The last thing Boyd remembered clearly was the girl’s mouth, a volatile red gash making fascinating shapes as she talked, asking him for directions to the bus station. She’d lost her handbag she said, she didn’t know how she was going to get home.
At some point there was a bar, dim and small with the bodies packed in close, and he remembered her laughing with that big red mouth wide open and inviting. She wanted tequila so he bought it, she wanted a cigarette and he gave her one. He remembered an alleyway and the rough touch of brickwork against the back of his head as her lips grazed his cock.
After that he had nothing.
He stared at the cell door and waited for his breakfast to arrive.
It wasn’t the first time he’d woken up inside. This was the worst cell he’d been in though, shoved down in a basement, damp smelling and unheated. It was one of those old Victorian stations he realised, not one he recognised.
Boyd closed his eyes and tried to remember what happened to the girl.
He was back in the alleyway, staring down at her head, a line of black roots cutting through her blond hair. He saw his fingers twisting into it, heard music from a flat above them and a siren in the distance.
A swirl of nausea doubled him over and he threw up on the floor.
She walked away he told himself. He gave her some money for her bus and they went their separate ways.
That was what happened.
He held the image in front of him, making it strong and detailed, seeing her take the tenner out of his hand, thanking him. It wasn’t a business transaction, he’d be clear on that when they asked, it was a humane gesture.
He pictured her walking away from him along a street full of locked down shop fronts and bars with clusters of smokers outside them. Whatever happened to her after that had nothing to do with him.
The cell door opened – a young copper in a black suit, a black eye to go with it.
“Alright fuckstick, up.”
The copper gestured with two fingers and Boyd walked shakily out of the cell, into a green corridor that smelled of piss and disinfectant. Muffled crying came from the neighbouring cell, a man or a woman, he wasn’t sure.
“What’ve you arrested me for?”
“Same as usual Boyd.”
They went to an interview room and there was another copper waiting for them, leaning against the wall, his gut thrust forward like he was going to do some damage with it.
“Mr Boyd, made it through the night then.” He wore a signet ring on his pinky and his knuckles were like ball bearings. “I had four to one on you topping yourself. Always tonight aye? Get us set-up Carson.”
The younger copper sat down at the table and switched on a blocky tape recorder, rattling through the usual spiel. It was quarter past ten but Boyd didn’t feel like he’d slept.
He took one of the plastic chairs as the old guy identified himself for the tape.
DCI Ketchel…he knew that name…why did he know that name?
“Feeling a bit delicate are we?” Ketchel asked. He lit a cigarette. “Not as young as you used to be aye Boyd?”
Boyd sat tight, said nothing.
Ketchel grinned. His front tooth was chipped.
“Think you’re going to keep shtum and we’ll have to let you go?”
“Not this time,” Carson said. “You know who that girl’s old man is?”
“How many girls you kill lately?”
He saw her take the tenner from him and walk away, long legs moving quickly along the street. He saw her waiting for the night bus in a deserted shelter with grafittied walls and junk food on the floor, a shadowy male figure behind her.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Ketchel’s face darkened. “You raped her then you beat her to death.”
“I’ve done nothing.”
“We’ve got witnesses saw you drag her outside.”
“Christ, she dragged me. She was all over me.”
Carson stood up and walked around the table. Boyd felt the man’s hands come down on his shoulders, a light touch carrying a threat he couldn’t deliver on.
They liked to play tough.
“Look, we had a couple of drinks and she was up for it so I didn’t argue. I’m a man for Christ’s sake. Some slag wants to suck me off what am I going to do?”
Carson slapped him across the back of the head.
“My solicitor’s going to love that,” Boyd said. He leaned towards the tape recorder. “For the record I have just been struck by detective sergeant Carson.”
Carson hit him again, no more than a tap. Making a point.
They had nothing then. They knew the tape would never go into evidence so they were going to fuck him around, see if they could hook something out of him to build a case off.
“She tell you who she was?” Ketchel asked.
“I didn’t catch her name.”
“It was Dani.”
Boyd wanted to run but he knew his legs wouldn’t work even if he could get out from under Carson’s hands. Her photograph had been on the news, weeks of coverage and that heart shaped face large on the screen, black hair and blue eyes, just like her father.
Six weeks with no arrest, the police were getting desperate.
“I had nothing to do with that,” Boyd said. “Ken Poulter’s daughter are you joking?”
“Thought you never knew who she was.”
Boyd squirmed. “That slag who su – “
He felt the blow a split second before his face hit the tabletop. He heard his nose break. Carson dragged him upright again and Ketchel was on him.
“You want to watch your fucking mouth son.” He grabbed Boyd’s nose between his fingers and twisted the mashed cartilage.
Boyd screamed with blood running down his throat.
Ketchel took a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped the blood from his fingers, running it under his thumbnail carefully.
“You’ve got two options Boyd. Give us a full confession right now and we’ll make sure you’re protected from reprisals – “
“You can’t protect me.”
“We’re the only friends you’ve got,” Ketchel said. “The second you step outside again Poulter’s going to be waiting. And when he gets his hands on you it won’t be a clean hit.”
“You raped his baby,” Carson said. “He’s going break your arse apart.”
If he stayed on the streets Poulter would see him suffer. Locked up he had a chance of surviving and if they came for him there it’d be quick at least.
“Alright,” he said. “I did it. I killed her.”
Out the corner of his eye he saw the gun in Carson’s hand and everything slotted into place, the girl with the red mouth and the tequila shots which had obliterated how he got here, into this damp and deserted police station. The one on Park Farm he realised, decommissioned and boarded up, buried in the heart of Poulter’s manor.
“Wait – “
“You’re getting off easy,” Carson said, aiming the gun at his stomach. “You’ll bleed out in about twenty-four hours.”
He pulled the trigger.
Eva Dolan – August 2011