The Golden Wonder Murder
Williams lay next the wheel arch of his BMW in the Red Lion car park. The axe buried up to it’s shaft in his skull meant he wasn’t going anywhere. But this isn’t the start of a novel this . . . is real . . . this is news. Old news. . .
Billy could see clearly the elstoplast on the axe handle & the red glow of Williams’s smoldering cigarette dropped from between his fingers. He felt the shockwaves from the impact reverberating from the tarmac and stonewalls of the small enclosure. He could see the killers clearly but everybody – even the police -knew who they were. Over the intervening twenty-five years the killers had been tried in court numerous times. Now Billy was psyching – traveling with his talent – stepping back through a hole torn in fabric of time by this trauma. He could go back, right back into it.
What Billy was looking for was Williams’s case-file notes he had been seen writing on the night he was murdered. But Billy’s sight was blurred. Something or somebody was stopping him. As Billy suspected somebody else had an interest in this old, cold case. . .
Billy’s got talent
Billy’s family believed in witchcraft, no . . . they more believed in a paranormal world of human sprits, they had to. It was cheap, it was entertaining, something to do on dark stormy nights, the family had a long history of keeping in touch with the spirits of the dead relatives. Spiritualism was unorthodox but it filled the void left by Christianity – nobody believed in that ridiculous stuff any more. This was new world shamanism putting them in touch with the ancient spirits of their country, it empowered them against their enemies, it made them feel . . . special. Also the family had a history of mental illness & spirit stuff seemed to make everything a little more normal and less weird. . . papering over the communal cracks.
Billy was 5 years old when he was first made aware of his talent. On bonfire night his family were on their way to see the firework display in Crystal Palace Park. Like every child & adult that night Billy was filled with anticipation. The autumn night was still warm with the lingering heat of a bright & sunny afternoon. The evening was filling with the excited noise and silhouettes gathering people.
Nearing the park the crowds concentrated into a bottleneck to enter the display. Billy now thought of similar large gatherings of people for football matches or political demonstrations like the inevitable contraction of the end of universe, the big bang in reverse. The masses approaching from different directions, coalescing slowly at first, then gaining momentum and rushing into the inescapable crush at the gates. But back then he found being squashed by unrecognisable, noisy, black shapes frightening. He felt an enormous weight pushing down on all sides. A sense of terrible apprehension began fuelling a pounding headache. He now knew this was how his talent always began. . .
Moving out of the bottleneck there was more space, William’s anxiety should have diminished, but it didn’t. The other families were relaxing children were waving sparklers and glow sticks. Everybody but Billy was standing around in a circle looking expectantly towards where the display would soon begin. Billy stood, transfixed craning his neck to stare over his shoulder, a commotion was happening inside a massive, transparent building that he had never seen before. It towered over him, running the length of the park. “Hey what’s wrong? Come on Billy don’t look so glum the show is about to start. Here get on my shoulders; you’ll get a better look”. His dad lifted him up.
The glass building was filling up with smoke, at the far end there was the red glow of a fire – was this part of the show? I didn’t look right, the flames were growing higher and quickly spreading. The fire was coming towards him & he was starting to feel the heat from the blaze on his face. The men still shouting were now running out of the glasshouse & they didn’t look like right either, they were dressed in strange costumes. He could hear other noises above the shouting, horrible, bloodcurdling screeching. The piercing cries of animals. There are animals in there! The heat was intense & he could not hear the fireworks because of the roar of the inferno. Now the iron arches that held up the structure were silhouetted against the blaze. A rigid of tension speared though him and he dug his fingernails into his father’s forehead. The whole place is going up! Why was nobody helping? There are animals in there!
Billy became aware of somebody beside him. The flickering firelight illuminated an old man’s cold gnarled face, watching him & the conflagration. The man seemed to be laughing, his head was tilted back, with his mouth open. But the only sounds Billy could here was the animal’s shrieking over the roar of the fire. Both of which now seemed to be coming from the man’s mouth. It went black, the laughter ringing in his ears faded & Billy fell limp, a warm trickle of urine dampening his dad’s neck.
Months later in the school library Billy read about how the Crystal Palace had stood on the ground where the firework displays happened and how it had been razed to the ground by fire on 30 November 1936. He started to re-experience headaches similar to the bonfire night one in the older parts of the school and the Victorian lending library on Dartmouth Road. With the pain of the headache he imagined this must be what it feels like to be crushed at the bottom of the deepest sea. Fortunately, it was just the headaches at school & none of the horrible visions he had experienced on bonfire night, for now. However, it was common knowledge amongst the school staff that Billy was having increasing trouble telling the difference between real and imaginary classmates. There was talk of psychologists.
One morning when a friend of Billy’s did not arrive for class in, the teacher asked if anybody had seen Harry? Billy thought about this and succumbed to intense pressure headache. The room was spinning but he could hear himself speaking. “Harry’s dead!” he blurted out as he fell. Coming too in the sick bay Billy knew he was in trouble, everybody was very angry with him. Why had he said that about Harry they asked? The school had rung Harry’s mum who was in a dreadful state, Harry had gone missing the night before. Missing, not dead! Did Billy know anything about Harry’s disappearance? What with the fainting fits & too many imaginary friends this was the final straw, Billy was to be referred to the doctor.
Over the following days Harry did not show up and a missing persons case was opened but many people, including those in the media were talking about murder. Whilst Harry disappearance was becoming national news, Billy was being assessed by the doctors in a big old building down by the hospital. This frightening place gave him more intense headaches and nastier visions than anywhere else he had been, even worse than the lending library. Finally it leached out into the press that Billy had predicted his classmate’s demise. A media storm was whipped up instantaneously. Could Bonkers Billy predict the location of Harry’s body, the raging storm demanded from masses of satellite dish roofed vans, camped on the pavement outside the hospital and at Billy’s house.
The doctors and Billy’s parents discussed putting the question of Harry’s whereabouts to Billy. Some thought it might put an end to the remorseless press-pack hounding, that his parents and everybody at the hospital was enduring. “Simply unethical” others simply said. The doctors who had assessed Billy of course knew that when they had asked him about what had happened that day, Billy said he said he had seen Harry dead, lying beneath some sacking in caretaker’s shed on the edge of the playground. When they asked how Billy knew Harry was dead & not just hiding, Billy replied that the gnarled old man from the firework display was in the shed with Harry.
A break in the popular music on the radio replaced by a stiff voice talking on a current affairs program, “Schizophrenia is more costly to the NHS than cancer & heart problems as people with these conditions, DON’T GO ON TOO LONG. They either recover or die quite rapidly. . .” the popular music channel was retuned.
It’s a well known but little discussed fact that not all doctors are true to their Hippocratic Oath & it’s an equally well known fact the papers will pay enormous sums of money to really make a storey. Considering the close juxtaposition of these two facts in Billy’s case meant it was just a matter of time, a question of finding the right person. Telephone calls were made to every member of staff whose details could be found & some hospital employees with dubious moral standards were even prepared to negotiate. Nobody is incorruptible & besides you try living on doctor’s salary these days. With in hours of asking if Billy could predict the location of Harry’s body the raging media had it’s answer.
Harry & Billy’s school was surrounded, it had become the eye of the maelstrom. The press asked many questions, “Would the police take the visions of a disturbed five year old classmate now in the Maudsley psychiatric hospital seriously”? “Was the caretaker who had been helping in the early searches for Harry a suspect?” The solemn cold fish-eyed police spokesman stated blankly back, returning the gaze of the assembled camera lenses & microphones. “All avenues of investigation are being pursued,” he simply stated.
With in the hour the police entered the eye of the storm & assembled a tent around the entrance to the caretaker’s shed, on the edge of the playground. Before sunset it was here the authorities soon found poor Harry lifeless body on the floor of the shed, hastily covered with sacking. Everybody including Billy and the caretaker were stunned. The media maelstrom swept faster. Billy & his family needed a change of identity.
Midland City to psychic investigator
Despite is name Midland City is suburb of north London. Billy hated the dump & he hated the press even more for making him move here. After the doctors’ indiscretion at the Maudsley, Billy didn’t go home again but at first he went, in the middle of the night to his aunt’s house in Wales. Then a couple of months later his family was relocated to Midland City with a change of identity. Let’s find a new town & a new school with no history & no ghosts his mother had insisted. His dad, the twat, was adamant that if the family had to be moved out of his beloved south London & be rebranded then he wanted to be called Slunden.
The only bonus of the move was they were out of the estate and re housed in a sleepy farmhouse on the edge of the Torshamlet estate, but just out of the immediate gaze of the other inhabitants of Midland City. The relocation people had probably got it a little cheaper – than similar buildings in the area – due it’d location next to the enormous complex of radio pylons. The Midland City radio masts that were as used for transmitting the Greenwich Time Signal or “the PIPS” on the hour and, weirdly given Midland City’s central location, messages in very low frequency to submerged submarines carrying the UK’s nuclear deterrent during the cold war years. Tall individual ones not like the Eiffel Toweresque one at Crystal Palace. But both were big pylons and Billy’s talent gets worse because the pylons magnify his visions.
Billy goes to the Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry for psychiatric assessment. Billy doesn’t do well at school. After the school incident Billy decides never to tell anybody what his Talent is showing him ever again, thinking it will only bring more misery but he does draw and paint his dreams and visions. Although he has no real artistic ability the intensity & subject matter makes the artworks of interest to people of a particular persuasion. As a kid Billy heard people talking shop on a train, somebody had resigned from their job and was doing quite well as a freelancer. What was a freelancer? It conjured up ideas of a knight on horseback carrying a jousting lance. Billy resolved to become a noble freelancer and never be confined to a miserable office with other salary slaves.
Over the years the paintings had begun to sell quite well and he moved back to London to live and work in an artist’s commune of Havelock Mews in Forrest Hill. The main motivation for his return to south east London is his interest in the Williams case. Billy believes there are serious errors in the investigation of the case which when exposed will lead right the way back to the editor who exposed his own story and he badly wants to nail the editor.
Although Billy was living the dream as a freelance visual artist it simple was working. It had become a nightmare, the cost of living in London was too high and the competition was too intense and basically made better than he could. He didn’t even make enough money to eat never mind pay the bills and drastic measures were required. What could be done? He didn’t have other any skills that people might want. The only thing that separated him from the heard and might save him was his Talent he’d inherited from his mother’s gypsy genes. Giving the idea five minutes thought Billy decided to become a freelance psychic investigator and began to look online for a jobsite, “UpPsych” perhaps, where he could begin to ply his new trade.
