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Title Page

Killing Satisfaction

By

Jason De’Ath







Text copyright © 2017 Jason De’Ath

All Rights Reserved



Smashwords Edition



DISCLAIMER



All characters and events, (as well as specific establishments and some geographic locations,) are entirely fictitious, though consistent with the period. Any resemblance to persons (alive or dead) or specific places (past or present) is purely coincidental, though some locations - in a general sense, for the sake of realism - are genuine, e.g. London districts & English counties; some towns, villages, streets/roads, etc.

Every effort has been made to ensure historical authenticity as much as is reasonably possible; where this was not possible or was otherwise undesirable (for a variety of reasons), along with many background details, the intention was to at least be representative of the period.



Contents





PART ONE 1



Chapter One 2

Chapter Two 10

Chapter Three 20



PART TWO 28



Chapter Four 29

Chapter Five 37

Chapter Six 46

Chapter Seven 55

Chapter Eight 65

Chapter Nine 74

Chapter Ten 81

Chapter Eleven 90

Chapter Twelve 97

Chapter Thirteen 104

Chapter Fourteen 111

Chapter Fifteen 121

Chapter Sixteen 128

Chapter Seventeen 136

Chapter Eighteen 144

Chapter Nineteen 151







PART THREE 159



Chapter Twenty 160

Chapter Twenty-One 167

Chapter Twenty-Two 175

Chapter Twenty-Three 183



PART FOUR 190



Chapter Twenty-Four 191

Chapter Twenty-Five 199

Chapter Twenty-Six 207

Chapter Twenty-Seven 215

Chapter Twenty-Eight 223

Chapter Twenty-Nine 231

Chapter Thirty 239

Chapter Thirty-One 247

Chapter Thirty-Two 255

Chapter Thirty-Three 268

Chapter Thirty-Four 276

Chapter Thirty-Five 288

Chapter Thirty-Six 296

Chapter Thirty-Seven 307

Chapter Thirty-Eight 315

Chapter Thirty-Nine 325

Chapter Forty 334







PART FIVE 342



Chapter Forty-One 343

Chapter Forty-Two 351

Chapter Forty-Three 359

Chapter Forty-Four 367

Chapter Forty-Five 374

Chapter Forty-Six 381

Chapter Forty-Seven 389













PART ONE

The Crime


Chapter One

(30 July 1965)

Cherrydean was a sleepy Buckinghamshire village bordering the ever-burgeoning metropolis of Greater London. It was a perfect place for an adulterous couple to partake of their libidinous frolics. Gregg Mason had parked his Mk 5 Singer Gazelle inside the entrance to a wheat field, which being imminently due for harvest, effectively shielded the car from view – only the rear was visible from the road; in the evening half-light, its’ dark racing-green colour providing excellent camouflage, as it was effectively hidden by the greenery of the hawthorn hedgerow on either side of the field entrance. His paramour was Vera Fable, a twenty-two year old director’s secretary at Alcott & Sons Timber Merchants in Maidenhead, where Mason was the Sales Manager. Their 14-month affair was gently smouldering, despite being an open-secret; but Anne Mason was well accustomed to her husband’s infidelities and begrudgingly tolerated them. Gregg and Vera were supposedly rallying partners associated with a local club of enthusiasts – Vera acting as navigator. Together they often volunteered to plan and organise events for the club: a blatant charade that seemed to work for all concerned. Anne Mason had no interest in cars, so Gregg was free to pursue his passion unencumbered by marital obligations; meanwhile the Mason’s two children remained oblivious, although Anne was increasingly aware that they were growing up.

Gregg was ten years older than Vera, his rugged good looks and seductive charm having had their inevitable effect upon the impressionable young secretary, while he could not resist the obvious and elegant attributes of a slender, pretty redhead. They quickly engaged in an intense relationship, but Mason maintained his loyalty to his family, reluctant to abandon them for fear that Anne would descend into a suicidal depression, as she had once before. The Mason marriage was under a constant tension, but had somehow attained a stable equilibrium state. However, unknown to Gregg, Anne had approached Vera on several occasions in a paranoid-driven bid to alleviate her fear of an impending divorce; it was a perpetual burden, yet she could not imagine a life without her recalcitrant husband. It was a case of grinning and bearing it.

Mason and Fable were in the midst of a heated amorous embrace, when they were interrupted by a metallic tapping noise on the driver’s side window. Initially startled, they parted and sat up; motionless they stare at each other in bewilderment – then the tapping resumed, slightly louder this time. As the windows were now all steamed-up, it wasn’t possible to see who was outside; they assumed it was the farmer who owned the field, so Gregg wound down the window: the barrel of a .38 Enfield service revolver greeted his curiosity. Gregg recoiled in shock and panic: “Shit...! What do you want?”

“Just give us the keys. I’m a desperate man – this is a stick-up.” was the gunman’s gruff reply spoken in a distinct East London accent. Gregg did as he was ordered, then grabbed Vera’s hand protectively: she was petrified.

The gunman climbed into the back seat of the Singer and pointed the weapon at Mason’s head: “Don’t turn ‘round!” he snapped, as Vera and Gregg instinctively did so. In that brief moment in the darkness they could only determine that the gunman was wearing a handkerchief (cowboy fashion) to hide his identity.

“What do you want?” asked Gregg tentatively.

“We can give you money.” suggested Vera, hopeful that this was his motive.

“‘Ow much you got?” he enquired inquisitorially.

The terrified couple hastily gathered together the small amount of money they had with them – though Vera bravely kept some back, hiding it down the side of the seat – and (without turning) offered it over to the gunman. He snatched it from Mason’s hand and began counting it up.

“Jus’ over five nicker... Do f’r a start.” he commented. There then followed a tense silent pause: the gunman seemed to be contemplating his next move. Vera squeezed Gregg’s hand tightly and stared anxiously into his eyes. The gunman diffused the moment by coughing.

“‘And over y’u’ watches.” he commanded: they immediately complied. After examining these for a minute or so, his tone suddenly changed to a more conciliatory one.

“So, you two a couple, then?” he asked somewhat provocatively with a slight smirk. They were initially stumped as to how to reply to this unexpected question, frantically searching each other’s faces for guidance. Vera eventually stuttered a little unconvincingly: “We’re just friends.”

“Friends...? Right.” was the gunman’s sarcastic response, “Is that what they call it now’days?” “Look – what do you want from us?” implored Vera.

“Shut up. Just do what I say and you’ll be alright.”

“Why don’t you take the car and go?” suggested Gregg desperately.

“I’m too tired t’drive. I’m on the run y’u see. I ‘aven’t slept for two days... Got wet frew las’ night.”

Vera impetuously turned fully around to address the gunman. She could see he was quite well dressed, certainly not wet, and he did not have the appearance of someone who had slept rough; his dark hair was neatly swept back, his pale complexion punctuated by his piercing blue eyes.

