Read Nineteen Seventy-Seven: The Red Riding Quartet, Book Two Online

Authors: David Peace

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Nineteen Seventy-Seven: The Red Riding Quartet, Book Two (10 page)

BOOK: Nineteen Seventy-Seven: The Red Riding Quartet, Book Two
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I walked back through City Square, the moon almost full up in the blue night sky, back through the Friday night boys and girls and the start of the Jubilee Weekend, its threat of rain and promise of a fuck, through City Square and back to the office, knowing what could have been in an upstairs room, back to what would be waiting in another, there on my desk in amongst the rain and the fucks.
It was already starting to spit a bit.
I put down the toilet lid and took the letter from my pocket.
I was thinking about fingerprints and what the police would say but then how would they expect me to know and I knew there wouldn’t be any anyway.
I stared again at the postmark:
Preston
.
Posted yesterday.
First-class.
I used the end of my pen to slit the top of the envelope.
Still using the pen, I prised the paper out.
It was folded in two, the red ink leaking through the underside, a lump between the sheets.
I opened it up and tried to read what he’d written.
I was shaking, vinegar in my eyes, salt in my mouth.
It wasn’t going to end like this.
‘I’ll call George Oldman,’ said Hadden, still staring at the piece of heavy writing paper on his desk, not looking at the contents to the side.
‘Right.’
He swallowed, picked up the phone and dialled.
I waited, the moon gone, the rain here and the night out.
It was late in the evening, one hundred years too late in the evening.
A uniformed copper had come straight over to the Yorkshire Post Building, bagged the envelope and contents, and then driven Hadden and me straight here, to Millgarth, where we’d been ushered up to Detective Chief Superintendent Noble’s office, George Oldman’s old one, where they sat, Peter Noble and George, waiting for us.
‘Sit down,’ said Oldman.
The uniform put the clear plastic bags on the desk and made himself scarce.
Noble picked up a pair of tweezers and laid out the envelope and letter.
‘You’ve both handled it?’ he asked.
‘Just me.’
‘Don’t worry about that. We’ll take your prints later,’ said Oldman.
I smiled, ‘You’ve already got them.’
‘Preston,’ read Noble.
‘Posted?’
‘Looks like yesterday’
Both of them looked like they were off somewhere deep.
Hadden was on the edge of his seat.
Noble placed the letter back in the clear bag and pushed it over to George Oldman, followed by the envelope and smaller parcel.
He read:

From Hell
.

