I was woken by the irritating sound of something squeaking, but couldn’t think of what it might be, as I was sure that there was nothing in my unit that would make a noise like that.
As I slowly opened my eyes and looked around I realised, however, that I wasn’t at home; I was somewhere entirely different. It was then that it dawned on me that I wasn’t even in a bed. I was sitting in a chair, in a sterile looking room, alongside a teenage boy –- who did happen to be in a bed –- and who was sitting up and grinning at me.
‘Yeah, it’s about time you woke up,’ Shane said to me.
‘Fuck, what time is it?’ I groaned, while my aching body protested as I went to sit up, so that I could check my watch. It was only just past six in the morning, which was an early start, especially for me.
‘What’s wrong old man? Can’t handle the pressure no more?’
‘I’ll give you a run for your money, punk . . . but just let me iron out a few of these kinks and get myself a coffee first,’ I grumbled, as Shane grinned back at me.
After getting to my feet I did a few stretches, then perched myself on the side of his bed, just as I had done the night before. Shane looked up at me and smiled, but then his face seemed to cloud over slightly, almost as if he suddenly remembered why we were both here.
‘I’m sorry about last night,’ he said.
‘Don’t sweat it, mate. We all have our moments.’
‘Yeah . . . but . . .’
‘Sshhh,’ I said. ‘It’s okay to let things out every now and then. It just shows we’re all human. You’ve been through a lot . . . you both have, so it’s a perfectly natural reaction.’
‘It just seems so . . . what’s the word . . . surreal, I guess, that it’s over and he’s finally been locked up.’
‘Yeah, it is a bit.’
‘So, what happens now? To him and, I guess, to me and Jimmy?’
Looking at him sitting there, his cuts healing and his bruises fading, it was easy to see the young man that was emerging from boyhood. At times he looked to be little more than a vulnerable kid, nervous and unsure of himself, yet at other times what I could see was a handsome lad with a quirky sense of humour, who was really going to make a name for himself.
It was then that I realised that I had yet to call Martin’s parents last night, so I thought I had best do that early this morning and make sure everything was going to be okay.
‘Well, mate, there’s still a bit we have to do today, with the first thing being that I just need to call some friends of mine this morning and make sure it’s okay for you and Jimmy to stay with them for a little while. At some stage today Jarvis will have a bail hearing, but given the nature of what he’s been up to we’re confident he’ll be remanded in custody. After that, we let the Police Prosecutor take over for the court case.’
‘Where are you going to take us?’
‘It’s a couple of hours’ drive away. The place is right near a beach, if that’s any help. I’ll let you know where it is just as soon as we’re on the way there,’ I said to him, before then lowering my voice and adding, ‘I can’t tell you straight away, just in case someone we don’t want to hear actually overhears us, if you catch my meaning?’
He nodded his understanding.
‘In the meantime, though, if there’s anything else you can remember that might help us with sealing the deal and locking Jarvis up, that might be helpful.’
‘I’ve actually been thinking about that,’ he answered. ‘Remember me telling you about Gus?’
‘Yeah, of course.’
‘Well, he was the one who sort of used to keep an eye on things in the house and make sure everyone toed the line, coz there wasn’t anyone else who lived there with us, it was just us kids. It could get pretty wild sometimes. Anyhow, he also used to take us to see some of the tricks when they booked us, know what I mean?’
I nodded, but didn’t say anything.
‘If you can find Gus then you should ask about the book that he used to write everything down in for Jarvis . . . the names of who we did, and when and where, and how much we got. He had some sort of secret compartment for it in his car. Jarvis used to look at it all the time to make sure he wasn’t being robbed or nothing. You find that, you’ll have everything you need, I reckon.’
‘I suspect that you just may be right about that,’ I replied, as I quickly reached forward and put a hand behind his neck, then pulled him closer and kissed his forehead. I knew it was wrong, but what the heck, I thought.
‘What the fuck was that for?’ he laughed.
‘Just for being so awesome,’ I replied. ‘You and your boyfriend are amongst the bravest kids I know, and I can’t even begin to tell you how proud of you both that I am.’
