, turn over a petrol station. Then they hit Sammy and decide to jump ship. Maybe the job was this side of town.’
`Or Sammy was the job.’
Pryde put a hand on his shoulder. `Let's see what the boffins turn up, eh?’
Rebus looked at him. `You don't go for it?’
`Look, it's a feeling you've got, and that's fair enough, but right now all you've got is that student's word for it. There were other witnesses, John, and I asked them all again, and they told me the same thing: it looked like the driver lost control, that's all.’
There was an edge of irritation to Pryde's voice. Rebus knew why: long hours.
`Will Howdenhall let you know tonight?’
`They promised. And I'll phone you straight away, okay?’
`On my mobile,' Rebus said. `I'm going to be on the move.’
He looked around. `There was something about Piershill Cemetery recently, wasn't there?’
'Kids,' Pryde said, nodding. `They pushed over a load of gravestones.’
Rebus remembered now. `Just the Jewish headstones, wasn't it?’
`I think so.’
And there, sprayed on the wall near the gates, the same piece of graffiti: Won't Anyone Help?
It was late evening, and Rebus was driving. Not the M90 into Fife: tonight, he was on the M8, heading west, heading for Glasgow. He'd spent half an hour at the hospital, followed by an hour and a half with Rhona and Jackie Platt, their guest for dinner at the Sheraton. He'd worn a fresh suit and shirt. He hadn't smoked. He'd drunk a bottle of Highland Spring.
They were planning yet more tests on Sammy. The neurologist had taken them into his office and talked them through the procedures. There would probably be another operation at the end of it. Rebus could barely remember what the man had said. Rhona had asked for the occasional explanation, but these seemed no more lucid than what had gone before.
Dinner had been a subdued affair. Jackie Platt, it turned out, sold second-hand cars.
`See, John, where I really score is the obituaries. Check the local paper, hare round there and see if they've left a car behind. Quick cash offer.’
'Sammy doesn't drive, sorry,' Rebus had said, causing Rhona to drop her cutlery on to her plate.
At the end of the meal, she'd seen him out to his car, gripped one of his arms hard.
`Get the bastard, John. I want to look him in the face. Just get the bastard who did this to us.’
Her eyes were blazing.
He nodded. Stones: `Just Wanna See His Face'. Rebus wanted it, too.
The M8, which could be a nightmare at rush-hour, was a quiet drive in the evenings. Rebus knew he was making good time, and that he would soon see the outline of the Easterhouse estate against the sky. When his phone sounded, he didn't hear it at first: blame Wishbone Ash. As Argus finished, he picked up.
`John, it's Bill.’
`What've you got?’
`Forensics were good as gold. There are prints all over the car, interior and exterior. Several sets.’
He paused, and Rebus thought the connection had gone. `One good palm and finger set on the front of the bonnet…’
`So we've got our car.’
`The owner's given us a set so we can eliminate him. When we've done that…’
`We're still not home and dry, Bill. The car sat unlocked outside that cemetery, we don't know someone didn't clean it out.’
`Owner says the radio/cassette fascia was there when he left it. Also half a dozen tapes, a packet of Paracetamol, receipts for petrol and a road map. So someone cleaned it out, whether it's the bastard we want or just some scavenger.’
`At least we know it's the car.’
`I'll check again with Howdenhall tomorrow, collect any other prints and start trying to match them. Plus I'll ask around Piershill, see if anyone saw someone dumping it.’
`Meantime get some sleep, eh?’
`Try and stop me. What about you?’
Two cups of espresso after dinner. And with the knowledge of what lay ahead. `I'll get my head down soon enough, Bill. Talk to you tomorrow.’
On the outskirts of Glasgow, headed for Barlinnie Prison.
He'd phoned ahead, made sure they were expecting him. It was way outside any visiting hours, but Rebus had made up a story about a murder inquiry. `Follow-up questions,' was what he'd said.
`At this time of night?’
`Lothian and Borders Police, pal. Motto: Justice Never Sleeps.’
Morris Gerald Cafferty probably didn't sleep much either. Rebus imagined him lying awake at night, hands under his head, staring into the darkness.
Running things through his mind: how to keep his empire from falling, how best to combat threats like Tommy Telford. Rebus knew that Cafferty employed a lawyer – a middle-aged pinstripe from the New Town – to carry messages back to his gang in Edinburgh. He thought of Charles Groal, Telford's lawyer. Groal was young and sharp, like his paymaster.
He was waiting in the Interview Room, arms folded, chair set well away from the table. And of course his opening gambit was his nickname for Rebus.
`A lovely surprise, two visits in a week. Don't tell me you've another message from the Pole?’
Rebus sat down opposite Cafferty. 'Tarawicz isn't Polish.’
He glanced towards the guard who stood by the door, lowered his voice. `Another of Telford's boys got a doing.’
`He was all but scalped. Are you looking for war?’
Cafferty drew his chair in to the table, leaned across towards Rebus. `I've never backed down from a fight.’
`My daughter got hurt. Funny that, so soon after we'd had our little chat.’
`Hit and run.’
Cafferty was thoughtful. `I don't pick on civilians.’
Yes, Rebus thought, but she wasn't a civilian, because he had lured her on to the battlefield.
`Convince me,' Rebus said.
`Why should I bother?’
`The conversation we had… What you asked me to do.’
A whisper. Cafferty sat back for a moment to consider. When he leaned forward again, his eyes bored into Rebus's. `There's something you've forgotten. I lost a son, remember. Think I could do that to another father? I'd do a lot of things, Rebus, but not that, never that.’
Rebus held the stare. `All right,' he said.
`You want me to find who did it?’
Rebus nodded slowly.
`That's your price?’
Rhona's words: I want to look him in the face.
Rebus shook his head. `I want them delivered to me. I want you to do that, whatever it takes.’
Cafferty placed his hands on his knees, seemed to take his time positioning them just so. `You know it's probably Telford?’
`Yes. If it's not you.’
`You'll be going after him then?’
`Any way I can.’
Cafferty smiled. `But your ways aren't my ways.’
`You might get to him first. I want him alive.’
`And meantime, you're my man?’
Rebus stared at him. `I'm your man,' he said.
Rebus got a phone call early the next morning from Leith CID, telling him Joseph Lintz was dead. The bad news was, it looked like murder: the body found hanging from a tree in Warriston Cemetery.
By the time Rebus appeared at the scene, they were cordoning it off, the doctor having concluded that most suicides wouldn't have bothered administering a violent blow to their own head before commencing with operations.
The corpse of Joseph Lintz was being zipped into a body bag. Rebus got a look at the face. He'd seen elderly corpses before, and mostly they'd looked wonderfully at peace, their faces shiny and child-like. But Joseph Lintz looked like he'd suffered. He didn't look to be at rest at all.
`You'll have come to thank us, no doubt,' a man said, walking towards Rebus. His shoulders were hunched inside a navy raincoat and he walked with head bowed, hands in pockets. His hair was thick and silver and wiry, his skin an almost jaundiced yellow – the remains of an autumn holiday tan.
`Hiya, Bobby,' Rebus said.
Bobby Hogan was Leith CID.
`To get back to my initial observation, John…’
`What am I supposed to be thanking you for?’
Hogan nodded towards the body bag. `Taking Mr Lintz off your hands. `Don't tell me you were enjoying digging into all that?’
`Any idea who might have wanted him dead?’
Rebus puffed out his cheeks. `Where do you want me to start?’
`I mean, I'm right to rule out the usual, aren't I?’
Hogan held up three fingers. `It wasn't suicide, muggers aren't quite this creative, and it surely wasn't an accident.’
`Someone was making a point, no doubt about it.’
`But what sort of point?’
Scene of Crime officers were busying themselves, filling the locus with noise and movement. Rebus gestured for Hogan to walk with him. They were deep in the cemetery, the part Lintz had loved so much. As they walked, the place grew wilder, more overgrown.
`I was here with him yesterday morning,' Rebus said. `I don't know if he had a routine exactly, but he came here most days.’
`We found a bag of gardening tools.’
`He planted flowers.’
`So if someone knew he'd be coming, they could have been waiting?’
Rebus nodded. `An assassination.’
Hogan was thoughtful. `Why hang him?’
`It's what happened at Villefranche. The town elders were strung up in the square.’
Hogan stopped walking. `I know you've got other stuff on the go, but can you help out on this, John?’
`Any way I can.’
`A list of possibles would do for a start.’
`How about an old woman living in France, and a Jewish historian who walks with a stick?’
`Is that all you've got?’
`Well, there's always me. Yesterday I as good as accused him of trying to kill my daughter.’ Hogan stared at him. `I don't think he did it.’
Rebus paused, thinking of Sammy: he'd called the hospital first thing. She was still unconscious; they still weren't using the word `coma'. `One more thing,' he said. `Special Branch, a guy called Abernethy. He was here talking to Lintz.’
`What's the connection?’
'Abernethy's co-ordinating the various war crimes investigations. He's street-tough, not your typical desk-jockey.’
`A strange choice for the job?’
Rebus nodded. `Which hardly makes him a suspect.’
`I'm doing my best, Bobby. We could check Lintz's house, see if we can turn up any of the hate mail he claimed he'd been getting.’
Rebus shrugged. `You were never sure where you were with Lintz. Do you have any idea what happened?’
`From what you've told me, I'd guess he came down here as usual to do his gardening stint – he's certainly dressed for it. Someone was waiting. They smacked him over the head, stuck his neck in a noose, and hauled him up into the tree. The rope was tied around a headstone.’
`Did the hanging kill him?’
`Doctor says yes. Haemorrhages in the eyes. What do you call them?’
`That's it. The blow to the head was just to knock him out. Something else – bruising and cuts on the face. Looks like someone kicked him when he was down.’
`Knock him cold, thump him in the face, then string him up.’
Rebus looked around. `Someone with a flair for theatre.’
`And not afraid to take risks. This place might never get exactly crowded, but it's a public space and that tree's in open view. Anyone could have walked past.’
`What time are we talking about?’
`Eight, eight-thirty. I'm guessing Mr Lintz would have wanted to do his digging in daylight.’
`Could have been earlier,' Rebus suggested. `A pre-arranged meeting.’
`Then why the tools?’
`Because by the time it got light, the meeting would be over.’
Hogan looked doubtful.
`And if it was a meeting,' Rebus said, `there might be some record of it at Lintz's home.’
Hogan looked at him, nodded. `My car or yours?’
`Better get his keys first.’
They started back up the slope.
`Searching through a dead man's pockets,' Hogan said to himself. `Why is that never mentioned during recruitment?’
`I was here yesterday,' Rebus said. `He invited me back for tea.’
Hogan looked around the hallway. `Big place. What happens to the money when it's sold?’
Rebus looked at him. `We could split it two ways.’
`Or we could just move ourselves in. Basement and ground for me, you can have first and second.’
Hogan smiled, tried one of the doors off the hall. It opened on to an office. `This could be my bedroom,' he said, going in.
`When I came here before, he always took me upstairs.’
`On you go. We'll take a floor each, then swop.’
Rebus headed up the staircase, running his hand over the varnished banister: not a speck of dust. Cleaning ladies could be invaluable informants.
`If you find a chequebook,' he called down to Hogan, `look for regular payments to a Mrs Mop.’
Four doors led off the first-floor landing. Two were bedrooms, one a bathroom. The last door led into the huge drawingroom, where Rebus had asked his questions and listened to the stories and philosophy that Lintz had used in place of answers.
`Do you think guilt has a genetic component, Inspector?’ he'd asked one time. `Or are we taught it?’
`Does it matter, so long as it's there?’
Rebus had said, and Lintz had nodded and smiled, as if the pupil had given some satisfactory answer.
The room was big, not too much furniture. Huge sash windows recently cleaned – looked down on to the street. There were framed prints and paintings on the walls. They could have been priceless originals or junk-store stuff – Rebus was no expert. He liked one painting. It showed a ragged white-haired man seated on a rock, surrounded by a barren plain. He had a book open on his lap, but was staring skywards in horror or awe as a shining light appeared there, picking him out. It had a Biblical look, but Rebus couldn't quite place it. He knew the look on the man's face though. He'd seen it before when some suspect's carefully crafted alibi had suddenly come tumbling down.
Over the marble fireplace was a large gilt-framed mirror. Rebus studied himself in it. Behind him he could see the room. He knew he didn't fit here.
One bedroom was for guests, the other was Lintz's. A faint smell of embrocation, half a dozen medicine bottles on the bedside table. Books, too, a pile of them. The bed had been made, a dressing-gown draped across it. Lintz was a creature of habit; he'd been in no special hurry this morning.
The next floor up, Rebus found two further bedrooms and a toilet. There was a slight smell of damp in one room, and the ceiling was discoloured. Rebus didn't suppose Lintz got many visitors; no impetus to redecorate. Out on the landing again, he saw that one of the stair-rails was missing. It had been propped against the wall, awaiting repair. A house this size, things would always be going wrong.
He went back downstairs. Hogan was in the basement. The kitchen had a door on to a back garden – stone patio, lawn covered in rotting leaves, an ivy-covered wall giving privacy.
`Look what I found,' Hogan said, coming back from the utility room. He was holding a length of rope, frayed at one end where it had been cut.
`You think it'll match with the noose? That would mean the killer got it from here.’
`Meaning Lintz knew them.’
`Anything in the office?’
`It's going to take a bit of time. There's an address book, lots of entries, but most of them seem to go back a while.’
`How can you tell?’
`Old STD codes.’
`Not even a typewriter. He used carbons. Lots of letters to his solicitor.’
`Trying to shut the media up?’
`You get a couple of mentions, too. Anything upstairs?’
`Go take a look. I'll check the office.’
Rebus climbed upstairs and stood in the office doorway, looking around. Then he sat down at the desk and imagined the room was his. What did he do here? He conducted his daily business. There were two filing-cabinets, but to get to them he'd have to stand up from the desk. And he was an old man. Say the cabinets were for dead correspondence. More recent stuff would be closer to hand.
He tried the drawers. Found the address book Hogan had mentioned. A few letters. A small snuff-box, its contents turned solid. Lintz hadn't even allowed himself that small vice. In a bottom drawer were some files. Rebus lifted out the one marked `General/ Household'. It comprised bills and guarantees. A large brown envelope was marked BT. Rebus opened it and took out the phone bills. They went back to the beginning of the year. The most recent bill was at the front. Rebus was disappointed to find that it wasn't itemised. Then he noticed that all the other statements were. Lintz had been meticulous, placing names beside calls made, doublechecking British Telecom's totals at the foot of each page. The whole year was like that… right up until recently. Frowning, Rebus realised that the penultimate statement was missing. Had Lintz mislaid it? Rebus couldn't see him mislaying anything. A missing bill would have hinted at chaos in his ordered world. No, it had to be somewhere.
But Rebus was damned if he could find it.
Lintz's correspondence was all business, either to lawyers or else to do with local charities and committees. He'd been resigning from his committees. Rebus wondered if pressure had been applied. Edinburgh could be cruel and cold that way.
Hogan said, sticking his head round the door.
`I'm just wondering…’
`Whether to add on a conservatory and knock through from the kitchen.’
`We'd lose some garden space,' Hogan said. He came in, rested against the desk. `Anything?’
`A missing phone bill, and a sudden change from being itemised.’
`Worth a call,' Hogan admitted. `I found a chequebook in his bedroom. Stubs show payments of £60 a month to E. Forgan.’
`Where in the bedroom?’
`Marking his place in a book.’
Hogan reached into the desk's top drawer, lifted out the address book.
Rebus got up. `Pretty rich street this. Wonder how many of them do their own dusting.’
Hogan shut the book. `No listing for an E. Forgan. Think the neighbours will know?’
`Edinburgh neighbours know everything. It's just that they most often keep it to themselves.’
Hogan was nodding. `And remember to get me copies of your files. Are you busy otherwise?’
`Bobby, if time was money, I'd be in hock to every lender in town.’
Joseph Lintz's neighbours: an artist and her husband on one side; a retired advocate and his wife on the other. The artist used a Ccleaning lady called Ella Forgan. Mrs Forgan lived in East Claremont Street. The artist gave them a telephone number.
