"It's Sunday morning, bright and clear,
Lovely flowers decorate a marble square.
People cry from far away, think about the fateful day,
Now they wish, they'd given Jack more attention and respect,
Little children, dressed in black, don't know what happened to old Jack."
Jack Grayson was sat the dining table, listening to Brian Matthews on Radio 2 playing the Sounds of the Sixties, as his wife Delores brought him another coffee. She was wearing a pale blue dressing gown over her nightdress, and sat beside her husband as he took a large drink.
“Do you really have to go into the office today, Jack?”
“I’m afraid so, Del. This Simpson case is driving me bonkers at the moment, and I need to look over the paperwork with Wayne again.”
“Where was he last seen?”
“Edinburgh – we’re certain he was behind the raid at that raid on the diamond merchant, and there was a break-in at a student flat later that day that fits the pattern. The one strange thing is that the girl who was travelling with him seems to have dropped off the radar as well.
“Don’t worry, love – we’ll get him.”
Finishing his drink, Jack stood up and put on his jacket. “What are you doing today?”
“It’s my day to man the Oxfam shop, so once I’ve got washed and dressed I’ll join Agnetha down there.”
“Well, have a good day.” He kissed his wife on the forehead, and made his way out of the house and into his car. As he reversed down the driveway and started to make his way down the road, he passed a bus stop where three or four people were waiting. One man in particular watched as the car went down the street, before pulling the collar of his jacket up and heading on foot in the opposite direction.
The town clock struck nine as Agnetha walked through the market towards the charity shop. She was a small woman, around five foot four, and was actually Malaysian, but had adopted the name of one of the women from Abba when she moved to Britain in the mid-seventies. By now she was sued to people looking at her when they first met, expecting someone tall, blonde and fair skinned, but she didn’t mind – that was their problem, not hers.
It was a cool morning, and she pulled the front of her cream coloured wool cardigan around her. Underneath she was wearing a white blouse with a frilled front, and a long light brown skirt with a dark band above the hem covered her legs. As she was feeling the cold a little more than usual, she was also wearing wedge soled black leather boots that came up to just below her knees, but the skirt meant only the ankles and feet were showing as she walked down.
As she passed the various shops, she could see the people starting to go about their business. Passing the newsagents, she almost walked into a portly, slightly greying man as he came out. “Sorry,” she mumbled as she walked down three doors, and unlocked the entrance to the charity shop.
Like most shops of this type, it was a mixture of clothing, books and what were politely called “Odds and Sods” that were on display. Agnetha placed her bag behind the counter, and was about to put the kettle on when she heard the door opening. Turning round, she saw standing in the doorway the man she had almost knocked over in the street a few moments before. He was wearing light grey trousers, a grey jacket over a brown jumper, and held a cloth cap in his hand.
“If you will give me a few moments, sir, I will be right with you,” she said, but the man replied “It’s quite all right, my dear lady, I have all the time in the world – and so do you.”
“Whatever did he mean by that,” she wondered as she turned round to enter the kitchen, failing to see the man turn round and close the door behind him, locking it and moving the sign from “Open” to “Closed”. Humming a tune to herself, she filled the kettle with water and plugged it in.
“Excuse me,” she heard the man say, “But I wonder if you can help me?”
“Of course, how can I….. What are you doing back here?”
The man had come into the kitchen, and was now looking at Agnetha with a smile. He also had a small gun pointed at her midriff.
“Please, do exactly as I say – we don’t have much time before your co-worker gets here, and I am most anxious to have a word with her. Now, where is your storeroom?”
Agnetha pointed to a door at the other side of the kitchen. “After you,” the man said as he motioned with the gun, stopping only to pick up a ball of twine and a tea towel from the table as he followed her. Closing the door to the room behind them, he said “Please, place your hands behind your back. I’m sorry, but this may hurt a little – I’ll try and make you as comfortable as possible.”