‘Thanks Coop. I know that I ain’t no hero, but it feels good to know we helped.’
‘You did more than just help, buddy. If it weren’t for the two of you being brave enough to speak up, there’s no way we would have been able to get what we have on him. Hopefully now some of the others will talk to us as well, and if they do it’ll just be some more nails in his coffin.’
‘Good! I hope the bastard rots in hell!’
‘Now, mate, I’m going to have to get going. I need a shower and change of clothes before I head to the station. Helen and I will be back sometime soon to talk to your doctor about getting the clearance to bust you out of here, okay. Then we’ll whisk you and Jimmy away for a while.’
‘Thanks Coop; I can hardly wait,’ he said, before quickly throwing his arms around me and giving me a brief hug, after which he let go of me and sat back, looking up at me with what was almost an embarrassed expression on his face.
I got to my feet and ruffled his hair, then said, ‘I’ll catch you later, kiddo.’
* * *
After a quick cab ride back to my unit, grabbing a shower and change of clothes, I decided it was late enough to give Martin’s parents, Beth and Tom, a call.
Tom picked up on the first ring and we went through the usual greetings and catch up, although I suspect that Beth would have filled him on what I had been up to.
‘So, Beth tells me you need a safe house for a couple of kids,’ he stated. For as long as I had known him he had always been one to come straight to the point.
‘Errr, yeah,’ I answered. ‘They’re witnesses in a case we’re working at the moment. The offender was arrested yesterday, but we were just hoping to get the kids out of the way for a little while.’
‘They’re not in any sort of trouble are they?’
‘No. They’ve actually been helping us. But before you say anything you really do need to know their full story . . . I don’t want to keep anything from you . . .’
‘I appreciate that, son,’ he replied.
For the next few minutes I proceeded to tell him the boys’ story . . . or as much as I knew of it, culminating in Shane’s bashing, Jimmy’s calling us, and what had happened with Jarvis. I also explained the situation about how they might be in danger if anyone knew where they were. That also had the potential to place both Tom and Beth in jeopardy as well, but at least if I could get the boys out of the city the chances of anyone being able to find them would be extremely remote at best.
I knew it was a lot for him to take in, as well as risk, but I also knew that both he and his wife weren’t the type of people who would turn their backs on someone in need. In fact, I was actually counting on that.
‘How old did you say these kids were?’
‘About sixteen. They’ve both had it pretty tough for the past few years, and neither knew how they would ever get out of the cycle that their life seemed to have been enveloped within. But they’ve both got good heads on their shoulders and seem willing to break free of their past. Shane is still in the hospital and under police guard, but Jimmy has been helping in the garden with the women he’s being cared for by at the moment. They say he’s been a huge help.’
‘Well, that sounds like they’re good kids . . . maybe just in need of some help and guidance, perhaps.’
‘Yes. There’s also one other thing I haven’t mentioned yet.’
‘They’re boyfriends. I don’t know if it’s just the fact that they came together under the circumstances they were in and grew to depend on each other, or if it’s something deeper . . . I suspect it might be a combination of both . . . but right now they need each other, and the last thing I want to see happen is for them to be torn apart by going into the foster system.’
There was a silence on the line for a few moments, as he mulled things over in his mind, but just as I was about to say something he said, ‘I understand totally, Rick. You know we’ve never been ones to stand in the way of young love, so we’d be happy to have them stay for a while.’
‘Thank you, Tom. That means so much to me.’
‘You’re welcome. Now, Beth said there was something else you wanted to talk to us both about? Something about Martin?’
Now it was my turn to go silent for a few moments.
‘Yeah, I’m still here. Look, I wanted to tell you in person, but you really should know. The long and the short of it is that something happened this week that has brought it all flooding back, well for me at least. There might be a new lead in the case. My new police partner and I are going to be looking back over everything, with our Inspector’s approval, and while I don’t want any of us to get our hopes up just yet, this could be the first significant lead the police have had.’
‘That’s fantastic news. We’ve been waiting so long. But what was it that happened? Can you say?’
