"What do you mean, he can't do that?" I asked. I felt a surge of anger build up in me. What right had my brother to tell Trevor what he can and cannot do? The lad needed to relax, and going out in the dinghy would take his mind off a lot of things.
"He's under contract for the film," Ben explained. "We have a fifty-million, critical-person cover on both Trevor and Tyler. The insurance policy has a lot of restrictions in it, including that they are not allowed to partake in any hazardous activity without professional supervision. Sailing is listed as one of the hazardous activities."
"Well, you're OK, then," I responded a bit gruffly. "Matthew is going out with them. He's the cousin of the dinghy's owner and a qualified instructor at the Yacht Club."
I heard an audible sigh escape from Ben when I passed on that information.
"So, the film does come first," I stated.
"The film comes first for you, Ben. You weren't immediately concerned for Trevor's safety; your concern was for the film's financial exposure if anything happened. Trevor's right, the film is more important to you than he is."
There was silence from the other end for a while. Then Ben spoke. "It's not the film; it's Phil. He's so tied up in the film that if anything was to fall apart, I think he would lose it. He came close to doing so when Lichtenstein pulled out."
"Ben, what's going on?"
Again, there was silence. This time the pause was longer before he spoke. "Mike, I'll be there in six hours or a bit more. I'll tell you everything when I get there."
"Is Phil coming with you?"
"No, it's just me. Phil's already left. He flew down to London this morning; he has a flight to New York just after lunch. I was going drive back to Manston this afternoon, but if I leave now, I can drive through and be with you this evening."
"It's one hell of a drive," I commented.
"I know," Ben stated and then hung up.
I went and told Anne that Ben was on his way.
"What's up, Luv?" she asked.
"I don't know. That's what Ben is coming down to tell me,"
"Well, I'd better arrange a bed for him, though it will be a camp bed in one of the spare rooms," she stated.
"I think he will be able to manage with that."
"He'd better." Anne placed a kiss on my cheek. "Don't worry, Luv; it will work out, whatever it is."
She went off to start sorting out a bed for Ben. I tried to get some work done. Went through my emails, then had a go at writing a chapter for the metrological book—a bit of a waste of time. My mind was not with it. So, by the time Anne called me through for lunch, I had written all of two lines.
Over lunch, Anne commented that we had not seen Arthur that morning. I told her he had been working through the night. Just as I finished telling her that, the backup mobile on the kitchen counter started ringing.
When we had set up the phone account for Arthur's business, I had insisted that we should have a backup mobile phone set up for calls to divert to if he was unavailable. Now, it was ringing. I answered. It was one of Arthur's network customers; their network had crashed. Could Arthur sort it out? I promised them that Arthur would contact them within the hour and then went and called Arthur.
When Arthur came down, I explained the problem to him — or at least as much of it as I understood from the phone call.
"I bet the cleaner pulled out the plug for the router and forgot to put it back in."
"Is that likely?" I asked.
"Well, that's been the problem the last two times. I'd better get down there. Should not be too long." With that, he left. I noticed he took his bike rather than the van. I made a note to talk to him about that when he got back. What is the point of buying a van for the business if it is not being used?
We had just finished lunch when Bernard phoned. It was to let me know that I did not need to be at the court till one on Wednesday. That was good news; I could avoid the rush-hour traffic and trains.
I went to my study and started writing but still was not in the mood to do so. However, I pushed on. I managed to get a few hundred words written for an article on the scientific method. They were looking for six hundred, so three was halfway there, more or less after revisions.
Anne put her head around the door and asked if I would like a mug of tea. That sounded like a good idea. It was also an excellent excuse to leave the writing, so I went and joined her in the kitchen. As I went in, she was sorting the post on the kitchen table. There was the usual pile for me, mostly bills. Amongst the unsorted collection, I noticed a C4 envelope with the logo of Southmead College on it.
"Something's come from the college for Johnny; he's been quick off the mark," I stated. Anne looked at me, then at the envelope, which she extracted from the pile.
"No," she stated. "It's for me."
"Yes. Remember, Mike, I said I was looking at going back to college."
"Well, yes, but you have not mentioned it since. What are you thinking of doing?"
"I was thinking of doing a computer-science access course," she stated.
"So, you are thinking of doing a degree?" I asked.
"If I can, would you mind?"
"Not at all," I replied. "In fact, I think it is a bloody good idea. Then you could give Arthur a hand." I ducked as she swiped at me with the envelope.
Just then, Arthur returned. I asked him how it had gone.
"OK. It was the cleaner pulling the plug out and not putting it back," Arthur confirmed. "That is the third time this year for them. At least, I have got them to agree to a proper server cabinet and having it wired in with no external plugs for cleaners to pull out."
"Why did you not use the van?".
