As promised, here’s Chapter Two Part 2. You can catch up on Part 1 here.
“Jesus, man, let him up, he needs to talk,” I tell him. “So this Irishman. He’s taken over from Ray Lamond?” He nods but perfunctorily. “The tapes in your basement. Is this where you store the perverted stuff to sell on the Internet’s forbidden sites?”
Cartright has trouble speaking, so that his words issue with a lisp. Blood continues to drizzle through what remains of his teeth. “He’s from the North. Northern Ireland.”
“So do we have a name? Where can he be found?” I remonstrate.
“I don’t know, honest. I told you I don’t get to see him. Neither does Louis.”
“So, Martin, tell me how many children you and your pal Platt have tortured and burnt?” Although my tone remains in the selfsame congenial timbre, I cannot fail to avoid the rise of anger that gnaws and burns at my insides. The sensation is so predominant, that it practically makes my head spin. The only thing helping me to sustain the pretence of a cool, calculating demeanour is the savouring of Martin Cartright’s punishment.
“I ain’t admitting to any of that.”
“How fuckin’ many?” This time the inherent anger is allowed to pervade and I rasp, “how many?”
“Ten, twelve,” he offers the information so nonchalently, that Mitchell and I can’t avoid a sickly exchange of disbelieving glances. “There’s a lot of likeminded people out there that like to watch kiddies being touched. The boss knows that. I can’t expect people like you to understand.”
“Understand? Is he having a fuckin’ laugh?” growls Mitchell. ” Let ‘s get him out of here before I throw up. Hood him so we can take ours off. My fuckin’ face is beginning to itch.”
“Where are you taking me?” Cartright sounds anxious again. “I thought you wanted to ask me more questions.” He directs his attention to me, the guy that maybe he views as the good cop. The guy with the softly-spoken Irish accent. The proverbial iron fist in the velvet glove. One he fails to realise may yet come up with the metaphorical knife blade.
“Sure now, you’re not going to tell us anything more are you, man?” I say I’m conscious that he’s stalling for time, aware that we’re going to kill him and it’s obvious that his intention is to buy that time.
“I ain’t lying when I said I don’t know the boss’ s name, but Louis Platt, he lives alone in the house. He used to live with his old lady, his mother, but she died. Like I said, it’s out Camden way. I ain’t ever been there, so I don’t know whereabouts. And the Paddy, the Irishman, all Irish accents sound pretty much the same to me. but you gotta softer way of speaking. He’s a fuckin’ abrupt bastard.”
“Jesus, mate, he’s either making a pass, or he’s trying to get onto your good books,” Mitchell quips.
“It’s called gentle persuasion, my friend. It’s surprising what you can get out of someone with a wee bit of that.”
“So where you from then?” Cartright dares to enquire.
“Och me? Dublin. So if there’s nothing more you can tell us…”
I’ve heard enough already. Besides, the place is beginning to give me the creeps. The small box-like lounge, the TV resting on a glass shelf in the corner, all so comparitively innocent. Nevertheless I have cause to wonder how many children have been lured to Cartright’s Brixton home. The stench of freshly painted dark blue on the walls, in all likelihood, attests to its own depraved story.
Mitchell wraps tape around Cartright’s mouth before slipping a black hood over his head. There is both an absence of either mouth or eye slits in the hood. Mitchell tightens the hood at Cartright’s neck unceremoniously, enough to close off his breathing if he so desired.
I manage to suppress an involuntary shudder when Mitchell deigns to enquire about the woman. An unmistakeable sound of whimpering, reminiscent of a wounded animal, issues from behind the hood.
“What about her?” I ask
Mitchell gestures upstairs. “I called the boss.”
He merely shrugs and purses his lips.
“I told you, she stays where she is. I won’t be a party to that. And when this is over…”
It’s my turn to shrug. “It doesn’t matter.”
“You always was a fuckin’ moody paddy.” Mitchell pulls the Glock from his jacket. Aware of his intention, I lay a restraining hand on his arm.
“You don’t have to do this, man.”
“It’s okay, you won’t be implicated, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“That’s not what I meant. She’s a….”
“A woman. Just get him into the fuckin’ van.” He gestures to the hooded figure.
I allow him to go upstairs reluctantly. The woman is probably innocent, plus I can hardly believe that Treveleyan would sanction such an action.
I grab Cartright unceremoniously by the arm, reminding him that if he makes any escape attempts that I won’t hesitate to shoot him. I bundle him into the back of the van. One Mitchell had stolen earlier and consequently changed the number plates. I slam the door hard. I snatch off the hood and drop it into my jacket. Jumping into the driving seat, I swiftly imbibe a swallow from the hip flask before igniting a smoke.
“You’ll fuckin’ set fire to yourself one day, McRaney,” Mitchell complains with his familiar growl.
“What the fuck’s that supposed to mean?”
“The whisky. I know what it is ‘cos I can smell it, and then lighting up a fag. So you going to let me have some?”
I reluctantly pass the flask.
“Fuck, McRaney, how long you been drinking?”
Clambering into the seat next to me he snatches off the hood. Cartright lies recumbently in the back of the Trafic. His hands are bound behind him. His feet strapped together. I had checked the tape and re-tied the hood.
“It’s got nothing to do with you,” I retort. “So I suppose you’re going to grass on me to Treveleyan, ‘that Aidan McRaney’s an alcoholic.’ Sure it’s the only way I can get through this shit, man. So where we headed? I thought maybe out Epping Way. It’s pretty isolated. So what about the woman?” I ask as I swing the van out into the street.
“You don’t have to worry about her. If you ain’t got the stomach for it.”
“I didn’t say that. It’s just that I don ‘t believe in killing innocent people, that’s all. Nothing fazes you does it, Mitchell?”
“Oh it does, believe me. If you must know, I didn’t kill the woman.”
“You didn’t?” I favour him with an unaccustomed smile. The first probably since we had taken on this business. “I’m glad to hear it.”
“We didn’t know the bird was going to be there, or how involved she is in this.”
“Surely if the cops sanction this they’d draw the line at killing innocent people?”
“Innocent, law-abiding people yes, but that Rosie, she knew what he was doing. She must have.”
“So what happens to her?”
“It’s not our problem anymore. That is, however…” He gestures to the rear of the van. “So you think you’ll be pissed by the time you do this? I knew you was drinking, mate. That’s why I asked if you were okay. Look, there’s gotta be better ways of handling this than getting fuckin’ pissed, and maybe getting picked up on a drink driving charge. We’re toting shooters, mate. That’ll take some explaining, even if they are licensed.”
My breath issues hard and ragged, while a cigarette remains an omnipresent fixture. I refrain from glancing at the other man as we head towards Epping Forest.