State of Emergency – Chapter 4
December 13, 2010
Chris had been in Liverpool for less than three hours and his hire car had already been stolen.
Unfortunately, he’d been in it at the time. He picked himself slowly up off the tarmac, his knees feeling stiff and old as he straightened and tried to dust himself off. His slacks and jacket had torn when he’d rolled out of the vehicle; he’d picked up a few grazes and an elbow that throbbed from a bone-deep bruise, but his pride stung more than anything. Rage knotted in his belly, seething like live seafood flung into a boiling pot.
“I am fed up of being some kind of fucking cosmic joke!” He slammed his clenched fist into the bonnet of a near-by car, then let out a half-restrained scream of pure fury as a bolt of pain shot up through his arm and the car’s alarm started to hoot and flash.
“I am getting a fucking gun, fucking English law or not,” he muttered through clenched teeth as he started trudging down the motorway verge, stepping over the cast-away condoms, cigarette butts and fast-food wrappers of a thousand other lives.
His CCG stun gun lay on the pale green coverlet of a single bed that had one short leg on the right hand side and a mattress with more stains than stuffing, but Chris planned on spending as little time in the tiny Anfield B&B as possible and the somewhat-portly woman who ran it seemed pleasant but unobtrusive, which was exactly what he needed.
The rest of his hardware lay on the table in front of the window. Chris pushed the bulk of it aside, leaving only a slim metal handsaw, a heavy-duty rasp and his newly acquired shotgun in front of him. He picked up the weapon, checked the sights, broke it open and checked the breach, then set it down with the long barrel protruding over the edge of the table. He leaned hard on the butt with one hand and started sawing across the barrel, gritting his teeth as the effort made his hand pulse, sketching lurid crimson lines of pain across his vision.
When a good 8-inches of the twin barrels fell to the floor, he sank down into the chair and pulled a sheet of cocodamol from his pocket, pressing out two pills and swallowing them dry, then sat with his eyes closed for a long moment, waiting for the pain to ebb away. He’d put ice on it later and sleep for a while. When everything was ready.
With a groan, he forced his eyes open and set to filing down the rough edges of his sawn-off, then turned it over and filed off the serial number as well, his hands doing their job while his eyes stared right through the gun, remembering the slender, delicate fingers cradled in his scarred and weather-beaten palm. The same fingers that had clung so hard to Ian Carlyle’s hand as they fled the detention centre.
He slammed the gun down on the table and flung the emery paper aside, dragging over a sports bag and the other paraphernalia he’d brought with him. A dispenser of plastic binder strips went into the bag along with two pairs of cuffs, a roll of electrical tape and a couple of anonymous white gym towels. He tipped a box of shotgun shells into the left pocket of the long wool coat he’d picked up and tucked two auto-carbine clips in the other, then threw the rest of the shells and clips into the bag. Binoculars and a hand-held video camera followed them, and he fussed around with the towels until they lay over the jumble of gear. Then the shotgun went on top. He screwed the silencer onto the carbine and slipped it into the deep top-right inside pocket of the coat, then draped that over the back of the chair.
He looked at the rest of the packages. This was where honest police-work stopped and something entirely new and strange began.
He froze for a long moment, fingers hovering an unmarked black plastic bag. He wondered if this was what it was like to be Derek, to be any enforcer, rather than an old man clinging to the out-moded ideals of a redundant police force. Everything Derek had said, about “fighting fire with fire” and “A little bit of evil can do a lot of good…”
“It will all come out right. I just need a chance to explain…” The sound of his own voice jerked him back to reality. He took a deep breath and grabbed the bag.
He’d been far from comfortable walking into a sex shop for the first time in his life. A seedy little place on the back streets of Liverpool with blacked out windows and a glaring pink neon sign, somehow all the more condemning for the nasal British accent of the young woman behind the counter, who’d lifted her eyebrows flirtatiously while her lips stayed stiff and bored and somehow above the environment she worked in. But he hadn’t known of anywhere more legitimate to get something that could safely do the same job. It was important not to do any more damage than he had to.
He swallowed hard and blinked back tears as he flung the ball gag and ankle cuffs into the bag. It would all be OK once he explained. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.
He kept repeating that to himself as he stripped most of the items out of the holiday first aid kit he’d bought at a chemist’s, keeping only the sterile syringes, which he slowly filled from a dark glass bottle, then recapped and tucked back into their padded sconces in the kit, ignoring the way his hands shook and the taste of bile in the back of his throat. The kit went into the bag; he shoved everything down under the towel so only the shotgun remained in easy reach.
With the zip done up and everything out of sight, it was easy to pretend it was just a normal day. He tucked the last two pairs of cuffs into his back pockets, their presence there familiar and reassuringly normal. Later, when he lay in the creaking bed with an icepack resting on the back of his hand, he took out the smaller pair and twirled them back and forth around his forefinger as he stared at the ceiling. It would all come out OK in the end.
It still took him a very long time to fall asleep.