“Who are you?” Agnetha asked as the man placed her wrists next to each other behind her back. She looked over her shoulder and watched as he made a small loop at the loose end of the ball of twine, pass it over the sleeve of her left arm and pull it tight, before winding the thin cord around her wrists in a figure of eight.
“Introductions later, my dear – let’s make you secure and comfortable first…”
Twenty minutes later, Delores was making her way down the high street towards the charity shop. She was now wearing a brown corduroy dress, with shoulder straps that fastened to the front of her shoulder with metal clasps, and a thick brown sweater with a roll neck underneath. She was also wearing brown suede booties that came to just above eh rankles, but the skirt of her dress came almost to the floor, so that it was impossible to see them. What it was impossible to not hear was the characteristic sound that the material made as she walked down the street and came to the door of the shop.
“Strange – Agnetha must be running late,” she thought as she saw the closed sign and tried to open the door. Fishing around in her large bag, she found her own door key and opened up.
“Agnetha, are you here?” she called out, but instead of her colleague she saw a man coming out of the back - a man she recognised instantly.
“Oh god,” she said quietly, “You’re George Simpson!”
“I am indeed, but I do not believe I have had the pleasure of meeting you before,” George replied with a smile as he raised the pistol he held in his hand. “First, however, kindly close and lock the door behind you, and then we can talk more privately.”
Delores swallowed hard. “Where’s Agnetha?”
“Out back, having a sit down – now close and lock the door.”
Turning round, she went to lock the door and at the same time slipped her hand into her back. To her dismay, however, George quickly walked over and took the large leather bag from her shoulder.
“I’ll look after that, if you don’t mind – we’re on a schedule here, after all. Now, lock the door and come with me.”
Reluctantly, Delores turned the lock and put the door sign back to “Closed”, before turning round and facing George. He looked at her, with her greying brown hair done up in a bun, and started to laugh.
“Forgive me, my dear, but you do look a little old fashioned dressed in that way. Please, come with me and you can see your co-worker for yourself.”
George motioned to the back of the shop, and led Delores to the storeroom. There she found Agnetha, sat on a box in the rear of the store. The twine that had been passed around her wrists had also been used to secure them to her back by passing the cord around her waist, pulling the cardigan in as it did so. The twine had also been passed around her arms and chest, although it was not passed under her arms and therefore not too tight. Delores could also see a length of twine around her legs, above her knees, which had gathered her skirt slightly to show her leather-clad ankles and feet. The ankles had also been secured with twine, and the tea towel tied tightly into Agnetha’s mouth to form a most effective gag.
“Are you all right, Agne?” Delores asked, and her friend looked up to nod silently. Delores turned and looked at George as he closed the door behind himself.
“My husband wants to meet you,” she said with a sneer in her voice.
“Your husband? I don’t believe we’ve met before – may I ask your name?”
“Delores – Delores Grayson.”
“Grayson? You’re not Jack Grayson’s wife are you?” Delores nodded in reply, and George burst put laughing.
“Now isn’t that funny? There was I watching Jack this morning as he left his house, and you were inside? Had I known that, then Agne – you don’t mind if I call you Agne – Agne here would never have been so inconvenienced. Well, life is funny, isn’t it?”
“I’m not laughing at the moment?”
“Oh, lighten up, Delores, or you’ll have real problems later. Now, while Agne sits here, I want you to come with me into the back yard – and bring your keys with you.”
“They’re in my bag – the one you threw down in there?”
“Well, go and get them – and remember, I’m watching all the time, and Agne here would not be happy if you try anything stupid.”
Delores made her way back into the shop, picked up the large bag and walked back into the storeroom. Handing it to George, she watched as he drew a set of keys out.
“Where is she?” Delores asked as George selected one.
“The girl you’ve been running around with.”
“None of your business,” George said as he looked round and picked up the ball of twine. “Now, turn round and put your hands behind your back.”
