Authors: Rob Kitchin
‘You sound very calm, Colm, you know, given what’s just happened. You’re not going to do anything stupid, are you?’
‘I might be an idiot, but I’m not that big an idiot. I have a 12-year-old daughter and I’m not going to do that to her. Look, I’d better go. I’ll apologise to the others tomorrow. If you see them, tell them I’m okay and to make sure they catch him.’
‘Do you want to meet up, talk about it?’
‘No, look, Kathy, I’m fine, really. It’s been a long week and I’m going to go home. Thanks for the offer though; maybe some other time.’
‘Okay. Well, look after yourself, Colm.’
‘You too. And good luck with the case.’ He ended the call, feeling better for having made it. Feeling a bit more human. He edged the car forward another 50 feet and sneezed. He needed to get out of his damp clothes.
The graveyard was bleak in the rain. It poured onto his head and trickled in under his collar. He was soaked through to the skin despite the coat. He stood at the foot of Maggie’s grave, his hands clasped behind his back. A single tear rolled down his right cheek.
‘I miss you, Maggie,’ he muttered. ‘I miss you so badly.’
The tears started to flow, McEvoy unable to stop them. His fury at Bishop and the AC was just a temporary vent – a blow out – the car journey to her grave the calm before the storm. All the emotions he’d been bottling for a week welled up inside and erupted. He dropped to his knees, his hands over his face, his body shaking with grief and rage and guilt.
He wanted to claw at the earth, dig down and join her. To be with her again. To hold her and chat and laugh and just be. He missed her smile, her warmth, her reassurances, the way she finished his sentences, her resoluteness. He missed the fact that she would have kept him steady all week, advised him on how to handle things, made sure he looked after himsel
f, and ensured Gemma got the birthday she deserved. He missed just being with her; of sharing company.
After a while he managed to start to compose himself, sucking in air through his nose, wiping away the tears and rain from his face. He stayed kneeling.
‘I’m sorry I haven’t visited the last couple of days,’ he said between gasps. ‘Things … well, things have been …’
He slotted the key in the front door and pushed it open, feeling the warmth of the central heating reach out and envelop him.
His mother appeared in the lounge doorway. ‘Jesus, Colm, look at the state of you! Come on, come on,’ she said, hurrying to him, ‘get in out of the rain.’
Sheila, Maggie’s mother, followed her out.
‘I’m okay,’ McEvoy said, shrugging himself out of his coat. ‘It’s just rain.’
‘Where have you been? Look at the state of your suit – your trousers and jacket.’
‘I went to Maggie’s grave. I needed to talk to her.’
‘I’ll put the kettle on,’ Sheila said, hurrying to the kitchen.
His father and Des, Maggie’s father, came into the hall.
‘Have you caught him yet?’ Des asked.
‘Not that I know of. I’m off the case. Suspended.’ He let his mother take the suit jacket from his shoulders.
‘Hitting the fellow guard?’ his father guessed.
‘That and letting y’man commit his final murder and get away. Is Gemma up?’
‘No, no,’ his mother replied. ‘She’s asleep. She’s on the blow-up mattress in your room. Des and Sheila are in her bedroom, we’re in the back room.’
‘And Caroline and Jimmy?’
‘They went home half an hour ago.’
‘Right. Right, okay, I’m going to get a shower and get changed. I’ll be back down in a bit. Have you and Des cracked open a bottle of whisky?’ he asked his father.
‘We’ve got one on the go.’
‘Good, I’ll join you for one and tell you about it.’ He started up the stairs.
He pushed open his bedroom door and crept in. The blow-up bed was on the far side, between his bed and the wardrobe. She had the quilt tucked up under her chin, her breathing shallow. She looked at peace.
He grabbed a pair of underpants and shirt from a chest of drawers, and a pair of jeans from the back of a chair, and headed for the bathroom. He stripped and stood under the piping hot water and let it pummel his back and head, squirting shower gel onto his hands and working up a lather.
His mobile phone in his trouser pocket started to ring. He turned the water off and grabbed a towel, stepping out, picking up the trousers and yanking the phone free.
‘Colm, it’s Tony Bishop. I won’t keep you.’ His voice was calm, measured. ‘We’ve considered your offer. We’ll see you back at work tomorrow morning. I’ll meet you at
‘I’m not suspended?’ he asked, disbelief in his voice.
‘No, but they’ll be some changes. We’ll talk tomorrow. Try and get a good night’s sleep. You’ve had a long few days. No doubt tomorrow will be as well.’
‘Right. Right, okay,’ he mumbled, unsure what to say. ‘And Deegan?’
‘Don’t worry about Deegan. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.’ The call was ended.
McEvoy stared at the phone for a while, his mind a blank bubble, then slotted it back into the pocket and climbed into the shower, turning the water back on, washing the suds away.