Combining his new psychic investigator practice and his old artistic practice Billy begins to find enough work to almost make ends meet. The marriage is one where, weirdly, there are common elements to each.
Billy is a heavy sleeper but experiences night terrors and sleepwalking. Occasionally when he awakes Billy finds night drawings at his workstation. The drawings range from outline doodles to almost complete works. The work is usually made with whatever was left at the drawing board. He’s has no memory of making the drawing but may remember fragments of the dream. Sometimes the images come when Billy is doodling, thinking about something else and the unconscious takes over the drawing. The work has a freedom of line. Often the images are meaningless but sometimes they seem prophetic. Happily the punter is often able to connect with work and to see something in it that assists the psychic investigation. . .
Tuesday night & Billie’s knockers are going into over drive. There is a terrible banging all over the house and at the front door. Streetwise Jessica, the lady next door has come round.
“Are those your pipes and your central heating I can hear or are you practicing to join STOMP, the pipe bashing musical? If that’s the case then you really are a bad drummer.”
“I think there is a problem with the central heating, but also those twats the squirrels are up there making a mess & a racket. I’m thinking of getting a loft conversion”.
“How would that work? You live in a loft conversion.”
“Oh yeah, you’re right. It doesn’t feel like a loft conversion, not until the winter sets in anyway. But if I can’t remember its loft, how can the squirrels know the difference when they are looking for somewhere to stash their nuts or build a drey? They are only really fucking dumb animals after all”.
“Yeah, I see your point I see your point about how dumb squirrels are, however we are in a concrete jungle, a suburban one admittedly but we are right on the south circular without a hedge or field never mind a tree, in sight. How are the squirrels getting here to stash their cache? Are they driving or coming on the bus to wreak havoc in your loft? Oh, hang on I remember now. I think I saw one on a bicycle this morning and come to think of it he had an enormous backpack, no a good idea on a bicycle.” She smiled and then dropped her face. “Get a central heating engineer to have look!”
At that moment a banging started, like somebody violently hammering the floor with a shoe, as abruptly as it started it stopped and was replaced by what sounded like the noise of people rolling around on the floor fighting.
“Christ! What the fuck is that?” asked Jess craning her neck in anticipation of witnessing the fight that Billy was trying hard to conceal.
Billy didn’t answer. Wide eyed he was staring right past her into the Mews. Following Billy’s intense gaze Jess turned to see 3 youths standing right behind her. A white guy wearing an all white tracksuit stood between 2 Afro-Caribbean kids. One had a T-shirt with Mr Trouble on the front the other wore a black hoodie. The white tracksuit spoke in a childish high-pitched drawl, “Stay away from the Golden Lion”. She thought such an affected manner of speech ridiculous, like a terrible comedy act. But as he spoke he brought his hand out from behind his back to reveal a large knife and in one purposeful movement he stepped forward smashing the blade across Billy’s face. Billy tried to protect himself with is hands & turning his head away as best he could. Jess threw herself on the white tracksuit screaming. It was all over so quickly. Billy could see blood on the floor. His new floor! He looked up to defend himself against the next wave of attack but the leisurewear-clad trio was gone, causally strolling back up the Mews. Fuck! The blood was everywhere! He stumbled back through the hall to the kitchen, grabbing a hand towel he pressed it hard into his face. There were shouts coming from outside, the neighbours had been disturbed/alerts by Jess’s scream. The police were there in minutes followed by a paramedic on a motorbike who immediately started trying to stem the flow of Mark’s blood. The police asked what happened & Jess describe the incident. “Must be mistaken identity, happens all the time,” Billy mumbled half-heartedly.
“Well, we have a description, we’ll take a look around the area now and look at the CCTV footage”.
Drizzle was falling as the ambulance had arrived, it extruded a green paramedic who tried to shepherd Billy into the vehicle, he resisted.
“Oh no! Anything but hospital. I hate that place. Really, I’m fine. I might catch some thing there, some thing fatal. Then that would be your fault”. He looked daggers at the man in green before continuing. “ Look at me I’m fine & come on, in your professional opinion. I’m fit as butcher’s dog – admittedly with a cut but otherwise I’m fine. But you, unprofessionally, want to send me with an open wound to a place that is full of infectious diseases! This is madness!”
Jess broke his nervous diatribe, “You’re more afraid of hospital than you of being attacked by knife wielding thugs on your own doorstep!”
This comment didn’t help seemingly inflaming Billy,” Yes! Yes I am! Which is more probable? Dying in hospital as the result of an acquired infection or a doctors negligence or as the result of being attacked on your own doorstep?”
“Look get in the van, I’ll come with you. We won’t stay long enough at the hospital for them to kill you. I’ll probably have done that long before for we get there.”
The greenman said he would survive but he has lost a lot of blood. His defense and Jess’s counter attack had been just enough to get his face out of the way of the impact, but is ear was practically cut in two & there was a 5 centimeter wound behind it. In the bright light of the meat wagon as it bumped it’s was down Lordship Lane towards Queens University Hospital Billy and Jess discussed what had happened.
“I had been expecting something bad, the knockers were warning me” he said to Jess.
“What?” Jess quizzed
“That banging was the knockers warning me. Something bad was on its way”.
Jess’s frown deepened.
The knockers have been with my family since my grandfather worked underground in the pits. The knockers, or Tommyknockers used to knock and warn them when there was danger of a collapse or an explosion.”
“What? Your central heating gives you messages about street gang violence? Does it have Blackberry messenger service or something? Or does it just give none descript warning about some bad about to happen. Your crazier that I thought”.
“Carry on, you laugh.”
“Any way, back in the real world, what was the stuff about the Golden Lion about? Sounds like a Chinese restaurant to me. Did you know them?”
“I think I’ve seen the guy who cut you around. The other two nuts must be his cronies. I‘m sure the police will get the bastards”.
“Who knows? As the prime minster is so fond of saying they are all in it together. The criminals, the police and the press, they need one another, it’s the perfect example of the symbiotic relationship”.
“I’m not sure that’s what the correct interpretation of what the Prime Minister had in mind that phrase. You don’t seem to have a great deal of confidence in the police”.
“Listen. The Golden Lion they trying to scare me off isn’t a Chinese restaurant it’s that a boozer on Sydenham High Street”.
“Oh, that place? That’s good advice actually. I wouldn’t have a drink there either.”
“It’s where thugs like them buried an axe in a guy’s head for the sake of the police . . . & possibly people in the media, back in 1987. I went down there the other day to see what I could find out”.
“I’ve couple of questions. One: Why didn’t you tell that to the police? Two: What do you mean find out? 1987 is ages ago. What could there possibly be to discover now about such an old cold case?”
“It wouldn’t make any sense to the police. What was `I trying to find out? Well, there’s a lot you don’t know about me”. Billy paused looking up at Jess “I’ve got a somewhat unusual talent.”
“Yeah, you said it! You’ve a talent for annoying your neighbours and getting fucked over by thugs”.
“No. It’s a psychic thing. I can see into the past”.
Jess laughed thinking Billy was bullshitting her. “So what did you find out, Nostradamus?”
“Nostradamus saw the future”
“Oh you’re the only past, yeah? You’re more of a historian? So what did you find out, Mr Historian. I hope it was worth it”
“Nothing yet, but clearly they are they are trying to protect some thing. There must be more to find out.”
“Would that be wise?”
“That depends on what it is and who I can nail with it”.
Billy closed his eyes and withdrew into the injured victim, thinking he’s said too much. They continued the rest of the short journey in silence.
At Queens University Hospital they went through A&E. The medical staff discussed whether Billy should be admitted to over night or be discharged, he’d lost quite a lot of blood. Finally, finding there were no beds left on the surgical wards they sent him up to the general ward. It was getting late, Billy sat on a trolley with a drip in place watching staff disappearing and reappearing behind a hospital curtain pulled across an apparently solid wall, the ward nurse told Jess she could stay for about 15 minutes to help Billy settle in. Billy had a bed near to the ward entrance the rest of which was in darkness. A somewhat rough looking pair of patients emerged from the depths of the ward, wearing grubby jeans and jackets over their bedclothes & with roll ups in hand, pushed passed, evidently getting high on government approved shots & smoothing the way with nicotine.
“I guess they keep they slots nearest he doors for late arrivals and light sleepers” Billy quipped. “You gonna be OK getting home Jess? If you feel uncomfortable going home on public transport, you could always stay the night. I could get them to make up the spare bed. Then again, I could go with you, it would be no trouble.”
“Shut up and get into bed”.
Further up the ward the lights flickered on. “My bed’s shaking”, a patient complained. Immediately, the whole ward was reverberating to the banging of bedside cabinets, bed pans, rattling false teeth in jars . . . A tsunami, a wave of light and noise was spreading down the ward towards them.
“It’s the knockers!” said Billy.
Jess pulled him across the ward and he found himself outside in the cool air, damp air of a small confined space between two adjacent buildings.
“Hi” said Jess to the nurse who had just moments before disappeared behind the curtain. “Good guess, I used to be a nurse,” she said to Billy, then she addressed the nurse “got alight”, she waved the roll up between her finger fingers in front of her face in weak a royal wave.
“Sure, here you go”.
Jess lit the fag, inhaled deeply, after giving back the lighter she offered the roll up it over to Billy. The three of them stood in the confined space, a light drizzle and the nicotine rush washing over them in the weak red light that seeped through the curtain before soaking into the surrounding brickwork. The curtain was drawn back and a head protruded in the narrow space. Silhouetted against the strobing ward lights and the associated cacophony the owner of the head paused, looked at all three of them, seemingly weighing up their intimacy, before saying to Billy, in the measured tones of a Hospital Doctor.
“Slunden! . . . Stay . . . the fuck away . . . from . . . the Golden Lion. . .” Before theatrically drawing back behind the curtain.
“Fuucksssssakke” exhaled the nurse next to them stubbing out her cigarette, “You people ain’t been here 10 minutes & the place as gone mental”. She pushed past drawing back the veil that separated them from the ward. The white light flooded out. The nurse screamed. Right in front of her was the head and the body of the person who had threatened Billy was standing right on the other side of the just curtain. A cardboard cutout in silhouette. As their eyes adjusted to the bright lights of the ward they saw he stood completely motionless & rigid as a tree. His eyes were expressionless.