“I said don’ look ‘round!” he snapped angrily.

“Just tell us what you want – please.” Vera pleaded.

“I jus’ wanna rest. Don’t push me – I might lose it.” he said menacingly.

Vera braced herself, while Gregg comforted her by gently stroking her arm. The gunman just sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity; then suddenly he demanded: “Drive furver int’ the field” and tossed the keys into Gregg’s lap. Gregg retrieved the keys which had fallen into the foot well; he reluctantly turned the key in the ignition and the car juddered to a start.

“Y’u didn’ choke it.” the gunman commented irritably. Gregg drove slowly into the dense well-developed forest of wheat, accompanied by the sound of crumpling stalks and the scuffing of the plants against the car’s paintwork; the wheat was almost as high as the roof of the Singer. To Vera it seemed like they were descending into a forbidding underworld from which they may never return. About fifty feet into the field, the gunman ordered Mason to stop and turn the engine off.

“We’ll jus’ sit ‘ere f’r a bit.” he stated. “So, what d’you two do f’r a livin’, then?” “I’m a secretary.” Vera replied in a prickly manner.

“What about you?” the gunman prompted Gregg.

“I’m the manager in the sales department.”

“So is she y’ur secretary?” the gunman asked suggestively.

“No.” the couple replied curtly in unison.

“Oooh – raw nerve.” laughed the gunman; “You two gettin’ married?” he continued.

“Why would you ask that?” Vera enquired uncomfortably.

“Jus’ makin’ conversation, darlin’; no need t’get y’u knickers in a twist... I a’n’t married niver.” “Did you say you’d escaped from prison?” asked Gregg.

“Yeah, tha’s right. I was doin’ a five stretch. I’ve done the lot I ‘ave.” “The lot? What does that mean?” Vera asked apprehensively.

“It’s t’do wiv prison time... I a’n’t killed no one or nufin’... Well, not yet.” he said with a snigger.

“Are the police after you?” Gregg continued to quiz.

“What d’y’u fink? Course they are.” he answered peevishly, then unnervingly continued: “I like me gun – makes me feel like Gregory Peck: y’u know, in ‘Ow The West Was Won...? ‘Ave y’u seen it?”

This remark perplexed the frightened couple, but they decided to engage him in conversation.

“I think I did see that.” answered Gregg.

“That Debbie Reynolds is a tasty tart... You look a bit like Debbie Reynolds.” observed the gunman, momentarily leaning in towards Vera.

“I wouldn’t call her a tart.” Gregg interceded.

“Who?” replied the gunman facetiously.

“Debbie Reynolds.” countered Gregg sharply.

“No. Y’u’ right. She’s a lady.” the gunman conceded.

“Do you like Westerns?” enquired Vera in an effort to steer the conversation away from women.

“Yeah – love ‘em. ‘Igh Noon: tha’s me fav’rit’.”

“That’s an old one.” noted Gregg.

“Gary Cooper: great actor - me boy’ood ‘ero... D’y’u like Gary Cooper?” “Can’t say I’ve seen many of his films.” said Gregg.

“What’s y’u names then?” the gunman asked obliquely.

“Er... I’m Gregg...and this is Vera.” Gregg responded hesitantly.

“Wha’s y’u’ favourite film, Vera?” asked the gunman in a strangely familiar tone.

This question initially stumped Vera, who was not much of a movie buff. After an uncomfortable pause, she suddenly remembered one: “Lawrence of Arabia.”

“I saw that... Bit borin’. What about you, Gregg?”

“The last film I saw was Goldfinger.”

“James Bond; 007; Licence t’ kill. I’d like t’be a spy...”

Sensing that the conversation was about to drift into uncomfortable territory again, Vera quickly interrupted:

“Shouldn’t you be making your escape – if the police are after you?” “I told y’u, I’m tired. Anyway, they a’n’t gonna find us ‘ere, are they?” “I could drive you some where, if you like.” suggested Gregg.

“I dunno – not yet.”

“What did you get five years for?” asked Vera tentatively.

“‘Ousebreakin’... I do posh ‘ouses; expensive jewellery mainly... Been in an’ out o’ prison all me life. I ‘ad a tough child’ood – see? My dad use t’beat me when I was little – wiv a belt. Every day, pretty much. Sometimes, they locked me in the cellar... in the dark. It was cold, too. I was scared o’ the spiders. Y’u shouldn’t do that to a kid...” “That’s really awful.” sympathised Vera.

“I ‘ad t’ fend for meself. Tha’s ‘ow y’u survive – nickin’ stuff. Trouble is, sometimes y’u get caught... Prison a’n’t so bad, though. Made a lot o’ friends in nick.”

“So why did you escape, then?” sniped Vera disparagingly. Gregg glared at her with a fearful subtle shake of the head. Vera bit her tongue, immediately realising she may be antagonising a psychopath with a gun; she gave Gregg a sheepish glance.

“What?” said the gunman quizzically; he was slightly taken aback by this, but didn’t really understand, so chose to ignore it. A deafening silence followed, lasting several minutes. Gregg and Vera braced themselves.

“Y’u got kids, then?” the gunman inexplicably asked out of the blue.

“Why would you ask that?” replied Vera incredulously.

“Well, ‘ave y’u?” he contended.

“I have.” interjected Gregg, “Two: a boy and a girl.”

“‘Ow old?”

“Erm, six and eight.”

“Nice. I like kids... So, y’u married, then?” the gunman asked, addressing Gregg.

“Yes... Twelve years.”

“Does y’u’ wife know about ‘er, then?” the gunman quipped.

“We’re just friends.” insisted Vera.

“Oh, yeah. Jus’ friends; yeah, right.” commented the gunman in a deliberately unconvincing manner. He continued:

“So, what a’ y’u two doin’ parked in a dark road in the middle o’ nowhere?”

The question momentarily confounded them: they frantically searched each other’s eyes, before simultaneously remembering the cover story, causing them to both blurt out their response in tandem.

“We’re planning a rally.”

“Been practicing that ‘ave y’u.” smirked the gunman sarcastically; another deafening silence followed. The gunman then chose to break the tension himself: “You in a club or somefink, then?” “Yes, ‘The Maidenhead Auto Club’.” said Gregg with unmistakeable relief.

“I like cars. This yours is it?” enquired the gunman.

“Yes. Got it last year.” Gregg replied.

“What engine is it?” continued the gunman.

“Er, sixteen-hundred.”

“Mmmm, thought so.”

“What’s your name?” asked Vera abruptly.

“What...? Name...? Mister Brown, okay?” the gunman asserted somewhat unconvincingly.

“Is that what we should call you?” she pressed him.

“Don’ call me anyfink. I a’n’t stupid y’u know.”

“Sorry, I just thought we should...”

