Read We Are the Hanged Man Online
Authors: Douglas Lindsay
Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General, #Thrillers, #Suspense
Light leaned forward and covered her face with her hand. Aware of the movement, Jericho glanced round at her, and the closest thing to a smile that day came to his face.
'Or Tom Cruise.'
The smile quickly left as he looked back at Jacobson. Jacobson had noticed the glance between them, but since the only conclusion to be drawn from it was that the police were laughing at him, he chose not to draw the conclusion, to imagine that he just plain didn't know what they were talking about, and to move on.
'We wondered about you coming up to London today, meeting the contestants, getting immersed in the vibe of the show, but we brown enveloped the matter and decided it'd work better if you've had as little contact with them as possible. Don't want to run the risk of you making any positive connection with any of them before we make it on air. It'll be edgier without it. They'll be nervous.'
Jericho held his gaze for a moment then glanced at Hattie Morris. Her mood had picked up and she was generally looking terribly excited about the prospect of a couple of hours of electric television.
'Brown enveloped?' he asked.
'Talked about it in secret,' she said, then lifted her eyebrows in some sort of we're-all-in-it-together gesture.
'For fuck's sake,' muttered Jericho.
The meeting broke up shortly afterwards.
'You're going to have to do something about him,' said Jacobson to Light, as she was about to leave. Jericho had walked quickly from the office without waiting for her.
'Yep,' added Morris, nodding.
'Not sure that I can. You pretty much get what you see with the DCI.'
'He was sold to us as this maverick, Mel Gibson
typa dude,' said Jacobson. 'I'm not seeing that.'
'Who sold you that?' asked Light.
Jacobson shrugged and looked at Morris. Morris shrugged.
'It's what everyone says,' said Jacobson. 'We read the newspapers.'
'You believe what you read in the papers?' asked Light.
Jacobson smiled. 'Sure, you know, I hear what you're saying, but there's no smoke without fire, eh?'
'That,' said Light, 'is certainly something the papers trade on.'
'So, there you are. And we need to see this cool side of Jericho, the side the papers talk about.'
Light glanced over her shoulder, then stepped back into the office, closing the door behind her.
'All that stuff the tabloids are carrying about your contestants. The drugs and the sex and all that other shit. They get those stories from you, right?'
Jacobson smiled awkwardly.
'You never heard that from me, darlin',' he said.
'And you make it all up?'
'Well….,' he began, then his voice trailed away.
'So you tell lies to journalists, then believe what you read in the papers,' said Light. 'Nice. No wonder society is so fucked up. I think I might start being as miserable as the boss.'
She looked from Jacobson to Morris. Neither of them spoke. Confronted with someone who had seen through to the other side of the two-way mirror, as far as they were concerned the conversation was over.
'You get what you see with the Chief Inspector,' she said again. 'See you tomorrow.'
She opened the door and left, closing the door behind her and leaving Jacobson and Morris in silence.
Jacobson didn't really do silence, so it didn't last.
'Think that went pretty well,' he said, without a trace of irony.
'Yep,' said Morris. 'Pretty well.'
'We need to take control of the Jericho situation. Do we have a file on the guy?'
'Make one. Every piece of shit you can get. And all the stuff about his wife. That should make some pretty interesting live TV when we bring that up. That'll zap some life into the bastard.'
'Totally,' said Morris, making notes.
Haynes found Jericho in the City Arms. Jericho didn't have a favourite bar, preferring to share his insubstantial business around the town. Never drank a second pint. Alcohol made him maudlin, and maudlin on top of depressed and fucked off was never a good combination.
Sitting alone at a table, a nearly empty pint glass at his right hand, an empty crisp packet pushed to the side, the two Hanged Man cards in front of him. Haynes sat across from him, setting down a pint of Ashton Gate cider.
'How'd it go with the TV people?' asked Haynes.
Even if he hadn't already heard the story from Light he would have known. Any conversation between Jericho and the likes of Jacobson was never destined to go well.
Jericho shook his head in reply, didn't look up from the cards. He had been staring at them for close on an hour. They were speaking to him, he just couldn't work out what they were saying. And they were laughing at him, and he couldn't work out why.
'Had a tough afternoon,' said Haynes. 'Not many forces like the sound of a sergeant from the West Country calling up and asking if they've done a decent job investigating their latest suspicious death. How d'you get on?'
Jericho shook his head, tutted, looked up.
'Sorry, Sergeant, I meant to say to you earlier. Get you to stop. It's a waste of bloody time.'
Haynes sat back, taking a sip from his pint.
'You didn't get anywhere either?'
