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Authors: David Menon

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BOOK: The Wild Heart
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     ‘ Not in the least’.

     ‘ Not even in the showers?’

     ‘ No! I’m very good at separating the different parts of my life, Mark’.

     ‘ What about women?’ Mark probed. ‘ Have you ever been with one?’

     ‘ What’s this? Sex talk with Dr.
Earnshaw?’

     ‘ I’m just interested to know that’s all’.

     ‘ Just one girl years ago back home. You could say that it didn’t work out’.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN

 

‘ You’re really not making this very easy, Ian’ said Alice.

     ‘ Oh aren’t I? Well let me put it in two words that anyone will be able to understand. I quit!’ 

     Ian was sitting in the front passenger seat of Alice’s car. She’d met him in the supermarket car park and had parked nose in to the main Manchester to Liverpool road that ran in front of them. Granada studios with its massive red neon sign was to their left and the supermarket itself to their right. All kinds of people were milling about, going back and forth to their cars with bags full of groceries, unaware of what these two characters in the blue Golf were talking about.

     ‘ I want out’ Ian went on. ‘ I’ve finished. I’ve done enough’.

     ‘ What’s brought this on?’ Alice wanted to know. 

     ‘ Call it personal circumstances’ said Ian.

     When Alice first became Ian’s handler he’d been possessed by all the drive and hunger for revenge that she’d read about in his file. Over the years he’d built up a formidable reputation in the service. He could be trusted, relied upon. But recently she’d seen a change in him. The conversation she’d had with him after the Naughton mission hadn’t come as any great surprise.

     ‘ Lately I have noticed how you’ve been less than enthusiastic about the job in hand. Ian, you’re one of our best operatives and you have an obligation to the British state’.

     ‘ I have spent twenty years paying my obligations to the British state so don’t give me that bullshit!’ Ian retorted angrily. ‘ Look, if I’d have gone to prison instead of going down the road I did then I would’ve been out by now and we wouldn’t be having this conversation’.

     ‘ If you’d have gone to prison you’d have been dead a long time before now. They’d have got to you’.

     ‘ Okay, granted. But what kind of life is this?’

     ‘ Now I know what the conversation the other night at your place was all about’.

     ‘ I’ve reached the end of the road, Alice. Now you go back to London and tell them that I’ll be accepting no more missions from now on. It’s over’.

     Alice knew that her bosses would have other ideas about that.

 

    Derek liked to keep himself fit. He had the physique of a body builder and it helped to overcome the insecurities of his height at just over 5 foot 4. He’d long since lost all his hair and was never seen in anything other than his trademark sweatshirt, tracksuit trousers, trainers and a baseball cap. He was working out at the local gym and when he saw Freddie Burnside walking towards him he could tell from the look on his face that it was bad news.

     ‘ I fucking knew it!’ spat Derek through gritted teeth after receiving not just the bad news but the very bad news. ‘ That idiot was always going to screw things up. Have you got it covered?’ He shook his head ‘ Coshing a fucking copper? Jesus fucking Christ! This is all I need’.

     ‘ He panicked’ said Freddie ‘ He didn’t want the copper to be able to recognise him because he told him he was Ian Taylor but he didn’t finish him off. The copper is lying in a coma in hospital but there’s nothing to connect Kevin with the attack. He did it down the street, not in the yard itself. The copper was found by some guy going to his car’.

     Derek threw his towel down on the floor. How desperate had it all become? Some idiot they’d had to lean on had gone and fucked things up because he didn’t have the brains he’d been born with. 

     ‘ And if the copper comes through he could talk’. 

     ‘ Look, we’ve got to keep our cool. I’ve told Kevin to get himself over here. I’ll make sure he behaves until we figure out what to do’.

     ‘ I’m going over to Manchester, Freddie’ said Derek.

     ‘ Are you sure that’s wise, Derek?’

     ‘ Have you got a better idea?’

