Lady Vanessa stepped through the metal detector.
Lord Bixby followed and passed freely through the metal detector. The security guard signalled for me to go through next. As expected, as I stepped forward the bleep of alarms sounded at screaming pitch and all three of the guards rapidly moved in.
Ch 64 – Lockdown.
“I’m not armed!” The words weren’t coming out properly. The smaller guard was kneeling on my back. My lungs were compressed. Whenever I breathed out, the space within them became smaller. I couldn’t fill them back up.
“Keep back, everyone, please! Let us handle this.” The largest security guard talking. The big black guy I’d seen. Reassuring the Bixbys that everything was under control.
Two of the guards had come straight for me. The big one, had placed a firm, large hand, on my arm as soon as the alarms had sounded. He had gripped me at the puncture wound in my biceps. Just lucky for him. He wouldn’t have seen it under my jacket. But the pain from his grasp had caused me to cry out and one knee to buckle.
That was enough. The smaller man had come up from behind and put his knee into the back of my standing leg. Sending me to my own knees. Then he had pushed me forward and I’d fallen flat onto the floor. Before I could move he was upon me.
Pinning me down.
From down here I could only see the X-Ray operator. He had got up from his chair and had a can of pepper spray in his hand. He was talking into a microphone on the console. Calling for assistance.
I hope they came quickly. I was losing consciousness.
“I can’t breathe,” I cried. But it didn’t sound like that, even to me, and I’d said it.
Sounded like a mumble about nothing.
So this is how it was going to be done. This was the method the ReJoiners had chosen to get rid of the thorn in their paw, that was lowly Joe Malone. Accidental Death.
Happening right now. The guard atop me had moved a leg so his shin was across the back of my neck. The weight of him closing my throat.
This was going to be quite convenient for the BBC. Me expiring right in their own uilding. This should make it onto BBCNEWS24 very quickly. They’d have any actual pictures they wanted to run with, from their own surveillance cameras. I hoped someone good would read it out. Ahmed Al-Askari was OK. He could look solemn enough as he read the report from inside his First Nation inspired News Teepee.
Ffiona Babycock, on the other hand, would be almost unable to conceal her joy.
Another leaver on the pyre. Another step closer for her unofficial, ‘totally unofficially, officially approved’ Remain4Ever movement.
I briefly wondered how The Department would react to the news.
“Hey, did you hear about that Joe Malone? He died. Right in the BBC car park. I dunno. Heart Attack, or something. He was turning himself in, I think. I dunno really.
Anyway. He’s dead. Funeral? I’m not wasting a day off on his funeral. Pass me those reports..”
“Just stay back, Mrs Bixby. Please. We have a protocol for this situation. It will only take a minute. Please just keep calm and this will be resolved in one moment.”
I could hear the high pitch of Vanessa’s voice. But couldn’t make out her words. A knee was pressed into my ear. The bad one. The ear some other law enforcement had almost shot off.
The knee was also squashing my nose and lips into the laminate floor. I could see red stars. The brain now calling urgently for oxygen.
“I’m not armed. I can’t breathe. Let me breathe!”
Still came out mushy. I might have been saying anything at all, it was so garbled.
‘Vote for Biden Junior! For our next president!’ ….‘Part one comes free with a collectible ceramic miniature of one our greatest romantic poets. William Blake.’
The BBC could hold an inquest right here in their studios. I might even end up on ‘Autopsy Special.’ They filmed some of that show, right here at BBC Ealing. That Foxy Coroner, Victoria Seymour-Jones, could do the pencil, just touching her bottom lip thing, super-sexy thing she did. As she waits for the judging panel of top surgeons and former celebrity bakers, to declare,
“Today’s Winner. Of Autopsy Special…Is… Victoria Seymour-Jones! For her diagnosis of, ‘Death from Traumatic Asphyxiation..With Covid.’”
No shift from my captor. I stopped trying to use my arms. The available oxygen was being fed into my brain so my muscles were too weak now. Even if I had been in great shape, I’d have been unable to shake the security man off. I could see something pooling under my eye. It was liquid. A water bottle had tipped over, maybe. When they came and grabbed me.
