Chapter 26 – A Far-Right Terrorist Hate Crime
For the next few months throughout the winter, Edge spent a great deal of time in the public library conducting research. He had exhausted and largely met a dead end with IHAT. Their ongoing investigation on him was progressing with glacial slowness. He was interviewed again by the Investigation “Pod” and once again refused to make any comment.
“You’re going to have to say something sooner or later, Staff Edge.” He stubbornly maintained silence, saving it for his court appearance, whenever that would be. But it was as though the investigator had read his mind.
“You do realise that you’re not going to have your day in court. It will be a closed hearing, no press, no public. You don’t even have to attend. Whichever way you look at it, you’re fucked.”
So Edge moved his research into the law firm that had initiated the claims against him, The Community Legal Notaries. The organisation had a flashy website and he spent hours trawling through the organisation and its purpose, or rather its Common Purpose. The Community Legal Notaries (CLN) operated under the umbrella of the Human Rights Act and was acting on behalf of “victims” of the Iraq War, Afghanistan, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. What was strikingly absent were any investigations into socialist regimes such as Venezuela, China, Zimbabwe and an unending list of National Socialist failed states. CLN, the website proudly boasted, “…acts in several cases arising out of the alleged unlawful actions of the UK armed forces in Afghanistan. These cases cover a wide range of issues and are presently being litigated in the Administrative Court. CLN also has cases arising out of the alleged unlawful actions of multinational companies in Africa.”
The organisation stated that it did these things by actively seeking-out the victims and the oppressed in whichever countries these acts had taken place. The CLN was soliciting for “victims” in Iraq and Afghanistan, flying them to the UK, accommodating them in London hotels and charging this to the MoD or more specifically, the English taxpayer.
“Bastards!” Edge said from his corner of the library. An elderly lady doing research into Tarot cards glanced sharply at him from over her computer screen.
Edge looked into the history of CLN and found out that the company had been set up in 1999 during the Blair reign of terror by a Mr Ron Gleam a lawyer who specialises in employment and human rights law. Mr Gleam was a darling of the Guardian and the Left and there were many images of him hobnobbing with the Labour Leader, the ubiquitous head of Freedom and La Liberte International. Ron Gleam was also a donor to the Labour Party.
“Naturally,” Edge agreed.
Ron Gleam was an unlikely champion of freedom. He had an owlish face, extremely trendy spectacles with a pink tint, an Armani suit and a ponytail. In the next few days Edged decided on what he was going to do. He made a new will with a local solicitor, who if she was surprised, hid it well. Edge visited the former heroin addict up the lane and had a cup of tea with her.
“I’m going away again,” he told her.
“Oh, how long this time?”
She stared at him, “What about your house?”
“It’s all taken care of, in due course.”
“And you want me to look after your cat.”
“I can take him to a refuge.”
“No. I’ve grown rather attached to him.” They said their goodbyes, but he couldn’t bear to see the cat’s disapproving stare as it looked into his soul.
“I hope you’re not going to do anything silly, Mr Edge.”
He smiled sadly, “I already have. Bye, Monty. I’ll miss you in my own way.”
* * *
Moira continued to remain in contact with Edge, but there was always anger and suspicion on his part and bitter sadness on hers. She wanted them to be a family again, but apart from their own problems, there were too many external influences from her own extended family, but at least Daz kept away.
One afternoon they met over coffee. She told him about what she and the children had been doing while he remained non-committal.
“The children, particularly Francis are upset because Monty has gone missing.”
“He’s with me. He came home in a right old state,” he chuckled like the old Edge, “You can take him back, but he’ll just run away again. It’s not me he wants, it’s his territory.”
“Please let us get back together, Mark.”
“Are you prepared to move away from here, away from your fucking parents?”
She shook her head and her eyes welled up.
“Then you know what the answer is.”
* * *
In the New Year of 2013, Moira decided that she had had enough of trying to bring up a family in an annex above garages and workshops. It had been a turgid Christmas spent in the company of her family and she had come to the decision that a flawed husband was better than living with controlling parents. She had analysed her life with Edge and had come to the rather startling conclusion that he had never once raised his hand in anger against her, or the children. Then she started to pick apart her parents’ arguments and accepted wisdom. None of them stacked up. But the biggest shock was when she realised that her father had actually put her in harm’s way regarding Daz Copeland. He had to have known and she suspected her father had grown frightened of his right-hand-man. His killing of Edge would have removed both problems and Moira was acceptable collateral damage. She screwed up her fists and hammered them down on the table to punctuate her anger.