Mr Whitehead
,
Sir, I send you skin I took from one women, which I preserved for you. Other bits I fried and ate and it was very nise. I may send you the bloody knif that cut it off if you only wait a while longer
.
You’d like that I know
.
Catch me when you can
.
Lewis
.
No-one spoke.
After a while Noble said, ‘Lewis?’
‘It wouldn’t be his real name?’ asked Hadden.
Oldman looked up and stared across his desk at me. ‘What do you reckon, Jack? This genuine?’
‘It’s written as a pastiche of a letter sent to a man called George Lusk during the Ripper Murders in London.’
Noble shook his head. ‘It was you who wrote the Yorkshire Ripper article, wasn’t it?’
‘Yeah,’ I said quietly. ‘It was me.’
‘Marvellous. Bloody marvellous that was.’
Oldman: ‘Leave it, Pete.’
‘No, thank you.’
Hadden: ‘Jack …’
‘But we’re going to get every fucking nut-job from here to Timbukbloodytu writing in. For fuck’s sake.’
Oldman: ‘Pete …’
‘It’s no nut-job. It’s him.’
‘No nut-job? Look at it. How the fuck can you sit there and say that?’
I pointed to the small parcel at his elbow, at the thin slice of skin cut from Mrs Marie Watts:
‘How much proof do you want?’
On the steps outside, in the middle of the night, I lit up.
‘What’s with you and Noble?’ Hadden asked.
‘I don’t care for him.’
‘You don’t care for him?’
‘Nor him me.’
‘You seem pretty bloody certain that letter’s genuine.’
‘What? You don’t think so?’
‘I wouldn’t know, Jack. I mean, how the bloody hell do you know what a letter from a mass murderer looks like?’
I opened the door and there they were, standing with their six white backs to me.
I took off my jacket and poured myself a glass of Scotland, sat down and picked up
Edwin Drood
.
They kept their backs to me, looking up at the moon.
I smiled to myself and began to whistle:
‘The man I love is up in the gallery …’
Whirling, Carol flew across the room, teeth bared and nails out; out for my eyes, out for my ears, out for my tongue, wrenching me out from my chair to the floor.
Screaming: ‘You think it’s amusing? These things are amusing to you?’
‘No, no, no.’
Laughing: ‘Amusing?’
‘Rest, I just want to rest.’
Hissing: ‘Hell breaks loose and you want to rest. We should put you up against the wall.’
The others chanting: ‘Up against the wall. Up against the wall with him.’
‘Please, please. Let me be.’
Mocking: ‘Let me be, let me be? And who will let us be, Jack?’
‘I’m sorry, please …’
Taunting: ‘Well sorry’s just not good enough, is it?’
They’d opened the windows, the rain coming in, the curtains billowing.
Howling:
‘The man I love is up in the gallery …’
She took my hair and dragged my face out on to the ledge: ‘He’ll kill again and soon. See that moon?’
The rain in my face, a stomach full of night, the black moon in my eye: ‘I know, I know.’
‘You know but you won’t stop him.’
‘I can’t.’
‘You can.’
They had my tapes out of the drawers, spinning the reels, streamers in the wind, my books, my childhood crimes, tearing them to shreds –
Wailing:
‘The man I love is up in the gallery …’
‘You know who he is.’
‘I don’t. He could be anyone.’
‘No he couldn’t. You know he couldn’t.’
And then she put her mouth over mine, sucking out my breath, her tongue choking me.
‘Fuck me, Jack. Fuck me like you used to.’
I broke away, screaming over and over: ‘You’re dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead.’
Whispering: ‘No, Jack. You are.’
They picked me up off the floor and carried me to my bed and laid me down, Carol stroking my face, Eddie gone and my Bible open, reading:
‘This will happen in the last days: I will pour out upon everyone a portion of my spirit; and your sons and daughters shall prophesy; your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.’
.
‘We love you, Jack. We love you,’ they sang.
Don’t lose yourself, not now
.
In the last days.