"It's high tide," Arthur stated as if that was enough. I must have looked puzzled, so he continued. "They're at Dawkins Reach, I could use the footpaths and bridges through the marsh on the bike. It would be another couple of hours before I could use the causeway. So, I would have had to have driven around Long Creek and then come back via the chain ferry. You know how long that would take."
He had a point. I suppose you have to be born here to understand the impacts of the tides on getting around.
Trevor and Johnny got back just after four.
"Good day?" I enquired.
"Brill," Johnny informed me. "We hired one of the Yacht Club boats this afternoon, and Matthew took us out in that."
"I thought you had to be a member to use one of the club boats," I stated.
"I am a member," Trevor advised me. "Joined when I had my yachting lesson a couple of weeks ago." That was news to me.
We started to discuss options for dinner. Trevor suggested that we go to the Crooked Man, his treat. Given that neither Anne nor myself were in the mood for cooking, we agreed. I sent a text to Ben telling him where we would be if we were not in the house when he arrived, though I thought he would have arrived by now.
In any event, Ben pulled into the drive just as we were about to walk down to the Crooked Man.
"You're later than expected," I commented as he got out of the car.
"Junction twenty-one," Ben replied. I nodded in sympathy. The M6-M5 junction at Wednesbury was notorious for delays. "Bloody lorry had shed its load."
"I suppose you've come to talk to me," Trevor said.
"No, Trevor. I've come to talk to my brother, though you probably need to talk to someone. I probably would not be the best person. Hopefully, in the morning, I might have the name of somebody whom you can talk to who will be more useful than I am."
Trevor looked a bit taken aback by that. I explained to Ben that we were going down to the Crooked Man for a meal. He decided to join us.
It was a warm evening, so we pushed a couple of tables together on the terrace and ate al fresco. The three boys all went for burger and chips. I commented that they could have gone into Dunford and got those a lot cheaper. Johnny stated that the chips at the Crooked Man were a lot better. First, they were chunky chips, not French fries; second, they were triple cooked. I asked him how he knew; he told me he had asked Mary how they got them so crispy. He also informed me that the burgers were better.
As we were walking back up to the Priory, Trevor dropped back to walk with Ben.
"Why do you think it would be best for me to talk with somebody else?" I overheard him ask Ben.
"Because, Trevor, I am too involved with things that are impacting on you."
"But you talked with me at Manston about the abuse and last time you were here," Trevor observed.
"Manston was an emergency. Anyway, it was something that I was not involved with," Ben replied. "Last time was something of a follow-up; it was how you were handling the fallout from the abuse. Now, though, there is a new issue: your parents' divorce. Both your parents are my friends, so it is difficult for me to be impartial. You need somebody you can be totally sure is on your side."
"Is there such a person?" Trevor enquired.
"Oh, yes, we just have to find one."
As we were walking back up the hill, it had started to get overcast. A couple of heavy drops of rain started, then there was a clap of thunder, and the heavens opened. Fortunately, we were close to the house and able to make a dash for it. Not that it helped much; we all got soaked.
Once inside, everybody went to get changed into something dry. I had to loan Ben some clothes as his were in the boot of his car and it was pouring down. There was no way he could get them until the storm passed. Arthur invited Trevor and Johnny to meet in his room. It seems that he had some new computer game to show them. Anne said she was going to watch something on TV, so Ben and I went into my study.
"So, what's going on?" I asked. "There is clearly something you want to tell me."
"There is," replied Ben. "It's why this film is so important to Phil. It's also bloody confidential. If it leaks out, it could scupper everything."
"Alright, I understand that, but if it is that confidential, should you even be talking to me about it?"
"Don't worry, I spoke to Phil earlier; he agrees with me telling you," Ben stated. "He's not happy about it but understands that if I am going to explain things, you need to know the background."
"OK. Go on," I told him.
"Well you have probably heard the rumour that Phil had a meeting with the producers of the Bond films," Ben stated. I nodded; it had been hard not to hear it. Every entertainment gossip column had mentioned it.
"Wasn't it supposed to have taken place in Nice during the Cannes film festival?"
"Yes," Ben replied. "They were all down that way for the festival. The idea was if they slipped off to Nice, there was less chance of being spotted. Unfortunately, some paparazzi photographed them having dinner in an out-of-the-way restaurant in Nice.
"Anyway, the producers wanted to talk to Phil about taking on Bond."
I was silent for a moment. There had been rumours, but the idea of Phil playing Bond was — well it was not the sort of part I would expect him to play.
"I really can't see Phil as Bond," I commented.
"Oh, they are not talking about him playing Bond. The present Bond is committed to at least two more films. No, they want someone to take over as director after the film now in production is released. The current director has made it clear that this is his last Bond."
"But Phil has never directed an action film," I stated.
"That is the point," Ben said.
Suddenly it all fell into place. 'That Woman's Son' was an action-filled novel. There were at least two chase scenes in it; I could not remember how many fights. Then there was an aerial dogfight.
