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Authors: Douglas Lindsay

Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General, #Thrillers, #Suspense

We Are the Hanged Man (6 page)

BOOK: We Are the Hanged Man
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She followed his eyes to his computer screen. It sat to the side of his desk, cold and unused. Hadn't been switched on in three days. She shrugged.

'Can you see her?'

'Yes,' said Jericho wearily. As he said it, he automatically lifted the cards and handed them to Haynes.

'Get me the coffee and a bacon roll. Go back to the woman in Glastonbury. Same as before. Don't show them to anyone else. Sergeant, give me five minutes then bring her up. I'd be delighted for you to sit in with us.'

Dismissed, Haynes followed Light out the room. When he'd closed the door, they smiled at each other.

'I'll get him breakfast and take it up with the TV woman,' said Light.

'Thanks,' said Haynes. 'He likes to hide behind food when he doesn't have me.'

She laughed.

'What have you got that you can't show anyone?' she asked, indicating the pocket into which Haynes had slipped the Tarot cards.

Haynes shook his head, smiled and turned away.

'Sounds like it might be worthwhile extracting the information from you,' she said to his back.

*

Jericho had his coffee and bacon roll. Sergeant Light had a cup of tea. Tetley. The producer down from London was drinking a camomile infusion. She had brought the Limited Edition bag with her.

Hattie Morris, 29, dark hair, attractively scrubbed up, thick dark-rimmed spectacles that she didn't really need. The third person who had sat in on Jericho's meeting in London the previous day. She was not particularly high up the ladder of executives and operatives on
Britain's Got Justice
, but she gave off such an air of authority and confidence that Jericho and Light assumed that her position of seniority was as significant as her job title. Executive In Charge Of Production. There were three others with the same title.

'So really it is, like, terribly exciting. Imagine you got Robbie onto the X-Factor, but not just to sing the one song, but to work with each of the contestants.'

Jericho wasn't biting at her enthusiasm. He was biting slowly into his bacon roll, taking as long over it as possible. Haynes was right. He did like to hide behind food.

'And, you know, like not just work with the contestants on a one-off,
here's a bit of advice
kind of a thing, but, God, it would be like them going into the studio and actually working on a Take That album. How awesome would that be?'

She left a pause for Jericho to grade the awesomeness, but he passed on the question as his mouth was full. At least, she chose to assume from his silence that it was.

'Because it's like, so annoying, because this show we've got, you know,
Britain's Got Justice
, is like so great, and people just aren't watching, and we're all like, duh, how can you not be, it's like such great TV? Getting
you
on board is completely awesome. You're like the most famous detective in the country, and how cool is that? Totally cool,' she said, before Jericho could leap in. 'So, in fact, it's not even like we're getting Robbie onto the X-Factor, because, you know, he's a bit passed it now. It's like getting, God, I don't know, who's the most famous singer in the world these days? Who's hottest? Adele? The Gaga woman? Shit, that's it. It's like getting, you know, fucking Lady Gaga on here.'

She went slightly goggle-eyed when she said fucking, as if she was being a bit naughty swearing in a police station.

'I'm sure the Chief Inspector appreciates the comparison,' said Sergeant Light.

Hattie Morris nodded in agreement, although she was mostly in agreement with herself.

'So,' said Light, as she knew full well that Jericho could easily go through the entire conversation without opening his mouth, 'how do you see it working? When do we start? What kind of camera crew are we going to have, what sort of presence do you expect the show to have around the station? What kind of accommodations should we be making?'

Morris started nodding vigorously, agreeing with how awesome the questions were. This was why she was here. To answer awesome questions such as these.

'You know, there's some of that I can't answer at the moment,' she said. 'We're still fine tuning, you know, trying to like squeeze, if you will, the leopard into the envelope. However, on show terms, we're going to be on air with the final three starting Monday night, so I guess we're looking at setting up come Sunday, and then full speed ahead Monday morning. It's, you know, it's going to be crazy time, because we slice and dice on Saturday and Sunday evenings, bin the three losers, then Monday we're bringing the three winners down here. It's like, phphphphttt… crazy time, you know, but it'll get done. So, Monday morning we kick off with the three at the station. Two of them on the minutiae of police work, and one going out with the Chief Inspector.'

'Thought you said you couldn't answer the questions,' said Jericho, finally finding a moment with an empty mouth.

'Absolutely,' said Morris. 'In terms of camera crew and television presence, I'm not really in the loop on that.'

'Can you find out, please?' said Light. 'We should know.'

'For sure, for sure,' said Morris, scribbling something into the notepad which rested on her knee. When she had finished she looked up, held Jericho's gaze for a while, and then smiled. Jericho did not return the smile. He hid behind the coffee cup for a while, and then took a bite of bacon roll so that he couldn't speak. It was nearly finished.

