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Authors: Robert Daws

The Rock

BOOK: The Rock
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Table of Contents

The Rock

‘A Sullivan And Broderick Murder Mystery’

 

 

 

by
Robert Daws

© 2012 Robert Daws. The book’s author retains sole copyright to his or her contribution to this book.

All rights reserved. No parts of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Robert Daws

As an actor, Robert has appeared in leading roles in a number of award winning and long running British television series, including
Jeeves and Wooster, Casualty, The House of Eliot, Outside Edge, Roger,Roger, Rock and Chips and The Royal.

For the stage his recent work includes the national tours of Michael Frayn’s
Alarms and Excursions
and David Harrower’s
Blackbird.
In the West End he has recently appeared as Dr John Watson in
The Secret of Sherlock Holmes
.
Geoffrey Hammond in
Public Property
and Jim Hacker in
Yes Prime Minister
.

His many BBC radio performances include Arthur Lowe in
Dear Arthur, Love John
and
Trueman and Riley,
the returning police detective series he co-created with its writer Brian B Thompson.

As a writer, Robert is currently working on a second Sullivan and Broderick mystery as well as a number of projects for theatre and television.

Acknowledgments

I have been fortunate enough to be a yearly visitor to Gibraltar for some twenty-three years. The warmth and spirit of its people, together with the wonder and magnitude of the Rock upon which they live, has never ceased to amaze me. Even as I write I am looking forward to my next visit.

I would like to thank those within the Metropolitan Police Service and the Royal Gibraltar Police Force who have given their valuable time to offer help and guidance. It has been invaluable.

I hope I will be forgiven for playing hard and fast with the internal geography of the Gibraltar Police H.Q, as well as Gibraltar’s main General Hospital. I have also changed the names of several places and establishments. Other than that, I have tried to be as accurate as possible with situation and location.

I would like to thank my publisher Circlehouse for faith and encouragement, especially my editor Jenni Bird and designer Aldren Gamalo.

Also thanks to Adam Croft for his knowledge and enthusiasm for books, writing, pubs and fine ales.

To Ted Robbins for access to his huge brain and endless enthusiasm.

Last but not least, my wife Amy, for her wisdom, patience and wonderfully creative mind. A dear writer friend, Christopher Matthew once wrote, ‘Eighty-five percent of a writer’s life is spent thinking and thinking very hard. Unfortunately for writers, unless they are seen to be pounding away at a laptop keyboard, nobody really thinks they are working at all’ Amy has always understood this strange process, even when my ‘thinking’ has drifted into a pleasant little afternoon siesta.

 

To Messrs Adam Croft and Kempston Hardwick - men of mystery and imagination.

Can a father see his child

Weep, nor be with sorrow filled?

Can a mother sit and hear

An infant groan, an infant fear?

No,no! never can it be!

Never, never can it be!

William Blake

Gibraltar. 1966.

The Captain’s House stands proud above its high walls. From it’s imposing gates, statuesque lions gaze down impassively in reminiscence of it’s colonial past.

A lone Austin Wolesley glides past the gates and continues down the dusty road, the silence of the afternoon broken only by the hum of it’s engine and the strains of Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’ floating from the nearby French windows of the house’s large drawing room. To the east, the garden rises in three terraces finally ending at the base of the gigantic limestone Rock itself. To the west, the view crosses the town to the Straits of Gibraltar and the Moroccan coast of Africa. Below the surface of the narrow and busy seaway that separates these land masses, two mighty continents meet. But here on high ground, net curtains flutter in the breeze as a gramophone needle skips and jumps across deep black grooves.

The boy does not move, nor blink, as he stares at his reflection and his reflection stares back at him. For a fleeting moment, he no longer knows which is which. He needs to know. With huge effort he turns his head from the mirror and forces himself to look once more upon the carnage at the centre of the room.

A woman’s hand hangs limply across the arm of a chaise longue - the trickles of deep scarlet blood dried to the greying skin. The sodden nightdress offers a single bare leg in hope and desperation. The glistening lipstick on her sumptuous lips belies the horror that shines through her bloodshot eyes. The steel handle of a knife protrudes from her chest, its sharpened tip buried deep within her heart.

A man steps in through the French window and surveys the scene. The fine lines of his tailored three-piece suit a sharp contrast to the chaos within the room. He turns and sees the boy trembling in a corner. The boy meets his stare and screams. Screams uncontrollably.

The Rock. Present day.

She sighed contentedly as she looked out through the French windows and took in the sights and smells of the house’s compact but perfectly formed grounds. Even after all these years she never failed to smile when she stood on this spot. This she did every day, enjoying the delicate scent of breeze through the garden, the high westward easing sun beating down on the tall gates at the end of the driveway and the fluttering of the drawing room curtains in the warm summer air.

The radio played, barely audible, as the newsreader continued unperturbed.
‘...Cross border delays are expected from this Saturday the ninth of June, as major roadworks commence on the La Linea approach roads...’

 

As she raised the glass of orange juice to her lips, the blood-curdling scream rang out, piercing through the ceiling above. A blue rock thrush , momentarily perched on the terrace walls, took flight as the glass of orange hit the cold tiles.