Conclusions drawn from the two interviews: shock and horror that Lintz was dead; praise for the quiet, considerate neighbour. A Christmas card every year, and an invitation to drinks one Sunday afternoon each July. Hard to tell when he'd been at home and when he'd been out. He went off on holiday without telling anyone except Mrs Forgan. Visitors to his home had been few – or few had been noticed, which wasn't quite the same thing.
Rebus had asked. `Or a mixture?’
`A mixture, I'd say,' the artist had replied, measuring her words. `Really, we knew very little about him, to say we've been neighbours these past twenty-odd years…’
Ah, and that was Edinburgh for you, too, at least in this price bracket. Wealth was a very private thing in the city. It wasn't brash and colourful. It stayed behind its thick stone walls and was at peace.
Rebus and Hogan held a doorstep conference.
`I'll call the cleaning lady, see if I can meet her, preferably here.’
Hogan looked back at Lintz's front door.
`I'd love to know where he got the money to buy this place,' Rebus said.
`That could take some excavating.’
Rebus nodded. `Solicitor would be the place to start. What about the address book? Worth tracking down some of these elusive friends?’
`I suppose so.’
Hogan looked dispirited at the prospect.
`I'll follow up on the phone bills,' Rebus said. `If that'll help.’
Mae Crumley reached Rebus on his mobile.
`I thought you'd forgotten me,' he told Sammy's boss.
`Just being methodical, Inspector. I'm sure you'd want no less.’
Rebus stopped at traffic lights. `I've been in to see Sammy. Is there any news?’
`Nothing much. So you've talked to her clients?’
`Yes, and they all seemed genuinely upset and surprised. Sorry to disappoint you.’
`What makes you think I'm disappointed?’
'Sammy has a good rapport with all her clients. None of them would have wanted her hurt.’
`What about the ones who didn't want to be her clients?’
Crumley hesitated. `There was one man… When he was told Sammy had a police inspector for a father, he'd have nothing to do with her.’
`What's his name?’
`It couldn't have been him though.’
`Because he killed himself. His name was Gavin Tay. He used to drive an ice-cream van…’
Rebus thanked her for her call, and put down the phone. If someone had tried to kill Sammy on purpose, the question was: why? Rebus had been investigating Lintz; Ned Farlowe had been following him. Rebus had twice confronted Telford; Ned was writing a book about organised crime. Then there was Candice… Could she have told Sammy something, something which might have threatened Telford, or even Mr Pink Eyes? Rebus just didn't know. He knew the most likely culprit – the most vicious – was Tommy Telford. He remembered their first meeting, and the young gangster's words to him: That's the beauty of games. You can always start again after an accident. Not so easy in real life. At the time it had sounded like bravado, a performance for the troops. But now it sounded like a plain threat.
And now there was Mr Taystee, connecting Sammy to Telford.
Mr Taystee had worked Telford's clubs; Mr Taystee had rejected Sammy. Rebus knew he'd have to talk to the widow.
There was just the one problem. Mr Pink Eyes had intimated that if Telford wasn't left alone, Candice would suffer. He kept seeing images of Candice: torn from home and homeland; used and abused; abusing herself in the hope of respite; clinging to a stranger's legs… He recalled Levy's words: Can time mash array responsibility? Justice was a fine and noble thing, but revenge… revenge was an emotion, and so much stronger than an abstract like justice. He wondered if Sammy would want revenge. Probably not. She'd want him to help Candice, which meant yielding to Telford. Rebus didn't think he could do that.
And now there was Lintz's murder, unconnected but resonant.
`I've never felt comfortable with the past, Inspector,' Lintz had said once. Funny, Rebus felt the same way about the present.
Joanne Tay lived in Colinton: a newish three-bedroomed semi with the Merc still parked in the drive.
`It's too big for me,' she explained to Rebus. `I'll have to sell it.’
He wasn't sure if she meant the house or the car. Having declined her offer of tea, he sat in the busy living-room, ornaments on every flat surface. Joanne Tay was still in mourning: black skirt and blouse, dark grooves beneath her eyes. He'd interviewed her back at the start of the inquiry.
`I still don't know why he did it,' she said now, reluctant to see her husband's death as anything other than suicide.
But the pathology and forensic tests had cast this into doubt.
`Have you ever heard,' Rebus asked, `of a man called Tommy Telford?’
`He runs a nightclub, doesn't he? Gavin took me there once.’
`So Gavin knew him?’
Yes: because no way was Mr Taystee setting up his hot-dog pitch outside Telford's premises without Telford's okay. And Telford's okay almost certainly meant payment of some kind. A percentage maybe… or a favour.
`The week before Gavin died,' Rebus went on, `you said he'd been busy?’
`Working all hours.’
`Days as well as nights?’
She nodded. `The weather was lousy that week.’
`I know. I told him: you'll never get them buying ice-cream, a day like this. Pelting down outside. But still he went out.’
Rebus shifted in his chair. `Did he ever mention SWEEP, Mrs Tay?’
`He had some woman would visit him… red hair.’
She nodded, eyes staring at the coal-effect fire. She asked him again if he wanted some tea. Rebus shook his head and made to leave. Did pretty well: knocked over just the two ornaments on his way to the door.
The hospital was quiet. When he pushed open the door to Sammy's room, he saw that another bed had been added, a middle-aged woman sleeping in it. Her hands lay on the bedcovers, a white identity tag around one wrist. She was hooked up to a machine, and her head was bandaged.
Two women were sitting by Sammy's bed. Rhona, and Patience Aitken. Rebus hadn't seen Patience in a while. The women were sitting close together. Their whispered conversation stopped as he came in. He lifted a chair and placed it beside Patience's. She leaned over and squeezed his hand.
He smiled at her, spoke to Rhona. `How is she?’
`The specialist says those last tests were very positive.’
`What does that mean?’
`It means there's brain activity. She's not in deep coma.’
`Is that his version?’
`He thinks she'll come out of it, John.’
Her eyes were bloodshot. He noticed a handkerchief gripped in one hand.
`That's good,' he said. `Which doctor was it?’
`Dr Stafford. He's just back from holiday.’
`I can't keep track of them all.’
Rebus rubbed his forehead.
`Look,' Patience said, checking her watch, `I really should be going. I'm sure the two of you…’
`Stay as long as you like,' Rebus told her.
`I'm already late for an appointment, actually.’
She got to her feet. `Nice to meet you, Rhona.’
The two women shook hands a little awkwardly, then Rhona got up and they hugged, and the awkwardness vanished. `Thanks for coming.’
Patience turned to Rebus. She looked radiant, he decided. Light really seemed to emanate from her skin. She was wearing her usual perfume, and had had her hair restyled.
`Thanks for looking in,' he said.
`She's going to be fine, John.’
She took his hands in hers, leaned towards him. A peck on the cheek, a kiss between friends. Rebus saw Rhona watching them.
`John,' she said, `see Patience out, will you?’
`No, that's all -'
`Of course, yes,' Rebus said.
They left the room together. Walked the first few steps in silence. Patience spoke first.
`She's great, isn't she?’
Rebus was thoughtful. `She's terrific. Have you met her paramour?’
`He's gone back to London. I've… I asked Rhona if she wanted to come stay with me. Hotels can be…’
Rebus smiled tiredly. `Good idea. Then all you'd have to do is invite my brother over and you'd have the whole set.’
Her face cracked into an embarrassed grin. `I suppose it must look a bit like I'm collecting you all.’
`The perfect hand of Unhappy Families.’
She turned to him. They were at the main doors of the hospital. She touched his shoulder. `John, I'm really sorry about Sammy. Anything I can do, you've only got to ask.’
`But asking for things has never been your strong point, has it? You just sit in silence and hope they come to you.’
She sighed. `I can't believe I'm saying this, but I miss you. I think that's why I took in Sammy. If I couldn't be close to you, at least I could be close to someone who was. Does that make any sense? Is this where you say something about not deserving me?’
`You've seen the script.’
He pulled back a little from her, just so he could look at her face. `I miss you, too.’
All the nights slumped at the bar, or in his chair at home, the long midnight drives so he could keep his restlessness alive. He'd have the TV and the hi-fi on at the same time, and the flat would still feel empty. Books he tried reading, finding he was ten pages in and couldn't remember anything. Gazing from his window at the darkened flats across the street, imagining lives at rest.
All because he didn't have her.
They embraced in silence for a while. `You're going to be late,' he said.
`God, John, what are we going to do?’
`See one another?’
`That sounds like a start.’
`Tonight? Mario's at eight?’
She nodded and they kissed again. He squeezed her hand. Her head was turned to look at him as she pushed open the doors.
Emerson, Lake and Palmer: `Still… You Turn Me On.’
Rebus felt a little giddy as he walked back to Sammy's room. Only it wasn't any more, wasn't 'Sammy's room'. Now there was another patient there. They'd said there was always that possibility shortage of space, cutbacks. The woman was still asleep or unconscious, breathing noisily. Rebus ignored her and sat where Patience had been sitting.
`I've got a message for you,' Rhona said. `From Dr Morrison.’
`Who's he when he's at home?’
`I've no idea. All he said was, could he have his t-shirt back?’
The ghoul with the scythe… Rebus picked up Pa Broon, turned the bear in his hands. They sat in silence for a while, until Rhona shifted in her chair.
`Patience is really nice.’
`Did the two of you have a good chat?’
She nodded. `And you told her what a perfect husband I'd been?’
`You must be crazy, walking out on her.’
`Sanity's never exactly been my strong point.’
`But you used to know a good thing when you saw it.’
`Trouble is, that's never what I see when I look in the mirror.’
`What do you see?’
He looked at her. `Sometimes I don't see anything at all.’
Later, they took a coffee-break, went to the machine.
`I lost her, you know,' Rhona said.
'Sammy, I lost her. She came back here. She came back to you.’
`We hardly see one another, Rhona.’
`But she's here. Don't you get it? It's you she wants, not me.’
She turned away from him, fumbled for her handkerchief. He stood close behind her, then couldn't think of anything to say. He was all out of words; every line of sympathy rang hollow to him, just another cliche. He touched the back of her neck, rubbed it. She lowered her head a little, didn't resist. Massage: there'd been a lot of massage early on in their relationship. By the end, he hadn't even given her time for a handshake.
`I don't know why she came back, Rhona,' he said at last. `But I don't think she was running away, and I don't think it had much to do with seeing me.’
A couple of nurses ran past, urgency in their movements.
`I'd better get back,' Rhona said, rubbing a hand over her face, pulling it into something resembling composure.
Rebus went with her to the room, then said he had to be going. He bent down to kiss Sammy, feeling the breath from her nostrils against his cheek.
`Wake up, Sammy,' he cajoled. `You can't stay in bed all your life. Time to get up.’
When there was no movement, no response, he turned and left the room.
David Levy was no longer in Edinburgh. At least, he wasn't at the Roxburghe Hotel. Rebus could think of only one way of contacting him. Seated at his desk, he called the Holocaust Investigation Bureau in Tel Aviv and asked to speak with Solomon Mayerlink. Mayerlink wasn't available, but Rebus identified himself and said he needed to contact him as a matter of urgency. He got a home telephone number.
`Is there news on Linzstek, Inspector?’
Mayerlink's voice was a harsh rasp.
`Of a kind, yes. He's dead.’
Silence on the line, then a slow release of breath. `That's a pity.’
`People die, a little bit of history dies with them. We would have preferred to see him in court, Inspector. Dead, he's worthless.’ Mayerlink paused. `I take it this ends your inquiry?’
`It changes the nature of the investigation. He was murdered.’
Static on the line; an eight-beat pause. `How did it happen?’
`He was hung from a tree.’
There was a longer silence on the line. `I see,' Mayerlink said at last. There was a slight echo on his voice. `You think the allegations led to his murder?’
`What would you say?’
`I'm not a detective.’
But Rebus knew Mayerlink was lying: detection was exactly the role he'd chosen in life. A detective of history.
`I need to talk to David Levy,' Rebus said. `Do you have his address and phone number?’
`He came to see you?’
`You know he did.’
`It's not that simple with David. He doesn't work for the Bureau.
He's self-motivated. I ask him for help occasionally. Sometimes he helps, sometimes he doesn't.’
`But you do have some way of contacting him?’
It took Mayerlink a, full minute to come up with the details. An address in Sussex, plus telephone number.
`Is David your number one suspect, Inspector?’
`Why do you ask?’
`I could tell you you're barking up the wrong tree.’
`The same tree Joseph Lintz swung from?’
`Can you really see David Levy as a murderer, Inspector?’
Safari suit, walking stick. `It takes all sorts,' Rebus said, putting down the phone.
He tried Levy's number. It rang and rang. He gave it a couple of minutes, drank a coffee, tried again. Still no answer. He called British Telecom instead, explained what he needed, was finally put through to the right person.
`My name's Justine Graham, Inspector. How can I help?’
Rebus gave her Lintz's details. `He used to get itemised bills, then he switched.’
He heard her fingers hammer a keyboard. `That's right,' she told him. `The customer asked for itemised billing to be discontinued.’
`Did he say why?’
`.No record of that. You don't need to give an excuse, you know.’
`When was this?’
`A couple of months back. The customer had requested monthly billing several years previously.’
Monthly billing: because he was meticulous, kept his accounts by the month. A couple of months back – September the Lintz/ Linzstek story had blown up in the media. And, suddenly, he hadn't wanted his phone calls to be a matter of record.
`Do you have records of his calls, even the unitemised ones?’
`Yes, we should have that information.’
`I'd like to see a list. Everything from the first unitemised call through to this morning.’
`Is that when he died – this morning?’
She was thoughtful. `Well, I'll need to check.’
`Please do. But remember, Ms Graham, this is a murder inquiry.’
`Yes, of course.’
`And your information could be absolutely crucial.’
`I'm quite aware of -'
`So if I could have that by the end of today…?’
She hesitated. `I'm not sure I can promise that.’
`And one last thing. The bill for September is missing. I'd like a copy of it. Let me give you the fax number here, speed things up.’
Rebus congratulated himself with another cup of coffee and a cigarette in the car park. She might or might not deliver later in the day, but he was confident she'd be trying her best. Wasn't that all you could ask of anybody? Another call: Special Branch in London. He asked for Abernethy. `I'll just put you through.’
Someone picked up: a grunt in place of an acknowledgement.
'Abernethy?’ Rebus asked. He heard liquid being swallowed. The voice became clearer.
`He's not here. Can I help?’
`I really need to speak to him.’
`I could have him paged, if it's urgent.’
`My name's DI Rebus, Lothian and Borders Police.’
`Oh, right. Have you lost him or something?’
Rebus's expression turned quizzical. His voice carried a false note of humour. `You know what Abernethy's like.’
A snort. `Don't I just.’
`So any help appreciated.’
`Yeah, right. Look, give me your number. I'll get him to call you.’
Have you lost him or something? `You've no idea where he is then?’
`It's your city, chum. Take your best shot.’
He's up here, Rebus thought. He's right here.
`I bet the office is quiet without him.’
Laughter on the line, then the sounds of a cigarette being lit. A long exhalation. `It's like being on holiday. Keep him as long as you like.’
`So how long have you been without him?’
A pause. As the silence lengthened, Rebus could feel the change of atmosphere.
`What did you say your name was?’
`DI Rebus. I -was only asking when he left London.’
`This morning, soon as he heard. So what have I won: the hatchback or the hostess trolley?’
Rebus's turn to laugh. `Sorry, I'm just nosy.’
`I'll be sure to tell him that.’
A single click, then the sound of an open line.
Later that afternoon, Rebus chased up British Telecom, then tried Levy's house again. This time he got through to a woman.
`Hello, Mrs Levy? My name's John Rebus. I was wondering if I could have a word with your husband?’
`You mean my father.’
`I'm sorry. Is your father there?’
`No, he's not.’
`Any idea when…?’
She sounded peeved. `I'm just his cook and cleaner. Like I don't have a life of my own.’
She caught herself. `Sorry, Mr…?’
`It's just that he never says how long he's going to be away.’
`He's away just now?’
`Has been for the best part of a fortnight. He rings two or three times a week, asks if there've been any calls or letters. If I'm lucky, he might remember to ask how I'm doing.’
`And how are you doing?’
