فصل 05

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فصل 05

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  • زمان مطالعه 7 دقیقه
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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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New Cross at night

‘What I don’t understand,’ said Bowen when they were in the car again, ‘is why a beautiful woman like that would marry someone so much older than herself. What can she see in him?’

Eliot did not answer. During his ten years of marriage, he had often asked himself the same thing about Sally. But he realised the younger man had his own reason for asking the question. What Bowen really wanted to know was why some men were successful with women when he himself was not. Eliot did not know the reason. It was just luck, he supposed, and being attracted to the right kind of woman.

Eliot had seen Bowen’s latest girlfriend once or twice, a photographer he had met at a wedding. She was certainly attractive, if you liked tall thin women, but she looked hard. The relationship had been going badly for some time, and she had stopped returning his phone calls. But Bowen was still mad about her. He had been coming to work with dark circles under his eyes recently. And Eliot had twice had to speak to him about being late for work.

‘Crowther’s obviously crazy about his wife,’ Bowen said. ‘But how does she feel about him? They couldn’t be more different. She’s musical and paints. Did you see those wonderful pictures on the wall? But he seems quite ordinary. He must be rich, though, to live in a house like that.’

Eliot let him continue talking. It was more pleasant to think about the Crowthers than the dead man. At least they were alive and still had faces you could recognise. Mrs Crowther seemed to have been especially close to Forley. He would be interested to know what her husband had thought about that. And what had she wanted to say about the gun?

A lot of questions filled his mind. They would all need answers, eventually. But he tried not to guess what these might be. The case had only just begun, and he did not yet know all the facts. It was important to keep his mind as open as possible. Of course, it might not be a very difficult job. They would probably find that Forley had killed himself. He didn’t seem to have left a note, but that wasn’t so unusual these days. Eliot hoped they would not have to wait too long for the pathologist’s report. The journey back to New Cross was easier. The traffic was much lighter now, and they were only stopped by one red light. Eliot thought he might even get home in time for the news.

After Blackheath Hill, Bowen had to pay more attention to the road. Driving in many parts of London was like a competition now, with drivers trying to overtake each other as much as possible. And they did not always slow down when they saw a police car. Suddenly, Bowen had to brake to avoid a crash. A silver grey Mercedes had been left in the middle of the road with no lights and the engine still running. ‘The kids around here!’ said Eliot. ‘They’ve got no idea of danger. It’s because no-one takes care of them. I suppose stealing cars is the only fun they get, at least until they’re old enough to start selling drugs.’

The week before, he had caught two young boys in a stolen car. Their father had been watching football when the police phoned, and he was very angry that he had to go to the police station before the end of the match. The boys were given a strong warning, and then allowed to go. But just two hours later they were back at the police station, with smiles on their faces. After getting home, they had gone straight out to steal another car.

This kind of thing was happening more and more these days, and it worried Eliot. The younger boy had only been ten, just two years older than Micky. What hope was there for a child like that?

Until now, he had managed to protect Micky from the worst elements of city life. But he did not know how much longer this could last. In New Cross, boys had to show they were strong, through fighting or crime. Eliot worried about his gentle son. He and Sally had been talking for a long time about moving to a safer area. He must look at house prices the next time he was in Blackheath.

It took twenty minutes for a policeman to come and take the Mercedes away.

‘The owner’s going to be pleased to get it back,’ said Bowen. ‘He’s lucky it wasn’t stolen by professionals. He’d never have seen it again.’

By now they had passed Goldsmith’s College. The pavements were full of young people waiting outside takeaway restaurants or queuing to get into music clubs. The girls looked very cold in thin dresses and jackets. It made Eliot want to turn up the heating in the car. He was lucky Micky was a boy. If he had a daughter, he knew he would worry about her even more.

The police station was quite crowded when he went in to make his report. Friday and Saturday were always the busiest nights. Too much alcohol was drunk by young people, and many had hardly eaten more than a sandwich since breakfast. It was not surprising that they became noisy and violent. There were often fights. ‘The English problem,’ thought Eliot. ‘We’re famous for it. We even export it, on holiday and at football matches.’

He bought a take-away meal from an Indian restaurant and drove home. The news had just finished and he began to watch a comedy programme. He usually enjoyed it but today the jokes didn’t seem very funny. Perhaps it was because he was tired. He had had a long day.

Normally, Eliot went to sleep as soon as his head touched the pillow, waking up after exactly eight hours, feeling fresh and lively. But tonight he kept turning from side to side, unable to relax. And when sleep finally came, it gave him no peace. He dreamed he saw Micky and Sally in the back of a stolen Mercedes. A gun lay on the seat in front, next to the driver. Eliot watched in fear as the man went faster and faster. He shouted at him to stop. Suddenly the man turned round without slowing the car, and Eliot saw only blood instead of a face. Eliot woke up covered in sweat.

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