      ‘ Well if you think it’s worth the risk showing up over there now when Irvine isn’t ready for us to carry out his plan’.

     ‘ Fuck Irvine. I’ll see to the Judas and then do whatever Irvine wants. I mean, Derek, what the fuck have I got to lose?’

 

     Ian and Mark were in the bath together. Ian leaned back between Mark’s open legs and groaned with pleasure as Mark gently massaged his shoulders with some baby oil.

     ‘ Ooh a man could get well used to being pampered like this’ said Ian.

     ‘ Your shoulders are all hard, big man. You had a bad day?’

     ‘ You could say that’ said Ian.

     ‘ Tell me about it?’ 

     ‘ I’m a man down’ said Ian, his eyes closed, revelling in his lover’s touch. ‘ Kevin rang in sick last Tuesday morning and the others were making noises today about having to work twice as hard without him. I don’t blame them. It’s a big job we’ve got on’.

     ‘ So what are you going to do?’ Mark asked.

     ‘ I’ll have to ring him tomorrow and see when he’s coming back and depending on what he says I might have to get a casual in to cover’.

     ‘ And you don’t like doing that?’

     ‘ Well no but … you see, it’s very unusual for Kevin to be sick. I’ve never known it before to tell you the truth and he’s been with me for ten years’.

     ‘ Everybody gets sick sometime’.

     ‘ They do but … no, not Kevin’.

     ‘ Do you think he might be swinging the leg?’

     ‘ No’ said Ian, although it had crossed his mind ‘ Well, I don’t know’.

     ‘ What?’

     ‘ Just something that’s nagging away at the back of my mind about Kevin. It’s probably nothing. It’s just that he’s been acting a bit odd lately’.

     ‘ How do you mean?’

     ‘ Like he had something to hide’.

     ‘ And he’s never let you down before?’

     ‘ No. I suppose there’s always a first time’.

     ‘ Do you think he might’ve run off with another woman? You know, making a clean break and all that. People do’

     ‘ Do they?’

     ‘ Well you read about it. They even think that some people who were missing after 9/11 actually survived but walked away so that they could get out of whatever situation their life was in at the time. They think they’ve gone off somewhere else and started again with a new identity’.

     Ian felt like somebody had walked over his grave. ‘ It takes a lot of guts to do that’.

     ‘ Hey? You sound like you know’.

     ‘ Me?’ said Ian, shaken by the realisation of just how close the conversation was getting. ‘ No, I was just … well you know, thinking aloud’.

 

     Natalie Patterson had been brought up to be a good girl. She was always polite to ladies and gentlemen. She never left the table before her plate was clean and she always asked if she could. She always got up from her seat to let an elderly person sit down on the bus. She always respected her elders and never gave her parents any cheek. She went to Sunday school and was a member of the school choir. She could’ve been a professional singer. Her music teacher said her voice had the sort of range he’d rarely heard before and he’d been desperate for her to develop her talent. But that wasn’t going to happen. Her Uncle put paid to that.

     She had three younger siblings, all boys. She was especially close to the eldest one, Jack, who was only a year younger than her. She missed him so much. He was at university in Birmingham and she rang him when she could because she couldn’t let him ring her. It wasn’t allowed. Jack had been the only one who’d believed her and was still the only one who did. That made him the only one in the world she could rely on. 

     Natalie and her brothers grew up in North Down, the wealthiest part of Northern Ireland and known as being divided between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-yachts’. Their father Richard was chief executive of the Belfast-based engineering firm that was not only one of the province’s biggest employers but was owned by his wife, Natalie’s mother Angela. It had been founded by Angela’s
grandfather, passed through her father and inherited by Angela when her father died. Kerr Engineering had a solid reputation across the whole of Britain and Angela became the sole heir after her brother committed suicide a few years after Natalie had made sexual abuse allegations against him.

