The Job 60

I spent quite a while thinking about that one, and especially tactics. I held no great hopes of producing a wave of new suspects, but what I did want was to see if I could close off past nightmares for other victims.

That was what had happened with me, in the end. I had spent so many years fixated on Ashley Evans and his corrupt running mates that it had poisoned everything I did. Walk down a street? Look over my shoulder. See a big BMW? Look to see who was behind the wheel. Think about entering a loving relationship with a decent and similarly loving human being?

The Job 59

I wasn’t great company for Blake that night, as my first act after getting into what was now clearly ‘our’ flat was to switch the computer on and start looking up news reports. I had half-heartedly started a search about the case that Woodruff woman had been involved in, but I hadn’t felt the need to know all of Adam’s pain back then. For some odd reason, that need was back, and it was hungry. I also wanted to see what he was dealing with right then.

The Job 58

I was back to the state of mouth Dad had commented on in the bell tower. Blake was sitting opposite me, rather than kneeling, and rather than a square box he had a little paper bag from the shop by the campsite gates, which I remembered included a jeweller’s. Apart from that, and the fact that my parents were sitting with us, it was as traditional as all hell.

My mouth, very simply, would not move in any organised way. Police, professional wasn’t working, but my mind was. From the way they were sitting, Mam and Dad must have been in on the proposal from an early stage, and I wondered if Blake had engineered the whole holiday so that it would be Venice, and therefore officially As Romantic As A Romantic Thing, before I clamped down on my racing thoughts.

Was he serious? Yes, clearly. Did I want this? My mouth took over, for it knew the answer before my mind did.

The Job 57

The water was nowhere near as warm as it had been in Cuba, but it was still delightful. The beach was clean, and both Mam and I had someone suitable for the application of sun cream. The stress of the flight, and the aftermath of the adrenalin-fuelled minibus ride, all evaporated under blue skies and on clean sand. Sparkling company that I am, I fell asleep. Dad woke me a little later.

We only spent a couple of hours there, as none of us fancied spending the whole of our holiday suffering from sunburn, so we settled back into our little chalet for a cuppa and some unpacking before setting out to explore the site.

The Job 56

I found work a little bit of an anti-climax after that, and it took me a little while to calm down. Life had been edge of the seat for so long I was finding it difficult to relax in the office. Fortunately, or not, Jon and the New Chums had been piling up the information on Mersey View’s former staff and ‘guests’, and their computer skills were well above mine. I had expected a great pile of A4 paper, and instead received two USB memory sticks.

“Staff on the red one, Diane, and inmates on the blue. Set them up as spreadsheets, so if you get into Excel and…”

The Job 55

Life settled down for a short while after that, but it wasn’t exactly ‘normal, as it had changed so much. I felt all the hackneyed effects of the trial, as so many weights that had hung on me fell to the ground and disappeared from my world. To be honest, life would have been immeasurably better even without those gifts, for I had my man.

The Job 54

I caught up with Deb in one of the little patches of green around the outside of the court, where she and Kimberley were wrapped round a sobbing Charlie, Paul, Paula and Candice not too far away, as the former high-flier-to-be puffed frantically on a cigarette, and I wondered how her addiction was treating her at that exact moment. Blake was at my shoulder.

“You’ll be thinking how lightly you got off, won’t you, love? Compared to the others?”

I reached for his hand, and it was there, along with a little of my resilience.

The Job 53

“All rise!”

Finally, our day had come. All the research on the home hadn’t stopped, for I had what Alun was calling my minions still digging away, but this day was for me and Charlie. Get this out of the way, and we’d have Tiff’s to follow. We were quite a crew, almost all of the team, including Sammy, with Deb, a girl she introduced as Kimberley, and PC Welby. The tension in the three from the house was clear, and I could see how involved Paul Welby was in his work. Another one of our sort of copper.

The Job 52

“I was never a real boy, and that didn’t go down at all well in Connah’s Quay. Not the done thing there; men are men and sheep bloody run away to England. I am babbling, aren’t I?”

“No, Deb. You tell it your way”

We had left the café, and the airlock room was cleared for us by the girls. I had sent Blake off to look at some more properties, just to get him out of the way while the older woman gave me her potted biography.

The Job 51

I won’t belittle the real pain and suffering we were told about, but it became routine after a while. I don’t mean that we got blasé, rather that each case Paul brought us went through what was becoming a very smooth and practised system.

Each one was, in the end, similar, and as the similarities piled up, so did the list of ‘further to’ charges awaiting Dai Pritchard, Bob Evans, one call-centre worker and two civilian employees in Cardiff and Swansea’s control rooms.

The Job 49

My alarm’s tone was slow to permeate my consciousness, or, to put it more simply, my body was in a state of denial. Loud buzzing? Na. I’m asleep. Staying that way. Which is why, ever since the second day of working shifts, I put the damned thing well out of reach.

