Saturday, 9 February 2013
Freedom Overspill: Episode #3
The plot is about to thicken for our daring duo when the mysterious and sinister presence of Niven arrives on the scene. To recap, Hall and Lomacks have been called to a massive house explosion in Wimbledon where a woman, by the name of Mrs Niven, is believed to have been killed. We join our daring duo as they try to make some sense of the whole situation...
Inside the pub, Lomacks brought over three pints of Youngs Special, ‘Who said I would’ by Phil Collins played distantly in the background as the bar began to refill with those who had rushed out to see the commotion caused by the explosion. Lomacks was the first to break the ponderous silence that had engulfed the table.
‘I Don’t like this at all boss, back in Leeds they’d serve these to you in proper mugs.’
‘Economics Lomacks’ his guvnor replied, ‘it’s simply economics, washing machine space, electricity bills, no lawsuits from someone assaulting with a heavy piece of glassware and all that.’
‘No respect for tradition, only under Thatcher!’ retorted the young upstart.
‘that’s as maybe, but save it for later, I want to hear what the constable has to say’ Hall turned to the slightly nervous policeman who was sitting with them. ‘Now son, what can you tell me about this Digby Niven?’
‘He’s a businessman, in the city, what you might call a ‘fat cat’. Made all his money in commodities and hasn’t look back. According to his neighbour he’s got fingers in a number of multi-national pies and has been recently brokering a number of deals in the Middle East’
‘Prime spot for investment sir. Studied it at University.’ Lomacks boasted.
‘All very interesting… I’m looking forward to meeting this Mr Niven. His Wife?’
‘Society girl, socialite, spent much of her youth at country house and all the right parties. Family felt she married beneath her, Digby ain’t common but he’s certainly not landed gentry.’ the constable continued.
‘A proper Brideshead then?’
‘Shut up Lomacks!’ He was getting bored with his partner’s sarcastic interjections, he gestured to the constable, ‘Go on.’ The policeman nodded in thanks.
‘Well sir, there’s not much else to tell other than what I already told you about the son and daughter.’
‘And the boyfriend?’
‘of the daughter?’
‘Oh right, I didn’t catch his name, but apparently he’s in technology of some sort, but that’s all I really know.’
‘Don’t worry yourself about it, thank you constable, you’ve been very helpful. Now drink up that pint whilst it’s still warm.’
It was a couple of hours later and back at Police Station, Hall and Lomacks were sitting across from each other at their desks’
‘Nothing, not a fucking thing at that house and yet it was clearly a professional job.’ Said Hall, all his frustration coming to a head.
‘Mrs Niven didn’t stand a chance...’ Lomacks lamented wistfully.
‘No… poor woman.’
‘I didn’t know you to be so sentimental?’
‘it’s not that, it’s just I can’t imagine a worse way to die. Incidentally, has anyone been able to reach Mr Niven?’
‘Nothing Guv, I’ve been trying his office and his secretary says he hasn’t been back this afternoon. But she added this was nothing unusual if he had brokered a big deal in the morning and was out celebrating with his colleagues.’
‘Hmmm, it doesn’t add up. That secretary’s covering something. If your house was blown up, wife was killed and your kids were coming back to help mop up the debris you would surely have some concerns.’ Hall paused ‘…Anyway, we’ll pay him a visit in the morning. Go home and get some sleep Lomacks, I’ll tie it up here. Did you get that report in?’
‘Gift-wrapped and labelled.’
‘Good stuff Lomacks! Now get out of here. Anything planned this evening?’
‘Just taking Josie out, nice French place has opened up round the corner.’
‘Well, give her one from me… a kiss I mean.’
‘Will do Guv. See you in the morning.’
‘Bright and breezy.’ called Hall to his colleague as he passed through the door.
The elusive Niven was sat at his desk in his City of London office, with a large glass of whisky in his hand. He was addressing another, well dressed fellow who was sat opposite and he was visibly angry.
‘Jesus Codd! I told you to make it look good you fool! I’ve got tracks to cover, you arsehole!’ He screamed at the man. Codd - for that was the unfortunate mans name - went visibly white.
