War Crimes Chapter 11
Angela Keeble knew that she had made a mistake as soon as she said yes, but like most things in her life, she reasoned that she could manage the situation. At twenty-one she was an independent woman with her own place, a reasonable job and had no need to rely on anybody but herself. And what harm could it do? She asked herself. He was good looking, had a roguish charm and plenty of money to splash around and he did manage to get his hands on a regular supply of Puff the Magic Dragon’s finest. Angela was quite partial to the odd tonk, as were quite a lot of youngsters in North Devon. Let’s face it, there was sod all else to do. She told her friend, Moira at the glass factory where they both worked the next day.
“And you said yes?” Moira asked incredulously.
“Yes, why not?”
“Somebody said he takes drugs.”
“So what? Most of us do round here. We can’t all live with our rich Mummies and Daddies in a very big house in the country. It deadens the monotony.”
Moira frowned, but knew that what Angela said was true. She wished she lived closer to where she worked so she could socialise more, but it was an excuse. She had her own car and had been driving since she was seventeen and Angela had offered her the sofa in her flat on several occasions. Her dad got her the job in the glass factory, straight into the sales department, because of his contacts. Angela had come from the estate near Torrington’s secondary school and had started work in the packing department.
Angela was not only very sharp, she wanted to get on after the complete cake and arse party she had made of her years at school. She soon moved up into the administration department and she had no doubt that she would be office manager, once the lazy, useless and incompetent old bag that ran the admin team could no longer drag her fat arse up the stairs. She was three years older than Moira, pretty without being beautiful but she was vivacious and well-liked. She dyed her hair blonde, because she had the ginger gene, and there was no way she wanted to look like her brother, who couldn’t have given a toss.
“I can’t help but think, Moira, that you’re somewhat underwhelmed by my news.”
Moira was simply jealous. Daz Copeland worked in her father’s business and he was very popular. He was a risk-taker, a rough and robust man with a shock of dark curly hair, very tall and strong and very popular among her father’s workforce. But her father was especially fond of him and had tried to engineer his going out with his daughter on at least a couple of firm functions. But Moira was a coward, but more importantly she felt a danger when she was around Daz and bizarrely, she found that most appealing. If the truth were known, she would have liked to have raked her nails down her friend’s face.
“There’s just something about him. Something a bit…”
“A bit daring,” Angela scoffed, “A bit different to the boring farts and inbreeds round here.”
“I like some of the glass blowers,” Moira protested.
“Have you ever been out with any of them?”
Moira shook her head.
“Most of them come from Scandinavia. Most of them are married, even the ones who say they aren’t and they like shacking up with us, because they’re just so lonely. My brother Mickie calls us “bergen brides,” like the second wives that Marines have in Norway. They drink like there’s no tomorrow. They are morose, and when you finally get round to some horizontal gymnastics with them, they fall asleep on you mid hump.”
Moira’s eyes were round saucers of shock and the desperation to find out more, from her worldly-wise friend. Moira was still a virgin.
“Has that ever happened to you?”
“Never you mind. But I’ll take my chances with Daz Copeland, coz he has shitloads of money and I can deal with his cock-like tendencies.”
She was very much mistaken and soon came to realise that she had chosen to ride the tiger. Or let him ride her.
It was all fine to begin with. Daz was attentive, generous and willing to share his skunk stash in return for some uncomplicated sex, which Angela was rather partial to. But she soon found out that that Daz Copeland had extremely tumultuous moods and he could change in the blink of an eye. If Angela couldn’t make a liaison, he wanted to know why, who she was with and why she wasn’t with him. On one occasion when she told him she was going shopping in Plymouth, she was convinced that she saw his black pick-up following her car south, trailing her Astra some vehicles behind.
But it was the sexual side of their relationship that concerned Angela the most. She was no prude, but began to realise that there was no shared tenderness, respect or love from Daniel Copeland. Sex was merely a means of satisfying himself and exercising coercion and control over Angela. She concluded that sex was merely an extension of his violence and the time had come for her to bang out of this toxic relationship. But Daniel had other ideas about relationships, which were more about possession than synergy and mutual respect.
She would later admit that she hadn’t picked her moment very well. Daz was in a particularly foul mood because he had travelled down to Plymouth to watch Plymouth Argyle lose 0 – 3 to Derby. They hadn’t agreed to meet that evening, but Angela heard a hammering on the door of her flat above the pub at around 7:00 pm and her heart sank. Bastard told me he was going to Plymouth, she said to herself. She reluctantly went down the stairs and opened the door and Daz barged in.
“Useless, they’re all fucking useless,” he raged,
“I take it Argyle lost,” she said unhelpfully.
“Three-nil. Three fucking nil to Derby!”
He stomped up the stairs and shoved himself into the flat, “Daz, I thought we were having the weekend off. I thought that’s what you said. It was your idea.”