A smile in her voice. `I know, I know. I sound like I'm his mother or something.’
`Well, you know, fathers…’
Rebus stared into the middle distance… `if you don't tell them anything's wrong, they're happy to assume the best and hold their peace.’
`You speak from experience?’
`Too much experience.’
She was thoughtful. `Is it something important?’
`Well, give me your name and number, and next time he calls I'll have him phone you.’
Rebus reeled off two numbers: home and mobile.
`Got that,' she said. `Any other message?’
`No, just have him call me.’
Rebus thought for a moment. `Has he had any other calls?’
`You mean, people trying to reach him? Why do you ask?’
`I just… no real reason.’
He didn't want to say he was a policeman; didn't want her spooked. `No reason,' he repeated.
As he came off the phone, someone handed him another coffee. `That receiver must be red hot.’
He touched it with the tips of his fingers. It was pretty warm. Then it rang and he picked it up again.
`DI Rebus,' he said.
`John, it's Siobhan.’
`Hiya, how's tricks?’
`John, you remember that guy?’
Her tone was warning him of something.
The humour was gone from his voice.
He of the flappy skull; Telford's lackey.
`What about him?’
`I've just found out he's HIV positive. His GP let the hospital know.’
Blood in Rebus's eyes, his ears, dribbling down his neck…
`Poor guy,' he said quietly.
`He should have said something at the time.’
`When we got him to the hospital.’
`Well, he had other things on his mind, and some of them were in danger of falling off.’
`Christ, John, be serious for a minute!' Her voice was loud enough to have people glance up from their desks. `You need to get a blood test.’
`Fine, no problem. How is he, by the way?’
`Back home but poorly. And sticking to his story.’
`Do I detect the influence of Telford's lawyer?’
`Charles Groal? That one's so slimy, he's practically primordial.’
`Saves you the cost of a valentine.’
`Look, just phone the hospital. Talk to a Dr Jones. She'll fix an appointment. They can do a test right away. Not that it'll be the last word – there's a three-month incubation.’
Rebus put down the receiver, drummed his fingers against it. Wouldn't that be a nice irony? Rebus out to get Telford, does the Good Samaritan bit for one of his men, gets AIDS and dies. Rebus stared at the ceiling.
Nice one, Big Man.
The phone rang again. Rebus snatched it up.
`Switchboard,' he said.
`Is that you, John?’
`The one and only.’
`Just wanted to check we're still on for tonight.’
`To be honest, Patience, I'm not sure I'll be at my most sparkling.’
`You want to cancel?’
`Absolutely not. But I have something to take care of. At the hospital.’
`Yes, of course.’
`No, I don't think you understand. It's not Sammy this time, it's me.’
So he told her.
She went with him. Same hospital Sammy was in, different department. Last thing he wanted was to bump into Rhona, have to explain everything to her. Possibly HIV-infected: chances were, she'd red-card him from the bedside.
The waiting room was white, clean. Lots of information on the walls. Leaflets on every table, as if paperwork was the real virus.
`I must say, it's very pleasant for a leper colony.’
Patience didn't say anything. They were alone in the room. Someone on reception had dealt with him first, then a nurse had come out and taken some details. Now another door opened.
A tall thin woman in a white coat, standing in the doorway: Dr Jones, he presumed. Patience took his arm as they walked towards her. Halfway across the floor, Rebus turned on his heels and bolted.
Patience caught up with him outside, asked what was wrong.
`I don't want to know,' he told her.
`Come on, Patience. All I got was a bit of blood splashed on me.’
She didn't look convinced. `You need to take the test.’
He looked back towards the building. `Fine.’
Started walking away. `But some other time, eh?’
It was one in the morning when he drove back into Arden Street. No dinner date with Patience: instead, they'd visited the hospital, sat with Rhona. He'd made a silent pact with the Big Man: bring her back and I'll keep off the booze. He'd driven Patience home. Her last words to him: `Take that test. Get it over and done with.’
As he locked his car, a figure appeared from nowhere. `Mr Rebus, long time no see.’
Rebus recognised the face. Pointy chin, misshapen teeth, the breathing a series of small gasps. The Weasel: one of Cafferty's men. He was dressed like a down-and-out, perfect camouflage for his role in life. He was Cafferty's eyes and ears on the street. `We need to talk, Mr Rebus.’
His hands were deep in the pockets of a tweed coat meant for someone eight inches taller. He glanced towards the tenement door. `Not in my flat,' Rebus stated. Some things were sacrosanct.
`Cold out here.’
Rebus just shook his head, and the Weasel sniffed hard. 'You think it was a hit?’ he said. `Yes,' Rebus answered. `She was meant to die?’
`I don't know.’
`A pro wouldn't fuck up.’
`Then it was a warning.’
`We could do with seeing your notes.’
`Can't do that.’
The Weasel shrugged. `Thought you wanted Mr Cafferty's help?’
`I can't give you the notes. What about if I summarise?’
`It'd be a start.’
`Rover 600, stolen from George Street that afternoon. Abandoned on a street by Piershill Cemetery. Radio and some tapes lifted – not necessarily by the same person.’
The Weasel was thoughtful. `A warning… That would mean a professional driver.’
`Yes,' Rebus said. `And not one of ours… Doesn't leave too many candidates. Rover 600… what colour?’
`Parked on George Street?’
Rebus nodded. `Thanks for that.’
The Weasel made to turn away, then paused. `Nice doing business with you again, Mr Rebus.’
Rebus was about to say something, then remembered he needed the Weasel more than the Weasel needed him. He wondered how much crap he'd take from Cafferty… how long. he'd have to take it. All his life? Had he made a contract with the devil? For Sammy, he'd have done much, much worse…
In his flat, he stuck on the CD of Rock `n' Roll Circus, skipping to the actual Stones tracks. His answering machine was flashing. Three messages. The first: Hogan.
`Hello, John. Just thought I'd check, see if there's been any word from BT.’
Not by the time Rebus had left the office. Message two: Abernethy.
`Me again, bad penny and all that. Heard you've been trying to catch me. I'll call you tomorrow. Cheers.’
Rebus stared at the machine, willing Abernethy to say more, to give some hint of a location. But the machine was on to the final message. Bill Pryde.
`John, tried you at the office, left a message. But I thought you'd want to know, we've had final word on those prints. If you want to try me at home, I'm on…’
Rebus took down the number. Two in the morning, but Bill would understand.
After a minute or so, a woman picked up. She sounded groggy.
`Sorry,' Rebus said. `Is Bill there?’
`I'll get him.’
He heard background dialogue, then the receiver being hoisted.
`So what's this about prints?’ he asked.
`Christ, John, when I said you could call, I didn't mean the middle of the night!' `It's important.’
`Yes, I know. How's she doing anyway?’
`Still out cold.’
Pryde yawned. `Well, most of the prints inside the car belong to the owner and his wife. But we found one other set. Problem is, looks like they belong to a kid.’
`What makes you so sure?’
`Plenty of adults around with small hands.’
`I suppose so…’
`You sound sceptical.’
`More likely to be one of two scenarios. One, Sammy was hit by a joyrider. I know what you think, but it does happen. Two, the prints belong to whoever rifled the car after it was left at the cemetery.’
`The kid who took the cassette player and tapes?’
`No other prints? Not even partials?’
`The car was clean, John.’
`Same three sets on the doors, plus Sammy's on the bonnet.’
Pryde yawned again. `So what about your grudge theory?’
`Still holds. A pro would be wearing gloves.’
`That's what I was thinking. Not too many pros out there though.’
Rebus was thinking of the Weasel: I'm dealing with slime to catch a slug. Nothing he hadn't done before, only this time there were personal reasons.
And he didn't think there'd be a trial.
Breakfast was on Hogan: bacon rolls in a brown paper bag. They ate them in the CID room at St Leonard's. A Murder Room had been established in Leith, and that's where Hogan should have been.
Only he wanted Rebus's files, and he knew better than to trust Rebus to deliver them.
`Thought I'd save you the hassle,' was what he said.
`You're a gentleman,' Rebus answered, examining the interior of his roll. `Tell me, are pigs an endangered species?’
`I lifted half a slice from you.’
Hogan pulled a string of fat from his mouth, tossed it into a bin. `Thought I was doing you a favour: cholesterol and all that.’
Rebus put the roll to one side, took a swig from the can of IrnBru – Hogan's idea of a morning beverage – and swallowed. What was sugar consumption compared to HIV? `What did you get from the cleaning lady?’
`Grief. Soon as she heard her employer was dead, the taps were on.’
Hogan brushed flour from his fingers: mealtime over. `She never met any of his friends, never had occasion to answer his telephone, hadn't noticed any change in him recently, and doesn't think he was a mass murderer. Quote: "If he'd killed that many people, I'd have known".’
`What is she, psychic or something?’
Hogan shrugged. `About all I got from her was a glowing character reference and the fact that as she was paid in advance, she owes his estate a partial refund.’
`There's your motive.’
Hogan smiled. `Speaking of motives…’
`You've got something?’
'Lintz's lawyer has come up with a letter from the deceased's bank.’
He handed Rebus a photocopy. `Seems our man made a cash withdrawal of five grand ten days ago.’
`We found ten quid on his person, and about another thirty bar in the house. No five grand. I'm beginning to think blackmail.’
Rebus nodded. `What about his address book?’
`Slow work. A lot of old numbers, people who've moved on or died. Plus a few charities, museums… an art gallery or two.’
Hogan paused. `What about you?’
Rebus opened his drawer, pulled out the fax sheets. `Waiting for me this morning. The calls Lintz wanted kept secret.’
Hogan looked down the list. `Calls plural, or one in particular?’
`I've just started going through them. Best guess: there'll be callers he spoke to regularly. Those numbers will show up on the other statements. We're looking for anomalies, one-offs.’
Hogan looked at his watch. `Anything else I should know?’
`Two things. Remember I told you about the Special Branch interest?’
Rebus nodded. `I tried calling him yesterday.’
`According to his office, he was on his way up here. He'd already heard the news.’
`So I've got Abernethy sniffing around, and you don't trust him? Terrific. What's the other thing?’
`David Levy. I. spoke with his daughter. She doesn't know where he is. He could be anywhere.’
`With a grudge against Lintz?’
`What's his phone number?’
Rebus patted the topmost file on his desk. `Ready for you to take away.’
Hogan studied the foot-high pile, looking glum.
`I whittled it down to what's absolutely necessary,' Rebus told him.
`There's a month's reading there.’
Rebus shrugged. `My case is your case, Bobby.’
With Hogan gone, Rebus went back to the British Telecom list. It was as detailed as he could have wished for. Lots of calls to Lintz's solicitor, a few to one of the city's taxi firms. Rebus tried a couple of numbers, found himself connected to charity offices: Lintz would have been phoning to tender his resignation. There were a few calls that stood out from the crowd: the Roxburghe Hotel – duration four minutes; Edinburgh University – twenty-six minutes. The Roxburghe had to mean Levy. Rebus knew Levy had talked to Lintz Lintz himself had admitted it. Talking to him – being confronted by him – was one thing; calling him at his hotel quite another.
The number for Edinburgh University connected Rebus to the main switchboard. He asked to be put through to Lintz's old department. The secretary was very helpful. She'd been in the job over twenty years, was due to retire. Yes, she remembered Professor Lintz, but he hadn't contacted the department recently.
`Every call that comes through here, I know about it.’
`He might have got straight through to a tutor though?’
`No one's mentioned speaking to him. There's nobody here from the Professor's day.’
`He doesn't keep in touch with the department?’
`I haven't spoken to him in years, Inspector. Too many years for me to remember…’
So who had he been talking to for over twenty minutes? Rebus thanked the secretary and put down the phone. He went through the other numbers: a couple of restaurants, a wine shop, and the local radio station. Rebus told the receptionist what he was after, and she said she'd do her best. Then he went back to the restaurants, asked them to check if Lintz had been making a reservation.
Within half an hour, the calls started coming in. First restaurant: a booking for dinner, just the one cover. The radio station: they'd asked Lintz to appear on a programme. He'd said he'd consider it, then had called back to decline. Second restaurant: a lunch reservation, two covers.
`Mr Lintz and one other.’
`Any idea who the "other" might have been?’
`Another gentleman, quite elderly, I think… I'm sorry, I don't really remember.’
`Did he walk with a stick?’
`I wish I could help, but it's a madhouse here at lunchtime.’
`You remember Lintz though?’
`Mr Lintz is a regular… was a regular.’
`Did he usually eat alone, or with company?’
`Mostly alone. He didn't seem to mind. He'd bring a book with him.’
`Do you happen to recall any of his other guests?’
`I remember a young woman… his daughter maybe? Or granddaughter?’
`So when you say "young"…?’
`Younger than him.’
A pause. `Maybe much younger.’
`When was this?’
`I really don't remember.’
The voice impatient now.
`I appreciate your help, sir. Just one more minute of your time… This woman, did he bring her more than once?’
`I'm sorry, Inspector. The kitchen needs me.’
`Well, if you think of anything else…’
`Of course. Goodbye.’
Rebus put the phone down, made some notes. Just one number left. He waited for an answer.
The voice grudging.
`This is Malky. Who the fuck are you?’
A voice in the background: `Tommy says that new machine's fucked.’
Rebus put the phone down. His hand was shaking. That new machine… Tommy Telford on his arcade motorbike. He remembered The Family mugshots: Malky Jordan. Tiny nose and eyes in a balloon of a face. Joseph Lintz talking to one of Telford's men? Phoning Telford's offce?? Rebus found the number of Hogan's mobile.
`Bobby,' he said. `If you're driving, better slow down right now…’
Hogan's notion: five in cash was just Telford's style. Blackmail? But where was the connection? Something else…? Hogan's play: he'd talk to Telford.
Rebus's notion: five was a bit steep for a hit-man. All the same, he wondered about Lintz… paying five thou' to Telford to set up the `accident'. Motive: give Rebus a fright, scare him off? It put Lintz back in the frame, potentially.
Rebus had fixed up another meeting, one he didn't want anyone knowing about. Haymarket Station was nice and anonymous. The bench on platform one. Ned Farlowe was already waiting. He looked tired: worry over Sammy. They talked about her for a couple of minutes. Then Rebus got down to business.
`You know Lintz has been murdered?’
`I didn't think this was a social call.’
`We're looking at a blackmail angle.’
Farlowe looked interested. `And he didn't pay up?’
Oh, he paid up all right, Rebus thought. He paid up, and someone still took him out of the game.
`Look, Ned, this is all off the record. By rights I should take you in for questioning.’
`Because I followed him for a few days?’
`And that makes me a suspect?’
`It makes you a possible witness.’
Farlowe thought about it. `One evening. Lintz left his house, walked down the road, made a call from a phone-box, then went straight back home.’
Not wanting to use his home phone… afraid it was bugged? Afraid of the number being traced? Telephone bugging: a favourite ploy of Special Branch.
`And something else,' Farlowe was saying. `He met this woman on his doorstep. Like she was waiting for him. They had a few words. I think she was crying when she left.’
`What did she look like?’
`Tall, short dark hair, well-dressed. She had a briefcase with her.’
Farlowe shrugged. `Skirt and jacket… matching. Black and white check. You know… elegant.’
He was describing Kirstin Mede. Her phone message to Rebus: I can't do this any more…
`There's something I want to ask you,' Farlowe was saying. `That girl Candice.’
`What about her?’
`You asked me if anything unusual had happened just before Sammy got hit.’
`Well, she happened, didn't she?’
Farlowe's eyes narrowed. `Does she have anything to do with it?’
Rebus looked at Farlowe, who started nodding.
`Thanks for the confirmation. Who was she?’
`One of Telford's girls.’
Farlowe leaped to his feet, paced the platform. Rebus waited for him to sit down again. When he did, there could be no doubting the fury in his eyes.
`You hid one of Telford's girls with your own daughter?’
`I didn't have much choice. Telford knows where I live. I…’
`You were using us!' He paused. `Telford did this, didn't he?’
`I don't know,' Rebus said. Farlowe leaped to his feet again. `Look, Ned, I don't want you -‘
'Quite frankly, Inspector, I don't think you're in any position to give advice.’
He started walking, and though Rebus called after him, he never once looked back.
