There's one problem with posting this chapter by chapter as I write it. Plot holes. The plot twists slightly in chap three which means a slight amendment is needed to chap 1. It's not even a huge change that's needed, if you've been following it, you might not even spot it. Anyway, here's part 3.
Barry Safford was in his bath towel when they arrived. The sauna still pumped steam and heat into the large, indoor swimming pool making Britwell already feel hot under the collar. The pool itself was a shrine to Essex. Poorly grouted tiles lined the floor while Statues of Greek gods and Goddesses stood round the pool edge. Occasional pot plants and trellis filled in the gaps while the mirrored ceiling proved that class just couldn't be bought. Unlike the tacky pool, Britwell though it a modern wonder of the world how Barry Safford, from his meagre background, had become so successful and rich.
“Whatever this is about, officer, I think you’ll find you’ve got the wrong person, again.” He sucked hard on his cigar and placed his hands on his hips.
Britwell shook his head. “I think you’ll find, Mr Safford, that things may not go your way tonight.”
Britwell looked round. Of course nothing traced the six foot lump of flab and muscle to crime. Searches by the Fraud Office, Vice and Firearms always came up with nothing. He just seemed to be lucky. Whatever new venture he started, it made a mint. He had the Midas touch. He was as bent as a fishing hook, but there was no proof.
“Think I better ring my lawyer, constable, he says my claim for harassment should get me a new house in Tuscany.”
Britwell ignored the constable jibe. He was always trying to wind him up. The odd smart Alec phrase here, little dig there. Britwell knew he couldn’t lose his cool with him. Again. What little evidence they may get could be destroyed on a technicality by a well-aimed kick at his towelled knackers.
“I’ll explain down the station.” Britwell tried to look smug, but the bags under his eyes gave a more sinister effect. Safford’s face dropped slightly. Britwell knew he was checking back through his deals, wondering just what piece of evidence he may have left in the house or forgotten to cover. He almost looked worried. Britwell smiled.
The hastily drawn together search team of insomniacs and overtime freaks continued their search of the mansion. They’d come up with nothing, but that wasn’t the point. Annoying Safford and his walking silicon-implant of a wife was the point. Britwell could hear her sharp cockney accent, telling the officers upstairs to “Fack off and catch some real villains or immigrants. Someone what’s actually guilty.”
Britwell lowered his voice and looked Safford in the eye. “We got a witness. He can place you with the gun in your hand, pulling the trigger.”
Safford looked confused, which wasn’t unusual. More confused than normal though. “I’ve been here all night.” He seemed to be thinking through the evening, squinting his eyes to give more focus. He finally shook his head. “How much you paying them to lie, constable? Seems the police get more corrupt every day.”
DS Walters walked over, nodding her head at him. “Don’t go far,” said Britwell, walking to meet her by the unnecessarily well-endowed statue of Eros. “What?”
“Cars not outside. Fish wife upstairs says it’s been at the garage for a week. Problem with the radio. Can’t pick up BBC Essex.”
“That’s a problem.”
She laughed then seemed to realise it wasn’t either a joke or a question. “Just sent a squad car to the garage.”
“Any bets on ‘The garage’s been broken into and the car stolen?’ Shit. All we’ve got’s a singing, cross-dressing newsagent.” He shook his head. “He only saw the back of him then fled. Shit. CPS won’t touch this with his.” He pointed at the statue.
“Maybe we could find other witnesses? Someone else might corroborate?”
Britwell looked at her. Her bright, keen DS eyes hadn’t yet been burned out with failure and frustration. Still looking on the bright side. Still hope. He shrugged his shoulders. He’d give her two more years before her first breakdown.
“All we need is someone else to place him in his car tonight?” She waited for him to answer.
Britwell was lost in thought, the unthinkable running through his head. What if Safford hadn’t done it? Forget the embarrassment of the cock up and the effect on his harassment claim. Something bigger lurked in the background. What kind of a nutter would steal Safford’s car and kill someone, knowing people would see it? This could get very messy.
He looked back at Walters. “What do you reckon?”
She shrugged her shoulders. “We could go to the red light district, see who we can pick up?”
Britwell nodded. “Best offer I’ve had in ages. Come on, I’ll get uniform to bring in the mockney cockneys.”