Casey And The Lost Boys

A few clicks of the mouse and ev­ery­thing be­came clear. She had found the Arlan Roberts con­nec­tion. Just like that!

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Hello! - by Geral­dine Ryan

The name David Lyall, passed on to her from Foren­sics, who’d been given a piece of cloth­ing left be­hind by the im­poster, had ini­tially meant noth­ing to Casey. For­tu­nately, when she ran it through the Po­lice Na­tional Com­puter, it re­vealed all that she needed to know. He had a record as long as her arm and had been in and out of prison for much of his adult life.

Run­ning her eye down the long list of his of­fences, she lost count of the num­ber of times she read the word

‘Burglary’. He’d also been done for han­dling stolen goods, go­ing equipped to steal, and – this most in­ter­est­ing to Casey, given what Mag­gie Fowler, an­other vol­un­teer at Tony’s, had told her about see­ing Lyall deep in con­ver­sa­tion with Steve Parr – as­sist­ing of­fend­ers.

Mag­gie had re­ported that there had been some very no­tice­able fric­tion be­tween Lyall and Parr when she’d spot­ted them deep in con­ver­sa­tion the af­ter­noon be­fore Lyall dis­ap­peared from

Tony’s. She said he’d looked scared of Parr. It oc­curred to Casey that Parr might have some sort of hold over Lyall. What had been the pur­pose of his visit? Did Lyall owe him a favour and Parr had come to col­lect it? Ac­cord­ing to the PNC, the last time David Lyall had been in prison was for a pe­riod be­tween Jan­uary 2012 and April 2013. Since his re­lease, he seemed to have stayed on the straight and nar­row. Vol­un­teer­ing at Tony’s would sug­gest that he’d turned his life around, which was never easy to do. So fair play to him, thought Casey.

It was only a guess, but Casey imag­ined that Lyall must have first en­coun­tered Steve Parr be­fore he went straight. If Lyall, who’d changed his life for the bet­ter, had been fear­ful of where re­new­ing his re­la­tion­ship with Parr might lead him again, then that would cer­tainly ex­plain his de­sire to get as far away from him as pos­si­ble.

A few more mouse clicks sat­is­fied Casey’s cu­rios­ity. And then, eureka! She had the

Arlan Roberts con­nec­tion, too! At this very mo­ment, who should stick her head around the door but the Su­per? Casey swore in­wardly. All day long she’d been glanc­ing over her shoul­der won­der­ing when Jess Mor­gan was go­ing to pounce on her to say some­thing about her hav­ing missed an im­por­tant meet­ing that morn­ing.

She’d heard all about it any­way from some­one else who’d been there. And just as she’d pre­dicted, she’d missed noth­ing. Like most meet­ings, it was just an­other ex­cuse for ev­ery­one to get very aer­ated. It was typ­i­cal that just as she’d let her watch­ful­ness slip, the Su­per had man­aged to sneak up on her. If only she’d shown up 10 min­utes later, Casey would have been in her car, driv­ing home. ‘There you are!’

The Su­per was braced for con­fronta­tion. There only thing for Casey to do now was to bluff her way out of trou­ble.

‘I’ve been try­ing to find you all day,’ the Su­per went on.

Casey de­cided to land a pre-emp­tive strike.

‘I thought you might like to know that Steve Parr’s back in Brock­haven,’ she said.

‘Re­mind me who he is again.’ ‘Dealer. Sus­pected to be run­ning gangs. Slip­pery as an eel. He’s been nicked sev­eral times for this and that. But we can never make it stick. There’s al­ways some­one else who’ll take the rap for him.’

‘The type never to get his hands dirty if he can help it,’ Jess Mor­gan said.

She was right. Parr em­ployed other peo­ple for that. Was Lyall one of them? Casey won­dered.

Only once had the com­bined ef­forts of the jus­tice sys­tem man­aged to put Parr away, Casey re­minded the Su­per. And even then it had been for a lesser charge, thanks to his brief, whom Casey was con­vinced had been just as slip­pery.

It must have been dur­ing his brief so­journ at Her Majesty’s plea­sure that he’d re­con­nected with David Lyall, aka Arlan Roberts, she sug­gested.

‘The guy who dis­ap­peared?’ ‘Parr was spot­ted try­ing to in­tim­i­date Lyall out­side Tony’s, where he vol­un­teered. And the very next day he dis­ap­peared.’

‘In­ter­est­ing. Do they have his­tory?’