‘Not just at the moment. But I still would like to sit down with the two of you and talk through it, if that’s all right . . . and . . .’
‘I . . . ummm . . . I’d like to take a look through Martin’s things again, and possibly his computer . . .’
‘Anything you need, Rick. His room is . . .’
As far as I knew, Martin’s room had not been touched in five years, apart from a couple of times I had been in there and had lain on his bed, or taken a look through his wardrobe, trying to remember his scent, trying to recapture whatever essence I could find of the boy that I loved. The hurt was still there, every time I thought about him, and I knew that it would be there too for both Tom and Beth; even more so.
I could hear by the tone in his voice that things were still quite raw, but I also knew he would do whatever he was asked, or give whatever was needed. I gave him all the time he needed as he came to terms with my request.
He sniffed, then eventually said, ‘Whatever you need is yours Rick . . . that goes without saying really. When can we expect you?’
‘How about we make it this afternoon, after you’ve finished work? I’m going to be needed here for a bail hearing today, then we’ll pick the boys up and head north.’
‘Come any time. I think I might take the day off now anyhow, so just give us a call when you’re on your way. And Rick . . .’
‘You do know that what’s in the past is sometimes best left there, don’t you?’ he asked quietly.
‘Yes, Tom, that might be true, but when it comes bouncing back into the present and bites me on the arse, threatens me, or people I care about, I can’t sit back and just do nothing. If nothing else, I owe it to Martin to find who killed him, and now that I’m a position to be able to do something about that I’ll do whatever I can to see it through. I’ll see you and Beth this afternoon.’
* * *
Before I left my unit I also quickly called Adam and caught him already in traffic, on his way to the office.
‘Hey, babe. How are you this morning? Get everything sorted out last night?’ he enquired.
‘Yeah, it’s all good,’ I answered. ‘It’s going to be a busy day though.’
‘Yeah, I know that feeling,’ he laughed. We chatted for a couple of minutes, before then disconnecting and I hurried off toward the nearby bus stop, so I could take the short trip to Bondi railway station.
Helen was waiting for me in the squad room at the station when I arrived, which was a little after nine.
‘Did we enjoy our sleep in this morning?’ she teased.
‘Not entirely. I was woken at about six by the sound of a squeaking wheel on a hospital trolley.’
‘Yeah . . . I went and saw Shane last night,’ I admitted. ‘We talked for half the night and I ended up falling asleep on a chair in his room.’
‘Well, hopefully he’ll be out of there today. How did you go with Martin’s parents? Are they prepared to take them in?’
‘Yes, it’s all good. I spoke with Tom this morning and they’re expecting us sometime today. I said we would pick up the boys after the hearing and let them know when we’re on the road.’
‘That sounds like a plan. How about we go and bust Shane out of there first thing this morning and drop him around to Cathy’s, so he can get reacquainted with his boyfriend? Then we can pick them up from there later on and hit the road.’
‘I think they’d both like that,’ I replied.
It was just then that the Inspector came into the squad room. He was smiling, which for some reason made me nervous.
‘Good morning you two,’ he chirped. ‘I’ve just had word that the bail hearing has been set for eleven this morning, and I want you to both be there. The good news is, it’s in front of Judge Price, and she has a reputation of not going too easy on the perps when it comes to these types of cases. I think we’re going to have a good day.’
‘I like the sound of that,’ Helen remarked.
‘I’ve also spoken with Warwick about having Shane officially released into our protective custody . . . just so that we have all of our i’s dotted and t’s crossed. He’s going to consult with Judge Price before the Jarvis hearing takes place, so that she has a full understanding of what is going on. He believes there are no reasons why she shouldn’t comply with our request. Now, I know you’ve been busy, but how are things progressing with the Redfern project? That’s another thing the Commissioner keeps asking me about? Will it be ready on time?’
‘We’ve called in some help, sir. So, yes, everything should come together in time,’ Helen said.
‘Excellent. Excellent. Well, keep up the good work, you two. It looks like you pair have the makings of quite a team.’
‘Thank you, sir,’ we chorused, as he retired to his office, leaving Helen and me looking at each other with expressions of amusement on our faces.
