There was a groan from several of the officers.
‘Yes, my feeling exactly. So we need to re-double our efforts. Maybe some of you can help Crawford here.’
She went into her office and slammed the glass door, hating the fact that her team could still see her. She spent the next couple of hours on her computer, raking through the case files.
There was a knock at her door and Moss stood outside. She was waving a small white tissue.
‘I come in peace,’ she said.
‘Come inside, close the door,’ said Erika. ‘What is it?’
‘The Specialist Casework Investigation Team have managed to track down the camcorder tapes and photos taken by Trevor Marksman,’ said Moss. ‘John Mc Gorry is trying to track down something we can play them on.’
It was raining hard, and DI Crawford was out the back of Bromley Station sheltering under a small Perspex awning over the rubbish bins. The rain clattered down hard on the plastic above, as he told Amanda Baker how Erika had called him out in front of the whole incident room.
‘She’s a bitch, she just saw me as someone to pick on,’ Crawford was saying, his voice reaching a whiny higher octave.
‘I thought you liked bitches,’ said Amanda Baker dryly on the other end of the phone.
‘Don’t make fun of me. You know I’m this close to walking off this case…’
‘But you won’t because you’re there for me, aren’t you? And there’s a reason you are.’
Crawford pulled a face and stuck up his middle finger to the phone handset, ‘Yes, of course.’
‘So tell, me, what’s happening?’
‘Video evidence arrived this morning, but it was on those old small camcorder tapes.’
‘What video evidence?’ she asked impatiently.
‘Stuff that they seized from Trevor Marksman, years ago.’
‘I seized it from Marksman. What are they doing with it?’
‘They’ve got one of those VHS adaptors, thanks to me that is, and they’re watching them at the same time as playing them through a digital converter for uploading to HOLMES…’
‘Why aren’t you there watching them?’
I’m sick of all these bloody women bossing me around he thought. The wind changed direction and began to pelt rain vertically under the plastic dome above. ‘I wasn’t asked.’ He had to move further under it, against the stinking row of blue bins. He went on to tell her that analysis had been ordered on the soil samples found with Jessica.
‘I want to see those videos. You let me know as soon as they’re uploaded,’ said Amanda. ‘There’s something I remember from those videos… I’m not quite sure but it’s a gut feeling, just out of my grasp,’ she said. ‘Now go back inside, and don’t rouse suspicion.’
She hung up.
‘I bet you’ve got something in your grasp right now. Your third glass of wine,’ he said petulantly.
* * *
Seven miles away, in a house on the outskirts of South London, Gerry sat in a small flat overlooking a set of train tracks. The curtains were drawn against the wind and the rain outside.
A laptop was open on a desk, and he had listened to the conversation between Amanda Baker and DI Crawford. He played back a snippet of the conversation, and Amanda’s gravelly voice echoed around the small room,
‘There’s something I remember from those videos… I’m not quite sure but it’s a gut feeling, just out of my grasp.’
He picked up a phone which had just one number programmed into its memory and dialled. A voice answered.
‘She’s getting close. Do you want me to take it to the next level?’ asked Gerry
‘No. Keep listening,’ came the voice. ‘If we move on this, we have to be sure.’
Erika and John were crammed into one of the small viewing suites in Bromley Station. They discovered that Trevor Marksman, in the interests of being frugal, had filmed had used 120 minute Hi8 camcorder tapes using Long Play mode, which meant that each tape ran for 4 hours.
‘And now, tape two,’ said John switching them over in the machine. Erika sat up and stretched out her arms.
‘Did he ever think he was going to watch that back?’
‘What are you talking about Boss? Four hours of windy walks in grey empty parks, traffic on the ring road, and a badly filmed and lit firework display from his bedroom window, this is box office gold,’ replied John. He wore latex gloves as he pulled the first little Hi8 tape from its case and reached for the next.
‘What’s he written there?’ asked Erika. John held up the case.
‘GARY B’DAY PARTY, April 1990.’ He said before slipped it out of the case. He held the small black cassette up to the light. ‘The tapes are in good nick.’
‘They’ve been kept in climate controlled storage.’
He dropped it into the VHS adaptor and slid it into the machine. Then, checking the feed was being uploaded to the laptop, he pressed play.
The small screen in front of them on the desk burst to life with static, and then at the top of the screen appeared the interior of a television lounge in the halfway house. It was in black and white, shook a little and then became coloured. Twenty men of different ages, most dressed scruffily, stood around on the polished wood floor. Several couches and sofas were dotted about, old and ripped, and a small TV was bolted high up on the wall. A large picture window looked out onto a grey sky and a patch of grass. For a few moments the light outside whited out the camera. They heard some voices, and then the camera turned to a mirror. Staring back was the reflection of Trevor Marskman, holding the videocamera before he was hideously scarred.
‘Here we are on the 2nd April for Gary Lundy’s twenty-fourth birthday!’ he said to his reflection. The camera whipped round to show a thin man sat in a fraying sofa. He had elongated features, and his hair was greasy and parted flat to the left. His nose was huge and he had one of his fingers buried in his left nostril up to the knuckle.
‘What are you doing?’ asked Trevor’s voice from behind the camera.
‘Looking for something decent to eat,’ replied Gary pulling his finger out of his nose. ‘Now fuck off,’ he snarled.