Gregg expediently intervened: “He’s right. We don’t need to know his name.” Another tense silence permeated the oppressive ambience of the time capsule that the interior of the car had become.

“Can I open the window?” entreated Vera.

“Yeah. Okay. But don’ try anyfink.” conceded the gunman reluctantly.

A fresh countryside breeze flowed comfortingly through the car: it immediately seemed to flush out the bad atmosphere, both literally and figuratively.

“Good idea.” congratulated the gunman, “It was gettin’ stuffy in ‘ere.”

“It’s a lovely evening.” Vera forgetfully observed, before scolding herself internally.

“Women!” scoffed the gunman. There was a pause and then he unexpectedly said: “I feel ‘ungry. I fink I might get some food... I’ll ‘ave t’tie y’u up.”

“What? Why?” beseeched Vera distraughtly.

“I’m gonna be drivin’ ar’n’ I?” he sniped.

“Why don’t I drive you?” proposed Gregg in alarm.

“No!” insisted the gunman, “I don’ trust y’u. Wha’s in the boot?” “Nothing much – why?” Gregg replied in confusion.

“I need somefink to tie y’u up. Got any rope?”

“There is a tow rope.”

“Le’s get it. Get out the car; both o’ y’u, and no funny business.”

The gunman stepped out first. Gregg and Vera apprehensively emerged from the vehicle; Vera struggling with the door, having to push against the chest-high wheat. Fighting their way through the semi-flattened plant at the sides of the car, they made their way to the boot, where the gunman was waiting. It was now quite dark, but the moon was providing some illumination. For the first time, the abductees were able to get some impression of the physical stature of the man holding the gun: he was smartly dressed – certainly not dishevelled – in a dark blue suit; his shoes were a quality make. He was of an average build and Vera could judge that he was about 5ft 7in tall, (slightly taller than her, slightly shorter than Gregg). She also noted that he was wearing black leather gloves.

“Open it.” demanded the gunman. Gregg did as instructed, revealing a near empty boot space, with a blanket folded in half and spread over the boot floor, and a tow-rope folded-up on one side: “I’ll use that on you.” he stated as he lifted his head to stare coldly at Vera.

You get in the boot.” he ordered Gregg. Gregg was far from keen to comply and Vera was now decidedly concerned for their welfare.

“You can’t do that, it’ll kill him.” she pleaded.

“Why will it?” countered the gunman. Vera had to think quickly.

“There’s a hole in the exhaust: the fumes will suffocate him.”

The gunman appeared slightly flummoxed by this. Vera just prayed that he believed her, and cared enough not to go ahead anyway. He glanced at the boot, then Vera, then Gregg, then back at the boot; pondering for a while, he eventually conceded: “Okay. You drive.” he said handing the keys to Gregg.

Gregg’s foreboding was instantly and visibly abated, as was Vera’s. They all clambered back into the car.

“Don’t put the lights on, yet.” asserted the gunman, as Gregg started the car.

“But I can’t see anything.” Gregg pointed out disconcertedly.

“Jus’ drive straight back. I’ll tell y’u when t’stop.” directed the gunman.

Eventually, Gregg managed to manoeuvre the car out of the field and turned it to face the road, then asked: “Can I put the lights on, now?”

“Yes, you’d better.”

“Which way do you want to go?”

“Wha’s right?”

“I think either way will lead on to the A4. Left is quickest.” advised Gregg rather pointedly.

“Which way is Windsor?” added the gunman.

“You have to go right, then bear right at the next turn; that takes us on to the race track road, over the river, and joins with the A308... That takes you straight into Windsor.” answered Vera knowledgeably.

“Okay. Go right and ‘ead f’r Windsor.” said the gunman; leaning forward, he placed his hand on Gregg’s shoulder and continued: “Drive slow. Don’ do anyfink to attract attention...I’ll be watchin’.”


Chapter Two

As they drove along the A308 on the outskirts of Windsor, Vera desperately pondered the gunman’s likely motives: it did not help her nerves. Gregg, meanwhile, was considering what options there were to unarm their kidnapper: he concluded the best policy would be to attract attention to their plight and hope someone would contact the police. Before long they were approaching a major junction.

“We’re already in Windsor. Where do you want to go?” asked Gregg as he slowed behind a lorry.

“Well, I don’ wanna see the Queen.” quipped the gunman. After looking around and noting the road sign ahead, he continued: “Jus’ keep on the ‘308 and ‘ead f’r Staines.”

They continued for several miles in silence. An unbearable tension was building, when – yet again – the gunman quite inexplicably had a change of mood and asked them: “Do y’u like music?” “Sorry?” said Vera, nonplussed.

“Why don’ y’u put the radio on?” he firmly suggested. Vera did as requested and following some random tuning, managed to find Elvis Presley singing Suspicion, which did not feel inappropriate under the circumstances.

“Yeah, I like this one.” commented the gunman – Vera audibly sighed – “Wha’s a matter: don’ y’u like Elvis?” he enquired in an oddly light-hearted manner.

“I love Elvis.” said Vera dispassionately. It seemed like the gunman was trying to turn this nightmare into some sort of jolly road-trip.

“What about The Beatles? You girls all like them – don’ y’u? They got a film out, y’u know?” “Yes – I heard that.” was Vera’s disinterested reply.

Rolling Stones – they’re good... I can’ get no...satisfaction, cos I try and I try... Can’ get no....” the gunman started singing to himself, albeit extremely badly; then suddenly broke off to shout: “Slow down! Y’u’ goin’ too fast!”

“Sorry.” murmured Gregg. Gregg had been considering various driving tactics that might draw attention, but it clearly wasn’t going to be that easy, as the gunman was evidently quite alert.

“Really gets int’y’u ‘ead that song, don’ it?” continued the gunman.

“Can’t say I’ve heard that one.” said Gregg slightly mystified.

“Nah. It’s not out yet.” explained the gunman, which served only to confuse them further, as they were not familiar with pirate radio stations.

“I prefer The Righteous Brothers – that sort of thing.” commented Vera, once more attempting to move the conversation in a more wholesome direction.

The gunman returned to singing under his breath what can only be described as a personalised medley version of The Stones’ (latterly) classic track. While he was enjoying watching the twinkling of the street lights in the distance, immersed in his little tune, Vera starting mouthing to Gregg; this quickly became a loud whisper – the gunman now seemed too distracted to notice, or perhaps care.

“What are we going to do?” Vera remonstrated, implying that Gregg should have a ready formulated plan.

“I don’t know. We need to find somewhere that sells food...”

“At this time...? Tell him we’re running out of petrol.”

“Right. Good idea.” agreed Gregg: there was a bound to be a petrol station somewhere soon. After a few minutes, Gregg coughed loudly; after getting no response, he turned off the radio: “Er, Mr Brown...? Mr Brown?” “Yeah – what?” he replied irritably.