As Rebus walked into the Crime Squad office, a paper plane glided past and crashed into the wall. Ormiston had his feet up on the desk. Country and western music was playing softly in the background, its source a tape player on the window ledge behind Claverhouse's desk. Siobhan Clarke had pulled a chair over beside him. They were poring over some report.
`Not exactly the "A-Team" in here, is it?’
Rebus retrieved the plane, straightened its crumpled nose, and sent it back to Ormiston, who asked what he was doing there.
`Liaising,' Rebus told him. `My boss wants a progress report.’
Ormiston glanced towards Claverhouse, who was tipping himself back in his chair, hands behind his head.
`Want to take a guess at the headway we've made?’
Rebus sat down opposite Claverhouse, nodded a greeting to Siobhan.
`How's Sammy?’ she asked.
`Just the same,' Rebus answered. Claverhouse looked abashed, and Rebus suddenly realised that he could use Sammy as a lever, play on people's sympathy. Why not? Hadn't he used her in the past? Wasn't Ned Farlowe on the nail there? `We've pulled the surveillance,' Claverhouse said.
Ormiston snorted, but it was Claverhouse who answered.
`High maintenance, low returns.’
`Orders from above?’
`It isn't as if we were close to getting a result.’
`So we just let him get on with getting on?’
Claverhouse shrugged. Rebus wondered if news would get back to Newcastle. Jake Tarawicz would be happy. He'd think Rebus was fulfilling his part of the bargain. Candice would be safe. Maybe.
`Any news on that nightclub killing?’
`Nothing to link it to your chum Cafferty.’
`He's not my chum.’
`Whatever you say. Stick the kettle on, Ormie.’
Ormiston glanced towards Clarke, then rose grudgingly from his chair. Rebus had thought the tension in the office was all to do with Telford. Not a bit of it. Claverhouse and Clarke close together, involved. Ormiston off on his own, a kid making paper planes, seeking attention. An old Status Quo song: `Paper Plane'. But the status quo here had been disturbed: Clarke had usurped Ormiston. The office junior was absolved from making the tea.
Rebus could see why Ormiston was pissed off.
`I hear Herr Lintz was a bit of a swinger,' Claverhouse said.
`Now there's a joke I haven't heard before.’
Rebus's pager sounded. The display gave him a number to call.
He used Claverhouse's phone. It sounded like he was connected to a pay-phone. Street sounds, heavy traffic close by.
Placed the voice at once: the Weasel.
`What is it?’
`A couple of questions. The tape player from the car, any idea of the make?’
`The front bit detachable?’
`So all they got was the front bit?’
Claverhouse and Clarke, back at their report, pretending they weren't listening.
`What about the tapes? You said some tapes got stolen?’
`Opera – The Marriage of Figaro and Verdi's Macbeth.’
Rebus squeezed his eyes shut, thinking. `And another tape with film music on it, famous themes. Plus Roy Orbison's Greatest Hits.’
This last the wife's. Rebus knew what the Weasel was thinking: whoever took the stuff, they'd try flogging it round the pubs or at a car boot sale. Car boot sales were clearing houses for knock-off. But getting whoever had lifted the stuff from the unlocked car wasn't going to nail the driver… Unless the kid – the one who'd lifted the stuff, whose prints were on the car – had seen something: been hanging around on the street, watched the car screeching to a stop, a man getting out and hoofing it…
An eye witness, someone who could describe the driver.
`The only prints we got were small, maybe a kid's.’
`Anything else I can do,' Rebus said, `just let me know.’
The Weasel hung up.
`Sony's a good make,' Claverhouse said, fishing.
`Some stuff lifted from a car,' Rebus told him. `It might have turned up.’
Ormiston had made the tea. Rebus went to fetch himself a chair, saw someone walk past the open doorway. He dropped the chair and ran into the corridor, grabbed at an arm.
Abernethy spun quickly, saw who it was and relaxed.
`Nice one, son,' he said. `You almost had knuckles for teeth.’
He was working on a piece of chewing gum.
`What are you doing here?’
Abernethy looked back at the open door, walked towards it. `What about you?’
Abernethy read the sign on the door. `Crime Squad,' he said, sounding amused, taking in the office and the people in it. Hands in pockets, he sauntered in, Rebus following.
'Abernethy, Special Branch,' the Londoner said by way of introduction. `That music's a good idea: play it at interrogations, sap the suspect's will to live.’
He was smiling, surveying the premises like he was thinking of moving in. The mug meant for Rebus was on the corner of the desk. Abernethy picked it up and slurped, made a face, started chewing again. The three Crime Squad officers were like a frozen tableau. Suddenly they looked like a unit: it had taken Abernethy to do that.
Had taken him all of ten seconds.
`What you working on?’
No one answered. `Must've got the sign on the door wrong,' Abernethy said. `Should be Mime Squad.’
`Is there something we can do for you?’ Claverhouse asked, his voice level, hostility in his eyes.
`I don't know. It was John pulled me in here.’
`And I'm pulling you out again,' Rebus said, taking his arm.
Abernethy shrugged free, bunched his fists. `A word in the corridor… please.’
Abernethy smiled. `Manners maketh the man, John.’
`What does that maketh you?’
Abernethy turned his head slowly, looked at Siobhan Clarke who'd just spoken.
`I'm just a regular guy with a heart of gold and twelve big inches of ability.’
He grinned at her.
`To go with your twelve big points of IQ,' she said, going back to the report. Ormiston and Claverhouse weren't trying too hard to conceal their laughter as Abernethy stormed out of the room. Rebus hung back long enough to watch Ormiston pat Clarke on the back, then headed off after the Special Branch man.
`What a bitch,' Abernethy said. He was making for the exit.
`She's a friend of mine.’
`And they say you can choose your friends…’
Abernethy shook his head.
`What brings you back?’
`You have to ask?’
'Lintz is dead. Case closed as far as you're concerned.’
They emerged from the building.
`So,' Rebus persisted, `why come all the way back here? What is there that couldn't be done with a phone or fax?’
Abernethy stopped, turned to face him. `Loose ends.’
`What loose ends?’
`There aren't any.’
Abernethy gave a cheerless smile and took a key from his pocket. As they approached his car, he used the remote to unlock it and disable the alarm.
`What's going on, Abernethy?’
`Nothing to worry your pretty little head about.’
He opened the driver's-side door.
`Are you glad he's dead?’
'Lintz. How do you feel about him being murdered?’
`I've no feelings either way. He's dead, which means I can cross him off my list.’
`That last time you came up here, you were warning him.’
`Was his phone bugged?’
Abernethy just snorted. `Did you know he might be killed?’
Abernethy turned on Rebus. `What's it to you? I'll tell you: nothing. Leith CID are on the murder, and you're out of it. End of story.’
`Is it the Rat Line? Too embarrassing if it all came to light?’
`Christ, what is it with you? Just give it a rest.’
Abernethy got into the car, closed the door. Rebus didn't move. The engine turned and caught, Abernethy's window slid down. Rebus was ready.
`They sent you four hundred miles just to check there were no loose ends.’
`So there's rather a large loose end, isn't there?’
Rebus paused. `Unless you know who Lintz's killer was.’
`I leave that sort of thing to you guys.’
`Heading down to Leith?’
`I have to talk to Hogan.’
Abernethy stared at Rebus. `You're a hard bastard, aren't you? Maybe even a bit selfish.’
`If I'd a daughter in hospital, police work would be the last thing on my mind.’
As Rebus lunged towards the open window, Abernethy gunned the car. Footsteps behind: Siobhan Clarke.
`Good riddance,' she said, watching the car speed off. A finger appeared from Abernethy's window. She gave a two fingered reply. `I didn't want to say anything in the office…’
`I took the test yesterday,' Rebus lied.
`It'll be negative.’
`Are you positive?’
She smiled a little longer than the joke merited. 'Ormiston chucked your tea away, said he was going to disinfect the mug.’
'Abernethy has that effect on people.’
He looked at her. `Remember, Ormiston and Claverhouse go back years.’
`I know. I think Claverhouse has a crush on me. It'll pass, but until it does…’
They started walking back towards the main entrance. `And don't let him tempt you into the broom cupboard.’
Rebus went back to St Leonard's, saw that the office was coping quite well without him, and headed over to the hospital with Dr Morrison's Iron Maiden t-shirt in a plastic bag. A third bed had been moved into Sammy's room. An elderly woman lay in it. Though awake, she stared fixedly at the ceiling. Rhona was at Sammy's bedside, reading a book.
Rebus stroked his daughter's hair. `How is she?’
`Any more tests planned?’
`Not that I know of.’
`That's it then? She just stays like this?’
He lifted a chair over, sat down. It had turned into a sort of ritual now, this bedside vigil. It felt almost… the word he wanted to use was `comfortable'. He squeezed Rhona's hand, sat there for twenty minutes, saying almost nothing, then went to find Kirstin Mede.
She was in her office at the French Department, marking scripts. She sat at a big desk in front of the window, but moved from this to a coffee-table with half a dozen chairs arranged around it.
`Sit down,' she said. Rebus sat down.
`I got your message,' he told her.
`Hardly matters now, does it? The man's dead.’
`I know you spoke with him, Kirstin.’
She glanced towards him. `I'm sorry?’
`You waited for him outside his house. Did the two of you have a nice chat?’
Colour had risen to her cheeks. She crossed her legs, tugged the hem of her skirt towards her knee. `Yes,' she said at last, `I went to his house.’
`Because I wanted to see him close up.’
Her eyes were on his now, challenging him. `I thought maybe I could tell from his face… the look in his eyes. Maybe something in his tone of voice.’
`And could you?’
She shook her head. `Not a damned thing. No window to the soul.’
`What did you say to him?’
`I told him who I was.’
She folded her arms. `His words: "My dear lady, will you kindly piss off.’
`And did you?’
`Yes. Because I knew then. Not whether he was Linzstek or not, but something else.’
`That he was at the end of his tether.’
She was nodding. `Absolutely at breaking point.’
She looked at Rebus again. `And capable of anything.’
The problem with the Flint Street surveillance was that it had been so open. A hidden operation – deep cover – that's what was needed. Rebus had decided to scout out the territory.
The tenement flats across the road from Telford's cafe and arcade were served by a single main door. It was locked, so Rebus chose a buzzer at random – marked HETHERINGTON. Waited, pushed again. An elderly voice came on the intercom.
`Who is it, please?’
`Mrs Hetherington? Detective Inspector Rebus, I'm your Community CID officer. Can I talk to you about home security? There've been a few break-ins around here, especially with elderly victims.’
`Gracious, you'd better come up.’
The door buzzed, and Rebus pushed it open.
Mrs Hetherington was waiting for him in her doorway. She was tiny and frail-looking, but her eyes were lively and her movements assured. The flat was small, well-maintained. The sitting-room was heated by a two-bar electric fire. Rebus wandered over to the window, found himself looking down on to the arcade. Perfect location for a surveillance. He pretended to check her windows.
`These seem fine,' he said. `Are they always locked?’
`I open them a bit in the summer,' Mrs Hetherington said, `and when they need washing. But I always lock them again afterwards.’
`One thing I should warn you about, and that's bogus officials. People coming to your door, telling you they're so-andso. Always ask to see some ID, and don't open up until you're satisfied.’
`How can I see it without opening the door?’
`Ask them to push it through the letterbox.’
`I didn't see your identification, did I?’
Rebus smiled. `No, you didn't.’
He took it out and showed her. `Sometimes the fake stuff can look pretty convincing. If you're unsure, keep the door locked and call the police.’
He looked around. `You have a phone?’
`In the bedroom.’
`Any windows in there?’
`Can I take a look?’
The bedroom window also looked out on to Flint Street. Rebus noticed travel brochures on the dressing-table, a small suitcase standing near the door.
`Off on holiday, eh?’
With the flat empty, maybe he could move the surveillance in.
`Just a long weekend,' she said.
`Holland. Wrong time of year for the bulb-fields, but I've always wanted to go. It's a nuisance flying from Inverness, but so much cheaper. Since my husband died… well, I've done a bit of travelling.’
`Any chance of taking me with you?’
Rebus smiled. `This window's fine, too. I'll just check your door, see if it could do with more locks.’
They went into the narrow hall.
`You know,' she said, `we've always been very lucky here, no break-ins or anything like that.’
Hardly surprising with Tommy Telford as proprietor.
`And with the panic button, of course…’
Rebus looked at the wall next to the front door. A large red button. He'd assumed it was for the stairhead lights or something.
`Anyone who calls, anyone at all, I'm supposed to press it.’
Rebus opened the door. `And, do you?’
Two very large men were standing right outside.
`Oh, yes,' Mrs Hetherington said. `I always do.’
For thugs, they were very polite. Rebus showed them his warrant card and explained the nature of his visit. He asked them who they were, and they told him they were `representatives of the building's owner'. He knew the faces though: Kenny Houston, Ally Cornwell. Houston – the ugly one – ran Telford's doormen; Cornwell, with his wrestler's bulk, was general muscle. The little charade was carried out with humour and good nature on both sides. They accompanied him downstairs. Across the street, Tommy Telford was standing in the cafe doorway, wagging his finger. A pedestrian crossed Rebus's line of vision. Too late, Rebus saw who it was. Had his mouth open to shout something, then saw Telford hang his head, hands going to his face. Screeching.
Rebus ran across the road, pulled the pedestrian round: Ned Farlowe. A bottle dropped from Farlowe's hand. Telford's men were closing in. Rebus held tight to Farlowe.
`I'm placing this man under arrest,' he said. `He's mine, understood?’
A dozen faces glaring at him. And Tommy Telford down on his knees. `Get your boss to the hospital,' Rebus said. `I'm taking this one to St Leonard's…’
Ned Farlowe sat on the ledge in one of the cells. The walls were blue, smeared brown near the toilet-pan. Farlowe was looking pleased with himself.
Rebus said, pacing the cell. `Acid? All this research must have gone to your head.’
`It's what he deserved.’
Rebus glared at him. `You don't know what you've done.’
`I know exactly what I've done.’
`He'll kill you.’
Farlowe shrugged. `Am I under arrest?’
`You'd better believe it, son. I want you kept out of harm's way. If I hadn't been there…’
But he didn't want to think about that. He looked at Farlowe. Looked at Sammy's lover, who'd just staged a full-frontal assault on Telford, the kind of assault Rebus knew wouldn't work.
Now Rebus would have to redouble his efforts. Because otherwise, Ned Farlowe was a dead man… and when Sammy came round, he didn't want news like that to be waiting for her.
He drove back towards Flint Street, parked at a distance from it, and headed there on foot. Telford had the place sewn up, no doubt about it. Letting his flats to old folk might have been a charitable act but he'd made damned sure it served its purpose. Rebus wondered if, given the same circumstances, Cafferty would have been clever enough to think of panic-buttons. He suspected not. Cafferty wasn't thick, but most of what he did he did by instinct. Rebus wondered if Tommy Telford had ever made a rash move in his life.
He was staking out Flint Street because he needed an in, needed to find the weak link in the chain around Telford. After ten minutes of wind chill, he thought of a better idea. On his mobile, he called one of the city's taxi firms. Identified himself and asked if Henry Wilson was on shift. He was. Rebus told the switchboard to put a call out to Henry. It was as simple as that.
Ten minutes later, Wilson turned up. He drank in the Ox occasionally, which was his problem really. Drunk in charge of a taxi-cab. Luckily Rebus had been around to smooth things over, as a result of which Wilson owed him a lifetime of favours. He was tall, heavily built, with short black hair and a long black beard. Ruddy faced, and he always wore check shirts. Rebus thought of him as `The Lumberjack'. `Need a lift?’
Wilson said, as Rebus got into the front passenger seat.
`First thing I need is a blast of the heater.’
Wilson obliged. `Second thing I need is to use your taxi as cover.’
`You mean, sit here?’
`That's what I mean.’
`With the meter running?’
`You've got an engine problem, Henry. Your cab's out of the game for the rest of the afternoon.’
`I'm saving up for Christmas,' Wilson complained. Rebus stared him out. The big man sighed and lifted a newspaper from the side of his seat. `Help me pick a few winners then,' he said, turning to the racing pages.
