Joe Malone, Part Thirty-One

I took one of the Gellerettes from the pack and put the rest into my pocket. .. They were self igniting, so I scratched the tip along the metal rail and moved away from the churchyard, prepared to get myself off the streets as quickly as possible.
Facial recognition was on every camera. Some even had posture recognition. Picked up on the way someone walked.

I thought as I walked away from the Friary and the pretty nuns.

Ch 31 – Escape from the City.

Who had known that I was in my office last night?

Me, obviously.

Dacia, my assistant.

Who still had outstanding arrest warrants for all kinds of illegal scented candle and plug in air freshener related activities. She would never willingly speak to any Police Officer, except me.

Sir Alan Stuart and Lord Mandelson. Ardent remainers and some of the elitist of the elite.

And Lady Vanessa Bixby. Wife, now widow, to the deceased Lord Bix.

Her image rose in my mind. Of her in her Victoria Beckham designer dress. She did look exceptionally good in black.

Stuart and Mandelson worked closely with Bixby on stopping Brexit. Why would they want to kill him? He was one of their key people. I couldn’t think of any reason for that.

Vanessa? Well, she had been ticking a lot of murderess boxes, since the moment I met her.

She was flirty. Aware of her own allure and how to use it.
She drank an awful lot. Through escape, boredom, depression or all three, who knew?

Young bride with elder, richer, husband. Older obsessive spouse neglecting her for his chosen work of stopping Brexit? Could be a very plausible motive. I’d know normal, sane, British patriots who had never met him. Yet they wanted to cut the goolies of Old Bixby. For his traitorous dealing with the EU. He had BDS in a very bad way. He wasn’t at Adonis levels of madness. But he wasn’t far off.

She was childless, for unknown reasons. Possibly that Lord Bixby was homosexual? They had separate bedrooms. And he had a silk dressing gown. OK, I admit, that isn’t #FF levels of proof. He might just like silk and she might snore like a whale with a harpoon in its throat.
But it was a possibility. She might have married him unaware of his sexual preferences. And then gotten a taste for his money and lifestyle.

Homosexuality was one of the few, bad divorce reasons.
It went very much against a spouse who declared they wanted a divorce on gay grounds. Judges were aghast at such intolerance and lack of diversity of spirit. It was offensive to divorce a partner just because they were gay. It was also, almost impossible, under current equality legislation.

Bixby was loaded. I mean loaded, loaded. Anyone who has boxes of diamonds lying around, is seriously loaded.
She might have gold dug him as far as she needed to. And now arranged with some boyfriend-lover, to bump off old Bixby. Squash him up in a box, so she could weep at the graveside for the cameras. A no-guilt, permanent parting, from lord Bixby.
Untilin time, maybe six months or so, she could buy a bottle of ‘Henna Vixen Red’ hair colour, and move on.

And all her society friends would say,

“Good for her! No point mouldering away forever, is there?
She is young and vivacious and exceptionally attractive and intelligent. And now, well..imagine.. Vanessa is also supremely wealthy. Having inherited her late husband’s estates. point going into a convent. Not when Armand the ski instructor was at Verbier this season and the snow is so very crisp this time of year.

She should get some new ‘notice me’ shoes and call on Brett the Banker. He’s only forty three. And he recently became divorced from Millie. And they have that wonderful villa in Cap-D’Ail.

It was the most likely explanation at the moment. Though why I had been the one to be set up was less clear. I thought about poor Bixby. All mangled up. It occurred to me that the police couldn’t have known Bixby was dead before I did.

The arrest detail had come in and gone straight to my office. Expecting to find me there. They had been there to arrest me for something. Not for questioning. Not with that amount of armament they had been carrying. They hadn’t known Bixby was in the building at all. Not until I’d showed my face on the stairwell and led them down there.

So, I could assume they were just an arrest detachment. Expecting to find me in the office. And to make an arrest, ‘in connection with the disappearance of Lord Bixby?’

It was possible that it was Chief Inspector Flittock who had arranged this, then. The CyberPolice Chief. The one who had showed up at Vanessa Bixby’s place as we were leaving to go to the Reform Club.

