Didymus (£2.94 | $3.67)
This Greek word for a twin, itself from the prefix di-, ‘two’, repeated twice, was applied to St. Thomas, as the name Thomas in Aramaic means ‘twin’.
We’d only been playing for half an hour when Harvey’s phone rang again. We all knew this was a call-out before he answered it. The chance of another normal call on Harvey’s phone was so remote, I wouldn’t have put bets on it…I’d have lost.
He stopped playing, opened it and yelled, “What!” While he listened, he headed for the door to the long hall in the new build. Olli stuck another disk on, to keep the revellers happy, while we waited to hear what it was. Half the human side of our team were here for their first visit, along with all the others we’d become really good friends with. This was to thank them for their hard work, solving a diabolical case on human cloning, and for their efforts on nailing Wicks. They all worked bloody hard for us, with no complaints, and it was always our intention to ask them here for a barbeque, but the weather had been so bad, when we did have the odd day with sun, we were up to our armpits at work.
After it seemed like a never-ending wait, Harvey pushed the door open, waving at us to join him. When Gina passed him, she said, “They’ve found the oil drums, haven’t they?” Harvey nodded and waited for everyone to get through, to shut it and block the noise out.
I suddenly remembered where they were, and couldn’t help blurting out, “The fly-tips, behind that fucking hospital!”
“Right, Alli. They were buried under a ton of crap when we were there. The heat must have fermented the contents and the lids were blown off two of them. Thank God, one of the fly-tippers rang it in. He could have dumped his load and said nothing. Uniform are with him now and some of us must go. Gina, stay with Olli and keep the party going. Nate, you stay too.” He was surprised. “Go to your girlfriend, Nate. We’re mob handed and this won’t take long.”
“Okay, thanks, Harvey.” He turned and slipped through the door.
When it was quiet, Gina said, “Thanks, Harvey. I didn’t fancy seeing that lot again.”
“Thought not, Gina. Hillary, where the hell could we house eight oil barrels?”
“We do have room, Harvey.” The surprise on his face made her carry on. “We were so bloody fed up, wondering where we could put those poisonous bodies, I asked Derek to go to the auctions, last week. He picked up a butcher’s walk-in freezer, and once it was erected and running, Jo helped me during the night, stacking all the liquefied bodies in there. They’re in that small container now, for burial in your garden. We can accommodate them now, easily, Harvey.”
“Sounds the perfect place, Hillary, and you should’ve asked us for help.”
Jo piped up, “We didn’t need it and you were busy.” She flashed her eyes at him.
He giggled. “Enough said, Jo. Now, we don’t all have to go to this; who’s coming?”
I knew they would all come before anyone spoke up. Lucas said, “You needn’t ask, Harvey – let’s go.”
“Thanks, Lucas. Gina you’re in charge here.”
“Wonderful, Harvey – now bugger off.” He laughed at her and we all headed to our hall, to grab our jackets.
I was day-dreaming on the way: At least we know where this bloody place is. The car could probably drive there, without a fucking driver.
Harvey giggled, glancing in my direction, although it was so dark in the car, he couldn’t see me, until we were near street lights. “You’re right as usual, Mrs Burgess. That bloody place seems to haunt us.”
“We’re victims of our own success, Harvey. If we hadn’t found all those boys, it wouldn’t have been in the papers, and the fly-tippers would possibly have taken years to find it. They broadcast it, far and bloody wide.”
“It’ll come up again, Alli, when Phelps’s operation is disclosed to all, in court.”
“Yeah, they’ll make a meal of that bloody case, considering both of them were in on it.”
“Still a long way to go, Alli. Think of the hospital staff we’ve rounded up and all that fucking paperwork?”
“He’ll be in court before her though, won’t he?”
“Depends what brief he gets, while he’s on remand. I expect that house of theirs goes up for sale. They’ll pay for the best, thinking they’d get off. Perverting the course of justice will be a hard one for him to walk away from; with what we’ve got on him – apart from the cloning.”
“Their bloody neighbours will throw a party.” Harvey laughed out loud.
“I forgot about them. Maybe we’ll get an invite? Nearly there.” He took the slip road from the dual carriageway and we followed that same wall for about a mile, cruising to a stop at the back of a squad car, straddling the drive into the old mental hospital. Two of our bobbies were leaning back on their car, talking to a heavy set man, whose truck was parked up further along the road.
