Friday, 22 April 2016

The Favoured Son (part 3)

My Series One Land Rover pulled up outside a block of flats but I wasn’t sat in it. Instead, I was in a jail cell elsewhere, waiting for a bowl of lukewarm soup. Driving the Land Rover was my girlfriend Rachel and sat in it’s passenger seat was my partner in crime, metaphorically rather than literally, Robin. They both looked rather determined.
The block of flats formed an intimidating and looming reflection in the windscreen. The fences, which were scuffed and beaten from years of kids scrambling over to carry out dares in the abandoned buildings, were now addressed in flapping crime scene tape. A tent similar to the one that had been set up at the sewage works was erected and a selection of officers were stood outside on their fag break. One of the few who wasn’t smoking saw Robin and Rachel and smiled. 
“Inspector Lodsbury.” Robin said. “Why did you arrest Gabriel?”
“Anyone else, we would have pulled them in regardless.” Lodders said, looking slightly embarrassed. “To do otherwise with Gabriel would have been bias.”
“And you’re completely above that.” Rachel said. “How many inspectors does Glasgow Nick have?”
“I’m sorry?”
“Well, I was just wondering why you’re always on the case. A little suspicious, hm?”
Robin shook her head. “You don’t threaten suspects until you’ve got evidence.”
“Oh.” Rachel said, turning to Lodders. “Sorry.”
There was a moment of awkward silence and then Robin said, “So, what have we got?”
“Nothing yet. We’re having to wait for the fire service to turn up before we’re legally allowed to enter; too dangerous apparently. Gabriel’s old flat is rather high.”
“You do realise how pointless this is?” Rachel said. “Gabriel’s a detective; why would he make it so easy for you to solve the crime?”
“Are you saying that he’s being set up?” Lodders said.
“It’s more likely than the alternative.”
“Which is?”
“That he’s an idiot.” Rachel replied. She itched her head. “Who would want to set him up?”
“Do you want me to make a list?” Robin asked. “Because if so, I’m gonna need a hell of a lot of paper.”
“Are there really that many?” 
“We write a column where we arrest someone almost every week!” Robin cried. “That’s at least forty five potential enemies a year.”
Rachel said nothing.
Lodders looked at his feet and then reached into one of his pockets, flipping out his notebook. “So far, we know that the culprit has kidnapped Nadeera Javid, that he’s an IC1- that’s white, Rachel.”
“I know. I date a detective.”
“Good point. The culprit’s an IC1 male, approximately six foot three, wearing a hoodie and a long jacket over it, brown hair, sturdy boots. Pretty much Gabriel’s exact description.”
“Read me the exact description.” Robin said.
“What?”
“The exact description you got from the witness. There’s something not quite right about this.”
Lodders flicked back a few pages and then squinted. He must have left his reading glasses at home. “Here we go. ‘He was tall, maybe six foot three. He had brown hair, not curly brown hair but straight, and he was really pale. I saw him getting into a white van, a red hood up and a long black jacket over it. He was wearing-‘“
“Got it.” Robin grinned. “Read that last bit.”
“‘He was wearing-‘“
“No. The bit before.”
“‘I saw him getting into a white van, a red hood up and a long black jacket over it.’ What, are you going to tell me Gabriel doesn’t have a driver’s license or something?”
“No. The red hood is up.” Robin beamed. “If the hood is up, how does she know that he has brown hair. If he was getting into the van, how can she see his face; surely his back would be to her?”
“That’s clever.” Rachel said.
“It’s tenuous, to say the least, but it may be worth a try. We’ll go and reinterview Mrs Javid, see if she can clarify her statement.” Lodders turned to the nearest officer. “We’ll be back in about an hour. Radio me if there are any developments.”
“Sure thing, Inspector.” The officer said.
Lodders hurried across towards the rank of police cars parked along the pavement. He gestured for Robin and Rachel to get in but Robin shook her head. “We’ve left Rachel’s car in the station’s car park; we don’t need to dump anymore.”
“Right, well follow me then.” Lodders said. “And prepare to drive fast; I don’t go anywhere without the sirens on.”