‘I’ve just this sec­ond found out they were up at Lum­b­ley Prison to­gether,’ Casey said.

She’d dis­cov­ered some­thing else too. The real Arlan had been an art teacher at the jail. Lyall had taken a shine to his name and pinched it for an alias. ‘Why would he do that?’ ‘Maybe he ad­mired Roberts. You know, the way he lived his life.’

She told the Su­per what she’d dis­cov­ered about Arlan Roberts. By all ac­counts, he’d lived a good life, al­beit one that had been pre­ma­turely cur­tailed by ill­ness. If Lyall had been de­ter­mined to go straight, then who bet­ter to em­u­late than a man like Arlan Roberts?

‘So this is what you were up to when you should have been at my meet­ing?’

Casey re­mained silent.

The Su­per’s ex­pres­sion was in­scrutable. What pun­ish­ment was she con­jur­ing up in that head of hers? Casey wished she’d just get it over with.

Fi­nally, the Su­per spoke. ‘I sup­pose it’s all quite rel­e­vant,’ she said. ‘You need to find both of them. If Parr’s back in Brock­haven, it can only mean trou­ble. And if he’s just re­cruited a side­kick, that’s trou­ble times two.’

Zach Da­ley lay on his un­made bed wait­ing for his cousin Kian to an­swer his call. He could have gone over to his house but right now he was des­per­ate to keep un­der the radar. All day at school he’d had to put up with peo­ple tak­ing the Mick. Just be­cause of that fight in the cof­fee shop the other day. He’d been there with the rest of his fam­ily and those Stocks scum. The two fam­i­lies seemed to have been at war for­ever. But as soon as the cops turned up, he’d slipped away. Given what he’d had in his pocket at the time, it had been a wise move.

Now the papers had got hold of it. He’d seen head­lines on the board out­side the newsagent’s. Feud­ing Fam­i­lies Stir It Up In Star­bucks Skir­mish, it read. At school, peo­ple knew bet­ter than to laugh in his face, but he knew they were talk­ing about him be­hind his back.

At din­ner­time, he’d gone to the fried chicken shop as usual. There were these lads from the sixth form in there. As soon as they clocked him, he heard one call out to his mate who’d joined the queue, ‘If you’re get­ting cof­fee, mate, mine’s a flatte.’ Then the other one had turned round and said, ‘OK, Bruv, don’t get in a froth.’

Course they all burst out laugh­ing then and he’d had no choice but to walk out with­out his food. Where did they get off, hu­mil­i­at­ing him like that? And in front of younger kids too. Well, they’d be laugh­ing on the other side of their faces sooner than they could imag­ine. ‘Zach. What do you want?’ Fi­nally, Kian had picked up. He sounded gruff. Like he wished he hadn’t an­swered.

‘Have you thought about what I said? About start­ing up on our own?’

There was a long si­lence at the other end. There was some­thing ir­ri­tat­ingly wimpy about his cousin that made Zach want to shake him some­times.

‘Come on, Bro. Think about it. You and me. While we both carry on work­ing for Them, we’ll never make any real money.’ ‘We make enough,’ Kian said. Kian was 14. He had no idea what real money there was to be made in this busi­ness.

‘I re­cruited you, re­mem­ber,’ he went on. ‘Don’t you think you owe me?’

An­other si­lence. Per­haps he should try an­other tack. If Kian thought he was be­ing threat­ened, he might just walk away be­fore Zach could ex­plain his bril­liant plan.

‘If it weren’t for us, They’d be floun­der­ing now,’ he said, more ca­jol­ing this time. ‘Think about it. Who’ll be tak­ing the rap if they get caught? Not them. Be­cause we don’t even know their names. They’ve got our names, though, haven’t

Did Lyall owe Parr a favour, and had he come to col­lect it?

they, Kian? Our names and the names of all the other run­ners.’

He waited for this to sink in. Kian fi­nally spoke.

‘Where would we get the gear to start up on our own in the first place? And where would we sell it? Not round here.’ He wasn’t say­ing no, at least. ‘There’s other places than Brock­haven,’ Zach said. ‘We wouldn’t be in com­pe­ti­tion.’

‘We wouldn’t want to be,’ Kian said. ‘They’d kill us if they thought that was what we were do­ing.’

‘Well, we just have to be smarter than them, that’s all,’ Zach said. ‘We do what they do. Keep our hands clean. Put some­one else in the frame.

And I’ve got the very per­son.’ ‘Who?’

