N ightingale walked out of the police station and lit a cigarette, then phoned a minicab firm. He had smoked half his cigarette when Jenny appeared.
‘Well, that was a waste of everybody’s time,’ she said.
‘I’m sorry,’ said Nightingale.
‘It’s not your fault,’ said Jenny, buttoning up her coat. ‘Just bloody-minded policemen.’
‘Who questioned you? The female cop?’
‘She was in the room but a uniformed inspector asked the questions. Some guy called Johnson. Do you know him?’
Nightingale shook his head.
‘He was an idiot. They were trying this “good cop, bad cop” routine with the woman pretending that she was my new best friend and Johnson threatening me with life behind bars for helping you cover up a murder. Please tell me that all cops aren’t as stupid as that?’
Nightingale blew a tight plume of smoke up at the sky. ‘It varies,’ he said. ‘Chalmers isn’t stupid but he’s got his sights set on me. What did you tell them?’
‘I said you pushed Harrison off the balcony and threatened to kill me if I told anyone.’ Nightingale’s jaw dropped and Jenny grinned and shook her head.
‘Don’t do that to me,’ he said.
‘Well, for goodness sake, Jack, what do you think I said?’
‘I just hope you told them what happened,’ he said. ‘Because that’s what I did.’
Jenny sighed. ‘Please give me some credit,’ she said. ‘Anyway, if they weren’t happy with what we said they wouldn’t have let us go, would they?’
‘They can’t hold us without charging us,’ said Nightingale. ‘And they don’t have enough evidence for that.’
‘There you are, then,’ she said.
‘You told them about cleaning the flat, the fingerprints and all?’
She nodded. ‘I figured I had to, right? If they’d looked at the CCTV footage then they must have gone looking for fingerprints and it would have been obvious that the place had been wiped clean. So yeah, I told them.’
Nightingale nodded. ‘That’s good. At least we’re consistent,’ he said.
‘Do you think that’ll be the end of it?’
‘I hope so,’ said Nightingale. ‘But Chalmers will carry on sniffing around, that much I’m sure of. He’s already spoken to the Welsh cop so I think I’m going to have more hassle on that front.’ He dropped his cigarette butt on the ground and stamped on it.
Jenny nodded at his foot. ‘You’d better watch that they don’t do you for littering.’
They had to wait for almost an hour before a minicab turned up outside the police station. ‘This is outrageous,’ said Jenny as she got into the back of the car. ‘They picked us up and brought us here so they should bloody well take us back.’
‘It doesn’t work like that,’ said Nightingale as he climbed in and pulled the door shut. ‘Lifts home went out with Dixon of Dock Green.’
‘We should sue them,’ said Jenny. ‘They didn’t arrest us; they just wanted to question us. They should at least have let you drive here in your car.’
‘They probably thought I’d do a runner,’ said Nightingale.
The driver twisted around in his seat. He was dark-skinned with a heavy beard. ‘Where to?’ he growled.
Nightingale looked at Jenny. ‘Do you want to come back to the house while I pick up the MGB or shall I drop you in Chelsea?’
‘I’ll go home,’ she said. ‘You’d be better collecting the car during the day, Jack.’ She looked at her wristwatch. ‘I thought there were laws about when the police could question people.’
‘PACE doesn’t apply when you’re helping them with their enquiries.’
‘Oh that’s what we were doing, was it? Why does Chalmers have it in for you?’
Nightingale grimaced. ‘He’s never liked me, right from the first time we met. Reckons I’m a maverick.’
Jenny laughed. ‘Well, he’s probably right.’
‘Yeah, well, he’s a box-ticker; everything has to be done by the book. He won’t have it any other way.’ He tapped the back of the driver’s seat. ‘Chelsea, mate,’ he said. ‘Is it okay to smoke?’
‘No smoking,’ said the driver.
‘Terrific,’ said Nightingale. ‘Where are you from?’
‘Afghanistan,’ said the driver, putting the car in gear and driving off.
‘I thought they were big smokers in Afghanistan,’ said Nightingale.
‘This is England,’ said the driver. ‘No smoking in taxis.’
‘So you left Afghanistan because of the Taliban?’ asked Jenny.
The driver laughed and slapped his chest with the flat of his hand. ‘I am Taliban!’ he said proudly. ‘I leave my country when the Americans invaded. Americans kill many Taliban. Very dangerous to stay there. So I come to England.’
Nightingale leaned forward. ‘Are you saying you got asylum in the UK because you were with the Taliban?’
The driver grinned at Nightingale in the rear-view mirror. ‘England is a great country,’ he said. ‘They give me lawyer, house for me and my family, and easy to get driving licence. Many of my friends are here already. Next month my wife’s mother is coming. She will be British citizen also.’
Nightingale looked at Jenny and shook his head in amazement. ‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘England is a great country. Can you believe that?’
Jenny grinned at Nightingale. ‘You’re going to have to get used to this,’ she said. ‘When they take away your licence you’ll be in cabs all the time.’
‘Maybe,’ said Nightingale. ‘But I’ve got a plan.’