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Authors: Quentin Bates

Tags: #Fiction, #Crime, #Mystery & Detective, #General

Summerchill (7 page)

BOOK: Summerchill
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‘Agreed. The age bit is easy, because I can just look it up on the national registry. But it was good, was it?’

‘Sublime. The best I’ve ever had, poached to perfection.’

‘That Steini really is a keeper, isn’t he? I’m almost tempted to marry him myself.’

‘In that case, we may have to fight it out.’

‘And my money would be on the bruiser in the red corner,’ Helgi cackled.

‘Flattery will get you everywhere. Maybe you should try it one day. Now, where the hell have you been to turn up here grinning like a monkey? Did that guy turn up?’

Helgi leaned back and scratched the top of his head.

‘No sign of him. There’s an alert out for his car but nothing yet. However,’ he said and paused.

‘However, what? Come on, man. Out with it.’

‘He and his pal Stefán Ingason are big into MMA and run a gym up on Fossháls. It seems the two of them have also been doing a little freelance enforcement work, including a young woman who had her arm broken and then didn’t dare press charges.’

Gunna grimaced. ‘Ouch. That really stinks. So what next?’

‘I’m not sure. I’m wondering why this Axel Rútur character has disappeared to start with. His girlfriend doesn’t know why and, although she’s vaguely decorative in a Barbie doll kind of way, I get the feeling she’d be confused by anything more complex than hot and cold taps.’

‘As Steini would say, «nice bodywork, shame about the electrics». An apt description?’

‘Fits like a glove.’

‘So, Sherlock. What’s your next move?’

‘Seek advice from a more senior officer of great experience and personal charm?’

‘Good move. Me or Sævaldur?’

‘It’ll have to be you, because Sævaldur’s on holiday.’

‘In that case, as the management types keep saying, don’t bring me problems – bring me solutions.’

Helgi shuddered. ‘If there’s one thing twenty-first-century policing needs, it’s more management jargon.’

‘Agreed. So where do you want to take this, considering there’s no sign of the guy? You think he’s disappeared because someone’s knocked him on the head, or because he’s holed up somewhere with a girlfriend, or even a boyfriend?’

‘A
Brokeback Mountain
kind of situation, you mean? No, I don’t imagine so.’

‘Abducted? Murdered? Or has he just gone off on a bender?’

‘I don’t expect he’s been abducted. Murdered, possibly, but unlikely. Most likely flipped out, I’d say. Stefán said he’d been heavily into steroids at one point.’

‘So what next?’

‘Start checking all the traffic cameras for a sighting of the guy’s car and then pile some pressure on Stefán.’

‘Excellent. Award yourself a gold star and get on with it.’

The work was finished and Logi congratulated Marek and Tadeusz on a job well done and ahead of schedule. They shook hands and clapped each other on the back.

‘You’re leaving in the morning, Marek?’

‘Yes. Early. Home in the evening and something good to eat at last.’

He almost smacked his lips in anticipation.

‘Give me a call when you’re back here.’

Marek nodded lugubriously. ‘
If
I come back.’

‘And thanks . . .’ Logi added. Marek nodded again. ‘For you know what.’

‘Nothing. Don’t speak of it.’

‘And I’ll see you on Monday, Tadeusz? You’re working on Pétur’s site again?’

‘If we start Monday. You call me tomorrow?’

‘I will,’ Logi promised, and there was a final handshake with Marek before they got into Tadeusz’s old Volkswagen and rattled away in a cloud of dust and exhaust fumes.

It was the end of a hot day and Logi wiped the sweat from his forehead. He put his tools in the back of the pickup and walked around the site one more time. The job had been done in record time and he felt he could be proud of it. A few corners had been cut to save time, but it was nothing anyone would notice.

The black van arrived as he was ready to leave. Rafn jumped out of one side and a man who looked large enough to be two normal-sized men rolled into one stepped easily out of the passenger side. Rafn’s mirror shades were back in place and the big man crossed massive arms, blue with tattoos blurred by time, over the front of his studded leather waistcoat.

‘Hey, Logi. Finished?’

‘Yep, I think so. The ceiling’s up, the walls are finished and the electrics all work. The boys have just left.’

‘Nice work,’ Rafn said softly. ‘Shall we take a look around?’