“Do you know where you want to go? Only we’re getting low on fuel.”

“Okay. Stop at the next garage. No funny stuff, though.” came his rather nonchalant reply.

Not long after this exchange they entered Staines, crossing the River Colne over Staines Bridge, before bearing right into the High street. It was now about 10.30 PM. Staines was not exactly a hive of activity on a Friday night, but there was a small Esso garage still open for business. Gregg pulled onto the forecourt and drew up beside the second of the two petrol pumps. The gunman shoved two pound notes into Greggs face, saying: “E’ya: get five gallons, an’ don’ try anyfink.” The middle-aged garage attendant casually approached the car; Gregg wound down his window. “What can I do y’u for, sir?” asked the attendant.

“...Er, five gallons of premium...please.” instructed Gregg a little hesitantly; he was tempted to raise the alarm, but didn’t quite have the nerve.

As the attendant started filling the car, Vera surreptitiously nudged Gregg in an effort to prompt some action or other, but Gregg was still too hesitant to do anything overt for fear that the gunman would shoot them and the garage attendant. Unfortunately, there was no one else about the street at that particular moment, so he decided to bide his time. Gregg paid the attendant, who was quick to present the change before Gregg could wind-up the window in a vain attempt to provoke suspicion.

“Ere y’u’r – don’t forget y’u change.” said the attendant dropping the coins into Greggs palm through the nearly closed window. The attendant had remained completely oblivious of the circumstances affecting the occupants of the Singer. Gregg had no choice but to continue the journey and so re-joined the High Street road, heading toward the City. Gregg gave the change to Vera: she passed it back to the gunman, who somewhat creepily stroked her hand as he took the money. However, this had conveniently distracted the gunman, whom Gregg believed may have lost track of their direction of travel; he figured that the city was a preferable destination to that of the route into the relatively unpopulated Surrey countryside. They were now on the A30 heading towards the London Borough of Hounslow; passing through the quiet suburb of Ashford and behind the vast swathes of concrete that constituted London Airport, there was little of interest other than the city lights, which seemed to pacify the gunman, lulling him into a hypnotic daze.

Eventually the A30 became the A4 and civilisation begun to return, albeit predominantly in the form of residential housing, as they entered Osterley, heading into Brentford. At this point the gunman suddenly awoke from his dream state as another car overtook them and signalled for them to pull over: Gregg had deliberately left his indicator on for some considerable distance, in addition to speeding up and slowing down – this had finally got someone’s attention.

“What the fuck’s ‘e want?” snapped the gunman angrily as Gregg pulled over and stopped behind the other vehicle.

“I don’t know.” replied Gregg nervously.

“Right, jus’ act normal. Watch what y’u say or I’ll shoot the lot o’ y’u.”

The ominous threat hung heavily over Gregg and Vera as the driver of the other vehicle approached them.

“Did you know your indicator’s been on for the last mile or so?” asked a plumpish young man with blond hair as Gregg wound down the window. The man had a bewildered smile beaming from his chubby face.

“Jus’ get rid of ‘im.” ordered the gunman vehemently.

Gregg stuck his head out of the window and smiled back, saying: “No I didn’t. Thanks.” “You okay, then?” the man asked circumspectly.

“Yes. Thank you.” Gregg replied. This seemed to placate him and he returned to his vehicle, quickly pulling away.

“Wha’s the idea? I’m gonna be watchin’ from now on.” The gunman said in an ominous tone, “Le’s find somewhere f’r food.” then curiously added, “I fink there’s a chippy jus’ up the road.”

Sure enough, a few hundred yards further on was the imaginatively named Fred’s Chip Shop and it was still open. “Pull in ‘ere” instructed the gunman pointing at the lay-by in front of the shop. Gregg and Vera now realised that the gunman hadn’t been quite as inattentive in respect of their travel route as they had previously assumed, and he clearly had some familiarity with this part of Outer-London. As they pulled-up level with the shop doorway, they wondered how the gunman would play this one – there might be an opportunity to escape. The traffic on the M4 thundered just above them as they sat in the surreal half-gloom below the fly-over. Vera noticed a sign in the window of the chip shop which stated ‘Last Fish Orders 11PM’; the shop was empty of customers and it was near to closing time.

“Right, this is ‘ow this one’s gonna go: give us the keys.” ordered the gunman – Gregg promptly handed back the keys – “Val can stay in the car...”

“My name’s Vera.” interrupted Vera, slightly perturbed.

“Eh...? Oh, right, yeah – Vera. You stay in the car. Don’ try anyfink funny.” compelled the gunman, then clutching Gregg on the shoulder continued: “You and me will go in. Don’t look at me. Any funny stuff an’ I starts shootin’.”

As the two men climbed out of the car, both on the driver’s side, Vera considered the significance of the fact that the gunman had removed the handkerchief hiding his face, and although neither Vera nor Gregg were able to look at his face full on, Gregg would certainly have the opportunity to form a reasonable impression of his features in the bright light of the shop; moreover, the woman in the shop would have a perfect view of the gunman. It occurred to her that their chances of surviving this bizarre episode may have diminished. But, she could not bring herself to run, thereby abandoning Gregg and quite possibly getting some or all of them shot, including the completely unwitting lady serving in the shop.

The two men approached the counter, the gunman hiding the gun under his jacket. Gregg restrained himself from glancing at the gunman, keeping his eyes down; he was feeling pretty drained by now and looked decidedly sallow. He hoped that Vera would make a run for it and then he would try to disarm the gunman, but she was sat motionless, staring ahead. There wasn’t likely to be any support from the stony-faced woman behind the counter, either, as she was middleaged and overweight; worse still, she was an Italian who could only speak pigeon-English.

“Large chips.” said the gunman tapping a coin on the counter. The woman looked up at the clock – it was just after 11 PM – then she sniffed and conceded to his order. “Close, open?” she asked in thick Italian accent and glanced at the pile of newspapers behind the counter.

“Eh...? Oh, open; an’ put plenty o’ vinegar on.”

The lady finished adding salt then took two sheets of newspaper to use for the outer wrapping, before presenting the chips to the gunman; she looked at Gregg, half expecting another order, but Gregg kept his eyes fixed on the marble counter.

“Shilling.” she stated holding out her hand and glaring at the gunman. The gunman slapped the coin in her hand, clumsily grasping the chips with his free hand and barged Gregg towards the door: they left the shop. The woman promptly locked-up.

Back in the car, the gunman sounded extremely ravenous as he gorged on his chips. “Mmm, lovely these. Want one?” he asked, shoving the bag in front of Vera: “No thanks.” she replied haughtily; “Dunno what y’u missin’” he scoffed and then offered them to Gregg, who also declined.

The couple continually glanced at each other, both desperately seeking a solution to their deepening crisis, while the gunman happily gobbled chips, making repugnant slobbering noises, much to Vera’s disgust. The gunman handed back the keys.

