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Crimes & Thriller


R. Pearshouse




‘Lex Talionis - A Time for Vengeance’

Everyone knows a bent copper is a danger to his colleagues and society. Hatred is bred until something gives. Rifter, a hard-boiled P.I. is determined to seek revenge with the scum who ruined his life but the untimely murder of his prostitute girlfriend puts him once more into the frame. He knows the net is closing in on him, as others around him start to die. With the help of a  struggling reporter, he saves the life of his only daughter in a final conflict  that delivers a befitting close. A time for vengeance is over. Justice has been  done.

Lex Talionis - A Time for Vengeance

Chapter 1

Rifter was low life. A private eye with a bad attitude and a worse reputation. It was a reputation he liked; it suited him just fine. He knew the rules but rules didn't mix with results. He got results.

Rain drummed non-stop against the van, seeping through the rusted hole in the  corner of the roof, soaking into the rag jammed there to stop the wind. It was cold - bitterly bloody cold. Too fuckin' cold for surveillance.

Still he watched. This was the easy part of his job. A few hours stakeout; a few pictures. Kept the clients happy and they paid. Thirty-five quid an hour plus expenses, kept him happy too. But not tonight. Tonight was different. This time there would be no payment. Sitting there freezing his balls off in the  middle of winter. This time was personal.

Even a score...Wreck a life.

He had picked his spot carefully. No one would notice another abandoned  junk heap rusting amongst the rotting debris and stinking decay strewn  everywhere. He blew on his hands, his breath turning to vapour in the icy air. Rubbing them together, trying to encourage blood back into his numbed fingers. He tugged his collar up high around his neck to keep out the draught that was blasting through the taped up window. He shuddered.

Looking out through  the cracked one-way glass, he could see lights glowing dimly behind closed  curtains of the last two inhabited houses. The others; just shells. No windows. No doors. Some - no roofs. Like ghosts from a pre-war age, haunting only the  memories of the few 'old uns' left behind. Nothing had moved, not since the old guy at the end had let his mangy dog out for a crap, two hours ago. Time was  dragging. He looked down at his watch.

Another blank on another shit  night.

He yawned wide and began to stretch, fighting the cramp creeping into his  muscles, pushing himself hard against the armchair bolted in the rear of his Ford Transit. Reaching for his bag, he took out a small bottle and swigged. The  whisky felt good, warming as it went down. Then, came a sudden urge to pee.  Kicking aside his litter he knelt in the corner of the van and pulled open a tiny vent in the floor. He unzipped his fly and sighed as he relieved himself  onto the waste ground below.

The drone of an engine made him turn. As he looked back through the rear window, he could see a car pulling in further down the street, parking beneath  the pitiful solitary light. He ducked low, instinctively, avoiding the glare of its headlamps before they were turned out. Straining his eyes, he could see the  profile of two people in the car. The front nearside door opened and the passenger stepped out, fighting to control long dark hair that was being blown about wildly. Mackintosh pulled tight. Collar up against the rain. The driver leaned over locked the passengers door, then opened his own. Rifter's eyes grew wide.

It's him... At last. Looks like tonight's gonna pay off after all. The  tall, lean figure, dressed in the familiar navy blue crombie, was unmistakable.  Steel grey hair swept back recognisable, even from fifty yards away. And his  gait - right foot flicking forward...a result of a bullet in the knee some years  ago. Rifter clicked his camera as the couple walked along the path. A kiss. A hand groping inside the coat. Both impatient for the privacy afforded within the neglected lodgings. He turned the key and led his guest inside. A few  moments later, Rifter watched the upstairs light go on, exposing the shabby, squalid decor. For a moment the two of them clearly in view, long enough to  shoot another couple of pic's, before the rag curtains were drawn. I've got you now...you slimy bastard, an' I'm gonna watch you squirm.

He smiled; satisfied, then gunned the engine and drove the van out of the  seedy estate onto the nearby dual carriageway that headed back to town. He felt  good; relaxed. The rain had stopped, and, he was going homeâ€| job done. From inside his jacket, his mobile rang. He pulled it from his pocket, pressed the  button and connected to the call.

"Rifter." he snapped.

"Rifter - Thank  God... It's Cally."

"Cally. What the hell...do you know what time it is?"

"Yes, of course I know what the friggin' time is. It's nearly four o'  clock - but I must see you. We must talk."

"Cally, you might wanna talk at  four in the mornin'. But I've been up almost twenty hours and I'm totally shagged. I just wanna go home and get some sleep. I'll call you tomorrow - err, later."

"No. Rifter, listen to me... We've gotta talk...Please... You must come  round... Now."

"No... you listen to me...I've told you, I'm cold, I'm hungry, I'm tired. and I'm goin' home. I'll speak later."

"Please...You can't do this to me  ...I need you Rifter...It's urgent."

The phone clicked and the line went dead. He pressed the button again disconnecting the call and tossed it onto the seat next  to him. It's important. Sure it is. Stupid bitch. What did the silly cow take  him for? Don't go home Rifter. Come straight here Rifter... Get yer cock out  Rifter...that's more like what she means. Well, the randy little tart was going to have to wait. What he needed first was to get home and have something to eat.  Then, perhaps, he would pay her a call. But, only if she was lucky.