“YOU… FUCKING… BASTARD!”
Moira drove to the cottage at Weare Giffard and saw an empty and depressingly un-cared for building that had been her home. She tried her key in the lock, which didn’t work. Then she toured the building peering in windows. It was still furnished, but empty. Their little cottage on the river was cold, damp and derelict. It was like a nail through her heart.
“Hello, can I help you?” an old lady asked from the gate, “Oh, sorry it’s you, Mrs Edge.”
“Hello Miss Penrith. I’m looking for Mark. Do you know where he is?”
The old lady looked at Moira with kindly eyes. Being no stranger to heartache and misery herself, she put her hand on Moira’s shoulder, “Come up to my place and I’ll tell you what I know.”
She made a pot of tea and a cat sauntered into the kitchen.
“Monty. Hello boy,”
The cat raised his tail in greeting, recognising his old Mum.
“I’m looking after him now. You can take him if you want.”
“Mark said he would just run away again. He loves his territory more than humans. He seems happy. Poor boy with that scar. He has been in the wars.”
They sipped tea and Miss Penrith shook her head sadly, “Your husband has gone away.”
“For how long?”
Moira started crying, “Where’s he gone?”
“I don’t know, honestly. He left before Christmas and said everything was in the hands of the solicitor. Here’s their card. He even changed the locks.”
“God he really must hate me,” Moira said miserably.
The lady put her liver-spotted hand on Moira’s, “He hated everything, including life. You’re not to blame. There’s something wrong with him. There’s nothing I can say to ease your pain. I’m so sorry dear.”
“Did you ever like him?”
The old lady’s reply puzzled Moira, “With all my heart. He saved my life a long time ago and he never even knew it. I could easily have loved him if we had shared the same time for more than a few hours.”
Moira walked back to her car in tears, but then a new resolve overcame her, tempered by a new hatred for her father and contempt for her mother. She did drive back to Barnstaple, but not to her parents’ house. She went into several letting agencies in the town and asked for information on three-bedroom properties to let in Bideford, Appledore, Northam and Torrington.
Within a month she had moved into a three bedroom flat in Okehampton, still drivable to her work at the glass factory, and the children had a new school. Before she left, she took her father’s prized golf clubs to the workshop and ground off the heads with an angle grinder. She contemplated filling his MG A with concrete, but realised she would need too many of the small post hole sacks. She consoled herself with pouring some paint stripper over the bonnet, boot and wings. For the icing on the cake, she went into the kitchen, found a potato and rammed it up the exhaust.
Angela helped her move with a couple of male friends, “What the bloody hell took you so long?”
* * *
Money was no problem for Edge, thanks to contacts he had made in America whilst working with their Special Forces and some very lucrative investments Horace Cutler had prudently suggested. Edge had several foreign bank accounts under other identities and his Service pension paid for the maintenance of his children. Unlike many marriages that are in difficulties, Moira badly wanted back the Edge she had married and not the violent, alcohol dependent version. In truth, she could hardly blame him for the violence on Daz Copeland, who had provoked both of them beyond measure. Moira didn’t want revenge on Edge, she didn’t want to financially ruin him, she just wanted him back and she was prepared to wait. It took eight years.
Around 500 people go missing in the UK every single day. Edge became one of those who chose to. Because he had operated within the darker regions of the deep state, he knew just how much the state despised and distrusted its own citizens. He knew the levels of state surveillance and how it was conducted and more importantly he knew how to avoid it and disappear. He knew the limitations of surveillance cameras and how the state hated the cash economy. Cash gives people freedom. Cash prevents the state from making an individual a non-person. An individual who uses cash has freedom from state surveillance and can purchase what the hell they like, without the being under the interfering gaze of the state and some of its disreputable employees.
The Annual Local Area Labour Force Survey, 2001/02, Office for National Statistics noted that by ethnicity, the unemployment rates for males was 20% for Bangladeshi immigrants, 16% for Pakistani, 15% and 14% for Black Africans and Black Caribbean’s respectively. The statistic for indigenous White Males was 5%. What do you think those figures are likely to be now, fifteen years later? The statistic for homelessness was that 37% of those declared homeless were White British and the rate for Bangladeshi males was 1%. You may wonder why the most unproductive sector of society has the lowest homelessness rate by ethnicity.