"Mike, there is a three-movie deal on the table. If Phil can show he can do action, he can have Bond. That is why this film is so important. Not only do we have to get it made and made well, but we also have to have it ready to open by the time the next Bond film comes out."
"Summer next year," Ben replied.
"So, no room for slip-ups," I commented.
"None at all. We not only have to get the film made, but it also has to be well-made. To be honest, without Trevor, it is not going to work, so an awful lot depends on keeping Trevor on board.
"The thing is, I am not sure how able Trevor is with coping with things. He has an awful lot going on at the moment: the fallout from the abuse, his parents' divorce. It would only take one little thing to push him over the edge. That's why he needs somebody else to talk to besides me. I have too much of a vested interest in things. This is Phil's big chance, and I will do anything to make sure that he gets it."
"Even if it means hurting the boy?" I asked.
"Not deliberately. But I do not want to take a chance of being in a position where my interests might sway my decision, even though I might not be aware of it."
"I can see where that might be a problem."
"It already has been," Ben told me.
"Yes," Ben responded. "I let Trevor talk himself out of making a formal complaint against Mark Gleeson. If he had done so, Mark Gleeson would be facing another set of charges; as it is, he will be out in a few months.
"If I am honest with myself, I have to question how much I was thinking about what was best for Trevor and how much I was thinking what the impact of another trial would have on the filming schedule if Trevor had to spend time in court as a witness. I am not sure he made the wrong decision. If he had made a complaint, it would have opened up a whole can of worms for himself, having to relive everything when he made the statements. Not sure he was up for that."
"What about Dean?" I asked. "Surely he will be called to give evidence on that."
"On that, I'm not sure," Ben replied.
O o O o O
The following morning, Ben gave Trevor the name and contact details for a psychologist who had been recommended to him.
"Is she any good?" Trevor asked.
"Yes, she is," Ben replied.
"How do you know?"
"Because she was one of my tutors at university, and I did my casework with her," Ben answered.
That seemed to satisfy Trevor, who informed me that he was going to give Arthur a hand. Johnny had left earlier to work in the yard. Ben had told everybody the evening before that he was leaving for Manston this morning. He did, though, hang around long enough to take several photos of the exterior of the Priory.
I went into my study and started to work through my emails. There was nothing particularly exciting, but a couple which needed relatively long technical replies. It was just after ten-thirty when a 4X4 I did not recognise pulled into the drive and parked in front of the Priory. A woman got out and walked up to the door and rang the bell. I went and opened it.
"Good morning," she said. "My name is Tara James; I'm a building inspector. Could you tell me where I can find Matt and the builders?"
I was just about to answer her when Matt's car pulled into the drive. I waved to him so he would stop rather than continue around to the outbuildings. Luckily, he saw me and pulled up, got out and came over.
"What's up?" he asked.
"This lady was looking for you." I then introduced them.
"I was expecting Peter to come out," Matt stated.
"Unfortunately, Peter's wife went into labour last night," she stated. "Peter is at the hospital, probably in a trance looking at his son."
"He's got a son?" Matt asked.
"Yes, a baby boy born at half-past three this morning," Tara explained. "He texted me with the news and asked if I could do this inspection. Apparently, you have a deadline to meet."
Matt laughed and then told Tara she'd better follow him round to the site. As they were making their way back to the cars, I told them I would make some tea or coffee when they were finished.
It was over an hour before there was a knock at the back door. I opened it to let Matt and Tara into the kitchen.
"Well, the stable-loft flat is signed off," Matt informed me. "Arthur can move into it any time he likes."
"So, it's finished?" I asked, indicating that they should take a seat at the table. "Tea or Coffee?"
"Coffee for me," Matt stated.
"I'll have tea if it is no problem," Tara said.
"It's no problem; I'm a tea drinker myself." I switched on the kettle and put the tea in the pot and coffee in the filter. "You were about to say something about the flat, Matt."
"Oh, yes. It's not finished, but all that is left is the decorating, and Arthur said he would take care of that. Of course, the kitchen appliances also need to be installed."
"Matt, they need to be bought," I stated. "So, there are no problems?"
"That's questionable" Matt stated. "Tara has asked for an external staircase from the apartments."
I looked at Tara, who nodded.
"I am probably a bit picky over things," Tara stated. "I would be more comfortable with the setup if there was an external staircase. Strictly speaking, according to the regs, the stone staircases at each end of the building should be enough. The thinking is that in the case of a fire, you can always escape from a first-floor room by the window.
"The drop from a first-floor window is normally about twelve to fourteen feet. However, in this case, the apartments are being created out of the hayloft over what was the coach house. That has a high ceiling, some eighteen feet to allow for a driver sitting on top of a coach. As a result, the windows on the first floor are all over twenty feet from the ground. That is the height of most second-storey windows.