Inside the building and out of the direct sun it was cooler, although the two big showroom windows made the place almost like a greenhouse. Rafn inspected the new walls and the big man stood in the doorway like a rock that had been carefully placed there. He swung the doors and listened to them click shut, then snapped the lights on and off again.

Finally he nodded approval. ‘Danni paid you, did he?’

‘Yep. All up to date, for once.’

‘It doesn’t happen every time, I guess?’

‘Let’s just say that Danni has his moments.’

Rafn stood for a moment in thought.

‘You know who we are, Logi?’ he asked, looking up.

Logi looked back at his own reflection. ‘Could be,’ he said, ‘but I’m not the inquisitive type.’

‘Good.’ Rafn smiled and took his glasses off. ‘Let’s keep it that way, shall we?’

‘Sure,’ Logi agreed. He wasn’t certain who they might be, although he could make some shrewd guesses.

Rafn gave Logi’s shoulder a friendly slap. ‘Let me have your number, Logi. If we need any more work done, we can come straight to you next time.’

‘You need any more done here? Looks finished to me.’

‘Maybe. We’ll see. It depends how good business is, doesn’t it? You know what this place is?’

‘I didn’t ask Danni what it’s supposed to be, but I’d guess it’s a car showroom.’

‘That’s good, Logi,’ Rafn said, taking a card from Logi’s hand. ‘That’s what we want it to be. It goes without saying that you know nothing about this place?’

‘That’s fine with me,’ Logi said. ‘As long as the taxman doesn’t hear about the money, then I won’t say a word. I’m working out of town in the next few weeks anyway.’ He fished in the pocket of his overalls and handed Rafn an envelope. ‘Here. Before I forget.’

‘What’s this?’ The question was immediately suspicious.

‘It’s the keys. Six for each lock.’

‘Ah.’ Rafn’s face cleared. ‘Just as well we didn’t forget those. Listen, the other guys, they’ll keep quiet?’

‘Yeah. The big guy’s leaving the country tomorrow anyway and Tadeusz is working with me up in Borgarfjördur for the next few weeks.’

‘Good.’ Rafn seemed satisfied. ‘Security’s always a headache. Listen, if we need any more work done, we’ll come to you.’

‘Thanks. That’s good to know.’

‘And if you ever have a problem that needs fixing . . .’ Rafn grinned and nodded towards the big man in the doorway. ‘Toggi solves all kinds of problems.’

Helgi spent an exhausting afternoon with little reward. The time-frame was exact, as far as he knew, but the problem was that no cameras were located anywhere near where Axel Rútur Karlsson lived, and not knowing where he was headed made things even more difficult. It didn’t help that the police had to rely on private- sector cameras of varying quality, and on a Saturday most of those companies were closed for the weekend.

Fortunately, an insurance company with offices in the Kringla shopping centre had a webcam that routed a stream of traffic images from the junction of Kringlumýrarbraut and Miklabraut, with a backup of recordings in decent quality. The young man who was working that afternoon ferried Helgi regular cups of coffee as he hunched over the computer at the secretary’s desk.

The young man smiled and was affable enough, but Helgi discouraged him from asking questions, concentrating instead on the stream of traffic covered by four different cameras. The timing was well after rush hour and the traffic was relatively light, but sightings of silver Outlanders were few and far between, and none of them matched the number of Axel Rútur’s car.

More than once he had to force himself to concentrate, finding his attention straying, and often it seemed to stray to a mental picture of the blonde young woman he had interviewed that morning. It wasn’t just the pleasingly rounded figure behind the figure-hugging top that he had no trouble imagining, but the nagging feeling that there was something he’d forgotten. He’d taken care not to push her on the identity of the loan shark, as he hadn’t wanted to spook her into a terrified silence, and he admitted to himself that he was looking forward to paying her another visit.

The traffic footage continued, and it wasn’t until the ticker had rolled over, showing close to eleven in the evening, that he saw another silver Outlander stopped at the lights, with a Volkswagen close behind it. He paused the replay and played it forward slowly, until it moved enough for the number plate to be seen as the lights went to green. He zoomed in and felt a jolt of excitement as he made out the number of the car he was looking for.

Right, now where are you going? He muttered to himself, frustrated that he wasn’t able to follow the car’s progress any further. The affable young man helped him save the images and made prints of some of them before locking up and following him downstairs. Helgi realized the young man had stayed at work for his benefit alone and he felt guilty at having stolen part of his Saturday afternoon.

‘Thanks very much,’ he said as they got out of the lift in the car park and their ways parted.