In a country that professes to care for “Our Boys,” one in four of the homeless are former members of the Armed Forces. Some might speculate that councils and the government are prioritising homing those who offer the least to society at the expense of the most productive and people who have risked their lives and freedom for their country. Some councils give ex-prisoners a higher priority for finding accommodation than former Service personnel. I’m sure there is no correlation, but just remember that the next time your local councillor comes touting for your vote.
He stole three very popular types of Ford cars of the same make and colour from London, Southampton and Birmingham. He changed the number plates and stashed the cars in different southern cities, choosing areas of high immigration that he knew were virtual no-go areas for the police.
That spring, Edge was operating with the absolute basics of kit to support and sustain survival. He maintained personal hygiene by slipping into swimming pools and leisure centres at busy times. He paid particular attention to foot and oral hygiene. Unfortunately he continued to be plagued with cluster headaches and was existing on a steady flow of painkillers. Only codeine-based painkillers seemed to give him respite. In the world of the homeless, the drug takers were the worst, desperate and with no sense of morality. One night, two, driven by desperation tried to rob him. They came to wish they hadn’t. He could slip in and out of various personas simply by changing clothes and walking with a different gait or deportment.
Edge had met a virtuous, unselfish woman who volunteered in one of the soup kitchens and hostel he frequented. She was caring and vivacious in an easy way. Despite his circumstances, Edge called them do-gooders, but her demeanour lacked what he regarded as that nauseating, virtue-signalling persona with which do-gooders, seemed to wrap themselves. Edge’s cynicism as well as his anger was consuming the kindliness he had once had. The fifteen-year-old boy who had helped the Non-conventionals with their homework had long gone. She would talk to any of them. The alcoholics with the shakes, who sometimes pissed themselves in the dining hall. Or the toothless addicts who had run out of veins to inject, it didn’t seem to matter to her. She would get a mop, bucket and disinfectant and get on with it.
But to Edge she maintained a cold aloofness, that seemed to match his disdain for life in general. He was convinced that she didn’t like him and he convinced himself that he cared not one jot. One evening he arrived too late for dinner and most of the other punters were bedding down for the night. She was emptying and tidying containers on the Bain Maries and glanced up as Edge came in.
“Oh, too late, sorry,” he turned to leave.
“Just sit down and I’ll get you something. It will be a bit of a mish-mash I’m afraid.”
She came over with a plate, cutlery and two slices of stale bread and much to his surprise, she sat opposite him.
“Err, thanks,” Edge tucked into some corned beef stew with a few potatoes. The carrots were overdone and it wasn’t particularly hot, but welcome nonetheless. Her presence was disconcerting as she watched him eat. When he had finished, he smiled awkwardly at her, but there was no warmth in his eyes.
“What’s your name?”
“Brink, Maarten Brink.”
“Yes, my father was from the Netherlands.”
She stared at him coolly, a wry little smile playing at the corners of her mouth, “Well, Maarten Brink, I’ve got a question for you.”
He pushed his plate away.
“Why are you playing at being homeless?”
Edge looked at her coldly, “I didn’t realise it’s a game.”
“It isn’t for most of the poor souls who traipse in and out of this hostel. Circumstance and their own failings have put most of the people you see in here. But you’re not like them, are you? I just wondered if you’re doing research or just want to see how the other half lives.”
“I’m looking for someone,” Edge told her reluctantly.
She pulled a little pad out of her apron pocket and scribbled something on it, ripped out the page and pushed it across the table.
“My mobile number. Let me know when you’ve decided that you want help, but I don’t think you’ll ever find what you’re looking for.”
Edge decided to give the hostel near Waterloo a miss for some time to come. One morning in late February he caught sight of Gleam in the back of a taxi, but it swung round Lincoln’s Inn Fields and headed for the barrier controlled mews to the rear of Serle Street. Edge went to buy some fast-setting epoxy resin and some wire cutters from a hardware shop.