It was obvious he had been drinking heavily. He scowled at the television, sneered at Noel Edmonds and switched it off.
“I was watching that! Have you been drinking, Daz?”
He slumped on the sofa, “So what if I have?”
“Where’s your pick-up?”
“And you’ve driven from Plymouth in that state? Are you mad?”
“Yeah, and? Filth daren’t touch me. Got too many things on them.”
“You could have killed someone!” she said incredulously.
“Stop having a nag at me. You’d better be nice to me, coz I’m really pissed off and I mean really, really nice.”
Angela sat down on a chair and folded her arms, “We agreed no sex this weekend and you know very well why. And why is it we have to have sex all the time anyway? There’s more to a relationship that constantly rutting.”
“Coz you like it.”
“I can’t this weekend.”
Daz sighed and looked up at the ceiling, “In which case you can fix me a drink. You’d better have one as well to get that mouth of yours nicely limbered up.”
“You can piss right off, Daz. Get out and don’t bother coming back until you’re sober!”
Something dark and dangerous came across his face, his eyes were glazed and empty. Daz stood up and walked over to the chair, then suddenly grabbed her hair and stood in front of her, pinning Angela in the chair with his strong legs. He pulled her head towards him.
“Don’t you fucking defy me, you bitch! Now you’re going to be nice to me.”
He had unhitched his belt from his jeans and wrapped it round her neck in a quick move. The belt was two inches wide of hard leather and it dug into her neck. Angela screamed.
“Stop your fucking noise! Now, get ready and be nice. If you bite me, I’ll choke the sluttish life out of you,” Daz Copeland yanked her towards him with the belt and unzipped the fly of his jeans, “And you had better be fucking good!”
When she heard the street-level front door slam, she stood up unsteadily and pulled up her pyjama bottoms. She limped into the bathroom and stared at her face in the mirror. The bruise on her cheek could be covered with makeup on Monday, but she would have to wear a scarf to cover the wheals and bruises on her neck. Her voice was hoarse anyway, so she could say she had a sore throat. Angela scrubbed her teeth and finished the best part of half a bottle of Listerine to get rid of his foul taste. She hobbled back into the sitting room and poured half a glass of neat gin with trembling hands. The drawing pain in her back passage made sitting difficult.
She wondered what the hell she was going to do. Daz had made it clear the police were his “friends” and wouldn’t believe some little slapper from the council estate. She thought about telling her mum and dad, but her dad was bloody useless in a crisis and her mum would probably say she had egged him on. Angela’s track record wasn’t exactly as clean as the driven snow. She thought about telling Moira, her friend and almost laughed out loud. Moira was still a child in her head and wouldn’t have a clue.
“I bet she still thinks babies come from storks,” Angela whispered croakily and then felt a guilty sadness. It wasn’t Moira’s fault she had got herself tangled with a psychotic bastard like Daniel Copeland.
Then she thought of Mickie. Golden boy Mickie, mum and dad’s favourite, her elder brother. Mum had been distraught when he left, and so had been Angela. Mickie was everything she wasn’t. He was fit, handsome, apart from that bloody hair of his, and clever, so very bloody clever. He was driven, kind and never had a bad word to say about anyone, even Angela when she pranged his car. Three A-levels, two at A and one at B, but no university for Mickie.
She had been about five and Mickie was ten on Saturday the 1st May 1980. Mickie was lying on the floor, reading one of his books while she was playing with her Barbie and his old Action Man. Their dad was watching the snooker, when the programme went off for a live broadcast from London, reported by Kate Adie. Mickie sat up and watched the television, knowing the report was coming from outside the Iranian Embassy.
“What’s this bollocks? His dad asked, “What’s happened to the bloody snooker?”
Mickie had stared with fascination at the black-clad figures, scaling the balconies, the blasts from the windows, the rattle and flashes of gunfire and the smoke beginning to billow out of the second floor windows as the curtains burned. In those few moments, Mickie had realised that he didn’t want to be a Fleet Air Arm pilot after all.
Angela smiled at the memory of seventeen years ago and went to the phone. She dialled a Hereford number and a switchboard operator asked her what extension she required. The phone rang a long time before a man answered it.
“Can I speak to Corporal Keeble please?”
She heard the man shout out: “Has anybody seen Mick Hucknell, that flame-haired minstrel of Soul?”
“Went down town a couple of hours ago.”
The man came back on the phone, “Sorry love, he’s out.”
“This is really important. I’m his sister and could you tell him something terrible has happened,” she sobbed because she couldn’t help herself.
“OK love. I’ll make sure he gets the message. Are you all right?”
“Yes thanks. Just please ask him to phone me. I’ll give you my number just in case…”
Her brother phoned back at just after midnight and it all poured out, between the sobs and the weeping. He asked and re-asked several questions, but his voice didn’t betray any anger or emotion.
