The Devil's Interval
would surely tell you, if his windpipe wasn’t blocked up with old tea bags and soiled nappies.’
    ‘Well, that’s not how Jane Francis sees it. She doesn’t reckon Young for that at all.’
    ‘No? What would she bloody know? The nearest she gets to street policing is looking at CCTV footage. She’s got no feel for the game. None of them have, these university coppers. But we both know better, don’t we, love? You have to come from the streets to have a feel for what’s what. It’s obvious, is that.’
    Pepper took another sip of her coffee, and regretted it immediately. If it had been any weaker it would have needed to be on a drip.
    ‘She’s not doing too badly on it though, is she? Anyway, Mike, I still think you’re wrong, for what it’s worth. Because if Dai did know about Charlie Adams then why not just take him over as a source? It would be a piece of piss, and Charlie would have had to go along with it. Dai wouldn’t even have had to pay him, would he? Charlie would be a perfect blackmail target.’
    ‘Maybe Charlie said no.’
    Pepper laughed. ‘Come on, street cop, we both know that’s not very likely, is it?’
    ‘Maybe not. And if that’s the case then I do have one other explanation. It’s not comfortable, but it’s a possibility, I suppose.’
    ‘You’re thinking that Dai doesn’t need Adams because he’s got someone else lined up already? A bent copper, I mean.’
    ‘It’s got to be a possibility, hasn’t it? And let’s face it, love, it has been known.’
    Robson smiled, and Pepper thought how much older he was looking. She wondered, just for a moment, if he was thinking the same about her.
    ‘You’re not the first, and you won’t be the last, Mike. And you always were a bit too flash for your own good, weren’t you, love?’
    ‘Aye, maybe I was. But you can’t tell me that you haven’t sat opposite one of the clever cons, the ones that always walk away smelling of money, and thought how much better they’re doing than we are.’
    ‘Honestly? No, I haven’t. Not once. For a start there are precious few of them, especially in this neck of the woods. But the main thing is that it never lasts, does it? There’s no cushy pension at the end of their thirty years. They always get nicked, or grassed up by one of their mates, long before that. So they must be looking over their shoulders all the time, even the right nasty bastards, waiting for someone bigger and badder to come along and take it all away. It’s just a bit of bravado we see, when they’re in the nick. They’re mostly shitting themselves.’
    ‘Aye, maybe.’
    Pepper put her mug down, and let its contents cool in peace. ‘So why did you go over, Mike?’
    He shrugged. ‘Does it matter? Come on, lass, let’s go. Unless you’re really interested, that is.’
    ‘No, I’m not interested. I’ve sat in enough interview rooms listening to cons giving me their stupid reasons for what they’ve done, like they expect me to understand, or even care. And, to tell you the truth, I don’t think that my reasons for making the various stupid decisions I’ve made in my life would stand up to much scrutiny, either.’
    ‘They seemed like a good idea at the time, though?’
    ‘Some of them, aye. Come on. Have you got your bag packed? You know you won’t be back here for a good while, don’t you?’
    ‘Never, you mean.’
    ‘Come on, don’t be melodramatic. It doesn’t suit a tough guy like you. You’ll make it through your sentence, no problem. Especially if you go guilty and grass up a mate.’
    ‘I didn’t mean that. This place will be repossessed, Pepper. It’ll be bloody long gone, by the time I get out. All the kids’ stuff, everything will be gone. My whole life will be swept away. I’ll never see them again, I know that. Penny has shacked up with that bloke from the social who looks like a bloody walrus, and they’ve all moved away. Not that I blame her. Not really, like.’

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