When we got out the others parked behind our car. Harvey gave me a torch and passed my old trainers to me, from the boot. I had good shoes on and didn’t fancy wrecking them on all the brambles we knew would be everywhere, like trip-wires. I had them on by the time the others were with us.
Lucas said, cryptically, “Perhaps we’ll get season-tickets for this fucking place?”
Harvey answered, “I wouldn’t even joke about that, Lucas. They came in the post when we rescued Andy.”
“Fuck! Sorry, Andy – didn’t think.”
“Forget it, Lucas. It’s bound to come up.”
Harvey grabbed my hand and we walked towards the three men, with the others trailing behind us. They’d stopped talking and the lorry driver was awaiting his fate, having come here to do something illegal.
“Hi, Jeff; Bob.”
“Hello, Harvey,” Bob said back and Jeff nodded to him. The lorry driver was a bit confused; I felt it. He’d been told that their boss was coming, and he was very surprised they’d used Harvey’s Christian name.
Harvey put his hand out to the lorry driver. “Hello, I’m Detective Inspector Burgess; my wife and team.”
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The man glanced at us, nodded and shook Harvey’s hand. “Clive Summerton. Pleased to meet you.”
“We’re in your debt, Clive. Any other tipper would’ve bloody scarpered.”
Clive relaxed a bit and smiled. “Believe me, I thought about it.”
“Only natural, and it would run through anyone’s mind. You stayed, though; that’s the difference. Did you see any other vehicles around when you drove in?”
“A lorry’s lights were heading away from here, on this road, but nothing in the grounds. When those things opened up, it wasn’t because anyone had touched them. I only went to look because of the smell. I knew what it was as soon as I stepped out of the cab. A few years back, I worked with a crew in London, cleaning up houses and flats for the council. Most were where bodies had putrefied. You never forget that smell, inspector.”
“I totally agree with that. Give your name and address to Bob and then you can leave, if you want? You don’t need to watch this and I’m not worried what you were going to tip. I’m grateful you called us, Clive. What I would like you to do is spread the word that this place will have security on it, from now on. You wouldn’t believe how many times we’ve had to come here and it’s going to stop.”
“Thank you, inspector. I’ll do that for you with pleasure.” Bob was looking for his notebook when we left them to follow our noses – not hard to find what we were looking for, at all. We could smell it when the wind momentarily changed to our direction, on our hike in the dark.
Harvey blasted, “That’s fucking rank! We should get down-wind of it when we get closer?”
“You walked me around a large heap, near the boundary hedge, the other day.”
“Must be the only one that could conceal eight of those drums, Alli. We’ll have to watch out for the hole where the last two babies were unearthed. Keep your eyes skinned everyone?” The wind changed again and we received a stronger blast of the stench.
“Christ, I’m holding my breath from here.” Just as I said it, my foot became snared on a briar. I pointed my torch down to see how I could un-hitch it. “Fuck. Look down, Harvey.”
I had my torch shining on a hand. Bones mainly, covered in a slime that used to be flesh.
Harvey gently squeezed my hand and said, “Stop walking. We can’t do this in the dark. I’ll organise Uniform to watch this overnight and we’ll have to come back tomorrow. This isn’t a case of the lid’s blown off and some spillage. Clive was right; must have gone up like a fucking bomb.” Now they all flashed their torches to the ground around them, highlighting other small bits of the slime, trapped in the briars, near their ankles.
Hillary checked out the hand near my foot, and then all around it. She went behind us, saying, “I think this is the extent of it, Harvey. Glad you said that or we’d have walked on God-knows-what, if we’d carried on. Check your clothes and shoes before you get back in your cars, everyone. I have plenty of clean-up swabs in the boot, and please be careful? I don’t know yet if that’s acid they’ve used – looks very much like it.” I kicked the briar and it snapped, freeing my jeans and then we all turned around to walk slowly back.
When we reached the gate Clive had gone. Harvey stayed there, speaking to Bob and Jeff, organising someone on the gate, in shifts, overnight. The rest of us gathered at the boot of Hillary’s car, checking each other for any crap that might have stuck to us. I’d used a few wipes on my feet, just above the tops of my trainers, and had to hold them with one, slipping them off, wanting to dump the pair in the black bag in Hillary’s hands. I dropped them in and asked, “How the hell will you deal with that, Hillary?”