‘You’re gonna love this, Bro,’ he said. ‘It’s that lit­tle snake, Johnny Martin. If any­one needs teach­ing a les­son, it’s him.’

Casey sat in the Head Teacher’s study, fac­ing her across her desk. Sit­ting next to her was Giles, lean­ing for­ward, his el­bows planted on his long, skinny legs, spread wide. When she’d had the call from the school, she’d dropped ev­ery­thing, jumped in the car and driven straight there.

‘I’m sorry to have to say that Giles has been in­volved in a fight,’ the school re­cep­tion­ist had said. ‘As he’s stay­ing with you while his par­ents are out of the coun­try, I’m go­ing to have to ask you to come in.’

The Head had a kind face, Casey thought. But Giles was obliv­i­ous to her smile and her gen­tle en­treaties to tell her ev­ery­thing that had hap­pened.

‘I’ve spo­ken to the other boy,’ she said. ‘He says you punched him in the face. Is that true?’

If he were her son, Casey would touch him. Very likely she’d tell him to sit up straight and an­swer the ques­tion. But he was a stranger to her. She had no idea who she might be deal­ing with here. He’d been at the school two days and al­ready he was in trou­ble. Was it a habit of his, punch­ing peo­ple? Or was it some sort of protest against his cur­rent sit­u­a­tion?

Since he’d ar­rived, all she’d seen a quiet, po­lite boy who cleared his plate at meal­times and picked up after him­self un­com­plain­ingly. But she’d been a po­lice of­fi­cer for long enough to know that what you saw was not al­ways what you got.

What did he re­ally think about be­ing dumped in a house with strangers in a town he didn’t know? Then thrown into a new school in the mid­dle of his GCSE year? It was a lot for a young boy to cope with.

‘Giles,’ she said qui­etly. ‘It might help if you told us your ver­sion of what hap­pened.’

Giles shifted in his seat, as if he were con­sid­er­ing the idea. Then he gave a long sigh.

‘We’re here to lis­ten,

Giles,’ the Head said.

‘He’s right,’ Giles said.

‘I did punch him. So you might as well get it over with. My pun­ish­ment,

I mean.’

The two women eyed each other cau­tiously.

‘Do you have a rea­son?’ they said si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

Giles shook his head. He wasn’t go­ing to say that he’d been try­ing to de­fend a boy who was be­ing bul­lied. They tried again but it was to no avail. Which was why, just 10 min­utes later, Casey was back in the car, this time with Giles in the pas­sen­ger seat, head­ing home. One week’s sus­pen­sion, Casey

He thought he heard some­thing – the crack of a branch over­head...

mused, turn­ing into the drive. How was she go­ing to ex­plain that to Giles’ par­ents?

‘You and me need to have a chat later,’ Gran had said ear­lier, when she’d been putting his tea on the ta­ble. Usu­ally they ate to­gether, but Thurs­days was her Pi­lates night and she wouldn’t miss that for any­thing.

Johnny hadn’t asked what about, be­cause he thought he knew. There was some­thing about the way she kept watch­ing him from the cor­ner of her eye, then, when he looked back, she’d turn away. She’d left soon after, thank God, be­cause he’d never have got away so eas­ily oth­er­wise.

He didn’t need any more stress. Not after this morn­ing. All day at school he’d been hold­ing his breath, wait­ing to be sent for. He’d been ter­ri­fied. But in the end Miss Buchan hadn’t wanted to see him. If she’d be­lieved Zach’s words – that the new boy had punched him be­cause he said Zach had given him a funny look – then it had to mean that Giles, or what­ever he was called, hadn’t grassed Zach up.

But how much had he seen? And what had he heard? He’d def­i­nitely seen that Zach had Johnny in a head­lock. Had he heard Zach say he was go­ing to keep him there till Johnny promised he’d do this drop tonight? Surely not, or he’d have re­ported it.

‘You back me up,’ Zach had threat­ened, once he came out of Miss Buchan’s room. ‘Or you’ll be in trou­ble.’

It hardly seemed fair that Zach had said he still owed him one, even though it was the new boy who’d been sus­pended, while Zach had been let off scot-free. But that’s ex­actly what had hap­pened. And there was no way he could get out of this now. He was ex­pected around the back of some ware­house on the busi­ness es­tate in five min­utes, where he was sup­posed to hand over the drop to the usual dealer.

It was a funny place to meet, Johnny thought, as, once off the main road, he got off his bike. Down this nar­row lane then take a right, Zach had said. And no bike lights. Just in case the law are about.