"If the apartments had been second-storey, then a secondary escape route would have been required. At the moment, while you are treating them as one large apartment, it is not a problem, you have a staircase at each end, so you have a secondary exit route. However, once separated into two apartments, I would recommend that there should be a separate external fire exit serving both."
"Matt?" I asked, looking for his opinion. The kettle boiled so I made the tea and coffee.
"From a purely technical point, we could argue that it is not required by building regulations. However, it does make sense. I would recommend that we agree and arrange to put in a self-standing external fire escape.
"If you want me to, Mike, I will fight the issue, but I think it is a good idea."
Just then, the door opened, and Anne came in carrying a couple of bags of shopping. She had been to the farmers market. She put them down at the end of the table. I introduced her to Tara and then recapped our discussion so far whilst I poured mugs of tea and coffee.
"I think we should do it," Anne stated once she had taken a drink of her coffee.
"How will that affect us moving in?" I enquired.
"Actually, Mike, it will not make any difference," Matt replied. "As you are using it as one apartment, you have two exits with the staircases at each end. It is only when we split them into the two apartments that it becomes an issue, but that will be some time off."
"So, do it then," I instructed.
"Right. I'll get the amendment into planning," Mike stated, then turned to Tara. "I hope you are prepared to support the amendment."
"As it is my recommendation, I don't think I have much choice. Do you want to run the design by me before you submit it? Maybe we could meet for lunch."
"That might be an idea," Matt agreed.
Once they had finished their coffee, Matt and Tara left. I returned from showing them to the door to find Anne with a satisfied smile on her face.
"What?" I asked.
"Those two," Anne replied. "I've been trying to get Matt fixed up ever since his wife left him. Think he may have found someone."
"What makes you think that?" I asked.
"The way they were looking at each other."
"Anyway, I thought he was with Madge," I stated.
"Madge is an on/off girlfriend, mostly off these days. It was never going to work out, and they both knew that from the start."
I told her I'd better sort out some lunch and started to make some cheese and ham sandwiches. Anne called Arthur on his mobile and asked if he and Trevor would be joining us. They said they would. About ten minutes later, they walked into the kitchen, both smiling.
Over lunch, I told Arthur that the flat had been passed and he could move in anytime he wanted. Again, I offered to get the decorating done, but Arthur said he would sort that. He also told me that I should sort out a proper lease for him so that he could apply for housing benefits. That was something that I had not thought about. The other thing I had not thought about was his need for furniture. Fortunately, we had a whole pile of camping gear in one of the outbuildings; it had come from Anne's. Her late husband had been a keen camper, so we were able to let Arthur have a camp table and some chairs to start with. Trevor gave him a hand to move stuff in. Then the pair of them took off into Dunford in the van to try their luck at the charity shops.
They had not got back when Johnny arrived home smiling. Anne asked him what had put him in such a good mood. He held up a bunch of keys. "Steve's put me in charge of opening up the yard in the morning."
"He's what?" Anne exclaimed.
It took us about half an hour to get the facts out of Johnny, who seemed to enjoy playing us along. Turned out that Tommy, Steve's right-hand man, was getting married in the morning, and, except for Johnny, all the guys from the yard had been invited to the wedding. Originally, Steve had intended to close the yard for the day but, in the end, had come up with the idea of opening the yard but not doing any work. All Johnny would be doing was operating the chandler part of the business and selling supplies. He could, if it was an emergency, book work in but was not to give any quotes or do anything. Steve would sort all that out when he got back from the wedding, hopefully about two.
Anne, of course, had to phone Steve just to confirm everything and to tell Steve off about not letting her know about the wedding. Steve said he had not known till last week. It appeared it was something of a rushed job, Tommy's live-in girlfriend of the last ten years finding herself three-months pregnant.
Steve assured Anne that Johnny running the chandlery was no problem. Apparently, it was one of his jobs whenever he was in the yard. He told her that Johnny made a much better job of it than any of the full-time staff or even himself.
Trevor and Arthur got back about twenty minutes later with a van load of stuff. Johnny gave them a hand to unload it before dinner. Over dinner, Arthur informed us that they had found some second-hand white goods and a cooker. I was a bit concerned about the idea of a second-hand stove, especially as it was gas. As soon as I could get Anne on her own, I discussed it with her. We both agreed we would feel far more comfortable if the cooker, fridge and other white goods were new. I decided to tell Arthur that we would buy these in the morning.
It made some sense as we would need two lots of the same for the apartments, and also there was the remodelled kitchen in the main house. I was reasonably certain with an order that size I could negotiate a fairly good discount. All right, we did not need them all at the moment, but it was not as if we did not have the space to store them.
Just after eight that evening, Bernard phoned. I expressed surprise that he was calling so late as it was getting close to the start of Shabbat, not that Bernard was particularly observant. He explained he had been in court in Birmingham all day and had only just got back to his office to find a message from Edith Jenkins. He wanted to know if he could meet with her at our place on Sunday. I told him no problem.