The light was showing around the edges of the heavy curtains I had bought after my first set of night shifts, and I knew it was really time to get moving, but there was a bloody great arm across me.

Rewind. Blake’s arm.

The Job 48

I was home, in several different ways, including the return to my flat in Cardiff. Mam and Dad understood, just as they could see how I was healing, and why. Each day was a reminder of how the way my work is depicted on large and small screen is so completely wrong.

It isn’t boring, though it sounds like it should be, for it involves an awful lot of reading, inwardly digesting and cross-referencing. I imagined Sean’s boys felt much the same, and the closest experience I can give as an example is in solving a particularly complex cryptic crossword. Everything is there; you just need to find out why.

The Job 47

I had a week off, in the end. It had been needed, but Blake had his own life and home, and after a few days of company and warm mornings he had to leave. I realised I was getting very used to his presence, the comfort of his arms, and at the same time I had a suspicion that it was moving towards normality, and not in any sense banal. Just comfortable, appropriate, right for me.

I rattled around the old place for a couple of days before saying sod it, and one bright morning smartened myself up and drove into work. I had my flat to sort, as well, so I did need to get everything back on track.

The Job 46


The roast was a little overdone, but the roast potatoes and other trimmings were spot on. It was almost like a Christmas dinner, as after arguing on the shop about what would actually go on the plates we had simply agreed to do everything.

Dad liked it, from the way he cleared his down to the pattern on the china, so I counted it as a success. Mam cleared the dishes away, leaving them to soak, and we settled down in our usual places on armchairs and settee. Dad broke the comfort of our well-fed silence.

“You look a little out of sorts, son. What’s up?”

The Job 45

Next thing I knew, it was morning, the daylight obvious even through the heavy curtains. Mam tapped on the door of Blake’s bedroom.

“Breakfast in twenty minutes, you two. Dad’s already off to work”

I found myself blushing, even though I had done nothing but sleep. Better get up and face the music. I left him to dress, just a kiss on the cheek so he wouldn’t have my morning breath, but it was a wrench to get out of the bed and his arms.

I could really get used to it.

The Job 44

I didn’t notice, but Barry had fumbled his mobile out of his stab vest pocket.

“Yeah. Barry, Traffic, Yeah. Can you get up the greasy? I think one of yours needs taking home”

He then just sat and held me till Sammy was there, with Blake and Candice, and I wondered what had bloody happened to ‘Police, Professional’ as the team blonde walked me into the ladies’.

The Job 43

We were bright and early at the court the next day, which actually meant about nine thirty. We were down to the bare bones, just Elaine, the two of us and Alun, and wasted the morning on crosswords and an amble through the pedestrian area, avoiding the pub this time. The rest of the team were off with Sammy, something else going on, and Alun dropped a hint about picking someone up who may just have made the odd phone call to Pritchard.

At lunchtime, no verdict in sight, the two lads were gone. Lunch itself, a pasty and a cuppa, came and went, and then, finally, I got a text from the usher and we settled back into the public gallery as the jury returned.

The Job 42

I didn’t make it back to the courtroom as I spent quite a bit of time on my knees, trying to throw up my breakfast along with all the years of hate and fear. So many hackneyed images still hold truth in them, and mine was that of pushing against the locked door, which opens suddenly, and collapse is inevitable.

I could still feel his eyes on me, and the worst part of it all was that he didn’t seem to recall me immediately. I could almost read his mind: ‘Which rape was that one? Oh, yes. All coming back to me now’.

The Job 41

It got better and better as we counted down the days to the trial, and I ended up with statements from six more of the gang’s victims. Whatever the tariff said about their sentences after a guilty plea, it would end up in pieces once we were done.

Other things were better than I could ever have dreamt of, and no, I am not talking about me and a certain large man. It was Dad. He had really clicked with Blake, and I was almost feeling jealous, as the relationship was clearly mutual, and my own father seemed to be stealing time with Blake I wanted for myself.

Sod it! Life was good, not just bearable. I just wished Blake could have talked to me about the investigation.

The Job 40

It got almost routine after a while popping round the various support groups and clubs to leave cards, leaflets, posters and so on. It was the evenings that got interesting, as I encountered more and more of a world I had never really understood or, if I was truthful, suspected actually existed, despite all the times I had dabbled in it with Bridget. She was gay, in the same sense, I assumed, as was Elaine, a sort-of-straight. Both women were absolutely not into men, but in every other way they were as conventional as my parents.

The Job 39

I had texted her in advance, of course, so she was waiting in the little café down the street, still acting in that filtering, shielding role I had recognised. That said, there was real warmth in her greeting to me.

“You got news for us, girl?”

“Oh yes! Best sort. He got nicked on Friday, after we had finished the trials and stuff with the other lot”

“Oh, we saw that on the news. Not what I’m asking, is it?”