“Right that’s it! I am outta here, you coming Billy?” announced Jess.
The lights on the ward had now gone back to the normal semi-darkness & the nurses were making soothing noises amidst cries of panic and fear. The calm of the calm of the red eye flight was being restored.
“No I’d better stay & get checked out”, Billy replied whilst getting dressed, “I’ve lost a lot of blood, you know?”
“Fuck that! You hate hospitals,” said Jess. Within minutes they were standing outside waiting for a bus.
“What? The Fuck? What the fuck is happening? Two crazy people are telling you stay away from the Golden Lion. Do you know what? I think they are right, you should get as far away from it as is humanly possible. Let’s go to . . . .”
Brixton and the Devil
Jess and Billy stand in front of the big red lettering of the A&E department, debating their next move. They decide to go & stay with Jess’s brother in Brixton, which is a short bus journey away. At the bus stop it very busy.
“Look, the laser display screen, if you believe it, predicts that the number 35 bus to Brixton is in over 10 minutes, it’s gonna be rammed full & all these people will want to get on. What with you looking like Mr Bump we are likely to draw the attention of the south London night life.”
“On a Tuesday?”
“Every night is a party night in this part of town & even if you fancy a quite night in there’s always the chance of a game of pay or play first. You’re not in your safety zone of leafy Forrest Hill. She stopped and then whispered, “ We are already getting some funny looks as it is. They think you’re some sort of mental patient who has escaped. Which you have.”
‘Come-on your imagining it. Mind you, know you’ve mention it I do feel a little uncomfortable”.
While Billy had been speaking Jess had watched a mini cab dropping somebody for the hospital, just a little further up the road & set off towards before Billy had a chance to finish speaking.
“Quick one to Brixton mate?” she asked through the passenger window.
“Sure, get in”
“10 quid for you”.
“Fine”. They climbed in and the car pulled out into the traffic and the eased passed the people waiting still waiting for the arrival of the number 35 bus “Nordbourne Road. It’s just after that ugly building before the town hall”.
Jess caller her brother on her mobile phone to warn him they’ll be there – soon!
The Taxi ride took them past the kids drug dealing on Cold Harbor Lane, the fucked up users stumbling ‘home’ for a hit and the white middle users queuing up alongside the brigades of international drugs tourists to consume south London’s finest offerings of recreational ‘Class A’s in the convenient situated nightclubs. His view of the streets though this taxi’s window told him she was right, every night is a party night in this part of town.
The Taxi turns in to Nordbourne Road accelerating down the suburban street & bouncing over the speed bumps, after all if you’re a Taxi driver time is money, right? Billy catches glimpses of the red brick Victorian terraces some with white wooden paneling that line the road.
“Anywhere, just here on the right is great”. Said Jess.
They stop just before an enormous privet hedge that juts out taking up most of the pavement. After Jess pays the taxi driver. They enter the gate of property housing the monstrous hedge.
“I bet you can see this thing from space, it enormous” said Billy gesturing at the hedge in which a motorbike is hidden. The door opens and seemingly disembodied bald head floats in the darkness of lobby. As Billy’s eyes adjust he can see the head is attached to the body of a solid man dressed in black t-shirt and black trousers.
Always Good Dave: courier, squat Hackney, good at breaking and entering. The woman from SR next-door lives upstairs.
Has simple outlook. “There are good people & bad people. The good people have to try to stop & balance out the bad people. Simple as that.”
“Hi Dave, thanks for having us. This is my brother Dave. Dave is my neighbour at Havelock, Billy.”
Despite being right next to Billy, Dave announced in a in a very loud voice.
“Blimey! It’s Mr Bump. What happened to you, mate?”
Jess answered for him “Get inside & get us couple of beers and we’ll tell you. It’s been a really long day.” Then she turned & whispered to Billy. “Don’t be alarmed, Dave’s a bit deaf from years on the bike & he’s always been straight forward. Dead, straight forward. A spade’s a spade with Dave”.
Dave turned round and led them into the ground floor flat. They went inside and Jess closed the front door & the door to Dave’s flat.
“Where’s Emma?” she asked of Dave’s partner “Oh she’s camping against capitalism up in the city.”
“Good for her! Is she enjoying it?”
I’m sure she is, urban camping has a lot to be said for it but when did the Yanks ever listen to a bunch of hippies in tents with Guy Fawkes masks. Gotta smack ‘em HARD in the bollocks. Then they might listen. Camping and carols is gonna frighten no one. But that’s just my opinion mind. I’d sleep quite easily with protesting campers on my doorstep. Just like being on a campsite or at a festival, right? In fact it could be quite helpful – you could nip out asking for a bottle opener, sugar or weed, should you need it – no worries . . . . ”
Jess told Dave how the evening had unfolded.
“The Golden Lion – on every High Street?” Dave asked and without waiting for an answer asked “D’ ya puff, Mr Bump? D’ ya puff?”
“Yeah, of course, doesn’t everyone?”
“Schweet” Dave whistles as he started to skin up & Billy began his story of the Golden Lion pub and the Golden Wonder murder.
“The Golden Lion is a pub on the High Street in Sydenham, just around the corner from where Jess & I live, you know it?”
“Not really, I’ve never really strayed to far from the south circular in that part of town”.
“Probably quite wise not to. Anyway in the late 80’s a private detective called Daniel Williams was found prone in the car park like a drunk who has had one too many G&Ts & would tomorrow wake up with a splitting headache, but with one significant difference” he pause for full dramatic effect “he had an axe buried in his head”.
“Shit. Are you sure you want to het mix mixed up in this sort of shit?” asked Jess.
“Maybe not, with the luxury of hindsight but it’s now too late, I am. I think it’s what today has all been about. Williams had been a private investigator partnering Jonathan Reed at Southern Investigations. Southern Investigations had a reputation for daylight robbery to rival their namesakes at Southern Trains. The day before Williams’s murder, Williams and Reed had been a seen arguing at the Golden Lion in Sydenham. Their relationship had soured over the illegal hiring of duty police officers from Catford nick by Reed, one of which was a certain detective sergeant Sidney Livery. Reed had hired the moonlighting coppers as protection for transporting cash for Bell Car Auctions, amongst other things”.
“They took the cash?” asked Dave laughing “Perfect cover for an inside job.”
“You guessed it! It was turned over & Bell Car Auctions lost £18 000 during the robbery. Williams & Bell Car Auctions suspected the obvious fabrication so much so that the Car Auctions launched a civil claim against Southern Investigations”.
“On the night of his murder Danny, as he was popularly known, had been lured back to the pub again to meet Reed again they argued. Reed left the premises at 9pm sharp. Danny finished his drink and bought two packets of crisps for his kids before heading out into the car park 15 minutes later. At 9.40pm Williams found dead. His note pad had ripped from his trouser pocket but he still had his Rolex and over a grand of cash was still in his inside pocket.” Not only did they want to silence him quickly but also they need to remove any evidence of what he was about to expose”.
“A murder inquiry was launched within hours. Among the coppers assigned to the case was non other than DS Sidney Livery who unsurprisingly kept schtum about not only knowing the deceased but also about how he had moonlighted for Reed as a security guard. Livery ensured that he was first to interview the main suspect, Reed & during the initial ‘searches’ by also conducted by Livery important documents such as those relating to the car auction job disappeared from Southern Investigations offices”.
“So why did they kill him, what was this about? It must have pretty important to them, can’t just be a single robbery, right?” said Dave passing the joint to Billy who took a blast and continued.
“True. It is widely believed that Williams was about to disclose details of police officers, running drugs. Coppers from Catford nick, where else?”
At the inquest it was heard that Reed had told the book-keep at the detective agency. ”I’ve got the perfect solution for Daniel’s murder. My mates at Catford nick are going to arrange it”. It was alleged the hit was planned in the police station & then contracted out for a 50 grand to some Ree’s nephew and some local lads. After the hit the gang referred to it as the Golden Wonder murder because of the crisps Williams had been carrying and the location was the Golden Lion pub.
DS Sidney Livery and two other officers were arrested for involvement in Williams’s murder but were subsequently released. They’ve tried time and time again to make some thing stick. So far, I think there have been 5 investigations and trials, all of which have failed to bring anybody to justice for Danny’s murder. Seeing as everybody seems to know what happened, who did what to who but nobody gets sent down in the courts some people say there is a Freemason conspiracy behind it.”
“In spades!” Agreed Dave.
“Livery was medically discharged from the police and being cosy with Reed, incredibly, he took over Williams’s old job with Southern Investigations. Both have main the subjects of ongoing police enquiries. Livery moved to West Queensdown & was later convicted of possessing indecent images of children”. Stubbing out the spliff Jess said incredulously, “What? That’s some story. As you’ve probably figured out Dave and I aren’t great fans of the police but this is ridiculous, do you really expect us to believe it? Why haven’t we heard anything about it before? ”
“Well, it’s true it’s been on Crimewatch ‘n’ that,” Billy smiled & continued. “This is where it gets really silly & this is the bit that is of real interest to me”. . .
On his release from prison Reed he was rehired by the World of Real News, then editor by Andy Coulsdon.”
“Coulsdon! Snorted Jess & Dave together with derision.” The ex-PM David Gabon’s media advisor & hacker extraordinaire?”
“Yeah, the very same. I told it was mental. Once employed by the News Of The Screws Reed and Livery set about building and empire of corruption using their network of corrupt police officers to obtain confidential records such as telephone numbers, bank account details and car registration numbers of prominent public figures for them. This data them facilitated the much talked about phone hacking you’ve just alluded to. It was also widely suspected the pair also commissioned burglaries on behalf of journalists”.
“When another inquiry investigating the murder of Daniel Williams was initiated by the Met. Reed & Livery used the World of Real News’s photographers and vans to spy on Detective Chief Superintendent David Scott the senior detective leading the investigation. They got Scott’s home address, payroll number, date of birth, mortgage details all blagged from confidential databases – including the Met’s own records. They had also hacked Scott’s wife’s mobile phone.”
“Frightening” said Dave. “But why are you so interested & who wants to try and put you off & why?”