“These swabs will have enough on them, for me to check what we’re dealing with, before tomorrow. I have a small lab in part of our cellar, Alli. Bloody pleased I have.”
Before I could answer, Jo was beside us with a pile in her hand. As she dropped them in, she said, “There’s quite a bit on one of these, Hillary, from Lucas’s shoe.”
“Thanks. Now, just Harvey to check. They may as well go back to the party, Jo. Go with them, if you want?”
“I’m staying, but I’ll tell them, Hillary.”
Harvey came sauntering towards us. “That’s organised. I heard what you said, Hillary. Bloody glad you have, too. If it’s laced with acid, you’ll not work on it, surely?”
“We’ll send it to Porton Down, Harvey. Let them fucking deal with it.” He laughed with us at the irony. They wouldn’t get what was being buried in our garden, but a whole lot of crap they’d actually have to destroy, and wouldn’t have a hope in hell of making germ warfare out of it. We’d read some of the reports on the web that Nate told us about, which confirmed what they’d done over the years. We heard giggling from everyone in our heads, the loudest was Reese.
Love it, Hillary!
She laughed and said, “Anything to oblige, Reese. How’s the party going?”
Olli’s a great DJ. Get back here!
“We’re leaving now. Harvey, let me check your feet, before we go?”
When we arrived home, I went up to have a shower, having had some of that stuff on my feet.
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We were hybrids, half vampire and half human – unable to feel pain and our bodies repair in seconds. That meant we couldn’t care less what happened to us, and we’d live into eternity, but that didn’t stop what went on in our heads. Just the thought of wearing those trainers again, which weren’t waterproof, being so old, made me ride home with bare feet. Harvey would’ve waited for me to get showered, but I was gasping for a cup of bloody tea, so I sent him to the party as I wouldn’t be long.
When I walked in, he was sitting on the edge of the stage, tuning his guitar. His hearing was so acute, he could hear it above the noise of the latest dance music Olli had put on. There was a mug of tea beside him. I sat down. “Is this mine, love?”
He looked up and smiled: Just for you, Alli. Harvey didn’t speak out loud. I’d never have heard him with the din of the bass, booming out of the speakers a few feet away. I sat beside him, picked up my tea, drinking some of it, and then Gill came over to us.
Bren asked if we could sing, Alli. Do you mind?
Don’t be daft, Gill – of course we don’t. Olli’s finishing in a few minutes. Are you singing that same song?
We know others but you may not know them, Alli – Harvey would, he lived through that era.
Harvey laughed in our heads: I may have, Gill, but that doesn’t mean I’d know them. Before I lived with Jenny, I didn’t have such a great life. You’d have to sing a few to us, out in the hall, and then we’ll play for you. It’ll be something different for us and everyone will love it.
She was really excited and waved Bren over from their partners, Jack and Derek, who now waited for them to sing. Lucas and Andy had heard us and we left the revellers to hear them run through the songs. A couple of them Harvey had heard before, but he didn’t know them all the way through. After they’d finished we all knew them, only needing to hear it once – a useful quirk we had. Gill said she wanted to sing something a cappella. I had to ask what that meant, not knowing anything about musical terms. She explained, “I’ll sing without music, Alli – plenty of practice on that bloody road.” She couldn’t help giggling at Bren.
We looked forward to that. She had a beautiful voice and she’d only sung here once before, with Bren. They’d sung together a lot, waiting for punters they could feed off, in the red-light district, across town. Three quarters of the female hybrids in the country had to feed like that. Harvey always said it was just-desserts, as they deserved to be fed off, if they continued to use women like pieces of meat, and I agree with him. Although, that was the way I used to feed, before he helped me to stop.
Once we were settled in our places to play, and Chris had brought his double-bass from the back of the stage, Harvey began playing the intro with Lucas, for the first one they’d chosen to sing. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.
Harvey nodded for me to join them. Chris just jumped in and out, all the way through the song, but he took centre stage for an instrumental in the middle. He knew his music and now he’d been turned, he made that double-bass purr. Our party of dancers stopped when they heard the change in music. The members of the team who’d never been here before, showed total surprise on their faces. One, we were the band, and two, how well we played and they’d lined up along the stage, four or five deep. As soon as we’d finished, the noise almost deafened us with cheering and whistles. Most of it was from our lot, at the back.
