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!
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,
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.’
CONTINUES NEXT WEEK