“Good questions. Today we see that the media and the police are intertwined. Investigations into phone hacking and media ethics can’t pick them apart. I thought what was it like back then. Clearly, people like Reed & Livery have no scruples. What if they initiated the corruption we see today between the police and the media? I thought what if Williams had discovered that Reed & Livery were fitting up people for the police and then selling the stories to the press. Symbiosis. The criminals feed the police who feed the press who pay everybody. The wheel turns.”
“So what’s your angle? I’m not sure if I’m missing it. I might be a bit bollocksed.” Dave tried again.
“Well since you persist. I really fucking hate the press”.
“Doesn’t every one, even them? They are full of self-loathing,” said Jess.
Dave agreed “Yeah. I can’t stand the parasites, but I wouldn’t to go out of my way to hurt them. Besides they’re too big to touch, look at the phone hacking enquiry. Even parliament can’t get at them. You sound like a desperate man. Why do you want this so badly?”
“I really, really hate the tabloids, particularly the WoRN editor Mackay, I’d love to see that bastard exposed as the criminal he is & watch him rot in hell”. Billy replied “I haven’t really told anybody this . . . my history & why I hate these fuckers so much . . . but I guess I’m amongst friends, right? I sincerely hope so. So why not tell you?”
“Right”. “Go ahead”. The siblings concurred
Billy told them about his psychic ability, the missing schoolboy, the unethical doctors, the media storm, the move to midland city, his loathing of the press & his return to London once he thought he could tie Williams case to the start of media corruption.
Jess was sat on the edge of her seat “I had absolutely no idea – I mean – I knew about your psychic art but I thought that was just a gimmick. I mean everybody thought that was just a gimmick.”
Dave said, “I think I understand, but I’m not sure there’s much you can do”.
“So how were you to trying to find out what Williams knew?” cut in Jess.
“This where it gets a bit hazy”. Billy inhaled deeply on the spliff. Jess noticed Billy’s eyes darken and widen, he being to look a little like the archetypal Roswell alien. “Do you believe in . . . time travel?” He exhaled.
“Don’t be silly!”
“Well with my talent and favourable conditions I can travel back in time, visually I mean. I thought I could look at what really happened and find out if the World of Real News editor could be implicated in Williams’s murder.”
“And is he?”
“I dunno, possibility. Something was blocking me. They are definitely using some sort of paranormal blocking or psychic, much stronger than me. They are blocking out everything I try to find out about the Williams case.
“Is that even possible?” asked Jess before adding “Listen to me, I didn’t believe in any of this stuff, now I’m questioning if blocking is psychic is possible”
“If the press is prepared to pay any body for story that sells papers, why stop at astrologers, other criminals & the police. Why not use psychics & practitioners of the black arts to find out information, but also to protect themselves & their sources. I’m sure its been said before, but maybe the Devil himself works for the WoRN”.
They all laughed, a little nervously.
“It could be like that film ‘Men Who Stare at Goats’”, Jess suggested.
“Exactly” agreed Billy
“Sounds a bit fanciful” Dave suggested “More than a bit fanciful”.
“Well some people think there’s something in it. He’s had two warning about his interest today” Jess countered.
“Maybe it is the Devil’s work” said Dave caustically, ”But with this line of ‘investigation’ what could you possibly find that isn’t conjecture. Conjecture isn’t gonna punish the tabloid press, you need fact, evidence and stuff like that!” Dave’s cynicism killed the conversation mood. In the intervening silence he stood up & smiled.
“Easy tigers. You say Livery is still inside, so let’s take a look at his place and see what turns up. You could try to psychic it out there, Mr Bump. It’s Sunday tomorrow & I always like to take a trip on Sunday afternoon.” He descended the staircase into the kitchen singing his own version of “Sunny afternoon” by the Kinks.
“Is he serious?” Billy asked Jess.
“Who knows? Yes Probably. Almost certainly”, she smiled, “but he’s always had a good singing voice, . . .”
Dave and Billy slept in the living room. During the night Billy went to the bathroom, a small dark lean to stuck on at the back of the house that hummed to the compressors from the refrigerators at Lidl supermarket. The darkness was usually only illumined by a little square window at head height & was too small for a person to squeeze through.
The window opened out into the garden & let in only what little light wasn’t shaded out by the grey metal frame of the supermarket. Now it seemed entire black, darker than the surrounding walls. In it Billy could see the green eyes, black body & red tongue of a cat silently mouthing at him.
Billy slept a hard, dreamless & awoke in the late morning. He was dazed from the trauma of the knife injury, the late night, he hadn’t smoked for quite a while & generally confused by his new surroundings. He was in good company as many other weekend visitors to Brixton are left dazed from the night before, many end up flapping around on the pavement like fish far from water. . .
“Morning. Morning”. He heard Dave step through the front door.
“Where’d you go?” asked Jess.
“A quick shopping trip, I’ve just been round to Lidl’s supermarket. I wasn’t expecting visitors so I’ve got nothing in. One of the strange things about Brixton is, for all the talk about it vibrancy the whole place is pretty much dead on a Sunday morning. You can go quite late in the morning and hardly see a soul. Many of the Newsagents don’t open until gone 10 am. The only people your likely to see are predominantly afro-Caribbean off to church in their Sunday best.
“It much like that in Forrest Hill. It seems the whole of godless south east London sleeps late on Sunday.”
“The only place open is Lidl. It’s also handy as it’s just over the fence at the bottom of the garden & it provides great fun at this time of year as it has the only space locally big enough for kids to set of fireworks. In the build up to bonfire night you get enormous bangs at all hours of the day and night. It keeps you on your toes, when we first moved in Em was certain it was gunfire.” He laughed. “I guess it all depends on your perception of risk & danger and whether you live in cloud cuckoo land, thinking the local kids come to the back of Lidl to have cowboys and Indians shoot ups.” He laughed again at his vision of stetsons, feather headdresses & hoodies roaming the tarmac car park taking pot shots at each other. Billy joined them in the kitchen stirred into action by the gurgling of the percolator and the aroma of fresh coffee.
Dave was in the process of cooking a curious breakfast of German sausages and tinned fish after which they readied themselves for the bike trip. Billy was uncertain what good the journey will be & was somewhat reticent to go. Finding it a bit awkward getting the helmet on over his bandages Billy asks Dave “ I’m not sure quite why we are doing this”
“A new angle of approach is required Doctor Watson”.
“You require something more substantial in you honorable quest against the gutter press & I am here to assist you, Sir. And besides it’ll be fun! It’s a nice day for a bike ride, we’ll go down to wherever it’s the wind shaking the cobwebs from our hair, clearing our minds and arrive ready to reconnoitre the enemy position”.
“You’ll deploy your physic powers and I will use my more tried and trusted methods. What’d ya say?”
Good man. Do you have a mobile phone? Leave it on & leave it here. Jess can you call it at around 3.30 today? The GPS will place Billy here – should there be any trouble further down the line.’
As Dave and Billy ready themselves to head off Jess says she’ll take a trip into the city to see Emma at the Camp against Capitalism.
“OK” said Dave, reminder her of what PJO’Rourke said about the Occupy protesters, ‘The useless in pursuit of the pointless. . .’ He laughed again. “Billy, leave your phone with, Maya, the woman upstairs and get her to call somebody from your contacts at about five-ish, if she can. We’ll be back by seven or eight. See you then.”
They travelled out along the south circular past Billy’s flat in Havelock Mews, Catford police station, over the M25 and out into the north Downs of Kent. Finally the journey took them past Brands Hatch racetrack and into the village of West Queensdown.
They pulled in at a pub, The Game Cock on the exit route of the village.
Dismounting Dave asked, “How’s the psyching stuff going?”
‘Nothing’ replied Billy, ‘Nothing helpful yet anyway. I think I’ve been enjoying the ride too much’.
‘Oh well, at least that’s something. Let’s get a bite to eat maybe something will turn up. This place looks alright, eh?’
As they entered the pub and approached the bar the barman greeted “How’s it going?”
“Good! Always good. How’s it with you today?”
The guy behind the bar gave a standard congenial response but within minutes Dave had struck up a cheery rapport with him. It was a slow Sunday afternoon in the pub.
“We are just passing through. We came and had a look at Brands Hatch. Saw this place & liked the look of it”
Dave asks “What are the main attraction round here, aside from the race track?”
“There must be some celebrities, somebody of notoriety, a famous murderer or criminal or, heaven forbid, somebody in the entertainment business’.
“Well if you’re interested in criminals Kenneth Noye of Brink’s-Mat robbery lived up on School Lane where he stabbed a copper to death 1985”.
“Whoa. That nutter? I’m on a gentle Sunday drive, you know. I’ve just a passing casual interest, not some weird obsession. I don’t wonna end up dead. A Wiki stat.”
As they ate the Sunday roast, Dave continued chatting with the Barman when he passed near their table and after they had finished he returned the plates to the bar the barman said.
“Well there’s also a bent copper lived here”
“That’s more like it, as long as he’s only a petty criminal, that’s fine with me. What his name?”
“Never heard of him.” Lied Dave.
“He was at Catford nick. The word is he was involved with the murder of private detective. Then turned his hand to fitting people up and selling the story to the tabloids”.
“Sounds tasty & quite contemporary. It’s very fashionable to be a bent copper fraternising with components of a corrupt media. Where’s his gaffe?”
“It’s on Kingsingfield Road a cul-de-sac just behind this place.”
“Does it have any distinguishing features?”
“Yeah, you can’t miss it. It’s got a ridiculous concrete dog drinking from a fountain in the middle of the lawn.”
“Nice, I’ll look out for it.”
“I take it the copper got sent down for this murder?”
“No. But they locked him up for possessing indecent images of children”.
“Ew. I’m not sure I wanna get involved in that. But Thanks any way.”
Dave and Billy set off for the car park. On reaching the door Dave called back “Now, be lucky!”
Walking to the bike Dave said, “That went well. At least we have a picture of the place”.
“Yeah. What was it a concrete dog drinking at a fountain? Sounds pretty cheesy”.
“It should be easily enough to find the place. When we do, we’ll park up and then take a look around. Keep your helmet and let me know if suspect or see anything. OK?”