They reached the Javid Household in next to no time, screeching to a stop and forming a small cloud of dust in the process. The doors of the two cars swung open and then the three of them jumped out, hurrying across the court towards the huge, circular wooden door. It was answered pretty quickly by a maid who smiled at them and then referred them through the various corridors into the living room.
Mrs Javid was a young woman, maybe half of Haamid Javid, who smiled weakly when she saw Lodders and his two companions. He explained that they were there to ask her a couple of questions and then gestured to Robin to go ahead and ask them. “Mrs Javid, we were wondering if you could clarify your description of the person you believed kidnapped your daughter?”
“Have you found her yet?” Mrs Javid snapped.
“No.” Robin said. “But if you answer our questions, we should be able to.”
Mrs Javid considered it for a second and then told them a paraphrased account of what Lodders had told them. Robin nodded, thanked her and then said, “If I were to show you a picture of a suspect, would you be able to identify them for me?”
“I will try.” Mrs Javid said.
Robin smiled, thanked her again and then drew her phone. “Just this gentleman here, Mrs Javid.”
She stared at the image. Her eyes widened and she nodded. “That’s him. That’s the man who took my Nadeera!”
Haamid stood, infuriated. “Have you caught this man?!”
“Not yet.” Robin smiled. “But we will.”
They left quickly but, as they rushed towards the car, Lodders took hold of Robin’s arm and drew her to the side. “You just led the witness! You could have shown that lady a picture of anybody who matched that description and she would have said it was him!”
“But I didn’t. I showed her this image.” Robin said, and showed Lodders the picture. It was Gabriel, but maybe five years younger. His hair was brown, his skin was pale, he was wearing a long black jacket and a red hoodie and his shoes certainly looked sturdy. 
“So you admit that Gabriel must have done it?”
“No.” Robin said. “I admit that Mrs Javid has seen the first image that comes up when you google ‘Gabriel Rathbone Glasgow,’ just like I did in the car on the way here. The kidnapper, if they were framing Gabe, probably showed her this exact image and said, ‘Identify this person to the police.’”
“It would make sense.” Rachel said.
Lodders went to reply but his phone began to ring. “Give me a second.”
They watched him wander off and speak to someone on the phone. After a few moments and a lot of head nodding, he hung up and wandered back over. “Right.” He said. “That was the CSIs from the sewage works. They’ve identified the corpse.”
“They said it’d take a few weeks!” Robin cried.
“The fella had had recent dental work, apparently. His records were automatically uploaded.”
“Right.” Robin said. “Who’s the unlucky sap, then?”
“His name is Brian Sanders.”
Robin suddenly had a eureka moment. She slapped her hand over her mouth. 
“Robin?” Rachel said. “Are you alright?”
“I know who framed Gabriel.” Robin said. “Oh my god. I’ve worked it all out.”
“You do?”
“Yes.” Robin said. She clicked on the phone application and dialled a number. “Lodders, tell them to free Gabriel. I’ll set up an ambush for the culprit.”
“Who is it?” Lodders said, pulling his phone.
“All in good time.” Robin said. She put the phone to her ear. “Hello? Hi, it’s me. Robin. Yeah. I just wanted to tell you, the Victoria’s back on.”

I was back with the Gang. It felt good. Me, Robin, Rachel, Lodders. The A-Team, but Scottish. Little Green Bags should have been playing as we marched through the doorway into the Victoria. It’s character hadn’t improved in the time since I was last here, so many years ago. The lights were still dim, the tables were still sticky. The clientele were still the type of people who would get kicked out of a rural village. I walked over to the bar and took a stool. The others did the same. My shoulder was hurting me; the bed in the cell hadn’t been so comfortable. Ah well, I thought. It was good that I was free now.
“Hey, Gabriel!” Said a voice from behind me. “What’re you doing here? I thought you’d been banged up?”
“No thanks to you.” Robin said for me. “We worked out who did it, hence why we got him freed.”
“Who?” The voice asked.
“It was you, Richard.” Robin said, pointing her finger accusingly. “You framed Gabriel for kidnapping.”

Richard, my old friend and colleague, gulped. 

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