I suppose Sir Alan must have got free. Escaped from the boot of that Aston and got to the phone. Used his power to arrange this assassination. Right here. In the home of impartiality and truth.
Maybe Vanessa had tipped someone off. She had been alone in her bedroom and bathroom for thirty minutes.
Or perhaps Bixby had done it. I hadn’t been with him when he called the BBC. He could have called anyone. A stupid mistake on my part. Not staying with him.
Though in my defence, I had been distracted. By the rise and fall of her large, round, white breasts as she lay back in the bathtub. The oiled water affording her naked body
no protection from my gaze.
An image of her came to me. It was as clear as when she stepped through the metal etector a moment ago. I knew it was an image as she was wearing that purple lace dress. With the velvet sash. Her hair long and full bodied.
I thought your whole life was supposed to flash before your eyes when you went?
Well, if this was all I was going to get, then it wasn’t so bad. A good enough vision to take to the grave. This attractive young woman. She was saying something. I concentrated to hear what she might be tempting me with now.
“Stop it! He’s suffocating!” Vanessa’s voice. There was no movement from the legs pinning me down.
Then I heard a whack sound. And a cry. Not of pain, but surprise. The pressure on my neck relaxed a little and I gratefully gulped in a lungful of air.
One of the Virgin Atlantic, plastic trays, fell to the ground in front of me. There was another cry. “Stop it!” And what sounded like another tray landed somewhere behind me.
Then suddenly the pressure was off, and I was being lifted to my feet.
The huge, black, security guard was shoving the smaller white man off me.
The big guard pulled my upright, then pushed me into the x-ray machine chair.
“Breath, man. Breathe!” he instructed.
As soon as the O2 was drawn down into my lungs, I was instantly feeling better. My throat was dry. Completely parched. “Water, “I rasped.
I was looking at my knees. I forced my head up to look at the people around me.
“Water, please!” I asked the guard. I looked to his name tag. It said “Sandra Batkawayo.”
“Please…Sandra. Water.” He snapped his fingers and pointed to the console guard.
“Get this guest some water. Now!” very deep voice. Bass tone.
The smaller guard had moved away from us. Over near the exit door. Lord Bixby was standing at the end of the x-ray machine. A neutral, blank expression on his face.
Vanessa was in a half crouch. She had one of the X-Ray machine’s personal belongings trays in her hands. Her eyes were still wild. I realised she had been throwing the plastic trays at the guard who had been kneeling on me. Trying to bash him off.
Console guy brought me one of those tiny, water cooler, pyramid shaped paper cones to drink from. What a twat! I could easily have drunk the whole drum. I took the cup and drained it.
“You okay, sir?” Sandra asked.
I nodded. Throat too sore still to talk.
Sandra went over to Vanessa and gripped the edge of the tray she was still holding.
“I’ll take that for you, miss,” he told her. And gently pulled the plastic container from her tiny hand. She looked surprised. She hadn’t noticed she was still holing it. She dashed the few steps over to me.
“Joe? Are you all right? You were going blue. I thought you were choking.”
“I’m fine,” I replied. It came out in a rasp. But was good to be able to speak at all.
“I’m OK.” She looked very worried. “Thanks. Thanks for alerting.. the guy.” I needed more water. I scanned the floor for the bottle that had tipped over.
“I’m very sorry, sir,” the small security man started to say. I looked to read his name tag. “Tyler Sullivan.”
“I didn’t realise I was hurting you. It’s security procedure. If a firearms alert is in play. Detain the suspect.”
I spied the water bottle. Had fallen and spilled. I bent down and picked it up. It was a quarter full still. I drank it down. No idea which of the guards it had belonged too.
But this was no time to worry about death from ‘Typhoid-22.’ Death was a lot closer than that today, already.
As I let the water soothe my throat and the air my lungs I saw the pool left from where the bottle had spilled the liquid contents onto the floor.
The shape was similar to a woman’s slim shape of hips and curves. I realized that’s what my brain had been recording as it had started shutting down.
The alarms were silent. The ringing was only in my ears. Where Tyler had knelt on the bad one. A group of other security arrived. Sandra held up a hand to tell them to remain at a distance. Then he went across to them to explain the situation.