They drove the short distance to Kingsingfield Road, which was composed of large detached houses, with a predominance of bungalows, set back from the road with large spacious drives but little physical security in the forms of fences or railings. What security there was more ornamental than functional. Clearly there was a low level of crime in this neighbourhood. There sure enough was the ridiculous dog drinking at the fountain at Livery’s house. Dave stops around the corner, hiding the bike on the pavement between one of the few high walls and a transit van.
“I’ve not see any wheelchair users around” said Dave “This looks fairly strait forward, I go around the back of the house”.
Brazenly Dave strolled down the middle of the pebbled drive and disappeared. The late afternoon light was fading into dusk. About a minute later the security alarm began ringing reverberating around the road. Billy’s anxiety rocketed. The alarm was silenced within 30 seconds and Dave appeared at the front door beckoning Billy in.
They stood on a thick, dark red patterned carpet in the hall.
“How did you get in?”
“Through their patio doors”.
“I gather you’ve done this sort of thing before”
“Yeah, a couple of times. Some places are more…” Dave said, reaching for the word “secure . . than this place. Easy eh? Gives me a bit of a buzz actually. I’ve still got it.” Dave grinned behind his visor.
What do you think we are looking for?’ asked Billy. “You’d have thought the police would have noticed anything incriminating when they searched the place for the CP.”
“Maybe. Maybe not mused Dave looking at carving he had picked up from the desk. “My first impression is somebody has been around recently. It was easy to come in through patio doors as they had tied the blind to latch suggesting they are still living here. Therefore they could be back at any moment – so be ready to look sharp. I’m guessing this person is his wife. It seems quite likely that he used to work computer for the download so the police never needed to come round here & even if they did they’d turn a blind eye, in a professional capacity, to anything incriminating they might see”.
Dave carefully replaced the carving and scanned the rest of the study. “For a copper it looks like he’s doing alright but what is all this other stuff? Looks like museum pieces to me.”
“Maybe it is. Or it could be occult stuff. . . ”
“Or both” quipped Dave.
Billy to looked round the room for some connection to the recent past. Billy took pictures with a small compact digital camera, as his eyes fell upon a photograph, he felt a glimmer of recognition. He picked up framed photo from the desk, he immediately felt the talent take hold. At that moment the light of a car’s headlights crossed the room. Billy saw flames, an intense, white light. Billy withdrew from the flames, as he did so he was able to see shadows, adding fuel to the fire. They were pleased. They’d done it. They were burning the evidence. Billy could also see another observer. The old man turned and stared directly at him. Billy was white & rigid. His head tilted backward as if he was looking for something on the ceiling. “Billy. Billy.” Whispered Dave urgently. “Billy. They’re back. Billy! Come on”. Dave heard the sound of a key in the lock. Dave backed through the patio door and bundling Billy out. With is hand over Billy’s mouth he maneuvered him over to the shadows provided by the garage and fence. Billy was still clutching the photo. They waited in the darkness. “Billy! Billy? Are back with us Billy?” A nod.
“Somebody has come home. Time to split. Don’t make a sound”
Another nod. Billy felt the picture frame slide from his hand.
“Better get rid of this”. Dave said taking the photo. The stiff cardboard back had worked loose. Something was tapped inside. Dave removed it, folded up the picture & put them in his back pocket before silently placing the frame on top of a bin. Within seconds they were back on the road. Dave was pushing the bike into the less well-lit part of the road. He started up the bike & gestured for Billy to get on. As they rode Billy felt a buzz of excitement, they had got away with it! There was also more than a tinge of worry.
He sensed the evidence relating Livery & the media to Williams’s murder had been torched & once again on the astral plane he had run into that evil old man again. Who is? Is he protecting Livery and if so why? The cool night air pressing on them as they cut their way back to London chilled Billy to his spine.
It took just under an hour to get back to Brixton. Just after bike mounted the pavement in front of Dave’s place, Jess opened the front door clearly relieved to see the pair of them. In the comparative isolation of the pillion passenger Billy’s mind had been racing a mile-a-minute. Revisiting the events of the day and trying to piece them together with what he already knew. He was almost unable to speak with excitement when he removed the helmet.
Dave took of his crash helmet and gave Bill abroad grin. “Enjoy that? Was it informative?”
“What happened Dave? I just remember picking up the picture”
“Man it was like Voodoo. You went white and rigid as a board. Right at the moment the ol’ lady turned up! I could have killed you myself”
“What? What the fuck!” Jess couldn’t believe hear ears, “Come you two. Stop the bullshit and get inside”.
Dave described the chat with the barman, the ridiculous concrete dog, how he got into the house & the artifacts strewn around Livery’s study. Billy showed them the pictures he’d taken. He never went any where with out the camera and the lead up upload them to a computer, the most essential piece of kit for the professional artist. Dave recounted how Billy went into a trance when he picked up the picture & how he extricated Billy & himself, finally prizing the trip-inducing object away from the addict’s clutch.
Dave removed the photo that set Billy off from his pocket and put it on the table. It was a black and white picture of Livery and another middle aged white man. There was no suggestion of fire. Billy told them he got a time-shot off the picture and saw them burning the evidence Williams had put together against them. He then said “The man in the picture Livery was there. This guy, usually older than he looks in this picture, is everywhere I go each time I astral travel. Right from the beginning, but I’ve got no idea who he is.”
“Well, he looks real enough here as his young self” said Dave.
After they had been over it enough time to know day off by heart & inside out. Dave turned to Billy “So what’s the significance of the key?”
Eh? Jess and Billy said in unison.
While you we away with the fairies I took the picture from you. The back of it had come off and I found this tapped inside”. Dave held up a door key. The other two stared in disbelief.
“Show me” demanded Billy
Grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat Dave moved to pass it over.
Jess started to say “Is that wise?”
On touching the key Billy turned pale and slipped into a trance, again. . . .
Latter after they’d got Billy into bed still in a trance like state & still clutching the key. Dave and Emma are sitting at the kitchen. “I’m not sure about Billy’s what’s he call it?”
“Yeah. I mean I could have told you that they would probably burn incriminating evidence. But in that house today he froze, rigid like in a weird frozen fit or something. He should get some pills for it. Get it straightened it out.”
“I see your point but he might have something, I‘ve seen enough weird inexplainable stuff these passed few days to last a lifetime of campfire ghost stories . . .”
She looked over to the bathroom door in the corner of the kitchen. Beyond it the small bathroom window was visible. “Do you remember how your cat used to sit on the bathroom windowsill meowing to be let in?”
“Freddy? Yeah of course. Why do you ask?”
“Billy asked me about it today.”
“But he’s been gone years. Must have been a different cat.”
“An all black one with a silent meow?”
“Freddy . . . what happened to you?” thought Dave.
They went to bed in silence. Back in West Queensdown, Mrs Livery wife does/not report the breaking but not the loss of picture. She’s pleased to see the back of it.
In search of Eveready
Dave goes to Hackney find the only person he knows, who knows about antiques. Eveready or occasionally Everad is crusty with rich parents. He’s an articulate activist and the son of a famous antiquities dealer. Eveready ‘studied’ History at Oxford graduate gaining a 1st class degree. Moved out of college and lived in a crusty commune down the Cowley Road and was hardly seen in classes being more likely to be found at dub parties and raves or down in the meadows on the solstice. After college, in the 1990’s, he lived in a commune outside Reading until it moved on mass to Hackney. It was moving into the Hackney squat Dave first met Eveready, they enjoyed long discussions about history and politics in which Eveready often admonished Dave, “History finished in 1916, you’re talking about current affairs!”
Dave parked the bike outside a big red brick Victorian Villa bearing the name Ranger Mansions cut into the stone above the door, after which had been tagged the word SQUAT in graffiti style spray paint. The once splendid property is council owned but had been left to decay. It became rat-infested short-term council accommodation dubbed “Danger Mansions” by tenants before Dave & Co moved in, displacing the crack addicts.
It wasn’t a glamorous place. On room was completely unusable, the floor had fallen away, so they just drew the door closed and tried to forget about it, the uncurtained broken window was visible from the street and you could also see huge evil looking icicles from around the water & soil pipes. Man, it was cold in winter. You would have to living in a really fucking awful place to want to move here. It was the sort of place you’d have to be certain you can look after yourself as a structural engineer and with the mad bad and dangerous to know people you’d find in side, or you wouldn’t even consider going in. In those early days there was squabble for the soul of the squat, it also functioned as a venue for what local residents groups described as an illegal rave venue profiting from drugs money. Dave’s posse turned it round after the drug fuelled raves stopped following a murder when some dealers fell out, and the party moved on.
Dave went up to the front door & knocked. The door was answered by a woman, unsurprising decked out in waist length dreadlocks.
“Hi Dave. Long time no see. I won’t ask how you are”.
“Good, good”. Grinned Dave. “How are we? Still riding? How’s things in 177.”
“Yeah. So, so. But it’s not what it used to be. Loads more trouble with the bailiffs”.
“Same old, same old, then?”
“No. It’s much worse than it ever was”. She said dejected and weary. She tried to forget the trouble of the squat and genuinely pleased to Dave tried to let that cheer her. “Anyway what brings you this way? Tired of civvy street?”
“It’s got its advantages. I’m getting used to my creature comforts. Is Eveready around?”
“Still don’t follow the news, eh Dave?”
“Nope. It doesn’t agree with me.”
“Social networking? Facebook? Twitter? That sort of thing?”
“No. What’s that? An’ That? An’ That? Stop it! You’re making me ill”
“Well if you had any interest in the world around you, you’d know there has been some recent civil unrest recently”.
“Yeah. And the wayward son of a well-known, well-to-do geezer got arrested”.
“Eveready’s not wayward!”
“Maybe, but he’s national news, man.”
“Really? So I’m not the only person looking for him? I wonder I that will that make him harder or easier to track down?”
“Well the law and the media found him easily enough.”
“Where’s he now, inside? There’s not a prison been built that could contain such a charming, well connected & entirely innocent young man.”
“You’re right, for once. They bailed him. The old man has friends in high places in the legal establishment, though word on the street is Eveready lives in a caravan or a cave on the edge of the Thames down Pimlico way.
“What do you want him for?”
“Oh, I’ve got a mission for him. We need to pick that planet sized brain of his – what’s left of it.”
“I’ll give him a buzz.”
“Eveready, Always Good Dave has popped up! Yeah, yeah I know. He says he’s got a mission for you. You interested? Right where are you? He’s got an even more fuddy-duddy old man’s bike than he used to ride. It’ll probably take him ‘til the middle of next week to get to you. Right. See ya”.