The shower felt good. Hot water soaked into his aching muscles, washing away the last traces of cold. He dried himself on a towel, took his razor and filled the basin with steaming water. He looked at his reflection in the broken mirror. The face looking back appeared drawn and gaunt. His short hair, although not thinning, showed signs of grey. Eyes that once focused with ambition, were now  hooded and cynical. His skin, sallow, evidence of too many takeaways and one too many drinks, one too many times. An indication that he'd spent too long grubbing around in the wrong part of town. As he scraped the foam from his face, he considered how life hadn't always been that way. The times he'd had with his  wife - ex-wife - Helen, had been good. A nice house. A decent car. An up and coming career in the police force. And of course, Jodie. How he loved his daughter Jodie, the only lasting treasure he still had from the marriage. He recalled the pride he'd felt when she was born; how he almost hadn't made it to her birth. Lucky for him he had friends in the traffic division. They had rushed  him there, blue lights flashing and sirens blaring. He'd made it just in time. That was before things went wrong and his life turned to shit.

He grabbed a slice of yesterdays half eaten pizza and reached for the bottle of whisky on the shelf. Did he really want to go and see Cally tonight? He was totally knackered. Besides he recalled the last time; Cally had left him with a few of her friends; took nearly a week to get rid of 'em. Itchy little bastards. Taking a gulp from the bottle, he sniggered at the thought of their last performance together. The whiskey burnt the back of his throat, causing him to cough.

"Oh shit, who  cares, it's been a long time and right now I could do with it."

Damp air clung to his face and neck as he stepped on the road. He parked the  van between two refuse skips in Tenement Street. The stagnant stench from the empty canal filled his nose. Streets lay deserted, except for a few hopeful  whores, who loitered, in shadowed doorways. Every now and then the casual glow  of a cigarette and a wisp of smoke betraying their position. He knew the girls; they all knew him. He'd given each of them tips on how to avoid being banged up when the heat was on. For a fee - naturally. Across the street a row of crumbling Victorian terraced houses stood, black silhouetted against the night  sky. Their original grandeur long gone. Most boarded up ready for demolition,  the rest; cheap rate lodgings or squats. He could see the rusty handrail leading  down into the gloom of the basement. Cautiously he edged his way down each  step.

"Careful boy, don't want to end up going arse over tit. Damaging your  duty frees," instinctively he rubbed his crotch. "You'll be no bloody good to anybody if you do that."

Closer to the door, his fingers rummaged in the  dust behind a brick for the key. It wasn't there.

Silly cow, where's she put the bleedin' thing this time? If I find she's in there with a bleedin' crawler... after getting me all the way out here...there's goin' to be some fuckin' fireworks.

He felt his temper rise it was pitch black and freezing. He  fumbled for the handle of the door. It was open. His fingers closed around its edge... Something's wrong. Cally didn't leave doors open. His temper quickly receded, replaced by alarm bells ringing in his head. He crossed the stone floor  of the hallway, making sure his feet never scuffed as he climbed the stairs to  Cally's flat.

The door was smashed, hanging loose on its hinges. He stood, looking down the hallway into the kitchen. Cally's naked body was sprawled on  the floor; moonlight filtering through the window highlighting its twisted form. A dark pool flowed out from beneath the body spreading slowly. His stomach churned as he looked down at the mutilated corpse. He stared in horror, trying - wanting, to disbelieve his eyes. Blood still ebbed freely, bubbling and popping  as it mixed with the last of the air from her lungs. The slash across her throat  was deep, delivered with such force it had severed both windpipe and jugular vein. Her right hand was missing, hacked off. A once attractive face was now a  bloody mess. He felt for a pulse, he knew wouldn't be there.

"Oh Shit...  Cally."

Floorboards creaked behind making him turn. A flash bulb exploded, its brilliance engulfing the room for a second, knocking him off balance. He slipped backwards into the pool of sticky blood. He heard footsteps. Someone was  running. A second later he was up and giving chase, stumbling, trying to refocus in the dark. Another flash this time in his face, blinding him. He fell. Hands and arms flailing searching for something to grasp but finding nothing... until he  hit. Every step, jarring deep into his body.

He could feel blood streaming  from his nose, his lips, taste it in his mouth. He tried to move and got a shit  load of agony for his trouble. Nausea flooded through him. All he wanted to do was lie there and sleep, but instinct was telling him he had to get out. And  quick.

He crawled to the outside steps and collapsed onto the pavement above. Lying on the top step, listening. All was quiet. The cold night air and rain drenched street felt good. Scooping water from a puddle, he washed his face,  rinsing a second handful around inside his mouth. He shook his head, trying to  rid his mind of the vision of Cally's butchered body. Move dammit move...  You've gotta move... Get home... Quickly.

A voice he had once known well nagged inside his head, forcing him on until he reached the van. He started the engine and drove.