“I do need to search you, sir. The alarms sounded. Would it be all right for you to stand up? So I can run a detector across you, sir?” The smaller guard asked.
“Mister Tyler. If you come waving anything within a foot of me, I will break your wrists.”
Actually sounded quite tough. With my new, gravelly, Mitchell Brothers, whisper voice.
Sandra returned to our group. He spoke to Tyler. “Wait in the duty Room, Tyler. I need to have a discussion with you in a moment about the procedure for restraint of a suspect.”
Tyler hesitated. Like a man who has a mission he doesn’t want to give up on. He glanced upwards and seemed to notice the CCTV recording everything. Right above us. That decided him and he walked away, saying no more.
Early retirement. Gold-platinum-emerald plated pension. Promotion to head of BBC. security. Whatever he had been promised had just slipped through his fingers.
But he was smart enough to realise he could probably survive an ‘accidental misapplication of force,’ with his technique of restraint. Attendance at a retraining programme and a disciplinary letter. It wasn’t as if he had almost choked someone famous. He hadn’t pinned Laura Kuenssberg down. Only Joe, nobody, Malone. He’d survive.
Once Tyler went, the other officer, Sandra said, “Mister Sullivan was quite correct though sir. The system has recorded a firearms alert. I will have to search you.”
He opened a drawer and took out a metal detection and sniffer wand.
“I will need to very quickly run this over the outline of your body. As I do so, please refrain from breaking my wrists, Mister Malone,”
Not much chance of that. It would be easier to snap Redwoods than his massive wrists. I stood and assumed the crucifixion position and he began to scan me.
For someone called Sandra, he/she hadn’t made the slightest attempt to be feminine.
He was a big man. Solid through the chest. But solid muscle. No breasts. No make up and no long nails or even a nose ring or a bracelet. The only thing identifying him as a potential woman was his name Tag. Sandra Batkawayo.
“Would you like a complaint form, sir? To record your unfortunate and regrettable experience, here at BBC. Ealing?” He had a slight smile to his mouth. He was an excop for sure. A good one, I would have thought. His whole manner suggested it.
While Tyler had looked like an accidental, job centre plus, appointment from the start.
If I didn’t make a complaint now, I would have difficulty doing so in the future. We both knew that. But Sandra obviously knew who I was. That I had no time to fill in a sixty page form with a BBC lawyer present. I had all that to come, upstairs. That, and a whole lot more.
I shook my head. I wasn’t interested.
Anyway, I could handle Mr Sullivan now I knew he was the enemy. In an hour from now, I’d either be free and clear, or in deeper sewage than ever. He was small fry.
Time was short and stakes high. Grudges were a luxury.
Sandra finished his scan. He went to the end of X-ray machine and came back with my tray, which he gave me.
“As I said, I’m very sorry about that Mr Malone. The machine must have had a false alarm. It registered the very highest threat. Suicide Bomber. Semtex explosives.
That’s why you had to be so detained. Pinned and unable to move. In case..Well..You know..Ka-BOOM! Mr Sullivan was correct to make sure you could not move.”
“Sure,” I said. “A false alarm. How unfortunate for me.” Would have been more unfortunate if Tyler had managed to Floyd me. Unnoticed windpipe blockage.
Attempted resuscitation. Too late. Flat-line. Morgue.
Sandra gave a signal and the waiting additional security dispersed back to their stations within the edifice that was the BBC. A lift at the end of the corridor opened and a rotund woman came out. Waddling over towards us.
I suspected by her authoritative walk, and that she had no uniform, or name tag I.D like a security officer would, that she was the Newsnight contact of Lord Bixby’s.
She was plump. Ooma Queen, I mean. Which I had expected. Female Labour MPs tend to be on the tubbier side of the chubby spectrum. And her mousy and wiry hair had the compulsory stripe of public sector, extrovert purple through the centre. A leftish staple.
But I hadn’t expected her to be quite as ugly as she was.
Labour MP’s do tend to appear to have hit a good few more branches of the ugly tree, than their Tory counterparts. But she had won whatever competition there was running, for sour-puss of the week. She had a fat face, that wasn’t a jolly round shape.