“Le’s go.” he demanded; “Do y’u know Kew Gardens?” he asked with a burp.

“Yes, I think so.” replied Gregg confidently.

“Right, tha’s the way I wan’ y’u t’go.”

Gregg pulled-out into the traffic behind a no. 65 bus. They then followed this bus past some ageing gas works, a giant white gasometer building rising out of the darkness like an enormous alien spacecraft; this was shortly followed by the obsolete, yet still imposing Victorian masterpiece of the Waterworks’ standpipe tower, before turning right onto Kew Bridge. From the view over the Thames (illuminated by the bridge lights) the gasometer was again visible on the right hand side, but this was not in Vera’s line of vision, as she aimlessly watched a small boat pass under the bridge. Soon they were passing though Kew Green, past St. Anne’s Church and continuing along the A307 and the walled boundary of the botanic gardens. Towards the end of this stretch, the gunman threw the screwed-up chip wrappings out of the window, which caused the driver behind to flash his lights and furiously beep his horn. The hapless couple momentarily hoped this might provoke something helpful to them; unfortunately, the car turned off soon after. About 100 yards further on was a row of shops (on the left hand side,) with a lay-by.

“Pull in ‘ere.” the gunman abruptly ordered. Gregg deliberately swerved and braked hard into the lay-by, which caused the car behind to flash his lights. They sat there, with the engine running for several minutes, while the gunman perused the shop fronts. Outside of a newsagents’ he spotted a cigarette machine.

“Do y’u smoke?” the gunman asked non-specifically.

“Um? Sometimes.” answered Vera.

“Did you want some cigarettes?” asked Gregg.

“Ave y’u got some?” enquired the gunman hopefully.

“Well, no. We don’t smoke in the car.” replied Gregg, which confused the gunman.

“Right...? I think there’s a machine over there... I’ll give y’u some money and you go get the fags.” he instructed, tapping Vera on the shoulder.

“Oh, okay.” she said, a glimmer of hope for an escape flickering across her eyes.

“Don’ run, or y’u’ boyfrien’s dead.” he reminded her in anticipation of the possibility. Her heart immediately sunk.

While at the cigarette dispenser, Vera seriously did ponder running, but she just couldn’t bring herself to leave Gregg to his probable death. So, she did as she was told and returned to the car with a packet of ten Kensitas.

“Okay, keep goin’.” he prompted Gregg; “Give us the cigarette lighter.” he added. Puffs of smoke wafted over their heads; then the gunman started coughing and hurriedly unwound the window to chuck the newly lit cigarette out into the road: orange cinders sparkled in the darkness. The gunman then enquired: “What gear you in?” “Sorry...? Um, third.” answered Gregg hesitantly.

“Watch out, there’s some road works up ‘ere.”

As they cleared the bend, sure enough there were some road works. Soon after this, they passed Richmond railway station. They had now been trapped inside the Singer for about two hours.

“Don’t go over the bridge.” insisted the gunman, referring to Richmond Bridge. So Gregg continued through Richmond, by-passing the bridge, following the A307 road parallel to the river which headed toward Petersham. Before entering Petersham, they passed through the wooded area of Petersham Common. There was no lay-by along this road, so when the gunman decided he wanted them to pull over about half way along the wooded stretch, he told Gregg to pull onto the grass verge. The road wasn’t busy, but there was still a steady (albeit sporadic) flow of traffic. They sat there in silence, as though waiting for something, but after about two minutes the gunman decided to continue on.

Once past Petersham they were heading into Kingston, but in between they passed by Richmond Golf Club, which backed onto Richmond Park – this constituted a huge area of both open and wooded parkland. Along this stretch of the A307 there was a substantial lay-by, which they initially drove past. Worryingly, the gunman’s interest was sufficiently piqued by this discovery that he forced them to make a U-turn and return to it.

“Park ‘ere an’ turn the engine off.” directed the gunman. Gregg and Vera sat rigid with fear; they both imagined that this could be their last moments on Earth. Then the gunman said: “I need a piss. This’ll ‘ave to do... Give us the keys... Right, me ‘n’ y’u boyfriend are gonna go f’r short walk.” he started, addressing Vera, “You stay ‘ere, an’ remember: if y’u a’n’t ‘ere when we get back, ‘e’s dead.” he convincingly informed her.

Both of the couple were unsure as to what the gunman’s intentions really were: it could have just been a ruse to make their execution easier – or perhaps worse. Vera waited, staring straight ahead; she was shaking like a leaf in a hurricane. Previously unimaginable scenes of horror played out in her mind. She instinctively went to look at her watch, but the gunman had taken that right at the start of the abduction. It seemed as though they were taking forever; Gregg could already be dead: maybe she should just make a run for it, or flag down a passing vehicle. But what if the gunman did just want to relieve himself – such an action could get them both killed for nothing? She was just on the verge of opening her door, when the drivers’ door opened. She prepared herself for the worst and expecting the gunman to get in beside her, was immediately overcome with relief when she realised that is was Gregg – still in one piece. She audibly gasped and let out an emotional laugh of joy. Then, just for a second, she allowed herself to hope that Gregg had overcome the gunman, but the moment was all too brief, as she heard the rear door open and smelt the gunman’s aftershave.

“Phew!” exclaimed the gunman merrily, “I certainly needed that.” there was a brief pause and then he asked: “D’you wanna go...? Cora?”

Vera was somewhat dumbstruck by this remark, partly due to being called ‘Cora’ and partly due to being asked if she would like to “go”. After a few seconds she coughed-up a reply: “On my own?”

“Yeah, course... Jus’ don’ run off or anyfink, otherwise...y’u know what.” the gunman replied rather casually.

After sitting in that car for well over two hours, she knew that she would be crazy to refuse; after all, there was no knowing how much longer this would continue for. She accepted the opportunity. Once Vera had left the vehicle, the gunman leant forward to engage with Gregg: “Lovely girl.” he observed.

“Yes. Yes she is. Look, why don’t you just leave her here and I’ll drive you wherever you want... What do you say?” petitioned Gregg.

“Dunno about that. She’ll jus’ get the ol’ bill.”

“Sorry? Oh right.” said Gregg somewhat deflated, “Look, what do you want from us? You’re scaring the hell out of

Vera. Why not just tie us up and leave us here?”

“Could do. But I’m tired: I need y’u t’drive.”

“I’m pretty tired myself, to be honest.” asserted Gregg.

“Yeah, but y’u’ got Cora to help y’u.”

“It’s Vera.”

“You what?”

“Her name is Vera.”

“Yeah, well, she better come back, f’r your sake.” the gunman reminded him a little resentfully. He clearly did not appreciate being corrected.

“I’m sure she will.” assured Gregg, then internally berated himself for that moment of selfishness.