‘I guess that means I better try and call Jimmy Tan and Elvira again, to see where they are up to with it?’ she said quietly, once the boss was out of earshot.
‘Did you try them yesterday afternoon?’
‘Yeah. Elvira said she was tied up and would call me back, but I couldn’t get hold of Jimmy, just his voicemail. I’ll try him again this morning.’
I nodded, but I didn’t say anything, as a somewhat uneasy feeling began creeping into the pit of my stomach.
‘Come on then, how about we go and re-unite the love birds while we’ve got the chance, then it will be about time for us to head to court.’
I followed Helen out the door and to the lift, then down to the lower level parking, before arriving at her car.
‘You’ve gone quiet,’ she remarked as she unlocked the doors. ‘What’s on your mind?’
‘Oh, it’s nothing,’ I answered, even if I wasn’t quite convinced of that myself.
She looked across the roof of the car and studied me for a moment, before shaking her head, opening the door and climbing in.
In hardly any time at all we made it to the hospital and found a parking space close by, before making our way up to Shane’s room, where an ever-present police guard was on duty. It was one that we had seen on duty a couple of times previously, although a different guard to the one I had seen this morning. As we approached he stood up.
‘Good morning constable,’ Helen said as we paused at the door.
‘Good morning ma’am, sir,’ he said to us. ‘It seems that someone inside here thinks he’s being released today, is that right?’ he asked, while cocking a thumb toward the door to Shane’s room.
‘That’s the plan,’ Helen replied. ‘He’s caused us enough grief, so we’re shipping him out.’
‘Hey, I heard that!’ bellowed a voice coming from the depths of the room.
‘Well, you know it’s true,’ I called back. ‘Maybe we should just drag you out of here and turn you over to that Jimmy character for a while. I hear he takes real good care of kids like you.’
‘What? No . . . you wouldn’t . . . would you?’ Shane exclaimed, at which I noticed the young constable’s eyes just about jumped out of his skull, before I left them and walked into Shane’s room.
‘You can relax, constable,’ I heard Helen say, trying to smooth things out, before they truly got out of hand. ‘Jimmy is his, let’s say, accomplice. We’re taking them both into protective custody, at least until the conclusion of this case. The two of them will be able to drive someone else up the wall for a while.’
‘So, if there’s another one like this one; do the new babysitters know what they’ve let themselves in for?’ the constable chuckled.
‘I somehow doubt it,’ Helen replied.
When I entered the room Shane was still lying on the bed, wearing his hospital issue pyjamas, but I did notice that his clothes were ready for him to change into, hanging on a coat-hanger on the side of the cupboard beside his bed.
‘Is this really going to happen, Coop?’ Shane quietly asked me.
‘Just as soon as we’ve got clearance from your doctor, pal. Everything is arranged, so provided you’ve got the all clear, we’ll get you out of here and take you over to where Jimmy is staying, so the two of you can catch up. Then we’ll get you both out of the city this afternoon.’
‘I still can’t believe this is happening . . . it’s just . . .’
‘Yeah, mate. I know,’ I said to him.
Just then Helen came into the room and told us she was going in search of Shane’s doctor, while also telling Shane it might be a good idea for him to have a quick shower before he left, if that was possible.
‘Yeah, okay,’ replied, then rang the buzzer for a nurse, while Helen hurried out on her errand.
‘Can’t you shower on your own?’ I asked.
‘Not very well. It still hurts to do a lot of things. Why? Do you wanna come and scrub my back for me, or something?’ he smirked.
‘Hell no!’ I exclaimed. ‘You’re still jail bait, kiddo. And besides, I wouldn’t want to piss Jimmy off . . . he’d have my balls for breakfast!’
As we were both still laughing a young male nurse came into the room and asked what was wrong. As Shane told him what he needed I glanced at his name badge, which read Nick. I also noticed him looking me up and down and so I winked at him. He smiled in return, before turning his attention back to Shane.
‘So, a shower, eh? Are you going to behave yourself this time?’