That lunchtime the security guard in his booth was both disgusted and astonished to see a drunk lurching towards the security barrier. The man was filthy and bounced off walls, staggering into an alcove to presumably urinate. Edge was frantically mixing the epoxy resin and when he lurched back into view, seemed to bypass the barriers with one step forward and two back. He hit the barrier stanchion and swore at it, offered to fight it then fell over it. The security guard had seen enough and moved quickly out of his booth, but not quickly enough. The card and optical readers were liberally smeared and jammed with the epoxy resin. He couldn’t find any wires to cut, unfortunately. He tripped and sprawled over, giggling at the security guard, who hauled him up and rammed him against the wall.
“Shhorry, seem to losht my way.” Edge sniggered drunkenly and wiped his hand on the security guard’s jacket.
The guard punched him in the stomach and Edge doubled up and fell over. The guard started to kick him, then remembered the security cameras at each end of the mews. He hauled up the drunk and threw him out onto the road. A van hooted angrily and swerved to avoid the body. Edge picked himself up and ran unsteadily into Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Out of sight, he composed himself.
“Bastard!” he exclaimed angrily, debating whether to go back and cause the security guard some serious damage, but he calmed down and decided to remain on mission. That afternoon Edge stole a bicycle and stashed it by the railings on Searle Street. He went to the left luggage locker at Liverpool Street Station and changed into a cycle courier’s uniform of lycra and a document bag. It started to rain so Edge took cover and waited. At 17:50 he saw Ron Gleam leave the offices and hail a taxi. Edge followed the taxi through the rush hour traffic to Paddington Station. It was exhausting and he alienated a large number of drivers in the 3.5 mile frenetic pedal through London to Paddington Station.
He lost the lawyer in the scrum inside the station but decided to move his area of operations to West London. Five days later he clocked Gleam and followed him to platform 5 for the train to Oxford. He purchased a first-class ticket and got in the same carriage as Gleam, slightly underdressed, much like a wealthy musician who didn’t need to care what people thought. Gleam changed at Twyford and he didn’t notice the scruffy individual who walked with the confidence of a man who deserved to travel first class to Henley-on-Thames. It was pointless trying to follow Gleam from the station, but Edge now knew the type of Bentley that Gleam drove. He moved very much upmarket in his area of operations, and he would have to work very hard to remain unnoticed. It was time for him to stop playing at being homeless. Over the next week he would conduct such a thorough reconnaissance of the Thames town that he would know how many people lived in each of the fabulous houses, their level of security, their routines, but more importantly the best positions and angles to take a shot.
However, the woman at the hostel’s remark had rankled him. It was like an annoying itch that needed to be scratched and before he moved on, he pulled the crumpled piece of paper out of his pocket and his cheap pay-as-you-go mobile phone and scratched it. They met in a coffee bar, a suitable and safe public area and Edge drank green tea, a taste he had developed in assorted Middle-Eastern shitholes. Tea is made with boiling water, so whichever hand had been used to make it wasn’t so imperative. She looked good. The apron had gone, but there was still the faint, greasy aroma of the hostel kitchens about her. Edge wondered if she was playing at being a kindly charity worker as much as he had being a homeless down and out. He realised that it was an unkind thought and he cringed inwardly. There were parts of him that even he hated.
“Well, Mr Brink. Have you finally decided that you need some help?” Her cappuccino was still too hot to drink.
“No. I’ve come to say goodbye.”
She stirred the chocolate sprinkles on top of the cup thoughtfully, “So you’ve found who you were looking for. Now what?”
“You’ll probably read about it in the papers. Most of it will be a bloody lie.”
She looked at him and smiled sadly, “You know, I once knew someone like you.”
Oh God, here we go, he thought.
“He was a pilot. Nothing glamorous, but he used to fly the routes into the Western Isles. Mostly clapped out Islanders, or the mail runs in a Twin Cessna into Barra and Benbecular. Sometimes it was to take the islanders to hospital appointments in Glasgow.”
Edge thought he could detect a slight Scottish accent.
“He loved it. But it was terribly stressful. The approach and landing to Barra was a right bastard. At least that’s what he said. Flying in the Western Isles is so dependent on the weather and in the case of Barra, the tides. But it was a service the islanders could rely on. Unfortunately the stress was killing him, the long hours in little planes like that, no second pilot. Alone with the weather.”
Edge was genuinely interested about someone apart from himself, “What happened?”