“Right. Where is he?”
With Taffy Jackie on Spitalfields market, you know it?
“Funny. Really funny.”
Mounting his bike Dave asked, “Do you remember what the ‘80’s & ‘90s were like? An era before the advent of global communications. What was the world like? Sometimes good . . . sometimes bad. I think we had greater expectation back then. Coming home wondering what was for tea and whether the cat was in or out? But now with the CATCAM APP for iPHONE. You know before you come home. Everything is as you expect. Gone are the surprises in life”.
“Same old philosophical Dave. Take it easy old man.”
Dave rode down to Spitalfields market and found Jackie’s stall.
Eveready! Jackie! How’s business? Jackie was standing alone. Eveready was talking to a punter. Eveready nodded in acknowledgement of Dave’s arrival. Jackie answered
“Oh you know, recession, recession, recession but other than that pretty good.”
“Long time, no see. How have you been keeping?”
“Always good. Much like you. Trying to make ends meet. Some pretty neat stuff you got here, I’ll give you a tenner for the lot!?”
OK, but you’ll have to stand here all day in the freezing cold and try to sell to people with no money in their pockets.
“Fair point. Listen can I buy you and Eveready a drink I need him to take a look at something for me.”
“Just a cup of hot water” said Eveready over his shoulder.
Jackie and Dave went over to one of the food stalls around the outside the outside of the market, on the way she asked Dave what he wanted.
The Cafe Caribbean Spitalfields Market.
“One coffee, one tea and a Cup of hot water please”
“Cup of hot worta? That’s a Welsh thing ain’t it?” came the reply in broad east London accent from an Afro-Caribbean guy with an equally broad 50 inch chest. He repeated “Cup of hot worta?” in his closest welsh accent with a good-natured smile.
She wasn’t sure. Was wanting a cup of hot water alone a Welsh thing?
“Normally I bring my, own in a flask” her nerves forced to say.
“It’s the accent,” he said pulling 3 Styrofoam cups from the stack. Grinning he said, “I’m from Port Talbot. I grew up on the Sandfields estate. I hated it. I was bullied, terribly”.
“What a big boy like you?” asked Dave.
“I wasn’t so big then. David James, I think his name was his name. I think he’s a farmer or something now. Boy, would I like to meet up with him now”.
“I bet you would”. They Laughed.
After picking up their drinks Jackie & Dave chit chatted for a while, until Eveready had made the sale. Jackie said, “I’ll go back to the stall and send him over. Good to see you again. Now careful with that worta”
“I will. You too.”
Eveready came over and sat down, after taking a sip of his water he said. “Thanks. Good to see you. I gather this is not just a courtesy call, but you’ve something for me? What have you been up to? No good I hope.”
Dave produced an A4 manila envelope. “Maybe. Take a look at these”. He said and pushed it over the table to in front of Eveready. Leaning back he said, “I hear you’ve been quite busy yourself recently.”
“The riots? Yeah I just went over as mere spectator, you know? It keeps me out of trouble. I get to meet new and interesting people”.
Dave looked unconvinced.
“Well, OK I did take an active part, er a minor part, in the riot but also I took pictures – pretending to be a photo journalist. Good cover right?”
Eveready took another sip of the water and removed a number A4 sheets from the envelope. He studied them quickly and said “Dave I m impressed. There has been a considerable improvement in your taste since you’ve become a rent payer”.
Dave almost blushed. “Obviously they’re not mine. The objects that is, not the photos- their not mine either, come to think of it”.
“Easy Dave. Do you know what you’ve got here?”
“I was rather hoping you could tell me. I found them in a copper’s house. When I was doing a bit of . . . shall we say, private investigating”
“Interesting.” Eveready now studied the pictures more carefully, turning each piece of paper from side to side trying to ascertain the best perspective. “Evidently you’re not quite the pipe and slippers man Kitcat would have me believe. Well what you seem to have here are a collection of artifacts from different ethnic groups around the world. However, they don’t seem to be a completely random mixture of objects. I would hazard a guess they all serve a common purpose in each culture they are extracted from.”
“Well, this I why I wondered if you are aware of what you had found. They are all involved, in my opinion, used in aspects of the occult. . . Admittedly many artifacts in many cultures are linked with religious practices or afterlife etc. But these I think it’s fair to say are used for communicating with the other-side. The Victorians assembled similar collections, when they got carried away with their “Cult of Death.”
“What witchcraft? At a copper’s house? That’s fantastic!”
“That would seem a fair assessment David. I’ve always known those bastards would stop at nothing. Now it seems you’ve unearthed the truth. They are in league with Satan.” He tapped his finger on a picture as if to prove his point. Eveready took out a pack cigarettes, offered one to Dave adding, “It’s a no smoking zone here”.
“I’ve quit smoking except for weed, Em made me”.
“Except for weed, obviously.” Eveready repeated holding out the packet.
Dave shrugged, took one and they lit up.
“As luck would have, if your interested in this sort of thing I believe there are some nice examples of these in a good collection, not too far from here.”
“Where? In some private collection?”
“No the Horniman Museum in Forrest Hill.”
“That’s weird. That’s where the guy I’m helping lives. He’s the guy who wanted to look around the place & he took the pictures. It wasn’t my idea but I’m just being helpful to him.”
“Well then there’s nothing stopping you two from getting over to the museum and taking a look. Any more questions ask the staff there. I’m sure they will only be too pleased to incriminate them self as accessories to burglary and god only knows what else. So, what’s your next step? Or shouldn’t I ask.”
“Dunno. I just wanted to know what we are up against”.
“The geezer I‘ve been helping took the pictures, we’ve looked at, right?” Dave said his eyes fixed on Eveready’s.
“I think I get the picture. You used this expedition break into and rob a coppers house, you freak”
Dave pursed his lips & shrugged noncommittally.
“So what did you take, Dave?” replied Eveready returning Dave’s gaze.
“It’s like your reading my mind, but it’s no big deal”. With out taking his eyes of Eveready’s Dave slid right hand palm down over the table. Eveready felt the broad, flat, backhand coming towards his belly. They both looked down as Dave removed his hand, revealing the contents in his palm on the table.
“Fuck”. That’s too much Dave. It’s gonna be to hot”.
“I doubt anybody’ll come looking for it. I’ve heard the copper topped himself in prison”.
“Yeah, he hung himself apparently.”
“Too bad. In which case leave it with me and I’ll ask around and see what we can get for you on the un-open market.”
“Cheers,” said Dave, standing up.
“Oh. How should I get back to you?”
“If I don’t hear anything, I’ll pop by 117 and see if anybody there can locate you.”
“Fine or I could just give you my number?”
Dave shrugged again, “Fingers crossed, take it easy”.
On returning to Brixton Dave informs Jess & Billy about the collection of ornaments in the photos at Livery’s house having something to do with contacting the sprit world & similar collections were amassed during the Victorian Death Cults.
Billy got excited “I knew there are powerful forces surrounding the Golden Wonder Murder!”
Dave does not let on about his investiture with Eveready, but prefers to remain quiet about it.
Dave is at home doing the washing up at the sink next to the glass back door listening to a Radio4 current affairs program. Occasionally he looks out through the door at the little concrete garden, walled on all sides and the back of the of Lidl’s supermarket beyond. There, a shadow in the garden!
There have been an increased number of break-ins on the road recently. He starts unlocking the door and calls to Em, “There’s somebody in the garden!” Wrenching the door open Dave races out into the darkness to confront the intruder but he garden is empty and silent.
Standing in the doorway Em laughed, “You’ve been hanging around with Billy to long. You’ve become too aware of your own shadow”. They hear the sound of a plant pot being knocked over, it rolls across the concrete”.
“Can I help you?” Dave questions the empty space.
Nobody answers but he can feel somebody is this there. His skin tingles at the thought. He sensed somebody walk past him and the tinkle becomes a full on somebody walked over your grave shiver. Unnerved Dave walks slowly back into the kitchen, locking the door. Behind him he heard the sound of a heavy footstep on the 2 stairs in the hall. Dave’s course body hairs feel rigid his like spines on a cold hedgehog. Turning towards the hall he can see the dragon mobile that hang at the bottom of the stairs slowly rotate.
In the living room Emma screamed, “Dave! Dave!”
Dave ran up the stairs and into the room. Everything was being swept off the surfaces and thrown up in the air, something is tearing through the flat. On the uncarpeted floors they could hear frantic footsteps.
“What’s happening?” Cried Em.
“They are looking for something”. Said Dave coolly, surprised by his own sense of detachment and lack of panic.
“What the fuck are you talking about? Have you gone mad?”
They looked at one another as the frantic untidying continued.
“What does it want?”
Dave stood motionless watching, transfixed, something in his psyche, the way he viewed the world had been undone.
Livery appeared fleeting in front of him. Dave recognised Livery from the photos. Again, Dave was unsurprised. Almost greeting Livery as an old friend.
Quietly almost imperceptibly, through the gap in his teeth, he breathed
“ . . . Eveready …..”.
Instantly whatever it was, was gone and the room fell silent.
“What the fuck!” Cried Emma. “What the fuck is going on?”
“What we have is very pissed off, very bent copper on the other side of the spiritual divide.”
Dave sit’s down stunned. “Can you get me a fag? I really need a fag”.
But you’ve given up.
“I always keep some. In case of emergencies like this. They’re in top of that draw.”
Having lit up, inhaled deeply and came clean about the theft and the passing of the artifact to Eveready.”
“So what about Eveready? Are you going to warn him?”
“Warn him? What good would that do against the undead? That thing will get to him long before I can. I don’t have his number, that’s the way we used to like it before all this weird shit. If the police picked you up you were just a clean slate”.
“Great. That thing’s gonna wipe his slate if it finds him”.
“I’ll drop by 177 tomorrow.”
Dave returned home in a little over an hour. “His phones off, Em. There were mental crowds peering over the edge of London Bridge.”
Drowning the past
Eveready out goes to see he’s parents at Little Venice. He bobs up from the underground at Warwick Avenue tube station into the familiar surroundings of Little Venice, like a puffin resurfacing amongst its family. Hurriedly he crossed the road traffic going towards Paddington & the A40. He steps onto the large central reservation composed of 4 x 4 cars & crosses the more leisurely traffic heading up to Maida Hill. He enters a in the cobbled street of Warwick Place and through the door of the Warwick Castle, a small wood paneled pub and up to the carved wooden bar.