He’d have been happy to arrange my arrest. For my old affair with his wife, if nothing else. He might even have grown enough of his transgender-op balls back to have done it on his own authority. Just to see what I knew about Bixby’s disappearance.

I did doubt he would do it on his own initiative. He was terrified of exceeding his authority and getting blamed for some screw up. But he might have.
I hadn’t seen any badges on the police unit that came to arrest me. But they had been wearing the half helmets that Cyberpolice liked to deploy in. Because they thought it made them look future-cop cool. Which, I have to admit, they did.

This was making a bit more sense. ‘Gloria’ Flittock had wanted to question me about the missing Marmon-Herrington Bixby. He’d found out where I was, probably just by a fly-by from surveillance drones over the office and my apartment. He’d have been told lights, sounds and thermal imagery showed I was in the office. And he’d decided to risk the wrath of a magistrate and not bother with a search warrant.
Just send a detachment. Pick me up. Grill me. Then let me go, and say if I made any complaint, all kinds of Cybercrimes would find themselves being logged against my name.

The only flaw in that logic was one of those police arrest officers, Officer Ansell, had fired at me, the moment he saw me.

So it could have been a hit. Not an arrest. And even if ‘Gloria’ Flittock had taken enough steroids since his cross dressing days to grow his balls back, he would never have any big enough to arrange a killing.

So someone else had.

I gave up trying to figure out who. I didn’t have enough information.
I should just concentrate on staying out of the way. Of everybody.
And once I was over the bridge, I knew a place I could hide out for a while. A sort of safe house.

I was almost at the river again. Joining with a steadily going throng of workers who were heading across the bridges. It was early still, but the commuters began to be very noticeable by even six am in this city. I joined one of the streams of city looking workers. I moved up the line until I was just behind a group of three young men who were talking among themselves. Asking each other about holiday pay, it sounded like.

I tagged along closely behind them, so that from camera, I could appear part of this group. I pulled the folded piece of sandwich cardboard from my pocket and held it to my wounded ear, to cover it from view. I started mouthing into the cardboard. Hoping that from a distance I would look like just another suit, making some calls on the way to the workplace. We went into the foyer of the bridge.

Blackfriars is another former railway bridge. With a covered roof. It has cameras under the roof, everywhere does. But not so many as on the streets. And these were monitored by Transport For London. Who were looking out for pickpockets, drug dealers and buskers. Not killers.
Five minutes would see me across to the north bank. I just needed to gab on my pretend phone, while looking down at my shoes, so my features weren’t in full view. I saw there was a drop of dried blood on the knot of my laces, on my shoe. Whether mine or Bixby’s, I couldn’t know.

I made my way over to the bridge use toll machine and dropped in the two europound fee.

I was lucky tat the machine was at least in service. Everyone used an Oyster card.
My Oyster card was at the bottom of the river. I didn’t want my movements tracked.

I waited for the machine to print my pass. But nothing happened. I waited some more. I really didn’t want to go to the grimy booth in the corner of the entrance hall. There an employee of TFL would hand write me a toll ticket and issue a receipt. I didn’t want anyone to have a close look at my face. I hadn’t looked in a mirror since the shootout. Had only used my old shirt and some of the liquid from a bottle at the clothes bank, to wash what felt like blood off my face.
In the reflection of a shop window, I thought I looked OK. But up close, I was unshaven, and might just have streaks of blood down my neck. I didn’t want to have anyone remember that.

I waited some more for the machine to do something, but it did nothing pressed the touchscreen again. Nothing happened.
I couldn’t just go on standing here. I could sense someone coming behind me.
Another person wanting a single toll ticket. This wasn’t a patient city. I’d have to leave the queue if this machine didn’t do anything in a few seconds. Or I’d be drawing attention to myself.

In the reflection of the touchscreen I could make out that it was a young woman behind me. Shuffling a little with annoyance at the time I was taking.

I turned my head away slightly away from the person behind me to shield my ear from her view. As I did so, a woman’s hand came into my vision. Belonging to that stranger behind me.

A hand holding a pistol.

© Bill Quango MP 2019 – Capitalists @ Work

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