'I Googled you,' said Morris. Jericho stared across the desk. For years he had pretended not to know what that meant, but even he couldn't get away with that now. All the same, the fact that Googling existed, and that it could be done to him, filled him with the utmost contempt for society. 'I found a few TV reports, statements to the press, a couple of interviews. Is there anything I might have missed? You've done reality TV at all? I couldn't find anything like that, but you know how it is, most people have done reality TV some time in their lives. You know, I can't think of the last time I met someone who hadn't been on TV.'

Jericho continued to look blankly across the desk. Coming from someone who worked in TV, that was just about the stupidest thing he'd heard anyone say in at least ten or fifteen minutes.

'This will be the Chief Inspector's first reality TV show,' said Light.

'Of course,' said Morris. 'Sure, that's great. Really, you know, there's something tired and old when you get these people that make show after show, their whole life conducted in front of a camera. God, you're like watching, and you're thinking, God, is any of this actually real?
What Katie Did Next
and
What Pete Did The Next Day
and
What Like The Fuck Did Kerry
do, all that like kind of thing. They are so….
tired
. But you know, when you get someone different, when it's new and fresh and exciting and challenging and vibrant and colourful and pulsating and full of energy…'

'Who the fuck do you think you're getting?' said Jericho, managing to find a gap in the bacon roll as the mood took him.

Morris looked hopefully to Light, as if she might be able to translate Jericho for her.

'Maybe we should take a five minute break,' said Light, even though they'd been talking for less than ten.

'For sure, for sure,' said Morris. 'You know, I think I might grab a cup of New York decaf.'

10

Although the police and the prosecution had insisted on saying that Durrant had tortured the five victims they knew about before killing them, prior to his thirty year incarceration, Durrant had never seen it in those terms. He saw torture as something that people did to other people when they were trying to extract information. The Nazis tortured people. The KGB. And the Spanish Inquisition and the CIA and all those other groups who felt morally justified in causing great pain for the greater good.

Or torture was what some sick fuck did to some poor victim just for the Hell of it.

Not being the member of a state or religious sponsored organisation, it was natural that the police had assumed that Durrant tortured his victims because of the latter explanation. This had always troubled him, insomuch as anything troubled him.

He'd been a scientist, conducting research into pain. To what extent could an individual block out pain just by the power of thought. He'd given each of his subjects several long lectures on the subject, over the course of a few weeks, while they'd become familiar with their surroundings. And then he'd started applying pain, in increasingly unpleasant levels, to see if they could apply the thought processes and mental gymnastics that he had been trying to teach them.

Many of the things that he had applied to them he had very decently also applied to himself. Prods with knives, cigarette burns, even breakage of a couple of fingers. Ultimately, of course, he had not burst his own testicles with a pair of pliers, had not hammered a nail into his own head, or sliced off his own breasts.

He had felt, however, that his work had had a certain aesthetic, and could not agree with those who viewed him as the worst kind of sociopath. He'd been sent to prison with a rather damning judgement that he should never be released.

That he was now back, sitting in his cottage on the east coast, looking out at a desolate grey sea, might have surprised him if he'd been capable of surprise. Yet Durrant did not think, he merely acted.

He was aware that the police had never found this house. They had searched at the time, thirty years previously when he'd first been arrested. They'd known that he'd carried out his experiments in two locations and had never been able to discover the second. He'd said nothing, and even though they had invoked the interrogation techniques of the time, which had involved a decent amount of uncultured brutality, Durrant was the one who had done the experiments; he knew what it took to endure pain. He hadn't come close to telling them anything.

The fact that the police had not arrived at his prison cell in the previous thirty years looking for him to answer further charges was indication enough that they had not discovered his second home. His home by the sea, where his four other victims had been waiting all this time for a decent burial.

The house no longer smelled of death. He'd had a direct debit set up on a bank account the police had never discovered, and so the electricity had never been cut off. The water still worked. The house had been cold, but there was a fireplace, and he'd collected enough wood from the beach and had finally managed to get the fire going.

Local people would have viewed his house as just another little-used holiday home. Perhaps there had been some wilful blindness on the part of anyone who noticed the house. It seemed strange and somehow eerie, an old haunted house by the sea, and so they stayed away. No one looked in through a window, no one even put a stone through a window.

Durrant sat and ate a sandwich and drank red wine from a white wine glass. He would need to go back to the shops in the morning to collect a few more things to make the house habitable.

Behind him there was a door, and the door was currently closed. Behind the door the experimentation room looked exactly as he'd left it three decades earlier. He had taken a quick unimpassioned look. His equipment was all still there, and in the corner there were four bodies hanging, suspended by the neck.

He'd closed that door before eating his sandwich, but knew that the room was waiting for him to start up his experiments once again.

There was, however, the other matter to care of. The matter of revenge.

*

'So, you know, like just so we have some idea of the kind of thing we're going to get down here, what kind of crime does the average day in Wells bring?'

Morris looked expectantly across the desk, although nearly thirty minutes in now, she ought to have learned to reduce those expectations.

'Like, you know, for example, what have you had in the last twenty-four hours? You can, like, give me that information, yeah?'

Jericho held her gaze for a moment and then looked at Light.

BOOK: We Are the Hanged Man
11.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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