They sat for over an hour at the end of Flint Street, and Rebus stayed in the front of the cab. His reasoning: a cab parked with a passenger in the back looked suspicious. A cab parked with two guys in the front, and you'd just think they were on their break, or at shift's end – two cabbies sharing stories and a flask of tea.
Rebus took one sip from the plastic cup and winced. Half a bag of sugar in the flask.
`I've always had a sweet tooth,' Wilson explained. He had a packet of crisps open on his lap: pickled onion flavour.
Finally, Rebus saw two Range Rovers being driven into Flint Street. Sean Haddow – Telford's money man – was driving the lead car. He got out and went into the arcade. On the passenger seat, Rebus could see a huge yellow teddy bear. Haddow was coming out again, bringing Telford with him. Telford: back from the hospital already, hands bandaged, gauze patches on his face like he'd had a particularly ropey shave. But not about to let a little thing like an acid attack get in the way of business. Haddow held the back door open, and Telford got in.
`This is us, Henry,' Rebus said. `You're going to be following those two Range Rovers. Stay back as far as you like. Those things are so high off the ground, we'll be able to see them over anything smaller than a double-decker.’
Both Range Rovers headed out of Flint Street. The second car carried three of Telford's `soldiers'. Rebus recognised Pretty-Boy. The other two were younger recruits, well-dressed with groomed hair. One hundred percent business.
The convoy headed for the city centre, stopped outside a hotel. Telford had a word with his men, but entered the building alone. The cars stayed where they were.
`Are you going in?’
`I think I'd be noticed,' Rebus said. The drivers of both Range Rovers had got out and were enjoying a smoke, but keeping a keen eye on people entering and leaving the hotel. A couple of prospects looked into the cab, but Wilson shook his head.
`I could be making a mint here,' he muttered. Rebus offered him a Polo. Wilson accepted with a snort.
`Brilliant,' Rebus said. Wilson looked back towards the hotel. A parking warden was talking to Haddow and Pretty Boy. She had her notebook out. They were tapping their watches, attempting charm. Double yellow lines kerbside: no parking any time.
Haddow and Pretty-Boy held up their hands in surrender, had a quick confab, then it was back into the Range Rovers. Pretty-Boy made circling motions with one hand, letting his passengers know they were going to circle the block. The warden stood her ground till they'd moved off. Haddow was on his mobile: doubtless letting his boss know the score.
Interesting: they hadn't tried to strongarm the warden, or bribe her, nothing like that. Law-abiding citizens. Telford's rules, no doubt. Again, Rebus couldn't see any of Cafferty's men giving in so quickly.
`You going in then?’ Wilson asked.
`Not much point, Henry. Telford will already be in a bedroom or somebody's suite. If he's doing business, it'll be behind closed doors.’
`So that was Tommy Telford?’
`You've heard of him?’
`I'm a taxi driver, we hear things. He's after Big Ger's cab business.’
Wilson paused. `Not that Big Ger has a cab business, you understand.’
`Any idea how Telford plans to wrest it away from Cafferty?’
`Scare off the drivers, or get them to switch sides.’
`What about your company, Henry?’
`Honest, legal and decent, Mr Rebus.’
`No approach by Telford?’
`Here they come again.’
They watched as the two Range Rovers turned back into the street. There was no sign of the warden. A couple of minutes later, Telford emerged from the hotel, bringing with him a Japanese man with spiky hair and a shiny aquamarine suit. He carried a briefcase but didn't look like a businessman. Maybe it was the sunglasses, worn in late-afternoon twilight; maybe it was the cigarette slouching from the corner of the downturned mouth. Both men got into the back of the lead car. The Japanese leaned forward and ruffled the teddy bear's ears, making some joke. Telford didn't look amused.
`Do we follow them?’ Wilson asked. He saw the look on Rebus's face, turned the key in the ignition.
They were heading west out of town. Rebus already had an inkling of their ultimate destination, but he wanted to know what route they'd take. Turned out it was much the same route he'd taken with Candice. She hadn't recognised anything until juniper Green, but it wasn't as if there were many landmarks. On Slateford Road the back car signalled that it was pulling over.
`What do I do?’ Wilson asked.
`Keep going. Make the first left you can, and turn the cab round. We'll wait for them to go past us.’
Haddow had gone into a newspaper shop. Same story as with Candice. Strange, during what was a business trip, that Telford would allow a stop. And what about the building which, according to Candice, he'd seemed so interested in? There it was: an anonymous brick edifice. A warehouse maybe? Rebus could think of reasons why a warehouse might be of interest to Tommy Telford. Haddow stayed in the shop three minutes – Rebus timed him. No one else came out, so it wasn't as if he'd had to queue. Back into the car, and the little convoy set off again. They were heading for juniper Green, and after that Poyntinghame Country Club. Little point in tagging along: the further they got out of town, the more conspicuous the cab would be. Rebus told Henry to turn around.
He got the cabbie to drop him off at the Oxford Bar. Wilson slid down his window as he was about to move off.
`Are we square now?’ he called.
`Till next time, Henry.’
Rebus pushed open the door and walked into the pub.
Perched on a stool, daytime TV and Margaret the barmaid for company, Rebus ordered a mug of coffee and a corned beef and beetroot roll. For his main course Margaret suggested a bridie.
`Excellent choice,' Rebus agreed. He was thinking about the Japanese businessman. Who hadn't really looked like a businessman at all. He'd been all sharp edges, chiselled face. Fortified, Rebus walked from the Ox back to the hotel, and kept watch on it from an overpriced bar across the street. He passed the time making calls on his mobile. By the time the battery died, he'd spoken with Hogan, Bill Pryde, Siobhan Clarke, Rhona and Patience, and had been about to call Torphichen cop-shop, see if anyone there could identify the building on Slateford Road. Two hours crawled by. He broke his `personal best' for slow drinking: two Cokes. The bar wasn't exactly crowded; no one seemed to mind. The music was on a tape-loop. `Psycho Killer' was coming round for the third time when the Range Rovers stopped outside the hotel. Telford and the Jap shook hands, made slight bows. Telford and his men drove off.
Rebus left the bar, crossed the road, and entered the hotel. The lift doors were closing on Mr Aquamarine. Rebus walked up to reception, showed his ID.
`The guest who just came in, I need his name.’
The receptionist had to check. `Mr Matsumoto.’
`When did he arrive?’
She checked the register again. `Yesterday.’
`How longs he staying?’
`Three more days. Look, I should call my supervisor…’
Rebus shook his head. `That's all I needed to know, thanks. Mind if I sit in the lounge for a while?’
She shook her head, so Rebus wandered into the residents' lounge. He settled on a sofa – perfect view of the reception area through the glass double-doors – and picked up a newspaper. Matsumoto was in town on Poyntinghame business, but Rebus had a whiff of something altogether less savoury. Hugh Malahide's story had been that a corporation wanted to buy the club, but Matsumoto didn't look like he worked in any above-board business. When he finally emerged into reception, he'd changed into a white suit, black open-necked shirt, and Burberry trenchcoat, topped off with a woollen tartan scarf. He had a cigarette in his mouth, but didn't light it until he was outside the hotel. With the collar of his coat turned up, he started walking. Rebus followed him for the best part of a mile, and kept checking that no one was following him. It was possible, after all, that Telford would want to keep tabs on Matsumoto. But if there was surveillance, it was exceptional. Matsumoto wasn't playing the tourist, wasn't dawdling. He kept his head down, protecting his face from the wind, and seemed to have some destination in mind.
When he disappeared into a building, Rebus paused, studying the glass door behind which stood a flight of red carpeted stairs. He knew where he was, didn't need the sign above the door to tell him. He was outside the Morvena Casino. The place used to be owned by a local villain called Topper Hamilton and managed by a man called Mandelson. But Hamilton was in retirement, and Mandelson had scarpered. The new owner was still an unknown quantity – or had been till now. Rebus guessed he wouldn't be far wrong if he placed Tommy Telford and his Japanese friends in the frame. He looked around, checking the parked cars: no Range Rovers.
`What the hell,' he said to himself, pushing open the door and starting to climb the stairs.
In the upstairs foyer he was eyeballed by security: two of them looking uncomfortable in their black suits and bowties, white shirts. One skinny – he'd be all about speed and manoeuvres; one a real heavyweight – slow muscle to back up the fast moves. Rebus seemed to pass whatever test they'd just given him. He bought a twenty's worth of chips and walked into the gaming room.
At one time, it would have been the drawing-room of a Georgian house. There were two huge bay windows, and ornate cornicing connected the twenty-foot-high cream walls to the pastel-pink ceiling. Now it was home to gaming tables: blackjack, dice, roulette. Hostesses moved between the tables, taking orders for drinks. There was very little noise: the gamblers took their work seriously. Rebus wouldn't have called the place busy, but what clientele there was comprised a veritable United Nations. Matsumoto's coat had disappeared into the cloakroom, and he was seated at the roulette table. Rebus sat down beside two men at the blackjack table, nodded a greeting. The dealer – young, but obviously sure of himself – smiled. Rebus won with his first hand. Lost with his second and third. Won again with his fourth. There was a voice just behind his right ear.
`Something to drink, sir?’
The hostess had bent forward to speak to him, showing plenty of cleavage.
`Coke,' he told her. `Ice and lemon.’
He pretended to watch her move away. Really, he was scoping the room. He'd sat in on the game quickly: walking around the room would have attracted everyone's interest, and he couldn't be sure if there'd be anyone here who'd know him.
He needn't have worried. The only person he recognised was Matsumoto, rubbing his hands as the croupier pushed chips towards him. Rebus stuck on eighteen. The dealer got twenty. Rebus had never been a great gambler. He'd tried the football pools, sometimes the horses, and now occasionally the lottery. But fruit machines didn't interest him; the poker sessions organised in the office didn't interest him. He had other ways of losing money.
Matsumoto lost and gave what sounded like a curse, a little bit louder than the room liked. The skinny security ape put his head around the door, but Matsumoto ignored him, and when Mr Skinny saw who was making the noise, he retreated fast. Matsumoto laughed: he might not have much English, but he knew he had power in this place. He told everyone something in a stream of Japanese, nodding, trying for eye contact. Then a hostess brought him a big tumbler of whisky and ice. He handed her a couple of chips as a tip. The croupier was telling everyone to place their bets. Matsumoto quietened down and went back to work.
Rebus's drink was a while coming, Coke the unlikely beverage of the high roller. He'd won a couple of hands, felt a bit better. Stood up to accept the drink. The table knew to leave him out of the next deal.
`Where are you from?’ he asked the hostess. `I can't place your accent.’
`I am from Ukraine.’
`You speak good English.’
She turned away. Conversation was not house policy, it kept the punters away from their games. Ukraine: Rebus wondered if she was another of Tarawicz's imports. Like Candice… A few things seemed clear to him. Matsumoto was comfortable here, therefore known. And the staff were wary of him, therefore he had clout, had Telford behind him. Telford wanted him kept sweet. It wasn't much return for all Rebus's work, but it was something.
Then someone walked in. Someone Rebus knew. Dr Colquhoun. He saw Rebus immediately and fear jumped into his face. Colquhoun: with his sick line to the university; his enforced holiday; no forwarding address. Colquhoun: who'd known Rebus was-taking Candice to the Petrecs.
Rebus watched him back towards the doors. Watched him turn and run.
Options: go after him, or stay with Matsumoto? Which was the more important to him now, Candice or Telford? Rebus stayed. But now Colquhoun was back in town, he'd track him down.
After an hour and a quarter's play, he was considering cashing a cheque for more chips. Twenty quid down in a little over an hour, and Candice fighting for some space in his crowded head. He took a break, moved to a row of fruit machines, but the lights and buttons defeated him. He wasted three nudges and ran out of time on some accumulator. Another two quid gone – this time in a couple of minutes. Little wonder clubs and pubs wanted slot machines. Tommy Telford was in the right business. His hostess came to see him again, asked if he wanted another drink.
`I'm fine,' he said. `Not much action tonight.’
`It's early,' she told him. `Wait till after midnight…’
No way was he sticking around that long. But Matsumoto surprised him, threw up his hands and came out with another rush of Japanese, nodding and grinning, gathering up his chips. He cashed them and left the casino. Rebus waited all of thirty seconds, then followed. He said a breezy goodnight to the security men, felt their eyes on him all the way back down the stairs.
Matsumoto was buttoning his coat, wrapping the scarf tight around his neck. He was headed back in the direction of the hotel. Rebus, suddenly bone-tired, stopped in his tracks. He was thinking of Sammy and Lintz and the Weasel, thinking of all the time he seemed to be wasting.
`Fuck this for a game of soldiers.’
Turned on his heels and went to collect his car.
Ten Years After: `Goin' Home'.
It was a twenty-minute walk to Flint Street, a lot of it uphill and with the wind doing nobody any favours. The city was quiet: people huddled at bus stops; students munching on baked potatoes, chips with curry sauce. A few souls marching home with the concentrated tread of the sozzled. Rebus stopped, frowned, looked around. This was where he'd left the Saab. He was positive… no, not 'positive' the word had taken on malign overtones. He was sure, yes, sure he'd left the Saab right here. Where now a black Ford Sierra was parked, and behind that a Mini. But no sign of Rebus's car.
`Aw, Christ,' he exploded. There were no signs of glass by the roadside, which meant they hadn't taken a brick to one of his windows. Oh, there'd be jokes in the office about this though, whether he got the car back or not. A taxi came along and he flagged it down, then remembered he'd no cash, so waved it off again.
His flat in Arden Street wasn't that far off, but had he been a camel, he'd have been keeping well clear of any straw.
He was asleep in his chair by the living-room window, duvet pulled up to his neck, when the buzzer sounded. He couldn't remember setting the alarm. Consciousness brought the dawning realisation that it was his door. He staggered to his feet, found his trousers and put them on.
`All right, all right,' he called, heading for the hall. `Keep your hair on.’
He opened the door and saw Bill Pryde.
`Jesus, Bill, is this some sort of twisted revenge?’
Rebus looked at his watch: two-fifteen.
`Afraid not, John,' Pryde said. His face and voice told Rebus something bad had happened.
Something very bad indeed.
`I've been off the booze for weeks.’
`Sure about that?’
Rebus's eyes burned into those of DO Gill Templer. They were in her office at St Leonard's. Pryde was there, too. His jacket was off and his sleeves rolled up. Gill Templer looked bleary from interrupted sleep. Rebus was pacing what floor there was, unable to stay seated.
`I've had nothing to drink all day but coffee and Coke.’
Rebus ran his hands through his hair. He felt groggy, and his head was throbbing. But he couldn't ask for Paracetamol and water: they'd assume hangover. `Come on, Gill,' he said, `I'm being shafted here.’
`Who authorised your surveillance?’
`Nobody. I did it in my own time.’
`How do you work that out?’
`The Chief Super said I could take a bit of time off.’
`He meant so you could visit your daughter.’
She paused. `Is that what this was all about?’
`This Mr…’ she checked her notes `… Matsumoto, he was connected to Thomas Telford. And your theory is that Telford was behind the attack on your daughter?’
Rebus thumped the wall with his fists. `It's a set-up, oldest trick in the book. I've yet to see one perfected. There's got to be something at the scene… something out of kilter.’
He turned to his colleagues. `You've got to let me go there, take a look around.’
Templer looked to Bill Pryde. Pryde folded his arms, shrugged assent. But it was Templer's play, she was the senior officer here. She tapped her pen against her teeth, then dropped it on to the desk.
`Will you submit to a blood test?’
Rebus swallowed. `Why not?’ he said at last.
`Come on then,' she said, getting to her feet.
The story was: Matsumoto had been on his way back to his hotel. Crossing the road, he'd been hit by a car travelling at speed. The driver hadn't stopped, not right away. But the car had travelled only another couple of hundred yards before mounting the pavement with its front wheels. It had been abandoned there, driver's door open.
A Saab 900, its identity known to half the Lothian and Borders force.
The interior reeked of whisky, the screw-top from a bottle lying on the passenger seat. No sign of the bottle, no sign of the driver. Just the car, and two hundred yards further back, the body of the Japanese businessman, growing cold by the roadside.
Nobody had seen anything. Nobody had heard anything. Rebus could believe it: never one of the city centre's busier routes, at this hour the place was dead.