Next, the girls sang: Don’t sit under the apple tree. Bren and Gill were really animated and funny singing that. They must have looked hilarious on that bloody street. Anyone could see they’d practiced it to perfection, with all the hand gestures and different stances they took. We loved it and there was uproar when it ended. They took a bow, laughing their heads off to everyone clapping, in the front few rows, as if they were big stars at a concert.
They went on to sing: I Can Dream, Can’t I, and then followed it with Ferryboat Serenade. After the applause had died down, Gill went to the bar for a glass of water. She drank some and came back to stand centre stage. Bren stood beside me, Harvey and the lads. Gill closed her eyes to compose herself and began to sing Summertime. From the first note, there was stunned silence in the room. The emotion in her voice, charging the air, brought a lump to my throat. Harvey wrapped his arms around me from behind. He’d felt the passion in me change, cuddling me tighter with his head resting on mine, captivated by Gill, like us all.
It was over too soon. The whole place erupted when that last note drifted away from her, to the back of the room. Gill looked a bit embarrassed, mouthed ‘thank you’ to the front row and hurried over to us.
Ron, our immediate boss at work, and our commissioner, came over to us when the applause had died down a bit. He smiled at Gill and said to her, “You have a beautiful voice, Gill. That was my late wife’s favourite song and it brought back some treasured memories. Thank you.”
Gill lost all her embarrassment when she answered him, “That means a lot Ron and I’ll sing it for you whenever you’d like to hear it.” He smiled at her and nodded.
Then he turned to Harvey. “I have something to tell you, Harvey. Could you come with me, a moment, please?”
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Harvey wondered why. Someone turned the main lights on and Ron took him in front of the stage where there was space, now that the onlookers had moved away, with the music coming to an end.
Ron turned and coughed quite loudly to get people’s attention. The usual din from all the chatting died down and our guests turned to look at them both.
Ron began to speak. “Thank you.” He turned to Harvey. “I know you’re wondering why the hell you’re here, Harvey. This won’t take long and don’t look so bloody worried.” Giggling rippled across the crowd, dying down again, quickly. “This is a pleasure for me, Harvey. You’ve been promoted, lad. Congratulations! You’re now a Chief Inspector.” Harvey was floored, we could all feel it. Ron put his hand on his shoulder and said, “Don’t worry, Harvey. I’ve told the buggers they’re not having you for any bloody after dinner speeches.”
Harvey giggled. “Thank God for that, Ron. They’d learn tons of ways to spell no, and they’d all start with the letter F.” Ron laughed his head off along with the audience. Harvey glanced at me, chuckling.
Through the hall door strode Jo and Andy. They both had magnums of champagne tucked in their arms. Andy had a job to hold his, with him not being as strong as Jo. I’d never seen bottles that big before. Suddenly there was a lot of movement behind the bar. Gina and Olli were lining up glasses, as fast as possible, making a racket, clanging some together in their haste. Andy put his bottle on a table that was pushed aside for the dancing, and glad he didn’t have to carry it any further. Jo, on the other hand, was as strong as Harvey, opening it with as much ease as a normal sized bottle. The cork hit the ceiling and cheering filled the room. She didn’t lose a drop of the precious liquid, topping up glasses with bubbles that settled half way down whatever shaped glass she’d poured it in. She was on the second bottle in no time. Hillary, Gill and Bren filled trays and took them around the room for our new guests and our usual rabble of friends.
Ron said the toast to Harvey and the whole throng chanted it after him; raising their glasses and sipping the golden liquid. Ron knew Harvey was gutted again. He tapped his back, saying, “You know how I feel about you all, son, and it’s been a pleasure to be included like family.”
Harvey could only squeeze one word out, “Always.”
Olli was an angel; changing the subject, as it were…putting music on with the volume turned down. Harvey relaxed and chatted to people, the moment’s tension gone. It was nearly time for our extra guests to go. The coach would arrive soon, to take them home.
To make it easy for them all to come, Harvey had told them to arrange babysitters for their kids and he was paying. Jo organised the coaches, so that they could enjoy themselves and not have to drive.
Lisa, Debbie’s friend at work, and sister to one of our murder victims, stood away from the crowd and coughed loudly, to make everyone in the team listen. It took a few seconds and then there was silence. She turned to us and said, “Harvey, Alli, and the rest of you, who have invited us into your home, thank you for a great party – can’t wait for the next one.” We giggled and it spread through the team. One of them started clapping, and then whistling and yelling followed on until they all chanted, “Here, here.”