The John Shark Show
Radio Leeds
Saturday 4th June 1977

Chapter 7

I wake alone from an empty sleep, alone in Janice’s empty sheets, alone in her empty bed, in her empty room.
It’s Saturday morning, 4 June, and I’ve had two hours fitful kip, hot sun coming up.
I lean over and switch on the radio:
Three policemen shot dead in Ulster, man on Nairac murder charge, ITV still on strike, Scotland fans arriving in London, Keegan joins Hamburg for half a million, temperatures expected to reach seventy
.
Or more.
I sit on the edge of the bed, head waking:
Red lights, shotgun blasts, cancer wards, death camps, bodies under tan raincoats, terrible rooms peopled by the dead
.
I put on my boots and walk across the hall and bang on Karen Burns’ door.
Dragging the waters, drowning gulps from the black river:
Keith Lee, another Spencer Boy, bare-chested in jeans: ‘What the fuck you want?’
‘Seen Janice?’
Karen lying on her stomach on the bed, Keith glances round: ‘This business or personal?’
I push him back into the room, ‘That’s not an answer Keith. That’s a question.’
Karen raises her head, ‘Fuck.’
‘I know what you did to Kenny, man. Used up a lot of goodwill.’
I slap him and tell him: ‘Kenny was sticking it into Marie Watts behind Barton’s back. Fuck another man’s woman you get everything that’s coming to you.’
Karen pulls a dirty grey sheet over her head, white arse my way.
Keith rubs his face and points a finger: ‘Yeah well, I’ll remember that next time Eric Hall or Craven come knocking.’
I stare him down.
He looks round the room, nodding to himself.
Something’s up with our Keith, something more than Kenny getting a slapping.
But
fuck him
.
I pull the sheet off Karen Burns, white, twenty-three, convicted prostitute, drug addict, mother of two, and slap her across the arse:
‘Janice? Where the fuck is she?’
She rolls over, tits flat, one hand over her cunt, the other chasing the sheet: ‘Fuck off, Fraser. I haven’t seen her since Thursday night.’
‘She wasn’t working last night?’
‘Fuck knows. All I’m saying is I didn’t see her.’
I let the sheet drop over her and turn back to Keith: ‘What about Joe?’
‘What about him?’
‘He’s keeping a low profile.’
‘Man hasn’t left his room in a week.’
‘Cos of that shit with Kenny?’
‘Fuck that. Two sevens, man.’
‘You believe that bollocks?’
‘I believe what I see.’
‘And what do you see, Keith?’
‘A million little apocalypses and a lot of bloody reckonings.’
I laugh: ‘Get a flag, Keith. It’s the Jubilee.’
‘Fuck off.’
I say, ‘Very patriotic,’ and shut the door on the pieces of shit and their shitty little world.
A key turns in the lock, the handle next.
And there she is, tired and full; tired from fucking, full from fucking.
‘What you doing here?’
‘I told you, I’m leaving her.’
‘Not now, Bob. Not now,’ and she goes into the bathroom, slamming the door.
I follow her.
She’s sat on the toilet, lid down, crying.
‘What’s wrong?’
‘Leave it, Bob.’
‘Tell me.’
She’s swallowing, trying to stop the sobs.
I’m on the toilet floor, holding up her chin, asking, ‘What happened?’
In the backs of expensive motors, leather gloves gripping the back of her neck, cocks up her arse, bottles up her cunt …
‘Tell me!’
She’s shaking.
I hold her, kissing her tears.
‘Please …’
She stands up, pushing me off, over to the mirror, wiping her face, ‘Fuck it.’
‘Janice, I need to know …’
She turns square, hands on her hips: ‘All right. They picked me up …’
‘Who?’
‘Who do you fucking think?’
‘Vice?’
‘Yeah, Vice.’
‘Who?’
‘Fuck knows.’
‘You saw their warrant cards?’
‘Oh, for fuck’s sake Bob.’
‘You told them to call Eric?’
‘Yeah.’
‘And?’
‘And Eric told them to call you.’
There are ropes around my chest, thick heavy ropes, getting tighter with every second, every sentence.
‘What did they say?’
‘They laughed and called the station. Called your house.’
‘My house?’
‘Yes, your house.’
‘And then what?’
‘They couldn’t find you, Bob. You weren’t there.’
‘So what …’
‘You weren’t there, Bob?’
The ropes burning my chest, breaking my ribs.
‘Janice …’
‘You want to know what happened then? You want to know what they did next?’
‘Janice …’
‘They fucked me.’
Bile in my mouth, my eyes closed.
She’s screaming: ‘Look at me!’
I lift the lid and cough, her behind me.
‘Look at me!’
I turn around and there she is:
Naked and bitten, red streaks across her breasts, across her arse.
‘Who?’
‘Who what?’
‘Who was it?’
She slips down the wall and on to the bathroom floor, sobbing.
‘Who?’
‘I don’t know. Four of them.’
‘Uniforms?’
‘No.’
‘Where?’
‘A van.’
‘Where?’
‘Manningham.’
‘Fuck you doing in Bradford?’
‘You said it wasn’t safe round here.’