Sunday, April 20
McEvoy tightened his tie and brushed down his uniform. He didn’t feel comfortable wearing it, but one of his oversized numbers would just provide Bishop with extra ammunition. He felt like a naughty child hovering outside the headmaster’s office. He tried to gather himself, his inner voice ordering him to be strong, to fight his corner, to not back down or accept a deal simply to maintain the peace; to make sure he retained some dignity going forward. He took a deep breath and knocked on the door.
He pushed it open. Tony Bishop was sat behind his desk, Detective Superintendent Paul Roche opposite him. They both rose when he entered, Roche pulling a tight smile, looking uncomfortable. He was a couple of inches shorter than McEvoy, but broader in the shoulders, with white-grey hair, a short-haired greying beard, a pair of thin framed glasses over blue eyes, and a wide mouth. He was the senior Superintendent on the
murder team, the steady hand who would soon reach retirement age. McEvoy liked him as a person and respected him as a policeman.
The desk was covered with the morning’s newspapers. The banner on the one at the top read, ‘KEYSTONE KOPS’, a picture of the homeless man on the ground, the uniformed guard knelt at his side looking up, his face communicating that the man was dead. An inset picture showed McEvoy hitting Deegan.
McEvoy looked from Bishop to Roche, back to Bishop, and down to the newspapers, his heart sinking. Bishop was outflanking him. He wasn’t suspended, but he was off the case. This was the handover. And Roche’s presence would inhibit any discussion of yesterday’s argument – their manoeuvring and his threats.
‘Colm.’ Bishop pointed to the free chair and waited for McEvoy to sit. ‘After yesterday’s fiasco we spent the evening conducting a review. It’s the Commissioner’s and Minister’s opinion that we bring in a fresh perspective – somebody who can stand back and see the whole picture, who isn’t too close to the action; someone who can plot a new path forward. They want Superintendent Roche to take over the investigation with immediate effect.’
Bishop had gazumped him. It wasn’t Bishop and the AC who was moving him aside, it was the Commissioner and the Minister for Justice. He had no direct fight with them. He slumped back in the chair. This was all going horribly wrong.
‘You are to stay part of the investigative team until Paul is fully up to speed. To the outside world it will be presented that we are adding another senior officer, spreading the load, rather than it looking like you’re being kicked off the case. I know you’re not going to be happy with that, but this is from the top. We need to be seen to be doing something after yesterday’s disaster. That something is a change of management.’
McEvoy stayed silent, staring down at the papers.
‘Colm?’ Bishop prompted.
‘And what about once Paul is up to speed?’
‘You’ll be eased out of the picture and out of the media’s eye. It’ll be best for you, for us, and for Paul. You’re not exactly a media darling and it’s hurting your reputation.’
McEvoy smiled to himself. What was good for them was good for him. They were trying to make shafting him look like a favour.
‘And then what?’ He wiped at his nose with the back of his hand.
‘And then you go back into the regular rotation.’
‘And at the first opportunity I’ll be sent out to some backwater that needs a superintendent?’
‘I don’t make those kind of decisions, Colm,’ Bishop said, his face flushing red, signalling his annoyance. ‘I’ve no idea what the plans for you are. My view is that you’re lucky to have a job after yesterday, lucky that you’re not being yanked from the case right now after the damage you’ve done.’
McEvoy shook his head and rubbed his face. Within six months he’d be stationed in Leitrim or West Offaly, operating out of a part-time station with a leaky roof, policing local GAA games and tracking down fly-tippers.
‘So?’ Bishop prompted again.
‘So what?’ McEvoy said facetiously. ‘It’s not like I’ve got a choice, is it?’
‘Well, I guess I’ll leave you to brief Paul then,’ McEvoy said standing.
‘Sit down, Colm, we’re not finished yet. There are some other ground rules.’
McEvoy dropped back into his seat.
‘First, this is now Superintendent Roche’s case. You do whatever he asks you to do. You do not make or act on any decisions without running them past him first. Second, I want to be kept informed at all times as to the progress of the case. Any major decisions will need to be okayed by me through Paul. Third, under no circumstances are either of you to talk to the media. None. All of that is now being handled by me and me only. You’ll probably be pleased to know that neither of you will be required to attend press conferences either. It’ll allow you to concentrate 100 percent on catching this bastard.’
McEvoy stayed staring at the papers. At least the responsibility was being lifted off his shoulders and he wouldn’t need to talk to Bishop or the media. And he’d just have to see what happened in a few days’ time. A holiday wouldn’t be a bad idea. Except that deep down he wanted to catch The Raven; wanted to be there when they finally cornered him; wanted to make him pay in some small way for the misery and suffering he’d caused.
Roche shifted in his seat, remaining silent.
‘Right, well, you better get started.’ Bishop said, dismissing them.
McEvoy and Roche were standing just inside Roche’s office.
‘Look, Colm, I want you to know that I had no part in that. As far as I’m concerned this is still your investigation.’
‘I think we both know that there’s no way this is my investigation anymore,’ McEvoy said, dejected. ‘I’m a sinking ship, you’d be best to steer well clear.’