“What are you asking, Deb?”

The Job 38

I had turned up at the Crown Court for that final day, all five having eventually folded at their Plea and Direction Hearing, and as the crimes were not just indictable to the higher court but appalling in their very nature, there was no messing about with magistrates and hierarchies. We walked in, dressed in our best civilian clothes, as befitted our new (for some of us) and officially recognised status as DC rather than PC. Sammy outlined the facts of the case, four men stood up behind their publicly-funded representative and said the G-word, and the reports that had already been prepared and read by the judge were properly taken into account as he delivered ten years to each of them.

The Job 37

I must admit I have had many evenings a lot worse than that one, and very few better. By the time I got home (by way of the all-night shop for a tin of cocoa, of course) my laughter had toned itself down to smiles, but only just. Whatever Deb was doing was working. Only a few of the girls had given me any idea as to what had happened in their past, but they were all transgender and each one had been hurt,

The Job 36

Deb stood up, pulling Charlie to her feet as well.

“Di, we just need to pop next door for a few minutes. Could you please wait here? No exploring?”

I nodded.

“Good. Oh, and what were you planning to do this evening? Do you have a cat to feed, anything like that?”

“No. I was just going to go home by way of the supermarket, pick up some drinking chocolate of my own, and slob in front of the telly”

“OK. Wait there, then, I won’t be long”

The Job 35

She led the way back to the terrace, but instead of taking me to the front door she took me down the back alley between the two terraces, squeezing past a big white van, which she introduced, with a grin, as her ‘Tranny van’. I noticed that she used three keys to get through the door to the back yard, and the wall was topped with barbed wire, two cameras visible either side of an upstairs window. The actual back door was just as secure, and when we came through into the little lobby, I noticed a couple of steel bars ready to brace the door. There were also three fire extinguishers standing against the wall. I raised my eyebrows in query, and she shrugged.

“Some people don’t like us. What can you do but follow the Boy Scouts’ motto, and be prepared?”

The Job 34

The Smugglers’ was busy even on a lunchtime. I had kept it simple, in a sweat shirt and jeans rather than office smart, and I didn’t look too much out of place. I made my way to the bar.

“Diet coke, please. Slice but no ice”

“Pint? I mean, it’s not a pint, but it’s a ‘large’, and it’s close enough”

“Ye please. Is the landlord about, bar manager, whatever you have?”

“Landlord’s out the back. You got a problem, love?”

I smiled. “No, not at all. It’s a business thing”

“I’ll give him a shout. MARLENE!”

The Job 33

That was a phrase that had lived in my mind ever since two men had visited me in a hospital bed. I thought it through for a while, looking at Elaine. She didn’t let me down, and I knew then, if I hadn’t before, that she never would. The hint was taken.


“Yes, Elaine?”

“We do have another way into this one, one I am keen to follow rather than the usual way”

“You mean?”

The Job 32

I looked at him, and there were no indications as to which way he was jumping. Police, professional, woman.

“I can personally tell you more about him than I would like to know, sir, but I can’t break confidence on what my team are doing”

“Not even on my direct order?”

Breathe, Calm. "No sir. Not even on your direct order, not without the authority of the people who may or may not own the information”

The Job 31

I looked down at his hand, and then at his eyes, trying to hold my courage close and tight so that it couldn’t escape. Blake just nodded, and turned to my parents.

“Baby steps at the moment, Mark, Dot. Di’s the one in the driving seat”

That gave me something else to talk about, which I urgently needed.

The Job 30

He sat unmoving for a few seconds before reaching across to take my right hand with his left.

“Are you sure, Di? Don’t want you thinking I’m putting pressure on you. I’m not, not at all”

My insides were melting with terror, but I had made my decision. Heart, he had said, heart and soul.

“Shut up and get on with it, Blake!”

The Job 29

We settled down to sorting out more of the shitstorm of paperwork, and I caught Blake looking at me, which destroyed my concentration. I could remember everything from the night before, including the hand-holding, but I was sober now. Let it ride, DC Owens, let it slide, and he’ll do the same. Booze and stress, that’s all it was. Sammy ruined that plan.

“Di? Blake? Could you two do a run up to the greasy before we sort out the charging? I need cholesterol, and I need it now! Couple of dog rolls for me, and I’ll shout for whatever the others want”

The Job 28

I didn’t have that bad a hangover, but there was a smell about me even I could detect, which meant my curry had left traces. I showered and brushed my teeth twice, before heading in to start the day’s work.

To my surprise, Chris was there again, moving very stiffly but actually on his feet.

“I have decent biscuits, my love! And milk!”

The Job 27

“Good morning Mr Evans, I am DC Owens, and this is DC Sutton”

Evans jerked his head, and I realised he was trying to see out through the doorway, probably checking nobody else was there. When we sat down, he was clearly sitting as far back as the chair would allow, even though it was fixed to the floor. Not good.

