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Authors: David Menon

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BOOK: The Wild Heart
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     Peter snorted. ‘ Homosexual scum shouldn’t be allowed to walk the same streets as decent people’

     ‘ Well there’ll be two less before long’ said Freddie.

     Peter stood up and paced around the room. Campbell could settle his own little private war if that’s what he needed to do but there was a much bigger picture going on. He rubbed his chin and took a deep breath. Campbell would need to listen and listen good.

     ‘ The job I’ve got for you to do, Derek, is about much more than the killing of one perverted supergrass and his bum boy, important as that may be’.

     ‘ Nothing could be more important to me at this moment in time than that, Irvine’.

     ‘ Well wait until you hear what I’ve got in mind, Derek. The IRA used the city of Manchester back in 1996 to gain momentum for their evil cause. Well we’re going to use it to smash the Good Friday agreement and save the future of our beloved Ulster’. 

 

     Lynne pulled a face and said ‘ Mark, we don’t do manual workers. We hire them to undertake tasks for us but we don’t sleep with them and we certainly don’t go out with them’.

     Mark didn’t know which was worse. What she’d said was bad enough but the way she’d said it was something else. Her accent certainly wasn’t the one she’d grown up with in Wythenshawe, the largest social housing estate in Europe. But of course that little detail was carefully airbrushed out of
any of her conversations.

     ‘ Lynne, do you know me at all?’

     ‘ What kind of a question is that? I’m your bezzy mate’.

     ‘ Then how could you get me so wrong?’

     ‘ Mark, I just feel that for you to go out with a builder is just not in keeping with someone who works at a bank. You’ll be a manager soon and move out to somewhere like Cheshire or Didsbury. Your neighbours won’t expect you to have a partner who’s working class’.

     Mark was exasperated at her attitude. ‘ Lynne, you know very well that I don’t buy into all that bullshit. I live my life according to how I see fit and I don’t take decisions based on what other people might think’.

     ‘ I’m just saying … perhaps it’s just come out all wrong’.

     ‘ No, I think it’s come out just the way you wanted it to’.

     They were sitting on a bench by one of the now disused waterways in the quays, snatching some sunshine whilst eating their sandwiches for lunch. On the other side were three very tall, very narrow, very modern  apartment blocks, all glass and steel and looking oddly out of place dominating a skyline of sixties council blocks behind them.  

     ‘ I think you should’ve stuck with Andrew’ said Lynne. ‘ You were too hasty with him. You should’ve let him explain’.

     Mark threw his arms up in exasperation. ‘ I don’t believe you’ve just said that. Lynne, Andrew was married with three kids!’

     ‘ Yes, but he was a company director and … ‘

     ‘ … Lynne, I go out with the man not what he does!’

     ‘ But with people like Andrew you overlook their little … confusions’.

     ‘ Oh confusions my arse! He knew exactly what he was doing and you should feel sorry for his wife’.

     ‘ But Andrew has got money and position and status. He’s got a platinum American Express card and everything’.

     ‘ You are not for real! Lynne, I don’t dig for gold like you do’.

     ‘ What’s that supposed to mean?’

     ‘ Well you wouldn’t go out with Russell until you knew how much he earned and you certainly wouldn’t have let yourself get knocked up by him unless his wallet was big enough’.

     ‘ Oh excuse me!’

     ‘ You’re excused, for looking down on my boyfriend because of the job he does’.

     Lynne didn’t answer. She didn’t need to. Instead they sat in silence until Lynne cracked first.

     ‘ I didn’t realise you were this serious about him’

     ‘ Well I am so get used to it. I thought you’d be pleased for me’.   

     ‘ I am, I’m just …  I think you’d better tell me more about him’.

     ‘ Well if you were to walk into a room full of sportsmen and someone asked you to spot the rugby player you’d go straight for him’.

     ‘ He plays rugby?’

     ‘ Used to. He coaches a league team over at
Worsley now. They’ve got a big match on Saturday, the penultimate game of the amateur league season and it’s brilliant because the team are at full strength, no injuries, whereas their opponents this week have got one of their wingers out of it with a broken toe and … ‘

     ‘ … yes, yes dear, whatever. Anyway, you’ll be putting a stop to all that rugby nonsense’.