I’ve got her in my arms, cradling her, rocking her, kissing her.
‘You want a doctor?’
She shakes her head and then looks up. ‘They took photos.’
Fuck, Craven
.
‘One of them have a beard, a limp?’
‘No.’
‘You sure?’
She looks away and swallows.
There’s bright sunlight on the window, creeping across the toilet mat, getting nearer.
‘They’re dead,’ I hiss. ‘All of them.’
And then suddenly there are car doors slamming outside, boots on the stairs, banging on the doors, banging on our door.
I’m out in the room, ‘Who is it?’
‘Fraser?’
I open the door and there’s Rudkin, Ellis behind him.
Rudkin: ‘Fuck you doing here? We’ve been looking for you everywhere.’
Visions of Bobby, broken eggs and red blood on white baby cheeks, cars braking too late
.
Too late
.
‘What’s wrong? What is it?’
But Rudkin’s staring past me into the bathroom, at Janice on the floor:
Naked and bitten, red streaks across her breasts, across her arse.
Ellis has his mouth open, tongue out.
‘What is it?’
‘There’s been another.’
I turn and close the door in their faces.
In the bathroom I say, ‘I’ve got to go.’
She says nothing.
‘Janice?’
Nothing.
‘Love, I’ve got to go.’
Nothing.
I take a blanket off the bed and bring it into the bathroom and put it over her.
I bend down and kiss her forehead.
And then I go back to the door and when I open it they’re still stood there, peering past me.
I close the door and push between them, down the stairs and into the car.
I sit in the back, heavy duty sunlight in my face.
Rudkin drives.
Ellis keeps turning round, grinning, desperate to start up but this is Rudkin’s car and he’s in the driving seat and he’s saying nowt.
So I look out at Chapeltown, the trees and the sky, the shops and the people, and feel dull.
If it’s him, it feels different
.
Blank, my mind blank:
The trees are green, not black
.
The sky blue, not blood
.
The shops open, not gutted
.
The people on the streets living, not dead
.
Noon in a different world.
And then I think of Janice:
The trees black
.
The sky blood
.
The shops gone
.
The people dead
.
And we’re back:
Millgarth, Leeds.
Saturday 4 June 1977.
Noon.
The gang’s all here:
Oldman, Noble, Alderman, Prentice, Gaskins, Evans, and all their squads.
And Craven.
I catch his eye.
He smiles, then winks.
I could kill him now, here, in the briefing room, before lunch.
He leans over to Alderman and whispers something, patting his breast pocket, and they both laugh.
Three seconds later Alderman looks at me.
I stare back.
He looks away, a slight smile.
Fuck
.
They’re all whispering, I’m losing it:
Wasteground, a long black velvet dress on wasteground
.
Oldman starts up:
‘At a quarter to seven this morning a paper boy heard cries for help coming from wasteland beside the Sikh temple on Bowling Back Lane in the Bowling area of Bradford. He discovered Linda Clark, aged thirty-six, lying seriously injured with a fractured skull and stab wounds to her abdomen and back. A preliminary investigation suggests that her head injuries were caused by hammer blows. She was rushed to hospital and is now in Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, under twenty-four-hour guard. Despite the seriousness of her injuries, Mrs Clark has been able to give us some information. Pete.’
She’s on her stomach on the wasteground, her bra up and her panties down, his trousers too
.
Noble stands:
‘Mrs Clark spent Friday night at the Mecca in the centre of Bradford. Upon leaving the Mecca, Mrs Clark went to queue for a taxi to her home in Bierley. Because the queue was too long, Mrs Clark decided to start walking and flag down a taxi on the way. At some point later, a car pulled up and offered Mrs Clark a lift, which she accepted.’
Noble pauses, shades of George.
He comes in his hand and then he cuts her
.
‘Gentlemen, we’re looking for a Ford Cortina Mark II saloon, white or yellow, with a black roof.’
We’re on our feet, practically out the door.
A triangle of skin, of flesh
.
‘Driver is white, approximately thirty-five, large build, about six foot, with light brown shoulder-length hair, thick eyebrows and puffed cheeks. With very large hands.’
For later
.
The whole room is on fire:
WE’VE GOT HIM, WE’VE FUCKING GOT HIM.
I look at Rudkin, on the edge, impassive, miles, years away.
But it’s not the same
.
Alderman is saying, ‘SOCO are checking tyre-marks as we speak, Bradford going door-to-door.’
The knock on the door, the thousand knocks on a thousand doors, a thousand wives with sideways eyes at husbands white as sheets, a thousand sheets
.