“Y’u’ wife know about ‘er, then?” sneered the gunman.

“I don’t think I know what you mean.” lied Gregg defensively.

“Don’t give me that bollocks.” scoffed the gunman, but Gregg chose not rise to it. “Don’ get me wrong – I don’ blame y’u.” he graciously added, “I mean: no ‘arm is there?”

“I wish you’d just tell us what you want.” remarked Gregg reproachfully.

“Nufink. I don’ wan’ nufink... Relax.” was the gunman’s unhelpful response. Gregg abandoned his vain attempt to reason with the gunman and resigned himself to the necessity of enduring this lunatic’s continued whims in the hope that sooner or later an opportunity to extricate them would present itself or, that the gunman would weary of his little game and finally free them. They waited silently, Gregg with considerable agitation, the gunman with growing impatience. “She’s takin’ ‘er time.” he eventually moaned. At that moment emergency sirens were heard and flashing blue lights approached them rapidly. Gregg sat up excitedly. The gunman instantly froze; then he quickly recomposed himself as an ambulance passed by. A few seconds later, Vera returned to the vehicle.

“Feelin’ bett’r luv?” the gunman whimsically enquired.

“Yes, thank you.” she replied contemptuously.

“Don’ forget oo’s got the gun, darlin’.” he reprimanded in an impassive tone. “‘Ow’s the petrol situation?” he continued, addressing Gregg.

Gregg turned the key in the ignition to switch on the electrics – there was about a quarter of a tank: “We’ll need to get more, soon.” he informed the gunman.

“Onward Jeeves.” the gunman commanded in a poorly improvised upper-class accent.











Chapter Three

The gunman managed to direct them around the outskirts of Kingston and then on to the A3, heading for Guildford. This route ran through a low population area of mainly open countryside, with a smattering of parks, woodlands and non-arable farm land. This road was now fairly quiet in both directions, and very dark. They had taken on more fuel at Esher Services, where the attendant had been as inattentive as the previous one had; the only other vehicle they had crossed paths with at that stop was an oil tanker, and that had been leaving just as they arrived. It was as though fate were conspiring to perpetuate this terrible ordeal, providing little real chance of a reprieve from the inevitability of some sort of bloodshed. The gunman had been largely silent – apart from intermittently barking directions – for over half an hour; Vera suspected that he was drifting in and out of sleep. She nudged Gregg and having got his attention, mouthed: “I think he’s asleep.” “Are you sure?” whispered Gregg; Vera glanced around quickly.

“He’s dozing.” she affirmed; “Where the hell do you think he’s taking us?”

“I haven’t a clue. I can’t figure out what this is all about. It all seems a bit pointless... Do you think he could be an escaped prisoner?”

“He looks a bit too well dressed.” noted Vera observantly.

“Why did he say that, then?”

“I think he’s trying to scare us...”

“But, why?” queried Gregg. Neither of them could answer that one.

“Why don’t you just crash the car?” she suggested.

“Are you crazy?” Gregg protested, “I’ve only had it six months.”

“It’s only a car, Gregg. Not much use if you’re dead.” she bluntly pointed out.

“Not at this speed: we might not survive anyway.”

“There might be a chance when we get to Guildford.”

“May be. I’ll think about it. We need to be in a residential area; no good out here.”

“Yes, that’s why I’m saying, wait until Guildford... Shhh! I think he’s stirring.”

The gunman lapsed out of his sleepy state and entered a more lucid period. Having yawned a few times and gathered his thoughts, he searched the blackness for some indication of their current location.

“Where the hell are we?” he eventually asked, slightly disconcerted.

“Still on the A3.” Gregg informed him.

“How far to Guildford?”

“About ten miles or so, I think.” estimated Gregg.

“Okay. What were you two talkin’ about?”

“I was just saying we will soon be in Guildford.” offered Vera, thinking quickly.

“Right. Okay. Put the radio back on.”

Vera turned the radio back on, but it was now out of tune; she was now having trouble picking up a clear signal, until a voice speaking German broke through the ether.

“That’ll do. It could be Luxemburg.”

The Byrd’s ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ soon filled the void within the car. Despite its cheery tone, there was something unnervingly pertinent about many of the lyrics in this song; the circumstantial coincidences sent a shiver up Vera’s spine. She had a deepening sense of portent, as though this story were already written into history, impossible to deviate from; and now they were gradually descending into their inexorable oblivion. This was further confirmed when they approached Guildford and the gunman instructed Gregg to stay on the A3, effectively by-passing the historic county town. A few miles past the town, they came to the Milford roundabout, where the gunman directed them to turn right onto the B3001. About two miles along this road they entered the small village of Felstave. There was a smattering of 18th century cottages, but little else. There was however a turning down a single track road which was signposted only as ‘Wood’. As they drove down this bumpy road sandwiched between hedgerows in the pitch black, Vera truly believed they were entering the depths of Hell. After about half a mile, the track opened out a bit, with a clearing on the left hand side of what was an ominously spooky wooded area.

“Stop here.” said the gunman in a confident tone; “Turn the radio off.” he further instructed, “I want some quiet to fink.”

Think what, though? Vera grabbed Gregg’s hand: the foreboding was unbearable. They both felt nauseous, hardly able to catch their breath.

“I like it here.” the gunman obliquely stated.

“What are you...? What are you going to do?” Vera asked apprehensively, her lips trembling.

“I might ‘ave a kip.” came the gunman’s glib response. The panic-stricken couple were all too aware that they had allowed this madman to lead them into a literal dead-end. There would be no escape from this miserable god-forsaken destination.

“I’ll ‘ave to tie y’u bofe up.” noted the gunman casually.

“Are you going to kill us.” snivelled Vera.

“I wasn’t plannin’ to. Wha’s in y’u bag?” he asked referring to a shopping bag (which she had had at her feet throughout the journey).

“Nothing much.” she replied hesitantly.

“‘And it back, then.” the gunman ordered in a quiet, yet persuasive tone. Vera took a deep breath then lifted the bag up and between Gregg and herself, at which point Gregg grabbed the bag and directed it toward the gunman. Two shots rang out. The bag dropped harmlessly between the front seats. The distinctive smell of gun powder floated wistfully in the air. Gregg’s shocked expression froze into Vera’s mind; blood began to ooze from the right side of his chest and he slumped forward against the steering wheel. Vera screamed: “You bastard! You’ve killed him!”

“Shullup…!” the gunman screamed back, “I need to fink.” A deeply sombre silence overtook the scene inside the car. Vera could smell the blood, as it was so profusely draining from Gregg’s lifeless body. She began to quietly weep.

“Are y’u sure ‘e’s dead?” the gunman challenged optimistically.

“Yes!” she ear-piercingly screamed, “He’s not breathing; he’s not moving... So much blood.” “Sorry – it was an accident...”