‘No problem. Any time,’ the young man replied and went on his way, whistling to himself as he clicked the fob of his car keys.

Helgi’s Skoda didn’t want to start, but eventually it did when threatened with being left in the shopping centre car park for the rest of the weekend. He decided to stop off at the communications centre on the way home and shared a cup of coffee and a handful of doughnuts with the officer on duty.

‘No joy with this car, then?’

‘No, there’s a picture of him at the lights at Kringlan, which is clear enough, and I can see him going straight ahead in the inside lane. But that’s as far as it goes.’

‘There used to be a damned good set of cameras that Channel 2 had up there. It’s a shame they’re not there any more.’

‘It’s a shame we don’t have our own traffic cameras. It’s mad, really, having to rely on the Roads Administration’s cameras, or private ones here and there.’

‘I know,’ Siggi sympathized. ‘It’s coming though. We’re putting a remote system in so we can have cameras in line of sight with a relay on the Hallgrímskirkja church tower and run the images straight here.’

‘Really? When?’

Siggi splayed his palms. ‘Who knows?’

‘Budgets?’

‘Exactly. Anyway, this fellow must have been heading for somewhere in 101, you think?’

‘That’s what I think, otherwise he’d have taken the Keflavík road or he wouldn’t have got as far as the Kringla intersection.’

‘So he was going downtown somewhere,’ Siggi mused. ‘What’s this guy done?’

‘He’s disappeared.’

‘Missing person and a missing car?’

‘That’s it. I’ve had enough for today. My eyes are going square from staring at the screen. Can you ask the patrols to keep an eye out for it, just in case it’s a quiet night and one of them notices it somewhere?’

‘Since when has it been quiet on a Saturday night?’

‘Ach, you know what I mean. I’ll see if I can get a warrant on Monday to track the guy’s phone and that might give us an idea of where he is.’

Brynja’s flat was too small, as well as being noisy and uncomfortable. But it wasn’t home and that suited Logi perfectly. He had stopped off at his place briefly, just long enough to pick up a change of clothes and no longer. The place seemed quiet enough and it didn’t look as if anyone had been there, although the locks on the doors were so worn that breaking in would be child’s play.

He locked his tools in the pickup and hoped they would be safe there, not that he had much choice about it. The holdall containing his clothes and a few other items bumped against his side as he took the stairs, the hard lump in it digging into his ribs reminding him that the revolver in its leather case was in there as well, wrapped in a couple of shirts.

Brynja was already enjoying herself. A bottle of some almond-flavoured liqueur was open on the kitchen worktop and Logi could hear the babble from the living room as he shouldered the door open.

‘Logi! Is that you, lover?’ He heard her shriek, followed by whoops and calls of ‘Loverboy!’

He blanched and put his head around the doorway. Five women in short skirts and tight tops sat around a living-room table laden with glasses, bottles and ashtrays.

Brynja stood up and sashayed across, wrapped her arms around him and planted a kiss on the end of his nose.

‘Honeybunch, welcome at last,’ she crowed as the other four whooped and twittered. Hair newly styled and highlighted, she smelled of the sticky almond liqueur, acrid perfume and smoke as Logi kissed her back, a hand stretching down to cup and squeeze a buttock as the women on the sofas shrieked.

‘Get a room, you two!’ one of them screeched.

‘Later . . .’ Brynja said, turning and tapping the side of her nose. Logi saw she was already unsteady on her feet and hoped they would all go out soon. He liked Brynja a lot, far more than he liked his sour-faced ex-wife who, every time he ventured within earshot, nagged about unpaid maintenance, the broken tumble dryer and the car that needed fixing. Brynja liked a good time, though she liked a good time a little more than he was entirely happy with.

‘We’re going out for a couple of hours, Logi, sweetheart,’ Brynja cooed, sliding a hand under his T-shirt and pinching a handful of flesh. ‘Now I definitely don’t want you waiting up for me, all right?’

‘No, just waiting for her!’ another of the women called out. ‘And make sure you’re standing to attention!’

‘No kids?’ Logi asked.

‘Gone camping with their dad, so it’s just you and me, honey,’ Brynja said, placing the end of a finger on the tip of his nose. ‘Peace and quiet. Tell me you’re not working tomorrow . . .’

‘I’m not working tomorrow,’ Logi said obediently.

BOOK: Summerchill
3.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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