`When I followed him from his hotel, he didn't come this way,' Rebus told Templer. She stood with shoulders hunched, hands deep in her coat pockets, keeping out the cold.
`So?’ she asked.
`Long way round for a short-cut.’
`Maybe he wanted to see the sights,' Pryde suggested.
`What time's this supposed to have happened?’ Rebus asked.
Templer hesitated. `There's a margin of error.’
`Look, Gill, I know this is awkward. You shouldn't have brought me here, you shouldn't answer my questions. I'm the number one suspect, after all.’
Rebus knew how much she had to lose. Over two hundred male Chief Inspectors in Scotland; only five women. Bad odds, and a lot of people waiting for her to fail. He held up his hands. `Look, if I was blind drunk and I hit somebody, think I'd leave the car at the scene?’
`You might not know you'd hit anyone. You hear a thunk, lose control and mount the kerb, and some survival instinct tells you it's time to get out and walk.’
`Only I hadn't been drinking. I left the car near Flint Street, and that's where they took it from. Any signs it was broken into?’
She didn't say anything.
`I'll guess not,' Rebus went on. `Because professionals don't leave marks. But to get it started, they must have wired it or got into the steering column. That's what you should be looking for.’
The car had been towed. First thing in the morning, forensics would be all over it.
Rebus laughed, shaking his head. `It's nice though, isn't it? First they make Sammy look like a hit and run, and now they try to pin me for the same thing.’
`Telford and his men.’
`I thought you said they were doing business with Matsumoto?’
`They're all gangsters, Gill. Gangsters fall out.’
`What about Cafferty?’
Rebus frowned. `What about him?’
`He's got an old grudge against you. This way, he stitches you up and annoys Telford.’
`So you do think I'm being stitched up?’
`I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt.’
She paused. `Not everyone will. What was Matsumoto's business with Telford?’
`Something to do with a country club – on the surface at least. Some Japanese were buying it, and Telford was clearing the way:' He shivered: should have worn a coat over his jacket. He rubbed his arm where the blood sample had been taken to test his alcohol level. `Of course, a check of the deceased's hotel room might throw up something.’
`We've already been there,' Pryde said. `Nothing out of the ordinary.’
`Which deadbeat did you send?’
`I went myself,' Gill Templer said, voice as icy as the wind. Rebus bowed his head in apology. She had a point though: Matsumoto and Telford had been doing business. There had been nothing about their farewell to one another to suggest a break-up, and Matsumoto had seemed happy and confident at the casino. What had Telford to gain by bumping him off? Apart from maybe getting Rebus off his back.
Templer had mentioned Cafferty: was Big Ger capable of such a move? What did he stand to gain? Apart from settling a long-held grudge against Rebus, giving Telford a headache, and maybe gaining Poyntinghame and the Japanese deal for himself.
Balance the two – Telford against Cafferty. Cafferty's side tipped, went clunk as it hit the ground.
`Let's get back to the station,' Templer said. `I'm reaching the early stages of frostbite.’
`Can I go home then?’
`We're not done with you yet, John,' she said, getting into the car. `Not by a long chalk.’
But eventually they had to let him go. He wasn't being charged, not yet. There was work still to be done. He knew they could make a case against him if they wanted to, knew it only too well. He'd followed Matsumoto out of the club. He was the one with the grudge against Telford. He was the one who'd see poetic justice in sending Telford a message by driving over one of his associates.
He, John Rebus, was firmly in the frame. It was tightly constructed and quite elegant in its way. The scales suddenly tipped back towards Telford again, so much subtler than Cafferty.
Rebus visited Farlowe in his cell. The reporter wasn't asleep.
`How long do I have to stay here?’ he asked.
`As long as possible.’
`Minor burns. Don't expect him to press charges. He'll want you on the outside.’
`Then you'll have to let me go.’
`Don't bet on it, Ned. We can press charges. We don't need Telford.’
Farlowe looked at him. `You're going to prosecute me?’
`I saw the whole thing. Unwarranted attack on an innocent man.’
Farlowe snorted, then smiled. `Ironic, isn't it? Charging me for my own good.’
He paused. `I won't be able to see Sammy, will I?’
Rebus shook his head.
`I didn't think of that. Fact is, I didn't think.’
He looked up from his ledge. `I just did. And right up until the moment I did it, it felt… brilliant.’
Farlowe shrugged. `What does afterwards matter? It's only the rest of my life.’
Rebus didn't go home, knew he wouldn't sleep. And he'd no car, so he couldn't go driving. Instead, he visited the hospital, sat down by Sammy's bedside. He took her hand, rested it against his face.
When a nurse came in and asked if he wanted anything, he asked if she'd any Paracetamol.
`In a hospital?’ she said, smiling. `I'll see what I can do.’
Rebus was due for further questioning at St Leonard's at ten o'clock, so when his pager sounded at eight-fifteen, he assummed it was a reminder. But the phone number it wanted him to call was the mortuary down in the Cowgate. He called from the hospital payphone, and was put through to Dr Curt.
`Looks like I've drawn the short straw,' Curt told him.
`You're about to start work on Matsumoto?’
`For my sins. Look, I've heard the stories… don't suppose there's any truth in them?’
`I didn't kill him.’
`Glad to hear it, John.’
Curt seemed to be struggling to say something. `There are questions of ethics, of course, so I can't suggest that you come down here…’
`There's something you think I should see?’
`That I can't say.’
Curt cleared his throat. `But if you happened to be here… and the place is always very quiet this time of the morning…’
`I'm on my way.’
The Infirmary to the mortuary: a ten-minute walk. Curt himself was waiting to lead Rebus to the body.
The room was all white tile, bright light and stainless steel. Two of the dissecting-tables lay empty. Matsumoto's naked body lay on the third. Rebus walked around it, stunned by what he saw.
And not just the kilted piper on a sailor's arm. These were works of art, and they were massive. A scaly green dragon, breathing pink and red fire, covered one shoulder and crept down the arm towards the wrist. Its back legs reached around the body's neck, while its front ones rested on the chest. There were other smaller dragons, and a landscape Mount Fuji reflected in water. There were Japanese symbols and the visored face of a kendo champion. Curt put on rubber gloves, and had Rebus do the same. Then the two men rolled the body over, displaying a further gallery across Matsumoto's back. A masked actor, something out of a Noh play, and a warrior in full armour. Some delicate flowers. The effect was mesmerising.
`Stunning, aren't they?’ Curt said.
`I've visited Japan a few times, given papers at conferences.’
`So you recognise some of these?’
`A few of the references, yes. Thing is, tattoos – especially on this scale – usually mean you're a gang member.’
`Like the Triads?’
`The Japanese are called Yakuza. Look here.’
Curt held up the left hand. The pinkie had been severed at the first joint, the skin healed in a rough crust.
`That's what happens when they screw up, isn't it?’
Rebus said, the word `Yakuza' bouncing around in his head. `Someone cuts off a finger every time.’
`I think so, yes,' Curt said. `Just thought you might like to know.’
Rebus nodded, eyes glued to the corpse. `Anything else?’
`Well, I haven't started on him yet, really. All looks fairly standard: evidence of impact with a moving vehicle. Crushed ribcage, fractures to the arms and legs.’
Rebus noticed that a bone was protruding from one calf, obscenely white against the skin. `There'll be a lot of internal damage. Shock probably killed him.’
Curt was thoughtful. `I must let Professor Gates know. Doubt he'll have seen anything like it.’
`Can I use your phone?’ Rebus asked.
He knew one person who might know about the Yakuza – she'd seemed knowledgeable about every other country's criminal gangs. So he spoke to Miriam Kenworthy in Newcastle.
`Tattoos and missing fingers?’ she said.
`Actually, it's only the top bit missing from one little finger. That's done to them when they step out of line, isn't it?’
`Not quite. They do it to themselves as a way of saying they're sorry. I'm not sure I know much more than that.’
There was the sound of papers being shifted. `I'm just looking for my notes.’
`When I was connecting all these gangs, different cultures, I did some research. Might be something on the Yakuza… Look, can I call you back?’
Rebus gave her Curt's number, then sat and waited. Curt's room wasn't so much an office as a walk-in cupboard. Files were stacked high on his desk, and a dictaphone lay on top of them, along with a fresh pack of tapes. The room reeked of cigarettes and bad ventilation. On the walls: schedules of meetings, postcards, a couple of framed prints. The place was a bolt-hole, a necessity; Curt spent most of his time elsewhere.
Rebus took out Colquhoun's business card, tried home and office. As far as his secretary was concerned, Dr Colquhoun was still off sick.
Maybe, but he was well enough to visit a casino. One of Telford's casinos. No coincidence surely…
Kenworthy was good as gold.
`Yakuza,' she said, sounding like she was lifting from her script. `Ninety thousand members split into something like two and a half thousand groupings. Utterly ruthless, but also highly intelligent and sophisticated. Very hierarchical structure, almost impenetrable to outsiders. Like a secret society. They even have a sort of middle management level, called the Sokaiya.’
Rebus was writing it all down. `How do you spell that?’
She told him. `Back in Japan they run pachinko parlours – that's a sort of gaming thing – and have fingers in most other illegal pies.’
`Unless they've lopped them off. What about outside Japan?’
`Only thing I've got down here is that they – ship expensive designer stuff back home to sell on the black market, also stolen art, ship it back to wealthy buyers…’
`Wait a minute, you told me Jake Tarawicz started out smuggling icons out of Russia.’
`You're saying Pink Eyes might connect to the Yakuza?’
`Tommy Telford's been chauffeuring them around. There's a warehouse everyone seems interested in, plus a country club.’
`What's in the warehouse?’
`I don't know yet.’
`Maybe you should find out.’
`It's on my list. Something else, these pachinko parlours… would those be like amusement arcades?’
`Another connection with Telford: he puts gaming machines into half the pubs and clubs on the east coast.’
`You think the Yakuza saw someone they could do a deal with?’
`I don't know.’
He tried stifling a yawn.
`Too early in the morning for big questions?’
He smiled. `Something like that. Thanks for your help, Miriam.’
`No problem. Keep me posted.’
`Sure. Anything new on Tarawicz?’
`Nothing I've heard. No sign of Candice either, sorry.’
Curt was standing in the doorway. He'd stripped off gown and gloves, and his hands smelled of soap.
`Not much I can do till my assistants get in.’
He looked at his watch. `Fancy a spot of breakfast?’
`You have to appreciate how this looks, John. The media could be all over us. I can think of a few journalists who'd give their drinking arm to nail you.’
Chief Superintendent Watson was in his element. Seated behind his desk, hands folded, he had the serenity of a large stone Buddha. The occasional crises with which John Rebus presented him had hardened the Farmer to life's lesser knocks and taught him calm acceptance.
`You're going to suspend me,' Rebus stated with conviction he'd been here before. He finished the coffee his boss had given him, but kept his hands locked around the mug. `Then you're going to open an investigation.’
`Not straight away,' Watson surprised him by saying. `What I want first of all is your statement – and I mean a full and frank explanation – of your recent movements, your interest in Mr. Matsumoto and Thomas Telford. Bring in anything you want about your daughter's accident, any suspicions you've had, and above all the validity of those suspicions. Telford already has a lawyer asking awkward questions about our Japanese friend's untimely end. The lawyer…’
Watson looked to Gill Templer, seated by the door, mouth a thin unimpressed line.
`Charles Groal,' she said flatly.
'Groal, yes. He's been asking at the casino. He got a description of a man who came in just after Matsumoto, and left immediately after him. He seems to think it's you.’
`Are you telling him otherwise?’ Rebus asked.
`We're telling him nothing, not until our own inquiries have established… et cetera. But I can't hold him off forever, John.’
`Have you asked anyone what Matsumoto was doing here?’
`He works for a firm of management consultants. He was here at a client's behest, finalising the takeover of a country club.’
`With Tommy Telford in tow.’
`John, let's not lose sight of…’
'Matsumoto was a member of the Yakuza, sir. The closest I've come to one of those before has been on a TV screen. Now suddenly they're in Edinburgh.’ Rebus paused. `Don't you find that just a wee bit curious? I mean, doesn't it worry you at all? I don't know, maybe I'm getting my priorities all wring, but it seems to me we're splashing about in puddles while a tidal wave's coming in!' The pressure of his hands around the mug had been increasing by degrees. Now the thing broke, a piece falling to the floor as Rebus winced. He picked one ceramic shard out of his palm. Drops of blood hit the carpet. Gill Templer had come forward, was reaching for his hand.
`Here, let me.’
He spun away from her. `No!' Way too loud. Fumbling in his pocket for a handkerchief.
`I've got some paper ones in my bag.’
`It's all right.’
Blood dripping on to his shoes. Watson was saying something about the mug having a crack; Templer was staring at him. He wrapped white cotton around the wound.
`I'll go wash it,' he said. `With your permission, sir?’
`On you go, John. Sure you're all right?’
`I'll be fine.’
It wasn't a bad cut. Cold water helped. He dried off with paper towels, which he flushed down the toilet, waiting to see they'd gone. A first aid box next: half a dozen plasters, cover the nick good and proper. He bunched his fist, saw no sign of leakage. Had to be content with that.
Back at his desk, he started on his memoirs – as ordered by Watson. Gill Templer came past, decided he needed a few soft words.
`None of us thinks you did it, John. But something like this… questions being asked by the Japanese consul… it has to be done by the book.’
`It all comes down to politics in the end, eh?’
He was thinking of Joseph Lintz.
At lunchtime he dropped in on Ned Farlowe, asked him if he needed anything. Farlowe wanted sandwiches, books, newspapers, company. He looked drawn, weary of imprisonment. Maybe soon he'd think to ask for a lawyer. A lawyer – any lawyer – would get him out.
Rebus handed his report to Watson's secretary and headed out of the station. He'd gone fifty yards when a car pulled up alongside. Range Rover. Pretty-Boy telling him to get in. Rebus looked into the back of the car.
Telford. Ointment on his blistered face. Looking like a scaleddown Jake Tarawicz…
Rebus hesitated. The cop shop was a short sprint away.
`Get in,' Pretty-Boy repeated. Sucker for a free offer, Rebus got in.
Pretty-Boy turned the car. The giant yellow teddy had been strapped into the passenger seat.
`I don't suppose,' Rebus said, `it's worth my while asking you to leave Ned Farlowe be?’
Telford's mind was on other things. `He wants war, he's going to get war.’
`I don't work for Cafferty.’
`Don't give me that.’
`I'm the one who put him inside.’
`And you've been snuggling up ever since.’
`I didn't kill Matsumoto.’
Telford looked at him for the first time, and Rebus could see he was itching for violence.
`You know I didn't,' Rebus went on.
`What do you mean?’
`Because you did it, and you want me to-'
Telford's hands were around Rebus's neck. Rebus shrugged them off, tried pinning Telford down. Impossible with the car in motion, cramped in the back seat. Pretty-Boy stopped the car and got out, opened Rebus's door and dragged him on to the pavement. Telford followed, face beetroot-red, eyes bulging…
`You're not going to pin this on me!' he roared. Drivers slowed to watch. Pedestrians crossed the road to safety.
`Who else?’ Rebus's voice was shaky.
'Cafferty!' Telford screeched. `It's you and Cafferty, trying to shut me down!' `I'm telling you, I didn't do it.’
`Boss,' Pretty-Boy was saying, `let's screw the head, eh?’
He was looking around, nervous of the attention they were attracting. Telford saw his point, let his shoulders relax a little.
`Get in the car,' He said to Rebus. Rebus just stared at him. `It's okay. Just get in. I want to show you a couple of things.’
Rebus, world's craziest cop, got back in.
There was silence for a couple of minutes, Telford rearranging the dressings on his fingers, which had come loose during the fight.
`I don't think Cafferty wants war,' Rebus said.
`What makes you so sure?’
Because I've done a deal with him – it's me who's going to shut you damn. They were heading west. Rebus tried not to think about possible destinations.
`You were in the Army, weren't you?’ Telford asked.
`Paratroops, then the S A S.’
`I didn't get past training.’
Rebus thinking: he's well-informed.
`So you decided to become a cop instead.’