‘But it went down just like you asked for, we got the guns out and killed the woman before we set the charges and then ka-boom!’
‘I suppose I cannot complain too much.’ Niven calmed a little, and was seemingly talking to himself, ‘at least the cops will be busy investigating the death of my wife. I have an alibi, I was at the club, no phone allowed and all that…Sorry Codd, I just panicked.’
‘That’s your prerogative Mr Niven, now how about mine?’ Niven produced a Fendi briefcase, and flipped open the lock to reveal £250,000 in cash.
‘Here you are Codd, now I never want to see you again. Oh...’ he reached into his pocket and pulled out £50,000 in cash, ‘and here’s a tip to forget you ever saw me, should anyone ask you.’
‘You know how to do business Mr Niven, you’re an arsehole but you know how to do business.’
‘Thank you Codd, I’ll take that as a compliment, now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to mourn my wife’s departing.’
‘Nothing so sad as a death in the family.’
‘Indeed Codd, indeed…’
A few days later, at the Funeral of Mrs Valerie Niven, held at St Mary’s Church on Wimbledon Hill. The congregation were outside watching the body being interred. Niven has both his arms around his children. His son stoically watched whilst his daughter cried onto his shoulder. He looked drawn and haggard, a fantastic piece of acting, picked up from many years of high-stakes business negotiating. The vicar was still giving the ceremony when our two heroes turned up on the scene.
‘And we commit this body to the ground, Earth to Earth, Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust…’
‘Excuse me Mr. Niven, I know this is a bad time but could we ask a few questions?’ A red-eyed Niven turned to face the interlopers.
‘Certainly detectives, If you will just give me a moment,’ he turned to his children, ‘You go along to the reception, I will catch you up.’ Hall gestured awkwardly to one side.
‘Thank you Mr Niven, you don’t know how much we appreciate this and may I add how sorry we are for your loss.’
‘Thank you, but it is of little comfort. I just feel so guilty Detective…’
‘Hall, yes... I feel so guilty because I was getting ready to leave her. I found out that she was having an affair with her tennis coach…but this, it comes as quite a shock to me. I don’t think it would have happened had I spent a bit more time with her and understood her more. Now this, who would do such a thing? I know it was no accident.’
‘Really sir? And how do you know that?’
‘Well Mr Hall, you make a lot of enemies in my business and I’m sure you can guess that I’ve had to have dealings with some less than respectable clients over the years. It is not unknown for me to have received a death threat or two, but I never thought someone would go through with it. I’m afraid it was…was’ ever the thespian Niven dispensed with some crocodile tears. Hall looked slightly unnerved.
‘don’t worry about it now sir, go be with your children, would you mind coming into the station tomorrow and answering a few questions?’ Niven Sniffed into a handkerchief.
‘Of course Detective Hall, anything I can do to help clear up this awful mess.’
‘Thank you sir, and once again, we are sorry for you loss.’
‘Until tomorrow.’ Said Hall shaking Niven by the hand on which he turned heel and walked back to his car with Lomacks. Niven walked down to join his children who are waiting by his car, having decided to wait for their father before going to the reception.
‘I don’t trust him one bit guv.’ said Lomack under his breath.
‘That’s as maybe, but we can’t let him think that, he knows he had a Freudian slip when he surmised that his wife had been killed. We must tread carefully.’
‘Shall we call into the station, found if they’ve dug up anything on Niven’s client list, then we can go and take some statements from the Wimbledon locale?’
‘Sounds like a plan my friend. We can listen to this new cassette I brought on the way.’ Lomacks groaned.
‘Not more of that fusion jazz rubbish?’
‘No’ Hall puffed out his chest with visible pride, ‘it’s the new Genesis album, It’s cracking, I heard some of it on Simon Bates the other day.’
‘Invisible Touch? I bet it’s still shit.’
‘well I’ll let you be the judge, my car, my music. I put up with that awful Christopher Cross album when I was in your Punto the other day.’
Join me next time for another thrilling instalment of Freedom Overspill...