     ‘ What?’

     ‘ He’s got you now and you decide what he does with his time’.

     ‘ No I don’t. Lynne, Ian is a grown man for God’s sake. I’ve no right to tell him what to do with his time’.

     Lynne wagged her finger. ‘ Oh no, no, no. You’ve got to set him his boundaries and let him know what will happen if he even thinks about crossing them’.

     ‘ Lynne, only neurotic, insecure women treat their men like children’.

     ‘ Oh you’re such a straight gay! You should be standing up for us girls’.

     ‘ I always stand up for you girls but not when I think you’re wrong’

     ‘ So what’s the relationship history of this man?’

     ‘ He’s had some affairs over the years but … ‘

     ‘ … but what?’

     ‘ Well he hasn’t let himself get involved with anyone for a long time’.

     ‘ I don’t like the sound of that’.

     ‘ It doesn’t bother me’ said Mark.

     ‘ Commitment phobic?’

     ‘ No’ said Mark ‘ It’s to do with something that happened years ago in Ireland’.

     ‘ You don’t think he’s IRA, do you?’

     ‘ No, he’s protestant’.

     ‘ Which is relevant because?’

     Mark closed his eyes in exasperation. ‘ Lynne, the IRA is the Irish Republican Army. It’s from the nationalist, Catholic side’.

     ‘ Oh it’s all the same to me. But you just watch yourself’.

     ‘ Give over’

     ‘ Does he come home all dusty from the building site?’ Lynne asked, her face screwed up as if describing shit on her shoe.

     ‘ Well yes’ said Mark ‘ He is a builder’.

     ‘ And where does he live?’

     ‘ Here in Salford’.

     ‘ Oh the Quays!’ Lynne enthused. ‘ Oh well that’s something at least. Mind you, how can a bricklayer afford a place in the Quays?’

     ‘ Look, if you must know, it’s his firm and he lives in Trinity Riverside’.

     ‘ So he owns the firm? Well that’s something I guess’.

     ‘ Oh well I’m glad you approve of that part of it’.

     ‘ You’ve got it bad’.

     ‘ He is such a real bloke, Lynne. He gets his hair cut for a fiver by a Pakistani man in a barber shop on Eccles New Road and goes for a few pints every Friday night with the lads from the building site  …’

     ‘ … oh well won’t you make the perfect bloody wife!’

     ‘ What do you mean?’

     ‘ Well I’d put a stop to his Friday nights in the pub with the lads for a kick off’ said Lynne. ‘ Christ, you’ll be telling me next that you won’t object to him getting an Indian takeaway and eating it in the living room in front of the telly’.

     ‘ We did that last night actually’.

     Lynne squirmed. ‘ But Mark, the smell?’

     ‘ Well I just opened a window. There was a big rugby league match on Sky Sports that he wanted to watch so I put the food down on the coffee table and we opened a few cans. We had a great night. And his team won’.

     ‘ God, if you had tits and a fanny whoever bagged you would think all his Christmases had come at once’.

     ‘ You remember what a fanny is, then?’

     ‘ Mark, sex isn’t everything’.

     ‘ Well I’ll ask Russell if he thinks that’s true the next time I see him. And if he got it elsewhere?’

     ‘ I’d take him to the bloody cleaners. He’d be left without a pot to piss in’.

     ‘ So you say that sex isn’t everything but you still control your husband with it?’

     ‘ So what’s wrong with that as long as I get what I want?’

     ‘ So what about what Russell wants?’

     Lynne just shrugged her shoulders. She’d never even dreamed of asking him. 

 

CHAPTER SIX

 

‘ You wanted to see me, sir?’ said Graham as he waltzed into Jimmy Kent’s office. His body stiffened. He didn’t need this. His mate Tommy Millar had told him that Duncan Laurence was indeed alive and living under the identity of one Ian Taylor. Since he’d found out he’d been wound up about what to do about it. It was like someone had stepped over his own grave.  

     ‘ Yes’ said Jimmy ‘ Take a seat’. He closed the file he’d been reading ‘ Welcome back, Graham. How was the week?’

     ‘ Well there've been no further incidents, sir'.

