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.Well, she was free now.He replaced the book carefully, smoothed the bed where he had sat on it, and went downstairs.The Wildings were both in the sitting room – he could hear the television behind the closed door, and the rest of the downstairs was silent.He walked through the kitchen to the back door and looked out from the glass panel.Yes, there was the shed – and even from here he could see that it was locked with a large, stout padlock.To see inside he would have to ask Wilding for the key, and suddenly he had had enough.He had nothing on the man except Atherton’s idea, and the tradition that it was always the nearest and dearest who did it.To ask him for the key and search his shed would only be giving him more pain, which he probably did not merit.He walked back towards the front door and was startled when the sitting-room door opened suddenly and Wilding was there, towering over him.‘Seen all you want?’ he asked abruptly.‘Yes, thank you,’ said Slider.‘You wanted this.’ He held out a freezer bag with a mobile phone inside it.Not a camera phone, just the basic ring-in-an-emergency sort.Even in choice of mobile he had been controlling.‘Thanks,’ said Slider, feeling mean about his last thought.Probably the poor bloke couldn’t afford anything more.He had lost his business, after all.‘Not that it will tell you anything,’ Wilding said, glaring at him.‘It will have my fingerprints on it.And probably Zellah’s.But if you want to waste your time, obviously I can’t stop you.You’d do better to concentrate on that strangler you’ve caught, if you want my opinion.Don’t make a mistake and let him go again.’He dropped the bag so that Slider had to catch it in mid-air, stalked back into the room and slammed the door.Slider’s sympathy dwindled a little.So anxious to put it on to Ronnie Oates? So quick to pre-empt the fact that his fingermarks were on the phone?‘And it’s fingermarks, not fingerprints,’ he addressed the closed door conversationally.Frantic thrush sobbing in darkness.So unhappy? Not the nuts-to-you rebel Sophy described? There was something about the words that stuck, he thought, opening the front door to let himself out.She had a talent.And the nude drawings were beautiful.Atherton, perched on Slider’s windowsill, his favourite pose for a bunny, still looked immaculate at the end of a long hot day, where Slider felt grubby and rumpled.He had crossed his ankles and was contemplating with satisfaction the fraction of silk sock that was revealed.‘Interesting,’ he said, when Slider had finished.‘I wish we hadn’t got Ronnie Oates, now.We can’t really run three suspects at once, and Oates is so much more likely.’‘Likely?’ McLaren said, leaning against the door.‘Try definite.’‘We’re getting people ringing in with sightings,’ Connolly said, ‘now he’s been on the telly.I’m keeping a log and sorting out the most likely ones, but it looks as though he was at the fair, guv.Three people have said they saw him there.’‘I expect people will have seen him everywhere from Glasgow Central to Piccadilly Circus,’ Slider said.‘Yes, sir, and if it was only the one I’d have discounted it.But three separate witnesses? And,’ she added quickly to stop anyone thinking that was a real question, ‘the barman in the North Pole said he was in there drinking that evening, and the North Pole is only across the road from the fair.’‘That’s a better identification,’ Atherton told her kindly.‘Passing someone in the crowd is one thing, but facing someone sitting at a bar for a couple of hours.’‘That’s what I was trying to say,’ Connolly said with a faint look of annoyance.‘Don’t sweat it, love,’ Hart said.‘He’s just trying to bring you up right.Part of his seduction technique – he thinks correcting people is erotic.’‘I thought you understood by now that I’m no longer in the market,’ Atherton said loftily.Hart grinned.‘Yeah, it must be queer having to turn women down, eh, Jim?’ She winked at Connolly.‘The nearest he ever got to saying “no” to a woman was, “not now, we’re landing”.’‘Man was never meant to be monogamous,’ McLaren offered.‘Or in your case,’ Hart turned on him, ‘even ogamous.’‘Do they always go on like this, sir?’ Connolly appealed to Slider.‘I let them let off steam now and then,’ he said.‘Meanwhile, let’s you and I have a sensible conversation.Did you get anywhere with the neighbours?’She consulted her notebook.‘It was the man at number six that took the film, sir, and sent it to the BBC.He’s retired, ill-health, so not much to do but watch his neighbours out of the window.He was a bit excited about Ronnie Oates coming back to his mum’s.Pretended to be angry about it,’ she said, lifting her eyes to Slider’s, ‘but you could see it was the best thing in his life for years.So when he saw the squad car he grabbed his camera phone and started filming.’‘But on the night in question?’ Slider prompted her.‘He saw Ronnie go out about lunchtime, come back in about three to half past, and go out again about eight.But he didn’t see him come back in.Said he went to bed about half-eleven.’‘He wasn’t watching out the window all that time?’ said Hart.‘No, but he said the walls of those houses are so thin you can hear someone coming in, especially if they slam the door, which Ronnie does, and he didn’t hear him come in.So if you allow for him dozing off, that means he probably didn’t come in before midnight.’‘Getting the truth out of Ronnie won’t be easy,’ Atherton said.‘That’s why I’ve left him to get comfortable and relax,’ Slider said.‘The less he thinks, the more likely we are to get the truth.All right, we’ve got the watch set up on Carmichael’s flat, we’ve got Ronnie tucked up for the night.We’ll need a statement from the barman at the North Pole—’‘Sir, I live out that way.I could do it on my way home,’ Connolly said.‘All right, do so.Anything else?’‘You thought about questioning the Wilding neighbours,’ Atherton said.‘In support of my theory.’‘It’s hardly a theory,’ Slider said.‘More a wild stab in the dark.’‘We’ve investigated a few of those,’ Atherton nodded.‘Yeah, Sat’dy night down the Shepherd’s Bush Road,’ McLaren said.‘Outside the Jesters Club.I hate bloody knives.’‘And they’re always bloody,’ Atherton finished.‘But to return to our moutons, which is to say Wilding – in the interests of being thorough, as someone we know and revere once said.’Slider remembered, uneasily, the drawings, the poem, the corner of white sticking out from the mattress.You could only see it when you were sitting above it, as he had been [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]