“Eveready! Hey are you, my Man! What brings you round these parts?”
“Oh, I need something evaluating” he paused and then smiled, “Just trying to put a bit of business the old man’s way”.
What will it be?
“Heineken, please Joe!”
Joe picks up a glass and started pouring the beer. He looked up at Eveready “So what have you got for the old man, this time? Something you found in a charity shop or picked up with a bit of selective looting during the riots?”
“Huh”, Eveready appreciated the line, “It’s a friend’s” he stopped himself before finishing the word sliding into ‘private client’s, actually. Rather Hush-hush”.
“£5.50” Joe replied.
They had a good long chat, the pub, save one or two of its upper class drinkers, was empty. Dusk was falling as Eveready stepped back onto the cobbled street turning right towards the inky water of Browning’s pool, better known as at Little Venice. Browning’s pool is the junction of Grand Union Canal with early 19th Century Regent’s Canal built to link the River Thames at Limehouse. The calm, barely moving water was almost a perfect mirror, reflecting the surrounding buildings, the trees, and the red and blue hints of the evening sky. The lake is outlined by a white band painted on the edge of towpath & down to the water line. Eveready looked at the island in the middle of the pool, remembering how growing up he thought all traffic islands would be surrounded by water. He turned left, taking a few steps along the road, which was sparsely lined with trees and sealed off from the canal by black railings. The road gently arced away from the water to accommodate the pool. Below the railings was the concreted towpath, the delineating by a thick white line, he remembered how the British Waterway workmen scraping off the line and repainting it every other year. They told him “You’d be amazed how many people miss of ignore this warning & fall in”. Permanently moored in the pool is the Floating boater Restaurant, a puppet theatre and next to that the British Waterway workmen’s barge that belches out thick smoke on winter lunch times. Eveready arrived at his parent’s house, one of the large white stucco fronted villas set quite near to the road, with large windows flush with the wall peering out over Browning’s pool. He covered the small, neat front garden in 4 easy paces & arriving at the broad front door he knocked.
Back through the locks to the open river
Mr Devereux, a short dark man, opened the door to admit his son. They walk through the hallway to sit at the kitchen table. Mr Devereux boiled the kettle and made a pot of tea. “It was with extreme sadness & Disappointment that I heard you had been involved in the rioting Everard. I do hope you haven’t ascertained an even longer criminal record. You’ll soon be well beyond employability should they need a CRB check”.
“Well, in the foreseeable future I don’t think I’ll be hostage to one”.
After the formalities, Mr Devereux addresses his son “I believe you have something you would like my opinion on.”
“Interesting, lets go upstairs and glove up”.
“Can’t you just have a look at it here? Nobody else has been handling it with kid gloves.”
“You know my rules. One can’t be to careful.”
Eveready and his dad go up to the front room on the second floor. Mr Devereux carefully unlocks the door, they enter & don cotton gloves that were resting on a glass cabinet. Eveready removes the piece from a cotton bag handing it observantly to his father. Eveready goes over to the window, leaning against the frame he looks out past his reflection into the darkness of the canal basin. He feels somebody is coming, the trees rustle and a breeze shakes the window. He hunches his shoulders as the breeze shivers through him it whispers his street name. “Eveready”.
“This is an ancient & rare object. It’s undoubtedly extremely valuable. You could really make as a collector, I don’t know why you choose to . . . “
As his father was about to finish the sentence Eveready starred impassively at him, gently rubbing his chin. When he caught the old man’s eye Eveready raised his eyebrows, suggesting he had heard similar arguments before and was interested in the piece his father held.
“Tell me where did you get it?”
“It belongs to a friend’s of mine. He’s thinking of selling and wants to know what he’s got. What is it? A broach?”
“Ha! A broach? Clearly they taught you nothing at Oxford. Now be careful here Everard there are not too many of these in circulation. It is a representation Ixtab or Rope Woman the Yucatec Mayan goddess of suicide. It’s of the Mayan Pre-Classic period so I would estimate as being at least”
“Two to Four thousand years old. My god.”
“Yes. I stand corrected, you did adsorb something up at Oxford –by osmosis, no doubt.”
“I think only one or two such artifacts are known about, one was rumored to be in the UK, in a Victorian collection in about 1851 as part of the Victorian obsession with the Cult of Death. In Yucatec society, suicide, especially suicide by hanging, was under circumstances considered an honorable way to die. Ixtab would accompany such suicides to paradise. Mr Devereux pleased with his analysis looked up at his son. “Everard. You’ve gone very pale are you OK?”
“The last bit you said. Did you say suicide hanging?”
“Oh. It’s just . . . I think my friend who is thinking of selling said a close relative of his had hung himself recently”.
“Really? How awful. Perhaps you should sit down”.
At that moment the doorbell rang.
“Are you OK Everard?”
“Are you OK to hold this? Good. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll see who that is and bring you up a drink. Just don’t touch anything else, OK?”
Mr Devereux carefully handed the artifact back to Eveready & went downstairs to answer the door. The doorstep was empty. Sometimes the neighbours come round and if you can’t get downstairs quickly enough they disappear around the corner. Mr Devereux walked up to the gate and peered over measuring the bend in the road on either side, looking for the elusive knock and run neighbours. The front door slammed behind him. Mr Devereux turned sharply & returned to the front door. He rang the bell a couple of times & called up at the first floor window “Everard the door’s closed!” The light in the upstairs room dimmed, flickered and went out. After a second all the lights around the house repeated this shimmer before extinction. Not quite simultaneously, but as if in the order of some moving around the house very quickly turning them on then off. Mr Devereux stood at the front door craning his neck backwards to look at the window, wondering what had happened to the electrics and who was responsible for fucking them up so badly. He was about to call again when he heard a tremendous thud of something slamming against the front door. The door shuddered after the impact. Before the door had stopped shaking another blow was delivered, again the thud and shudder. Something was trying to force it’s way out.
This time he shouted, “Everard! What is going on?”
The door flung open & Eveready emerged. In the darkness against the light of the hall Mr Devereux could see blood around Eveready’s eye sockets. Wailing Eveready was raced out straight into the road, careering into the railings surrounding the canal, down the steps leading to the towpath and out into the inky blackness of the lake. Mr Devereux seemed to stop to weigh up was happening and what the appropriate course of action might be. “E-V-E-R-E-A-D-Y!” He ran after Eveready & flung himself into the shallow water. When the neighbours and emergency services final fished Mr Devereux out of the canal they stood on the bank starring back a the water. Little Venice was a black hole only reflecting a slither of the neon lighting surrounding it. “Like a fish. Like a fish”. Mr Devereux repeated “Like a fish”.
Hours later the electric supply has returned to normal Mr Devereux is sitting stunned at his kitchen table.
It occurs to him to look into his collection room. Wearily he trudges upstairs. It’s gone. Devereux looks around his room. The Ixtab is the only thing that, along with Eveready, has gone.
Is it good to talk?
Dave is sitting finally having the fag he’s wanted, trying to stitch it all together. . . He exhales a cloud of smoke, “What the fuck is going on? I’ve been fine for so many years, now it seems every person I meet dies. A whole load of shit is happening all at once. . . What’s Happing Em?”
“It’s probably just, probability, co incidence, or something. Weird things happen occasionally”.
“It’s more than that. Something else is going on”.
She stares back. “Dunno, Dave, you tell me?”
“Livery, I broke into his house . . . is dead but has been kind enough to come to visit us from beyond the grave. Eveready, I gave him what I stole from Livery’s house . . . is most probably dead. People I don’t know, but I’ve just crossed paths with are . . . dead, or will soon be dead”.
“You broke in Livery’s and stole something?”
“Yeah, how do you think we got in? Nothing serious. The house had lots of crazy masks and stuff, you remember Billy showed you the pictures, you seemed quite happy about it at the time. Well I took something small, it looked. . .” he shrugged “like it might be of interest to the right person. So I passed it to Eveready. Now this dead prick shows up, uninvited, riffles through the house & I reckon goes in search of Eveready. It’s not looking good. . . . we’re lucky is didn’t kill us.”
“So, this small, insignificant thing seems to be causing us a bit of trouble Dave. What do you think we should do?” Emma asked. “Call the police. Call Ghostbusters. Most Haunted. Call for psychiatric help for you. Call Billy? I don’t know!”
“The police will be here soon enough. Not sure we should call Billy. Hhm, If he’s still alive. . . 2 days ago I knew what was up and what as down, but now? It was Billy’s interest in Livery that got this ball rolling, I know he’s mixed up in all of this somehow, I’m not sure we should talk to him more.”
“Are you serious? 2 days ago you were questioning Billy’s ability & . . . his state of mind. If I remember correctly your were calling him a crank! Now he’s what? . . A . . supernatural Megamind?”
“I know. I know it’s . . . all very, very weird.” Dave stubbed out the fag. “I think I’ll just lay low for a while – disappear”.
“What good would that do? If can find Eveready when you’ve got know idea where he is. It will find you AGAIN when it wants to. I think the least we can do is speak to Billy – if it hasn’t got to him. Call Jess, tell her we’re coming over. Get her to find out if Billy’s in & get her to keep him there until we get over there. This need to sorted A-S-A-P.”
As they left the flat and set off for Havelock Mews Emma asked, “Not taking the Bike?”
“Your crazy. No way. Not today! I’m lying low, remember? It gotta a be the bus. The P4 I think. It goes from in front of Mackey-D’s. Just blend in with the populous & don’t do anything weird”. Dave lit his spliff.
Camden is the home to the largest collection of tat in Western Europe, if not the world. It is also the site where mimetic desire or MD is at it’s strongest in the whole universe. The powerful urge to come together & conform draws self-obsessed fashionista types from around the world. Camden is drenched in those too stupid, stoned or simply overwhelmed to notice that the amazing array of stalls are all selling exactly the same shit or that the shop they are about to enter is exactly the same as the one they stepped out from. MD compels the bodies on which it acts to wear the same clothes, see the same bands, do the same as the person in front, take the same drugs, in the same nightclubs, talking about the same programs on the same phones at the same time!