I mentioned needing a lease for Arthur. Bernard informed me that they did not generally deal in that aspect of property law, but he was sure he could get one sorted out for me. Then he asked for all the details. That took a bit of sorting out.
Saturday morning over breakfast, I informed Arthur of our intention to buy the kitchen appliances for the flat. He told me that I did not need to do that. However, I pointed out that I would include the cost of the items in the rent. That made him a bit happier.
Matt had given Anne the address of a kitchen-appliance warehouse that, although open to the public, was mostly used by the trade. So once Johnny had set off for the yard, the rest of us set off the warehouse, which was about an hour's drive away. The moment I told the assistant that we were looking for appliances for four kitchens, she said we classed as trade and got us to fill in a form for a trade card. That apparently gave us an immediate twenty-five percent off marked prices. Having that made me feel a bit guilty of trying to haggle anymore off. Guilty or not, I grew up in a part of London where everybody haggled, so I haggled. Eventually, I got another ten percent off and delivery arranged for that afternoon.
Fortunately, Arthur knew somebody who was a qualified gas and electric fitter, so he was able to get them to come round late Saturday to install the appliances. By nine o'clock that evening, he was able to move in.
Sunday morning, Arthur informed us that he was going to a DIY store to get some paint to start decorating. Trevor said he would go with him and that he would help with the painting. I told Trevor to make sure they got some coveralls, as he did not have that much clothing with him.
As Arthur and Trevor set off, Johnny said he might as well go into the yard. I was surprised; if he did Saturday, he would not normally do Sunday. When I mentioned it, Johnny looked a bit sad.
"I might as well go in, Dad; there is nothing for me here."
"Is everything alright?" I asked.
"It's fine..." he replied.
"I sensed a 'but' there, son. What is it?"
"It's nothing," he stated.
There was something, but I sensed it was no use pushing him on it at the moment. Just had to hope he would talk to me about whatever it was before it eats too far into him. He was upset about something.
Bernard arrived just after noon with, somewhat to my surprise as no mention had been made of them coming, Debora and Joseph. The latter was disappointed to find that Johnny was not around, so I phoned Johnny to let him know that Joseph had come with Bernard. He said he would come back as soon as he had finished the task he was doing.
Debora and Anne went off into the kitchen; Joseph asked if it was OK for him to explore the grounds. I told him yes and also that Johnny should not be that long before he got back. Bernard and I ensconced ourselves in my study.
"You did not say Debora and Joseph were coming," I pointed out.
"Did not know till this morning. Apparently, your wife spoke to mine last night and mentioned that the apartments were nearly ready for decorating. Debora has come up armed with colour cards and fabric swatches. That pair are going to spend a nice afternoon planning on how to spend your money," Bernard informed me.
"Shit. But what about Joseph? I would have thought he is old enough to be left on his own."
"Don't you believe it. Boys are never old enough to be left on their own. In fact, the older they get, the more supervision they need. Would have left him, but he insisted on tagging along. Think he wanted to see Johnny."
"Johnny?" I queried.
"Oh, yes. Since they met at Manston, that pair have been constantly in touch. I think Joseph has a touch of hero-worship where your son is concerned."
"I wonder why that is?"
"Mike, it's fairly simple," Bernard replied. "Johnny is doing what Joseph wants to do. He's dropped out of school and is going to learn a trade. That's exactly what Joseph wants to do and something Debora is set against. She wants him to do sixth form and university."
"I wouldn't say he dropped out of school; it was more a case of being thrown out," I commented.
"And from what I heard, he carefully engineered it," Bernard observed. "If that godson of mine were not so set on being a yacht builder, I would suggest he take up law. He has a devious enough mind for it."
"Must have got it from his mother," I stated. "He definitely did not get it from me."
"Probably," responded Bernard. "Beryl Smith may have a lot of faults, but one thing you cannot fault is her legal mind. She is one of the best lawyers in the business — if only she can keep her deviousness under control."
There was something about the way he said that which made me think something had happened.
"What's going on?" I asked.
Bernard looked a bit embarrassed then let it out. "She's appearing for the prosecution in Regina v. Ian Jenkins."
"I did not think she did criminal work anymore."
"She doesn't," Bernard responded. "I think this is an attempt to get a dig in at me and to make some amends to the powers-that-be."
Just then, the doorbell rang. I went to answer it. Edith Jenkins was standing on the doorstep.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Carlton," she stated as I opened the door to admit her.
"Good afternoon, Miss Jenkins," I responded. "I hope you did not walk all this way from the town. I did not hear a car."
"Oh, no., I got a taxi to the restaurant — Crooked Man, is it? — had an early lunch and walked up from there. Thought it would be better than getting a taxi directly here."
I showed her into the study and asked if she would like anything to drink.
"No, thank you," she replied. I started to leave her and Bernard. "You might like to stay, Mr. Carlton, if Mr. LeBrun has no objections."