‘Yeah, bro. I’m going to see my guy, so I’ve got to be good today. Gotta save it all up . . . you know what I mean . . . so there won’t be no need to wash the walls down again today’ Shane teased.
‘Oh, sweet Jesus,’ I whispered. ‘You didn’t, did you?’
Shane could only grin at me.
‘And I only turned my back for a minute too,’ Nick giggled. ‘Ahhh, to be sweet sixteen again!’
I had no idea what to say to that, and so, shaking my head and chuckling to myself, with my mind filled with a vision that I’d best not share with anyone, I walked back out into the corridor to talk to the constable on guard, while Shane gathered his belongings and came out to shuffle down the hall to the shower, accompanied by the lucky nurse.
‘He going for a shower?’ a deep female voice asked from just behind me.
‘Yeah. Shouldn’t be too long,’ I replied, as I turned to find Helen standing there.
‘Good. The Doc will be here in fifteen minutes or so. He rang through to the nurse’s station when they paged him and they let me talk to him. Everything is good to go.’
‘That’s great. If he stays in here any longer we may have to charge him with lewd conduct!’
Helen raised her eyebrows at me.
‘It’s probably best you don’t know,’ I simply replied.
* * *
The doctor arrived about fifteen minutes later, just as Shane and Nick returned from the shower. Shane’s dark, damp hair was uncombed, though patted down in a haphazard way, while beads of water still clung to his body, which could be seen as his pyjama top had remained unbuttoned.
As Helen and the doctor started chatting about him he sat on the bed and pulled off his top, then took the towel and continued drying himself. Fading bruises could be seen on his body and I figured that within a week or so there would be no physical trace of the damage that had been done to him. All that would remain would be any lingering mental scars, although I suspected that once he had returned to the loving arms of Jimmy even those would soon be nothing but distant memories.
‘Yes, yes,’ I heard the doctor say to Helen. ‘He’s making excellent progress and I see no reason at all why he can’t be released today. What do you think, Shane? Do you feel up to facing the world again?’
‘Too bloody right,’ he replied. ‘No offence, Doc, but being stuck in here would drive a bleedin’ saint crazy!’
‘No offence taken, lad. Now how about you finish dressing while Detective Wheeler and I go and complete your discharge paperwork?’
After they left the room there was just the three of us remaining, but then Nick said, ‘I’ll go find a wheelchair so we can wheel you out of here.’
‘I don’t need no wheelchair,’ Shane replied, with great indignance.
‘Actually, honey, you do. Rules are rules, even for tough punks like you,’ Nick replied, before he too left the room, closing the door behind him as he did so. I had to admit that I was beginning to like this guy.
In one swift action, and before I’d even had a chance to react, Shane pulled down his pyjama bottoms and threw them on the bed.
‘Oh, Jesus kid. You don’t waste any time, do you?’ I joked.
‘There’s only the quick and the dead around here,’ he blurted out in reply, but then seemed to realize what it was he had said and added, ‘Errr . . . you know what I mean.’
‘Yeah, mate. I think I do.’
He was standing there in front of me, totally naked, and I couldn’t help but give him the once-over. He noticed, of course, and grinned.
‘Like what you see?’ he teased, while giving his (uncut) junk a bit of attention.
‘Well, I’ll say this much: that Jimmy sure is a lucky bastard,’ I replied, while trying my best to keep any and all impure thoughts at bay.
‘Not half as lucky as I am though,’ he stated, while picking up his cleaned boxer shorts and pulling them on, before adding a clean, but rather daggy pair of jeans, complete with rips in the legs, and then topping the outfit off with a faded t-shirt. Now dressed in his usual clothes he sat down on the bed and began pulling on some socks, while I opened up the door.
Moments later Helen and the doctor returned, finding a fully dressed Shane standing by the bed, while I was sitting on the same chair that I had spent the night in. They were closely followed by our friendly nurse, pushing an empty wheelchair.
‘Okay then, lad, we’re all set,’ the doctor cheerily remarked. ‘You are now in the custody of the New South Wales Police Force, at least until such times as they see fit to turn you loose on society once more.’