The Job 25

Another twenty minutes saw our prisoners separated and stuffed into the backs of a number of vehicles for the return to the nick, Chris long gone in the ambulance as a paramedic stayed with us to look after one of the five who had apparently met Elaine’s asp face-first.

She was a strange mixture of nerves and seething rage, and as we sat in the car I took the risk and squeezed her shoulder. She simply laid her hand on mine and squeezed back before taking her mobile out and once more switching it to speaker mode. As Blake finished calling out recovery for the other vehicles and the van, she rang Control.

“Hi Jan, Inspector Powell here. Can you call the duty Super out? I’ll need a word. And the on-call CID Inspector”

The Job 24

Almost immediately my phone beeped at me, which saved me from talking to Blake.

CCTV 5 up bsbl bats.

Oh. Baseball bats. I showed the text to my companion, and he grunted.

“We’re on, then. Buckle in”

I caught his mood, and put my seat belt on.

Goat in Smugglers one tango obsing

“Chris is in the Smuggler’s, Blake. One of the targets has eyeballs on it”

The Job 23

I wish I had known those people years before, or people like them, who could have brought my parents out of the pit along with me. What I was learning, in the end, was that it wasn’t about individuals as such but about a way of thinking. We had English, Welsh and French there, all together and smiling. It sort of flew in the face of so much of my experience of policing, and then another thought struck me, no doubt triggered by the kids in wheelchairs and leg braces we had just shared dinner with.

The Job 22

It was drizzling the next morning, Christmas Day itself. The rain made a soft hiss on the fly sheet, sibilant underneath the semi-stifled giggles coming from the next ‘bedroom’ as three little people planned their day. Blake was warm beside me, as was the bedding around me, and the only thing that drove me up and out was Bill’s shout of “Kettle’s on, you lot!”

The Job 21

We made our way round the series of right turns Annie had advised, finally ducking down a back street behind the church we weren’t staying at, oh no, and in the dusk saw a small sea of canvas, a lot of which was glowing from within as people used torches or lamps to sort their bedding out. That had always been one of my favourite parts of camping with Dad, where I would walk back from the toilets or a shower, usually in rain, it being North Wales, and our tent would be glowing in just that way, a little jewel of warmth and shelter that was so much more than a bag of cloth hung on a framework of sticks.

The Job 20

It turned into a busy pre-holiday session, just when most of us would normally have looked to start winding up our work ready for a few days of sloth. Rob in particular had us drilling with taser deployment, even those of us not licensed to carry them, while Blake refreshed our comms skills, if that is the word for hammering us into exhaustion.

The Job 18

“Hello, Omar. I’m DC Owens. Diane, or Di, or whatever you feel comfy with. Blake being treating you well, or just boring you talking about sport?”

The slim young man was a mess, dressings everywhere I could see, and what were clearly his parents radiated a mixture of worry and anger. There were little touches by the mother to the father’s arm, and I stood for a couple of seconds trying to work out where the dominance lay, who had the lead in their family.

The Job 17

She was straight off home after the shift, wife to unchain, dragon to feed, as Alun cheekily suggested. We had sat at our little tables all bloody day without budging, it seemed, as Chris bustled about with cups of tea and coffee, plates of biscuits and so on, at lunchtime taking everyone’s order for a run up to the canteen.

I could see what he was doing as a support worker, but it was more than that. I don’t think it was a cynical ploy on his part, but his comment about goats and arriving late came to mind. Get involved with us, become part of the team, and we’d feel more inclined to be punctual when it was needed. Whatever his reasons, he did help us markedly through the day.

The Job 16

That one hit hard, and I remembered some of the things Dai Gould had stressed. Always look beyond the immediate, beyond those shouting the loudest. That advice on our first aid courses: the one screaming is the one who has the strength and the breath, the life, to be able to scream. Look to the quiet ones. Look at how the ripples spread.

I rang in to let the boss know where we were with the case, and she dropped the bombshell.

The Job 15

I slept surprisingly well, despite a few sudden wakings as something unspecified but nasty crawled into the back of my mind. Mam, as usual, had a fuller-than-full breakfast waiting, and I wondered how she always managed to be up before me, even on the earliest of shifts. Some sort of Mam-radar, I suppose. She sat with me as I ate my sausages and swallowed my tea, with a Look on her face that warned of something being grilled besides the sausages.

“Di, love?”

“Yes, Mam?”

“It’s those two pieces of filth again, isn’t it?”

The Job 14

We bit the bullet that evening, and the Inspector sent us all home after a wash-up followed by a lock-up. I got the impression she didn’t exactly trust all of her colleagues, at least not all of the ones outside our little group.

It had indeed been a long one, and she was in our faces from the off.


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