Rory Rogerson is 67; an overweight, unfit, retired ‘protection officer’ (that’s PC for hired muscle). He is also a prolific and, by his own reckoning, successful author of crime fiction.
Penny (60) is his headmistress wife and Charlie Watkiss is the bloke next door.
Together, they make a formidable team!
Rory (ret’d). Chapter sixteen, part three.
“My God,” Charlie said looking around the boy’s bedroom, “this is the most disgusting thing I have seen since… since—”
“Your bedroom when you were a teenager, perhaps?”
“I can’t have been this bad,” he said.
“I’ll bet you could. I know I was. Embarrasses me now, of course, but I think this room is typical – just a normal teenaged boy’s hovel.”
We searched through the room diligently. No stone, or sock, in this case, was left unturned. There is no way that anything in that room escaped our gaze.
“Did you know Joffrey has a motion-activated webcam in his room?” I asked his parents when we got back downstairs.
“No, I didn’t,” Nobby said. Was it my imagination or was he discomfited by that information?
“I took the liberty of connecting to its feed,” Charlie said, bringing the feed up on his phone then cast it to the large flat-screen television on the lounge wall, “As you can see, it’s inactive now but,” he moved his fingers over the time controls, “here’s the two of us looking carefully through all his possessions a few minutes ago.” Zosia looked fascinated, but I’m convinced Nobby’s fidgeting revealed him to have been most uncomfortable with what he was seeing.
“It’s not very clear though, is it?” Nobby said defensively.
“Oh, I can sort that,” Charlie said and after a few manipulations, the image became clearer and sharper.
“Oh.” Not a happy policeman, it seemed.
“Let’s go back a bit farther,” Charlie said.
“No need,” Nobby interrupted, “I think we’ve seen enough.”
“I haven’t,” Zosia said, “please… carry on.”
Charlie flashed back through the feed. “And this was four nights ago—”
“That’ll be the day before I found those things, I think.”
“Oh, look,” I said, my voice tinged with sarcasm, “Is that a certain Detective Chief Superintendent I see coming into the room. I wonder what he’s… What’s that in his hand? Is it, by any chance, an evidence bag?”
“That’s enough. Turn it off NOW,” he yelled.
Charlie stopped the feed.
“You do know,” Nobby said, “that none of this would be admissible as evidence. Not only have you searched my son’s room without even the pretence of a warrant—”
“Don’t need one,” I said, “we had the householder’s permission.”
“But you certainly didn’t have my permission to hack into my son’s computer to steal his feed.”
Zosia stood to her feet. “He has mine. I’ve seen and heard enough. For years, I’ve been ignoring and denying rumours about you, Nobby.”
“You can’t ignore them and deny them. If you deny them it’s not ignoring them and—”
“Shut up, you pompous old fool. You’re the worst kind of person possible, Nobby – a bent copper.”
“There’s no proof. Nothing that would stand up in court anyway, and as my wife, you can’t be made to testify against me.”
“I wouldn’t need to be made to testify against you, Mister. I’d volunteer. Happily.”
Nobby stood up and stormed out of his house.
“Get back here and face the music, you coward,” Zosia shouted after him as his car sped away from the house. “Can’t you go after him?” she asked Charlie and me.
“We don’t have the power,” I said.
“But we do have a full recording of our entire conversation, as well as the video footage.”
“But he’s said that’s inadmissible.”
“Not if you or Joffrey authorise us to take the footage and to record the conversation, Zosia,” I said.
“I would, but it would make me feel bad, turning on Nobby after thirty years, but what else can I do?”
“We’ll get this through to the appropriate people for investigation. Goodness knows what else they’ll turn up. Can you think of any reason he’d do this to his own son?”
“Thinking about it, after the arguments that have been going on between those two, I’m surprised Joff hasn’t physically attacked his father already.”
“Would he do that?”
“No, he wouldn’t,” she said, “He’ll shout, he’ll rant, but Joff would never attack anybody, especially not family. I was expecting him to move out soon. I wonder…”
“What are you thinking?”
“It may be nothing, but I’m wondering whether Nobby cottoned on that Joff was thinking of moving out and decided to take a kind of pre-emptive revenge.”
Charlie looked sad. “I hate to say it, but that sounds very much like the Nobby Stokes I’ve dealt with over the years. The word vengeful doesn’t begin to describe him.”
“But he’s nothing like that at home, usually.”
“Sadly, that’s often the case. Nobby the father and Nobby the copper are two separate people.”
“Are you suggesting he’s schizophrenic?”
“Probably not. His life is likely led in two compartments and something made the one leak into the other. Where’s Joffrey now?”
“He should be home in half an hour. Can you stay with me until he is? I don’t want to face him alone – he won’t necessarily believe me.”
“Of course,” I said, “I’ll make us some tea.”