"I've no objections," Bernard stated.
"Good," Miss Jenkins stated. "It will probably make things easier and less chance of misunderstandings."
"Misunderstandings?" I asked.
"Yes, Mr. Carlton," she responded. "Some of what I have to report has reference to yourself or, more correctly, to your son. Mr. LeBrun would be required to pass them on, but experience shows that when information is passed on by an intermediate, it is not always complete. It is far better if you get it from as close to the source as possible."
"So, what do you have to tell us?" Bernard enquired.
"Well let's start with the Brethren or, to be more precise, the Brethren of the Lord, to give them their full title," Miss Jenkins began. "So far as can be ascertained, the sect started out in nineteen seventy-six. At least that is when they opened a bank account. They claim to be a branch of the Church of the Brethren of Christ the Lord; it appears they are the only branch. The Brethren of Christ the Lord has its European headquarters in Zurich and is referred to in all documentation as COBOC. COBOC is actually a business incorporated in Switzerland, owned by a family trust. The trustees of the trust are all members of the Henderson family."
"It's a con., then?" I asked.
"Certainly," Miss Jenkins replied. "But if you will let me continue.
"Excluding the Hendersons, there are about two hundred families who are members of the church; each family tithes ten percent of its income to the upkeep of the church. Each family places its tithe in cash in a sealed envelope which is handed over during the tithe collection part of the service. We estimate that the weekly tithe collection is between six- and nine-thousand pounds.
"The church accounts at no point show any weekly collection of more than four-thousand-five-hundred pounds. Half the amount collected is paid to the 'church's European office', the rest is used to pay the church officers and for the upkeep of the church buildings."
"How many officers are there?" Bernard asked.
"Six, all members of the Henderson family," Miss Jenkins stated. "The Pastor is Peter Henderson, who according to the church accounts, is paid two hundred pounds a week. His wife is listed as organist and gets fifty pounds per session. She is paid for doing three to five sessions a week, but we have never observed more than one service."
"Maybe a session is a hymn," Bernard commented.
"It is a possibility," Miss Jenkins observed, "though I doubt it. Our information is the organ broke down in nineteen ninety-eight and has not been repaired since. There is also a secretary to the church, Phillip Henderson, the brother of Peter Henderson. He gets one hundred a week for his secretarial duties, as does the treasurer."
"No doubt another Henderson," I commented.
"No, it's a Peter McCormac," Miss Jenkins informed us with a smile. "He is Peter Henderson's nephew, the son of his sister. More interesting is the fact that his father is Detective Sergeant McCormac."
"He's the investigating officer in Ian's case," Bernard stated.
"Yes," Miss Jenkins confirmed. "I believe you will also find he was the investigating officer in the case of Ian's brother and in the death of Ian's father. He is also the great uncle of the victim."
"That seems a bit more than a coincidence," Bernard said.
"Oh, indeed it does, especially as he was not supposed to be on duty when two of the incidents happened," Miss Jenkins commented. "Furthermore, in two of the incidents, evidence appears to have gone missing."
"What?" Bernard asked.
"Yes. You were kind enough to provide me with a copy of the evidence file against Ian." She removed a folder from her bag and extracted a set of papers. Detective Sergeant McCormac clearly states that the CCTV in the burger bar was faulty and no video recording of the incident is available. However, the service records of the security company who cover the burger bar show that the equipment was serviced and tested a week before and no fault found."
"It could have failed that day," Bernard stated in a tone that indicated he did not believe that it had.
"There is one CCTV source which we know was working," Miss Jenkins stated. "The building society on the corner has a camera covering its ATM. The burger bar can be seen in the background of the ATM images." She extracted a DVD from her bag and handed it to me. "If you would be so kind, Mr. Carlton."
I put the DVD into my laptop, selected the DVD player and played it. The image on the screen showed the corner of the building-society premises with its ATM. Clearly visible across the road was the front of the burger bar. Because of the camera angle, perspective and resolution, it was a bit difficult to make out what was going on, but you could see that something was going on.
"One of my nephews," Miss Jenkins stated, "is very keen on computer graphics and image processing. I asked him to see what he could do with the video." She pulled a set of images from her bags. They were blow-ups of the small section of the video image that showed the front of the burger bar. These blow-ups showed clearly two youths dragging Ian towards the door.
"I suppose the police could have failed to spot the building-society camera," Bernard stated.
"That is always possible," Miss Jenkins confirmed. "However, let's turn to the case of Ian's brother. If we look at the statement of Detective Sergeant McCormac in the case, he states that there was no CCTV coverage of the area where the incident took place." Bernard nodded in acceptance. Miss Jenkins continued. "Fortunately, the High School has a stringent policy about the use of writeable CDs and DVDs. They are very concerned about the possibility of students using them to pirate material. So, all usage has to be recorded, together with the reason for usage. This is a copy of the CD/DVD usage log for the period in question."