“Sorry! – sorry! You’ve bloody killed him!”

“‘E scared me; ‘e moved too quick.”

“You’ve got the fucking gun: why would you be scared?” she shouted angrily, turning to face the man with the gun, before abruptly turning back in a flood of tears.

“Don’t cry luv... It was an accident.” reasoned the gunman seemingly in need of absolution.

Vera continued to cry, but in her head her mind was racing. She reckoned that whether or not Gregg’s death was an accident, her life was now imminently in danger. She would need to persuade this stupid man that she was not a threat, if she wanted to live. She would need to overcome her trepidation and repulsion, and ingratiate herself with him. Meanwhile, the gunman was contemplating Vera’s womanly wiles: she was wearing a gold coloured two-piece dress, with a tie collar; it was knee-length, with short sleeves revealing the freckled flesh of her arms and her slender legs. The material was a manmade rayon/acetate, which clung tantalisingly to her supple figure.

“You won’t hurt me, will you?” she beseeched him in a deliberately weak and feminine manner: she hoped to appeal to his ego as well as his animal instincts. “I don’t really know what you look like – I couldn’t identify you... I know you didn’t mean to kill Gregg; I’ll tell them it was an accident. You’ve treated us well, otherwise.” she convincingly appealed, not daring to turn around.

“I didn’t wanna kill anyone.” agreed the gunman, grasping at this potential allusion of forgiveness.

“You like me – don’t you?”

“Yeah, course; y’u’ lovely... I like red’eads.”

Vera’s stomach physically cringed; her heart was racing and her mouth dry as sandpaper. She just couldn’t quite bring herself to hand herself over on a platter. The gunman sensed her difficulty and made a helpful suggestion: “Why don’ y’u get in the back with me. We can ‘ave a nice friendly chat, then.” As much as her body resisted, her mind forced her to overcome and, after a short pause, she stepped out of the car and approached the rear door. It felt to her like opening the cage to starving lion and sticking one’s head in – but that’s exactly what she did. The gunman shuffled back a little and patted the seat in an inviting manner; she was utterly filled with dread, but she got in anyway. For a few seconds she sat rigid, not wanting to look at him; she could feel his breath on her hair. Suddenly she relaxed and went into survival mode: turning her gaze into the darkness she could see that he was fairly young, not much older than her; in better circumstances, she might have found him vaguely attractive. His deep blue eyes sliced into her soul like white-hot lasers.

“Now, tha’s a bit more cosy, a’n’t it?” he said in an insouciant manner, seemingly unaffected by the dead body of

Gregg Mason, laying just feet away. Vera faked a smile and asked: “What should I call you?” “Call me Alf. Now, give us a kiss.” he seductively prompted...

When the rape was over, Vera felt physically sick, completely degraded, diminished to the level of a common prostitute. She hugged herself for comfort. “Put y’u clothes on.” he callously told her as he got out of the vehicle.

Outside she found the gunman standing next to the open driver’s door pondering what to do with Gregg’s corpse. He looked at her a little disdainfully: she sensed that she had depreciated in his estimation and that remaining passive had in fact lost her some respect, rather than gaining her the empathy she had anticipated.

“I’m gonna need y’ur ‘elp.” he informed her dispassionately, “Pull ‘im out of the car.” Vera stared in disbelief and bewilderment. However, her emotions were now so numb that nothing would be likely to upset her. “I can’t get blood on me cloves.” he explained. Vera simply acquiesced: she was of fairly slight build and certainly not accustomed to heavy lifting, but somehow she summoned the strength to haul Gregg’s dead weight out of the car. “Did I see a blanket in the boot?” he asked.

“Yes. Do you want it?”

“Yeah. Get it will y’u.” He was starting to treat her like an accomplice. She did as requested, thinking that it was to cover Gregg’s body, lying as it was in an undignified heap.

“What y’u doin’?” he complained.

“Oh, I thought...” she started as she was about to throw the blanket over Gregg.

“No, no. I need it to cover the seat; so I don’ get blood on me... Better find somefink to mop up first, though.” Quickly realising that there wasn’t anything around or in the car that could be used, he told her to take off her top. “We’ll use that.” he said, actually meaning her; “Go on then” he added. Vera complied, painfully aware that he was right behind her, possibly waiting to shoot her. When finished, she flung the blood soaked top on the floor in disgust. For a moment they just stood there somewhat self-consciously.

“Show me ‘ow this car works.” solicited the gunman. Vera hesitated, such a need struck her as rather implausible, given that he was originally proposing to the drive the car himself and, therefore, must surely already have a reasonable understanding of how to drive this car. But it was an innocent enough request, so she cautiously pointed out the location of the controls and explained how the gears worked. Having completed this task she emerged from the car to be confronted by the gunman who was standing right in front of her, about six inches away. She suddenly had an inexplicable apprehension come over her and she instinctively knew that he intended to murder her. In an instantaneous realization of her predicament she thrust her knee deep and hard into the gunman’s gusset, inducing an excruciating testicular pain: he dropped to the floor in shock and sheer agony. Vera immediately kicked off her heels and ran, like a deer pursued by a wolf, into the pitch dark woodland. The moon was providing shards of ghostly fluorescence intermittently into the deep gloom of the wood, but she could not see where she was placing her feet, nor did she have the time to care. Consequently, she tripped over undergrowth and dead vegetation on numerous occasions, injuring every part of her body, as she frantically fled for her life.

The gunman gradually gathered himself after several minutes of eye-watering discomfort, not to mention a severe blow to his macho pride. “Bitch” he muttered under his breath. Though he had seen where she entered the wood and could hear her rustling bushes as she ran, as well as her yelping in torment every time she had a tumble, he could not pinpoint her location. So, in a frenzied attempt to prevent her escape, he began shooting indiscriminately in the general direction of the noises. Four shots echoed into the abyss and then he reloaded. No longer able to hear anything other than a distant Barn Owl, he ventured further into the wood, using the streams of moonlight as guidance. Looking all around, he thought he could discern the sound of gasping – he homed-in on it.

Vera was suffering diabolical sensations: in addition to her various cuts, scratches and bruises, she had now had a bullet wound to her left thigh. Having more or less collapsed to the ground, she just lay struggling for breath, determinedly suppressing her torturous collection of pains. Distressingly she could hear the gunman slowly but surely getting closer.

Eventually, she could contain the agony no more, letting out the tiniest squeak of anguish: it was enough to allow the gunman to fix her position.

“That weren’t very nice.” he complained staring down at her prostate body. “I was gonna let y’u go. But I can’t now.” He cocked the weapon, adding: “Sorry.” Three shots were fired, two to the chest area and one to the head, all at standing range. In the deadly silence that followed, the gunman kicked Vera’s legs to convince himself that he had finally finished her off. Satisfied, he walked purposefully back to the car, where he promptly drove away at speed, throwing up dirt and debris, some of which settled back down on top of Gregg’s corpse. The prophetic eerie hoot of a Tawny Owl reverberated in the still night air.