It was that small mouthed, long faced look. A bit like the week old party balloon head Long-Bailey has. But rounder. More Thornberry than Rayner.
It wasn’t even that the longness meant she was horse faced, exactly, that was her problem. Her jaw was slightly lopsided. Not in a good way. Not like The Joker. Her jaw turned her mouth up and outwards on one side. Making her appear to sneer.
Which would have been a normal expression for one of the London Labour MP’s.
But her sneer was worse than that. Not just Horsey. More ..sort of ..Camely. A permanent dismissive expression. Disdain for the plebs.
If she and Margaret Beckett had both been spied munching from an oat bag, Maggs would have been the looker.
Ooma Queen walked over on her pudgy legs. Fat feet spilling out of the mules she wore. She held out a hand to Lord Bixby. He would have gladly shaken it if she hadn’t withdrawn it at speed. A horrified expression on her acidulous face. No one was supposed to actually touch hands any more. It was all ‘Air shakes.’ ‘Elbow bumps,’ and high, non-touching, ‘Jazz hands hello!’ Didn’t worry the BBC. types much. They preferred society this way. Health and Safety secure.
Quickly regaining her composure she spoke rapidly to Marmon. So glad he was alive. So pleased he wasn’t injured. She must hear what had happened. Had he been hurt?
Who was the body in the cellar? Was it really a ‘Sons of Tommy’ assassination attempt on his life? Was he going to do a statement or did he want a Q&A type interview? Newsnight was preparing the studio for him right this very moment.
She looked over in my direction when she said that part. Her vinegar face becoming slightly more drawn in. The thin lipped mouth shrunk even smaller. Her face like a large egg being bashed open by a small spoon.
She then glanced in the direction of Sandra, the security guard, and made a circle sign with a beefy finger. The big man nodded in the affirmative. I guessed the finger sign was asking if we had all been searched for weapons. Especially me.
The BBC. had to be very careful. There were an awful lot of very disgruntled, Racist Gammons about. They couldn’t take any chances.
She next went to Vanessa. Would Lady ‘V’ be a part of this discussion? Would she like to sit alongside her poor husband?
An ugly Alien Egg-pod face like Ooma, would be well aware of the ratings boost a looker like Vanessa would give to the already very high likely viewing figures. This was a major story. A touch of old fashioned sexist imagery wouldn’t go amiss. Might be an award in it for her.
She came over to me. Her plastered smile wavering a little. I wasn’t going to boost any ratings figures through sexual imagery. I guess, having been shot, stabbed, sleep deprived, starved and now squashed, I looked about as attractive as Piers Corbyn being released after his latest arrest.
“Hello, Mr Malone, so nice to meet you.” Her attempt at a warm smile, only managed to reach the level of a spark from a misfiring pilot light.
She knew who I was. The man who had spoiled the Tommy Arrest story a few years back. Spoilt it by ensuring the police became the villains. Instead of the vile Brexiteer, racists. I’d damaged police credibility. And so had improved the credibility of Faragists and Brexit Party voters, Puffins and Trumpers everywhere.
She was worried I was about to repeat the trick. I was not to be trusted.
“I’m Ooma Queen. Newsnight-Producer-Assitant-Deputy-Head-Editor.
I understand from Lord Marmon you have quite a story for us? You realise you have been featured in several bulletins as a person of interest to the authorities?”
“Well sort of…” I answered. My voice settling back to normal now I had had air and water. “At least.. I mean..I do know you’ve been putting it out every fifteen minutes that Joe Malone murdered Lord Bixby of Remain in a brutal and sadistic fashion. And that Malone was a desperate criminal who, if seen, should have his location immediately signalled to the police. Do not approach him yourself..type story..Yeah..I know that. I saw the breakfast show. It was mostly about that. And Dominic Cummings’ failed hair transplant.”
Her non smile dropped a few degrees to Tundra warmth.
“I’m sure you will have a lot to tell us. But I must inform you that the police have been made aware you are on the premises. They would like you to remain here to answer one or two questions for them They will be here quite soon. A Chief inspector Flittock was most insistent that you wait here for his arrival. I assume that will be convenient for you?”
