Authors: Danielle Ramsay
Brady could see that he was clearly agitated. They had been there for ten minutes and were no further forward. He also wished that Conrad had not insisted on coming. McKaley kept staring at him, eyes filled with disgust.
‘I don’t know where they are, Mr McKaley,’ Brady replied.
‘Sir to you, you fucking dick!’ he shouted.
‘Sorry, sir,’ Brady answered, wishing he was anywhere rather than in this sterile, impersonal room with a single bed, a set of drawers and a matching wardrobe. It stank of a combination of antiseptic and the unmistakable odour of stale piss.
‘Where’s Jones and Trevors?’ McKaley demanded as he looked at the closed door again. His white, gnarled knuckles gripped the arms of his chair as he waited with agitation for them to make an appearance.
‘I’m sure they’ll be here soon, sir,’ Brady answered.
He was uncomfortable but was trying his best to appear relaxed. He was here on the off-chance he could glean some information from McKaley that could help with the current investigation. But he was doubtful that McKaley would even remember it now and if he did, that he would actually have anything significant.
‘Who are you?’ McKaley asked again.
‘Sir, I’m here to ask you some questions about a case you worked on,’ Brady repeated for the tenth time.
McKaley’s trembling hand patted down his remaining white tufts of hair as he stared at the closed door.
‘Sir? I haven’t got much time. This is important,’ Brady began.
‘Trevors? Trevors?’ McKaley shouted out.
‘I’m sure he’ll be here in a minute, sir,’ Brady placated him. ‘Sir. The Joker killings, do you remember them?’
McKaley suddenly leaned forward as he stared hard at Brady. ‘Watch the way you talk to me, you fucking dick!’
‘We need your help, sir. We were hoping that you would be able to answer some questions for us,’ Brady persisted.
‘Fags. You know that? All fags,’ McKaley suddenly stated with disgust. ‘Did us a favour, he did. They all deserved to have their dicks cut off. Disgusting fucking homos. Shouldn’t be allowed. Sick fuckers. Had one on my team. Snivelling fucking poof. Soon got rid. Private talking-to in the Gents sorted him out. Don’t know how long it was before he could use his dick again. If at all!’ McKaley said, laughing. His deep, throaty laugh filled the room.
Brady could feel Conrad bristling beside him.
‘Did you ever narrow a suspect down?’ Brady asked as he ignored Conrad. He was struggling to rein in his own anger.
McKaley stopped laughing and looked at Brady as if seeing him for the first time.
‘Suspect? What suspect? Trevors! Where the fuck have you got to?’ McKaley shouted out. Disgruntled, he looked towards the door again.
‘The Joker killings. Can you tell us anything about the suspects?’ Brady doggedly continued.
McKaley’s eyes flashed with disgust. His pale wet lips were downturned as he shook his head. ‘Pulled them in. All of them fags. Taught them some respect. Fucking poofs.’ McKaley paused as he leaned even closer in to Brady. ‘Between you and me he did society a favour. They were an abomination. Should have been drowned at birth. He sent a message out loud and clear, I can tell you! Stopped the faggots hanging around those pick-up places looking for sex. Scared them shitless and drove them underground. Some six feet under!’ McKaley confided as he gurgled throatily.
Conrad suddenly stood up. ‘We’re wasting our time, sir.’
‘What’s your problem, you little prick? You one of them?’ McKaley leered.
Brady watched Conrad. He looked as if he was about to say something. But he didn’t. He held back whatever retort he wanted to ram down the homophobic, vile old man’s throat.
Instead it was Brady who said it: ‘If you weren’t so sick, you old fuck, I would take great delight in knocking seven bells of shit out of you. Remember Martyn Jenkins? What you did to him?’
McKaley looked confused. He shook his head, at a loss as to why Brady was shouting at him.
‘Martyn Jenkins?’ Brady asked. ‘You don’t remember, do you? He remembered you all right. You evil bastard. And yeah,’ Brady said as he gestured towards Conrad. He ignored the expression of shock followed by horror on Conrad’s face as it dawned on him what Brady was about to disclose. Before Conrad could intervene he said it: ‘He’s gay. So what? He’s the best copper I’ve ever had the privilege to work with and one of my closest friends. I would trust him with my life,’ Brady said as he tried to control the rage he felt inside. It was clear that McKaley had had no interest in solving the Joker killings. That to him, the victims who had been so horrifically tortured and then murdered had deserved it.
Conrad stood there, rigid. His eyes were filled with rage as he stared at Brady. ‘You had no right,’ he said in a strained voice. ‘No right to tell him that.’
