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Authors: Reginald Hill

Tags: #Police Procedural, #Mystery & Detective

Asking for the Moon

BOOK: Asking for the Moon
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HarperCollins/Publishers

77-85 Fulham Palace Road,

Hammersmith, London W6 8JB

 

This paperback edition 1999 135798642

 

Previously published as a Paperback Original by HarperCollins in 1994 and reprinted five times

 

First published in Great Britain by HarperCollins/Publishers 1994

 

Copyright © Reginald Hill 1994

 

The Last National Service Man © 1994 Pascoe's Ghost ©1979 Dalziel's Ghost ©1979 One Small Step ©1990

 

Reginald Hill asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work

 

ISBN 0 00 647934 0 Set in Baskerville

 

Printed and bound in Great Britain by Caledonian International Book Manufacturing Ltd, Glasgow

 

All rights reserved, No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted,

in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,

photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior

permission of the publishers.

 

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise,
be
lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

TO YOU DEAR READERS

without whom the writing would be in vain

and

TO YOU

STILL DEARER PURCHASERS

without whom the eating would be infrequent

THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED

 

in appreciation

of your loyalty

 

in anticipation

of your longevity

 

in admiration

of your taste

 

NON SCRIBIT, CUIUS CARMINA NEMO LEGIT

CONTENTS

  1.  

    The Last National Service Man i

  2. Pascoe's Ghost 59

  3. Dalziel's Ghost 171

  4. One Small Step 203

The Last National Service Man

'I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date,' sang Detective Constable Peter Pascoe.

In moments of stress his mind still trawled through the movies in search of a proper reaction.

'It's an immature tic you may grow out of when you've had enough Significant Experience of your own,' an irritated girlfriend had once forecast. 'Ring me when it happens.'

He hadn't rung yet. Surely his move to Mid Yorkshire where they sold Significant Experience by the bucketful would work the cure? But a fortnight into his new job, when he woke to discover he'd slept through his alarm, the section house boiler had failed, and there were three buttons missing from his only clean shirt, he'd immediately dropped into a Kenneth Williams panic routine straight out of
Carry on Constable.

Sod's Law was confirmed when he got to the station. No time to grab a bite in the canteen, of course; hardly time to grab the essential file from the CID room: then the phone had rung just as he was passing through the door. Not another soul in sight, so like a fool, he'd answered it.

It had been some snout urgently requiring the DCI and not about to push something useful towards a mere DC. Five minutes getting that sorted. Then the Riley reluctant to start; every light at red: traffic crawling at sub-perambulator speeds (did they have different limits up here?); one side of every road dug up (water, or burial of the dead - which had finally arrived?).

And now, in the courts' car park, not a space in sight except one marked recorder.

Sod it, thought Pascoe. Little high-pitched instrument played by some geezer in a ruff couldn't need all that much room.

He gunned the Riley in, and was out and running up the steps before the Cerberic attendant could bark more than the first syllable of 'Hey-up!'

Why did the natives need this ritual exordium before they communicated? he wondered. Not properly a greeting, a command or even an exclamation, it was entirely redundant in the vocabulary of a civilized man.

He burst through the swing doors, and thought, 'Hey-up!' as he spotted a familiar face. Well, not really familiar. He'd known it for only two weeks and not even a lifetime could make it familiar. But unforgettable certainly. Straight out of Hammer Films make-up. They'd broken the mould before they made this one, ho ho.

'Sergeant Wield,' he gasped.

'Constable Pascoe,' said Wield. 'Now we've got that out of the way, you're lost.'

'You mean I'm late,' said Pascoe. 'Sorry but —'

'Nay lad. Mr Jorrocks, the magistrate is late, which means you'll not be called for another half-hour. What
you
are is lost. Magistrates' court is in the other wing. This is where the big boys play.'

With that face it was impossible to tell whether you were being bollocked or invited to share a joke. And what was Wield doing here anyway? Checking up? If so he was in the wrong place too . . .

Wield answered the question as if it had been asked.

'Our own big boy's here today,' he said. 'Come back all the way from Wales to give evidence. I need a word.'

'Mr Dalziel, you mean? Oh yes. I heard he was visiting.'

Pascoe knew the name shouldn't be pronounced the way it looked but hadn't quite got the vocalization right. This

time, perhaps because of the Welsh connection, it came out as
Dai Zeal.

Wield's mouth spasmed in what might have been a smile.

''Dee Ell,'
he said carefully. 'You've not met him yet, have you?'

Detective Constable Pascoe's transfer from South Midlands to Mid-Yorkshire CID had taken place while Detective Chief Inspector Dalziel was in Wales as part of a team investigating allegations of misconduct against certain senior officers. The Fat Man had been pissed off at being turned into what he called 'a bog-brush'. Wield suspected he was going to be even more enraged to discover that the CID boss, Superintendent 'Zombie' Quinn, had taken advantage of his absence to approve the newcomer's transfer.

Trouble was, Pascoe was everything Dalziel disliked: graduate, well spoken, originating south of Sheffield. Wield still had to make his mind up about the lad, but leastways he shouldn't be tossed to a ravening Dalziel without some warning. Not even a bubonic rat deserved that.

'No, but I've heard about him,' said Pascoe neutrally, unaware that Wield's finely tuned ear was well up to detecting the note of prejudgemental disapproval in his voice.

'Come along and see him in action,' said the sergeant. 'You can spare a few minutes.'