Noble again: ‘Forensics will be back within the hour, but Farley’s already saying this is our man. Our
Ripper,’
he says, spitting the last words out.
Unending
.
Oldman stands back up, pausing before his troops, his own private little army:
‘He’s fucked up lads. Let’s get the cunt.’
We’re all up, wired.
Noble’s shouting over the electricity:
‘Into your squads: DS Alderman and Prentice to Bradford, DI Rudkin upstairs, Vice and Admin here.’
I turn and see Detective Chief Superintendent Jobson at the door,
the Owl
, looking drained and old, eyes red under the thick frames.
I nod and he works upstream through the crowd in the doorway. ‘How’s Bill?’ he’s saying over the noise.
‘Not good,’ I say.
We’re standing off to one side.
Maurice Jobson’s got an arm on my elbow. ‘And Louise and the little one?’
‘OK, you know.’
‘I’ve been meaning to drop by, but with all this …’ he’s looking round the room, the squads heading out, Vice and Admin standing about, Craven watching us.
‘I know, I know.’
He looks at me. ‘Must be tough on you?’
‘Worse for Louise, with Bobby every day and having to go up to the hospital.’
‘Least she’s from a police family. Knows the score.’
‘Yeah,’ I say.
‘Give them my love, yeah? And I’ll try and get in to see Bill sometime this weekend. If I can,’ he adds.
‘Thanks.’
Then he looks at me again and says, ‘You need anything, you let me know, yeah?’
‘Thanks,’ and we’re gone; him over to George, me up the stairs thinking:
Uncle Maurice, the Owl, my guardian angel
.
Rudkin and Ellis are sat in silence in Noble’s office, waiting.
Ellis starts up the minute I come in: ‘You think we’ll have to go back to Preston?’
‘Fuck knows,’ I say, sitting down.
He keeps going, ‘What you think Boss?’
Rudkin shrugs his shoulders and yawns.
Ellis: ‘I reckon we’ll have him by tomorrow.’
Rudkin and me say nothing.
Ellis keeps talking to himself: ‘Maybe they’ll send us down Mecca. That’d be all right, have a drink and chat up some birds …’
The door opens and in comes Noble with a file.
He sits down behind his desk and opens the file: ‘Right. Donny Fairclough, white, thirty-six, lives in Pudsey with his old mum. Taxi driver. Drives a white Ford Cortina with a black roof.’
‘Fuck,’ says Ellis.
Noble’s nodding, ‘Exactly. His name came up last year with Joan Richards.’
‘He likes to bite,’ I add, thinking,
naked and bitten, red streaks across her breasts, across her arse
.
‘Yeah, good,’ says Noble, looking pleased. ‘We’ve had him in a couple of times …’
Rudkin looks up. ‘Blood group?’
‘B.’
We pull up on Montreal Avenue, a hundred yards down from the rank.
There’s a tap on the glass.
Rudkin winds down the window.
One of Vice leans in, big fat grin.
I’ve got him fucking Janice on the floor of a van, taking photos, sucking her tits …
‘He’s just come on.’
I come up behind them, pull him back by his hair, and slit his throat with a broken bottle …
‘Owt else?’ asks Rudkin.
‘Fuck all.’
I drag him out the van, trousers round his ankles, and I get out my camera …
Ellis is saying, ‘We should just nick the cunt. Kick it out of him.’
‘You with us?’ says Rudkin, turning round to me.
The bloke from Vice glances at me and then tosses the keys on to the back seat. ‘It’s the brown Datsun round on Calgary.’
‘Least he’ll never make us,’ laughs Ellis.
‘Off you go then,’ grins Rudkin.
‘Me?’ says Ellis.
‘Give him the keys,’ Rudkin tells me.
I pass them forward, the Vice guy still staring in at me.
‘You fucking fancy me or something?’
He smiles, ‘You’re Bob Fraser aren’t you?’
I’ve got my hand on the handle, ‘Yeah, why?’
Rudkin is saying, ‘Leave it, Bob.’
The prick from Vice is backing away from the car, doing the usual, ‘What’s his problem?’ speech.
Rudkin is out talking to him, glancing back.
Ellis turns round, sighs, ‘Fuck,’ and gets out.
I sit there in the back of the Rover, watching them.
The Vice copper walks off with Ellis.
Rudkin gets back in.
‘What’s his name?’ I ask.
Rudkin’s looking at me in the rearview mirror.
‘Just tell me his name?’
‘Ask Craven,’ he says. Then, ‘Fuck, get in the front. He’s off.’
And I’m into the front, the car starting, and we’re off.
I pick up the radio, calling Ellis.
Nothing.
‘The cunt’s still yapping,’ spits Rudkin.
‘Should’ve let me go solo,’ I say.
‘Bollocks,’ he says, glancing at me. ‘You’ve done enough bloody solo.’
We’re at the junction with Harehills.
Fairclough’s white Cortina with its black roof is turning left into Leeds.

BOOK: Nineteen Seventy-Seven: The Red Riding Quartet, Book Two
7.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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