She handed a sheet of paper to Bernard. "As you can see it records that the day after the incident, CDs were burnt with recordings from cameras five and seven for the day before — between three-thirty p.m. and four-thirty p.m."
Bernard looked a bit puzzled. "Burnt?" he asked.
"Burning a CD or DVD is the act of writing data to the disc. You are literally burning the data image into the surface of the disc with a laser," I informed him.
Miss Jenkins continued. "You will also note that six CDs were burnt , and it states that these were on the request of Detective Sergeant McCormac. You will also note the next entry, which states that six CDs were burnt as copies for the school files. The school has a policy that whenever copies are made of any of the security recordings, a second copy should be made and put on file just in case of any query. Fortunately, they do not clear their files out very often." She removed a DVD from her bag. "This is a copy of the files on the burnt CDs."
Bernard took the DVD and looked at it questioningly. "Do we want to know how you obtained this?" he asked.
"No, you don't, Mr. LeBrun. Perhaps Mr. Carlton could arrange for us to view it on one of his computers."
Bernard handed me the DVD. I put it in my laptop and opened the DVD-playing app. For the first few minutes, there was nothing other than a view of the main gate of a school, with the occasional person going in and out. Then, the school must have got out because there was a stream of youngsters leaving the school. A group of older boys gathered around the gate. As a group of three younger boys approached the gate, the older boys started to push and nudge them. Another older youth who had been waiting outside the gate came in and pulled one of the older boys away from one of the younger boys and pushed him to the side. Suddenly an older man appeared, pushed one of the youths onto the ground, pulled his arms behind him and started to apply handcuffs.
"Is that..." I started to ask.
"Yes, that is Detective Sergeant McCormac," Miss Jenkins confirmed.
"But what is he doing there?" I asked.
"Well, according to his statement, he was waiting to pick up his grandson," she stated. "The only problem is that his grandson was not in school that day; he had not been in school any day that week."
"So, it was a setup," Bernard stated.
"Certainly," Miss Jenkins confirmed. "You can also see that the two eyewitnesses who stated that they were within six feet of the incident and heard what the accused shouted are not on the video. As the video shows an area ten feet on each side of the school gate, they must have been at least fifteen feet from the incident. You will also note that, although there are four boys in the group that got hassled, no witness statements were taken from any of the other boys."
"I'm surprised the defence solicitor did not pick up on that," Bernard stated.
"Oh, I'm not. The defence solicitor was Charles Mayer, a member of the Peter Henderson's church."
"Shit!" Bernard exclaimed. "The lad never had a chance."
"No, he didn't," Miss Jenkins confirmed.
"I presume you have got a lot more information," Bernard said, looking at the large bag Miss Jenkins had at her side.
"Yes, regarding Ian's father." She pulled another pile of papers from the bag. "Postmortem report on John Jenkins. He was killed by the discharge of a shotgun at close quarters. The cartridge that killed him discharged eight-gauge shot."
"Is that important?" Bernard asked.
"Yes," Miss Jenkins confirmed. "According to his wife, he had left that morning to do some rabbiting. You do not use eight gauge to bring down a rabbit. You are more likely to use sixteen or twenty gauge for that." She pulled some photos out of her bag. "Look at these." She placed the pictures on the coffee table. They were of a man sprawled face down in a field, with a couple of rabbits attached to his belt. Three were taken from different angles. Then there was a fourth photo which appeared to be a blow-up of a detail from the third photo.
"What am I looking at?" Bernard asked.
"The ammunition pouch," Miss Jenkins stated, pointing to the fourth photo. "I have had it enlarged so you can see the detail. Those cartridges are 20 gauge. John Jenkins was using twenty-gauge cartridges that morning; the shot that killed him could not have come from his gun."
"So, he was murdered," Bernard stated.
"I think you can presume he was," Miss Jenkins agreed. "I'm fairly certain the Hendersons were involved, though I can't prove it; I doubt if it is the first murder they were involved in."
"What makes you think that?" I asked.
"Let me give you some background on Peter Henderson. He started life as Peter Smithson; he grew up in a small fishing village a few miles up the coast from Exmouth. If you remember Mr. Carlton, I said he was not from Cornwall. There are Hendersons down in Cornwall, and they are members of Brethren churches, legitimate Brethren churches."
"Are there some?" I asked.
"Oh, yes; their theology may be somewhat warped, but they do exist.
"Back to Peter Smithson, as he was known. The Smithsons were a family of four brothers. They had a bit of a reputation. Rumour was that they were into smuggling and similar things, not that it caused much of a problem for most folk in that part of Devon. Peter Smithson was a lay preacher at the Methodist church and assistant Scout Master for the village Scout Troop.