She moved now, as fast as her ageing legs would carry her, up to the first-floor landing. Another scream. She stood frozen to the spot, knowing that she must do something. But what? She moved slower now to the bedroom door at the end of the upper hall and tapped gently upon it.

‘Are you all right, dear?’

Silence. Another tap.

‘Hello? Are you all right?’

Silence. Then the single click of the key turning in the lock. The heavy wooden door began to slowly creak open, revealing the terrible scene within. She could utter only four words.

‘Oh... you poor thing.’

1

The violent thrust of the aircraft’s engines sent a disturbing vibration through the plane as it started to power its way down the runway of Luton’s International Airport. Although she had experienced it a hundred times before, the outwardly composed thirty-one year old woman sitting in a window seat at the front of the passenger deck could not completely hide her anxiety. Nothing about the process of aviation seemed natural to her and the grisly mental images from a dozen disaster movies were now running on a loop through her mind. This mental torture had not been helped by the five hour delay the passengers had been forced to endure because of yet another strike by both French and Spanish Air Traffic Controllers. The vented frustration of some of her fellow flyers meant that the flight attendants had little good will to spare for a single woman travelling alone. She had tried smiling at the one male attendant on board, but had been as ruthlessly ignored by him as by his female colleagues.

The plane now started to rise and climb into the skies. A large and heavily perspiring man in the seat next to her gripped his arm rest and started to practice some kind of breathing technique obviously learnt for just such an occasion.

As the plane passed through the low lying cloud and moved higher into the blue, she finally felt relaxed enough to slip off her shoes and stretch her tense feet beneath the seat of the passenger infront. She once again opened the brightly pictured pages of the “Guide to Gibraltar” that had been nestling in her lap. She had attempted this read so often over the previous weeks that her failure to get beyond the opening two pages on The Rock’s history and strategic geographic position at the southern most tip of the European Continent now made her smile rather than grimace. She knew that it was not the lack of interest in the place itself that led to this response, more the circumstances that had led to her having to journey to Gibraltar in the first place. This had not been a part of her plan. The job that she would have to endure for the next three months was a punishment. A barely concealed form of demotion. The hiding away of an embarrassing incident by an obsessively P.R. orientated internationally renowned institution.

Tamara Sullivan once more gave up on the book in her hand. She leaned back in her seat, closed her eyes and prayed that the two and a half hour flight would bring less turbulence than the last few months of her life had managed to generate

2

The wisteria adorning The Gibraltar Straits Hotel seemed to dance in the warm summer breeze. As the sun tipped its way over the western horizon and darkness filled the sky, a young couple sat on the hotel veranda sipping cocktails and gazing into each other’s eyes. Both lovers were oblivious to the more mundane matters being concluded in the main conference room within.

‘So once again, I would like to thank you for your time, energy and dedication, both tonight and hopefully on into the future. And before we all head home, it is my happy duty to announce that our joint small businesses initiative has succeeded in raising its target of £25,000, thus enabling us to create, for Gibraltar’s St. Margaret’s Child Care Centre, a new play garden!’

The audience applauded warmly and with some relief that the meeting was drawing to its long-overdue finish.

‘Thank you, Mrs Jennifer Tavares, for all your hard work,’ added the evening’s master of ceremonies. ‘Now, ladies and gentlemen, that will be all for this six monthly general meeting...’ His words trailed off as he became acutely aware that he was talking to over a hundred rear ends, all heading towards the main exit.

*

At the Atlantic Village Marina, the moon shone drunkenly upon the water’s edge. Unlike the opulent, designer beauty which surrounded him, the lone motorcyclist preferred to keep to the shadows, his middle finger flicking the clutch as he waited impatiently.

Thirty yards away, in the darkened main cabin of one of the marina’s finest yachts, his accomplice was hard at work with fevered intent. A hold-all bulged under the weight of its contents as the masked man took anything of obvious value and stuffed it inside. The yacht swayed and bowed on the water, as if trying to shake off its malevolent intruder. With a shrill, piercing screech, the yacht’s alarm rang out as the man rushed back out onto the deck. The roar of the motorcycle engine was music to his ears as he jumped from the boat and clambered onto the back of the waiting bike. Clinging onto his fellow rider for dear life, the bike took off at a speed that only an experienced biker would countenance. The high speed robbers passed effortlessly through the marina’s open security gate as the guard in the booth shouted into his phone.

The bike leant heavily as it ate up the corner and sped down the marina road which ran at a parallel with the airport’s imposing runway. At this moment an Airbus A321 touched the ground, it’s engines exerting the huge power of reverse thrust which would finally bring it to a standstill. Simultaneously, the bike raced towards Sir Winston Churchill Avenue, the main road that crossed the runaway and led to the Spanish border and the Costa del Sol beyond. The first indication that the robbers’ timing was misjudged was a closed barrier prohibiting a crossing and the immediate possibility of an escape northward. The tyres screeched in a sudden turn as its riders leant in hard and headed fast towards the centre of Gibraltar town.

*

BOOK: The Rock
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