‘What does that mean?’ Shane asked, turning to me.
‘It means a judge has given us protective custody of you, so we can keep you safe until Jarvis’ trial is over,’ I replied.
‘And after that?’
‘You’re a free man.’
‘Really? I kind of like the sound of that. And I can be with Jimmy?’
‘Yes, mate. You can be with him. And then you can find a new job and pay your taxes and be miserable, just like the rest of us are!’ I suggested.
‘Fuck that!’ Shane spat, which only earned him a smack up the back of the head from Helen, who just happened to be the one standing closest to him.
‘Oi! What was that for?’ he demanded.
‘Watch your language, punk. You’ve got us to answer to now!’ Helen scolded.
‘Shi-i-te, you’re worse than me mother!’
‘Oh baby, you have no idea!’ Helen cooed, as the rest of us could both only laugh.
With Shane now safely in our care we thanked his doctor, who then left us, then I turned to Nick.
‘Okay, I think it’s time we took this guy off your hands, and wheeled him out the door,’ I said.
‘Be my guest,’ he replied. ‘Do you think you’ll be able to get him into the chair?’
‘Nah, that’s your job,’ I answered.
Flashing us a wicked grin Nick then turned on Shane, who instinctively stepped back, quickly coming up against the bed and finding himself unable to get any further away.
‘W-what are you going to do?’ Shane asked, almost fearfully.
‘Are you going to behave?’ Nick coolly asked.
‘What if I don’t?’
In a flash Nick’s hand connected with Shane’s ear. ‘Owwwwww . . .’ the kid said.
‘In cases like this one, where I can’t twist an arm up behind their back, mostly because of other injuries, I find that this method usually works well enough,’ said Nick. ‘So, my precious, all you’ve got to do is sit that pretty little butt of yours in this here wheelchair, and you’ll be out of here in minutes.’
‘Orrright . . . orright . . . orright,’ Shane pleaded. ‘Anything you say!’
‘That’s a good boy!’ Nick whispered into his ear, while Helen and I both looked on in amusement.
With Nick still holding onto his ear, Shane was maneuvered around to where he could sit himself down, then he was gently pushed backwards until he found himself backing up against the chair. When his legs touched it, aided by another gentle push from Nick, he overbalanced and clumsily dropped onto it, just as Nick let go of him at the same time.
‘There. That wasn’t too hard, was it?’ Nick asked, as a furious Shane looked up at him and vigorously rubbed at his ear.
‘You’re a bastard!’ Shane spat.
‘Oh, is that the best you can do, honey? I’ve been called lots of worse things than that!’
Shane glanced up at Helen, and then at me, and I’m sure he was about to say something, but very wisely chose to remain silent.
‘Okay then, now that we’ve got that all sorted out, how about we wheel you out of here, so these nice police officers can continue doing their job?’ Nick stated, then immediately started pushing the wheelchair out the door and down the corridor, in the direction of the main entrance.
Helen and I followed behind and I could see that the two of them were talking, with Nick leaning in close to Shane as if to try and hear something the boy was saying. I couldn’t quite make out what was said, but could have almost sworn that the word cunt was thrown about in there somewhere. They were both laughing, however, so I figured that all was well that ended well.
‘What do you think all that’s about?’ Helen asked as she nudged me with her elbow.
‘Probably another one of those things that falls into the it’s probably best you don’t know category,’ I simply replied.
* * *
It wasn’t long before we reached the entrance to the hospital, where, once we were outside Shane would be officially in our care.
Just as we approached the sliding front doors I noticed Shane put up his hand and tug on the sleeve of Nick’s shirt.
‘What’s up?’ I heard Nick ask his young charge as they stopped in their tracks. Shane twisted in the chair and looked back toward Helen and me.
‘That’s them two coppers,’ he said, while pointing outside. ‘The ones who kept coming around and creeping me out.’
We looked out through the glass, where I could two men walking toward the entrance, although they were still a little way off. There was no mistaking that it was Azzopardi and Ryan.
‘Fuck, I wonder what the hell they are up to?’ I heard Helen curse.