“We record interviews first?”
“Naturally. And your part will be most interesting for our viewers, I’m sure.”
“Will you broadcast live?”
“Oh goodness.. I really can’t say at this time. I will need to hear all that has gone on.
Clearly there has been some ‘fake-newz’ going about.
“Live would be best,” I told her.
“It would be unusual,” she replied to me,“To go live. There are legal concerns.
Slander, libel. Fact checks are required. Then there is content. It’s early morning, Mr Malone. Children will be watching.”
“Children will not be watching a Newsnight Special edition. I can assure you of that.”
“Nonetheless, it is pre-watershed. Content rules apply. I will have to seek approval first. Before any live broadcast can be decided. But let us prepare, in any case. Why don’t I arrange to have you and Lord Marmon and Lady Vanessa do an interview with one of our top presenters. Danielle Harmer is on site and in studio already.” Ooma Queen sounded excited. I had no idea who she was talking about.
“Who?” I asked.
“Danielle Harmer? Dani? Dani Harmer..you know her?”
My face remained blank. I’d never heard of her.
“She was Tracey Beaker. On CBBC. Someone in commissioning accidentally added a zero to her five year contract. Giving her fifty years on the payroll. So she’s still here.
Has been since 2002. Will be until 2052. We made the most of her. Trained her up.
She’s our pre-interviewer. Not quite as sharp as Emily Maitlis. Though not as biassed either. I mean..slightly more impartial.
Anyway. Let Danielle do the preliminaries. And we’ll have make-up,”
She looked at my ear. It felt as if it was bleeding again. “..And wardrobe, “ She looked at my dodgy, ill fitting suit.” arrange for you to appear at your best. We’ll prerecord. And see how we get on. If the precord is acceptable to my bosses, then we can go live. Is that a good compromise?”
I said it was good enough. I had wanted to go live. In case I needed to name some names if Bixby double crossed me. But I had never expected the BBC to agree straight away. So this wasn’t a real back down.
I hadn’t suddenly turned into Theresa May. Giving up all my advantage for a vague promise of nothing very much.
I’d give them a little taster of the story they wanted to hear. Then we’d begin to negotiate.
A young lady with the large, orange, earphones around her neck, and a walkie-talkie n her attractively slim waist, had been waiting patiently by the lift at the far end of the foyer. Ooma gathered us up and led us over to her.
“This is Karen. She will take you up to the waiting area. Karen, this is..” Ooma consulted a digi pad. “Lord Marmon-Herrington Hector Bixby. Lady Vanessa, Doris, Bixby,”
I let out a snort of laughter. It hurt my throat. But I couldn’t help it. “Doris?” I half giggled at the unlikely middle name.
“It was my Great Grandmother’s name, Joe,” she replied with a weary annoyance.
“So piss off.”
“..And Mister Joseph, Eamonn, Malone,” Ooma finished.
Lady Bixby snapped her head around and arched an eyebrow at me. “Eamonn?”
she said with a sarcastic tone.
“It was my Grandmother’s name, too.”
“Karen, and er..,” Ooma looked at the security guard’s I.D. He had walked across to the lift area with us. “Sandra..Will escort you up to the green rooms.”
“Do we need a security guard?” Vanessa asked.
“The Metropolitan Police Chief-Inspector requested it. The BBC. always seeks to comply with requests from the police service,” Miz Queen replied.
That wasn’t my experience of the BBC. In my experience they were a BoC.
“We are not under arrest,” Vanessa said. Quite bravely I thought. As she could be at any moment.
“It is for your own protection,” Ooma responded. I looked at Sandra. Him back at me. We said nothing. But this ‘protection’ had almost killed me a minute ago.
“I will see you all upstairs. In a short while.” She waved a hand over the elevator button. The doors opened. Vanessa and Bixby and Karen each stepped into their own clear plastic divided section. And, with nothing left to lose, I followed them into the lift. Which would take us, hopefully to Newsnight. And a live recording to the nation.
I was, just…just.. possibly, about to get my own back on all of them.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file