The Steal

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Chapter 21         Eric Carter Wakes Up

It was going to be one of the train journeys that was going to long and drawn out – the news that faster trains would be used on the railways, most probably in a couple of years time had been stated many times over.  In fact each month some railway expert would report that a break through in railway transport was imminent. What that meant Wragg had no idea.  It would be easy for Dodd and Lodge to follow, if not pass the train on its journey, because it seemed that the train stopped every ten minutes for some unknown reason.  Wragg amused himself with the noise the train made when standing still. It had that melodious sound that you could put a tune to, but then again once you had chosen that tune, you couldn’t change it and then you suffered the rest of the journey with that same tune running around your head.

Wragg kept popping his head out through the window which was held up by a thick wide leather belt and for a brief moment he saw Dodd and Lodge on a road that was parallel to the railway before entering a very long tunnel.  Wragg had forgotten about the tunnel and it would have solved those two miscreants problems had Wragg had an unfortunate accident with the edge of the tunnel.  It was Wragg’s sense of humour that made light of the situation when thinking about a newspaper headline that would read, “A Black Head found in a Railway Tunnel.”  In the days of yore when there were steam trains, all the tunnels had a thick carpet of soot that covered every inch of the tunnel and it was deemed unsafe to stick your head out of the window because a hot flint or coal dust could penetrate your eyes.

Wragg just remembered just in time that the electric trains now used had a wider coach and were closer to the side of the tunnels.  The lights went on in the carriage, it must have been an afterthought by whoever was in charge of the lights as the train emerged from the tunnel and stopped at another red light just before the station where he had to get off and change to catch another train on another platform.  This was going to confuse his followers as the train would be going in the opposite direction but just to make sure, Wragg made a telephone call from the platform telephone kiosk. Three stations up the line it would veer off almost at right angles away from the main line.  This train was faster with no stops.  Unless his shadows were mind readers their trail would be stone cold.  Luckily they weren’t and seven stops on he alighted and caught a taxi to his destination to meet his friends.

*                           *                           *

Dodd and Lodge waited outside in the car park.  They had dismounted from their bikes and were watching and waiting.  Lodge sidled over to where Dodd was standing and said, ‘Perhaps he has an accident and was hit by the tunnel.’

‘I don’t think so!  Where’s the ambulance?’

‘What ambulance!’

‘Well, if he had an accident, they would have asked for a ambulance or if he was dead they would have sent a police car.’

Just then a police car came and stopped in front of the railway station and four policemen got out and rushed through the entrance of the station.  It was a quarter of an hour before they emerged from the station, got into the car and just waited while the driver made a call back to base.  If Dodd & Lodge had their police bikes they would heard the message and it is a good job they hadn’t heard because it was about them.  The police drove off.

They walked into the station and were about to go on the platform when the ticket collector told them they needed a platform ticket.  Dodd told the ticket collector ‘I’m a policeman and so is my colleague.’  ‘Can you show me your warrant card?’

‘I don’t have it with me, we are undercover.’

The ticket collector looked at them and said, ‘Okay, go on then.’

They walked the whole length of the platform, went across the bridge and strolled up and down and then crossed another bridge to where a four coach train was standing waiting to depart. They looked into all the compartments and then walked up and down the platform.  They looked disappointed and as they passed the ticket collector, he said, ‘If you are looking for someone, you didn’t check the toilets, station café or the Ladies waiting room.’

‘I don’t think we’ll bother!’ said Dodd. ‘Thanks all the same.’

When they got outside Lodge turned to Dodd. ‘Why didn’t we look?’

‘For the simple reason that he watched our every movement and he knew we weren’t going to find the person we were looking for.’

‘But you never asked him the question, how could he have known who we were looking for?’

‘I have a sixth sense about these things and I just knew that Chief Superintendent bloody Wragg wasn’t there and I think everyone in that station knew who we were and who we were looking for.

‘If you say so!’ said Lodge.

‘This man Wragg is a shrewd character.  I underestimated him, but not next time – if he is a wily person I can play the same game.’

Lodge nodded in agreement, but was still none the wiser for it.  He just went along with everything Dodd said and did as it could be his insurance between living and dying although he didn’t know when Dodd was going to find his usefulness helpful or otherwise.  Lodge wondered whether he had a sixth sense that would allow him to withdraw his services from Dodd’s favour, but timing was going to be crucial and Lodge wasn’t sure he was capable and could only see himself as a wooden puppet on strings that Dodd could pull any day.