Telford was completely calm again. He'd brushed down his suit and checked the knot in his tie. `Thing is, working for structures like those – Army, cops – you need to obey orders. I hear you're not very good at it. You wouldn't last long with me.’
He looked out of the window. `What's Cafferty planning?’
`Why were you watching Matsumoto?’
`Because he tied into you.’
`Crime Squad pulled their surveillance.’
Rebus said nothing. `But you kept yours going.’
Telford turned towards him. `Why?’
`Because you tried to kill my daughter.’
Telford stared at him, unblinking. `Is that what this is about?’
`It's why Ned Farlowe tried to blind you He's her boyfriend.’
Telford choked out a disbelieving laugh, started to shake his head. `I'd nothing to do with your daughter. Where's the reason?’
`To get at me. Because she helped me with Candice.’
Telford was thoughtful. `Okay,' he said, nodding, `I can see your thinking, and I don't suppose my word's going to count for much, but for what it's worth, I know absolutely nothing about your daughter.’
He paused. Rebus could hear sirens nearby. `Is that what took you to Cafferty?’
Rebus said nothing, which seemed, to Telford's mind, to confirm his suspicions. He smiled again.
`Pull over,' Telford said. Pretty-Boy stopped the car. The road ahead was blocked anyway, police diverting traffic down side-streets. Rebus realised he'd been smelling smoke for some time. The tenements had hidden it from view, but now he could see the fire. It was in the lot where Cafferty kept his taxis. The shed used as an office had been reduced to ash. The garage behind, where the cabs were worked on and cleaned up, was about to lose its corrugated roof. A row of vehicles was burning nicely.
`We could have sold tickets,' Pretty-Boy said. Telford turned from the spectacle to Rebus.
`Fire Brigade's going to be stretched. Two of Cafferty's offices are spontaneously combusting…’ he checked his watch… `right about now, as is that beautiful house of his. Don't worry, we waited till his wife was out shopping. Final ultimatums have been delivered to his men – they can shuffle out of town or off this mortal coil.’
He shrugged. `Makes no odds to me. Go tell Cafferty: he's finished in Edinburgh.’
Rebus licked his lips. `You've just said I'm wrong about you, that you had nothing to do with my daughter. What if you're wrong about Cafferty?’
`Wake up, will you? The stabbing at Megan's, then Danny Simpson… Cafferty's not exactly subtle.’
`Did Danny say it was Cafferty's men?’
`He knows, same as I do.’
Telford tapped Pretty-Boy's shoulder. `Back to base.’
To Rebus: `Another little message for you to take to Barlinnie. Here's what I told Cafferty's men – any of them left in this city after midnight are fair game… and I don't take prisoners.’
He sniffed, seemed pleased with himself, settled back in the seat. `You won't mind if I drop you at Flint Street? Only I've a business meeting in fifteen minutes.’
`With Matsumoto's bosses?’
`If they want Poyntinghame, they'll keep dealing with me.’
He looked at Rebus. `You should deal with me, too. Think about this: who'd want you pissed off with me? It comes back to Cafferty: hitting your daughter, setting up Matsumoto… It all comes back to Cafferty. Think it over, then maybe we should talk again.’
After a couple of minutes, Rebus broke the silence.
`You know a man called Joseph Lintz?’
`Bobby Hogan mentioned him.’
`He phoned your office in Flint Street.’
Telford shrugged. `I'll tell you what I told Hogan. Maybe it was a wrong number. Whatever it was, I didn't speak to any old Nazi.’
`You're not the only one uses that office though.’
Rebus saw Pretty-Boy watching him in the rearview mirror. `What about you?’
`Never heard of the cat.’
A car was parked in Flint Street – a huge white limousine with blackened windows. There was a TV aerial on the boot, and the hubcaps were painted pink.
`Christ,' Telford said in amusement, `look at his latest toy.’
He seemed to have forgotten all about Rebus. He was out of the car and loping towards the man who was emerging from the back of the limo. White suit, panama hat, big cigar, and a bright red paisley shirt. None of which stopped you staring at the scarred face and blue-tinted glasses. Telford was commenting on the attire, the car, the audacity, and Mr Pink Eyes was loving it. He put a hand around Telford's shoulder, steering him towards the amusement arcade. But then he stopped, clicked his fingers, turned back to the limo and reached out a hand.
And now a woman was emerging. Short black dress and black tights, fur jacket keeping out the chills. Tarawicz rubbed a hand over her backside; Telford kissed her on the neck. She smiled, eyes slightly glazed. Then Tarawicz and Telford turned towards the Range Rover. They were both staring at Rebus.
`Trip's over, Inspector,' Pretty-Boy said, telling Rebus it was time to get out. He did so, his eyes on Candice. But she wasn't looking at him. She was snuggling into Mr Pink Eyes, head on his chest. He was still rubbing her backside, the dress rising and falling. He was watching Rebus, eyes alight, face pulled into a latex grin. Rebus walked over to them, and now Candice saw him, and looked frightened.
`Inspector,' Tarawicz said, `good to see you again. Come to whisk the damsel away to safety?’
Rebus ignored him. `Come on, Candice.’
His hand, not quite steady, held out towards her.
She looked at him and shook her head. `Why would I want that?’
she said, and was rewarded with another kiss from Tarawicz.
`You were abducted. You can press charges.’
Tarawicz was laughing, leading her into the cafe.
Rebus reached for her arm, but she pulled away and followed her master inside.
Two of Telford's men were blocking the door. Pretty-Boy was behind Rebus.
`No cheap heroics?’ he asked, making to pass the policeman.
Back at St Leonard's, Rebus took Farlowe his food and newspapers, then hitched a lift in a patrol car to Torphichen. The man he wanted was DI `Shug' Davidson, and Davidson was in the CID office, looking frazzled.
`Somebody torched a taxi rank,' he told Rebus.
`Any idea who?’
Davidson's eyes narrowed. `The rank was owned by Jock Scallow. Is there something you're trying to tell me?’
`Who really owned the outfit, Shug?’
`You know damned well.’
`And who's muscling in on Cafferty's patch?’
`I've heard rumours.’
Rebus rested against Davidson's desk. `Tommy Telford's going into combat, unless we can stop him.’
`I want you to take me somewhere,' Rebus said.
Shug Davidson was happily married to an understanding wife, and had kids who didn't see as much of him as they deserved. A year back, he'd won forty grand on the Lottery. Everyone in his station got a drink. The rest of the money had been salted away.
Rebus had worked with him before. He wasn't a bad cop, maybe lacking a little in imagination. They had to work their way around the scene of the fire. A further mile and a half on, Rebus told him to stop.
`What is it?’
`That's what I want you to tell me.’
Rebus was looking towards the brick building, the same one which so interested Tommy Telford.
`It's Maclean's,' Davidson said.
`And what's Maclean's when it's at home?’
Davidson smiled. `You really don't know?’
He opened his car door. `Come on, I'll show you.’
They had to have their identities checked at the main entrance. Rebus noticed a lot of security, albeit subtle: cameras trained down from the corners of the building, catching every angle of approach. A phone call was made, and a man in a white coat came down to sign them in. They pinned visitor's badges to their jackets, and the tour began.
`I've been here before,' Davidson confided. `If you ask me, it's the best kept secret in the city.’
They climbed steps, walked down passageways. Everywhere there was security: guards checked their badges; doors had to be unlocked; cameras charted their progress. Which puzzled Rebus, for it was such an unassuming building, really. And nothing spectacular was happening.
`What is it, Fort Knox?’ he asked. But then their guide handed them white coats to put on, before pushing open the door to a laboratory, and Rebus started to understand.
People were working with chemicals, examining test-tubes, writing notes. There were all sorts of weird and wonderful machines, but in essence it was a school chemistry-lab on a slightly grander scale.
`Welcome,'. Davidson said, `to the world's biggest drugs factory.’
Which wasn't quite correct, for Maclean's was only the world's largest legal producer of heroin and cocaine, something the guide explained.
`We're licensed by the government. Back in 1961 there was an international agreement: every country in the world was allowed just one producer, and we're it for Britain.’
`So what do you make?’
Rebus was staring at the rows of locked fridges.
`All sorts of things: methadone for heroin addicts, pethedine for women in labour. Diamorphine to ease terminal illnesses and cocaine for use in medical procedures. The company started out supplying laudanum to the Victorians.’
`And these days?’
`We produce about seventy tonnes of opiates a year,' the guide said. `And around two million pounds' worth of pure cocaine.’
Rebus rubbed his forehead. `I begin to see the need for security.’
The guide smiled. `The MoD has asked us for advice – that's how good our security is.’
`A couple of attempts, nothing we couldn't deal with.’
No, Rebus thought, but then you've never had to deal with Tommy Telford and the Yakuza… not yet.
Rebus walked around the lab, smiled and nodded at a woman who just seemed to be standing there, not doing anything.
`Who's she?’ he asked the guide..
`Our nurse. She's on stand-by.’
The guide nodded towards where a man was operating one of the machines. `Etorphine,' he said. `Forty thousand pounds a kilo, and extremely potent. The nurse has the antidote, just in case.’
`So what's it used for, this etorphine?’
`Knocking out rhinos,' the guide said, like the answer should have been obvious.
The cocaine was produced from coca leaves flown in from Peru. The opium came from plantations in Tasmania and Australia. The pure heroin and cocaine were kept in a strongroom. Each lab had its share of locked safes. The storage warehouse boasted infrared detectors and movement sensors. Five minutes in the place told Rebus exactly why Tommy Telford was interested in Maclean's. And he'd brought the Yakuza in on the plan either because he needed their help – which was unlikely – or to brag about the exploit.
Back at the car, Davidson asked the obvious question.
`What's this all about, John?’
Rebus pinched the bridge of his nose. `I think Telford's planning to hit this place.’
Davidson snorted. `He'd never get in. Like you said yourself, it's Fort bloody Knox.’
`It's a prestige thing, Shug. If he can empty the place, it'll make his name. He'll have beaten Cafferty hands down.’
It was the same with the fire-bombings: they weren't just a message to Cafferty, but a sort of `red carpet' for Mr Pink Eyes – welcome to Edinburgh, and look what I can do.
`I'm telling you,' Davidson said, `there's no way in. Christ, that's cheap!' Davidson's attention had been diverted by signs on the window of the corner shop. Rebus looked, too. Cut-price cigarettes. Cheap sandwiches and hot rolls. Plus five pence off any morning paper.
`Competition around here must be crippling,' Davidson said. `Fancy a roll?’
Rebus was watching workers leaving the gates of Maclean's. Afternoon break maybe. Saw them cross the road, dodging traffic. Counting small change from their pockets as they pushed open the door to the shop.
`Yes,' Rebus said quietly, `why not?’
The small shop was packed out. Davidson got in the queue, while Rebus looked at the rack of papers and magazines. The workers were sharing jokes and gossip. Two staff worked behind the counter young males, mixing banter with less-than-efficient service.
`What do you fancy, John? Bacon?’
`Fine,' Rebus said. Remembered he hadn't had lunch. `Make it two.’
Two bacon rolls came in at one pound exactly. They sat in the car to eat.
`You know, Shug, the usual ploy with a shop like that is to take a beating on one or two necessities to get the punters in.’
Davidson nodded, attacked his roll. `But that place looked like Bargain City.’
Rebus had stopped eating. `Do us both a favour: find out the shop's history, who owns it, who those two are behind the counter.’
Davidson's chewing slowed. `You think…?’
'Just check it out, all right?’
Back at St Leonard's, his telephone was ringing. He sat down and prised the lid from a beaker of coffee. On the drive back he'd been thinking about Candice. Two swigs of coffee and he lifted the receiver.
`DI Rebus,' he said.
`What the fuck is that little shite up to?’
The voice of Big Ger Cafferty.
`Where are you?’
`Where do you think I am?’
`Sounds like a mobile.’
`Amazing the things that find their way into Barlinnie. Now tell me, what is happening over there?’
'You've heard then.’
`He torched my house! My house! Am I supposed to let him get away with that?’
`Look, I think I may have found a way to get to him.’
Cafferty calmed a little. `Tell me?’
`Not yet, I want to -'
`And all my taxis,' Cafferty exploded again. `The little bastard!' `Look, the point is: what's he expecting you to do? He's waiting for instant retaliation.’
`And he's going to get it.’
`He'll be ready. Wouldn't it be better to catch him off-guard?’
`That little bastard hasn't been off-guard since he was lifted from the cradle.’
`Shall I tell you why he did it?’
Cafferty's anger ebbed again. `Why?’
`Because he says you killed Matsumoto.’
`A business acquaintance. Whoever did it made it look like I was behind the wheel.’
`It wasn't me.’
`Try telling Telford that. He thinks you ordered me to do it.’
`We know differently.’
`That's right. We know someone was setting me up, trying to get me out of the way.’
`What was his name again, the dead one?’
`Is that Japanese?’
Rebus wished he could see Cafferty's eyes. Even then, it was hard to tell when the man was playing games.
`He was Japanese,' Rebus stated.
`What the hell did he have to do with Telford?’
`Sounds to me like your intelligence has gone to pot.’
There was silence on the line. `About your daughter…’
Rebus froze. `What about her?’
`A secondhand shop in Porty.’
Meaning Portobello. `The owner bought some stuff from a seller. Including opera tapes and Roy Orbison. Stuck in his mind. They don't naturally go together.’
Rebus's hand tightened on the receiver. `Which shop? What did the seller look like?’
Cold laughter. `We're working on it, Strawman, just leave everything to us. Now, about this Japanese fellow…?’
'I said I'd put Telford out of the game. That was the agreement.’
`I've yet to see any action.’
`I'm working on it!'
`I want to hear about him anyway.’
`How is Samantha anyway?’ Cafferty asked. `That's her name, isn't it?’
`Because it looks like I'll be fulfilling my side of our bargain any day. While you, on the other hand…’
'Matsumoto was Yakuza: heard of them?’
A moment's silence. `I've heard of them.’
`Telford's helping them buy a country club.’
`What in God's name do they want with that?’
`I'm not sure.’
Cafferty was silent again. Rebus almost thought his mobile had died. Then: `He's got big ideas, hasn't he?’
Like there was just a touch of respect there, battling the sense of territorial breach.
`We've both seen people overreach themselves.’
An idea formed in Rebus's mind, a sudden notion of where everything was headed.
`Looks like Telford's got plenty of stretch left in him though,' Cafferty was saying. `And me, I'm not even halfway through my stretch.’
`Know something, Cafferty? Every time you start to sound beaten, that's when I know you're just coming to the boil.’
`You know I'm going to have to retaliate, whether I want to or not. A little ritual we have to go through, like shaking hands.’
`How many men have you got?’
`More than enough.’
`Listen, one last thing…’
Rebus couldn't believe he was telling his arch-enemy this. `Jake Tarawicz arrived here today. I think the fireworks were meant to impress him.’
`Telford torched my house just so he'd have something to show that ugly Russian bastard?’
Like a kid showing off to his elders, Rebus was thinking. Overreaching himself…
`That's it, Strawman!' Cafferty was back to being furious. `All bets are off. Those two want to get dirty with Morris Gerald Cafferty, I'll give them both anthrax. I'll infect the pair of them. They'll think they've caught full-blown fucking AIDS by the time I'm finished!' Which was about as much as Rebus could take. He put down the phone, drank his cold coffee, checked his messages. Patience wondered if he could make it to supper. Rhona said they'd carried out another scan. Bobby Hogan wanted a word.
He called the hospital first. Rhona said something about a new scan to assess the amount of damage done to the brain.
`Then why the hell didn't they give her that scan straight away?’
`I don't know.’
`Did you ask?’
`Why don't you come down here? Why don't you ask? Seems like when I'm not here, you're happy enough spending time with Samantha, even sleeping in the chair. What is it – do I scare you off?’
`Look, Rhona, I'm sorry. It's been a rough day.’
`For you and everyone else.’
`I know. I'm a selfish bastard.’
The rest of their conversation was predictable. It was a relief to say goodbye. He tried Patience, got her answering machine, and told it he'd be happy to accept the invitation. Then he called Bobby Hogan.
`Hiya, Bobby, what've you got?’
`Not much. I had a word with Telford.’
`I know, he told me.’
