It's time for more Britwell. If you've missed the first three chapters, they're posted on here a month or so ago.
DS Walters crept the car along the kerb two streets from the police-taped crime scene. Like a good farmer, the working girls and boys had been quick to rotate their crops to a nearby street. Only a few lined the street, wares on display. These were the most desperate, the lowest of the low, the most addicted of addicts.
Britwell knew them all, for the right reasons.
“If we’re talking turf wars,” said Walters, “who the hell would muscle in? This is Basingstoke, not the Bronx.”
Britwell shook his head. Not much made sense anymore. Say what you like about Safford, you knew what he was up to. Proper old school criminal, sure he might hurt people, but gunning them down? Not his style. Not like these youngsters. “Dunno. East Europeans?”
“Hardly enough of them around for a turf war, is there?”
Britwell shook his head. “Don’t make sense. Mind, you I’ve seen a couple of polish shops pop up the past few years. Wonder who’s protecting them?” What he didn’t tell Walters was the first time he saw a sign, Polish Shop, he wondered how on earth a shop could survive selling just polish. Just furniture polish and brasso seemed too specialised to him. He shook his head.
“As you say, sir, not really enough of them to take over. Maybe it’s some kids trying to muscle in? Out of towners? Londoners spreading out? The Kent lot?”
Britwell grunted. It could have meant yes. “Here’s Junie, pull up next to her.”
Walters pulled up beside the most deathlike forty year-old that was still breathing. Skirt no larger than the proverbial belt, her huge hoop earrings pulled her ears towards her knees. Eyes like vending machine coin slots, a drooping, unlit cigarette hung from her mouth. Her face was dotted with moles and scars with parts of it hidden under a dollop of pound shop makeup. Track marks up her arm looked like an google streetmap of Paddington station’s approach.
“Hello love.” She poked her head in through the open passenger window. Seeing both of them, she added, “I don’t do nuffin kinky. You want Cheryl up ... Oh, Inspector Britwell, come for your freebie have you?” She grinned showing a row of yellowed half teeth, the cigarette somehow defied gravity to stay attached to her top lip.
Britwell turned to Walters, the disgust already embedded in her face. “She’s a card ain’t she?” Turning back, he said, “How’s tricks Junie?”
“Bit quiet, you know the score.” She pulled out a disposable lighter and lit the cigarette.
“ Who was it earlier then? Who pulled the trigger?”
She stepped back from the car and looked up and down the road. “I didn’t see nuffin.”
“Come on Junie. I ain’t looking for a statement, just want to know. Strictly off record.”
“I weren’t there.” She took another step backwards.
A car behind them, crawling along the kerb, overtook and stopped at the pleasure purveyor up ahead. Britwell saw Walters pull out her notebook and write down the registration.
“We know who's car it was, but someone else was driving. Did you recognise them or not? That’s all I wanna know. There’s fifty quid in it?”
Her eyes half lit up. Given the lack of punters and her lack of sex appeal, fifty quid was a good night’s wage. She was more than thinking about it.
Eventually she shook her head. “Didn’t see nothing.”
“Is someone trying to muscle in?”
She took another step back and walked towards the other night workers.
Walters crept the car along in time with her walking.
“It’s someone new isn’t it?” said Britwell.
“Didn’t see nuffin.”
“Come on, Junie, it’ll be worth your while.”
She stopped, turned and poked her head through the window. “Two hundred.”
Britwell pulled out his wallet and counted out five twenties. “Hundred tops.”
She nodded, snatched the money and prodded it down her bra. Britwell saw more than he wanted to and decided never to eat mashed potato again.
“Don’t know who they were, but it weren’t the normal lot.”
“Description?” said Walters.
Junie twisted her head to exhale a cloud of smoke. “Six foot, brick shit house, scars on his face, short brown hair. Been around a few days. A couple of girls didn’t come out tonight, rumours say they’re now working for him.”
Britwell pulled out another forty quid and handed it to her. “Buy yourself a train ticket somewhere, eh? Start afresh.”
She nodded, but it wasn’t convincing. Not convincing at all.
As Walters sped off, she said, “What she said about a freebie.” She paused. “You...”
“No, not at all. What do you take me for?”
She nodded, but like Junie’s nod, it wasn’t convincing.