     ‘ I know what all the reports say, Graham. I want to know how you and the family are. How’s your wife doing? The kids? ’.

     ‘ Sir, I appreciate the concern but I’d prefer to just get back to work. The week off has served its purpose’.

     Jimmy regarded his D.I carefully. ‘ And do you think you’ve had enough time?’ asked Jimmy

     ‘ Oh, yes’ said Graham.

     ‘ Because I can easily organise some more’

     ‘ No, sir. That won’t be necessary’.

     ‘ Right’ said Jimmy ‘ If you say so, D.I Armstrong’.

     ‘ I do, but thanks for the concern’.

     ‘ Is everything alright between you and me, Armstrong? That was the other reason I gave you the time off after all’.

     ‘ Sir, you’re the DCI and I’m the senior DI. I’m comfortable with that’.

     Like hell you are, thought Jimmy. 

     ‘ So if there’s nothing else, sir?’

     ‘ There is as a matter of fact, Graham. All the latest intelligence sweeps keep coming up with one name. Duncan Laurence. But when we checked him out it seems he was killed in a car crash on the Antrim Road on … ‘  he reached for the file he’d been reading and opened it once again ‘ … October 25th, 1992 and was buried a week later. He was only eighteen years old. His mother tends his grave every week’. He looked up from the file ‘ So is the name familiar to you?’

     Graham swallowed hard. ‘ No, sir. It’s not’.

     ‘ So you wouldn’t know why the name of a dead man keeps coming up now and why it seems he’s known by the loyalist paramilitary fraternity as the Judas?’

     ‘ No, sir. I wouldn’t’

 

     P.C Stuart Wheeler had been with the Greater Manchester force for the best part of six years. He was popular with his colleagues because he kept his head down and got on with the job of policing without any fuss or fanfare and without displaying any of the tactics of those who wanted to be ‘known’. His senior colleagues also rated him and he was preparing to go for his sergeant’s exam. He had his eye on a sergeant’s position that was coming up at the
Didsbury cop shop. The Islington of South Manchester would suit him fine as he gained experience in preparation for his next move up the ladder.

     In the meantime he was a beat officer, covering the
Ordsall district of Salford. He’d been asked to go up to the Chapel Street end and from the bridge on Victoria Bridge Street he looked down at the river that formed that stretch of the border between the two cities of Salford and Manchester. It was absolutely filthy. He’d just been to Paris for a weekend with his girlfriend Tracy and there they’d built an artificial beach running along the river Seine which he thought was a really cool idea. He and Tracy had spent a very pleasant afternoon soaking up the rays over a bottle of Claret accompanied by a bagette and a lump of very smelly but very delicious cheese. Poor Tracy, he thought. She tried her best to please him and most of the time she did. It’s just that he didn’t think she was ‘the one’. His head said she ticked all the right boxes but his heart was another matter altogether. They’d had a great weekend in Paris but for him there was something missing and he really should do the decent thing and let her go so that she could find herself someone else.

     He walked down the street with Manchester cathedral behind him and passed the old tax office on the left which was now a Premier Lodge hotel. At least, the first eleven floors were a hotel whilst the remaining twelve were private flats. There were two separate clearly defined entrances but still people pitched up at the door to the lifts going up to the flats looking for the forty-nine pound weekend special. Some of the residents got a bit hot under the collar about it and the hotel management didn’t seem to give a stuff, so sometimes Stuart had to put himself in the middle and calm troubled waters.

     At the bottom of Victoria Bridge Street he crossed over and went down Greengate, underneath the wide viaduct that carried half a dozen tracks through the open space that used to be Manchester Central Station. On the other side of the viaduct were a couple of private car parks each with spaces for about a hundred vehicles . He’d used one himself when his parents had dragged him along last year to a Fleetwood Mac concert at the nearby MEN arena. He hadn’t been too struck on the idea but his opinion had changed almost as soon as Lindsey Buckingham struck the first note on his guitar. The band had rocked! Stevie Nicks was in a totally different class to any of the current crop of girl performers and the rhythm section of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie formed the backbone of what his parents described as the ‘Mac’ sound. Just a couple of songs into the set and Stuart had realised what his parents had been banging on about for years. He was now a devotee.

BOOK: The Wild Heart
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