‘What I’m wondering is what they’ll get up to once they find Shane isn’t here any more?’ I remarked.
Helen glanced my way and it wasn’t difficult to tell she was concerned.
‘We need to get the hell out of here,’ she said. ‘And it needs to be before they see us.’
I quickly looked around us to see if there was anywhere we could go where we wouldn’t be spotted. On one side of the foyer we were in there was a reception area and offices, while on the other side there were toilets, a baby change room and a cafeteria.
‘Helen, I think you need to use the rest room,’ I said. ‘And while you’re in there Nick and I will change the baby.’
Helen nodded grimly, while Nick said, ‘What?’ clearly not understanding just what was going on.
‘Just follow my lead please Nick, and I’ll explain all in a few minutes,’ I urged.
As our colleagues came closer Helen hurried us away. Nick wheeled Shane into the baby change room and I followed, while Helen headed for the Ladies room. I stopped the door from closing completely, just keeping it open a crack so that I could see the entrance and see when Azzopardi and Ryan came into the building.
‘So, now do you want to tell me what’s going on?’ Nick demanded.
‘To put it as simply as I can, those two are cops, but we’re pretty sure they bat for both sides. They’ve been keeping tabs on Shane while he’s been in here and we’re not exactly sure why. So, the longer we can keep Shane out of their way, the happier we’ll be.’
He looked from me to Shane and back again.
‘You’re serious, aren’t you?’ he asked.
‘Abso-fucking-lutely,’ I replied, while still watching the door. ‘These guys are suspected of getting up to some pretty serious mischief, so the less contact they have with pretty boy here, the better.’
Just then I noticed the front doors slide open and the two of them arrogantly stroll in, looking as if they were kings of the world. As I watched them they didn’t look around at all, they simply walked through the foyer, disappearing down the corridor.
‘Okay, time to move,’ I said to my two companions. ‘And Shane, I think we can probably ditch the chair for the last twenty yards to the front door, don’t you?’
‘Hell yeah. Just get me out of here,’ he replied, before turning to Nick. ‘Thanks man,’ he said, ‘it’s been good.’
‘Anytime pal. Stay out of trouble, eh?’ Nick said, as he gave Shane a quick hug.
‘We’ll see,’ Shane chuckled.
I opened the door and stepped out into the foyer, then crossed over to where I could look down the long corridor. I could see Azzopardi and Ryan still walking down its length, although they were almost at the point where they would turn into another corridor and disappear from view, which they did a few moments later.
Turning back toward where we had been hiding I saw Helen, Shane and Nick all gathered outside the doors to the toilets.
‘They’ve gone,’ I said to them. ‘I think it’s time we blew this joint.’
Reaching out to Nick I shook his hand, offering my thanks, then the three of us headed for the door, leaving him standing there with the wheelchair.
* * *
‘What are you going to do now?’ Shane asked us, sounding quite concerned as we started to descend the front steps.
‘When they get to the room and find him gone, they’ll come searching,’ Helen said to me. ‘And if he’s out of the hospital they might not be too worried about what they have to do to keep him quiet, especially if they really are on Jarvis’ payroll.’
‘We can’t afford to let them see Shane, and we especially can’t afford to let them see where we take him,’ I offered. ‘How about we grab a cab, right now, while they’re still in there. They won’t see us and won’t be able to follow. Then we’ll come back later for your car. Chances are they will have had to have parked near to it as well, so even if they do come out while we’re catching a cab it’ll take them a while to get their car, so that should give us a head good start.’
‘Good idea,’ Helen replied. ‘The taxi rank is just along there,’ she added, while pointing down the road. ‘Let’s go.’
The three of us hurried down the road and thankfully found a cab waiting, so we bundled ourselves inside. Helen gave the driver the address of Cathy’s place and we were soon on our way.
The thought crossed my mind that if they spotted us they may be able to track down where we had taken Shane, and as we drew level with the front doors of the hospital we looked up and saw the two policemen come out into the sunlight. They looked around them, no doubt trying to see if they could spot their quarry, but as we sped past they (thankfully) seemed to have no idea we were watching them.