“I need you to come with me, and I want to make sure you do as you’re told. Now, turn around.”
Delores turned and looked at Agnetha as her wrists were crossed and bound together behind her back with the twine. “Hang in there,” she said as she winced at the thin material pulling the wool of her jumper tightly around her wrists.
“Good – now come with me,” George said as he took Delores y the arm and led her into the back yard, the swish of the corduroy dress in his ears. In the yard, he took the key he had found and unlocked a gate that connected the yard with that of the shop next door.
“Come along,” George said as he opened the gate, took Delores by the arm and led the way to the entrance of the store next door, which was held closed by a padlock and bar. Picking up a length of iron pole, George forced the lock and made his way inside, taking Delores with him into the pawn shop.
He made her sit in a seat as he quickly emptied the contents of the tills into his pockets. “Really bad security here,” he said as he rummaged through the items in the store, picking one up in particular and pocketing it before turning back to Delores.
“Come on, let’s go back to your friend,” he said as he grabbed the frightened woman and led her back to the store room.
“You’ve gone to all this trouble for a few pounds and one other thing,” she said as he closed the rear door behind them.
“I have my reasons – and now we need to make you comfortable.” George held in his hand several lengths of thick rope that he had picked up in the yard as they had made their way back. Looking round, he saw a pole that went from the floor to the ceiling of the room.
“I want you to stand against that pole, and don’t move,” George said. Delores looked at him and Agnetha, who was quietly sobbing, and did as she was told, watching George as he put all save one of the length of rope down and doubled over the one he held on to.
“It really is most convenient of you to cooperate like this, my dear lady,” George said as he pulled the last loop of rope tight and knotted it behind pole. “Now, you just stand there and you and your friend will be just fine. I need to have a word with your husband.”
Agnetha looked at Delores, standing there with her dress wrapped tightly around her and her wrists pulled behind her back, trying to find some give in her own bindings. This Saturday morning in the charity shop had been anything but peaceful. For her part, Delores was trying to find some give in her ropes, but even that which had been tied around her ankles was too tight, and the squeak of the corduroy was beginning to madden her. George had wrapped rope around her chest, waist, thighs and calves, so that she was effectively a brown mummy standing there. To add insult to injury, a tea towel was also tied into her mouth, muffling her protests.
Smiling, George picked up Delores’ bag and retrieved a mobile phone. Switching it on, he looked through her contact list and selected a number.
“Edinburgh? So that was him? The cunning bastard – he must know we’re after him!”
Jennifer Wayne was sitting opposite her boss, looking at the reports from the Lothian force as Jack Grayson took another drink of his coffee.
“Yup – he’s still the slippery bastard I knew he was of old. The question is where he is now?”
The sound of Vivaldi alerted Jack to the fact his phone was ringing. Picking it up, he looked at the number before answering and saying “Hello, love, how’s the shop.”
“Closed, Jack” a make voice said with a chuckle, “I decided to give your wife the day off.”
“Who is this?” Grayson answered with a surprised look on his face.”
“OH, Jack, I’m disappointed. I knew we almost met in Newcastle, but have you forgotten me already?”
“Simpson,” Jack answered, and Jennifer watched the colour drain from her boss’s face. “Where’s my wife?”
“She’s at work, but I think you’d better come round fast. Good luck, Jack – you’ll need it to catch me.”
The line went dead, and Jack Grayson put the handset down. “Boss – are you all right?” Jennifer asked, but before she got a reply the DCI was up and running.
“Get a car to the Oxfam shop in town,” he shouted as he grabbed his coat, “George Simpson just made his first mistake.”
Some time later, in a small country bar, George was sitting examining the watch he had retrieved from the pawn shop.
“Another pint, George,” the barmaid asked.
“Not today, Sally – things to do. Be seeing you,” he said as he put the watch in his pocket, finished his drink and walked out. Climbing into the car he had “borrowed” he set off in the direction of Canterbury….