`You've been speaking to him?’
`Says he never knew Lintz. Did you talk to The Family?’
`The ones who frequent the office. Same story.’
`Did you mention the five thou'?’
'Think I'm stupid? Listen, I thought you might be able to help me.’
'Lintz's address book, I found a couple of addresses for a Dr Colquhoun. Thought at first it must be his GP.’
`He's a Slavic Studies lecturer.’
`Only Lintz seems to have been keeping track of him. Three changes of address, going back twenty years. First two addresses have phone numbers with them, but not the most recent. I checked, and Colquhoun's only been at this latest address three years.’
`So Lintz didn't have his home phone number. So if he wanted to speak to him…’
Rebus twigged. `He'd phone the university.’
The call on Lintz's bill: twenty-odd minutes. Rebus was remembering what Colquhoun had said about Lintz.
I met him at a few social functions… our departments weren't that close… As I say, me weren't close…
`They weren't in the same department,' Rebus said. 'Colquhoun told me they'd barely met…’
`So how come Lintz has been keeping up with Colquhoun's various moves around the city?’
`Beats me, Bobby. Have you asked him?’
`No, but I intend to.’
`He's lying low. I've been trying to talk to him for a week.’
Last seen at the Morvena: did Colquhoun link Telford to Lintz? `Well, he's back now.’
`I've an appointment with him at his office.’
`Count me in,' Rebus said, getting to his feet.
As Rebus parked in Buccleuch Place – he was in an unmarked Astra, courtesy of St Leonard's – he saw the car in the neighbouring bay make to leave. He waved, but Kirstin Mede didn't see him, and by the time he'd found the horn, she'd pulled away. He wondered how well she knew Colquhoun. After all, she'd been the one to suggest him as a translator…
Hogan, standing by the railings, had seen Rebus's attempts at communication.
`Someone you know?’
Hogan placed the name. `The one who did those translations?’
Rebus looked up at the Slavic Studies building. `Have you tracked down David Levy?’
`Daughter still hasn't heard from him.’
`How long has that been?’
`Long enough to seem suspicious in itself, only she doesn't seem too bothered.’
`How do you want to play this?’
`Depends what he's like.’
`You ask your questions. Me, I just want to be there.’
Hogan looked at him, then shrugged and pushed open the door. They started to climb the worn stone steps. `Hope they haven't put him in the penthouse.’
Colquhoun's name was on a piece of card stuck to a door on the second floor. They pushed it open, and were confronted with a short hallway and another five or six doors. Colquhoun's office was first on the right, and he was already standing in the doorway.
`Thought I heard you. Sound carries in this place. Come in, come in.’
He wasn't expecting Hogan to have company. His words dried up when he saw Rebus. He walked back into his office, motioned for both officers to sit, then fussed about moving their chairs around so they'd be facing his desk.
`Terrible muddle,' he said, kicking over a pile of books.
`Know the feeling, sir,' Hogan said.
Colquhoun peered in Rebus's direction. `My secretary says you used the library.’
`Filling in some of the gaps, sir.’
Rebus kept his voice level.
Colquhoun was thoughtful. `Is she…? I mean, did she…?’
`But today, sir,' Hogan interrupted, `we want to talk to you about Joseph Lintz.’
Colquhoun sat down heavily in his wooden chair, which creaked under the weight. Then he sprang to his feet again. `Tea, coffee? You must excuse the mess. Not normally this disorganised…’
`Not for us, sir,' Hogan said. `If you'd just take a seat?’
`Of course, of course.’
Again, Colquhoun collapsed on to his chair.
`Joseph Lintz, sir,' Hogan prompted.
`Terrible tragedy… terrible. They think it's murder, you know.’
`Yes, sir, we do know.’
`Of course you do. Apologies.’
The desk in front of Colquhoun was venerable and spotted with woodworm. The shelves were bowed under the weight of textbooks. There were old framed prints on the walls, and a blackboard with the single word CHARACTER on it. University paperwork was piled on the window ledge, all but blacking out the bottom two panes. The smell in the room was that of intellect gone awry.
`It's just that Mr Lintz had your name in his address book, sir,' Hogan continued. `And we're talking to all his friends.’
Colquhoun looked up. `I wouldn't call us "friends" exactly. We were colleagues, but I don't think I met him socially more than three or four times in twenty-odd years.’
`Funny, he seems to have taken an interest in you, sir.’
Hogan flipped open his notebook. `Starting with your address in Warrender Park Terrace.’
`I haven't lived there since the seventies.’
`He also has your telephone number there. After that, it's Currie.’
`I thought I was ready for the rural life…’
Hogan sounded sceptical.
Colquhoun tipped his head. `I eventually realised my mistake.’
`And moved to Duddingston.’
`Not at first. I rented a few properties while I was looking for a place to buy.’
`Mr Lintz has your telephone number in Currie, but not for the Duddingston address.’
`Interesting. I went ex-directory when I moved.’
`Any reason for that, sir?’
Colquhoun swayed in his chair. `Well, I'm sure it sounds awful…’
`I didn't want students bothering me.’
`Did they do that?’
`Oh, yes, phoning to ask questions, advice. Worried about exams or wanting deadlines extended.’
`Do you remember giving Mr Lintz your address, sir?’
`No, I don't.’
`You're sure of that?’
`Yes, but it wouldn't have been hard for him to find out. I mean, he could just have asked one of the secretaries.’
Colquhoun was beginning to look more agitated than ever. The little chair could barely contain him.
`Sir,' Hogan said, `is there anything you want to tell us about Mr Lintz, anything at all?’
Colquhoun just shook his head, staring at the surface of his desk.
Rebus decided to use their joker. `Mr Lintz made a phone call to this office. He was talking for over twenty minutes.’
`That's… simply not true.’
Colquhoun mopped his face with a handkerchief. `Look, gentlemen, I'd like to help, but the fact is, I barely knew Joseph Lintz.’
`And he didn't phone you?’
`And you've no idea why he'd keep note of your Edinburgh addresses for the past three decades?’
Hogan sighed theatrically. `Then we're wasting your time and ours.’
He got to his feet. `Thank you, Dr Colquhoun.’
The look of relief on the old academic's face told both detectives all they needed to know.
They said nothing as they walked back downstairs – like Colquhoun had said, sound could travel. Hogan's car was nearest. They rested against it as they talked.
`He was worried,' Rebus said.
`Hiding something. Think we should go back up?’
Rebus shook his head. `Let him sweat for a day or so, then hit him.’
`He didn't like the fact you were there.’
`That restaurant… Lintz dining with an elderly gent.’
`We could tell him we've got a description from the restaurant staff.’
`Without going into specifics?’
Rebus nodded. `See if it flushes him out.’
`What about the other person Lintz took to lunch, the young woman?’
`Posh restaurant, old man, young woman…’
`A call girl?’
Hogan smiled. `Do they still call them that?’
Rebus was thoughtful. `It might explain the phone call to Telford. Only I doubt Telford's daft enough to discuss business like that from his office. Besides, his escort agency runs from another address.’
`Fact is, he called Telford's office.’
`And nobody's owned up to talking to him.’
`Escort agency stuff, could be very innocent. He doesn't want to eat alone, hires some company. Afterwards, a peck on the cheek and separate taxis.’
Hogan exhaled. `This one's running in circles.’
`I know the feeling, Bobby.’
They looked up at the second-floor windows. Saw Colquhoun staring down, handkerchief to his face.
`Let's leave him to it,' Hogan said, unlocking his car.
`I've been meaning to ask: how did you get on with Abernethy?’
`He didn't give me too much trouble.’
Hogan avoided Rebus's eyes.
`So he's gone?’
Hogan had disappeared into the driver's seat. `He's gone. See you, John.’
Leaving Rebus on the pavement, a frown on his face. He waited till Hogan's car had turned the corner, then went back into the stairwell and climbed the steps again.
Colquhoun's office door was open, the old man fidgeting behind his desk. Rebus sat down opposite him, said nothing.
`I've been ill,' Colquhoun said.
`You've been hiding.’
Colquhoun started shaking his head. `You told them where to find Candice.’
Head still shaking. `Then you got worried, so they hid you away, maybe in a room at, the casino.’
Rebus paused. `How am I doing?’
`I've no comment to make,' Colquhoun snapped.
`What if I just keep talking then?’
`I want you to leave now. If you don't go, I'll have to call my lawyer.’
`Name of Charles Groal?’ Rebus smiled. `They might have spent the last few days tutoring you, but they can't change what you've done.’
Rebus stood up. `You sent Candice back to them. You did that.’
He leaned down over the desk. `You knew all along who she was, didn't you? That's why you were so nervous. How come you knew who she was, Dr Colquhoun? How come you're so chummy with a turd like Tommy Telford?’
Colquhoun picked up the receiver, his hands shaking so badly he kept missing the digits.
`Don't bother,' Rebus said. `I'm going. But we'll talk again. And you mill talk. You'll talk because you're a coward, Dr Colquhoun. And cowards always talk eventually…’
The Crime Squad office at Fettes: home of country and western; Claverhouse terminating a phone call. No sign of Ormiston and Clarke.
`They're out on a call,' Claverhouse said.
`Any progress on that stabbing?’
`What do you think?’
`I think there's something you should know.’
Rebus seated himself behind Siobhan Clarke's desk, admiring its tidy surface. He opened a drawer: it was tidy, too. Compartments, he thought to himself. Clarke was very good at dividing her life into separate compartments. `Jake Tarawicz is in town. He's got this outrageous white limo, hard to miss.’
Rebus paused. `And he's brought Candice with him.’
`What's he doing here?’
`I think he's here for the show.’
'Cafferty and Telford, fifteen rounds of bare-knuckle and no referee.’
Rebus leaned forward, arms on the desk. `And I've got an idea where it's headed.’
Rebus went home, called Patience and told her he might be late.
`How late?’ she asked.
`How late can I be without us falling out?’
She thought about it. `Half-nine.’
`I'll be there.’
He checked his answering machine: David Levy, saying he could be reached at home.
`Where the hell have you been?’ Rebus asked, when Levy's daughter had put her father on.
`I had business elsewhere.’
`You know your daughter's been worried. You might have phoned her.’
`Does this counselling service come free?’
`My fee cancels out when you answer a few questions. You know Lintz is dead?’
`Where were you when you heard?’
`I've told you, I had business… Inspector, am I a suspect?’
`Practically the only one we've got.’
Levy gave a harsh laugh. `This is preposterous. I'm not a…’
He couldn't say the word. Rebus guessed his daughter was within hearing distance. `Hold on a moment, please.’
The receiver was muffled: Levy ordering his daughter out of the room. He came back on, voice lower than before.
`Inspector, for the record, I feel I must let you know how angry I felt when I heard the news. Justice may have been done or not done – I can't argue those points just now – but what is absolutely certain is that history has been cheated here!'
`Of the trial?’
`Of course! And the Rat Line, too. With each suspect who dies, we're that much less likely to prove its existence. Lintz isn't the first, you know. One man, the brakes failed on his car. Another fell from an upstairs window. There've been two apparent suicides, six more cases of what look like natural causes.’
`Am I going to get the full conspiracy theory?’
`This isn't a joke, Inspector.’
`Did you hear me laughing? What about you, Mr Levy? When did you leave Edinburgh?’
`Before Lintz died.’
`Did you see him?’ Rebus knowing he had, but seeking a lie.
Levy paused. `Confronted would be a more apposite term.’
`Just the once?’
`Three times. He wasn't keen to talk about himself, but I stated my case nonetheless.’
`And the phone call?’
Levy paused. `What phone call?’
`When he called you at the Roxburghe.’
`I wish I'd recorded it for posterity. Rage, Inspector. Foulmouthed rage. I'm positive he was mad.’
`You didn't hear him. He's very good at seeming perfectly normal – he must be, or he wouldn't have gone undetected for so long. But the man is… was… mad. Truly mad.’
Rebus was remembering the crooked little man in the cemetery, and how he'd suddenly let fly at a passing dog. Poise, to rage, to poise again. `The story he told…’
Levy sighed. `Was this in the restaurant?’
`Sorry, I thought the two of you went out to lunch.’
`I can assure you we didn't.’
`So what story is this then?’
`These men, Inspector, they come to justify their actions by blanking them out, or by transference. Transference is the more common.’
`They tell themselves someone else did it?’
`And that was Lintz's story?’
`Less believable than most. He said it was all a case of mistaken identity.’
`And who did he think you were mistaking him for?’
`A colleague at the university… a Dr Colquhoun.’
Rebus called Hogan, gave him the story. `I told Levy you'd want to speak to him.’
`I'll phone him right now.’
`What do you think?’
'Colquhoun a war criminal?’
Hogan snorted. `Me, too,' Rebus said. `I asked Levy why he didn't think any of this worth telling us.’
`He said as he gave it no credence, it was worthless.’
`All the same, we'd better talk to Colquhoun again. Tonight.’
`I've other plans for tonight, Bobby.’
`Fair enough, John. Look, I really appreciate all your help.’
`You're going to talk to him alone?’
`I'll have someone with me.’
Rebus hated being left out. If he cancelled that late supper… `Let me know how you get on.’
Rebus put the telephone down. On the hi-fi: Eddie Harris, upbeat and melodic. He went and soaked in a bath, facecloth across his eyes. Everyone, it seemed to him, lived their lives out of little boxes, opening different ones for different occasions. Nobody ever gave their whole self away. Cops were like that, each box a safety mechanism. Most people you met in the course of your life, you never even learned their names. Everybody was boxed off from everybody else. It was called society.
He was wondering about Joseph Lintz, always questioning, turning every conversation into a philosophy lesson. Stuck in his own little box, identity blocked off elsewhere, his past a necessary mystery… Joseph Lintz, furious when cornered, possibly clinically mad, driven there by… what? Memories? Or the lack of them? Driven there by other people? The Eddie Harris CD was on its last track by the time he emerged from the bathroom. He put on the clothes he'd be wearing to Patience's. Only he had a couple of stops to make first: check on, Sammy at the hospital, and then a meeting at Torphichen.
`The gang's all here,' he said, walking into the CID room.
Shug Davidson, Claverhouse, Ormiston, and Siobhan Clarke, all seated around the one big desk, drinking coffee from identical Rangers mugs. Rebus pulled a chair over.
`Have you filled them in, Shug?’ Davidson nodded.
`What about the shop?’
`I was just getting to that.’
Davidson picked up a pen, played with it. `The last owner went out of business, not enough passing trade. The shop was shut the best part of a year, then suddenly reopened under new management and with prices that stopped the locals looking elsewhere.’
`And got the workers at Maclean's interested, too,' Rebus added. `So how longs it been going?’
`Five weeks, selling cut-price everything.’
`No profit motive, you see.’
Rebus looked around the table. This was mostly for the benefit of Ormiston and Clarke; he'd given Claverhouse the story already.
`And the owners?’ Clarke asked.
`Well, the shop's run by a couple of lads called Declan Delaney and Ken Wilkinson. Guess where they come from?’
`Paisley,' Claverhouse said, keen to hurry things on.
`So they're part of Telford's gang?’ Ormiston asked.
`Not in so many words, but they're connected to him, no doubt about that.’
Davidson blew his nose loudly. `Of course, Dec and Ken are running the shop, but they don't own it.’
`Telford does,' Rebus stated.
`Okay,' Claverhouse said. `So we've got Telford owning a lossmaking business, in the hope of gathering intelligence.’
`I think it goes further than that,' Rebus said. `I mean, listening in on gossip is one thing, but I don't suppose any of the workers are standing around talking about the various security systems and how to beat them. Dec and Ken are garrulous, perfect for the job Telford's given them. But it's going to look suspicious if they start asking too many questions.’
`So what's Telford looking for?’
Ormiston asked. Siobhan Clarke turned to him.
`A mole,' she said.
`Makes sense,' Davidson went on. `That place is well-protected, but not impregnable. We all know any break-in's going to be a lot easier with someone on the inside.’
`So what do we do?’ Clarke asked.
`We fight Telford's sting with our own,' Rebus explained. `He wants a man on the inside, me give him one.’
`I'm seeing the head of Maclean's later on tonight,' Davidson said.
`I'll come with you,' Claverhouse said, keen not to be left out.