"In early nineteen seventy-four, there was a rumour in the village that Peter Smithson had been caught in a compromising situation with one of the scouts. The story going around was that a lad had agreed to meet his mate after scouts and when his mate was late arriving had gone to the scout hut looking for him, catching Smithson abusing the boy. There was a police investigation, but according to a retired police officer who was involved, both the boys involved refused to make a statement. His opinion was that they were too scared to make a statement.
"Smithson was requested to resign as assistant Scout Master and as a lay preacher. A few months later he left the village. Not long after Peter Smithson left the village, the two boys involved in the incident died in a boating accident. The explanation of the accident was that they must have been caught by the wake of a high-powered speed boat which flipped their dinghy — a high-powered speed boat having been reported in the area at the time, though it was never traced.
"The thing is, according to the boys' families, both were experienced dinghy sailors and strong swimmers. They also always wore lifejackets, though they did not have lifejackets on when their bodies were found."
"You think Peter Smithson had something to do with it?" I asked.
"It can never be proved, but I think it is likely. The thing is, there were twenty-six boys in that Scout Troop. Six of them died in the three years following Smithson leaving the village. There were the two in the boating accident. One died up on the moors from hypothermia. Two died from drug overdoses, though neither had any known history of drug use. The final one fell into the harbour one night while drunk, though he had never been known to drink.
"All possible, of course, but on the balance of probability, I find it questionable that a Scout Troop would lose twenty-three percent of its membership in three years to unexpected death."
"But what happened to Peter Smithson?" I asked.
"There is no trace of him for two years. Then he turns up here as Peter Henderson. There was a small Brethren community in the area; there has been since before the war. It was led by an elderly pastor named Michael Kent. As so often happens in the Brethren churches, there had been a theological dispute, I believe over the role of women in the community. So, it had split from the mainstream of Brethren churches.
"Peter Henderson, as he now is known, befriends Michael Kent and within a year is assisting him in the community. The following year Peter Henderson is joined by his brothers, who all move to the district. Shortly afterwards, Peter is appointed assistant pastor to the community. Not long afterwards, Michael Kent dies in his sleep. No one is particularly surprised; he was eighty-six and was known to have heart problems. Peter takes over as pastor to the community. He reforms it as a church and affiliates it to the 'European Brethren Movement'.
"He is quite a charismatic character and has taken the membership of the church from some fifty families to over two hundred. Though quite a bit of that increase in membership is due to surrounding Brethren communities failing and their members joining Brother Peter's church."
"You said some of this concerns my son," I stated.
"Yes," Miss Jenkins said. "I'm getting to that. We've been watching the Henderson clan for nearly two months now. We're good at it; we have been reading their emails, even listening to their phone calls when they use landlines." Bernard frowned. "Oh, I know, Mr. LeBrun, all very illegal, but I can assure you very necessary.
"A couple of weeks ago, there was a discussion at the Methodist Youth Club about abuse. It was part of the Youth Services awareness project to make young people more aware of what to do in a case of abuse.
"There are a couple of the Henderson clan who attend the youth club. They are not really active in it, they just hang around the fringes and, I think, report back about what is happening.
"Anyway, as I said a couple of weeks ago, there was a discussion about abuse. Your son spoke up in the session and said his friend had been abused by someone he trusted and that it had really messed up his life. The woman from Youth Services asked if it had been reported. Your son said yes but that he did not know what was happening. Since then, the two Henderson clan boys seem to be hanging around your son whenever he is in town."
"Shit!" I exclaimed. "They think it is Arthur." Miss Jenkins and Bernard looked at me. "The boy that Johnny spoke about; they think it is Arthur. When Arthur was thrown out, he told his parents that Brother Peter had fucked him."
"So, it's not Arthur that Johnny was talking about?" Bernard asked.
"No, it's not. I think Arthur has dealt with it in his own way," I replied.
"So, if it is not Arthur then …" Bernard paused as he let out a deep sigh. "My God; it's Trevor, isn't it? That is what that crisis was about at Manston when you all vanished off to God only knows where."
"I can't say anything," I informed him.
"You don't need to, though it does explain a lot," Bernard stated.
"If they think it is Arthur, the boy could be in danger," Miss Jenkins stated.
"So, what do we do?" I asked.
"First thing, he needs to report it," Bernard stated. "Not to the police here. McCormac would hear of it. I have some contacts in the special-investigation's unit at the Yard whom I trust. I think I need to get them involved in all of this. Unfortunately, I think this will mean we will have to have an open trial for Ian, which will be hard for him."
"Why's that?" I asked.
"Mike, most of this evidence would not stand up in court. It's circumstantial. The Crown Prosecution Service would not act on it. However, if I can use it in court, in the hands of a clever QC, we can trap witnesses into committing perjury. Once we can get them on that, we open a whole pile of worms, and if the press is there, they will have a field day.
"Don't worry; I have not lost sight of the aim of all this. I will get Ian off, and I am fairly sure I can get his brother's conviction overturned. But now I need to speak with Arthur."