‘Look, feck them, okay? We both know you’ve been shafted by Bishop protecting his scrawny arse. I’m going keep you involved in this as long as I can. One, it’s your case, and two, you’ve got the best knowledge of how all of this sits together. You’ve seen all the victims and murder scenes, spoken to all the key witnesses; all I’m going to be able to do is go on the case notes and discussions with your investigating officers. While I get myself up to speed, I want you to carry on as you would have done.’
‘I’m not sure that’s a good idea, Paul. Bishop’s going to be looking over your shoulder like a hawk making sure I’m behaving myself.’ He blew his nose.
‘Okay, well, we’ll play it Bishop’s way. You tell me what you’re going to do and I’ll okay it. That’ll keep him quiet. However we do it, we can’t stall everything for two or three days while I try to familiarise myself with things. We need to try and keep the investigation moving. What leads have you got?’
‘Nothing much,’ McEvoy said flatly, unable to muster any enthusiasm. ‘We know as much about him now as we did a week ago. I was going to go and re-interview one of Laura Schmidt’s friends, a drug addict called Karen. I think she knows more than she’s letting on. Kathy Jacobs, the profiler, and myself both think Laura’s the key to all of this. She was the first victim and Kathy thinks she might have let him kill her; a kind of bizarre form of euthanasia. Whatever happened, it just doesn’t fit. There was no sign of any struggle, she lay there and he forced a sword out the back of her head.’
Roche winced at the thought. ‘Well, once we’ve had this team meeting, you go and interview her and see where that gets you.’
‘You don’t want to be present?’
‘Look, I don’t need to hold your hand and you know what you’re doing in any case. I’m going to spend the day talking through each case with the DIs and their teams; see if a fresh pair of eyes can spot any new lines of enquiry. Come on, let’s go and get this team meeting over with.’
McEvoy nodded and opened the door.
Roche slapped him on the back as he exited. ‘Don’t worry, Colm, we’ll catch this bastard. It might take us a while, but we’ll get him. He’s left too many possible lines of enquiry. And when we do, you won’t be able to get rid of Bishop with a shitty stick. He’ll be your best friend again.’
‘Some friend,’ McEvoy muttered.
Karen was sitting at the table, staring absently at its surface, smoking a cigarette despite the signs forbidding it. McEvoy and Jacobs sat down opposite her.
‘We need to talk, Karen.’ McEvoy said neutrally. He didn’t tell her to extinguish the cigarette, savouring the secondary smoke.
She looked up slowly. ‘Was it you who had me locked up all night?’
‘It was for your own safety.’
‘Yeah, right. More like so I couldn’t do a runner. Who’s yer wan? Social worker?’ She took another drag on the cigarette.
‘No, she’s a criminal profiler. A psychologist. Dr Kathy Jacobs. She’s trying to help us catch The Raven, the man who killed Laura.’
‘I’ve already fuckin’ told you, I barely knew Laura. We just met up once or twice. And I don’t know this Raven fucker either.’
‘When I asked you whether Laura had a boyfriend yesterday you hesitated. Did she have a boyfriend, Karen?’
‘Is that why you’re holding me, over a hesitation?’
‘Did she have a boyfriend, Karen?’
‘Jesus! How the fuck am I meant to know? She hardly spoke. Look, this is fuckin’ ridiculous, can I go now?’
‘No. I want you to tell me about Laura.’
‘I’ve told you about Laura. She was just some fucked up kid like the rest of us. I want to go.’
‘Are you afraid of him?’ Jacobs asked. ‘Is that why you won’t talk about him? You’re afraid that if you say who he is, he’ll come after you?’
‘Not another one,’ Karen said, looking down at the table again. ‘I don’t know who you’re talking about. I’ve no idea who this Raven fucker is!’
‘Okay, so you don’t know him. Did you ever see Laura with any men? Perhaps just sitting and talking? Maybe somewhere round the city?’
Karen stayed silent.
‘She’s dead, Karen,’ McEvoy said. ‘Somebody killed her. He’s going to carry on killing unless we stop him. Did you see her with a man at all?’
She stayed silent for a moment. ‘What’s it worth?’
‘Worth?’ McEvoy snapped.
Jacobs put a hand on his arm.
Karen tried to appear indifferent.
‘Did you see her with a man, Karen?’ Jacobs repeated.
McEvoy fished 20 euros from his pocket and placed it on the table.
Karen reached across and took it, rolling it into a thin straw.
‘I saw her near to the Mater once talking to someone. She hardly ever talked to anyone. And she once brought him back to …’ She stopped, aware of what she was saying.
‘She brought him back to your squat?’ McEvoy pressed.
Karen stayed silent, her thumb plucking at the note.
‘Yeah,’ she eventually muttered.
‘And did you know him?’
‘But you’d recognise him again?’
‘I doubt it. He was just some man.’
‘How old was he?’
‘I don’t know, 30, 40.’