‘Get out, you fucking fag! Go on. Get out of my room before I kick you out!’ McKaley shouted at Conrad.
Conrad ignored McKaley, still staring in disbelief at his boss.
‘For fuck’s sake, Conrad!’ Brady exploded. He couldn’t believe the way Conrad was looking at him, as if he were the enemy. His eyes filled with hurt at what he felt was Brady’s betrayal.
Brady shook his head in frustration. ‘When I have to deal with the homophobic rants of pricks like McKaley or the sick shit that’s being bandied around the station about you then it becomes my business. I respect and value you and always have done. The fact that you’re gay makes no difference to me. Never has done. You know that. And it shouldn’t to anyone else. So yeah, I’m more than prepared to tackle any bullying regarding your personal life. Whether you like it or not. I’m not just your boss, Harry. Sometimes you should remember that.’
‘I mean it! Fucking get out, you poof, before I kick the shit out of you,’ McKaley spat as he attempted to get up from his chair. ‘And take your snivelling fag lover with you!’ he added, turning with disgust to Brady.
Brady clenched his fists as he resisted the urge to punch the retired copper. He knew if he did, it would make him no better than McKaley. But he would have felt a hell of a lot better for it.
Instead Brady walked out, leaving Conrad still standing there.
‘You all right?’ Brady asked, regretting his outburst in front of McKaley. But he couldn’t help himself. It had been left unsaid for too long.
Conrad nodded as he started up the car.
But Brady wasn’t convinced. He watched as Conrad reversed out of the car park, thinking over what had just happened. It was hard to believe that McKaley had once been a copper. That he had shared the same rank as Brady. Worse, that McKaley had a reputation that was still fiercely protected.
Brady stared out at the road. He wished that his DS hadn’t been there to witness McKaley’s vile, venomous tongue. He knew that Conrad was having a hard enough time back at the station with the likes of Daniels and Kenny without experiencing the homophobic rants of some old, twisted son of a bitch.
‘Thank you,’ Conrad said, low. ‘For . . .’ He left the sentence unspoken.
The words were barely loud enough for Brady to hear. But he heard them.
Brady turned to him, surprised.
But Conrad kept his eyes on the road ahead.
Brady didn’t know how to respond. So he switched the conversation back to work. The job. Anything other than acknowledging the awkwardness between them.
‘Sarah Huntingdon-Smythe . . .’ Brady began. ‘I’ll need you to verify her alibi for Saturday night when we get back.’
‘Do you really think there’s any truth in Molly Johansson’s accusation that she was having an affair with De Bernier?’
Brady shrugged. ‘Honestly? I’m not sure. All I know is that Johansson is convinced of it.’
‘You don’t think Johansson was lying? Trying to throw us off?’
Brady thought about it for a moment. ‘No. I reckon she’s genuine, Conrad. Doesn’t mean that what she believes is fact. But I don’t get the feeling that she was lying to us.’
Monday: 7:18 p.m.
Charlie Turner, the desk sergeant on duty, had warned Brady when he returned that Gates was around. Turner had described Gates as: ‘Marching in with a face like a slapped arse.’ Not a good sign. Brady knew he was looking for him. Word was out that he wanted to talk to Brady – ASAP.
So far Brady had succeeded in avoiding Gates. It might have been early evening but it felt like his day was just beginning.
Suddenly the door opened and Conrad walked in.
Brady wasn’t surprised to see him. He was expecting news on Sarah Huntingdon-Smythe.
‘So, does she have an alibi for Saturday night?’ Brady asked.
Conrad shook his head. ‘I haven’t checked yet, sir.’ Before Brady had a chance to question him, Conrad continued, ‘We’ve managed to trace a text that was deleted from the victim’s phone on Saturday night. It was sent at ten thirty-two p.m.’
Brady frowned. ‘What did it say?’
Conrad looked down at the notes in his hand.
First rule, no talking. Second rule, blindfold yourself. Third rule. Face-down, ready to be bound and gagged
‘Shit!’ Brady muttered. ‘Read it out again.’
‘First rule, no talking. Second rule, blindfold yourself. Third rule, face-down, ready to be bound and gagged,’ Conrad repeated.
‘Do we know who sent it?’
‘No sir, we’re still trying to trace the number.’
Brady sighed heavily.
‘It’s definitely not Molly Johansson’s mobile number?’
‘No,’ Conrad answered.
The news did not surprise Brady.
‘So, that means that someone else other than his girlfriend was with him at the hotel that night. Someone who instructed him to blindfold himself. Which he did with his own tie. And then he waited for them to come in and bind and gag him,’ Brady said as he shook his head. ‘Christ!’