'What's the case?' asked Pascoe as they climbed the stairs.

'Sexual assault,' said Wield. 'DCI was leading a drugs raid. Kicked a door open and found what was allegedly a rape in progress.'

'Allegedly?'

'House was a knocking-shop, woman's got three convictions for tomming. Accused's got Martineau defending him. He hates Mr Dalziel's guts.'

That's a lot of hating, thought Pascoe as he tiptoed into
the
court and had his first glimpse of the bulky figure wedged
in
the witness box.

Flesh there was in plenty, but more Sydney Greenstreet than Fatty Arbuckle. This was all-in wrestler running to seed

rather than middle-aged guzzler running to flab. And if any notion of the comic book fat man remained, it stopped when you moved up from the body to that great granite head which looked like it could carve its way through pack-ice on a polar expedition.

A lemon-lipped barrister with scarcely enough flesh on him to make one of Dalziel's arms was asking questions in a voice which did not anticipate co-operation or trust. 'So you, Chief Inspector, were the first person through the door?'

'Yes, sir.'

His
voice like a ship's cannon booming down a fjord.

'Where you found the defendant and Miss X on the bed, sexually coupled?'

'Yes, sir.'

'Now please think carefully before you answer the next question. Did you
immediately
form the opinion that the defendant was using duress?'

Dalziel thought carefully.

He said, 'No, sir. I did not.'

'Really?' said Martineau, surprise mingling with triumph. 'And why not?'

'Well, I don't expect he had time to put one on, sir.'

When order was restored the judge fixed a stern gaze on Dalziel and said, 'I don't know whether your hearing or your taste is defective, Chief Inspector, but what Mr Martineau wishes to ascertain is whether you
immediately
formed the opinion that sex was taking place against Miss X's will, or was it her subsequent behaviour and allegations which brought up this possibility?'

'Oh aye. I'm with you. It were immediate, m'lud.'

'I see. Perhaps you can explain why.'

'Well, first off, he had his right hand round her throat like he was keeping her quiet by strangling her, and his left hand were holding both her wrists above her head so she couldn't hit him . . .'

Martineau's body and voice shot up together.

'My lord! These assumptions . . .'

'Yes, yes. Mr Dalziel, just describe what you saw without giving us the benefit of your inferences, please.'

'Yes, sir. Sorry. Main thing was, soon as I saw the defendant's face, I said to myself, hello —'

Martineau was now soprano with indignation.

'My lord, witness cannot be allowed to imply —'

'Thank you, Mr Martineau,' interrupted the judge. 'I'm grateful as always for your assistance in points of law, but I'm sure that an officer of Mr Dalziel's standing was not about to say anything contrary to the rules of evidence.'

'Nay, sir!' said Dalziel all injured innocence. 'Tha knows I'd never mention a man's record in court, no matter how rotten it were. All I was going to say was, I said to myself, spotty little scrote like that, I bet he'd have to use force to get his own mother to kiss him goodnight!'

Under cover of the renewed laughter, Wield drew Pascoe out of the court.

'I don't believe it!' exclaimed the younger man as they went back downstairs. 'He's turning the whole thing into music hall. Is he for real.'

'Weren't impressed then?' said Wield.

'Impressed? I was horrified! It's bad enough that poor woman having to go through the trauma of a trial without some insensitive clown playing it for laughs.'

'I did tell you the raid were in a knocking-shop and she's got convictions —'

'And that means she's fair game, does it?' interrupted Pascoe indignantly. 'I thought everyone was entitled to equal protection under the law. Excuse me. I'd better get off to my case.'

Wield watched him stride away. Nice mover, head held high, good shoulders, slim body, long legs. Lead us not into temptation. Not that there was much chance of that, not in the force. They might be marching for gay rights in San Francisco, but here in Mid Yorkshire, gay was still what poets felt when they saw a bunch of head-tossing daffs. There was even a holiday company in the High Street called Gay

Days Ltd. Caused a lot of misunderstanding with tourists from the louche south!

Any road, he couldn't see Constable Pascoe being around long enough to break any hearts. Zombie (which was what Dalziel had christened Detective Superintendent Quinn after catching him enjoying a post-prandial snooze in his office) might propose but everyone knew that in the end Fat Andy disposed.

'Penny for 'em,' said Dalziel who despite his bulk could come up on you like Umslopagaas.

'You'd want change, sir,' said Wield. 'Mr Martineau didn't keep you long.'

'Mebbe it was something I said. I saw you earwigging. Brought a friend, did you?'

Even under forensic assault the Fat Man didn't miss much.

'DC Pascoe. Transfer from South Midlands. Highly recommended, top promotion grades, good on the ground, graduate entry . . .'

'Wash your mouth out, Wieldy! Christ, moment I turn me back, Zombie's trawling the boneyards for the living dead. Where's he at now?'

'Committal proceedings. His first day, stopped two guys on suss by the auction mart. Found they had some weaners in their pick-up and" no proof of ownership.'

'Keen bugger. Sounds straightforward. Let's see what kind of a fist Wonderboy makes of it.'

They found 'Wonderboy' under heavy attack from a sharp little solicitor called 'Bomber' Harris.

'So tell us, Detective Constable, what was your reason for being at the back of the market pens?'

'Just passing, sir.'

'Just passing? Along a cul-de-sac whose only function is that of service road to the remoter storage pens of the auction mart?'

'Well, I'm new to the area and I was finding my way about —'

'So, you were lost. And while in this state of uncertainty,

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