Johnny’s heart was beat­ing fast. He didn’t like the dark at the best of times. But this was an un­fa­mil­iar place and it was dark. No street­lights and no cars. But he knew the po­lice could be ly­ing in wait for him. Any sec­ond now they could flood him with lights.

Keep­ing his head down, he plod­ded on.

The lane had nar­rowed to a track now. His bike wheels kept get­ting stuck on the un­even ground.

And then he thought he heard some­thing.

The crack of a branch over­head. The crunch of dry earth be­hind him. Some­one breath­ing. He quick­ened his steps.

The blow landed on him from out of nowhere, throw­ing him for­ward so he lost his foot­ing. An­other blow and then an­other. Some­one was speak­ing. Two dif­fer­ent voices. They were look­ing for some­thing. He felt their boots against his body as they moved around him. And then they were gone and it was just him and the cold, hard ground be­neath him.

Brock­haven was too small a place to stay hid­den for long. Ever since Steve Parr had caught up with him that day at Tony’s, David hadn’t been able to stop look­ing over his shoul­der. He’d been sleep­ing on Linda’s sofa out Earl­ham Bridge way while he’d been

work­ing at Tony’s. It hadn’t been the best so­lu­tion but he’d been skint so what else could he have done?

He’d left the house with­out even say­ing good­bye and thanks, which was prob­a­bly a bit un­grate­ful, con­sid­er­ing what Linda had had to put up with. But he’d had no choice. He couldn’t be found there. As soon as Parr re­alised he’d left Tony’s, he’d know im­me­di­ately that it was be­cause he didn’t want to have any­thing to do with him. And Parr wouldn’t like that.

The man had con­tacts. Once he started look­ing for him prop­erly, some­body was bound to creep out of the wood­work and give him an ad­dress. Should he have said some­thing to Linda? Warned her Parr might come sniff­ing round? She was on her own these days and there was a kid to think about too. What would Parr do to the place – to her – if he did go round and she told him she didn’t know where he’d gone?

If he’d had the money for the bus, he’d have left for Lon­don. He could lose him­self in those mil­lions of peo­ple. But Lon­don would fin­ish him. It would be the same story all over again – hustling just to stay alive, and he didn’t want to go back to those bad old ways.

That’s why, in the end, he de­cided to stay lo­cal. He didn’t know how long this ca­sual work would last. It was back-break­ing and it poorly paid. But the job came with a bed and some half-de­cent food and it was far enough away from Steve Parr’s manor to make him feel, if not safe, then less ex­posed at least.

He missed Tony’s, though. The staff, the peo­ple who came in. When he was there he’d felt he was do­ing some­thing good. Be­com­ing a bet­ter per­son.

David chucked an­other pile of bulbs in his bucket. He stood up for a mo­ment to re­lieve his aching back. Eight hours sift­ing daffodil bulbs out of rows of rock-hard mud. It was no more than slave labour, re­ally, when you thought about it.

What would Arlan Roberts have done in his sit­u­a­tion? he won­dered, star­ing up at the bleak sky. Told Parr to get lost and find an­other lackey? Or that as far as he was con­cerned, he’d done enough dirty work for him in the past and had no in­ten­tion of get­ting his hands dirty for him again?

It took a man of courage to talk like that. David might have taken Arlan’s name but he had none of his brav­ery. Fac­ing death like that. He – David – was a coward. He knew that should Parr find him, he might as well for­get turn­ing over a new leaf. He’d tried so many times over the years to shake him off.

When he landed at Lum­b­ley

David might have taken Arlan’s name but he had none of his brav­ery

Prison and started do­ing those art classes with Arlan, he felt freer than ever he’d done out­side. Then who should turn up but Parr? Of all the cells in all the world. He was back to square one – and he al­ways would be as long as Steve Parr knew where he was. He would never pass Go.

His phone rang. He felt sud­denly sick. He fum­bled in his pocket, pulled out the phone then dropped it. He picked it up, brushed off the dirt, then put it to his ear with­out glanc­ing at the num­ber. He knew what it would say. Caller un­known. Parr wasn’t stupid.

‘You took your time.’ Con­ge­nial­ity and men­ace in the same voice. How was that pos­si­ble?

‘Steve. How did you get this num­ber?’

‘Never mind about that.

I’ve got a lit­tle job for you,’ Parr said. ‘Cou­pla my lads down Brock­haven way. They’re get­ting a bit too big for their boots. Need teach­ing a les­son.’

David knew what was com­ing next.

‘And I think you should be the one to let them have it.’

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