     When it started to happen she hadn’t known what to do. She ended up wanting to scream from the deepest place within her and when she couldn’t keep it in any longer she made her first mistake. She told her mother. Her mother had slapped her. She told her she was a liar. She told her she didn’t deserve anything good to happen to her ever again after what she’d said. Natalie had begged and pleaded for her mother to believe her but she wouldn’t. She appealed to her father but as with everything he took his wife’s side.

     She hadn’t seen either of her parents for a few years and was surprised to see her father standing there when she opened the door.

     ‘ What are you doing here?’

   ‘ I’ve come to talk, Natalie’ said Richard Patterson. ‘ I haven’t come to row’.

     The conciliatory tone of her father’s voice made Natalie stop for a moment and imagine that she could perhaps sit down and talk to him.

     ‘ Come in and say what you’ve got to say, Daddy’.

     She walked back into the flat and left the door open for him to come through. As soon as he was in the living room he waved the smoke from Natalie’s cigarette away with his arm and screwed up his face.

     ‘ Why do you poison yourself with those things?’

     ‘ Because I can and because you can’t stop me’ said Natalie, confidently. She took another drag and blew the smoke into the centre of the room where her father leaned back to avoid it as if it were
a missile. It made Natalie laugh.

     ‘ What’s funny?’ asked Richard, sternly.

     ‘ You. I’d forgotten what a bloody joke you are’.

     ‘ Natalie’ said her father ‘ That’s no way to talk to me now, is it’.

     ‘ When you’re in my home I’ll talk to you how the hell I like and you’ll just have to deal with it’.  

     Richard looked round and gave the flat the once over. He had to admit that his daughter kept the place clean and neat. She should do considering what it must’ve cost. The flat was in a new block on the quayside near Belfast harbour and was high enough up to give a view over to the hills of Antrim. But Richard wasn’t interested in the view. 

     ‘ This place looks clean enough’ he said ‘ Smart even. It must’ve cost a bit’.

     ‘ Yeah, well’ said Natalie, looking down at her hands ‘ Shaun makes a lot. He’s independent of his father, making it on his own’.

     ‘ He’s not the only one making himself a stack of cash, is he Natalie?’ her father probed.

     ‘ Explain what you mean, Daddy’.

     ‘ You were seen dealing drugs outside the pub in the village, Natalie’ said Richard.

     ‘ Oh so that’s why you’re here. You don’t give a damn about me, you never have. You only get worried when things get a bit close to home. Did I spoil Mummy’s coffee morning? Has she lost her place in the parasite housewives club?’

     ‘ There’s no need for insolence against your mother, Natalie’.

     ‘ There’s no need for her to treat me like shit but she did’ said Natalie. She could feel herself getting emotional but was determined not to let her father see it. ‘You haven’t even asked me how I
am since you got in here’.

     ‘ I don’t want it to be like this, Natalie’.

     ‘ Really? Well I didn’t want to suck my Uncle’s cock but I had to! But you didn’t believe me either, did you? And why not? Because if you challenge anything to do with her family it might tear up your meal ticket’.

     Richard stood up angrily ‘ Natalie, don’t you dare talk to me like that’.

     ‘ Why not? You didn’t protect me like you should’ve done’.

     Natalie was still consumed by all the anger, all the hurt, all the pain. Her Uncle had sexually abused her for years and her mother had known it was happening but had ignored it, choosing instead to accuse Natalie of lying. Her mother had let her suffer at the hands of a paedophile who’d taken away every last bit of self-respect she’d ever had. And her father had backed her mother up. She resented them both.

    ‘ Natalie, please … ‘

     ‘ … he sent me to hell and you did nothing, you did nothing to help me and whatever I am today it’s because of him and it’s because of you! You should’ve listened to me, Daddy! You should’ve listened to me and stood up to her’. She stopped. She was out of breath. Her father touched her shoulder but she pushed him away. ‘ You should’ve listened to me, Daddy. You should’ve saved me from him and you should’ve saved me from her’.     

BOOK: The Wild Heart
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