Harvey straightened himself out to answer her. “Thanks Lisa.” He looked at them in turn. “You all work without complaining and it’s been heavy these last few months, so I thank you from us. We couldn’t achieve our clear-up rate, without you – we know that. This is a great team and you’ll be back for more of the same, don’t worry. You’ll also be thrilled that Reese said today, they’re starting the extension to our section of the nick.” Cheering drowned him out for a few seconds. He laughed and carried on with, “I’m surprised we’ve had no fights over space. Now it’s nearly time for you to bugger off home. The coaches will be here in ten minutes.” There were a lot of ‘ahhh’s’ bandied around and then they laughed with him. They’d had a good time which is what we wanted.
When they’d all gone, we went into the conservatory and sat around the table for a nightcap. Ron’s taxi was booked for half an hour and while Lucas handed out glasses of wine, and Gina made tea for us, Harvey made sure he had his drink first. Ron loved a drop of scotch.
“Here you are, Ron.” Harvey put his drink down and pulled out the chair beside him.
Ron glanced at him and said, “Thank you, Harvey.”
“Pleasure, Ron. How long have you known about my promotion?”
Ron smiled at him, saying, “A couple of days, Harvey. You both made such an impression in London, a certain person pushed for it. I believe he rang you tonight.”
A smile filled Harvey’s face. “Crafty bugger. He didn’t mention a thing, Ron. I’ll be surprised if he can fucking hear, after that phone call – disturbing a great night.” Ron chuckled and sipped his drink. He didn’t need to envisage the phone call – he’d received a few himself. He glanced at me and smiled.
Harvey went on, “I’ll tell you in the morning, what we went out to, Ron – take too long now. Another fucking nightmare to sort out.”
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Ron knew that Harvey didn’t elaborate. We couldn’t lie about anything unless to hide what we were or save someone’s feelings. He looked at Harvey. “Sounds bad. Tomorrow is soon enough.” He drained his glass, glanced at his watch and said, “The taxi will be here in a sec. Thanks for a great party. The team enjoyed themselves…”
Harvey heard the doorbell and because Ron had picked up the mind reading, he heard it through him. He stood up and placed his hand on Harvey’s shoulder. “I’ll see myself out, Harvey – don’t get up. Good night all,” he said with his arm raised to everyone down the table. Goodbyes followed him out of the conservatory.
Harvey stood up, “I haven’t had enough to drink…” Before he’d finished his sentence his phone rang. “What the fuck is this?” He pulled his phone from his pocket and everyone stopped talking. Once it was to his ear, he yelled, “What!”
He listened. With the frown lines softening on his brow and a smile growing wider across his dial, we all breathed a sigh of relief, knowing this wasn’t work. I got up to make more tea.
Gina followed me into Lucas’s kitchen. “Was it bad at the old hospital, Alli?”
I held the kettle under the tap to fill it and replied, “Not good and you wouldn’t have heard us with the music on. We’ll have to go back there tomorrow. Some of the barrels must have exploded. We could smell them long before we saw anything. I was snagged with a briar and looked down with my torch to unhitch it. There was a hand near my foot, covered in slime. It would’ve been impossible to carry on in the dark, Gina. That stuff was all over the place when everyone looked around them. We went back to the cars and had to wipe our shoes and jeans down with swabs. Hillary’s testing what’s on them, to see if they’d used acid – she thought so.”
Harvey came in, “You don’t have to come tomorrow, Gina.”
“I know I don’t, Harvey, although I think I should.” We both knew why she said it.
Harvey nodded to her and said, “If you want out, at any time, you only have to ask.”
Olli poked his head in. “Gina knows that, Harvey. We’re all in this together – sounds fucking horrendous.”
“It is, Olli. We can at least let off some steam tomorrow night. Gavin, Jane and a few others are coming and we’re taking them to Lucas’s climbing school. Reese offered to organise them twenty-four hours off. They have a couple of jobs for you, Alli – tell you later, love.”
“I’ve seen it, Harvey. A pleasure…I’d hate that.” I didn’t have to explain to Gina, or Olli – any of them really. We were telepathic and they all knew in seconds.
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