‘How do you think they got into the room if he was blindfolded?’ Conrad asked.
‘A duplicate key maybe?’ Brady answered. But that wasn’t what worried him. What troubled him was the text. A text that detailed exactly what the victim had done before he was tortured and murdered.
Brady was tired and hungry. Worse still, it looked like he would be here for hours. He had a mountain of files on his desk. Old case notes from the Seventies investigation and information on all the recently paroled serious offenders in bail hostels and bedsits in the North East. Then there was the list of mentally ill patients recently released throughout the UK in the last few months. The NHS was seriously underfunded and mentally ill patients were now expected to travel hundreds of miles for medical attention. The upshot was that Brady could not afford to be lazy. It would have made his life easier if his search was limited to psychiatric hospitals in the North East, but then there was always the chance that the killer would slip through his fingers. Brady couldn’t afford that. Not with any murderer, but in particular, not with this one.
If it was the original Joker or a copycat killer, Brady feared that De Bernier’s death was just the beginning. That the sadistic killer would strike again, and again – reminiscent of the spree of killings committed by serial killer David Berkowitz, also known as Son of Sam, during 1976 to the end of the summer of 1977. Six victims were left dead and a further seven wounded. As the body count increased, Berkowitz continued to elude police and taunt them with letters promising further murders. The press went hysterical and it gained international coverage. But unlike David Berkowitz, The Joker was still continuing to elude the police. This case was proving to be one hell of a headache. Amelia had made their task nigh-on impossible. If this was the original Joker killer, then as Amelia had said, he would probably be in his mid-to-late fifties. Even early sixties. But if this was a copycat killer, someone the Seventies Joker had divulged his method of murders to, then it was an entirely different ball game. It could simply be anyone. However, Brady was working on the assumption it was someone who knew De Bernier. Someone the victim was willing to meet in a hotel room for sex. At least, that was Brady’s assumption, given the text that the victim had received.
Brady checked the time. It was later than he realised: 8:43 p.m. He was waiting for information on the phone that had sent the text to the victim before he went to see Gates. If Molly Johansson’s accusation that Robert Smythe’s wife was having an affair with his political aide was true, then there was a strong possibility that she would have texted or called the victim’s phone.
These were serious allegations against a prominent politician’s wife. Brady knew that this would not go down well with either DCI Gates or Detective Superintendent O’Donnell. He had no choice but to question Sarah Huntingdon-Smythe. But he would have to play this one very carefully.
As for Molly Johansson, Brady had released her without charge on condition that she remained in the area in case he needed her for further questioning.
A loud rap at the door broke his thoughts. ‘Yeah?’
Conrad walked in.
‘Tell me something positive for a change,’ Brady said, hoping that Conrad had details on the phone.
Conrad closed the door behind him. ‘Good news, DCI Gates has gone home. Bad news, he wants you in his office first thing.’
‘Shit,’ Brady muttered. ‘What about the number that sent the text?’
Conrad shook his head. ‘Sorry sir, still trying to trace it.’
‘At least you don’t have to report to Gates until the morning. Buys you some more time, sir,’ Conrad stated.
‘Have you seen the amount of information in these files, Conrad?’ Brady said wearily. ‘This lot will take me all night to get through.’
‘I thought you had it run it through HOLMES, sir?’ Conrad asked, surprised that Brady was going through it himself.
‘I did. It didn’t see a connection with any of the ex-inmates detailed here,’ Brady answered. ‘Not even a maybe.’
‘Maybe that’s because there isn’t a connection. Saves you a lot of time if you accept that’s the case,’ Conrad suggested.
As soon as the investigation opened, Brady had entered the details of the murder into HOLMES 2, AKA the Home Office Large Major Enquiry System. It was his role as SIO to ensure that every detail of the case was inputted into HOLMES 2. It was a system used across the UK police force for serious crimes. The computer system was designed to carefully process the masses of information it was provided and cross-reference the details from other forces throughout the UK, making sure no vital clue or similar crime was missed. All relevant information that came through to the Major Incident Room where the rest of the team were working was entered into HOLMES 2 – whether it was information from members of the public, or something that one of the team had learned; if relevant, it would be added. HOLMES 2 effectively replaced the role of countless officers who would spend weeks trailing through information while the culprit simply disappeared. It also eliminated human error. No clues were missed, regardless of how nebulous. Its role was to help the SIO direct and control the course of the inquiry. But it was adding to Brady’s headache. It was coming back with no concrete direction. Not that he had expected it to. There were no other similar murder cases in the UK, apart from the obvious – the Seventies Joker killings.