At about 5.30 am the sun squinted over the horizon, its light splintering through the thick mass of tree trunks and scattering through the canopy. Vera’s body was moist with dew; a moth had settled on her face. As the volume of the dawn chorus gradually intensified, a chill morning breeze fluttered the leaves. The gunman had left Vera for dead, but he had made a grave error of judgement, because by an incredible chance of fate, she had miraculously survived. Now her nose began to twitch, as consciousness languidly returned, along with the awful realisation of her predicament. She warily pulled herself into a sitting position and surveyed the surroundings. It took several minutes for her to comprehend what had happened and that she had survived, albeit very seriously injured. Her body, still in a state of shock, had generated a euphoric condition, which enabled her to drag herself through the foliage, to emerge into the clearing where Gregg’s body lay – it was now about 6 AM – whereupon she crawled over to her dead lover, flinging her arms around him before blacking out. Ten minutes later she was awoken by the sensation of a wet ‘hair drier’ on her face: it was the tongue and breath of a large Labrador dog. In the distance she could just make out a woman calling: “Marmaduke! Marmaduke! Don’t lick that dead deer; you know what happened last time you did that.” Marmaduke responded by barking spasmodically. As the woman drew closer, she realised that what her disobedient dog was licking was no deer, but two human beings covered in blood.

“Oh gosh!” she exclaimed, “Whatever... What has happened here?” She then broke into a sprint, anxious to help these poor souls. “My dear, whatever happened to you?” she enquired, appalled by what she was witnessing. Vera managed to whisper: “He killed him... Brown... He said... His eyes...”

“Don’t try to speak my dear.” said the woman compassionately. “Just hang on – I’ll get help. Marmaduke: stay!” At which point, Vera passed out again.











PART TWO

The Investigation



Chapter Four

(31 July 1965)

Sergeant Ewhurst answered the phone at Godalming Police Station that bright morning, but his sunny demeanour was quickly extinguished when the middle-aged lady at the other end told him what she had discovered in Marsholm Wood.

“Slow down madam, please. Let me get this straight: someone has been shot, you say?”

“Yes, yes, come quickly, and bring an ambulance – it’s very urgent. She’s in a terrible state.”

“Who is, madam?”

“I don’t know her name. You must get to Marsholm Wood now!”

“Yes, of course madam. Where is that exactly?”

“Felstave.”

“Right. Can you look after the victim until we arrive?”

“Yes, yes: just hurry.” The phone went dead. Sergeant Ewhurst was slightly stunned for a moment: this was not the usual Saturday morning fair. Snapping out of his perturbation, he hastily rang for an ambulance, then called for the duty constable: “John...! John! Get your arse down here!”

Constable Anderson, whom had only been in the force for six months, was dreamily drinking a cup of tea in the back office, with his feet up. The unexpected urgency of the Sergeant’s shout caused him to jump, spilling his tea down his leg.

“Shit.” he groaned; “Coming Serg’!” he replied, hurriedly using paper intended for taking statements to mop-up the mess on his leg. Jogging over to the Sergeant’s desk, he said: “What’s up Serg’?”

“You won’t believe this, but we’ve got a possible attempted murder on our hands. Ring Bob and Reg, and get everyone down to Marsholm Wood – you know where that is?”

“No Serg’.”

“Felstave. Oh, and ring the inspector at Guildford: let him know what’s happening.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’m going to be taking the station van straight down there... Get your skates on!” he ordered as he exited the station.

By the time Sgt Ewhurst arrived at the scene it was close on 7.15 AM; the ambulance still had not arrived. As Ewhurst pulled into the clearing in Marsholm Wood, he noted a heap covered by a blood-impregnated sheet [courtesy of Mrs Pomfrey-Jones] and, sitting not far away from this mysterious object, an extremely dishevelled looking young woman, with blood on her face and in her unkempt hair. Mrs Alice Pomfrey-Jones – the lady with the dog – had wrapped the miserable girl in her (formerly best) mink coat. Alice intercepted the sergeant before he reached Vera.

“I think she’s had a dreadful experience.” Alice told the officer and then tactfully pointing out the heap that was Gregg Mason, she added in a low voice: “The young man is dead: he shot him; he also tried to kill the young lady... I think he may have interfered with her.” she whispered.

The sergeant was slightly overwhelmed by these revelations – it was much worse than he could have anticipated. The sergeant, feeling he needed to speak to Vera alone, asked Alice to give them some privacy; she complied by wandering towards the trees, just out of earshot. Sgt Ewhurst knelt gently down beside Vera.

“Hello my dear. My name is Sgt Ewhurst, but you can call me Ernie. Are you in a lot of pain?”

“Not really – I think I’m still in shock.” Vera answered weakly – she was surprisingly coherent for someone with four bullet wounds.

“Can you briefly tell me what happened to you?”

“Gregg...was shot dead.” she stated bluntly and somewhat selflessly. Ewhurst looked towards the bloodied sheet covering Gregg’s grisly remains. He decided he should check that the man really was dead: finding him to be stone cold and in a state of rigor mortis, definitively confirmed it. He returned to Vera’s side.

“Who shot your friend?”

“I don’t know...He said he was Mr Brown, but I think that was a lie...He told me to call him Alf.”

“Did he hurt you?” Ewhurst enquired in a compassionate tone. Vera momentarily withdrew, choking away a need to cry out loud; a single tear ran expressively down her cheek. Ewhurst detected the need for extreme sensitivity.

“Did he shoot you?”

“Yes. Several times.” she said aggrievedly.

“Do you know how many times?”

“Four, I think. I was sure I would die.” At this moment the ambulance siren could be heard in the distance. The Sergeant decided to wait for medical help before subjecting Vera to any more questions, other than asking for her name and that of her dead friend, which caused more than enough trauma in itself – but these were details that he needed to establish.

When the ambulance finally arrived in the clearing, Vera was immediately whisked off to the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford; Gregg’s body was left in situ, guarded by Marmaduke. Meanwhile, Mrs Pomfrey-Jones was being thoroughly interrogated, in order to collate anything that she had gleaned from the distraught Vera.

“So, Mrs?”

“Pomfrey-Jones. Call me Alice.” she replied with upper-class confidence.

“Okay. Alice, did the young lady give you any information regarding her circumstances?”

“Well, apparently he was a hitch-hiker...”

“Who was?”

“The man that shot them.”

“I see. So they were in a car?”

“Yes. He took that.”

“Did she say what type of car?”

“Sorry. Didn’t think to ask.”

“That’s okay...Alice. Did she tell you anything about the man that attacked them?”

“She said he was fairly average. Oh, she did say he had very striking eyes.”


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