The Saturday night that Fillery was released as the Camden twats were sitting at the food stalls on the half Vespa scooters peering into themselves, at the top of Camden Lock a lone figure appeared seemingly running on the water at great speed. Jumping over the locks and skidding almost silently on the canal surface like a water-skier. The only sound was the flapping of his sodden hipster flares.
Some of the self-absorbed herd looked up from eating the same hot world food and saw the water-skier as he went through. Some even took grainy photographs. Later on the Thames the lone water-skier is spotted again by people on bridges, the bank and boats, but again nobody bags anything more than a blurred photograph & nobody saw the force that was pushing or pulling him.
Billy’s note: Dulwich Village. The P4 bus runs from Brixton to Lewisham through Dulwich Village. An enormous green space – not regularly seen in London. Traveling by train or car it suddenly appears out of the urban sprawl before being equally rapidly consumed by the bricks & concrete. An urban oasis of public schools, playing fields, woods & giant houses with full size trampolines and works of modern art in the garden. Does anybody in who lives in Dulwich use a bus?
The Night bus
Emma is familiar with taking the P4 bus as far as Fox & Hounds Tavern in Dulwich Village for various friends’ group meetings. She knows the P4 is usually really busy & when it appears there is quite a rush to get a seat. The aspiring travelers line up against the window of Mackey-D’s restaurant to get out of the main pedestrian current, jostling one another for the best position like runners at the start of a race. This crowding is amplified by the larger number of people also using this stand to get buses into town. This makes it difficult to estimate how many people are planning to get on your bus and builds up the excitement of the journey. Finally, their bus bled into view, distinguishable by being one of the few single-deck buses on the London roads.
It’s internal lights that were usual obstructed by the weight of standing passengers blazed out and Emma began scrummaging with people on the pavement. In the excitement she called over her should to Dave. “What I want to know is where on earth is Lewisham & who would want to go there?” She stumbled forward and found herself saying this at the bus driver, who averted his gaze and examined his instrument panel before replying, “Thing about this town is, people simply go from home to work and back again. . .” The bus pulled out at great speed. “People simply go from home to work and back again. . .”
Emma and Dave were the only people who had got on and now they noticed how the bus was almost empty bus. Cautiously they inched towards one of the empty seats.
“Nobody got on! That’s never happened before”.
“Supergood!” said Dave Grinned clearly stoned. The bus speed on, not stopping at any of the scheduled stops.
“Perhaps it’s a Taxi sent to collect us?” wondered Emma hopefully.
The man sat in front of them with large headphones on his ears sang with his music, “We are all on the way to meet our maker, the bus is taking us home.” Slowly, he turned to face them. He also had massive headphones where is eyes should which pulsed to his song. They could now hear the same music came from other passengers including the driver. All the occupants sang “We are all on the way to meet our maker, the bus is taking us home.”
“That’s it!” Dave struggled to his feet and using the available handrails swung his way towards the driver. The bus had deviated from its route, a large metal gate opened for it & it sped on towards an unlit imposing building.
“What is going on? Is this the P4? Where are we going? Who are these people?” he screamed approaching the driver. His journey was made more difficult as the bus bounced over step speed bumps. Also, he could see no headlights illuminating the buses path.
The bus came to an abrupt halt. Dave fell forward finding himself pressed up against the glass of the driver’s unlit cabin. The haunted driver turned to face Dave, “This is your stop, mate”.
The bus doors opened and Dave stumbled out and Emma followed him. They stood in a dark quadrangle. A clock tower loomed over them. An incongruous neon sign read “The Dulwich Undead Adventurers Club – This way” with a big arrow pointing down a metal staircase. The questionable P4 swung around in the quad and took off, it’s eerie song trailing off into the distant hum of traffic on the south circular.
Dave & Emma faced the choice, an opportunity, do as the sign says, or make a break for it.
“Face it!” she said. “Let’s go down & get on with it. It’s not going away, it’s going to catch up with you”.
“Me? You think this is my fault?”
“Yeah. Of course it is. I think YOU should confront YOUR demons”
“Forget that! How much weirdness do you want in a day? You go in there and get killed. I’m going back to the road.”
He started walking back along the long dark road that led back to the main road. It was the pitch black. He could just about make out the dark towers of school buildings on the right hand side and an oily expanse of what must be the playing field on the left. He felt like what ever had wanted him here could leap out at any moment, eviscerate them on the spot or chase them down on the fields & nobody who hear or help them.
Some thing white flashed away to their left on the grass.
Dave continued explaining is unwilling to follow the instructions on the sign, “Today? It could be anything. Like I say, I’m not waiting around to find out!”
Jesus there it is again.
There was a flapping sound, like the wings of an enormous bird & the white spectre turned and was now coming towards them with great speed.
They started running but the spectre was moving to cut of their escape.
“Christ!” It’s a boat” There was anxiety in Dave’s voice, panting, he surrendered the race.
“Ahoy! You made it then?” came a cry from the boat as it glided over the field, slowed and stopped in front of them, sails flapping. The boat didn’t seem to have been modified for the use on land, Dave could see no stabilizers or wheels. A figure wrapped in tarpaulin stood on the bow. A PG Wodehouse type of character, dressed a polar explorer, another in the hull of the craft. “Sorry old boy! Didn’t men to startle you. Just taking the old James Caird out for a bit of an excursion on the field.
“Lovely night for it! We are the The Dulwich . . ”
“Undead Adventurers Club?” Dave finished the sentence.
“Yes! How the Devil did you know that?”
“It written on a great big sign in the playground”
“Ah, you can see it can you that’s good. A lot of people can’t. Only those who are interested or . . .er, susceptible can see it. It’s been there for about a good 100 years and nobody at the school has ever spotted it or us. Too small a gene pool I guess”
“Yeah I can see it but I don’t want to see it. I’m off!”
“Now hang on young man, don’t be hasty. We’ve got you over here because we’ve heard you’d crossed swords with a couple of rather undesirable sorts of fellows and the thing is, this Skier thing has unleashed all sorts of copycat paranormal lawlessness. Too be honest, that’s why we’re in this boat. . . .”
“Right. Skier? Well I guess that’s all good! Be seeing ya!” Dave’s parting shot cut across the Explorer’s explanation.
They were again walking towards the light of the South Circular.
“I’m never traveling by bus again”.
Dave answered, “Oh? Aren’t you still interested in where Lewisham is why people would want to go there?”
Crystallising in front of our eyes
Emma and Dave arrive at the studio quite late at night, the P4 bus ride has pushed Dave close to the edge.
“So what took you so long, what happened?” asked Billy
“Oh we ran into to some public school boys,” Em replies, “I think they were trying to be helpful, you know, one of those public interaction initiatives public schools run from time to time.”
Billy & Jess listen to Dave describe the theft, passing the carving to Eveready, the return of Livery, the P4 bus ride.
“This is too much”. Jess began skinning up.
“You sure it was Livery?” Billy asked. “I read he’s dead”
“Certain. I recognised him from the photos at his house. There was also something . . . unspoken between us . . . we were both aware of who he was and what he wanted”.
“Yeah. So he didn’t come to you?”
“No. Not that I am aware of. But I didn’t steal from him. What was the carving of?”
“What was the carving of? What sort of thing?”
“Is that important?”
“Important enough for Livery to come back from the grave for. What ever it was Livery wanted it back, badly”.
“I’m not sure. I liked the feel of it immediately. It looked, a bit morbid – like a figure hanging . . .” Dave’s voice trailed off, realising what he had said.
“A hanging? My god then it is Livery. This is immense. Mental.”
“At last, you’re listening to me! So what do we do?”
“We do? This is your problem. You took the fucking thing! It’s you he came to see.”
“Hang on. It was your idea we go there.”
“Was it? It was my idea we break in? My idea to steal? I’m not responsible for this.”
Billy collapsed down into a chair. Flicking on the TV . . . The news channel appeared.
“News? Why’s it always this obsession with the news? What is this, a wind up? You know I hate the media”, Dave was getting quite vexed by everything, reigning himself in a bit he continued “But look, listen! This guy is dead. He wants his carving back and god only knows what he’s planning to do with it?” Dave appealed to Billy, who looked blankly at the TV set.
“What if he comes back? I think we should look at ways of protecting ourselves.”
“So what do we do? Call the police and say that we are sorry? We can’t say that on a whim we broke into the house of a dead colleague of theirs, stole a priceless relic that he’s has since come round to look for beyond the grave and we’d now like police protection?”
“No, no, I mean spiritual protection.”
“We’ve medaled our away into this. . . whatever this is, I dunno? I don’t think the police can pin anything, legally on us. If we just lie low for a while – let it blow over . . .”
“I think we’ve done enough medaling”.
“Sounds like something from Scooby Doo. I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you medaling kids”. Said Jess who was getting a bit stoned.
They looked at the TV. “The phenomena, now know as the Thames Skier . . .”
The TV shows a montage of clips from phones, CCTV around the Thames, a scene is broadcast from in front of Tate Modern, the skier passes under the Millennium Bridge . . .
“That looks like . . . That’s him! Jesus Fucking Christ!”
“Eveready. That’s fucking Eveready! I’m certain. They are calling him the Thames Skier. This is what those nutters in the boat were trying to tell us! ”
The big man became hysterical.
A rising sense of panic filled the room.
Billy woke up from his stunned stupor, “Is he dead? Is Eveready dead? Why’s he on the Thames? I don’t understand.”
“This is what’s happening Billy. Livery has killed Eveready and is parading him up and down the Thames. Why? I don’t know but we could well be next!”
“It’s a show of strength?” Billy mumbled almost to himself.
“So what do we do?”
“It’s all over the media. They’ll be onto us before long. We’ll be in the in the centre of the media gaze.”
“Whatever it was you took from Livery must be of great deal importance to him. He’s gone to a lot of trouble to get it back and putting on this very public performance. I mean he’s not afraid to let the whole world know he’s around. It’s on the lead story on the news for fucks sake!”
Jess drew on her spliff, “Only we really understand the significance of these events. Anybody outside looking in the police for example just wouldn’t get it. It could take everybody else years to piece it together, & even then there would be so many extra pieces they’d never manage put it together. A mental, growing jigsaw, the more pieces you put in place the more new ones awaiting placement there’d be. They’d probably never get to just to get to this point, where we see it crystallizing in front of our eyes. . .”