“Ange, I’ve been drinking so I won’t be able to come until tomorrow morning. I’ll put in for some compassionate leave with the duty clerk tonight. I’ll borrow someone’s motor bike, it’ll be quicker. Lock yourself in and I’ll see you at around one tomorrow. We’ll sort it.”
He made his preparations on Sunday after making sure his sister was all right and then began the first of a number of surveillance operations. He asked Angela his usual haunts and routine and would take him when the best opportunity arose. On the Monday morning he asked Angela to follow him in her car while he stashed and camouflaged the borrowed motor bike deep in some woods. On the Monday evening, the Kings Arms public house overlooking Bideford quay was very quiet. Quiet that is apart from the three men at the bar, engaged in a noisy conversation. One of them was holding court, telling the other two a story and they were guffawing along with the unfolding tale.
The bar door opened and a man walked into the pub. He was carrying a newspaper and at first, nobody paid him the slightest attention. The big man at the bar paused in his tale and looked round at the stranger’s shock of ginger hair. He sniggered and the other two grinned. The man ordered a half of lager, which caused more mirth and then went and sat down. He could have sworn he heard “Ginger tosser.” He opened the newspaper and pretended to read, while he overheard how the big man at the bar had orally raped and sodomised his sister that Saturday. He didn’t finish his lager and went out into the night, followed by a guffaw of laughter.
An hour or so later, Daz Copeland climbed behind the steering wheel of his pick-up, started the engine and leaned back with a satisfied sigh. He felt an imperceptive movement from behind and the point of a knife drew blood as the tip of the blade jabbed into his neck. The voice from the back seat was calm and low. There was a trace of a West Country accent but the voice was dangerously pleasant.
“In case you’re wondering, Mr Copeland, the knife at your neck is an Applegate-Fairbairn combat knife. I spent most of the afternoon sharpening it. Just for you. Now, you’re going to take me for a nice, evening drive. I’ve noted that you have a rather cavalier attitude to drinking and driving, so no sudden braking. It’ll go right through your neck and you’ll be wearing your tongue like a Bolivian necktie. Drive south, keep quiet and think about dying. Slowly.”
The man gave Daz instructions and they headed south towards Torrington, turning right towards Putford, where it became heavily wooded.
“Slow down and turn right up the forest track. The gate’s open.”
“You’re gonna fuc…”
“Shut up!” and Daz felt pain and blood trickling down his neck, into his shirt.
“Stop here and turn off the engine and the lights. Don’t try and turn round.”
The silence in the dark wood was suddenly terrifying. Daz started to plead for his life.
“Shut it, you filthy bastard! In the few moments you’ve got left, I want you to reflect on what you’ve done and why you’re here.”
“Look, she said it was all right. She likes it a bit rough…”
The man hit him twice on the back of the head with a Maglite torch he had found in Daz’s tool box. Daz slumped onto the passenger’s seat. His assailant was fit and strong, but Daz was a big man and it took him a while to drag the body out of the pick-up and lay it across the bonnet. Daz showed signs of coming to, so he was hit on the head again. The man got busy with Daz’s clothes, cutting them off, then he produced some ropes he had purchased at a chandlers that afternoon. When he had finished, he looked at the Maglite and smiled horribly. Daz grunted in pain, but didn’t regain consciousness. There were a number of flashes as the man took photographs. Daz never heard the motorbike starting up and heading back to the road.
The Forestry Commission Land Rover pulled onto the track and followed the tracks the anonymous caller had said would be there. Sure enough, he could see the back of a black pick-up pulled off the track. He stopped, got out of the vehicle and approached it cautiously. He nearly chocked with laughter at the sight of the man, slumped over the pick-up’s bonnet, whose arms were tied to the wing mirrors and his spread legs tied to the pick-up’s bull bars. But it was the torch that was the most incredulous sight he had ever seen.
“Now then. What sort of hanky-panky has been going on here?”
Daz opened his eyes. He had almost been driven insane by the cold, his head was throbbing, but it was nothing compared to the agonising pain in his anus. He looked at the Forestry Commission worker with fury.
“Fucking cut me free you bastard, otherwise I’ll kill you!”
The worker folded his arms and grinned at Daz, “I’d be a little more polite if I were you, mate. You’re in no condition to threaten anybody, and I’m not the one with a torch sticking out of his arsehole. I’ll get a knife.”
Daz groaned in pain and stared at the windscreen of the pick-up. Sprayed in white paint was:
IF YOU CAN’T POT THE PINK, GO FOR THE BROWN.
TOUCH HER AGAIN AND I’LL KILL YOU.
“Bastard!” said Daz, “I’ll fucking kill you.”
© Blown Periphery 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file