Things are cooking in CID. He hasn’t seen them work so well all year. Chris is on the gangsters, following up the snouts, calling up Europlod. Ray’s chasing the phone number on the dead bloke’s hand.
‘Good, this is what I like to see, the machine working.’
Despite everything, he’s got a good feeling. With Drake out of the way, he doesn’t have to think about last night. Just his lads, and a nice dirty case to fix.
Until Shaz pipes up. ‘Oh Guv. DCI Keats says he’s got something for you.’
He swivels in the doorway to his office, and heads out. ‘Oh, joy! Lucky old me.’
Let the bastard try and slow him down today.
Keats office is the furnace it always is. He walks in without knocking, and sees him putting a tape into the video player.
‘Best porn’s on VHS.’
‘Betamax. I’m a sucker for quality.’
‘You wanna get yourself into CID, an’ watch my team workin’ as a unit.’
Keats picks up a folder from his desk. ‘You asked me for any old files from the Yard on gem smuggling. I got intel.’
‘Intel. There’s posh.’ He paces, side to side. ‘Tell you what, you get ‘reconnoitre’ into a sentence, I might buy you a fish supper.’
‘Walter Tavish. Once handled gems out of Sierra Leone.’ He hands a page over without looking at him. He almost sounds bored. ‘Through London, and on into Europe.’
‘What, so, Tavish was fencing for a foreign gang. Then he switched his allegiance to the Hardimans. Who wanted to muscle in on the action, but they were killed for it.’
Keats half-smiles, and turns away towards a cupboard. Gene drops the file back on the desk.
‘Well, I got myself a contact. Rachel Miller. Something tells me she’s gonna be key.’
‘That old Gene Hunt nous.’ Keats has a box in his hands. He puts it down in front of him. ‘That’s what wound up Sam Tyler. Those grand hunches of yours.’
He stares at the box. Sam Tyler again. Some of the wind comes out of his sails. ‘What’s this? Your packed lunch?’
‘My report. On you.’
Keats is quiet. He’s not gloating. He’s not looking smug. He’s not grinning, or insulting, or threatening. Which is sort of threatening in itself.
‘Fascinating reading,’ he says softly, and walks to the side door. Gene watches him leave. All of a sudden, the case looks less shiny, less important. The thrill of the chase replaced by the dread of reality.
He looks at the box. It’s just a box, though it seems to stare back at him. Black, unadorned. Size of a briefcase. Bloody hell, how much did the bloke write?
The door clicks shut, and he’s alone. Gene shifts from side to side, then thinks stuff this, and pulls the lid off.
It contains a photograph.
He looks at it. It’s a farmhouse of some sort. Black and white. There’s a weathervane in the shape of Old Man Time.
He picks it up. Looks at the door Keats left through. Looks back at the photo, and there’s something, a flash of recognition. Like he’s seen this place before, but he can’t remember where, or when.
He flips it over. I think we’ve found our grave, in Keats’ neat block print. He reads it once, then again, and is dimly aware of his breath starting to come a bit faster. Flips it back over. He knows this place. Grave. Grave.
The TV flicks on, presumably to whatever was on the tape Keats put in the machine. There’s no picture. Just a voice. A voice that makes him freeze, blood cold in his veins.
And here comes her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second...
The picture comes on. The Queen, on her coronation day, in her carriage. 1953.
...by the Grace of God, Queen of this realm and her other realms and territories...
He’s staring, and the photo’s in his hand and his thoughts leap from one to the other, farmhouse, the Queen, farmhouse, Coronation Day, farmhouse, grave…the TV flicks off, and he’s still staring, with fear clawing up his throat, twisting his stomach into knots.
He bangs through the doors of CID, strides over the floor. Ray says something, keeps saying things; he just walks to his office, and yanks open the drawer where he keeps his gun. Takes his coat, and is gone.
The case doesn’t matter. Really, truly, doesn’t matter. She’s got a headstart on him. He has to get to Lancashire, and he has to get there now.
She would have taken a pool car. No match for the Quattro. She had, what, half an hour’s head-start on him? Even if she puts her foot down, he won’t be far behind. If he gets lucky, he might get there first.
And do what? Look for what? He’s not sure, but she’s after a grave and it’s ringing a bell, somewhere in the depths of memory long dormant. Just like the video footage of Coronation Day – he’s seen it before, everyone in the country has. It was different this time. That voiceover, those pictures; his throat had closed over, trapping air in his chest, squeezing his lungs tight. The two have to be linked. No, he knows they are. He just doesn’t know how. And if he doesn’t stop her, she’ll make that link for him.
He swings onto the motorway, and presses the accelerator to the floor. She can’t make that connection. Whatever’s up there, it needs to stay up there. It has no place in his world, and if she needs persuading of that…he glances to the gun on the passenger seat. He once told her he’d shot all the innocent people he cared to in this lifetime. It was true then, it’s true now. But all the same...
He leans forward in his seat, and wills the car to go faster.