'Chucked it after a couple of hours. Everyone, at this stage, could be something more than it looks. We need some sort of specifics before we can go stepping on other people's toes. No one's going to like us barging in on their patch. And if they knew why…'
He pushed the cards away from him. Haynes took the lead, and turned the cards round so that he could see them properly.
'We need to know whether they're a warning or a calling card announcing the deed's been done,' said Haynes.
Jericho grunted. He was fed up asking himself the question.
Haynes lined the two cards up together and started poring over them one more time, thinking that if it was just a stupid joke the person who sent them would be laughing his bloody socks off at that moment.
The final six
Britain's Got Justice
contestants were allowed out for two hours each evening. Nominally it was to give them some freedom from the "claustrophobic bubble of the intense pressure of the UK's biggest ever game show", however the producers really just hoped that the six people would use the time to have sex, get drunk, get into a fight, get arrested, or otherwise meet a drug dealer, prostitute, journalist or member of the royal family. Anything that would be news.
Friday night at the
Britain's Got Justice
hotel, and all the inmates were ready for an evening out. Except Lol. Lol said that she was tired, and had had enough of the media intrusion into her life. She wouldn't be going out in public again until she was kicked off the show, and then she was going to go back to Magdalene College and never raise her head in public again.
That was what she said.
Holed up in her room, however, she had no intention of spending the evening watching television and reading magazines. She sat a little nervously in the single comfy chair, the note from the Mirror journalist in her hands.
Only later, when she had become acquainted with the man she was to meet, would she realise that he was not a Mirror journalist. Durrant, in fact, had never even read the Mirror.
A little before nine in the evening, Jericho was back at his desk. Trawling through what paperwork they could get on the variety of potentially suspicious deaths from around the country in the previous week.
Too many of them stood out as having potential.
Haynes had gone home after they'd chatted in the City Arms; Jericho had said he was heading home too, but somewhere between the pub and his front door he had veered back to the station. Wide awake, much too early to go to bed, no desire to sit at home in front of the television. No desire to do anything, and so he determined that he would hide behind his desk searching for something he was highly unlikely to find.
Jacobson had suggested that he spend the evening watching the
Britain's Got Justice
coverage on digital TV or the internet. That had been at a point in the conversation when Jericho hadn't felt the need to respond.
The door opened; Sergeant Light leaned into the office without stepping across the threshold.
'Still here, Chief Inspector?'
She knew that he had little work to do, although there was some talk around the station about the curious nature of what Jericho and Haynes were up to. The talk had not yet reached the superintendent.
'A remarkable observation, Sergeant,' said Jericho.
He looked up, having meant the comment sarcastically. She surprised him by smiling in response, and he found himself smiling at his own rudeness. He held up a hand in apology.
'Hoping to get my detective's badge,' said Light, still smiling.
Jericho shared the joke with a nod.
'You reading up on your contestants?' asked Light. 'I've just spent a couple of hours on them.'
Jericho hesitated a second, and then closed the file that was open on the computer.
'No,' he said finally. 'I haven't. Burying my head in the sand. It's going to happen, I can't stop it, but there's no need to think about it before it does.'
She stepped forward into the room. Didn't let the door close because there was no one outside to hear anything.
'Would you like me to give you a heads up on them all. Might relax you a little at least to know what to expect?'
'That's all right…' he began. Stopped himself. Recognised the look on her face. It wasn't work, it was something to do after work on a Friday night, rather than sitting in his dreadful middle-aged, lonely torment.
'OK,' he said. 'Buy you a drink?'
She smiled. She had been confident and forward enough to have asked, but it was nice that she hadn't had to.
'Sure. I'll just go and shut down, meet you downstairs in five.'
She left. Jericho sat back, rested his hands on the desk. Tapped a finger noiselessly on the wood. Sergeant Light. Hadn't thought about her much, but he could tell that her attitude towards him had changed slightly over the course of the day. Was that all it took? And although it had been him who had asked her to go for a drink, that appeared to have been her intention in coming to his office.
Women were more forward that they'd been in his day. How much younger than him was she? Not much. Fifteen years perhaps. Maybe even just ten, he couldn't tell.
'Stop over-analysing, for fuck's sake,' he muttered quietly.
Walking from the station there seemed to be tacit agreement between them that Wells was a small place, and wherever they went they would be known, and someone would draw some conclusion or other about a DCI and a Sergeant having a drink together on a Friday night, and so without a word they got into Light's car and drove to her small one-bedroomed house in Frome. Jericho didn't know where she lived; assumed she'd stop in Shepton, but they drove on, and not a word was exchanged along the way.