“Two years ago, it was during the cluster of bad storms. He tried to get into Benbecular to pick up a pregnant woman who was having complications. Some bloody idiot hit and damaged the Navy Sea King at Prestwick with a low loader, so they asked him to try. Even in the storm he agreed and made three aborted approaches, but just couldn’t get in. Unfortunately both the woman and her baby died.”
“What’s your name?” Edge asked quietly.
“Kimberly. You’ve probably heard them call me Kim at the hostel, but that’s all you’re getting, Maarten Brink and at least it’s my real name.”
“I’m going to hate this aren’t I, Kimberly?”
“Do you know Perth, Maarten, specifically Kinnoull Hill?” he did but shook his head, “It’s a beautiful spot where you can see the River Tay meandering through the valley, high above Perth. Well you see, this pilot was distraught and felt that he had failed at his duty. The trouble was his wife was too much of a piss head to notice how much pain her husband was in. As long as she had the vodka and her vacuous friends, she didn’t really care. This chap, poor sod had nowhere to turn, so he walked up Kinnoull Hill. They found him three days later on a ledge a hundred and fifty feet down from the top. Dead, obviously.”
Edge looked at her and felt his mouth was dry, “I am so very sorry. Is that why you came to London?”
“To make amends? Atonement?” she laughed bitterly, “No. Initially it was to drink and fuck myself to death. The other stuff came later. If I hadn’t been such a useless lush, I could have seen that he was being consumed, much like you are now.”
To Edge’s surprise she reached across the table and grabbed his hand, “I’m like that little boy in the Sixth Sense. I see dead people. You might be living, but you’re dead inside. I bet you’ve made friends with the bottle, haven’t you, Maarten?”
“The bottle and I have been on intimate terms, many times in the past,” he agreed.
“I’m going to do something that is probably incredibly stupid. I may well end up as just another statistic, a stupid woman who trusted too much. You may well be the last thing that I see, but I’m prepared to take the risk. Are you?”
* * *
She looked at him as he came out of the shower. Firstly at the obvious part and then at the puckered and ragged scar above his left hip.
“My God! What happened to you?”
“It’s what you call an occupational injury. I got too close to a parting wire hawser on a fishing trawler.” The lie seemed to come easier than the truth.
“I’ve hidden your knife while you were in the shower, not that I suppose it matters. You wouldn’t need anything to kill me, would you?”
Edge towelled himself vigorously. The hot shower had been wonderful.
“You must know that we all carry a weapon of some form or another in order to survive. And you must know that I mean you no harm.”
She walked up to him and they embraced. Edge was hit by many conflicting emotions. He thought of Moira, then he thought about Daz Copeland. And he thought about the scent of a woman, how long it had been. He could bury himself in that moment and he did.
* * *
When she woke up, he was sitting on the edge of the bed, his head in his hands, rocking gently.
“Maarten, whatever’s wrong.”
“Bloody headaches. They keep coming and going. Too much emotion I suppose.”
She put her arm round him gently, “Lie down while I get you something for it.
An intracranial hematoma is a collection of blood within the skull, most commonly caused by rupture of a blood vessel within the brain or from trauma such as a car accident or fall. The blood collection can be within the brain tissue or underneath the skull, pressing on the brain.
Although some head injuries — such as one that causes only a brief lapse of consciousness (concussion) — can be minor, an intracranial hematoma is potentially life-threatening. It usually requires immediate treatment, often surgery to remove the blood.
The sufferer might develop signs and symptoms of an intracranial hematoma right after a blow to the head, or they may take weeks or even months to appear. They might seem fine after a head injury, a period called the lucid interval.
Edge was fast approaching the end of his long, lucid interval.
* * *
Once Edge had traced Gleam to his large, walled and gated house that backed onto the Thames, he conducted a thorough recce of the property, its security and the area. Edge concluded that the best security was offered by the house’s area and exclusivity. Now he knew where Gleam lived. He knew all about his family his associates and fellow travellers. He understood his influence and the protection that the establishment and the deep state provided the lawyer with. He worked out angles, hides, infiltration and exfiltration routes. He timed and recorded the position and angles of the sun. He filled multiple exercise books with notes and tactical maps. That December, Edge retrieved and activated one of his three identities he had constructed in a previous life, because he knew that surveillance over the winter would be impossible. He grew and dyed his hair and beard grey, and rented an apartment in the Algarve for four months.
© Blown Periphery 2020