Dodd on the other hand had his own nemesis to worry about. He knew he could control Lodge, but the thorn in his side was going to be Roger Grey and he had wished he hadn’t become involved, although at the moment, they had only been introduced to each other and if Roger was thinking he might be able to control him, Dodd was going to make damn sure it never happened.

Both Dodd and Lodge had these thoughts running through their minds as they rode through the countryside.  They had lost their way and had strayed onto another road which was unfamiliar to both of them.  They saw in the distance a public house.  It was way out of civilization with nothing else in sight.  They dismounted their bikes and it was their intention to have something to eat and ask the way back to London.  As Dodd walked passed a window, he happened to look in and saw two men he knew.  It was Sergeants Dotrice & Stone.  He dropped to the ground as quickly as he could and he yelled to Lodge to get down!     Dodd crawled towards his bike, his belly scraping the rough stones.  He heard a window opening or was it shutting and he lay still trying not to breathe.  Had he been seen?  He wasn’t sure. He had to get out as quickly as possible and he painstakingly crawled to his bike which was situated round the side of the building where there were no windows.  Lodge followed suit and they both edged towards the wall of the building.  How were they going to get away without being seen?  Dodd thought it was just possible to drive away with their backs to the windows, even though it was at an acute angle to begin with.

*                           *                           *

Greeting an old mate, Detective Inspector Brian Crosby who had taken over his job was a good feeling.  He was also happy to see Sergeants Dotrice and Stone.  Wragg laid down the rules of the meeting, it was to be first names for a start. ‘Luke, Phillip this is Brian and I am Ian and I’m going to buy the first round.  ‘What does everybody want?’

Having bought the drinks, they were directed to a room that Brian had hired for the occasion.  It was situated well away from prying eyes and listening ears, for two doors made sure it was well and truly isolated.  The décor of the room wasn’t particularly of high quality, but it was a cool room and the distant hum of a generator on the floor below them could be heard where all the barrels of beer were kept at a constant temperature.  The noise wasn’t loud enough to distract their conversation.  ‘Before we begin’ Brian said, ‘I have some very good news for you Ian!’

‘Oh What’s that?  I could do with some good news. You possibly heard on the news that I lost two of my men yesterday and they were the good guys.’

‘Yes I did hear,’ said Brian.  ‘But this is great news – Eric Carter has recovered from his coma and the doctors are very pleased with his progress.’

Ian almost choked on his beer, he was more than pleased to hear such good news, it was as if he was crying.  He plunged his hand in his pocket and pulled out his handkerchief and wiped his eyes.  He looked around the room to his friends and said, ‘I am well pleased.’  He blew his nose and said, ‘Something must have gone into my left eye – ah it seems to have cleared itself.’

Ian repeated. ‘I’m so pleased, Eric and I have been friends since school days and I was sure I was going to lose a very dear friend.’  He was pleased and happy for the first time in ages.

‘Gentlemen, I am very sad to announce that we have been hoodwinked in allowing two bad apples to join our ranks masquerading as policemen and I refer to Dodd and Lodge and I am positive, one hundred percent sure that they had planned the accident to Jameson and Brook – but proving it is going to be difficult.’

‘Good Lord!’ said Brian.

‘I am sure that Dodd has persuaded Lodge to be part of his conspiracy and one move from Lodge of leaving could mean death for him and I have no way of protecting him, unless I second him to another district far, far away as a temporary move and hope that Dodd doesn’t become suspicious.  I have launched into the background of Dodd’s earlier life and I am hoping that this will bring something to light and of course I hadn’t realized that Raymond Dodd was Samantha Dodd’s brother. She was the woman who was murdered and we haven’t caught the killer yet and of course Raymond Dodd is thinking we are dragging our feet over the matter, but as I said to him and the new intake from the beginning, it is an ongoing case and we will catch our man in the end.’

Ian turned sideways to the window when he heard the crunching of boots on the gravel outside. He asked Luke to shut the window.  Luke was half way up off of his seat and gasped and sat down quickly.  He whispered to Ian and the rest that Dodd had been at the window.  I don’t think he saw me.  After a few minutes passed, Luke Stone got up and closed the window and it was shortly after that the roar of engines was heard and Wragg witnessed two men riding away.

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